Question Diversity

We here at Monomakhos have been busy of late due to the usual hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. That’s why it’s been almost three weeks since we’ve posted anything new. We trust that you’ll forgive us. (We’ve been working on a piece about the installation of the new Metropolitan for the Antiochian Archdiocese; it will be coming forthwith. It’s an exciting time for that jurisdiction and we wish His Eminence well.)

And then there’s the fact that we’ve wanted to keep things upbeat during the Advent as well. Nothing too inflammatory or unpleasant and all that. However, events have a way of intervening. One such event occurred yesterday.

Ordinarily, we don’t post new stories on Sunday. It’s the Lord’s day. However this morning I got up early and while working out on the treadmill, I saw a scroll on the news about the murder to two police officers in New York. I thought to myself, “Lord have mercy.” And then I said to myself, “I knew this was going to happen.”

The two policemen, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were viciously gunned down by one Ismaaiyl [sic] Brinsley while sitting in their squad car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. They were sitting in their squad car when the alleged murderer walked up and pumped them full of bullets. He later turned the gun on himself. This was heinous but to be expected given the stoking of racial hatred that has been the hallmark of the Obama Administration since the death of Trayvon Martin.

It is also the bitter fruit of the leadership of Mayor “Bolshevik” Bill DeBlasio. (I know, gratuitous but there you go.) He has adhered to the Cultural Marxist narrative all his life but now as Evil Emperor of New York, he is able to instigate his diabolical policies.

Now, there are a lot of layers to this atrocity which will be discussed in due time. For now, I would like to concentrate on just one, and that is the hallowed Doctrine of Diversity. For decades now we were told that the United States was a horribly racist society and the only cure was to increase immigration from the Third World, question authority (especially our European Christian heritage), and more “equitably” redistribute wealth –among others. We were all to worship at the Altar of Diversity and any questioning of it was considered bad form. It probably meant you voted for George Wallace or something.

Cooler, more rational heads, like Joe Sobran, Pat Buchanan, Sam Francis and others, begged to differ. But true to form, they were shown the door, even being fired by the ostensibly conservative journals they worked for. In the meantime, as a doddering Republic, we went merrily along our way, first slouching, then skipping to Gomorrah. We were told that (save for a few hiccups along the way), all would be well. After all racism was a white thing. Blacks, Asians, Hispanics and the rest were not infected with this evil European disease.

If only it were true: the assailant was a black man (and probable convert to Islam) who had posted an Instagram that “today, he was going to give wings to pigs.” The victims, Liu Xu and Ramos, were Asian and Hispanic, respectively.

I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen! We’d been told that if we put aside our “white hegemonist” mentality it’d be all Kum-ba-ya once the Civil Rights bill and the Immigration Act of 1965 were passed. Well, it hasn’t been all Kum-ba-ya, has it?

Instead, the more diverse we’ve become, the more violent we’ve become. There are perfectly good evolutionary reasons to see why this is so (for those of you Progressives who still believe in Darwin). For the rest of us who know history, we don’t have to resolve the great Creation/Evolution debate, we can just look to experience. And the picture that history paints for us is not a pretty one.

It basically boils down to this: want low crime? Then have as close to a homogeneous society as possible. It’s really that simple.

In the meantime, say a prayer for the souls of Officers Liu and Ramos and prepare for more of these incidents. And prepare for police all over America abdicating responsibility for the inner cities. The good work of Rudy Giuliani will be undone in a trice. But, if you’re a cop, you won’t get killed if you’re sitting in a doughnut shop in some nice suburb during your shift. At the very least, you won’t be called in for questioning and having your life ruined like Darren Wilson simply because your didn’t want to become a statistic.

Perhaps the only silver lining to this horrible cloud would be if the Police union in New York boos and catcalls Bolshevik Bill if he dares to show up that these mens’ funeral. That would be condign punishment. For good measure, I’d like to see Al Sharpton tarred and feathered –a man can dream, can’t he?


  1. If Mr. Michalopulos had say, written an essay commenting on the similar execution style murders of Officer’s Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck back when those occurred, then this essay wouldn’t come off as it does: a crass exploitative abuse of a tragedy for Mr. Michalopulos to engage in his race hustling Social Darwinist agenda.

    His fixation on Al Sharpton is hilarious considering Mr. Michalopulos might as well be called the Al Sharpton of Orthodox bloggerdom.

    It basically boils down to this: want low crime? Then have as close to a homogeneous society as possible. It’s really that simple.

    The tragedy here, of course, is the sincere belief that the most important homogeneous factor for such is race, and the delusion that in said homogeneous society with the same poverty and economic issues that things would somehow be better.

    Instead, the more diverse we’ve become, the more violent we’ve become.

    In Mr. Michalopulos’s strange world, a steady decline in violent crime over twenty years means we’re becoming more violent. Do go on.

    But, if you’re a cop, you won’t get killed if you’re sitting in a doughnut shop in some nice suburb during your shift

    Change donut shop to Cici’s pizza, and were they alive, Officer’s Soldo and Beck would probably disagree with you.

    Maybe in addition to the “lavender mafia” people in the church should be concerned about a “phyletist mafia”, mmm?

  2. Fr Joseph F. Wilson says

    Thank you for a post solidly grounded in common sense!
    -Fr Wilson

  3. Tim R. Mortiss says

    You’re right, we should never have allowed those Greeks and Italians in, much less the Jews. And the Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese immigrants have caused nothing but trouble in this country, no?

    George, you are going around the bend on this one….

    On second thought, maybe you do have a point, though. As a Canadian-Anglo-Scots Presbyterian, I was a bona-fide member of the Protestant Ascendancy. Now it’s gone kaput, and I find myself with a bunch of Greeks! 😉

    Here’s a suggestion, if you’re going to do a bit on current events: Mandy Rice-Davies died this week.

  4. > Instead, the more diverse we’ve become, the more violent we’ve become.

    What are you getting at? Are you saying that sending Greeks back to Greece, Mr. Michalopulos, would help restore some peace to America?

    > For decades now we were told … the only cure was to increase immigration from the Third World, question authority (especially our European Christian heritage) … and any questioning of it … probably meant you voted for George Wallace or something.

    What’s your point about our European Christian heritage? That it’s the only way to peace? Jews have been here since the founding of our country, and they are not Christian, but we don’t hear about them going around shooting cops. It would seem that as a whole they are still keeping the law, even if they haven’t kept the big L Law. Don’t forget about St. Paul writing about Gentiles who have the law “inscribed upon their hearts.” Conversely, European Christian countries throughout history have often been violent and warmongering. Puffing up our Christian chests is un-Christian pridefulness.


    We haven’t become more violent. We’re just hearing more about it now, due to the emergence of a 24/7 information culture made possible by modern technology.

    Diversity didn’t kill those cops. A killer killed those cops, a killer who already had a criminal history. What we don’t hear about are the many peaceful protesters for whom Ferguson was not a trigger for cop killing. And although Mayor DeBlasio might sympathize with the protesters, he didn’t tell them to kill cops.

    The recent tragedy is not the cudgel against diversity you make it out to be.

    Demonizing diversity is actually what is counterproductive to peace. Balkanization is not peace. It is a failure to love.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Not at all. There’s a word for what the pre-1965 immigrants (like my father) did: assimilation.

      My point about our “Christian European heritage”? I dunno, why don’t you crack open a history book or better yet, go to Europe, take in the sights, see the great cathedrals, visit the Parthenon or the Coliseum, hike along Hadrian’s Wall, etc. It’s exhilarating. All that we hold dear about civilization took root on that continent.

      And yes, technically, you’re right: diversity “didn’t kill those cops.” Brinsley did. But let us step back and consider the “culture” that he marinated in: Black Islam, grievance, a welfare state that destroyed patriarchy and thus personal responsibility. Were any of those in play before the 1960s? We could also add “the Media” (shades of Spiro Agnew!). Bolshie Bill just did.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Of course there is a Christian European heritage, but it does not make up our entire civilization. Note that the Parthenon (and the Pantheon!), the Coliseum, and Hadrian’s Wall, were all built by pagans. European ones, of course.

        The point is not that our culture is not in many ways largely Christian European, it is that there is nothing wrong with the assimilation of non-Christian and non-European elements. I had a lot of Jewish friends as a kid; for a long time I thought they were a sort of Presbyterian; same docs, lawyers, and businessmen as dads as the rest of the neighborhood dads, along with a lot of others.

        Lot of Japanese and Chinese on the west coast. Non-Christians, but long-time law abiding contributors to society. Same with very large numbers of Koreans, though the majority are probably Christian.

        My old law firm was like a WWII movie platoon: Benedetti, Bersante, Seinfeld, Kouklis, Loo, Lim, Johnson, Petrich, Coleman, Levy, Pearson, etc. etc. Diversity works OK there!

      • go to Europe, take in the sights, see the great cathedrals, visit the Parthenon or the Coliseum, hike along Hadrian’s Wall, etc

        Material achievements are not what make a civilization great, and are not unique to Europe. Many other pre-Christian and non-Christian civilizations can boast of similar if not greater physical legacies. The Great Wall of China, for example, dwarfs Hadrian’s wall, and speaking of Hadrian, what’s more significant — that he built a short wall, or that he persecuted Christians?

        A civilization’s greatness is measured by how closely it keeps God’s Law, not by the grandeur of its cathedrals or temples. By this criterion, all civilizations the world over have missed the mark at one time or another. By embracing the “Christian European” heritage, you (presumably an Eastern Christian) are adopting the legacy of the Inquisition, for example, as your own.

        All that we hold dear about civilization took root on that continent.

        No, what we hold dear about Christian European heritage is Christ, and “they were first called Christians in Antioch,” which is most definitely not on the continent of Europe. The Lord was incarnate of a Jewish woman in the Middle East.

        But let us step back and consider the “culture” that he marinated in: Black Islam, grievance, a welfare state that destroyed patriarchy and thus personal responsibility.

        So if fundamentalist Islam is specifically what you’re blaming, why did you categorically blame the cop killing on “diversity?” Nate Trost said it best above: your article is a “crass exploitative abuse of a tragedy” for you to engage in “race hustling.”

        • George Michalopulos says

          Han, of course Hadrian and the ancient Greeks were pagans. They were also civilized. No other continent produced civilizations that can compare to those of Europe? China and Japan come close to be sure but it is not Asian medicine that is practiced the world over. Nor Indian science. Is/was Europe perfect? Hardly.

          As far as Antioch is concerned, that was a Hellenistic city, the third city of the Empire. It was not built by Bedouins or Pakistanis.

          Yes, our Lord, a Jew, was incarnate in a Jewish woman. The Jews were most definitely despised by the Greeks and were Third World in comparison. God in His wisdom chose this despised people and set them aside for his purposes.

          We are not called to hate. The diversity of the races is wondrous. As are the nations (that means borders as well). Fr Moses Berry calls the nations of man “the flowers in God’s garden.” Diversity however means that people are diverse.

          • We need to be not so europocentric.

            In our own time, the science of ‘integrative medicine’ is only now beginning to repair centuries of damage caused by an exclusive application in ‘the west’ of the one-trick pony of allopathic medicine and invasive surgery, finally seeing the wisdom in hindu ayurvedic medicine and chinese herbal medicine, among other sources of ancient knowledge which can be of help to us all in spite of our cultural chauvinism.

            There are all those shamans ro consider, too, along with traditional ‘feldshers’ in Russia.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Oh my, what language! How did the ‘science of ‘integrative medicine” “finally” SEE anything?

  5. Michael Bauman says

    This crime has no direct connection to the Garner and Brown deaths. A man who embraced death simply used it as an excuse to make love to his mistress.

    It us irresponsible to make it into yet another excuse to vomit idelogical opposing ideas at each other.

    I find it difficult to say that my temptation to murder is any different than this man’s. I have never acted on that temptation but it is essentially the same demonic whisper: if you kill (yourself or others) the world/you will be better. I am beginning to see the same whisper behind the ideological lies that pass for politics these days.

    Mercy! ;

    • James Denney says

      I don’t suppose the FACT that the murderer said that it did would have any effect on your opinion?

      • Michael Bauman says

        He would have found another excuse. Almost anything could have aroused the murderous passion in him.
        Certainly the passions surrounding the events had an effect but only secondarily. It was a trigger no doubt.

        Isolated facts mean next to nothing no matter how loud

  6. Gail Sheppard says

    RE: “I thought this wasn’t supposed to happen! We’d been told that if we put aside our “white hegemonist” mentality it’d be all Kum-ba-ya once the Civil Rights bill and the Immigration Act of 1965 were passed.”

    I think it was assumed that we (the white) were the only ones who were racist. That proved not to be true.

  7. James Denney says

    Did the condoning, if not outright encouragement, of the unwarranted and baseless protests against the police and the rule of law by Eric Holder, Mayor DiBlasio, Barrack Obama, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and others, create the atmosphere and environment that encourages these types of acts? Did their failure to defend the obviously justified actions of the policeman in the Brown death and to condemn the thuggery of Brown himself contribute to this lawlessness? The answer, it seems to me is unfortunately yes. No amount of condemnation by Obama and Sharpton of the vicious assassination of the two New York police officers can erase their malfeasance in this matter. Lynch mobs have consequences.

  8. It basically boils down to this: want low crime? Then have as close to a homogeneous society as possible.

    Like Mexico?

    What about European Russia? Ethnically quite homogeneous but on several key indicators of violent crime it ranks higher than the US.

    Then there are any number of east African nations with more homogeneous populations than the US but also much higher violent crime rates.

    But we could also point to societies like Canada, Australia and New Zealand – Anglo/western European majorities like the US but with significant migrant communities (estimates of 20-30% of present populations born overseas) from other cultures but lower crime rates than the US.

    It’s more complicated than just homogeneity, George.

    We also need to take into account such factors as rule of law and respect for same, economic conditions, prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse. availability of firearms and the effectiveness of the policing and justice system (including freedom from corruption), just to name a few.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Let’s take your points seriatim:

      1. Russia? Yes, more violent. But wasn’t that a country that was ruled by a theomachy where tradition, hierarchy and decency were very nearly wiped out for 70 years?

      2. East African nations? Way more violent. One hypothesis is that natural selection has made sub-Saharan Africa more hyper-violent. The scarcity of resources encourages hair-trigger tempers and the propensity to fight in order to survive. Only those who do live on to pass their genes.

      3. I don’t know how to respond to your assertion about Canada and New Zealand. You seem to be conflating them with European countries. Please expand on this. For now I will say that as far as the European countries which have a significant Third World immigrant base, the violence is senseless. Rotherham, Marseilles, Malmo, etc. are now Islamist crap-holes where native Europeans Jews go to only if they want to get murdered or if women want to get gang-raped.

      • Michalopulos:

        1. Russia? Yes, more violent. But wasn’t that a country that was ruled by a theomachy where tradition, hierarchy and decency were very nearly wiped out for 70 years?

        What, you mean 3 generations of persecution were capable of undermining a thousand years of Christian civilization in Russia?

        2. East African nations? Way more violent. One hypothesis is that natural selection has made sub-Saharan Africa more hyper-violent.

        What, exactly, are you smoking?

        • Daniel E Fall says

          Okay, I am defending George now.

          Simple history shows that Stalin killed 40 million people. So, yes, a few generations and forgotten principles yield major cultural change. Unlike Fr. Hans idea the gays will thin out culturally, I think we are stuck with them. I don’t five a ham. 🙂

          And the arguments about survival in Africa are pretty simplistic, but exactly what is so bad about Occum’s here? And why would you suggest George is wacked out when he gives the simplest answer?

          For a fact, I almost never support any of George’s assertions, but here I find him offering cogent thoughts and you offering rhetorical incense.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Basil I agree with you on the rule of law. Homogeneity can make such rule easier but ultimately rule of law is about establishing and enforcing when necessary a set of shared standards of conduct with a shared understanding of the consequences. Law codes derived from religion have been historically popular because, in part, the religion offers an authority outside any particular community or tribe or person.

      The culprit is egalitarianism. No hierarchy of value even when it regards human life; no common standards; no common code of behavior; no common consequences; no sense of accountability to anyone else or anything higher. Might becomes right. Tribalism returns.

      In modern culture the tribe has become the individual. I can and should be able to do anything I want is the fundamental assumption. Even when the vestiges of the rule of law tell me I can’t, such imposed restraint makes no sense and simply builds anger and resentment even when it appears to be successful. Sooner or later that anger and resentment explode individually or more corporately.

      Any expression of authority in such a morass is looked upon with distrust and more anger, even when the authority is not out of line. At the same time, it also makes enforcement of what law remains much more likely to be violent and capricious.

      Diversity in and of itself is not the problem, that is too simplistic. In the environment of radical egalitarianism it does add fuel to the fire.

      Secularism has no legitimate source of authority. It can appeal to only two sources: the will of the people or simple force. The first leads to mob anarchy. The second to tyranny.

      Ideological political rants from any point of view only make things worse.

      Brown, Garner, Liu, Ramos and Brinsley are all dead. They all died because of the stupidity, murderous rage, fear and the lack of the ability to respond to one another as human beings. Yes, Brown, Garner and Brinsley lived lives and acted in ways that brought opprobrium and official violence, perhaps justly but I could well have acted in the same manner as they did. The fact still remains that all five are dead: may the Lord have mercy on their souls and forgive their sins and heal those left behind.

      Inciting more anger, rage and violence is simply not the way to address the perceived problem. Both sides feel ‘righteously indignant’. In the course of justice, none of us should see salvation. Justice is a bloody mistress in the hands of men. Righteousness on the other hand is an entirely different matter.

      As Christians we are called to seek righteousness, not justice:

      Mercy and justice in the same soul is like the man who worships God and idols in the same temple. Mercy is in contradiction with justice. Justice is the return of the equal. Because it returns to man that which he deserves and it does not bend to one side neither is it partial in the retaliation. But mercy is sorrow that is moved by grace and bends to all with sympathy and it does not return the harm to him who deserves it although it overfills him who deserves good. … And as it is not possible for hay and fire to be able to exist in the same house, the same way it is not possible for justice and mercy to be in the same soul. As the grain of sand cannot be compared with a great amount of gold – the same way God’s need for justice cannot be compared with his mercy. Because man’s sin, in comparison to the providence and the mercy of God, are like a handful of sand that falls in the sea and the Creator’s mercy cannot be defeated by the wickedness of the creatures St. Isaac, the Syrian.

      The real rule of law is founded on mercy and righteousness, not justice. We are each and all accountable to each and all and God for the content of our lives and how we impact one another but we must be aware at the same time that “I am the greatest of sinners.”

      If we cannot learn to not only articulate that vision in words but live in out in our life (personally and corporately) or at least make serious efforts to, we will face the one judge with only darkness and blood to offer.


  9. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    I am interested that you, of all people, would reach the conclusion that the tragic murders of these NYC police officers – as does characterize a disturbing trend of murder-then-suicide – is related to racial diversity. I would propose to you that you, of all people, should be considering the list of most prescribed and greatest money-making medications in the United States: the number one money-making medication prescribed in the US (for both 2013 & 2014) and within the top-25 of all medications prescribed is aripirazole (Alilify®), a second-generation anti-psychotic indicated for the treatment of schizophrenia & other psychotic disorders (e.g. schizoaffective disorder); Biolar Disorders I/II (which are increasingly biologically & psychiatrically associated with the spectrum of psychotic disorders); adjunctive to the treatment of major depression and other mood disorders that are either “under-responsive” or refractory to the usually-prescribed “front-line” medications; and “agitation” in the Autism-spectrum disorders. This should be astonishing, but instead, it speaks to the level of destruction & decompensation in our society. Individuals, in their delusion, have always taken their own lives; the depth of indifference and fundamental lack of moral direction previously driven by the “good news” of the salvation of our God has, as described by both Kierkegaard & Sartre, led to a pervasive society of angst and ennui, in their most profound philosophical sense, and nausée that leads to a rage that lashes out at the self and others.

    Someone needs to bring the Nativity message, the message of Isaiah 40:

    O Zion, that bring good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (v9-11)

    and the someone is us. We, apparently, are waiting for someone. else.

    The Orthodox in America need moral voices – witness & martyrs – and leaders to again restore our voice in this society. I disagree that this is a “racial” or “diversity” issue, and I believe it is naive to imagine “fixing” the issues you describe – in the manner you and others have traditionally described them here, politically & governmentally – will work. Only the “voice crying in the wilderness” (v.3), brave enough to proclaim, “Have you not known? have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength” (v.28-29) will be sufficient. May this celebration of the Nativity of our Lord convince us.

  10. Tim R. Mortiss says

    George, your comments about east Africans are just rank pseudo-science.

    And you criticize the writer with conflating Canada and New Zealand with European countries, all the while referring to ours as Christian-European? What are Canada and New Zealand if not European in culture?

  11. George, you still have not answered Nate’s point that violent crime has gone down – wayyyy down – over the last two decades while immigration has continued unabated.

    As for Marseilles and Malmo, I have (white) friends from both places, and neither has so much as mentioned “Islamist crap-holes” and the one from Malmo (a woman) has never mentioned being afraid of crime at home.

  12. “But wasn’t that a country that was ruled by a theomachy where tradition, hierarchy and decency were very nearly wiped out for 70 years?”

    But for a generation they’ve not suffered under such burdens, George, yet crime rates are higher than in Soviet times, despite ethnic homogeneity. What do you think accounts for this?

    “One hypothesis is that natural selection has made sub-Saharan Africa more hyper-violent.”

    Oh please, George, tell me you don’t really believe this offensive Darwinian nonsense.

    I don’t know how to respond to your assertion about Canada and New Zealand. You seem to be conflating them with European countries. Please expand on this.

    Not at all, George (and you forgot Australia); as primarily British/western European settled societies but now “multi-cultural” through immigration they are directly comparable with the US and I’m therefore using their examples to suggest that ethnic homogeneity is demonstrably not the only or even necessarily the major factor in ensuring a low crime society.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Basil, Han, etc: Yes, I stand by my assertion that three generations (at least) of aggressive theomachist education can eradicate a thousand years of Christian formation. Barely 40 years of secularist indoctrination have reduced our sexuality to those of Bonobo chimpanzees. I remember when virginity was prided in American females (I’m now 55 years old).

      You forget that the wont of man is sinfulness. Civilization is built up over centuries, moral capital over generations. Both can be squandered in a nonce. And neither can be recovered overnight. The collapse of Rome in the West led to a period of anarchy that lasted almost 4 centuries, until Charlemagne restored some semblance of order.

      I’m not a Darwinist but I do believe in natural selection –not that it leads to speciation–but that it occurs in human populations as well. That’s incontestable. How else do you explain the high IQ of Ashkenazi Jews and the athletic superiority of West Africans in sports that require instant speed (basketball, football)? How do you explain the superiority of Asians in gymnastics? Or whites in sports like soccer that require endurance running?

      My hypothesis that the sub-Saharan climate produces people who are more prone to explosive violence is borne out by the Rwandan genocide: in 100 days more than 800,000 Hutus were slaughtered by Tsutsis, most of them wielding machetes. That’s the fastest genocide in recorded history. Staggering really.

      Australia and New Zealand have the most restrictive immigration laws in the Anglosphere, bar none. Plus their island nations which make it next to impossible for people from the Third World to amble over just to pick up some day-labor. Canada likewise has no Third World neighbor contiguous to it. Apples and oranges. Compare these fortunate countries to England, which has been beset by an open borders policy and wherein crime against the natives has skyrocketed.

      • Let it not be said that upon it being pointed out to Mr. Michalopulos that he is digging himself a rather deep hole, he doesn’t immediately look at the shovel, exclaim “By Jove, you’re right!” and run off.

        Only to shortly reappear behind the controls of an excavation machine.

        My hypothesis that the sub-Saharan climate produces people who are more prone to explosive violence is borne out by the Rwandan genocide

        Haha, wow. There is so much to unpack in this single statement that it might as well be the christened the Monomakhos Singularity.

        For one, it is good to see Mr. Michalopulos taking ownership over his belief in junk race science. And it’s easy to see how those beliefs influence his overall worldview, for example the infamous “barbarous races of the world” comment.

        Thinking the Rwandan genocide is some kind of proof of a genetic “prone to explosive violence” disposition is beyond mockable, beyond pitiable, but rather a notion that reaches a cosmic degree of stupidity to the level that the only reasonable reaction is a long slack-jawed look followed by hysterical laughter and an animated gif.

        This one should do.

        The Rwandan genocide was the product of nearly a century of baking, and its genesis can be directly tied to some of the worst examples of European colonial behavior. Of all places, Touchstone magazine actually has a fairly detailed essay on the subject.

        Although frankly, for sheer body count, Rwanda can’t compare to what domestic Europe pulled off in the 20th century. But by all means, let us pretend the continent that brought us the Battle of the Somme, the firebombing of Dresden and the Holocaust, among other “greatest hits” is more hesitant to bring about mass human death!

        How else do you explain the high IQ of Ashkenazi Jews and the athletic superiority of West Africans in sports that require instant speed (basketball, football)? How do you explain the superiority of Asians in gymnastics? Or whites in sports like soccer that require endurance running?

        You overestimate the actual effects due to genetics by orders of magnitude, and even there they are not absolute, nor even necessarily tied to the artificial concept of “race”, and completely fail to account for issues like relative cultural or social prestige of certain activities, or concentrated resource allocation and devotion to development of specific athletic activities on the part of national governments.

        Of course we all remember how the Jamaican bobsled team instantly became Olympic champions due to their genetic endowment!

        Yes, I stand by my assertion that three generations (at least) of aggressive theomachist education can eradicate a thousand years of Christian formation.

        It’s lovely how Mr. Michalopulos will give Russia some allowance nearly 25 years later for the effects of the seven decade long Soviet regime. However, when it comes to the state of African-Americans in the US, centuries of slavery, another century of legally codified discrimination and targeting by white terrorism, and following the ebb of that, continued systemic social and economic discrimination aren’t worthy of mention! It’s all the fault of a couple decades worth of social welfare programs, many of which haven’t existed in the form being touted for twenty years!

        Barely 40 years of secularist indoctrination have reduced our sexuality to those of Bonobo chimpanzees. I remember when virginity was prided in American females (I’m now 55 years old).

        Virginity prided in American females? Poor Mr. Michalopulos longs for the time of the sexual double standard! When boys could be boys and sow their wild oats and still have the ability to look down on any women who acted like they and brand her a slut. Viva la patriarchy!

        Of course, considering how Mr. Michalopulos tends to use physical descriptors of women’s appearance as a primary attribute to lead off criticism, and waxed about how the most elite accomplished female athletes in the world remind him of Playboy Playmates, I think we can safely say that Mr. Michalopulos is in fact old enough not to have the awareness that he is a bit of a sexist boor, and if he ever finds himself questioning why feminism exists, he merely need locate the nearest mirror.

        Now all we need is some sputtering about sodomy and it’ll be a Monomakhos hat-trick for Christmas!

      • Civilization is built up over centuries, moral capital over generations. Both can be squandered in a nonce. Truer words were never spoken. Traditional types are often laughed at as being silly “the sky is falling” types. But our distress and warnings are based on the above simple fact. There is potential goodness in the individual human soul, but it requires great care and nuture to make it bloom. This fact stands at the center of the Orthodox ascetic life.

        Corporate goodness requires even more of a proper climate for it to survive, let alone develop. Very little is required to destroy it.

        Civilization in this broken and fallen world is fragile, and it is being shattered about us as we speak. It cannot be reversed, but it is a human reaction to mourn its loss. It reminds us that the only dependable civilization awaits us in life of the age to come.

        In Archimandrite Tikhon’s documentary on the decline and fall of Byzantium, he points out that the multiracial Byzantine Empire thrived because citizens agreed on two fundamentals — accepting (Orthodox) Christianity and embracing the Roman Byzantine system of rule of law. In that sense it was diverse, but not “multicultural” in the modern sense of the term.

        In America there is neither a common religion (we once at least had a watered down facsimile thereof, for better or worse) and there is no longer reverence for the rich traditions rule of law in the Anglo-American tradition — from the current occupant of the Oval Office on down.

  13. Having grown up in Oakland, and Vallejo, California I can tell you with confidence that the fault of the mess lies squarely at the feet of the Democrat Party. (And those of us who keep them in power for decades) How can I believe this?
    Well… Empirical Evidence can do that to a person’s mind. Decades of “us” voting in the same party, (and many times the same individual) with the same policies, doing the same this “to” us, over and over, and over again, allowing “them” to keep their thumbs on our collective backs pressed into enclaves of (so-called) “projects” right where we belong, this voting block of idiots who forever keep believing their lies about how it’s, “The Man” (White Republicans) who keep us on the plantation when in fact it is these very ones that We’ve been keeping in the Big House (who ALL of their Preachers are pro Liberal Theology, BAR NONE!) by voting them into office, over, and over, and over again! A quote attributable to Einstein or not, it surely is the truth, backed up by Empirical Evidence of being under the thumb of the Democrat Party for not just a dew years, but DECADES that, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting the same result…”
    Living in it, or escaping from it, the only way to truly deal with it, is to go to Christ. Let them worldly people fight it out whilst we remain in the safe haven of the church. What’s that scripture? “Let God be true, though every man be found a liar”(?)

  14. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    You just can’t make this stuff up:

    Now in full disclosure I am a supporter of universal healthcare. However, I do also believe that it needs to be fixed and reformed across the board. Yet, I am not a Harvard Man and these guys (and Gals) are. Did they not know this was going to happen? Heck I knew that’s why I support reforming the ACA, but these guys didn’t know? Really!?

    Enjoy the elite’s double standard.


    • Michael Bauman says

      Peter, ah yes. When the consequences of one’s ideas and actions are suffered, it makes one rethink does it not? But of course, they are only wanting to be an exception rather than having to experience what we peons do.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Hey check this out:

        I forgot to comment on this but this happened in Chicago over the Holidays. Look at that Bishop Paul Gassios made OCA bishop of the Midwest. Didn’t anybody tell the Carpathians and Ukrainians you can’t have a Greek ruling over Carpathian-Russians and Ukrainians? It kind of goes against the whole meme against this guy:

        Love it! You just can’t make this stuff up. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

        Anyway, good for him. May he well serve the Orthodox people of the Midwest for many years along with all the other Orthodox Bishops of the Midwest until the day comes when this canonical anomaly is put to an end.


        • Daniel E Fall says

          Every single foreign ruled church is a canonical anomaly. The MP figured that out about 50 years ago.

          What are you waiting for?

  15. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    I am presenting this article by Fr. Harakas as he too also talks about caring for people with SSA with love and compassion in a “Pastoral” setting. However, please note how Fr. Harakas’ “Pastoral” approach, in 1982 no less, is vastly different from Fr, Arida’s so-called “Pastoral” approach.

    Also, being that these are the views of Fr. Stanley Harakas, a long standing GOAA members and priest, are his views a “New and Alien Spirit?”

    This is the last thing I want to say on this subject. I hope and pray that the OCA takes care of this is its Spring meeting this year.

    Rev. Dr. Stanley S. Harakas
    The Formulation of the Church’s Stand

    Throughout its history, the Orthodox Church has dealt with controversial issues by a process which addresses the “mind of the Church.” When an issue arises for which there is no clear-cut, widely and readily acknowledged tradition, and about which there is honest divergence of opinion as to what view genuinely expresses the teaching of the Church, a process begins which may eventually lead to the formulation of an official Church teaching. A classical example from the early period of the Church is the formulation of the Church doctrines about the person of Jesus Christ, which began with the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea (325) and concluded with the Seventh Ecumenical Council (787).

    Over this four hundred and sixty-three year period, the Church clarified its understanding and teaching of the revelation regarding Jesus Christ. At the center of this process stood the Ecumenical Councils, which constituted the final and most authoritative agent for the formulation of doctrine, pending the acceptance of their decrees by the entire Church. For the Orthodox Church, this meant that such issues could not, and should not, be solved by appeal to a single bishop or leader, no matter how honored and respected he might be. It meant, rather, that the Church set its mind to resolving the issue through a corporate approach which drew on the whole tradition of the records of God’s revelation.

    In practice this meant reference to the Bible and to the living Tradition of the Church by persons seeking to comprehend how the tradition spoke to the new questions being raised. Questions were never raised just for intellectual curiosity nor for the sake of systematic organization. They nearly always were raised because in one way or another their outcome would bear on our salvation and the truths of the Faith. A response would be made whenever a new teaching seemed to be at variance with tradition in one way or another, and consequently not in harmony with the received tradition of revelation, even though the response might have to deal with yet undefined topics. Thus, the great Fathers of the Church, such as Athanasios, Basil, the Gregorys and Chrysostom, not only criticized the false teachings of heresiarchs such as Arius, but proposed formulations of the truth as well. These became the subject of study, debate, and finally, the decisions of Councils on every level – local, regional, provincial and ecumenical, all guided by the Holy Spirit.
    The Present Stand of the Church

    Many controversial issues presented to us during these days of rapid change have reached the earliest stages in the process of dealing with controversial issues. People are beginning the search for answers – either with respect to attacks on the faith and practices of the Orthodox Church, or to new and previously unimagined problems – that can be formulated so as to preserve our salvation in Christ and to reflect the truths of the Faith. Often, since new issues arising from the rapid development of technology affect not only individual church members, but society as a whole, the attempt to answer the question for and within the Church also provides a basis for addressing these same questions on the public scene.

    In some cases the controversial issues can be addressed from long-standing doctrinal, ethical and canonical traditions. Where this is the case, there is little or no debate in the Church. One example is the Church’s position on the legalization of abortion on demand. Since the Church went through the same debate in the early fourth century, it is not difficult to determine “the mind of the Church” on this issue, and to apply it to the current discussion.
    Complications from Technology

    The process, however, is not so easy in reference to the many issues which deal with the concerns arising from the amazing development of medical technology. How, for example, would the tradition of revelation address the issue of artificial insemination? The first question it would ask is if there are any implications in it from the perspective of salvation and the truths of Faith. In this case, since it clearly impinges on marriage, family, the relation between spouses, and the lives of human beings, there is an obvious connection. In order to understand that connection, it is necessary to examine the whole tradition of revelation in the sources of the Church’s teaching in order to clarify the impact of the new technologies. Then, solutions seeking to embody that tradition are offered to the “mind of the Church.”

    If the membership of the Church finds them in harmony with the tradition, and if they are not widely challenged, the formulation may remain at that level, and become part of the teaching ministry of the Church. If it is challenged and debated, it may become the subject of conciliar decision. Only very few topics would ever reach the level of consideration by a regional or pan-Orthodox council.
    The Content and the Stand of this Article

    What follows in this section represents this process in dealing with controversial issues. It seeks to express “the mind of the Church” on these issues, either by defending against attacks on the Orthodox Church’s teachings and practice, or by providing ethical guidance concerning issues that arise from our highly technological age. Very few claims to uncontroverted teaching can be made. Most positions of the discussion should be understood as the current consensus, sincerely and widely held, and representing the mind of the Orthodox Church on issues discussed. At this early stage, this is the most that can be presented. In practice, it serves today as the teaching of the Orthodox Church on these controversial issues:

    The most characteristic aspect of Orthodox Christianity is its worship. Though rich in tradition of doctrine, morality, canon law, social concern, personal faith, and monasticism, to name only a few of its objects, the core of Orthodox Christian life is to be found in its worship. Consequently, Orthodox Christianity has been perceived by some to emphasize worship so much that the other aspects of church life appear to be submerged and even lost. Orthodox leaders would strongly deny the characterization that the Orthodox Church is only a Church of worship, while continuing to accept and justify the centrality of worship in the life of the Church.

    Worship is central to the life of the Church because it is the place where the most important relationship for human life occurs: the relationship with God. Worship includes the chief means by which God has revealed Himself to humanity: Scripture and the living Tradition of the Faith. No worship service in the Orthodox Church is without the use of the Bible. Furthermore, worship brings all of life into the life of the Kingdom of God. The Orthodox Church orders its worship so that time is sanctified, as are all aspects of human life. For example, when Orthodox Christians open a new business, it is customary for the priest to bless it with sanctified water; when a newborn baby reaches its fortieth day, he or she is brought to the Church by the parents for the “churching.”

    Worship also makes alive and present for the believer all of the mighty acts of salvation history. Most feasts are presented in worship services as occurring now, “today.” The chief example of this is Holy Week, which serves to help the faithful relive the events of Christ’s death and resurrection.

    More important, however, is the sacramental aspect of worship, through which the saving work of Jesus Christ is mediated by the Church to each person. Baptism introduces the believer into the life of the Kingdom. Holy anointing or Chrismation grants the gift of the Holy Spirit for growth in the image and likeness of God. The Eucharist realizes the Kingdom of God everywhere it is celebrated, and unites the communicant with the very body and blood of the Lord. The sacrament of Penance serves to grant and assure the penitent Christian of God’s forgiveness. Marriage unites a man and a woman, incorporating the natural union into the life of the Kingdom, “in the Lord.” Ordination sets aside a small number of the believers for special service to the altar. Unction mediates healing and forgiving grace to believers. It is around these worship experiences that the Orthodox Christian lives his or her Christian life. Hence worship cannot be other than central to the life of the Church.
    Marriage, Divorce, and Mixed Marriages

    Marriage is one of the sacraments of the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Christians who marry must marry in the Church in order to be in sacramental communion with the Church. According to the Church canons, an Orthodox who marries outside the Church may not receive Holy Communion and may not serve as a sponsor, i.e. a Godparent at a Baptism, or as a sponsor at a Wedding. Certain marriages are prohibited by canon law, such as a marriage between first and second cousins, or between a Godparent and a Godchild. The first marriage of a man and a woman is honored by the Church with a richly symbolic service that eloquently speaks to everyone regarding the married state. The form of the service calls upon God to unite the couple through the prayer of the priest or bishop officiating.

    The church will permit up to, but not more than, three marriages for any Orthodox Christian. If both partners are entering a second or third marriage, another form of the marriage ceremony is conducted, much more subdued and penitential in character. Marriages end either through the death of one of the partners or through ecclesiastical recognition of divorce. The Church grants “ecclesiastical divorces” on the basis of the exception given by Christ to his general prohibition of the practice. The Church has frequently deplored the rise of divorce and generally sees divorce as a tragic failure. Yet, the Orthodox Church also recognizes that sometimes the spiritual well-being of Christians caught in a broken and essentially nonexistent marriage justifies a divorce, with the right of one or both of the partners to remarry. Each parish priest is required to do all he can to help couples resolve their differences. If they cannot, and they obtain a civil divorce, they may apply for an ecclesiastical divorce in some jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church. In others, the judgment is left to the parish priest when and if a civilly divorced person seeks to remarry.

    Those Orthodox jurisdictions which issue ecclesiastical divorces require a thorough evaluation of the situation, and the appearance of the civilly divorced couple before a local ecclesiastical court, where another investigation is made. Only after an ecclesiastical divorce is issued by the presiding bishop can they apply for an ecclesiastical license to remarry.

    Though the Church would prefer that all Orthodox Christians would marry Orthodox Christians, it does not insist on it in practice. Out of its concern for the spiritual welfare of members who wish to marry a non-Orthodox Christian, the Church will conduct a “mixed marriage.” For this purpose, a “non-Orthodox Christian” is a member of the Roman Catholic Church, or one of the many Protestant Churches which believe in and baptize in the name of the Holy Trinity. This means that such mixed marriages may be performed in the Orthodox Church. However, the Orthodox Church does not perform marriages between Orthodox Christians and persons belonging to other religions, such as Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or any sectarian and cult group, such as Christian Science, Mormonism, or the followers of Rev. Moon.
    Questions on Sexual Issues

    The teaching of the Orthodox Church on sexual questions is strongly determined by the Church’s attitude toward marriage and the family. A representative Orthodox statement which shows the centrality and importance of the family in Orthodox thinking is found in an encyclical letter by former Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, issued on the occasion of National Family Week in 1972. He stated:

    “Home and family life is the bedrock of our Greek Orthodox life-style. The spirit that binds us together as a people finds its deepest roots in the home where the tenderest values of human existence, love, compassion, forbearance and mutual helpfulness thrive in abundance.”

    Over the centuries and throughout most cultures and civilizations the family has been proven to be the unifying unit of society. Today we find the family under attack both from within and from without. Outside forces would have us believe that the family as we have come to know and cherish it is no longer necessary. From within, the erosion of spiritual values and emphasis upon materialism has created for many families confusion and uncertainty where commitment and dedication once reigned. Marriage is holy. The home is sacred. Birth is a miracle. In these we find the very meaning of life itself.

    One aspect of the “commitment and dedication” of the holy state of marriage and family is cast in terms of sexual behavior. Most moral questions relating to sex are generally best understood in the light of this high regard for marriage and the family. Some of the questions on sexual issues addressed by the Orthodox Church are the following:

    1) The Orthodox Church remains faithful to the biblical and traditional norms regarding premarital sexual relations between men and women. The only appropriate and morally fitting place for the exercise of sexual relations, according to the teachings of the Church, is marriage. The moral teaching of the Church on this matter has been unchanging since its foundation. In sum, the sanctity of marriage is the cornerstone of sexual morality. The whole range of sexual activity outside marriage – fornication, adultery and homosexuality – are thus seen as not fitting and appropriate to the Christian way of life. Like the teaching on fornication, the teachings of the Church on these and similar issues have remained constant. Expressed in Scripture, the continuing Tradition of the Church, the writings of the Church Fathers, the Ecumenical Councils and the canons, these views have been restated by theologians, hierarchs and local Orthodox churches in our own day. For example, the Decalogue prohibits adultery. In the tradition of the Church, the second-century Epistle of Barnabas commands “Thou shalt not be an adulterer, nor a corrupter, nor be like to them that are such.” The fourth-century Church Father St. Basil wrote against the practice (Canons 35 and 77); and the Quinisext Council (A.D. 691) repeated the same condemnation in its eighty-seventh canon. All major Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States have had occasion to repeat the condemnation of adultery.

    2) Generally stated, fornication, adultery, abortion, homosexuality and any form of abusive sexual behavior are considered immoral and inappropriate forms of behavior in and of themselves, and also because they attack the institution of marriage and the family. Two representative statements, one on abortion and another on homosexuality, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America follow. They are from the Twenty-Third Clergy-Laity Congress held in Philadelphia in 1976. The Orthodox Church has a definite, formal and intended attitude toward abortion. It condemns all procedures purporting to abort the embryo or fetus, whether by surgical or chemical means. The Orthodox Church brands abortion as murder; that is, as a premeditated termination of the life of a human being. The only time the Orthodox Church will reluctantly acquiesce to abortion is when the preponderance of medical opinion determines that unless the embryo or fetus is aborted, the mother will die. Decisions of the Supreme Court and State legislatures by which abortion, with or without restrictions, is allowed should be viewed by practicing Christians as an affront to their beliefs in the sanctity of life.

    The position of the Orthodox Church toward homosexual acts has been expressed by synodicals, canons and patristic pronouncements from the very first centuries of Orthodox ecclesiastical life. In them, the Orthodox Church condemns unreservedly all expressions of personal sexual experience which prove contrary to the definite and unalterable function ascribed to sex by God’s ordinance and expressed in man’s experience as a law of nature. The Orthodox Church believes that homosexual behavior is a sin. In full confidentiality the Orthodox Church cares and provides pastorally for homosexuals in the belief that no sinner who has failed himself and God should be allowed to deteriorate morally and spiritually.

    3) The possible exception to the above affirmation of continuity of teaching is the view of the Orthodox Church on the issue of contraception. Because of the lack of a full understanding of the implications of the biology of reproduction, earlier writers tended to identify abortion with contraception. However, of late a new view has taken hold among Orthodox writers and thinkers on this topic, which permits the use of certain contraceptive practices within marriage for the purpose of spacing children, enhancing the expression of marital love, and protecting health.


    The Church accompanies its faithful from even before birth, through all the steps of life to death and beyond, with its prayers, rites, sacraments, preaching, teaching, and its love, faith and hope. All of life, and even death itself, are drawn into the realm of the life of the Church. Death is seen as evil in itself, and symbolic of all those forces which oppose God-given life and its fulfillment. Salvation and redemption are normally understood in Eastern Christianity in terms of sharing in Jesus Christ’s victory over death, sin and evil through His crucifixion and His resurrection. The Orthodox Church has a very strong pro-life stand which in part expresses itself in opposition to doctrinaire advocacy of euthanasia.

    Euthanasia is understood to be the view or practice which holds that a person has the right, and even the moral obligation, to end his or her life when it is considered to be – for whatever subjectively accepted reason “not worth living.” Euthanasia advocates nearly always include in this assertion the right and duty of others, including medical personnel, to assist the person in fulfilling this purpose. Needless to say, the Orthodox Church rejects such a view, seeing such behavior as a form of suicide on the part of the individual, and a form of murder on a part of others who assist in this practice, both of which are seen as sins.

    Thus the Orthodox Church, in the words of 1976 Christmas encyclical of former Archbishop Iakovos, considers “euthanasia and abortion, along with homosexuality … a … moral alienation.” Modern medical practice, however, has affected another part of the Church’s perspective. The Church does not expect that excessive and heroic means must be used at all costs to prolong dying, as has now become possible through technical medical advances. As current Orthodox theology expresses it:

    “The Church distinguishes between euthanasia and the withholding of extraordinary means to prolong life. It affirms the sanctity of human life and man’s God-given responsibility to preserve life. But it rejects an attitude which disregards the inevitability of physical death.”

    This means that the Church may even pray that terminally ill persons die, without insisting that they be subjected to unnecessary and extraordinary medical efforts. At the same time, the Church rejects as morally wrong any willed action on the part of an individual to cause his or her own death or the death of another, when it otherwise would not occur.
    The Church and Politics

    Though there are many names by which the Orthodox Church is known, perhaps the most hallowed name is that which is used to designate the Church in the Nicene Creed – “… One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” The Orthodox hold that this phrase precisely describes the Orthodox Church. What each of these words means in its fullness is the subject of many deep and thoughtful theological articles and books.

    The word “catholic” in this name of the Church has provoked many such efforts at understanding. It can and does mean the universal perspective and outreach of the Church, which transcends national, racial and cultural boundaries. It can and does imply, as well, the outlook of the Church toward the created world and toward human affairs, which refuses to accept a compartmentalized self-undestanding that restricts the interests and concerns of the Church to a narrowly defined “religious sphere.”

    The Orthodox Church, throughout its history, has both used and encouraged the arts, culture and education, and has addressed the whole range of social and public phenomena. Among these have been its relationship with government in general, and the exercise of civil power in concrete circumstances, i.e., politics. As a general principle, the Orthodox Church has held a position on the ideal of Church and State relations which may be called “the principle of synergy.” It is to be distinguished from a sharp division of Church and State on the one hand, and a total fusion of Church and State, on the other hand. It recognizes and espouses a clear demarcation between Church and State, while calling for a cooperative relationship between the two.

    It is readily admitted that even when conditions for the implementation of such an ideal were most favorable, the ideal was not always fulfilled and realized. However, the historical example for the principle of synergy in Church and State relationships is the model of the Byzantine Empire, which lasted over a thousand yeas (324 -1453). Recent scholarship has rejected the older viewpoint that in Byzantium the Church was subservient to the State, and now recognizes that the view of the Byzantine Church on this question was misunderstood by earlier researchers. In the practical area of political life, it is nearly always impossible fully to realize the principle of synergy, but the Church has supported a range of attitudes which allow it to become involved in the political process on the one hand, while retaining its clear distinction from, and transcendence to it, on the other.

    Briefly stated, these are some of the guidelines which direct the Orthodox attitude toward involvement in politics by the Church:

    Upholding its own vision of the Kingdom of God. Uppermost in the mind of the Church is its prayer that human relations of all kinds might be incorporated into the Kingdom of God. Such a sacramentally oriented perspective, based on the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven,” when applied to the distinct God-established realm of governmental and political life does not mean the submission of the State to the Church, but rather the acceptance by the State of the God-like principles of justice, equity, genuine service and care, and mutuality. Though the State is not “under the Church” as is the case with everything else – ideally it should in fact and practice be “under God.”
    Adaptation to the Political Realities of Time and Place. The Orthodox Church readily recognizes that in this day and age no single nation comes close to a realization of its ideal model. The Church finds itself, however, living under many different political systems and environments. Its chief patriarchate, that of Constantinople, is under persecution in a Moslem-dominated country, Turkey. Another of its patriarchates, Jerusalem, functions in a theocratic Jewish State. Its largest patriarchate, Moscow, has lived a precarious life of bare legality, shifting from periods of relative tolerance to periods of overt persecution. One of its most active and vigorous patriarchal churches, in Romania, has worked out a unique modus vivendi with a government somewhat sympathetic, yet officially atheistic and Communist. Another of its larger national churches, that of Greece, is struggling to maintain the equilibrium between Church and State. On the other hand, the numerous Churches created by emigration from traditionally Orthodox countries enjoy freedom of religious practice, together with an obscurity enforced by their minority status in numerous western-style democracies, such as England, Germany, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Orthodox also seek to relate in some way with other systems of government not so easy to categorize, such as in the various nations of South America, and in such disparate places as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and South Korea.

    As can be understood, the adaptations of the ideal of synergy to reality must be varied in practice, and far from homogeneous. Nevertheless, certain modes of political relationship continue to be fostered by the Church. These include good citizenship, pursuit of Church rights, official nonpartisanship, preference for lay leadership, support of justice, limited advocacy for the right of revolution, and the unique case of ethnarchy. Space allows only a few general comments on each of these.

    Practical guidelines from biblical times and throughout its history, the Church has always fostered values which encourage good citizenship, regardless of the particular system of government. The Church fosters obedience to just laws, and even to unjust ones for the sake of the greater good. To this category belongs the fostering of appropriate ethnic and cultural identification, the support of military service, and the defense of the nation. The Church has also encouraged public service on the part of citizens, and philanthropies for the general good.

    Traditionally, the Church understands that one of its chief rights before the State is freedom to worship and function as a Church. Therefore, one of its major concerns is to assure its freedom, and to restrict or eliminate what it views as the improper interference of the State in the life of the Church. Byzantine history has many examples of the Church opposing the policies of emperors who were considered to be improperly interfering in Church affairs. It must also be noted, however, that the Church often welcomed the involvement of the emperors when the Church judged that this involvement served its interests.

    By and large, the Church is content to let the various political processes function in a way which separates the Church from partisan politics by maintaining a stance of general non-partisanship. Regardless of the political system of the nation and government, the Church is prepared to pray for the leader, in accordance with New Testament teaching. In democracies, this means that the Church seeks, insofar as its other purposes allow, to avoid partisan politics, neither formally opposing nor endorsing political candidates. Historically, only officials who imposed heretical teachings on the Church, or persecuted the Church, might be personally condemned; but even in these cases there was a certain hesitancy. By and large, hierarchs and other clergy do not seek to exercise political power, with the exception of the exercise of “ethnarchy,” a unique institution discussed below.

    The official Church strongly prefers that its laity be involved in government and politics, and embody Christian values to the extent possible given the governmental and political systems in force. This approach avoids the evils of a theocratic system, while encouraging a more general lay involvement in the embodiment of the ideal of the Kingdom of Heaven in Church-State relationships.

    The basic role of government is to provide protection and to ensure justice. The Church sees God as the source of justice; therefore, it shares His concern about justice within the State. In the political process, which seeks to embody justice, there are numerous means by which the Church has sought to further its concern for justice. In the ancient imperial system, churchmen had not only sought to form the character and conscience of the Emperor in general, but frequently “whispered in the ear of the emperor” with reference to specific issues. The Church was a force for the improvement of laws, “toward greater philanthropy.” In present-day democratic societies Orthodox hierarchs, ecclesiastical bodies, and even individual Orthodox Christians, must often publicly protest injustice, participate in the legislative process, and use other political means to further political issues with moral implications.

    By and large, the Church approves stability of government and does not encourage revolution. Just as it recognizes the great evil in war, yet at times understands and accepts the need to wage war in defense of the homeland, so also, but even more reluctantly, does it accept the right to revolution in cases of severe and unbearable injustice. In most cases, the Church’s support of revolutionary causes has been related to efforts of national independence.

    However, there is nothing in the tradition which would reject out of hand revolutions which are motivated by a sense of unbearably oppressive injustice in other spheres. Such concerns, as embodied in modern day “Liberation Theology” movements, have their antecedents in the writings of Church Fathers such as St. John Chrysostom, who railed against the exploitation of the poor by the rich. What the Orthodox Church finds unnecessary and unacceptable in “Liberation Theology” is the Marxist theoretical underpinnings of this theological movement. However, its concern for the downtrodden and the exploited is recognized to be essential Christianity.
    The Concept of “Ethnarchy”

    Eastern Orthodoxy has a unique institution in its history, known as “ethnarchy,” which appears to contradict nearly everything which has been noted above about the Church’s attitude regarding practical involvement. “Ethnarchy” occurs when the highest ecclesiastical leader of the church in a given area assumes political leadership. An excellent embodiment of the principles of “ethnarchy” was the assumption of authority as chief-of-state of Greece by Archbishop Damaskinos following the German withdrawal at the end of World War II. The most recent case was the assumption of the presidency of Cyprus by Archbishop Makarios.

    This rarely practiced institution occurs only in periods of crisis, when lay civil leaders cannot, because of extraordinary reasons, exercise normal political powers. When only a Church leader seems to be able to embody the identity of the people of the nation, the hierarch may assume political and government leadership by general consensus. It is all-important that such an exercise of political power should be only temporary and exceptional, until the regrouping of political forces in the nation allows the resumption of power by the lay leaders of the nation.
    Human Rights

    In the portion of Orthodox theological doctrine which deals with humanity, there is much emphasis on the creation of human beings in the “image and likeness of God.” Many Fathers of the Church make a distinction between the two terms. The “likeness” is the high spiritual calling of every human being, to become “God like,” which is only made possible by the saving work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, which is first and foremost realized in the life of the Church. The “image,” however, is the commonly held nature of all human beings. Though sin has had its impact upon human nature, so that all of our faculties are in some measure darkened and distorted, the Orthodox see human beings as still possessing a strong residue of the God-given likeness which is the essence of our humanity. Our intelligence, our power of self-determination, our aesthetic sense, our creativity, our moral perception, our integration of the individual and the social into our personhood, and numerous other characteristics provide manifestations of such likeness.

    Since all people share in the divine image, all persons enjoy a basic and fundamental human dignity before God, simply because they are human. As a result, God treats people with a fundamental dignity and respect, and expects that people will treat each other in the same way. The Bible teaches that “God is not a respecter of persons,” in the sense that He treats us all with equal dignity and respect as regards our basic humanity. This does not mean, of course, that there are also not legitimate roles and functions enjoyed by everybody in their social, economic, political and even ecclesiastical relations. Nevertheless, all persons are entitled to a fundamental respect and treatment by others, simply because they are human beings, created in the image of God.

    They need not accomplish anything, hold any rank, or possess anything, to “earn” this fundamental dignity. In our own days, this dignity has come to be stated in terms of “rights.” Historically, it had been stated in terms of “duties.” These are two sides of the same coin, the first being a claim of the individual seeking an acknowledgment and treatment based on his or her human dignity, while the second is the responsibility of the other person to accord the respect which is due each person as a human being. Regardless of how the question is approached, the Church teaches that people have fundamental rights based on their dignity as human beings created in the image of God. In this spirit, the 25th Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese held at Atlanta in 1980 decried governmental actions which deny basic human dignity and rights:

    “We disapprove of governmental policies and actions which violate the unalienable rights of all men to freedom and human dignity. We are disillusioned and dismayed at the selective and hypocritical manner in which armed aggression and the violation of human rights by some nations are condemned, while similar acts by others are either ignored, or even worse, shamelessly justified. We express our indignation at the gross insensitivity of the so-called great or superpowers of the world toward small and defenseless nations and racial minorities of the world, and the cynical manner in which they are used or abused by these powers to further what they believe to be their interests or the interests of their allies. The blacks in South Africa, the Thais and the Tibetans, the Georgians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Estonians and Lithuanians in the Soviet Union, the Afghans and the Kurds in both Iran and Turkey; the Greek Cypriots in Cyprus, the Greeks in Northern Epirus, the Armenian and Greek minorities in Turkey – all these and many others are not included among the concerns of these powers unless they can serve as useful and valuable pawns in their political chess game.”

    A general concern for human rights – regardless of power, numbers, and strength – is evident in this statement, and can be particularized to certain specific cases, as well. Thus, each of the Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, with their specific ethnic backgrounds, has a special concern for the peoples of their own heritage and the violation of the rights they are entitled to enjoy. Thus, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese evinces special concern for the Greek minority in Turkey, the Cypriot question, and the Greek minority in Albania. The Orthodox Church in America, which is Russian in background, concerns itself with the free exercise of religion in the Soviet Union and the rights of dissidents, especially those who are religiously motivated. The Antiochian Archdiocese has a special concern for the rights of minority Orthodox Christians in Israel and with the Palestinian and Lebanese situations.

    Domestic concerns are also important, and the Greek Orthodox Clergy-Laity Congresses have often dealt with the issue of human rights. As an example, a portion of their statement concerning racial injustice from the 1970 Clergy-Laity Congress in New York City is presented below. It is interesting because it shows both the leadership of the hierarchy and also the response of both the parish clergy and the laity of the Church on this vital issue; their shared sensitivity to the current situation regarding civil rights in the United States, as well as the religious presuppositions for the attitude expressed, is apparent in this statement:

    “The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s brought to the attention of the nation, in dramatic fashion, the many forms of overt and hidden racial discrimination that exist in American society. While all of us have been impoverished spiritually by this stigma upon our nation, minority groups of color such as the Blacks, the American Indians, and the Mexican-Americans have borne the brunt of this malady.”

    Acutely aware of the racial problem of our nation, former Archbishop Iakovos noted in his opening speech to the 20th Clergy-Laity Congress that:

    “… our contribution to the abolition of racial segregation and on behalf of social justice, are of a most imperative nature … Our Church … has never restricted its love and philanthropy from those ‘outside its fold.'”

    We fully concur with this observation. A divided nation, with entrenched racial hostilities, contradicts the Christian gospel that preaches a oneness and unity among people in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. We call upon the Greek Orthodox Christians to use their fullest resources in the struggle for human justice for all people, regardless of race, creed, or color.
    Women’s Rights

    Another important area of human rights concerns is the women’s liberation issue. The Church has attempted to avoid the reactionary male chauvinist stance, no less than a shrill feminism. The balance between recognition and practical support of the basic human rights of women on the one hand, and the great concern for the role of women in family life on the other, has produced a not-so-easy to categorize stance on the part of the Church. It is probably most sharply illustrated by the actions of the 1980 Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. The original report of the Social and Moral Issues Committee recommended the endorsement of the ERA. When taken to the floor for debate and action, it was clear that the Congress members did not want to endorse the constitutional amendment. For all of that, the Congress finally passed a statement which used the very words of the amendment, saying:

    “… we believe and support the proposition that equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged under the terms of any law solely because of sex.”

    The Orthodox are adamantly opposed to the ordination of women as liturgical clergy. There have been articles and books by both men and women theologians supporting this stand. At present, there is no movement within Orthodoxy for this innovation.

    The place, role, and significance of women in the life of the Church have become important concerns. In 1976, a conference on the topic was held in Romania, with participation of Orthodox women from all over the world. The results were published in a book entitled Orthodox Women: Their Role and Participation in the Orthodox Church. A similar conference was held on the topic of “Theological Anthropology: Towards a Theology of Human Wholeness (Female/Male)” in Niederaltaich in 1980. Other conferences on this question have been held in Sheffield, England, and at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y., all held with the endorsement of the Church’s hierarchy.

    Women are now being trained in theology in Orthodox seminaries, both in Europe and the United States, where women have been degree candidates and graduates at both of the accredited seminaries, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, and at St. Vladimir’s. One of the topics of discussion is the reconstitution of the ancient order of deaconesses. Theological studies have been undertaken on the topic in Greece, and a school for deaconesses has been established, but the formalization of the institution is yet to be realized.

    A few Orthodox writers have indicated concern for the bioethical questions which have arisen as a result of the development of highly technical methods of health care. They have been categorized into questions dealing with the “protection of life” and the “transmission of life.” Under the first rubric, some of the issues are the allocation of scarce medical resources, patient rights, human experimentation, abortion, child abuse, organ transplantation, the giving of bodies to science, the treatment of an increasingly aged population, questions of euthanasia and allowing terminal patients to die. Some of the most interesting questions belong to concepts centered on the very transmission of life: artificial insemination, artificial inovulation, in vitro fertilization, sterilization, genetic counseling and genetic screening as well as genetic engineering.

    While no official positions have been formulated on these topics by the Church, theological opinions by Church theologians are beginning to be formed. In an encyclopedia article on these topics, there is a good general statement on bioethics. The common denominator of all the issues discussed is the high regard and concern of the Church for human life as a gift of God. Orthodoxy tends to take a conservative approach to these issues, seeing in them a dimension of the holy, and relating them to transcendent values and concerns. An intense respect for human life is needed to hold the reins upon those who would attack it. The human person, from the very moment of conception, is dependent upon others for life and sustenance. It is in the community of the living, especially as it relates to the source of life, God in the Trinity, that life is conceived, nurtured, developed and fulfilled. The trust we have in others for the continued well-being of our own lives forms the basis for generalization. Eastern Orthodox ethics, consequently, functions with a pro-life bias that honors and respects the life of each person as a divine gift which requires development and enhancement.

    To put it briefly, the views expressed by some theologians (without official sanction) on these controversial topics follow, though in an abbreviated form because of the lack of space:

    Scarce medical resources should be allocated on the basis of justice and need, and not only on the ability to pay.
    Patients have rights which should be honored by the medical profession.
    In principle human experimentation cannot be prohibited, for the sake of the patients themselves and the well-being of others, but great care in respecting the dignity and integrity of the patients must be maintained, while the use of experimentation should be governed by strict rules of scientific necessity and informed consent.
    Organ transplantation cannot be prohibited, but the chance of success should be high, taking the real need into account, evaluating carefully the impact on both donors and recipients.
    While no one is obligated to give an organ, such a donation should be encouraged as an expression of Christian love; on the other hand, organ transplants from the dead involve different problems – in particular, the hastening of the death of the potential giver for the sake of the potential recipient, which is considered wrong.
    Artificial insemination by a husband (AIH) is not rejected, but artificial insemination by donor (AID) is considered an improper intrusion of a third party in the sanctity of the marital relation.
    In vitro fertilization is looked upon with great doubt because present methods cause the destruction of numerous human fertilized ova and even developing fetuses; this is still a form of abortion.
    Genetic counseling and screening cannot be objected to in principle and in fact should be encouraged.


    The recent spread of the AIDS virus has provoked much concern throughout the world and for Orthodox Christians, as well. The Orthodox address this question on several levels. First, the Church always looks upon those who are ill with compassion, and prays for healing. We encourage the medical profession to continue seeking for the appropriate medications to heal this disease. But at the same time, we note that the major causes for the spread of this disease are behaviors which the Church has always taught are immoral and ought not to be practiced: homosexual behavior, promiscuity, and narcotic drugs (the use of contaminated needles). Love and caring for all persons provokes the Church to re-affirm its teaching. The best prevention against the AIDS virus is virtue.

    Some have raised the question of possible contamination through the Communion Spoon and the possible change of the method for administering Holy Communion. There have been other methods for the administration of the Sacrament in the Church, in the past. In principle, therefore, the method could change again. Nevertheless, several strong reasons would argue against it. Theologically, the Orthodox Church cannot accept that the Sacrament would be a source of illness, since it teaches that it is a “medicine of immortality.” Further, not one single case of the transmission of any illness has been shown empirically as coming from participation in the sacrament. In addition, scientific evidence points to another reason for this as well: it appears that saliva inhibits the transmission of all kinds of microbes, including the AIDS virus (Journal of the American Dental Association, May, 1988). Should the Church change its method of administering the sacrament, it should do so for its own reasons and not those provoked by unreasonable fear.
    Converts and Proselytism

    Missionary activity is an essential part of the life of the Church. The great commission to the Church, “Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to all nations,” provides the Church with its mission to bring people into its life. The goal and purpose of mission is to bring new people into the life of salvation as realized in the character (ethos) and sacramental experience of the Church. Consequently, the Orthodox Church conducts missionary activities in many parts of the world.

    This aspect of Orthodox Church life, strong enough during its first fourteen centuries, was severely hampered when much of the Orthodox Church fell under the political domination of Moslem powers; the great exception was the Church of Russia, which continued its own missionary work in the Eastern parts of Russia and the Far East. During the period of subjugation to the Ottoman Empire, missionaries from Roman Catholic and Protestant countries came into Orthodox lands and sought to convert the Orthodox to their own professions of Christianity. Both had a measure of success as a result of their proselytizing efforts. These two facts, the requirement of missionary activity, on the one hand, and the reaction to proselytizing, on the other, have formed the present-day policies of the Orthodox Church regarding missionary work among non-Christians, converts, and proselytism in both directions. The last few decades have seen a resurgence of missionary efforts by the Orthodox in places like Uganda, Kenya, South Korea, and Alaska.
    Dealing with other Christians

    The experience of being subject to massive proselytizing efforts has caused the formulation of a multifaceted policy.

    First, it has meant that Orthodoxy has sought to influence other churches, primarily through the ecumenical movement, to renounce systematic proselytizing programs. The opposition to such organized “sheep-stealing” programs has been generally accepted in the ecumenical movement and they are not now widely practiced.

    Second, the Orthodox do not themselves practice “proselytism” in the sense that they do not actively seek to cause the disaffection of others from their non-Orthodox Christian faiths. This does not mean, however, that anyone seeking to learn about the Orthodox Faith will be turned away. Converts are not readily accepted unless they learn as much as possible about the Orthodox Faith before they make a decision to join it. Following instruction, close examination, and the expression of strong willingness to convert, they may be received into the Orthodox Church, some merely by declaration and repetition of the Creed, and others (the majority), by means of the sacrament of Holy Anointing (Chrismation).

    Third, if an Orthodox Christian is formally received into membership by another (non-Orthodox) Church and receives Holy Communion in that Church, he or she becomes an apostate (apostates). Such a person is not considered to be an Orthodox Christian any longer, and may not receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church, nor serve at a baptism or wedding as a sponsor. Should such persons seek to return to the Orthodox Church, they are received back into the Church through a profession of faith, and the sacrament of Chrismation.

    Suicide is the taking of one’s own life. The Orthodox Church has, over the centuries, taught that we do not have the right to take our own lives, since life is a gift from God which we are called upon to preserve and enhance. Hence, the Church considers direct suicide, when a person destroys his or her life with his or her own hand, to be the most serious kind of murder, because there is no opportunity for repentance. The canons and practice of the Church thus prohibit a Church burial to a person who has committed suicide. However, if it can be shown that the person who has committed suicide was not mentally sound, then, upon proper medical and ecclesiastical certification, the burial can be conducted by the Church. In cases, however, where the deceased held a philosophical view affirming the right to suicide, or allowed despair to overcome good judgment, no such allowance can be made.

    Morally speaking, there is also the case of indirect suicide, in which people harm their health through abusive practices such as excessive smoking, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, and unnecessary risk-taking. The Orthodox Church teaches that we are obligated to care for our health, so these kinds of practices in fact are looked upon as immoral. However, they do not carry the same negative implications which the direct taking of one’s own life has.

    Stanley S. Harakas, Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian Minneapolis, Minn.: Light and Life Publishing Co., 1982.

    ——————-, Let Mercy Abound: Social Concern in the Greek Orthodox Church. Brookline, Mass.:Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1983