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ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey



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21 January 2008


Simon Baddeley

The roots of my feelings for the Greek Orthodox Church started with my Dad, who'd got divorced from my Mum in 1948 in the saddest circumstances for him, but then met Maria (my Greek step-mother in Athens who had been married to the artist Yiannis Moralis) and married her in the little church in Odos Hermou, is that the Greek Orthodox Church allows you a second chance and will still sanctify a second marriage. In those days when divorce was still shameful even in UK, that was something wonderful. Is it true what he told me as a child so long ago? It must be because their wedding was in that church Kaknikarea off Syntagma Square - and they would have to have declared their past to the priest. Simon


What a lovely post. How such unlikely events conspired to produce such fruitful outcomes. Notwithstanding the common cause that Cyprus and Kenyan shared to get rid of the dastardly British colonials, I wonder if Makarios would ever have visited Kenya, if he had not been exiled and on his way back to Athens from the Seychelles. Out of that short visit, almost accidental visit, so much grew.


I really enjoyed reading this post.I have close links (due to my father)with some monasteries in Agion Oros and Ormylia and I am very much aware of "ieapostoles" in many places in Africa and elsewhere. When I was younger I wanted to go to Burundi but then my dream never materialised.

Simon, The Greek Orthodox Church will not allow more than a total of three religious marriages, and this is only permitted in extreme circumstances. However, civil marriages are not recognised by the Greek Orthodox Church so even if you have been married many times before at a Register Office these will not be considered if you choose to marry in Church.
Orhtodoxy is a religion which allows for mistakes, at least thats how I was brought up to believe.



True Christianity is always about a second chance.


The ongoing tragedy in Africa is not so much a legacy of the "dastardly colonials" as much as the people who replaced them. Ultimately the problems of Africa have to be solved by Africans themselves. All we can do is help them as best we can and that doesn't always mean with more financial aid, most of which seems to end up lining the pockets of those in power.



Monasticism is making steady progress here in North America where we desperately need its spiritual wisdom. Spurred in large part by Elder Ephraim, a spiritual child of Elder Joseph.

Kevin McEvily

May their selfless labors bear much fruit!
The tragedy in Kenya is especially foreboding for those of us who considered it the most solid democracy in the region.
Stavros, I have to agree with you in absolving the British for the worst of the African travails. We have come to understand much more about the continuing cost of colonialism. Nevertheless, without intending to incite riot here, it has been my observation that that the British left their former colonies far better off than any of their colonialist competitors.
I have a cousin, now a priest of the Benedictine Order, who as a brother went to Uganda in the early 60’s. He established a number of very successful schools and was principal or headmaster at a particularly well regarded high school he had founded when Idi Amin, that old nemesis of the great Mordecai Yabakov, nationalized the school and its property and expelled my cousin and much of his staff. Still, it was better treatment than your friend, Paul Melshon, got when he beat his di di mau from the continent’s more southern regions. Paul was sentenced to death in absentia for his efforts on behalf of Bishop Muzorewa. Though I can’t imagine Paul thought of himself as doing the Lord’s work in Rhodesia, I see a similar a lesson in these two experiences: Laborers in the vineyard would do well to follow your dictum for more worldly intervention – know the geography, history, dynamics (including the reputation of the local vintner --or Ordinary) of a place before signing on. What’s the prognosis for your missions in Kenya?
By the way, today we celebrate the birth (1788) and life of Lord Byron, a figure distinguished by an immortal description offered by a contemporary literary figure who knew him intimately -- “mad, bad and dangerous to know!”
I understand that the poet’s life is still revered in Greece for his own attempt at adventurism on behalf of the cause of independence from the Turks. Didn’t we once share a drink at The Childe Harold on DuPont circle in Washington? If we didn’t, let’s meet there some time soon and raise a glass to Byron and to Greek independence.
Semper fi,

Theophilos Xenos

I should be the last to wade into a discussion on the merits of Orthodoxy, since I am hardly practicing, but here's my piece: if you join the Orthodox Church, you will never feel oppressed. Never. I spent nearly ten years of my life with a Catholic "lady" turned born again Christian and I must say the religious experience was a NIGHTMARE. She was openly disparaging about the Greek "papades" and while I have my issues with them, nothing that I have experienced in the church of my family and ancestors comes even close to the claustrophobic, apocalyptic, oppressive atmosphere surrounding "true Bible disciples." And one last thing: when you get to know Orthodoxy well, you will experience inner harmony and peace that, I'm sure, you'd never thought existed. I did experience that feeling very briefly and I wish I could muster the strength to go back ... but that's another story entirely...


Thank you Stavro for the link to the monastery. It is very impressive. One of the things I miss about not living in Greece is having a church near my house. Over the nine years I am live in this place, a lot of progress has been made and we do have a regular priest (from mount Athos) and a small orthodox community but no permanent church. There is a monastery near us in Essex but we do not visit regularly.



Your comment made me think of this review:


Your very welcome. I remember being a part of a small community of Orthodox believers when I lived in North Carolina. The nearest church was one hour away. Our priest was a Russian Orthodox Navy Chaplain and our chapel small and humble. The community was close knit and the relationships we developed have endured the test of time. Perhaps who we pray with is more important than where we pray. Give it time, some day you will get your own Church.



Africa is suffering and suffering always puts things in the proper perspective, that is why it is fertile ground for mission work. The bulk of that work is being done by Africans and rightly so.

BTW, we have a great deal of catching up to do and quite a bit of toasting, all we need to do is work out the logistics.

Semper fi


Orthodoxy has always been present in Africa through the Ethiopian and Coptic Orthodox. Why have they not spread Orthodoxy through at least Eastern AFrica? And please, I've no interest in debating the merits or villainy of Oriental Orthodoxy

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  • Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. C. P. Cavafy


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