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IPSEC Newsletter
Year 3 No 3 | November 4, 2017

Gulag and Meaningmaking

Similar in a way to Viktor Frankl, who survived the dreadful Holocaust, a Romanian Orthodox priest wrote the following words after his liberation from the Romanian Gulag: “We are free and we are very happy that we are free, but we have a kind of nostalgia for prison. And, we can not explain it to others. They say we are crazy. How can you miss prison? [We miss it] because, in prison we had a most meaningful life. We reached such spiritual levels which we are unable to reach in freedom. Isolated, anchored in Jesus Christ, we had the pleasure of an enlightenment which the world cannot offer. There are no words to express exactly the feeling we had there. Those who did not have our experience can not understand how we could be happy in prison.” (Marian Gh. Simion “A Path to Immortality: Reflections on Pilgrimage from Orthodox Perspective” forthcoming chapter in a WCC volume dedicated to Pilgrimage for Peace and Justice, edited by Susan Durber and Fernando Enns.

IPSEC: partnering for human rights conference
Freedom of Religion and Conscience in the Public Perception

@ Romanian Parliament, Bucharest
This year, IPSEC will once again serve as a partner for the international conference titled, “Freedom of Religion and Conscience in the Public Perception,” to be held at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest, Romania, on November 14-16, 2017. The main organizer of the conference is Conștiință și Libertate (Conscience and Freedom)—a leading Bucharest based NGO of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—with the additional partnership and sponsorship of the Romanian Parliament (the Chamber of Deputies’ Juridical Committee on Discipline and Immunities), Secretariatul de Stat pentru Culte (Romania's State Secretariate for Religious Affairs), Politehnica University of Bucharest, International Religious Liberty Association (USA), Association Internationale pour la Défense de la Liberté Religieuse (France), Université Paul-Valery Montpellier 3 (France), Essanchess-Journal for Communication Studies (France), and Institute for Peace Studies in Eastern Christianity (USA). During this event, the 2017 issue of the Journal for Freedom of Conscience will be launched as well. IPSEC will be represented by Dr. Marian Gh. Simion, IPSEC President and CEO, with a paper titled, “From Pan-Arabism to Islamism: How Modernity Failed to Redefine Collective Identity,” and by Shannon Noe`lani Schmidt, IPSEC Research Associate, and graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, with a paper titled, “Usurping Freedom of Religion? A Modern American Perception of Terrorism and Islam.”

Dr. Simion to attend the Romanian
National Prayer Breakfast
At the invitation of the Romanian MP, Rev. Prof. Dr. Ben-Oni Ardelean, and the Ecumenical Prayer Group of the Romanian Parliament, Marian Gh. Simion, PhD, will attend the Romanian National Payer Breakfast. The event will be followed by an international conference, “Integrity in the Public Sphere,” organized by the Chamber of Deputies and the Romanian Senate. The event will be held on November 7-8, 2017 at the Romanian Parliament, and will include members of the Romanian Government, academia, and civil society from Romania, USA, EU, and the Balkans.

Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia,
His Beatitude Kirill
addresses the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Bucharest

I was sincerely pleased to receive your kind brotherly invitation to visit the Romanian Orthodox Church to participate in the festivities on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Patriarchal enthronement of Your Beatitude and speak before you and your brothers archpastors at the session of the Holy Synod.
I am grateful to Your Beatitude for the proposal to highlight in my presentation the topic of confessing the Orthodox faith in an atheistic state. I firmly believe that we ought to study more deeply and completely the history of the life of God’s people in the period of totalitarianism and discuss the experience acquired by the Orthodox Church in these years of persecution. (more...)


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

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.

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)



The Russian Orthodox Church and the Impact of Bolshevism (

Why Can’t Christians Get Along, 500 Years After the Reformation? (The Atlantic)

Orthodox Christians in Central and Eastern Europe favor strong role for Russia in geopolitics, religion (Pew Research Center)

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


“There are some souls which the intelligence does not control, and the intellect does not govern, in such a way as to check and restrain their passions—that is, pain and pleasure. These souls perish like mindless animals, since intelligence is carried away by the passions like a charioteer who loses control over his horses.” (attributed St. Anthony the Great "On the Character of Men," 96)


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