A VIRTUAL LISTENING TOUR: Priest to Mother, “Better Your Transgender Child Were Dead”

This testimonial marks the fourth voice to speak out in Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s Fifty Years after Stonewall: A Virtual Listening Tour. 
We urge our readers to forward the articles in this series to their diocesan bishops and parish priests. We beg our hierarchy and clergy to listen, attentively, reflectively, and prayerfully.
We ensure complete anonymity if you wish to contribute to this series between now and the end of June.

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I still remember what it felt like five years ago, when the elder of my two autistic children told me that she was transgender. The entire world froze. I wasn’t sure I could breathe. I couldn’t get any words to come out of my mouth. The only words that I could form in my mind were, “Oh, shit.”

I was terrified. I had been working for years to make sure that, when my autistic son grew up and became independent, he would be safe. My husband and I knew he’d reach independence later than his age peers, and that was okay. We just had to ensure that, when he got there, he had the knowledge and skills he needed to be safe.

You have to understand, people with autism are far more likely to be victims of abuse than their neurotypical peers. They are more likely to be emotionally abused, to be sexually assaulted, to be physically attacked. They miss social cues, and they often don’t realize when someone is taking advantage of them. They can’t think quickly in a novel situation. They don’t understand where proper social boundaries lie. It takes them time to process the sensory and social information. All of this makes them uniquely vulnerable. Read More


A VIRTUAL LISTENING TOUR: Sexual and Gender Diversity at the Dawn of Modern Orthodox Theology

This article by Giacomo Sanfilippo appeared on June 12 as an op-ed at the Kyiv Post. It marks the third instalment in Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s Fifty Years after Stonewall: A Virtual Listening Tour. Although written for a Ukrainian context it applies equally to Canada, the US, and other locales around the world.
We urge our readers to forward the articles in this series to their diocesan bishops and parish priests. We beg our hierarchy and clergy to listen, attentively, reflectively, and prayerfully.
We ensure complete anonymity if you wish to contribute to this series between now and the end of June.

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Artur Korniienko’s Lawmaker Again Sues to Ban Kyiv Pride, Uses Anti-LGBTQ Hate Speech of June 8 serves as a case in point for my recent appeals (May 17 and June 2)  to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) to encourage President Zelensky and the Verkhovna Rada to  safeguard and expand civil rights for Ukraine’s LGBTQ citizens. Many of these are faithful Orthodox Christians. Many more would come if the Ukrainian Church followed the lead of her sister Orthodox Church of Finland and offered a safe spiritual home for Ukraine’s LGBTQ Christians to live their life in Christ out of the closet and in the Church.

The fact that lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk feels justified to call on “God’s help” to defame his fellow human beings and citizens as “perverts, degenerates, genetic garbage,” and a threat to Ukrainian children makes it all the more imperative that the OCU and the entire membership of the All Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (AUCCRO) condemn the diffusion of such hateful rhetoric in the name of religion. Time and again we see, where such toxicity is allowed to proliferate unchecked, that a social climate is perpetuated in which physical violence against LGBTQ people and a higher suicide rate than the general population inevitably ensue. Communities of faith have a moral obligation to protect all minorities from the depredations of the dominant society, including sexual and gender minorities. Yet too often—in the present as in the past—organized religion has taken the lead as society’s preeminent discursive and physical persecutor of anyone whose ethnic, linguistic, racial, religious, sexual, or gender identity is perceived as a threat to the established order. For her part in these persecutions, the Orthodox Church must repent. Read More


THE WAY OF THE PEACEMAKER: SEEKING PEACE IN AN ERA OF EXTREME CONFLICT reviewed by Paul Pynkoski

The Way of the Peacemaker: Seeking Peace in an Era of Extreme Conflict
Eric Simpson
Ashland OR: Marginal Accretion Press, 2019

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A cursory search on Amazon reveals dozens of available books on the Beatitudes. These sayings of Jesus can be explored through the sermons of the 19th-century Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon; Roman Catholic bishop, Fulton Sheen; Anglican cleric, John Stott; and lifelong peace activist, Jim Forest. It is entirely fair to ask, then, whether another study on the Beatitudes is necessary. What might it offer?

Eric Simpson, an essayist, poet, and Orthodox Christian, is the author of The Way of the Peacemaker: Seeking Peace in an Era of Extreme Conflict. His intent was “to write a personal book from my own experience and study for anyone who is interested, and for the work to speak for itself and become its own authority insofar as it speaks to the reader…” (9). Simpson has meditated on the Beatitudes for over a decade and keeps “finding new and extraordinary dimensions of meaning and significance about what it means to be a human being who is a follower of Christ, or rather, a Christian who is following Christ into the fulness of what it means to be a human being” (7). The Beatitudes have become for him “the lifeblood and beating heart of authentic, ancient and living Christianity” (8). This signals that we are not reading an academic study, but rather one that is rooted in the Christian tradition of pilgrimage and transformation.

Simpson devotes a chapter to each of the eight Beatitudes, followed by chapters on “The Path of Suffering” and “Seeking Peace in the Public Square.” His approach is simple and direct, drawing from his own life experience, contemporary literature, and the Christian tradition. He reinforces for the reader that this way of transformation is a process by connecting the insights discussed in each new chapter with those in the preceding ones (e.g., meekness is not achieved without going through poverty and mourning). Read More



KYIV PRIDE AND THE ORTHODOX CHURCH OF UKRAINE by Giacomo Sanfilippo

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Kyiv Pride 2018

The Orthodox Church of Georgia, one of the world’s most ancient Orthodox Christian communities, has adopted a unique way to give the middle finger to the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia & Biphobia each year in May: it observes “Family Purity Day” on the same date by staging a religious procession through Tbilisi and persuading several hundreds of couples to get married in mass weddings around the capital.

Despite Patriarch Ilia’s disclaimer that the event is not “against someone,” and that the “Church is distancing itself from any kinds of violence,” it seems clear that he instituted the observance as the Georgian Church’s annual anti-LGBTQ protest. In showing no pastoral concern whatever for the united cry of queer people around the globe to halt the physical and discursive violence that culminates far too often in their beatings, rapes, imprisonment, expulsion from jobs and homes, deprivation of medical services and police protections, deaths, and suicides, the Patriarch and his Church consent to this violence by their silent refusal to confront it. Silence equals consent. Read More


A GUIDE TO RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA (Video) by EuroMaidan Press

The relevance of this Guide for readers of Orthodoxy in Dialogue lies in the complicity of the Moscow Patriarchate in the Kremlin’s endless manufacture of fake news. The main organs for the church-related disinformation campaign from Russia—particularly as it pertains to Ukraine—seem to be the Department for External Church Relations, the Union of Orthodox Journalists, and Pravmir (“Orthoworld”). These three report regularly on the nonexistent “persecution” and “violence” directed against  Ukraine’s Moscow Patriarchate adherents—nonexistent because never corroborated in the secular press such as the Kyiv Post. (For more context see our When Kremlin and Patriarchate Cry Wolf Together.)
See EuroMaidan Press for the original of this Guide and other reporting on Ukraine.

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A GUIDE TO RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA

The Russian propaganda machine produces endless streams of fakes and manipulative stories. While at times they may seem outrageous or silly, they are far from being random. Russian propaganda for both domestic and foreign audiences follows techniques that stem from Goebbel’s times. Ultimately, it is a weapon of war. In our series A guide to Russian propaganda, we examine how propaganda works, and how one can avoid falling for it.

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