When evaluating a book, it is the job of the review to determine if the work will be of value to those who read it. I have only ever reviewed one book for God, King, and Nation, that being Roosh Valizadeh’s American Pilgrim, which I reviewed favourably. Therefore, I found it to be quite a surprise when Eli Bear contacted me with the offer to review his recently complete biography of Bishop Themistocles Adamopoulo. Although this offer was presented to me some time ago, circumstances had come up that required my full attention and time, resulting in my writing being put on hold for around three months. Now that I have had the time to read Themi, I believe that I am able to make judgment on its value to potential Orthodox readers as well as those of my intended audience.
Reverend Themi is very much an inspiration for the Orthodox and broader Christian world. His life story broadly follows that of many recent Orthodox converts, and thus for those pursuing the faith,Themi’s journey can provide a guide for them. In his youth, Fr. Themi was made aware of the injustices of this world. Like many people who found their formative years in the 1960’s, Fr. Themi’s philosophy of life was informed by rock and roll music and Marxism. Although he rejected God in his youth, the future missionary embraced Marxism and atheism for his love of his fellow man, as he sought to do away with institutions which he believed oppressed the people. Of course he was in error, for rejecting both his national and religious inheritance, but as an Orthodox Christian, I can be sympathetic to those who come to embrace error for just reasons. Unfortunately, atheism breeds nihilism and although his instincts might have been just, the path he went down led him to sin and estrangement from God.
As an atheist, Fr. Themi had rejected God, but music had left him open to types of spiritual experiences and practices. The Beatles and their experimentation with psychedelics and eastern religions provided a spiritual foundation upon which Fr. Themi could be reintroduced to the Gospel. I have been wanting to write about paganism for many years now and I promise that that article will be written someday, however here and in relation to Fr. Themi I will summarize my thesis of that future work. I hold that in our age of atheism, secularism, and Marxism, western man has largely been stripped of his religious or spiritual faculties. Modern people are unable to engage with the transcendent, either in regard to intellectual knowledge or the partaking therein. This even extends to personal sacrifice of suffering, as without the Divine, human suffering becomes meaningless and there is never a reason to sacrifice for either another person or for higher concepts like the family, the community, or the nation. Without the transcendent there is nothing to which we are measured against or can hold ourselves to, and the first step in destroying the transcendent is atheism. Therefore, I see a return to paganism as the first step for many westerners who have been steeped in an atheist culture to re-embrace the transcendent and tradition. The atheist is in poorer spiritual condition than the pagan, and thus in becoming pagan the modernist is reintroduced to the “language” or “receptiveness” of the Divine. Thus, with a pagan spiritual foundation, they will be able to interface with Christianity because they will have the spiritual tools to do so. I do not see paganism as a threat to Christianity broadly, or to Orthodoxy in particular because none of the pagan or neo-pagan doctrines are complete or fulfilled, and the truths they contain are soiled by error. Truth can only be found and fulfilled in Orthodoxy, and thus those true elements of pagan religions are pointing to and leading pagans to embrace Christ. Thus, like Fr. Seraphim Rose who came to Orthodoxy through a study of perennialism and paganism, Fr. Themi came back to Orthodoxy through the eastern spirituality imparted to him by the musicians of the 60s and 70s.
Once Fr. Themi embraced Orthodoxy, he put aside his secular studies so that he could study and come into communion with the Truth, i.e. the Logos, Christ. Fr. Themi shows the Christian that our faith is not one exclusively of scholastic study, but one of action. For all his supposed concern for justice while an atheist, it was only after his conversion that he really committed himself to ministering to others, both in their physical and spiritual needs. Fr. Themi’s commitment and love for the people of Sierra Leone is truly inspiring, and is the kind of love all Christians are called to live. Whereas some are called to distant lands to be missionaries, others are called be representatives of Christ in their daily and/or family lives. Especially if one is a convert to Orthodoxy from a non-Orthodox or Christian family, it is a great responsibility one has to best represent the Truth of their faith for their personal salvation and for those whom they love. Fr. Themi’s story demonstrates how we can achieve this.
Themi: Apostle to the Hungry as a work most reminds me of Luke Veronis’ Go Forth: Stories of Mission and Resurrection in Albania. As such I can see Themi becoming required reading for classes on Orthodox missionary work, however like the book Go Forth, Themi goes out of its way to denounce nationalism. The ultimate question is whether I recommend the work. My recommended reading section of my site includes a diverse collection of books. Many of these books I do not wholeheartedly endorse, but rather, as the name implies, they are recommenced because they contain some value which will benefit those who read them, even if this benefit is an intellectual foundation or grounding which is needed temporarily and will eventually be superseded.
God, King, and Nation seeks to espouse, promote, and defend Orthodoxy, monarchy, and nationalism. Regarding Orthodoxy and monarchy, Themi: Apostle to the Hungry gains my recommendation. The underlying Orthodoxy of Themi seems to have a more liberal or progressive lean to it, however this could be a result of Fr. Themi’s concern for social justice, which has in the modern age become something associated and unjustly co-opted by the political left. As monarchy is never really discussed, there is nothing anti-monarchical in Themi, although it is doubtful the Bishop would share my disdain and loathing for democracy. Themi does however denounce nationalism and perpetuates the view of western abuses and dispossession during colonialism and in the contemporary decolonized world. Although my views regarding these subjects are nuanced, I broadly reject framing that seeks to demonize Europeans and those of European dissent. Early in Themi, the “White Australia policy” is denounced for all the modern and progressive reasons one would expect. This policy is noted to have included white peoples of Slavic origins, and is thus presented as hypocritical. Alas I, as an Orthodox Christian, see nothing wrong with such a policy. Firstly, as it is not the right of any foreigner to gain entry into a country in which they are not wanted. Secondly, a nation is well within its rights to forbid whomever it pleases from immigrating. A nation can only continue if its founding ethnicity remains a majority within its borders. I say “ethnicity” and not “race” because within the white race, there is so much diversity that not all white populations readily assimilate into each other’s nations. Australia, to remain Australia, needs to have a majority of people of Anglo descent, as it was Anglos who created the culture and institutions that created and make Australia Australia, and it is only those people who can perpetuate Australia into the future.
This anti-nationalism and globalist sentiment is present throughout the whole of Themi, which is unfortunate but also expected. Nationalism and Orthodoxy need not be made enemies to each other, just as Orthodoxy does not require me to abandon my family, culture, people, or history. During the pandemic when churches were closed, I gave money to the Church in Cambodia. I did this because I would like to see the Cambodians, like all peoples, become Orthodox whilst preserving their cultures and traditions. I think Fr. Themi would agree with this belief of mine in regard to Sierra Leoneans, and thus I likewise would hope that he would extend his desire to protect white nations such as Australia or my country of Canada. I greatly admire the work of the Bishop and I do believe his life is a genuine testament to Orthodoxy. I think for those interested in the faith or who are new to it, Themi: Apostle to the Hungry is a worthwhile study. In my personal life I most likely will recommend Themi, as the Bishop’s journey to Orthodoxy provides a relatable entry point and template to follow for those new to both Orthodoxy and spiritual belief in general. Alas, as for a recommendation on God, King, and Nation I must decline for the same reasons I have not recommended Go Forth. I wish for Fr. Themi God’s help with his work, and for the success of Eli Bear and the book he has written. I ask that you please keep them in your prayers.
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