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Author Topic: Progressive Orthodoxy ?  (Read 5577 times) Average Rating: 0
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spiltteeth
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« on: September 20, 2009, 04:39:28 PM »

I'm not sure where to put this, by my friend is a long time Orthodox member but also a Leftist politically, and I think may be getting a little frustrated with the Rightest views he encounters. He asked me if I know of any Orthodox websites, books, people, local churches, magazines etc. that take a more progressive stance, even if it's a mild one.

If anyone can help me out I'd be very grateful - thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2009, 05:25:32 PM »

I am a "leftie," too, and quite a lot of times I was blasted by people who have rightist social and political views, including those folks who are Orthodox.

One thing that I think is very important to remember in situations like this, is that our whole world is corrupted, handicapped, distorted, diseased by sin. Left or right, "progressive" or "fundamentalist," we all are limited in our blurred vision of reality. "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then (after Resurrection. - G.) we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully..." (1 Cor. 13:12).

Among the cohort of very good Orthodox clergymen, who all wrote jewels in theology, some were leftist (Fr. Sergius Bulgakov), and some were rightist (Fr. Alexander Schmemann). Paradoxically, even though my social and political leanings are to the "left," Fr. Alexander Schmemann is perhaps my most beloved Orthodox author...

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42).
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2009, 04:03:23 AM »

Regardless of our individual political leanings, our Orthodox progression should always be towards Our Lord Jesus Christ. In nearness to Him, we will be able to discern all issues with greater clarity. So let us not seek a "conservative Orthodoxy," a "liberal Orthodoxy," a "progressive Orthodoxy" etc. Let us simply strive to live out our Orthodox Faith with devotion, sincerity, and perseverance. Let us continaully seek the spiritual nourishment and divine protection of our mother, the Holy Orthodox Church. If we would but steep ourselves in her Teaching, Tradition, and Truth, we would not be so divided and confused.

Selam

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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2009, 05:18:27 AM »

Orthodoxy is not about political allegiances. We only need to look at the spiritual and practical mess created by "liberation theology" and "prosperity theology" in the non-Orthodox world, to name but two examples.
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2009, 09:34:43 AM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2009, 09:58:49 AM »

I'm a leftist too, even if the actual "left" parties in Italy are of course different then the Communist Party in some other European countries, for example.
I see errors both in the Right and Left sides. A Right position proposing racism and strict capitalism such as I can see in Italy is entirely wrong. I don't think Jesus would support anti-immigration laws which invite to the expulsion of hundreds of immigrants escaping from poverty and wars, or at least this isn't the original Oriental attitude towards ospitality. The same could be said of an economical system based on personal richness and wealth with no place for charity. When a Right leader reduces the taxes for the rich but ignores the poverty of the poor,  we just can't support such a miserable political attitude: what about Christ's criticism on richness ("It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven" Matthew 19:24)? What about the model of koinonia practiced by Christ and the Apostles?
The same can be said of the atheist anti-clerical and a-moral attitude of most Leftists (by that I explicitly mean "communists") in politics. Their denial of the minimal respect for some ethical principles (in particular on the issue of abortion) is that "something" which disgusts me of the extremist leftists which, fortunately, at least in Italy have disappeared.
As Heorhij rightly said, there's no perfect politics. Politics is a human invention as vain as the Tower of Babel, an instrument for pure human power on Earth. We should listen to our hearts when voting. We might find a 'good' Rightist or a 'bad' Rightist, and also a 'good' Leftist of a 'bad' Leftist. Afterall, righteousness has no political colour!

In Christ,   Alex

PS: I don't know of any Orthodox sources supporting Leftist ideas... I guess the bad contribution of historical Communism (=Sovietism) had a bad role in this.
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2009, 09:59:48 AM »

PS: I don't know of any Orthodox sources supporting Leftist ideas... I guess the bad contribution of historical Communism (=Sovietism) had a bad role in this.

You have not been to Poland.

In Poland major left-wing party is supported more or less openly by the Church.
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2009, 10:09:55 AM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?

Good question. I have always thought about that as well.
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« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2009, 10:13:14 AM »

In the US at least, "conservative" and "liberal" and such labels, especially when used in a religious context, are, IMHO, so poorly defined and understood as to make discussion fairly meaningless.
In our parish, we have all sorts of people with all sorts of opinions, ideas and povs - from one end of the spectrum to the other.
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« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2009, 10:16:16 AM »

PS: I don't know of any Orthodox sources supporting Leftist ideas...

In his book, titled "Orthodoxy" (in Russian, "Pravoslavie"), published in Paris in the late 1940-s, Prot. Fr. Sergius Bulgakov writes that socialism is, in his opinion, the only socio-economical system compatible with the Gospels. When Fr. Sergius was young (and before his ordination), he was a Marxist, a member of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP) and even, for a brief period of time, a friend of Lenin's. But they sharply disagreed on the issue of religious faith, and Bulgakov became Lenin's bitter enemy, a constant target of Lenin's sarcasm. After his ordination, Fr. Sergius, of course, could no longer be a member of RSDRP, but he retained his very "leftist" views on politics and economics perhaps for the rest of his life.
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« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2009, 11:14:55 AM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?

Good question. I have always thought about that as well.

The problem of Socialism for many is its 'compulsory' nature.  Capitalism is a voluntary system when it comes to social welfare (i.e. people make choices to share with the poor), whereas Socialism makes it a state affair that is mandatory.  Socialism demands a degree of compliance that often harms the free will of people who, for whatever reason, oppose the regime.

For example, if the government takes up a socialist program for public health and medicine, and then decides that abortions for 12-year-olds without parental consent is OK, Christian families are forced to pay for such programs through taxes and lose control of their families.  On the other hand, the less government involvement we experience, the less government regulation interferes in our lives.

We have had this issue in regards to public education versus home schooling.  Here it is still, for the time being, an option.  In Germany, which is far more socialist, public education is compulsory.  And, of course, the government dictates the curriculum.  There is still a free press in Germany, but not in the government schools.

Marx's failure was that he failed to realize that people will not be happy just because the state can give everyone their 'fair share.'  Socialism does not alleviate human suffering any more than Capitalism.  Professor Schoeck predicted the collapse of communism based on its inability to deal with human envy.  The error of socialism is that human suffering can be alleviated through the seizure of private assets for redistribution.  If human misery could be alleviated with material well-being, then we would have a very different Gospel.

Such an attitude is just as ego-driven as any capitalist.  I have found no greater moral purity amongst socialists than I have amongst capitalists.  In fact, I have found socialists who are just as resourceful and crafty as their 'profit hoarding' capitalist counterparts.  They are also just as immoral in their own ways. 

Consider the 'birthday cake test': a child receives a birthday cake, and the capitalist considers a way to get the child to trade half his cake for less than its worth.  He applies pressure and advertising until the child relents and gives him the half.  The socialist, however, reduces the value of the child by saying he does not deserve half of the cake and should give it to the poor.... then comes in and takes it.

I am resigned to the fact that all economic systems are flawed.  I simply want one that is less likely to interfere in my life and force me to do things that may go against my beliefs.  The trade-off for that is knowing there will be fewer if any 'social services' available to me in hard times.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make for freedom.


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« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2009, 11:22:54 AM »



The problem of Socialism for many is its 'compulsory' nature.  Capitalism is a voluntary system when it comes to social welfare (i.e. people make choices to share with the poor), whereas Socialism makes it a state affair that is mandatory.  Socialism demands a degree of compliance that often harms the free will of people who, for whatever reason, oppose the regime.

For example, if the government takes up a socialist program for public health and medicine, and then decides that abortions for 12-year-olds without parental consent is OK, Christian families are forced to pay for such programs through taxes and lose control of their families.  On the other hand, the less government involvement we experience, the less government regulation interferes in our lives.

We have had this issue in regards to public education versus home schooling.  Here it is still, for the time being, an option.  In Germany, which is far more socialist, public education is compulsory.  And, of course, the government dictates the curriculum.  There is still a free press in Germany, but not in the government schools.

Marx's failure was that he failed to realize that people will not be happy just because the state can give everyone their 'fair share.'  Socialism does not alleviate human suffering any more than Capitalism.  Professor Schoeck predicted the collapse of communism based on its inability to deal with human envy.  The error of socialism is that human suffering can be alleviated through the seizure of private assets for redistribution.  If human misery could be alleviated with material well-being, then we would have a very different Gospel.

Such an attitude is just as ego-driven as any capitalist.  I have found no greater moral purity amongst socialists than I have amongst capitalists.  In fact, I have found socialists who are just as resourceful and crafty as their 'profit hoarding' capitalist counterparts.  They are also just as immoral in their own ways. 

Consider the 'birthday cake test': a child receives a birthday cake, and the capitalist considers a way to get the child to trade half his cake for less than its worth.  He applies pressure and advertising until the child relents and gives him the half.  The socialist, however, reduces the value of the child by saying he does not deserve half of the cake and should give it to the poor.... then comes in and takes it.

I am resigned to the fact that all economic systems are flawed.  I simply want one that is less likely to interfere in my life and force me to do things that may go against my beliefs.  The trade-off for that is knowing there will be fewer if any 'social services' available to me in hard times.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make for freedom.




Wonderful post! My thoughts exactly.
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« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2009, 11:30:08 AM »

I am resigned to the fact that all economic systems are flawed.  I simply want one that is less likely to interfere in my life and force me to do things that may go against my beliefs.  The trade-off for that is knowing there will be fewer if any 'social services' available to me in hard times.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make for freedom.

[/font][/size]


Perhaps a lot of this depends on whether one considers government regulation of this nature the solution or the problem?
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« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2009, 12:10:40 PM »

PS: I don't know of any Orthodox sources supporting Leftist ideas... I guess the bad contribution of historical Communism (=Sovietism) had a bad role in this.

You have not been to Poland.

In Poland major left-wing party is supported more or less openly by the Church.
PS: I don't know of any Orthodox sources supporting Leftist ideas...

In his book, titled "Orthodoxy" (in Russian, "Pravoslavie"), published in Paris in the late 1940-s, Prot. Fr. Sergius Bulgakov writes that socialism is, in his opinion, the only socio-economical system compatible with the Gospels. When Fr. Sergius was young (and before his ordination), he was a Marxist, a member of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party (RSDRP) and even, for a brief period of time, a friend of Lenin's. But they sharply disagreed on the issue of religious faith, and Bulgakov became Lenin's bitter enemy, a constant target of Lenin's sarcasm. After his ordination, Fr. Sergius, of course, could no longer be a member of RSDRP, but he retained his very "leftist" views on politics and economics perhaps for the rest of his life.
That's good news for me, and this makes me feel better LOL

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2009, 01:15:13 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?

Good question. I have always thought about that as well.


Are you referring to capitalism or socialism?  Both have an egoistic mentality, though both do promote the general welfare, at least that's what their respective proponents claim.  That said, I am a capitalist simply because if we are to exercise true freedom (political, Christian, whatever), the capitalist system allows for that far greater than a dictatorial socialist system does.

Capitalism does further interests of others.  Adam Smith called it the "invisible hand" which, allowing for prosperity for one, has to allow for propserity for others to occur.
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« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2009, 02:12:43 PM »

I'm not sure where to put this, by my friend is a long time Orthodox member but also a Leftist politically, and I think may be getting a little frustrated with the Rightest views he encounters. He asked me if I know of any Orthodox websites, books, people, local churches, magazines etc. that take a more progressive stance, even if it's a mild one.

If anyone can help me out I'd be very grateful - thanks!

Moderator Warning! the question as posed is permissable in Convert Issues, however many of the responses that have been given are rather political and seem to miss the mark of what he has asked. Please try to assist spliteeth with  answers that cite Orthodox websites, books, magaziness, etc that take a  progressive stance if you are aware of any.

Thank you.
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« Reply #16 on: September 21, 2009, 04:00:40 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
Good question. I have always thought about that as well.
The problem of Socialism for many is its 'compulsory' nature.  Capitalism is a voluntary system when it comes to social welfare (i.e. people make choices to share with the poor), whereas Socialism makes it a state affair that is mandatory.  Socialism demands a degree of compliance that often harms the free will of people who, for whatever reason, oppose the regime.
Socialism also has displayed a murderous capacity for those who resist its implementation. It is currently estimated that 100 million people were executed for resisting the socialist regimes in the former Soviet Union and the Communist states of Cambodia, China, North Korea, and Vietnam.

Scripture certainly teaches about an unequal distribution of wealth and the talents that create and accumulate wealth, along with a greater expectation for charity from those who receive those things.

What is absent is any support for a coercive redistribution of wealth by means of the State.
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« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2009, 04:13:30 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
Can a person support the legal murder of the unborn and still be a Christian?
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« Reply #18 on: September 21, 2009, 04:17:01 PM »

Such an attitude is just as ego-driven as any capitalist.  I have found no greater moral purity amongst socialists than I have amongst capitalists.  In fact, I have found socialists who are just as resourceful and crafty as their 'profit hoarding' capitalist counterparts.  They are also just as immoral in their own ways. 
How very true. I have always believed that the best a true socialism can do is create people who are equally miserable.
[/quote]
I am resigned to the fact that all economic systems are flawed.  I simply want one that is less likely to interfere in my life and force me to do things that may go against my beliefs.  The trade-off for that is knowing there will be fewer if any 'social services' available to me in hard times.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make for freedom.

[/font][/size]
If more of would recognize that no economic system is divinely inspired, then we would all be better off.
And before everyone goes off on the sharing of belongings in Acts of the Apostles, you must remember that this was a voluntary system, not one forced by a secular government that is out of control with beaurocracy.

[/quote]
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« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2009, 04:53:24 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
Can a person support the legal murder of the unborn and still be a Christian?

That is provocative. I don't think those who condone abortion consider it to be murder. You may disagree violently with them, but if they don't perceive it to be murder, they won't see the same conflict with their Christianity as you do.
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« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2009, 05:03:20 PM »

Thanks for the responses.
Just a little FYI, there are alot of different kinds of socialism, from the huge government/state dictatorship of stalinist Russia, (which was actually State capitalism and in no way approximated actual socialism, hence when the soviet Union fell it was celebrated as a victory for socialism);
to small or no government/State Libertarian Socialism, such as Spain had during its civil war.

Regardless, I'm really just looking for Lefty Orthodox resources. Bulgakov is a good suggestion!
I also found these sites :
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=73203208283
http://orthodoxpeacejustice.blogspot.com/2009/08/progressive-religious-groups-line-up.html
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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2009, 05:15:14 PM »

Dear Boredmeeting and Papist,

Please, read our moderator Thomas's admonition, and please, do not provoke the rest of us for a political debate on this page of our forum. Please remember, it is called "Convert Issues." We have already had so many of these "discussions" on Politics and on Free-For-All.

George (a former OC.net section moderator who understands Thomas's frustration... Smiley)
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« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2009, 05:17:21 PM »

Regardless, I'm really just looking for Lefty Orthodox resources. Bulgakov is a good suggestion!

Glad to be of service. I can give you a link, the whole book is on the Internet, but in Russian...
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« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2009, 05:58:17 PM »

Dear Boredmeeting and Papist,

Please, read our moderator Thomas's admonition, and please, do not provoke the rest of us for a political debate on this page of our forum. Please remember, it is called "Convert Issues." We have already had so many of these "discussions" on Politics and on Free-For-All.

George (a former OC.net section moderator who understands Thomas's frustration... Smiley)

Well, then, I hope it won't be considered to inappropriate to answer the question of why 'Lefty Orthodox' (splitteeth's term) materials are so scarce.

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short).  Orthodoxy in the Middle East is kept on a short leash by the Socialist-oriented Baath Party in Syria and Egypt (a.k.a. the Assad and Mubarak regimes).  Therefore, splitteeth is less likely to find as many Orthodox well-predisposed to Leftism in general, though the Assad government is favored by Christians due to it's natural allergy to Islamic fundamentalism.  In Orthodox countries today, leftist parties are practically required to demonstrate their adherence to the Church so as not to be lumped in with the old regimes.

There is/was an Orthodox Peace Fellowship, but I am not certain as to its present status: http://incommunion.org

That's the only leftist group I'm aware of.



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« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2009, 06:07:28 PM »

Dear Boredmeeting and Papist,

Please, read our moderator Thomas's admonition, and please, do not provoke the rest of us for a political debate on this page of our forum. Please remember, it is called "Convert Issues." We have already had so many of these "discussions" on Politics and on Free-For-All.

George (a former OC.net section moderator who understands Thomas's frustration... Smiley)

Well, then, I hope it won't be considered to inappropriate to answer the question of why 'Lefty Orthodox' (splitteeth's term) materials are so scarce.

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short).  Orthodoxy in the Middle East is kept on a short leash by the Socialist-oriented Baath Party in Syria and Egypt (a.k.a. the Assad and Mubarak regimes).  Therefore, splitteeth is less likely to find as many Orthodox well-predisposed to Leftism in general, though the Assad government is favored by Christians due to it's natural allergy to Islamic fundamentalism.  In Orthodox countries today, leftist parties are practically required to demonstrate their adherence to the Church so as not to be lumped in with the old regimes.

There is/was an Orthodox Peace Fellowship, but I am not certain as to its present status: http://incommunion.org

That's the only leftist group I'm aware of.





Father Giryus,

Could I ask you to use a normal-size font, please? I did PM you about this, maybe you didn't see it? But it is really distracting to see one post in a different size font from the one everyone else uses - and I would love to be able to read what you have to say more easily.

Best,

Liz
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« Reply #25 on: September 21, 2009, 06:29:37 PM »

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short). 

Father, with all due respect... what went on in the former USSR ("Communist Russia") had absolutely nothing to do with socialism. The mere name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was a bad joke. I lived there...
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« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2009, 06:35:00 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
Can a person support the legal murder of the unborn and still be a Christian?

That is provocative. I don't think those who condone abortion consider it to be murder. You may disagree violently with them, but if they don't perceive it to be murder, they won't see the same conflict with their Christianity as you do.

You are quite correct, but the same logic could be applied to cannibalism, ritual human sacrifice, devil worship, etc. I realize that my analogies are offensive to those who do not consider abortion to be in the same category. The key here is obviously one's understanding of the Christian position on abortion. To my simple mind, Christianity in general has considered abortion to be a sin, taking of life. This has been the case because there are a sufficient number of Biblical and Patristic texts to consign abortion to murder. It is also a fact that currently there are some self-professed Christians and Christian Churches that believe otherwise. In the old days, ecumenical councils settled such divergent views. These days, we just need to adhere to the position of the Church that we choose to belong to.
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« Reply #27 on: September 21, 2009, 06:46:20 PM »

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short). 

Father, with all due respect... what went on in the former USSR ("Communist Russia") had absolutely nothing to do with socialism. The mere name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was a bad joke. I lived there...


That's interesting, Heorhij.  I've never heard anyone make that argument before.  Of course, with all due respect, I hope you won't mind me not believing that, though I am sure that you are a reasonable and decent person.

So as not to annoy the moderator, I'm bowing out of this thread.




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« Reply #28 on: September 21, 2009, 06:46:51 PM »

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short). 

Father, with all due respect... what went on in the former USSR ("Communist Russia") had absolutely nothing to do with socialism. The mere name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was a bad joke. I lived there...


This all depends on your taxonomy. Under the Leftism/Rightism paradigm, the central question is where one stands on the two leaps of faith that are central to secular humanism: (a) Species or ideal man exists, and (b) Man can perfect mankind. Leftists would generally say yes, while rightists would say no, you cannot become perfect nor can you perfect mankind without God. Politics are not the cause but the result of this paradigm. As a result, socialism communism, fascism, etc.. are properly grouped together. As for the late and unlamented USSR, I believe that the Great Purge got rid of the true believers and that the Soviet Empire was run by the functional equivalent of the Mafia.
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« Reply #29 on: September 21, 2009, 07:53:26 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?
Can a person support the legal murder of the unborn and still be a Christian?

That is provocative. I don't think those who condone abortion consider it to be murder. You may disagree violently with them, but if they don't perceive it to be murder, they won't see the same conflict with their Christianity as you do.

You are quite correct, but the same logic could be applied to cannibalism, ritual human sacrifice, devil worship, etc. I realize that my analogies are offensive to those who do not consider abortion to be in the same category. The key here is obviously one's understanding of the Christian position on abortion. To my simple mind, Christianity in general has considered abortion to be a sin, taking of life. This has been the case because there are a sufficient number of Biblical and Patristic texts to consign abortion to murder. It is also a fact that currently there are some self-professed Christians and Christian Churches that believe otherwise. In the old days, ecumenical councils settled such divergent views. These days, we just need to adhere to the position of the Church that we choose to belong to.

Yes, I see your logic. It is a difficult question. The reason I questioned your position (I do try to stay out of certain debates, but perhaps I'm not doing a very good job of that!) was because I suspect that many people who are entangled in this debate are suffering so much already that I would want to be cautious about terminology. But perhaps that's not a very good argument. I think one of the most difficult things about being 'progressive' in any Christian religion is squaring up the (sometimes seemingly legalistic) established doctrines, and new situations in the world.
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« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2009, 09:18:52 PM »


I think one of the most difficult things about being 'progressive' in any Christian religion is squaring up the (sometimes seemingly legalistic) established doctrines, and new situations in the world.

I think that questioning the past and discerning customs from amongst traditions is the task of each Orthodox Christian (Father Schmemann, Historical Road of Orthodoxy). This does not make one progressive but conservative, in the sense of preserving what was proclaimed by the Lord and His apostles, and the variations that were instituted over the centuries with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I agree that we should try to square our practices and interpretations with new situations in the world, particularly in the realm of canons and praxis. There are many customs today that are vestiges of the Imperial Church and should be changed. Above all, we should stress the fundamentals of Orthodox Christianity.

With the exception of some trends, I am at a loss to think of radical changes in the human nature or condition. The various main branches of philosophy were established by the ancient Greeks and philosophers since then seem to play variations on ancient themes. Humans are still capable of great evil and still need Divine intervention, a condition that has not changed much since our Lord's incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. (On the other hand, it is true that Christianity is largely responsible for the betterment of women, children and minorities (Jaroslav Pelican)). I guess I am saying that certain things are "fixed" and not amenable to squaring..
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« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2009, 09:45:34 PM »


I think one of the most difficult things about being 'progressive' in any Christian religion is squaring up the (sometimes seemingly legalistic) established doctrines, and new situations in the world.

I think that questioning the past and discerning customs from amongst traditions is the task of each Orthodox Christian (Father Schmemann, Historical Road of Orthodoxy). This does not make one progressive but conservative, in the sense of preserving what was proclaimed by the Lord and His apostles, and the variations that were instituted over the centuries with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I agree that we should try to square our practices and interpretations with new situations in the world, particularly in the realm of canons and praxis. There are many customs today that are vestiges of the Imperial Church and should be changed. Above all, we should stress the fundamentals of Orthodox Christianity.

With the exception of some trends, I am at a loss to think of radical changes in the human nature or condition. The various main branches of philosophy were established by the ancient Greeks and philosophers since then seem to play variations on ancient themes. Humans are still capable of great evil and still need Divine intervention, a condition that has not changed much since our Lord's incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection. (On the other hand, it is true that Christianity is largely responsible for the betterment of women, children and minorities (Jaroslav Pelican)). I guess I am saying that certain things are "fixed" and not amenable to squaring..

That is very well put. I'm glad to know what you think of the way the Church should relate to her times.

I suspect we disagree only in deciding which things should be 'not amenable to squaring'! I do think that great strides are being made, particularly in medicine but also in communication technology, which are a big challenge to us. With abortion, the situation has changed hugely in the last 100 years. Under 100 years ago, an abortion was likely to kill most women who undertook it (if the attempt were successful, which frequently it was not, since it was usually necessary almost to kill the woman before the pregnancy would fail). Today, it is unlikely that a woman in the Western world will die if she has an abortion: it happens, but it is rare. At the same time, the stigma - not within the Orthodox Church perhaps, but certainly in general - attached to an unmarried mother has all but disappeared. I am sure if you told a woman in 1880 that, one day, single motherhood would be not only socially acceptable, but also made financially secure by state help, that woman in 1880 would predict that fewer people would procure abortions. This is not so, and I don't believe that the representatives of the Church have had time to catch up, and to work out what should be done.

I could be wrong here, but I think the Orthodox Church is increasingly changed its way of describing and relation to clinical depression? If I'm right there, I think the reason may be that depression is an illness that has come very gradually to be understood better, whereas the changes with abortion have been very sudden.
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« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2009, 09:48:12 PM »

Check out http://www.progcon.blogspot.com
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« Reply #33 on: September 21, 2009, 09:51:11 PM »

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short). 

Father, with all due respect... what went on in the former USSR ("Communist Russia") had absolutely nothing to do with socialism. The mere name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was a bad joke. I lived there...


This all depends on your taxonomy. Under the Leftism/Rightism paradigm, the central question is where one stands on the two leaps of faith that are central to secular humanism: (a) Species or ideal man exists, and (b) Man can perfect mankind. Leftists would generally say yes, while rightists would say no, you cannot become perfect nor can you perfect mankind without God. Politics are not the cause but the result of this paradigm. As a result, socialism communism, fascism, etc.. are properly grouped together. As for the late and unlamented USSR, I believe that the Great Purge got rid of the true believers and that the Soviet Empire was run by the functional equivalent of the Mafia.

That is an interesting point. However I think it is generally the Marxist socialists who think that it is possible to create some utopia which will change the nature of Man into something more perfect, since this is a Marxist theory; However, here in America most socialists are not Marxists.
Most socialists are simply interested in relieving the suffering of the poor, increased democracy, and fairer justice.
However, I do realize it can turn into a heresy, as it did in many Marxist projects that really had little to do with actual socialism. Even though I am a lefty, I always remember this sobering quote from Seraphim Rose, who was referring to the Soviet/Marxist version :
"Communism is actually a very powerful heresy whose central thesis . . . is chiliasm or millennialism: history is to reach its culmination in an indefinite state of earthly blessedness, a perfect mankind living in perfect peace and harmony.”
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« Reply #34 on: September 21, 2009, 10:01:48 PM »

Unfortunately, I don't know of any Orthodox resources that come from a Leftist perspective.  I wish I did, as I tend to consider myself left of center in the political arena.  However, a couple of months (weeks?) ago, I remember coming across a podcast on AFR that had a speaker that was left of center.  I wish I could remember which one.  If I find it, I'll post it. 
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« Reply #35 on: September 21, 2009, 10:45:32 PM »

Yeah, but how can one be of an egoistic economical system and at the same time be a Christian?

Good question. I have always thought about that as well.

Socialism and Capitalism are both "egoistic" economic systems. And the politicians that advocate these systems always appeal to the selfish nature of man. "Vote for me, believe in this particular system, and you won't be poor, etc. etc...." So people look to politics instead of looking to Christ and His Church.

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« Reply #36 on: September 21, 2009, 11:01:26 PM »

Many Orthodox have suffered under socialist regimes, such as Communist Russia and China, as well as the Third Reich (as in the National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi for short). 

Father, with all due respect... what went on in the former USSR ("Communist Russia") had absolutely nothing to do with socialism. The mere name "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" was a bad joke. I lived there...


This all depends on your taxonomy. Under the Leftism/Rightism paradigm, the central question is where one stands on the two leaps of faith that are central to secular humanism: (a) Species or ideal man exists, and (b) Man can perfect mankind. Leftists would generally say yes, while rightists would say no, you cannot become perfect nor can you perfect mankind without God. Politics are not the cause but the result of this paradigm. As a result, socialism communism, fascism, etc.. are properly grouped together. As for the late and unlamented USSR, I believe that the Great Purge got rid of the true believers and that the Soviet Empire was run by the functional equivalent of the Mafia.

That is an interesting point. However I think it is generally the Marxist socialists who think that it is possible to create some utopia which will change the nature of Man into something more perfect, since this is a Marxist theory; However, here in America most socialists are not Marxists.
Most socialists are simply interested in relieving the suffering of the poor, increased democracy, and fairer justice.
However, I do realize it can turn into a heresy, as it did in many Marxist projects that really had little to do with actual socialism. Even though I am a lefty, I always remember this sobering quote from Seraphim Rose, who was referring to the Soviet/Marxist version :
"Communism is actually a very powerful heresy whose central thesis . . . is chiliasm or millennialism: history is to reach its culmination in an indefinite state of earthly blessedness, a perfect mankind living in perfect peace and harmony.”

I would say that if one is concerned about the relieving of the sufferings of the poor and the infirm, the dividing line on where they fall in the taxonomy would be the "how" of they propose to do that. If they undertake private efforts or donate to a charity or church, I would say they would be Rightist. If they believe in governmental solutions, they would largely fall on the Left side, because nowadays trust in governmental solutions is largely based on faith and not history.

I should have pointed out earlier that the Left/Right "isms" fall on a circular continuum (half the circle is Left, half Right) so that not every "ism" is of equal weight. Thus, a Rightist can believe in some governmental services, not as a default, but because of necessity. Libertarians, for example, believe that government should be responsible only for public safety and national defense functions because these two functions cannot be undertaken by private individuals or entities. Conservatives would go further in allowing government to provide some safety net measures or to provide services that private entities will not provide. Socialists do believe in collective, governmental measures as the default solution, where the government assumes a distinct benevolent identity of its own. The inclination of socialists, as with all leftists, is also to secular humanism, to the rejection or putting aside of God's role in the affairs of men. For these reasons, I think socialists, liberals, progressive all belong on the Leftist side of the circle.
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« Reply #37 on: September 22, 2009, 02:35:05 AM »

Unfortunately, I don't know of any Orthodox resources that come from a Leftist perspective.  I wish I did, as I tend to consider myself left of center in the political arena.  However, a couple of months (weeks?) ago, I remember coming across a podcast on AFR that had a speaker that was left of center.  I wish I could remember which one.  If I find it, I'll post it. 

Do you speak Polish?
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« Reply #38 on: September 22, 2009, 09:25:35 AM »


Moderator Warning! the question as posed is permissable in Convert Issues, however many of the responses that have been given are rather political and seem to miss the mark of what he has asked. Please try to assist spliteeth with  answers that cite Orthodox websites, books, magaziness, etc that take a  progressive stance if you are aware of any.

Thank you.
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Due to the continued political discussion on this issue, rather than responding to the convert issue request for  Orthodox websites, books, magaziness, etc that take a  progressive stance, I am closing this  topic. You may reopen this issue in the political board if you wish. I wish to thank those who did supply spliteeth with the information he asked for. If you find additional resources you may send him a private message (PM).

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