THIS YEAR has been filled with many challenges, most especially due to the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. At times, the massive health and economic upheavals can feel overwhelming, or even hopeless. This year also stands as a grim reminder to the atrocities of the past, as August 6, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. As our cover story notes, this event occurred on the Feast of the Transfiguration.
The Transfiguration is a feast of hope. It is a feast of light. The light and hope of this feast are as needed now as they have ever been. There are reasons for hope, after all. This year, the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church released a draft text banning the blessing of nuclear weapons, an appropriate change for the 75th anniversary of the first use of such weapons to kill (see page 6). This change is a small step towards building a world that does not glorify weapons or killing, but instead transfigures what falls short of God’s creation into something that fulfills its designs.
This issue is filled with stories and reflections on this theme. Fr. Mark Korban (p. 12) explains the Orthodox teaching on warfare, amplifying the underlying theology behind the proposed regulations regarding blessing weapons. Alfred Turnipseed (p. 17) reflects on the legacy of American civil rights icon John Lewis, and how his witness of nonviolence can help Orthodox Christians transfigure their own lives and society. Lewis was the last living Big Six civil rights activist, and passed away amidst a summer of American racial justice protests.
Aaron Haney (p. 25) tells a story of personal transformation, as he struggles with his conscience as a Christian soldier, while Jim Forest (p. 31) tells a story of social transformation at the end of the Soviet Union. Finally, Eric Simpson ties together the themes of peace and violence throughout this issue, by reflecting on the motif of the Christian peacemaker symbolized as a soldier (p. 38).
The hope that characterizes the Transfiguration is one of the primary qualities of the Christian. We hope that hope finds you this year. IC