Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit Orthodox Church
Archpriest Steven C. Kostoff
4285 Ashland Ave, Cincinnati OH 45212 - (513) 351-0907
Fall Adult Education Class 2012

October 29, 2012

Dear Parish Faithful,
Fall Adult Education Class

The Fall Adult Education Class is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday evening, November 5.  The book we will be reading and studying together, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, is entitled, Thinking Through Faith – New Perspectives From Orthodox Christian Scholars, Aristotle Papanikolaou & Elizabeth Prodromou, Editors.  The book’s content is briefly described as:


Within these pages a younger generation of Orthodox scholars in America takes up the perennial task of transmitting the meaning of Christianity to a particular time and culture.  This collection of twelve essays, as the title Thinking Through Faith implies, is the result of six years of reflective conversations and collaboration regarding core beliefs of the Orthodox faith, tenets that the authors present from fresh perspectives that appeal to reason and spiritual sensibilities alike.

The book also received a ringing endorsement from Archbishop Kallistos Ware:

This is an impressive and exciting book, adventurous in spirit, that has opened my mind to many new possibilities.  It is particularly encouraging that the contributors belong to the younger generation of Orthodox scholars; they are proof that the future of Orthodox thinking in the West is in good hands.  We Orthodox like to speak of ourselves as the Church of Holy Tradition: this book shows exactly how Tradition can and should be both living and creative.


As stated above, the book has twelve essays, while our class traditionally has six sessions.  Therefore, I have tentatively chosen six of the following essays from the book for our sessions together, hopefully with a pretty broad number of topics that we will explore as a group:


  • “The Kingdom of God:  Paul the Apostle’s Perilous Proclamation”
  • “The Foundations of Noetic Prayer”
  • “The Meaning and Place of Death in an Orthodox Ethical Framework”
  • “Honest to God:  Confession and Desire"
  • “Four Types of ‘Orthopraxy’ among Orthodox Christians in America”
  • “Learning about Ourselves:  A Snapshot of the Orthodox Church in the Twenty-first Century”


Our new parish bookstore will order ten copies of Thinking Through Faith.  Please let me know if you want a copy placed on a reserved list for you.  Hopefully, we will receive the books within a couple of weeks. You may also order directly from SVS Press or

Fr. Steven

Class Ready to Begin — Come and Learn!

Order from SVS Press
Order from SVS Press
November 2, 2012

Dear Parish Faithful,
Class Ready to Begin – Come and Learn!
Our Fall Adult Education Class for 2012 will begin on Monday, November 5, at 7:45 p.m.  We will begin the evening with Vespers at 7:00 p.m. Prayer establishes the right foundation for discussing theology.  I consider Orthodox education to be one of the “three pillars” of parish life, together with worship and charityThe class is meant for all literate, baptized and chrismated adult members of the parish; and for anyone who is interesting in studying the Orthodox Faith in a friendly and inviting environment.  Orthodox Christians need to know their faith as well as possible, and an organized class setting allows for that to happen much more readily.  The class further allows for fellowship and the shared discussion of the most important questions about God, the world and our life in this world and in the world to come. With the heavy, acrimonious and even stifling atmosphere of politics all around us, our class will be like a breath of fresh air that looks at everything within the wider context of the “bigger picture.”  The stewardship of our time means that we “invest” our time “in and for the Church.”  But being a steward of our time also points toward investing our time in meaningful pursuits that bring us closer to God.  In my humble opinion, committing to this class is a meaningful investment of your time – and it will reap multiple benefits in the process.
As announced earlier, we will be reading six of the essays found in the book, Thinking Through Faith – New Perspectives From Orthodox Christian Scholars (SVS Press).  Our first essay will be “The Kingdom of God: Paul the Apostle’s Perilous Proclamation,” by John Fotopoulos of St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame.  Dr. Fotopoulos is a fairly prolific Orthodox writer who specializes in the New Testament and early Christian literature within the context of Graeco-Roman culture. His article about St. Paul has political implications for Christians today.  In addition, for those attending the class, please read the Foreword and the Introduction, both of which are excellent preparations for the essays to follow.
In the Foreword, Dr. Albert Raboteau (a rare African-American Orthodox theologian) makes the following good point:  “If American democracy offers religion an opportunity, American pluralism offers a challenge.”  He goes on to analyze that further, and states that American pluralism erodes “cultural religion” and thus makes “religious identity a conscious choice.”  This is important as we shift away – sometimes painfully – from “ethnic” to more faith-based parishes in North America.
And in the Introduction, by the book’s editors, Elizabeth Prodromou and Aristotle Papanikolaou, from Boston University, we read a similar thought though expressed a good deal more fully and with a personal dimension: “The market dynamics of American religious pluralism effectively make religious identity a conscious choice, so that commitment to Orthodoxy involves a daily, continuous conversion to the faith, in the face of a myriad of alternatives in both religious and secular terms.”  We should have a lively discussion “unpacking” that statement!
Most of the copies of Thinking Through Faith purchased by our new bookstore have already been accounted for, but I believe that two or three copies are still available for purchase. If you have yet to pay for your copy, please do so as soon as possible by seeing Nancy Farison with your payment.  Our modest bookstore funds need replenishment on a timely basis to allow for more good books to be purchased.
Fr. Steven

The Orthodox Understanding of Death

Nov. 26, 2012

“Trampling Down Death by Death”

When we resume our Fall Adult Education Class next Monday evening (December 3), we will be reading and discussing a fascinating article entitled “The Meaning and Place of Death in an Orthodox Ethical Framework,” by Perry T. Hamalis.  Inevitably – because death is inevitable - over the years, many people ask me questions about death and dying.  Some of these basic questions are the following:

  • How do we understand death?
  • What happens when we die?
  • What do we mean by the separation of soul and body at death?
  • What is the relationship between Christ’s death and resurrection and our own deaths?
  • What “part” of us – if any – continues to exist until the resurrection of the dead at the end of time?
  • Why do we pray for the departed?
  • Will we be united with our loved ones after death?
  • What exactly does “trampling down death by death mean?”
  • How does the fact that we will die impact the way that we live?
  • What is an ethical approach to the reality of death?

In my humble opinion, those sound like important questions to me!  And these questions have an Orthodox Christian response to them.  The essay that we will use for our discussion is quite well-written and filled with insight after insight into the Church’s understanding of the meaning of death and “life after death.” Come and join us for this discussion. You can still order and receive a copy of the book in time to read for next Monday evening.  The book is entitled Thinking Through Faith – New Perspectives From Orthodox Christian Scholars (SVS Press).  Or, I could photocopy the article for you if you are interested.  Please let me know.

Perry Hamalis quotes Archimandrite Sophrony in his article, who says:  “Our one and only war … is the sacred battle with the common enemy of all people, of all mankind – against death (I COR. 15:26).  In effect man has no other enemy.  Our fight is for resurrection – our own and each of our fellow men’s.”

That is really what it is all about. We are all in this together. And deep down we all know it. The Christian response to this reality is called “Gospel” or “Good News.” That Gospel is the heart of our faith.  That is what keeps us as members in the Church and coming to church.  We will now have the opportunity to discuss these issues in a group setting that is meant to invite questions, shared perspectives, concerns, further discussion, etc.   Seize the moment and take advantage of these opportunities.  Presenting these opportunities is one of the major purposes of our shared life as a parish community.

Fr. Steven