by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis
The UN Climate Change Conference taking place this week in Bonn, Germany, is once again revealing how unrestrained exceptionalism is digging our country only deeper into global isolationism. As an American citizen, I am often confronted with the U.S. announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement at the COP21 meeting two years ago. America, the sole country deciding to abstain from the agreement, is alone in the world at this critical moment. But is President Trump alone in emboldening this disturbing dissociation?
Whether in public affairs or church politics, there is a tendency to criticize leaders and those with prominence and privilege. In Australia, we call it “tall poppy syndrome.” Over time, it can prove a moderate social leveler; but so often, because it results in nothing, it constitutes a meaningless personal catharsis and denigration. And while it may be a temptation to lay blame solely at the feet of leaders, it can frequently lead to a distraction of concern and deflection of accountability. In my modest experience with men of power, and particularly men in black, I have learned that it is sometimes futile to concentrate exclusively on those at the top and generally more fruitful to observe the loyalist admirers on the coattails and the uncritical adherents at the base. This may not always be a foolproof litmus test, but it is certainly a compelling indicator.
Let me flesh this out a little. Continue Reading…
by William J. Antholis
Photo Credit: Susan Melkisethian
Robert E. Lee’s statue stands on 2nd Street NE in Charlottesville. I live two blocks away—in the same small redbrick Cape Cod where we have lived since 1999. For the last 18 years, this house and the rest of our idyllic downtown have been my retreat—the place to which I have escaped, after one world event or another.
This weekend my retreat became the frontline in America’s culture war. And yesterday’s event was different than any I’ve ever experienced.
Over the past two decades, as a government official or policy analyst, I’ve attended at least a dozen major protests—that is, protests that were so large or significant as to garner national or international media attention. At some, I was a White House official, including two G-7 summits and two climate change negotiations. At others, I was an observer—including the infamous riot-filled 1999 Seattle WTO meeting, several anti-globalization protests, and two major Greek-crisis protests.
I’ve seen the power of protest, and also the chaos that it can unleash. I’ve seen protests move public opinion. I’ve also had my eyes burned out by tear-gas more times than I’d like to count, and watched abuses by protesters and police alike.
Yesterday’s protest was different in two senses. First, the introduction of firearms into peaceful protests. Second, that hatred was the centerpiece of the protest. That toxic brew spilled over. Continue Reading…
by Gayle E. Woloschak, Tatjana Paunesku, and Katarina Trajkovic
Orthodox involvement in world affairs is increasingly becoming necessary; a faith that cares about “true worship” must be ready to defend not only spiritual Truth but the truths that underlie it as well. Orthodox Christians, and indeed most religious traditions, value truth and truthfulness. For Orthodox, there should be no division between the truths we discover in nature and the larger Truth that is revealed in a life of spiritual struggle. Maximus had identified three different laws that are all linked—the law of nature, the law of scripture, and the law of grace. He wrote (Questiones ad Thalasium 19) “In Christ…the natural law, the law of Scripture and the law of grace all come together as one.” Later in the same text, Maximus writes “For the Logos of God is the Creator of all nature, every law, every bond, all order.” They are all linked together, the scientific truths of nature with the larger Truth, and there is no room for deception and falseness in science nor for “alternate facts” in public relations between citizens and their government. Continue Reading…
by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis
In fourth-century Constantinople, an archbishop named Gregory contemplated why God was so silent before the immorality and corruption in politics. Why, he wondered, did God resemble a sleeping lion? But of course a sleeping lion can be awakened and antagonized. We have waited and watched as presidential executive orders and congressional actions, such as those below, provide photo-ops and reason for elation in some quarters, while cause for concern in others.
1) The administration has taken action in purported support of coal miners. It should be considered admirable to stand in solidarity with the hardest, health-risking jobs of blue-collar supporters of the president. But can one honestly say that human compassion is the true motivation when weighed against the loss of clean water and air for millions of people resulting from deregulation that allows mining runoff in streams and coal plants to emit more carbons? Continue Reading…