“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Monday, January 28, 2008

Further Thoughts on the Passing of Archbishop Christodoulos

It is a shame that God didn’t grant Archbishop Christodoulos the years that were granted to Mormon President Gordon Hinckley (who died the same day); who knows what he might have further accomplished?

Within the ten years that Christodoulos presided as Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece, he transformed an institution that was largely taken for granted into a vital force in modern Greek life. "Championing a more liberal image for an institution often considered a bastion of conservativism, Archbishop Christodoulos enjoyed a popularity rating of nearly 75 percent - far higher than any Greek politician." (New York Times, 29 Jan 2008, p. A25)

With his perpetual smile, his witty “anegdota” (jokes) and his genuine joy in cheerfully embracing the youth of Greece – allowing and encouraging them to come to church services despite their sleeveless dresses, mini-skirts, jeans, and piercings – he succeeded in revitalizing the church in Greece.

It is hard to imagine that this clergyman would have frowned upon young men, expressing “kefi” (a hard-to-translate Greek word variously described as meaning the spirit of unbridled joy, passion, enthusiasm and high spirits) by dancing “unauthorized” solos at the recent Greek festival.

Christodoulos would have embraced the “élan vital” – the life force so elemental to the Greek spirit – that precipitated the impulse. He would have considered it an expression of “Greekness” – an impulse that now and again breaks with discipline and structure in an expression of individual creativity and the simple joy of being alive. He certainly would have frowned upon the furor and antagonism that the incident has since generated, and undoubtedly would have considered its aftermath as a “tempest in a teapot.” He had balance and common sense.

He was the sort of clergyman who would have brought the kids into the church by any means possible: basketball, dancing, GOYA, the jokes, the smiles. At 2:00 a.m. last night there were long lines waiting to pay their respects as his body lay in state. It was amazing and heartening to see how many youths were among those waiting.

He presided over his flock with LOVE and smiles and tolerance, and all Greeks responded.

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