Vasilios Theodorakis – An Online Author is a digital repository of all my written work (in text and podcast formats)…

April 2, 2010

Good Friday 2010

Filed under: Religion And Theology — Vasilios Theodorakis @ 11:35 pm

I’ve never quite mastered the art of compromise and have paid for this dearly, missing out on financial gain, credibility and peace of mind.

Years ago I had the opportunity to become a priest – it’s a long story, but lets just say I knew people who were prepared to make it happen, as long as I was prepared to turn a blind eye to the nationalistic heresy (phyletism) that’s rife in the Orthodox Church. Going down that path might have guaranteed me a life of security, credibility and a warm fuzzy feeling that I was helping the Faith. At the time though, I had lived by my wits and by the grace of God for so long that I could not discern whether I’d be taking on the role because of the benefits or because of a genuine desire for spiritual service. The benefits on offer, for someone who had been as deprived as I had been, were just a little too tempting and I could not risk following through on such a decision. If I did, there would always be some doubt (in my mind) as to my motivations. And so, my work for “The Big Guy” continued to occur on the fringe, with no financial gain or personal benefit.

Even though passing up the offer was extremely difficult on me and a slap in the face for those who were supporting me, I felt it was the right decision. In making it, I had (as a minimum) not compromised a promise I made to myself, which was, to lay down one’s life in service to Christ – not language, not culture and definitely not country. With this as my bottom line, I’ve subsequently inched forward and worked towards teaching others as much as I can about the Faith. As happens on a regular basis however, my local church yet again made a mockery of everything I’ve fought for since 1983.

This evening, my wife and I tried to attend the Orthodox Christian service of “Matins of the Lamentations” which is about paying one’s respect to Christ in the tomb. This happens before the resurrection service tomorrow night. Instead of Roman soldiers guarding the tomb however, we were presented with children dressed in their great grandparent’s national dress. In addition to this, not a word of English was spoken or chanted during the service – English, by the way, is the only language these children understand. I’m sure I wouldn’t have reacted so badly, if the language being spoken was still understood by more than a handful of the congregation, but the language (in use) is as foreign to these people, as Latin was to the Roman Catholics in the 20th century.

Before going on, I should also point out that one of my own failings is that I haven’t learnt how to stomach the ignorance these people display for the Faith or the way they discriminate against outsiders. Let’s put aside for a moment, that every time someone like me walks into a church we get looked up and down for not dressing in the “right” clothes, or for having long hair and a pony tail – this pretentiousness and discrimination is far too entrenched to change in a hurry. What I can’t put aside however, is that in 2010, they’re still unable to differentiate between their own religion and their ancestors’ nationalism! As far as they are concerned the Faith is just another ritualistic part of their 1950s time-capsuled culture (which was perpetuated in the suburbs of Australia). I wonder what the Fathers and Mothers of the Church would have thought of this situation – Orthodoxy that doesn’t include a relationship with God!

These children, who were dressed up in someone else’s national costume were easily 4th or 5th generation Australians. One has to wonder whether their parents will ever realise that establishing a sense of identity is difficult enough for a child, let alone when it’s not allowed to plant both feet firmly in one country. Rolling nationalism into religion is a particularly desperate attempt to keep alive an ethnicity (across generations), and unfortunately is being done at the expense of the Faith. Orthodox Christianity was never about Hellenistic culture and country it was about the universal worship of God! Anything that got in the way of that worship (being universal) was always modified, especially language that became incomprehensible and foreign nationalism that overruled theology! The Faith is also about accurate history, if you want to depict the soldiers at the tomb, they were Roman, not 19th century Evzones. And if you want to depict Christ – Christ was a Jew not some Hellenistic national! What “line” are we running here – that “God was, is and always will be Hellenic”!

I honestly fear for the future of my Church in this country, and I’m gravely concerned as to why the clergy continue to allow people to convert to this Faith when converts are not welcomed and do not have a place to call home for themselves.

My message to both the Orthodox Church in Australia and its priests is make up your minds – decide whether you want the Faith to be part of this country and if so, make appropriate changes that allow it to be accessible to all Australians (like separate missionary churches) – or – take these congregations, aka the glorious diaspora which seems to pine/long for the homeland, encourage them to sell off all their Australian assets and move to where there is no conflict of interest between nationalism and religion. After more than 60 years of this nonsense, it’s time to make a choice and either put down roots for both the descendants and converts of the Faith or pack it up and leave!

I, on the other hand will continue to live in Australia and continue to operate as an Orthodox Christian, even if I have nowhere to practice my Faith. To this day I do not have a single local church where I can attend all services in the language in which I think and write – and that language is and will always be English. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against running services in multiple languages – but please – start offering appropriate liturgies in the language of the land – after all, what country do we think this is!

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 2010

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Copyright © Vasilios Theodorakis 1983-2016. All rights reserved.   Powered by WordPress