HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE BOOK
To whom the Book is addressed
The Syndesmos Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism was conceived for youth groups, lay associations and individuals wishing to study the issue. It does not claim to be a scientific work of reference, and is certainly not exhaustive.
The Resource Book aims to be a tool for study, discussion and action on the issues of war, peace and nationalism. It does not attempt to convey any particular opinion, but rather to indicate relevant sources to those who wish to clarify their understanding of the Church’s teaching on these and related subjects. In order to achieve this, we have followed a number of working principles:
to provide a maximum of original sources;
to prefer official Church documents to documents expressing private opinions;
in choosing documents expressing private opinions, to represent various points of view;
to provide a maximum of bibliographical references;
to keep editors’ comments to an absolute minimum;
to strive towards a balance between sources from the different Local Orthodox Churches.
Most sources used to compile the Resource Book are named in the Bibliography. The documents originate from a wide array of sources and vary strongly in their use of English. They range from XIXth-century editions of the Holy Fathers to modern translations from French, Greek, Russian and Serbian by a variety of translators. The editors have attempted to unify the text and to provide bibliographical references to each quoted text, allowing the reader to locate the source in the original language.
How to Use this Resource Book
There are many ways to use this book. Whether you wish to study the topic alone, discuss it in a youth group or undertake concrete action, you will find something useful here!
Formulate a question related to war, peace or nationalism, which will be your starting point
Write down in a few sentences what you expect the answer to be
Check the relevant sections of the Resource Book for Bible quotes
Compare the quotes with parallel verses in your Bible
Try to find other relevant quotes with the help of a concordance
Try to find commentaries on the quotes that you have found, in the Patristic and Modern Authors’ sections of the Resource Book and in a study Bible (example: “Come, Receive the Light;” “The Orthodox Study Bible”)
Take a look at the materials that you have found. Ask yourself the following questions:
– Have I found most of the relevant Bible verses?
– How can I summarize the spirit of these biblical texts on my question?
– Do the commentators read the text differently than I do?
Compare the outcome of your research with your initial expectations. Any discoveries?
Write down your most important discoveries, new insights or useful reference texts. In this way you will start making your own resource book!
Ideas for Bible Studies:
The Old Testament teaching on the Promised Land and the Kingdom of God
The love of enemies
Can a Christian state really exist?
What does Christ mean when He says “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Mt. 10:34-36)?
The New Testament’s attitude towards participation in armed combat
Military images for spiritual life in the letters of St. Paul
Martyrdom and self-defense
Earthly and heavenly fatherlands
Reading a text with (or worse: in front of) a group can make the most interesting story become dull. But you can make texts come alive, too! Through many of the texts in the Reference Book, the Fathers of the Church or even our Lord Himself speak to us. So make them heard!
Here are some ideas on how to use the Resource Book with groups:
An easy way to make a text or topic come alive. A group leader or participant, or several, studies one of the texts of the Resource Book and presents an oral résumé to the group. Here, the Resource Book may be only the starting point of research and discussion. Offers an occasion of close reading to the presenter and acquaints participants with the content of texts they might not otherwise read.
Pick the presenters and topics.
Give the presenters sufficient time to prepare (one to several days) and indicate how long they can speak (not more than 15-20 min.).
The presentations are given in front of the group and are followed by discussion.
This method is very stimulating and inspires people to familiarize themselves with the material in the Book. In a short time, they will be exposed to several reading reports. Each time, discussion will be broken off by the time signal, leaving participants in the end with a great impetus for study and exchange. Allow for free time afterwards to give an opportunity for discussion.
Preparation: you need a venue with several spaces for small groups that are not too far away from each other. The group leaders ask some participants to read one specific text from the Resource Book (a chapter, essay, statement or even a Bible quote) and to prepare a short 5 to 10 minute presentation. The texts may be chosen according to a theme, their length, or picked by the “readers” themselves.
Divide the group in as many small groups as there are readers; number the groups.
Every group follows a reader to a separate place.
Each reader gives a 5-10 minute presentation of what he/she has read to his/her group.
Each group discusses the presentation for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, each group moves on to another reader. The readers remain in place (so they find a new group in front of them).
The readers repeat their presentations to the new group; 10 minutes of discussion follow;
Continue like this until all groups have listened to all presentations.
Round up with a 15-minute group discussion.
A less interactive method which will stimulate study and raise questions. Pick a concrete topic which is well represented in the Resource Book. Invite three or four participants to prepare themselves for the round table well in advance. Allot to each of them a specific (and different) point of view to defend. During preparation, they should find a maximum of arguments for their position in the Resource Book. Another participant, or a group leader, should act as moderator of the round table, enforcing the following rules: 1) the round table participants should defend their point of view and attempt to convince others; 2) only documented positions are allowed (i.e. not “I think that…,” but “isn’t it written that…” 3) all round table participants should attempt to present an authoritative opinion of the Church.
Introduce the aim of the Round Table: the guests have been invited to give their opinion on the topic. They should convince their opponents and the audience.
Introduce the role of the moderator: assuring that only documented opinions are expressed.
The moderator introduces the topic and invites the first guest to speak.
After 3-5 minutes, he passes the word, and so on.
When all have spoken, the moderator co-ordinates discussion.
The moderator may decide to accept questions from the floor.
After 45 minutes, stop the discussion; the floor is open and the entire group decides which point of view it considers closest to the position of the Church.
Close the session with an evaluation.
Bible Quotes Quiz
Pick a number of topics well represented in the Resource Book. Allow participants sufficient time to acquaint themselves with the relevant sections. Either make teams or pick individual contestants. Make up a list of questions to which clear answers are possible (you may organize a workshop for the formulation of questions!). Appoint a jury which will decide whether answers qualify. Although it contains a competitive element, this game offers a direct impetus to familiarize oneself with texts. The quiz element may be underscored by the use of costumes, lights, prizes, a gong, and supporter groups. The rules are as follows: 1) the contestants or teams may use one or more non-annotated Bibles, but not the Resource Book; 2) answers to questions on Bible quotes qualify only if they contain both the correct text and reference; 3) if more than one quote is appropriate, each correct answer counts as one point; 4) wrong answers cost one point; 5) only one person per team will answer (advised by the team members). Modify the roles according to the needs and spirit of your group!
Explain the rules of the quiz.
Create teams or name contestants.
Pose the questions and keep the score…
The Resource Book offers many ways to study liturgical texts. Make sure you have the necessary liturgical books in a language that the participants understand. Make small groups and assign a concrete task to each of them. This workshop may be followed by a session of carrousel presentations where the groups expose the results of their research. Some ideas for liturgical workshops:
The theme of peace in the text of the Divine Liturgy
Commemoration of wars, peace treaties and natural calamities in the Menaion
Detailed studies of the synaxaria and services of the martyr soldiers mentioned in Chapter 8
The stichera on “both now:” on “Lord, I cry unto Thee” in the Vespers of 25 December by Cassia
The history and text of the Akathist
The notion of spiritual warfare in the Lenten Triodion
Peace and the Eucharist
Prayers for the Emperor and the army in the history of the services of the Church
The blessing of soldiers, arms and armies
The feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God
Enjoy using the Resource Book!