Παρασκευή, 25 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Η άνοδος των Christian libertarians

ΠΗΓΗ:Ιστόλόγιο "Ανησυχών"

 

 

Η άνοδος των Christian libertarians





Προς μεγάλη μου ευχαρίστηση την προηγούμενη εβδομάδα (το άρθρο γράφτηκε Ιανουάριο του 2012) είδα ότι η δημόσια κατακραυγή για τα νομοσχέδια ουσιαστικής λογοκρισίας του 'Ιντερνετ (PIPA και SOPA) εμφανίστηκαν στις ενημερώσεις μου στο Facebook και το Twitter.Ακόμα περισσότερο χάρηκα καθώς η κατακραυγή προερχόταν τόσο από Δημοκρατικούς όσο και από Ρεπουμπλικανούς.

Συμφώνησα με την οργή τους.Ασχέτως του πόσο η μουσική βιομηχανία τα υποστήριξε ή και εγώ η ίδια ως συγγραφέας εκτιμώ την προσπάθεια να προστατεύονται τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα,τέτοια νομοσχέδια,τα οποία μας κάνουν όλους εν δυνάμει εγκληματίες,πήγαν πολύ πιο πέρα από τον επιθυμητό στόχο.

Οι φίλοι μου δεν είναι οι μόνοι που το αντιλαμβάνονται.Παρόλο που το Libertarian Party παραμένει μία κατ'ουσίαν ασήμαντη δύναμη στην πολιτική σκηνή,η libertarian φιλοσοφία έχει καταστεί η κινητήριος δύναμη στις ιδεολογικές ζυμώσεις μέσα στο GOP.Και η εκπληκτική άνοδος του Ron Paul ανάμεσα στους νέους -και ανάμεσα στους χριστιανούς νέους- δεικνύει ότι αυτή η libertarian κλίση δεν είναι κάτι ευκαιριακό.


Η συνάντησή μου με την libertarian φιλοσοφία ήρθε ως αποτέλεσμα του μίσους μου για τα λεγόμενα εγκλήματα μίσους (hate crimes),ή πιο σωστά για την νομοθεσία περί εγκλημάτων μίσους.Η ιδέα τού να τιμωρείς κάποιον με βάση το τι σκεφτόταν όταν διέπραττε ένα έγκλημα με έσπρωξε στα άκρα -πολιτικά.Όλο αυτό,μαζί με την ήδη σταθερή μου δυσπιστία προς τους εθισμένους στην εξουσία πολιτικούς,για την συνήθως μη αποτελεσματική πολιτική παροχών του Δημοκρατικού Κόμματος και την πολλάκις απογοητευτική έλλειψη οικογενειακών αξιών του Ρεπουμπλικανικού.

Για αρκετό καιρό,μάλλον βρισκόμουν στις τάξεις των διαβόητων μετριοπαθών,μέχρις ότου ανεκάλυψα τον Libertarianism (φιλοσοφία της ελευθερίας) εδώ και μία δεκαετία.Βρήκα μια λέξη έτσι που να περιέχει,να περιγράφει τις πολιτικές μου απόψεις,παρόλαυτα είναι αμφιλεγόμενη.

Πλέον έχω συνηθίσει να ακούω από φίλους και εχθρούς 'εκατέρωθεν του διαδρόμου' (δεξιούς και αριστερούς) να μου λένε ότι είμαι υπερβολική,τρελή,αφελής ή μη επαρκώς πληροφορημένη για τις φιλελεύθερές μου απόψεις.Ακόμα χειρότερα πάει το πράγμα όταν οι αδελφοί και οι αδελφές μου εν Χριστώ το πηγαίνουν ένα βήμα παραπέρα:μα πώς γίνεται να λες ότι είσαι χριστιανή και να κλίνεις προς τον φιλελευθερισμό (libertarianism);


Oι Δημοκρατικοί ερωτούν πώς οι Libertarians μπορούν να αγνοούν τους φτωχούς και τους καταπιεσμένους.Πώς μπορεί να τους αφήνουν στο έλεος εγωκεντρικών ατόμων και άπληστων εταιρειών.Αναρωτιούνται πώς χριστιανοί μπορούν να ισχυρίζονται ότι αγαπούν και ακολουθούν τον Ιησού Χριστό και την ίδια στιγμή να μη ψηφίζουν τους ανθρώπους εκείνους που θα πρότειναν μέτρα για να μας αναγκάσουν ώστε να κάνουμε αυτά που είπε ο Χριστός -να δώσουμε στους φτωχούς και να παλέψουμε για να υπάρχει δικαιοσύνη για όλους.

Οι Ρεπουμπλικανοί ρωτάνε πώς οι Libertarians μπορούν να αγνοούν τις 'παραδοσιακές' οικογενειακές αξίες.Αναρωτιούνται πώς μπορούν να ισχυρίζονται ότι αγαπούν και ακολουθούν τον Ιησού Χριστό και να μη ψηφίζουν τους ανθρώπους εκείνους που θα πρότειναν μέτρα που θα επέβαλλαν στους ανθρώπους να ακολουθούν τις επιταγές της Αγίας Γραφής,να θεωρούν την ομοφυλοφιλία αμαρτία ή ας πούμε να κρατούν την πορνεία και την χρήση ναρκωτικών παράνομη.


Το να είσαι κοινωνικά liberal και οικονομικά conservative δεν λέει και πολλά σε πολλούς χριστιανούς.Για τους χριστιανούς Δημοκρατικούς και Ρεπουμπλικανούς,οι Libertarian απόψεις μοιάζει να έρχονται σε πλήρη αντίθεση με αυτό που θεωρούν αυτοί ως την επίδραση που πρέπει να έχει η πίστη στην πολιτική.Αλλά όπως θα βλέπετε από το news feed σας στο Facebook αυτό σε πολλούς έχει αρχίσει να αλλάζει.



Για ποιον λόγο πολλοί χριστιανοί προσελκύονται τώρα στον φιλελευθερισμό (libertarianism);

Ο Θεός περιμένει πολλά από τους δικούς του --ειδικά από εκείνους που τους έχει δοθεί ελευθερία και πλούτος που όμοιά του δεν έχει ξαναδεί ο κόσμος.Πολύ μακρυά από το να θέλουν να βλέπουν ανθρώπους που υποφέρουν να αφήνονται στην τύχη τους,πολλοί libertarians πιστεύουν τόσο βαθειά σ' αυτό το κάλεσμα για την αναζήτηση της δικαιοσύνης και του ελέους και στο αγάπα τον πλησίον σου ως σεαυτόν που είναι εξαιρετικά απρόθυμοι να αφήσουν ένα υπερτροφικό,μη αποτελεσματικό και απόμακρο κράτος να μπαίνει στον δρόμο τους για την πραγματοποίηση αυτής της εντολής του Χριστού.


Αντίθετα προς ό,τι είναι διαδεδομένο,το να είσαι libertarian δεν σημαίνει ότι θέλεις οι φτωχοί άνθρωποι να πεθάνουν από την πείνα.Δεν σημαίνει ότι θέλεις οι εταιρείες να εκμεταλλεύονται και να κακομεταχειρίζονται το προσωπικό τους.Δεν σημαίνει να θέλεις να ισοπεδωθούν όλα τα βουνά και να γίνουν καλλιεργήσιμη γη.Δεν σημαίνει ότι θέλεις να κυκλοφορούν περισσότερα όπλα.Δεν σημαίνει να θέλεις να εξαναγκάσεις τις εκκλησίες να παντρεύουν άτομα του ιδίου φύλου.Δεν σημαίνει ότι θέλουμε μια ελευθεριάζουσα μορφή της οικογένειας ή να γενικευτεί περισσότερο η χρήση της κάνναβης.

Πολλοί Libertarians θα πουν ότι είναι δύσκολο να αγαπάς τους ομοφυλόφιλους πλησίον σου την ίδια ώρα που τα βάζουμε με αποτροπιασμό με την επιθυμία τους να παντρεύονται.Θα λέγανε ότι είναι δύσκολο να αγαπάμε τους φτωχούς συνανθρώπους μας απλώς και μόνο εάν τους αφήνουμε στην φροντίδα των δημοσίων υπηρεσιών πρόνοιας, είναι δύσκολο να είσαι δίκαιος όταν λέμε πως μόνο οι πιο δυνατοί --το κράτος-- μπορούν να προστατέψουν τους εαυτούς τους.Αναρωτιούνται πώς μπορείς να είσαι ελεήμων όταν τιμωρείς σκέψεις,πώς μπορείς να δίνεις γενναιόδωρα και με χαρά όταν αυτό που δίνεις έχει αφαιρεθεί από μισθούς;

Ίσως η μεγαλύτερη ντροπή γι' αυτό το έθνος υπό τον Θεό να είναι ότι το κράτος καλείται να βοηθήσει αυτούς που θα έπρεπε να βοηθήσει η Εκκλησία,να κάνει αυτό το οποίο η Εκκλησία καλείται να κάνει ως εκ της φύσεώς της (ο Χριστός ίδρυσε την Εκκλησία από αγάπη για τους ανθρώπους).Η Εκκλησία απέτυχε,και το κράτος μπήκε για να καλύψει το κενό.Ο λόγος ίσως που πολλοί πλέον κλίνουν προς τον φιλελευθερισμό ίσως να είναι ότι επιθυμούν η Εκκλησία να ξαναπάρει και να πάρει στα σοβαρά την αποστολή της να μεταμορφώσει τον κόσμο.Είναι ο Ιησούς Χριστός,όχι ο θείος Σαμ προς στον οποίον οι άνθρωποι πρέπει να προσβλέπουν και να ξέρουν ότι από αυτόν απορρέουν όλες οι ευλογίες,η δικαιοσύνη,η αγάπη και το έλεος.



Δεν υπάρχει χριστιανικό κόμμα

Σε τελική ανάλυση το θέμα είναι πως το να ακολουθούμε τον Ιησού Χριστό είναι κάτι το οποίο υποτίθεται ότι είναι κάτι το οποίο το πράττουμε,δεν το ψηφίζουμε.Ειδικά από την στιγμή που καμμία πολιτική φιλοσοφία ή κόμμα δεν θα ταιριάζει ποτέ απόλυτα με την Αγία Γραφή.Ούτε θα έπρεπε να είναι έτσι --σε μια ελεύθερη κοινωνία.Οι πολιτικές μας προτιμήσεις έχουν να κάνουν τόσο πολύ και με την προσωπικότητά του καθενός μας, με τις εμπειρίες μας, με την οικογένεια όπου μεγαλώσαμε και άλλα πολλά, όσο έχουν να κάνουν και με την πίστη μας.Ας είμαστε ειλικρινείς.


Ας είστε χαρούμενοι για τους χριστιανούς σας φίλους σε όλο το πολιτικό φάσμα.Μας κρατάει όλους σε εγρήγορση να σκεφτόμαστε, μας κάνει οξυδερκείς.Εάν όλοι είμαστε ανοιχτοί να ακούμε ο ένας τον άλλον, ανοιχτοί στο να ψάχνουμε τις καλύτερες λύσεις και καταλαβαίνουμε πως ο Θεός μάς έδωσε αυτές τις διαφορετικές πολιτικές οπτικές,τότε ίσως --με κάποιον τρόπο-- μπορεί να λειτουργήσουν προς το καλύτερο και όλες μαζί.Με κάποιον παράξενο τότε, αγιοπνευματικό τρόπο, πέρα και πάνω από τα στενά πολιτικά πλαίσια, μπορεί να έχουμε γίνει οι άνθρωποι που καλούμαστε από τον Ιησού να είμαστε.

by Caryn Rivadeneira 27/01/2012
relevantmagazine.com

Τρίτη, 22 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Roland Boer: Βίβλος και Καπιταλισμός




I have just signed a contract with Fortress Press for a book called Idols of Nations: The Bible and the Development of Classical Theories of Capitalism. It is the follow-up to The Sacred Economy and is due with the press by 1 September, 2013.
The title comes from Jer 14:22 (and Ps 135:15). Since Adam Smith drew the title of Wealth of Nations from Isa 61:6, 12 (and 60:5) and since my book is critical of the way classical economists used the Bible, Idols of Nations it is.

Summary

The book critiques the rise of early theories of capitalism in light of their engagement with biblical texts. It traces the way significant theorists dealt with the Bible in order to develop their positions. Why and how did these theorists use the Bible, is that use legitimate, and what are the implications for the influential theories they developed? How did those engagements change over time as those theories developed a life of their own? This study focuses on material often relegated to the margins of analysis. Thus, while Hobbes and Locke found it necessary to build their theories from biblical analysis, Grotius was an accomplished (and ecumenical) theologian and Malthus an evangelical minister, both seeking to reconcile their positions with their theological approaches. The study also traces the way biblical themes are subsumed at a less explicit but deeper level with the later moral emphasis of Smith, Mill and Ricardo.
In more detail: of late a recovery of the looser connection between Christian theology and neoclassical economics has been pursued by some economists and theologians. However, these studies really do not address crucial issues in relation to theology and the Bible. In this light, we find a disjunction: if the Bible is mentioned, it relates to the political or theological thought of the critic in question; where economics is discussed, the Bible does not appear. For example, while secondary literature mentions the Bible in relation to Locke’s political thought, the crucial role of Genesis in the opening section of Locke’s treatment of private property in Two Treatises on Government is ignored or even excised from printed editions. With Grotius, theology in general may be mentioned in his discussion of property, natural law, freedom of the seas and agonism in ethics and commerce, but the Bible is nowhere to be seen. In regard to Hobbes, the central role of religion in Leviathan is noted in relation to politics and ethics but the Bible’s role in his economic thought on property, money and interest is neglected. As for Rev. Malthus, his theory concerning the relation between population and long-term economic stability is recognised as having a general theological basis in theodicy: overpopulation and its problems be divine moral lessons, but ultimate responsibility lies with human sin. Yet the fact that Malthus grounds his moral arguments on the Bible (eg. Gen 1:28) is rarely, if ever, explored in detail.

Outline

1. Introduction: Concerning the Bible and Economic Theory
The book begins by emphasising the importance of the Bible for early theorists of capitalism and the simultaneous neglect of precisely that feature of their work. Rather than peripheral scaffolding that may conveniently be ignored once the theories have been erected, the Bible and their modes of engaging with it are crucial for understanding the development of those theories. The work focuses on four key economists who used the Bible extensively: Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632–1704) and Thomas Malthus (1766-1834).
2. Grotius and the Biblical Seas
Concerning Grotius, an analogy may be identified between his Arminian theology and his doctrine of the ‘free seas’ (developed against claims to dominance by other European states) . Following Jacob Arminius (professor of theology at the University of Leiden until his death in 1610) and his followers, Grotius believed that salvation involves not merely God’s inscrutable decision concerning election (predestination), but also the faith of each individual. This faith is eternally known, but the shift from orthodox Calvinism is crucial: God elects all who have faith. In other words, a window is left open for individual human agency, even if it is foreknown by God. The analogy with his doctrine of the free seas may be cast as follows: instead of states monopolising the sea, each state and individual is free to use the seas for trade, unhindered by any other state. That is, anyone who could be shown to be a user of the sea was thereby entitled to do so; so also, anyone who shows the true marks of faith is thereby one of the elect.
3. Hobbes and the Natural State of ‘Man’
Hobbes the materialist was the son of a vicar, taught by the puritan, John Wilkinson of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, and held rather unconventional theological views. Sporadic attention has been given to Hobbes’s economic thought, especially in terms of its contradictions, working on the tension between self-interest (greed) and public welfare, between homo economicus and absolutism, between the state and the need for individuals to engage in buying, selling and the pursuit of profit, but also of his anticipatory naturalising of capitalism’s functions as intrinsic to human nature in a way that universalised a particular form of economic activity (Levy 1954; Macpherson 1962; Viner 1991). Yet, what is not noticed is that Hobbes develops these arguments through extensive engagement with the Bible. Most significantly, his treatment is highly critical (he is often seen as a precursor to historical critical methods of interpretation), with scepticism concerning miracles, prophecy and traditional views of authorship. Here then I pursue a close analysis of precisely those sections of Leviathan where Hobbes develops his politico-economic arguments through his critical analysis of the Bible.
4 Locke: The Problem of Paradise and Property
Locke is particularly interesting, for he struggled to overcome the profound difference between the Bible and his own economic context. For Locke, the Bible ‘has God for its author; salvation for its end, and truth without any mixture for its matter’. Given that it contains infallible truth, he vowed, ‘I shall immediately condemn and quit any opinion of mine, as soon as I am shown that it is contrary to any revelation in the holy scripture’. The problem was that on his reading, the state of paradise, when human beings were in harmony with God, contained no private property. Human beings had free run of the Garden, with no sense of owning any part of it, since it was God’s creation. How then did private property arise? Through tilling the soil and using the earth for human sustenance. From this first step, the ever more complex patterns of private property developed. Locke thereby elaborates on Hobbes’s preliminary effort to develop the myth that capitalism is the eternal unfolding of basic human proclivities. Three points are worth noting. First, the Bible is naturalised as part of a grand myth of capitalism. Second, he embodies the very difference between the Bible and his own context by the effort to overcome the contradiction of property. Third, the development of private property becomes a result of the Fall, for the human beings only begin to till the soil after they have been expelled from paradise.
5. Malthus: Theodicy and Political Economy
The Reverend Malthus brought the problem of theodicy into the heart of political economy. How could an all-powerful, all-knowing and loving God afflict human beings with overpopulation and thereby famine, disease and starvation? On the one hand, the results of overpopulation may be seen as a moral lesson in order to make us reform our social modes of life. But God is not responsible, argued Malthus, for human beings are guilty (Gen 2-3). In order to counter the objection that Gen 1:28 encourages us to be fruitful and multiply, he argued that we have been reckless and misinterpreted that text, for we have not been fruitful in a responsible manner. Malthus’s answer was characteristic of early 19th century theology: repentance from sin requires a strictly moral life, with sexual abstinence and honest lives (only his followers proposed contraception). Malthus also signals on a theological register a central feature of economic thought, namely, its deeply moral nature.
6. Sublating the Bible: Morality and Classical Economic Theory
Thus, in the chapter on ‘sublating the Bible’, I focus on the work of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and J.S. Mill. Apart from Malthus, economic theory separated from theology in the 19th century (Waterman 1991; 2004), thereby producing the theoretical perception of an economic sphere independent of all else. In the process, explicit biblical engagements are increasingly sublimated by moral concerns. Thus, the Bible is peripheral in Smith’s work – Wealth of Nations is drawn from Isa 60:5 (and 61:6; 66:12) and the ‘invisible hand’ is a short step from the inexplicable and ubiquitous ‘hand of God’ throughout the Bible – but his argument is deeply moral, with an emphasis on both compassion and self-interest as universal elements of human nature that determine economic behaviour. In Ricardo, this moral focus is manifested in the theory of comparative advantage, while J.S. Mill sought to counter the element of greed in these theories by emphasising that at the end of capitalism, when profits, capital, industry and population had become static, people would turn from selfish to altruistic concerns – the ultimate maximisation of pleasure and happiness. A mark of the sublimation of biblical and even theological concerns is that Smith was a deist, Ricardo a Unitarian and Mill an agnostic who saw the moral and aesthetic power of religion in providing ideals and hopes for human improvement.
7. Conclusion: Economising the Bible
The conclusion explores the paradox in which it seems ‘natural’ to apply neoclassical theories of capitalist economics to the Bible, despite the evident difference between its economic context and capitalism. Two paths may be identified. For some (Locke and Malthus), the Bible presented them with a profound difference between its context and their own. Their work functions as both a recognition of that difference and a sustained effort to overcome that difference in order to naturalise the Bible. For the later theorists (Smith, Mill and Ricardo) and their moral focus, they assumed that human nature is always the same, being a mixture of self-interest and altruism. By connecting that human nature and the core drives of capitalism as a natural fit, they easily moved to the assumption that the history of economies is an unfolding of the same principle. Both paths converge with the myth of a long history of capitalism in which earlier economies function as ‘capitalism light’ – those ‘primitives’ did not know the complexities of fully-fledged capitalism. In regard to the Bible, it thereby seems perfectly ‘natural’ to apply neoclassical economic theory to studying its context. Yet, since it can be shown that early theorists misappropriated the Bible, and since biblical economies were very different than they imagined, such economic theory becomes highly problematic for the study of non-capitalist economies.

Πέμπτη, 17 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Eastern Right - Conservative minds convert to Orthodox Christianity


Ένα ενδιαφέρον για την επιρροή της Ορθοδοξίας στις αλλαγές εντός του συντηρητικού ρεύματος στις ΗΠΑ.

Πηγή :The american conservative (εδώ)

Eastern Right - Conservative minds convert to Orthodox Christianity
by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Since the Second World War, Roman Catholicism has had enormous influence on American intellectual conservatism. The postwar rebirth of conservatism had two sources: libertarianism—a reassertion of classical liberalism against statism—and cultural traditionalism. For Russell Kirk and other leading traditionalists of the era, the Roman Catholic church, with its soaring intellectual edifice and unitary vision of faith and reason, matter and spirit, was the natural conservator of Western civilization and the sure source of its renewal after the catastrophes of the 20th century.
The Catholic contribution to conservative intellectual life has been hard to overstate. It is impossible not to notice the steady stream of right-of-center intellectuals into the Roman church: Kirk himself, his libertarian sparring partner Frank Meyer, early National Review luminaries such as L. Brent Bozell Jr. and Willmoore Kendall, and many more. One does not—or should not, at least—convert to a religion for any reason other than one thinks it is true. But there is something about the intellectual culture of Catholicism that draws thoughtful conservatives, even amid an exodus of rank-and-file American Catholics from the church.

Prominent intellectual conversions have been notable among Evangelicals, many of whom find in the Roman church a more solid theological, philosophical, and historical grounding for their faith. As the Baylor University philosopher and former Evangelical Theological Society head Francis Beckwith told Christianity Today after his 2007 return to the Catholicism of his youth, “We have to understand that the Reformation only makes sense against the backdrop of a tradition that was already there.”
Much less well known is the small but growing group of American conservative intellectuals who embrace Christianity, but not in its Western forms—who are neither Catholic nor Protestant. There is a distinct set of conservative converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, which depending on your perspective either left, or was left by, Roman Catholicism in the Great Schism of 1054.

Since then, Western and Eastern Christianity developed separately, under very different social and cultural conditions. It is often wrongly assumed that Orthodoxy is little more than Catholicism without a pope, plus an ethnic gloss—typically Greek, Slavic, or Coptic. In fact, the differences with Catholicism are substantial and to a significant degree account for why these tradition-minded conservatives have found themselves looking past Rome to the churches of the ancient East, whose theology and liturgy centers on the thought and practice of Christianity’s first 500 years.
When I left Roman Catholicism for Orthodoxy in 2006, an intellectual Catholic friend said he couldn’t understand why I was leaving a church with such a profound tradition of intellectual inquiry—Scholasticism and its descendants, he meant—for one so bound up with mysticism. The comment was unfair, in that my friend didn’t understand that the Orthodox are not Pentecostals with incense and liturgy. Orthodoxy is about far more than religious experience; its theology is extraordinarily deep.

But his remark was accurate in that Orthodoxy is deeply skeptical of rationalism in religion. Orthodoxy always keeps before it the primacy of the mystical encounter with God, both through the sacraments and through the early church’s practice of hesychasm, or inward prayer.
University of South Carolina theologian James Cutsinger says that the point of all religion is “not only to experience God, but to be transformed into His likeness”—a process called theosis. For Cutsinger, a convert from Protestantism, the mystical theology of the Orthodox Church is far more important than Orthodoxy’s historical claims to be uniquely faithful to the apostolic tradition.
“Orthodoxy is alone among the Christian possibilities in offering its adherent the ancient treasures of a contemplative method, in the form of hesychasm,” Cutsinger has written. “Not that there aren’t Catholic and even Protestant mystics and sages, to say nothing of saints. That’s not in question. But which of them is able to tell the rest of us how to attain to his vision, let alone transformation? Where is there a step-by-step, practical guide to theosis outside the Christian East?”
Hugh O’Beirne, a corporate attorney in Princeton, NJ, was once an enthusiastic Catholic and fellow traveler of the conservative Opus Dei movement. He came to believe, though, that Latin Christianity is too bound up in legalism and philosophical speculation—a legacy of the Middle Ages. Though he remains an admirer of Catholicism, O’Beirne converted to Orthodoxy 12 years ago.
“Catholicism’s strong analytic ability overshadowed the primal religious experience,” O’Beirne says. “I think that’s a canard Protestants often level against Catholics, but there’s something to it.”
“I reject the idea that because you can talk about religious truths more exactingly that you have gained any more intellectual insight into them,” he continues. “Remember the mystical experience Aquinas had at the end of his life, which made him describe all that he had written as ‘straw’? After that, how can Catholics complain about our hesychastic approach?”
For most converts, Orthodoxy’s claim to be alone in its unbroken succession with the church of the Apostles—a claim also made by the Roman church—is a significant factor in conversion. Like Catholicism, Orthodoxy has an episcopal structure. Unlike Roman Catholicism, the Orthodox churches are not governed centrally, with power flowing downward from an ecclesial monarch (the Pope) at the center, but are run collegially, by bishops in council. The Orthodox view papal primacy as a Latin innovation driven by Frankish politics. As one Orthodox professor told me, “It’s not true that Catholicism is conservative. It is, in fact, the mother of all religious innovation, and has been for more than a millennium.”

Orthodoxy’s deep conservatism, for better or worse, has much to do with its ecclesiology. Little can change in Orthodoxy’s doctrinal teachings outside of an ecumenical council—a gathering of all the bishops of the church. Though there is some controversy among the Orthodox about when the last ecumenical council was, the last one everyone agrees on was in the year 787. Though some contemporary Orthodox theologians lament that Orthodoxy has no effective mechanism for updating doctrine, others see what innovation has done to Western Christianity—the chaos following the Second Vatican Council, for example, and the endless multiplicity of Protestant denominations—and count this procedural stasis as a blessing.

Baltimore writer Frederica Mathewes-Green, perhaps the best-known American convert, contends that Orthodoxy’s stability in this regard appeals to conservative Christians weary of doctrinal and liturgical tumult within their churches and traditions.
“The faith stays the same, generation to generation and from one continent to the next,” she says. “It’s kept by community memory, grassroots, rather than by a church leader or theological board. So someone who wanted to challenge it doesn’t have any place to start, nobody with whom to lodge a protest. I think this is a resource within Orthodoxy, a really central and indelible one, that helps it resist the winds of change.”

This is not to say that Orthodoxy exists in a bubble untouched by the cultures in which Orthodox Christians live. In fact, there is widespread agreement among believers that the worst problem Orthodoxy faces is phyletism—a heresy that makes the mission of the church perpetuating ethnic culture. This has a particularly troubling effect in the United States, blocking Orthodox unity and reducing parish life in some places to the tribe at prayer.
On a practical level, any conservative who believes he can escape the challenges of modern America by hiding in an Orthodox parish is deluded. All three major branches of Orthodoxy in America have suffered major leadership scandals in recent years. And while Orthodox theology does not face the radical revisionism that has swept over Western churches in the past decades, there are nevertheless personalities and forces within American Orthodoxy pushing for liberalization on the homosexual question. And in some parishes—including St. Nicholas OCA Cathedral in Washington, D.C.—they are winning victories.

Orthodoxy does, however, have certain advantages over both Protestantism and Catholicism. Men who convert often say that Orthodox worship and practice –especially the ascetic rigor—feels more masculine than the more emotional, consumer-driven atmosphere in the churches they left behind. “When I go to Russian churches, I see men; when I visit Protestant churches, I see a lot of men crying and holding each other,” says one convert. “And we don’t have Dunkin Donuts in the narthex.”
Although Orthodoxy lacks the administrative unity and strong teaching authority (Magisterium) of Catholicism, the theological and liturgical atmosphere in Orthodox parishes is usually far more traditional than in contemporary American Catholic parishes. Converts from Catholicism fed up with post-Vatican II liberalism frequently observe that Orthodoxy is what Catholicism once was.
When Frederica Mathewes-Green and her husband, now an Orthodox priest, realized that they could no longer remain in the fast-liberalizing Episcopal Church, they assumed Rome would be their new home. They were put off by the drab modern Catholic liturgy, which struck them as too irreverent. But there was more.
“We were also concerned that so much of American Catholicism, in practice, was theologically and socially liberal,” she says. “We were told that that was not important, the important thing was that the doctrine taught by Rome was correct. But it wasn’t enough for us. We could see that things every bit as strange as current Episcopalian doctrine was being promoted and taught all over American Catholicism. It did not look like a safer place for our kids to grow up.”
Though many vote Republican, nearly all the conservative intellectuals I spoke with for this essay express gratitude that Orthodoxy avoids the “Republican Party at prayer” feeling that pervades some Evangelical churches.
“Kirkean, Burkean conservatism finds its paradise in Orthodoxy,” says a professor who teaches at a Southern college. “It is non-ideological and traditionalist to its bones. It collects and preserves and quietly presents the organically grown wisdom of the past in a way that’s compelling and, literally, beautiful.”
Alfred Kentigern Siewers, a literature and environmental studies professor at a mid-Atlantic college, says the social teachings of the church fathers, as adapted by modern Russian Orthodox theologians, taught him to think of society “more as an extended household, and less as an impersonal economy, whether free market or socialist.”
“Orthodoxy taught me how Christian notions of human dignity are more central to being authentically human than impersonal notion of rights by themselves alone,” says Siewers. “I think Orthodoxy encourages an awareness of the importance of living tradition and community and the need for caution in embracing either free market or socialist economic models as social models.”
In part because Orthodox countries did not undergo the Enlightenment, the Orthodox way of thinking about social and political life is so far outside the Western experience that it can sometimes seem barely relevant to American challenges. On the other hand, Orthodoxy’s pre-modern traditionalism can be a rich new source of spiritual and cultural renewal.
Pope Benedict XVI, who has made generous and well-received overtures to Orthodox Church leaders, has said that the regeneration of Western civilization will depend on a “creative minority” of Catholics willing to live the Gospel in a post-Christian world. Whatever role Orthodox Christians in America have to play in this drama, it will certainly be as a minuscule minority. In worldwide Christianity, Orthodoxy is second only to Roman Catholicism in the number of adherents. But in the United States, a 2010 census conducted by U.S. Orthodox bishops found only 800,000 Orthodox believers in this country—roughly equivalent to the number of American Muslims or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Yet converts keep coming, and they bring with them a revivifying enthusiasm for the faith of Christian antiquity. One-third of Orthodox priests in the U.S. are converts—a number that skyrockets to 70 percent in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, a magnet for Evangelicals. In the Greek Orthodox Church, around one-third of parishioners are converts, while just over half the members of the Orthodox Church in America came through conversion. For traditionalist conservatives among that number, Orthodoxy provides an experience of worship and a way of seeing the world that resonates with their deepest intuitions, in a way they cannot find elsewhere in American Christianity.
“From the outside, Orthodoxy seems exotic,” an Orthodox academic convert tells me. “From the inside, it feels like home.”
Rod Dreher is a TAC senior editor. His blog is www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher.

Σάββατο, 12 Ιανουαρίου 2013

Συνέδριο:Εκκλησία και Αριστερά




ΤΟ ΠΡΟΓΡΑΜΜΑ ΤΟΥ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΟΥ

... Τρίτη 22 Ιανουαρίου 2013
10:00-12:00 Χαιρετισµοί:
Αρχιεπίσκοπος Αθηνών και Πάσης Ελλάδος κ.κ. Ιερώνυµος
Εκπρόσωποι πολιτικών και κρατικών οργανισµών
Μητροπολίτης Θεσσαλονίκης κ.κ. Άνθιµος
Εκπρόσωποι άλλων Ορθοδόξων διοικήσεων της Ελλάδας
Περιφεριάρχης Κεντρικής Μακεδονίας
κ. Απόστολος Τζιτζικώστας
Πρυτανικές Αρχές Α.Π.Θ.
Πρόεδρος του Τµήµατος Θεολογίας Α.Π.Θ.
κ. Χρυσόστοµος Σταµούλης

12:00-12:20 Διάλειµµα

ΠΡΩΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Η «Βασιλεία του Θεού» και η Λαϊκή Εξουσία. Ιστορικές επισηµάνσεις από τις παράλληλες πορείες Εκκλησίας και Αριστεράς στον 20ό και τον 21ο αιώνα.
Συντονισµός: Μαρία Αντωνιάδου (Δηµοσιογράφος, Γ. Γραµµατέας Ε.Σ.Η.Ε.Α.)

12:20-12:40 Μιλτιάδης Κωνσταντίνου (Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)
& Ευστάθιος Χ. Λιανός Λιάντης (υ.δρ. Α.Π.Θ)
12:40-13:00 Παναγιώτης Αρ. Υφαντής (Επ. Καθηγητής
Α.Π.Θ.)
13:00-13:20 Χρήστος Λάσκος (Δρ. Φιλοσοφίας - Μέλος
Π.Γ. του ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α.)

13:20-13:50 Συζήτηση


ΔΕΥΤΕΡΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Θρησκευτικά Σύµβολα και Θρησκευτικότητα στον δηµόσιο χώρο
Συντονισµός: Παντελής Σαββίδης (Δηµοσιογράφος)

17:00-17:20 Νίκη Παπαγεωργίου (Αν. Καθηγήτρια Α.Π.Θ.)
17:20-17:40 Μητροπολίτης Δηµητριάδος κ.κ. Ιγνάτιος
17:40-18:00 Γιάννης Παπαθεοδώρου (Επ. Καθηγητής
Πανεπιστηµίου Ιωαννίνων)
18:00-18:20 Ιφιγένεια Καµτσίδου (Επ. Καθηγήτρια Α.Π.Θ.)

18:20-18:50 Συζήτηση

18:50-19:10 Διάλειµµα

ΤΡΙΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Θέµατα εκκλησιαστικής περιουσίας και µισθοδοσίας του κλήρου
Συντονισµός: Στέλιος Κούλογλου (Δηµοσιογράφος)

19:10-19:30 Μητροπολίτης Μεσσηνίας κ.κ. Χρυσόστοµος
(Καθηγητής Ε.Κ.Π.Α.)
19:30-19:50 Τάσος Κουράκης (Αν. Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ. -
Βουλευτής ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α.)
19:50-20:10 π. Βασίλειος Καλλιακµάνης (Καθηγητής
Α.Π.Θ.)
20:10-20:30 Κώστας Παπαγεωργίου (Λέκτορας Α.Π.Θ.)

20:30-21:00 Συζήτηση

Τετάρτη 23 Ιανουαρίου 2013

ΤΕΤΑΡΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Εκκλησία και Αριστερά εν µέσω κρίσης: Δράσεις έναντι των κοινωνικών προβληµάτων
Συντονισµός: Κλέαρχος Τσαουσίδης (Δηµοσιογράφος)

10:00-10:20 Κώστας Σταµάτης (Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)
10:20-10:40 Μητροπολίτης Νεαπόλεως κ.κ. Βαρνάβας
10:40-11:00 Χρήστος Τσιρώνης (Λέκτορας Α.Π.Θ.)

11:00-11:30 Συζήτηση

11:30-12:00 Διάλειµµα

ΠΕΜΠΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Εκκλησία και Αριστερά έναντι
του µεταναστευτικού ζητήµατος
Συντονισµός: Νίκος Παπαχρήστου (Δηµοσιογράφος)

12:00-12:20 Παύλος Χαραµής (Πρόεδρος ΚΕ.ΜΕ.ΤΕ.)
12:20-12:40 Μητροπολίτης Σιατίστης κ.κ. Παύλος
12:40-13:00 Στυλιανός Τσοµπανίδης (Επ. Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)

13:00-13:30 Συζήτηση

ΕΚΤΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Ο σύγχρονος λόγος της Εκκλησίας και της Αριστεράς. Από τη συγκρουσιακή στη συνεργατική ρητορική
Συντονισµός: Βασίλης Κεχαγιάς (Δηµοσιογράφος)

17:00-17:20 Μητροπολίτης Γόρτυνος κ.κ. Ιερεµίας
(Καθηγητής Ε.Κ.Π.Α.)
17:20-17:40 Νικόλας Σεβαστάκης (Αν. Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)
17:40-18:00 Μητροπολίτης Αρκαλοχωρίου κ.κ. Ανδρέας
(Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)
18:00-18:20 Ανδρέας Καρίτζης (Δρ. Φιλοσοφίας - Μέλος
Κ.Ε. του ΣΥ.ΡΙΖ.Α.)

18:20-18:50 Συζήτηση

18:50-19:10 Διάλειµµα

ΕΒΔΟΜΗ ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΑ: Η Θρησκευτική Εκπαίδευση στο σύγχρονο ελληνικό σχολείο
Συντονισµός: Σταύρος Τζίµας (Δηµοσιογράφος)

19:10-19:30 Κωστής Παπαϊωάννου (Πρόεδρος Ε.Ε.Δ.Α.)
19:30-19:50 Μητροπολίτης Αλεξανδρουπόλεως κ.κ.
Άνθιµος
19:50-20:10 Τριαντάφυλλος Μηταφίδης (Εκπαιδευτικός -
Επικεφ. της δηµ. Παρ. “Θεσ/νίκη Ανοιχτή Πόλη”)
20:10-20:30 Νικόλαος Μαγγιώρος (Επ. Καθηγητής Α.Π.Θ.)

20:30-21:00 Συζήτηση


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