Wednesday, December 23, 2015

How Frank Capra's Christian Faith Influenced His Films

By Maria Elena De Las Carreras Kuntz

The career of Frank Capra coincided with the golden age of Hollywood, and many of his films are recognized as classics. Still, most critics seem not to have noticed that Capra's work reflects a profoundly Catholic vision of reality, a vision framed by the Sermon on the Mount. Because his cinema does not have an ethnic Italian flavor, like the Irishness of film director John Ford, this Catholicism is often perceived as an addendum to a body of work primarily concerned with a celebration of American life and its democratic ideals.

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Fiction as Food" by G.K. Chesterton


By G.K. Chesterton

I have been asked to explain what I meant by saying that "Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." I have no notion when I said it or where I said it, or even whether I said it; in the sense that I do not now remember ever saying it at all. But I do know why I said it; if I ever said it at all. That is the advantage of believing in what some call dogma and others call logic. Some people seem to imagine that a man being sceptical and changing his beliefs, or even a man being cynical and disregarding his beliefs, is a sort of advantage to him in liberality and flexibility of mind. The truth is exactly the other way. By the very laws of the mind, it is more difficult to remember disconnected things than connected things; and a man is much more in control of a whole range of controversy if he has connected beliefs than if he had never had anything but disconnected doubts. Therefore I can immediately understand the sentence submitted to me, as if it were a sentence made up by somebody else; as perhaps it was.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Monastic-Inspired Heavy Metal in Mount Athos

Million Ways To Live is an international documentary travel series, that focuses on what all these people have in common. They call them Healthy Lifestyle Principles: Real Food, Movement, Rest & Relaxation, Lifelong Learning, Community, and Love.

In this episode they focus on Thomas Aslanidis, a heavy metal musician who lives by the monastic principles of Mount Athos, and channels the region's spiritual energy into his music.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

15 Movies With "Hidden" Christian Themes

Ask us how many Christian movies topped the box office in the past few years and we’d be tempted to say “none.” But that was before we discovered that these hit movies had hidden Christian themes.


C.S. Lewis, the author of the novel The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, is famous for using Christian themes in his work. This film adaption is filled with them: Aslan is Jesus Christ, Jadis is Satan, and the plot of the movie follows the resurrection of Christ and the fall of Satan.

But those religious themes didn’t go over so well with everyone. When The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe came out in 2005, The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee criticized it, saying it was “invad[ing] children’s minds with Christian iconography… heavily laden with guilt, blame, sacrifice and a suffering that is dark with emotional sadism.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Japanese-American Actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is Baptized Orthodox Christian

November 12, 2015

The soul of Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, best known for the part of evil sorcerer Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movies, has been captured by Russia – he has apparently decided to be baptized into the Orthodox Church.

Tagawa, an American actor of Japanese descent, who took part in a new Russian film called The Priest-San, decided to abandon his faith and become a true follower of Jesus Christ’s Orthodox teachings, Interfax reports.

The news was spread via Facebook by one of his colleagues, Ivan Okhlobystin, an actor and prominent Russian religious figure. He shared a photo of Tagawa taken with a giant cross, probably snapped during filming not far from Moscow.

“I’m happy to say that… after deep and thorough consideration Cary Tagawa, who played the part of the Japanese Orthodox priest in our new film The Priest-San, will take the Sacrament of Holy Baptism,” his post goes.

“I can identify with the spirituality of Ivan (Okhlobystin) and Pyotr (Mamonov), I am deeply religious myself. You cannot just grasp the essence of the Russian Orthodox Church with its centuries of history. Getting to know it takes time, and it's a job for the heart rather than the mind. When I had first come to Russia I had very little time to get into the character. So I visited a number of Russian cathedrals in Yaroslavl and Rostov. Simply being inside had a very powerful effect on me,” Tagawa said in an interview to in 2013 when the shooting in Russia was done.

Tagawa also expressed his intention to become a Russian citizen at a press conference, according to Orthodox news website

“I’m not following the new trend,” he said, most likely alluding to American boxer Roy Jones Jr and French actor Gerard Depardieu. “I follow my heart. There are no easy decisions either in America, or anywhere else in the world. This will be a new challenge for me.”

The film, soon to hit screens in Russia, tells the story of a Japanese priest, who leaves Japan due to Yakuza wars and heads for a small Russian town to help its locals fight rampant corruption. The movie is the latest project from the "Orthodox" producing studio.

(He was baptized by Metropolitan Hilarion in the Cathedral of the Joy of All Who Sorrow. His baptismal name is Panteleimon.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Is Technology Evil? (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Many complain against technology.

Many accuse modern technology for all the woes in the world.

Is technology really to blame, or those who create technology and use it?

Is a wooden cross to blame if somebody crucifies someone on it?

Is a hammer to blame if a neighbor breaks his neighbors skull?

Technology does not feel good or evil.

The same pipes can be used for drinking water or the sewer.

Evil does not come from unfeeling, dead technology, but from the dead hearts of people.

From the Complete Works of Bishop Nikolai [in Serbian], Book 12, p. 23.

Monday, November 2, 2015

10 Horrifying Technologies That Threaten Humanity's Existence

Jonathan Benson
December 08, 2014
Natural News

Technology is the archetypal golden calf of the modern age. Everything that naturally exists in a purely analog and resonant state is being artificially mechanized, computerized, digitized and hybridized (think half-human, half-robot on this one). And with this gradual suffocation of the living, breathing fabric of our world comes the ominous threat of eventual human extinction, as the very essence of humanity is systematically uprooted in favor of a wholly synthetic and programmed existence.

Much of what is considered technological advancement these days is inherently evil and has the potential to be used as a collective weapon of mass destruction against life itself. Synthetic biology, for instance, which involves re-engineering genes to manufacture fake organisms, is one such example that threatens to set off an unpredictable chain reaction of devastation and death within the larger ecosystem of life itself.

"The idea that technology is neutral or amoral is a myth that needs to be dispelled," said Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics + Emerging Science Group at California Polytechnic University, as quoted by io9. "The designer can imbue ethics into the creation, even if the artifact has no moral agency itself. This feature may be too subtle to notice in most cases, but some technologies are born from evil and don't have redeeming uses...."

Here are 10 other examples of horrifying technologies that, if fully implemented, could spell the death of humanity (H/T io9):

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Age of Technology and the Golden Calf

By John Ianolide,
the New Confessor of the Faith
(The Imprisoned Prophet, 1985)

We live at the height of the technological era. This was prepared from the 19th century through supposed progressivism and materialism. Humanity has been driven to this perception and mindset and now already it is generalized.

The American capitalist system has brought about this gigantic technical and economic bliss of consumer society, although this is the main goal of historical Marxist materialism. But Soviet Russia has not performed like the United States of America. And Communist China is running with great strides to synchronize. All the nations of Asia, Africa and South America dream of technological progress.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Hobbies of the Hierarchs of Greece

Manou Haralambakis
October 9, 2015

Whenever Archbishop Ieronymos finds time off, he rests and relaxes by looking after the animals in the Monastery of Saints Theodores in Zaltsa of Boeotia. Metropolitan Maximos of Ioannina spends his free time listening to music on YouTube. Metropolitan Dionysios of Corinth takes walks in the mountains, while the Metropolitan of Mantineia is a farmer whenever he is not occupied with his ecclesiastical duties.

Most Metropolitans - due to their cassock and position - are considerate and dedicated to their duties. They spend endless hours at the offices of their Metropolises and participate in liturgies and sacraments. They are committed to serving God and the faithful, although they also have another side, more human.

Many spend their limited free time on their favorite hobbies. They listen to music, read literature, exercise, grow plants and deal with new technologies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Information Age and the Empty Tomb of Christ

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

We live in an era of information and information technology, an age in which television broadcasts play an important role. Despite this, however, we live in an era of disinformation and misinformation. We learn a lot of news going on in the world, but we ignore the greatest news, which is the essence of things.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Relentless Cult of Novelty

The following address was delivered when Solzhenitsyn was awarded the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature in 1993. It was translated by Solzhenitsyn's sons, Ignat and Stephan. The title was provided by The New York Times, where the essay was first printed.

By Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Nothing worthy can be built on a neglect of higher meanings and on a relativistic view of concepts and culture as a whole.

There is a long accepted truth about art that "style is the man" ("le style est l'homme”). This means that every work of a skilled Musician, Artist or Writer is shaped by an absolutely unique combination of personality traits, creative abilities and individual as well as national experience. And since such a combination can never be recreated, art (but I shall here speak primarily of literature) possesses infinite variety across the ages and among different peoples.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Religious-Economic War in Europe

From left, Sigmar Gabriel and Wolfgang Schäuble of Germany and Michel Sapin and Emmanuel Macron of France. 

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Europe has known many religious wars, especially with the advent of the Reformers, who cut themselves off from the Papists ("Catholics"). Luther dominated Germany, Calvin dominated Geneva and Zwingli dominated Zurich. Normally political leaders chose the religious faith they wanted, which resulted in civil strife, wars, persecutions, etc. The tendency of Europeans to unfetter themselves from religious faith is not independent of these conflicts, the so-called religious wars.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Movie: "Constantine and the Cross" (1961)

Constantine and the Cross (AKA: Costantino il grande) is a 1961 Italian made historical drama film about the early career of the emperor Constantine, who first legalized and then adopted Christianity in the early fourth century. The fictionalized film (it is especially fictional when it focuses on his personal life) only stretches as far into his life as the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD 312.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Music of Arvo Pärt

Tom Huizenga
September 11, 2015

Mystical, monk-like, reclusive — those are a few words often used to describe Arvo Pärt. His music gets labeled as timeless, spiritual and meditative. The Estonian composer, born 80 years ago today, is perhaps all of these things ... and maybe none of them.

Recently, Pärt allowed a film crew follow him for a year. The result is a new documentary by Günter Atteln called The Lost Paradise, an excerpt of which the producers at Accentus Music are sharing prior to its fall release. The excerpt here finds the composer at his piano, at a rehearsal of his music with his wife and musing about a healthy kind of pain in art.

Whether you are an Arvo Pärt first-timer or a fanatic, here's a short list of things to know about this singularly fascinating artist.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Are There Dangers in Being 'Spiritual But Not Religious'?

Are There Dangers in Being 'Spiritual But Not Religious'?

By John Blake
June 3, 2010

"I'm spiritual but not religious."

It's a trendy phrase people often use to describe their belief that they don't need organized religion to live a life of faith.

But for Jesuit priest James Martin, the phrase also hints at something else: selfishness.

"Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and self-centeredness," says Martin, an editor at America, a national Catholic magazine based in New York City. "If it's just you and God in your room, and a religious community makes no demands on you, why help the poor?"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Unknown Work Attributed to El Greco Discovered in Italy

An enthroned Saint Demetrios, a work of the Cretan School, may be the work of El Greco in his Cretan period.

Dimitri Deliolanis
July 30, 2015

An unknown painting of Domenikos Theotokopoulos was discovered in Italy and will be exhibited for the first time in October. It depicts Saint Demetrios enthroned, of exceptional beauty, which undoubtedly belongs to the Cretan period of El Greco. This is the least known period of activity of the great artist, and we have only two other icons of his from this time. As explained to us by the Italian conservator Mariella Lobefaro, who made the discovery: "Surely it is a work that is from the period before 1567 and therefore extremely rare: it is the only one that reached us in such good condition."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Dialectic of the Church in the World

By Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece

(Excerpt from a Homily for the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 2000)

The sacred images, but the very Divine Liturgy itself, as well as the hymnology and everything else that transpires within the church constitute a complete break with the criteria of all that takes place in the world outside the church.

This break or rupture is expressed by our Lord when He says: "My Kingdom is not of this world". By so stating our Lord not only declares that the present world is a place of death, displacement and failure, but also that the world is unable to become man-befriending, with respect for all who are weak; that it cannot become a world devoid of pain.

The Church is "not of this world"; She does, however, live "in the world", for the world's salvation. Her word, the comprehensive and dialectic orthodox word, is in opposition to the "mind" of the world; at the same time, however, the object of her mission is man, who abides in the world. Her kerygma revolves around problems which beset man, not because she does not observe the many positive things that are being accomplished, but because she knows that the positive elements "of this world" are also carriers of death, unless they are transformed within her, into works unto God's glory. Otherwise, they remain works of human vanity. That which is positive for the world is always chained to the unjust, to that which is inhuman and demonic.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Miraculous Naming of an Atheist Greek Singer

Notis Sfakianakis, whose full first name is Panagiotis, is one of the most commercially successful Greek singers of all time in Greece and Cyprus, but is also known for his controversial image and outspoken manner and opinions. He openly speaks about his atheism and criticizes the Greek Orthodox Church. An example of this can be read in the following interview with from January 27, 2013: Νότης: Η συνέντευξη που σοκάρει!

In this interview, he makes the following confession of a miracle of the Panagia which resulted in his naming:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Gregory the Theologian's Praise of Philosophy

The following excerpt comes from Oration 25, "In Praise of Heron the Philosopher", delivered in 380 A.D. by St. Gregory of Nazianzus on behalf of Maximus the Cynic, a convert to Christianity initially admired by Gregory, but not so much after being betrayed by him when he attempted to consecrate himself Archbishop of Constantinople over Gregory. The opening lines of this homily is one of the best patristic defenses of philosophy when used for its proper purpose, that is, not for doing theology but for communicating theology reasonably and living a life of virtue, since Gregory most admired Maximus for his strong defense of Orthodoxy against heresy and his virtuous life. Philosophy, for Gregory, is above all living according to the teachings of Christ, without distraction or deviation, and imitating His love for others, and has nothing to do with intellectual speculations. A true philosopher is a supremely free being in Christ, because he is free from the shackles of the passions and sin. Once this take place, we can "philosophize about God", as Gregory explains in his Five Theological Orations, and this is the highest form of philosophy, which is essentially the communication of empirical theology.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Internet, a Challenge to Modern Monasticism

Aimilios Polygenis
July 31, 2015

According to Bishop Pankratiy of Troitsk, Abbot of Valaam Monastery in St. Petersburg, the internet is a challenge to modern monasticism.

In a recent interview with the Bishop, he called Smartphones a temptation for monastics, stressing that "the image of the bitten apple reminds us of the days when Adam and Eve ate the apple and sinned before God."

"They who become monastics leave worldly things behind, but when monastics have Smartphones in their lives, then they return back to the world," stressed Bishop Pankratiy.

The Abbot of Valaam said this is a problem in all the monasteries, including Mount Athos.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Eirini Merkouri Testifies To Her Orthodox Faith

Eirini Merkouri is a famous Greek singer who in an interview a few years ago on Greek television gave her testimony of her deep faith in Jesus Christ and the Saints who have helped her in her life. She speaks in the video above of her deeply pious mother who raised her and her four siblings in the Orthodox Faith and named her after St. Irene Chrysovalantou; her birth name was Chrysovalantou but she calls herself by her middle name Eirini. Living near the Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Athens, her mother would take her there weekly for the Divine Liturgy. When she was 16 her mother died of cancer at the age of 49. Now, inspired by fellow Greek singer Nikos Kourkoulis, who also recently gave his testimony of his deep Christian Faith and the miracles in his life (see here), she also decided to go public with her testimony.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nikos Kourkoulis: Cancer and the Holy Mountain

Nikos Kourkoulis is among the most well-known and beloved musicians in Greece. On 6 December 2006 he spoke on Greek television station ANT1 of the following incident which occurred to him in 2002.

In 2002 Nikos was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After several tests, this diagnosis was confirmed. His mother told him not to worry, that all would turn out well for him.

During the period of Great Lent he finished the program at the center where he was appearing, and he presented all his friends and colleagues with gifts and gave his final wishes, as his cancer was rapidly progressing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ernest Hemingway On the Catastrophy of Smyrna in 1922

By Richard Carriero

Disorienting flashes of light and dark, that's how Earnest Hemingway's "On the Quai at Smyrna" begins.

"The strange thing was, he said, how they screamed every night at midnight. I do not know why they screamed at that time. We were in the harbor and they were all on the pier and at midnight they started screaming. We used to turn the searchlight on them to quiet them. That always did the trick. We'd run the search light up and down over them two or three times and they stopped it."

On August 30th, 1922 after smashing the Greeks at Afyon, Mustafa Kemal ordered his troops to Smyrna. Before him the survivors of the disastrous Greek invasion poured onto ships in terror. Not everyone escaped. The invasion's chaotic conclusion would bring Hemingway to Istanbul and provide the subject matter for his first work as a war correspondent.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Citizen Kane" and the Modern Soul

By Emmanuel Lagouvardos of Moscow

The film Citizen Kane (1941) by Orson Welles is perhaps the best film ever. The central idea of the story is the trauma caused to the child's soul by his detachment from his natural environment, from his parents and his home. In essence it is about contempt of the family for the sake of money and wealth. This issue was raised in modern times with the absence of the mother from the home and the handing over of children to be raised by strangers (domestic workers, educators, teachers, psychologists, etc.).

The drama begins when the parents of young Kane, poor villagers, entrust his upbringing to strangers in the city in exchange for money, particularly the expectation of a rich life. The cause of the drama is suggested both by the word from the title "citizen", a resident of the city, and the last word of the hero, the name "rosebud", which is the name of the small sleigh with which Kane played as a young child, when he lived with his parents. The psychological trauma he suffered being raised by strangers, to whom he was given by his parents in exchange for money, never healed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Geopolitics of Greece: A Sea at its Heart

The ancient Greek period is the last time that Greece had some semblance of political independence. It therefore offers insights into how Greek geography has crafted Greek strategy.

July 8, 2010
Hellenes Online

Throughout the history of Greece, its geography has been both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because it allowed Greece to dominate the “known Western world” for a good portion of Europe’s ancient history due to a combination of sea access and rugged topography. In the ancient era, these were perfect conditions for a maritime city-state culture oriented toward commerce and one that was difficult to dislodge by more powerful land-based opponents. This geography incubated the West’s first advanced civilization (Athens) and produced its first empire (ancient Macedon).

However, Greek geography is also a curse because it is isolated on the very tip of the rugged and practically impassable Balkan Peninsula, forcing it to rely on the Mediterranean Sea for trade and communication. None of the Greek cities had much of a hinterland. These small coastal enclaves were easily defendable, but they were not easily unified, nor could they become large or rich due to a dearth of local resources. This has been a key disadvantage for Greece, which has had to vie with more powerful civilizations throughout its history, particularly those based on the Sea of Marmara in the east and the Po, Tiber and Arno valleys of the Apennine Peninsula to the west.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Greece, Orthodoxy and Geopolitics

Greece, Religion and Geopolitics:
A Hint of Civilisations Clashing

January 28, 2015

AS MY last posting noted, the first edgy thing which the new Greek government did was to downgrade, albeit very politely, its relations with the church. The second thing was to upgrade a relationship whose historic roots are at least partly religious, with Russia. On his first day in office, prime minister Alexis Tsipras met the Russian ambassador, and then distanced Greece from an EU statement which protested over Russian actions in Ukraine and threatened further sanctions. He then named a foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, who enjoys cordial relations with the religious-nationalist segment of the Russian elite.

Lots of questions arise. Is this a great historical paradox - the consolidation of a sentimental tie based on common Orthodox Christianity, under a secular Greek government and a stridently pious Russian one? That would be an interesting reversal of the cold war. Or is the relationship more cultural and historical, based on common memories of shimmering mosaics and swirling incense, rather than actively religious? If that is true, then it is not particularly dependent on what people on either side now believe.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"Ostrov" (or "The Island"): A Movie Review By Monk Moses the Athonite

"The Island of Anatoli":
A Russian Film Worth Seeing

By Monk Moses the Athonite

August 2008

It's been 35 years since I went to the cinema. When I was young I often went; more often to the theater. One day I visited a friend, an iconographer from Karyes of Mount Athos, and he offered to show me the film on his computer. I pretended to be in a hurry, trying to avoid it. But I submitted to his persistence, and I do not regret it.

It is a film by the Russian director Pavel Lungin, whom I was not familiar with, yet who riveted me for nearly two hours in my uncomfortable seat. I'm not an art critic. I will humbly submit the pleasant surprise of my beautiful impression.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2015 So Far

Now that we are nearly halfway through 2015, it is time to share my 10 favorite movies of the year so far, so people can start catching up with their movie watching for the summer, and to help prepare me for my final list at the end of the year. I'll leave my comments for the final end of the year list, but each title below is linked to the Wikipedia page if you want to read more about it and see the trailer. Though some of these films were released in 2014, they were officially widely released in the United States and viewed by me in 2015 (I added an extra movie because I'm not sure if one on the list was widely released in late 2014 or early 2015).

Monday, June 8, 2015

Saint Athanasios Parios On Philosophy

Saint Athanasios Parios (Feast Day - June 24)

Saint Athanasios Parios (b. Paros, 1722 - d. Chios, 1813) was one of the most significant ecclesiastical figures of the 18th and 19th century and is listed with Saints Nikodemos the Hagiorite and Makarios Notaras as the three most significant Kollyvades Fathers and defenders of traditional Orthodoxy. Saint Athanasios was especially influential in his confrontation with western models of doing philosophy and theology as a director of the Mount Athos Academy as well as the School of Chios (more can be read about St. Athanasios here).

Theoretical and Practical Philosophy

- A great and wonderful gift has been given by God to man: the faculty of reason. This invents various sciences. Employing this faculty, man digs up from the earth various kinds of metals and precious stones. Then he examines the different species of animals: the quadrupeds, the bipeds; those that crawl on the earth, the birds, the terrestrial animals, the aquatic, and the amphibious; the wild and the tame, the viviparous and the oviparous. He examines the various kinds of trees: the evergreen and those that shed their leaves, those that are fruitless and the fruitbearing. He seeks to find out which trees are suitable for the needs of the various arts, and which are useful only as firewood.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Art Is Often Misinterpreted

What do you think this depicts?

The painting above at first sight seems to depict a horrific image, but in reality it shows that art is often not to be interpreted literally. One needs to think outside the box and put art in its context.

So what does it depict?

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Ethics of Facebook, Twitter and Social Media

By Douglas Groothuis


Social media are growing explosively and are changing the way people around the globe think of friendship and community. While media such as Facebook offer us unique opportunities, they also present real dangers. Christians should realize that not all forms of culture are advantageous to human flourishing and that every medium has it limitations. We are shaped in profound ways by every medium of communication. Yet, for all its immediacy and possibilities, the computer world of social media cannot replace the significance of embodied interactions. Friendship, fellowship, and community cannot be duplicated at the deepest levels in social media. Nevertheless, if we resist gossip and gullibility, and are careful not to overexpose ourselves in these media, we can engage these forms of communication wisely and usefully. The following principles can help guide our involvement with social media: (1) Monitor yourself for unhealthy behavior. (2) Restrict late evening and early morning for other activities. (3) Avoid narcissism and present one’s true self. (4) Pay special attention to specific Facebook friends each month. (5) Be skeptical of how others present themselves on Facebook. (6) Periodically abstain from Facebook. (7) Develop a philosophy of what a Facebook friend should mean to you. For me, this means presenting thoughtful material to as many people as possible, which includes apologetic engagement.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Milla Jovovich's Daughter Baptized Russian Orthodox (photos)

May 27, 2015

You can take the girl out of Russia, but you can’t take the Russia out of the girl.

Milla Jovovich has been giving her Instagram followers an inside look at daughter Dashiel Edan‘s traditional Russian Orthodox baptism ceremony, which took place Friday at the Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox church in Los Angeles.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Myth of a Postmodern Era

By Mark Sayers

For the last ten to fifteen years a great fallacy has clouded debate around the future of the Church in the West. The fallacy goes something like this. At some stage (depending on who you talk to), but most likely in the nineteen nineties the post modern era began. All of a sudden everything changed and a line was drawn in history. On one side were the postmodernists and on the other the modernists. The modernists were enslaved to a highly cerebral, hegemonic view of the world. They were obsessed with progress and holding the world at a cold calculated distance. They were beholden to technology, and if they were religious were either dogmatic fundamentalists or materialist liberals. They hated anything non-Western or from the past, and lived in Le Corbusier designed buildings where they almost suffocated on their own sense of hubris.

Then there was the postmodernists and apparently they were coming so we had to be ready, or had to become postmodern ourselves. The young were postmodern and the future was postmodern. The postmodernists were everything that the modernists were not, they loved spirituality instead of religion, were embracing of the non-West, the past, and anything experiential. They had piercings and hated objective truth. The implications were clear, soon Western culture would morph into a giant rave where we would find ourselves dancing to tribal techno with an dreadlocked Austrian backpacker/Yoga practitioner named Helga.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The New Religion of Body Improvement

By Jeremy Biles
27 May 2010

“The worldwide pursuit of body improvement has become like a new religion,” says photographer Zed Nelson in the introduction to his latest book, Love Me.

His photos therein depict in loving, lurid detail evidences of bodily fanaticism around the globe – a preposterously muscled bodybuilder in Las Vegas, prosthetic nose implants in Beijing, the winner of a maximum-security-prison beauty pageant in Rio. But do these photos really point toward a “new religion”?

There’s reason to think so. In fact, though the pursuit of bodily perfection is a global phenomenon, its roots may lie partly in American religion.

Monday, May 11, 2015

John Lennon and the Cult of Celebrity

John W. Whitehead
December 7, 2010
Christian Post

"I have to cut through the mask even if it's self-created." - John Lennon

It should come as no surprise that when the appeal of traditional religion began to fade, mass entertainment rushed into the vacuum. In fact, pop culture and the temporal values of entertainment effectively compete with those of religion to such an extent that celebrity has increasingly become the religion of our consumer society. "And fans are the mystical adepts of this religion," write Judy and Fred Vemorel in their book Starlust, "who dramatize moods, fantasies and expectations we all share."

Despite his own cult status, John Lennon, who was gunned down 30 years ago, spent the latter part of his short life attempting to undermine the cult of celebrity.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jonathan Jackson's Pilgrimage to Mount Athos (photos + video)

The 32 year-old American actor Jonathan Jackson, known for his Emmy award winning role in General Hospital, was baptized Orthodox three years ago with his family, and has publicly expressed in the past his love for Mount Athos and gratitude to the monks there.

This past Friday he visited Mount Athos for the first time with his 11 year-old son Caleb, and they stayed there for five days visiting Simonopetra and Xenophontos monasteries, and spent most of his time at Vatopaidi Monastery (Friday till Tuesday) where he met the Abbot, Elder Ephraim, and attended an all-night vigil on Saturday night.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Cult of Celebrity: Misguided by the Stars

The cult of celebrity is not new, but it is increasing in its scope and effect. At one time, people wanted simply to gawp at the famous, and possibly dress like them. Now, many take their moral and political opinions from them.

Point of View: Misguided by the Stars

Theodore Dalrymple
May 27 2007
The Star

The cult of celebrity is not new, but it is increasing in its scope and effect. At one time, people wanted simply to gawp at the famous, and possibly dress like them. Now, many take their moral and political opinions from them.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dark Side of Fame, the Cult of Celebrity and Today's Youth

The Dark Side of Fame ... and why the cult of celebrity is destroying today's children

By Sharon Osbourne
28th February 2010

My husband Ozzy and I once met Andy Warhol. It was in New York in the Eighties, about a year before the artist died, and at the height of Ozzy's solo success. We had a call from one of Warhol's people saying Andy wanted to meet Ozzy. We were intrigued so we said: 'Let's do it.'

First came dinner in a restaurant in Greenwich Village. Ozzy and I sat opposite Warhol, who was exactly like you see him in pictures, only more exaggerated - skinny face, and his collar too big for his neck, so the effect was a bit tortoise-like. Most of the time he didn't say anything, and when he did, it was so quiet you couldn't really hear.

Dinner over, he said he wanted to take us to a Manhattan club. It wasn't long before Ozzy got agitated. 'I'm bored,' he told me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Trivialization Nation: Are We Devaluing Our Values?

Linton Weeks
February 12, 2010

A roll of U.S. Constitution toilet paper sells for $7.95 online. Certain TV shows arrange marriages. Other shows brush aside the horrors of serial killers or treat torture as a curiosity.

It makes you wonder — have we become Trivialization Nation? Perhaps we've downsized the meaning of everything: Love. Death. Sex. Religion. Education. Civil rights.

How sacred is life when in a recent episode of the widely watched and revered Oprah, a murderer on death row appears via satellite to speak with the children of his victims? How lifted up is love when a houseful of men and women vie on MTV's A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila for the favors of the self-promoting Web celeb?

The Department of Homeland Security, created in 2002, will be the subject of a conference this month called "The 7-Year Itch — Renewing the Commitment." That's right. Bright, creative people plan to discuss the supersober topic of national security in this era of incredible danger — and they name the confab for a 1955 Marilyn Monroe movie about marital ennui.

Witty, yes. Weighty, not so much.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Prayer Rope and the Video Game

The elder Silouan the Athonite making a prayer rope
while young boys play a video game on their way to Mount Athos.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Saint Nektary of Optina and the Arts

Saint Nektary of Optina (Feast Day - April 29)

In 1876, Nicholas [later named Nektary] arrived at the Optina forest with a bundle swung over his shoulder, containing nothing but a copy of the New Testament. Many years later, the holy father recalled his first impressions of Optina Monastery: "Lord! How beautiful it is with the sun flooding the area from sunrise, and the flowers! Just as though in Paradise!" Nicholas was received by none other than Elder Ambrose, and his initial dialogue with this great sagacious elder produced such a deep impression that he remained there for the rest of his life. Elders Ambrose and Anthony (Zertsalov) became his spiritual mentors.

When he was in reclusion, Elder Nektary’s spiritual preceptors blessed him, after ten years of exclusive study of spiritual literature, to read secular authors and to study the secular sciences, obviously with the aim that he acquire that knowledge which would enable him to help lead the restless souls of the groping intelligentsia to salvation. He studied science, mathematics, history, geography and classical literature, both Russian and foreign. He spoke to his visitors about Pushkin and Shakespeare, Milton and Krilov, Spengler and Hegart, Blok, Dante, Gogol, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. In his only hour of rest after dinner he would ask to have read aloud Pushkin or some fairy tales—either Russian or the Brothers Grimm.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Robert Powell and His Portrayal of Jesus

By John Sanidopoulos

One of the most pivotal points in my complete conversion to Christianity happened in 1990 during Holy Week. This happened to be a year in which both Eastern and Western Christians celebrated Easter together. Being only 14 years old at the time, this was rare and the first in my memory, and it finally offered me the opportunity to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with the majority of the American people.

It was during this time that I first saw Franco Zeffirellis' 6-hour miniseries Jesus of Nazareth (1977) on television. It absolutely captivated me. I would watch it before and after going to church with my family over the three days it aired, and though by this time I was somewhat familiar with biblical prophecies, it was through this miniseries that I began to study the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. Whenever a prophecy was mentioned, I would write it down and enthusiastically search through my Bible to find the references (this was before the days of the internet). What also stood out to me in this film was the rare reverential and dignified tone to the film and the absolutely superb acting of Robert Powell, the actor who played Jesus.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"The Donkey" by G.K. Chesterton

Below is a poem by G.K. Chesterton which he wrote regarding Christ's entry into Jerusalem from the perspective of the donkey He was riding.

The Donkey
By G. K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Photios Kontoglou on Goethe, Kazantzakis and Venezis

Nikos Kazantzakis

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

Next we spoke briefly about Goethe, Kazantzakis and Venezis. I was interested in knowing his opinion regarding them. Goethe's name was mentioned as we were talking about Kazantzakis. It became clear that Kontoglou did not share the enthusiasm of many contemporary Greek intellectuals for the famous German writer. The philosopher-theologian Nikolaos Louvaris, for example, refers to Goethe repeatedly, and in fact more often than to any other writer, always approvingly, in his two-volume work Symposion Hosion (Symposium of Holy Men). Kontoglou, on the other hand, refers to him only once in his books, in the Preface of his first book, Pedro Cazas. For Kazantzakis, as I noted in an earlier chapter, he had no use. Photios remarked that both Goethe and Kazantzakis are writers with pompous expression, ostentatious, ever endeavoring to impress others with their assumed wisdom. The excessive admiration of Goethe was, according to Photios, another example of xenomania of contemporary Greeks.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Photios Kontoglou on Fyodor Dostoevsky

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

Having high esteem for the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), particularly impressed by his work The Brothers Karamazov, and knowing that I was like-minded, he invited me to join him one afternoon, together with his wife and daughter, Mrs. Despina Martinou, at a cinema on Stadiou Street, where this work was being shown. I gladly accepted the invitation, even though I was even less of a movie-goer than Kontoglou. After the show, he took us for a treat at a nearby shop where pastry was served. There we discussed our impressions about the film.

Both he and I were especially interested in "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" contained in The Brothers Karamazov. We were in accord with the opinion of the emigre Russian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev, that "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor is the high point of Dostoevsky's work and the crown of his dialectic" (See Berdyaev's Dostoievsky, trans. by Donald Attwater, ch. VIII). I had read this story as part of the reading that had been assigned by one of my teachers at Harvard, Professor Julius S. Bixler, in a course in Philosophy of Religion. The story made a great impression on me, as it had on Kontoglou when he read a French translation of the novel in the early forties. Seeing this film was expected to make this story and other parts of Dostoevsky's magnum opus more vivid for us. But to our disappointment, what interested us most, "The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor," had been left out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Movie: "Papaflessas" (a film about the Greek Revolution)

After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, the Greeks were in slavery for 400 years. Until one day they decided to fight for freedom on 1821. Papaflessas the priest and Kolokotronis were the great heroes. And many more. Papaflessas, a Greek priest, took part in almost all the battles fought in the Peloponnese. In 1825 he fought with only 300 men against 6000 Turko-Egyptian soldiers in Maniaki near Kalamata, where he fell heroically on May 20. This is the true story of a man who was a real patriot. Includes English subtitles.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Photios Kontoglou on American Writers (Emerson, Poe and Dana)

Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

On November 21 [1958], the day after my first lecture on American philosophy, which was on Ralph Waldo Emerson, I visited Kontoglou at his home. He had not come to my lecture. As I noted earlier, he hardly ever left home in the evening. And, so far as I know, he never attended public lectures. He had some acquaintance with Emerson's essays and regarded him as a great philosopher. Emerson was one of the few American writers that really interested him. The others were Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) and Richard Henry Dana (1815-1882).

He asked me to tell him some of the things in Emerson's philosophy that I considered a special significance and which I discussed in my lecture. I mentioned Emerson's emphasis on the soul, his ethical and metaphysical idealism, his distinction between "beauty in nature", which is perishable, and "inward and eternal beauty", and his views on the fine arts, particularly his conviction that higher art is characterized by simplicity, universality, and spirituality. With all these features of Emerson's philosophy he was in sympathy, and he was glad I brought them to the attention of my audience.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Photios Kontoglou on European and Other Philosophers

Blaise Pascal

By Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

Kontoglou said:

I am a primitive man, I am not versed in philosophies and such things. The other day someone was telling me about Descartes, and mentioned his statement: "I think, therefore I exist." This assertion is absurd. For when I think, I do not simply "exist". It is when I am asleep that I "exist".

The person who was telling Kontoglou about Descartes - the 17th century Frenchman who is regarded as the "father of modern philosophy" - used the Greek word hyparcho for the French je suis, or the Latin sum, which mean "I am". Thus, the absurdity noted by Kontoglou does not occur in the French or Latin texts of Descartes. I explained this to Kontoglou. He had a point. When one asks a Greek how he is, and he answers: "I exist," he means that he feels that he is merely vegetating, is making no headway in life.

Kontoglou's statement that he is a "primitive man" was an expression of his humility. For he was a man of wide learning and was acquainted with the thought of a good many philosophers. He has authored a book on the celebrated French philosopher Pascal, who was a contemporary of Descartes. However, he showed little interest in European philosophy. Even Pascal interested him primarily as an apologist of Christianity and a critic of the rationalism of Descartes and others.