Reflections On The Scandal
Fear, Anonymity and The Gospel
by Alice Carter, Boston MA
In 1979 I left the community which had been my home for ten years in order to testify in court against the leader and founder. It was a truly utopian venture dedicated to helping people addicted to drugsand alcohol. However it degenerated into a violent cult whose members would commit violence and attempted murder against its perceived enemies: former members who had left, lawyers who were suing the founder for criminal acts and others who had the misfortune to wander on to the property owned by this group. My work in health services was uncompensated and I had no social security benefits from working 14 hour days for many years. When I left I had two dollars, three pairs of blue jeans, some tee shirts and a collection of rock and roll records. I was 50 years old and didn't have a bank account or a debitcard, a job or a place to live. I also had several children, one of who was nine years old and who would join me when I found a place to live.
A year later, after finding work and a place to live,
I was informed by the district attorney of the state of California that adeath threat had been issued against me in response to my testimony in court. By that time I had both my minor children living with me, and the three of us had to leave California for Ireland until it was safe to return to the States. I had merely told the truth, and not because I was a Christian, but because I was committed to non-violence. In its early days this community was also non-violent and several men received their CO qualification by serving in this community during the Vietnam war.
I am really saddened by the fact that so many who
post to this web site are doing so anonymously. It reminds me of the last days of my organization where almost everyone feared to tell the truth because they were afraid. Many of them have since told me that
they wished they had spoken up. "What did you have to lose?" I asked them. The answers were jobs, social position in the organization, fear that they could not earn a living outside of it. and for many the fear
that they would use drugs again if they lived outside the community.
What do the many who post anonymously here have to lose? Priests may fear retribution from the Metropolitan and I can understand this. However I think they would serve the church and themselves better by risking punitive action from Metropolitan Herman. If all those living in such fear would join together to support each other in being truthful, and helping each other bear the consequences I think we would see a rapid resolution of our current hamstrung efforts.
Tell the truth. Speak about what you have already suffered at the hands of the Metropolitan. Speak about the unbearable reality of living within the Church as if it were a violent cult whose leader will not listen.
Metropolitan Herman has been kind to many, I have heard, but his kindness is always within the context of power. Even the Czars could be kind. Such kindness, unfortunately, is closer to sentimentality than to the Gospel. I know also that many Orthodox Christians see
nothing wrong with the way Metropolitan Herman exercises power, they have been raised to believe that this is how a church should be run. Even the Metropolitan was raised this way. There is absolutely nothing in the Gospels to justify this behavior.
Speaking the truth can free up those who preach the Gospel to move away from representing Christ
as a vengeful and punitive God, and to begin to preach the Gospel of Christ Who loves and forgives each and everyone of us.
(Alice Carter is a parishoner at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Boston MA.)