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55th Annual Savannah Greek Festival October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Fifty-five years, and still going strong, Greek style.

The annual Savannah Greek Festival kicked off its three-day event Thursday morning at the Hellenic Center on West Anderson Street.

Sponsored by St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, the event features performances by three dance groups, plus authentic Greek specialties.

“As you can hear, there is music, things to buy, delicious food, T-shirts, Greek sailor hats,” Bess Chappas said. “Come on down and have a good time with us.”

The Savannah Greek Festival runs Thursday through Saturday. The event starts daily at 11am and closes at 9pm.


Gethsemane revisited > Book Review October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life.
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My Name Was Judas
CK Stead, Harvill Secker, 256pp, £16.99

The story of Judas Iscariot is so dramatic, his character so mysterious, his crime, if indeed he committed one, so abhorrent, that it is surprising more novelists haven’t been drawn to tell the story from his side. He is, after all, the most infamous character in Christian history. Why did he betray Jesus? Not, surely, for 30 pieces of silver. That sounds like a malicious invention.

CK Stead, New Zealand’s most distinguished man of letters, scholar, critic and poet, as well as novelist, has written a fiction that is remarkable, intelligent and moving. His Judas is almost completely credible and sympathetic. The story makes sense. Judas did not kill himself, which the Evangelists thought his proper fate, and did not betray Jesus in the manner he is supposed to have done. His betrayal, if it was a betrayal, was of a different sort.

After Jesus’s death Judas left Jerusalem and travelled north to what is now Lebanon. He settled in a village just south of Sidon, married a Greek girl, and prospered. Known now as Idas, he is in many ways more Greek than Jewish. Now, at the age of 70, when news comes to him of a violent revolt in Jerusalem, he looks back on his life. “When I first knew Jesus I think we were six or seven years old. His father was a carpenter and mine a successful trader, so there was a social divide between us.” However, both boys go to the same teacher, a gifted man called Andreas. Jesus is hugely intelligent, charming and pretty, and becomes Andreas’s favourite. Nevertheless, he and Judas are good friends.

They grow up. Jesus goes off to study with the mystical Essenes, while Judas marries and seems set for a life like his father’s. But his wife dies and in his grief he is drawn back to Jesus, who moves around the villages of Galilee with his disciples preaching a social message. Jesus has already acquired a reputation as a healer and miracle worker, which in these early days makes him uneasy. It is, though, his quality as a preacher which makes him irresistible and loveable. “His great strength was in words, in language … He seldom thundered in these early sermons; often hardly raised his voice.” Judas’s account of these early days is delightful. “Blessed was what we all felt during that time.” His message was one of “love, harmony, charity, forgiveness and peace.”

Judas does not, of course, believe that Jesus is the son of God. Nor, at this stage, does Jesus. But as his conviction that he is divine grows, Judas recoils, wondering if his friend is mad. So the narrative gathers pace, until it is fairly galloping to its tragic climax. There is no betrayal on the part of Judas, and no need for one. Jesus betrays himself, and, in doing so, also betrays the trust Judas had placed in him.

Some readers may find this blasphemous, for it makes sense of the Gospels in human terms. Indeed, Stead’s story is Shakespearean, his Jesus is human, as marvellously gifted and yet as incapable of turning aside from his fate as any tragic hero. The account of the last week in Jerusalem is compelling, and when, on the cross, we read that “Jesus arched his spine, strained against the nails, threw his head back and shouted ‘Lord God in heaven, why have you forsaken me’,” the horror is piercing.

As for Judas, this “cry of protest, the last full-throated utterance of that remarkable voice” is, “Now I know there is no God.” Though in old age he reflects: “Perhaps there was a God and He did indeed die, and what we’ve been left with is a memory, a rumour, a shadowy recollection of what once was, carried about the world by the Ptolemys and the Pauls, the travelling salesmen of the numinous, the divine, the eternal, the extinct.”

This may seem too modern a response to ring true in Judas’s mouth, but, in the context of this remarkable novel, it seems right. Judas is a poet himself, ending each chapter with verses. The last two are: Our friend was/not the Messiah, nor/will there be one. This is the truth/I write. It will not/hurt you. Grasp it.”

Ecumenical Patriarch opens Mt. Athos conference October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Religion & Faith, Shows & Conferences.
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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Saturday gave the opening address at a conference organised in Thessaloniki on the monastic community of Mount Athos in the Halkidiki peninsula, also known in Greece as “the Holy Mount”.

During his address, the Patriarch referred to the monastic community as an “inexhaustible mine” that always yielded new hidden spiritual treasures and also spoke about his trip to Cuba and a meeting with Fidel Castro, who he said showed great interest in the Orthodox faith and Mount Athos.

The conference, which ends on Tuesday, is entitled “Holy Mount – The majesty of the Protato. Saving this unique monument and the timeless contribution of Karyes”. It was organised by an organisation set up by the Thessaloniki Municipality called “Agioreitiki Estia” to coordinate the city’s relations with the monastic community.

During his visit to northern Greece and the country’s second largest city, the Patriarch also visited the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, where he was received by the minister George Kalantzis, who thanked him for the honour. The Patriarch’s visit returned a visit to Fanar by Kalantzis when he first took over the Ministry.

During an official dinner given in his honour by the minister, Bartholomew also referred to Macedonia, stressing that it had at no time in 23 centuries had it lost its Greek character, and to the close ties between Thessaloniki and Fanar. Kalantzis on his part, stressed the support of his Ministry and the Greek State for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the work done by the Centre for the Preservation of the Heritage of Agion Oros to preserve the relics and monuments in the monasteries of Mount Athos.

Austrian MP finds POW dad October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora.
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A 62-year-old Austrian parliamentarian has been united with his Greek father, a prisoner of war in Vienna during World War II, for the first time after over a decade of searching, it was revealed yesterday.

“I have achieved my life’s goal in finding him,” Volkmar Harvaneng told the Athens News Agency after meeting Giorgos Pitenis in the 87-year-old’s native village of Samarina in Grevena, western Macedonia, this summer.

Pitenis returned to Greece in 1945 after serving in a hard-labor camp in Vienna but he had been unable to find his Austrian wife and son. The young Harvaneng started his search for his father in 1950 but found no trail until last July, when his mother died and he discovered an envelope with Pitenis’s name on it and an address in Kozani, northern Greece. With the help of the Greek Consulate in Vienna, he tracked down his father.

Greek Food Festival > Bring along your taste buds October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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The 29th annual Greek Food Festival continues today at the Hellenic Community Centre on Arbutus.

Make sure you go on an empty stomach, there’ll be plenty of Greek cooking, as communty members have been busy preparing over 25,000 Greek pastries.

There’s lots of great entertainment including a live bouzouki band tonight and again on Sunday night.

The festival starts at noon and runs until 11 tonight.

Greek treat
Play big spender at the 29th annual Greek Food Festival at the Hellenic Community Centre (4500 Arbutus Street) this weekend (October 20 to 22)
and pick up the tab for your pals.

Lunch is $11, dinner $14, and each includes roast lamb, chicken souvlaki, moussaka, or salmon plus potatoes, Greek salad, and dessert. Take home some of the 25,000 freshly made desserts and pastries from the on-site bakery. Greek dancing and bouzouki-playing keep things lively.

Special Feature > The Greeks and the Epic of 1940 October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Special Features.
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Holiday reflections on a critical battle for freedom sixty-five years ago

“The time has come for Greece to fight for her independence. Greeks, now we must prove ourselves worthy of our forefathers and the freedom they bestowed upon us. Greeks, now fight for your Fatherland, for your wives, for your children and the sacred traditions. Now, over all things, fight!”
Ioannis Metaxas, Prime Minister of Greece – 1940
“Until now, we knew that Greeks were fighting like heroes; from now on we shall say that the heroes fight like Greeks.”
Winston Churchhill, Prime Minister of Britain – 1940

Read more at > Constantine’s blog

Special Feature > The Hellenic Epic more than half a century later October 21, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Special Features.
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Its Significance more than half a century Later

Parallels Ancient Salamis For The Civilized World
The spirit of the 300 Spartans returned to guide its descendants. In fact, this unexpected Hellenic victory marked the beginning of the end of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s venture to control the world and culminated in their doomed failure and destruction some three and a half years later.

There are two reasons for the delayed historical recognition due to Greece from what has been correctly known by the Greeks as the Greek Epic of 1940.

The Greek contributions were of such magnitude that Greece should have been given not only the Dodecanese Islands but Northern Epirus and Cyprus as well. These lands, besides being promised in many indirect ways by the British and other allies, they were Greek-inhabited territories for 1000s of years, and the Greek inhabitants had fought many times for union with motherland Greece.

As the Greek gods would have it, winter came early in 1941 and in December the thermometer registered 63 degrees below zero near Moscow. At this temperature, the only weapon that seemed to still be operable, was hand grenades; but it did not make any difference since the Nazi soldiers were dying or incapacitated by the thousands due to freezing. Thus, the war tide had been permanently changed due to the delay of this critical time table, thanks to the heroic Greek victories/resistance and their countless sacrifices. They fought with determination, consistent with the dictates of their history- for God, Country and their amilies, regardless of the odds.

When the war was over, there were 10% fewer Hellenes! The nearly million individual sacrifices have formed a new spiritual heaping Marathon Tomb for their nation and the world. The spirit of each victim has spoken again and again through the Nobel Prize Poet Elytis, asking him to tell the powerful of the earth that they must not forget their sacrifice and their country,for they had not died in vain.

Related Links > http://agrino.org/greeklibrary/projects/World_War_II/peter_yannos_1998.htm