Christ is Risen!
No, of course it's not impossible. Archbishop Anastasios of Albania is the enactment of it.
Could you elaborate on this? How is he the enactment of it? And does it play a positive or negative role in his ministry and that of the Albanian Church?
He's a Greek. Born in Greece. Educated in Greece. Ordained in Greece. Was a candidate for a bishoprick in Greece, but didn't get it. Speaks several languages, Albanians not being one of them. Spent his life in an Orthodox country where it is the State Creed, and in some ways, the state enforced Creed.
So heads a mission society in an Orthodox country, seeing that even Orthodox societies need mission, and they shouldn't take the Faith for granted. (If I remember correctly, I saw a lot of devotional material in Romanian in Romania from the same group, free of charge IIRC). Doesn't take it for granted that because you are Greek, you are Orthodox.
He then gets appointed to a country that has a history of hostility with his homeland, with a persecuted minority of his same ethnicity. He takes care of them, but beyond that, takes care of the majority. No parochialism nor chavinism. With his contacts back home, he gets a lot of aid and help from the CoG to build up the church in Albania. Not speaking Albanian, he workes on getting as much printed in Albanian that exists and works on translating more. Ordained a titular bishop in Greece and sent by the Phanar to a land with no clergy to speak of (6 old priests and deacons who haven't publicly served for three decades) he works on building up an Albanian clergy and hierarchy. In addition to children's education, schools, medical physilities, a seminary.....He gets enough funds for a big cathedral in his See, and he splurges it on a church (AND a mosque) dedicated to promoting coexistence and peace in Kosovo. (somewhat a different approach than what has been tried between Greece and Macedonia).
I won't hold his presidency of the WCC against him: he used it as ambassador of Albania and for the good of his charge. Quite different from how we Arabs, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Romanians remember the Phanariots.
The Albanian government tried to make a law requiring Albanian nationality for Church leaders. The Albanians made the government back down. The Albanians know a good thing when they see it.
Is it worthwhile to do so?
Not really. The Romanians are Roman, but have none of the pretenses about it (having been humbled seems to have cured them of it).
Again, could you clarify? The Romanians have been, broadly speaking, one of the more ethnically centered Churches over the past several decades. Their understanding of their Roman-ness, if you will, is purely ethnic, limited by blood and language, and religion. (at least in my experience of individual Romanian laypeople and my reading of specific texts from the Romanian clergy and hierarchy). If the Romanians exemplify what you mean by "Roman," then I consider their Roman-ness a liability to their Christianity, rather than an asset.
If their ethnicity reinforces their Orthodoxy (and not their Orthodoxy to reinforce their ethnicity), definitely an asset. Most I've known have had a Pavlov response to Orthodoxy.
The Romanians consider themselves Roman, but they limit that to Dacia and Trajan. They make no pretense to universal rule. They also don't mind that the Greeks claim Constantine, Helena and Justinian, proto-Romanians all. They went through a humbling experience of being 2nd class citizens or non-citizens in their own terriotory, divided up by the surrounding powers: ruman acquired the meaning "serf" which only became obsolete on the road to independence.
And if it is not, what then will serve as an appropriate counter to the ethnocentrism/nationalism that is rife in ALL the Orthodox Churches?
Only when it makes the Gospel exclusive is it a problem. I don't have a problem with ethnicity/nationalism. Getting rid of the inferiority complex many have (actually something that I agree with the Chief Secretary on) is also a good plan.
Again, could you please clarify and elaborate. I do not know what you mean when you say "make the Gospel exclusive." Exclusive of what?
Meaning Orthodox are born, not baptized, and you have to be a member of the chosen race (and joining is out of the question), or some sort of client appended to that culture to belong to the Church. Exclusive in sense that if your grandfather wasn't Orthodox, you can't be either. And if your nation didn't have its Church before the 19th century, too bad. You can't have one and have to be in perpetual tutelage to one. Sort of like how the World Powers try to keep anyone from joining their number.
Myself, I frankly DO have a problem with ethnicity/nationalism defining the Church qua Church. As has become clear in my conversation with SolEX01 in the other thread, ethnicity/nationalism necessarily create an exclusive environment which tends to drive away those who do not share that ethnicity/nationalism. I defend the GOA/Ecumenical Patriarchate currently because it is coping with a pre-existent condition, and endeavoring to move what is a very ethnic church in a positive direction, so that Greekness (in an ethnic/nationalistic sense) ceases to be an essential part of its identity. A significant part of that effort is re-defining Hellenism in a universalizing direction.
Doing that by denying its particularity is not a good idea. Leads to fish-don't-know-he's-wet syndrome. The Neo-pagans remain Greeks while becoming Europeans. Why do the Orthodox have to loose their footing to broaden their horizons?
Individual people can be ethnic (especially laypeople), so long as their ethnicity is subordinated to their Faith. Even individual parishes, to a certain degree. But for the Church as a whole to be ethnic, and defined on ethnic lines, is, and always has been, a problem. (cf. Nestorian schism, Chalcedonian Schism, Great schism, and current brouhaha between Moscow and Constantinople).
Since Nestorius and Eutyches were in Constantinople, I'm not sure 100% of your first contentions. That the Syriac and Assyrians are (according to themselves) the same people but on opposite sides of the Church divide, and the Henotikon, and the multiethnic OO also are problematic for that argument. Round one of the Great Schism played out in one nation, namely Bulgaria. The recent unpleasantness has come about from Constantinople trying to stretch its ethnicity into universal jurisiction (e.g. Estonia).
And finally, what inferiority complex?
A second challenge of the Church in America is that it was brought here by people who left their homelands at a time that these homelands were economically underdeveloped. Economic immigration created, from the very first moment, the need for these people to assimilate to their adopted land in order to achieve, as soon as possible, the high living standards of the privileged Americans and therefore to enjoy the fruits of the American dream. Towards that goal, they changed their names, they put an emphasis on the English language in every aspect of their lives, and at last they succeeded in becoming true American citizens, holding ever higher positions in the financial, commercial, academic, artistic and political life of this country. The negative aspect of this strong emphasis on cultural assimilation was the consideration of the faithfulness in one’s cultural background as an impediment to the progress and success in the American society. Thus, the complexes of an alleged inferior nationality or class that, in order to enjoy the fruits of the American dream, is supposed to eradicate any bond to its distinctive culture. http://www.greekamericannewsagency.com/gana/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4771&Itemid=83
That goes for the race to be "Western." The Iranians have a lovely term: Westoxification. Athens seems hellbent on out porning the West. They've succeeded.
Because we need something to do so, in my opinion.
Ecclesiastical globalization. Reminds me too much of the Phanariots, and before them the suppression of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem to Constantinople's synod and rite.
Raising Orthodox of the Arab, Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Serbian, Russian, American, Australian persuasion.
And this will be a good thing why? I would settle for raising Orthodox, and teaching them that their Faith, not any accident of blood or birth, is the center of their identity. Perhaps this is what you mean.
Yes, but not rarified. Humans do better in a culture. Try raising a kid without a language, or letting him grow up to choose his language.
So can we just go back to calling ourselves Orthodox Christians? I honestly think the 'Roman' title will only confuse the unchurched. And whether it is or isn't a nationality, it certainly sounds like a nationality to those who have little understanding of a now extinct empire. Most people I've met are determined that the Church has to be associated with some ethnicity.
That's because everyone is associated with an ethnicity. Even the WASPS have an ethnicity.
Because of the manner in which our ecclesiastical structure has developed since (and even before) the fall of Constantinople, with every Orthodox country aspiring to be its own little mini-Byzantine Empire with its own personal autocephalous church,
This only becomes a problem when those exercising that right seek to deny it to others.
it is difficult for most Orthodox Christians to find any other terms to think in when they start thinking about their own hierarchy.
Since that is the constituional plan of Apostolic canon 34, that would make sense.
And therefore everyone (evidently) wants an autocephalous American Orthodox Church, so we can be our own little Orthodox Church and imitate the Byzantine Empire too.
No, there are plenty of people who do not want the American Church to have autocephaly. Many would rather have it as a perpetual colony.
Why we think this would be a good idea, I have no idea.
It's how the humans organize themselves.
Let me be clear: there is one legitimate reason, and only one theologically legitimate reason, that the idea of the Christian Roman Empire was ever anything other than very bad, and that is rooted in a geopolitical theory that, while second nature to the Fathers of the Church, particularly those of the 4th and 5th centuries, is deader than dead, and will never come back. I speak, of course, of the idea of the universality of Roman rule, that the Roman Emperor ruled, or ought to rule, directly or indirectly, over the entire inhabited world (ecumene/oikoumeni/???). So if the Roman Emperor was a Christian, and said he was the Emperor of all Christians everywhere, and acted accordingly (as Constantine and Theodosios both did), it made perfect sense to the bishops of the Church to treat him accordingly and organize the Church along such lines, with an Ecumenical Patriarch in the capital city of the man who ruled the inhabited world.
But the united empire never had a single autocephalous Church. At the very least, there were three (I'd argue eight).
This is only a problem for explaining the Church of Constantinople.
The Christian Roman Emperor provided one good thing to the Church over all the centuries--a unitive factor to counter the nationalism that not only threatened to divide, but all too often did divide the Church. Not, frankly, that it worked all that well. But the Church was able to accept it at all only because the Emperor thus became a force to maintain the ethnicity-transcending character of the Church.
Treadgold (I think he was mentioned he somewhere) argues that ethnicity wasn't transcended, but transformed, equating Faith with citizenship and citizenship with Faith (the Jews being the only notable consistent exception, which was never figured out).
Now, lest anyone start in on me, asking how I can possibly say that the Christian Byzantine Emperor was a "force to maintain the ethnicity-transcending character of the Church" in light of individuals like Basil II "Bulgar-Killer"...that's exactly my point. Precisely because the Church under this model always ends up being co-opted by the nation for secular and even anti-Christian ends (like Bulgar killing), this model is not just flawed, it's broken. I am simply attempting to explain why, if it is in fact a bad model, the Church accepted it for over a thousand years of Orthodox history. When the Emperor served the Church, things were good. When he used the Church to serve himself (which was often)...hoo boy.
That said, the problem with imitating it (as every Orthodox country has done and continues to do) is that it undermines the single positive element of the model--the unitive factor. Without the one, single Roman Emperor to stand as a symbol of the unity of all Christians and the universality of the Faith, what possible good does a "national" Church do?
For one, it prevented a lot of us from becoming Turkish/Mongol Muslims.
The clash between our earthly identity and Christian identity is already a problem for every Christian. Ethnicity/politics is one of the biggest competitors with Christ for primacy in the average Christian's identity system and worldview. Why in the world would we want to institutionalize the problem in the Church's structure and hierarchy?
Because it has been there from the beginning. "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them...."
But we've done it, and continue to do it. And all this hullabaloo about an American Orthodox Church is just another step on the same intellectually bankrupt road.
I don't think it is bankrupt at all, and history would bear that out. As I've mentioned as an example I hope to go into some detail is the Romanian Church: the Communists never bothered to offiically disestablish it, and it would have been a problem if they tried. In the Soviet Union, Stalin didn't allow the election of a new patriarch out of the generousity of his heart: he realized he needed the Church (the Soviets had taken religious statistics until the later thirties, when the stats were showing that the Church was not dying, but was rather digging in).
So--all that to say, basically, I agree with you. We should, ideally, think of ourselves as simply Orthodox Christians. But, while that may seem fairly easy for an individual, I would submit that's much more difficult than it sounds, even for an individual, much less for a parish, a diocese, and above all for a National Autocephalous Church.
For one thing, what language are you going to use in DL. That's an irreducible element that is going to lead to the need of an autocephalous/local Church.
Let's touch briefly on Autocephaly, shall we? Canonically speaking, autocephaly is a very different beast than it has been made out to be in recent centuries. The First Council of Nicaea stipulated that every province of the Roman Empire was to be autocephalous (with certain exceptions allowing for the ancient primacy of the Churches of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch over nearby provinces). We should be clear that there were around 120 provinces in the Roman Empire at this time.
What canon are you speaking of?
Btw, the reason for three Sees can be seen on the map of the world view of the time: The "T and O" map.http://phoenicia.org/imgs/maps/images/6romanworldmap.jpg
which would be the basis of Tamara's ideas of continent patriarchs. That was the original layout.
Over the next two centuries, the above-mentioned development of the theory of the Christian Roman Empire resulted, among other things, in a process of centralization, so that by the mid-fifth century, the provinces were no longer autocephalous, but some dioceses (a diocese was a civil and administrative entity denoting a group of provinces) still retained their ecclesiastical self-governance.
The Dioceses were put in place by Diocletian's Tetrarchy. That was the background (referred to because of the descrepency in the case of the diocese of Egypt) of canon 6 of Nicea I.
Whatever else Canon 28 of Chalcedon did, it granted officially what had unofficially been claimed for the past 50 years to Constantinople: direct jurisdiction of some of the last remaining "autocephalous" dioceses in the Roman Empire: Pontus, Asia, and Thrace. From this point in time, roughly speaking, we have in place the fabled Pentarchy of Patriarchates...an innovation on and, to be frank, a violation of the Canons of the First Ecumenical Council, pushed through by the Imperial legates and objected to by most of the Church.
Rome objected, but then it had its inferiority complex (it was long abandoned as a capital, and sinking into a clump of huts) and an agenda to pursue. Alexandria did complain somewhat, but undermined her argument by meddling in the affairs of Constantinople (Maximus the Cynic, the Synod of the Oak). Ephesus insisted on Constantinople presiding over filling the cathedra when the See was widowed during the Council. Otherwise there seems to have been little protest. Again, I don't know what canons of Nicea were violated.
Now, as I've said, the Church accepted this, for the sake of order and unity. But, in the absence of the Emperor, or any viable replacement to the Emperor (please don't suggest Russia--it's part of the problem, not the solution),
For Antioch, Jerusalem, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, and Albania, Russia was very much part of the solution. In a sense, for Alexandria too. For Poland and Czech/Slovakia, the genesis. For Georgia and perhaps Ukraine, obviously problematic.
this system no longer makes any sense. Nationalism, ethnocentrism, and ethnophyletism have a deep hold on our ecclesiastical consciousness.
It is only as much a problem as some want to make it. For instance, insisting that DL be in a language not the people's own (and I'm not primarily thinking of North America on that).
Btw, I don't know if anyone here is familiar with the Ottomanism movement, a sort of universalism which was the opposite of the Phanariot system and the independence route.
What we seek, or what we should be seeking, is a way out, a way to combat them. Autocephaly for every national Orthodox Church is precisely the opposite of what we need. We need to break, not strengthen, the hold of this ethnic nationalism on the Church.
I never understood the parable of the man who had a spirit expelled, the spirit, after roaming and getting 7 spirits worse than himself, going back finding everything clean and then bringing in his friend, "so the man was worse off than at first." Then I read someone's application: in WWI the world rid Germany of the evils of the Prussian monarchy. And what replaced it?
Say you blanch ethnicity out of the Church. What will come into that clean house?
How, then, do we find our way back to Nicaea?
For one thing, stop this auxilliary bishop nonsense.
I have ideas, certainly, but perhaps those are best in another post. I've put out enough for people to disagree with as it is.
LOL. I guess so.
I'm tempted to answer George's questions for Tamara, but she can speak for herself.