OF THE ANTIOCHIAN DIOCESE OF LOS ANGELES AND THE WEST
Los Angeles, Ca - Per invitation of His Grace Bishop Joseph, Bishop of Los Angeles and the West of the Antiochian Archdiocese, His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America attended the 2008 Diocesan Parish Life Conference held in Los Angeles from July 2-6, 2008.
Bishop Maxim served as keynote speaker for the diocesan conference, delivering a lecture during the course of three days. On the first day the bishop's talk was entitled - “Martyrdom: An Orthodox View of Marriage”.
In the bishop's talk on the second and third day, entitled "Communion and Otherness in Marriage" he attempted to see how otherness and communion relate to marriage. He eloquently showed how and why marriage is a sort of communion where respective differences (uniqueness and personality) are affirmed through a relationship. That is, instead of considering marriage as a threat to otherness, he examined how it generates otherness. The various sections of this presentation tackle the subject of male and female in different ways. In the first sections bishop Maxim looked at the Biblical background and the Gospel perspective of marriage as a mystery of encountering two 'others' (male and female). This should be seen within a theological perspective, which entails an ecclesial and Eucharistic view of the subject. The Orthodox Church has a strong 'personalistic' perspective, which was developed in the Patristic period. With the help of the Trinitarian theology of the Greek Fathers (particularly the Cappadocians) and their ontological perspective, he gained a clearer theological perspective of the Biblical and Gospel perspectives on marriage and otherness.
In further sections the bishop was able to put the whole subject in the light of the ascetical ethos and the mysteries of the Church. Here, the Church is seen as something that cultivates uniqueness through a Eucharistic and 'erotic' mode of existence, as seen at D. Areopagite and St Maxim. Since Christ is the unique Other in and through whom all other beings are ontologically loved and existentially sustained, our particular hypostases (persons) are not absorbed into an abstract idea or deity, but rather healed and transfigured in an intimate relationship with God.
In the final sections, he discusses the Feministic perspective (Women's rights and Feminism); the Sociological perspective; and Contemporary issues (abortion, homosexuality, in vitro fertilization, addiction, the role of the spouse, depression, etc.) in which he makes some observations regarding male and female in contemporary society. He ends with the Eschatological perspective in order to demonstrate that marital communion is inextricably tied to otherness, and that this union is crucially important for understanding marriage in an ecclesiological way.