Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Massacre of the Innocents" (a silent film from the 1910's)

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christ at the Castle: Papadiamantis’ Tale Captures the Genuine Spirit of Christmas

Literary companionship with “the saint of Greek literature” Alexandros Papadiamantis is always a good idea, but especially beneficial during the holidays. Of course, the pious “kyr-Alexandros” covers all the holidays in the Orthodox calendar, but his Christmas stories offer a particularly seminal contribution towards recapturing the true meaning of the Nativity – “the metropolis of feasts” according to St. John Chrysostom.

Papadiamantis’ short stories do a masterful job of recounting the traditional Greek Orthodox ethos associated with this blessed feast, putting him on par with Dickens when it comes to extolling the virtues of Christmas. And while today’s world is still filled with plenty of Ebenezer Scrooges, it is increasingly hard to pinpoint some of Papadiamantis’ classic characters.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as a Reimagining of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

Lazarus and the Rich Man is a parable recorded in Luke 16 that Jesus tells in response to the Pharisees, who were self-righteous and wealthy. Lazarus is a beggar who sits by the gate of a rich man’s estate. The rich man walks by Lazarus day after day, ignoring his plight.

Lazarus dies and is carried away by angels to be with Father Abraham. The rich man also dies and is in torment in Hades. He looks up, and sees Abraham and Lazarus far off, on the other side of a chasm that cannot be crossed. He calls out to Abraham to send Lazarus to bring him something to quench his thirst.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Orthodoxy of Maria Callas: 12 Facts

By John Sanidopoulos

While vacationing in Paris back in 2016, on my last full day before returning home, I decided to visit the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery, where you can visit many of the elaborate graves of well-known personalities from the past who died in Paris. Among the dozen or so that I eagerly wanted to see was that of Maria Callas, the renowned Greek-American opera singer. With map in hand, I visited each grave that I could locate, and the last on my list was that of Maria Callas. Hers was the most difficult to find, taking me about a good 45-minutes of searching. I finally found someone to ask, who pointed me to the location. I was told however that her body is not here, though it was originally, and what is merely left is a memorial. When I inquired as to what happened to her body, I was informed that she was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the Aegean Sea. Since cremation is typically frowned upon in the Greek Orthodox Church, it got me thinking as to whether or not she died an Orthodox Christian. That night in my hotel room I did a brief search on the internet about this, and found some interesting things scattered in various sources. I found it interesting enough to write something about it when I returned home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Old Christian Virtues Gone Mad

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Problem With a Pop-Culture Christ

By Billy Kangas

Evangelical churches are notorious for trying to grab people’s attention through pop-culture, either through emulation or parody. The results are often groan worthy.

Like many in the Church, I have participated willingly in the baptism of pop-culture for the sake of outreach and evangelism. I have been in bands that made “Christian Rock,” I have worn Jesus t-shirts. I even have a couple of the obligatory Hebrew and cross tattoos.

I understand why people do this stuff. They want the message of Jesus to reach people where they are.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Difference Between Christianity and Communism

A communist once told Fr. Joel [Yiannakopoulos], “Father, communism is the same as Christianity! In terms of society, there’s no difference between them. Both communism and Christianity want equality, brotherhood, and social justice.”

“However, there is one small difference,” said Fr. Joel.


“Christianity tells its followers: ‘Why do you have, and another does not? Go and give to him!’ But communism tells its followers: ‘Why does another have, and you do not? Go and take from him!’ Do you see the difference?”


Friday, August 31, 2018

Jonathan Jackson Offers his Emmy Award to Mount Athos Monastery

Popular Hollywood star Jonathan Jackson visited Holy Mount Athos together with his 8-year-old-son on Tuesday 28 August 2018, to offer one of his Emmy Awards.

During his five day visit to Mount Athos, Jackson spent most of his time at the Vatopaidi Monastery to celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, but also visited the Xenophontos and Simonopetra Monasteries.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Movie: "He Who Must Die" (1957)

He Who Must Die (French: Celui qui doit mourir) is a 1957 French film directed by Jules Dassin. It is based on the novel Christ Recrucified (also published as The Greek Passion) by Nikos Kazantzakis. It was entered into the 1957 Cannes Film Festival.

In a Turkish-occupied Greek village shortly after World War I, villagers put on a Passion Play, with ordinary people taking the roles of Jesus, Peter, Judas, etc. Staging the play leads to them rebelling against their Turkish rulers in a way that mirrors Jesus's story.

Monday, July 2, 2018

My Top 20 Movies of 2018 (So Far)

Now that we are a little over halfway through 2018, 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, June 13, 2018

Movie: "Antimoz Iverieli" (2001)

Title: Antimoz Iverieli (Eng. Anthimos of Iberia)
Director: Giuli Chokhonelidze
Writer: Vaja Gigashvili
Stars: Giuli Chokhonelidze, George Lasha, Otar Megvinetukhutsesi
Duration: 3h 30min
Language: Georgian
Release: 2001
Information about St. Anthimos of Iberia:
Holy New Hieromartyr Anthimos, Metropolitan of Wallachia (+ 1716)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

"Doctor Zhivago": Russian TV Mini-Series (2006)

In Doctor Zhivago, the life of a young doctor is intertwined with the fate of Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. Yuri Zhivago is orphaned at a young age, and his uncle brings him to Moscow, where he studies medicine while living with his uncle's family. At a New Year's ball, he witnesses an assassination attempt on a high society lawyer named Komarovksy. What shocks Yuri is the identity of the shooter: Lara Gishar. By coincidence, he had been present earlier when Lara and Komarovsky first met at the Montenegro hotel. At the time, their magnetism and their unusual relationship, both extremely open and particularly secretive, revealed to the young doctor a world of emotions he had yet to experience. Yuri is told that Komarovsky played a role in his father's suicide, but this news has less effect on him than the chance meeting with Lara. At the beginning of WWI, Doctor Zhivago goes to the front, leaving his wife and children in Moscow. He is unaware that many years later Lara will touch his life again, changing it for ever; Yuri Zhivago's personal drama plays out against a backdrop of social and historical upheaval, with his generation's hopes and desires wiped out by war and revolution. Yuri's work and family suffer from his sense of having lost his bearings. Hoping to get back on his feet, he makes the fateful decision to leave Moscow and return to his family's house beyond the Urals. Yuri observes from the window of his train as a new Russia is born, and unexpected encounters during his travels come to symbolize for him the spirit of a new era. The people he meets in the train have been forged in this new world, and Yuri desperately tries to find his place among them, learning to live in the provinces and forgetting the dreams of his youth. As he lies on his bunk in the train, Yuri has no idea that Lara has also left Moscow, taking up residence not far from his family home.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Silent Film: "Salome" (1910)

This 1910 Italian film Salome is a rather crude 9-minute silent drama directed by Ugo Falena which claims to be based on Oscar Wilde’s play of the same name. I’m not sure Wilde would have appreciated them for cramming his wordy opus into a few brief scenes of gesticulating performances. The colors are a bonus, however, as this is hand-tinted throughout. Some of the music could have been better chosen.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

"Doctor Zhivago": An Orthodox Perspective

By Fr. Andrew Phillips

My first conscious exposure to Orthodox culture was through Doctor Zhivago, the novel by Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), the Russian poet, writer and translator of Shakespeare. This was when I was aged nine. The story overwhelmed me with its sense of destiny. I felt deeply at home in the culture portrayed. It came to influence me deeply and in my teens I knew many of its wholly Orthodox Christian poems by heart, feeling completely at home in their ethos. Later I was able to speak of this to Pasternak’s sister, Lydia Slater, in Oxford.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Amazon Video Debuts Russian Series About Catherine the Great

Russia is experiencing a golden age of fantastic, high quality historical dramatic TV series. Over the past couple of years subjects have included: the life of Russian civil war hero Admiral Kolchak, Rasputin (making the case he was a great guy, slandered and murdered by the British Secret Service), a screen adaptation of the epic novel Quiet Flows the Don, chronicling the experience of the Don Cossacks during WW1, the revolution, and the Russian civil war, and one following the history of the Romanov Tsars, among others.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Amazon Video Debuts Russian Series "Sophia"

Currently streaming on Amazon is the Russian television series "Sophia". Currently the first season of eight episodes is available.

According to the description:

In 15th Century Russia, the last Princess of Byzantium, Sophia Palaiologina, moves from Rome to Moscow to marry Czar Ivan III. Destined to become the first influential female figure of the Russian Empire, Sophia overcomes court intrigue and betrayals and helps Ivan consolidate the fragmented country, push Mongolian invaders out, and build the Kremlin. Russian language series with English subtitles. Starring: Mariya Andreeva, Eugeniy Tsiganov, Vilen Babichev.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Sense of Death in Tolstoy and Kierkegaard

The Sense of Death in Tolstoy and Kierkegaard

By Michael K. Macrakis, M.A., Ph. D.


Death is a subject which concerns mainly religion, the philosophy religion. «The oldest and most common definition is that religion is the link between man and God». According to this definition, religion derived from religare and originally meant «a bond». This bond, of course, is not between two men, «between the sexes», as Ludwig Feuerbach wishes, but between God and man because religion can not exist without God.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Nine Movies For Holy Week

Last year, I was asked to compile a list of movies for each day of Holy Week for a friend of mine. I told him I could do that, but none would be a movie straight from the Bible, as I tend to not find those very inspirational nor are they done well, especially the more modern productions. He agreed, and the list below is what I came up with. I re-watched them all, too, and thought this year to share with everyone else. Personally, I think it is a good list, though many other movies can be added. I replaced one movie from last year's list, because I told him that every Holy Saturday, before the midnight service, I had a tradition of going to the movies at the theater, to make sure I kept awake, so I added a movie that can only be seen in the theaters this year, which I think is the best of the bunch of faith-based films. Not wanting to only have older films on the list, I also added a few newer ones. I tend to not like the newer faith-based films, but the other one I chose is my second favorite one of the newer ones. Most of the others are classics that most have seen, but should be re-watched in the context of Holy Week, if you watch any movies during Holy Week. Most of these can be found somewhere online or streaming or On Demand. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Address to the Youth on How to Derive Benefit from Greek Literature (St. Basil the Great)

Some early Christians rejected pagan learning and asked, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" But St. Basil the Great (329-379) thought Athens had quite a lot to do with it! In this exhortation to virtue Basil encouraged the selective study of ancient Greek texts, and reassured his youthful readers that despite their pagan origin, where poets, historians and philosophers were quite compatible with orthodox Christian thought, they might profitably be studied where they inculcated virtue, as in viewing the reflection of the sun in water before viewing the sun itself.

Address to the Youth on How to Derive Benefit from Greek Literature

By St. Basil the Great

I. There are many considerations which urge me to counsel you, my children, on what things I judge to be best, and on those which I am confident, if you accept them, will be to your advantage. For the fact that I have reached this age, and have already been trained through many experiences, and indeed also have shared sufficiently in the all-teaching vicissitude of both good and evil fortune, has made me conversant with human affairs, so that I can indicate the safest road, as it were, to those who are just entering upon life. Moreover, I come immediately after your parents in natural relationship to you, so that I myself entertain for you no less good-will than do your fathers; and I am sure, unless I am somewhat wrong in my judgment of you, that you do not long for your parents when your eyes rest upon me. If, then, you should receive my words with eagerness, you will belong to the second class of those praised by Hesiod;1 but should you not do so, I indeed should not like to say anything unpleasant, but do you of yourselves remember the verses in which he says: "Best is the man who sees of himself at once what must be done, and excellent is he too who follows what is well indicated by others, but he who is suited for neither is useless in all respects."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ten Great Moments in Forgiveness History

8th Century BC: The Sabine women implore the Sabine men not to attack their Roman abductors, who are now their lawfully wedded husbands.

AD 29: Christ forgives from the cross.

13th Century: Genghis Khan (yes, that Genghis Khan) spares the life of blood-brother turned bloody revolt leader Jamukha, who, alas, admits he prefers death.

April 9, 1865: Union general Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain salutes Confederate soldiers on the eve of the surrender at Appomattox.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Church Fathers and Heathen Literature Under Julian the Apostate

From Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, Bk.3, Chs. 12 and 16:

Observing that those who suffered martyrdom under the reign of Diocletian were greatly honored by the Christians, and knowing that many among them were eagerly desirous of becoming martyrs, Julian determined to wreak his vengeance upon them in some other way. Abstaining therefore from the excessive cruelties which had been practiced under Diocletian; he did not however altogether abstain from persecution (for any measures adopted to disquiet and assault I regard as persecution). This then was the plan he pursued: he enacted a law by which Christians were excluded from the cultivation of literature; 'lest,' said he, 'when they have sharpened their tongue, they should be able the more readily to meet the arguments of the heathen.'

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My Top Twenty Movies of 2017

They say that every seven years is a great all around year in movies, and as I recall just as it was said in 2010 so also it could be said for 2017. If you didn't watch a lot of movies this year, then you have a lot to catch up with, because just about every weekend at least one film was released that was at least very good or excellent. This raises the bar in being critical, so my top twenty list this year reflects both what I consider to be the twenty all around best and the twenty I most wanted to see a second time, most of which I already have, and look forward to a third watch. Here's my list with a blurb of what was generally thought about this film that I agree with:

Sunday, January 7, 2018

My Top Ten Best Movie Experiences

Since I have yet to see all the movies I wanted to see to select my picks for best films of the year for 2017, I wanted to compile another post based on a conversation I overheard a few weeks ago around Christmas time. While waiting for a movie to start in the theater, as I arrived about 25 minutes early, four ladies who must have been about college age in their early twenties sat in the seats directly in front of me, and for about 15 minutes were debating back and forth on whether or not it was better to watch movies at home or in a theater. Now for me personally there is no debate: it is pretty much always better to see a movie in a theater rather than at home. Seeing that we were the only people in the theater, and in such a close proximity, I decided to get in on this conversation by telling them a story of a great experience I had watching a movie in that very theater almost 20 years ago (which was probably when they were born), which could not have been experienced at all the same way if I had seen it at home. To this I added that it was my personal belief that all movies, if possible, should only be experienced in a theater, as they were meant to be seen, and only under extreme conditions should watching a movie at home instead of a theater be preferred (such as being sick, lack of a decent theater, weather conditions or lack of money). Plus many movies are meant to be experienced communally, and when they are seen alone at home much of their effect is lost; the same is true to the fact that many movies are best seen only on opening weekend.