QUEERING QUEER: HITTING THE RESET BUTTON (QUEER THEORY AND ORTHODOX THEOLOGY) by Giacomo Sanfilippo

This is an abbreviated version of an essay submitted in April 2014 in fulfilment of the requirements for the graduate seminar at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University College, University of Toronto. Written for a non-Orthodox audience immersed in the canon of academic queer literature, it attempts to convey something of Orthodox anthropology and spirituality in a key comprehensible to them. 

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Queer theory and Orthodox theological anthropology share a surprising number of insights into the human condition in general and the ambiguities of human sexuality in particular. This is not to deny the vast epistemic differences between them—their paradigms of knowledge production and their determinants of what even counts as “knowledge”—or the gulf that often separates the conclusions reached by each in its respective domain. Yet they struggle to make sense of the same existential dilemma, mount similar critiques of the world-as-it-is, and ground their motifs in a vision of transfigured futurity for the human person and the human collective.    

With this essay I begin to explore some of the terrains of possible thematic convergence between queer theory and Orthodox theology. Along the way, I attempt to develop a common lexicon by means of which theorists operating from two widely disparate epistemological bases might engage fruitfully in a dialogue of mutual charity, to the reciprocal benefit of each. Queer theory, in its way, has as much to offer Orthodox theology as vice versa. The present essay embodies a call, as it were, to contemplate a metaphysical basis for the future direction of queer theory, one that both transcends the exigencies of immanent political expediency and recovers the legitimacy of modes of knowing informed by a long lineage of communitarian spiritual intuition. Read More


THE PROMISE OF AUTOCEPHALY IN UKRAINE: WHAT’S AT STAKE? by Nicholas Denysenko

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President Petro Poroshenko and Patriarch Bartholomew I (March 10, 2016)

Last week, news circulated that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is expected to issue a Tomos of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. This news appeared on the heels of a meeting that took place between Patriarch Bartholomew, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his delegation after Pascha on April 9, 2018. The discussions between the presidential delegation and President Poroshenko were reportedly lengthy, and Poroshenko formally requested the issuing of a Tomos that would be presented publicly on the occasion of the 1030th anniversary of the Baptism of Kyivan Rus’ in late July. The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s Parliament, voted to voice its support for the appeal for the Tomos, and the synods of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) issued letters voicing their support for the Tomos. The press office of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) claims that the actions of the President and parliament violate Ukrainian law, since offices of the state are interfering in Church affairs, and the UOC-MP is also arguing that all of the Orthodox Churches must agree to autocephaly, and that autocephaly is no longer only a prerogative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The mechanism for granting autocephaly is a canonical issue that was on the agenda of the Holy and Great Council in Crete of 2016, but which was not taken up by the Churches that participated in the Council. Furthermore, there is no clarity on the recipients of the Tomos: to whom will the Ecumenical Patriarch grant the Tomos, where would the inaugural Liturgy celebrating the Tomos be celebrated, which bishops would concelebrate with the Ecumenical Patriarch, and whose names and sees would be entered into the diptychs of global Orthodoxy? Read More


AN INCREASINGLY UNORTHODOX WORLD by Sintia Radu

This article was written in connection with St. Nicholas Day but retains its relevance at any time of the year.

Leaders in the Orthodox Church say the religion may need to adapt to contemporary times to remain relevant.

sg1A season of religious holidays around the world moves into higher gear on Wednesday with the observance of one of the most important saints in the Orthodox Church, a person whose gift-giving legacy is partially tied to the birth of the Santa Claus legend in the U.S.and Father Christmas in the U.K.

But with the arrival of St. Nicholas Day – observed on Dec. 6 in Western Christian nations but on different December days elsewhere – also come questions about the future place Orthodoxy will occupy in the larger Christian world, say analysts.

Orthodox Christians exist in greater numbers today than in the past, yet represent a diminished share of Christians worldwide. Confined primarily to an aging Europe and strongly tethered to tradition, Orthodox Christianity may need to change its ways to remain relevant, say some practitioners.

“People are sending out a signal that they don’t identify with structures of the past anymore and look for new forms of spirituality,” says the Rev. Cosmin Antonescu from the Saint Andrew Romanian Orthodox Church in Potomac, Maryland.

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DYING PARISHES: CREATING A HOSPICE MINISTRY FOR CHURCHES by H. Gregory DuDash

Author’s Note: The present article is adapted from Ed Stetzer’s “Creating a Hospice Ministry for Churches,” which appeared on September 3, 2014 on Christianity Today‘s The Exchange website.

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The death of a parish does not have to be the end of its ministry

Happily, many parishes in the Orthodox world are growing and new missions are being established every year. On the other hand, many more are not only declining but, really, dying. The Church founded by Jesus Christ can never die. Yet, the death of individual parishes is a fact of life. Unfortunately and most importantly, dying parishes are quite unprepared for this death.

Yet many things can be done to aid the dying parish. We call this a hospice ministry because the hospice movement is based on not only death, but a dignified death.

One aspect of this dignity would be to see that, in the end, the cause of Christ and His Church will advance—although the local parish will not. Unfortunately, the “cause of Christ and His Church” is a very hard concept for some who built some beautiful (and not so beautiful) buildings through much sacrifice, and whose hearts are breaking to see it all come to nothing. Read More


WOULD YOU HELP SAVE THE EARTH BY BEING CHILDFREE? by Ellen Walker

The dialogue that we envisioned in creating Orthodoxy in Dialogue so many months ago engages not only with fellow Orthodox and fellow Christians as our partners, but also with the social, political, and cultural moment in which we live. As we wrote in our maiden article, “The State of Orthodox Theology Today” (August 22, 2017):

We at Orthodoxy in Dialogue would like to present a forum in which there are no taboo subjects, no political correctness that creates defining lines of territory, no cultural barriers misrepresented as Holy Tradition. In this new blog we would like to explore Orthodox theology as it actually is today, its consequences, and where it is going.

The editors have decided to run this unusual article solely to generate discussion. We cannot suppose naively that Orthodox couples in the early 21st century, or Orthodox singles anticipating marriage in their future, remain somehow insulated and immune from the questions addressed below. 

As always, we welcome thoughtful, well written responses, whether in the form of an article or a letter to the editors, to anything that we publish. 

oldercoupleMost people consider whether or not to have kids based on lifestyle factors such as career goals, finances, and leisure time, but there’s another group of folks who are doing so primarily for environmental reasons. 

This past summer, Time Magazine published a cover story (link is external) about the childfree life that discussed why people decide to not have kids. Author Lauren Sandler wrote that the birthrate in the US is the lowest in recorded history and that the fertility rate actually dropped by 9 percent between 2007 and 2011. She cites cost ($234,900 to raise a child born in 2011 for a family earning less than $100,000 per year) as a major factor in this decline. Careers are also impacted, especially for women, who may lose out on as much as a million dollars because of lost promotions and other missed opportunities in the workplace that result from taking time off to raise kids. Read More


FROM DISTORTED IMAGERY TO DISORDERED PRAXIS: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM by Christopher Larsen

This article should be read carefully in conversation with Rod Dreher’s “‘Fundamentalism’ and ‘Dialogue’” and David Ford’s “The Dangers of Fundamentalism.”

psychReligious fundamentalism is curious phenomenon because it is frequently associated with beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that directly contradict the very religious traditions upon which it is ostensibly based. Within the Christian tradition, the clear, unequivocal, and insistent requirement that Christians strive for social justice, mercy, and compassion has often been forgotten and replaced by a disordered praxis characterized by rigid dogmatism and hyper-moralism, prejudice, and puritanism.

The term fundamentalism is defined in the sociological and psychological literature to include persons from any religious background who exhibit a particular constellation of behavioral traits and attitudes. These involve a rigid and dogmatic adherence to a set of religious beliefs, extreme religious exclusivity, belief in the infallibility of a text or institution, denigration of persons from different religious traditions, political and social authoritarianism, and a rigid moralism. Frequently, this is accompanied by a conception of God as a harsh and capricious taskmaster, ever ready to subject His creation to judgment. However, the term fundamentalist should be used with some caution as the boundaries between healthy religious conservatism and fundamentalism should be maintained. Read More


ON FEARLESS DIALOGUE by David C. Ford

forddreherOn April 14 we published Dr. Ford’s letter to the editors which he wrote in response to Rod Dreher’s “‘Fundamentalism’ and ‘Dialogue.’” On April 15 Dr. Ford sent a sequel, in which he specifically addresses Mr. Dreher’s refusal to enter into dialogue about the possible place of same-sex love in Christian life. We have decided to publish the April 15 letter below as a mini-article.

Upon further reflection about why I believe that traditionalists should not be skittish about free and open dialogue about controversial issues such as sexual morality, I would emphasize that Truth and virtue will always win out when given a fair hearing, because of their inherent power to move the human heart, mind, and soul to what’s right, good, and true.

For those struggling with thoughts and feelings of inappropriate heterosexual or same-sex physical attraction, the offer of victory in Christ over such thoughts and feelings will surely win out when Christ is honestly and openly sought for help to overcome such thoughts and feelings. Read More