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Thursday, May 8, 2014


As you may have noticed, I was away from home for the past week. Johannes Lahtela, a seminarian of the Orthodox Church of Finland, was kind enough to arrange an invitation from Metropolitan Ambrosius of Helsinki for me to visit his community and give a few presentations on addictions and the Passions. While I did have occasional internet access, I was not really in the mood to post.

Sorry (if I need to apologize). It usually takes me a little while to process major events such as this one.

This was my fifth international trip having to do with addictions, though all told I’ve visited 17 countries in my travels. Well, at least those are the ones I can remember.

Alcoholism and Finland

At this conference, I got a chance to hear quite a few presentations on the alcoholism problem in Finland. The numbers are quite troubling, though I can say with all certainty that addictions are exploding all over the developed world, and so it should be no surprise that Finns have done from drinking just a few liters of alcohol in the 1970s to over ten liters per person in this decade.

Of course, the escalation in alcoholism coincides with Western Europe’s moral and religious decline. During this same period, marriages began to break up with greater frequency, and so social instability increased as well. It is no wonder why people have more frequently turned to alcohol.

Interestingly enough, Finnish Orthodox clergy are also running into the same internet pornography problems we have in the US. I didn’t get a sense that there is much in the way of treatment for it.

The Twelve Steps are largely unknown to clergy as well, though I think they may be a bit more open to them than in other places in the Church right now. We’ll have to wait and see what the ‘fallout’ is from this conference and whether there will be more conferences and, most especially, whether the church leadership will be willing to start organizing ministries to help deal with the problem of addiction.

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