Friday, January 24, 2020

Questions and Answers 123 - 127

Priests and Over Political Priests

Question 123: I find it disturbing that an Orthodox priest told me on social media that you can't be a Christian and support President Trump. How would you respond to this?

Answer: I would find something like that disturbing as well. Priests like that should not be priests. They should not be dividing their flocks over political matters, nor should they even make public who they vote for or not and favor or disfavor. Hatred for the President is without any foundation unless you mindlessly believe a lot of propaganda, and there is no justification for it at all for a Christian, making his sins the only ones that he should worry about. It's something I can't even come close to comprehending. I've never come close to hating any President; frustrated, yes; disappointed, yes; disagreed with, yes; voted against, yes; but hate, never. If I were you, I would attend another parish if you belong to his parish. If this isn't possible, and the cleric who said this to you won't commune you for supporting your president and your country, then you should either confront them about this or report them to your bishop or archbishop. But if he is just a friend on social media, excommunicate him from your life and stop following him.

Guns in Church

Question 124: What would be an Orthodox position on allowing guns in church for the protection of the faithful?

Answer: Personally, I expect some sort of security measures to be in place in whatever places the public gather, including a church. If the only security measure is to call 911, then such a measure is pathetically irresponsible. By the time 911 responds to an emergency such as a mass shooting of unarmed individuals, many dozens can easily die. I would highly encourage every church to have trained and armed security. It's just common sense. If some people are against such a measure, then they should prepare to offer themselves as sacrifices in such situations to protect those who want common sense measures.

"Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin"

Question 125: Is the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin" compatible with Orthodoxy?

Answer: The phrase comes from St. Augustine's Letter 211. It is said in the context of a monastery when a monastic sins and how it should be dealt with in a monastery. I find no problem with it in this context. Generally I would rephrase the phrase as "love sinners, hate sins" - this takes the sin to be hated away from an individual and into a more general context. When dealing with people who are living sinful lifestyles, we ought to love them and not see their sins as something to hate about them, but as a wound that needs healing. When we hate sin in general, we ought to hate it not in the context of others, but in the context of not wanting to commit it ourselves.

The Movie "A Hidden Life"

Question 126: What did you think about the movie "A Hidden Life"? I noticed you put it at #19 out of your top 20 films of 2019. I thought it deserved a better placement.

Answer: All the movies in my top 20 for 2019 are great films, I just thought there were slightly better films than "A Hidden Life." It was a beautiful film, well acted, great cinematography, and an interesting message and symbolism. If you want to know what lowered it in my ranking than other films on my list, I would probably say that it left me with a lot more questions than answers. The movie is made to convey a message and a very strong one at that. It ought therefore to leave no confusion. Also, I'm not exactly sure how much I actually agree with the message. [Spoiler Alert!] The main character of the film makes the decision to face the death penalty rather than make a contribution to the Nazi cause, which puts his wife and child at risk as well. But in the time of Jesus, when Romans were treating the Jews horribly, Jesus told them to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's." We know that the tax money the Jews paid to the Romans funded soldiers who killed Jews, yet Jesus didn't want the Jews to revolt but to give back the money which came from the government anyway and in turn to focus on "rendering unto God that which is God's." I think the priest in the film was the real voice of reason. But it is hard not to honor someone with principles like the main character of the film. I just don't think it is a message I would want to convey as being ideal in the context the film portrays. These were my initial thoughts when I came out of the movie, and I may be persuaded to think otherwise, but the fact that these were my initial thoughts makes me question if the movie itself conveyed its message in a persuasive way. Perhaps it assumes too much of its viewers.

Apocalyptic Prophecies of Elder Ephraim of Arizona

Question 127: Have you heard that the great ascetic Fr. Ephraim from Arizona passed away last month? Of course, voices of him predicting the coming apocalypse immediately became loud. To what degree is anything authentic about them? I mean words that would immediately come from his mouth.

Answer: Yes, I was actually among the first to announce his repose when I read about it in Greek media reports. I answered an Elder Ephraim question similar to yours last month in Question 122, so I recommend you read that. As to what you are specifically asking about, regarding alleged prophecies he made, I really can't say much at this time. When it comes to something being authentic or not from Father Ephraim, I would recommend you contact Saint Anthony's Monastery in Arizona.

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