Archive for 2013

Who Could Love Me?

Posted by andre under Reflections

Who could love me?

December 15, 2013

Who could love me? What a very sad question. Who could love me? Of all the challenges and difficulties that we face in this world, we should all have someone to love and someone who loves us. But the question, who could love me, is one that lesbians and gay men face in a particular way and under specific circumstances. Growing up, the teenage boy or girl begins to realize that they have different experiences from those around them. For adolescent boys this can be particularly traumatizing when the words “fag” and “gay” are used frequently to cut someone down, to ridicule and ultimately to dehumanize. Causing even more damage are the adults in the life of the young person, who hear the insults and do nothing to stop them, or refuse to educate those who use such dehumanizing and painful language. Read the rest of this entry »

Patriarch Bartholomew is Not Infallible

November 17, 2013

Bishops make mistakes. They are human, of course they make mistakes. Because they have so much influence, and even control over people’s spiritual lives, when they make mistakes, the results can be quite damaging. Permanent infallibility of the teachings of bishops is a concept which thankfully, has not invaded Orthodox theology. Infallibility, or the impossibility to be wrong on a theological issue, is a teaching that has been adopted by some Christian churches.  Read the rest of this entry »

Death of a Matushka

Posted by andre under Reflections

Death of a Matushka

November 3, 2013

A matushka[1] died.  While on vacation I went to Divine Liturgy at a local Russian Orthodox Church.  On this particular sunny Sunday morning, the small church was full of people. It had a mixture of recent immigrants from Russia and Ukraine, those that had been in the US for many years, a nice smattering of young adults and children and, as I later learned, even a few converts to the Orthodox Church.  During the sermon the priest spoke of his wife – his matushka, the parish matushka, – who had recently died and was buried within the last week.  Also serving the Liturgy was the dean of priests of the area. The dean had come to help the pastor with the celebration of the divine services, knowing that it might be difficult for the pastor emotionally, as well as physically, considering that he had buried his wife only a few days earlier. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by andre under Reflections


October 13, 2013Good Samaritan

Oikonomia or “Economy” is an Orthodox concept that is probably applied more often than many Orthodox bishops would like to admit. Essentially it is a way of “managing the household” of the Church. While the Orthodox Church recognizes the authority of Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition as the main sources for what we believe, there are many instances in which situations arise or problems need to be solved, that are not answered at all, or addressed insufficiently in the Bible or the Tradition of the Church.  When such situations arise, oikonomia or economy is applied.  It is a merciful decision applied for the sake of the salvation of the faithful.  Why can’t oikonomia be applied to gay people in the Church?  Why can’t oikonomia be used to bless the union of two men or two women in the Orthodox Church? For example, if oikonomia is continuously and liberally applied to allow an Orthodox Christian to be married to a Protestant in the Orthodox Church[1], especially in countries where Orthodox Christians are in the minority, then why not use the same principle and permit an ecclesiastical blessing for the union of two men or two women who desire to be a “helpmate” to one another[2]? Read the rest of this entry »

Palaiologos-Dynasty-Eagle_svgWere there queens in Byzantium?

September 22, 2013

Were there queens in Byzantium?  What an odd question, I thought when I read it.  Of course there were gay people in the Byzantine Empire – we were and are everywhere, no? The Byzantine Empire, the Greek speaking Eastern Roman Empire, has long been associated with the Orthodox Church.  Its capital, Constantinople, has been the ecumenical throne of the “first among equals’ patriarch since the fourth century. The Byzantine realm, which lasted 1,000 years, produced great luminaries for the Church such as St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory Nazianzus. But were there any queens in Byzantium? Read the rest of this entry »

What shall virtue do to meet brute force?

September 8, 2013


Life Magazine, March 26, 1965

As Americans take a moment to consider that historic day, as well as the recent tragic past in the fight for equality, it is also important for Orthodox Christians to remember the Church’s role in fighting for the full rights of all US citizens. On the cover of Life Magazine dated March 26, 1965, there is an iconic photograph of Archbishop Iakovos (Koukouzis), the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America, standing with Martin Luther King Jr. Archbishop Iakovos who led the Church in Western hemisphere for 37 years (1959-1996), went to Selma, Alabama to support the cause of African-Americans in the aftermath of the beating of Rev. James Reeb. Minister Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist cleric, was brutally beaten by white segregationists while marching for civil rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965. He died two days after the beating at the age of 38. The photograph on the cover of the popular magazine made a very vital, but dangerous statement in 1965, that white Christians were actively willing to support the cause African-Americans were fighting and dying for, not because the cause was an African-American cause but because it was an American one: equality under the law. The portrait reveals a very stoic looking Archbishop in his black robes and kalimavkion and veil (head covering) standing with great determination next to King. It certainly was a brave and courageous move for the Archbishop to support King, who at the time was under FBI surveillance, yet an action he believed was a bold, moral imperative. His presence was indeed virtue in the face of brute force. Read the rest of this entry »


Mohandas Gandhi

Fighting Against Great Odds

August 25, 2013

Mohandas Gandhi led India to independence from British rule through civil disobedience and nonviolence. While he is well known throughout the world as the father of the Indian nation, he is perhaps better remembered for waging a “war” through nonviolent means of boycotts, non-co-operation, and civil disobedience. Many members of his family have taken the personal philosophy and actions of Mohandas Gandhi as their own, and are still working to ensure greater protection of human rights and dignity in all areas of life.

A few years ago I had the privilege of listening to a lecture given by a grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, Arun Gandhi. Speaking to an audience of mostly students, Arun began with a simple but profoundly symbolic demonstration of what his grandfather’s life and beliefs were all about. He asked the audience members to turn to the person next to them.  One person should make a fist and the other person should try and open that fist.  Read the rest of this entry »

How shall integrity face oppression?

August 11, 2013


W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois was an African American civil rights activist (1868-1963) and one of the co-founders of the NAACP.  His written works as well as his spoken rhetoric were aimed at combating racism, and in particular combating discrimination against African Americans which was enacted in the reprehensible form of Jim Crow laws. Du Bois is perhaps best known for his work The Souls of Black Folk (1903), aimed at showcasing the intelligence of the black race, as well as explaining the double consciousness that African Americans experienced, being both American and Black. A prolific writer of over 30 books, within many of Du Bois’ volumes one finds an immense wealth of erudition and insight into the particular problems America faced – and to large extent still faces – in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Read the rest of this entry »


Patriarch Kirill & President Putin

Church and State in Orthodoxy

July 28, 2013

There is nothing like a few Supreme Court rulings and a few gay pride parades to get some people very upset. There have been significant protests, editorials, petitions and threats of law suits made by people who oppose the recent rulings of the Supreme Court.  The actions of some in the US are mild compared to what has been occurring in other parts of the world. Countries with significant Orthodox populations have seen larger numbers of gay people willing to come out and protest against unequal treatment by their governments, simply because of their sexual orientation. In each and every instance, the Orthodox Church has supported the government in its efforts to deny equal rights and protections for LGBT persons. Read the rest of this entry »

Justice You Shall Pursue

Posted by andre under Reflections

JusticeJustice You Shall Pursue

July 14, 2013

Any American privileged to visit Washington D.C. cannot help but be impressed and moved by the grandeur and historical significance of numerous edifices in our nation’s capital. Specifically, the stateliness of the White House, Congress and Supreme Court buildings, representing the three branches of our government, are particularly dignified and symbolic. Traveling a few months ago to Washington gave me an opportunity to stand in front of the Supreme Court and utter a silent prayer to God that He would grant wisdom to the justices, as they deliberated over cases in general, but in particular, over those issues which would directly and exclusively affect the lives of LGBT individuals including myself. Read the rest of this entry »