A great man is one who collects knowledge the way a bee collects honey and uses it to help people overcome the difficulties they endure - hunger, ignorance and disease!
- Nikola Tesla

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
- Franklin Roosevelt

While their territory has been devastated and their homes despoiled, the spirit of the Serbian people has not been broken.
- Woodrow Wilson

The Hagia Sophia

The Mystical Light of the Great Church and its Architectural Dress

by Charalambos P. Stathakis

Dear reader, as you run like the rest of us along the dizzy main road, stop, stay aside for a while. Let the others be dizzy, and take the secret underground trail, which will lead you through the dewdrops of the leaves, the crystal smile of the sun, the city’s underground galler- ies, your knowledge, and your feelings, to the doorstep of the Hagia Sophia. Because all dew- drops, all sunrays, and all beauty lead there. That is what you will be told by my friend, the author, whom I am fond of and whom I send you to, Charalambos Stathakis: the doctor, the warm and humane researcher, the scientist devoted to his work and his patients, who has given a series of scientific papers, who, nevertheless, retains a nest of beauty untouched in his heart, which makes him outstanding—even though he is not a specialist in architecture, nor a historian, nor a theologian, nor a Byzantinist—it makes him stand out in all these together and in entirety.

If you let yourself into his relentlessly personal approach to the Hagia Sophia with humble obedience, the light that transforms the building and is transformed in the building will be revealed to you.

Watch how he stands in front of Hagia Sophia, how he walks among her gold-lit corners, how he touches her heaven-dropped structures, and how he converses with her history, her legends, the interpretations of architects and theologians—he who is the least of all, but because of this also the first. Follow him with discipline on this trail. Work hard to comprehend him. Then return to the beginning to experience it again written in full and in one piece. Study his illustrations with patience. Do not halt on some technical imperfections. Receive what you are given. It comes from a non-specialist and this is why it helps us non-specialists to comprehend the Church, which may be simple in the experience it conveys, but not in its structure and its structural solutions. This is why it is revealed to us gradually by the mystagogical text and the accompanying illustrations. In this way, reader, you will experience the blessed originality of the author in interpreting architecture and space through light.

You will then see how the light helps him in a pioneering comprehension of this mystery: a) in the answer he gives to the question of whether the two external buttresses were con- ceived by Anthemios and Isidore from the start, b) in the explanation of the enormous exte- rior arches based on light, c) in the explanation of the contrast between the exterior and interior thickness of the arch (which, in our view, constitutes the correct understanding of Agathias’ text), d) in the understanding of the ellipticity of the dome, e) in the analysis, for the first time, of the significance of the plaque with the representation of the Church, above the central door in the interior of the Church, f ) in perceiving the lack of harmony in the relationships between the parts of the Church as a transcendence of the “perfection of measurement” for the sake of “spiritual perfection,” and g) in his original point of view about the interior decoration, that is, whether or not there was iconography in the Hagia Sophia from the beginning. Stride the bridge which breaks through the light, dear reader. Follow humbly, with asceticism and obedience, the revelation granted to you by Charalambos Stathakis, a personal interpreter, a relentlessly personal seer, who has a vision of the Great Church, not simply as a resplendent building, but as a living Entity with characters of a Person.

Fr. Stamatis Skliris


SA

 

People Directory

Father Mateja Matejić

Mateja Matejić (born 1924) (Serbian Cyrillic: Матеја Матејић) - Priest of Serbian Orthodox Church, emigrant since 1945, and the Professor Emeritus of Slavic languages and Literatures at Ohio State University. Matejic graduated from the Slavic Department in the USA where he received his Ph.D.

Mateja Matejić is a founder of the Chilandar scientific project at the Ohio State University in Columbus, where he has been teaching Slavic languages since 1968. He is a founder and director of the publishing house Kosovo, as well as the editor of the Path of Orthodoxy magazine.

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Publishing

My Brother's Keeper

by Fr. Radovan Bigovic

Rare are the books of Orthodox Christian authors that deal with the subject of politics in a comprehensive way. It is taken for granted that politics has to do with the secularized (legal) protection of human rights (a reproduction of the philosophy of the Enlightenment), within the political system of so-called "representative democracy", which is limited mostly to social utility or to the conventional rules of human relations. Most Christians look at politics and democracy as unrelated with their experience of the Church herself, which abides both in history and in the Kingdom, the eschaton. Today, the commercialization of politics—its submission to the laws of publicity and the brainwashing of the masses—has literally abolished the "representative" parliamentary system. So, why bother with politics when every citizen of so-called developed societies has a direct everyday experience of the rapid decline and alienation of the fundamental aspects of modernity?

In the Orthodox milieu, Christos Yannaras has highlighted the conception of the social and political event that is borne by the Orthodox ecclesiastical tradition, which entails a personalistic (assumes an infinite value of the human person as opposed to Western utilitarian individualism) and relational approach. Fr Radovan Bigovic follows this approach. In this book, the reader will find a faithful engagement with the liturgical and patristic traditions, with contemporary thinkers, Orthodox and non-Orthodox, all in conversation with political science and philosophy. As an excellent Orthodox theologian and a proponent of dialogue, rooted in the catholic (holistic) being of the Orthodox Church and of his Serbian people, Fr Radovan offers a methodology that encompasses the above-mentioned concerns and quests.