Since November 8th, 2016, contributors to Public Orthodoxy have advanced various responses to the unexpected victory of Donald J. Trump. Fr John Jillions proposes that the Church needs to practice a politics of communion, which includes charitable works, prophetic political witness, and renewed ascetical life. Aristotle Papanikolaou asserts that the Church needs to vigorously denounce racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric. Samuel Bauer maintains that before the Church can effectively contribute to the healing of our country, she must “seek forgiveness from the marginalized of society, the very individuals whose dignity it has at times assailed.” Each proposal has merit, but each lacks that one needful thing, the proclamation of the gospel itself. The Church has one word that she, and she alone, can speak to the world–Jesus is risen! There are many penultimate words that the Church may and must speak; but if she does not proclaim Pascha, not just one Sunday a year but every Sunday, all other prophetic and pastoral words are emptied of significance.
Since my retirement I have heard numerous Orthodox homilies. With few exceptions, they have been horrid—poorly constructed, poorly delivered, and lacking in substance. But bad technique may be forgiven if the preacher is at least attempting to proclaim the good news. Alas that has not usually been the case. What I have heard is exhortation … to imitate Christ, obey the ten commandments, be nice to my neighbors, pray more often, confess my sins … even a lengthy harangue scolding the congregation for its failure to support the parish festival. Exhortation and more exhortation—dreary, impotent words that do not convert, do not heal, do not transform, do not deify. Continue reading