Wednesday, March 5. 2008
Your comments and thoughts on the events of the day are welcome.
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I have the solution to all our ills. We fire every last one of the current bishops, all of them. We elect new bishops, all from the native alaskan nations. It seems these GOOD people know how to effectively deal with problems, celebrate Holy Orthodoxy and live properly.
We love you Alaska! And, yes I am serious.
#1 no name on 2008-03-05 11:56
Wow, with comments like that i wouldnt put my name down either. Good luck with that plan.
#1.1 Sad in the South on 2008-03-05 15:04
My question to you who wrote axious. Do you know how it is in Alaska and how the people and clergy are suffering. I would no talk about what is going on, but concentrate on my own faults. Asking for forgiveness for making comment about if you know Alaska.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 01:45
Is is exactly-suffering people-from which the best candidates for new bishops could come. Archbishop Fulton Sheehan said, "when you need spiritual help, seek out someone that has suffered.
So I say, axios for the suffering people of Alaska. They are more worthy, much loved by Christ and he wil redeem their suffering and bring them much joy and salvation. The 48 can learn much from these heros of faith.
#1.2.1 no name on 2008-03-06 07:12
have you tried to see the appendices that Nikolai says "are available on request"?
Remaining anonymous so I can give it a shot if you haven't been able to...
#2 anonymous this time on 2008-03-05 12:35
heartbreaking, much sadness!
#3 cshinn on 2008-03-05 13:19
FEDERAL INVESTIGATION !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#4 anomyous on 2008-03-05 14:33
one notices a recurring theme here: the character of church services presided over by nikolai
more than a few posters have commented on nikolai's rubricism, his obsession with (his own ideas of) correct ritual
and more than a few have also noted the "joyless" character of the services conducted under nikolai
what no one has said so far is that Nikolai does not have the monopoly on joyless liturgical formalism, or attachment to decadent 19th c. Russian rubrics
nikolai and metropolitan herman may not be the best of friends
in some ways nikolai's style of "leadership" may even make herman's look like a dream -- after all, it doesn't seem that herman is really known to micro-manage his priests
but when it comes to their approach to worship, nikolai and herman manifest remarkably similar mindsets
anyone who doubts this should go to e.p.a. and take a visit to st tikhons monastery
maybe things have changed somewhat since herman is no longer bishop there (?), but he certainly insisted on a tradition of dead ritualism:
eucharistic prayers said silently,
minimal concregational singing or other lay participation,
altar servers being yelled at and treatly rudely,
sermons being moved to the priest's communion, as if some kind of side show to the main circus act...
the overall effect was the sense that the whole thing was largely all about herman...
Mark Harrison wrote of how the seminary wives felt they could not go to church after the harsh treatment they received from nikolai on account of their children making "too much noise"
that also was a familar scene with herman at st tikhons,
with wives even being told not to attend holy week services because their children were too loud... the main difference being that at st tikhon's there was no Father Chad Hatfield to appeal to -
the person occupying Fr. Chad's position instead enforced herman's harsh decrees...
RITUALISM AND ABUSE OF POWER GO HAND AND HAND
#5 survivor on 2008-03-05 14:40
MH may be a strict Hierarch but one thing about MH is that I have never seen him treat an altar sever rudely or even raise his voice to him and I've been serving for over 25 years. I was on a pilgrimage to Alaska one year and have witnessed Bishop Nikolai scold and embarrass an altar server who was about 16 or 17 to tears during a vigil service in front of the entire congregation. MH would never in a million years do something like that. Sorry to burst your bubble. Have a Blessed Lent and Pascha
#5.1 Unworthy Priest in EPA on 2008-03-06 20:39
I'm sure your are right, which is why I have never broadly equated Metropolitan Herman with Bishop Nikolai, no matter how much I have taken issue with him and his actions. It should also be noted that Metropolitan Herman, to the best of my knowledge, has not resorted to firing or excommunicating his critics in the current crisis with the exception of one so-called monk.
This does not mean he should continue to serve as Metropolitan or be exonerated for his many failures--especially his failure to deal with Bishop Nikolai (to date) and to properly handle the crisis of truth and accountability in the OCA.
But your comment is well taken and does put things in perspective.
#5.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-07 13:13
Kenneth Tobin would do well to consult the good people of St John the Baptist parish in Mayfield PA, among others whom Met. Herman has excommunicated for longer or shorter periods -- not because they committed any offense against the commandments of God or the laws of the Church -- but because they opposed him, personally.
Mr Tobin would also do well to reserve judgement in my personal situation, about which he knows nothing. God bless me, I remain a monk and a Christian no matter what MH intimidates his clergy to do regarding me. These good men ought to be braver and find their strength and support in Christ rather than fear the predations and retaliations of a very little man, little and petty and small in every sense.
#18.104.22.168 Monk James on 2008-03-07 20:03
My dearest in Christ "survivor"
You are criticizing an Orthodox Monastery for dead ritualism? An Orthodox Monastery? Really? I am a 1995 Graduate of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Seminary and I've never EVER experienced "dead ritualism". Have you ever been there for Pascha? I guess it's dead ritualism to light a vigil on EVERY grave in the cemetery. I guess it's dead ritual to read the Gospel in every language possible. I guess the 5:30 AM Matins during the Great and Holy Fast are just trivial. What do you suggest? Shall we abandon all of this for an "American Orthodoxy"? (Please, I'm as American as apple pie) I grew up in Saint Clair, PA. I went to Church every time there was a service. This "formation" was my Lifeline to the Seminary. You touch on a few points that I would like to address. "Operatic style of music." Please explain. Eucharistic Prayers said silently: Hesychism (silent prayer) is the Highest form of language to God. "Minimal congregational singing": It's A MONASTERY! Does St. Vladimir's have congregational singing, or do they have a Male chorus and a mixed chorus? And as far as sermons being read as a "side show", Readers can not preach with the Holy Doors open (fire storm for those who disagree). I'm not going to deny tension in the Altar. All about Herman? I agree! Just take a look at 'Your Dioceses Alive". One can almost think that it is a magazine dedicated to "Your Metropolitan Alive. It IS all about Vladyka Herman. I pray to our Holy Father Herman, our Saint Alexis of Wilkes Barre, and all the Saints both known and unknown to have mercy on us all!
Reader Gregory R. Sagan
#5.2 Reader Gregory R.Sagan on 2008-03-06 21:51
dear EPA priest, dear rdr gregory:
forgive me for being unclear: no doubt bishop herman is a nice guy, friendly in the altar, etc. - as for rudeness toward altar servers, i was speaking of his 'entourage' (but maybe that has changed).
rdr. gregory, if you don't see what i mean by ritualism, operatic music, etc., i won't argue that - clearly we come from two very different viewpoints - and yes, monasteries differ in practice from parishes, but in the case we were speaking of, the monastery in question was also supposed to be serving non-monastics and families - basically, a parish community.
as for defending silent eucharistic prayers in the name of "hesychasm' - this is a common justification. but i suggest you do some more homework on this one. to start with, see the two articles by golubtsov (1905!) and boris sove, translated by fr smirensky and available online.
there's plenty of evidence to show that an inaudible anaphora is contrary to patristic teaching - an abuse which crept in the 6th c. under nestorian influence, and was resisted by the emperor justinian...
those bishops which insist on it may think they're being very traditional and 'russian,' but don't seem to acknowledge that a vast majority of russian bishops before the revolution favored a return to an audible reading of the eucharistic prayers (as well as to congregational singing) - this was not simply some kind of modernist innovation invented fr. schmemann and st. vladimir's seminary, ya' know?
...which brings me to the point which i originally intended but failed to make clear - perhaps because i let my own prejudices fly - for which i ask forgiveness:
not to equate bishop herman with bishop nikolai - nor to criticize america's oldest orthodox monastic community - but simply to point out that much of what people are objecting to in bishop nikolai's 'style' of liturgics is really not peculiar to that bishop only - nor does it originate with him-
AND that how we "do" liturgy tells a lot about how we understand the Church: a liturgy that is more or less a monologue, or even a dialogue involving only celebrant and choir but failing to include the whole of the gathering, goes hand in hand with precisely that kind of leadership which many are objecting to not only in bishop nikolai, but also in MH and throughout the wider church. which is why the same russian reforms of 1905 which considered the restoration of the audible anaphora, frequent communion for the laity and congregational singing, also discussed a move towards greater conciliarity in church life and decision-making, not excluding the laity.
it was the legacy of that RUSSIAN (yes) renewal movement that the 'visionaries' of the older metropolia and the OCA sought to implement and build upon... my point was simply to suggest that not only bishop nikolai, but also other bishops, including MH and 'his' school, seem to be out of keeping w/ that legacy so foundational to the OCA, and have for years demonstrated that much by their approach to worship. MH himself hit the nail on the head a year or so: he said that our problem was one of 'conflicting ecclesiologies.'
forgive me if it seemed i was attacking any one personally, that was not my intent - a very blessed 40 days to you both-
#5.2.1 survivor on 2008-03-07 21:54
Thank you so much for your clarification. I hope in no way I offended you. I have done my "homework" on silent prayers, and we can agree to disagree. I would actually love to discuss this with you in a different forum. I guess my defense of St. Tikhon's was kind of like warding off a home intruder. I appreciate your opinion, like I hope you appreciate mine. God bless you for your fervor. Please forgive me a sinner. May you have a blessed lent and a joyous Pascha!
Reader Gregory R. Sagan
#22.214.171.124 Reader Gregory R. Sagan on 2008-03-08 22:55
AS I HAVE STATED IN THE PAST "THOSE WHO WANT TO BASH THE OCA" WHY DONT YOU START YOUR OWN CHURCH? THERE FOR EVERYONE CAN MOVE FORWORD! PROBLEM SOLVED! 'AND THAT' THE REST OF THE STORY! GOOD DAY!
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 10:52
Reposted from earlier thread:
"I have witnessed these thing with my OWN eyes and my OWN ears, and that is all the proof I need for myself. I know right from wrong and I am intelligent and honest enough to identify it when I see it. Those who deny the truth run the risk of becoming spiritually corrupt if they are not already.
My advice to you:
#1 Face reality
#3 Quit with the all caps already, it's getting quite tiresome."
Seriously think about this.
#188.8.131.52.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-10 14:12
Gee I wonder where your from? Yea that seems like a great idea, I dont think so..... I have nothing against the Alaskan people but i dont think they would have a clue as to the problems we are facing in the lower 48. Also there is not a chance in the world that all the bishops should be or would be fired, so get a life and stop contemplating of the impossible
#6 Praying in the Midwest on 2008-03-05 14:58
> so get a life and stop contemplating of the impossible
You mean like that impossible thing where God Himself was incarnate and gave up His life that we might be redeemed?
I should maybe get a life and quit contemplating such an impossible thing?
For God all things are possible--even the mass resignation of bishops and their replacement with shepherds that know how to balance discipline and compassion and exert real authority and leadership.
Lord have mercy.
#6.1 anonymous on 2008-03-06 10:06
You can pray all you want/need. All of the Bishops bar none should resign. they all knew what was happening to this once BEAUTIFUL CHURCH under the tyrannical leadership of Theodosius, Herman and Kondratic. These guys' have to go.
The last month, all of the heat was taken off of Herman and bestowed opon Nick. Herman and Nick are cut out of the same cloth and they will hang around until DOOMS' DAY! These guys, should be FIRED. They are a true mockery to our CHURCH.
When I see all of these people quote scripture and don't sign their name, it is out of fear. We in the lower forty eight live with the same fear as our Brethern in Alaska have of being punished. Lets use our common sense.
Lets get rid of the wretched molesters and dictators and restore our CHURCH to the once BEAUTIFUL CHURCH that we once were.
St. James - Brother of the Lord
Kansas City, MO
e - email@example.com
c - 816-853-8685
Despite Bishop Nikolai’s intention to invalidate criticism his letter only corroborates numerous accounts of his obnoxious conduct.
He accuses his critics of ‘slander and gossip’ without addressing any specific examples of his appalling and brutal behavior. That is he distorts the meaning of ‘slander’ and ‘gossip’.
He basically apologizes for not being harsher. That is he is absolutely clueless as to why people are unhappy with him. Or is he just blatantly derisive?
He echoes Ms. Jacobs’ comment and cavalierly uses St. Paul’s instructions to admonish your brother in private and to refrain from rebuking an elder. That is he manipulates the Scriptures and Tradition to suit his own purposes and to lay blame.
Contrary to his supporter’s characterization of him made on an earlier thread, His Grace’s letter attest to anything but intelligence. It is rather suggestive of his very warped perception of reality. Presented with a simple fact that he is not wanted in Alaska, he will see himself as the victim and those who disagree with him as ungrateful pests unable to comprehend his exceptionality. That’s why I think the priests’ decision not to meet with him is correct. Trying to get such a person to hear you is absolutely futile.
Numerous Orthodox writers past and present have written on this spiritual malady. I wonder, if we in the OCA were not so dismissive and contemptuous of everything that comes from the “old world” perhaps we could have learnt from our spiritual forebears’ both mistakes and accomplishments. Perhaps if we had been willing to consider the experience of those before and outside of the OCA we would not be in this mess. (After all, the Serbs did not want +Nikolai, and neither did the Greeks.) I only hope that if and when this crisis passes we do not get lulled into self-contentment and self-reliance.
#7 Karina Ross on 2008-03-05 15:36
Your dissection of Bishop Nikolai's letter is devastatingly accurate! I also agree that we must be careful not to reject the wisdom of the past, so long as we don't consider it infallible or make an idol out of traditions that may or may not be appropriate for a different time and setting.
#7.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-06 08:48
He echoes Ms. Jacobs’ comment and cavalierly uses St. Paul’s instructions to admonish your brother in private and to refrain from rebuking an elder. That is he manipulates the Scriptures and Tradition to suit his own purposes and to lay blame.
A good post. One obvious correction. Ms. Jacobs writes what Bp. Nikolai feeds her, rather than speaking for herself. Her post about the instructions of St. Paul, which are also in Nikolai's online, disjointed self-documented letter/timeline, is ample evidence of that.
#7.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 08:15
To the Editor,
This is to clarify your reporting on the Minneapolis Deanery Resolution.
The posted resolution was drafted by deanery clergy after the March 1 meeting had concluded. Thus, the resolution was not adopted "in a meeting with Archbishop JOB". Further, Archbishop JOB was not given the benefit of seeing the resolution before it was posted to this website.
Finally, the resolution was not adopted at the deanery meeting but rather it was the suggestion to create a resolution that was adopted.
Dn Joseph Matusiak
Assistant to the Archbishop
Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the Midwest
#8 Diocese of the Midwest - Office of the Archbishop on 2008-03-05 15:44
Why would anyone want to go to an ACC when nothing from Syosset or the HS has been addressed or if addressed at least not been communicated in the last three months?
#8.1 Lynn on 2008-03-06 16:11
What's the point of this message? Is +Job repudiating or distancing himself from the statement? If so, why? Or is this a pointless technical or procedural clarification of how the meeting happened to produce a statement ex post facto? If the clergy agreed to make a statement with wording to be worked out later, they surely agreed to say some particular points or some particular message and that was agreed upon, right? So, what's the point with posting the message?
#8.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 20:36
I think it's because +N has already accused +J of interfering in his diocese against Canon Law (according to +N's interpretation) and is threatening to press charges. I accept Dn. Joseph's statement as merely establishing, for the record, that +J was not present when the Minneapolis Statement was drafted and discussed. It seems a wise move now that we know that +J is +N's target (the "timeline" says it loud and clear), even though, on a personal level, +J may well agree with the concerns expressed by the Minneapolis Deanery. I don't think we need to read anything more into it. Also, I would encourage folks to not take offense from not hearing from the HS (even though I keep checking my computer several times a day). The testimony from Alaska can't be ignored. I think the HS made a decision, but +N won't abide by the decision, so now the HS is trying to figure out their next step. Hang in there, Alaska!
Peace and love to all.
#8.2.1 Jodie Captein - Oregon on 2008-03-07 17:40
Boy, Jodie, did you ever get that right! Whoo hoo! If I feel relief, I can only imagine what the long-suffering people of Alaska must be feeling.
#184.108.40.206 Scott Walker on 2008-03-07 19:31
Forgiveness for n? In time. but first, CONSEQUENCES, REAL CONSEQUENCES!
#9 anonymous on 2008-03-05 16:04
And your attitude conforms to Christianity how?
We are, if we are to claim to be followers of Christ, REQUIRED to forgive Bp. Nikolai. We can choose not to do so, spouting platitudes about "there must be consequences before forgiveness!" but then we are not being Christians.
Not only must we forgive him, but we must do so whether or not he confesses to us, whether or not he ever repents to us. AND we must forgive him not just once or twice, but "7 times 70" times! And that is the admonition of our Lord and Savior Himself!
Consequences or not, we should be working hard at forgiving Bp. Nikolai NOW. I suppose we could wait until Sunday an appropriate day indeed.
But remember forgiveness does not mean you condone or even have to accept his bad beheavior. I certainly wouldn't if I were from Alaska. I have no doubt he believes sincerely that he is doing the Lord's will, but it is clear that his methodology is warped because after all, "by their fruits you will know them" and his fruits so far are more than a little over-ripe. But there is mercy and redemption in the Lord--even for Bp. Nikolai. That's what I pray for--and that God's will be done.
God will deal with Bp. Nikolai and in His time. It may be God will use this site and the Synod to remonstrate and demand repentence, or it may be something we never ever see. But it's not our place to withhold our forgiveness until Bp. Nikolai fulfills some criteria you or I might think is wise.
From my own experiences:
After I was grown, my father (a traditionalist Episcopal priest) went to a new parish in a new diocese. The bishop there was a good pastoral man, even though he and my dad disagreed on some things. Then the bishop retired and his replacement was an autocratic, ex-military, just downright nasty fellow. My dad suffered through more than a decade of bad treatment (but the bishop could never "get any goods" on my dad so could never force him out). Dad would get angry and so would mom, but through it all they prayed and begged the Lord to send upon the Bishop a spirit of compassion, joy in the Lord, and an understanding of what it means to be the leader of the flock. Shortly before dad retired, the bishop called him in and apologized for his mistreatment. He did the same with other priests and laypeople. It seems he had had some kind of experience of the Lord that brought about a "conversion" of sorts. He had believed he was being a good bishop and was serving God correctly--and learned otherwise. Now he is still a firm, steel-core ex-military fellow, especially about matters of actual faith but he has been touched by God and given understanding about the need for "economia" and compassion in dealing with his people. He's still wrong about the ordination of women of course, but he's turned out to be a pretty good bishop. And all the people had to do was pray and be patient...
I'm sure more learned priests and laypeople will dissect all the errors in my post, but I know that the Lord calls us to forgive without reservation, and that is what I am striving to do to all that wound me, and what I hope others do for me when I wound them.
#9.1 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-03-06 10:41
thank you. very well said, i agree with you and am most thankful with the words you put to Jesus' teachings. i can't even begin to put words to all the teachings from our forgiving,loving, understanding Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. that he teaches us all to do the same. its immeasurable.....almost incomprehensible at times....but that is our Lord.
your sister in Christ,
#9.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 15:52
Not only must we forgive him, but we must do so whether or not he confesses to us, whether or not he ever repents to us. AND we must forgive him not just once or twice, but "7 times 70" times! And that is the admonition of our Lord and Savior Himself!
Go back and read your Bible. Jesus didn't just speak Matthew 18:21-22. He also spoke Luke 17:3-4.
#9.1.2 a sinner on 2008-03-06 20:56
Well, the Luke passage sure is handy if one wants to harbor ones anger and hatred of Bishop Nikolai.
Of course to do so harms Bishop Nikolai not at all. The one refusing forgiveness, on the other hand...
You don't forgive a person necessarily just for THEIR sake. You forgive them in order to let go of the acid that will eat away at your own soul if you don't let it go.
I reiterate: forgiving someone does NOT condone their abusive behavior, and does not mean you should continue to accept behavior that is sinful.
Yes for it to be efficacious for the person who has offended you, they need to repent. But you don't have to wait for that repentence from them in order to begin the process of forgiving them. And I don't think the Lord means that you should wait--I think He is saying that when they come to you, you REALLY have no excuse not to forgive.
Personally, I think this Sunday would be a very good time to start.
I will leave you with another passage: "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."
I note with some asperity that the words "once they have made up for their damnable rotten behavior to my satisfaction" is NOT usually added to the Lord's Prayer.
#220.127.116.11 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-03-07 21:46
How about this- A reduction to the rank of monk, being placed in a monastery in the midwest, and put under obedience to AB Job?
#9.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 08:49
I like it. Don't know if Bp. Nikolai would, though.
I'm sorry to see he continues to be intransigent, now claiming that the canons have been violated so he doesn't have to take a leave of absence or obey the Synod.
He's not making it any easier to be forgiving...
#9.2.1 Kevin Nikolai Payne on 2008-03-09 06:02
I cant speak for the whole Synod... but it seems that at least until now they're ineffective and non-functional...
I am hopefull that they will change their stance today!
The only way this situation with our renegade bishop can be rectified is to get rid of him... I think he not only should be removed from Alaska but from all of Orthodoxy as a bishop.
He has truly fallen from Grace... even though a few persons are persistently clinging to him for their salvation as they see it.
#10 Ted Panamarioff - Kodiak Alaska on 2008-03-05 17:49
I find it damn sad that a Bishop is allowed to go on for so long until the water reaches a boiling point before anything is done.
To me, the sadness is for both the Bishop, who has behaved harshly, and for the people he has behaved badly to both.
One thing I've noticed about our church is that it is dreadfully slow in responding to what the rest of society quickly and clearly identify as problems.
#11 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-05 18:01
Well, what do you expect when you try to impose King George behavior and rule on the people of a country founded by the overthrowing of such tyranny?
You may keep Americans - even American Orthodox - down for awhile, but eventual the American in them will arise.
#12 Give Me Liberty on 2008-03-05 22:04
still no action from the Synod, don't be surprised if NOTHING is done...With GREAT LENT fastly approaching wouldn't surprise me the least bit that everything ONCE AGAIN get's tabled till after Pascha..
#13 Anoymous on 2008-03-06 07:57
Hats off to Bruce Little for talking about the "Orthodox Leap"
Thank you Bruce! Bravo!
#14 no name on 2008-03-06 07:59
In paragraph two of "Off the Chest" by Bruce Little he states that he "kissed his ring"!!! Was he referring to +Nikolai or the Pope of Alaska?
#15 Janet M on 2008-03-06 10:36
#15.1 anonymous on 2008-03-07 08:52
Bishop Nikolai has brought this feeling of terror and sadness to the people of Alaska since he replaced Bishop Innocent. Many of us saw his "unchrist-like" behavior from the beginning. He has ripped this diocese apart. It is very strange to see the faith that was built by my ancestors in this far north land destroyed, not from an outsider, but from our own bishop. Alaska Natives were brought into Orthodoxy by St. Innokennti, St. Juvenally, and St. Herman, along with our own Native saints such as Yakov and Peter the Aleut. They taught us the scriptures, often in our own languages, they also taught us the big and little traditions of the church. I am sure that the little traditions that were developed in their time, in the Aleutian Islands, also blended some of our Unangax traditions. The question that I have is very simple. Why are we told by Bishop Nikolai that these traditions and practices that were taught by the early founders of our faith in America not appropriate? How is that we can carry those traditions on, unchanged, since the time of St. Innokennti, yet today we are told that we do it wrong? It seems to me that this bishop's message is telling us to not follow the faith, traditions, and practices of our elders and saints. Instead, we are to "kau tau" to his ways. How can the Synod ignore this gross misrepresentation of Christian behavior? They meet, yet they don't address the issue. This will not go away, and no, Great and Holy Lent is not going to make the problem fade. Bishop Nikolai has ripped our faith wide open, and now it is rotting from within. Unless this issue is resolved quickly, I am afraid that many of us will lose faith in the ability of the lesser and Holy Synod to effectively deal with any substantial issues in the Alaskan Diocese. That would lead me to believe either of two things. The synod is a "good, old boys" club, or they just don't have any caring or compassion for their Alaskan people. Let us pray that Christ will bring us out of this darkness and time of waning faith. Peter
#16 Peter from Alaska on 2008-03-06 10:51
Bruce Little's comments are right on. "Cradle" Orthodox need to throw off this fatalism, this false humility, this falsely pious double-speak, and call a spade a spade. Folks, this is a gift the American culture wants to give you. Embrace it. It is worthy of incarnation.
-- From another Protestant American converted to Orthodoxy and sometimes wondering why he did, given the unwillingness of "cradle Orthodox" to find their own salvation in their heritage.
#17 Anon. on 2008-03-06 11:31
You should not blame "cradle" Orthodox for this. In my experience, most of the people who love to hype up the "mea culpa" to the extreme, who succumb to such fatalism, and sign letters/emails with statements like "worst sinner ever to exist" are converts. This problem is a two-edged sword. Saying "of whom I am first/chief" is necessary and true but using it to preclude discernment is delusional and demonic. I agree with your impulse in that direction, but it is a two-edged sword. Cradle and convert alike participate in this "fatalism."
Yet Another Priest in the Midwest
#17.1 Yet Another Priest in the Midwest on 2008-03-06 23:29
Thank you. Points well taken.
Is it a form of laziness and apathy dressed up all nice and pious-sounding? When someone says that kind of stuff to me I usually take it as a "don't bother me with this subject" brush off. Makes them feel better about not caring or, better yet, not intending to do anything meaningful about the subject or problem being highlighted. (I heard these sorts of brush-offs ALL THE TIME at Syosset among the "leadership".)
The one I hate the worst comes most often from the mouths of these rapidly departing bishops: "In God's time." Well folks, granted sometimes God's time is a long way off... and sometimes it isn't. Thankfully, a few subjects are being addressed in the near term now. It is long overdue.
It's time for all our bishops to learn how to be true leaders instead of ogres, props for heavy vestments, and poster boys for irrelevancy.
#17.1.1 Anon. on 2008-03-07 16:35
Here's one cradle Orthodox who sees the value of fighting tyranny.
Fighting tyranny is a positive American trait -- but it is a very Orthodox trait, too. St. John Chrysostom fought an ungodly, tyrannical emperor and the toadie bishops who supported him. St. Basil the Blessed and St. Philip, Metropolitan of Moscow dared to question the tyranny of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. St. Philip was deposed and martyred for it, but was later canonized. The False Union of Brest failed not because the clergy, laity and monastics kept their mouths shut, but because they dared to open them to condemn the bishops who had acted outside the sobor and abused their authority.
We can talk about prayer 'till we're blue in the face. What we need is to uphold the canons at the upcoming AAC, and depose any bishop who violates them. Toleration of embezzlement and sexual abuse in the name of humility is not only uncanonical, it is sinful. Far better to eat a steak dinner for every night of Lent then to continue to turn a blind eye to this evil.
#17.2 Greg Denysenko on 2008-03-07 12:02
Bruce Little (I hope he reads this) made some of the most difficult to read accusations yet. A potential convert's firm impressions of an Orthodox bishop. It is amazing that the man converted! I knew another man in Kodiak who delayed his conversion for YEARS after +Nikolai berated him at their first meeting for not properly asking for a blessing. When my mother visited Kodiak a year and a half ago, I introduced her to the bishop with some trepidation, wondering what he would do if she didn't ask for a blessing. He behaved himself, thank God. So, Bruce Little is not alone. Nor is he the only non-Orthodox observer to have taken note of the atmosphere that pervades when Bishop Nikolai is around. This doesn't bring people to the True Faith, it makes them seriously doubt that Orthodoxy possibly could be what it claims to be, and many will be convinced that it simply could not be.
#18 Mark Harrison on 2008-03-06 12:38
I'm sorry to say that I am getting close to wondering about the claims of Orthodoxy. Christ says, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Using His standards and not mine, and looking at the episcopal abuse, the petty Slavic (or Greek) tribalism and the widespread paranoia I see, I do begin to wonder. I know I beat this horse to death, but the unwillingness of so many people to post with their names tells me something about the culture of Orthodoxy. I do not doubt that many of us have good reason to be fearful, but that fearfulness is in itself damning; if we truly fear retribution for speaking the truth as we see it, where exactly is Christ in our church? We can have beautiful Liturgies and haunting music and all the rest, and if the fruit of all of that is people trembling in fear of their hierarchs, it's nothing more than eye candy and empty words. Leave the OCA? It's coming close to the point where I may stop going to church altogether. Right now it's the Eucharist alone and a few wonderful people and some Godly priests that get me out of bed on Sunday mornings, but would I bring family or friends to church? Are you kidding me? My Protestant kinfolk have issues with their churches, but nobody is afraid of the bishop. Are you getting that, pious Orthodox people? I had to convert to Orthodoxy to run across believers who feared their leaders. Thank you for that, so-called Holy Synod. I have examined your fruits, and I think I know you. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.
#18.1 Scott Walker on 2008-03-06 16:16
I have to say your sentiments mirror mine. As we approach Lent, it is time to pray and reflect over the question of just how long we can continue to participate in a church that is so dysfunctional and indifferent to evil.
#18.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-03-07 05:09
And it goes on and on and on............
There really isn't anything more to write. It is pathetic how long it takes for anything to happen in the OCA. I realize there are legal aspects regarding Alaska, but there is enough evidence for + Herman to call & email + Nicolai and just say, "You are NOW on a leave of absence and cannot serve in your cathedral nor act as Bishop of Alaska." Fr. Michael Oleksa should be appointed Locum Tenens and the + Herman should get himself up there with a legal team.
What is the big problem? Oh yeah, I forgot, it's time to remove + Herman also.
#19 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 12:57
My gosh anonymous, just becuase nothing has yet been posted, how do you know that Metropolitan Herman has not done anything about this?
You easily berate the man for not abiding by YOUR timetable.
Unless you have any facts that he's done nothing about this already, then please be quiet because you don't know what you're talking about.
#19.1 Michael Geeza on 2008-03-06 14:01
There's a ton going on behind the scenes I imagine. He's not going easily and they're trying to make it as painless as possible in as much as that is possible at all!
He's going to be as easy to get out of there as pulling teeth from a tiger through its backside!
#19.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 16:00
When are you going to stop listening to your priest, the former secretary, former treasurer, and MH advisor? You have to take off your blinders and read the facts that this sight has shown all of us. The facts are... MH didn't act on the facts that Deacon Eric Wheeler gave him. In fact he villified him. The financial scandal? He ignored it,until Mark and others brought it the peoples attention. He fired RSK and deposed him. MH was and still is an absent landlord. He let RSK "run the show" What about the other people involved like MT, Priests Kucynda, Oselinsky, Strikis, Brum, Fester.... they're all guilty (for either ignoring it or being actively involved)
The abuse scandals? The church has been ignoring since HTC.
Thank God Melanie and Cappy won't let it "go away"
The Alaska situation? It's been going on over 2 years now.
#19.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 13:31
As a serious student of history, I would beg my fellow Orthodox to really EXAMINE the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and to realize that authoritarian and tyrranical behaviour on the part of Orthodox clergy, hierarchs, and laity has been an ongoing problem for a very, very long time in the Eastern Church. Soon after the Church hopped into bed with the State during Constantines era, we began to see these horrid tendencies. Later, it became a bigger problem in places like Russia when Monasteries were allowed, with the help of the Czars, to become ecclesial mafias and mini-states, where a series of monasteries and attached Bishop-tyrants would control entire regions of Russia and rule with an iron fist. What often happended is that the people would revolt and shut these monastic mafias down by force. I would reccomend "At War with the Church" by Georg Michels, it is a good history of this time period in Russia. What we are seeing in the OCA is nothing new, to believe otherwise is to foolishly deny historical reality, at your own risk. We must be ever vigilant against Church thuggery and put a abrupt stop to it the minute we see it developing.
#20 Moses on 2008-03-06 13:39
While the "Synod Debates and Alaska Waits" head over to YouTube and search for "Orthodox, Alaska" to find and watch a wonderful 3 part video entitled, "Saint Herman of Alaska." Saint Herman, pray to God for us.
#21 Pennsylvania Coalcracker on 2008-03-06 15:05
Come on guys. This could be interesting.
The LS gave Nick until noon YESTERDAY to "go quietly". Does anyone here think he will voluntarily take a leave of absence? So, what will they do. They can move to suspend him. I am betting he will ignore it. (I think the man is an egomaniac and probably sociopathic). So, if they suspend him and he still serves, they have a spiritual court and he doesn't come. So they have it without him and depose him. He still ignors them.
So how do they get him out of the churches and Alaska. Don't think the feds will walk down the isle put pull him from behind the altar.
All joking aside, How do you see this playing out?
#22 Linda Weir on 2008-03-06 15:48
Ever heard the word "TRESPASS" when on someone elses property
#22.1 pauk on 2008-03-07 11:55
I just can't seem to get the vision out of my head that happened at the end of Divine Liturgy at the St. Innocent Cathdral in Anchorage Alaska this past Sunday March 2nd. All the young children lined up at the Bishop before he exited the church and they all got blessings and gave him a hug. It was a very touching sight, and brought tears to my eyes in light of all what is happening. Those kids were not afraid of the Bishop, and no one told them to go and receive the blessing from him, it was all done on there own.
#23 Alaskan Orthodox on 2008-03-06 15:58
In light of all of the thuggery this man has visited upon the people of Alaska, your point is?!!? Give me a break, you sound like another enabler...
#23.1 Moses on 2008-03-06 18:41
"Alaskan Orthodox" paints a lovely picture of the children receiving the bishop's blessing after church last Sunday. I believe that the children actually did receive a nice blessing from Vladyka which he enjoyed giving and they enjoyed getting.
"Alaskan Orthodox" claims that nobody told the children to do so on this Sunday - they just did it on their own. I also tend to believe that is literally true too, and that in fact nobody had to tell them to do so on this particular Sunday.
Why not? Because in a Cathedral, where the kids see the bishop far more often than people do elsewhere, it has been taught to them with such "completeness," shall we say, that they know exactly what to do and now do it without being reminded very often. Good.
At first glance this pleasant portrait seemingly tells us little about the problems with adults that are being reported on every hand, though - or does it? Maybe it is telling us that when there is perfect, childlike behavior from the followers, the bishop behaves perfectly in return. And when there is not perfect ,childlike behavior from a follower or group thereof, he can be perfectly childish in return.
I recognize in Ms. Jacobs' recent letter by the way, as well as the bishop's own open letter, the marks of skillful players of an old evangelical game with which we passed many a noisesome (not noisy) hour of my youth: Bible Prooftexting. In case there is a game being played here and now and it is my turn to hit the ball back over the net:
"The discernment of a man maketh him slow to anger, and it is his glory to pass over a transgression." (Prov. 19:11 ASV)
I think what the bishop's critics are saying here and everywhere is that he lacks discernment and is unworthy of the office because it is his glory to nail people for transgression in ways that cause them so much pain they will be sure never to repeat them! Or maybe even return to a place where they could repeat them, i.e. a church. Earlier in the bishop and Ms. Jacobs' presnt favorite chapter in the Bible, Jesus said that it would be better to hang a millstone around one's neck and jump into the sea than to offend one of the "little ones." (Matt. 18:6)
Is the glory of a Christian bishop to be found in the wonderfulness of his clothes, the lavishness of the praises heaped upon him, the ironness of the rod he wields, the magnitude of the deference shown, whether voluntarily or involuntarily? No, that is the way the Gentiles operate : their rulers lord it over them. and exercise human authority with all its slavish and shallow trappings. (Matt. 20:25-28)
The glory of a Christian bishop should be to teach people with patience and humble servanthood, like the God-man he represents. When a man has that attitude his discernment makes it a glory for him to pass over people's transgressions, for he knows that as with Christ, it is the only way to win people's hearts and minds.
Remember Fr. Zossima, the dying monastic elder in The Brothers Karamazov, who advised his disciples that, if they ever had the choice between correcting people with force or humble love, always to choose the latter? That's the "Old Time Religion" of Russia that people (like me) need and even WANT (in their innermost selves) to be restored to, not some sterile external acrivia. If all the precious niceties of tradition don't start with love and lead back there, they are a a sounding brass, a tinkling cymbal. ( I Cor. 13:1)
The Holy Spirit wants to write things in the HEART (Acts 2:17) and where that Spirit is there is liberty (2 Cor. 3:17). The new covenant is not a covenant of the letter, for that kills, but of the Spirit Who gives life. (2 Cor. 3:6)
I just do not hear or see reflected in the testimonies of the ocanews "volunteeers" a man who is operating with these aims or principles in mind a high enough percentage of the time.
Please excuse me if I have gotten confused about the rules and seem to have hit the ball too many times for one turn. I actually had a couple of dozen more.
#23.2 Fr. George Washburn on 2008-03-06 19:32
Two words for you: "Hitler Youth"
These displays don't mean, "Oh, he's a great guy now because a few kids (prompted or not) asked for his blessing." Young children act out of habit, any parent will tell you this. If they have been prompted to do this on a regular basis, then they will continue to do so. They do not understand the issues going on, and are simply doing what they have been taught to do. It's what their parents are thinking (such as "I hope the bishop doesn't get angry with us for doing something wrong" or something like that) that I am interested in. Personally, I would NEVER trust him hugging my son or anyone else's.
This posting is nothing more than a Nikolai supporter reaching for something -- anything -- to help their cause.
#23.3 Anonymous on 2008-03-06 20:09
I'm sure you were very touched by the children going up for hugs to BN on Sunday. Is this not the very "orthodox leap" referenced by Bruce Little? Are you suggesting that we disregard the plaintive cries of the faithful all over the United States alleging BN's abusive actions because some children go up to hug him? Isn't is standard practice for children to go up for a blessing at the end of the service? The time to wallow in this kind of overt sentimentality is long past my dear brother or sister in Christ. It is time to face the truth, no matter how ugly and uncomfortable it makes us.
#23.4 JD on 2008-03-07 08:36
Dear Alaskan Orthodox. In five or six years that this bishop has been leaving the cathedral in a rush the children never once "spontaniously" lined up for his blessing. Is there anyone elso on this planet besides you that thinks this was not really staged? Do you think that these children somehow sensed the turmoil in His Graces life and decided on their own to give him a sign that they loved him and trusted his leadership of the diocese? they are normal kids there, I have watched them a lot and never saw anything like this. Only in alaska do the children not race downstairs to eat when they are released, but rather have the awareness of their surroundings enough to know that this day is a day that His Grace needs a sign. If Mina or The mitered Archimandrite Isadore did not arrange this, I will eat my hat. then there is the picture from the archives on the website that shows his grace with a smiling matriarch of the church to show that the yupik people still like him. Nothing in all of this is not thought out beforehand.
#23.5 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 11:39
The Fruits of Suffering
Lord, remember not only the men of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted upon us. Remember rather the fruits we have brought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart that has grown out of this. And when they come into judgement, let all the fruit we have bourne be their forgiveness.
Source: found on a scrap of paper at the liberation of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp in Germany
I wanted to say thank-you to our humble, beloved priests here in the Diocese of Alaska for standing up for the faithful. I pray to God that he continues to keep you in the palms of his hands during these difficult times.
#24 most unworthy on 2008-03-06 16:02
It is not only some of the laity who are questioning their conversion to Orthodoxy, I am too. I found the church where God lived. God dwells there with man, the envoys told the emperor. I saw it, once. I read the lives of the saints and look at the situation now and ask myself did this produce them?! No, the church didn't produce them....God did in spite of the all the hierarchs and synods that came against them. Still, it is almost more than a soul can bear, especially this waiting.
#25 A Priest Withholding His Name for This Post on 2008-03-06 17:32
Dear Priest Withhold His Name,
Take courage, we are all in distress over this situation. Throughout the history of Orthodoxy there has been much tribulation. However, keep your eyes on the Church that was, is and will be. It is Christ who is the Head of our Church, not this petty synod of Bishops here in the USA in March 2007.
You are a servant of Christ and when you celebrate the Divine Liturgy, the saints in heaven and the angels are worshipping with you and all of us who participate here on earth.
#25.1 Reg Mueller on 2008-03-06 20:51
I must confess that I, too, have been having moments of questioning my own entrance into the OCA. The Protestant church I formerly served certainly had doctrinal errors and problems, but I never saw the likes of tyrannical and ungodly bishops as we have been witnessing in the OCA. All the "right doctrine" in the world is quite meaningless if the bishops do not live Christ-like lives, do not lovingly shepherd their flock.
#25.2 Another struggling priest on 2008-03-07 08:43
But Father, at the height of their holiness, these men and women expressed nothing but devotion to the Church. That is true also of our contemporary saints -- the holy elders in Greece, Romania, and other places, who saw even worse abuses in their Churches than have been described here. Take Elders Porphyrios and Paisios, for example, who died in the nineties. The miracles of these men are so numerous, and their veneration in Greece so widespread, that there is no doubt there of their eventual canonization. They were both clairvoyant (if you doubt, I invite you to visit Greece and talk to a few eyewitnesses!) but that was hardly necessary to see the corruption in the Greek Synod -- a bishop of which, just a few years ago, was found operating a brothel. Yet it would be hard to find more powerful words than theirs in affirmation of the Orthodox faith. Some of Elder Porphyrios' teaching has been translated in the book Wounded_by_Love, and I wonder if more beautiful words on the Church have ever been written.
It must be added they spoke of obedience to the Church and the episcopacy in ways that beggar belief in the context in the present crises. But we should remember that both emphasized that their practical counsel was intended for the time in, and for the people to whom, it was given. The lives of the saints themselves show that there are very few true absolutes when it comes to particular actions, including obedience to hierarchs. Elder Paisios, indeed, speaks of the need to exercise "obedience with discretion," and a similar combination of Orthodox obedience and freedom is found in various incidents from the life of St. John of San Francisco. Moreover, as both elders point out, Orthodox obedience is far from the same thing as obedience as it is practiced in modern Western culture.
Holy men see everything, including the Church, in the divine light of the Resurrection. Most of us don't yet! But I suppose that is why God has given us their words, so let us pray that we might take comfort in them:
"Christ united the body of the Church with heaven and with earth: with angels, men and all created things, with all of God's creation — with the animals and birds, with each tiny wild flower and microscopic insect. The Church thus becomes 'the fullness of Him who fills all in all,' that is, of Christ. Everything is in Christ and with Christ. This is the mystery of the Church.
"Christ is revealed in that unity between His love and ourselves: the Church. On my own I am not the Church, but together with you. All together we are the Church. All are incorporated in the Church. We are all one and Christ is the Head. One body, one body of Christ: 'You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.' We are all one because God is our Father and is everywhere. When we experience this we are in the Church. This is our Lord's wish for all the members of the Church as expressed in His great high-priestly prayer: 'that they may be one.' But that's something you can only understand through grace. We experience the joy of unity, of love, and we become one with everyone. There is nothing more magnificent!
"The important thing is for us to enter into the Church — to unite ourselves with our fellow men, with the joys and sorrows of each and everyone, to feel that they are our own, to pray for everyone, to have care for their salvation, to forget about ourselves, to do everything for them just as Christ did for us. In the Church we become one with each unfortunate, suffering and sinful soul."
-- Elder Porphyrios, Wounded_by_Love, p. 88-89.
#25.3 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2008-03-07 22:11
From a Russian chat room:
Well done, priests. You have attained what you were striving for -- that a healthy organism replace a sick head
Nina Tkachuk Dimas
#26 Nina Tkachuk Dimas on 2008-03-06 18:38
Whom do you love, bishops or Jesus Christ. Where is your faith in the actions of men, we will always fail. Is it surprising that anger, flawed, tyrannical men should exist in the Church? Are we not the maimed, the halt and the lame? During the time of the the Councils roving bands of monks were running around killing their theological opponents and still saints and the foundational doctrine of the Church were brought forth by the Holy Spirit. St. Maximus the Confessor had his hand cut off and his tongue cut out by the 'Christian' Emperor. The list goes on and on. Few of the men who have been bishops throughout the history of the Church have lived up to the demands of the office. Why should we expect any to?
Salvation does not come easily or without trial and temptation. If you want to whine, whine into your pillow, if you are despairing, go to confession. As Fr. Hopko told a group I was in recently, if comes down to the living the commandments and embracing the Cross. I figure that until I've actually been nailed to the cross, I've really got nothing to complain about. Unfortunately, I'm not worthy enough for that.
Don't make me laugh that we Americans are still courageous rebels either. Americans have suffered nothing for Christ yet, the Greeks have, the Serbs have, the Arab Christians have, the Russians have. We start running for the exits when a few scared old men throw tantrums like 2 year olds?
Its a bad thing happening in the OCA, but why should we expect anything else in a society filled with greed, lust, and the wholesale killing of children. I have not tried to prepare myself for any office of leadership in the Church, I'm lucky to make it through the day without pulling a Nikolai on someone or something. I'd rather have someone else do the really heavy lifting and turn over the responsibility for my salvation to my priest and to my bishop, but it keeps landing right back in my lap.
If we Americans were doing the job that we are supposed to do as Christians, we'd have better bishops. Seems like it has been thrown into our lap after all. Are we going to step up or run?
#27 Michael P. Bauman on 2008-03-06 22:26
Alaska Natives and other oppressed peoples here in the Americas have suffered greatly for Christ! By "Americans", who do you mean? Be very careful how you answer...we aren't running after a "few bad men", we have had to endure 200+ years of thieves, liars, and murderers both under the Russian Eagle and the American Stars and Bars!
Moses the Tlingit
#27.1 Moses on 2008-03-07 19:18
Scott, I want you to attend every funeral in your church, and every baptism. Also you should go to every akathist, vespers, matins, compline, liturgy, and every minute of the Great Canon next week. When you have reached the point that you are not comfortable unless you are in church then think about a man who could take all of that away from you. He may tell you to get out of the church but you don't have to go. He may stop in the middle of his sermon and stare at you for talking to your neighbor but you don't have to stop. But if he tells your priest not to give you communion unless he wants to lose his priesthood, then you have a tough situation. Well that is the situation we are in. The situation must change but I am not holding my breath nor do I expect everything to turn out the way I want. I haven't given my name because my priest would be chastised. The bishop expects the priests to make sure we all know exactly what is required of us and has to answer for our mistakes. I care for our priest very much and it is what has kept me obedient even through some very embarassing situations. As far as I can tell what is happening in our church on a regular basis is some God fearing people come to church and we celebrate in English, Slavonic, Greek, Tlingit, Yupik, Aleut, Romanian and any other language that someone can teach us and I am never afraid to invite anyone and I have even heard people say they could feel the presence of angels. If his grace is there I only hope the leather-skinned chose that day to come but I pray that the reverence of the majority can somehow cancel out the lack thereof by our hierarch. Sure I agree that we should do something and should have done something by now but... If you have the Eucharist, a few wonderful people, and some Godly priests then you are thrice blessed. Surely you don't have a bishop at every service do you(I don't know where you attend). It sounds like you are letting someone else's failings interrupt your worship and occupy too much of your attention. Please don't stop attending church because you know you have chosen the right church and please pray for your brothers who will always need your prayers.
#28 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-03-06 23:10
Thank you brother, or sister. If you haven't thrown up your hands and given up, neither will, who have suffered none of the things your have. Thank you for putting all this in perspective.
#28.1 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-03-07 12:25
Thank you, Alaskan, for your kind words. I accept them in the spirit they are offered. Here's the issue: His lamentable Grace has attended all the services. He fast better than I do. (Almost anybody fasts better than I do.) Same for His lamentable Beatitude. Same, no doubt, for the clergy who made life hell for St. Nectarios, or the clergy who made life hell for St. John Chrysostom, or the clergy who made life hell for St. John Maximovich. My point is, look at the fruit produced by all of those hours standing in church. Are there some saints? Absolutely. And many of them suffered persecution at the hands of their alleged shepherds. Something has gone wrong when so many of the folks at the top of the ecclesial food chain are so evidently lacking in mercy and love. That is why Christ speaks of millstones around necks. I know about the wheat and the tares growing together; I had hoped to see, in Orthodoxy, shepherds who took the job description given by St. Paul seriously. Silly me. The record so far shows that the bishops of the OCA are as clueless as the bishops of the Roman Catholics. I am trying to hang on, Alaskan, but the continuing sorry behavior of those whom we should be able to follow is making it very difficult, and I'm afraid that spending most waking hours in church isn't going to help that. "By this," says Christ, "shall all men know that ye are my disciples; that ye love one another." I am sorry, very sorry, to have to say that I have seen little of that love from the Holy Synod, and if they aren't disciples, why, exactly, should I follow them? Sorry to be so depressing, and, again, thanks for your kind words. You sound a lot like my wife did, after she read my post from last night!
#28.2 Scott Walker on 2008-03-07 13:44
Thank you. I do appreciate your posts. And your statement is right on. I'm sorry I forgot to mention that last night, too.
#28.2.1 Alaskan, looking for humility on 2008-03-07 23:50
Previously Unrecognized Hiring Errors
#29 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 00:49
The bishops of our church better get it together soon before everything falls apart. They also need to remember that they can only lead if we follow. And we follow a bishop because we see Christ-like qualities in him, like humility, patience, and love. Bishops don't need to be perfect, afterall they are human. But a bishop should be an shining example of what it means to follow Christ in its totality. I believe the OCA does have some bishops like this and they need to remove the few literally destroying our church before it's too late. Orthodox Christianity will live on and I will always be Orthodox, but the continued scandalizing of our Orthodox Church in America does not bode well for the continued existence in its present form if they do not act to end this non-sense.
#30 Scott Yonkin on 2008-03-07 08:02
I was wondering if you might have any words of comfort to our brethren who are being intensely affected by all that is transpiring in our church, some, even priests, on the verge, it seems like, of leaving the Faith alltogether. I don't mean this as an indirect reproach against you or what this web site is all about. But as someone who people see as a leader in these troubled times, I would like to hear from you, what keeps you in the faith? How has this scandel(s) changed or shaped your view of the Orthodox Church and what she stands for? Some are now calling her an adultress and harlot, such is the despair they have been brought to. Are those accusations fair in your opinion? Or is there something such indictments are overlooking, or maybe a confusion about the very nature of the Church, who she is and who is in the Church?
Again, I don't want this to sound as a reproach for what your doing. I would just like to hear from one of the leaders of this "uprising" on what keeps them ticking.
by your prayers
(Editor's note: I will be glad to do so in the coming days. I have been much encouraged in my own faith in the past days by the witness of our Yup'ik fathers; and by the many lay people who have taken the time and effort to speak from their hearts. I was especially touched by Bruce Little's essay, for I think he has hit the nail on the head. The Church, whatever ecclesiological positions one holds, was created to bring us closer to Reality; not to become a Second Reality obscuring the first. I came to the Church as a young adult, saw and tasted, to coin a phrase, and experienced Reality in a way that cannot be denied or given up without a fight to those who reduce it to their particular second reality. Insisting people tell the truth, admit the facts, publicly if need be, is but one aspect of defending Reality from those who seek to obscure it for their own goals. That is what motivates me, and all those, in their own ways, who are involved in this effort .)
#31 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-03-07 11:38
A must see! Alaska during happier times before RSK destroyed it!
St. Herman of Alaska Video
Subject: Video on Saint Herman of Alaska
1994 video has 3 parts
Fr. Joseph Kreta
Fr. Peter Kreta
#32 Anonymous on 2008-03-07 11:39
You are very sick. RSK is gone. Leave him alone.
Herman is the person who has been controlling everything for the past 25 years, stop beating a dead horse!
#32.1 MP on 2008-03-07 19:07
It seems what all the clergy and laity in Alaska are suffering from is "Soriach-cis"!!!
#33 David Barrett on 2008-03-07 12:10
I've seen our brother, Archimindrite Isidor in better days. He looked much younger then, much more happy, almost child like. He was approachable, soft spoking, and always had a smile. I see the pictures of his visit to Adak and can only see he has changed. Maybe he was just very cold that day, but he looks much changed, more care-worn, worry-burdened and that smile I always recall when I remember him is absent. Your are in my prayers, Fr. Isidor, and I know you are a good man and good priest. One cannot easily let go of the west-coast life and move to Alaska without a considerably large heart. May the Lord Grant you many years.
#34 Bautista Cabrera on 2008-03-07 12:39
With All Due Respect Brothers and Sisters, With 43,000.00 hits on This Web Site In One Entire Day, thats 24 Hours, Can you Please tell Me Why We Only Have 1,200 signatures of People asking the Metropolitian to Resign? Why hasn't that number reached 43,000.00?
I Just Don't Understand.... Please Sign it today Anonymous if you have too, but do it for the sake of change in Administration... Its one of our only hopes...
#35 Petition on 2008-03-07 13:08
Thank you so much for your words! I have thought the same thing. Having signed the petition very early on-I have continued to see the names "inching" along. It is in the numbers, folks! You do count and each name adds a keystroke for truth and transparency. Anonymous if you must but please consider signing-and when you do- say a prayer for the Church and Her health. God bless those in Alaska and all of us!
#35.1 Carpathia on 2008-03-08 07:42
I signed the petition, but resignations don't always bring change. If +Herman had resigned before RSK was gone, what then?? Before Strikis and Fr. Paul, what then? If +Herman had resigned before suspending Nikolai, what then?? If +Herman had resigned before repealing the ridiculous audit rule from 1999, what then? Those outcomes are truly unknown. As glacially as +Herman has moved, he has slowly, perhaps even grudgingly, moved. If +Nikolai were Primate, where would we be today?
Calling for the resignation of +Herman after booting Nescott and moving against the efforts of the first and politically superior SIC, to me, seemed appropriate. Those two reasons are my reasons for signing, but the OCA should be at least grateful we had +Herman and not +Nikolai in charge.
The grass can be greener, but not always. I think there are a lot of wise people out there who realize this fact.
The petition is as much a tool as anything. Sad we need tools, but this is all new stuff for our hierarchs, the people demanding a fair performance. They haven't been greatly accountable in the past.
If +Herman had done just a few things differently, I would not have signed the petition. I regret he made those decisions that had me sign and I'm not going to make any Orthodox leap in these matters; ain't [sic] none of it about me.
Not everyone is as passionate about things like accounting or accountability. My parents don't give too many hoots about the subject. We need to be thankful someone did and recognize there are plenty of people who don't mind where their hundred bucks a year goes [a fact taken great advantage of for far too long].
#35.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-08 08:31
The outcome is still not satisfactory because the OCA only responds at a glacial rate when problems manifest themselves to a great extent.
In fairness to Bishop Nikolai and even RSK, if the church addressed issues in a timely and responsible fashion, maybe it wouldn't have lost parishoners, millions of dollars, and these men, who despite their failings, were probably good men before they were allowed to run amok.
To me, the greatest lesson isn't hiring error, but rather that the church needs an ethics hotline. Most people will laugh, but truly, we are all sinners. One great challenge for all of us is understanding what our sins are.. It isn't always different for a priest or Bishop.
There is no revelry in Bishop Nikolai getting suspended or terminated or forced into a resignation just so he can get a pension; it is only sadness that the church allowed him to become tyrannical.
#36 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-03-07 19:06
Again, if we were responsible to the Scriptural command for working out difficulties we'd have our 'ethics hotline'. Go to your brother in love, go to the community, go to the bishops.
Obviously, no process is fool-proof or guaranteed to work. It is not a matter of reporting on each other, it is a matter of being responsible to each other in Christ. Sometimes, frequently, we have to demand that accountability.
The Synod seems to have responded pretty quickly once they received sufficient requests to act, at least in the Alaskan situation. People don't seem to be as worked up over the money yet, for what ever reason.
I'm not in the OCA, but if I were I probably wouldn't be terrifically upset either as long as things seemed to be going OK in my local parish. Human failing. The actions of Nikolai effected everyone in their daily lives. More noise, faster action.
#37 Michael P Bauman on 2008-03-08 11:41
The Church survived Arius. The Church survived the iconoclasts. The Church survived those who wished to turn it into a Uniate dependency of Rome. It shall survive Nikolai and Herman.
Nevertheless, there shall be some more hard slogging before the end, as Bishop Job warned. We shall find out who are the "sunshine patriots", and who are the "winter soldiers", to use the words of Thomas Paine. The answers may surprise us.
#38 Anonymous on 2008-03-08 12:10
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