Friday, December 22, 2023

How Great Spiritual Figures of Greece Helped Form the Renowned Conductor Dimitri Mitropoulos

Dimitri Mitropoulos (center) with St. Nektarios (left) and Alexandros Papadiamantis (right) and the Metochion of the Ascension in Vyronas of Athens in the background.

Perhaps the best known relationship of the renowned composer and pianist Dimitri Mitropoulos was his constant betrayer and eventual successor: Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein first heard and saw Mitropoulos as a recent émigré from Greece when he had given a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert in 1938 which electrified the Harvard graduate student. Mitropoulos took Bernstein under his wing, though the ambitious Bernstein later repaid his kindness by angling to replace him as the head of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. It was Mitropoulos, after all, who is primarily responsible for inspiring Bernstein to become a conductor. Another friend of Mitropoulos, Herbert von Karajan, also was entranced by the way in which music seemed to flow through the Greek conductor and communicate itself to both players and audiences. At Karajan's behest, Mitropoulos became a welcome return guest at the Salzburg Festival in the last years of his life. Mitropoulos exercised a formative influence on the two most dominant conducting egos in the second half of the 20th century.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Artificial Intelligence as Artificial Brilliance (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

To an English speaker without a knowledge of Greek, this article won't make a lot of sense, since the author is using two different ways of talking about Artificial Intelligence (Τεχνητή Νοημοσύνη and Τεχνητή Εὐφυΐα). The literal translation of Εὐφυΐα is the word "brilliance", though it really is another word for intelligence, but the other Greek word for intelligence, Νοημοσύνη, contains the word "nous" or "noetic", which in Orthodox theology is the highest faculty of the human being that has spiritual connotations. This article therefore is about replacing the Greek word Νοημοσύνη with Εὐφυΐα, though in English both mean "intelligence". To understand the difference, I have rendered Εὐφυΐα as "brilliance". It is an important theological discussion, but not applicable in English, so do not think that "Artificial Intelligence" should be replace with "Artificial Brilliance" in English.
Artificial Intelligence as Artificial Brilliance

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Nowadays, there is a lot of talk not only about Artificial Intelligence, but also about its consequences in our lives. Opinions are expressed about the benefits that will come from its implementation, but also the risks that result from the abolition of human freedom and the alteration of human rights.

Thus, the pioneers of Artificial Intelligence sounded the alarm of modern technology and emphasized that they must set limits.

For example, Geoffrey Hinton, who is described as "the father of Artificial Intelligence", in an interview he gave to the New York Times, explained that he left Google to speak freely about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. In fact, he particularly emphasized that "some of the dangers arising from artificial intelligence Chatbots (software) were quite scary." “Right now, she's not smarter than us, as far as I can tell. But I think that soon it can be done."

Friday, August 4, 2023

Movie: "Men of Anjolos" (1997) - An Islamic Movie on the Life of the Seven Youths of Ephesus

The Men of Anjolos (Persian: مردان آنجلس Mardān-e Ānjelos), also known as The Companions of the Cave (Persian: اصحاب کهف Ashāb-e Kahf), is a 1997 Iranian television series directed by Farajollah Salahshoor. It depicts the Islamic version of the story of the Seven Sleepers (mentioned in Surah al-Kahf of the Koran), which according to Islamic tradition took place in Jordan, not Ephesus as in the Christian version of the story.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The Bitten Apple of Apple Inc. (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The whole world is being led into a "virtual reality". When we speak of "virtual reality", "we mean the simulation of a real or imaginary environment by a computer". As we read, "current VR technology often uses virtual reality headsets or multi-view environments, sometimes in combination with physical environments or scenery, to create images, sounds, and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or imagined environment" (Wikipedia).

In an exhibition created for the anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821, I was given the opportunity, using "virtual reality", to be inside the Church of the Holy Lavra, when Bishop Germanos of Old Patras raised the banner of the Revolution, and even to be a spectator of a battle between Greeks and Turks.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Rocker Roy Gallagher Concert in Athens in 1981 (And the Ticket of Orthodox Theologian Panagiotis Nellas)


On September 12, 1981, a great musical event took place in Athens: It was the first major rock show in Greece, which took place at Nikos Goumas Stadium in Nea Philadelpia in Athens. The artist that performed that night was the great Irish guitarist, singer and songwriter Rory Gallagher (1948-1995).

Gallagher is known for his virtuosic style of guitar playing, which strongly influenced other guitarists such as Brian May and Eric Clapton. But, due to his lack of commercial success, he is often referred as "the greatest guitarist you've never heard of". Gallagher was voted as guitarist of the year by Melody Maker magazine in 1972, and listed as the 57th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

In the 1960's, he was in the band Taste, but found greater success as a solo artist in the 1970's and 80's. In January 1975, when the Rolling Stones gathered in Rotterdam, Netherlands, to continue working towards their album Black and Blue, they auditioned new guitarists, to replace Mick Taylor, as they recorded. Gallagher went over for a jam with the band "just to see what was going on," but did not join the group, happy with his solo career.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Maria Menounos Fulfills a Dream By Visiting the Tomb of Saint Nektarios

On May 31st, Maria Menounos shared a moving testimony of her devotion to Saint Nektarios, after fulfilling a dream by visiting his tomb on the Greek island of Aegina with her husband. She wrote the following on Instagram, accompanied with photos:

"My trip to greece wasn’t all about island hopping and fun. I had a mission. I have dreamed about going to Aegina. For those of you who don’t know about it- Aegina is a small island in the Gulf of Greece, located just 16 miles southwest of Athens. Saint Nektarios, the patron saint of the island, was a prominent figure in the Greek Orthodox Church in the early 20th century and is known for his healing miracles. Saint Nektarios is considered a patron saint for people who are suffering from diseases; such as cancer, heart trouble, joint pain, epilepsy, arthritis and more. Ever since my mom and I were diagnosed with brain tumors friends would tell us they were going there to pray for us. We attended St. Nectarios church in California but going to his church in Greece was always the dream. I wanted to say thank you for all the miracles and healings we have been blessed with. It was our first stop on the trip. They say the faithful can hear St. Nectarios in the tomb. As soon as I kneeled down I heard knocking. Faint knocking noises. I asked Joanna our friend guiding us if that was him and she said yes. But I couldn’t believe it. I stayed ear to the tomb for a long time. I prayed to St. Nectarios and said please make it undeniable. I don’t want to leave here unsure if I heard you. As I was praying for the people in my life with cancer I heard a massive bang and started screaming I hear him! It was definitely undeniable. I sobbed with joy. It was so emotional as I feel I have such a connection with him and this just made me feel even more grateful for our connection. I will never forget this incredibly inspiring moment. I also got to sit on his bed where he used to live and got the chills. Everyone in our group was moved to tears on this visit. If you ever go to Greece, add this to your trip. St. Nectarios helps so many and has granted so many miracles. I like to say believe in the unbelievable because nothing is too far from possible when you believe in St. Nectarios. 🙏❤️🇬🇷 "

Maria was diagnosed with stage 2 pancreatic cancer, considered among the most dangerous forms of cancer, back in January 2023, just a month before she was to publicly announce her first child via a surrogate. She credits her faith in God and the healing power of Saint Nektarios for her miraculous delivery, since she is now cancer free, and will be soon welcoming the birth of her baby.

Of course, Maria was not unfamiliar with Saint Nektarios before this incident. She placed her faith in the miraculous powers of Saint Nektarios even as far back as 2016, when her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Some months later, in 2017, she also was found to have a benign tumor in her brain, which was removed after a successful surgery, and she then began a mission in life to help people with their health, since she considered her healing a gift of God and was grateful to Saint Nektarios.

It should be noted that notable Hollywood stars liked Maria's moving post about Saint Nektarios, including non-Greeks like Sylvester Stallone and Johnny Knoxville. With the recent appearance of Mickey Rourke in the successful 2021 drama film Man of God about the life of Saint Nektarios, it appears that he is becoming more and more known throughout the world.

In the video interview below, Maria said the following in Greek:

"It was a difficult battle I fought with cancer, but I see other people for whom it is tougher. Saint Nektarios helped me in my battle with cancer, I am very lucky. In my adventure I had my dad and my husband by my side who helped me.”

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Abbess Theonymphi, Who Was Once a Famous Greek Singer, Has Reposed

Back in 2011, I wrote about a famous Greek singer from the 1960's named Mary Alexopoulou, who at the age of 43, after the tragic death of her daughter, decided to dedicate her life to God and upon tonsure as a nun took the name Theonymphi. You can read that article here.

Abbess Theonymphi Alexopoulou, Founder and Abbess of the Sacred Hesychasterion of the Dormition of the Theotokos in Koropi of Attica, reposed in the Lord today, plunging her hundreds of spiritual children and the small sisterhood that was recently created near her into sorrow.

The Eldress was a bright example of repentance and conversion in Christ, imitating the great holy figures by giving up a worldly successful life that most people would describe as a fairy tale, since in the 1960s-70s she was involved in the Greek pentagram, in the cinema (she appeared in two Greek films: Νυχτοπερπατήματα and Φίφης ο ακτύπητος), and in the theater, while she brought many awards to Greece from beauty pageants (in 1961) and music festivals around the world. Her big hit was "The Bambola" in 1968, an international hit for singer Patty Pravo. This was followed by the Thessaloniki Light Song Festival in 1966, with the song "Panigyri", which won the first prize.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Movie Trailer: "Diakos - The Hero Martyr" (2023) Highlights the Life and Martyrdom of the Greek Revolutionary Athanasios Diakos

The film group of the Metropolis of Kitros, Katerini and Platamon have produced a film that is currently screening in Greece called Diakos - The Hero Martyr.

The film highlights the timeless message of the self-sacrifice of Athanasios Diakos and is a tribute to the leading Freedom Fighter of the Greek Revolution of 1821.

The filming of the film lasted for five months and the filming took place both in Pieria and in neighboring prefectures.

The film, lasting about 2 hours, deals with the eventful life and the martyrdom of Athanasios Diakos, the First Martyr of the National Rebellion of 1821.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

"Saint Paisios - From Farasa to Heaven" (Links to the Nine Episodes of the First Season)

Some months ago I posted links to the nine episodes of the first season of the Greek television series Saint Paisios - From Farasa to Heaven. These online episodes were available temporarily and removed before Holy Week of last year when they were going to appear on television in Greece. Since then, a few Greek Facebook accounts have posted all nine episodes on their accounts. I don't know how long these will be available, so watch them as soon as you can. And yes, for now all these episodes are only in Greek, but in the links below, which includes links to each episode, there is included a summary of each episode in English, so you can follow basically what is going on.


Monday, January 9, 2023