Violent reactions around the performance of “Corpus Christi” at the Hytirion Theatre in Athens prove that a play could indicate all the conservative trends that characterize an important part of the Greek society.
Already this summer, the Holy Synod of the Hellenic Orthodox Church ruled that “such a performance contradicts the long tradition of the Church and Fatherland”, while inviting the Greek people to condemn it. However, even by the standards of a European country, such as Greece, this fact is not unprecedented. Either for political issues, such as building a mosque in the city of Athens, or the indication of religious beliefs on identity cards (which was happening in Greece until 2000), and either for cultural reasons – a cinematic performance, a work of art or an artistic event – fanatic members of fundamentalist, religious organizations abandon their religious practices and places of worship and sluice out on a merciless “witch hunt”.
Finally, what is “Corpus Christi” and why did it cause such reactions?
According to the director the show is a review and reconstruction of the most famous and controversial history for Man, without identifying and referring to personalities from the Bible. It narrates the story of thirteen young people, from their adolescence to their adulthood, in a society teetering between lost values and ideals at a time when we are struggling more than ever to filter what we are being “served” as the official Truth and History. Therefore, in the era of the “economic crisis”, the performance gives the opportunity to judge and compare as well as it discerns the values that we want to serve.
However, the war against “Corpus Christi” is not just a conservative action, an expression of a part of the Greek people that refuses diversity and freedom to criticize the “Divine” and the structures and institutions of the Church. The baton of obscurantism and the potential role of defender of the “unbreakable bond” between Christianity and the Greek state is now been received by the neo-Nazi party of Golden Dawn. Trying to exploit the Church’s tendency to be politicized in times of political crisis, Golden Dawn opened its influence in the Orthodox average traditional Right and stopped remaining tarnished.
Nonetheless, as much the action of Golden Dawn as the phenomena of religious frenzy are not a black spot in an immaculate and white democratic record of the country. From all above, we can note that these actions are not isolated incidents, but part of a concerted effort to restrict the freedom of expression. This is concluded by the fact reactions against “Corpus Christi” are associated with authoritarianism, violent repression of any form of protest, arrests of protesters and the pogroms against immigrants, named in an ironic way after the ancient Greek god of hospitality, Xenios Zeus. Liberal ideas are replaced by a coordinated indoctrination of hatred, xenophobia and violence, either expressed by the Greek government or the Church, either by media propaganda, or through the visible and hidden crimes of the Golden Dawn. The economic crisis, the authoritarianism and the violent imposition of economic measures, coming from the Memoranda, deterministically bring along the suppression, not just against demonstrators, but against democracy. Acceptance of the Memoranda means denial of democracy, as it is, inevitably, implied by a silent affirmation in repression, in neo-Nazi parastate, in undemocratic measures, in the authoritarian imposition of everything that society rejects. The anachronistic reactions to “Corpus Christi” are included in the same context: the disapproval of social, political, ethnic, religious and sexual diversity.
Under the banner of national unity and the salvation of the fatherland both the government, Golden Dawn and the Church fit harmoniously. But, what kind of salvation are we talking about? And most important, how can a series of measures, which are intensifying class antagonisms and crippling democracy and social rights, work? “Corpus Christi” is an incident that highlights the main dilemma within the Greek society: culture, solidarity, human rights, democracy or Memorandum and brutality?