Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Animation: "Cricket On The Hearth" (1967)

Cricket On The Hearth (1967) is a delightful, animated musical version of Charles Dickens' classic tale. A Cricket on the Hearth, tells the story of a poor toymaker and his daughter whom a helpful Cricket named Crocket befriends on Christmas morning. When tragedy strikes the family, it's Crocket who comes to the rescue and restores peace and happiness.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cretan Artist Attributes Rescue in Car Accident to Miracle of St. Spyridon

Secular weekly newspapers, such as Loipon (22 December), reported on a Cretan artist, who attributes his rescue in a car accident a year ago and his new ability to walk to a miracle of St. Spyridon. Regarding Mr. Emmanuel Kontaros, an artist and family man, Loipon said the following:

"This Christmas will be different for Manuel Kontaros. His name day will find him upright playing with his children, just as before. The nightmare of the terrible car accident, which happened to him as it dawned on the feast of St. Spyridon, is in the past. In 3 to 4 months he will even completely toss away the crutches, say his German doctors, who attribute his walking only to a miracle and the strength of his soul.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When St. Nicholas Appeared to a Soviet Actress in 1941

Popular Soviet film actress Lyubov Sokolova (July 31, 1921 – June 6, 2001), who appeared in over 300 films, having just been married, found herself in Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War. On 31 July 1941, her 20th birthday, when nothing as yet heralded a siege of the city, Lyubov set out together with her mother-in-law by train to the city outskirts, where they worked together in a factory. They got off at the designated station and walked down the street. This is what happened afterwards.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sanity in an American City

“To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you – from the cradle to the grave and beyond – which it would be easy, fatally easy, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up – before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whisky, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity.”

-- Christopher Isherwood, “Los Angeles” from Exhumations (1966)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Orthodox Fundamentalism, Conspiracies and Harry Potter

The Harry Potter Phenomenon and Orthodox Reactions

Bishop Auxentios of Photiki

The Orthodox Church, contrary to certain well-meaning but misguided efforts by the Faithful and some clergymen to prove other wise, is not opposed to science, progress, or human intellectual development. Even a cursory survey of the writings of the Church Fathers--from St. Basil the Great to St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, to cite two notable examples--and those of our finest theologians lucidly demonstrates that the fear of secular knowledge, of the West, of science, and of secular intellectual trends is unknown to the Orthodox Church. St. Basil the Great instructs us to benefit from what is good even in pagan writers, while St. Nicodemos adapted more than one spiritual source of Western provenance to Orthodox usage. And the late and renowned Photios Kontoglou, a conservative and decidedly traditional Orthodox thinker, benefited from the writings of classical Greek philosophy and without reluctance fathomed the depths of such Western thinkers as Blaise Pascal. Anti-Western, anti-intellectual thinking is not part of the Patristic consensus, except as the Fathers approach the dogmatic deviations of Western Christianity. We must keep these notions in mind, as we confront technologies, ideologies, social thought, and intellectual trends formed in a changing world and in a secular context that some times challenges the immutable truths which shape our thinking and lives as Orthodox Christians.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Scott Derrickson, the Most Interesting Filmmaker in Hollywood

Scott Derickson is probably Hollywood's most interesting filmmaker, primarily focusing on writing and directing horror movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil, and more recently offering his take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange. This interest in movies with a strong good vs. evil motif piques Derrickson’s interest because of his Christian faith. In a 2007 interview Derrickson said in an interview about the horror genre:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Russian Film - "The Monk and the Demon" (2016)

When a man decides to dedicate his life to God, he must know that temptations will come like an avalanche to test his internal state. Then he will know if he can truly and faithfully serve God. This path, as the Holy Fathers of the Church say, is narrow and not everyone can cross it. Some stumble from the very beginning, and some when they arrive just halfway, do not manage to reach the end.

But what can a man do when he is attacked by forces that he did not know much about until then? Of course he will fight, and emerge victorious with the help of God.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Confrontation Between Eugenios Voulgaris and Voltaire

By John Sanidopoulos

Archbishop Eugenios Voulgaris (1716-1806) was the greatest Greek scholar of the 18th century, whose fame crossed the borders of Greece into Europe. In 1771 he left Constantinople and settled in Leipzig, due to a disagreement with Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril Loukaris.

King Frederick IV of Prussia admired the knowledge and wisdom of Voulgaris, and called him in 1772 to his court in Berlin to discuss such metaphysical questions as "Is there a hell?" and "Does paradise exist?". There, Voulgaris met Voltaire (1694-1778), a deist and rationalist who was among the famous thinkers of the French Enlightenment, and they discussed many theological and philosophical issues.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A Historic Timeline of Art Movements (5th cent. - 20th cent.)


Gothic: 5th Century to 16th Century A.D.
Gothic Art is the style of art produced in Northern Europe from the middle ages up until the beginning of the Renaissance. Typically rooted in religious devotion, it is especially known for the distinctive arched design of its churches, its stained glass, and its illuminated manuscripts. In the late 14th century, anticipating the Renaissance, Gothic Art developed into a more secular style known as International Gothic. One of the great artists of this period is Simone Martini. Although superseded by Renaissance art, there was a Gothic Revival in the 18th and 19th centuries, largely rooted in nostalgia and romanticism.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book: "Warhol/Icon: The Creation of Image"

Warhol/Icon was a major exhibition co-created by Haunch of Venison and Potnia Thiron Gallery in Athens, which explored Andy Warhol's obsession with fame through his work as a painter of ‘icons’. The emphasis in the exhibition was on the relationship between Warhol’s own Byzantine religious beliefs, Slavic background and devotion to his mystical mother, and his apparently unfettered celebration of an American celebrity culture.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Interview with an Actor Who Possesses the Cap of Saint Paisios the Athonite

September 16, 2016

Petros Xekoukis gave an interview for the magazine Loipon with Renee Sarantinou, and revealed among other things how he acquired the cap of Saint Paisios.

You have in your home the cap worn by Saint Paisios?

Of course, I have the cap of Saint Paisios. I saw him for the first time in 1979, where I met him at Panagouda, at his cell, at the Skete of Saint Panteleimon, at the Holy Mountain.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Saint Porphyrios the Actor and the Mockery of God

St. Porphyrios the Mime (Feast Day - September 15)


Persuaded to mock Baptism, you mock error,
Being cleansed Porphyrios, and beheaded by the sword.

Saint Porphyrios was an actor in the days of Emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). In the course of his birthday celebration, the Emperor persuaded Porphyrios to mimic and make fun of the Christian Mysteries, specifically Holy Baptism.

Hence, Porphyrios entered into a font with water, and cried out: "The servant of God Porphyrios is baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." And having immersed himself into the water, he got out and put on the white robe of the newly-illumined, crying out: "Now I am a Christian."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fr. George Florovsky and a 1976 Super Bowl Commercial

Tall and gaunt, he would appear in the long black cassock of an Orthodox priest on the Princeton campus. The erudite undergraduates, considerably more flexible in their dress, styled him “the Grand Inquisitor” — a fitting title, given his tendency to project a sense of doctrinal authority. At Princeton, the staff of the Firestone Library christened Florovsky a “patron saint of photocopying” for the countless hours he spent at the copy machine. Apparently his photocopying talent was so well known that he even became an inspiration for the 1976 Super Bowl commercial of the Xerox Corporation, featuring a monk busily copying medieval manuscripts.* In this way, unawares, Florovsky contributed to raising the American advertising industry to a higher level of intellectual sophistication.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Two Prophetic Religious News Analyses from 2009 Still Relevant Today

I was looking over some old articles I posted (or reposted) back in 2009 and 2010 at and found the following two articles worth taking a second look at 7 years later to see how they still hold up. Remarkably these two articles, which challenge two religious extremes in our culture, are just as relevant today as they were when they were written. Read for yourself.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Movies in the 21st Century this past week published a list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century since 2000, as picked by 177 film critics from around the world. Though I have some personal issues with the list, I really liked the introduction to the list, which makes the case that film in the 21st century has not been on the decline, as many wrongly hold, but it is ever evolving and producing new classics like it always has. Therefore, I will reproduce a section of the introduction below, and you can view the list here, and determine how many you have seen, and if you agree with the list.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Orthodox Chapel for the Russian Athletes in Rio de Janeiro

Members of the Russian Olympic team pose for a photograph after a prayer service at the Dormition Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin. Photograph: Mikhail Metzel/Tass

August 11, 2016

The father confessor of the Russian Olympic team, and rector of St. Dimitry Donskoy Church in Severnoye Butovo (district in south-east Moscow), Archpriest Andrey Alexeyev organized a chapel for the Russian Olympic athletes.

It was opened in the Olympic village in Rio de Janeiro. Each athlete receives support and consolation there, parishioners of St. Zinaida Church in Rio de Janeiro told Interfax-Religion on Thursday.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Vow of an Olympic Gold Medalist

Anna Korakaki is a shooter who represented Greece at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, winning a gold medal in the 25m pistol and a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol. At the age of 20 and in just her maiden Olympic campaign, she became the first Greek woman to win two Olympic medals in the same competition and the first Greek athlete in general since 1912, making her one of the most decorated Greek athletes ever.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mixing Religion and Politics Is Bad for Both

Napp Nazworth
March 19, 2012
The Christian Post

Young people are turning away from churches because they associate Christianity with Republican politics, a study reveals.

Political science Professors David Campbell (University of Notre Dame) and Robert Putnam (Harvard University) published their findings, "God and Caesar in America: Why Mixing Religion and Politics Is Bad for Both," in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs. Campbell and Putnam also wrote American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010), which was recently released in paperback. For that book, they have been surveying the same group of people from 2006 to 2011. The same data was used for the Foreign Affairs article.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Habit of Demonization in American Public Life

Religious Right Should End 'Demonization' Of Political Opponents, Seek 'Common Ground,' Opinion Piece Says

September 30, 2009

Since the early 1970s, there has been a "disappearance of an approach to public life in which stark differences could be debated without adversaries slipping into the demonization of one another," David Gushee -- distinguished professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University and president of Evangelicals for Human Rights -- writes in a USA Today opinion piece. According to Gushee, a "number of factors have contributed to a national slide from civility to demonization in the past 40 years," but the "1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision and the ensuing religious mobilization into political combat ... have made the greatest difference." He writes that demonization is "viewing those we disagree with as if they are the embodiment of evil" and "involves a profound loss of perspective on the humanity of our opponents."

Friday, July 29, 2016

Orthodox Saints and the Future of America

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The latest information from our press has announced a new book written about the late actress Marilyn Monroe by Joyce Carl Oates, which in reality is presented as a fictional biography. But what is important in this case and needs to be noted is that in the interview granted by the author of this book there is a characteristic quote: "In America cinematography is a religion. We don't have saints, but we have folklore" (Ελευθεροτυπία, 11/06/2000).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Movies That Caused Audiences to Walk Out of Cinemas

By John Sanidopoulos

Some of the best movies I've seen are ones that are known for causing audiences to walk out of the theaters. People tend to walk out of these movies usually because they are too scary, too gross, too nauseating or just plain awful, among other reasons. Though I've walked out of a few movies myself, typically I like to pull through and stay to the end, especially if it is only boring or awful. But sometimes you just have to leave, or else you will vomit, have a panic attack, faint, have nightmares or something worse. If you do a Google search of "Movies People Walk Out Of", you will come across many lists of such movies, so I will refrain from posting those movies here, as you can look them up yourself.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Movie Review: "The Innocents" (2016)

The Innocents (Les Innocentes)

Directed by: Anne Fontaine

Produced by: Éric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer, Philippe Carcassonne

Written by: Sabrina B. Karine, Pascal Bonitzer, Anne Fontaine, Alice Vial

Based on: an original concept by Philippe Maynial, based on actual events.

Starring: Lou de Laâge, Agata Kulesza, Agata Buzek, Vincent Macaigne

Running time: 115 minutes

Language: French, Polish, Russian (with English subtitles)

Released in Theaters: 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Saint Paisios in the Youth Culture of Greece (photos + video)

On a wall on the island of Samos, there has been designed an unusual graffiti image, depicting the figure of the Holy Elder Paisios, whose memory is celebrated on July 12th.

Although this artistic trend is to some extent linked with rap and hip hop music, we should remember the song by the Greek rapper Artemis titled "Max (Passions and Virtues)" from his album Wolves in Sheep's Clothing (Λυκόσχημος Αμνός), which speaks of the true story of the conversion of a young junkie named Max to Christianity after reading the book Counsels of Saint Paisios: Passions and Virtues in prison.

Monday, July 11, 2016

What Inspires Miss America's Service?

Betty Cantrell, Miss America 2016

Holly Meyer
July 1, 2016
The Tennessean

A hectic travel schedule came with Betty Cantrell's Miss America crown, making it a challenge for her to attend church regularly. But she packs devotional readings and draws on her upbringing in the Greek Orthodox Church as she fulfills her year of service.

"I think the reason why I feel so strongly about doing philanthropic work is because of my faith. The religion teaches us to give back and to always be thankful for what we've been given," Cantrell said. "I'm definitely very passionate about giving back and being a part of this charity organization that is the Miss America Organization. We're always giving back."

Thursday, July 7, 2016

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2016 ... So Far

Now that we are a little over halfway through 2016, 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. Each title below is linked to the Wikipedia page if you want to read more about it and see the trailer. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Bible Lesson From Kevin Hart's Mom

When Kevin Hart decided to pursue stand-up comedy, his mother gave him a year to prove that it really was his dream. Months later, when Kevin asked her to help with rent, she responded with a question of her own: "Are you reading your Bible?" Hear about the clever trick she played on Kevin to teach him a lesson — one that almost got him evicted.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

J.D. Salinger and the Jesus Prayer

By John Sanidopoulos

The famous American novelist J.D. Salinger, is most famous for his best-selling classic The Catcher In The Rye, which gave us one of the great icons of teenage angst in the 1950's. Less known is a book he wrote a few years later and published after he retired into seclusion in Cornish, New Hampshire, which is titled Franny and Zooey. Franny and Zooey is a book many credit with first introducing them to both the Jesus Prayer and the Russian tale The Way of a Pilgrim, which is essentially an introduction to The Philokalia. It is a modern American tale that explores the path from existential depression to spiritual illumination, and in this way serves as a conclusion (or remedy) to The Catcher In The Rye, whose main character's teenage existential angst lands him in a mental hospital (which could be why it has been so loved by the insane of our time such as Mark David Chapman, for whom the main character Holden Caulfield was a hero, and John Hinckely Jr). Franny and Zooey is not an Orthodox book, as it more corresponds to a Zen Buddhist form of philosophy, but it does have some worthwhile moments. Its significance for English speaking Orthodox is that it may be the first time the method of the Jesus Prayer and the book The Way of a Pilgrim were exposed to millions throughout the world.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Movie: "Cyril and Methodius: The Apostles of the Slavs" (2013)

Release Date: 2013
Runtime: 85 min.
MPAA Rating: PG
Format: DVD, TV/Cable
Director: Petr Nikolaev
Writers: Miroslav Oščatka, Petr Hudský
Cast: Anita Krausova, Helena Karochová, Jan Jankovský, Jirí Bohm, Josef Abrahim
Language: Czech (with English subtitles)

Official website:

Order the DVD here:

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Capitalism's Ideology (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and St. Vlassios

Nowadays, two prominent ways of life prevail in mankind, which have been transformed into two ideologies respectively; that is, Western individualism and Eastern collectivism. In Western individualism, characterized by liberalism, an unbridled freedom of the individual prevails, along with competition which is a detrimental factor to society overall. In Eastern collectivism state dominance prevails, which undermines people’s freedom. In both instances, man is overlooked as a person, just as human society is not regarded as a society of human persons.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Donald Trump on "Citizen Kane"

In this video Donald Trump discusses his thoughts on the classic film Citizen Kane, in light of his own personal experiences of being wealthy.

Read also:

"Citizen Kane" and the Modern Soul

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Gospel According to Superheroes (Stan Lee)

I recently read a book titled The Gospel According to Superheroes: Religion and Pop Culture by B. J. Oropeza that I found interesting enough to recommend. To find out more about the book, I have reproduced the Foreword below by Stan Lee:

Know something? There's no way to predict how mythology will get started. What has come to be known as the Marvel Mythology started quite by accident. Since you're a captive audience, I'd like to tell you about it.

Let me take you back to the early 1960's when I wrote the original scripts for what came to be known as the Marvel Universe of Superheroes. I must admit that attempting to create a mythology was the furthest thing from my mind at that time. I was just trying to write appealing stories about interesting characters with interesting powers. As you'd expect, all the heroes I created fought evil foes for the good of humankind. Each of them represented my feeling of what a superhero should be - a person who uses his power to protect good people from bad.

Friday, May 6, 2016

An Orthodox Easter Greeting from Tom Hanks (video)

Greek actor Theocharis Ioannides, who was in Los Angeles on Orthodox Easter (Pascha) Sunday, uploaded to his Instagram account a video of Tom Hanks on stage during a Greek Orthodox Easter celebration that afternoon, where he greets the audience by saying in Greek "Christos Anesti!" (Christ is Risen) and "Alithos Anesti!" (Truly He is Risen) to blues music.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Movie: "The Pirate" a.k.a. "God Loves Caviar" (2012)

Release date: 2012
Running time: 1:42:01
Language: English
Actors: Sebastian Koch, Catherine Deneuve, John Cleese, Evgeny Stychkin
Director: Ioannis Smaragdis
Producer: Eleni Smaragdi

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Conversion of French Photographer Frère Jean (Gérard Gascuel) to Orthodoxy

March 22, 2011

Photographer Gérard Gascuel who worked with Marcel Marceau and Salvador Dali and now is Hieromonk Gerasimos says he decided to become a monk after hearing an Athonite monk singing.

"I was 33 when the editor in chief of an influential Japanese magazine sent me to Greece to make a report about the life of Athonite monks," Father Gerasimos was quoted as saying by the Rossijskaya Gazeta daily on Tuesday.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Church of Panagia of Finikia and Lord Byron

Near the site of Lord Byron’s house in Messolonghi and the Garden of the Heroes, which is a memorial garden commemorating the Philhellene Europeans who fought in the Greek War of Independence, is the island Chapel of Panagia of Finikia (Panagia of the Palms). Lord Byron especially loved this place and would often come here to rest and enjoy an evening equestrian excursion. The church was built in 1804.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Story Behind a Fascinating Photo of Archbishop Michael of North and South America

The photograph shows U.S. Army General James A. Van Fleet kissing the hand of Archbishop Michael, head of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America following the Greek Independence Day Parade in New York City in 1953. On the left, holding his hat, is Spyros P. Skouras, motion picture producer and president of 20th Century Fox, who also was a major contributor to the establishment of Hellenic College/Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Was Gregory Peck An Irishman of Greek Descent?

Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter

The late, great, actor Gregory Peck was half Irish. He grew up with tales from his grandmother of their "Black Irish" ancestry. A mostly antiquated term, "Black Irish" was used predominately in the U.S. and Canada referring to people of Irish descent who have black hair. The Black Irish were long regarded in folklore as having descended from sailors of the Spanish Armada shipwrecked or otherwise seeking refuge on the Irish coast, and indeed looked rather different from their blond or red-headed Celtic countrymen. Yet Spyros Skouros, the former president of 20th Century Fox studios, had a different theory.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Voltaire and Atheism

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The French writer and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) is known as an enlightener, and many who consider him an enlightener assume he was an atheist, that he didn't believe in God. But this cannot be observed in actuality.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Baptism and Martyrdom of the Comedic Actor Saint Gelasios

St. Gelasios the Actor (Feast Day - February 27)

On the twenty-seventh of this month [February], we commemorate the Holy Martyr Gelasios who was formerly a mime, who was ordered to parody Holy Baptism, and was truly baptized and perfected by the sword.


Intending to incite laughter through Illumination you laughed at error,
Having been washed Gelasios is beheaded.

Gelasios, of the village Mariamne near Damascus, was an actor. In a performance at Heliopolis of Syria, he played the part of a catechumen in a dramatized parody of the Christian's Mystery of Holy Baptism. As he was immersed in the waters, the audience laughed. Divine Grace, however, wrought a miracle, and Gelasios emerged from those waters transformed. As the play continued and he was garbed in the white gown of the newly-illumined, he declared before the crowd, "I am a Christian. When I was under those waters, I was awestruck by the glory that I beheld. I am now ready to be slain on behalf of Christ!" The rest of the cast, knowing that these lines were not in the script, were aghast. The audience soon understood that Gelasios was not jesting but instead meant every word of his public confession. Roused to fury, the audience came down upon Gelasios, who was still clad in white, and dragged him out of the theatre and stoned him. Christians who witnessed the stoning, afterward took up his honorable relics and returned with them to their own country. A church was built over the Martyrs tomb.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Movie Review: "Risen" (2016)

(This review contains some spoilers.)

Of all the silly bible related movies of the past decade or two, Risen may be one of the least silly and watchable. 

Risen is a film intended as a mystery/thriller and "unofficial sequel" to The Passion of the Christ (2004) set to depict the events surrounding the 40 days following Christ's resurrection, in a script written by Paul Aiello, as told from the viewpoint of Roman military tribune Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) ordered by Pontius Pilate to investigate growing rumors of a risen Jewish messiah and to locate the missing body of Jesus of Nazareth in order to quell an imminent uprising in Jerusalem.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

"Farewell to Umberto Eco, the Man Who Knew Everything"

Umberto Eco at Simonopetra in 1988

Katerina Houzouri
February 20, 2016

"Addio a Umberto Eco, l’uomo che sapeva tutto." This is today's title of La Repubblica (, which is translated as "Farewell to Umberto Eco, the Man Who Knew Everything". The internationally renowned Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco, who lived with his wife and two children, died yesterday in Milan. He was born in Alessandria in the province of Piedmont, in 1932.

University Career

He was Professor of Semiotics at the University of Bologna since 1975, and since 1988 president of the International Research Center for Semiotics at the University of San Marino.


In the 1970s, he began writing his novels. The Name of the Rose won the Strega Prize in 1981 and the Médicis Etranger in 1982, selling millions of copies worldwide. Other works of his that were publishing successes: Foucault's Pendulum, The Island of the Day Before, Baudolino, Inventing the Enemy, Number Zero, and others. In Greece, the books are published by the publishers Γνώση, Μαλλιάρη, Ελληνικά Γράμματα and Ψυχογιό.

Umberto Eco knew five languages, including ancient Greek and Latin, and had won many honors.

At Simonopetra in 1988

From his last statements...

Umberto Eco was a philosopher, political, and sensitive to the major social issues of the time, on which he did not hesitate to take a clear and unequivocal position. Such as his views of the jihadists and Islamic State, but also migration.

"It doesn't seem right to talk generically about 'Muslims', just as it would not have been correct to judge Christianity on the bases of methods used by Cesare Borgia," he said in an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily, following the deadly terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo in France, in January 2015. "But we certainly can talk about Isis, which is a new form of Nazism, with its extermination methods and its apocalyptic desire to take over the world. What is certain is that it has changed the mode of war. There's a war going on and we're in it up to our necks. It's like when I was small and lived my days with the risk of bombs which could arrive from one moment to the next," said Eco, who was evacuated during the war to a village in northern Italy. "With this type of terrorism, the situation is exactly what we lived through during the war. Back then I wrote that until we found a new balance, a lot of blood would be spilled." ... "Thirty years ago, I wrote an article for La Repubblica in which I said that we were no longer facing an emigration as Italians going to America or Switzerland, but in a global migration, which is much bigger in space and time. Even then I wrote that until it came to a new equilibrium, a lot of blood would be shed. Western civilization, which has or has not the strength to sustain itself, is facing a massive migration, as happened centuries ago to Ancient Rome."1

Honorary Doctorate from the University of Athens

He visited Greece, by the proposal of the then Philosophy professor Theodosis Pelegrinis. Umberto Eco received an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy - Pedagogy - Psychology from Athens University in March 1995. Mr. Pelegrinis had given a speech about the honoree titled "Umberto Eco Watching the World from the Perspective of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance." The speech was followed by the proclamation, in which he read the resolution of the Department of Philosophy - Pedagogy - Psychology. Eco then spoke on "The University and Mass Media".2

At Karyes in 1988 with Abbot Elissaios of Simonopetra

His Relationship With Mount Athos

Before writing The Name of the Rose, he visited the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopaidi and its Library, which contained a copy of the "Geography" of Claudius Ptolemy, one of the rarest manuscripts in the world, dating from the 13th to early 14th century, and includes the sections "The Geographical Guidance" of Claudius Ptolemy, "The Epitome of the Geography of Strabo", and the "Geography" of Strabo.3

Regarding the visit of Umberto Eco to the Holy Monastery of Simonopetra, Theodoros Ioannidis wrote (in issue 33, December 1988) in the magazine To Tetarto (The Quarter):4

".... At the port of Daphne we are still in the outside world. Ours. But, after the last turn of the uphill road we see the Monastery of Simonopetra, and we understand that soon we will have to accept that here some other different measures apply.

You can stay silent for hours on the balconies of the Monastery or be carried away in endless chatter. And Umberto, multilingual and usually talkative, tries in the shortest amount of time possible to chat with the monks and meet as many as possible. And naturally, in a discussion without a theme the issues begin with the infallibility of the Pope and they reach all the way to May of 1968, and there will pop up at some point a subject that always fascinated him: heresy. And, quite spontaneously, it will 'escape' him that in his new book (Pendulum) there are several pages devoted to this subject.

In Karyes, after a short visit to the Monastery of Iveron, at the lodgings of Simonopetra, Monk Elissaios is not only a perfect host. He is very young in age, serious and tolerant, having studied the Latin ecclesiastical writers, speaking slowly and calmly, not impressed neither wanting to impress. He modestly comments on the views of Augustine or Thomas Aquinas and our daily small questions. The monks try raki - which Umberto Eco liked so much - when they make it. They do not drink, however, because alcohol alters their thinking. And as for the concerns of the famous professor on the level of the maintenance and preservation of the valuable manuscripts, he considers them almost unreasonable. Tradition is not preserved by preserving codexes or icons and displaying their treasures in order to solicit tourists. Such a tradition is not interesting. Living tradition, the only one worth preserving is located within each monk, since every one has within them, alive, the Nazarene ... ".






Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Modernity and Journalism (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Recently a newspaper published a decalogue for a good journalist, written by someone who for years worked as a "military journalist" and is a follower of "absolute truth and objectivity." From this decalogue I would like to present the first five principles of a good journalist:

1. Always write the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

2. Cite your sources. If your source wants to remain anonymous, be skeptical.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Great Art is Transcendent

By Jeff Goins

The people who built the Statue of Liberty gave the world a gift. Everyone who comes to New York benefits from it. As do those who see the memorable icon in a movie or on a key chain.

There are few symbols in the world as powerful as that green lady. When people look at her, they don’t see oxidized copper and a museum.

They see freedom.
They see beginning.
They see new life.

Great art is powerful

It goes beyond the mere physical realm; it supersedes the moment.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bruce Chatwin and His Discovery of Orthodoxy

By Petros Panayiotopoulos

One of the most enigmatic and contradictory personalities of the last century, the writer Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989), came to have a close relationship with the truth of Orthodoxy, mainly through the attraction he experienced towards the life of the monks of the Holy Mountain. A constant traveler, a nomad student of nomads, he found in Eastern Christianity many of the answers to issues which troubled him throughout his life, and especially in its last stages when he suffered from AIDS.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Movie: "Meteora" (2012)

Director: Spiros Stathoulopoulos
Cast: Theo Alexander, Tamila Koulieva
Duration: 83 min.

Meteora (Greek: Μετέωρα) is a 2012 Greek drama film directed by Spiros Stathoulopoulos. The film competed in competition at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012. The film takes its title from the Byzantine monastery complex Meteora, in Thessaly, a series of structures built on natural sandstone pillars.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Top 25 Movies of 2015

After another excellent year in film, below is my personal list of the top 25 I found to be among the best of the bunch. I have not included documentaries in this list.