Monday, October 6. 2008
Sorry about the delay. All three have suggested ideas or candidates for the AAC. Your thoughts are as welcome.
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Deacon Theodore Feldman's concerns about performing the Rite of Mutual Forgiveness during and before next month's AAC in Pittsburgh are well meant, but inadequate.
Each and all of us know that this rite, as we ordinarily practice it on the Sunday of Forgiveness, is much too general and out of focus to be of help here. On that Sunday, each of us says to our fellow Christians 'Forgive me, a sinner.' And each of us answers the same, with one or both saying 'May God forgive all of us.'
This will NOT work at the AAC, or elsewhere, in our present crisis. There are specific issues at work in the OCA which have brought us to this painful pass, most especially the misdeeds of our bishops, and the misdeeds of our bishops who concealed the misdeeds of their fellow bishops and thereby deceived and misled the Church.
Our christian people are good and generous and easy to forgive, if only those sinners (including our bishops) who've broken the laws of God and Man and offended all of us in the process, would repent and be corrected and accept appropriate churchly discipline.
But this requires a public confession of public sins, something we've grown unused to, yet necessary in this case nonetheless.
Perhaps all of us should return to the more ancient practice of confessing to the assembly, and so be better motivated to flee from sin if only because we would be spared public embarrassment. Low motivation, I suppose, but it might work. Perhaps we could pray to anticipate that sense of embarrassment before we fall into sin, and so avoid it.
Regarding Fr Andrew Moore's comments, I'd say that I agree with him completely except when he comes to the point of endorsing Bp Hilarion Alfeev to stand for election as our next first hierarch.
No matter BpHA's scholarship and artistic achievements, he's Moscow's man. His performance in England was bad enough, and there are other reasons, too, for which we would do well to exclude him from consideration.
Elsewhere, people have suggested Bp Seraphim Sigrist as a possible candidate for first hierarch. This would be a very bad idea. He's a good man, and actively involved in good projects in the US and in Russia, but psychologically unsuitable for primatial or even episcopal responsibilities.
Others have suggested electing divorced priests as bishops, such as has been done in Russia, even regarding patriarchs (theoretically including the present one), but such an idea is contrary to the scriptures.
Ideally, any priest whose marriage has failed must relinquish (or be deposed from) his priesthood, since the same characteristics which would make him unsuitable for ordination in the first place would render him unsuitable to continue as a priest if he acquires such characteristics after ordination. This is why, e.g., a widowed priest who wishes to remarry must first revert to the status of a layman -- not that this a bad thing -- but he must be the husband of only one wife if he's to be a priest.
And he must also not abuse himself with boys or booze or money.
(editor's note: Since you continue to excuse and defend RSK, pardon me if have questions as to whether you are a particularily good judge of character. Bishop Seraphim (Sigrist) is a unique character, but his humility, intelligence, and proven record of work in Russia have brought him to the attention of many people, especially in these troubled times. One gets a sense of the man in his interesting book " Theology of Wonder", which is well worth reading - if only to see how theology can be done in a most unique way. We could do much worse than Bishop Seraphim - oh, well, I guess we have....
Finally, as for divorced men not being Bishops, or should be deposed as priests, I suspect the Patriarch of Russia, who is divorced, would disagree - as would the Primate of the Czech Church, who is also divorced. And once again, being lectured on "proper order" in the Church by a monk not living in a monastery is a bit much. Phyiscian, heal thyself, as the saying goes....)
#1 Monk James on 2008-10-06 16:48
For once I agree with you. Bp Hilarion, while very nice and intelligent, is very much a part of the pro-Russian nationalism which is destroying Orthodoxy in western Europe. He should remain a bishop as close to Russia (geographically) as possible. Bp. Dmitri is also very nice, though he is quite old and his memory is failing. I think we can all agree that what we need right now is a very sharp tool in the shed, so to speak. His Perennialist leanings are also very worrisome, and I would very much like to see the next Metropolitan actually do something about Perennialism (instead of, for example, promoting it in the Diocesan magazine).
Although, to be technical, a "divorced" bishop is quite patristic and canonical. Though usually the wife "willingly" went to a monastery and became a monastic. When the ancient church had "married bishops" this is usually what happened. And there is nothing stopping us today from doing the same thing.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 08:30
A lapse in my mental faculties - I did not mean Bishop Dimitri in my post but Bishop Seraphim Sigrist. All apologies to Bishop Dimitri.
#1.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 11:14
RE: "Our christian people are good and generous and easy to forgive, if only those sinners (including our bishops) who've broken the laws of God and Man and offended all of us in the process, would repent and be corrected and accept appropriate churchly discipline."
Judgment belongs to Christ alone; NOT us. Everything is out in the open. Everyone pretty much knows what each person did or did not do.
Why does everyone insist on hate and bashing?
Aren't we all sinners?
Haven't we ALL broken God's Law's and Commands? There are many different ways to break God's Laws and the last I heard, no one but Christ Himself is perfect.
Aren't we supposed to take the log out of our own eye before we take the speck out of our brothers eye?
Aren't we supposed to forgive no matter what the other person does?
Didn't Christ give a commandment to love?
The Church is healing. The new officers at the Chancery are doing all they can to make it happen as quickly as possible. What more do you people want? The more you all bash, criticize and hate, the longer the healing process will take.
(editor's note: There is not hate spouted here - and no one is being bashed. We have an issue before us that is being discussed by Christian adults. Your" forgive everything" overlooks the reality of what happened and damage it caused, and our responsibility as stewards of Christ to make sure it does not happen again - or at least make it more difficult to happen again. If we were to just close our eyes and walk away from the criminality we have endured, what is to stop the next crook from taking advantage of us; the next predator from stalking the Church; the next abuser of our time, money, and future, from destroying our dreams by wasting our inheritance? You would set a terrible precedent that malefactors can do their worse, and walk away in the OCA because to demand repentence, confession and restitution, is not "christian" to you - but "bashing". "Turning the other cheek" does not mean handing the killer the gun to shoot you with. That is not humility, that is suicide.)
#1.2 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 13:07
We haven't closed our eyes; no one has. But if you look at the bare facts you'll see that everything is working towards the better. Forgiveness is something we ALL must do. If we don't forgive, the demon of pride has truly gotten a hold of us. Can't you see the devil is grabbing us? Where's our own humility? You completely overlooked the point that we must look at our own faults first. Pride is a grievous sin.
I visit the Chancery on occasion. Why don't you ("you" in general) go visit the Chancery and see the time and effort the Officers and extremely bare-minimum staff are doing to try to get everything resolved?
$100 is pitiful to begin with and now you knock the assessments down to $50?! How do you expect the Church as a whole to function, let alone the bare minimal staff working tirelessly to make the light at the end of the tunnel shine brighter and brighter? You're trying to blow out this light.
It's NOT the Chancery that is the problem. It was Kondratick and his cohorts that were the problem. You get rid of the Chancery, you will throw out sacred ground. Saints have been there. You will throw out a beautiful Chapel filled with the relics of Saints. You will throw out all the hard labors of the good people before Kondratick's time and the good people after it. Put to good use, the Chancery could become a beautiful administrative and retreat center and truly help out the Church as a whole - that is what it was meant to be anyway! Also, not for nothing, every church, organization, business, etc, needs a main office/headquarters. How else is anything run? It's a no brainer that the Chancery needs to function as it was meant to when it was given to the Church. If you only open your eyes you will see that, with God's help, it has been becoming this asset again.
You keep knocking "Syosset" "the Chancery", etc. QUIT IT!!!!! Kondratick is NOT there anymore!!!! Say Kondratick if you intend to knock. By saying "Syosset" you're knocking Frs. Garklavs, Tassos, Tosi, Jarmus, Swencki and the pitiful few others there who are trying their darndest to get everything back to normal and keep it that way.
Kondratick and the others will get what is due to them; if not in this world, than in the next. We're not here to judge. God is.
Why don't you look and see how much information is now available from the Chancery and OCA that was never available during Kondratick's time? (Especially financially speaking - full fledged financial reports down to the last dollar were never available until the new officers came on board - again, give credit where due)
Stop complaining if info is not posted on the OCA site the minute the news is out. There are just so many hours in a day. Again, there's a bare minimum force at the Chancery; I suppose you want them to work 24/7? They already ARE putting in more than is required to fix the wrongs that were done there. If you don't believe, go visit. I ALWAYS knocked the Chancery, and hated going there too when Kondratick was there. The atmosphere was horrific. But it has changed for the better. The sense of honesty, peace, acceptance and brotherly love in Christ our Lord is so obviously apparent there now and it is getting better by the day.
May God truly bless the officers who work at the Chancery and bestow His blessings on them for all that they have been and are doing to have our Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church run the way it should be.
(editor's note: In point of fact I have been to Oyster Bay Cove twice in the past five months, to speak to the Pre-Conciliar Commission and to speak to the SIC. Things have changed, which should be obvious to anybody who has read the stories that I have published this past year. That being said, are we were we should or need to be? I think our new administration would be the first to agree we have not crossed Jordan yet.
The resolutions to reduce the assessments did not originate with me; they started in WPA and the South, and have spread, in part because of the scandal, but equally because of long and deeply held beliefs that dioceses, not Syosset, should be the locus ( loci?) of the Church's service and witness. It's a good and reasonable question to discuss before we gather. And your contribution to the discussion is welcome.)
#1.2.1 God Help the Church on 2008-10-08 10:48
I think we're moving towards where we should be. No, the Church hasn't "crossed the Jordan yet" (or Red Sea ). But it's getting there. I think whoever the new Metropolitan is will have a heavy cross to bear being that he will have to be a leader like Moses to lead the people the rest of the way through. We need to have patience and help in what ever ways we can
I'd like to know why the MC has not had to apologize for anything and seem to be trying to 'run the show'. I thought the Holy Synod was supposed to be in charge of the Church. And anyway, the MC is just as much to blame for letting things slide when Dn Eric Wheeler initially brought up the scandal and then others started speaking out.
I meant "you" in general regarding everything. I think I did state that. If I didn't I apologize. The thing is though, dioceses are needed and they should be allowed leeway to decide things, BUT where's the head? There still needs to be a central place for all diocese to answer to. Just like a company. You have a CEO at the main headquarters. You then have those below him at different offices around the country who run things, yes, but they still turn to the CEO at the headquarters. With no central place, with no head, how can things run smoothly? It would be a 'free-for-all', especially where finances are concerned. I'd rather see the Chancery in Syosset continue in its work and become, not just a place of central administration and residence of the Metropolitan, but also the retreat center it was meant to be. What an asset that would be for the Church as a whole! Not to mention that it is right near NYC, one of the most influential and famous cities in the world. The Church should continue to have a representation there.
I also just don't understand how people want to torment and seek retribution by knocking down the assessments when the people they seek to hurt are no longer there. Where's the logic? To me, it looks rather ruthless and not the Orthodox way of doing things in love. I mean these new officers come; Priests who left their parishes and homes & moved to NY to - with God's help and many hours of labor and prayer - fix the problems created by Kondratick & his cohorts. The thanks they get is a kick out the door? How can true Orthodox Christians live like this? How do you expect the Church to function? Today's society is not easy to live in and if you ask me, $100 is an extremely small and minuscule amount to begin with. Where's the Christian love and charity?
I wish we could go back to the days where people thought nothing of giving, sometimes even all they had, to the church so that it could function properly. I'm a college student; I struggle and just about make it. But to cut funds from the Church? NEVER! I'll cut out a trip to the store or a sports game before I cut down contributions and assessments to my Church; the Holy Orthodox Church! The Church which is concerned about the salvation of all our souls. The Church who appointed new officers to fix the wrongs done. The Church whose leaders have apologized for what happened whether they were at fault or not. The Church which is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel because of the hard labors of really dedicated priests and laity.
If St. Tikhon, remembered today, could see things through in his time so can we. His life is truly an inspiration. Through his intercessions may he help us all.
#126.96.36.199 God Help the Church on 2008-10-09 10:03
Unlike Mark Stokoe, I was not favorably impressed with Bp Seraphim Sigrist's 'Theology of Wonder', which also served as the theme for one of the seminars he led at Drew University's graduate school. His behavior there was a great embarrassment to me personally, since I was continually asked to explain/excuse him and his ideas, especially his casual disregard for the position of orthodox Christianity in an almost completely heterodox context (the protestants loved him). In any event, it would be better for him and for us if he did not assume eparchial responsibilities in our OCA.
Surely MS knows that not all monks live in monastic communities. I started out that way, but my life and the directions of my bishops eventuated in my living as a solitary monk with the obedience to be of assistance to the clergy and laity in the parishes, all the while continuing my theological studies and caring for my mother until her death. Now that I'm no longer obligated to those responsibilities, perhaps my long-held inclination to return to community life can be fulfilled.
My situation, no matter what MS thinks of it, is perfectly consonant with monastic tradition, especially since neither the scriptures nor the canons require a coenobitic practice.
But the ordination of divorced men is not only contrary to the Tradition in general, but it's explicitly forbidden by St Paul. No canons, no bishops, get to contradict the scriptures and still claim to be honoring the Tradition. Sectarians do that, not the orthodox.
(Editor's Note: This is first time, ever, that I have heard somebody tell me the Russian Church, or the Church in the Czech and Slovak Lands, can no longer claim to be honoring the Orthodox Tradition. Outside the sectarians, of course.)
#1.3 Monk James on 2008-10-08 08:02
Dear Monk James,
Would you be kind enough to point out where in the Holy Scriptures the Apostle Paul forbids the ordination of divorced men. The only text that I have found is 1Timothy 3, where St. Paul says the overseer should be the husband of one wife, which is obviously open to various permutations.
As you know, married men were still being ordained bishops as late as the 7th Century (Council of Trullo). The only restriction that was then made universal was the physical separation of a married bishop from his wife. I don't know how in the world that practice occurred, as there is such a strong injunction against doing just that in the Apostolic Canons, as well as 1 Timothy 3. Nonetheless, it is equally clear that the actual practice of the Church proceeded from married or unmarried bishops, to celibate married or unmarried bishops, to celibate bishops and/or to monastic bishops.
I would be grateful if you point out specific Scriptures and Canons that accounts for the way we have traveled this road, in particular those that support your contention regarding St. Paul, the holy offices and divorced men.
#1.3.1 Carl on 2008-10-08 17:48
Bishop Hilarion would indeed be an excellent choice. I believe the best is yet to come from him in his career and he is, in many ways, a renaissance man and the quintessential 21st century Orthodox bishop.
A revitalization of the Orthodox Church in America, and her vision and mission is what we are looking for in a leader. If Moscow will release him to lead us, what could be better to strengthen ties between the various Russian churches, even the various jurisdictions in America?
This is a critical time in history, and we need a leader who understands our mission in the biggest picture possible.
Good call, Fr. Andrew.
#2 Fr. John A. Peck on 2008-10-06 18:34
Dear Bishop Hillarion:
Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00, just run like hell!
Does anyone really think that aside from all the mechanics a bishop Vienna would want to move to Long Island!? Gimmie a break, another wasted idea. Great man, great bishop, no chance, no way, no how.
It is time one of our flops; Seraphim, Job or Nikon rose to the occasion and took on the mantle of responsibility and acted like men.
If any of the above can keep their hands out of the till, keep their pants on, and just care about people, I'd vote for them!
Here endith the lesson.
#2.1 no name on 2008-10-07 09:19
Father Andrew is not the first priest I have heard come out in support of Bishop Hilarion of Vienna. Until now, I have not seen a list of His Grace's credentials and accomplishments, though I was aware of his past work in very, very general terms.
Some may note that I have in the past suggested that it might be best to look outside the OCA. I have suggested in particular the name of Bishop Basil (Essey), who is widely respected among all Orthodox on this continent. More recently, however, in response to an analogy made to the book The Shoes of the Fisherman I said that if Vladyka Job were acclaimed, I'd support that, in spite of my own concerns about the impact on him. Fr Andrew's essay here leads me to believe even more strongly that this would not be a favour to His Eminence at all, and I hope it would not happen, for his sake. I have also suggested that Bishop Benjamin has shown a willingness to set the Church first, and this is consistent with my own experience with him when I was at SHS in Kodiak and he was still dean.
In the end, considering what Fr Andrew has said, and my own thoughts over the past months, I am leaning more and more toward hoping for a metropolitan from outside the OCA and Fr Andrew has presented a very compelling case for Bishop Hilarion. Mind you, I am not a delegate, so I'm just offering my thoughts. I suppose that in the light of it all, I should hope that the delegates at the AAC will consider carefully the grave pastoral situation, weighing the options, and giving serious consideration each potential candidate.
Above all, regardless of any politics, or preferences, I do believe firmly that the OCA must, at the very least, consider with extensive prayer and deliberation the possibility of electing as Metropolitan, a man from outside the ranks of current bishops of the OCA, and particularly from outside of the OCA itself. As I have suggested before, we need someone who will approach the primacy of the OCA with a free mind, with awareness of the problems, but not carrying the burden of those problems personally.
For all of the reasons that Fr Andrew presents, it sounds like Bishop Hilarion would be an excellent candidate. I still believe Bishop Basil would be likewise excellent. I am sure there are others. May the All American Council open itself to the voice of the All-Holy Trinity so that we may receive the metropolitan we need, not the one we might want (or deserve).
#3 MARK HARRISON on 2008-10-06 21:42
I wonder just what kind of a viable autocephalous Church the OCA is, when it apparently is incapable of producing a first hierarch from its own ranks!
All this talk of choosing a Bishop from outside the OCA to become the next Metropolitan is hopelessly naïve: what makes anyone think that another Local Church would grant one of its clergymen a release for that purpose?
(editor's note: Looking for the best candidate is not naive - it is called "due diligence" in this country, and a prerequisite for success. It is a very American thing to do.... Secondly, your last point seems to contradict your first. If we are not "viable" because we fish elsewhere, how "viable" are the others if they so fear others taking their candidates such that they would not release them? The fact is that all Orthodox Churches, all Churches for that matter, suffer from the same complaint - too few great leaders. Fortunately, God provides.)
#4 ejv on 2008-10-07 03:48
As painful is it may be, I would have to agree with Monk James' stance concerning +Hilarion. First, due to his tumultuous and brief assignment in the United Kingdom. While there were great expectations, it was a flop. He may be a productive Russian bishop, but his brief encounter with Anglo-Saxon Orthodox Christians was far from satisfactory.
Second, if the "A" in OCA is to be valid, then someone who understands that "A", and as more than just an intellectual exercise from afar, needs to be the Met. Many of the problems of your Church can be traced to unnecessary Russification and/or "Faux Rus" behavior in a land is is not in any way Rus. Are you going to be an American Church of Rus heritage or a Rus Church on American soil? If the latter, then simply return to the omophore of Moscow and at least be honest about things.
Lastly, if in the nearly 40 years since sutocephaly, the OCA has not produced one acceptable, eligible, home grown "American" candidate for the Metropolitan's position, isn't it reasonable to wonder if the OCA should continue to be an autocephalous Church? Does Fr Andrew Moore know each and potential candidate? Is there no monk that's up to the job? Is there not a widower that would be up to the task? Is there not a non-monastic celibate? I'm sure there most certainly is. If not, then you have built your own case against autocephaly.
If I lived in your land and had to address this issue, I would say to elect +Job, who has stated his desire to retire in three years. He is there, he knows where the warts are and he is working diligently to make amends for his earlier failures of inaction. Then begin a search, screening and grooming process amongst all the eligibles to revitalize the entire episcopacy and be in a position to have a suitable candidate to replace +Job when he retires. Use these three years to continue to revitalize the Met Council and the Statutes. It took nearly 40 years to dig the hole the OCA is now in. Looking for a "quick fix" is not the answer.
#5 Overseas Observer on 2008-10-07 04:19
Dear Overseas Observer:
Your last paragraph is astute and makes eminent good sense and your suggestion for a three year interim primate remains the best solution. However, when we elect a primate, it is for life and the new primate may choose to stay beyond a three year period. If the new primate were +Job, his main overarching quality will be attitude, i.e. willingness to keep an open mind, the desire to seek the truth, the necessity for accountability and transparency, having already repented of any complicity in the making of the present scandal, being a man of humilty and patience, and not being a stumbling block to reconstituting the OCA (including reinvigorating the episcopacy as you mentioned) so that it may function properly and ultimately carry out its mission to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As for +Bishop Hilarion, I am now hearing, but cannot confirm, that his view of concilarity would pale by comparison to that of Rome. If we were to seek someone outside the OCA, it should preferably be an American who is widely respected; I believe that Bishop Basil of the Antiochians would be such a candidate. Of course, when I think of Bishop Basil as OCA primate, my mind ventures into uncharted imaginary territory: down the road +Basil is elected primate, to succeed Metropolitan Philip, of the autonomous Antiochian Archdiocese, which leads to a merger with the OCA, eventually drawing in smaller jurisdictions, leading ultimately to a united church on this continent -- well, I can dream, can’t I?
#5.1 Terry C. Peet on 2008-10-07 08:24
> when we elect a primate, it is for life and the new primate may choose to stay beyond a three year period.
Elect bishops for life, but put a term limit on the president of the synod, or at least require a regularly recurring vote of confidence in his leadership.
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-09 08:47
Terry, your "dream" is spot-on, both in terms of the dream itself and the person who may help bring it to pass!
#5.1.2 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-10-09 10:52
Thank you, Overseas Observer!
There is much involved in this situation that is uniquely American. I am an American and sometimes wonder how much of some of my religious practise is Orthodox and how much is Russification.
Don't get me wrong, I love the "soul" of Russian Orthodoxy!
However, the Lord can work with the "indigenous" American Orthodox in the same way as He has worked with, in and through the Russian, Greek or any other native population throughout history.
#5.2 an anony-mouse American convert on 2008-10-07 08:39
Sadly, I must agree with Overseas Observer on both points. If there is not among us a man worthy to head the OCA, then the OCA hardly deserves autocephaly. But if we are to remain on our own, OO makes great sense on how to proceed: Elect +Job and use his tenure to find a worthy successor.
I do think, though, that we should ask ourselves, why should we remain on our own? Why should we continue to keep ourselves from the union with the Antiochians that many of us have long looked forward to? They are as American as we are, and much better run.
#5.3 Dn. Patrick Mitchell on 2008-10-07 14:45
Forgiveness or Punishment?
October 7, 2008
Citizen Enforcers Take Aim
By BENEDICT CAREY
Last month a Georgia woman named DeShan Fishel was driving near a school and saw a Jeep rush past a stop signal on a school bus, clipping a 5-year-old boy. The other driver sped away.
Ms. Fishel whipped a U-turn and gave chase. She stayed with the Jeep on surface streets and caught the driver on a highway in Dawson County, Ga., making him pull over. She watched the driver until police officers arrived.
“All I could think about was that little kid, getting hit, and this person getting away with it,” Ms. Fishel said at a news conference. “It just really upset me.”
The public urge for punishment that helped delay the passage of Washington’s economic rescue plan is more than a simple case of Wall Street loathing, according to scientists who study the psychology of forgiveness and retaliation. The fury is based in instincts that have had a protective and often stabilizing effect on communities throughout human history. Small, integrated groups in particular often contain members who will stand up and — often at significant risk to themselves — punish cheaters, liars and freeloaders.
Scientists debate how common these citizen enforcers are, and whether an urge to punish infractions amounts to an overall gain or loss, given that it is costly for both parties. But recent research suggests that in individuals, the fairness instinct is a highly variable psychological impulse, rising and falling in response to what is happening in the world. And there is strong evidence that it hardens in times of crisis and uncertainty, like the current one.
The catch in this highly sensitive system, most researchers agree, is that it most likely evolved to inoculate small groups against invasive rogues, and not to set right the excesses of a vast and wildly diverse community like the American economy. Some experts believe that Japan’s disastrous delay in bailing out its banks in the early 1990s was caused in part by a collective urge to punish corrupt bankers, and they fear a similar outcome today.
“The urge to take revenge or punish cheaters,” said Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology at the University of Miami and author of the book “Beyond Revenge: The Evolution of the Forgiveness Instinct,” “is not a disease or toxin or sign that something has gone wrong. From the point of view of evolution, it’s not a problem but a solution.”
The downside of these instincts, Dr. McCullough added, “is that they often promote behavior that turns out to be spiteful in the long run.”
The urge to punish is not restricted to humans. Researchers have found evidence of self-protective retaliation, or revenge, and third-party, or “moralistic,” punishment in many of nature’s diverse niches. When a predatory fish is near, shoals of guppies typically send out scouting parties of several members to see whether the bigger fish is hungry — to assess the threat. The members of the scouting team take turns approaching the big fish, sharing the risk.
Biologists have found that if one member of the scouting party lags in taking its turn, the fish in front of it will loop behind and not budge from its position, forcing the reluctant member to contribute.
Examples of Good Samaritan justice are abundant in traditional, remote societies where state institutions are absent. In some Inuit villages, said Edie Turner, a professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia, tribe members will shout disapproval at someone who is stealing or cheating, sometimes casting a public curse on the person that can be removed only in a ceremony conducted by tribal elders. “And this shout, this utterance — well, it’s more like a blast,” she said. “The one time I witnessed an Inuit woman do this to someone, the blast practically ricocheted off of me.”
Given the choice, most people prefer that others do the hard work of enforcement, recent research has found. Scientists often study cooperation and punishment by having participants play one-on-one investment games in which each player chooses how much money to pony up in a joint investment, without knowing up front how much the other person will contribute. If both contribute a lot, they maximize their profits. If one snubs the other’s contribution, or “defects,” he or she is guaranteed a good profit and the other gets nothing.
Researchers adjust the costs and benefits of this game, as well as the number of times people play each other. And often another feature is added: an option to punish the other person, say, by spending a dollar to dock his or her earnings by two dollars.
In a series of such experiments, Jeffrey P. Carpenter and Peter Hans Matthews, economists at Middlebury College in Vermont, have found that depending on the costs of imposing penalties and the circumstances, 10 to 40 percent of people will act on their referee instincts.
“The urge to punish seems very strong,” Dr. Carpenter said. “Some people will spend money to punish even if it has no effect on them — if they’re watching players in another game and can penalize people. They’re inequality averse, it seems.” The researchers have found similar results across several cultures, including in Japan and Southeast Asia.
The conscious psychological motive for this behavior, regardless of its effect, is typically not deterrence but what some psychologists call just-desserts retribution. In a landmark 2002 study, psychologists at Princeton University had more than 1,000 participants evaluate vignettes describing various crimes and misdemeanors, and give sentencing recommendations. The psychologists found that people very carefully tailored their recommended sentences to the details of the infraction, its brutality and the record of the perpetrator. That is, people valued punishment for its own sake, as a measured consequence for behavior, not as a deterrent.
In a study published last year, University of Pennsylvania psychologists demonstrated how easy it was to influence how often, or how intensely, people acted on such urges to punish. The researchers had students participate in several variations of the investment game. Afterward, another group of students entered the laboratory, examined the results of earlier games and had the option to punish players who they thought deserved it.
A striking pattern emerged among these judges. When allowed to mete out their punishments anonymously, they docked players’ earnings very little — about one dollar on average, or 10 percent of the allowed maximum. But when being watched by the researchers and other participants, the judges’ fines tripled in value. “This suggests that when given the opportunity to punish third parties, people don’t do it much,” said Robert Kurzban, who conducted the study with Peter DeScioli and Erin O’Brien. “They may be happy to see others do it, but they don’t like to do it themselves.”
The sense of betrayal Americans feel toward Wall Street, and the financial tumult’s effects on 401(k) accounts and small businesses, has certainly made many people less laissez-faire in their attitudes toward punishment, Dr. Kurzban said. And there is nothing anonymous about the debates over the economic rescue plan, whether in Congress or at the water cooler: people are stating their views to an audience, and the collective fairness instinct is stoked to high heat.
Fortunately for the economy, researchers say, a strong countervailing psychological force is also at work: the instinct to forgive, and to cooperate. Punishments are balanced by peace offerings, and in fact researchers have come close to calculating the rough ratio most people employ.
Running thousands of computer variations of the investment game, scientists have found that the strategies that pay off the most are tipped toward cooperation.
One of the most successful strategies is the simplest one: tit for tat. With this strategy the player, or computer program, cooperates up front, and continues to do so, as long as its partner does the same. If the partner defects, so does tit for tat. Another strategy, called generous tit for tat, also thrives in some conditions, by offering unconditional forgiveness about a third of the time.
Yet another, called firm but fair, does well using a strategy that cooperates up front, retaliates against defectors, but returns quickly to cooperation with the same partner, a pattern Dr. McCullough describes as “nice, vindictive, willing to let bygones be bygones.”
The upshot of all this, researchers say, is that human beings prefer cooperation, both in their individual makeup and in the makeup of their social groups. In a recent study, Dr. McCullough found that the urge for revenge against personal betrayals erodes in the same way some kinds of memory do: sharply in the first few weeks, slowly thereafter.
“The forgiveness instinct is every bit as wired in as the revenge instinct,” he said. “It seems that our minds work very hard to get away from resentment, if we can.”
Not that people are ready to give Bear Stearns a bear hug. But with time, they might be ready to let all the bears and bulls extract their feet from the traps they set. And then to watch, as Ms. Fishel did, until the authorities arrive to impose some discipline.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-10-07 06:52
The pragmatist in me thinks there is nothing to be gained from throwing out possibilities for Metropolitan other than His Eminence, Archbishop JOB. I believe there is no other current member of the Synod of Bishops that would be able to generate the conciliation required for a Metropolitan elected by the people and the clergy of North America.
If we fail to instruct our delegates to put Archbishop JOB's name in every available opportunity, and put no other name on the ballot, then I humbly suggest we've learned nothing from this crisis. The synod will, again, be in the position of deciding for us, concensus be damned.
The best we can do both for the Church and for the cause of Christ in North America is to recognize Archbishop JOB as the Metropolitan, and focus our attention on finding good and holy men to fill our current vacant diocesan sees. The rest is in God's hands.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#7 Marty Watt on 2008-10-07 10:33
There have been calls on this web site that we "must" have 2/3 of the vote on the first ballot so as to elect Archbishop Job as Metropolitan. What if it really is not the will of many well-meaning delegates (at least, less than 2/3) to have Abp. Job as Metropolitan? We need to leave more room for discussion and debate at this early stage.
The suggestion for Bp. Hilarion seems a worthy one. I would appreciate hearing more discussion of other candidates that are closer to home, too. E.g.,
Fr. Alexander Golitsyn
Fr. Michael Dahulich
.. and perhaps others?
#8 A Delegate on 2008-10-07 22:29
With all due respect; Fr. Dahulich is ...has a very authoritarian nature. He does not like to be questioned, challenged, or criticized. Let him stay at St. Tikhon's
#8.1 AnonAlum(St.T's) on 2008-10-11 22:39
"Lastly, if in the nearly 40 years since sutocephaly, the OCA has not produced one acceptable, eligible, home grown "American" candidate for the Metropolitan's position, isn't it reasonable to wonder if the OCA should continue to be an autocephalous Church?"
That's THE question isn't it?! I couldn't agree more.
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
(editor's note: The answer to your question is simple. The OCA has produced several "homegrown" candidates worthy and able to fill the Metropolitan's hat; we just haven't been able to elect them. The real question, therefore, is a different one: How can we get one of these men elected instead of the one's we always seem to end up with...?)
#9 Fr. Pius on 2008-10-08 05:35
The editor is correct. The OCA has had homegrown candidates. + Theodosius was homegrown and so was + Herman. You may be referring to a lack of abundant homegrown candidates. This is a question of celibates. All the more reason to turn to the married episcopate.
Using your poor argument to question autocephaly is ridiculous!
#9.1 Anonymous on 2008-10-08 09:41
Mark's editorial comment is spot on. Having lived in the US and having been active in the Church there, I could identify several worthy candidates, and that's based on experiences over ten years ago. I am sure further quality candidates exist.
Sub-optimal (and this may be a euphemism!) men have been elevated to the episcopacy as a result of a lack of interest, a lack of concern, and rather low expectations on the part of the bishops, clergy and laity. To quote a very senior priest's cynical view years back, "This diocese needs no bishop, and bishop so and so is the closest we could find to fit that need."
There is insufficient time to screen and know all the possible candidates between now and the AAC. You need a 2/3 majority on the first ballot to avoid turning the selection over to the Synod, which has failed you twice before. Elect +Job. He is a man of his word, and wishes to retire in three years. That provides three years to identify the best candidates to succeed him. And, in that process, the best candidates for the various diocesan sees can also be identified. It is not just the Met's position that needs invigoration.
#9.2 Overseas Observer on 2008-10-09 04:35
Boss Tweed and his corrupt Tweed Ring who managed to steal 100 million from the coffers of the City of New York, once said *An honest politician is one that stays bought once bought*.
By the same token, but with no sarcasm, an honest bishop is one who is bought by the blood of Christ who stays bought once bought. It seems Archbishop Job is the only one who fits the bill, because of his truthful repentance the blood of Christ has washed him clean to unquestionably reveal Christ's ownership of him.
A deacon of honesty integrtity and principle should be assigned to help him as Met (this is the way it was done in the early Church) to be his eyes, his ears, his hands and so on.
This would be his strength for the next 3 years and the strength of the Holy Synod and the Church as well.
#9.2.1 Ever and anon. on 2008-10-09 08:53
Bishop Job & the clergy of the Midwest should be congratulated on fighting this battle with courage and determination. However, winning the peace will require an entirely different skill set. Let's look for an hieromonk who has been in charge of an OCA parish for 10 plus years and who understands the needs of parishes. What we don't need is some high profile philosopher or world-traveller.
#10 justin on 2008-10-13 08:49
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