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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 7 November 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2015 23 OPINION LETTERS The Cyprus Problem The 22 October 2015 marked the 100th anniversary of Britain offering Cyprus to Greece in 1915 in exchange for Greece's military support in World War I. As history now records, Greece rejected this offer, leaving Cyprus, 100 years on, an independent, if fractured, republic. The problem is, Greek Cypriots have struggled to decide whether they are Greek or Cypriot. On the one hand, the country has embraced independence, avoiding joining NATO (even though Greece is a member), and proudly flying its own flag as its national symbol. As for the concept of enosis, the Cyprus elections of February 1968 showed the emptiness of this idea for Greek Cypriots when 8,577 of the electorate cast votes for the platform of immediate enosis promised by presidential candidate Takis Evdokas, whilst 220, 911 of the electorate voted for President Makarios' platform of continued independence. On the other hand, the Cypriot government has mandated Greek Independence Day on 25 March and Oxi Day on 28 October as public holidays right across Cyprus. Furthermore, the country's sporting colours of blue and white mimic those worn by the national sporting teams of Greece and the badge that the Cypriot national army wears as a part of its uniform is the blue and white cross that is the Greek coat of arms. For Turkish Cypriots, the issue of what constitutes a Cypriot national identity is just as confusing, with northern Cyprus replete with Turkish flags and yearly celebrations of numerous Turkish national holidays. Perhaps the solution to the 'Cyprus Problem' is the development of a national identity that is inclusive of all peoples who make up the population of the country rather than it being exclusive of one Cypriot ethnic group. In the words of Cyprus' national anthem - whose verses are meant to reflect the ethnic background of all Cypriots - 'Τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὰ ἱερά'. Yours Sincerely, George Demetrios Pakenham Supressed sentiments Mr Trakakis, thank you for sharing your personal response to Orthodox Christianity and Hellenism. Your impressive decoding of compound words and understated endorsement of self-in- dulgent poets equivalently revealed my suppressed sentiments. That is, your dribble crystallised why I pursue my own existentialism analogously with the infinite Truth of Christ, through His body, the Church with his Mother, Saints, the pageantry, prayer, architecture, icons and mysteries. It was impressive you omitted the cliché of aligning your insight with that of Kazanzakis - it made me feel you are an intellectual if not egotistical equal. A. Lemi Victoria I am a convert to Orthodoxy Thank you, Mr Trakakis, for your article. I know you are trying to be as honest as possible, and that you are writing from a place of concern. That said, I would like to suggest that, despite your honest efforts, your thoughts and concerns are the result, not of being raised Orthodox, but of being raised secular humanist. Before I begin, however, a little about myself: I am a convert to Orthodoxy of 20 years, the first eight of which were spent in Thessaloniki completing my doctorate in Orthodox theology. I came to Orthodoxy as an outsider which has, I think, provided me with the opportunity to appreciate what Orthodoxy has to offer the world, a vantage point that someone born into Orthodoxy would find much more difficult to appreciate. I have met many Greeks (especially in the diaspora) like yourself who, as far as I can tell, were raised as secular humanists with an ethnic Greek flavour. Let's begin with epistemology. You say "I now regard commitment to any institutionalised form of religion, Christian or otherwise, as incompatible with the pursuit of truth and wisdom" and end, "like Socrates, we need to listen to our inner daimon, forging our own paths and thinking for ourselves rather than letting others think for us". This is a completely modern approach to knowledge - Socrates would not agree with you. For the ancient world, knowledge is relational, not individualistic. The Socratic method is proof of this: knowledge/truth is not attained by some great thinker in an ivory tower, but in dialogue with others, in communion. Orthodoxy, more than any other faith, is relational. The Fathers were maximalists when it comes to Trinitarian theology - a theology that celebrates the communal and relational realities of humanity - the perfect com- munion of the Three Persons. 1) What you refer to as the ‘exclusivism’ and ‘triumphalism’ of Orthodoxy does not have to be unloving and unkind. Again, your stance is that of a secular humanist - how can any one faith presume to be ‘right’? Wouldn't it be more rational if we tried to find ways to just get along with one another? These are the questions of someone who already believes that religion cannot offer any real knowledge, any access to truth. Of course you are going to have a problem with Orthodoxy (because the Orthodox do actually believe that Christ is the Son of God, that the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples to establish the church, and that this is the community that Christ came to create). From the perspective of the Orthodox, it would be unloving and unkind to tell the world that it doesn't actually matter, and to change our beliefs so as to get along with others. If Orthodoxy is true, then we would be liars to do this - and we would be doing a disservice to the world, and to God. 2) As regards church structure, again, your questions are those of an outsider looking in. Because you don't believe that the Orthodox Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, you would like to see a "democratic" structure established. For the Orthodox, we believe that the Holy Spirit has set up the Church structure - the Church's criteria are different than the criteria of secular humanism. As a side note, your example from the church in Greece is simplistic - the question of church-state relations are far thornier, and they were made thorny by the imposition of western models of churchstate relations from western Europe, against the will of the Greek Church. 3) You write: "Without wishing to deny the importance of ritual, the tendency in Orthodoxy is to over-indulge in liturgical practices at the expense of the internal life of Email your letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org the individual." Do you have some way of determining how much ritual would be acceptable? What would your criteria be for determining this? A recurring theme in your article is: "I know what is best for the Church." You write: "There was a time when I hoped for church renewal, when I held out for the possibility, however remote, of another Reformation. But I quickly came to see that as an illusion." My question to you is - do you really know what is best for the Church? What makes you so sure that you have the answers? The Orthodox, rather, when approaching the Church, ask the following question: "How can I become what God would have me be?" This is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian - to be transformed from within, through the grace and wisdom of the Church. We don't approach the Church assuming that we know better - if this is our approach, then it obvious that we have lost our way. Where I will agree with you is that, far too often, this reality, this message, gets lost. The Church has been described as a spiritual hospital for sick and lost souls. This is a wonderful image, and when the Church's mission in the world gets covered over by other missions, other messages, people get confused and can get lost. Herman Middleton Victoria Open letter to former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis The Tsipras government's performance since its ascension to power on January 25 can be described by its three basic characteristics, infantilism, naiveté, and insouciant irresponsibility, which, as its finance minister, you embodied to the highest degree. Don't expect to be treated kindly, at least by me, for Have Your Say LAST WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you agree with Tony Abbott urging European leaders to shut their borders to the migrants? 51% YES 49% NO THIS WEEK’S QUESTION: Do you think the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing are due to climate change? Yes/No Vote online now. Go to neoskosmos.com Published by Ethnic Publications Pty Ltd (ABN: 13005 255 087) of 169 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn, Victoria 3122. 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Editor-in-chief: Sotiris Hatzimanolis Journalists: Anastasia Tsirtsakis, Nikos Fotakis, John Pyrros, Panos Apostolou, George Stogiannou Christopher Gogos Nelly Skoufatoglou, George Zangalis, Georgios Hatzimanolis Sub editor: Angela Costanzo Graphic design: Peter Kelidis Contributors: Dean Kalimniou, Billy Cotsis, Dr John Vasilakakos, Alexander Billinis, the most unkind cut you inflicted upon the Greek people. Within the short time of six months you managed to destroy the economy by closing the banks and bringing in capital controls, and nipping in the bud the positive results of the Samaras government that slowly but decisively was pulling the country out of crisis. For the first time after the long economic stagnancy and recession, growth was recorded to be 0.8 per cent and expected to be 2.5-2.9 per cent of GDP for the years 2014 and 2015 respectively, according to the IMF; also, unemployment was prevented from rising to 35 per cent, as was predicted by eminent analysts, and indeed, had fallen by 2 per cent, from 26 per cent to 24 per cent by the end of 2014. And all these heartening results happened within two and a half years under the prime ministership of Antonis Samaras. But you, like a revengeful immortal Olympian god full of envy of these mortal achievements of the Samaras government, destroyed them with ambrosial delight. Your ludicrously eccentric policies and your barren and inflexible arrogant stand in your negotiations with the European Union brought the country back into recession and you capped this with a bill to Greece of an extra 90 billion to be paid to its creditors, which would come from the pockets of future Greek taxpayers. This was your enviable success story in contrast to the real success story of Samaras. And yet blind and callous be- fore this stupendous calamity that you delivered upon Greece, you proudly and insensitive claim to be "sitting on top of the world". (I would add in your first word ‘sitting’ an ‘h’, so to make it a better fit to your ravishing pleasure. It must have been a relish- ing sensation to you, almost an aphrodisiacal one, defecating “on top of the world".) You should be instead sitting in a dock charged with high treason for the great hurt and harm you afflicted, with such insouciant irresponsibility, upon the ordinary people whom with unheard of hypocrisy you claim to represent. And no wonder your European confreres were not listening to the bullshit you were emitting in your negotiations with them on the Memorandum, and their justifiable rebuke of your crank economic policies delivered to them in the form of lectures, in an aura of omniscience. You claim to be a "liberal Marxist". But you seem to be oblivious of the dismal fact that ‘Marxism’ with any epithet before it is "a skull that will never smile again", to quote the ex-Marxist Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. You are not a denizen of the real world but a denizen of the phantasmagorical world of Marxism whose legacy left behind not the Eden of Marx's polytropos, many-sided man - fishing in the morning, playing the flute in the evening, and writing poetry at night - but the police state of the NKVD, Gulag Archipelago and Killing Fields. In a footnote of the history of the 21st century you will be described as a crank economist, a cowardly chicken gamester - taking risks not with your own but with other people’s money - and intellectual hijacker, who filched the writings of Marx and Keynes for the purpose of making your hybrid mulish economic doctrine, on whose back, as finance minister, you carried Greece to perfidious treasonable economic and political destruction. Con George-Kotzabasis Victoria Please note that the submission of a letter does not guarantee that it will be published. We reserve the right to edit your letter for clarity, grammar, spelling and style. Letters that use inappropriate language will not be published. All letters published will include the author’s name and location. Comments posted on Neos Kosmos’website, Facebook and Twitter pages can also be included for submission at the editors’ discretion and will be edited accordingly.
31 October 2015
14 November 2015