Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Real Leviathan

Stephen M. Norris
February 5, 2015

One of the watchwords of Vladimir Putin’s presidency is patriotism. The Russian president has attempted to define his system as one where ordinary Russians can feel a sense of pride in their country, and where feeling patriotic in turn makes a true Russian citizen.

Russia’s current social contract, in the concept of governance made famous by philosopher Thomas Hobbes’s 1651 Leviathan, is one where the leader and his citizens are bound together by a sense of patriotism.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Russian Child's Clean Monday Remembered

Ivan Shmelyov or Shmelev (1873-1950) was a Russian émigré writer best known for his full-blooded idyllic recreations of the pre-revolutionary past spent in the merchant district of Moscow. His first published story appeared in 1895; in the same year he visited Valaam Monastery, a trip that had a deep spiritual influence on him and resulted in his first book, Na skalakh Valaama ['On the Cliffs of Valaam'] (1897).

In his beloved book Anno Domini ['The Year of the Lord'], Shmelyov reminisces about the vanished traditional Russia of his childhood. In the excerpt below is the author's child's eye view of Clean Monday and the beginning of Great Lent in pre-revolutionary Moscow.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mikhail Shvydkoi: Russian Literature Has a Holy Attitude to the Word

Former Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi shares his thoughts on the relationship between art and reality and what it is that makes Russian literature so special.

Mikhail Shvydkoi
February 6, 2015

The Read Russia project, which has been very successful abroad, will now turn its focus inwards, and I am confident it will benefit everyone – no matter what literary preferences they have. People like to lament that modern Russia is devoid of good literature, but this is about as justified as claiming that we do not play football. Contemporary Russian literature – including what is written in the languages of the various ethnic groups that comprise our country – reflects the level of national self-examination. This idea that any given country is devoid of good literature has been around since time immemorial – I am sure it existed in Pushkin’s day too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fr. Themi: The Atheist Rocker Who Became an Orthodox Priest and Missionary In Africa

He succeeded in forming his own music band in the era when the Beatles and Rolling Stones were at their height, and they called themselves The Flies. From the halls of the School of Business Science at the University of Melbourne, he moved on to singing beside Mick Jagger in fulfillment of a dream. Now he is found in Africa as a missionary.

How did this Greek, Themi Adamopoulos, come to choose to help the needy? Why did he renounce fame in order to seek a more peaceful yet sacrificial existence?

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Orthodoxy of Tom Hanks

An interesting article recently appeared regarding Tom Hanks and his happiness in being Greek Orthodox (see article below). But how Orthodox is Tom Hanks? Though he is not very vocal about his Orthodox faith, we can get a few glimpses of his Orthodoxy through his interviews and many successful films.

Tom Hanks was an adherent of a number of different Christian denominations while growing up, including Catholic, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), Nazarene, and a Fundamentalist Christian group. His jump from one faith to another mainly was due to the various relationships his divorced parents got into that left him with a very troubled and confused childhood. From an interview published in George magazine, April 1998:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Musicians Who Are Converts to Orthodox Christianity

I am fairly often asked about certain famous people who are Orthodox Christians, and for most there is obscure information on the internet. There are many musicians who are Orthodox, in one form or another, especially those who were born into the Faith (one list is here). Questions usually revolve around converts however, and alleged converts. Here is some info I have come up with, to answer some of those questions.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode A Convert to Orthodoxy

I remember years ago reading somewhere that Dave Gahan, lead vocalist and co-songwriter of the famous Alternative Rock and New Wave band Depeche Mode, converted to Orthodoxy. This surprised me, as I've been a big fan of the band for many years, but also because the band is well-known for being controversial, especially when it comes to issues of religion. For example, 'Blasphemous Rumours' (see here) is a dark yet wry look at the misery in the world and what part religion plays in this. Also, probably their biggest hit, listed at #368 by Rolling Stone magazine in their 2006 list of "500 Greatest Songs Ever", is the catchy song 'Personal Jesus' (see here) about how in love relationships we can become Jesus figures to our partners.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Charles Dickens and Christianity

"My dear children, I am very anxious that you should know something about the History of Jesus Christ. For everybody ought to know about Him." - Charles Dickens

The last work of Charles Dickens to be published was a private retelling of the Gospel narratives, titled The Life of Our Lord. It was written in 1849 specifically for his children that they may intimately know the life of Jesus Christ, and he ordered that it never be published. However, when all his children had died, it was made public after 85 years and published in 1934. Dickens respected and loved very much the Bible and Christ and sought to instill in his children the same reverence, though he was never dogmatic about it nor preachy of his personal views, since he opposed all manner of religious fanaticism.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Technological Aesthetics and the Therapy of the Triodion

By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis

Technological Assistance to Illness

In the press we have seen references to a book by British psychotherapist Susie Orbach, titled Awakening Beauty. It is a book written to help mothers communicate properly with their young daughters on issues related to body image, self-confidence and self-esteem.