Tag Archives: Kerry San Chirico

How to Respond to Religious Pluralism? Orthodoxy and the “New Comparative Theology”

by Kerry San Chirico

How should Christians engage other religious traditions? Today religious diversity has never been closer to home. Our uncle might be Jewish, our neighbor Muslim, and our sister engaged in sincere Buddhist practice. Then there is the fact that Americans are increasingly willing to borrow religious beliefs and practices deemed beneficial—yoga from Hindus, mindfulness from Buddhists, and the Jesus Prayer from Orthodox. Whether we like it or not, in the wake of our Baby Boomer parents, we do in fact live in a spiritual marketplace. Such eclecticism does not in itself make one a Buddhist, Hindu, or Orthodox, of course, but it does demonstrate an increasing permeability between religious traditions. Yet for all this admixing, some seventy-percent of Americans still identify as Christian, while seven percent identify as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. Meanwhile, according to The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, no less than one fifth of Americans are now religiously “unaffiliated.” These so-called “nones” cause scholars, clergy, and pundits to scratch their heads or wring their hands. We move, as ever, into uncharted waters.

How to respond? We can pine for simpler times. We can try to batten down our hatches, attempting to be “untainted” by such religious difference, remaining polite but fundamentally uninterested in the religious lives of relatives, friends, or neighbors. Such difference can be frightening, after all. Many who converted to Orthodoxy have experienced this same attitude from our closest relatives, who responded to our conversion with a combination of bewilderment, fear, or even repulsion.

Yet Christian love compels us to a different response. Continue reading

Orthodoxy, African Deaconesses, and Missed Opportunities

by Kerry San Chirico

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The headline from the official news agency of the Romanian Patriarchate read, “Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria performs first consecration of deaconesses.” There were mostly heartened and hopeful responses on my Facebook feed. I “liked” the page in the formal if shallow Facebook sense. As such news inevitably takes time to digest, those with keen eyes began to weigh in. “This is not an ordination but a consecration,” one scholar reminded us, noting critical differences between the words cheiriothesia (blessing) and and cheirotonia (ordination). Another pointed out that, given the photographic evidence, this rite was more akin to ordination of a subdeacon, a minor order. Was this then a minor occurrence? Some might wish that. Continue Reading…

The Orthodox “Diaspora”: Mother Churches, Mission, and the Future

by Rev. Dr. Radu Bordeianu, Will Cohen, Rev. Dr. Nicholas Denysenko, Brandon Gallaher, Rev. Dr. D. Oliver Herbel, and Kerry San Chirico

Among the issues to be heard by the Orthodox Churches at the June 2016 Great and Holy Council in Crete is the situation of the Orthodox diaspora. The Council will be working with the document on the diaspora promulgated by the fourth pre-conciliar gathering in Chambésy in June 2009. This document called for a swift canonical resolution to the current organization of the Church in the regions of the diaspora so it accords with Orthodox canon law and ecclesiological principles. The 2009 pre-conciliar gathering implemented a temporary solution by creating episcopal assemblies (2a) in regions of the diaspora to promote common action and witness to the unity of Orthodoxy without depriving the member bishops of their “administrative competencies and canonical character” (5). It is not immediately clear whether the June 2016 council will propose a permanent canonical solution or bless the continued work of the regional episcopal assemblies. In order to arrive at the canonical and ecclesiological ideal envisioned by the bishops in 2009, several issues and potential actions should be considered.   Continue Reading…