OPINION

Letter from Thessaloniki

One of the great things about Biblical quotes is that, properly paraphrased, they can be used to discuss absolutely anything. That also goes for ancient Greek literature. Some of the following quotes are from the Old Testament. And others are from Aristophanes. And there went out the mayor of Serres, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a few of the men of this northern Greek town were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of the Nestos river and set the battle in array against Aristophanes. (Cf. Samuel 1:17) And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Lakis and Sakis, men of Larissa and Athens, they rushed with one accord into the theater. And the local bishop girded his sword upon his frock; and drew nigh to meet the performer Lakis Lazopoulos; and when the church official looked about, and saw Lakis, he disdained him: for he was in costume, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the comedian Lazopoulos was greatly distressed and said, Lo, this place stinketh; for the pious people spake of stoning him, because the soul of some of the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters. For «Plutus» (Wealth) by Aristophanes was not to be shown at an outdoor theater adjacent to a Byzantine church, the bishop spake. And certain of the chief of Athens, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theater. (Acts 19:28-34) And gave him to read all of Deuteronomy (8:18 to be exact) which said: «But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.» Which is certainly not the way Aristophanes describes the whole procedure. And, behold, Lazopoulos repented, for in Aristophanes’ comedy, it was two Athenians who discover the blind god Plutus and set out to heal him so that he can banish poverty from Greece. And there came a voice – Aristophanes’ voice – saying: «Lakis, let each man exercise the art he knows.» And this was from his comedy «Wasps,» 422 BC. And half the men of Serres, when they saw the man, Lakis, fled from him, and were sore afraid. And the other half of the people did rejoice therein. And the bishop said, Hold it. And the theater-lovers and the people of Serres did groan; and they said as one voice, «Here goeth we again.» And someone whose heart was heavy evoked that Archbishop Christodoulos has spoke afore, saying: «But we will not put Aristophanes inside the church. One can go see his plays in the theater.» And he also recalled that five years back, this same holy man also spoke, saying: «No one – not a bishop, nor an archbishop, nor a Synod – has the right to sell out spiritually that which our forefathers passed on to us.» And that was a reprimand to Bishop Chrysostomos of Zakynthos, who spoke in favor of premarital sex. For some are already turned aside after Satan. And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Greece unto this day. And there was nothing lacking to the pious believers, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, except jokes. And the frocked teller of funny stories said yea to Aristophanes’ incitement from the comedy «Frogs» (405 BC): «Shall I crack any of those old jokes, master, at which the audience never fail to laugh?» And he rejoiced in telling one of his best jokes. And there came a voice saying: «Hearken unto me. For I am the supreme head by Christ.» And Archbishop Christodoulos replied, «No you are not.» And the pope answered, «Yea I am, I am, I am, and the margin of error is three cubits in an hundred. «And the Lord said so, as ye know, upon this rock He has built His church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And if you do not believe me, here are the keys of the kingdom of heaven.» And when the words which the pope spake were heard, His Beatitude Christodoulos said to the pope, «Let no man’s heart fail because of minor differences.» And there was peace in the heart of one man only. For the ailing pope had faint hearing. And the pupils in both denominations continue to be taught that Muslims are wrong, homosexuality is a sin and that God created the world in seven days. And let’s us remember that the Orthodox Church split from Catholicism in the Great Schism of 1054, over papal supremacy and the nature of God. And then, the other day, just as the Greek prime minister pledged «total security» and warned terrorists, His Holiness the Pope pledged total virginity before marriage and warned feminists. Now this is serious! From a document that has been leaked from the Vatican and which was published in the German Bild Zeitung and in Saturday’s Guardian, we have been informed that the pope was to call on leaders of the Roman church to attack those feminist ideologies that emphasize that men and women are basically the same. This major papal pronouncement was going to take place on Sunday. Yesterday. Let’s just remind people that the Greek Orthodox Church fully agrees with the Vatican on matters of doctrine on gender issues, as well as on the resolute opposition to gay marriages and the incorporation of women into the priesthood.