Tag Archives: Nikolaos Asproulis

Racism and Otherness

by Nikolaos Asproulis | българскиქართულიRomână | РусскийСрпски

This essay was first published in Greek at Polymeros kai Polytropos, the blog of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies.

Artistic depiction of racism
Image: Archibald J. Motley Jr., “The First One Hundred Years: He Amongst You Who is Without Sin Shall Cast the First Stone: Forgive Them Father For They Know Not What They Do”

In our time, racism has many faces. Sometimes it manifests itself in a more visible way and other times in an invisible way. Whether it is racism of gender, race, religion or social class, of ethnic origin or sexual orientation, it is certain that the enemy is always the other. It does not matter if the other amounts to whole nations, social groups, or individuals, the other in this case becomes the “red cloth” of a blind ideology, which does not define people as unique and irreplaceable persons in the image of the Triune God, but primarily based on certain natural characteristics.

This is, one might say, the very source of racism and the rejection of otherness. Hostility towards the other, or rather hatred for the different is what defines our identity. This counterpoint is the cornerstone on which all kinds of ideological or religious justifications for discrimination between people are based. Not only each of us, but also entire nations form their collective identity in an oppositional way, in the name of a national, political, cultural, economic, but also religious superiority over others.

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Personhood as “Glocal Citizenship”: Its Christian Roots and the Challenge of the Immigrant Crisis
An Eastern Orthodox Political Theological Reflection

by Nikolaos Asproulis | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Interconnectedness of the world

In the midst of the dominant globalization process, as experienced in various areas of life (economy, politics, new modes of communication, technology, or common dangers such as terrorism, environmental catastrophes, continuous fragmentation of the world), an ongoing debate is taking place around the meaning and content of the concept of “global citizenship.” Although a concept deeply rooted in the history of philosophy (e.g., Diogenes of Sinope, Stoicism) with various cognates or synonyms (“world citizen,” “cosmopolitan,” etc.) that give nuances to its meaning, the definition of global citizenship is still under discussion and is quite often met with suspicion or skepticism, considered thus as a sort of “metaphor” that does not account for real life. Furthermore, while it is conceived as almost incoherent because it requires a somehow homogeneous universal political order, globalization, by modifying the very context of political action and the conditions and parameters of human life overall, leads to a new understanding of citizenship that seeks to go beyond particular, national, or cultural bonds. Based on its inherent tendency to voluntarily or involuntarily de-territorialize and de-historize the citizen’s ties, globalization provides the modern citizen with freedom from a specific place, highlighting the primary need for interdependence between people all around the world, without, however, necessarily denouncing altogether the importance of local, national identities. The concept of global citizenship then naturally emerges as a striving, initially at least, for a proper balance between the global community and a particular nation, between global and local, between the universal and the particular, between humanity in general and human beings in particular–albeit not always evidently, since it often gives a second place to the particular identity.

Given this perception, what does Eastern Orthodox Christianity have to contribute?

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The Greek Orthodox Church Meets Secularization

by Nikolaos Asproulis

Since the establishment of the Modern Greek state (1830), the Greek Orthodox Church has functioned more or less as one of the (perhaps the most important) institutions of the state and continues to enjoy certain symbolic and other privileges (“prevailing religion”) granted by the Constitution. The progressively-closer dependence of the Church on the state, especially after the Second World War, led the latter to take over the clergy payroll in 1945, in recognition of the Church’s contribution to the nation, even while previously having expropriated most of the so-called ecclesiastical property. The recent agreement between the Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Tsipras, and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Mr. Ieronymos—according to which the clerics are no longer recognized as civil servants, while a Church Asset Development Fund run by both sides will manage assets to resolve property-related issues—thus constitutes a landmark moment in this long relationship between Church and State in Greece, opening up a more general debate on the role and position of the Orthodox Church in Greek society and the public sphere. To get a satisfactory glimpse of the on-going discussion, it is necessary to get acquainted with the context lying in the background: the special relationship of the Orthodox Church with the national identity of the Greek state and the secularization process gradually spreading in traditional orthodox countries like Greece. Continue reading

“Towards a Greener Attica”: On the Occasion of an Ecological Symposium Hosted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

by Nikolaos Asproulis

The ecological crisis is nowadays the most urgent problem facing humanity. It is a complex threat, which puts at risk not only a part of the planet but the entire environment, endangering the very survival of the human species and the natural world.  As a result of extreme egocentric interpretations, since medieval times, of the biblical narrative of the world’s creation (Genesis 1-2), humanity has adopted a way of life that assumes a dominating role and position in the world. For many centuries now, humanity has followed a path of utilitarian exploitation and overconsumption of natural resources, being indifferent to the preservation, protection, or survival of the wider universe. It was only in 1967 that Lynn White,[1] in his classic now article, clearly pointed out the historical responsibility of Christianity for the ecological problem, thus bringing to the fore the spiritual and religious aspects of the issue. Since then, many Christian churches and traditions in the West would embrace (though not always successfully) their responsibility, cultivating, either through their institutions or through ecumenical organizations (e.g., the World Council of Churches), the necessary initiatives to address this multi-faceted crisis (Cf. Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudatio Si, 2016).[2] Continue Reading…