John Maddex: If you’ve been listening to Ancient Faith Radio or getting some of our e-mail announcements, you know that we’ve been talking about an exciting development that’s going to come in April right after Pascha with a new live call-in program, called Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen. Kevin Allen is no stranger to the Ancient Faith Radio listener, because you know him as the host of The Illumined Heart, which has been on Ancient Faith Radio for a number of years, certainly one of our if not the most popular program we have ever done on Ancient Faith Radio, and after a bit of a hiatus, Kevin has agreed to come back and host this new, live, call-in show called Ancient Faith Today.
We have Kevin on the line with us. Kevin, welcome back to the microphone.
Kevin Allen: Thank you, John. Really, I’m excited about this.
Mr. Maddex: Well, there’s good reason to be excited, because this is the first of its kind, isn’t it?
Mr. Allen: I think so. As we’ve been discussing, I have not heard of any live and listener call-in program format in Orthodox media. They exist, of course, in terrestrial Catholic and Evangelical radio. You hear that all the time, but nothing in Orthodox media, so, yeah, I think this is both historic and will be unique, and I think it’ll be a great unifier of Orthodox folks through this format.
Mr. Maddex: I really do, too, and there’s several reasons why I think that and why I’m excited about it, because we have programs on that are teaching programs and wonderful presenters like Fr. Tom Hopko, Fr. Tom Soroka, and many others, but this is interactive. This is an opportunity for people to listen and participate, and the topics we’re discussing are really going to be unique topics. We don’t want to intentionally be controversial, and that for sure is not the goal of this program, but there are several topics out there—in fact, we’ve had no problem with coming up with a rather long list of topics to discuss—that Orthodox Christians just wonder about. They’re curious; they want to know: is there an Orthodox position on this or that? So let’s jump in to some of those topics and bring our listeners in on some of our internal discussions about the types of things we want to discuss on Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen.
Mr. Allen: I see this program, Ancient Faith Today, John, as part of an evolution from, if you will, The Illumined Heart, where I was really interested, and I think many of the listeners were interested, in The Illumined Heart because we were asking the hard questions and some of the questions that people I think wanted to know about, primarily about our faith. So it was really focused on intra-, if you will, Orthodoxy and intra-“inside the Church.”
As I’ve been thinking about this, and as you and I have been talking about this, we live in the world. We’re not supposed to be of the world, of course, but we live in it, and unfortunately the Orthodox world is not as vocal about its position on various important issues of the days as it could be. And there are a lot of people—I have in my family, you’ve got friends, we’ve got parishioners—who say, “What is our position on issues like same-sex marriage? What is our position on all these new atheists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens, who seem to be making the airwaves and the headlines? How do we respond to those sorts of issues? What is really our position on Islam? There are so many different opinions that one gets.”
Clearly, we’re not going to be able to give definitive answers, because some of these issues have a multiplicity of opinions, but I think it’s useful to talk about them and perhaps start to model how Orthodox people, given our canonical traditions, the way we look at the world, our worldview, if you will—how do we start to think about some of these issues?
Mr. Maddex: There’s no problem on the big things. We know where we stand on things like the deity of Christ and the virgin birth and the second coming. Those big issues are clear, and we don’t have to guess about how Orthodox think about those things, but it’s everything else where a conversation can be very helpful to engage our minds and to help us think through some of these topics. We may not always agree, and it’s not necessary that we all agree, but I know that you all want to bring to the microphones experts, people who have studied these topics from both sides and give them an opportunity to talk and then interact with the listener.
Mr. Allen: Right. I want to underline that last point. When dealing with so-called controversial issues on The Illumined Heart, you make some mistakes as you go, and one of the mistakes I think I made was that in dealing with some of them, I allowed one side to be covered and didn’t balance the other side enough, even if I had a position that was opposite. So what I want to make sure, what we want to make sure we do, is to cover as much of these subjects and issues and topics in a balanced way so that we get, again… Orthodoxy is not… We don’t walk in lock-step here, as some other Christian faith traditions seem to: the religious right, if you will, and others.
We have liberal Orthodox. We have very traditional Orthodox. We have Democrats; we have Republicans. We have people that lean towards socialism. We have people that are very, very conservative fiscally. It’s important to represent the fullness of these positions, I think, in discussing them, and then let people decide, with the ethos, if you will, of the Orthodox mindset and our Orthodox worldview.
Mr. Maddex: That’s right. It occurred to me that just taking a few moments and looking through some of the newsfeeds on Facebook, we all have a variety of friends on our Facebook pages. Most of my friends are Orthodox, but when I start browsing through the newsfeeds, especially during this election year, it becomes very clear to me that not all of my Orthodox friends think the same way on these political issues. And they are good people; they just don’t agree with each other. So I think this is going to be an exciting way of bringing the conversation to the open and learning from each other.
Mr. Allen: I hope so. That speaks to one of the topics, John, that I’d like to cover as we get closer toward the election, and it won’t be so much “Which candidate do you support?” but what I hope we might be able to discuss is “What are the issues that might contribute to which candidate we lean towards or favor based upon Orthodox Christian values?”
Frankly speaking, I’m sitting here today saying I’m not sure that if we take an Orthodox-values approach [that] the answer to that question is fully assured. I think we’re going to have people that are going to argue both sides of that, but I think that sort of approach whom to vote for will be illumining, and that’s what I’m hoping that this program will accomplish.
Mr. Maddex: I know I’m personally looking forward to some of these discussions just for my own benefit and understanding, as I look towards the November elections. I’m a very socially conservative person when it comes to things like abortion and same-sex marriage, but I don’t think like all of the conservative candidates do on other issues of political importance, such as relationships with other countries. It’s just so important that we understand and learn together. It’s all about the conversation, and this is what we want to bring to the table: a new conversation, on the radio, on internet radio, called Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen.
Kevin [is the] former host of The Illumined Heart. All of those Illumined Heart programs [are] still available on our archives, and if you’ve not accessed those, please do. You have a treat in store for you: so many wonderful topics and interesting discussions that have taken place.
This is kind of like that, only now, this will be live, and we will open up the phone lines and allow you to join in the conversation. We will do this on Sunday evenings, and the plan is to start on April 22, live Sunday evening at 8:00 Eastern, 7:00 Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, and to do this live probably in about an hour. The nice thing about internet radio is that you’re not tied to exactly an hour. Some of them may go a little long, and some of them may not. And then [we’ll] record that program, put it in our archives so that you can listen to it; even if you missed it, you can still come back and listen to it.
Kevin, talk about the first few programs. What are some of the first topics that we can expect to hear about?
Mr. Allen: Right. Well, John, as you know, I’ve had to move the scheduling around a bit because dealing with a static date and time as we are now doing versus just recording when guests are available, it’s been a little challenging, but we have the first four or five shows set. And the first show, I’m excited about—actually, very excited about, in the middle of researching that—is going to be on the new atheism and the new atheists. Again, I mentioned Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens, and there are others that are maybe not as well known.
I have a lot of people, especially young people, who want to understand, for example, what is the Orthodox Church’s position on creation? Is it a young-earth approach only versus an old-earth approach? Do we reject any and all forms of evolution? Is there room for theistic evolution? What about the claims that these men make, that God is simply a human projection? How do we respond to young atheists in school, and how do we protect our kids from some of these views when they hear them? What is our rich tradition in terms of dealing with those issues? So that’s going to be number one.
I have Fr. Hans Jacobse, who is the president of the American Orthodox Institute, and I’m very excited to have Dr. John Mark Reynolds, who is a very well-known philosopher, author, and the president of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University in La Mirada, California; he’s the general editor of Three Views on Creation and Evolution. They’ll both be addressing that issue. So that is program number one.
Program number two: one of my most popular interviews and interview guests on The Illumined Heart was Fr. George Aquaro. Fr. George is located here in southern California, and he is actually one of the few Orthodox priests that I am aware of that has actually done advanced training, John, in exorcism. He trained with the Roman Catholic Church in an advanced way with exorcism. So program number two is going to be on demons, exorcism, and the paranormal. And I think that will be very fascinating. In fact, just today, and no kidding around, I received an e-mail from a listener who wanted me to refer her to Fr. George, just remembering that I had done an interview with somebody that had kind of touched on those subjects. So this is something that people are going to be interested in.
The third program that we have planned I’m really looking forward to. I think this is a very important topic, and we’ve got the right people talking about that. And this is going to be on same-sex attraction [(SSA)]: an Orthodox perspective. Lots of people, lots of young people especially, want to know: what is really wrong with homosexuality? Are people born with this? If so, how can we tell them they must live celibate lives? Why are people so rejecting of people that have homosexual tendencies? What does the Orthodox Church think about it? Is this a big issue in the Church? Etc., etc. And I have Dr. Philip Mamalakis, also one of my most popular guests on The Illumined Heart, and his colleague Andrew Williams. They have developed, John, the first-ever (that they are aware of) therapeutic program based on Orthodox principles and values, dealing directly with same-sex attraction and other sexual-related issues. And they’re going to be talking both about the issue of SSA as well as their program and their approach.
And then the fourth program that I have is one that I’m really interested in as well. People that know The Illumined Heart will know that this is a subject that will interest me, but I think that it will interest others as well. There’s a priest in Canton, Ohio, by the name of Fr. Daniel Rogich, and he wrote a really fascinating book called Becoming Uncreated: The Journey to Human Authenticity, and it’s not a book you just pick up and flip through. It’s really a deep book. It’s one of the five or ten real handbooks that I go back to over and over again.
And we’re going to be addressing in this program the statement that one hears so often today, where people say: You know, I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.” So we’re going to be talking about, first of all, how to think through that issue. What does it mean to be spiritual in today’s parlance? What does it mean to be religious? What are the differences? And what is, at the end of the day, Orthodox spirituality? What does that really mean? What does our spiritual ethos? How does it differ from the Evangelical, the Catholic, some of the others?
And so those are the first four that I have, but, as you know, we’re working on another 10 or 12 or 15 of them, and we’ve got just a great range of ideas.
So, Kevin, I know you put a lot of research into these topics. It’s not enough for you, knowing you as I do, to just identify a topic and do a little Google search. You throw yourself into these topics, and I know one topic spawns another. So thank you for the time you’ve already put into this and that I know you will continue to do. As with anything, there are costs involved when you talk about a program like this, because at Ancient Faith Radio we’re committed to top-notch–quality audio. And it would certainly be easy enough to do everything over phone lines. I mean, right now I’m talking to Kevin and he’s talking to me over a phone line, so the quality of the phone—you can hear it; it’s fine, but it’s not like he’s in the studio.
In order to do this program right, we’re going to install, both at his home studio and right here at the AFR studios, some very expensive, high-technology–based equipment to enable us to use the internet protocols to put live programming in high-studio quality over the air as well as phone calls coming in from listeners, and to put them on the air with Kevin so that he can hear those calls in his California studio, and so that we can monitor and screen them here in our Indiana studios and be connected in this way. Some of you who are maybe a little more technically minded are familiar with the term ISDN, and ISDN was high-quality phone connections that most radio stations have used and many of them continue to use for long-distance interviews and hosts. Oftentimes you’ll have a radio host in Denver hosting a program in Los Angeles and Chicago, but it sounds like they’re right there in the Chicago studio. So ISDN has kind of been the standard in the past, but it’s very expensive: you pay per minute on ISDN lines.
New technology has made it possible to put people on the air in a studio-quality environment using internet protocols, and we have invested in this equipment. As I have said, it’s pretty expensive. The equipment alone to do this program, is about $15,000, and we’re going out on faith now in announcing the launch of this new call-in program, but we’re asking: Can you come alongside us and help defray the costs of the equipment? The equipment has already been ordered and is arriving, and we’re looking at rather large bills in order to pay for that equipment, and this needs to be paid for apart from the normal operating budget of Ancient Faith Radio.
If you are excited about this program and can commit to a one-time specially designated gift for Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen, we would be so grateful. Now, you can learn exactly how to do that when you go to our homepage at ancientfaith.com. You’ll see a banner in green called “Special Appeal,” and if you click on that, you’ll see the announcement about Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen. You’ll have a donation button. When you use that button, we have it set up so that your gift will indeed be designated for this project. It’ll automatically tell us that your gift is for this project, and you’ll see a couple of other projects we’re working on as well.
Mr. Allen: If all of the listeners that generally have downloaded The Illumined Heart would simply be able to donate a one-time gift [of] $25, we would have this thing done.
Mr. Maddex: More than cared for! It is as simple as that. I don’t know how many listening right now have indeed downloaded a program of The Illumined Heart, and it’s thousands of you. We know that for a fact. And if even just half of you would give a gift of $25, even $5 [or] $10, this would be cared for very quickly.
Again, don’t do anything that’s going to come at the expense of your local parish. That comes first. And if you’re a regular donor of Ancient Faith Radio, this does need to be above and beyond your normal giving so that our operating expenses can continue to be funded, but these are designated special one-time gifts, and you’ll find out more on our home page when you click on the banner: “Special Appeal.”
Kevin, anything else on your mind before we let you go?
Mr. Allen: Not really, John. I just want to say again I’m really excited about this, looking forward to talking with listeners of Ancient Faith Radio live, and hearing their questions and their comments, and we’ll do that not in the very distant future.
Mr. Maddex: That’s right. We’re in the middle of Lent, and Holy Week is coming, Pascha is coming, and soon after Pascha, on April 22, we’ll launch Ancient Faith Today with Kevin Allen. And Kevin, thank you for joining us today, and we will keep our listeners informed as we move closer to that date.
Mr. Allen: Thanks, John.