Recently in the Neos Kosmos English Weekly Supplement (4/1/2014), there was a report made by Penni Pappas that looked at how the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia was bucking the trend of decline in youth presence within religious denominations. Needless to say, given the agenda and views of much of Australia’s local Greek mass media, the report did not give a very clear explanation as to the reason for this trend, nor did it relate exactly what the interviewees said in explaining this phenomenon.
Of course this is not anything unusual within the Greek Australian media, given that it has a tendency for offering very simplistic representations of Orthodoxy that are usually grounded more in folkloric customs and old wives tales that are passed off as actual dogmas and practices of the Church, despite being otherwise. Naturally this tends to reflect either the ignorance or in the more common case, the personal and secularised perspective of the reporting journalist and their media outlet. Consequently, there seems to be an aversion in speaking openly in positive terms of Orthodox Christianity, or reporting accurately what knowledgeable commentators have to say about it. However it is also revealing to see that there does not seem to be the same sort of hesitation in lambasting Orthodoxy, or publishing polemics against it by various non-Orthodox writers. Just as revealing, is the tendency to avoid presenting the Orthodox and non-Orthodox view side by side to allow careful examination by the readers who could then decide for themselves.
However, we know that this does not sell papers or gain attention as people naturally prefer speculation and controversy than sound analysis. Thus circulation is the name of the game, whereby one week an article favourable to Orthodoxy is published, while the following week something negative is published, hence giving the impression of impartiality or objectivity and at the same time satisfying readers from both sides of the divide!
To this effect, the article written by Penni Pappas did not truly address the topic she sought to report on, nor answer the question she had asked in the said article. Yet in keeping with the principle of newspaper circulation and appeasing the hordes irrespective of misinformation, the weekly English supplement of the Neos Kosmos (Saturday 11 January 2014), published a letter by a certain Con Vaitsas of Ashbury NSW, who has distinguished himself in the past by previous letters expressing a deep-seated anti-Church, anti-Christian and anti-religious vitriolic. The letter in question that comments on Penni Pappas’ article is as follows:
I was dismayed to read that young Greek Australians, unlike most others of their age, are still attending church in high numbers. It is obvious that family pressure and propaganda still plays on their mind, making them feel they need to attend church without understanding anything that is said during the service and then queuing for holy communion to be given with a solitary spoon supposedly blessed to ward off spirits and illnesses to be shared by hundreds of others. This practice should have a health warning by the priest at the beginning as a minimum and banned completely at best. Young people need to learn that they don’t need a religion to teach them to have ethics and morals, also salvation via the church is a complete hoax. Young people should be turning away from the church and read for themselves the destruction this institution has brought about during the last two thousand years. Contrary to popular belief one can still be proud of the Greek origin and identify with it without believing in the Greek Orthodox Church or any religion. I anticipate the usual suspects to condemn what I have written, but hopefully a few reading this will question their beliefs. – Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW
Now of course, since the formation of Mode of Life Project was to counterbalance misrepresentations of Orthodoxy and to challenge peoples’ misconceptions by providing reliable information regarding Orthodox Christianity, as a consequence we are also engaged in writing letters of our own and submitting them to the appropriate media outlets. However not all of our correspondences are published or accurately in a number of cases. So to challenge Mr Vaitsas’ assertions we wrote the following letter and submitted it to the Neos Kosmos English Edition, and hopefully they will publish it and accurately at that in this coming Saturday’s supplement (18/1/2014):
YOUTH & RELIGION
Contrary to the assertions or misrepresentations of various members or mass media of the Greek Australian community, the youth are not attending church because of family pressures or propaganda. If anything, they are attending in spite of it, because they are an inquisitive generation who do not subscribe to mere ritualism, custom and old wives tales, which may have governed the faith of their parent’s or grandparent’s generation.
Instead, they are a generation which examine all available information critically and with an open mind. They are a generation seeking after truth and substance in the face of the failures and crimes of secular relativism and atheistic absolutism that has afflicted humanity with ideologies like eugenics, Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Capitalism and Globalism etc.
They have tired of living in a culture where anything and everything is permissible, where nothing is sacred, where everyone is out for themselves irrespective of consequences. A culture that speaks about freedoms and rights without any reference to responsibilities. A culture that offers no comfort except in materialism (and hedonism) that distracts, but does not bestow meaning, purpose or true happiness. A culture that produces socially, emotionally and intellectually retarded people, where relationships remain primarily at the superficial level or end in separation and divorce, or struggle to even be open to friendships.
A secular atheistic culture which attacks and rants on the evils of religions and traditional cultures, but has offered no effective alternative to date, instead producing the devastating utopian ideologies that saw greater multitudes killed for a “greater good” than all the religious wars in history combined!
Yet despite improvements in standards of living or material well-being, the youth are confronted with declining quality of life and humanity, coupled with ever increasing costs of living and depression.
Thus they examine for themselves what Orthodoxy is, not according to some officially prepared script from the Church which in actual fact does not exist. And which the Church is not interested in offering, but simply wants dedicated people to be witnesses of Christ and not human stupidities which stain His example.
Thus, come to church if you want, otherwise we don’t want you there causing us more headaches and disturbing our worship, we have enough nominal Orthodox and troublesome figures who create enough problems for us and the Church as it is. As for Holy Communion, you will not be infected by it, as the first person who would keel over from illness or die would be the priest, who is the first and last to partake of Eucharist. Something priests have been doing for 2000 years and no illness or deaths because of it!
Mode of Life Project