Professor Ioannides is available to speak on: Transfiguring American Pop Culture; America: Promised Land and Babylon; Science and Theology, and vice-versa; Liturgy, Worship and the Priesthood of All Believers; Orthodox Practice in the American Milieu; Relational Theology and the Rediscovery of Orthodox Traditions among others. Learn more »
Unlike many of our speakers, the day job that keeps the bread on the family table for Tasos Ioannides is that of a professional engineer. Theology is not a career for him, but neither is it a hobby: it is a lifestyle, practiced since childhood, when as a young boy he accompanied his father to the chanter’s stand on the island of Cyprus. Liturgy and life, sacrament and family, tradition and learning have always been intertwined in Dr. Ioannides’ experience. Growing up, he earned first a Byzantine chanting diploma from the Archbishop Makarios School in Nicosia, Cyprus; then a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Illinois-Urbana; and most recently, a Master’s degree in Applied Theology through the Antiochian House of Studies. Along the way, he has been a University Professor, and his lectures are equally captivating whether on Byzantine chant, the analysis of road pavements, or liturgical theology. “I have always felt that the witness of a lay person can be compelling, especially when it stems out of the rich liturgical practice of the Orthodox Church,” he says. “People sense that I am not committed to any party line, that I am in the same boat as they are, that I have lived through the same joys and pains both inside and outside the Church building…. And they respond!” Whether in the university classroom or in the Church hall, this professor knows how to relate ivory tower knowledge to real life situations, addressing specific needs of varied audiences. His theological writings emphasize the relational aspects of our faith, namely, how committed persons deal with the self, with the other, with God, and with nature. His message is simple, yet profound: practice makes perfect. “Without Christ and the liturgy, the Bible is reduced to a superb book-club selection,” he asserts. “Sola fide has turned us into modern-day gnostics, with no sense of either sin nor of virtue; sola scriptura has reduced most of us into robots, programmed by our pop culture.” The way out, he maintains, is the rediscovery of our roots, of our heritage, of our living experience of the liturgy as a worshipping community. Our roadmap is the Orthodox assertion of human liberty from scholasticism, juridicalism and rationalism.
Tasos is most effective when his talks are derived from personal experience. Consequently, the following are three of his favorite themes:
- By the Rivers of Babylon − Exile and the Promised Land: Whether recently arrived from the old country, or an nth generation American, no one can deny that the immigration experience is woven intricately into the fabric of our society. America has tended to define itself as the Promised Land, yet for many people of faith it often feels more like a land of exile and of alienation. How can the Orthodox confront American pop culture, not for sterile criticism, but for creative transfiguration? Can we overcome our immigrant experience, or –better still- thrive because of it? Professor Ioannides’ bold dissection of what constitutes the essence of the American experience, and how this experience can actually be enriched by the often scorned immigrant baggage, guides the listener in overcoming polarities that pop culture creates and perpetuates, and that threaten to invade our Churches and our homes, too.
- Natural Nurturing − The Theology of Science and the Science of Theology: Elaborating on his theme of overcoming polarities, Tasos engages the audience using examples from his personal experience as a scientist and as a person of faith, to rediscover a liturgical tradition that unites science and the practice of Orthodoxy. Nature and matter, physicality and biology, astronomy and mathematics are all shown to be part and parcel of our liturgical ambiance. This is part of what makes Church services attractive, at least at Pascha and at Christmas, to otherwise disinterested congregants. Can this insight help keep them coming back year-round, especially when they are our children?
- Being Number One − The Primacy of Worship: What exactly can we tell someone who professes to be spiritual, but not religious? Why can’t we just pray at home, or confess to the icon? Why don’t our priests give sermons like ministers on TV? These are some of the voices of American pop culture, and if they haven’t yet been echoed by our family members, it surely won’t be too long, now. Yet, according to Tasos Ioannides, Orthodoxy has a response for today: the rediscovery of the centrality of the liturgical experience, as the privilege of the priesthood of all believers. Our baptism ordains us to sanctify the entire cosmos, and to offer it eucharistically back to its Creator. To do this, we need one another; we need the family; we need the community. It does take a village to save a soul, but every soul may save along with it a whole city.