Wednesday, April 30. 2008
Any comment posted on or since April 19th have been deleted. If you wish them posted please resend. Your new comments on the WPA election, the news of a Vicar for the South or the situation in Alaska are welcome.
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"The Purpose Of This Website:
To inform members of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) of the origins, nature and scope of allegations concerning financial misconduct at the highest levels of the central church administration of the OCA by providing news and supporting documentation about the scandal, etc."
Not that I have anything against the purpose of the site, but today's posting, I think, has nothing to do with "financial misconduct at the highest levels of the central church administration" and this has been a theme in both the "reporting, reflections, and open letters" with increased frequency over the past year.
The reporting on +NIKOLAI is not about financial misconduct. The status of the Igumen from Northern CA removing himself from the voting process of the Diocese of W. PA is not about financial misconduct. The events in the Diocese of the South and the hopes of +DIMITRI, have nothing to do with financial misconduct.
Now certainly, one could argue that we are "all of the same body" and somehow, someway, ALL of this is related, because that's what commentators, editorialists, and reporters do. Though, this seems to be a dishonest behavior and an abuse of freedoms. Failure to keep focus leads us down the roads of gossip, speculation, and judgment. All I ask is that articles and comments that are posted on a site focused on "financial misconduct" deal with financial misconduct and not church politics that may or may not be directly related to the purpose. If not, change the purpose. Mark, you're now a Consultant of the Church. I'm sure, in your consultative expertise, you know the importance of focused discussions and staying on-topic – can you bring that to this site?
(No, I am not a "consultant of the Church". I am a member using my talents as best I can. I encourage others to do the same.
As for this site, despite the best efforts of the defenders of Bishop Nikolai, in private and in public, to discourage public scrutiny of events in Alaska, this site will continue to do so. This is not diverting the site from its stated purposes, but furthering them. It is not "gossip" to re-post articles from newspapers, nor "speculation" to quote from Church reports. Those are facts, unpleasant as you may find them.
That being said, the purposes of this site are threefold:
• To inform members of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) of the origins, nature and scope of allegations concerning financial misconduct at the highest levels of the central church administration of the OCA by providing news and supporting documentation about the scandal
• To enable Orthodox Christians to share information and thoughts on these allegations and the events surrounding them.
• To encourage Orthodox Christians to take action to resolve this scandal which threatens the financial and moral integrity of the OCA.
Among the issues of financial misconduct were the lack of transparency and accountability for the Alaskan Lands income, which were never reported to the Metropolitan Council, as would be proper; and when they were, were "hidden" under different headings. When this was uncovered, it was then discovered that the OCA was no longer receiving any monies, but that Bishop Nikolai had suspended the Commission that had controlled them, and seized all the income for the exclusive use of the diocese. This too was never made public. As this issue has never been resolved, this puts Alaska squarely in the context of the ongoing discussion of financial misconduct by anyone's standards.
Furthermore, the Bishop then interjected himself into the public discussion of transparency and accountability by objecting to efforts by the MC towards both; and then publicly and privately objected to the Metropolitan's termination of Robert Kondratick. In short, the Bishop made himself the object of continuing discussion by his own controversial actions in these matters...
As for the more recent scandal concerning Fr. Isidore and the Bishop's improper relations with him alleged by Paul Sidebottom; this too concerns financial misconduct, lack of transparency and accountability. Sadly, Sidebottom's (and now others) allegations of sexual impropriety on the part of some clergy in Alaska clearly "threaten the financial and moral integrity of the OCA."
The current EEOC investigation will most likely reveal misconduct, that will most likely cost the OCA dearly in terms of finances. That is not speculation, but information from informed sources. As one should reasonably expect fines and a civil lawsuit, not to mention possible criminal liability, I think it only reasonable that people should be made aware of these allegations, and potential outcomes, as the result of some of the clergy in Alaska's actions.
Better you read about it on OCANews.org first than in the Anchorage Daily News.
I hope this clarifies matters for you. )
#1 Macarius M. on 2008-04-30 20:14
But why comment on Paffhausen and WPA and the South. Nothing financial about that - period. No scandal except to lead people to post things that are out of left field and possibly lead them into temptation. Nikolai yes. WPA, Paffhausen and the South????? Don't see any dots to connect there.
(Editor's Note: Lack of Accountability. The OCA Statute says Bishops should be elected by the Diocese, not appointed by the Synod. If Vicars are to be chosen, they are to be, by Statute, nominated by the Diocesan Council, not set forth as the only candidate by the Synod.
It is a classic case of making an end run about the Statute, which got us in the mess in the first place. Doing it again will not help us out.
We were envisioned and remain by Statute a conciliar church where things should be done openly, honestly, in council, led by our hierarchy; not in secret by hierarchical deals designed to thwart conciliarity and perpetuate self-protecting synodality. Or at least, the impression of it.)
#1.1 Anonymous on 2008-05-01 18:20
You simply DO NOT have your facts straight and you should check your sources before you make a fool of yourself. Ask people in the South what is going on who know. Then write, if you want. You are wrong here. Totally wrong.
(Editor's note: I sincerely hope so.)
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-05-03 09:01
There's nothing like a brave soul having the guts to lay it out and set our host straight, with a name attached, to make a believer out of me. Oh. Anonymous is not your name? Never mind.
#126.96.36.199 Scott Walker on 2008-05-03 21:55
Why don't we publish the OCA Statutes on ocanews.org - the ones on searching for, selecting, and acquiring Bishops. I think this would be helpful for many of your readers, including myself, who are interesting in the recent developments in AK, the South, and Penn.
It seems that we reached a point of no return in terms of the process of selecting Bishops. I think the OCA must declare outright the "who, what, where, when and why" of selecting this or that Bishop. In Alaska, there have been two "bad apples" in a row; dare we consider the repercussions of strike three?
Thanks for your continued hard work in creating dialogue and transparency in the OCA.
---Concerned about Bishops
(Editor's note: Those articles are readily available under "documents and publications" at OCA.org)
#1.1.2 Concerned about Bishops on 2008-05-04 09:04
I'll suggest also that Mark amend his "mission statement" for this website, but from a different point of view. I fully agree with everything he has said in response to Macarius's comments. What strikes me, however, is that this website has shown the need for an ongoing "free press" within the Church. If the entire financial scandal and all the rest were totally resolved tomorrow, would we really want to see this website shut down? I think not. There will always be a need for accountability and some external pressure, like this site, to get people to be accountable. It seems to me that part of a culture of transparency is a website like this one - and having its existence accepted by those in power.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-05-01 20:52
So! At a time we have a diocese in the toilet, and another with a dead bishop, were sending a new bishop to a diocese that already has a bishop and a retired bishop living in it too. Great, its that kind of visionary thinking that makes the oca the place it is! Well done boys! Keep uo the good work!
#2 no name on 2008-05-01 04:38
The conversation that has begun re- where to find leaders is a neccessary and positive step to a more mature church.
I certainly am not against married priests becoming Bishops. However, sleeping with a woman doesn't make you any wiser or emotionally stable or spiritually mature than does celibacy.
The real purpose of chosing monks for this position was not just their education or free time to devote to the job. It was their time spent in monastic formation. A process, that in time, leads to detachment from worldly greed, selfishness, anger, pride and envy and with Gods grace, leads the monastic to a life lived in good character and love at the very least.
Sadly, what we see today, are Monks who are not Monks. They have never spent time, or minimal time in a monastery and have gotten this designation by having someone wave his hands over him,"instant tonsure."When these folks begin to lead the church, they are fequently missing the most vital keys of spiritual maturity and exhibit all the lust of power, greed, egocentricity to which they are tempted. If we can agree, that the sexual activity or non activity of a man is not a measure of emotional or spiritual soundness we may get somewhere with all this. In the mean time a close look at the spiritual formation of these monks may tell you alot. A sister in Christ
#2.1 No name on 2008-05-01 15:12
Dear Sister in Christ,
We have much untapped spiritual and administrative talent within our married clergy. The ideas set forth by Terry Peet are refreshing and invite further consideration and thought. As Michael Strelka said, proposed ammendments can at least be discussed. Many more ideas can come forth from folks at the AAC who do have the best interest of the OCA in mind.
It would take an ecumenical council to have a married episcopate, but at least they may have some help!
In a way, our current OCA administration is helping and they are all married clergy. They are there because of their talents and skills, ususally forged with years of job and life experience.
#2.1.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-03 13:26
I know Father Jonah Paffhausen personally and can say that he is a monk's monk and is called to make a move to the benefit of the OCA, as an auxiliary Bishop in the South. He is humble, educated, and experienced in the monastic traditions of Valaam and Mount Athos. In short, he is an accomplished monastic with experience serving missions, parishes, and faithful all over the Diocese of the West. He has worked with a variety of Bishops and has certainly witnessed both the good and bad bishops at work. Not to mention he has been a confessor to hundreds of faithful.
I think all the hysteria drummed up from the outrageous incompetencies of recent disgraced Bishops has certainly destroyed the trust of many faithful in our ability to select competent Bishops (an understatement). Let us remember also, however, that as a fledgling Orthodox church in all aspects, our monastic ranks are just coming into their own. The young Bishop Tikhon is one example of a recent Bishop from among the monastic ranks. Igumen Jonah, of the Monastery of St. John of SF in Manton may be another such Bishop in the future. Let us ask: do we know the man? If not, inquire about his past, but let's not put him together with the failed and disgraced Bishops who have failed us. He has not even an auxiliary yet!
As to the married Episcopate issue, why don't we consult our sister churches in Russia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, the Middle East, Georgia, about the issue? Certainly they have some insight as well, being vastly more mature and experienced in what does and does not work with the current and traditional model of the episcopate. Or are we here in America above tradition? And if we ordain married bishops and they fail us too, who is to say we won't then call for other models of the episcopate current in the Episcopal church here in America? Why not women Bishops, why not...?
Or perhaps we need to relax, pray about each successive potential Bishop, become informed, consult our brethren and fellow christians and express our concern accordingly.
#2.1.2 Anonymous on 2008-05-04 18:57
This is what you get when you don't plan and nurture future leaders for the Church. We run around looking under every rock for a celibate - WHY? Marriage IS NOT an impediment to ordination nor consecration. It really is time to move back to our own tradition of married bishops. Looking for ANY celibate, many who have questionable backgrounds, only leads us to another Alaska situation. Monks were originally chosen as bishops because in the monasteries, that is where the libraries were. Monastics were WELL-EDUCATED while many parish priests were local bumpkins and uneducated. Monastics were chosen for pragmatic reasons and today, we've elevated this to a level of "extra-holiness" or something else. There are many married, well-educated priests who are willing to lead. It's time to return to our own tradition and stop over-looking the most qualified to lead. Why do we need to create more dioceses that need constant repair as was the Diocese of the West and now Alaska!
#3 Anonymous on 2008-05-01 05:34
I agree. It's not that celibates are undesirable, and that marrieds are better; rather it's the tiny pool of celibates who have superior qualifications such as education, pastoral experience, and ability to find common sense solutions. With marrieds, the pool is greatly expanded.
Much of our problem stem from an inept Holy Synod, so the following suggestions walks a delicate line between opening the episcopate to marrieds (and becoming a pariah within the Orthodox Oecumene) and utilizing the talents of marrieds on the Holy Synod. I have no idea if such an idea of governance has ever been attempted. It's called thinking outside the box.
However, there have been recent posts with interesting, but unelaborated, threads of having diocesan priests – married or unmarried – taking on some sort of episcopal oversight (please excuse this blatant tautology, but I can’t think of another phrase at the moment). Borrowing from these threads, let me think around the perimeters and in the far corners of the box.
WHAT IF, we amended the O.C.A. statutes regarding the composition of the Holy Synod to allow for one diocesan senior parish priest per diocese to be a full member of the Holy Synod? The following qualifications and restrictions might apply:
• The senior parish priest would be elected and confirmed only by the Diocesan Assembly for a period of six years, renewable only once, allowing for a maximum service of no more than 12 years. He could serve again only after being off the HS for a period of six years. Perhaps a minimum age, such as 40, might be appropriate.
• The diocesan bishop and the Holy Synod need not confirm or approve of the election unless the elected priest were not in good standing in his own diocese.
• The senior parish priest must have at least 10 or preferably 15 years of experience pastoring a parish.
• The senior parish priest must have at least a M.Div. from an accredited Orthodox Theological Seminary
• The senior parish priest may be married or unmarried, and if unmarried, not necessarily a tonsured monk.
• The senior parish priest may not serve simultaneously on the MC.
• The senior parish priest elected to the Holy Synod would have full rights on the HS including voting rights; his rights extend only to service on the HS and would not afford him any other privileges or rights as a parish priest under the omophorion of his ruling bishop.
• Ideally the diocesan senior priest and his bishop would have a high level of symphony in their work on the Holy Synod, but the two would speak and vote their own consciences and not necessarily identically.
• The senior parish priest serving on the Holy Synod can only be removed for dereliction of duty (or any other offence normally resulting in suspension or deposition) by the entire Synod.
The thought of having the likes of Frs. Vladimir Berzonsky, Ted Bobosh, Robert Arida and so many others actively involved in the work of the Holy Synod will, I believe, reinvigorate the Holy Synod and infuse it with a sense of reality and perspective that seems to be lacking. The inclusion of senior experienced priests will give balance and greater credibility and clarity to the work of the Holy Synod and ultimately bring greater talent and experience now in short supply. Some may assert that two representatives per diocese on the Holy Synod would destroy or damage the unity of the diocese, but the Holy Synod serves the entire continent and unity is not destroyed if bishops, in good will, disagree, now or under a reconstituted Holy Synod.
I have no idea if such a constitutive body has ever existed in the Orthodox Church; I do know that different national churches organize themselves for administrative purposes in different manners and maybe the above is within reason.
The above is just a think-piece. So folks, starting shooting.
#3.1 Terry C. Peet on 2008-05-01 14:46
I agree that marriage is not an impediment to ordination or consecration. It wasn't for the early church. I believe anonymous was right when he said it was the monastics who were educated. But this has changed in modern times.
I don't know if some type of motion could happen at the AAC where this gets forwarded to Partriarch Bartholemew of Constantinople. Could the AAC have a motion or do something like this?
#3.2 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-02 11:18
You should get off this 'married bishop' horse. It isn't going to happen and would create worse problems for the OCA if it did happen (i.e. being out of communion with the rest of the Orthodox world). A better solution is the formation of more monasteries where, historically, most bishops have come from, celibate bishops, that is.
#3.3 Yanni on 2008-05-02 16:10
I'm not so sure it would result in being out of communion with the rest of the Orthodox Church. The church of Finland is in violation of the intent and letter of Nicea concerning easter (see St. Constantines letter para 3) and every priest with a bank account is in violation of Canon 20 of the same Council.
Why should we think the return to the older practice of married bishops should result in schism when these other violations have not resulted in schims?
For the record, I oppose the idea of married bishops. I think we ought to look more widely for english speaking monks to turn into bishops. I know of several very good men, if reports are accurate, in monasteries on Patmos and Mt. Athos. If we are going to have monks as bishops, let's have real monks, who have been formed by the life of prayer andasceticism, not monks who live most of their lives living in the world.
That's true, there are a number of monastics around the world who speak English fluently. Some of them are even American citizens! They would need to be questioned long and hard to see if they would "fit" the OCA (we're a little bizarre sometimes, you have to admit), but I think it would be a real good idea. At least then we would know we weren't consecrating someone who became a monk just because they want to wear a white hat.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2008-05-03 19:24
I am not for making out OCA uncanonical. This would be counterproductive. But many others are commenting here that we can be much more constructive and creative with working with the spiritual and administrative talent we have within married priests.
Terry Peate made some great suggestions that could be worked into proposals for AAC consideration. As Michael Strelka said, proposals can be at least presented. This would be much food for current and future thought.
#3.3.2 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-03 13:17
Oh let's face it. Anyone who read the Synod statement on Nikolai taking a leave until May can certainly read between the lines. We will probably never get the whole story but one can speculate whatever the reports to the Synod contained must have been significant. As for Isidore, well with his own problems still going on can anyone expect anything more or less from him? Of course he's going to defend Nikolai. Again, we will probably never get the whole story on that situation/relationship either. Herman and the Synod are probably hoping the whole thing will just go away and they're probably hoping no one else comes forward with lawsuits. After all it's going to be only through the courts that the people get more of the truth.
#4 between the lines on 2008-05-01 06:11
Thank you, Mark,
Your timely updates about what is going on in the OCA around the country remains refreshing and informative.
I do hope the the OCA may adopt publishing such timely information, as well.
I had been concerned that a report such as Fr. Alexander Garclavs would not have been seen as supportive documentation for the previous Holy Synod emergency meeting. However, you were able to secure a copy and what you reported was why Fr. Alexander's report should have been included in the Holy Synod's meeting.
The OCA may really have to address a revision of its bi-laws before the AAC so it can be addressed at the AAC.
#5 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-01 10:40
Addressing repair of the OCA By-Laws is key! First and foremost, the Metropolitan Council should not be some "rubber-stamp" group which has no authority or power and consistently over-ruled by the bishops. It is because everyone "TRUSTED" the bishops and RSK that the OCA has it problems. "TRUST, BUT VERIFY!" Secondly, there must be a review board for bishops. Bishops who are "out-of-line" must be either brought into line or deposed. No more thinking they are elected for life and a fat pension awaits no matter what they do. Yes indeed, a good revision of the by-laws is essential!
#5.1 Anonymous on 2008-05-01 14:06
Dear Mr. Anonymous: You have 2 months for your parish to propose these amendments and get them to Syosset.
#5.1.1 Michael Strelka on 2008-05-02 14:51
I still don't understand the whole idea of pensions for bishops. They are monks. It seems to me that when the retire they should return to their monasteries, and live out their lives in prayer and asceticism.
I am not speaking from knowledge, but I suspect that most of the bishops are not true monastics from a monastery, but are men who chose to be celibate priests and ultimately became bishops without darkening the doors of monasteries. The Chancellor of Alaska, from my understanding is such; raised to Archimandrite (theoretically placed over a group of monasteries) without ever being a monk in a monastery. Correct me if I am wrong.
#184.108.40.206 Yanni on 2008-05-04 20:34
A "fat pension"? That is a laugh. This ain't no corporation, although folks like you want it to be run like run. You have just witnessed the board of review for bishops. It is called the Holy Synod. They are responsible for policing themselves, and with a conciliar response from the faithful in the diocese in question, did what they felt (or maybe pushed or compelled) to do.
As for the Metropolitan Council, they have limits to their responsibility and expanding their role beyond what they do now does not produce leaders of integrity. Such leaders come from the ranks of the royal priesthood from the spiritual formation of those who would lead now and in the future.
The Statute of the OCA indeed needs correction and it was scheduled to be overhauled when the AAC was originally scheduled to be held in 2010. Why so long? Because a careful and thoughtful correction of the Statue will take many years. Any quick fixes to the Statue for this "shotgun" AAC in November could be disasterous and do more harm than good.
Bishops are supposed to be married to their diocese for life, like a man to his wife or a wife to her husband. Just like the Church does not believe that marriage is disposable, so to a bishop being wedded to his diocese. We have all witnessed divorce or may even experienced personally. It is tragic and painful. We have also just witnessed and the faithful in Alaska have experienced a divorce in their church life. It is painful. It is not what it should be, but the court of bishops and the faithful of the diocese came to the conclusion that the differences were irreconcilable. Such a conclusion may have been necessary but it is still tragic in its conclusion.
So let us not extrapolate term limits for bishops or any other such corporate "solutions." Leaders of integrity do not fear rules, men that lack integrity will ignore the rules, no matter how "Best" they may be.
#5.1.3 Anonymous on 2008-05-03 08:13
Patty - revision of the Statutes is not on the radar screen for Syosset. Get your parish to propose a Statute amendment, and it needs to be in Syosset by at least July 1, so that they can be sent to the parishes by August 1. And let me reiterate: proposed Statute amendment CANNOT be kept from being considered.
#5.2 Michael Sttrelka on 2008-05-02 05:28
Any help the OCA can get in terms of how to effect constructive, positive, lasting change should be considered.
I don't think our little OCA mission in Fayetteville, in which we are more than a two hour drive from right now, would be in the situation to contemplate, let alone propose by-law ammendments.
But I hope some parishes do. As you said, they can at least be considered.
#5.2.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-03 13:07
I very rarely disagree with anything Patty says, but in this case I have to.
Now is not the time to address the issues with the statutes. Any attempt to amend the Statutes is likely to be hijacked by folks who have long been lobbying to change them in exactly the opposite direction to what you intend. Better to leave them in their vaguely workable current form for now and only address them when we have succeeded in clearing out some more of the problem folks who need to go for progress to be real.
#5.3 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-05-02 16:30
I believe that folks like Michael Strelka, make good points to say that amendment proposals can be at least brought up and considered.
Now I don't disagree with you that some problem folks should be moved along. But with their continued presence, the ability to at least discuss and present proposed amendments gives us hope and more food for thought.
Ideas such as Terry Peet presented may be constructive positive ways to help support a Holy Synod that seems to flounder and get lost on how to positively and constructively go forward during crises (which don't seem to be letting up).
#5.3.1 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-04 13:02
I disagree. So we put off discussing statute changes for 3 more years. Those 3 years become 6 then 9 then 12. Did you know that there was a statute change that was supposed to be considered at the last AAC by mandate of the previous AAC? It was simply forgotten. No, I say NOW is the time to have a serious discussion of the future of our Church; not in 3 or 6 or 9 or 12 years.
#5.3.2 Michael Strelka on 2008-05-05 08:25
I agree with you also, Michael; what are you disagreeing about?
We need to start the dialogue on the bi-laws and statutes.
These threads and who is responding to what can be a bit confusing.
#220.127.116.11 Patty Schellbach on 2008-05-05 16:38
One thing you should understand about the esteemed editor of this website. He, and ONLY he, chooses what is published on this website. As long as he deems it necessary; then it's posted. Yes, the purpose of the website is as you've already stated. But as the SOB makes the rules as they go; so does the editor. It's called transparency, didn't you know that??? hahahaha.
#6 Michael Livosky on 2008-05-01 14:24
Thank you for the courage to post with your name, Michael. I think you're quite wrong, but you get respect for being willing to engage. I would suggest that, if you do not like the way Mark runs his site, you may start up your own. Nobody is stopping you.
#6.1 Scott Walker on 2008-05-03 22:02
I would be curious what the details are of the Garclavs Report; I was told on numerous occasions that I was/am a "sinner" by not attending Church during this entire disgusting affair, and I still have not gone back. I have to keep pointing out the fact that many of the Priests who have come out against the Bishop of Alaska were defending him only a few short months ago. This has caused me to personally lose alot of respect for said Clergy, as they came/come off as puppets who would go whatever direction the wind was blowing at the time. The scars here in Alaska are going to take a long time to heal. I also have to wonder what is to be done about various Deacons and others who acted as spies and informers for -N (you know who you are).
Feet of Clay indeed...
#7 Moses on 2008-05-01 14:42
The OCA is on a respirator. Herman has accused Nikolai of everything HE himself is guilty of. Why does this continue?
Because the man in the white hat is incompetent and denies he has a past. Now we all know at 75+ everyone has a past. HE MUST STEP DOWN! If you talk the talk, walk the walk!
#8 MP on 2008-05-01 14:44
This was on KTUU news this evening across Alaska:
Russian Orthodox bishop leaving Alaska
by Sean Doogan
Thursday, May 1, 2008
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The leader of the Alaska Russian Orthodox Church said he is stepping down, and will leave the state within a week.
For months, Bishop Nikolai Soraich has been at the center of a growing divide within the Alaska church.
After seven years in the state, some parishioners asked church officials for his removal.
Thursday, Bishop Nikolai said he is leaving, so the Alaska church may heal, and move forward.
"I'm going to be leaving Alaska and taking some time to visit family and friends whom I've neglected for the last seven years since I've been in Alaska," Nikolai said.
When he first arrived in Alaska, he was welcomed by local church members.
But a growing divide within the church forced some to ask for the bishop's removal earlier this year.
"When I came here the diocese was divided and that was because of the bishop prior to me," Nikolai said. "And to divide or to continue to allow that division to be here, I just don't think it's the right thing to do, and sometimes you need to go where you can be appreciated for your talents and your efforts."
Since his arrival, the bishop says he has increased by half the number of clergy in Alaska.
"We put St. Innocent of Irkusk here because of the historical value of the museum," Nikolai said.
At the Downtown Anchorage Museum he helped build, the bishop says, despite his departure he still cares about the Alaska church.
"And that I will still pray for them and ask for their prayers for me too in these difficult times," Nikolai said.
He said he will take a leave of absence from the church - and travel the west coast to visit family and friends before deciding where he will go next.
Nikolai said he does not know who will replace him.
He said the head of the Western Diocese, Bishop Benjamin will come to Anchorage either Thursday or Friday to assess the situation.
Perhaps a sign of the divide within the church here: Bishop Nikolai said he wasn't told the travel itinerary of Bishop Benjamin - even though the two leaders will be in Anchorage at the same time, before Nikolai leaves the state, perhaps for good.
Contact Sean Doogan at firstname.lastname@example.org
#9 fresh news from the north on 2008-05-01 23:58
Mark, all I can say is that anyone who has consistently read oca news knows it's purpose and intent and anyone who takes the time to write a critical comment personally attacking you is just demonstrating that you're doing your job and you're doing something right. Logic 101 teaches you that in the art of debate the oldest and most often used weapon is to "attack the messenger", question his character and motive, rather than stay on track with the topics at hand. If we didn't value your work we wouldn't keep coming back to this site. That includes the people who may be fearful of what you might stumble upon and reveal to the rest of us. Let's face it, they keep coming back to this site too.
#10 between the lines on 2008-05-02 09:51
Dear "between the lines",
I have been reading this site silently for quite some time now, and I agree that the editor of this site has generally clear intention and a solid measure of journalistic and rhetorical integrity; these are the reasons that I come back. Occasionally, however, I run across criticisms of criticisms that drive me crazy on a rhetorical level.
You state as follows in your post:
"Logic 101 teaches you that in the art of debate the oldest and most often used weapon is to "attack the messenger", question his character and motive, rather than stay on track with the topics at hand."
First of all the "art of debate" has nothing to do with the discipline of Logic, nor do "attacks"; rather Logic is a rather mathematical creature which people often confuse with the discipline of Rhetoric. This distinction may seem like splitting hairs, but claiming that a statement is a false rhetorical device or an "end run" as you are TRYING to do above is a legitimate argument, while implying that the same statement is logically illegitimate as a result is what you are ACTUALLY doing above, and is in itself a false rhetorical device.
More simply, there are many rhetorical devices which are considered perfectly legitimate in debate. Usually attacking the character of the accuser or affirmative claimant IS a last resort, but is can still be a perfectly legitimate device if used properly.
Secondly, one of the oldest tricks in the world of rhetoric is to argue the validity of claim based solely upon the methods used to attack the claim rather than strictly arguing the virtues of the claim itself. In other words, the statement "...anyone who takes the time to write a critical comment personally attacking you is just demonstrating that you're doing your job and you're doing something right." demonstrates the use of a false rhetorical device.
Thirdly, it is not only common, but necessary to question the character of an accuser of presenter of an affirmative argument when the argument relies upon evidence which cannot be verified directly and examined for misinterpretation. With regard to the financial scandal the editor consistently provided supporting "primary" documents for review to support his articles. Starting with the Alaskan scandal this has been a bit less consistent (perhaps for good reason, perhaps not - no judgment being offered here). From a rhetorical perspective, however, this not only allows, but requires examination of his motives and biases as we cannot review the evidence first hand to independently determine if biases are present.
PLEASE people, Mr. Stokoe is doing a tremendous service to us all, but he is human and has opinions like the rest of us. Examine objectively and allow others to do so as well.
#10.1 David MacKinnon on 2008-05-04 09:30
I'm sorry. You obviously have never taken a serious course in logic and debate. Being verbose in your criticism and analysis is just another attempt to get off track. It neither proves nor disproves the original premise regarding Mark. Mark makes every effort to cite sources to substantiate his facts and statements. One can hardly call that being opinionated. However, thanks for your article. It did bring a chuckle.
#10.1.1 between the lines on 2008-05-04 17:01
Dear "between the lines",
It has been years, I'll admit. My last debating was with the Varsity Oxford-style or Mace team in High School, and my last Logic course was a pure or mathematical Logic class in college, so my understanding of the relationship between the two is a bit skewed perhaps.
The point is still that raising a reasoned concern regarding the bias of an author is never, in and of itself, a questionable thing to do in a debate, keeping in mind that a debate, by definition, has the goal of arriving at a consensus or persuading an audience, and not of declaring a winner or claiming victory.
The very transparency which we all desire from the central administration was obfuscated largely by declaring those who questioned the authorities and authors of official reports to be rabble-rousers and malcontents who were to be dismissed.
I'm not at all saying that Mr. Stokoe is obscuring truths, but rather that we must all, here and everywhere else in the church, begin to refrain from personal attacks and dismissal of questions in all directions especially when we believe in the statements being attacked. We must instead calmly reason with each other to discern the truth as best we can and persuade each other of it in love.
It is possible to question an action or a motivation without declaring the relevant party a bad or deplorable person.
My last post was not really toward that end in its tone, and for that I apologize.
#10.1.1.1 David MacKinnon on 2008-05-04 18:17
I read Isidore's interview in the Tundra. I am totally shocked and appalled that he would be stupid enough to make such horrific public statements, especially since it has been made plain that his troubles are not over.
For example, he said "It sounds strange unless you knew the bishop’s dog, an American bull terrier named Boss, said Isidore. He’s loving and completely obedient.
"So he was making a statement about the affection he gets from dog, and not that he wishes his priests were like dogs."
Isidore honestly believes that being compared to Nikolai's dog is a compliment?
He has the gall to accuse the priests of alcoholism. I guess he became an expert while in treatment but he must have missed an important lesson about not pointing a finger or spreading gossip.
He has the gall to accuse the priests of being rebellious. I don't see anything "noble" in his example. I hear it's a tough life in Alaska. If these men, who have given up so much and whose families have joined them in that lifestyle, need to do subsistence work GOD BLESS THEM! Let Isidore go work out in the vineyards of Christ and do His work. Let's see how long he survives without the mantle of protection of Nikolai.
Sorry, but his statements against these holy men and the good people of Alaska really angered me!
#11 between the lines on 2008-05-02 14:19
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