Sexual identities, in contrast to sexual practices or passions, are a relatively new concept. Only recently were passions taken to define people, i.e. seen as constituting an identity or essence, such as homosexual or heterosexual—an understanding that even many secular circles now scorn as untenable. It is, then, discouraging to see a highly respected Orthodox hierarch dare to breach the unwavering moral tradition of the Church based upon such an “essentialist” notion of “sexual orientation.” Siewers argues that this step undermines Orthodox anthropology by turning the body into a thing (reification) and alienating humanity from the incarnation of the God-man Christ.
Readers of Kyriakos Markides’ “Mountain of Silence” already know Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol as “Fr Maximus” of Mt Athos. In this wonderful talk on marriage, Metropolitan Athanasios exhibits the same personal, relaxed, but powerfully insightful style of discourse that we remember from Markides’ book, as he discusses wide-ranging issues from the the communion of marriage to the nature of Orthodox Sacrament to the grounds of human dignity.
Orthodoxy not uncommonly calls on us to maintain a sort of binocular vision, affirming two seemingly opposing views. Nowhere is this more evident than in the case of suicide, where we are asked both to love the perpetrator and refrain from judgment, while at the same time condemning the act as itself profoundly abhorrent. Our therapeutic mindset finds the former easy, and the latter difficult. This text by Nun Barbara, first published in Russia in 1943, helps redress the imbalance.
From the point of view of consistency within the Tradition through the ages, it’s inconceivable that the Orthodox Church as a whole would ever endorse sodomy – or any other form of same-sex sexual activity – as an acceptable practice, as something consistent with the quest for holiness and purity in spirit, soul, and body which her members have always preached and endeavored to practice.
“Why does God impose His commandments upon us?” asks the young student. In his recent (May 19, 2018) commencement address at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, philosopher (and Another City Associate Editor) David Bradshaw offers future Orthodox priests tools to overcome the doubts and objections that they will encounter from their parishioners, especially the young who feel that God’s commandments are arbitrary and onerous. Bradshaw explains how we can show them that the God we worship Himself fulfills the goodness and beauty for which they themselves long, and how the divine commandments in fact serve to guide them toward that very beauty. Eliciting and encouraging the questioning process, the new priest can show the questioner, who is often stranded in a world of disrupted families and digital distractions, the divine beauty they already seek within the liturgies of the Church, in the lives of its saints, in the ascetic life that leads to holiness, and in the forgiveness they are invited extend in their own lives.
Human freedom is an experience before it is a concept. Indeed, even as concept, freedom is extremely elusive.
By Peter Leithart Once upon a time, magic was a mighty force, but not anymore. Once Britain was filled with fairies, but no one ever sees an elf nowadays. My opening paragraph may sound like a tale from Max Weber or Charles Taylor, but the first sentence summarizes a regular motif of English folklore and […]
There exists a cherubic center of our soul, its angelic kernel which is of great significance. But it is buried in mystery and cannot be seen by the eyes of the flesh. . .
In one sense, the original sin was the killing of God in self. He, who from the creation of man was ever-present with him was cast out, the presence was killed. This act of killing God’s presence, the intolerance for the presence of God, still rests in man.
Part 1 of this interview takes us deep into the life of a young man who converts to Islam at the age of fourteen, and goes on to devote his life totally to his newly discovered faith, not only robustly practicing all the Islamic precepts, but going on to study for three years in a Muslim seminary to become an imam, where he learns Arabic, and intensively studies the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Gradually he becomes disillusioned with the Islam he has learned, discovers an authentic Christianity that he had not known existed, and converts to Orthodoxy. Even as he retains a certain respect for for his former religion, his comparisons of Islam and Orthodoxy Christianity are vivid and compelling. Drawing on his own life-experience, he shows us Islamic faith and practice from within, indicating point by point its differences from the Orthodox Christian faith.
Part 2 of this interview takes us deep into the life of a young man who converts to Islam at the age of fourteen, and goes on to devote his life totally to his newly discovered faith, not only robustly practicing all the Islamic precepts, but going on to study for three years in a Muslim seminary to become an imam, where he learns Arabic, and intensively studies the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Gradually he becomes disillusioned with the Islam he has learned, discovers an authentic Christianity that he had not known existed, and converts to Orthodoxy. Even as he retains a certain respect for for his former religion, his comparisons of Islam and Orthodoxy Christianity are vivid and compelling. Drawing on his own life-experience, he shows us Islamic faith and practice from within, indicating point by point its differences from the Orthodox Christian faith.
A short biography about the life and conversion of Fr. Seraphim Rose was written by his Godfather years ago and never published. It provides a glimpse into the life and character of Eugene Rose before his conversion including his reaction to Orthodoxy when he first encountered it and the profound influence that St. John of San Francisco had on his life.
Biographical information on the early life of Fr. Seraphim Rose is rare and this welcome reflection helps us understand Fr. Seraphim more, particularly as Americans who have experienced the cultural milieu that shaped and formed the early early Eugene Rose and that he would analyse with prescient depth after he became a monastic.
Archbishop Sergius (Korolev) of Prague (1881-1952) was born in Moscow, but spent the defining years of his life (1922-1946) in Prague where he unified the Russian émigré community and courageously served daily molebens throughout the German occupation. The central theme that runs throughout his pastoral writings is that of spiritual life in the world: “The cultivation of the inner man is done not in the world of astounding podvigs, but in everyday life.” He believed that it was especially through interpersonal relationships, especially within the family, that salvation must be sought: “All of life is in people’s interpersonal relationships,” he wrote. “We have to illumine them with the light of Christ’s Truth. We have to find the hidden treasure in every heart.” “Man was created for happiness,” he tells us, “and only through everyday victories can he obtain joy and a state that brings light to everyone and to himself.”
Even as we bask in the light of Christ’s Holy Resurrection, we begin to look ahead to Pentecost, to the Fire of the Holy Spirit coming down from above, giving us a new, true center. This is crucial in a darkening era obsessed with monsters, with the strange, with aliens, with the marginal, with things that do not fit. In a nihilistic world that is losing its center, where zombies wander aimlessly, we discover the icon of St Christopher, himself often portrayed monstrously with the head of a dog, yet as carrying Christ Himself. St Christopher reveals a bridge to the very ends of the earth, over which the Light of Christ and the Fire of the Holy Spirit can be carried further into the darkness than we ever thought possible.
Far from being enemies or correctives of each other, ecumenism and phyletism are two sides of the same coin of secularism. Both deny the catholicity of the One Church and both seek to recognize in its place a "divided" Church, whether it be along ethnic or denominational lines. Both reduce the Church to the sociological and historical level. Speaking much of love, each in their own way (for nation or world), both are revealed as bereft of love for his neighbor's salvation, for they leave him in his delusion and error, the one by erecting an ethnic roadblock, the other denying him the narrow path.
Man sentenced God to death; but by His Holy Resurrection, God sentenced man to immortality. In return for a beating, He gives an embrace; in return for abuse, a blessing; for death, immortality. Man never showed so much hate for God as when he crucified Him; and God never showed more love for man than when He arose. Man even wanted to reduce God to a mortal, but God by His Resurrection made man immortal. By the Resurrection of the God-Man, human nature has been led irreversibly onto the path of immortality, and has become dreadful to death itself.
With this text, Another City inaugurates a new feature of our journal, in which we offer the reader substantial portions (typically chapters) of books (many of them recently published) that we believe hold a particular importance for Orthodox Christians. Here, thanks to St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, we encounter one of the most important but strangely neglected saints and devotional writers of Russian Orthodoxy, St Dimitri of Rostov.
St Vladimir’s Seminary Press has inaugurated its new series, “Treasures of Orthodox Spirituality,” with this sparkling introduction to the very distinctive spirituality of St Dimitri of Rostov (1651-1709), a figure whose eloquence earned him during his lifetime the title “Russia’s Chrysostom.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ was met not as a king of earthly glory, but as a spiritual King. They shouted to Him, “Hosanna!”, which means “save us”. They saw in Him a Savior and leader toward higher glory.
Each one of us can be a friend of God, as Lazarus was called, and in each one of us this friend of God once lived. And then in the process of living, as a flower fades, as the forces of life, hope, joy, purity dwindle, so the strength of the Lord’s friend dwindles, and many a time we feel as though he is lying as in a coffin somewhere inside us.