The Heartbreak of Greek Orthodox​ Christianity

There is a quote attributed to Albert Camus that I shared on Instagram recently. It reads, “There is no happiness if the things we believe in are different than the things we do.” It caught my attention because recently I shared a Daily Wire article by Matt Walsh on my Facebook and Twitter, Dear Christians, There Is One Thing Worse Than Being An Atheist. When I came across the article it reminded me of St. Ignatius’ words in 4:1 of his Epistle to the Magnesians, “Πρέπον οὖν ἐστὶν μὴ μόνον καλεῖσθαι Χριστιανούς, ἀλλὰ καὶ εἶναι,” which I translate as “It is fitting, therefore, to be not only called ‘Christians,’ but rather to be.”

As I come to the end of my second year at seminary, those above are what are on my mind: Greeks do not care about Greek Orthodox Christianity. They will marry outside the Church, stay out late at cultural events and miss Liturgy the next day. I wonder about these things as I study to be a priest. God didn’t call me to be a cultural curator, he called me to shepherd His flock.

So why is this on my mind? Well, I found out today that 12 teenagers have pulled out of my parish’s Oratorical Festival. With a week to go. And Sunday School attendance is so low that it has been requested to shut down Sunday School for the older kids. This is spitting in the face to the volunteers, the donators, and the Church. religous education isn’t important? The sad irony is that Oratory and Rhetoric are genuinely deeply embedded in authentic Greek culture—Christian and pagan. So just what culture it is now that Greeks have chosen over the culture and Faith of our ancestors I do not know, but it sure seems to be a type of secular Græco-American “functional atheism,” to borrow that last part from my Spiritual Father.

It truly breaks my heart and makes me question where I am called to serve. I believe in the living Faith of Christ, not a museum display cultural daycare centre. I just don’t understand lukewarmness—especially when it is that state which Christ says will cause Him to spit us out (Apocalypse 3:16), and especially in a Faith where our ancestors in the relatively recent past died for their Faith and fought for their freedom.

To end this and thus say goodnight, I say to those who would object, who would say with their words this that and the other thing; I say your actions betray your mouth. Further, the crestfallen state of the lukewarmness of Greek Orthodox Christians is intensely absurd in light of the words of Scripture, “οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (Galatians 3:28).” But to know this one would actually have to read Scripture. We are dealing with people who have time to write nonsense for social media and essays for private Catholic schools but don’t know our Symbol of Faith in Greek nor English and have no time for the Church. We all pick our masters, and as Christ says, “Οὐδεὶς δύναται δυσὶ κυρίοις δουλεύειν· ἢ γὰρ τὸν ἕνα μισήσει καὶ τὸν ἕτερον ἀγαπήσει, ἢ ἑνὸς ἀνθέξεται καὶ τοῦ ἑτέρου καταφρονήσει. οὐ δύνασθε Θεῷ δουλεύειν καὶ μαμωνᾷ” (Matthew 6:24).

The Elemental Spirits of the Universe: St. Paul, Cosmology, and David Bentley Hart

It is often said that everytime you read Scripture you see something you didn’t see before. I have found this to be true, and for me, it would appear that this is even more true each time I hear Scripture during the Liturgy.

I recall the first time I consciously heard “. . . we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe” (Αἰκατερίνης Μεγαλομάρτυρος, 25 Νοεμβρίου, Γαλ. 3,23-4,5). I was like, what? as I looked around and no one seemed startled at the words. I still look around now. As far as I know all Greek Orthodox parishes in North America, unfortunately, use the RSV when reading the New Testament in English so the translation will differ; however, the Greek text(s) at that point all agree: “ὑπὸ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου ἦμεν δεδουλωμένοι.”

For those of you able to attend Liturgy on secular New Year’s day as I was would have heard similarly, “. . . according to the elemental spirits of the universe” (Περιτομὴ τοῦ Κυρίου, Βασιλείου τοῦ Μεγάλου, 1 Ἰανουαρίου, Κολ. β′ 8-12). Again, the translations differ, but the Greek text(s) agree: “κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου.”

Biblical cosmology (especially the cosmology of Second Temple Judaism) I have come to find fascinating. With all the interest these days in secular society with Flat Earth Theory and in the Church with the τελώνια, a proper understanding of cosmology makes all the difference. The problem arises though when those who suffer from what Canadian Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor has termed disenchantment apply their disenchanted post-Enlightenment cosmology upon the past, completely unaware that one of the worldviews of the past was hierarchical. (This also would have saved the Mormon ψευδοπροφήτης Joseph Smith and the LDS et al. a lot of embarrassment vis-à-vis third heaven/seven heavens, q.v.). This one needs to keep in mind when approaching the issue of the τελώνια.

My point in writing about all this is because of an article that came my way this morning before Ὄρθρος by the brilliant Eastern Orthodox philosopher, scholar of religion, writer, and cultural commentator David Bentley Hart, Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong. It deals with a cosmological worldview lost by most (as I vaguely hinted at above, i.e., translation differences and the τελώνια) and is well worth reading.

When Even The Devil Cries: Postmodernism, Biology, Genitals, & Transphobia

Some people that I discuss things with just are unaware of how deep the Postmodern attack on the Logos is. And also how the proselytes of Postmodernism use identity politics to entrench their ideology within our laws. Pushing to the point where one will soon be committing a hate crime for something as innocuous as not wanting to perform oral sex on a biological male who suffers from Gender Dysphoria—regardless of whether or not the biological male who suffers from Gender Dysphoria has altered their gender expression to conform with their delusion.

The fact that a heterosexual biological male is more than likely not going to romantically pursue another biological male who believes himself in fact to be a female who’s outward gender expression appears as male is obvious at least to me. I simply included gender expression to elucidate just how crazy this all is.

For those in doubt and the rest who are unaware, I present the following to be watched and/or read in the order here:

12 December 2016 – Understanding Postmodernism: The 3 Stages to Today´s Insanity (Stephen Hicks)

21 March 2016 – No, I Don’t Have To Tell You I’m Trans Before Dating You – Demanding trans people come out to potential partners is transphobic.

12 June 2017 – Apparently You’re ‘Deeply Transphobic’ If You Don’t Want To Sleep With A Trans Person

26 October 2016 – “No such thing as biological sex”

19 January 2017 – Trans women are not “biologically male” | Riley J. Dennis

19 March 2017 – Are genital preferences transphobic? | Riley J. Dennis

15 July 2017 – Transgender Activist: Men Should Find Us Attractive – Men Are Bigots? – Tucker Carlson

19 August 2017 – When You Say “I Would Never Date A Trans Person,” It’s Transphobic. Here’s Why.

21 August 2017 – Genital Preferences: Totally OK, Not Transphobic! – Our society has completely gone off the rails; to put it one way, the same people who are offended by President Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comments would be even more offended if he didn’t say it about trans-men who think they are women who don’t have vaginas. Or as the best line as found in the comments of this “Genital Preferences” video, which sum up the identity politics being used to legislate and enforce anti-Logos ideology, puts it:

“When your [sic] considered transphobic for not sucking dick.”
-Balls of Valhalla

19 December 2018 – JRE #1218 – Gad Saad

Postmodernism

Postmodernism is difficult to define, because to define it would violate the postmodernist’s premise that no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist. In this article, the term “postmodernism” will remain vague, since those who claim to be postmodernists have varying beliefs and opinions on issues.

– allaboutphilosophy.org

28 November 2016 – JRE #877 – Jordan Peterson

3 May 2017 – Challenges, Dr. Dan Wallace, Biblical Greek Grammarian

9 May 2017 – JRE #958 – Jordan Peterson

What we need to be clear on is that the Postmodernists’ war on so-called “phallogocentrism” is actually a spiritual war against the Logos, and sadly in this end game people suffering from the mental illness of gender dysphoria (http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/…/appi.books.9780890425596.…) are pawns in the manipulating of our thoughts through the controlling of our speech via government legislation.

“2+2=5” -George Orwell, 1984

Smile For the Picture

I feel as though it’s always “been a difficult couple of weeks,” and it has left me worrying about the future of the Church. Very common talk appears to be towards the secular understanding of human sexuality at the expense of the Orthodox understanding, shorter services, doing away with Koine Greek, American Leftist politics, Ecumenism, and cremation. All towards the acceptance of the aforementioned, a complete rejecting of 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (and much other Scripture and patristic references) and a bold trust in the fallen Self-girded together with the unvoiced heresy of modernism—the belief that the Church is in error and one’s thoughts are not.

The thought that one’s thoughts are actually one’s own and not the result of the demonic’s zeitgeist-societal programming from the day of birth never occurs to most people, and why would it? Their φρόνημα is not that of the Church, and the whole concept of co-crucifixion with Christ in order to metamorphose and recapitulate the fallen Self is absent; it is no longer ‘come as you are but don’t leave as you came.’ It is now ‘come as you are and remain the same, the Church will change and legitimise my sins.’

The problem with moving the boundary, with the liberal application of οἰκονομία, is that what is οἰκονομία now becomes the new standard of ἀκρίβεια later, and this has been progressively happening since the legalisation of Orthodox Christianity in the 4th century, and to all those who doubt this I point you to Chapter 7 of Pomazansky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, and this here and here.

Now here is a nice song to cheer you up

Descent-of-Modernists-268x300

Evolution & Theodicy​

Last night I came across a recently posted question in the Eastern Orthodox Biblical & Theological Discussion group on Facebook. For the most part, the question remained unanswered, devolving into those who hold a black-and-white understanding of Scripture and the Fathers’ hermeneutics of Scripture vs. those who face no fear in approaching higher levels of comprehension. Or, as St. Paul wrote in Κορινθίους ά 3·1-3 (GNT-EPT),

“ΚΑΙ ἐγώ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἠδυνήθην ὑμῖν λαλῆσαι ὡς πνευματικοῖς, ἀλλ᾿ ὡς σαρκικοῖς, ὡς νηπίοις ἐν Χριστῷ.

γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα καὶ οὐ βρῶμα. οὔπω γὰρ ἠδύνασθε. ἀλλ᾿ οὔτε ἔτι νῦν δύνασθε· ἔτι γὰρ σαρκικοί ἐστε. ὅπου γὰρ ἐν ὑμῖν ζῆλος καὶ ἔρις καὶ διχοστασίαι, οὐχὶ σαρκικοί ἐστε καὶ κατὰ ἄνθρωπον περιπατεῖτε;”

Or as he wrote in Ἑβραίους 5·12-14 (GNT-EPT)

“καὶ γὰρ ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι διὰ τὸν χρόνον, πάλιν χρείαν ἔχετε τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς τίνα τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς. πᾶς γὰρ ὁ μετέχων γάλακτος ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης· νήπιος γάρ ἐστι· τελείων δέ ἐστιν ἡ στερεὰ τροφή, τῶν διὰ τὴν ἕξιν τὰ αἰσθητήρια γεγυμνασμένα ἐχόντων πρὸς διάκρισιν καλοῦ τε καὶ κακοῦ.”

I encourage those who might object to my position to read the Patristic comments on the above and to keep in mind regarding the topic of this post that science and our Faith were not mutually exclusive.

The question was, “I have a question for this group, does the Eastern Orthodox teaching on evil and ancestral sin require the belief in or the existence of an historical Adam and Eve as the parents of all people alive today?” It brought to mind a picture I saw on Instagram last year:

One of the better arguments out there.  #Atheist #Godless #GodisNotGreat #GodlessUtopia #Islam #GodisDead #GodIsNotDead #Jesus #Mohammed #Christian #Atheism #RichardDawkins #SamHarris #ChristopherHitchens #AlbertEinstein #StephenHawking #CarlSagan #NeildeGrasseTyson #TheThinkingAtheist #Bible #Koran #Science #Skepticism #NoGod #AntiReligion #Humanist #Scientist #Quran #Torah
To actually answer the Facebook question, no; furthermore, there is a flaw in the arguments presented above with the quote and Instagram post. I believe the argument(s) contain a formal fallacy of affirming the disjunct; the crux of the argument—and the heart of the question—is that it was necessary for Christ to incarnate, which is to place on God our fallen human view of the situation, i.e., action/reaction. But we know that God does nothing out of necessity, and from this premise, you will find among some Orthodox theologians and Church Fathers the belief that the incarnation was to happen all along and that it wasn’t necessitated by the Fall.
Further Reading

Celebritarianism

Four things happened this weekend: 1. I returned on Saturday from a week as the Sr. Boys’ counselor at Camp Met Winnipeg; 2. Mayweather vs. MacGregor; 3. Ronda Rousey got married; 4. internet garbage directed at MacGregor after the fight.

I’ve never seen Floyd box, nor did I care to as I’m not a fan of boxing. Nor am I a fan of Connor; however wasting time on the internet just now and seeing it all made me think it was appropriate to bring over this piece I wrote on November 21st, 2015, with just some slight editing.

they love you when you’re on all the covers
when you’re not then they love another…

This blog entry was supposed to start with Britney Spears, but as the whole world knows–as is clearly evident by social media and what is ‘trending‘—Ronda Rousey got KO’d (or KTFO, to be more accurate) last Saturday in the main event of UFC 193, hence we have a new Women’s Bantamweight Champion in Holy Holm .

A number of memes immediately found all over the internet were extremely harsh on Ronda. She hasn’t exactly made it difficult to not-like her, with her attitude and demeanor, as well as her tantrum at the UFC 193 weigh-ins and her follow-up of that with more garbage on Instagram; but with the public’s reaction to all this, just as with Britney Spears who I’ll get to below, we have clear examples of Celebritarianism, or at least lesser versions—’saints’ in the making…or might it be martyrs? Let us hope not.

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Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
-St. John 1:29b (RSV)

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There is a love in North America of celebrity—especially celebrity failure, especially if mixed with sex, drugs, religion, or violence (see opening paragraph)…and even more if the celebrity is female: it’s socially accepted and shared torture-porn. Over the decades that I have been in existence, as North Americans have become less and less (heterodox) Christian and more and more secular, their religiosity has never waned. Rather, it has found new expression: Celebritarianism, a denomination of Protestantism in which celebrities replace Christ and the saints. Where they are crucified upon TV and the Internet; and we have our phones in our pockets, our tablets, and chargers in our backpacks replacing prayer books, Bibles, rosaries, and chotkis.

This “new religion” of the masses has been brilliantly recognized, understood, and reflected back at us most poignantly as art in Marilyn Manson’s Triptych. And our modern-day, real-life denomination of Celebritarianism is even more grotesque in its perversion of true Christianity. Because now—in a world of 140 letter character blurbs and micro-attention spans, a society where every moment is photographed and every sex act digitally recorded—not only in death are the saints/celebrities glorified, but also now how much they publicly suffer determines their worth for us.

There is a Nietzschean element here, obviously. First, with Manson’s use of art (those who read Nietzsche know the role art played in his philosophy (and in Manson’s too)). Secondly, with the Death of God in North American society we are finally free; but upon our realization of such freedom, we feel the oppression of responsibility for one’s own actions. And under such a weight, we cave and act as though we had in fact never committed deicide: what we piously publicly confess and what we reveal of our beliefs through our public behavior are mutually exclusive. So with one God dead, we’ve put others in His place.

This societal vampiric lust for celebrity and celebutante fall and failure has been seen many times throughout the career of the pop-artist(?) Britney Spears and her engagement with our society: American, blonde, sexy, young, and publicly virginal (see the last two lines of the above paragraph).

I used to never like Britney Spears, not that I ever had a legitimate emotion about her either way, but I must confess there are two songs I like, two songs which I always felt captured the darkness at the heart of such a publicly crafted and scrutinized life…

Watch this and this, the latter of which was beautifully used in Springbreakers.

At the end of the day, I wish nothing but the best for Britney, and I hope that Ronda learns from her loss, but as the artist Marilyn Manson himself knows all too well, it’s a long hard road, out of hell.

You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape…
-Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra