First of all, let me draw attention to author's (Tamara Skrozza) thorough lack of knowledge of the topic tackled in the article, combined with excessive irony of trained critical consciousness that dominates the whole article. The Church does not recognize, as for example politics, divisions to liberals and conservatives, since every interpretation of the Gospels is based on the Holly tradition and teachings of Holly Fathers, so that the description of bishop Porfirije as a liberal thinker and intellectual can only be explained by the author's lack of knowledge and information regarding the topic about which she writes with such judgmental vehemence. A bishop, as an icon of Christ himself, is basically and primarily responsible for preaching the Gospel in his bishopric. On the other hand, bishop Profirije is known among the believers as a great spiritual leader who strictly respects cannons of the Eastern Orthodox Church, so that the author's description of the bishop's views is baseless! What she heard at the lecture and what led her to describe the bishop as a liberal intellectual is the official stand of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and what she unfortunately did not or could not hear and understand is the explanation regarding the self-abolishment and self-denial. Namely, these two terms imply the transformation of human nature that allows a person to become an image of God and leads to self-accomplishment in the world and among his loved ones. That demands that a person in his concrete life find himself or herself through love towards God and his loved ones, and does not only apply to women or to marriage. In order to achieve that, a person must transform himself or herself through the deed of self-abolition of the self as an egotistical and self-sufficient creature, because those characteristics prevent selfless love and sincere attitude towards the world and loved ones as testified by Jesus Christ as a sun of justice, i.e. as the One we as believers follow and seek to emulate. In connection with that, the author's comment regarding saints is also erroneous. One does not become a saint by total avoidance of sin because, among other, that is impossible. The sainthood is achieved by achieving love as a mode of dealing with God, world and our loved ones. Insisting on such an idea and such lifestyle may not be sufficiently "advanced" for the author, nor more necessary or meaningful than movie theaters of cafes, and perhaps even watching of the TV show "Sex and the city" in which we can witness promotion of absolute pragmatism and egotism in inter-personal relations, which, to be more specific, are expressed as evisceration of categories such as marriage, love, friendship, etc. (otherwise we would not need the main character's voice over). Precisely insisting on Christian values and ideas is the most difficult and perhaps even "most advanced" task in the contemporary world! That is enough from me. If the author wishes to learn more, I recommend religious classes or some other sources, such as the book Alphabet of faith, anything but Hollywood fare and all sorts of prejudice imbibed through the Communist education system.
Regarding the self-abolishment and self-denial, author's comments about the inappropriateness of the presence at the lecture of young men and women who are "seemingly ordinary" and "wear ordinary clothes" indicate that the author believes that people attending such lectures should "somehow" be extraordinary and unusual, perhaps "somehow" different? Those who are not "seemingly" ordinary should be role models? The author should explain this better as it could easily be interpreted as an insult! Regrettably, if she had only basic knowledge of Christianity, she would be aware that human freedom in making decisions and acting on them is the essential characteristic of a human being, as well as that human beings bear full responsibility for the mode in which they use their freedom.
Third, the author finds the idea of academia and study totally incompatible with faith and Christianity. In her case this attitude is totally obvious, but also totally wrong, because precisely the first expression of human freedom, which makes a human being into an image of God, is the ability to create new, the ability to give sense and form to amorphous material. However, a free human being bears responsibility for the manner in which it uses that knowledge, so that the Church has nothing against human knowledge and creativity, but it does oppose some manners of exploiting that knowledge and creativity. Consequently, art, philosophy and science are the highest achievements of human spirit. Faith is also knowledge, or better said realization, and science is only possible on the basis of the Christian understanding of reality. If the author is not aware of that, she does not even have to study theology. It is enough to learn something about philosophy, which based on her prejudice and its topic of interest should not exist at all. Or, perhaps she believes that modern culture and civic society have no prejudices or "dogmas" (based on her understanding of the term)? I'd like to keep this response as brief as possible, so I suggest that the author read Protestant ethics and spirit of capitalism by Max Webber, or Dialectics of enlightenment by Adorno and Hocheimer, or Against methodology by Fierabend.
Fourth, the author's linkage of the Church with some extreme-right views within politics is also a mistake. It is also obvious that she fails to make a distinction between nationalism and chauvinism and its more extreme varieties. Similarly the author fails to distinguish between ethnicity and faith! Both are clear evidence of huge gaps in her education. But, let me explain. Precisely great sages from the east bring forth a break between ethnicity and faith. The suffering of Christ and Resurrection apply to all men and women of all times regardless of their race or ethnicity. On the other hand, the concept of the nation is a product of the French Revolution. Consequently, it makes no sense to bring the Church and nation in some direct onthological connection, about which bishop Porfirije spoke at the lecture as I can personally confirm. Regarding national affiliation, there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is not transformed into chauvinism and other more extreme varieties of the same, and precisely Christianity and the Church teach us that there are no privileged people, nations or ethnic groups! To have a national affiliation means to be conscious of belonging to a certain nation, to love one's own nation and everything good in it, but also to be aware of all bad sides of the nation so that we can change and improve them. Besides, that is precisely what Jesus Christ demands from us as human beings - permanent awareness of our sins and mistakes so that we can make progress on our path following his example. If our attitude to our own nation is based on our attitude towards other, through externality, other nations and ethnic groups, based on hatred and intolerance - that is chauvinism and fascism. Links between the Church and politics are not nurtured by the Church. Unfortunately, several politicians have damaged the Church by basing their decisions and actions on Church's authority, but that cannot be a basis to connect them with the Church. The existence of organizations with extremist views, which are usually automatically linked with the Church, has no Church's blessing. However, in general, lectures such as the one described in your article, with the appearance by bishop Porfirije, and religious instructions in [public] schools can only improve the situation.
Finally, let me emphasize that a sin from ignorance is not a sin, but you, both the author and the magazine, share the responsibility for the lack of professionalism in this case, which is not one of the characteristics of Vreme. I welcome your critical attitude regarding political events, although your reporting is far from neutral. I also admire your articles on culture, as well as your columnists. However, in this case your criticism was arbitrary and baseless. You have freedom to disagree with something, but first you must know what you disagree with!
The author is a religious instructor