A WOMAN’S LONELY VOICE IN THE ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: INTRODUCING ANCA MANOLACHE by Lucian Turcescu

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Anca Manolache (1959)

With this article I introduce to the readers of Orthodoxy in Dialogue a Romanian Orthodox woman, Anca Lucia Manolache (1923-2013), a theologian who remained surprisingly active even through the communist years. Women had been allowed to study theology before the advent of communism in 1946 in order to teach religion in public schools. Due to the ban on this in communist regimes throughout the Soviet bloc, Romanian women who trained in theology before 1948 had to reorient themselves toward other teaching jobs. Beginning in 1991, two years after the fall of communism in Romania, the door was reopened for women to be trained as religion teachers.

During the communist period, laywomen were almost unheard of in the country’s two Orthodox theological institutes that remained open. Yet it was during communism that Manolache, who had prior degrees in law and philology, embarked on the study of theology. In 1959 she was arrested by the communist authorities for “omitting to denounce her friends.” When she eventually got out of prison she studied toward a doctorate in theology under another famous political prisoner who was also released from prison in 1964, Father Dumitru Stăniloae. In 1964 she was hired to work at the Romanian Orthodox publishing house, The Biblical and Missionary Institute, in Bucharest. Among other duties, she was the main editor of Stăniloae’s Romanian translation of the Philokalia (12 volumes in total), as well as the copy editor of his magnum opus, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (known as The Experience of God in English). 

While leading a rather discreet life she began reflecting on the role of women in the Church. She was allowed to participate in some international forums dealing with this question, and even managed to publish her views in several articles beginning in the 1970s.  Read More


NEO’S JOURNEY: THROUGH THE MATRIX TO PERSONHOOD by Lia Lewis

Orthodoxy in Dialogue is pleased to offer the first article in our new Faith & the Arts series. 

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“…love is always free, and without freedom there is no love.”

Kallistos Ware, “The Human Person as an Icon of the Trinity,” Sorbornost 8:2, 1986

In 1999 the world was introduced to The Matrix. The premise of the movie suggests that we are living in a simulated computer program and the year is really 2199. The world lost the war against the AIs, and they are using humans as Energizer batteries so they can use the energy from our bodies to power themselves. Humans are slaves and are no longer born, but grown in pods.

However, there’s a group of humans who were able to escape the matrix by discerning what is real and what is not. These humans banded together to free humanity. In order for this group to truly succeed, they need to find the One who will “deliver” them from the matrix. Morpheus, their current leader, feels that Thomas Anderson is the One. By day he is Thomas Anderson, programmer, but at night he’s the hacker known as Neo. (Get it?  Neo is an anagram for the word “one.”)  Read More


THE ALLIANCE BETWEEN WHITE NATIONALISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA: HOW WE GOT HERE by Damon T. Berry

Orthodoxy in Dialogue has published extensively on white supremacy and racism in the Orthodox Church, especially since our White Supremacy in the American Orthodox Church: An Open Letter to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America on January 22. (See the full list of editorials, letters, and articles under White Supremacy and Racism in our Archives by Author.) Four months later we have yet to receive a response from any episcopal synod, individual bishop, or seminary. Dr. Berry’s book traces how we have gotten to the point where the “conservative” Christianities in the United States—including the Orthodox Church, as we have stated on our pages over and over again—have come to be seen as natural allies in the struggle for “white survival.” The American Orthodox Church ignores him at our own peril.

blood (1)The events at Charlottesville in August 2017 highlighted for many what had become apparent during the 2016 election—white nationalism was not extinct. Indeed, white nationalists like Richard Spencer seem to thrive in the current political climate. During the rally at Charlottesville to “unite the right,” David Duke, the former Klan leader who publicly supported Trump’s candidacy, claimed that he and his fellow white nationalists were going to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump” and take the country back. The President’s equivocating remarks about the violence perpetrated by attendees of the rally made the appearance of acceptability of white nationalist ideals a greater possibility for white nationalists and their opponents alike, putting white nationalists at the center of debates about the place of racism in contemporary American life.

The rally at Charlottesville took place almost two months after the Southern Baptist Convention, whose membership is one of the most reliably Republican voting groups in the country, voted to “denounce and repudiate white supremacy and every form of racial and ethnic hatred as a scheme of the devil intended to bring suffering and division to our society.” And readers may already be aware of the very public efforts which Russell Moore, a very important leader in the SBC, mounted to convince Evangelical voters not to vote for Trump—an effort that did not bear fruit as white Evangelicals voted for Trump by 81%, a percentage greater than voted for the self-professed Evangelical candidate George W. Bush in the 2000 election. Read More


NO HELL? BALTHASAR, ORTHODOXY, AND ESCHATOLOGY by Henry C. Anthony Karlson III

karlsonIn modern times many Orthodox theologians, such as Sergius Bulgakov, Pavel Florensky, and David Bentley Hart, have questioned the way that eternal perdition, or hell, has been understood and taught. Each of them, in his own way, has sought to find a way to see Jesus’ salvific work as being universal while taking into account His words about hell. Bulgakov, for example, proposes that the eternal fires of hell represent the pain and sorrow we feel when we contemplate the ways that we have failed God in our lives. Florensky considers that salvation entails the removal of what is evil within a person— his or her evil character—so that what is evil is cast aside and perishes.

Many contemporary Catholic theologians have similar problems with traditional teachings and explanations for hell. Perhaps the most famous of these is Hans Urs von Balthasar. He came to his conclusions through much theological and philosophical study and speculation. Among those influencing his creative theological opinion, as Jennifer Newsome Martin demonstrates in her book, Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Critical Appropriation of Russian Religious, were Vladimir Soloviev, Nikolai Berdyaev, and Sergius Bulgakov. Balthasar believed, similarly to Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, that we can hope that all will be saved. This does not mean everyone will be saved. While God is at work, seeking to save everyone, God does not force his salvation upon us. Some, if not many, might refuse God and end up among the damned.

While Balthasar’s opinion could have previously been discerned by those carefully reading his many earlier books and essays, it was late in his theological career that his hope became clear, and therefore questioned by several theological opponents. Critics, implying that he was a heretic, claimed that he believed that all would be saved. Likewise, they suggested that holding to such universalism meant that Balthasar rejected human freedom. They believed that if all will be saved, then human free will would be overridden by God. Finally, his critics said that those holding such a belief would feel little to no reason to evangelize. If it could be said that all will be saved, then there would be no need for the church’s missionary activity in the world. Read More


A PRIEST FOREVER? REFLECTIONS ON A BITTERSWEET ANNIVERSARY by Giacomo Sanfilippo

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Grant, O Lord, that I write from a place of inner peace.

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I learned many years ago that I have no control over what people say and think about me. Like a man standing at the edge of a field consumed by wildfire, I watched in despair and powerlessness to do anything to stop it. The field that was destroyed was my life and reputation.

The inferno sprang up from a highly combustible mixture of lies, half-truths, whispered innuendos, wordless sniffles and raised eyebrows, outright fabrications.

Now, it’s magnified all the more by advances in social media unimaginable a short generation ago.

Then and now, those who conspired to pour the kerosene, light the match, fan the flames, are my own brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Church. Never outside of the Church have I been treated as I am inside the Church. The most peaceful period of my adult life covered the four years recently—from 2008 to 2012—when my faith had collapsed so completely that I called myself an atheist.

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Today is the 30th anniversary of my ordination to the holy priesthood. On May 21, 1988—the Feast of SS. Constantine and Helen—I was almost 33 years old. I set out that morning for the short stroll across St. Vladimir’s Seminary campus from my family’s apartment to the chapel. In the cool morning air my lips whispered of their own accord, “Thirty-three. The age of the crucifixion. I go to be crucified with Christ.” Yet little could I guess the agony that my unworthy share in His priesthood would eventually bring down upon my head. Thirty years later, and sixteen years after my deposal for reasons entirely unclear, it never leaves me. Read More


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN GAZA? THE HUMAN TOLL by Lyndall Herman

pjimage (7)The events of the last week in the Gaza Strip have elicited concern and outrage in equal parts around the world. The faith community, including the Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus of Jerusalem, has been outspoken in voicing their concerns over the moving of the US Embassy to Jerusalem—one of the events that precipitated this violence—and their outrage over the death and casualties this move has precipitated. Christian leadership on this issue is particularly important given the approximately 100,000 Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel today, the majority of whom are Orthodox or Roman Catholic. 

Since March 30 more than 95 Palestinians have been killed at protests taking place along the Gaza border wall with Israel, including 58 on Monday, December 14—and nearly 7,000 have been hospitalized for injuries sustained during the protests, half of whom (3,598) from bullet wounds. The statistics are shocking, and if broken down further the casualties include more than a dozen children under the age of 16. 

But these numbers, these figures, these definitions (is a child a human being aged 16 and below or 18 and below?) and our focus on them is also shocking. We use these figures to bolster, confirm, and support a position we know to be morally and ethically correct: that the Palestinian people deserve a homeland of their own, that they deserve equal access to Jerusalem and the right to designate their capital in East Jerusalem.  Read More


ORTHODOX KIDLIT: THE SAINT NICHOLAS DAY SNOW & CATHERINE’S PASCHA reviewed by Elizabeth Hawkins

The Saint Nicholas Day SnowCharlotte Riggle (Marion IN: Phoenix Flair Press, 2017) 

Catherine’s PaschaCharlotte Riggle (Marion IN: Phoenix Flair Press, 2015)

saint-nicholas-day-snowCatherine's Pascha cover image (2)As an Orthodox mom of two young sons, I’m always eager to find new ways to engage their spiritual growth and development. I don’t know who was more excited to read The Saint Nicholas Day Snow and Catherine’s Pascha. Both are written by Charlotte Riggle and illustrated by R.J. Hughes.

Surprisingly, they were an easy addition to our bedtime routine. It’s normally the same books over and over, but these took little convincing. Maybe it was a movement of the Spirit, the colorful artwork, or my helpful 3-year old, but for reasons unknown these books have become new favorites for my sons and me. My 3-year old Elliot’s favorite parts of the books were the snowmen in The Saint Nicholas Day Snow and the celebratory feast (the part where they eat all of the food) in Catherine’s Pascha.

However, my favorite thing about The Saint Nicholas Day Snow is the inclusion of churches named after St. Nicholas, as well as popular depictions of the saint from around the world and throughout history. For example, a Byzantine icon of St. Nicholas is shown near a parish in Athens, Greece from the 9th century. A wooden church is nestled in the Norwegian forest, and a Baroque Russian cathedral sits covered in snow. Parish names are given in English as well as in the local vernacular—this seems to stress the universality of the message.  Read More