Para-re­li­gious fetishism

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PANTELIS BOUKALAS

The rushed can­on­iza­tion of Fa­ther Paisios may have helped his fans feel vin­di­cated for idol­iz­ing a priest once known for his homely ut­ter­ances but who in re­cent years be­came more fa­mous for out­ra­geous prophe­cies, in­clud­ing a dev­as­tat­ing war be­tween Rus­sia and Turkey that will ben­e­fit Greece and al­low it to re­take Is­tan­bul (Con­stantino­ple). But the hon­ors that are be­ing be­stowed on him now by the heads of the Church of Greece should be a mat­ter of great con­cern. The road of piety is so full of zigs and zags, and some ex­hi­bi­tions of faith are so un­be­liev­able (bor­der­ing on self-ridicule) that we can never sure whether we are hear­ing ac­tual news or whether we are the vic­tims of me­dia and so­cial me­dia trolls. The most re­cent de­vel­op­ment is that after the holy man’s flip-flops, his cap and his glasses, we now have his blessed chest­nut, which was re­cently put on dis­play at the Church of Aghios Dim­itrios in Agrinio, cen­tral Greece. Such a move can only be de­scribed as parareli­gious fetishism. Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial state­ment that came with the dis­play, this par­tic­u­lar chest­nut had been “given by a group of stu­dents along with oth­ers to Saint Paisios in Oc­to­ber 1990 to be blessed.” It is this phrase, “along with oth­ers,” that should be read as a prophecy – it won’t be long be­fore other blessed chestnuts pop up in other places too. More holy flip-flops and sa­cred caps will also in­evitably ap­pear. After all, it was ob­served a long time ago that in times of deep cri­sis and when there is a gen­eral sense of in­se­cu­rity, ir­ra­tional­ism in its most ex­treme form be­comes the dom­i­nant re­li­gion, re­gard­less of what idols peo­ple wor­ship. Saint Paisios is the pa­tron saint of our coun­try’s front pages, our very own Nostradamus. He was also a typ­i­cally na­tion­al­ist saint as he said things that so many peo­ple want to hear: the gov­ern­ment in Skopje will col­lapse and the For­mer Yu­goslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia

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