by Perry T. Hamalis
How would you describe Orthodox Christianity in one word?”
This question was posed to a panel of scholars at a Theology conference several years ago. A few of the panelists gave their answers—offering responses like “Liturgy,” “Authentic,” “Theosis,” and “Traditional.” Then the final panelist, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, gave his reply: “Freedom,” he said, “Orthodoxy is freedom.”
“Freedom” certainly wasn’t the answer that most of us were expecting. Oftentimes, Orthodox Christianity seems like the opposite of freedom…it seems firm, rigid, full of canons and long services. It seems conservative, not liberal, unchanging, not free-flowing. Especially during Lent, many Orthodox feel burdened by the restricted diet, the heavy schedule of services, and the increase in philanthropic activities.
Yet, I’ve become more and more convinced that “freedom” is the best one-word description of Orthodoxy, and that, properly understood, Lent is Liberation. Continue reading
by Perry T. Hamalis | ελληνικά | ру́сский
For decades, the citizens of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) have suffered the pain and gnawing awareness of division. They have been separated from their families and their homeland by the political reality of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the physical reality of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which bisects the peninsula near the 38th parallel and is packed with soldiers on both sides. Former President Bill Clinton once described the DMZ as, “the scariest place on earth.”
While the “Miracle on the Han River” typically refers to South Korea’s rapid economic growth from the ruins of war in 1953 to successfully hosting the 1988 Olympics and becoming a G20 member in 2010—despite the peninsula’s ongoing division—the “miracle” has, appropriately, been manifested within Korea’s Orthodox community as well. After the North’s army abducted Korea’s only Orthodox priest at the time, Fr. Alexi Kim, at the start of the Korean War in 1950, and after the St. Nicholas Church building was destroyed by the 1951 bombing of Seoul, the small flock of Orthodox faithful was at risk of annihilation. However, by the grace of God and through the help of Greek chaplains and soldiers serving in the Korean War, St. Nicholas was rebuilt, a new Korean priest (Fr. Boris Moon) was selected by the faithful and ordained (being transported secretly to the nearest bishop—in Japan—and back!), and the flame of Orthodox Christianity endured. In 1955, 55 years after the first Orthodox arrived in Korea from Russia (1900), 38 years after all spiritual support from the Russian Orthodox Church had ceased with the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and subsequent Soviet regime, and 2 years after the Korea War’s ceasefire, the ecclesiastically orphaned but resilient Orthodox faithful of Korea wrote a letter to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate asking to come under the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s spiritual care and jurisdiction. Their request was granted, and the development and growth of the Church in Korea began to accelerate.
by Rev. Dr. Patrick Viscuso, Perry T. Hamalis, David Heith-Stade, Rev. Dr. Chrysostom Nassis, Rev. Dr. Alexander Rentel, and Christos Tsironis
According to the theological vision of the Church, the bond of love is to be found at the core of marital life. Marriage is viewed within the framework of love, which is the core “quality” of the Church’s theological anthropology. Marriage is not only a rational choice, but also a “harvest” of holiness and the “fullness” of the life of faith.
One of the most complicated challenges for the Church is to express the evangelical premises of Christianity on marriage in a manner that serves contemporary societies and families. The Church is called to illustrate the meaning and scope of marriage in social, cultural, and legal contexts, while remaining true to the Scriptures and her theological, canonical, and pastoral tradition. Continue Reading…
by Davor Džalto, Effie Fokas, Brandon Gallaher, Perry Hamalis, Aristotle Papanikolaou, and Gregory Tucker | ру́сский
“The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World” offers a clear reaffirmation of the “dignity and majesty of the human person” (1.1) in Christian doctrine. Moreover, the exalted status of the human person is here grounded in its ultimate vocation to deification. While the human being is brought to perfection beyond this life in God, sanctification begins now, in this world, in relation to others. To this end, the Church recognizes that she must speak with her “prophetic and pastoral voice” and act in the contemporary world to foster that “peace, justice, freedom, fraternity, and love” which characterizes the Kingdom of God.
In order to do full justice to the profound witness to the Gospel offered by this document, further serious reflection and dialogue is required on some of its key ideas. For, while this text contains moments of deep insight into the condition of the contemporary world, it also shows the effects of a long period in which the Church has failed to practice her synodality and lost the art of addressing the most important issues of the day with reason and clarity. Continue Reading…