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.