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IPSEC Newsletter
Year 3 No 2 | September 25, 2017

Ritual and Violence

Religion performs violence through ritual in symbolic and realistic ways, and as such, ritual has a central place in religious violence. Symbolic violence is often the precursor of real violence because it anticipates, stirs and prepares the individual for an upcoming confrontation. By demonising adversaries, symbolic violence charges the foe with the most repulsive and dangerous qualities which need not to be avoided only but eliminated altogether. Whether performed against an external foe or against an internal suspect, religious violence contains a strong variety of rituals that may impose torture and terror against the intruder, as much as they can impose punishment for defying civic rules or the potentate. (Simion, M.G., 2017, "The ambivalence of ritual in violence: Orthodox Christian perspectives", HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 73(3), a4526. ) (more)


Shannon Schmidt of Harvard Divinity School joins IPSEC as
Research Associate

We are pleased to announce that Shannon Noe`lani Schmidt has joined IPSEC as Research Associate. Shannon is a first-year graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, where she is concentrating her studies on the intersection of religion and politics. As a student at Harvard and a research associate at IPSEC, Shannon hopes to build upon her background in political organizing and interfaith outreach. In the past, Shannon worked as St. Augustine, Florida’s Director of Community Outreach for the 2016 Democratic Coordinated Campaign. In the Spring of 2017 she managed and won a city commission campaign for the youngest commissioner ever to be elected in Gainesville, Florida. Shannon has served as an ecumenical delegate to the United Nations’ 61st Commission on the Status of Women, and has worked as a Compassion, Peace, and Justice Fellow with the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C. Shannon originally hails from the great state of New Jersey, and conducted her undergraduate studies at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida.


Marian Gh. Simion addresses
the 8th World Congress of the
International Religious Liberty Association


"Why we dont raise!" Plenary speech delivered at the International Religious Liberty Association during the 8th World Congress for Religious Freedom | August 22-24, 2017 Miami (Hollywood), Florida, United States

IPSEC Activity
President's Report

This year, Dr. Marian Gh. Simion’s IPSEC activity was focused on program development, research, consulting and education.

  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT: In terms of program development, Dr. Simion redesigned IPSEC field education program at Harvard Divinity School.
  • RESEARCH: His research activity was centered on the role of ritual in violence and religious pilgrimage in the context of Orthodox theology and culture.
  • EDUCATION: Dr. Simion wrote and published an university textbook on qualitative research methodology titled, Research Methodology on Orthodox Peace Studies (in Romanian) at Presa Universitară Clujeană of the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca.
  • CONSULTATION: As consulting activity, this past May, Dr. Simion joined a group of experts at The Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute in Hague, Netherlands, which held its first consultation on the theme, “Practitioner Exchange Trainers of Courses Addressing the Role of Religion & Secularity in Conflict.” He also delivered a speech, as a plenary keynote speaker, during the 8th World Congress of the International Religious Liberty Association, held last month in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Research Methodology in Orthodox Peace Studies:
university textbook
by Marian Gh. Simion


Metodologia Cercetării în Studiile de Pace Ortodoxe - Manual Universitar, Cluj–Napoca: Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2016 (Foreword Laurențiu Tănase, Editorial Coordination and Introductory by Study Cristian-Sebastian Sonea); 232 pages; ISBN 978–606–37–0104–7 This is a textbook on qualitative research methodology in the field of peace studies in Orthodox Christianity, authored by Marian Gh. Simion, in Romanian language. The textbook is organized around the structure of process, and it focuses on inductions, meaning-making, and verdicts. Inductions involve the standard information imparted by the institutionalized religion, concomitant with relevant faith phenomena. Meaning-making focuses on how inductions are interpreted by groups and individuals in position of power, under conditions of crisis. The verdicts are the byproducts of the refinement of inductions through meaning-making, which generate new cognitive and affective realities. CONTENTS: Preface by Laurenţiu Tănase | Introductory Study by Cristian-Sebastian Sonea; Author's Note; 1 Introduction: Religion and Collective Violence; 2 The Scientific Research of Religious Violence; 3 Factors of Induction; 4 The Context of Meaning (Trans)Formation; 5 Liminality and Communication; 6 Transformation and Interpretation; 7 The Essence and the Structure of Verdicts; 8 The Measurement of Verdicts and Opinion Poll; 9 Conclusions; Index

New IPSEC Field Education offerings at Harvard Divinity School
In a continuous effort to respond to the current educational needs, IPSEC has redesigned its field education offerings for field education at Harvard Divinity School. The new offerings are centered on (a) Orthodox Church-State dynamics; (b) Orthodoxy vs race, gender, sexuality, and power distance; (c) nationalism, phyletism, and pan-Orthodoxy in Russia and Eastern Europe; (d) Orthodox Christianity in the Middle East, North Africa, and America; (e) Orthodoxy and Islam on the Silk Road, and; (f) meaning-making, restorative justice and conflict transformation. (click here for details)



Holy Russia? Believers debate Putin’s record as a Christian leader (The Long Island Catholic)

Persecuted in Egypt, these Christians fight for a better life in York (

Romania's Merry Cemetery offers visitors dark humor (San Francisco Chronicle)

For more news about conflicts affecting Orthodox Christians around the world, click here!


“Spiritual discourse always keeps the soul free from self-esteem, for it gives ever part of the soul a sense of light so that it no longer needs the praise of men. […] Discourse derived from the wisdom of this world, on the other hand, always provokes self-esteem; because it is incapable of granting us the experience of spiritual perception, it inspires its adepts with a longing for praise, being nothing but the fabrication of conceit men.” (attributed to St. Diadochos of Photiki “On Spiritual Knowledge” 11)


PATRON ($5,000)
20% discount for unlimited purchased copies

PLATINUM ($1,000) ($1,000)
50% discount for three copies
10% discount for 10 purchased copies

GOLD ($500)
75% discount for one copy
10% discount for 10 purchased copies

SILVER ($300)
10% discount for 10 purchased copies

The first part reviews ancient Christian writings, rituals, religious laws, and contemporary writings, for the purpose of identifying the core teachings of the Orthodox Church on violence and peace. The second part explores themes such as ‘evil’ and ‘dualism’ for the purpose of comprehending heretical attitudes that emerged during times of war. Political subjects such as Just War and Nationalism are explored for the purpose of identifying instances when members of the Orthodox Church sanctioned defensive violence and bolstered xenophobia. The third part recommends peacemaking methods applicable to Orthodox Christian settings in light of the tripartite dimension of violence against God, self, and another human being.




Institute for Peace Studies in Eastern Christianity, Inc.
Harvard Square | P.O. Box 380246 | Cambridge, MA 02238-0246, U.S.A. |

IPSEC Newsletter (ISSN 2473-9146) is the official newsletter of the Institute for Peace Studies in Eastern Christianity, Harvard Square | P.O. Box 380246 | Cambridge, MA 02238-0246, U.S.A. | | The purpose of this publication is to disseminate information about our institute’s activity, and to disseminate selected news about conflicts affecting the daily existence of Orthodox Christians around the world, as well as various announcements from similar organizations. Focused on research, consulting and education, IPSEC’s goal is to make a positive contribution to the world peace by focusing on the role of religion in international and interreligious relations. IPSEC is affiliated with Harvard Divinity School as a field education agency; offering educational services to graduate students on the role of Orthodox Christianity in international relations, conflict, and policymaking. We welcome your comments, queries, and suggestions; so please direct all correspondence to Dr. Marian Simion at