avatar
The Archbishop


Nikos Raptis

The

Greek word "orthodox" is a compound word from "orthos"

(meaning : right) and "doxa" (meaning : opinion). Therefore, an

"orthodox" is a person that has the "right opinion", as

opposed to the rest of humanity who have the "wrong opinion".

If

to this rather irrational (and arrogant) attitude one were to add the

carachterization "Christian", that is "Christian Orthodox"

(meaning : one that has the right Christian opinion or doctrine), one reaches a

higher level of irrationality (or arrogance). Although it is redundant to dwell

on the irrationality of the Christian religion , or any religion for that

matter, a (rather entertaining) hint is given further below..

Now,

if one were to add yet another attribute to the Christian Orthodox individual by

attaching the word Greek, that is Greek Christian Orthodox, one enters the

extremely irrational and arrogant world of the "chosen people"

syndrome. Of course, this world is also extremely crowded; the (Nazi) Germans,

the (benevolent)Americans, the (cultured) French, the (ruling) British, the

(Moslem) Arabs, the (ultra-orthodox) Jews, the (patriotic) Russians, etc. are

all "chosen peoples".

But

let us for a moment survey the Christian part of the real world. There are three

sections in the Christian world. The Protestant section, which dictates that the

"supreme norm" for the members of the Christian Church is the Bible,

the catholic section, which originally claimed that Tradition was the norm (but

later, in reaction to the Protestants, it reluctantly accepted that the norm is

both the Bible and Tradition), and finally the Orthodox section, which (loudly)

proclaims that the supreme Christian norm derives from the Greek Fathers (the

early Greek Christian theologians whose writings are regarded as authoritative).

At

this point, to proceed with this text, one has to make the assumption that

humans innately have the potential to think rationally. If that assumption is

wrong, one does not need to proceed with this text.

So,

let us start with the Protestants. A "canon" is a list of books that

are accepted as authoritative, because they present the word of God. The canon

of the New Testament (the "Instructions Manual" par excellence of the

Protestants) was compiled by selecting the "cream" from a much larger

body of existing early Christian writings. For example, there were more

non-canonical gospels around than canonical ones ! Who selected the books in the

canon of the New Testament? No one knows. Probably it was done

"communally", by a "committee" ! Also, the practice of the

time was to write these texts anonymously or "communally". So, no one

knows who wrote the New Testament (NT), but it is considered to be the word of

God, "communicated" to humanity through some entity named the

"Holy Spirit" or the "Holy Ghost". The Protestants fervently

believe in the NT, to the point of being accused by the rest of the Christians

that they have a "paper pope", the Bible ! (More fun below.)

The

Catholics are more "practical" and "worldly". They use the

trick of Tradition. And Tradition means that "what the Pope says goes"

! Of course, the authority of the (unpleasantly authoritarian) Pope derives

straight from God. As to the problems raised by the rather recently forced

"intrusion" of the Bible into the Catholic faith, the

"smart" Latins try to circumvent them by declaring that the Holy

Spirit-inspired authors of the Bible "certainly, faithfully and without

error (sine errore, in Latin) teach the truth that God wished to have written

down in the Bible for the sake of our salvation." The expression

"without error" instead of the more strict "without ANY

error" (sine ULLO errore, in Latin) leaves an opening for the Pope "to

do his thing".

The

Greek Orthodox Christians (the first of the Orthodox strain), the quintessential

"chosen people’, inevitably decreed that the Christian truth lies in the

writings of the Greek Fathers of the Christian Church. So much so, as the Greek

Fathers in many ways were closer to the Christian origins, than, say, medieval

scholasticism was. As expected, the Protestants and the Catholics complain that

Orthodox theology is a "theology of the Fathers" and that "their

statements are often naively placed on the same level as those of the

Bible". This "Fatherology" is very much alive even today. A Greek

"intellectual", of the David Horowitz ilk, a former Maoist

revolutionary and now a born-again Orthodox Christian, is the paragon of "Fatherology"

today in Greece. The Greek Fathers had also a very useful tool : the Ecumenical

Councils, a gathering of Church Fathers who decided what the truth was, in

"the presence of Jesus at the councils." The rest of the Orthodox

Christians: Russians, Serbs, Bulgarians, etc are similarly minded as their Greek

"brothers". Yet, "it is worth mentioning that Russia received her

Christianity from Byzantium, which was rigid and moribund, and not from the

developing and dynamic young Western civilization". (The words in quotation

marks belong to the Russian historian Andrei Amalrik, from his very interesting

and "prophetic" book "Will the Soviet Union Survive Until

1984?", Harper & Row, 1970, p. 38). Of course, the "Western

civilization" produced Adolf Hitler, the pious Catholic, and the benevolent

Christians described in Noam Chomsky’s "Year 501", with the American

Christians holding a prominent position in this barbarity.

These

are the "theoretical" positions of the three groups of the Christian

crowd in the real world. On the basis of our original assumption about the

innateness of rationality in humans, it is reasonable to ask:: do the Christian

clergy, theologians, etc. believe in these positions about the Holy Spirit (or

Ghost), the "presence of Jesus", etc. ? The answer is they do not give

a … hoot. These positions and the fanaticism sown in the populace is their

source of income, their livelihood. They are professionals. Their profession is

religion. How about the lay people? Do they believe in these things? The answer,

again based on the original assumption, is that they do not believe, but they

profess to "believe" for various, economic, social, political,

psychological, mimetic, and other reasons. But, let us return to the Greek

Orthodox Christians, the core of this text.

As

expected, in organizations like the Church there should be a "leader".

In the Greek Orthodox Christian Church the leader is the Archbishop, again a

Greek compound from "archigos" (leader) and "episkopo" (to

oversee). What does the Archbishop oversee? His flock of sheep !

About

three years ago the Archbishop of Greece died and a new one was

"elected". The election is done by a sort of electoral college of

bishops. The nomination of the bishops to the electoral college, the electoral

procedure, power peddling, etc. resemble any (lay) political election. The

person elected chose for his (professional) name that of "Christodoulos",

that is the "slave" ("doulos", in Greek) of Christ.

Christodoulos,

a church apparatsick during the 1967-74 dictatorship, started his professional

career as Archbishop, by embracing an extreme nationalism, with oratory against

the enemies of the fatherland (meaning the Turks), etc. Then, he invaded the

"turf" of the youth by telling them that he "digs" (sic)

them, that he will accept the boys in the Church even if they wear earrings,

that he will open a cafe (or cafeteria) for them in downtown Athens, etc.

Christodoulos has a rather close physical resemblance to (a bearded) Mussolini

and a strong tendency to use Mussolini’s theatrics.

The

new Archbishop’s political ambitions became obvious from the very first minutes

after his enthronement, when he walked from the Athens cathedral all the way to

the Great Britain hotel (!) for a reception. The hotel is part of the recent

history of Greece, as it was there that Churchill, in December of 1944, initiate

the British occupation of Greece and the US one that followed and holds to this

day. Christodoulos systematically and calculatingly paved his way to the top of

the Greek Church form a very early age, as a pre-teener in the Sunday School of

the Athens parish of the "Sacred Belt" (supposedly the belt, or

"zone" in archaic English, that the Virgin Mary wore, or something).

(Note

: It is a bit amusing that the Sunday School of this "Sacred Belt"

parish also bred another overseer of a flock of sheep, the Archbishop Anastasios

of Albania (a Greek) ! A milder and more subdued person than Christodoulos, yet

equally ambitious, who lived four blocks away from Christodoulos in the fringes

of a limestone quarry in the "Belt" parish.)

So,

Christodoulos, following his political bent, after approaching the youth he

"descended" to the general populace, or the biblical flock of sheep.

He chose a huge Athenian church and exhibited the very same "Sacred Belt’

of his spiritual roots ! Hundreds of thousands of Athenians (a depressing sight)

stood in line for hours to kiss the glass cover of the box that contained the

belt. This went on for days. Obviously the box was accompanied by a collection

box that brought a few million dollars to the Church of Christodoulos. The

"Belt" project followed an earlier project of the exhibition, in the

same church, of an icon of the Virgin Mary. The crowds were bigger than those of

the "Belt" as were the collection amounts. These money supposedly were

given to the victims of the 1999 earthquake in Athens. Some vulgar journalists

think otherwise.

Christodoulos’s

next project was the "ID card" saga. Greeks are obliged to carry what

is called a "police identification card" since their teens. My ID card

was issued in 1961 and has proved to be quite "useful" to me. For

example, in the early 70s, still under the dictatorship, I had to (reluctantly)

take the American husband of a Greek-American relative of mine to the Acropolis.

At the foot of the Acropolis one of the unavoidable tourist guides asked me if

we needed a guide. I declined by jokingly saying that I had finished the Greek

elementary school. While in the Parthenon a policeman, in civilian, of the

dreaded security police (a pack of torturers) appears out of the blue and

beckons to me to go where he was standing. He asks for my ID card. He looks at

it, concludes that I am not a communist, and in a rather confidential way tells

me that the tourist guide at the foot of the Acropolis has summoned him and told

him that I had used the ending of the demotic (not the refined) Greek language

for the genitive case of a word. (At that time the demotic was used only by the

communists).. The policeman had spotted some kind of a sign on my ID card that

indicated to him that I was not a communist. My father was a royalist, therefore

not a communist, consequently when as a young man I was issued the ID card I was

labeled as non-communist myself ! I was not arrested. It seems that the guide

was a very devout Greek Orthodox Christian.

On

line sixteen of my ID card there is the designation that I am a "Christian

Orthodox(sic)". (Which is very true, as the present Commentary attests).

The ID card is a plasticized one, not a common practice as early as 1961. My

estimate is that the Greek police under the guidance of the US occupiers

(possibly the FBI) introduced the plasticizes cards with the secret signs on

them.

Now,

the European Union (EU) decided to issue ID cards for the citizens of the member

countries, without any designation of the religious belief of the bearer. Greece

is a member of the EU, therefore it has to conform with the EU decision.

Christodoulos proclaimed a "holy war" to retain the designation and

thus save the Christian Orthodoxy and the Greek nation (this is not a joke). So,

he called for an "assemblage of the people" at the central square of

Athens, built a huge platform (reminiscent of the ones in the Red Square in

Moscow, only it was painted in Irish blue), climbed at the top, gave a speech,

and raised the banner of Saint Lavra, which was (supposedly) raised to initiate

the struggle against the Turkish occupiers 180 years ago. The

"believers" in the square were in the tens of thousands.

The

Greek government did not succumb. So, Christodoulos called for a referendum and

for months now in the churches ,etc., the "believers" are signing

petitions to retain the designation of religion on the ID cards. Christodoulos

claims there are one million and a half signatures, up to now. The final tally

will be some time in March of 2001. Will Christodoulos prevail? This will be

really amusing.

The

latest episode of the Christodoulos series has to do with his archenemy: the

Pope! A few weeks ago the President of the Greek Republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos,

while visiting Italy invited the Pope to visit Greece. Christodoulos said NO !

He claims that if the Pope wishes to visit Greece he can do that as any other

person (as a tourist?). Will Christodoulos prevail?

In

spite of the comic aspects of the deeds of the religious extremists, it seems

that there is a serious global political problem with the Christodouloses, the

Pat Robertsons, etc. of the world.

 

 

 

Leave a comment