Wednesday, July 29. 2009
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Re: Financial situations of St. Vlad's and St. Tikhon's
This is very sobering news, but it just underscores the need for Orthodox faithful to support the seminaries in this country. The future of Orthodoxy in America is rooted in the seminaries, in their students and their faculty. Seminaries are not something the Church can just do without, and they depend on donations from the faithful to keep their doors open.
Not to sound like a broken record, but SVS has independent audits posted on its website, so their financial accountability is verifiable. As for St Tikhon's, they were robbed blind by a crooked metropolitan, and their situation will only get worse if people stop supporting them.
It's hard to overcome the suspicion and disillusionment caused by the scandals, but losing any of our seminaries would be a tragedy. The crooks who robbed and raped the OCA didn't care what would happen to the people and institutions they victimized. Cultivating indifference in place of stewardship would only finish the thieves' evil work for them.
#1 Cordelia on 2009-07-29 18:13
Again, it was the monastery that was "robbed blind," not the seminary. It's wonderful that SVS posts independent audits on their website--perhaps STOTS should do the same, especially since we have been audited independently for the last five years.
Please don't associate what happened at the monastery with the school. Or, at least, then associate the blossoming of the Monastery, and its plans to move forward, with a similiar drive at the school as well.
I am proud to be associated with STOTS as a student. It has given me a wonderful formation, inasmuch as I have been able to receive it. I have seen, in my travels through the country with the mission choir, a real love and concern for the seminary, and a willingness to sacrifice in order to support it.
St. Vlad's and St. Tikhon's need each other in order to provide balance, I understand that the hierarchs do not want competing theological visions, but, in a certain sense, this "tension" is part and parcel of the Orthodox way.
#1.1 Alexis on 2009-07-30 11:29
"It's wonderful that SVS posts independent audits on their website--perhaps STOTS should do the same, especially since we have been audited independently for the last five years."
If you look on St Tikhon's Seminary website you will find the audited accounts at http://www.stots.edu/financials.html
#1.1.1 Archimandrite Kyril Jenner on 2009-07-31 13:21
St. Tikhon's does have their audited financial statements posted: http://stots.edu/financials.html
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2009-07-31 15:44
Our prayers go out to our seminaries where our Antiochian students also attend. We are in sorrow today on the passing of Met. Ilyas Kurban (Tripoli, Lebanon) who passed this life after 47 yrs of loving service. A '57 grad of St. Vladimir's he served our St George Church (Boston,MA). He was our Interim Prelate on the passing of Met. Anthony Bashir. Many do not recall (as Englewood would ignore) that he was elected to be Auxilliary to Met. Antony here but the Holy Synod of Antioch chose him for the newly vacant nSee in Tripoli.
Would that he had been our Auxilliary he most probably would have suceeded Met. Anthony (5 yrs later) and we would have a "blessing four fold" these many years! He was non-confrontational born with a quiet, loving but firm demeanor. Our loss indeed compared to the depotic leadership we inherited these many years exemplified in the recent Convention I attended as a delegate from my parish.
Memory Eternal Met. Ilyas, a true spiritual giant, of his time!
#1.2 Anonymous Antiochian on 2009-08-01 12:44
One of the most important things we can do as church is to support those facilities that educate our priests.
I've been to St. Tikhon's once in my life and I encourage everyone here to contribute to the success of this important institution. Repairs and new structure needs are a certainty for a school/monastery. I encourage the institution to budget and provide escrows in their budgeting for future repairs and building efforts.
I will do my best to put my money where my mouth is as well.
The institution MUST be auditable and audited after all the problems perceived or otherwise.
I think the only reason for mortgages is lack of funding and I'd like to be wrong, but I know I haven't personally contributed and really need to start..
..my two cents worth
#2 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-07-29 20:42
All sentimentality aside, has anyone asked why a church of less than 30,000 active members is trying to run 3 full-time seminaries?
And why is an STS/SVS merger such a bad thing when these two seminaries are barely a 3-hour drive apart?
Priest Christopher Wojcik
#3 Priest Christopher Wojcik on 2009-07-30 10:42
Less than 30,000? Are you accounting for the Antiochians as well? And the Malankars? And random Serbs and ROCOR students who want to study in English?
#3.1 Alexis on 2009-07-31 13:45
Sometimes, Fr. Chris, people just can't see the forest for the trees. btw, there is an old military term called "to defeat in detail." Most people know it by the more popular term "divide and conquer." No matter whether it be the 3 seminaries or the various jurisdictions, the devil is doing exactly that.
#3.2 Michael Strelka on 2009-07-31 19:04
A fair question.
If the seminaries are supported well enough, why not have 2?
If they aren't supported well enough, why not?
#3.3 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-07-31 20:04
Yes! The seminaries need money. But, they need unrestricted funds. That is, they need donations that aren't ear-marked for specific uses. The seminaries need donations that can be used for whatever the seminary needs at the time. Part of the problem is that there has been money donated to the seminaries, but the money can only be used for specific purposes (and since the seminary has--or thinks it has-- no need for these specific purposes, the money sits there and can't be touched).
#4 Seraphim on 2009-07-30 11:57
care to expound on your open ended comment?
What restrictions have been emposed by benefactors?
#4.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2009-07-31 19:36
Your comment seems to me deal with two problems, one explicitly stated and one implied. The explicitly stated problem is the continuing need of our seminaries for funds. The implied problem is the lack of trust by potential donors that the seminaries, particularly STOTS and SVOTS, will use the funds appropriately, or in words, a significant number of donors have seen the seminaries abrogate their responsibilities to stand up for Truth and correct Orthodox ecclesiology throughout the recent OCA scandals.
One partial answer to the first, the explicit problem involves more (read "improved") communications from the seminaries concerning their needs, both immediate and longer term. The seminaries, it seems to me, need to make more effctive use of the Internet-based communications technologies available. In particular, the seminaries should cross-post announcements of information, including progress and financial reports, and appeals on the OCA web site.
The efforts to re-establish the broken trust with potential donors would involve at least the following: (1) a public admission by each seminary that the seminary, as an Orthodox institution, did not meet its responsibilities to actively defend the Faith in the recent OCA scandals; (2) a public pledge to the Church to amend its institutional ways, i.e., that starting immediately, the seminary will speak the Truth in any major controversies within the Church; and (3) undertake a review of the ecclesiologies proclaimed to support the positions of Bishop Nikolai and Metropolitan Herman in the recent scandals and make the review publicly available in a timely manner. (A suggestion regarding item 3: the review could be undertaken as a number of theses for Master's degree candidates at the seminaries.)
To publicly put my money where my mouth is, I will pledge a minimum $50 unrestricted donation per month each to SHTS, STOTS, and SVOTS, while I remain employed, if each seminary meets the conditions enumerated above.
#4.2 Mark C. Phinney on 2009-08-01 06:02
$50 x 3 seminaries x 12 months/year = $1800 year IF each seminary agrees to three extremely unlikely conditions.
Perhaps if Mr Phinney really wanted to put his money where his mouth is, he could give that same amount of money where it will do some real good: to the seminaries but restricted to student financial aid, to FOCUS North America, or simply to his own parish or a local food pantry. As it is, this pledge costs him nothing, nor is it likely to, ever.
Which leads me to wonder, how many of the people who pledged money to the church if Metropolitan Herman were removed actually followed up on those gifts?
#4.2.1 John Congdon on 2009-08-03 07:09
Speaking as a professional fundraiser (including five years at SVOTS), I'd like to expand on Seraphim's observation on the need for unrestricted funds.
While it is quite true that unrestricted dollars give an institution greater flexibility, it is also true -- and much more important -- that a restricted gift often will be of greater meaning to the donor and therefore of a greater amount. For example, at the institution where I now work, a donor who had given small regular amounts for years has decided to include us in his will for a seven-figure bequest to establish a professorship in his particular field. If we were to insist that this bequest be unrestricted, the chances that we would receive it are exactly zero.
The problem lies in striking a balance between donors' philanthropic desires and the institution's needs. A gift that is restricted to something the institution is (or should be) doing anyway (such as financial aid, repairing faculty housing, or buying library software) is not a problem.
Where things get complicated is when a donor insists on making a gift for something the institution isn't and/or shouldn't be doing or if the institution gets so desperate for funds that it paints itself into a corner with fund restrictions (such as restricting scholarships to the sons of a particular parish) or accepts restricted gifts in smaller amounts that do not cover the costs of administering the funds while still being of significant benefit to the institution and its students.
So if you want to make a gift to any of our seminaries, think carefully about what you want it to accomplish, what will mean the most to you. If you are simply concerned with their survival or their basic mission, give an unrestricted gift. If there is something they are doing that especially moves you, then give to support that. For example, if you are moved by the sacrifices the students make in uprooting themselves and their families to come and study for the priesthood, then give money for student scholarships. If you are dismayed by the reductions in the SVOTS faculty, then give money for faculty salaries and housing. But if you do give, make it meaningful, both for yourself and for the institution.
One final thought: if you distrust any institution to use your gift as they should, DO NOT GIVE THEM YOUR MONEY!!! Instead, give to an institution that you feel you can trust, especially one that has a proven track record of financial accountability. In this regard, I'd like to make a plug for FOCUS North America (www.focusnorthamerica.org). Not only is their mission valuable and a fulfillment of Christ's command to take care of the needy, but their Executive Director Fr Justin Mathews was a professional fundraiser before going to seminary and is, in my experience and opinion, an honorable and ethical man, and he will make sure that your gifts actually help feed the hungry, care for the sick, and clothe the naked.
#4.3 John Congdon on 2009-08-03 07:02
Since becoming accredited several years ago, the Seminary has had to balance their budget and be financially transparent [if not for the OCA, at least for the accrediting association - if their finances are murky, they would risk their accreditation]. The seminary is not the monastery/bookstore - they are separate entities - though all 3 seem to be in some financial trouble.
#5 Fr. Matthew Jackson on 2009-07-30 16:50
Audited financials from St. Tikhon's are at:
#6 Fr. Matthew Jackson on 2009-07-30 16:51
If Hell freezes over, i'll contribute. This Metropolitan is out of control. Building project, moving Syosset? Selling out? Monasteries everywhere? This is no different than the higher ups at AIG using taxes payers hard earned cash to pay bonuses. This Metropolitan has lost my vote and cooperation. A Monastery in every pot it seems. When will these selfish single men get the point.?The Church is not their play thing, and the mainline laity are to be tossed aside. ....
#7 no name on 2009-07-30 18:50
You don't get to vote for the Metropolitan, no name. Cooperation is up to you, but as long as the man is not doing anything actively evil, why not think about it? "Out of control?" Well, that certainly means a lot coming from yet another anonymous poster, whose only apparent real beef with the Metropolitan is that an authentic monastic supports monasticism. Wow. That's a surprise.
#7.1 Scott Walker on 2009-08-02 15:15
The problem is the lack of $$$ around for anyone. Compound this with the financial scandals and people are reluctant to give to the seminaries or church. When this happens, consolidation is a natural progression. Now, STOTS has lots of property, but is still in "Boonie-Land." SVS is located in a large metro area where institutions of higher learning should be located. So, it's simple! STOTS becomes a larger monastery, clergy retirement center, cemetery and camp/convention center. SVS becomes a larger institution of higher learning.
Why is this so tough for people to see?
#8 Anonymous on 2009-07-31 12:25
The problem is that SVOTS is located in a residential area, next to a lake. It's quite small and is kind of shoehorned into the 'hood. Significant expansion would require a large amount of capital. Go to Zillow.com, type in "575 Scarsdale Rd, Yonkers, NY 10707," and see how much the houses cost.
If you are thinking, why doesn't SVS just sell the joint in Crestwood and move to South Canaan or some place with sane real estate prices, the short answer is that the area benefits from the seminary and the seminary from the area. For one thing, when looking for a job as a seminary wife, it's helpful not to be out in the boondocks.
SVS's present facilities are not overcrowded for the time being, but much of the campus could really use revitalization, and they really could not accept a 50%/100% increase in the student body. Merging STS into SVS would mean that the combined school would not be able to educate as many seminarians as the two schools are presently able to educate under the status quo.
#8.1 Cordelia on 2009-08-03 21:27
Cheer: Met. Jonah for having the bravery to publicly suggest closing St. Tikhons, or merging it with its more theologically astute sister, St. Vladimir's. This takes real bravery and bold vision, especially as it serves to alienate the kitsch-loving pious pilgrims who populate the larger part of his zealous fan club.
Jeer: Met. Jonah for continuing Herman's authoritarian administrative policies. After unilaterally appointing an Acting Treasurer (the purview of the MC) he unilaterally created the STIC, unilaterally populated it, and unilaterally gave it its charter, as Bp. Nikon admits when he says "The responsibilities of the committee was [sic] determined by His Beatitude in a letter to the committee on July 2nd." Where in the Statute is the Metropolitan given these powers? Whether you agree with Met. Jonah's actions or not, this is clearly the wrong way to go about them.
Cheer: Valerie Yova for having the courage and insight to write such a thoughtful piece abut the Romanian 'reconciliation.' I was particularly inspired when she wrote that the OCA already had valid autocephaly, it just needed to own it. Indeed! (Nota bene: owning our autocephaly is different from derisively telling the Patriarch of Constantinople to stuff it.)
Jeer: News that Fr. Michael Dahulich is on the "inside track" to become the next Bishop of New York and New Jersey. This is the second time this has been reported. If this is indeed the case (that there is an inside track or officially-endorsed candidate from *Syosset*) then this is really a repulsive affront to the conciliar approach to episcopal elections that the OCA is supposed to be using. I guess we could just give up and follow the Antiochian model?
Jeer: Syosset for having languished in the delivery of the minutes of the most recent Holy Synod meeting 118 days ago, the details of the conference call reconstituting the Diocese of NY & NJ, which were described as "forthcoming shortly" 28 days ago, any news about the consecration of Bishop-elect Irenee Rochon announced 118 days ago, etc., etc., the list goes on and on. The website continues to disappoint, as there is still no place to go to download Minutes or Agendas from MC or SOB meetings. There appears to have only been 1 photographable event in the OCA during the month of July. The search function hasn't been working for some time now. Navigating the site is difficult and confusing; a particularly bad example can be found at: http://www.oca.org/DOCIndex.html As a full-time employee, if I appeared to be this unproductive, I would get sacked fast.
Cheer: St. Tikhon's Monastery for its push towards financial accountability. Its plans to clean house, raise capital, and expand are inspiring, and a breath of fresh air and vision that St. Tikhon's, and the OCA as a whole, sorely need.
Jeer/Rant: New World Byzantine Architects for their pathetic design for a new monastery, and St. Tikhon's Monastery for going ahead with it. It is sloppy, it is regressive, it is poorly imagined, and it is devoid of any innovative grace. It seemingly kitbashes elements from 'anything old' and clumsily pastes them together into an incoherent whole.
And what is that huge fortified mediaeval wall for? To keep the Vikings out? No. To keep visitors out? I hope not. To keep the symbolic World out? Is that really what our monks should be going? Is this the best image of our church's mission in a 21st century world? I defer to any one of OCANews' monastic gadflies who seem to spend plenty of time outside their monastery's walls here in the 'virtual world.' While some will dismiss my concerns as an as simply not liking the 'aesthetics,' my study of architecture informs me that design is a codification, a tangible manifestation, of ideas. And it's these ideas I take issue with. I will concede this, however: as much as I loathe the design, it probably will be better than the sad mess that is St. Tikhon's architecture currently.
To add insult to injury, it seems the architect, Andrew Gould, has simply reshuffled the same bag of tricks he has used to design what now numbers 7 church complexes. On his website, he cites the Mediaeval era as his chief influence, and says that he aims to design a church "to feel as if it had evolved organically long ago, an expression of American Orthodoxy as it might have been." Mediaeval era?! American Orthodoxy as it might have been?! Am I to believe that these are the values we as American Orthodox hold dear? The intellectual dark ages, and a preposterous, imagined "American Orthodoxy that might have been" which disavows the historical reality of the actual American Orthodox situation? Even the firm's name is an insulting mess: "New World Byzantine." So what, is it Byzantine? Is it mediaeval? (While the Byzantine Empire's height was contemporaneous with the Dark Ages, the OED says that "mediaeval" connotes the artistic and intellectual tradition of western Europe during that period) Is it in dialogue with the intervening 1,000 years of artistic and intellectual development? (Ignoring a few patronizing references to consideration of an "American vernacular" it would seem that Gould's answer to the last question should be a resounding no.)
The saddest part is that Gould seems to be well on his way to his stated goal of "guiding the Orthodox churches of this country to develop an architecture of their own." At 7 church complexes, I think Gould is the most prodigious architect of Orthodox temples in the US. (How many churches has Archpriest Alexis Vinogradov designed?) Many parishes seem to have bought into Gould's vision. But I, for one, am really concerned about where he's taking us. His product is proof that he's betrayed his education at UPenn's architecture department. I can't help but feel like he's betraying the legacy of architecture (specifically Orthodox liturgical art and architecture) too.
Cheer: Mark Stokoe for delivering some reporting on the OCA again. Watching the crisis in the Antiochian Church is unsettlingly depressing, so it was somewhat comforting to get depressed by one's own Church once again.
Jeer: *The Internet*, for making it so difficult to access OCANews these past few days. Perhaps a DoS attack from All-Caps Guy?
#9 Anonymous on 2009-07-31 17:49
If All Caps Anonymous Guy can't manage to operate the shift key, it's likely that a DOS attack is also beyond his capabilities. My vote is for the shadowy "Admin" over at the illiterate raving looney web site.
#9.1 Scott Walker on 2009-08-02 15:20
It is difficult for me to see where truth stops and where rhetoric moves in in all this sort of writing. I received phenomenal formation at St Tikhon's, and nothing against St Vlad's (for I love that school too), but I needed the course I got. I am not about to cast aspersions about anyone here.
The real problem is that the Evil One is really pounding away at the Orthodox Church and her jurisdictions in the world and here in America. It is possible that the enemy is using this site to foster division and hostility, all the while claiming the need for 'accountability and transparency.' While the facts are that there is some serious stuff that has taken place, to look for scapegoats over and over is not, in my opinion, acting as Christians should. All of us can fall into the deepest sin at any moment, and God only knows I usually find myself there, or tempted to be there. Pointing fingers at Met. Herman, or Met. Philip or Met. Whoever and all that all to often looks to me like an attempt to take out the hierarchy at any cost, simply because they are the hierarchy. This is acting, not in Orthodox tradition, but in good modern American tradition, which is to blame, blame and blame, instead of to take personal responsibility and repent for my own sins, and to pray fervently and with tears for those around me.
The Devil hates us all. Let's try not to forget this. It saddens me a great deal to see the Church I loved so much as to leave everything in life behind to join Her and serve its Master, to be reduced to so many bitter angry people.
I have been that way too in my own Church life, about such things as parish councils, and people who know nothing about Orthodox theology and yet run Orthodox parishes. But, all the time I spent being bitter at them was time wasted. They might change with love and prayer, by the grace of God. They will NEVER change by my angry blaming and self-serving efforts. That's what I have learned. I have too many sins of my own that are so worthy of blame!!
God bless His Holy Church!!
#10 a Reader in the Orthodox Church on 2009-07-31 19:57
It cannot be understated how important these seminaries are to Orthodoxy in not only America but the world. They are real jewels, that yes have their problems, but are desperately needed. I was recently at SVOS for the graduation of my Godson and was sadden to see the straights the school is in, due to the enormous economic downturn. Like every private educational institution, they have suffered greatly in the past year due to loss of endowment revenue. The faculty and staff have taken pay cuts and as was stated several wonderful faculty have had to be let go. It is critical that both schools receive our support. On the optimistic side, this could be an opportunity to reenvision how their missions and organization, so that they will be stronger in the future.
#11 Rick Wagner on 2009-07-31 22:53
I can't speak to the other seminaries, but one area where St Vladimir's could certainly improve would be in making an institutional commitment to attracting and retaining a professional fundraising staff. At present, their hiring policy in this area is, in effect, to hire unqualified or minimally qualified staff who will only stay until they have sufficient experience to qualify for a real job somewhere else. Unless the Board of Trustees is willing to approve competitive salaries for qualified and competent fundraisers, this pattern will not change.
And don't cry about the current economic downturn: this pattern goes back for years, and I can think of at least half a dozen former SVOTS fundraisers who now work for colleges, schools, and other nonprofits who are willing to pay them living wages, even in New York City.
#11.1 John Congdon on 2009-08-03 07:23
Another comment - I have said earlier that the real enemy is the Enemy of our souls. I stick by that, but I also need to make a couple points about America and Orthodox Ecclesiology.
The United States is my country, I live here, and was born here, and have known no life in any country but here. That being said, I have noticed in my lifetime a shift from a social ethos of personal responsibility and respect for law and order, to what is now a sort of juvenile rebellion against any authority. When it is authority in the Church, the rebellion is worse. Somehow we Americans have acquired the idea that in the Church there should be NO authority (though at least some people would say Jesus Christ should be the only one.) And then, as we see often displayed here, we see all sorts of allegations, accusations, general anger and resentment over the people who lead the Orthodox Church, whether in America or Antioch or wherever.
How anyone who considers themselves to be studied Orthodox Christians and yet has this sort of attitude towards the ecclesiological structure of the Church reconciles these two ideas is a mystery to me. Metropolitan Jonah went very far in his efforts towards recognizing the need to understand that hierarchs are not perfect, when he said over and over, "authority is accountability" (if I am not mistaken.) What that means is that a hierarch is not a dictator. That is true. But a Hierarch is also a shepherd of the flock, and he is responsible to look ahead, behind and all around his flock to keep them safe from the wolves. The sheep themselves are not always aware of the dangers they are surrounded by. Quite frankly, most of them (us, the laity) are not educated enough in the fields of theology, psychology, history, architecture, music and every other subject pertinent to Church life. And for us to act like we're instant experts and know more than the people who have been specifically formed and trained, not to mention CALLED by our Lord to lead is simply reprehensible nonsense. (there I go offending someone probably!)
This is not to say that all hierarchs are right all the time. That's silly, because they aren't right all the time. But they usually are right most of the time, unless they are knocked astray by ego and self-centeredness.
Now, it is possibly true that some of the contexts in which we as Orthodox Christians have lived in this country for the last 100 years or so, and the contexts they have lived in in many places througout the world, are involved in some of the things we are trying to move past here, now.
For centuries, Orthodox Christians have been rather insular, and their various nationalities were usually overrun with people trying to get them to be something else other than Orthodox Christian, like Catholic, or Muslim. That being said, it is easy to understand why the generations of Orthodox immigrants that came here didn't evangelize much at all. They didn't even pass the Faith on to their own children and grandchildren in many cases - look at all our mostly empty parishes for your proof of this!!
This is a serious error in not following the Great Commission, to carry the Gospel to all nations. I think we are at the threshold, maybe even across the threshold, of becoming an evangelical Church, AS WE WERE IN THE BEGINNING!
But there is so much work to be done. This, though cannot be confused with the American rebellion against authority. Rather, to be an Orthodox Christian in this country, and to successfully be a witness to the faith, we need to trust and follow the lead of our authorities, the Bishops and Priests, who have been ordained by God to lead us. We should have honest authorities, but as sheep, we also need to tend to our own business of repentance. It is not the priest's fault solely that the parishes are shrinking and dying all over the place. It is ours, because we don't appreciate the gift of Orthodox Christianity for what it truly is, and we don't want to do what the Lord has asked of us. Instead, we do more productive things like go on this website to blast the bishop who we think deserves it the most today. This is shameful, and not at all what Christ has commanded us to do. Check your New Testament and even your old Testament for how people dealt with ecclesiology. For the best example, check Acts, at the beginning when Peter is talking to the other Eleven about replacing Judas. Note the lack of anger at Judas. And we have the gall to go pounding away like we do? What gives us a right that the Apostles rejected?
Last comment - some of these attitudes, I know are actually part of the greatness of Orthodox Christianity. We squabble. That seems to be a feature of our faith and it is most often for the benefit of everyone, because at least we can be honest about what we think - that's how we learn where we're wrong, and how to change. Theology is not easy - it takes lots of prayer, and lots of self-honesty and humility to even begin to understand what our faith is truly all about.
But here is a thought - I was disturbed by the comment that St Vlad's was the "more theologically astute" seminary of the two (St Tikhon's being the other.) My understanding may be incorrect, but there have been reports of some problems in the area of theological instruction at St Vladimir's which apparently is why they are trying to recruit very conservative professors and instructors from St Tikhon's. Again, no bad vibes to St Vladimir's Seminary - I love that school, and always enjoyed my visits there. But this is what I am hearing, and I think it is true. May God bless all our Seminaries to have sound doctrine and solid spiritual formation.
The other thing is the criticisms about the new monastery designs at St Tikhon's, and the question of whether or not monks should be so far away from the world as they would be here. Although there are urban Orthodox monasteries, the main premise of monasteries is for those who go to them to remove themselves from the distractions of the world, so they can listen to their own hearts, and to God and hear His will for them a bit more clearly. Throughout history, people have fled to the deserts for this very reason. The 21st century has only become more cacophonous, and it seems that the need for silence is now stronger than ever, and that is why the monasteries are usually out of town. Way our of town in some cases.
And the architecture is very Greek. In fact, it looks Athonite. Architecture matters in Orthodoxy. It would be better if we were all studied in Church art and architecture before we go criticising designs as though we were experts. Such behavior, quite frankly, only reveals such stunning ingorance, as I had about many thing when I became Orthodox, and as I am sure I still have about many things now. But, I am teachable. I pray all of us could be. Please forgive me.
#12 a Reader in the Orthodox Church on 2009-08-03 06:23
The architecture has more in common with Carolingian architecture than what you come describe as "Athonite." Architecture does indeed matter in Orthodoxy, which is why I am disturbed by the design, and the architects.
I consider myself well-qualified to speak on architecture and art, and while I don't feel the need to present my credentials, I find it ever so charming you assume I am ignorant simply because I am delivering negative criticism.
It's time for our Church to stop patronizing bad architecture. And before that can happen, we need to educate the faithful, so that people (such as yourself) aren't stuck in the belief that 16th century Russian or Greek architecture is the only valid Orthodox architecture.
What is heterodox about this design is that throughout history, true Orthodox architecture has adapted to its culture and context. We don't need a badly-done replica of an 11th century monastery, do we?
#12.1 Anonymous on 2009-08-03 14:03
Why do people say that St.Tikhons is in the "Boonies". It is minutes away from Interstates 380,84 and 81. Two hours from NYC,twon and a half from Phila. An international Airport 20-30 minutes away...not counting Binghampton,Kennedy,Allantown,Harrisburg,Trenton. There is the Unviversity of Scranton.Wilkes University,Campus of Penn State. It follows the Tradition of being connected to a Monastery. The students are not tempted by "big City life"...and why does a Seminary have to be in a large Metropolitan area? In Russia,cities grew up around Monasteries and not the other way around. St.Tikhons is an accredited institution,financially stable,Professors with Phds who are translators and have written books,has an enrollment of at least 100 students.Over the years has graduated more than 300 students...mostly Metropolia and OCA.So it has reall served the Amerrican Church. It is highly regarded and does bnot take a back seat to any other Seminary. St.Vladimirs is also an excellent school and respected. If all certain people have to do is criticize St.Tikhons which is the Center of Orthodoxy in America (what better place ot have a Seminary?)then they must have a dull life. Lets support all our schools.
#13 Anon on 2009-08-03 12:51
"Why do people say that St.Tikhons is in the "Boonies". It is minutes away from Interstates 380,84 and 81. Two hours from NYC,twon and a half from Phila. An international Airport 20-30 minutes away...not counting Binghampton,Kennedy,Allantown,Harrisburg,Trenton. There is the Unviversity of Scranton.Wilkes University,Campus of Penn State"
Yep, this is "Big Time." It's in the "boonies." A great place for solitude and a monastery; not a great place for higher education! Higher education should be where other higher education institutions exist with their libraries and resources. S. Cannan is a joke - it's a monastery and retirement area! Don't say "TRADITIONAL" seminary - that's not true. Institutions of "TRUE" higher-learning are in major metro areas!
#13.1 Anonymous on 2009-08-03 16:29
I attend an Antiochian mission, not the OCA (may we become one!), but I have an unschooled interest in church architecture.
A brief look at the plans does not shock and horrify me. Is it the most imaginative design one could think of? Perhaps not. But it seems serviceable, and the spiritual life and works are the test in the end.
I am reminded of "Parkinson's Law", though:
"Chapter four is perhaps the most fascinating and devastatingly accurate one in the book. The hypothesis is that whenever an organization builds a fancy new headquarters, its time is up." Too simple, perhaps, but one can find applications throughout our society.
"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go.
"Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."
Forgive me, a sinner.
#14 David Tikhon on 2009-08-04 09:14
>>I attend an Antiochian mission, not the OCA (may we become one!)
I love this You all should abbreviate this to MWBO and add it in all your discussions on the jurisdictional developments in America - something like the Muslims do when they mention their prophet
#14.1 Thomas on 2009-08-06 04:07
I really LIKE the proposed architectural plan for Saint Tikhon's monastery. I think it's beautiful, historical, and full of character. It reminds me a lot of the Rila Monastery in the mountains of Bulgaria. I really like the gate too. That gives it a very Athonite look. And the wall surrounding it reminds me of Suzdal, Russia. I think the architect did a remarkably good job.
#15 Tikhon Griffin on 2009-08-06 06:00
S.Canaan and St.Tikhons is not a "joke". Its an accredited institution and has access to the resources of higher learning institutions. It is not necessary for a Seminary to be in a Metropolitan area. The fact of the matter is that both Seminaries are needed and have served and will continue to serve the Church.........
#16 anon on 2009-08-06 15:48
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