June 25, 2013

Orthodox Saints and the Future of America

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The latest information from our press has announced a new book written about the late actress Marilyn Monroe by Joyce Carl Oates, which in reality is presented as a fictional biography. But what is important in this case and needs to be noted is that in the interview granted by the author of this book there is a characteristic quote: "In America cinematography is a religion. We don't have saints, but we have folklore" (Ελευθεροτυπία, 11/06/2000).

America is a young country, the so-called "new world", created after the migration of entire populations of Europe, primarily to find work. In this way the spirit of the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment with all its consequences on individual and social life was transferred. So the spirit that prevails is rationalism and sensationalism. This affects all social behaviors, which is why Puritanism dominates the American land.

When one reads several books by American writers they will find that the examples they use come from films, which at their basis represent the American environment and the American atmosphere, where there is no deep theological or philosophical thought. This shows that indeed cinema is a religion in America, and actors are considered models and idols.

Frank Schaeffer, in his book Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion, writes: "Unlike the ancient Orthodox Churches in various countries such as Palestine, Africa, Greece, Ukraine and Russia, the Orthodox Church in North America (with the exception of the Church in Alaska) is entirely a Church of migrants. The founders were not monks and missionaries, but people seeking to find a better life."

In the Roman Empire, known as Byzantium, the standards of our society were the Saints, the deified, whoever had communion with God at various levels. Even today in Greece we honor, celebrate and process our Saints. This is precisely the difference between our country and other countries, especially America. If we don't understand this truth we will not be able to understand the difference between us. For this reason Greece and the Greeks of America play an important role in changing the climate and culture in America. When the manners and customs of our country are transferred there, which at its basis is an ecclesiastical atmosphere and life, then the climate of America will change, which has been influenced by Protestantism, who rejected the Saints.

Our models should be the Saints and not the "American dream", in which there are no saints, but folktales from the fields of art, science and politics.

Source: Paremvasis, "Εποχή χωρίς Αγίους", March 2001. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.