by His Grace Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic)
Paris is not merely a place, it is also a “way of life,” said the Athenian theologian and philosopher Christos Yannaras. And the way of life is always the result of how (the manner in which) things exist. At the onset of this millennium, Catherine Dolez, a professor at the Alliance Française, persistently argued that the term laïcité has became a necessary complement to a tripartite motto liberté, égalité, fraternité, while I endeavored to make her consider koinos logos (Heraclitus’ “general, common cause”) as fundamental for the essential identity of the polis. How can a city be called a city unless it has a constant point of reference that brings all to the same place? In response, she wrote an entire essay on the back of my notebook claiming that the identity of Paris is exactly based on the absence of an underlying logos. On April 15, 2019, it turned out that this city nevertheless does have the fundamental point of reference that makes it coherent: a deep attachment to Notre-Dame de Paris. It was expressed unexpectedly, for a moment only, but quite strong enough to point to that forgotten way, un véritable mode d’existence. The French watched in horror as their magnificent and emblematic cathedral of Our Lady of Paris burned before their very eyes. They were scared of losing their own selves, their identity. The fire caught the Virgin’s hair, but, fortunately, it did not consume it. That fire, though, came at just the right time. Continue reading
by Fr. Dragos Herescu
This essay is part of a series stemming from the ongoing research project “Contemporary Eastern Orthodox Identity and the Challenges of Pluralism and Sexual Diversity in a Secular Age,” which is a joint venture by scholars from Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center and the University of Exeter, funded by the British Council, Friends of the British Council, and the Henry Luce Foundation as part of the British Council’s “Bridging Voices” programme. In August 2019, 55 scholars gathered for an international conference at St Stephen’s House, Oxford. These essays are summaries of presentations given in preparation for the conference and during it. They together reflect the genuine diversity of opinion that was represented at the conference and testify to the need for further reflection and dialogue on these complex and controversial topics.
“Have you secularized?”
That was the question that I was asked, regularly and over the course of many years, by friends and colleagues every time I was travelling back in Romania from the UK. It became such a refrain of my hometown visits that at some point it turned into a sort of running joke.
Although the question was always coated in a lighthearted banter gloss, it was never just that and always rang contrarily to the nagging teasing of old mates people love to complain about. To me it had the markings of a litmus test. People who had known me for a long time, who had been educated together with me, whose theological, moral and self-understating as Orthodox individuals I shared (or thought that I did), felt compelled to administer this kind of litmus test to me. Continue reading
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