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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 27 October 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER 2018 25 OPINION It is this situation that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has tried to resolve, seeking to break the canonical impasse of churches at war with each other, by husbanding a situation where under a regime such as exists in Estonia, Ukrainians of whatever linguistic or ethnic affiliation can either choose to belong to the Moscow Patriarchate, or the as yet ambiguous in nature Metropolis to be formed in the Ukraine under the Ecumenical Patriarchate and have mutual recognition of sacraments, in a safe environment, without the violence and hatred that has characterised religious life in the Ukraine up until now. Instead, it has waded into an ecclesiastical and political quagmire, where geostrategic interests seem to take precedence over ministering to the parishioners, a conflict that threatens to burst Orthodoxy apart at its seams. HOW THE SCHISM AFFECTS AUSTRALIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS IN AUSTRALIA Australia is far removed from the Ukraine. GreekAustralian media has chosen to focus its attention on the canonical status of the Greek speaking St Savva of Kalymnos 'church' which, breaking away from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to affiliate itself with the Ukrainian Patriarchate that though hitherto schismatic, may possibly now have been rendered canonical thanks to the Ecumenical Patriarchate's recent decision. Yet much more is at stake than the canonical status of a minor schismatic group. In Australia, underlining the Orthodox Church's denouncement of 'ethnophyletism,' the conflation between church and nation, hundreds of parishioners visit the parishes of other linguistic traditions every week. Many play an active role in assisting in the life of those parishes and parish priests often do reach out over ethnic divides to seek assistance from orthodox of other linguistic traditions in the furtherance of their missionary work. Many Orthodox Australians in need have been assisted because of such inter-ethnic interaction within the church. As a result, parish life is made all the richer for the cultural exchange, the ensuing goodwill and sharing of ideas that follows. Although the Orthodox Church in Australia is largely organised according to one's place of origin, in reality, parishioners' lives transcend ethnic and linguistic divides. There has been significant intermarriage between Orthodox groups. In times of crisis, all Orthodox churches come together to formulate common approaches on social or other issues of concern. They constantly collaborate. In Australia therefore, the Orthodox Church truly is an icon of multiculturalism. All of these elements, particular to Australia, and especially, mutual recognition of sacraments such as baptisms and weddings are now placed in jeopardy, for according to church law, one cannot share a religious life with schismatics. The Russian church has decreed that if any of its adherents commune (that is pray or worship) with parishioners of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, they must confess to their own priest and repent. Although local priests of all orthodox churches have been quick to press upon their parishioners the importance of remaining calm and allowing events to unfold, they have been unable to hold back the disbelief, dismay and derision Australian Orthodox faithful feel at this rupture in world-wide Orthodoxy. In some cases, zealots on both sides are beginning to add fuel to the fire by casting racially-based invectives and slurs at each other. All of a sudden, parties on either side who considered one another sister churches, are now convinced of the other's intrinsic malevolence. From an in theory worldwide communion, a tribal ethos emerges, one that is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Orthodoxy and Australian multiculturalism. And before the altar, my friend, the priest, suddenly and unexpectedly torn in two by his ethnic background and religious jurisdiction, prays, as he does every Sunday: "for the unity of faith and for the communion of the Holy Spirit, let us commit ourselves, and one another, and our whole life to Christ our God." As he does, so too do the churches of Russia and the Ecumenical Patriarchate resound with the same prayer, and the people on either side of the divide, watch and wait. The blinding of Polyphemus by Odysseus, stating his name as ‘Nobody’, and his shipmates. My Secret Name JOHN VITHOULKAS What's in a name? Everything. Our surname reveals our links to our father and his father and his father. It announces our ancestral home to everyone. And it is an attachment to our family. Our given name is the first gift our parents bestow on us. It is the name they tell the world to call us. It reveals our ethnic identity. And it is a personal connection to those in our family of the same name who have come before. What's in a name? Everything. "Michael, there is absolutely no way Turnbull will go, they can't win an election without him." "They just don't like him, Jim, he's gone." "Peter, who cares about Turnbull, have you seen what Tsipras is doing?" "Tsipras can't sneeze without Troika's say so, John. He didn't put Greece in this position." "I'm thinking we prepare differentiated exam revisions for our students, Cath. We could have activities in three catego- ries; checking definitions, open book case studies, and closed book exams." "That'll work well, Ren. And then we can spend time guiding each student to the best activity for them." "I don't know how you have it. Dean? Con?" "We don't have a Dean on our database, sir. We'll try Con." "His name is Konstantinos, but I can't remember what we wrote on his papers." "Should we give him a call and ask him his name?" "I'll call him and he can come here. He works around the corner." "Check out this picture, John. We found it on a holiday to my grandfather's village. It's his ID card. Florina wasn't Greek when he was born there in 1870, so his parents named him Jovan. I guess that was the local version of Gianni, so he could fit in." In Act II Scene II of Romeo and Juliet, Juliet stands on her balcony and entreats the unseen Romeo to "Deny thy father and refuse thy name. Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet." Her heart has been captured, but a name stands in its way. She playfully considers it easier to ask Romeo to change his name or for her to change her name, rather than to allow her love be lost. In the ancient Egyptian tale of Isis and the Snake, the goddess Isis poisons the sun god Ra with a serpent created from his own saliva. Ra is unable to expunge the venom and so relents to her terms; he tells her his true name. With this knowledge, Isis is able to wield complete control over Ra, allowing her to put her son Horus on the throne. The name I have been baptised is Yiannis. But that's my secret name. The name on my birth certificate is John. Jovan of Florina was also a Yiannis. He and I are separated by 150 years and 15,000 kilometres; different times, different cultures, different reality. Yet he and I were both given a secret name and a public name. Michael is Michali. Jim is Dimitri. Peter is Panagioti. Cath is Katerina. Renee is Eirini. Dean is Konstantinos. Maybe this is wise. When Odysseus is captured by Polyphemus he blinds the giant to allow his escape. His success comes from his refusal to reveal his true name, lying that it is 'Ούτις' (nobody). Polyphemus calls for help, crying that 'nobody' has hurt him, and so no giant comes to help him. But when safety has been reached Odysseus boasts his true name. Polyphemus tells his father Poseidon who is able to chase Odysseus and his men with untold terrors for the remainder of their journey home. Maybe in keeping our name secret we prevent hostility from those who would pursue us and make our lives more difficult. Maybe we are wise to lie so that we can fit in. But in this, the 21st century, the century where so many have stood up and told the world who they truly are, maybe we can be our true selves and use our true names without fear or prejudice. Maybe our secret name can also be the name we are known by. Maybe, just maybe.
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