The online lecture of George Demacopoulos, Professor at Fordham University (New York, USA) and Co-Founding Director of the Center of Orthodox Christian Studies of the same University, took place on Thursday, March 9. The topic of the lecture was “‘Soson, Kyrie, ton laon sou (Save, Lord, your people)’ and the sacralization of violence in ecclesiastical texts”. The lecture was given in English with interpretation into Greek and the discussion was moderated by Dr. Niki Tsironis, Byzantinoligist, Researcher at the National Hellenic Research Foundation. The event was a part of the third series of lectures “Time for Action” of the Volos Academy for Theological Studies.
The speaker focused on the hymn “Soson, Kyrie, ton laon sou (Save, Lord, your people)” which, as he said, marks a change in the Christian attitude towards violence. While earlier hymns speak of violence only as violence against Christ, in the era of the emperor Heraclius (7th century) the approach changes to an acceptance of violence as beneficial, as long as it leads to a result desired for the Christian state. The hymn, which can be traced in Typika only from the 7th century on, being absent from earlier liturgical books, is essentially a plea for victory in war and it sketches the Byzantine worldview, where political perceptions were transformed into religious assumptions, and where those who lived outside the Roman “Ecumene” were considered to be “barbarians”. The raised Holy Cross started being considered as an ally of the emperor, and thus pieces of Holy Wood began being carried to the battlefields. In another hymn of the time, the Cross is described as a “weapon of peace, an invincible trophy” and there is an effort to present the emperor’s successes as a result of his religious faith. Concluding, the speaker attempted to connect these imperial approaches, which are clearly departing from the earlier Christian understandings, with the rhetoric of the Russian Church in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and with its blessing to the Russian aggressive policy, while in the discussion that followed there were mentions of the recent interventions on the “Soson, Kyrie ...” hymn, that have been made in response to the political context in Greece and elsewhere.
The video recording of the lecture is available on the YouTube channel of Volos Academy.
The next event of the series of online lectures “Time for Action” will take place on Monday, April 3, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. The speaker will be Klimis Pyrounakis, MTh, Coordinator of the Network of Released and Imprisoned Women and former Director of “Second Chance” school of the Women Detention Center of Thiva, and the topic “‘At the back yard of the society’: Imprisoned and released women, their education and social rehabilitation.” The lecture will have a hybrid format, with physical presence and online transmission.