Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Herman Melville's "The Sepulchre"

Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land is an epic poem written in 1876 by American writer Herman Melville. It is the longest poem in American literature. This narrative poem of four major parts and some l50 cantos depicts a young theology student wandering through the Holy Land, first in Jerusalem, then in the Wilderness, then Mar Saba, and finally Bethlehem. The journey is reminiscent of Melville's own wanderings in the Holy Land in the middle 1850's. Clarel is described by Edwin H. Miller as "Melville's poetic restatement of the subject matter of his prose... an unformed youth in search of security in a world which has no security to offer".

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mark Twain's Visit to the Holy Sepulchre

By Mark Twain

(Innocents Abroad, ch. 53)

The population of Jerusalem is composed of Moslems, Jews, Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Abyssinians, Greek Catholics, and a handful of Protestants. One hundred of the latter sect are all that dwell now in this birthplace of Christianity. The nice shades of nationality comprised in the above list, and the languages spoken by them, are altogether too numerous to mention. It seems to me that all the races and colors and tongues of the earth must be represented among the fourteen thousand souls that dwell in Jerusalem. Rags, wretchedness, poverty and dirt, those signs and symbols that indicate the presence of Moslem rule more surely than the crescent-flag itself, abound. Lepers, cripples, the blind, and the idiotic, assail you on every hand, and they know but one word of but one language apparently—the eternal "bucksheesh." To see the numbers of maimed, malformed and diseased humanity that throng the holy places and obstruct the gates, one might suppose that the ancient days had come again, and that the angel of the Lord was expected to descend at any moment to stir the waters of Bethesda. Jerusalem is mournful, and dreary, and lifeless. I would not desire to live here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

What Hans Christian Andersen Said About Greek Easter

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was a prolific Danish author and poet, who "introduced the idea of fantasy into children's stories, preparing the climate for Lewis Carroll in the 1860's. And in creating a separate children's world of talking toys and animals, he had a profound effect on later classics of childhood, such as 'The Wind in the Willows' and 'Winnie the Pooh'." (Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller)

Below is an excerpt from Hans Christian Andersen’s travel memoirs A Poet’s Bazaar: A Journey to Greece, Turkey and Up the Danube, about Easter festivities in Greece in the 19th century, specifically the early 1840's.

James Joyce and Orthodox Holy Week

By John Sanidopoulos

James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. In a 1922 New York Times profile of Joyce, the following was told of him: "Mr. Joyce has no reverence for organized religion, for conventional morality, for literary style or form. He has no conception of the word obedience, and he bends the knee neither to God nor man." Yet what we find evident from his own testimony and that of his friends is his appreciation of the music and rituals of Orthodox Holy Week services, which he took every opportunity not to miss, whether it be in a Greek or Russian church.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saint Ardalion the Mime, a Prototype of a Genuine Artist

Holy Martyr Ardalion the Mime (Feast Day - April 14)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ardalion lived at the end of the third century and practiced the profession of mime, or actor. He was truly a great "talent", which is why his presence in the theater caused crowding. On an official day, when the theater was packed and the Provincial Ruler was present, as well as other State officials, Ardalion "staged" his own show, making reference to Christians by highlighting their explicit courage with which they expressed their faith before the powers of the State, the patience they had during horrific torture, as well as the love they showed even to their executioners. He himself played a Christian, who was tortured hard, and even though he suffered, he remained calm and peaceful. Therefore, he was hung high and showed that he was being tormented and suffering, after allegedly they had torn his flesh and he bled like a river. His depiction was so vivid and amazing, that viewers below began to fervently clap for the skill of the artist, who managed to inspire viewers sympathy and admiration for Christians.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Scientific Integrity and the Tyranny of Pseudoscience

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” is how the great Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman defined science in his article “What is Science?”* Feynman emphasized this definition by repeating it in a stand-alone sentence in extra large typeface in his article. Below is an excerpt from the article which can be read in full here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Endemic Herbs From Mount Athos Help Cure Illnesses

Several herbs, endemic to the Holy Mount Athos, have been found to cure chronic illnesses like rheumatism, circulatory problems, allergies etc.

The Centre for the research and study of such herbs has been launched at the Monastery of Vatopaidi with the help of Italian scientists, most notable of which is professor Roberto Micinilli of the University of Viterbo.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"The Raven": Demon of Despair (On Poe and Death)

By Presbytera Juliana Cownie

Soon after the death of a loved one come many visitors to the bereaved. Some arrive early, bearing gifts of food and speaking words of consolation and comfort. Others appear late in the day, unable to say anything, but still comforting in their very presence. But when the comforters have gone away and we sit through the lonely watches of the night, pondering our loss, the last visitor arrives. He comes invited, though not to bring consolation; his words are empty of that. No, his purpose is to smother any desire we may still have for life, to snuff out the smallest spark of hope that may yet gleam within our soul. He is the black-winged demon of despair, sent to bring us swiftly to the realm of everlasting pain and to bring the pain of Hell to us while we yet live.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Intolerance of Tolerance

The Intolerance of Tolerance

Gregory Koukl

Probably no concept has more currency in our politically correct culture than the notion of tolerance. Unfortunately, one of America's noblest virtues has been so distorted it's become a vice.

There is a modern myth that holds that true tolerance consists of neutrality. It is one of the most entrenched assumptions of a society committed to relativism.

The tolerant person occupies neutral ground, a place of complete impartiality where each person is permitted to decide for himself. No judgments allowed. No "forcing" personal views. Each takes a neutral posture towards another's convictions.

This approach is very popular with post-modernists, that breed of radical skeptics whose ideas command unwarranted respect in the university today. Their rallying cry, "There is no truth," is often followed by an appeal for tolerance.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Man's Creative Power and the Knowledge of God

By Elder Sophrony of Essex

Many-sided is the image of God in man. Man's creative power is one aspect, manifesting itself in various spheres and branches of culture - civilization, art, science, and so forth. This creative power does not rest here but continues to transcend the visible and temporal in its striving to attain to the origin of all that exists - God the Creator.