Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Does Media Help Us Appreciate Life In Its Fullest?

By John Sanidopoulos

Modern media, whether it is literature, film or any other, often is dark, depressing and full of angst. It identifies with the modern soul, and helps those with similar emotions and thoughts feel as if they aren't alone in their lonely and confused existence. When coupled with a moral foundation or ending, it can be quite powerful in expressing existential truths and give some meaning where meaninglessness seems to reign. And if we can't identify with tragedy, then maybe we can at least learn something from the tragedy of another.

Friday, September 26, 2014

"Transgression" In Rock and Roll According to Marilyn Manson

In 2012 The Stool Pigeon conducted an interesting interview with Marilyn Manson on transgression in rock music. Below are some of the least offensive excerpts, but still there are parts below that may be found offensive and it does contain a few swear words (Warning!). Too often Christians evaluate rock music based on their own worldview without listening to what rock musicians actually have to say about what they do, and this creates a never ending cycle of reactionism. This is not only a rock star's evaluation, perhaps the last rock star at that, of "transgression" in Rock and Roll, but also a way subversive musical artists tend to view society and why they create the art they do. Some things you may agree with, some things not, but it is still interesting nonetheless, especially in a time when rock music is speedily declining, though not its influence.

The Stool Pigeon: I want to ask you about the role of transgression in rock music, where transgression is going, and even if the outrageous, controversial rock star of the late 20th Century might be redundant.

Marilyn Manson: I think by its nature it’s redundant. You can’t really ever make any art without getting someone’s attention… constantly. You have to say something differently, constantly. Dali said that anyone who doesn’t steal isn’t an artist and you have to take things and make them your own, and then when you’ve done that, you have to realise how not to cannibalise yourself, but how to transform constantly. This record I’ve just made allows people to witness that I’ve made a transformation. All music comes from heartache and all music comes from pain and suffering. That’s never going to go away, so it’s how do we learn to adapt to the fact that the whole world is able to talk really loud now? You know, everyone’s a journalist now – everyone’s got an opinion – and I think that just levels the playing field. Andy Warhol told us that everyone would be famous for 15 minutes and he was very accurate. So we have to invent new ways to make it interesting to other people because we’re trying to appeal to other people. You have to make this conversation interesting to someone else who wants to read it.


Monday, September 22, 2014

A Question on Vanity and Entertainment

Below is a question I received five years ago along with my reply:

John, since you are a pious Orthodox with an interest in the arts, how do you participate in them and enjoy them and yet keep the spirit of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem's catechetical instruction?

"Now the pomp of the devil is the madness of the theatres, horse-races and hunting, and all such vanity; from which the holy man praying to be delivered says unto God, 'Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity'. Be not interested in the madness of the theatre, where you will behold the silly gestures of the players, carried on with mockeries and all indecency, and the frantic dancing of effeminate men." (On the Renunciation of Satan).

Saint John Chrysostom says similar things also.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Kenotic Theology of the Cross and Popular Culture

In popular culture, religion is generally marked by supernatural special effects and a dualistic worldview. A theology of the cross challenges such simplistic portrayals, offering a more viable and hopeful theological response to human suffering and the ambiguity of life.

Below is an excerpt worth pondering and offering many valuable insights written by Ernest L. Simmons from his article titled "Theology of the Cross and Popular Culture", which can be read in its entirety here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Three Hermits" - A Beneficial Tale By Leo Tolstoy

Three Hermits

By Leo Tolstoy


'And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.' - Matt. 6:7-8.

A BISHOP was sailing from Archangel to the Solov├ętsk Monastery; and on the same vessel were a number of pilgrims on their way to visit the shrines at that place. The voyage was a smooth one. The wind favourable, and the weather fair. The pilgrims lay on deck, eating, or sat in groups talking to one another. The Bishop, too, came on deck, and as he was pacing up and down, he noticed a group of men standing near the prow and listening to a fisherman who was pointing to the sea and telling them something. The Bishop stopped, and looked in the direction in which the man was pointing. He could see nothing however, but the sea glistening in the sunshine. He drew nearer to listen, but when the man saw him, he took off his cap and was silent. The rest of the people also took off their caps, and bowed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

St. John of Kronstadt: "Count Leo Tolstoy, the Worst Heretic of our Evil Days"

Russian Patriarchate: Leo Tolstoy's Excommunication Will Not Be Reversed

November 18, 2010

Despite high praise of Leo Tolstoy's works, it is impossible to remove his excommunication from the Orthodox Church today, a hundred years after his death, as it was Tolstoy who excommunicated himself, executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) believes.

Leo Tolstoy and the Orthodox Church

Since Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew referenced Leo Tolstoy as being an Orthodox Christian in his lecture on November 3, 2009 at Georgetown University, I thought I would remind Orthodox Christians that Leo Tolstoy not only was not Orthodox, but he rejected Orthodoxy and in turn excommunicated himself from the Orthodox Church and was thus excommunicated for this rejection. Below is more information to enlighten those unaware of the false teachings of Leo Tolstoy. He was a great novelist and story teller, but unfortunately a poor theologian.

100 Years After Excommunication, Church Cannot Look Kindly Upon Tolstoy

Russian Orthodox hierarchy rejects request of writer's great-great-grandson.

Andrei Zolotov

A hundred years after it excommunicated Leo Tolstoy, the Russian Orthodox Church has ignored a plea by his great-great-grandson, Vladimir Tolstoy, to reconsider the writings and reflections of the famous novelist.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Myth of the Excommunication of Nikos Kazantzakis

There is a persistent myth that Nikos Kazantzakis was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church. This is not true. Despite the very controversial topics he wrote about, it was eventually seen that he was a novelist and artist and not a theologian, and that what he wrote about was not doctrine but about his own personal struggles, no matter how vividly and shockingly it was portrayed. There was indeed a campaign for his excommunication, but it never fell through. Neither the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece signed it, nor did the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Upon his death, his body was viewed in the Cathedral Church of Saint Menas in Heraklion. Much can be written on this topic, but I think a good summary is given in the book Dialogic Openness in Nikos Kazantzakis by Charitini Christodoulou (the first 20 pages can be read online here, with citations that I did not include), so I am offering a few excerpts below that deal with this issue specifically. Below that are a few articles that delve a bit deeper into the issue.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Ultimate Heresy: The Heartless God in "Parker's Back"

By Stephen Sparrow

"Parker's Back" was the last story Flannery O'Connor wrote. Caroline Gordon Tate recalled visiting O'Connor in hospital shortly before she died, and tells how O'Connor said she wasn't supposed to be working but then smiled and pulled from under her pillow a notebook in which she said she was putting the finishing touches to something. What she was touching up was "Parker's Back." I think it is easily her most profound short story, dealing as it does in a unique way with heresy3: the ultimate heresy if you like; viz. the idea that spirit and matter are separate and opposite manifestations of good and evil, and that Man is unable to approach God and God is unwilling to draw near to Man.