Journal Review: The Wheel

by Brother Stavros

The Wheel is a journal of Orthodox Christian thought. Its mission is to articulate the Gospel in and for the contemporary world. By embracing contributions on Orthodox theology, spirituality, and liturgical arts alongside serious engagements with the challenges of contemporary political ideologies, empirical science, and cultural modernism, The Wheel aims to move beyond the polarizations of much current debate in the Orthodox Church. The journal is intended to be of general interest to a wide circle of readers. It will appear on a quarterly basis in both printed and electronic formats, along with an accompanying website.

What a breath of fresh air. The journal is inviting in its shape and feel and, once opened, spiritually enticing. It was hard to pick which article to read first. I settled on "They Never Met" by Sergei Chapnin. It was a good litmus test of the quality of this publication. I applaud the honesty and the clarity of the piece; it is like an ecclesiastical "emperor's new clothes" parable. Even as a distant observer, with insights gleaned from other insiders' candid observations, the conclusions of "They Never Met" ring tragically true. The author assays the Putin–Patriarch cooperation, from the Pussy Riot incident down to the blood-letting in Ukraine (unfortunately not envisioned in Chapnin's piece): "the price of that partnership…is unthinkably high,"  and adds the lament that "the Church opted to borrow the lens from the State" rather than the lens of the Gospel. One might ask, where is an Ambrose, a Philip, a Tikhon?
            Of course, we here in America, preparing for approach of the OCA's All-American Council, should ask this same question. I found Father Arida's reflections, “How to Expand the Mission” as honest and forthright as the above, and in many ways they speak to the same question. His is an invitation to avoid the Russian quagmire of tradition-at-all-cost, as well as the American posture, also hankering for a state partnership characteristic of Christian fundamentalism, wherein "the biblical, patristic, and liturgical pillars of our tradition are being toppled by a hermeneutic that precludes dialogue, nuance, and change."

My hope is that The Wheel is able to stay the course, provoke thought and metanoia, dialogue and inspiration. I feel considerably cheered in mind and soul by its timely arrival.

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