Tag Archives: Katherine Kelaidis

Headscarves, Modesty, and Modern Orthodoxy

by Katherine Kelaidis

Yiayia Kay kept her scarves in the far upper right hand corner of the long light oak dresser. By the time I was old enough to remember, she never took them out except to garden. She would drape one of the silk covers over her perfectly coiffed hair to protect it against the dry winds of the Colorado high plains. As a little girl and even into her teens and early married life, these had been more than mere gardening accoutrements. They were the outward visible witness of her inner self, signaling to the world, not just that she was a Christian, but that she was a lady, modest and chaste. Then one day, around the time television became king, like so many Greek American women of her generation, she folded up the scarves and put them in the dresser.

The fact is that for most of my childhood in the urban, assimilated Greek Orthodox parish where I grew up, the head covering was completely absent. Continue Reading…

St. Kassiani, Sex Workers, and FOSTA-SESTA

by Katherine Kelaidis  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

This is not an essay 1) advocating sex work or 2) denying the need for repentance. This is an essay asking us to reconsider how we treat sex workers.

If there is one thing that even the most theologically illiterate can accurately remember about the life of Christ, it is that he hung around with a questionable crowd: tax collectors, zealots (the ideological equivalent of fundamentalist terrorists in 1st-century Palestine), prostitutes. This was no small thing for a pious Jewish man in 1st-century Palestine. Pious Jewish men did not spend any social time with sinners. It was among the first things that roused the Pharisees suspicions: “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them that “it is not the healthy who need a physician.” God does not  come to the holy when they are ready, as most supposed in the ancient world. He comes to those who need Him wherever they are, in whatever state. It was a radical, revolutionary idea then and it still is now. Continue Reading…

My Gay Orthodox Friend’s Suicide

by Katherine Kelaidis  |  ελληνικά  |  ру́сский

Last August, the first real friend I ever made at church took his own life. Jonathan (not his real name) was a year ahead of me at Cal where we met my freshman year. He was received into the Orthodox Church during the weekly liturgy our Orthodox Christian Fellowship chapter held in a chapel located in a literal upper room. Jonathan and I quickly became friends. We were both sarcastic Classics majors with a penchant for drag queens and Baroque music. We bonded in the easy way that freaks who have found their tribe so often do.

This was despite the fact that by most appearances we were very different people. I was a Greek girl raised in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado by upper-middle-class parents, cherished and doted on in a world where I was free to worry about my grades and whether that boy in Physics liked me. Jonathan was an orphan raised in poverty in California’s Central Valley. He was biracial and gay in a place that was segregated and straight. If my life was defined and frequently limited by the ties that bind me, his life was about searching for a place where he could be entirely himself, loved without condition or expectation.

That search brought him to the Orthodox Church. And we failed him. Continue Reading…

My Silent Church

by Katherine Kelaidis

silence

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…