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Michael Odegaards Answers to Essay Questions for Application to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

In 500 words, choose a saint or outstanding gure in the Church s history


whom you admire. Explain why you nd this person intriguing. How can
his/her teachings or example be appropriated in a modern American
context?
I will preface my reply to the question by quoting the rst line of the First
Prayerbook of the Church: a beatitude with a promise, though it is not a quote of
Christ s. Nevertheless this Blessed are... statement anticipates Jesus Christ s
incarnation and sets the tone for the remainder of the Psalms. Then, I will
highlight how our Archbishop Iakovos (of blessed memory) example, like this
prophetic beatitude, revealed God s glory in our generation by contrasting
Christ s godly life from the ungodly at a crucial time American history.
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path
that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoers; but their delight is in the law of
the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 NRSA
When I was 4 years old in 1965 Batman was my rst hero. Today, cultural
anthropologists tell us that Batman is the most popular American dark knight,
or vigilante, anti-hero whose commercial popularity peaks at times when the
moral authority of the dominant powers are in question. Such was the turmoil of
the days when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, so momentous for American
culture and society that the Archbishop
prophesied, Glory to the Most High! May this
mark the beginning of a new age for all
humankind, an era when the Word of God
charts and guides our lives within weeks after
the Ethiopian Orthodox emperor admonished
the American President and United Nations
that use of words such as Black or White as
forms of speech to describe human beings
should be eliminated from society.
When the Archbishop showed himself next to
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the March 26,
1965 cover of LIFE Magazine commercial art,

Michael Odegaards Answers to Essay Questions for Application to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology

ne art, and perhaps even holy iconography converged. Indeed, so powerful is


that image in each of our mind s eyes, that I suppose you now see Iakovos
standing with sta in hand on the right side of Dr. King, listening to him speak in
Selma. Without hearing a word of his teaching, the Archbishop s image on that
magazine cover, combined with our Ecumenical Patriarch s ecological vision,
convinced me of the unique glory of Greek Orthodoxy which led to my
chrismation 14 years ago. And, upon reection, it appears to this lettered art
student that American Pop Art s mission was nally fullled in that massproduced magazine cover and its movement thereby concluded. Like Archangel
Michael, the Archbishop simply stands witness, along with the righteous angels,
as Empiricism s Great White experiment was seen to fall from heaven, setting the
stage for Post-Modernism s retreat into historical review and Deconstructionism s
nihilistic romance with hara kiri.
Our humble Archbishop was not a patriotic war hero but a living holy icon of
Christ; he was not a celebrated critical theorist but a learned exemplar of
Orthopraxy. As did the blessed man of the First Psalm, he anticipated the advent
of heavenly glory simply by prayerfully stationing himself rmly out of the way of
evil.