Archive for the ‘In English’ Category

Now this is something you don’t see every day.

The Atheist Union of Greece (AUG) typically makes press releases and sends letters to public officials regarding matters in its fields of interest, but this was the first time a meeting was arranged face to face with an elected representative.

On August 6th two members of the AUG, the president (Fotis Frangopoulos) and the treasurer (Antonis Markouizos) met with the Deputy Minister of Culture, Education and Religions (Tasos Kourakis) and discussed several issues, the most important of which was the continuing problems students face when trying to get an exemption from religious education in all three levels and 12 years of public education (elementary school, junior high and high school).

The Deputy Minister was reportedly friendly, the discussion lasted about 30 minutes and and the AUG was promised that the Ministry would try to resolve the issue as swiftly as possible. I should note that a promise from a politician pretty much means jack shit in Greece (pardon the French) even under normal political conditions, let alone the current tumultuous situation (as I’m writing this the government has resigned, trying to renew its approval with national elections on September 20th). In any case, however, it was a first step and that should not get overlooked.

I have translated the text presented to the Deputy Minister below, but before you read it you should probably check out this article first, since it describes the various ways Orthodox Christianity intersects with school life in Greece. Originally it was intended to be included here, but it grew rather lengthy and I placed it apart. If you want to learn even more about Orthodoxy and its role in the modern Greek State, you can check out this article as well.

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This article started as a synopsis of the role of Orthodox Christianity in the Greek School Life, as a part of this article on the visit of representatives of the Atheist Union of Greece to the Minister of Education, but it grew rather lengthy in the writing so I’m putting it here separately. If you want to learn even more about Orthodoxy and its role in the modern Greek State, you can check out this article as well.

The owl: symbol of Athena, goddess of Wisdom, used regularly by educational organizations in Greece (like the pictured logo of the now defunct “Organization for the Publication of Educational Books”, which used to publish all school manuals).

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Hello guys and gals. Those of you well-versed in the intricacies of christian sects may be aware that the Catholic and Orthodox Easter do not always coincide and yesterday it was Easter here in Greece. In honour of that, I present for your viewing pleasure two comic strips I personally find hillarious.

I’ll be honest: I find most atheist/religious attempts at humour generally pathetic and for in-group consumption only. I don’t know if the artist that produced the following samples is an atheist or not; and frankly nor do I care. I just love the strips and he was kind enough to allow me to translate them in English for those of you not proficient in Greek (which should be most of the planet).

His name is Antonis Vavayannis and he runs a web comic called Κολυμπηθρόξυλα (pronounced /coh-lee-bee-THROH-ksee-lah/). This translates as “floatsam”, but trust me when I say that the word sounds really funny and chaotic in Greek (come to think of it, so does in English).

The first strip is pretty straight-forward religious humour. The second parodies greek easter customs; namely a game of banging dyed boiled eggs together (to see who is the last one standing), lighting firecrackers right after midnight during the easter service, and the unfortunate thing TV programmers have for old epic movie reruns during the easter holidays.

That said, enjoy! Click on the images to enlarge them.

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With the end of the 2015 National Elections in Greece, it became a point of interest that Greece elected their first ever openly atheist Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras. While this is mildly interesting (mostly since I’m more inclined to believe that Tsipras’ atheism is an outgrowth of his marxist past than any real philosophical reflection) it is important for people to understand the history that has shaped the current entangled relations between the Orthodox Church and the Hellenic Republic and why this creates special challenges for the secularization of the country.

Hopefully the following article will help you understand the complex interaction between Orthodoxy, the greek national identity and the government.

And in order to do that we have to start our historical journey way back, in the era of the roman and byzantine emperors. Yes, the seeds of the current situation were planted all the way back in 313 A.D., when Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan.

Two notes: All unsourced images are public domain images from Wikipedia; the word “Church” is used with two meanings: before the establishment of the Greek State, it refers to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, after that it’s a reference to the Church of Greece.

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You must have heard by now. The Greek National Elections came and went. Today Greece has a new Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) as the head of a new ruling coalition between his party, the “Coalition of the Radical Left” (SY.RIZ.A.) and the “Independent Greeks” (AN.EL.). I’ll let the political pundits and the economists deal with that this will mean for the EU, the bailout and the local and european economies. I’d rather focus on the significance of the elections on the secularism front.

And I have to say that despite the julibations caused by today’s secular ministerial installment in the greek and international atheist community, I remain skeptical. SYRIZA is too much of a mixed bag to warrant anything other than the mildest of optimistic approaches.

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