Showing posts with label Illinois. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Illinois. Show all posts

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Priest Christopher's 2024 Address

With the end of each passing year, and the beginning of anew, not only do I take increased honor and delight in having the privilege of being the Head Priest of the only ancient Greek temple to ever exist in the Polis of Machesney Park, Illinois, and quite probably, all the State of Illinois, I take the same in being of service to all of the people who are a part of each.

Temple Of The Greek Gods of North Central Illinois is indeed a beautiful one, but as I have said before, we are more than a singular portion of land and building. We emanate from our central location(s), but we are more broadly a community and an ideal. We are made up of Greek Polytheists from everywhere. We are an organization as well as an idea by which to live. One does not even have to ever visit our physical location to be considered a member. I will always continue to build our home into the most beautiful I can, but it's also not just about me. It's about all of us, wherever we may be in the world. And most importantly, about the Gods.

I note the progress our temple has grown into as a community, for it is not all the splendor of a beautiful piece of property, but the people at large who create the support we have for one another. We are always so concretely united in our devotion to Olympos. Life, perhaps, isn't about who is advantaged or disadvantaged, or who has Greek blood and who doesn't, or where a physical temple is or isn't, but all of us helping one another and being united in our love for The Dodekatheon. When we allow the goodness of the Gods to shine through us, we always make the world we live in a better place, and our lives more blissful.

Remember always, both in your public and private life, there is no such thing as a good or bad year. There is only the year that you make. How you perceive something, and therefore how it makes you feel, is based largely on how you make it, and how you decide to look at and interpret it. If you want to see your statue, for example, as an old piece of metal, then so it shall be. But if you see it as a holy, sacred, and immortal depiction of the God it represents, shrouded in mystery, intrigue, and an eternal undying story for all of humankind that you yourself have the privilege of worshiping at, decorating and making your own, you will go a far greater distance.

But living a Hellenic life, I think, is not only about our own private lives and community, but to ensure that the ways of the Ancient Hellenes will never again be threatened with eradication, that to the greatest of our ability and dedication, the true Spirit of Hellas will never perish from the Earth. And take assurance in the fact that we have been winning that struggle every day since the founding of America and the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes.

I hope that in 2024, you will continue to take that undying dedication with you in your worship, writings, and activism. To not only build a shrine or temple, but save one too. To not only recite hymns of old, but write new ones. And to not only recall the deeds of ancient Heroes, but make new room for your own to be told.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Priest Christopher.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Priest Christopher, To Parliament of the World's Religions

Priests and Priestesses, Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with regret that I was not able to attend this year, but also a pleasure to know that the Parliament decided to come so close to my temple's home here in Illinois.

I'm Priest Christopher. I'm the founder and Head Priest of the only ancient Greek temple in Illinois. While many would classify me as Pagan, I am part of a religion that is a minority within a minority at present time, and that is Hellenism, the adherence to ancient Greek religion and theology.

But even as such a minority, I speak with firm pride and confidence in my community. We are a growing movement, not only in America, but in Greece herself, where the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes finally won the legal battle to have the Greek government once again recognize the legitimacy of the Hellenic religion.

I myself have also enjoyed a wonderful experience of interaction and growth during my past 14 years in Hellenism. 

But one thing that should draw us all to an admiration of Hellenism, is the fact that ancient Greece built the Western world upon which we stand today. In a society of freedom and democracy, of human liberation, where the courthouses and government buildings are built of ancient Greek architecture, and where the faces of famous ancient Greeks overlook the chambers of the federal House of Representatives, I never feel alone or out of place.

As even former presidents such as Bill Clinton have said, "We are all Greeks." And more specifically, ancient Greeks in that metaphorical sense, because all that we are and hold dear as a national institution, originated there.

It has also not been without extreme strife, however. Since the forcible take over of Greece by the Christian Orthodox powers, the traditional Hellenic identity has faced the threat of extermination. It's true that my people have no readily available temples from historical times because they were all burned and left to decay. We have no treasuries because they were all looted. And we have no nation because the land was taken from us.

But even after enduring over 2,000 years of persecution, we still know who the ancient Greeks were enough to continue on their religions and ideals. And even though temples and sanctuaries are ruins scattered about the landscape, we Hellenists still meet there to pray and sacrifice to the Gods. The faith and spirit of a Hellene or a Hellenist simply cannot be conquered.

Knowing the Gods of Greece has been the most blissful experience of my life, and I am so honored that I found myself able to participate in their religion's movement in such a crucial time for Greece, America, and the world.

I am also delighted to see such an amazing turnout of diversity in the Parliament this year. We are all unique. We all may have completely different ways of looking at Deity, humanity and the world. And yet there is no hatred or holy wars here. We are living together in peace, with respect for each other's humanity and human right to freedom of religion.

Instead of listening to those who tell us all the reasons we should be against one another, we know it's vital that our world conquer hate and intolerance, and free itself from ignorance and propaganda through education and experience. And it's wonderful to live in a nation, still carrying on that ancient ideal, where we are free to pursue that interest.

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Thank You, All,
and May Olympos Smile On You Always.

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