Tag: Orthodoxy

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How Sweet the Sound

 

What would Black Gospel Music sound like if it blended with Eastern Orthodox liturgical tradition? Though liturgical traditions have a reputation for their timelessness, or at least for not changing, the Eastern Orthodox liturgy of singing and chanting antiphonally has changed over the past 2,000 years, particularly when Orthodoxy has met with other cultures whose own musical talents and understandings are different.

Though the broad outlines of a Russian or Greek liturgy are substantially identical, with the same prayers, the same order of service, the same structure, they do not exactly sound the same, even setting aside the language differences. Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. Shawn Wallace, Director of Jazz Studies at Ohio State University, and an Orthodox Christian himself, presented a project long in his heart. How Sweet the Sound was a concert that presented an Orthodox vespers service as blended with, and sung in the style of Black Gospel music.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Review: Memories of His Mercy

 

The name Peter Gilquist is incredibly well known in the Orthodox churches of America today. Father Gilquist, along with several other pastors, led a mass conversion of Evangelical churches into the Antiochian Orthodox Church in 1987, after nearly 15 years of searching for the historical Christian church as described in the book of Acts, and in the epistles of the New Testament. That quest is told in his more famous work, Becoming Orthodox, and in related works by others from that movement (I reviewed one such memoir, Surprised by Christ, late last year), but towards the end of his life, Reverend Gilquist wrote a different sort of work – personal memoirs of many of the key seminal moments in his life, ministries, and faith. Those memoirs were compiled and published several years after his death in the book Memories of His Mercy: Recollections of the Grace and Providence of God.  

In Memories of His Mercy, Fr. Gilquist tells stories of his upbringing within a devout Christian home, the men and women who mentored him in his family and beyond, and the courtship of the woman he would later marry. He later moves through some of his fondest memories, particularly of people whose lives touched his. His aim is not to write an overarching narrative, but a much humbler one of attempting to convey how faith, charity and empathy for others, and a strong work ethic tempered by consistent honesty can allow one, with the grace of God, to both be a blessing to others, and be blessed in turn.  

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Icon, Part 6: Theophany

 

Rejoice, O River Jordan, be glad; for within thee the Maker of all things now is here, moved by mercy to seek at a servant’s hand saving Baptism for our sakes. Dance, be glad, O Adam, and, O Eve, our foremother; God supremely good, Who is redemption for all men, is come down to dwell with us.

The Torrent of Delight, Who is Master of all things, doth come unto the river’s swift streams to be baptized; for He willed to give me drink of waters that purify. And when John beheld Him, he cried out to Him, saying: How shall I stretch out my hand upon Thy divine head, whereat all things quake with fear? Orthros Kathisma of the Fore-feast of Theophany

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Icon, Part 3: The Presentation of the Theotokos

 

“And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1: 30, ESV

November 21 (New Calendar) marks the Great Feast of The Presentation of the Theotokos, the third in the annual liturgical calendar of the Orthodox Church. The Feast occurs one week into the Advent season, which starts on November 15, and runs until Christmas Eve Vespers, and commemorates the presentation of Mary, still a young child, to the Temple in Jerusalem, where she will live a life consecrated to God. Like the first feast of the liturgical year, The Nativity of the Theotokos, this Feast both parallels and foreshadows other narratives, and like the earlier Nativity, it is an expression both of how special Mary had to have been to have borne the Incarnation, and of how venerated she has been since the very early days of Christianity.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Icon, Part 2: The Elevation of the Holy Cross

 

The second Great Feast of the Orthodox liturgical year is on September 14, and marks two related events: first, the finding of The True Cross by Saint Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, and secondly, the recovery and restoration, by the emperor Heraclius, of the cross to Jerusalem after its theft by the Persian Empire in its last major war against the Romans. This feast day is notable for being the only Great Feast day that is not commemorating any Biblical or Biblically-implied event. It is also the last such Great Feast day until mid-November.

It is also a profound story of imperial conquests, defeats, and cycles of losing and re-finding, played out over 1700 years. It involves the Christianization of the Roman Empire, a brutal war for the very survival of that empire, coups, assassinations, the elevation of the Cross itself as the single prevailing symbol of the faith, and many figures who loom large in our histories even today. Its story begins even before the finding of the Cross, with a commoner named Helen, who son Constantine would fundamentally reorder the Roman world. The story echoes even today in rural Ohio, in small but ornate wooden box, where a tiny fragment of wood, almost too small to be worth noticing, carries with it the arc of Christian history.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Icon, Part 1: The Nativity of the Theotokos

 

September 1 marks the start of the liturgical year of the Orthodox Church. This goes back both to the Romans, who assessed a tax called the Indiction on this date, and to the Jewish calendar, with Rosh Hashanna marking the new year at about this same time. As this is the start of the liturgical cycle of great feasts and great fasts, I’ve decided to put out a series of posts on one of the most recognizable features of Orthodoxy: The Icon.

There are 12 Great Feasts in the Orthodox liturgical year, plus Pascha (Easter), which is the Feast of Feasts (there are also 12 in Catholicism, but with differences). In this series, each part to be posted close to the feast, I’ll be looking both at the event commemorated, and at its iconographic depiction. Through this series I will also try to lay out the functions of icons, their liturgical use, and their accepted proper forms both historically, and as they have developed throughout time (and have both departed from, and returned to their older roots in the process). Here and there I’ll fill in with some additional posts on related topics, certain saints, and the major other icons. Our first selection, corresponding with the first of the Great Feasts, is the Nativity of the Theotokos, which occurs on the eighth of September, just a few days hence.  (Nota Bene: any errors in this series are my own fault.)

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. After the Cultural Winter

 
Hagia Irene, a church of the Iconoclasm period.

Winter is a time when the earth seems dying and barren. The trees are shorn of their leaves by the howling winds, the ground is shorn of its color by frost or sucking mud. Nothing is growing, nothing seemingly is even changing. From the time the Christmas decorations are dunned away, the world takes on a dreary day to day sameness of cold and damp, relieved on in the forced fits of the crimson blushing of Valentine’s Day, or the unnatural kelly-green of St. Patrick’s Day. When Spring arrives, really arrives despite the occasional frost or last burst of snow, suddenly it is everywhere at once in a thousand flower beds both tended by human hands and otherwise. And then Summer works its way in, when the days are long, golden, and warm with activity. We can appreciate the Summer all the more by remembering how dreary the Winter before it was.

And yet not merely our years have season, but one can say our societies do too, and sometimes, when the winters of our societies’ discontents run long and deep, when all seems stripped away, the flowering Spring and energetic Summers that follow can be glorious, even so stunning that they seem to be spiting and damning the Winter out of which they arose. And even though these high Summers produce a harvest of culture that we remember for generations beyond, they also contain the hints of the Winters that will follow. Three such high Summers spring (as it were) to my own mind, one of which we will commemorate today, the first Sunday of Lent. In 1981, Ronald Reagan took office after the anxious 1970s; In 1558, Queen Elizabeth ascended to the English throne; In 843, Empress Theodora of Byzantium ended the second, and final iconoclasm in what is today called Triumph of Orthodoxy.

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Priest: Forgive me, a sinner Parishioner: God Forgives. Forgive me. More

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Christianity and Eros: Essays on the Theme of Sexual Love, by Philip Sherrard, first published in 1976, is a modest attempt by an Orthodox theologian to begin to address the “sacramental potentiality of sexual love” from a Christian perspective, to correct what the author sees as several ways Christian thought has mis-stepped or erred over […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: The Small World of the Paranoid

 

[S]uppose it were the case of a man who accused everybody of conspiring against him. If we could express our deepest feelings of protest and appeal against this obsession, I suppose we should say something like this: “Oh, I admit that you have your case and have it by heart, and that many things do fit into other things as you say. I admit that your explanation explains a great deal; but what a great deal it leaves out! Are there no other stories in the world except yours; and are all men busy with your business? Suppose we grant the details; perhaps when the man in the street did not seem to see you it was only his cunning; perhaps when the policeman asked you your name it was only because he knew it already. But how much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you! How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers.

GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 2

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I am about to violate one of the laws of polite conversation: I wish to discuss religion and faith — hopefully politely. With the recent observances of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, many Protestant denominations have marked the occasion with sermon series, and even celebrations of the half-millenium schism in Christendom. My […]

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(This is a paper I wrote during seminary. It is highly academic but since I am not a specialist it should be comprehensible and hopefully informative for anyone interested in Christology and Christian theology in general.) Christology is a complicated topic. There were seven councils dealing directly with Christology which are recognized as ecumenical. The […]

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One needn’t be Christian to find food for thought in this brief lecture by Bishop Robert Barron. Might we even say there is something deeply conservative in this argument? More

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The Crusades The Seljuk Turks crushed the Byzantine army on the plains of Manzikert in 1071. Islam was extended from the Iberian Peninsula across North Africa and into the middle and near East. It stretched eastward into the Central Asian steppes to India and China. Islam threatened to enter further into Europe. More

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Heresies, the Popes and the Emperors An attempt was made to plant the doctrine that Jesus had two natures that acted as one. This evolved into Monothelitism, a variation of Monophysitism. Monothelitism held that Jesus’ will was divine with no human element. This lack of a human will would make Jesus less than human. More

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But there is more. The Church was historical and involved discrete historical events. The Church was hierarchical. The fishers of men, appointed by Jesus, in their turn created bishops and deacons, who in turn then passed on the authority given to them to their successors. The Church worked from a tradition. When Paul wrote about […]

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I was not going to be allowed to be a Protestant, but it does not follow from that what I would be allowed to be. I did not know. Once the Reformation is dispatched, what is left? Catholicism. Orthodoxy. A few other versions of Christianity such as the Copts. I chose to try to understand […]

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I had gone as far as I could attached to the idea of joy being paramount. I had gone as far as I could with the idea that I was the arbiter of truth. In some previous missives here I have noted the problem with that idea, and that the problem with that position is […]

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In the west, Catholicism is the least liked religion, even by some Catholics. Some call it a cult. Some believe it to be hellish. That certainly was not my experience, but I was not immune to the popular culture. When I left Kamiah, and returned to the Twin Cities, I was separated from that formative […]

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I wanted to know why I was better and if someone was involved in some way, who. I wanted to thank someone, but I did not know who I should be thanking. I went back to California and rescued a friend of mine who was in at least as bad a shape as I had […]

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