Sunday, November 15, 2015

Hellenes and Rhomaioi


"O heavenly King, the Comforter, Spirit of truth..." Said this prayer here yesterday. Jesus saves; Mary prays. St. Thomas Greek Orthodox Church, Cherry Hill, NJ. One of their women's groups, a chapter of the Daughters of Penelope, was having an early Christmas bazaar. One thing struck me: perhaps understandably, all the banners in the church gym celebrated ancient, pagan Greece; still kind of ironic, especially at a church, from Christian Greeks, Rhomaioi, "Romans" whom British historians named Byzantines. (Their empire WAS the Roman Empire, in the exact sense Taiwan is Nationalist China. Anyway, providential that early on "Roman" and "Christian" became synonymous.) St. Demetrios Church near me is similar: the church stuff is fine, Byzantine; the undercroft is a mini-museum celebrating Hellenism, not Byzantium. Makes me think of a secularist element of Greek nationalism, rather like in the Irish kind; it's long been about Hellenism. Like with Katharevousa, the Greek government pretending people still spoke ancient Greek by pushing a version of it in the schools for a few decades.

The beauty of Byzantium is repentant gentiles, the Roman Empire, became entirely Catholic. The tragedy of Byzantium is they later got the wrong idea that if you weren't in their empire, you were outside the church.

Pan-Slavism is Byzantium redux: Russia and its satellites such as Serbia and Bulgaria. Catholic Slavs won't have it. It's another attempt at a universality opposed to the church's universality.

8 comments:

  1. Church as ethnic, racial club.

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  2. Ah, Orthodoxy: keeping the faith pure since the fall of Constantinople, the faith of course being defined as whatever the Tsar or Sultan or Commissar said it was. Orthodoxy is Catholicism without the papacy, and that inevitably means a religion that conforms to the values of the tribe. Hence, Orthodoxy's cozy relationship with the ruling powers of wherever it is (Sultan? Great! Stalin? Fantastic! Tsar? Even better!), and its ethnocentrism. With no universal bishop it simply falls prey to its own circumstances. Now, there is a very conservative deep culture within Orthodoxy that keeps its from going completely off the rails, so it has retained enough of the faith to have valid sacraments, valid liturgy, valid orders, etc. It is a part of the true Church, although estranged. But at a deep level, it shares something with Anglicanism: in the absence of the Pope, what becomes the determining factor in the faith? For the Anglican Church, it was first the wishes of the monarch, and now it is the wishes of the PC Left/Cathedral. No Pope = surrender to your tribe.

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    1. The Pope is only the caretaker of the faith. But that's indispensable; your point here.

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    2. "Orthodoxy is Catholicism without the papacy, and that inevitably means a religion that conforms to the values of the tribe."

      Apart from the Gospel, the "values of the tribe," are purely secular values. Are you saying that the Orthodox Church has been secularized? If so, how is this secularization reflected in her doctrine, discipline, worship, and devotional life?

      "Now, there is a very conservative deep culture within Orthodoxy that keeps its from going completely off the rails, so it has retained enough of the faith to have valid sacraments, valid liturgy, valid orders, etc."

      "Completely off the rails;" "retained enough of the faith" - you must belong to a very traditional Church in order to be condemning the Orthodox Church for deviations of Faith and discipline. To which Church to you belong, M.D.?

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    3. The reality is that the prevailing heresy of Byzantine Orthodoxy is phyletism. Simply go to any Greek church in the United States, England or Canada and listen to sermons that seem to only revolve around racial/ethnic issues (i.e how wonderful we Greeks are, not like those other people). When the Archbishop of Athens, and seconded by the ones in Toronto and London can publicly declare that "Orthodoxy is Hellenism and Hellenism is Orthodoxy" there is a problem.

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    4. "Are you saying that the Orthodox Church has been secularized? If so, how is this secularization reflected in her doctrine, discipline, worship, and devotional life?" Well any church that proclaims that it is the One True Church but demands a single ethno/cultural expression seems to disprove your question.

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  3. The fact that the Orthodox still have pretty liturgy does not mean they are not secularized. They allow contraception, divorce and remarriage and don't care much about fighting abortion. Sounds secular to me.

    Anthony

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    1. Exactly. Same problem as the Anglicans but with valid orders.

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