[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Listen Now: “Tradition Without Fundamentalism” - Orthodox Christian Laity

Listen Now: “Tradition Without Fundamentalism”


Source: Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University

Fordham University Orthodox Christian Center Co-Directors George Demacopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou gave a series of lectures last year at the Eagle River Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Eagle River, Alaska. Professor Demacopoulos’s lecture “Tradition Without Fundamentalism: Part 1” is now available for listening.

To learn more about this topic, please read Professor Demacopoulos’s essay “Orthodox Fundamentalism” on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese blog and listen to the follow-up podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, “Orthodox Fundamentalism: What is it and does it exist?” The podcast has also been translated into Russian.

Discussion surrounding Professor Demacopoulos’s essay inspired the theme of the 2016 installment of the Center’s Patterson Triennial Conference series, “Tradition, Secularization, Fundamentalism.” You can listen to an interview about the conference on Ancient Faith Radio or read about the event on the Fordham News site.



  1. Steve Johnson on

    Brothers and Sisters of the OCL,

    Thank you for calling attention to this very unhealthy form of piety that has been appearing throughout our country. I can tell you that a lot of people have been hurt, families ripped apart, and the Greek Orthodox Church in America has been severely handicapped from the vibrant institution it once was.

    The landscape of our Church in America has changed. I think for the worse. At my age, I can tell you that I have witnessed this morphing toward fundamentalism by many obvious signs – some overt, some more subtle.

    In the past:

    Most Greek Orthodox Christians actually went to Church. Church was always packed. I do not ever remember seeing a woman with head covering that was younger than 65 years old. I remember the priests during when I was a child and a young adult. Outside of church they were sharply dressed in suits while wearing a collar. Bishops had beards. Most of the Priests. however, were clean shaven. The Priests were properly groomed and looked very clean. They always gave us a sense of encouragement and love. And one more thing: they seemed happier. I confess I am sharing my personal experience which is inherently subjective. Let me go on the record and say that I do indeed see tangible changes that can be objectively identified.


    Everything I previously mentioned has changed. Churches that were once routinely packed, are not so anymore. This is happening across America in many denominations. But it is especially so in the Greek Orthodox Church. I see many younger women wearing their head-coverings. Priests have changed. Seeing a Priest outside of church dressed in a suit, clean-cut, clean shaven, and who appears to bathe regularly, has now become the exception to the rule. Most Priests today that I have met and have seen outside of Church, wear unkept beards, remarkably long and unwashed hair that is in a bun, and are always wearing their cassocks (anteri). We have all heard of stories of the priests that have gone into swimming pools with their anteri on during Clergy-Laity Congresses. Instead of being agents of the Gospel that encourage and give us a sense of love, many have become judgmental voices that are critical of our “laymen’s” understanding of Orthodoxy. I think that being a loving priest is viewed by our fundamentalist brethren as perpetrating a watered-down “feel-good” version of Orthodoxy; of which the fundamentalists try to replace with being “obedient”. During Liturgies, I have seen the emergence of the kalimafi (the head covering that was probably instituted during the period of Greece’s Ottoman subjugation). From the many books I have read, it is my understanding that this is not a liturgically necessary vestment, and that this was more appropriate for monks. Maybe it’s just me, but some of our priests today look more like members of the Taliban. Very, very well-fed members at that. It makes me wonder what do they actually fast from?

    In America today, I believe that there is a sense that “looking monastic” has become “a litmus test” (as someone else put it) for someone’s seriousness about their Orthodox Spirituality. I respect Monasticism. But I also respect the local Parish community as a source of holiness and inspiration as well. Today it seems the two are competing – and this is having a dire effect on us all.

    Too many people have been hurt by the ultra-harsh penances imposed by the monks. They went looking for spiritual inspiration and encouragement – but what they got was a sucker punch to their gut by someone that is not worthy, or not competent, of their pastoral role to laymen. Marriages are being broken up because of monastics advising one spouse to divorce the other spouse because he/she does not support the monastery and its teachings. And now, the mother-ship in Florence, Arizona, Saint Anthony’s Monastery, has published a book that is over 1,000 pages long, that alleges the heresy of Aerial Toll Houses is actually true. What an insult to Jesus Christ! Some Hierarchs have even endorsed the book! I am in shock and disbelief at what I am seeing unfold right in front of us.

    The Antiochian Patriarch has stated once that he does not want women wearing headscarves or shawls. He referred to it as a carry-over from the Ottoman occupation.

    The late Metropolitan Phillip, Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in America (AOA), issued his directives advising his clergy NOT to have confessions at these monasteries, nor anywhere else outside the Antiochian Archdiocese, without permission from their ecclesiastical superiors. He even re-issued it years later. It saddens me that the current Primate of the AOA has endorsed this book from the Monastery.

    Where are our leaders? Why aren’t they protecting the flock entrusted to their care, not the monastics?

    We have grave and serious issues. We are in a crisis in America. I hope and pray that good and learned people like you, the respected members of the OCL, can shed light on this illness that has infected our Church.

    Steve Johnson

  2. Timothy Kulikowski on


    Your comments here & on other recent OCL articles are rather intense.

    Take a deep breath. Take a few of them.

    Live & let live, and more importantly love everyone.

    Not everyone who wears a head scarf or a cassock/beard or talks about the ancient & legitimate metaphor of tollhouses is a “heretical fundamentalist”.


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