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Author Topic: Flag of the Byzantine Empire to fly at GOA parishes  (Read 13223 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 08, 2010, 11:59:22 PM »

Flag of the Byzantine Empire to fly at GOA parishes


 Archons to provide large poles to the parishes. 
 
 http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2010/04/patriarchal-flag-to-fly-over-goa-churches/
 
  Seriously, I'm not making this up.   I thought it was an April Fool's Joke!

 

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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 12:21:44 AM »

How is this any different from the Ukrainian and American flags in my current parish, and the Greek and American flags at my previous parish?

It's a flag.
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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 12:27:24 AM »

How is this any different from the Ukrainian and American flags in my current parish, and the Greek and American flags at my previous parish?

It's a flag.

I'm no fan of any flag in a sanctuary, but at least you parishes were displaying flags of actual countries that still exist.
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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 12:29:02 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.
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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 12:34:20 AM »

I've seen enough GOA Churches fly the Ecumenical Patriarchate's flag such that this "blog entry" has no effects.   Cheesy

Look at the alleged source - Met. Methodios.  Enough said.
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« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 12:34:51 AM »

Perhaps they're trying to rebuild the Empire through the cunning use of flags.  Wink




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« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 01:06:17 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.

Flying the Byzantine flag (rightly or wrongly) at Greek churches is nothing new, Fr Anastasios. It's been happening in my neck of the woods for more than 40 years.
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« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 01:08:15 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

If that is the case and this is the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarch it is much worse than first thought.

Why does a Patriarch wield a sword with his flag?

Why does a Patriatrch hold an orb of authority?  Is he claiming secular authority or imperial?  Over whom?

I have to say that I would find it incredible if during the centuries when the Patriarch was a subject of the Turks that he was permitted to have such a militant flag.


Quote
I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire

Again, it is amazing if during the long centuries under the Tirks the Patriarch was permitted to have the flag of the Roman Empire..... but if that is the case then it would be correct to adjust the incorrect thread title.

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« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2010, 01:09:25 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.  
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2010, 01:23:25 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.  

Not a word out of line here! Well said!
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« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2010, 01:33:56 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church. 

Don't ever come to Romania, then. The candlesticks carried during services have tassles representing the Romanian flag, and a flag is often draped along one of the walls. This is simply how churches are decorated for millions of Orthodox Christians.
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« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2010, 01:39:40 AM »

FYI, The Albanian national flag is the double eagle on a red background.  The Serbian national flag contains the double eagle inside a crest. 
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« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2010, 01:55:17 AM »

Nationality or ethnicity should have no bearing on the Orthodox faith, and national symbols have no place within Orthodox churches, despite whatever folk customs have arisen over the centuries, it is simply wrong. There is neither Jew nor Greek ....
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« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2010, 01:59:06 AM »

Nationality or ethnicity should have no bearing on the Orthodox faith, and national symbols have no place within Orthodox churches, despite whatever folk customs have arisen over the centuries, it is simply wrong. There is neither Jew nor Greek ....

This is the ideal.

This is not the reality.
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2010, 02:25:10 AM »

Nationality or ethnicity should have no bearing on the Orthodox faith, and national symbols have no place within Orthodox churches, despite whatever folk customs have arisen over the centuries, it is simply wrong. There is neither Jew nor Greek ....

This is the ideal.

This is not the reality.

Then it is up to each and every one of us who know that it is wrong to display national symbols in churches to speak out against it, to laity and clergy alike. Last time I checked, ethnophyletism was a declared heresy.
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« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2010, 02:28:03 AM »

Quote
Last time I checked, ethnophyletism was a declared heresy.
Not by an ecumenical council, though.
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« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2010, 02:37:58 AM »

Quote
Last time I checked, ethnophyletism was a declared heresy.
Not by an ecumenical council, though.

A local (Synodal) council has the same effect as an Ecumenical council, unless a later ecumenical or local council has expressly rescinded any canons or rulings by the earlier local/synodal council. If you can show me where another council accepted as Orthodox has denied that ethnophyletism is a heresy, please do so.
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« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2010, 03:33:05 AM »

Don't ever come to Romania, then. The candlesticks carried during services have tassles representing the Romanian flag, and a flag is often draped along one of the walls.

I've never seen any Finnish flags in our churches but there's kind of collective Military award for Finnish mothers in many Orthodox (and Lutheran) church in Finland. It was granted in 1942 on Mother's day during Continuation War by supreme commander (or whatever "ylipäällikkö" is in English) of Finnish army. It was put on display in all Lutheran and Orthodox churches back then.


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« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2010, 06:53:20 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire"

But of course there is.  It is the way we speak of the eastern survival of the ancient Roman Empire.   It is the term "conventionally used to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire during the Middle Ages."

Is there some sensitivity about the use of the term?   In this diocese there is an effort to downplay the use of the word Greek and to encourage people to use Hellenic.  It's an uphill battle.   I don't understand the reasons but I would be interested to know more. 
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« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2010, 07:41:16 AM »

Christos anesti!
First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.

Our Kingdom is not of this world.  That includes Caesar's.

The Phanar would have to redeem its flag before it represents more than the pronvinical nationalism and grandios claims of the Millet-i Rum.
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« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2010, 08:03:54 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.

Flying the Byzantine flag (rightly or wrongly) at Greek churches is nothing new, Fr Anastasios. It's been happening in my neck of the woods for more than 40 years.

Being a Greek Orthodox priest, I naturally have seen this in many places myself.  In fact, in New York at the Greek Independence Day Parade, we carry both the Greek national flag, American national flag, and the flag currently under dispute in processions ourselves.

I indicated that I would rather see the universalist ideal of the Roman flag over the provincial nationalist flags of newly-emergent countries such as the USA and the modern state of Greece.  But I would at the same time perhaps prefer no flag.  At least the Roman flag, which is also the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, reminds us of the Christian heritage of Church and Christian society which was lost at the time of the Turkish invasions.  While I am not a pure sentimentalist, and recognize that any "incarnation" of the Gospel has it s own set of challenges, the Christian Roman Empire was a highlight of Christian culture, with a stream of positive developments for the Church.  The flag in question recalls that to mind, not various emperors, military commanders, public works projects, etc. At least for me.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 08:26:53 AM by Fr. Anastasios » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2010, 08:04:18 AM »

For what its worth, many Slavic churches began displaying the American flag in their Churches and parish activities during the Red Scares of the post world war eras, both in the in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution and during the House Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC) and McCarthy periods. Many Church leaders, clergy and laity alike, were 'named' and investigated by the FBI and others on the basis of fraternal publications that were misunderstood and mistranslated and just for the familial names they bore. (Not unlike the type of profiling many of our Arab Christian brothers and sisters face in today's heated climate.) As many of you know, the word "Russian" was used  in a number of contexts, on many cornerstones and in the legal names of Churches, both Orthodox (now OCA, ACROD, ROCOR and others) and Greek Catholic. Likewise, 'Americans' really didn't distinguish the differences among Slavs ( be they Russian,  Ukrainian, Serb etc....) and lumped all of the groups as being probable "fifth elements." Hence the practice of encouraging American patriotism developed. While I don't disagree with the sentiment that a national flag has no place in a Church, the reality of trying to remove it would provoke harsh passions and, in today's bitter political climate, likely encourage foolish accusations and create argument where none currently exists.
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« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2010, 08:09:31 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

If that is the case and this is the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarch it is much worse than first thought.

Why does a Patriarch wield a sword with his flag?

Why does a Patriatrch hold an orb of authority?  Is he claiming secular authority or imperial?  Over whom?

I have to say that I would find it incredible if during the centuries when the Patriarch was a subject of the Turks that he was permitted to have such a militant flag.

I have to admit, given that in the past you've used feigned ignorance to make a point (such as the fasting before communion thread sometime last year), I am not always sure if you are being serious or if you are trying to make a point; I have a hard time believing that someone who has been a priest as long as you have and who has traveled all over the world, and who has posted on internet message boards longer than I have, did not already know that is the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, nor had never seen this flag flying in any Greek Orthodox Church before. But at the same time, we can't all always know everything. I know I don't, so I'm sorry if I am making a false assumption.


Quote
Quote
I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire

Again, it is amazing if during the long centuries under the Tirks the Patriarch was permitted to have the flag of the Roman Empire..... but if that is the case then it would be correct to adjust the incorrect thread title.



Why is it amazing? The EP was by nature of his office the Ethnarch of the Romans and expected to fulfill both ecclesiastical and temporal order by the Turks.
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« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2010, 08:10:43 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.

Take that up with St Justinian.   Cheesy I think you are too narrowly defining "country" and "ethnicity."  I said I would rather see the Roman flag which is also the flag of the EP than any national flag like the Greek or American national flag, because the Roman flag is a universal flag, and specifically against nationalism and ethnicity. There is a difference.  The Roman flag reminds us of the ideal that St Justinian laid out in his Novella 131 or 132 I believe it was.
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« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2010, 08:12:11 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.  

Not a word out of line here! Well said!

I don't think that it's right to encourage people to turn right around and walk out of a Church if they find something inside they don't like that is not a matter of dogma. There are lots of things I find in Churches that annoy me, but I just deal with it.  Cool
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« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2010, 08:18:35 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire"

But of course there is.  It is the way we speak of the eastern survival of the ancient Roman Empire.   It is the term "conventionally used to describe the Greek-speaking Roman Empire during the Middle Ages."

Is there some sensitivity about the use of the term?   In this diocese there is an effort to downplay the use of the word Greek and to encourage people to use Hellenic.  It's an uphill battle.   I don't understand the reasons but I would be interested to know more. 


There is no sensitivity on my part, to be honest. I just think the term is inaccurate since the people did not use the term to describe themselves (i.e. "We Byzantines...").  The term was invented by Western scholars a few hundred years ago to downplay the universalist and supernational role of the Roman Empire, and reduce it to a "Byzantine Greek kingdom" which even in its last dying gasps, it wasn't. For this reason, whenever an Orthodox person uses the term Byzantine, I encourage them to cease.  It may be "conventional"  now, but "convention" can thankfully be overturned by pressure. I think it's best we return to claiming the rightful heritage of the Christian peoples.

Greek vs Hellene is a separate issue. I'm not ethnically Greek so I won't presume to tell Greeks what they can and should call themselves, but I'm more along with Romanides here when I think it would be better to keep the label Romans going.  Even people at my little mission in North Carolina whose family came from Asia Minor recall their parents calling themselves Romans.
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« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2010, 08:22:08 AM »

Christos anesti!
First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.

Our Kingdom is not of this world.  That includes Caesar's.

The Phanar would have to redeem its flag before it represents more than the pronvinical nationalism and grandios claims of the Millet-i Rum.

Alithos Anesti!

I've said many times here that I think nationalism is a problem; and while on some ideal level I support the Phanar over having an independent autocephalous Church in every newly-emergent state of Europe, I am not oblivious to the fact that the Phanar sullied its own claim to represent Christian universalism by favoring the Greek over the Slav and Arab as time went on.  We all fall prone to falling short of the ideal.  Again, I said I would prefer to see the Roman flag over the flags of provincial nationalisms. Maybe I would prefer no flag, but at the same time, the Roman flag reminds me of the ideal taught to us by our Holy Father Saint Justinian the Great.
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« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2010, 08:30:44 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.  

Not a word out of line here! Well said!

I don't think that it's right to encourage people to turn right around and walk out of a Church if they find something inside they don't like that is not a matter of dogma. There are lots of things I find in Churches that annoy me, but I just deal with it.  Cool

That's exactly my point Father. If I were to try to raise this issue at a parish council meeting or an annual meeting, they'd show me the door! I'm sorry, but there are far greater issues to tackle in my parish before we get to the issue of flags.

On a separate note, I wonder if the UOC of USA, UOC of Canada, and ACROD will also have to fly the Byzantine flag since they are under the authority of His All Holiness?  Huh
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« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2010, 08:51:14 AM »

There should be absolutely NO flag flying inside a Church.  Anywhere inside.  The reason for a church is not to promote any country or ethnicity whatsoever.  The reason for The Church is the cure of souls and to aid in Theosis.  How can we sing "Put not your trust in princes or sons of men, in whom there is no salvation." every Sunday where there is a nationalistic flag flying.  This is sacrilegious.  I, for one, will turn right around if I see any nationalistic flag inside a church.  

Not a word out of line here! Well said!

I don't think that it's right to encourage people to turn right around and walk out of a Church if they find something inside they don't like that is not a matter of dogma. There are lots of things I find in Churches that annoy me, but I just deal with it.  Cool

That's exactly my point Father. If I were to try to raise this issue at a parish council meeting or an annual meeting, they'd show me the door! I'm sorry, but there are far greater issues to tackle in my parish before we get to the issue of flags.

On a separate note, I wonder if the UOC of USA, UOC of Canada, and ACROD will also have to fly the Byzantine flag since they are under the authority of His All Holiness?  Huh

I can't imagine that our parishes will be directed by our Bishops (ACROD and the UOC's)  to take such an action. Perhaps on the rare occasions when the Archbishop or his representative are participating in a Diocesan event that flag would be displayed, but I don't see it happening on a regular, parochial basis
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« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2010, 09:06:17 AM »


did not already know that is the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
I find it offensive - the claim to wield the sword and the orb by a Christian Patriarch.  Peter was told to renounce his weapon in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the orb was renounced by our Lord in the devilish temptation during the 40 days in the desert. Neither sword nor orb have any place as meaningful symbols of Christian Churches.

Quote
nor had never seen this flag flying in any Greek Orthodox Church before.
Never in any Greek church building nor Greek hall, but only the Greek flag.   I have only seen this Roman flag flying outside Greek churches over the last couple of years.   Prior to that on major feastdays the New Zealand flag and the flag of Greece were flown.    Now we are blessed with the sight of the yellow flag of the Holy Roman Empire also..  It has been said by some Greeks that it is some new piece of tomfoolery in imitation of the papal flag.

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« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2010, 09:29:37 AM »

Do EOs believe that Patriotism is a bad thing?
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« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2010, 09:33:38 AM »

Do EOs believe that Patriotism is a bad thing?

I wouldn't make that assumption based only on the postings here.
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« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2010, 09:53:55 AM »

This reminds me of my first visit to a Serbian Orthodox Church back in about 1999.  As I approached the Church, I noticed about every car had a Kosovo is Serbia bumper sticker, and in fact many cars had custom plates as well with things like "#1 Serb." It was the feastday of St Tsar Lazar, and given the whole NATO thing that was heating up at that time, there were a few Serbian flags in the Church and at the end, there was a procession with the Serbian flags going first, and the priest gave a rousing sermon against NATO and for Kosovo remaining part of Serbia.  I remember as an American at first I thought the nationalism in the Church was a bit off-putting, but then I thought about it some more and just resolved that given that America doesn't have the same kind of historical relationship with Orthodoxy, it's hard to appreciate the way the Church and society interact in other places, such that the loss of land (Kosovo) is so hurtful to the Orthodox ethos as well.  From that point on, these sorts of things never really bothered me.
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« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2010, 10:11:37 AM »


I can't imagine that our parishes will be directed by our Bishops (ACROD and the UOC's)  to take such an action. Perhaps on the rare occasions when the Archbishop or his representative are participating in a Diocesan event that flag would be displayed, but I don't see it happening on a regular, parochial basis

Well, if they are ordered to, I have created a unique solution. Behold, the new Carpatho-Rusyn recension of the Roman flag....!

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« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2010, 10:34:56 AM »

At one of the Serbian churches in town, when our bishop came, the priest at that parish who is an ultra-nationalist laid the Serbian flag across the altar. This was too extreme for my and many other people's tastes.
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« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2010, 10:35:51 AM »


I can't imagine that our parishes will be directed by our Bishops (ACROD and the UOC's)  to take such an action. Perhaps on the rare occasions when the Archbishop or his representative are participating in a Diocesan event that flag would be displayed, but I don't see it happening on a regular, parochial basis

Well, if they are ordered to, I have created a unique solution. Behold, the new Carpatho-Rusyn recension of the Roman flag....!



LOL By the way, we don't have one of those and I don't think that I've seen one in a Church. There is one for the lodge at Camp Nazareth where there is a similar Bear flag someone made displaed on a wall. The kids always ask what is that?
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« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2010, 10:49:52 AM »

How is this any different from the Ukrainian and American flags in my current parish, and the Greek and American flags at my previous parish?

It's a flag.

Umm, how about the fact that there is no such nation, country, or entity as the Byzantine Empire? It's defunct, extinct, it no longer exists.

While we can argue whether flying nation flags like the American or Ukrainian flags is "kosher" as it were, flying a flag from a country that has not existed for over 500 years is completely absurd. It sounds like nationalism run amok to me.

The fact that the Church and state were one entity at one time is a fact our of history. In some ways in was good, and some (many?) ways it was bad. We should not ignore this, or pretend it wasn't so. We should learn from it, and study it and be proud of the good that came out of the Byzantine Empire, (which was a lot more than it is often given credit for) and be horribly ashamed of the evil that came from it. (which also is a lot more than many Orthodox give credit for) But we should definitely NOT ignore it. With that said, it is a thing of the past. 500 years have gone since the Empire fell. The Church existed just fine without an Empire backing in for 300 years, and it has went on just fine without an Empire backing it for the last 500 years. The idea that the Church is now eternally married to an extinct Empire, that in 20,000 years (if Christ doesn't return before then) we will still be flying a Byzantine flag at Greek parishes is just downright weird. Think about it in the idea of thousands, not hundreds of years. Think how you would feel as an Orthodox Christian in the year 12000 CE/AD. By then the existence of something called "the Byzantine Empire" would be but a tiny blip in world history. And yet the church would still be flying a flag from that Empire?  Why not fly Egyptian flags? Or flag of the city of Alexandria since much of our Nicene theology was first expressed out of that See? Or how about an Israeli flag? or a Star of David? (or some other symbol of the Old Covenant since the "Church" (assembly of God's people) were wed to the land of Palestine for far longer than the post Petencost Church was wed to Rome. How about flying an Armenian flag since Armenia was the first Christian Empire in history? I mean, heck at Armenia still exists in some form, unlike anything that could be called the Byzantine Empire, which is simply dead!

I love Byzantine history. Love Byzantine theology. I'm a Byzantine rite guy, always will be. But a Byzantine flag? What are we trying to say here? That we want the Eastern Roman Empire to be revived? Or are we just longing for some "golden age" in Christian history that never truly existed to begin with? Ask the Jews, or the Copts, or the Armenians, or anyone who did not submit to Byzantine authority if the age was so golden. Heck, ask people who lived at the time, when the crusades were happening, or the greatest heresies in Church history rose up. I doubt St. Maximus would have thought he was living in a "golden age" of history. It was this very byzantine Empire that exiled him, and cut out his tongue for preaching the Gospel.

The Byzantine Empire in many ways was revolutionary for it's time. It did things that no other nation ever dreamed, and some still have NOT dreamed of such things. (women Emperors/leaders etc) Yet that is true of every Empire on the planet. The Eastern Roman Empire was, like classical Rome, the British Empire, the Turkish Empire and all other Empires in world history...revolutionary and enlightening, and at times brutal and oppressive. it rose and it fell. All empires rise and all Empires fall. The people go on, sometimes with a totally different identity. (like modern day Italy) But those Empires are gone. We must study them, learn from them, even long for what was good and forward thinking in them, but it is dangerous and IMO borders on idolatry to put them up on such a pedestal that we begin to identify ourselves as a part of that Empire. (especially when no such Empire even exists)

The Empire that is truly eternal is the Empire of God, which is the Kingdom of God, which is found in the Church. The Church is eternal. The idea that the Church would fly a flag from an earthly kingdom that no longer exists I find truly disturbing. are citizens of God's Kingdom or Caesar's Kingdom?

I suppose an argument could be made for a reinterpretation of the flag of Byzantium as some "universal symbol" of all nations under banner, united etc... But then why not just fly a flag of the Cross instead? Or of the Resurrection icon? The problem with "reinterpreting" the flag of the Eastern Roman Empire is the same problem many people see with reinterpreting the Confederate flag. For many people the Confederate flag simply means "I'm proud of my southern culture which include George Jones, Alan Jackson, corn bread and fried chicken on Sundays, and hard work in the fields!" The problem is historically it meant something VERY different and something much more questionable in the minds of most people. (slavery, the south will rise again, the KKK, etc) Can it be reinterpreted? The question is not can it be, but should it be? And if it can be, should I petition my Church to fly a Confederate flag alongside the Byzantine flag? Why or why not? To me it means I like Alan Jackson, corn bread and chicken. And nothing at all sinister. Ironically to do this reinterpretation though I have to pull the flag outside of it's historical context. To reinterpret the Byzantine flag as merely a symbol of "universal citizenship" within the Church or something, we too would have to suck the flag out of it's historical context, thus stripping it of any meaning it had in history, and the Empire's true reality. Doing that would do a great disservice to the Byzantine Empire, to the saints (and sinners) it fashioned and those who lived and died as a part of the Empire. Not to mention the flag had no such meaning of universal citizenship unless one was an Orthodox Christian. Are we trying to turn a secular object into a religious one? while for a select few people a flag might represent some universal appeal of Christianhood, to me the Cross symbolizes that much more. And so the whole thing just seems like a weird thing to even be considering. Flying flags of a defunct empire, or preaching the Gospel? hmmm.......it just strikes me as very odd, and I don't think it helps the cause of those of us who actually are in one form or another "Byzantine geeks" because it's going to turn off way too many people.

But that's just my opinion. I think nationalism in the world has run amok (see Israeli-Palestinian conflict for starters) and I just don't like seeing signs of it in the Church. But what do I know...? Not much!


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« Reply #37 on: April 09, 2010, 10:58:49 AM »

Do EOs believe that Patriotism is a bad thing?

Is this a serious question?  Of all Christians in the world, I would think Orthodox would be the LAST to ever be asked such a question....LOL!

 I'd say that the Church sees nothing  inherently wrong with Patriotism, but would have something against Nationalism. (theologically speaking that is, though I don't know many cradle Orthodox who find Nationalism in any way a bad thing) Not sure if that helps at all though since some people don't necessarily distinguish the two things.



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« Reply #38 on: April 09, 2010, 10:59:39 AM »

I personally don't see it as being the "Byzantine Flag" necessarily. In fact from what I read, the Eastern Roman Empire didn't use a flag, it wasn't until later that the flag came into use by other nations, who then placed the double-headed eagle on their flags.
From what I've read, even the Russian Empire adopted it first as an emblem, then placed it on their flag.



Maybe it does recall the old Empire, maybe it doesn't...

Is the use of the eagle on the Russian coat of arms improper since the Russian Empire no longer exists?


At one of the Serbian churches in town, when our bishop came, the priest at that parish who is an ultra-nationalist laid the Serbian flag across the altar. This was too extreme for my and many other people's tastes.
When I went to that Church last summer, I was shocked to see two flags at the front of the Church on either side, it kind of reminded me of all the Protestant Churches I've been too... That kind of shocks me that he would place the flag on the altar like that. When we serve back at the altar with the priest (either as acolytes or as fan bearers) we cannot (or should not) even touch the altar. The placement of something like a secular flag I think would be unheard of. But it's not my job to determine whether it's right or wrong, let God pass judgement.
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« Reply #39 on: April 09, 2010, 11:00:24 AM »

Do EOs believe that Patriotism is a bad thing?

 Grin To the contrary, if you read (non-English) publications from any Orthodox country, you will find plenty of praise for patriotism, fatherland/motherland, ethnic culture, etc. as a moral and even spiritual value upheld by the Church. At least as much -- in my experience, even more so -- in Russia, Serbia, Romania, etc. than in Greece.
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« Reply #40 on: April 09, 2010, 11:19:20 AM »

I've been holding off on posting this comment, but I think it needs to be said. To the immigrants, their children and their children's children (like my wife and I) and so on, who came to these shores from foreign lands often dominated by oppressive regimes, patriotic symbols remain important. Some came here from countries which were relatively 'benevolent' (they didn't generally kill you for being different in faith or language - they just held you all back from advancing)  and some were malevolent (the Ottomans, the Soviets and others).  In America and Canada, they discovered the ability to worship God as their ancestors taught them in lands which, albeit not perfect in their treatment of immigrants, allowed them freedom to worship and opportunity to better their lives and those of their children. This  was indeed a wonderous thing and a deliverance from the bonds of the old world.  (20th century barriers to immigrants in North America were nothing in comparison to the treatment they had received from Tsarist Russia, Austro-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, the Polish kingdom, the German states. the USSR and so on...) Hence, the display of both the American (or Canadian) emblem and the emblems of their former lands (the display of which was often forbidden in Europe by their oppressors) was a sign of thanksgiving as well as pride. Please don't be so judgmental or critical. As I said earlier, perhaps someday we will not need the reinforcement of memory that those symbols provide, but they are still important to many of us. Christ is Risen!
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« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2010, 11:29:17 AM »

First of all, there is no such thing as a "Byzantine Empire" and secondly, the flag is of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, so I find the title of this thread a bit misleading on two counts.

On a personal level, while the secular-aided Greek revolution was originally condemned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Church came to terms with it, and its Christian elements are emphasized over the secularist influences.  That being said, I'd still rather see the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is also the flag of the Roman Empire, flying rather than a Greek national flag stemming from the revolution or an American flag.  If we're going to fly a flag, let's leave the nationalism at the door and celebrate the ideal the EP's flag represents, the Christian Oikoumene, the two hands of God (as per St. Justinian the Great), and not provincial nationalisms.

Flying the Byzantine flag (rightly or wrongly) at Greek churches is nothing new, Fr Anastasios. It's been happening in my neck of the woods for more than 40 years.

Being a Greek Orthodox priest, I naturally have seen this in many places myself.  In fact, in New York at the Greek Independence Day Parade, we carry both the Greek national flag, American national flag, and the flag currently under dispute in processions ourselves.

I indicated that I would rather see the universalist ideal of the Roman flag over the provincial nationalist flags of newly-emergent countries such as the USA and the modern state of Greece.  But I would at the same time perhaps prefer no flag.  At least the Roman flag, which is also the flag of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, reminds us of the Christian heritage of Church and Christian society which was lost at the time of the Turkish invasions.  While I am not a pure sentimentalist, and recognize that any "incarnation" of the Gospel has it s own set of challenges, the Christian Roman Empire was a highlight of Christian culture, with a stream of positive developments for the Church.  The flag in question recalls that to mind, not various emperors, military commanders, public works projects, etc. At least for me.

The flag in question is a throw back to Romulus and Remus, much like the title Pontifex Maximus that the patriarch of Old Rome claims.


this is the only attested flag of the Roman Empire of the East:


The "B"s  stand for Βασιλεύς Βασιλέων Βασιλεύων Βασιλευόντων ("King of Kings Reigning over those who Rule"), which originally referred to Christ, but got co-opted by the emperor.
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« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2010, 11:31:01 AM »

As I said earlier, perhaps someday we will not need the reinforcement of memory that those symbols provide, but they are still important to many of us.

Well said. And it's not merely an "immigrant" thing. You will find many ethnic and national symbols, including flags, in, outside, and around churches in all Orthodox lands.

Regarding this particular flag: I've seen it outside of many churches and monasteries on Mount Athos, in the New Lands, Rhodes, Crete, etc. People identify it with the Church and even call it the "Orthodox" or "Christian" flag.

Of course, it has an unclear history -- no one is actually certain of its origins (was it Palaeologan, or based on something Palaeologan, or something else entirely?) -- but what it means today is what matters. It's become an ecclesiastical, not national, symbol.
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« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2010, 11:32:58 AM »

On a separate note, I wonder if the UOC of USA, UOC of Canada, and ACROD will also have to fly the Byzantine flag since they are under the authority of His All Holiness?  Huh

Nitpick: none of the above are under the "authority" of His All Holiness.  They are subject to the Patriarchal Synod of Constantinople, of which he is the President.  They would only be "forced" to fly the flag if the synod promulgated such an "order."
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« Reply #44 on: April 09, 2010, 11:34:09 AM »

Drove by the Greek parish this morning and the current flagpole configuration is one Canadian, two golden Double-headed Eagle flags, and a Greek flag. There are four flagpoles hanging over the main entrance. I'm not sure what is driving this whole flag thing, but it appears to be a done deal in Toronto. There's descriptions of many double-headed eagle flags at Wikipedia - the entry associates this particular flag with the Greek Orthodox Church and Mt. Athos, although the orb and sword imagery has a strong resemblance to the old Russian imperial flag.
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