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Greetings in the Lord!

These reflections stem from Russian Orthodox Christian tradition, as very unworthily practiced by your writing servant in Northern Appalachian America. The header photo for the blog is of Tall Timbers, a local nature preserve with old-growth hemlock woods, a destination for hikes and picnics with our family, friends, students, and local Orthodox Christians. The Orthodox Cross on our rural mission land nearby is made from hemlock wood; you can see a sequence of two photos below during the blessing of that Cross on the site of our future temple, by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan. The downpour that came quickly amplified the blessing of the holy water, in what he called a good sign.

This blog seeks to reflect from Orthodox Christian perspectives on οἶκος and λόγος, the Greek terms “oikos” and “logos,” meaning respectively in English “home” or “household,” and, in the multiple meanings of logos in English, “story,” “word,” “harmony,” “purpose,” “reason,” “bond,” “intermediary,” “unifying principle.”

Together, οἶκος and λόγος form the modern English word ecology, definable from those roots as the “story of home,” or “meaning of home,” an etymology promising insight into life as meaning. Most importantly to Christians, the Logos is the Word, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. The logoi of the Logos, the words of the Word, both constitute and redeem Creation, as a living, embodied text, although one never fully knowable except to God. Considering those roots oikos and logos together provides a traditionally grounded “pansemiotic” and incarnationally Christian take on the postmodern idea that there is “nothing outside of the text.”

This Christian sense of ecology as mystery opens an ancient but continuing sense of iconographic and cosmic rhetoric, and poetics, applicable to 21st-century concerns with faith, environment, sustainability, and community. Traditional Christian perspectives show forth the symbolic relation of landscapes, cultural and natural, to “stories of home,” Paradise, in Christ.

Related terms include “ecosemiotics, arising from studies of the Tartu-Moscow-Copenhagen school of semiotics: oikos + semiosis,” a making of meaning in the context of home, drawing on the modern term semiosis coined by the American Anglican Christian philosopher Charles Peirce. Then there is “ecopoetics,” which stems from oikos + poiesis, or “the shaping of home” — the highlighting of meaning in Creation, as is done in Orthodox apologetic theology highlighted by Prof. I.M. Andreyev , and in the Orthodox philosophy of S.L. Frank. For application to current issues, see also the “Social Concept” (2000) and “Human Dignity” (2008) documents of the Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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