Davy Jones RIP

I received a text from Fr. Peter this morning that Davy Jones had passed away.  I immediately tweeted a RIP tweet and said he was on “the last train to Clarksville” (and yes, I know Mickey actually sang that one).  I have been meaning to write about the Monkees and unfortunately it took the sad news of Davy’s passing to get me to do it.  In music circles the Monkees are often criticized for not playing or writing their stuff and being a created group (the “Pre-Fab Four”).  In truth the boys were all musicians and entertainers, and ultimately did play on and write plenty of material after the first two albums.  And those initial albums had great session players and songs written by songwriters like Neil Diamond and Boyce & Hart.

The Monkees ultimately represent a transition from the pre-Beatles days of outside songwriters and session players to the era of full artistic control (and the perils therein) of the artists themselves.  There are lots of great songs in the Monkees’ discography.  Check out songs like Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) – a great unknown Neil Diamond tune – on Youtube.  And RIP Davy Jones.  He initially was going to be the drummer for the band but the producers felt he would be lost behind the kit due to his diminutive size.  Also, his look inspired the Chekov character on Star Trek.  He added a lot of personality to the group and a distinctive voice.  Several issues ago one of my British music magazines did a feature on Randy Scouse Git (check out Davy on drums!) and had Davy saying something like “I tried to explain what it meant to them endlessly and they never understood it”.

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February 29th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

The Genocide Of The Ottoman Greeks

Check out this new book here:

The recent vote against the denial of the Armenian Genocide held by the French Parliament, and the discussion to recognize the same event by the Israeli Knesset, brings to the fore the issue of the Turkish government’s adverse reaction, reflecting perhaps a deep-seated sense of culpability and apparent unwillingness to accept responsibility for the first genocide of the Twentieth Century, that of the Christians of the Ottoman Empire and the early Turkish Republic.

On February 28, 2012 Aristide D. Caratzas is publishing “The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks,” a collective work by nineteen distinguished international scholars, which addresses one of the lesser known aspects of the extermination of the Ottoman Christians, namely that of the Greeks, and provides a number of approaches for the study of this event.

The period of transition from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the foundation of the Turkish Republic was characterized by a number of processes largely guided by a narrow elite that aimed to construct a modern, national state. One of these processes was the deliberate and planned elimination, indeed extermination, of the Christian (and certain other) minorities. The numbers are stark: most scholars agree that in 1912 there were about 4-5 million Christians in Asia Minor and Thrace (Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and others); by 1923 the Christians in the space that became the Turkish Republic were reduced to less than 300,000.

Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who introduced the term “genocide” into international law, formulated his early ideas on the definition of this war crime by studying the destruction of the Christians of Asia Minor, while the distinguished (recently deceased) Turcologist Neoklis Sarris has noted that the annihilation of the Christian minorities represented an integral element of the formation of the Turkish Republic.

As the editors of this volume note, the recent resolution by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) recognizing the Greek and Assyrian genocides (December 2007) reinforces the justification for the study in greater depth of the genocide of the Greek Christian population of Asia Minor and Thrace.

The last two decades have seen a massive amount of research of the genocide of the Armenian population in the Ottoman/Turkish space; our publishing house has produced a number of works, most notable of which was the eyewitness testimony of Leslie A. Davis, US Consul in Harput (The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1917).

Much less scholarly work has been done on the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Thrace; there are many reasons for this, including the fact that Turkish governments have been successful in intimidating diplomats in the context of Turkish-Greek relations of the last generation, and of subverting academic integrity by inducing some scholars (including Greeks) to make a career as denialists supported by international NGOs, in the name of countering “nationalism.”

The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks therefore represents an effort to provide an outline and approaches for more extensive study of the deliberate destruction and elimination of a Greek presence that spanned over three millennia in the space that became the Turkish Republic. It includes fifteen article contributions by scholars from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States, and three appendices (“A Chronology of Major Events,” “A Glossary of Terms,” and “A Select Bibliography,” the last over forty pages).

The thematic approaches developed in The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks include: A group of eight studies under the section titled “Historical Overview, Documentation, Interpretation;” and two more in a section titled “Representations and Law,” one of which outlines Lemkin’s studies of the Christian genocide based on his personal archive. In addition there are sections titled “Genocide Education,” “Memorialization,” and “Conceptualization,” which include studies exploring, a) an outline syllabus for the teaching of the Greek genocide on the secondary level in the US (in Chicago), b) the erection of monuments in Greece commemorating the loss of life and homelands, c) the role of genocide in the creation of nationality, and d) a critical approach in the use of photographic evidence for the study of the genocide of the Christian peoples in what is now the space occupied by the Turkish Republic.

Publication Information:
Title: The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks
Studies on the State–Sponsored Campaign of Extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor (1912-1922) and Its Aftermath: History, Law, Memory
Edited by Tessa Hofmann, Matthias Bjørnlund and Vasileios Meichanetsidis
Publisher: Aristide D. Caratzas/Melissa International Ltd.
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Hardcover xii+508 pages, 37 photographs, maps (including a foldout)
ISBN 978-0-89241-615-8
Price: US$75.00



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February 28th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Lent Begins

Today is Clean Monday, the first day of Lent, and I am launching my (voluntary) 40 days of blogging exercise.  This is similar to what I do during the Advent season but without the official sanction of Fr. Peck and the Preachers Institute – so no friendly reminders if I miss a day.  I will do my best to post daily – my downfall has always been blogging at night and there are times when I return home from church stuff or whatever after midnight.

At the church this weekend we certainly prepared festively for the beginning of Lent.  We had our second Saturday of the Souls service Saturday morning and then had a truly epic Apokreatiko Glendi at night – check out the pictures on our website.  Sunday we had our usual service in the morning as well as Forgiveness Vespers in the evening.  Fr. Nicholas and Fr. Chris joined us and we celebrated the beginning of Lent, which begins liturgically the evening before Clean Monday, appropriately.  At the end of the service  we all embraced each other and asked for forgiveness – a practice that I remember from the seminary.  It was all very moving.  Fr. Nick sang paschal hymns as we went through the line and then told us about the tradition that monks had back in the day of singing these hymns at this service and then wishing each other Christos Anesti/Christ is risen, believe it or not.  Apparently the monks would disappear after the service into the desert for the 40 days of Lent and they didn’t know if they would see each other again, so they celebrated Easter in a small way in anticipation just in case.

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February 27th, 2012 by Fr. Greg


Below is the latest archpastoral reflection from Metropolitan Methodios:

A few weeks ago we closed our personal Book of 2011 and placed it in the library of eternity. Rather than make resolutions for the New Year – resolutions which more than likely I would not keep – I decided instead to reflect upon the past, observe more carefully the present, and try to envision the future, as these aspects of time bear upon the life of the Church and of her members.

I said to myself: Imagine how different the world would be if we lived each day as if it would be our last, as if at any given moment we would face Almighty God to give an accounting. After all, the Scriptures have warned us of the unpredictability of life, “The Master of the servant may come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know” (Mt. 25:50).

Imagine how different things would have been last year – how many mistakes we would have avoided – had we cherished every day as a God-given gift to make our world a better place. I bet our priorities would have changed dramatically, thereby altering both the course of our personal life and our role in the life of the Church.

I said to myself, “Imagine if in 2012 we would all learn to bridle our egos and “not be desirous of vain glory” (Gal. 5:26). If we would learn from Him who said, “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mt. 11: 29). Imagine if in the New Year we were to set aside time each day to pray and to read the Holy Bible and the writings of the Church Fathers. Imagine if we lived each day according to the tenets of our Orthodox faith.

Imagine if we lived each day by the truth. If we had the courage to drop the masks of hypocrisy—to look straight into the mirror of reality to see ourselves as we really are—and then muster the courage and strength to change. To become more wholesome and less shallow. To become more self-effacing and less narcissistic. To become what God has willed us to be and be happy with what we achieve by the grace of God.

Imagine if we could replicate in our own lives the example of the tenth leper (Lk. 17:12) who returned to the One who healed him to express his gratitude. Imagine if we were able to shun the example of the nine lepers whose ingratitude and thoughtlessness easily turns them into poster children of what has come to be known as “the age of entitlement.”

I also thought to myself, “Imagine what our Church would be like if we bishops, priests and deacons lived up to the expectations of our high calling.” Imagine if we clergy and laity were imbued with a vibrant missionary spirit and worked diligently in response to the command of the Lord to “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19), starting right here at home in America!

Imagine if we clergy were ever-mindful of the fact that the Priesthood is a precious gift, a vocation and not a job. The Priesthood, its dignity and honor, cannot be bought.  It cannot be sold for “a plate of lentils” (Gen. 25: 29-34).

Imagine for a moment if our liturgical services were as uplifting as those which long ago inspired the words of the Russian emissaries of Prince Vladimir who described their experience of the liturgy in the great cathedral church of St. Sophia in Constantinople in their initial encounter with Orthodoxy: “And the Greeks led us to the edifice where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty…We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.”

Imagine if everyone who is privileged to serve on the Parish Councils of our communities did so for unselfish reasons and not for self-projection or to satisfy some self-perceived importance and indispensability. Imagine if all Parish Council members were men and women of deep and abiding faith who live the sacramental life of the Church.  People who are drawn to and love the beauty of the Lord’s house wherein they experience Christ’s transforming power and sanctifying presence.  People who do not pride themselves in proclaiming that they “meditated on God when they walked by the ocean”!

Imagine how powerful the witness of our Church would be if we would invest more in things eternal and less in things transient. If we would devote as much time to our spiritual edification as we do to our business commitments and social calendars. Imagine if everyone, according to his/her means, was a cheerful giver providing the Church with the necessary financial resources to continue, improve and expand her ministries and services in fulfillment of her saving mission to the world.  Imagine if some of us realized that we contribute less to the Church than it costs us daily to enjoy a fancy cup of coffee or to pay for our cable or satellite T.V. service

Imagine if the criticisms we sometimes hear or make on aspects of church life were less strident. Constructive and not destructive. Mean-spirited attacks are hurtful and divisive. We have been enjoined by the Lord to notice first the log in our own eye before we see the speck in our brother’s eye (Mt. 7:3), and admonished by St. Paul “You have no excuses, O Man, whoever you are, when you judge another, for in passing judgment on him, you condemn yourself because you, the judge, are doing the very same things” (Rom. 2.1). Indeed, in imitation of God we are instructed to be “slow to anger and abounding in mercy” (Ps. 103:8).

Imagine if we parents and grandparents who fault the Church when our children are “not involved” exercised greater discernment, and realized that children learn more by example than by words. That we had to provide a loving environment that nurtures faith and the values of the Gospel. That children emulate the example provided by parents every day of the week, including the seventh.  Staying home Sunday after Sunday for chores, recreation or rest is not what parents should do if we really want to inculcate the Orthodox ethos in our children to produce a living faith and a true Greek Orthodox identity.

Imagine, finally, if everyone – clergy and laity – worked together in harmony by sharing talents, bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), exchanging views, seeking advice, forgiving offences and overcoming misunderstandings (Mt. 6: 14-15), inspiring and supporting one another in the love of Christ.  If we did, surely we would be successful in building stronger Greek Orthodox homes and vibrant communities of faith.


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February 20th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Notes On The Prodigal Son Parable

The parable of the prodigal son (as I mentioned in my sermon, I prefer the title “The Two Sons”) is a powerful piece of scripture.  We are all pretty familiar with the story, which is one that the Orthodox Church uses as the model for the sacrament of confession and which is always read on the third Sunday before Lent starts.  Some thoughts:

-The parables of Jesus naturally reflect the culture and times, and the prodigal son story contains two hideous breaches of the tribal code.  The younger son asks for his inheritance while his father is still living – he is basically saying “you are dead to me”.  The older son wants to feast and make merry with his friends rather than his family – this is his big mistake along with the envy of what is going on with the younger son.

-There is a textual variation in Luke 15:22.  Some versions have a “quickly” in the part about bringing out the robe; others are missing it.  It is a minor point but it does color the verse differently – the “quickly” emphasizes the instantaneous forgiveness that God grants us.

-The Rolling Stones do an incredible version of Rev. Wilkins’s song Prodigal Son on Beggars Banquet.  It is the story set in an American Gospel/Spiritual context – check it out here.

-Early editions of Fr. Pentiuc’s book on Hosea have the famous Rembrandt painting of the parable on the cover.  I have a copy signed by Fr. Pentiuc in the church library.


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February 12th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

The Boys Are Back!

The Facing East boys are back!  Fr. Peter and I discuss 18th century Worcester, new bishops, ecumenism, raising chickens, and all kinds of things.  Listen to the podcast here or on iTunes.

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February 10th, 2012 by Fr. Greg

Official Archpastoral Guidelines

The following was recently posted on the Metropolis of Boston website:

In response to questions concerning the official position of the Metropolis, please be apprised of the following:

1. CREMATION: Because the Orthodox Faith affirms the fundamental goodness of creation, it understands the body to be an integral part of the human person and the temple of the Holy Spirit, and expects the resurrection of the dead. The Church considers cremation to be the deliberate desecration and destruction of what God has made and ordained for us. The Church instead insists that the body be buried so that the natural physical process of decomposition may take place. The Church does not grant funerals, either in the sanctuary, or at the funeral home, or at any other place, to persons who have chosen to be cremated. Additionally, memorial services with kolyva (boiled wheat) are not allowed in such instances, inasmuch as the similarity between the “kernel of wheat” and the “body” has been intentionally destroyed.

2. SUICIDE:  Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is self-murder and as such, a sin. More importantly, it may be evidence of a lack of faith in our loving, forgiving, sustaining God. If a person has committed suicide as a result of a belief that such an action is rationally or ethically defensible, the Orthodox Church denies that persona Church funeral, because such beliefs and actions separate a person from the community of faith. The Church shows compassion, however, on those who have taken their own 

life as a result of mental illness or severe emotional stress, when a condition of impaired rationality can be verified by a physician.

3. AUTOPSY:  When a person dies for reasons that are uncertain, a qualified medical examiner may, with the permission of the next of kin, perform an autopsyto determine the cause of death. In some states, this is required by law. In all cases, however, the Orthodox Church expects that the body of the deceased be treated with respect and dignity. 

4. FUNERALS:  Concerning the funeral service itself, our Parish Priests are often approached to include hymns from other traditions, both Christian and non Christian. Some families have even requested that secular songs be permitted during the funeral service.  This practice is foreign to the ethos and tradition of the Orthodox Church. Therefore, non Orthodox hymns are not permitted prior, during or following the funeral service held in Parishes of the Metropolis of Boston.

At the end of the funeral service, the priest will offer the eulogy. Laymen are not permitted to speak. Those wishing to offer reflections are welcome to do so at the funeral home, the gravesite or at the memorial meal following services.

Priests and Parishes in the Metropolis of Boston are required to abide by these guidelines.


The first three paragraphs are taken from pages 265-266 of the 2012 Yearbook of the Archdiocese.


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February 4th, 2012 by Fr. Greg