On Rome, Government & the Church: Part I –The Case Against Anarchy

Flavius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, a.k.a. Constantine the Great. This statue stands in York, England (where he was acclaimed emperor by his father’s troops in AD 306)

Much has been said here lately regarding the role of government, the Church and their relationships to one another. Many of you have asked me for my own beliefs on this matter and unfortunately, I have been putting you off for months (if not years).

You will forgive me, but I must ask for your forbearance for this is indeed a complex subject and I want to make sure that what I write is not my opinion or assertions. For this, I will repair to Scripture, the Church Fathers and (hopefully) common sense. It is only after much prayerful consideration that I endeavor to write the following (and not because of any jingoism, partisanship or triumphalism). And yes, it is only a cursory gloss of history. Idealized to be sure, yet still truthful and –hopefully–in accord with the Orthodox Christian phronema. (And hopefully, I’ll have Parts II and III out shortly.)



The short answer is “of course”. In Genesis, we are told that on the sixth day, God created man, the crown of all creation. This man, Adam, was given authority over all the earth and its creatures. It was he who named the plants and animals and it was his duty to tend the garden that was Paradise.

Now I realize that evolution has supposedly upended this beautiful narrative, reducing it to a mere metaphor. Leaving aside the massive problems inherent in materialism and random evolution, I ask: “so what?” If it’s nothing more than a myth, it’s definitely what CS Lewis called a “true myth” in that it captures the reality of the world around us.

Is not man supreme on this planet? Don’t believe me? Then answer me this: what other animals can destroy the world 40 times over with weapons that he has constructed himself? What other animal is so godlike that he has self-consciousness and an understanding of mortality? Of the future as well as the past? None. It is man alone.

In another essay on government (specifically, monarchism), I asserted that regardless of one’s understanding of how the world works, hierarchy is inevitable. It is indeed unavoidable. Hence, we find governance in all spheres of life and among all creatures. (If you don’t believe me, go examine a beehive or an ant-hill.) In the jungle the lion is king; yet where he is not then “the jackal is the lion in his neighborhood” (as the Arabs say). Hierarchy is everywhere and at all times. It was so in the past and it will be so in the future. It is futile to believe otherwise. What we experience on this plane of existence is merely a pale shadow of what exists in the heavenly realm.

Therefore, since we can’t avoid it at all, the question remains, which is the best type of government? And, how can we best tame government to provide the greatest good for the greatest number of people over the longest period of time?

As mentioned, God set up a government in Paradise with Adam as its ruler. After the Fall, however, this government (as did all things) became corrupted. What was unacceptable however to all peoples –not merely the Israelites–was a complete breakdown in the social order. What we call today anarchy. In Kings, we are told that there was no king in Israel and every man did as he pleased. The Judges (we are to assume) had lost control. Samuel’s sons, for example, were corruptocrats who used their father’s good name to exploit the people.
Equally unacceptable was tyranny, especially if the tyrant equated himself and his government as God. In the book of Maccabees for example, we find a ruler, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who tried to erect statues of himself throughout Syria as did Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon before him. The Jews refused to bow down to either sovereign and through their obstinacy, they were able to overturn these blasphemous empires. So to the Christians, who told the Emperor “we will pray for you –as we are called to do–but not to you”.

Clearly then, there is a middle way. There must be. Order can descend into a tyranny; liberty to licentiousness.

After the conquest of Judea by the Babylonians, the remnant was shaken to the core: how could God abandon His chosen people to these godless barbarians?

In time, the prevailing attitude was that God allowed chastisement because of the sins of Israel. First the Northern Kingdom which fell to the Assyrians then the Southern Kingdom (which fell to Babylon). Therefore it stood to reason that despite being a conquered people, it was God’s will that they would be subject to whoever conquered them. “The law of the land is the law of the Jews” went the refrain. Patriotism was therefore expected, regardless of the religion of the sovereign.

When Cyrus the Great emancipated the Jews from their Babylonian Captivity, he issued the world’s first-ever edict of religious toleration. Not only were the Jews free to believe according to their ancient traditions, but all people under his sovereignty were likewise free to believe as was their wont. Alexander the Great reissued this declaration when he conquered the Persian Empire, as did the Romans when they conquered the Middle East. (Believe it or not, Genghis Khan upheld this same dictum.)

It is for reasons such as these that within the Rabbinic liturgy, there is a prayer for the government, else “men would tear themselves apart as wild animals”.

Despite the admiration of the Jews for Cyrus and Alexander, things could get out of hand. It was one thing to live in a city like Tarsus or Lugdunum with their baths, fresh, running water and established latrines. They were ruled by proconsuls or prefects and there was a clear line of authority. Paul himself “appealed to Caesar as was his right” (since he was a Roman citizen). And because he was a Roman citizen, he was given the mercy of beheading whereas Peter (who wasn’t a Roman citizen) was nailed to a cross.

But what about lands where there was no law, other than that of the jungle? Where then should a Jew live? Among which people?

To answer this question, the post-Second Temple rabbis came up with the so-called Noachide Laws. Ideally, these laws were binding on all men, since all men were descended from Noah. Whichever people adhered to these laws were in some sense blessed by God even though they didn’t have the full Abrahamic covenant. Gentiles that abided by these laws were “righteous” and had “a place in the world to come”.

These laws were seven in total: the Gentiles in question 1) could not be idol worshipers (and ideally be monotheistic), 2) they would marry to have children (i.e. not practice abortion or sodomy), 3) they would not fornicate, 4) they would not consume blood or tear the flesh from living animals, 5) they would not steal, 6) or murder, and 7) they would have courts of law which would apply to all citizens.

That could be a tall order all things considered, yet much of what we find in Antiquity was not antithetical to such concepts. And anyway, the Jews (like Moslems today), tended to force a society to conform to their customs when they achieved a certain number in the population. It may surprise us today but conversion to Yahwism was not uncommon among the Greeks and Romans. Depending on the degree of Mosaic observance that was achievable, a gentile could be merely a theopheboumenos (God-fearer) or if he was really observant, an outright proselyte. (The sticking point was usually circumcision, which could be fatal in an adult man.)

And this became the ethos which Jesus adhered to when he said that “we should render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s”. Christ Himself submitted to the Roman authority when He allowed Himself to be arrested in the Garden of Gesthemane. (Think of it: nobody knew what He looked like, He could have easily escaped.) Nor should we forget that during His trial He said that He could have called down legions of angels to rescue Him. Yet He did not. He submitted to the legal authority, no matter how hated it was.

In the first decades of the Church, both Peter and Paul exhorted their followers to submit to Caeser. To pray for him, even. And who was Caesar at the time? Tiberius? A cruel despot who lived a debauched lifestyle cavorting with little boys on the island of Capri? Gaius (Caligula) who “married” a castrati, slept with his sisters and made one of his horses a Senator? Possibly Nero, a madman who killed own mother and who set Rome aflame so he could build a magnificent palace for himself?

Closer to our own time, we are told by Martin Luther that it is “better to be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian”. He was right. In 1380, Grand Duke Dmitri of Moscow went to St Sergius of Radonezh to ask him for his blessing to throw off the Tatar yoke. Sergius refused at first. Was not the Khan the lawful sovereign of the Rus’? Did he not allow the people to worship as they pleased so long as the paid their taxes? Only when the venerable elder was told that the Khan had proscribed the Christian religion did he give his blessing to the Grand Duke, who then went on to liberate the Russian people from their horrible servitude.

According to the consesus patrem there were only three forms of religion and therefore three forms of government: 1) atheism, 2) polytheism and 3) monotheism. They correspond to the political sphere thusly: anarchy, democracy/mobocracy, and monarchy. It should be clear which one the Fathers thought most resembled the government which is in heaven.

And since the Divine Logos had come into the world during that time when Rome had become a monarchy, it was reasoned that God had planned it so in order to facilitate His divine plan. Augustan Rome –whatever else it’s faults–had pacified the world, removed the pirates from the seas and built roads from Britain to Persia and all points in between. It is said that a letter could get from Rome to Athens within two days if the winds were right. That is an astonishment: compare this with the fact that it took one month for news of Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans to reach the Federal City and two weeks for news of Lincoln’s assassination to reach the Court of St James.

Clearly, God knew what He was doing. Nor should we forget that Alexander had spread the Attic dialect of Greek to wherever his phalanxes trod. Because of him, the Tanakh was translated into pure Greek and two hundred or so years later, the Gospels and Epistles would be transcribed into Koine (a lesser form of Attic). Both of these forms of Ancient Greek were intelligible to overwhelming majorities of people in the Roman Empire.

All of these benefits were because of government. Admittedly the government of brutal conquerors who could put entire cities to the torch but that, too, is a product of government. That is why our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, to put chains on men in power and to constrain their worst impulses.

Ultimately, when we are talking about lawful government, we are recognizing reality. Man is an animal. Though made in the image and likeness of God, he lives in a fallen world. The image is tarnished; very much so. God in His mercy thus, allows us to die, otherwise, we would keep on sinning.

Our greatest sin, of course, is our propensity to violence. Every one of us is capable of such cruelty that one shudders to think what would happen if left to our own devices. Dostoyevsky said that “without God all is permissible”. He was right. Without God, “good” and “evil” are mere philosophical constructs. Yet not one of us –whether he believes in God or not–does not believe that there is no such a thing as good or evil. The atheist, therefore, falls into a trap of his own making, after all, he doesn’t live like the animal that Darwin said he was.

And thus, he will not live in an anarchic state. Yet violence is endemic. The question then becomes are all men to exercise their violent impulse or are we to collectivize it? To hand over to a government a monopoly on violence? Throughout history, that has been the recourse of all civilized societies. And any government which could not maintain its monopoly eventually succumbed to ruin.

We saw this during the Reign of Terror in France and in Weimar Germany. In France, it led to Napoleon Bonaparte and in Germany, the result was Adolf Hitler. Presently, we are seeing the globalist elites who run Western Europe lose control of their borders and thus their nations. Crime and rapine are the order of the day thanks to the invading hordes. In America, we have been granted a reprieve from this evil with the election of Donald Trump. Yet the globalists have not rested and won’t. Why? One can only suppose because they love anarchy. After all, a violent, impoverished society increases their own power and wealth.

If that ain’t evil, nothing is.



  1. Very good. Agree most points. Especially about true myths. There is the greek word Μύθος, not meaning MYTH as understood in english, but a story with truth behind it. Too subtle for the Anglo saxon functional mind.

    • It’s ironic then that you fail to understand the Anglo-Saxon mind.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Yeah, Niko, I’m agreeing with Vergil here. Lewis certainly understood the true meaning of myth as did Tolkien, who called it “faerie”. Both were profoundly spiritual men although I gotta give Tolkien some extra points because he was a daily attendant at Mass.

        • Point taken re subtle meaning. Yes of course it’s not a matter of place or race but person. It’s a way of thinking and there can be concrete Greeks and subtle Anglo saxon minds and voice versa. It’s just that western materialism which i guess I primarily had in mind, is VERY concrete.
          Anyway one of great things on this blog, the sharing of ideas and views. God Bless.
          I guess I have a 33% Anglo saxon mind.. Well celtic, Welsh actually. ( Greek born of Welsh/ greek father and Greek mother) .

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      “Too subtle for the Anglo saxon functional mind.”

      Good Lord. How did those coldweather dolts ever learn to sail the ocean sea? Not to mention develop a great literature. Or just make orderly and reasonably prosperous societies that are at least able to organize and feed themselves?

      So it’s all Greece again; such a subtle people. Hadn’t noticed, myself, though. Got lost in all that panegyric sunflower prose that must go a long way in covering up ‘functional’…reality.

      But then, maybe it’s irony…too subtle.

      • george michalopulos says

        LOL. To believe that the Northern European mind can’t grasp subtleties and/or nuance is ridiculous.

        When I took Hebrew several years ago, I learned that Biblical Hebrew had basically only 3,000 words (not counting proper nouns). Ancient Greek however had many more thousand than that. How did the Jews acquire nuance then? Sometimes by just borrowing Greek words (ochlos “mob”. ne’ar “youth”, qe’rah “horn”, etc.). Usually it came out by context.

        For instance, when Leah told Jacob that “you hate me but love Rachel”, this was clearly not true as Jacob and Leah had seven children together. She was trying to say that he loved Rachel more (which was true). The Jews came up with the concept of midrash, or intense debate when it came to parsing a sentence. Context was to be understood only through examination.

      • Tim. All that atlantic salt!!
        Seriously u quite right in the main. I was really although badly expressed, focused on modern western materialism.
        And yes Tim fluidity of thought taken to extremes can be maddding. Just spend evening with group of greek friends deciding where to go out and in end going nowhere!!! ?

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Hands across the ocean!

          I think it is true that there is some ‘functionality’ to the Anglo-saxon mind, as you expressed it. I believe that there are in fact genuine national characters and characterizations, or ethnic ones; usually the problem is in describing them without exaggeration or over-generalization. I wonder how often these differing ‘characters’ are actually linguistic in nature.

          Since becoming Orthodox I’ve often thought about it in connection with rhetoric of the Patristic era. Over-the-top denunciations in the strongest possible terms, dire anathemas tossed back and forth. The whole structure of Classical rhetorical technique translated into the Christian context.

          To the understated Englishman, the lawyer in the Anglo-American tradition, it sometimes seems that these Easterners were, or are, somewhat excitable…

    • Monk James Silver says

      The problem is not that ‘myth’ is improperly understood by native speakers of English, or even less that the minds of those people are incapable of appreciating the subtleties of Greek. That’s all just bigotry and phyletism.

      Rather, the problem inheres in the all-too-often encountered misuse of the word by people who don’t use their own native English well enough. Such people treat the word ‘myth’ as if it meant a false tale of beginnings, something we pass on in our folklore because we don’t know the real story.

      The fact is, though, that a myth is often a true but metaphorical, allegorical way of describing something in God’s providence which we are at a loss to explain by adducing hard evidence or attestable facts. We see how the benevolence of God irrupts into human life, but He doesn’t usually reveal the details to us, so we mythologize what we know to be true using inferences we can understand.

      The unbridgeable distance between human understanding and the mind of God requires this exercise in almost every instance of divine revelation, which is why it is foolish to insist that we read the scriptures literally.

      • Constantinos says

        Dear George,
        With your kind permission, may I address “Monk James” post? “That’s all just bigotry and phyletism” No, ” Monk James,” it isn’t. If you know anything about languages, there are five levels of difficulty for native speakers of English in learning a new foreign language. The level one category is Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and French. The Level two category is German. Greek along with Russian, and many other difficult languages are level four, with five being the hardest. If I’m not mistaken Arabic and Persian are the only level five languages.
        One of the reasons that Greek is so difficult to learn is because they use a different alphabet. I’ve been trying to learn Greek, and I’m still no where near proficient in it. I’ve been also trying to learn Italian, and it is much easier. Part of the difficulty of learning Greek, even Italian is that they run their words together. Let me give you an example why Greek is difficult. The word Ne means yes, and, yet whenever a person living in Greece answers the phone, they say Ne. .Always! You have formal and informal ways of speaking. Hello in Greek: herete, yasou, etc. Simply put, Greek is a difficult language; I should know, I’ve been trying to learn it for a long time.

        • Monk James Silver says

          As usual, ‘Constantinos’ is in way over his head, so here are some facts to help bail him out.

          First, my remark about bigotry and phyletism had to do with the assertion by ‘Nikos’ that there was something inherently inferior about the minds of Anglo-Saxons which made them unable to understand the subtleties associated with the Greek word _mythos_. That had less than NOTHING to do with language — it was all about racism. _Zito i omogeneia_, right?

          Now, not only have I earned degrees in classical languages (Greek concentration) and Slavic languages (Russian concentration), but I’m also fluent in several other modern languages.

          This is the first time I’ve heard anything about five levels of difficulty for native speakers of English to learn foreign languages, and I’m certain that using a non-Roman alphabet has nothing to do with that purported difficulty. In fact, Slavic languages (even Polish) are much more efficiently written in Cyrillic letters.

          BTW: In Korean, the word for ‘yes is _ne_.

          • Constantinos says

            “Monk James,”
            “As usual, Constantinos is in way over his head, so here are some facts to help bail him out.” …
            Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt it; in my humble opinion, Bishops, Monks, and Priests should be the kindest, most Christ like posters on this forum. It’s very sad when we have posters like Gail, Mr. Mortiss, the brilliant Attorney Michael, and some others act more Christ like, loving, and kind than do the clergy. With all the problems festering in the Orthodox Church, the last thing it needs is members of the clergy driving out sincere, committed Orthodox Christians. If I strive to be more Christ like, kinder, and merciful due to the influence of Gail, you, Mr. Mortiss, and others, is it really too much to ask the clergy to be at least as good as these dedicate disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? I don’t like digs, and snide remarks from anyone. May “Monk James” follow the godly, holy example of you, Gail, Mr. Mortiss, and some others on this forum, and be converted to Christ our God.
            George, I sincerely hope and pray that you will see fit to print this post because I consider it a much needed wake up call.

          • George Michalopulos says

            And in Korean, “LOL” is translated as “KEK”.

            This caused a tumult in 2015/2016 when Kek was transmogrified into the infamous green frog “Pepe”, mainly because Kek was the name of the ancient Egyptian frog-god (who was also the god of chaos).

            Needless to say, Pepe caused a lot of turmoil in 2016. It’s fascinating how memetics works.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Well, Greek is harder than Italian, and so is Russian. But it doesn’t really have anything to do with the alphabets, which are easy enough to learn, rather close to the Latin alphabet really, despite initial appearances, and which with a little concentration and practice you can get the ‘sight and sound’ of pretty quickly. But that’s hardly news to most Orthodox, obviously.

          I did have the advantage, for an Anglo, of being in a fraternity at Cal Berkeley in 1966-67, where as a pledge I was often called upon to leap on a chair, light a kitchen match, and say the Greek alphabet six times before the flame touched my fingers. An excellent aid to learning! I’ve never forgot the same, and can still do it ‘6 times on a match’ as the saying went.

          I took a little Russian in college, ‘little’ being the operative term, and learning to transliterate was of course easy with my Greek alphabet imprinting. On a tour to Russia in late Soviet times, I was amazed that not one of our fellow tour members (about 25 or so) had learned to transliterate Russian. After all, getting the alphabet is the work of only an hour or two perhaps. Indeed, I was able to travel all over Moscow by myself, with a map, knowing only a handful of Russian words, but nonetheless able to read all the signs and the map.

          It’s true that we Yanks are pretty bad with foreign languages.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Old joke: if a man speaks three or more languages he’s multilingual, if he speaks two languages he’s bilingual, if he speaks only one language he’s American.

            • We live in the era where one’s value is measured
              not by holiness but by
              number of billions $,
              cosmetic looks,
              titles (knights, doctors, archons, etc),
              multilingual diplomas,
              and so on.

              Regarding multilinguals let us remember the holy St.John Chrysostom (Golden Mouth) simply “Archbishop of Constantinople” (not All-most-holy), who only knew one language, just Greek, no Hebrew, no Latin. And now all main nationalities have translated his homilies into their own languages!
              Compare that to the current praising of Elpidoforos because he speaks 4 or 6 languages!
              If you go to a surgeon for a very difficult operation you do not care what or how many languages he speaks (you can use an interpreter). You only need a good specialist doctor then.

          • Constantinos says

            Attorney Mortiss,
            You must have been a trial lawyer. The reason I say this is because you have a very courtly manner. As usual, I learned something from your post. It was very informative. I got my information about the five levels of language difficulty for English speakers from the Foreign Services Institute. I wish I had your restraint. You set a fine example of being a Christian gentleman. ” Monk James” and I can learn a great deal of how we should conduct ourselves on this forum. No snide remarks, no sarcasm, and no ridicule. Just kindness. I wish to emulate your comportment. Gail is another one who conducts herself like a true follower of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for setting an excellent example.

            • George Michalopulos says


            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Indeed, I have seen that Foreign Services information in the past, and it comports with my own limited experience.

              I am fluent only in English; everything else is a smattering. I took high school German, and while German is very phonetic (one can read off strings of it easily, without understanding a word) it is very inflected, and I could never get a handle on the cases.

              Of course, with almost all languages the problem is the grammar, not the vocabulary. As I always told my kids, when you can say “if I had been there then, I would have done that”, in another language then you are there. I myself have never gotten that far. One thing about any foreign language study: you have to start really learning English grammar again. Highly inflected languages are hard for the ordinary English speaker.

              I found French and Spanish much easier; Russian a high mountain to climb (I stopped before the foothills). But anybody who has learned some knows how it goes: my French accent is not bad, I know a useful bundle of words, I can do present and past tense. So, I can consider and utter a couple of serviceable inquiries in French– just enough to provoke a torrent of French back, which sweeps me away!

              And yes, in the courtroom as a trial lawyer for 44 years. All civil (i.e. not criminal), almost all jury trials, all for the defense.

          • Monk James I’m glad I started a trend!!
            Yes I did not mean to be racist. I was refering to modern materialism which is very concrete and which modern science and especially quuntum physics, showing up. Also this way of thinking spread across national boundaries. Plenty of Greeks that come out with Richard Dawkins type views and thinking etc.
            But re language I will say that certainly culturally, how we USE language, between Anglo saxon cultures and greek for one, does have a difference.
            In greek, language tend to be used for affect, ie what is important are the emmotions expressed, anger, love, what ever, and not how expressed.
            The use of english tends to be more functional, focussing on meaning of actual words used. This can cause misunderstanding
            Also english depending on context much more for meaning as opposed to case and gender sensitive languages as Greek.
            And yes in every day english MYTH is taken to mean something not true.

  2. Michael Bauman says

    Tim, to be fair, Greek is a greatly nuanced language but then so is English if used properly. The difficulty is that we English barbarians simply are too uncouth or more seriously have yet to develop sufficient depth of faith and experience to express the proper nuance. We lack martyrs for one thing. We need to develop Orthodox spiritual poets too who write deeply in English. As long as we rely on Roman Catholics and translations, we will always be not quite there.

    However, Nikos the proper understanding of myth is deeply imbedded in North America in our indigenous people. That is one reason the tribes of Alaska responded so well to the Orthodox missionaries. Russian don’t you know, not Greek.

    Indeed, it is also present in the histories of this land that were written in the 19th century. Regardless of the specific history, the Russians have more attachment to the land and the people here that the Greeks ever could. Human beings are natural iconographers and myth makers. We just need the proper substance with which to spin the true stories.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Because a word is Greek in origin does not imply that it retains the same meaning as it has in Greek, or that it does not acquire other meanings or nuances in another language, such as English.

      In English the ordinary meaning of the word ‘myth’ indeed carries the sense of a folkloric story of dubious origin, but this in no way implies that the larger meaning is lost, just that it requires added context. So to take the ordinary colloquial meaning as evidence that the other sense is inaccessible to the ‘Anglo-Saxon mind’ itself shows a lack of this supposed ‘subtlety’.

      These ‘Graecisms’ as I call them are popping up all over nowadays in the GOA. The new ‘translations’ of the services of the last year contain many examples. The two that grate on me like fingernails on the blackboard every week are these: “Only begotten Son and Word of God….”- the hymn for generations- is now “only begotten Son and Logos of God….”; and the communion prayer now includes the phrase “Divine eros.” What? “Logos” can’t be translated into English, given the impenetrable unsubtlety of the Anglo-Saxon mind?

      And yes, we all know, be we unsubtle or not, that in Greek “eros” carries a much wider sense than sexual love. But, alas, in English it implies that sense, so that the new ‘non-translation’ leads only to absurdity. “Love” apparently was not subtle enough for our latter-day ‘translators’.

      I don’t know much, but I know that these things cannot have been done by native English speakers. It’s a fiasco.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        To add to what you said, Tim, in some parishes, well-meaning choir directors move phrases around and change the melodies. I find it so distracting. Instead of sinking into a prayerful mode, my nerves are on edge, especially if one part is the same and another part is different. It feels like stepping off a curb and finding it’s deeper than it looked. Alarm bells go off. Repetition, on the other hand, is comforting. I don’t even like the tempo to change. Some parishes really draw out certain things. “Amen” can sound like “aaaaaaaaaameeeeeeeennnnnnnn” replete with riffs and licks. If it’s two syllables it should be two sounds (preferably the same); that’s it!

        I don’t mind harmony. Some of it is quite good. I just don’t want to struggle with anything that makes me feel like I’m trying to sing “Happy Birthday” to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

        I would think the tradition of the Church would mandate that some of these hymns be done the same way across the board. I wonder if there are any rules about this. For new people to the parish, it must be particularly hard.

        • Monk James Silver says

          All of this is painfully true.

          It’s equally painful corollary, though, is that people like their comfort zones. We get used to things and we don’t want to change them, and we are greatly unsettled to learn that ‘the way we’ve always done it’ might be wrong.

          This problem arises often in my work as a translator. Consider such a foundational text as ‘Our Father’, in which there really is no ‘daily bread’, no ‘trespasses’, no ‘lead us not into temptation’, etc. But people break out in a rash when they’re given the corrected text.

          Comfortable in their errors, they will not change, and the bishops are afraid of having a rebellion on their hands. Sadly, sometimes, inertia is stronger than the truth.

      • ” in Greek “eros” carries a much wider sense than sexual love”

        Eros a kind of love based on attraction. To truly love God mean to fall in love with Him, to be enamored. Love that gives wings.

        Other kinds:

        storge – care and concern, like parent to a child
        philia – liking, being attached, befriended
        agape – charity
        eleos – like in kyrie eleison

        • George Michalopulos says

          Kyriakos Macrides in his book The Mountain of Silence calls this (I believe) “eros maniakos“, in my opinion, a “manic eros”. An eroticism that transcends the mere sexual attraction between male and female if you will but can include it in the marital bond. That’s how the rabbis defined the relationship between YHWH and Israel in the Song of Solomon and is repeated in Ephesians, in which Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church His pure Bride. I believe this is implicit in the wedding ceremony which though ideal, can be realized, especially if the couple were chaste before and they imprinted themselves on each other.

          Phileo, or the intense bond of friendship between two males –cameraderie–is likewise a profound relationship but cannot be compared to the bond between a man and a woman. For one thing, the male/female coupling is based on two opposites bringing something to the table which neither is capable of producing on their own because of the separate polarities involved. Both sexes are necessary to create new life for one thing.

          This is why the whole homosexual agenda is doomed to fail, indeed, it will degenerate into pederasty and/or ephebophilia. Indeed, Plato would have condemned what is au courrant today. He put in place several strictures which defined the proper relationship between lover and beloved.

      • Monk James Silver says

        Tim R. Mortiss (June 1, 2019 at 1:42 am) says:
        ‘These ‘Graecisms’ as I call them are popping up all over nowadays in the GOA. The new ‘translations’ of the services of the last year contain many examples. The two that grate on me like fingernails on the blackboard every week are these: “Only begotten Son and Word of God….”- the hymn for generations- is now “only begotten Son and Logos of God….”;

        It gets worse. Considering The ‘Monogenes Hymn’, they haven’t even rendered the fiorst word correctly.

        Its opening word is μονογενής, which means ‘only, unique’. This is accurately reflected by the Church Slavonic единорόдный in Justinian’s hymn, and by St Jerome’s _unicus__ in his Latin translation of the Gospel.

        If the hymn wanted to call the eternal Word of God ‘only begotten’, the word would have to be μονογεννητός, единорождéнный, and _unigenitus_ in Greek, Church Slavonic, and Latin, respectively.

        On top of that, the nouns of the first half of the hymn is cast in the nominative case. They make a statement about the divine Word. It’s only when we sing of His crucifixion in the hymn’s second half that we address Christ directly.

        All of this is lost in English, much of it is lost in Church Slavonic, and the GOA is no help at all.

        They might do well to cease publishing liturgical texts in their fractured version of English.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I can’t comment on the quality of the translations from Greek into English. But it would be nice if indeed they translated Greek into English, poorly or otherwise. “Logos” is not a translation into English of the Greek “Logos”, and “eros” is not of “eros”. This is the thing I can’t get my head around. Maybe it’s the worry about Anglo-saxon unsubtlety, but it’s the GOA church, not the Anglo-Saxon Orthodox Church.

          Wait a minute, there’s an idea: the ASOC!

          • Monk James Silver says

            LOVE: five words in Greek
            Greek word/pronunciation (European vowels) /Latin form / English translation

            Έλεος / ėleos / misericordia / pity, mercy
            Στοργή / storgí / pietas / duty, obligation
            Έρως ėros / cupiditas / desire (with reciprocation)
            Φιλία / philía / amicitia / friendhsip
            Αγάπη / agápi / caritas / selfless love

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              ‘Love’ in English has to cover that territory by itself..

              The usefulness of ‘charity’ for caritas was of course lost because in English it came eventually to be associated strictly with alms. “Faith, hope, and charity” has great sound to it, for sure, but doesn’t work at all any more.

    • Michael I’m a great slavophile and in Bulgaria to boot. Yes the aleuts etc were fertile soil.
      It’s modern consumerist Culture and the stripping of language bare that i was VERY badly drawing attention to. And that happened in Greek too. Our modern languages as natural, in a totally secular materialism environment, will reflect that poverty.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Nikos, yes indeed, it is part of the dehumanization. Word processing programs/composition programs through there “grammer check” will make real language even more difficult. Can you imagine Faulkner, Steinbeck, and other great american writers using such “assistance”?

  3. Excellent text. Thank you!

  4. Gail Sheppard says

    I’m OK with being wrong and I can adjust but I wish someone would figure it out and tell the Holy Synods to pick something and stay with it. Interestingly, what I heard in Russia was very much like what I was used to in CA. I had no trouble following the liturgy there even though it was in a language with which I was totally unfamiliar.