The bearded, robed, and bespectacled keynote speaker at Georgetown University's Gaston Hall on Tuesday made a wise first move. His All Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Christian World, began his speech by naming the elephant in the room.
Last year Naomi Tutu and I met on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to keep vigil on the 40th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Friends joined us from around the country. We asked the visitors gathered there: "What keeps us from living the Dream?" Most folks spoke of fear. Some spoke of ignorance.
The recent Georgia-Russia mini-war in and around South Ossetia was definitely not a religious war, but it serves as a reminder that religious identity doesn't even come in third place when issues of national identity are at issue. While the battle raged, the majority of participants -- and casualties -- were Christians on both sides.
In both countries, the Orthodox Church [...]
As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, I have come to appreciate the strong connection in our tradition between spirituality and creation. Many of our great feasts, minor celebrations, and daily prayers involve joining prayer, blessing, and the material world. Unlike Western Christians who remember the three kings on Jan. 6, 13 days after Christmas we celebrate Theophany, the feast of the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. Part of this feast includes blessing water in our churches or [...]