by James Rouman
I was baptized in a wash tub as were both of my brothers. It’s true. I really was. My aunt Helen was married in an Orthodox ceremony performed in our house as well. I recall liturgies celebrated in our dining room with Fr. Chrysostom whispering words in a Greek language that seemed somewhat different from the one we spoke at home. I remember the decorative cloth depicting Christ that was spread on the table, along with a cross, a bejeweled book, and the hot water my mother always provided during every service. And there was plenty of incense burning too. Drowsy from having been awakened at five in the morning and without anything to eat or drink, I fidgeted constantly before receiving communion. After breakfast, I was off to school and to a world quite different from the one experienced only minutes before. That’s how it was three to four times every year during my childhood. It was, in fact, my introduction to Orthodox Christianity. Continue reading
by Aram G. Sarkisian
In recent weeks, distressing images of detained children, renewed calls for drastic immigration restrictions, and the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding a travel ban against Muslim-majority countries have intensified national discourse on immigration policy. These developments should strongly resonate with Orthodox Christians. Though the church’s demographics have certainly changed over the past century, Orthodoxy flourished in the United States during the early 1900s as a church built by, and for, immigrants. Orthodox Christians must draw on their histories to speak credibly to the anxieties of migration, the human toll of detention and deportation, and the negative implications of immigration restrictions, entry quotas, and normalized xenophobia.
One argument employed to support stringent immigration policies comes from those who insist that since their immigrant ancestors “came legally” and prospered, others should be held to the same standard. The truth proves a little more complicated. Continue Reding…
by Katherine Kelaidis
Above my desk is a sign I bought years ago in an antique shop in the town where my Yiayia Kay grew up. It says, “No Dogs, No Greeks.” I originally bought it with a fair amount of Millennial irony, too gleeful at the fact that it would preside over a room that normally contains only me and my 4.5 lbs Maltese named for the fourth Musketeer. On the same wall is hung a framed copy of the famous Life Magazine cover of Archbishop Iakovos standing next to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have fixed in the frame a handwritten slip of paper with Dr. King’s words, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” These words serve as a reminder to me each time I sit down to write: Which friends will remember my silence today?
However, over the past few weeks, these words have become a sort of accusation each time I see them, particularly resting as they are under an iconic image of a Greek Orthodox Archbishop’s friendship with one of the great heroes of the American Civil Rights Movement. Continue Reading…
by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis
“Democracy is coming to the USA.” (Leonard Cohen)
Americans don’t like talking openly about politics across party lines; they prefer to talk in their own silos and not to each other. American Christians – at least, this is my experience among Orthodox Christians in America – would almost identify political argumentation as somehow betraying the Christian Gospel; I’m not so sure, however, that this is based so much on Gospel principle as on some misconception of the right to privacy.
Critics, then, may be politically or religiously ostracized – sometimes both. So at risk of stepping into the unknown territory of political purgatory, as a dual citizen of America and Australia, as a layman as well as a theologian, let me briefly consider the topics of money in politics, immigration as inclusion, and climate change in light of the recent presidential election. Continue Reading…