Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Orthodox Interpretation of Terrorist Activities

By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

It is known that journalists are reporting on contemporary events, as well as analyzing them according to their beliefs and ideological positions. Therefore they transmit and create knowledge which is largely a pseudonymous knowledge of things. Of course, later, after a lapse of many decades and centuries, history will restore things a bit. However, the personal approach, and indeed incorrect facts create many problems.

Lately I received a letter from an American woman, a convert to Orthodoxy, who interpreted the events that happened on September 11, 2001 and what followed, through her own Orthodox perspective. Having been born in America and living in that humanistic climate which prevails, she came to know Orthodoxy and become associated with Greece, not for its philosophers, but for its saints and traditions, and through this prism she saw the dramatic events. It is worthwhile to look at the analysis.

I wonder why the disaster in New York caused me such little feeling. The people here are passionate. People have forgotten their lives and are stuck to their televisions. I feel closer to you than to my own country, or to fear or to rage. I do not understand the political aspects, only the fact that Bin Laden is against the western way of life, which he considers a threat to his faith. When I heard about the attack the only thing I felt was the need to pray for the people who could do something like this. I am sure that God will take care of the innocent victims. Moreover, so much good has resulted from the destruction of our country! The hearts of the people have opened, they have emerged from the "cold culture of money", and have found a new perspective on the fragility of our lives. It seems that there is more "heart" in people, greater bonding. I believe that for this reason smaller countries that have been suppressed, like Greece, have such strong people. The families are fortresses. We have not ever felt threatened and as a result we have become arrogant, we're lost. No one has really felt the need to pray, because there is no fear of death. So people believed that security is only economic and physical, until such an event came and destroyed both. Only spiritual security exists, and this is faith, that is, prayer, and one just has to live it.

I think this text is eloquent enough and I fear to comment on it lest I perhaps destroy it. But I will do a little commentary to highlight two specific points.

First, that American life is pretty fragile, because it is based on the culture of money and there people believe that security is offered by financial and physical facilities. But in reality it creates a terrible insecurity, because with the first unsettling event everything collapses. There is no sense of a remembrance of death, which is why in reality the fear of death dominates.

The second point is that this American woman was altered so much spiritually from the Orthodox tradition, that she feels closer and more closely related to the Orthodox Greeks, which is why she views the terrorist attack as offering something good, despite the disaster. She sees that in Greece, because we have been oppressed numerous times, there are strong people, who are inspired by faith. And by praying for terrorists to repent and be saved she is living as an Orthodox. This is a major way in overcoming things.

And I wonder if Greece does have something important, which can play a large role in the contemporary way of life. Not that it only has beautiful places and beaches, nor that it has great philosophers of antiquity, although they in their time played an essential role, but mainly because it has the Orthodox Tradition and Romaic way of life, which inspires the people and makes them feel secure in their insecurity.

Ultimately, for one to be a Romios does not mean that they must be born Greek, but that they should be Orthodox in the fullest sense of the word and to follow the teachings of the Apostles and Fathers, wherever they may live, whether it is in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, Australia or New Zealand. A Romios can face things differently, with an existential reference and a meaningful way.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Μιά ορθόδοξη ερμηνεία των αποτελεσμάτων των τρομοκρατικών ενεργειών", November 2001. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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