It’s hip to be Greek …Orthodox!

By Dorothy Poli

Where does one go for spirituality today? There is yoga with its basis in Eastern religions; there are self-help seminars such as Landmark Forum; there are New Age books such as The Secret, and of course TV evangelism and psychotherapy. These do have something positive to offer.

But has anyone thought of Greek Orthodoxy? Apparently, many people outside of the Greek ethnic group have. There are many non-Greeks across America converting in droves to Orthodoxy. Why? What do they find so appealing? What do they see that many Greeks in America and in New York don’t see and have taken for granted? It can’t be the social aspect of going to Church as there are many other places for that. It can’t be the draw of the Greek traditions since those people are not Greek. It can’t be ethnic appeal since they are not necessarily ethnic.

What drives people to convert to Orthodoxy is the same thing that many Greek-Americans are drawn to and keep coming back to at Holy Trinity Cathedral’s new and ever expanding group called FOS (Forum on Orthodox Spirituality.) It is discovering and understanding the meaning behind this rich Faith of the ancient Church in order to make it relevant to our lives. Ultimately, FOS’ purpose is to enrich our lives and create a path for how to access the joyous life for which we were created to live with God.

And Orthodoxy is not just for the simple-minded or old. This group is made up of successful individuals across many professions, male and female ranging in age between 25 and 50. One participant said: “FOS has helped me to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, which has given me a sense of peace and calmness that I have never felt before.”

FOS’ spiritual leader is Reverend Dr. Frank Marangos, Dean and Protopresbyter of the Archdiocesan

Holy Trinity Cathedral in Manhattan (and professor of courses on comparative religions and war and peace at St. John’s University), as of a year ago. As both theologian and clergyman, many of the FOS attendees realize quickly that he is also highly dynamic, sophisticated and personable. Fr. Frank is able to take a high theological idea and bring it down to its relevance in an individual’s life. He can take any question and make it grander than it is for the benefit of all.

He will often use contemporary films in order to relate a point. His comments on films such as The Matrix and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade brought those films into a whole new light.

Currently, Fr. Frank is highlighting many themes found in Lord of the Rings to discuss the seven Sacraments and how they apply to the circumstances of contemporary life. “In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien addresses the timeless problems of human nature …by writing his own myth that echoes what the author sincerely believed to be the truths of Christianity – truths that offer solutions to these problems of human nature,” he pointed our during a recent session.

FOS covers a particular topic for a certain number of consecutive weekly sessions. In addition to the perennial one above, themes interwoven into the discussions include rationalism, humanism, religion as the cause for wars and other world ills, “spiritual, but not religious,” comparison of religions, the real meaning of the Resurrection for us and how the world has changed in 2000 years through Jesus Christ.

During the sessions, suggestions for topics and events as well as tough questions on religion are encouraged. According to Fr. Frank, one must use all their resources and strength to dialogue and debate and wrestle and grapple with issues of faith.

The group also sponsors cocktail gatherings that are both relaxed get-togethers for current participants and outreach events to those interested in becoming acquainted with what it has to offers.

FOS meets Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 pm in the Holy Trinity Cathedral Ballroom, 337 E. 74th St. (1st & 2nd). In order to create good interaction, attendees gather between 6-7 pm and after the session at a neighborhood restaurant. More information can be found at or (212) 288-3215.


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