Nov 23, 2014

FEAR AND ILLUSION: Christopher Nolan’s "Interstellar"

"Interstellar" is an ambitious project by Christopher Nolan and, without a doubt, one of the biggest Hollywood movies of recent years. Other than its grand special-effects, the film is a curious exploration, a snapshot, of the contemporary post-Christian era.

Beginning at the turn of the 19th - 20th centuries, the search for so-called "new religious consciousness", designed in the form of a surrogate to quench the spiritual thirst of the Western world, led to a two hundred year obsession with rationalism and materialism, which exploded during 1960s youth counterculture, followed by the creation of numerous Orientalist sects. Through repression of Christianity did not suddenly begin in the twentieth century, but its grand scale is the reality of our times.

Nolan tries to satisfy the needs of modern man’s unconscious with a “miracle”, relying on "New Age" ideas of absurd, quasi-scientific theories as justification for "mystical insight". In this sense, "Interstellar" moves within the cultural mainstream, so popular today promoting the idea of individual empowerment through technology, which, among other things, attempting to acquire all the features of a "spiritual" journey.

The film sends out a message, rooted in the Western mass consciousness: the joyful anticipation of the "new era", the desire to step beyond the bounds of what is permitted by God and the fear of losing our most loved, such as, family and home.

In the first scene the audience is faced with a possible future: total destruction of Earth, the result of natural disasters. But for the Christian consciousness it is a sign of approaching the Last Days and the need for repentance from the "New Age".

Hollywood, in pursuit of providing audiences a spectacle, offer lukewarm spirituality, unable to provide answers to questions about the meaning of life. The question of God's existence does not arise in the film, even though throughout the film the hero (Matthew McConaughey) frequently cites Scripture and even the spaceship is named "Lazarus".

It is no wonder the film’s spiritual foundations are shaky and confusing: it expresses the most hodgepodge of ideas and concepts, which is equivalent to modern society’s mass consciousness in the complete absence of moral hierarchy and need for God. Modern man constantly feels threatened by unseen and physical forces (terrorists, natural disasters) and inside his own passions. He longs to escape, but does not want to make even the slightest effort, nor does he wish to blame himself, instead looking for an answer in dark superstitions, scientific theories and space itself.

The fact that today spiritualism (as dealt in the film) seeks the theme of outer-space shows the futility of modern civilization not wanting any reason to turn its gaze to God. Flying in space, passing through "wormholes" and "black hole", the cold glow of interstellar space, landing on the wrong planet are all attempts to satisfy the craving of modern man for something beyond himself. But it is this unbelief which makes him spiritually hungry.

It is interesting to think looking back on history, the alterative sub-cultures of the 1960s were completely void of fear because their existentialist, hedonistic lifestyles prevented them from realising damage being done to the world. Yet today we are experiencing the complete opposite: people are afraid of everything, but God.

Original article: Fear and Illusion: Reflection on C. Nolan’s “Interstellar”, Alexander Popov, 18 Nov 2014
Translated and edited by OFA using GoogleTranslator.


Nov 22, 2014

Music Composer

Need some music for an event, film or concert?
Look no further than Anastasia Pahos.

Read an OFA review of her work


Nov 21, 2014

The Moving Icon: Episode 17 – ‘You and Me’ film project

Jacob Clark is an actor from New York City. After several years of appearing on stage, Jacob now wants to move into movies.

He’s recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for a romantic comedy called You & Me which he wrote the screenplay. Jacob needs $2,000 USD to make his film happen.

Having converted to Orthodoxy when a young boy, we also discuss how his Faith and his acting career intersect and impact each other.

To listen to this podcast, click the show’s logo:

Jacob’s campaign will expire on 4th December 2014
Please make your pledge


Nov 20, 2014

103/104 – Vespers Psalm of Creation: Nick Papas

Byzanfest 2015 is extremely grateful for the support of Nick Papas from NP Studios as a Festival Supporter. Please take a moment to read about an upcoming exhibition of Nick’s work.

+ + +

The creative works for this year’s event are based on and inspired by Psalm 103/104.  Sometimes called Psalm of Creation it is also the Psalm of Vespers.

Nick’s work will be presented twice: 22nd Nov 2014 & 6th Feb 2015

Both exhibits will take place at NP Studios (Houston, Texas):


Nov 18, 2014


The ultimate Balance Board for Surfers!
GoofBoard provides the closet experience to riding a wave. Armin Brown, founder of GoofBoard and Orthodox Christian, explains how his passion has turned into a growing business.

‘My two favourite hobbies are surfing and guitar…“surf” guitar to be exact.’  His Southern California existence lends itself well to all things surfing related.  As a self-employed entrepreneur of many years, Armin always believed he would end up creating a business related to surfing.

These worlds collided in 2008 when he stumbled upon a concept and design improvement over existing balance boards already on the market.  The rail-to-rail balance board motion Armin envisioned was not being done by anyone else.  Other boards commonly relied on a “rocking” motion with the roller perpendicular to the length of the board.  The rail-to-rail or “surfing” motion found in what was to be called the “GoofBoard” results from its roller placement being parallel to the length of the board.  To Armin, this riding orientation felt truer to the surfing experience both in look and in feel.

GoofBoard started off as a side business. Armin’s primary business is a small company that manufactures engine gaskets for vintage American cars, typically from 1930s to the 1960s.  As that business grew, and with an eye towards dedicating more time on GoofBoard, he decided to hire a general manager.  This manager executed his job so well that Armin decided to have him run the day-to-day gasket business so he could dedicate himself to his Goofboard passion!  Then in 2010, GoofBoard operations moved out of the gasket shop and into its own commercial building.

To keep things simple and avoid chasing receivables, sales are 100% online, that is, consumer direct.  The GoofBoard design is clean and simple, with lots of birch wood grain showing.  Rollers are made from recycled materials.  GoofBoard has been awarded two patents from the U.S. Patent Office.  The original GoofBoard, now named the “Classic,” rides exclusively in the “surfing” motion and has lots of room to walk to the nose.  The “Freestyle” rides in either “surfing” or “rocking” orientations and offers removable stops to open up further trick possibilities.

Although Armin has hired part-time help off and on, most of the time he works alone with the help of some automated woodworking equipment.  Except for the wood milling, much of the manufacturing handiwork can be done in relative silence.  In a small way, this has created an almost monastic work environment where, more often than not, Armin prefers silence over music or other audio “filler.”  Ancient Faith Radio podcasts also supplement the silence for a spiritual backdrop to the work day. The GoofBoard business offers him a unique opportunity for meaningful work and quiet focus.  “I pray that I make good use of this time at work in spite of my fallen, wandering mind.”

The GoofBoard has received stellar reviews from surfers and sales have been healthy, albeit modest.  The primary audience has been surfers and those with interest in surfing.  In order to gain a larger future audience, GoofBoard will soon be releasing a new model with the general population in mind.  The new model will be less extreme than the two existing models and will provide safer riding with an easier learning curve.
“With the help of a friend who is both an experienced surfer and workout trainer, we will soon begin testing the viability of GoofBoard classes.  Who knows…the next big thing?”

Music: “9 Miles to Stuckeys” an original composition by Armin Brown, performed by his band, The Torquays.

Interview edited by Kyriaki Fuss


Nov 17, 2014

Classical reinvented: Anastasia Pahos’ “Eliksiir”

The new generation of ‘classical’ Australian composers are a very ‘hip-and-now’ bunch. Innovative and experimental, they’re inspired by almost anything from nature to the connectivity of social networks! This is something you both expect yet are surprised by when you attend a recital by the youthful Melbourne Metropolitan Sinfonietta. In their first concert, they performed several pieces from up-and-coming Australian composers, one of which was Orthodox talent, Anastasia Pahos’ Eliksiir.

You may recall my interview with Anastasia on THE MOVING ICON. However, this was the first time this particular work was performed. It was composed whilst contemplating the words of Hieromonk Damascene of Mt Athos on the nature of thoughts:

Most people identify themselves with their thoughts. When thoughts appear, they assume that these thoughts are them, that the sum total of their thoughts, memories and corresponding feelings make up the sum total of their personalities. But thoughts, as Lao Tzu realised, are only fragments which flit through the mind. Of themselves they have no reality.

Getting wrapped up in their thoughts, people become the victims of compulsive thinking: habitual thought-patterns which attach themselves to certain feelings. Finding their very identity in these patterns, they forget who they really are, that they are immortal spirits. Having lost sight of the one, immortal human nature which is common to all, they become trapped in their individuality and in the desires of their false identity.

This was in stark contrast to the other works which conjured up images of thought-bubbles and crashing waves. So what would a monk’s sentiments achieve in a secular concert hall? Within its first lines, Eliksiir lit up the room. Inventive and dynamic, a hypnotic rhythm reminiscent of Hellenic and Slavic folk tradition. There were also moments of tribal percussion breaking up the harmony of strings. Unknown to the audience, they were enveloped in an atmosphere of ancient mysticism as sober tones of Byzantine chant were woven into the background. Elements of Avro Pärt and John Tavener are paid tribute but only as inspiration.

To say we are ‘immortal spirits’ refers to our eternal destiny with the Creator. To think that our mere thoughts actually mean something is misleading to ourselves – thoughts by their very nature are not real or tangible. However, through this energetic piece we discover that we cannot deny what is the existence of our immortal nature which, if we serve it well, will save us from the bleak clutches of death – a true reality of emptiness and nothingness.

Pahos’ piece shows through vivid images of lush springtime, timeless chants and an uplifting mood – a state enjoyed by saints and strived by monastics. One experiences a state beyond our earthly understanding, with contemplation of God. Eliksiir is a celebration of the true human being.

Reviewed by Chris Vlahonasios
Edited by Kyriaki Fuss

Listen to Anastasia’s interview on THE MOVING ICON

Read Anastasia’s piece on OFA blog Divine Rhythm


Nov 16, 2014

Julia Bridget Hayes Iconography: Byzanfest Platinum Sponsor 2015

Without a doubt this year’s Byzanfest film festival would not have been possible without the generous support of Julia Hayes and her business.

+ + +

Julia Bridget Hayes was born in South Africa and lives in Athens, Greece. She studied Theology at the Social Theology Faculty of the University of Athens on a scholarship. In 2007 she completed her Masters degree on the subject of "Baptism in the Catechisms of St Cyril of Jerusalem".

From a young age she would draw and paint and was particularly interested in the human figure and its movement. This interest found its full expression in Byzantine iconography. Julia was self-taught for many years and in 2008 started taking classes with master iconographer George Kordis both at the Theology Faculty of the University of Athens and at the Eikonourgia School of Iconography.

Julia strives to make each icon she paints a unique expression of the of the Church’s tradition by capturing the movement and presence of the depicted in light, line and colour. She achieves chromatic harmony by mainly using a limited tetrachrome palate. In the words of iconographer Aidan Hart, her work captures “the appreciation of form found in Byzantine works with the translucency and painterliness that the Russians have perfected.”

Her hand-painted icons are in churches and private collections in Greece, South Arica, Russia, UK, Ukraine, Finland, Belgium, Romania, Czech Republic, Australia, USA, Ireland, Indonesia and Argentina and have also been published in the Eastern/ Greek Orthodox Bible (NT) and the collection of Afrikaans poems by Fr Jacobus van der Riet, “Die Onsienlike Son” and the book “Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Λουμπαρδιάρης”by Charalambos Bousias and Ioannis Pervainas.

She has a passion for photography which she uses mainly to capture life in the Orthodox Church. Some of her photographs have been published in the book “Ἅγιος Δημήτριος ὁ Λουμπαρδιάρης”. She also translates Orthodox books from Greek to English such as "Avvakum the Bearfoot" by Monk Theodoretos the Hagiorite and is writing an Orthodox catechism.

Julia accepts commissions for original hand-painted icons

Museum quality Prints and greeting cards are available

Icon Calendars are available for purchase

Jewellery and other products