If you're of an ecumenical frame of mind, you may want to stop in at your local Eastern Orthodox church next Orthodoxy Sunday, the first Sunday in Lent.

That's the day every year on which the Church holds a ritual to publicly curse its enemies.

I kid you not. One by one, they name those that disagree with them, living or dead—heretics, they call them—and proclaim: Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!

Jeez. And people think witches are spiteful.

Of course, some churches take this ritual more seriously than others. Some American Orthodox don't even do the anathematizing any more.

But some of the whackier, out-on-the-end-of-the-branch Orthodox churches—and if you think pagans can be weird, believe me, we are mere pikers by comparison*—take it very seriously indeed, and carefully update the list of curses every year.

Even so, I almost swallowed my gum when I saw this one:

To those who undertake Hellenic Pagan studies also known as Hellenic neo-Paganism (Dodekatheonismos) not only for purposes of education but also follow after their vain opinions and ritualistic practices, and are so thoroughly convinced of their truth and validity that they shamelessly introduce them and teach them to others, sometimes secretly and sometimes openly: Anathema! Anathema! Anathema!

Well, but you know how these things work.

Somewhere out there in the pews—except that Orthodox churches mostly don't have pews—there's some little kid growing up in the sheltered world of Whacko Eastern Orthodoxy who's hearing for the very first time in his or her home-schooled life that pagans—actual Pagans!—still exist.

Hearing, and thinking: Hmm.


*Some "Old Believers" actually believe that it's sinful to eat potatoes.


Above: Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow