LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Letters to the Editors of no more than 175 words will be published at our discretion. Send your letter in the body of an email to editors@orthodoxyindialogue.com with “Letters” in your subject header. Sign your letter with your full first and last name followed by your city, state/province, and country of residence.

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LETTERS TO THE EDITORS

Dec. 31, 2017

I was a conscientious objector in the Vietnam era, while still a Protestant Evangelical, and served two years as an Orderly in an Illinois hospital. But I cannot lament Bishops not speaking favorably of conscientious objection.

In the U.S. at least, 1-A-O or 1-O status required religious scruple (or, by court gloss, quasi-religious philosophical scruple). Unless the use of arms (1-A-O), or service in the military at all (1-O) is forbidden by the Church, how could a Bishop speak favorably of conscientious objection, the gaining of which status would require one to make an idiosyncratic personal dogma of something about which the Church has not dogmatized?

With a volunteer military, however, I’m “all in” on warning of grave spiritual and psychic wounds. A Christian college acquaintance in the Vietnam era, who attended the Urbana ’70 Missionary conference in uniform, was suffering the beginnings of such wounds merely by having to join obscene and genocidal jody calls in basic training. It doesn’t get better, I assume.

Roger Wm. Bennett (Lafayette IN)
Tonsured Reader, St. Alexis Orthodox Church (ACROD)

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Dec. 31, 2017

Thank you for Jim Forest’s New Year Peace Homily [here]…a tiny fragment of his and his wife Nancy’s committed lives.  Why oh why is the lip service to peace so seldom accompanied by No to war? Forest’s picking up on the German churches from 1933-45 is so apposite to the US and UK and many other places. No lesson learnt. 

My wife was imprisoned by the Stasi for her solidarity with the Women for Peace in East Berlin. I helped get her out.

When Dan Berrigan [here] received the Pope John XXlll peace prize in Washington, the presiding bishop (of Baltimore, I think) in his amazing response said he could only convey the Holy Father’s blessing conditionally. Church!

Canon Paul Oestreicher (Brighton UK)
Canon at Coventry Cathedral during the Blitz of 1940

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Dec. 12, 2017

Reading Orthodoxy in Dialogue is always a “stretching” experience. Seldom am I not moved either to disagree vehemently or to agree with the deepest of appreciation. 

Jim Forest’s recent introduction [here] of his book on Fr. Daniel Berrigan was quite moving. I remember Fr. Daniel’s protests at the height of the Vietnam War. At that time I was a youthful “Love it or leave it” patriot. Age, and the study of history, has tempered my views somewhat. Berrigan had what so many of us Christians lack: courage. Courage to follow his convictions, no matter how radical, is what will endear his memory to generations to come. I don’t have to have agreed with all of his theology or politics but I admire him for following Christ no matter how unpopular or inconvenient. May his memory be eternal and may my dear brother Jim Forest be blessed for having written his biography.

V. Rev. Fr. Timothy Cremeens, PhD (Wilkes-Barre PA)
Dean, Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral (OCA)

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Dec. 5, 2017

“It is commonly assumed that the strident homophobia of the contemporary American Orthodox Church has been imported with the influx of thousands of unconverted converts from Evangelical fundamentalism from the late 1980s to the present.” [See reference here.]

This is an appalling bit of bigotry. Gone is my presumption that Giacomo Sanfillipo [sic] is bona fide and scholarly.

Roger Wm. Bennett (Lafayette IN)

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Nov. 8, 2017 

Please accept my appreciation for publishing Gregg Webb’s article [here]. I am a heterosexual woman with some very dear gay friends, and I have struggled with this issue quite a bit, on their behalf. If it is a difficult issue for me, how much more difficult must it be for those who are themselves in the sexual minority and Orthodox? I applaud Gregg’s courage to speak out publicly. I hope some of our clergy will have the courage to participate in this dialogue and help us all, whether we ourselves are in this community or not, to understand the Orthodox perspective and not push it and them away out of fear and confusion. My husband is a priest, and encourages Orthodox LGBTQ people to do exactly as Gregg is doing: maintain a celibate life of prayer and struggle against all his passions, sexual and otherwise, as we all should do. But they need support in their struggle as much as, if not more than, any of the rest of us. I hope his speaking out encourages others to open their hearts and minds and feel compassion towards everyone.

Matushka Marina Holland (McKinney TX)

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Sep. 26, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of speaking, here in Australia, with a man who I am sure is a great friend of this blog, Aristotle Papanikolaou. In discussing his recent journeys in Orthodoxy and academia, he said to me that it was, in his opinion, a great ascesis to be able to bring together a wide range of thoughts and opinions on a particular topic within Orthodoxy, in order to foster constructive and spiritual discussion.

I absolutely commend this blog for fostering this kind of discussion within Orthodoxy.

The Church here in Australia is unfortunately struggling under the weight of the division between conservatives and progressives, with no oxygen left for a moderate viewpoint.

I pray that the kind of dialogue being promoted in this blog continues and spreads further in the Church and around the world.

Please pray for us.

Terry Gerovasilis (Sydney NSW)

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Aug. 27, 2017

To boldly pursue open and honest dialogue in a Church culture where openness, honesty, and dialogue are painfully lacking is always prophetic. And so thank you, dear editors, for Orthodoxy in Dialogue, the genesis of which I pray will engender God’s blessing of “It is good.”

Your inaugural piece, “The State of Orthodox Theology Today,” was superb, both in the vitality of its message and the necessity of its expressed intent “in which there are no taboo subjects, no political correctness that creates defining lines of territory, no cultural barriers misrepresented as Holy Tradition.” Amen, and amen!

Expect resistance from those for whom openness, honesty, and dialogue are cause for alarm. Such is the lamentable condition of those who are captive to “straining the gnats” of traditionalism, and whose ecclesiastical myopia inhibits a clear vision of mercy, the increasing of which must always be the ultimate aim of all true theology.

But such is the burden, and blessing, of all who are called by God to prophetic engagement.

Blessings to you, my brothers and sisters.

Jeramy Fotinis (Phoenix AZ)

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Aug. 23, 2017

With respect to Fr. Ellison I find the letter submitted to the hierarchs absolutely appropriate. Our Lord himself says, “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do to me.” For too many years people of colour have been the least of our brothers. If those of us, both cleric and lay, choose not to interfere in this injustice we are no better than the priest or Levite on the road to Jericho. I for one am grateful to the editors of Orthodoxy in Dialogue for writing this letter, and am more grateful to the Assembly of Bishops for addressing it publicly. May God continue to grant them many years.

Liam Farrer (Toronto ON)
PhD Student in Theological Studies, Regis College

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Aug. 22, 2017

God bless you! The inaugural piece, “The State of Orthodox Theology Today,” is wonderful! May the Lord prosper the work of your hands—and minds (and hearts!).

Very Rev. Peter Galadza, PhD (Toronto ON)
Director, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies 

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Aug. 18, 2017

I find this letter to our hierarchs completely inappropriate. This critical spirit is of this age and not of the kingdom. The events of that day although tragic do not warrant the amount of attention the news media has given it especially with the deep political spin that has accompanied it. Every word and response analyzed and critiqued rather than simply accepted at face value. Let us show mercy and kindness and leave the bishops to attend to the work of the Gospel.

V. Rev. James B. Ellison (Urbana IL)