The wrong kind of social life

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“No front porches. My uncle says there used to be front porches. And people sat there sometimes at night, talking when they wanted to talk, rocking, and not talking when they didn’t want to talk. Sometimes they just sat there and thought about things, turned things over. My uncle says the architects got rid of the front porces because they didn’t look well. But my uncle says that was merely rationalizing it; the real reason, hidden underneath, might be they didn’t want people sitting like that, doing nothing, rocking, talking; that was the wrong kind of social life. People talked too much. And they had time to think. So they ran off with the porches. And the gardens, too. Not many gardens anymore to sit around in. And look at the furniture. No rocking chairs anymore. They’re too comfortable. Get people up and running around….”

Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451

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A Week in the Life of Rome

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Just received my IVP Advance short list of new books coming up and one instantly caught my eye: A Week in the Life of Rome by James Papandrea.

The ivpress website gives the following description:

An urbane Roman landowner and merchant is intrigued by the Christian faith—but is he willing to give up his status and lifestyle to join the church? Meanwhile his young client, a catechumen in the church at Rome, is beginning to see just how much his newfound faith will require of him.

A Week in the Life of Rome is a cross section of ancient Roman society, from the overcrowded apartment buildings of the poor to the halls of the emperors. Against this rich backdrop, illuminated with images and explanatory sidebars, we are invited into the daily struggles of the church at Rome just a few years before Paul wrote his famous epistle to them. A gripping tale of ambition, intrigue, and sacrifice, James Papandrea’s novel is a compelling work of historical fiction that shows us the first-century Roman church as we’ve never seen it before.

Available February 19, 2019.  Looking forward to it!

Serbian Flag at the White House

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On July 28, 1918 the government of Woodrow Wilson, the President of the United States of America, issued a proclamation marking that day “A Day of Prayer for Serbia”. It was determined that on that day the Serbian flag would wave at the White House and that church bells throughout America would ring in honor of Serbian victims of World War I. A large number of Serbs from America had left their families and homes in the New World, desiring to help their brothers in the battle for honor and freedom in the homeland and join the Serbian army. Many of them never returned. Recognizing their sacrifices and love for the Serbian people, but remembering the great friends of our people in America, the Serbian Orthodox Church is organizing a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of President Wilson’s proclamation, the breakthrough of the Salonika Front and the end of the World War I.

Under the spiritual patronage of the Bishop of Eastern American, His Grace Irinej, the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America is organizing a multi-day celebration of these significant events in Washington DC. The celebration will begin on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 with Grace Bishop Irinej offering the prayer at the opening of the US Congress session. That afternoon a reception will be held on the premises of Congress organized by the Serbian caucus in the US Congress, Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Washington and the World War I Centennial commemoration Committee of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On the following day, July 26, 2018 the National Press Club is planning an academic gathering on the role of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian people in the First World War. The State Department is expected to be represented at the highest level. Sponsoring this gathering will be the Serbian National Defense, whose founder and first president, Mihailo Pupin, played a major role in organizing help to our people during World War I. A reception is planned for all participants at the conclusion of this meeting.
During the academic gathering a visual exhibit entitled, “There, Far Away: 1918-2018”, will premiere, organized by Art Exchange from Washington and their partners.

On Friday, July 27, 2018 a formal reception will be given at the Carnegie Institution in Washington, organized by the Representation of the Republic of Srpska and in honor of Her Excellency Ms. Željka Cvijanović, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska. A cultural program under the auspices of the Serbian People’s Alliance will follow. The participants are the String Quartet of the School for Musical Talents from Ćuprija and the Serbian Singing Society “Lira” from Washington.
On the very day of the 100th anniversary of the proclamation, on Saturday, July 28, 2018 the Holy Hierarchical Pan-Orthodox Divine Liturgy will be served at St. Nicholas Cathedral of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), in the presence of several hierarchs and clergy. In addition to the Serbian Orthodox Church, hierarchs and clergy from other Orthodox jurisdictions in America are expected to attend. Following the Divine Liturgy, the Kolo Sestara, the Circle of Serbian Sisters, from the St. Luke Serbian Orthodox parish in Washington will prepare refreshments for all in attendance.
A formal banquet is planned that evening, to be held at the National Press Center. Distinguished officials from the world of business and politics, together with Serbian patriots, will have the opportunity to properly mark the end of the Great War, offer their respects to the Serbian victims, and to remember with gratitude the friends of our people from America in that very difficult period for Serbia.

On the last day of the celebration, on Sunday, July 29, 2018 the Holy Hierarchical Divine Liturgy will be served at St. Luke Serbian Orthodox Church in Washington. A family picnic on the church grounds will follow the liturgy.
We invite all brothers and sisters, patriotic Serbs, to join us in commemorating this significant jubilee for our people. Let us come together in remembering our great ancestors and give them due credit according to the words of Bishop Irinej: “All roads lead to Washington to celebrate the day the Serbian flag flew at the White House!”

It’s Only a Game

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The World Cup is coming to a close and the drama builds with each game. Of course, I’m referring to yesterday’s Croatian victory and their advance to the Finals this coming Sunday. A huge achievement for the unexpectedly successful Croatian team. Indeed, all of their victories and advances during this intense 21st World Cup have been accompanied by mixed Serbian reactions – from those who are of the opinion that we should never, (ever!), root for any sort of team associated with that country; to those who take a more generous position.

As someone tweeted: “I cannot understand the ‘Serb’ who during the World Cup is rooting for the team who celebrates their victories in the locker room singing things such as: “Listen up Serbian volunteers, you band of Chetniks, our hand will reach you in Serbia …”.

Neighboring countries aren’t always friendly ones. That’s probably why I found tweets of Ireland rooting against England! Whatever the case, Croatia has a good team, their heart is in the game and as one Serbian commentator noted “that’s how you play for your country!” At the end of the day, however, it’s only a game and there will eventually be winners and losers, stronger and weaker teams.  Having said that, this doesn’t mean I’m sorry England lost.

But here’s the thing – I can’t help but think that while we’re rooting for the opposing team they would never root for us. What’s more, I get the feeling that that’s what has led to all of their victories: their sense of national pride. We, on the other hand, seem to continuously be put in situations in which we show our true colors – and they’re not always the ones on the Serbian flag.

Alas, it’s only a game. So let the games continue and may the better team win!

Which, hopefully will be France 🙂

Sts. Peter and Paul in December or June?

IMG_1923H/T: Here

The Feast day of Saints Peter and Paul

On the 29th June (according to the New Style) of every year our Orthodox Church celebrates the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul. So important is this celebration in the Orthodox Church that it is marked by a preparatory fasting period – called the fast of the apostles – beginning from the Monday after Pentecost and lasting until the eve of the feast day of Sts Peter and Paul. Following the practise of the early Church, where the first Christians would commemorate departed saints by celebrating the Divine Eucharist on top of their tombs, we too, nearly two thousand years later follow that same tradition. We too continue to this day to celebrate the feast days of saints by celebrating the Divine Liturgy over the altar of the Church of the particular saint to which the Church is dedicated. The reason for this is that the altar of every Church is said to be symbolic of saints’ tombs in that every consecrated Church has relics of saints within the altar.

One may quite justifiably ask why these two apostles in particular are celebrated on the same day. Peter was one of the twelve whereas Paul was not. From the Biblical evidence that we have we know that Peter’s ministerial outlook was very different from Paul’s. At the council of Jerusalem (48AD), great problems had arisen in the Church from a large influx of Gentile converts and these saints had different opinions as to how they should be received. Yet we find that not only are they celebrated on the same day, but even icons of Sts Peter and Paul portray these two major apostles embracing each other.

Historically the reason why the Church combined the feast day of the two apostles into one was that they were both martyred in Rome and on the same day. There is a very ancient tradition which claims that they were both executed during Nero’s persecution approximately in the year 68AD. For this reason, probably from the fourth century onwards the Church in Rome came to celebrate the feast day of these two apostles on the 29th June where they were martyred. By contrast, Constantinople celebrated this feast day several days after Christmas on the 28th December. However we see that it was the Roman custom that has prevailed in the Church today, but the evidence does not reveal to us precisely when this came to be.

Theologically speaking, the reason why the feast day of these two apostles was combined into one was to show that even though their ministerial vision was not the same yet both were necessary and even complemented each other. Even though the apostle Paul was not one of the twelve, he would claim, nevertheless that his ministry was considered equal if not superior to those ministers who had been appointed by Christ during His earthly ministry since he had suffered so much for Christ. During their lifetime, these two great apostles of our Church disagreed greatly as to how to receive new members into the newly established Christian faith. St Paul is said to have rebuked St Peter for duplicity in this matter. In Galatians 2.11, St Paul tells us of a disagreement he had with St Peter: “when Peter came to Antioch, I withstood him in the face because he was to be blamed.”

Peter believed that new members firstly had to fulfil the requirements of the Jewish law by being circumcised before they could become Christians whereas Paul was totally opposed to this. What we can learn from this is that when the Church is ruled by the Holy Spirit tensions of this kind can be overcome.

In celebrating their feast day, let us glorify Him who glorified them and rejoice together with Sts Peter and Paul and sing:

“Rejoice o Peter the apostle, for you are the great friend of the Master, Christ our God. Rejoice well beloved Paul, preacher of the faith and doctor of the universe. Because of this, may you both intercede with Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.”

~Taken from Philip Kariatlis, Academic Secretary and Associate Lecturer, St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, (Website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia: http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/resources/publications/articledetails.php?page=186&article_id=7).