Sightings – Martin Marty – A Holy and Small Great Council

Orthodox Council
His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew presides over the Orthros and Synodal Divine Liturgy and concelebrates with the Primates of the Local Orthodox Churches at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Chania, Crete. PHOTO: © JOHN MINDALA from Ecumenical Patriarchate on Flickr. Creative Commons license. 

Those of us who have great regard for many aspects of the Orthodox Church can this week go back to showing that regard mainly by appreciating and displaying the visual beauties of icons and art work from the Orthodox tradition. We can return to listening to its chants and other sacred music, exploring its devotional practices, and revisiting the history of that part of the Christian Church which, through many centuries, was most exposed to its enemies, whether in the centuries of Ottoman rule or the decades of Soviet Russian strictures. What we can’t do is locate “Stop the press” releases after its Holy and Great Council, which concluded on Sunday, June 26.

Not that “we” were not looking for signs of motion in the Orthodox bloc, or had not been urged and given time to look. While especially metropolitan areas in the West demonstrated evidences of parish vitality and members’ loyalty, Christians and others who were not part of Orthodoxy often found the faithful flocks worshipping and celebrating at some cultural distance from “everybody else.” Not that there was no notice of some recent newsworthy events, beginning with the last-minute move of the Council from Istanbul to the island of Crete. Now and then a news release or a blog spread word of the forthcoming gathering, and a few daring prognosticators foresaw enlivening trends as the various factions in the Church promised to regard others with some favor. But we ended up with little marketable news, or even news of the less-marketable sort noticeable in parishes, seminaries, and the like. Continue reading “Sightings – Martin Marty – A Holy and Small Great Council”

William Schweiker – Sightings: Ethics of Brexit?

Source: Ethics of Brexit?

William Schweiker, professor of theological ethics at the University of Chicago discusses the – quite neglected – ethical issues involved in Brexit.

Something worth pondering.

Religion in 2013

Religion in 2013.

The religious year in review from Sightings.

Jeffrey Kaplan – Eating Hearts: A Terrorist Message for Hezbollah

The 9/11 attack, like all terrorist incidents, was a global message aimed at multiple audiences. That it is now seen as a generational moment may be attributed to a CNN camera crew which happened to be, by dint of luck, timing, or the will of God, in position to film the impact of the second jet striking the Twin Towers. The sixteen-second film clip, replayed by the international media for days, fixed the horror of the act in the minds of all who saw it.

Recently, another video went viral, likewise impacting a global audience. In a graphic sixteen-second clip, Khalid al-Hamad, a Sunni-Muslim, Syrian resistance leader, was filmed cutting the heart out of the body of a dead Syrian soldier and eating it, declaring that he would eat the hearts and livers of the enemy.

The video is grainy, gruesome, and possibly not originally intended for dissemination. The act itself was redolent of Islamic history and was understood in that context by Muslim audiences. Viewing this film, no Muslim could miss its religious connotations. Continue reading “Jeffrey Kaplan – Eating Hearts: A Terrorist Message for Hezbollah”

Martin Marty – Revolution


Egypt revolution (source of picture, HERE)

This text will appear soon on the Sightings website.

“C’est une révolte,” said King Louis XVI to his messenger about events on July 14, 1789. “Non, Sire, C’est une révolution,” the Duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt corrected him. With this exchange Hannah Arendt pointed to a difference between a revolt—we have seen many of such—and a revolution, which we saw on television and kindred instruments last week in Egypt. The Wall Street Journal was listening, as weren’t we all, to the shouts of protesters in Cairo and elsewhere. “[I]t’s worth noting that the words heard most often . . . have been ‘dignity,’ ‘modernity,’ ‘freedom,’ ‘jobs.’” Words like these “appear to have displaced Allah as the galvanizing ideas for the young in Egypt and Tunisia.” Continue reading “Martin Marty – Revolution”

Chosen, but Not Special

Michael Chabon, a well known American author of Jewish origin published on 4 June in The New York Times, following the Gaza flotilla affair, an article titled ‘Chosen, but Not Special‘, in which he criticises the militaristic policies of the state of Israel and their rooteness in the idea of the special role that Israel has in history, as a justification for their excessive use of force in their legitimate attempt to safeguard their nationhood.

It is a very interesting text, which is worth reading by those who side unquestioningly with Israel and by those who criticise the Jewish state.

Continue reading “Chosen, but Not Special”

Sightings – On GK Chesterton


GK Chesterton

Saint Gilbert of Battersea

— Ian Gerdon

You’ve never seen a blockbuster movie based on a book by G.K. Chesterton.  Perhaps you’ve stumbled across one of the many television adaptations of his Father Brown mysteries; and if you’re fortunate enough to live in Chicago, maybe you saw last fall’s staging of The Man Who Was Thursday, Chesterton’s secret-agent-novel turned heartbreaking-Christian-allegory.  Unlike C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien (both of whom adored him), Chesterton didn’t write larger-than-life fantasy tales easily transferred to the screen.  But in his own day, he was more a man of the people than either of those Oxford dons – a journalist, novelist, and poet of tremendous wit and notable width, whom Lewis later called the best Christian apologist in the English language.

Continue reading “Sightings – On GK Chesterton”