Thursday, September 3. 2009
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Fr. George says
"There is a popular but fairly shallow idea in circulation that “free speech” in the United States is a universal and virtually absolute right"
Fr. George you have to be kidding? Free speech is most certainly a constitutional right no matter how reprehensible or irresponsible you personally find it. I have not heard anyone advocating the overthrow of our governement or putting anyone in personal mortal danger so your point is...well stupid. Sorry just another example of free speech. Constitutionally based of course.
You have unfortunately done nothing other than show your shallow understanding of this basic American right to self expression and dissent.
Having begun your own free speech with this insulting and ignorant statement I now express my Constitutional right to say. You sir do not have a rudimentary Constitutional clue.
You may indeed have some good insights on responsible speech and conduct in the household of God but starting your missive off with a blatant lie makes your suceeding points, pointless.
Well to be honest I didn't think any of your post made much sense.
#1 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-09-03 18:23
You rather missed Fr. George's point. "Freedom of speech" is constitutionally guaranteed, but not as an absolute and unlimited right. Fr. George's example of "fighting words" is one legal exception to and legal limit on that right. Another is (attributed, I believe, to Mr. Justice Holmes) that freedom of speech does not include the right to falsely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, thus creating panic and putting others' lives needlessly at risk. Other legally-recognized limits to free speech are the laws against slander and libel. The adolescent dream of an absolute and unfettered right to much of anything is a legal and constitutional impossibility, because what one says and does always has an impact on other people, affecting their rights. Supreme Court decisions frequently have to struggle with balancing one person's constitutional rights against the constitutional rights of another person. Like it or not, that is the law.
Moreoever, you miss the Christian moral point that freedom of any sort is not the same thing at all as license. For the Christian, true freedom lies, not in doing whatever I please (because to some degree that always involves slavery to self-will and the passions), but in doing whatever I ought. And certainly there is no such thing as freedom to do what I please without having to take the consequences of my choices. God gives us the gift of free will, because it is impossible genuinely to love without a free ability to choose to love; but God also holds us accountable for how we exercise that free will. Thus, "freedom" to sin is no real freedom at all, again because it enslaves us to sin, and because it carries with it, as it did for our first parents, dreadfully heavy consequences. The Lord Jesus is very simple and blunt about it when, in Matthew 7:21, He warns that "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." We're free to not do the Father's will; but the consequence of choosing to do so is exclusion from the Kingdom. So not absolute freedom here either, I'm delighted to say.
#1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-09-04 05:59
All I can say Father, is that Father Washburn would be well advised to submit his future comments to you for editing!
#1.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-09-04 07:18
This reflection was a good example of something you should not publish, Mark, if you are to follow the author's opinion. I feel dumber after reading it.
Please keep publishing what people send and let the intelligent and rational sheep figure out who should or should not be followed and/or who should or should not be ignored.
#2 An East Coast Priest on 2009-09-03 20:00
Eh. I’d rather not have the comments area junked up with posts like “You can all go to hell,” and so on.
In fact, I think Fr. George’s category of “fighting words” is not necessary. I propose a simple, and quite low, bar to be met: Every post must contribute to discussion of the article or associated issues. “Stokoe you are stupid if you think anyone believes your lies” doesn’t make it, and neither does “Everyone knows philip is a crook.”
Perhaps Mark could create a lousy-post-junkyard page, and put all the stuff he cuts there. Or not. After all, anyone who wants to post illiterate rants or drive by insults can set up their own blog, where they can flap their spittle-flecked lips to their heart’s content. Meanwhile, the rest of us can talk.
#2.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-06 22:27
I disagree. I think it's helpful for those of us who are concerned with what's going on in the Antiochian Archidiocese to know just what kind of opponents we're dealing with, even if the truth may be very unpleasant. If the poster didn't want his comments distributed elsewhere, he shouldn't have made them publicly.
Moreover, I rather dislike third parties who think they have the right to determine matters like this. The site belongs to Mark Stokoe, who as the proprietor can post what he chooses. This latest article illustrates the core problem facing the Antiochian Archdiocese: that of the man who would be pope.
"There is not a truth existing which I fear or would wish unknown to the entire world." -- Thomas Jefferson
(Editor's note: This site belongs not to Mark Stokoe, but to Orthodox Christians for Accountability. Mark Stokoe is the editor. Posting does not signal agreement or disagreement with a poster's comment - only that we received them and they were a) not facutally incorrect on the basis of the editor's personal knowledge (although they could well be incorrect, if the editor doesn't know it), and b) not just plain offensive, in the sense of a gentleman is one who is never unintentionally rude. I also ocassionally miss some postings due to technical problems, and sometimes I just overlook things as I leaf through the pages of comments - I am all too human, as many of you delight in pointing out. Finally, I do remove things upon request of the posters, for sometimes our fingers get in front of our head.)
#3 Edmund on 2009-09-03 21:22
Fr. George is correct, though, in stating that it would be all too easy to frame “the other side” by submitting obnoxious fake posts. If Mark is finding himself so overwhelmed with hate mail that this fact constitutes an important piece of information in itself, he can always write an article.
Mark: I’m not sure if “Orthodox Christians for Accountability” is incorporated, but if not perhaps you should consider doing so in California, or some other state with anti-SLAPP laws.
#3.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-06 22:34
This is a reasoned letter. I agree that anonymous posting is not good. There are many reasons already stated for that but there is one which could take some heat off of Mark Stokoe. I have heard some say that he is often the anonymous poster. I would hate to think that is the truth, but as long as people post anonymously, I am afraid there are some who will believe this.
(editor's note: Thank you for the concern, which I know is a sincere expression of concern. But it just proves some people will believe anything, and no amount of evidence with sway them from their pre-judgements. It is a classic example of nosos - the absence of reason. Consider:
What would be the reason for me to post anonymously? I have signed editorials that make my opinions clear; as do the choices of stories I report on. Why would I have to resort to anonymity to publish anything? To stir up trouble? Heavens, we have more than enough caused by others! To insult people privately? Why? I anger enough using my name, it seems. To say things I wouldn't say using my name? What haven't I said using my real name?
And once again, while I too discourage anonymity as a rule, one would have to be willfully blind to ignore the many, and repeated, acts of retribution that have been taken against those who disagree with the powers that be, thus justifying some posters masking their true identities. Do you deny that has and is the case? Even the totally innocent are sometimes swept up in the acts of retribution - as was the most recent incident with SVS and STS. (Oh, that's right, it was really all about Byzantine music, wasn't it? How quickly we forget.) As long as this remains the standard of behaviour, anonymity will remain not a symbol, but a reality of the the oppression. Your experience Kh. Cheryl may be different - but do not deny the experience of others.
No, the charge I am making some, or all, of this up is laughable and absurd - and just further evidence of the levels of denial that exist throughout the Church to news and opinions we do not want to hear or deal with. Such is our sad truth.)
#4 Kh. Cheryl Morris on 2009-09-03 22:46
Father George, you are a conservative man. One could say you look for the good in all of us, and this in itself is a good thing. However, shielding people from this kind of comment, pretending it doesn’t exist, for some reason reminds me of something the former metropolitan, Herman said about the missing funds. Something on the order of no one will ever know. This is not more healthy than hearing rough comments. I tend to compare the calm, insightful, and often loving comments of people who are seeking accountability to those who are discouraging the laity of any involvement, not only involvement but a strong desire for them to bury their heads. The often-heard rages that many have vented compared to a hope that somehow the truth will be shared by all so that healing may take place. Is this too much to ask. NO! This website is not here to pick a fight with anyone. It is a format for building up the church. Those who are angered and offended and feel guilty about topics brought up should be asking themselves why they are so passionate. There is nothing here that should be kept a secret. You seem to continually want to give the enablers the benefit of the doubt as if there is some hidden schema which the greater share of us cannot grasp, and so we should step aside, cover our ears, bow properly, and worship in unison, not unity. Well anyway, keep up your good works, and keep contributing because your comments are calming, insightful, and loving, but remember constructive criticism is after all, constructive. Thank you!
#5 Looking for Humility on 2009-09-03 23:09
If you look carefully immediately after that "go to hell" post I posted a clear and pastoral rebuke of that post. I did not personally attack the poster as 21.2 (Scott Walker) did, I simply disregarded it as inflammatory and moved on to the discussion. Nor did I blame Mark for allowing it, or launch into a diatribe on free speech or the constitution. It was as I said "un-Christian and un-constructive." Once said I moved on to the real issues facing the Church.
Your present editorial while not necessarily un-christian I found to be somewhat soloplsistic and and as far as I am concerned marginally helpful to the discussion.
But regarding freedoms, John Milton in the 17th Century, one of the earliest defenders of freedom of expression, argued that if the facts are laid bare, truth will defeat falsehood in open competition. The applicication of free market principles on speech and truth. For freedom to prevail this cannot be left for a single individual to determine. According to Milton, it is up to each individual to uncover their own truth; no one is wise enough to act as a censor for all individuals. Truth is revealed with humility and courage.
While I did not like the "go to hell" post it is a consequence of freedom, and according to Vladimir Lossky it is the defining characteristic of being created in the image and according to the likeness of God.
Noam Chomsky states that: "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Stalin and Hitler, for example, were dictators in favor of freedom of speech for views they liked only. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."
While I may not think very much of your article I defend your right to publish it and commend Mark for encouraging it, for it is only in open dialog that we have the opportunity to learn and give Truth the opportunity to be revealed.
#6 Delegate #1 on 2009-09-04 05:48
Just for the record, Delegate #1, I did not "personally attack" anybody. I said that if it was me inviting other Christians to go to hell, I would be careful about approaching the chalice until I got my heart right. I have heard this same thought expressed in God knows how many homilies, and it seemed appropriate to the matter at hand, so I borrowed it. Some attack, friend.
Kindly do not accuse me, by name, in a public forum, of something I did not do, especially when you choose to withhold your own name, for whatever reason.
#6.1 Scott Walker on 2009-09-06 15:25
“views you don't like”
If a poster were to propose that agreeing with Met. Philip is a condition of salvation, that would be a view. “Go to hell,” however, is not a view. It’s just an insult. It has about the same place here as a Reflection consisting of “your momma” jokes.
Mark already cuts some posts and excerpts others: and it seems you would have this stop altogether. But not altogether, surely — would you argue that a post consisting of “You people are” followed by four lines of swear-words is worth the pixels it takes to display it? It’s not useful even as a measure of the person posting or of the “side” he is on, since the forum offers no means of verification.
It is an expression of free choice when someone submits such a thing here, and it is an expression of free choice when Mark kills it, and it would also be an expression of free choice for the poster to submit it to one of the several other Orthodox venues available, or simply to create his own.
Fundamentally, though, I agree with you about the virtues of the open market of ideas; and I too am glad Fr. George wrote, and Mark posted, the essay.
#6.2 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-06 23:04
"Go to hell" is not an unsult; it's a curse. And I was raised to judge cursing another as a blasphemous sin. I still think so. "You are a demon!" is an insult. Identifying a thought or idea as equal to excement is harsh language. Damning a person is a curse, and a prerogative of the Creator and Judge.
#6.2.1 Rdr. Tracey on 2009-09-09 12:38
Hmm. “Go to hell” on it’s own, though insulting, is a curse rather than an insult. My mistake. I’m not sure about variants like “He can go to hell” or the one used here, the statement that a certain set of people “should all go to hell where they belong.”
In any event, it’s all sinful—but I think a moderator is better off banning comments on the basis of lack of utility than of sinfulness. The more moral judgements are imposed on a debate about spiritual matters, the more agitated the the debate becomes.
#220.127.116.11 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-10 15:32
An earlier editorial comment from Mark alluded to there being some sort of organization/group "Orthodox Christians for Accountability" that owns this site of which Mark is the editor. Is this true? Is this an open group with open membership? Who are its members?
(Editor's note: There was no allusion: there was a statement of fact. The organization was not formed to compete with other groups, nor attract their members, time, or donations but to accomplish this purpose - and has never solicited funds. I encourage those who wish to be active in the Church to join OCMC, OCF's, FOCUS, OCL, and a host of other worthy Orthodox groups building up the Body.)
#7 Who? on 2009-09-04 06:31
Fr. George said :
"There is a popular but fairly shallow idea in circulation that “free speech” in the United States is a universal and virtually absolute right. One supposedly gets to say anything one wants wherever and whenever one wants, and it is some sort of vile and enslaving interference with man’s God-given and fundamental freedoms to suggest otherwise.
While speech in our society is awfully “free” in at least one sense of the word, there is a well known exception in public policy debates for a kind of speech known as “fighting words.” This is legal shorthand for the kind of communication whose content value is so abysmally low, and whose violence-inciting potential is so high, that a free society will still ban the “speech” because experience teaches that irresponsible people use it to cause damage out of all proportion to any possible good that might accrue from their words. One of the legion of reported court cases that explain and apply this concept is called In re Alejandro G. and can be read at findlaw.com under the citation 37 Cal. App. 4th 44."
I am curious as to how he can use this argument and yet also give the benefit of the doubt to Fr Velencia who sent what only could be considered as private information about a parishioner to 40 people over the internet.
For that matter, how does Fr. George justify his giving the benefit of the doubt to Fr. Karlgut who for all intents and purposes condoned the action, on Syosset's behalf.
There is no gossip or second hand information here. Mark Stokoe himself has reported that he received the email directly from Fr. Velencia a full year before he was elected to the Metropolitan Council. Aside from whether it was proper for all of the Bishops, the Central Administration and the Metropolitan Council at the time to receive the email, what right did Mark have to that information? The email contained very private, confessional, counseling information about the Koumentakos'. It did not address in any fashion the allegations of misconduct that Mrs. Koumentakos reported to Syosset.
What could ever be the justification for the actions of Velencia and the inaction of Syosset? First Amendment rights to freedom of speech? Sadly, thats what the Circuit Court decided when it dismissed the church part of the Koumentakos lawsuit in April (the wrongful termination of Mrs. Koumentakos' employment is still active). This was NOT done based on the merits of the case according to public record. The sole basis was First Amendment rights for the hierarchical church to govern itself, to do what it wants, to say whatever it wants, to protect its clergy and itself.
But pastorally, in the best interest of the Church, what do you say to this Fr. George?
#8 Anonymous on 2009-09-04 07:27
You have an unbelievable amount of chutzpa (pardon my Yiddish) to speak of the "spiritual poverty" of the poster of the "Go to hell" message. What about the spiritual bankruptcy of Metropolitan Philip and his cronies? I guess we must count you among them.
Please stop apologizing for the despicable behavior of the hierarchy of the Archdiocese. What you don't seem to get is that is that your spiritual account with the laity of our great Archdiocese is seriously overdrawn and you have no credit left. We just don't believe you anymore.
Now we want to see the books opened and examine them with our own eyes. All this is really your fault. If you and the rest of the hierarchy had acted with a little less arrogance toward the laity, then none of this would have happened.
So now you should stop attacking Mark for what he publishes. If you don't like what people say, then counter their speech with your own. Do not try to silence by bullying, as your leader does.
By the way, an anonymous message on an internet chat board does not rise to the level "fighting words" because there is no one around to fight with. "Fighting words" cases deal with the circumstances where the words were uttered, usually in a bar when lots of alcohol has been consumed. That is not the case here.
Perhaps you should follow the example of the fathers. When they were insulted, they would consider themselves worthy of the insult and not take offense. Then they would pray to God to reveal in themselves caused the other person to become so offended the hurled an insult. They would never speak of the "spiritual poverty" of the angry person and hurl an insult in return, as you did in your "reflection".
I have yet to see Metropolitan Philip, Bishop Antoun or any other hierarchy / priest exhibit this level of spiritual maturity. Of course they talk about it a lot, but they don't do it. I believe that makes them what Jesus called a "hypocrite".
#9 Joseph on 2009-09-04 07:46
Well said, Joseph, AND the FEAR goes on (ala Kennedy)? Too few fearful to speak up to thye Ant. Bishops. I was in P.Desert, a sham of a "convention" with a day and a half wasted with reports already printed and before us! Why, so as to limit true discussion to a half day (Fri.) dominated by a despot Metropolitan, with indeed, sheep like Board and clergy an delegates. My last Conv. thank you. Waste of time n' money for the fun loving conv. schedule.
#9.1 Anonymous Priest (eastern Diocese) on 2009-09-04 09:09
Some of the Fathers rolled up thier sleeves and knocked thier opponents out with a right hook, lets not romanticize or sentimentalize the Fathers, some of them were rough-and-tumble guys, to say the least...some prayed and some instituted episcopal fight club...such were the things needed to survive in the Byzantine Empire, Ottoman Empire, Egyptian Desert or Roman-Occupied Judea/Israel...
Just keeping it real.
#9.2 Moses on 2009-09-05 12:20
Then they wouldn't go around crying like five year old girls when someone told them to go to hell either...
#9.2.1 Joseph on 2009-09-06 18:42
Absolutely! I think they were made of sturdier stuff, I agree...
#18.104.22.168 Moses on 2009-09-08 13:40
I do appreciate Fr. George's essay, but it does not address the real problem of Mr. Go-To-Hell and Metropolitan PHILIP in general, which is that people who speak in an inflammatory and derogatory manner, from +PHILIP on down to any of his 'friends', are not punished or even the least ashamed of their uncivilized behavior.
On the other hand +PHILIP will punish any form of disagreement even when couched in the most polite and reasoned of terms. I imagine that if Walide Khalife, the Archdiocesan Sergeant-at-Arms, was at the receiving end of one of his tirades, he's run from the building and start rummaging through his trunk for a 'tool'.
That's what Fr. George, as an Antiochian Priest who would more than likely want to keep his ministry, is afraid to say: there is a hypocritical double-standard of speech in the Archdiocese.
This is the real offense of +PHILIP's supporters. They are more than willing to do what they condemn in others. I think most of us have a gut reaction to that kind of hypocrisy. Of course hypocritical speech in not a matter that the U.S. Constitution addresses directly but we do have 'truth in advertising' laws, which I think +PHILIP routinely breaks when he talks about how he understands Americans and is open to Americans, but then turns around and behaves in a distinctly non-American manner.
One American idea +PHILIP and his crew are now getting good at is playing the race card. Didn't you know that threatening people is an Arab racial trait? Of course if convert Americans do it the Church must act to route out such ugliness (/sarcasm). That's just another example of Fr. George's careful dodging of the real problems of the Archdiocese and 'free speech'.
I for one am looking for another place where I will be less likely to have to use my freedom of speech against the hierarchy of the Church. I simply don't want to be part of an Archdiocese where a Metropolitan allows his friends to insult and intimidate without consequences.
I joined the Church not the mafia.
I close by saying that I would never tell +PHILIP to go to hell. Judging by his companions and friends, he's already there. Mr. Go-To-Hell was just looking for more people to convert to +PHILIP's team.
By the way, I want to tell Bishop MARK, Fr. Patrick Reardon and Fr. Michael Molloy... "Go to heaven!" (of course many years from now!)
That includes you too, Mr. Stookey
#10 anonymous on 2009-09-04 08:01
"I joined the Church not the mafia."
Your quote sums up this entire scandal. I think you should put it on a tee shirt -- you'll sell plenty!
#10.1 Joseph on 2009-09-04 13:12
I read your reflection with an open mind, or as much of an open mind as I could, and in the end what I "got" from your message was the feeling you support the "sweep our problems under the rug" to "protect" our weaker brothers argument that many people (including people I know in person) insist is the Christian thing to do in the face of corruption in the Church.
Perhaps that is NOT what you're saying, however that was what I got out of your reflection, but I will re-read it a few more times in the coming days to see if I missed some point your were making.
As for free speech, indeed we cannot yell "fire" in a movie theater, yet despite you connecting this particular post with language that could insight violence, I don't see the connection at all, not even in a spiritual sense. The real problem I see in Orthodox Christians thinking they can say such things, is not "freedom of speech" (which is what makes America America, and something we should all be willing to stand up for as Americans....and trust me, I'm not some super-patriotic Toby Keith super fan, but I find it odd anyone would make arguments against free speech "because we are Christians", that just makes no sense to me considering on of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because He was SAYING a bunch of stuff people didn't like)...anyways, where was I? Oh yes the point is not "free speech" but rather why Christians (Orthodox in particular) feel this is appropriate language in the first place? And sadly, name calling, anathemas, cursing, and vile language is a part of our "tradition" (small t) in the Orthodox Church. All one has to do is read the Church fathers and even some saints who used all sorts of vile cursings and language against those they disagreed with. Granted, those were different times, with different oratorical styles of debate, lots of hyperbole in ancient times which we don't use now, however how many typical Christians are aware of these differences? You're right it's un-Christian to use such language, but is it un-Christian to let people know that their brethren use such language? Only by exposing the darkness to the light can the darkness be overcome. Keeping our "dark" secrets in the dark doesn't do a thing.
You're concerns are legitimate that after reading these types of things it will be harder to reconcile....but speaking from personal experience, I actually think it's EASIER to reconcile once things are put out in the open. And in the case of exposing all, it makes the reconciliation that much stronger because it's TRUE reconciliation, and not something that just feels good because we don't know the whole truth. I personally feel betrayed by the Orthodox Church for not being more upfront about it's many sins and it's utter corruption...and yes, it is HARD to be exposed to that, especially years after the fact of becoming Orthodox, and yet, I'd rather KNOW what is going on and know the truth than be kept in the dark. Did all this challenge my faith? Yes, of course. But in the end, I think, hope and pray the reconciliation will be better than the previous state of ignorant bliss.
Again I may not have gotten your main points, but I just don't think sweeping things under the rug is the right approach. Just my opinion though, I could be totally wrong.
#11 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-09-04 08:06
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.
#12 Nathan Lee lewis on 2009-09-04 09:23
The matter of “free speech” in the Church is a tricky business.
Indeed, I don’t believe I would ever have considered such a thing, except that Metropolitan PHILIP introduced the concept just a few years ago.
The context, if memory serves, was provided by some material which appeared in THE WORD, the official organ of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. (Bear with me if I get some details wrong, as I am writing entirely without notes or written resources at the moment.)
The material published in THE WORD had to do with the recent canonical “autonomy” of the Archdiocese. Some folks in the old country---perhaps churchmen associated with the Holy Synod of Antioch---objected to certain opinions expressed in THE WORD with respect to this “autonomy.”
Metropolitan PHILIP responded to those objections by insisting that Orthodox Christians in this country, unlike those in the Middle East, are accustomed to freedom of speech. Indeed, Sayedna PHILIP declined to impose silence on those who expressed themselves in THE WORD, declaring that such an imposition would violate the political principle of freedom of speech. At the time, I thought his position on this question rather generous.
To my knowledge, the Metropolitan has not spoken this matter recently, so I do not know if his thinking on the subject has evolved. At the time, however, his insistence on freedom of speech as a right in this Archdiocese struck me as rather innovative and bounteous, even bold. To this day, I have not really assimilated the concept of freedom of speech in the Church, because there seems so little explicit support for it in Holy Tradition.
I mention the subject tentatively, because I certainly do not want to misrepresent the views of Metropolitan PHILIP. Perhaps this matter could be addressed by someone with a better memory than I.
#13 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-09-04 10:36
Dear Fr. Patrick,
I think we have a few cases in the Church of freedom of speech... and people dying for it.
Numerous saints were put to death for publicly condemning powerful people. The Prophets were PA systems for God, and suffered greatly. St. John the Baptist was executed for questioning the morality of Herod. St. John Chrysostom was routinely punished for condemning the emperor and his depraved wife. St. Maximos the Confessor lost his tongue for daring to question the 'theology' of the emperor.
Saints have been tortured and died for what they said.
The difference now is that the people have lost confidence in the hierarchy both here and abroad. We see them more as politicians (and rather bad ones at that) than as fathers. Think about it... does anyone see Metropolitan Philip as as 'deeply spiritual' man, or merely a good talker?
Philip is in trouble because we are now paying attention to what he says, and realizing he is unable to hold to any particular line of logic or reason. He isn't afraid to be a hypocrite, and he isn't worried about looking inconsistent.
The only thing he's afraid of what we'll find in an audit.
Keep up the good work, papa.
#13.1 anonymous on 2009-09-04 12:55
Forgot to add the St. Elias. I don't want people to play a guessing game on which church.
#13.1.1 kris, St. Elias Sylvania, Ohio on 2009-09-10 11:15
----This should be changed to 18.3.1-----Also what happened to the rest of the paragraph I sent with this?
#22.214.171.124 Anonymous on 2009-09-10 14:10
Cetainly, we all know that MP comments about freedom of speech was only canon fodder for the patriarchate.
You are very kind in your words Fr Patrick.
On another note Fr George says,
"Sharing power between the Metropolitanate and the Diocesans (in the hostile and ever-shifting landscape of our secular North American media culture and our “unique” Church life) is not an easy thing for the bishops to work out and practice, let alone for us to make constructive contributions to. And much work remains to be done."
What is there to work out?
The canons are clear as to the perogatives of Diocesan Bishops!
The shifting landscape seems to be in the church as MP keeps changing he explanations (lame excuses, How's that for freedom of speech?) for the direction we are going.
How can one follow someone who does not know where he is going himself? (Typical man, refuses to ask for direction!)
Perhaps, if he knew how to be more conciliar AND work with his BROTHER BISHOPS, none of this FREEDOM OF SPEECH would have reached such heated levels, especially by his supporters.
Your comment on ths issue was completely shallow.
We all know that MP cannot give up power, even when he hs demonstrated he is no longer competent to lead.
We all know MP protects his cronies regardless of the diocese.
We all know it is MP who stated "the old ways of doing things will not work here."
His way is certainly NOT WORKING.
Pride will, however, forbid him from changing course.
Finally, I believe the many people have made significant contributions to the understanding of TRUE ORTHODOX ECCLESIOLOGY on this website.
I hope the articles are collected and one day published by CONCILIAR PRESS. (What a novel name for a publisher of this Archdiocese)
#13.2 anonymous on 2009-09-05 05:14
Let us not be distracted. The subject of this reflection amounts to nothing but static noise. I mean no disrespect to Fr. George, but all this is entirely besides the point.
There are very important issues at hand, these cannot be ignored and swept under the rug without consequences.
Stop running interference!!!
Be part of the solution - many innocents are counting on you, dear clergymen.
#14 Robert Fortuin on 2009-09-04 12:18
I must confess bewilderment at posters who do not merely disagree with Fr. George, but take him to task for variously misunderstanding the protection afforded by the American Constitution to freedom of speech (#1) and "apologizing' for Met. +Philip and his supporters and 'attacking' Mark Stokoe (#9).
Fr. George's use of the "fighting words" doctrine was clearly by way of analogy only. He did not question the right of ocanews to report the anonymous "go to hell" comment, nor defend the comment. Rather he questioned Mark Stokoe's editorial judgment in deciding to publish the comment for comment.
In as much as there are many readers of this site who have not ventured into the pro-Metropolitan-Philip fever-swamp of theantiochian.ocom to see the vile invective posted there, I am personally inclined to agree with Mark's editorial judgment here, just as I am inclined to applaud the pseudonymous Delegate #1 for providing the faithful of our Archdiocese (and of the Orthodox world in general) with copies of Walid Khalife's e-mails regarding the Troy controversy. It is well to know what sort of people are opposing financial transparency, and to see that their hearts are not filled with a sense of personal loyalty to Met. +Philip and Fr. Joseph Antypas, which might be thought laudable, but with the sort of vile passions that issue forth in language like the "go to hell" post and Mr. Khalife's invective.
On the other hand, I can see Fr. George's position as well: the post was hardly edifying, and the discussion of it has not been particularly so, and I applaud Mark for publishing it.
#15 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-09-04 17:12
You rather missed Fr. George's point. "Freedom of speech" is constitutionally guaranteed, but not as an absolute and unlimited right. Fr. George's example of "fighting words" is one legal exception to and legal limit on that right. Another is (attributed, I believe, to Mr. Justice Holmes) that freedom of speech does not include the right to falsely yell "Fire!"
Fr. Philip it seems you rather missed my own sentiments in regards to the limitations of this guaranteed right i.e. when I said "I have not heard anyone advocating the overthrow of our governement or putting anyone in personal mortal danger"
Anyway I thought you gave a lovely sermon despite it's condescending overtones.
#16 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-09-04 19:29
I'm curious as to why "go to hell" is seen as hate speech/fighting words, and another of God's children can express his intent to kill a fellow Christian, a Priest, and a Bishop and somehow escape the cross-hairs of the reflection?
Martin D. Watt
#17 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-09-05 08:10
I’d guess that Fr. George doesn’t disagree with Mark publishing that — precisely because it is newsworthy and its origin is verifiable.
#17.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-06 23:15
I will probably sound hypocritical when I write that I agree with Fr. George in that I write this comment anonymously.
I've been reading this site and other Orthodox lists since the beginning of the scandal in the OCA. I think there is a very unfortunate tone to these discussions. I do not attend an Antiochian parish but what I've read here about the behavior of MP, etc. is very distressing. With that said, I am troubled by internet demands for "accountability" and angry posts denouncing our bishops and clergy. The language and the tone is very similar to discussions of politicians, i.e. I don't trust them, they work for me and they need to earn back my trust!
I apologize for not explaining myself articulately. I am not well versed in theology. But I don't think that we as Orthodox Christians should speak in such ways about our bishops. God has placed them in a position of leadership above us and they are accountable to God for their mistakes. We as the laity should pray for them given how much they are accountable to God for.
I can't put my finger on it but going back to the issue with the Greek Metropolitan in the late 1990's there has been a kind of "congregationalism" found in the internet discussions of our bishops. I think that we as Orthodox should always fear "righteous indignation" (and that's what I often sense when I read posts about these scandals). I think the evil one manipulates us into "righteous" when the issue doesn't rise to that level. Many horrible things have been done by people who felt "righteous anger/indignation."
Further, I've found much of the recent online discussions about the OCA to be scandalous. Priests have been discussed by name in public forums where they are there to defend themselves. Most of the commenters have been anonymous or people who are only acquainted with the scandal from the internet. For example, I found the allegations that Fr. Brum was a closet Catholic to be unseemly.
Getting back to Fr. George's point, these discussions are defended as being protected by "free speech." That's a political concept that doesn't apply here. I agree with Fr. George that the idea that we can say whatever we want is adolescent. Rather we should guard our tongues and not use these forums to tear other people down. Someone above wrote that these forums are intended to build the Church. Frankly I don't see how tearing people down is building the Church.
I believe that the people engaged in these discussions are well meaning and think that they are helping the Church which in my opinion, demonstrates how dangerous it is.
(Editor's note: There is not doubt discussion can be dangerous - but is silence any less? If once cannot identify the problem, how can one address it? And these problems are dangerous...)
#18 Anonymous on 2009-09-05 11:00
“Priests have been discussed by name in public forums where they [aren’t] there to defend themselves”
They could be there if they chose. Certainly, if a priest preaches or commits to paper a statement regarding the faith, he should be neither surprised nor offended when the laity use their own judgement to evaluate it. “The defender of the faith,” wrote the Eastern Patriarchs to the Pope in 1848, “is the very Body of the Church; that is, the people, who want their faith kept constantly unvarying and in agreement with the Fathers” [ http://is.gd/2Z2TA ].
“God has placed them in a position of leadership above us and they are accountable to God for their mistakes”
And normally it should be left at that, yes. But not always — for example, in cases of extreme immorality or threats to the faith itself. St. John Chrysostom speaks to this point [ http://is.gd/2Z2b0 ]. Orthodoxy is like that — we have guidelines, normative behaviors, but there are also exceptions. See my post 37.6 in “Philip Blinks” [ http://is.gd/2Z2jB ] for more if you like. Whether current contemporary events have met this bar is a separate matter — I and others are convinced that they have, and you can read the reasons at length on this site.
People who want the Church to function as a democracy do not understand the Church (or, I suspect, democracy). But the Church is not a monarchy, either. And we must not, as we read about keeping our heads down and guarding our tongues, forget that sometimes God calls his servants to other modes of behavior as well. Again, St. John: [ http://is.gd/2Z2yc ]. For everything, there is a season.
#18.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-06 23:58
"God has placed them in a position of leadership above us and they are accountable to God for their mistakes. We as the laity should pray for them given how much they are accountable to God for."
They are not accountable to God alone, nor is prayer our only obligation and course of action.
Since when do audits and calls for accountability constitute "tearing people down"?
#18.2 Robert Fortuin on 2009-09-07 00:52
Wherever did you get the idea that bishops and Priests are "above us"?
The clergy, are our servants, in the same way a shepherd is the servant of the sheep. (Jesus said, "feed my lambs, feed my sheep, not "be above the sheep") Ironically they are only "auxiliary" shepherds at that, for Christ is our one true shepherd.
The clergy are NOT above the laity, they merely have a different role. This outdated medievalist, "high clericalism" theology needs to be let go of once and for all. The problem is, and I know a lot of people who feel the same way you do, but the problem is this thinking leads to people saying things like "Oh he's a priest he's closer to God"...or "the Bishop rules over the Church"....that's why people come to liturgy and then sit there like bumps on a log, because "the priest is praying for us"...WRONG! The priest leads us, he's our worship leader, the minister of the Mysteries of God, but he, nor the cantor, nor the choir is praying in our stead. Nor is he "above us" in anyway. A priest in the Orthodox Church cannot even celebrate the Liturgy without 2 or 3 congregants present. (no private Liturgies just because "he can"...because well, he CAN'T)
As saint Paul wrote, we all have different callings. Some Apostles, some prophets, in our day some priests, some altar servers, some prosfora bakers, some choir members, some are "just" called to pray as part of the "congregation"....but theologically speaking we are ALL part of the congregation. We cannot have a Liturgy without a priest/bishop, nor can a priest have a Liturgy without the laity present. No one is set higher than another, we just have different roles in the body of Christ. But Bishops are not "above" us in the sense that we are poor pathetic slobs who must obey whatever the Bishop says. Church history simply doesn't show this to be the case at all.
Many Bishops were "put above us by God" who turned out to be heretics, or worse. There was a time when speaking out against the Emperor was something no one would ever do because he was "God's shadow on earth"....and other such ideas that we now find absurd.
Look, I'm not pushing "congregationalism" if by that you mean that the Church is not a democracy. I agree. it is NOT a democracy. However as I've often said, the Church is also not a dictatorship. It is a Kingdom and Christ is the King, not the Bishops, Priests, theologians, or the laity. Yes, the Bishops are the teachers of the faith, the guardians of the Apostolic deposit etc...I agree with that whole heartedly. But I don't see a lot of "teaching" going on. I see a lot of politics, and power struggles, and fear tactics going on. The office of the Episcopacy deserves honor, but the office doesn't make the man holding the office holy. And even with their teaching authority, there is historical support for the laity to speak up in the face of heresy and/or corruption. (Iconoclasm being a great example)
In the end were are ALL supposed to serve and worship Christ. The problem I see in all of this is that the Church has simply lost sight of it's mission, that being the Great Commission. If we the Church were out Preaching the Gospel and Loving our neighbors as ourselves we wouldn't have time or even consider the idea of a re-ethnization of the Church, or financial scandals, or lording over the laity, or saying priests are closet Catholics or whatever else. But IMO the cat is out of the bag. We've been sweeping these problems under the rug for far too long. Indeed, I think there is room for more improvement and civility....and there is always a danger of one side or the other saying "they started it"...and I've found myself doing that as well. However as priests and Bishops have said, there is more at stake here than just power and politics....lives and souls are at stake. And sweeping this under the rug for another 100 years is going to cost a lot more than dealing with it now.
Just my take on things....but indeed your call for holding our tongues at least in "tone" and manner is honorable and may gain more traction. But in the end the problems must be dealt with because the Church is starting to lose people over all this....because its not being dealt with, not because it is. And that is horribly sad and scary.
#18.3 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-09-08 08:05
Thank You. Our priest tells our children to stand and kiss his hand when he walkes into the room. What does it teach our children? To go to church and worship the priest? Some where the true meaning of Orothodoxy has been lost. Our church will not let the books be audited. The priest preaches more about the saints and how IMPORTANT ICONS ARE (Since he spends his time writing icons and asking to be paid to replace our icons because he likes his better? (rather then her priestly duties like visiting the sick and elderly). We must spend over $30,000.00 on a swing set then spending the money on the poor. What are we teaching ? Why do you think our kids have to have everything. Not just at home but in our churches we have lost track of what God tells us.
Lets get it all in the open. Is your church teaching your children about God and what is right by the words of the Bible or by the words of our Priests and Bishops and their puppets (The Board members)? Are we teaching our children that to be Orothodox you must lie, cheat, steal, gossip? There is a big difference between gossip and knowing all the true facts.It's ok to talk and share things. But to go on and on about who has done right or wrong with out all the facts to me is just as sinful .
#18.3.1 kris on 2009-09-08 16:46
The name of the church is St. Elias Sylvania Ohio
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2009-09-10 13:29
“Our priest tells our children to stand and kiss his hand when he walkes into the room. What does it teach our children? To go to church and worship the priest?”
Kissing the hand of the priest is an ancient Orthodox tradition. It is supposed to tell the children, and all of us, that the priest’s hands are holy because it is though them that the Eucharistic sacrifice takes place. There is a saying in one of the “Old Countries” that, if you see a priest lying drunk in a ditch, you should go and kiss his hand. The reason is that this custom isn’t about the man — who may be a great sinner — but rather about God and about the wonderful works He has chosen to perform through and with human beings.
A new priest once visited Elder Paisios the Athonite, who was a lay monk. When the elder went to kiss his hand, the young man drew it back — embarrassed, it seems, to receive veneration from someone of such holiness. The elder quickly corrected his perception of events: “If you wanted to have your own hand,” he remarked, “you shouldn’t have become a priest.”
It is a pity that your clergyman has failed to teach the true meaning of this custom.
#188.8.131.52 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-10 15:55
I would state that it is somewhat out of place for the clergyman to demand someone kiss his hand, regardless. Now, it is the place of the godparents, parents, and other laity to encourage the children to kiss the hand of the priest/bishop, and to explain why.
It is the difference between doing something out of love and doing it out of fear or obligation. It is a lesson I would hope our hierarchs would learn. Respect that comes from fear or obligation is nothing but thinly-veiled contempt. It is respect for the office but not the person.
Martin D. Watt
#184.108.40.206.1 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-09-15 14:03
". . .heretics or worse. . ."?
It was said concerning Abba Agathon that some monks came to find him, having heard tell of his great discernment. Wanting to see if he would lose his temper, they said to him, "Aren't you that Agathon who is said to be a fornicator and a proud man?" "Yes, it is very true," he answered. They resumed, "Aren't you that Agathon who is always talking nonsense?" "I am." Again they said, "Aren't you Agathon the heretic?" But at that, he replied, "I am not a heretic." So they asked him, "Tell us why you accepted everything we cast you, but repudiated this last insult." He replied, "The first accusations I take to myself, for that is good for my soul. But heresy is separation from God. Now I have no wish to be separated from God." At this saying they were astonished at his discernment and returned, edified.
#18.3.2 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-09-08 17:49
Could you clarify the intent of your post here? I ran a "find" and the only two places "heretics or worse" appears in this thread/discussion is in MY post, and then a seeming reply to it from you here....yet if you're post was a reply to mine I have absolutely no idea the message you're trying to convey. The only thing I can gather is the idea that there is simply nothing worse than "heresy"....??? (which really wasn't the point of my post anyways so I guess I'm not connecting how your post is a response to my post)
Again I'm only assuming it was in reply to my post since you had the phrase "heresy or worse" in quotes? So if this is the case, could you clarify what it was you mean here? Thanks....
#220.127.116.11 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-09-10 07:56
Heresy can warrant an anathema, other sins are disciplined by deposition, or for laymen excommunication.
#18.104.22.168.1 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-09-11 17:23
On Living Simply XLIV
St. John Chrysostom
"How should the Church be governed? Should the patriarchs act like emperors, issuing decrees which all believers must obey? Should bishops see themselves as local governors, demanding unquestioning submission of the people? Should the clergy be a kind of spiritual army, enforcing the will of the patriarchs and the bishops, and meting out punishment on sinners? The first consideration for the Church is not how to punish sins, but how to prevent sins from being committed... Moreover, each individual is answerable not to a priest, bishop or patriarch, but to God. So the primary authority of those within the Church is not to issue decrees, but to stir up the souls and enliven the consciences of believers... IN short those in authority within the Church should see themselves not as rulers, but but as preachers and pastors."
#18.3.3 Mickey Hodges on 2009-09-08 18:18
"Moreover, each individual is answerable not to a priest, bishop or patriarch, but to God. So the primary authority of those within the Church is not to issue decrees, but to stir up the souls and enliven the consciences of believers... IN short those in authority within the Church should see themselves not as rulers, but but as preachers and pastors."
A superb quote. Thank you.
#22.214.171.124 Jason Barker on 2009-09-10 10:59
“Wherever did you get the idea that bishops and Priests are ‘above us’?”
The word “bishop” — “epi-skopos” — literally means “over-seer.” A general cannot demand absolute obedience from a lieutenant: there is such a thing as an illegal order. But would you ridicule a claim that generals “are above” lieutenants?
Of course, this is only a rough analogy — as Mickey Hodges’s quote from St. John Chrysostom reminds us, we are not in a secular organization. But we do have rulers. Heb 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account ….”
I think we agree as regards practical matters. But, lately, some of the language used here against tyranny has been simply egalitarian — reducing the bishops only to teachers, if that — and this is also a distortion. Posters in earlier threads have pointed out that, as a practical matter, bishops can only govern in an atmosphere of mutual love. But this does not mean that, should the bishop cease to be a good father, we may cease to be good children — any more than the reverse would be true.
Nor does this mean that bishops rule, to quote the Declaration, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They derive their authority from the apostles, who received it from Christ. Normally, we should obey their decisions even when we disagree with them: we owe as much to the state, after all, and it would be odd if we esteemed their directives below those of Caesar.
As recent contributor Owen White once pointed out, normally one covers the nakedness of one’s father. When Dad’s been passing out naked and drunk every night for weeks — well, then something else is probably called for. One observation does not, however, cancel the other — and what we have before us now is a likewise exceptional situation.
#18.3.4 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-10 19:39
To a Fellow Orthodox Christian,
---"The word “bishop” — “epi-skopos” — literally means “over-seer.” A general cannot demand absolute obedience from a lieutenant: there is such a thing as an illegal order. But would you ridicule a claim that generals “are above” lieutenants?
Of course, this is only a rough analogy "---
***Personally it's less than a "rough analogy" it's not an analogy at all. Comparing the Church to the military is IMO a very poor comparison. Just because most of the Orthodox world was "merged" to one degree or another with the state/Empire for 1000 years and this "military" ranking of the people has been accepted by so many doesn't make it correct "theology". The theology of the Orthodox faith absolutely teaches that Bishops are NOT above us within the Kingdom of God. In "practical" matters, indeed they are. There is structure, order, and yes a heirarchy but they are not "above" us in the sense so many people seem to be saying as of late. (which is, they're a Bishop they're closer to God, and so do as they say) That is UN-Orthodox theology.
----"But we do have rulers. Heb 13:17: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account ….”"----
****Yeah, but the long standing tradition of the Church is when they STOP looking after our souls we have a "right" to speak up. As did many people who were ridiculed for doing so, until in retrospect they were realized to be saints. I'm not comparing anyone here to saints, but the truth is if St. John of Damascus had taken the "obey your Bishop" stance, we all to this day might be Iconoclasts. (or any other number of saints, and laymen who stood up for the Orthodox faith...heck we might ALL be Roman Catholic if the people hadn't rejected their Bishops' union with Rome along with St. Mark of Ephesus.
Indeed I agree with you that under most normal circumstances who should obey our Bishop out of obedience even when we disagree. But the issue is that many, many people now do not feel like this constitutes "normal" circumstances. It feels to most people that what is going on within Orthodoxy is an attack upon the Orthodox faith. That the idea of "obedience" has been morphed into a "blind obedience or else" mentality. That merely asking questions and being offended by many of the seriously un-Christian behavior by some of our clergy is somehow "in disobedience to one's Bishop" is completely absurd. And yet these are the accusations that are going around. Obedience has turned into blind adherance. A Bishop has become a dictator and while those pushing this agenda would not use the term "dictatorship", the very fact that when someone asks a question they are immediately labeled as "disobedient" is a PRACTICAL sign that a dictatorship is exactly what they are desiring. And frankly, that is heresy. The idea that we owe the clergy obedience in ALL things is heresy. Someone on here a few months ago said a priest once told them that "if I tell you to dig a 6 foot ditch today, and then fill it in tomorrow you have to do it because I said so"....I'm sorry but such a statement is not only unChristian but down right heretical. It's an heretical approach to the authority that the clergy have. Yes they have authority, and I agree they are more than mere Sunday school teachers....but they are NOT our masters. Yet many within the Church are taking the position this priest did....including Bishops..."do what we say because we say it and do not question us." The fact that they MUST say it at all says to me, they have over stepped their bounds.
I know "throwing around" the word heresy is not popular, and honestly I don't use it lightly. I almost NEVER use it in fact except in the case of ancient heresies, like Arianism...but the call for "blind obedience" is so strong that I don't know what else to call it, because it seems SO far out of sync with what I've been taught, and read of Orthodox theology. And in the face of heresy we have a right, no a duty to stand up and defend the faith. To not do so would be something WORSE than heresy IMO.
I think this is why some of the posts you've read go as far as they do...because we feel like the Church is under attack by something. This is not about "American rights".....if you knew me, and how I feel about some of the laity's actions in the past to "usurp" power away from the Bishops, you'd know I'm not one to come down on this side of the fence very often, but what is going on now is a lot different than some of the things that happened in the 90's....this is a whole different level. Or at least that is how it being perceived. And perception is reality.
---"As recent contributor Owen White once pointed out, normally one covers the nakedness of one’s father. When Dad’s been passing out naked and drunk every night for weeks — well, then something else is probably called for. One observation does not, however, cancel the other — and what we have before us now is a likewise exceptional situation."----
****Well if those of us who refuse to "cover our father's nakedness" (ie: sweep our dirt under the rug) are going about this all the wrong way, then what is the alternative? It's great to say we're wrong, and we might as well be wrong. But the only other option I've ever been given, on here, or in person is to "wait, be patient and in 100 years this will all work out"...sorry that's not an option. Because no one knows what will happen in 100 years.
Anyone who has ever had an addiction (or some other internal emotional problem) will tell you that you cannot fix the problem until you admit there is a problem. And just covering up the problem is not an admittance. It's a denial. This is simply a universal truth for all humanity. If I don't admit I have a problem with this or that, then the problem will just continue. And I don't think that's an option anymore. Not if the Church wants to BE the Church. If we want to continue to be a floundering community of Christians who simply like Eastern liturgics and feel superior to our "western" brethren, it's sufficient...if we want to BE the Church of Christ, it just won't do. It took Rome 100 years after Luther to realize that truth, what will the East look like after 100 years of ignoring the problem?
If indeed you or anyone has an alternative to "uncovering" our dirt to wake up the Church, I think most of us will be glad to hear it. We just don't know of any other way to go about this. Indeed it may very well be wrong....but I honestly cannot think of another option. I've seen the damage sweeping dirt under the rug causes in life, families AND in Churches....sometimes quietly working from within does solve the problem....but sometimes they problem is just too big to fix without an intervention. And I see this as the Church's intervention period.....but I could be terribly wrong. And if I am, may the Lord have mercy on me.
#126.96.36.199 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-09-12 07:39
I think you’ve misread me; and, on re-reading, I see that I was in fact excessively elliptical. I think that what Mark and others are now doing is on the whole an appropriate response to a situation such as this one. My purpose was only to emphasize that “a situation such as this one” is an exception along the lines of the Council of Florence. If you look at my reply to Anonymous (#18), above, I think you’ll have a fuller idea of where I’m coming from.
I entirely agree with you that “the issue is that many, many people now do not feel like this constitutes "normal” circumstances” — indeed, I am one of those people.
As to the military analogy, I suppose it was not so much “rough” as narrow: my exclusive point was that there there can be a normative order in an organization without it being a totalizing dictatorship. Scripture and tradition do refer to bishops as (among other things) rulers. When you objected to the claim that “the Bishop rules over the Church,” it seemed to me that you were contradicting this. Evidently I misread you, for which I apologize.
Certainly, if your objection is actually to the idea that bishops are inherently better than the rest of us, or the idea that their position places them above questioning — I agree!
#188.8.131.52.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-14 23:47
Just wanted to add one more point, VOICING my opinion publically on this forum is thus far the only "action" I've taken on the turmoil in the Church at large because like you I do respect the authority of the clergy, even when I disagree with it. I don't even voice my opinions openly in my parish for the reasons of authority (even though I disagree) and so as not to scandalize anyone. However coming here and voicing opinions is the one thing I CAN do as it is on my own personal time/life, outside of any direct request from anyone in authority and is a right we have as Americans. (as well as other countries who have this right) In the practical "real world" there isn't much we can do....but as the saying goes the pen is mightier than the sword, and perhaps if enough voices come together, it will make a difference for the betterment of the Church. just to clarify I'm not for some nutjob uprising or anything...but speaking and writing is hardly an uprising. However the fact that some of the hierarchy feels like it is, makes me say "hmmmmm!"
#184.108.40.206 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-09-12 07:51
I am afraid that this issue is not as simple as you make it to be: yes, the bishops have to act a certain way, but if they do not, this does not negate the duty to obey them. Have I got it right? I think you make a valid point but you also shifted the spotlight to what should be done with misbehaving superiors. You gave examples of Scriptural guidance on how believers are to behave toward their superiors. It may be time to explore the Scriptures a bit further.
Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves."
Echoed in Matthew 10:16 and Acts 20:29. What I get here is the probability that some of our leaders and supervisors will be false prophets and that we should avoid them or get rid of them. These passages are probably the foundation for the canons and actual practice of condemning fellow Orthodox (of any rank) for heresy and various other sins.
Matthew 10:34-39. “34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
What I get here is the necessity for all Christians, not just the overseers, to take a stand.
Matthew 18:15-17: "15 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ 17 And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."
This passage tells me how to deal with fellow Christians. Notice that action, not passivity, is called for. As Saint Paul does in the following passage:
1 Corinthians 5:9-11: "9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person."
I will not even go into the canons; the consequence of giving power and responsibility to the laos in judging a candidate "axios"; and the basic requirements for being a bishop, priest or deacon. If one considers ALL relevant Scriptures, it is clear that the laity and the clergy are in a superior/subordinate functional relationship. At the same time, we are all (clergy and laity together) equally responsible for what the Lord charged us with doing in the above cited passages.
#220.127.116.11 Carl on 2009-09-12 08:04
yes, the bishops have to act a certain way, but if they do not, this does not negate the duty to obey them. Have I got it right?
Except, and crucially, that I would say, “this does not normally negate the duty to obey them.” My objection, and I ought to have been clearer about this, was not to people speaking against absolute rule but only to the use of language that is “simply egalitarian.” Actually, a good chunk of my quixotic posting career at The Antiochian was devoted to proving exactly the points you are making. (Not that I’d expect you to remember. As for myself, I’m working on repressing my memories of the experience, replacing them with something less traumatizing such as being abducted by aliens.)
Matters are not simple, as you say, and discernment to the best of one’s abilities is a duty of every Christian. In the interests of time, I’ll just conclude that my reply to Anonymous (#18), above, should more plainly show where I am on this issue both in principle and in practice.
#18.104.22.168.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-15 00:29
Actually, I do remember your valiant effort on Antiochian.com. I still marvel at your patience and steadiness in the face of stubborn and cultish opposition. Frankly, I only posted this time except to make sure you were not changing your approach. I am glad that you remain a constant and a true shining beacon in these troubled times. Respectfully, Carl
#22.214.171.124.1.1 Carl on 2009-09-15 09:26
The fact that Fr. David Brum is a convert from the Catholic faith is widely known. He was received into the Orthodox faith by the (then) Bishop of the West, Tikhon, in 1997, and his education is fully Roman Catholic, having not graduated (nor attended), an Orthodox Theological Seminary - at least, not that I can locate.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#18.4 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-09-09 08:20
And your point is???? The fact is that Fr. David converted to Orthodoxy as an adult, of his own free will, and (especially given his personality) after serious in-depth study of the Faith in comparison with that of the Latins. In short, he consciously and deliberately rejected Roman Catholicism, and consciously and deliberately chose Holy Orthodoxy. Why, then, would anyone assume that he is some kind of crypto-papalist?
And PLEASE!!! have the intellectual honesty not to make more of the so-called "Brum doctrine" than it was: an opinion (in my view, rather mistaken) prepared by a subordinate at the request of and framed according to the wishes of the then-Metropolitan. If you're worried about abuse of power, check out Article IV,2,i, of The Statute of the Orthodox Church in America (a provision added, not by the Metropolitan nor by the Holy Synod, but by majority vote of the All-American Council, you will recall), which is far more open to abuse by a first hierarch. Further still, the so-called "Brum doctrine" has done little or no damage to the Church overall; compare that to the spiritual havoc and ecclesiastical imperialism created by Philofei of Pskov's "Third Rome" rubbish, effects of which we still suffer.
As for Fr. David's not having gone to an Orthodox seminary, I sympathise. When I converted back in 1972, I wanted to go to an Orthodox seminary and finish my Master's. But the Bishop who was to ordain me (born and raised in an historically Orthodox Eastern European country, and himself highly educated in Europe) looked at my RC seminary transcripts and said (and this is a direct quote) "That's enough school! I ordain you, and you go to work!" So I shut my mouth and obeyed. Over the years, I did a lot of reading and studying, which continues even into my old age. But I still wish the Bishop had blessed me to go to seminary. Anyway, how does anyone other than Fr. David and Bishop Tikhon know why Fr. David did not attend an Orthodox seminary? And if no one else knows, no one else has any moral right whatsoever to make any assumptions about it.
Honestly, this making mountains out of mole-hills reminds me of "Tail-gunner Joe" at his worst.
#18.4.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2009-09-12 04:07
The quote to which I was responding was: "Further, I've found much of the recent online discussions about the OCA to be scandalous. Priests have been discussed by name in public forums where they are there to defend themselves. Most of the commenters have been anonymous or people who are only acquainted with the scandal from the internet. For example, I found the allegations that Fr. Brum was a closet Catholic to be unseemly."
I only wished to point out that the "allegations" were grounded in fact - Fr. David WAS an ordained Roman Catholic priest. These were not people making "accusations" - simply a statement of fact.
Fr. David's priesthood is not in question, nor is his conversion. But it seemed the esteemed poster was implying that those referring to Fr. David's Catholic upbringing were somehow bearing false witness. I liken it to calling me a Baptist - I was a Baptist, but am no longer. Since Orthodoxy is not my native language, I expect some Baptist to slip out now and again. But to take offense at being called a Baptist, or referred to as a Baptist, well that's just a statement of who I was.
I do apologize if I misread the poster's remarks, for it was not my intent to do anything other than state a fact to correct the statement made. Any misinterpretation of the statement is completely my fault.
For what it is worth, the guidelines for holding episcopal office in the OCA ask for at least 10 years after conversion and education at an Orthodox seminary. And that does seem to me to be relevant to the discussion of Fr. David's qualifications to be a Bishop.
Martin D. Watt
#126.96.36.199 Dn. Marty Watt on 2009-09-14 20:49
Philofei of Pskov is not a candidate for the episcopacy, and neither are the framers of the Statute. If what Fr. Brum wrote was less a reflection of his own thought than of the fact that it was “prepared at the request of and framed according to the wishes of the then-Metropolitan” — let him say so. Otherwise, he must know how poorly it has been received in some quarters, so it is perfectly reasonable to suppose that it represented and still does represent his considered opinion.
As to the matter of his lack of formal education in Orthodox theology, the issue is not whether it was his choice, but whether the requirement is an important one. The committee seemed to indicate that it was.
Is it reasonable to suspect someone of being subject to “papalizing” tendencies because he had a Roman Catholic theological education, was a Roman Catholic priest for sixteen years, and wrote a document that attributed excessive authority to the chief hierarch? Certainly, clergy have accused many here of being crypto-Protestants on the basis of far less. The laity are now highly vigilant regarding over-broad claims of episcopal power — and disinclined to give candidates the benefit of the doubt on this matter. Is this such an unreasonable response to recent history?
It would not be hard for Fr. Brum to address this. He would simply need to give an account of his past published views and his present opinions.
Of course, this still would not address the SIC members’ concerns. My point is simply that the objections you object to are, in themselves, neither bigoted or unreasonable.
#188.8.131.52 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-15 01:14
From the Times today:
News Web sites in China, complying with secret government orders, are requiring that new users log on under their true identities to post comments, a shift in policy that the country’s Internet users and media have fiercely opposed in the past.
China has gone to new lengths to control activity by its huge population of Internet users, like these in Beijing on Saturday.
Until recently, users could weigh in on news items on many of the affected sites more anonymously, often without registering at all, though the sites were obligated to screen all posts, and the posts could still be traced via Internet protocol addresses.
But in early August, without notification of a change, news portals like Sina, Netease, Sohu and scores of other sites began asking unregistered users to sign in under their real names and identification numbers, said top editors at two of the major portals affected. A Sina staff member also confirmed the change.
The editors said the sites were putting into effect a confidential directive issued in late July by the State Council Information Office, one of the main government bodies responsible for supervising the Internet in China.
The new step is not foolproof, the editors acknowledged. It was possible for a reporter to register successfully on several major sites under falsified names and ID and cellphone numbers.
But the requirement adds a critical new layer of surveillance to mainstream sites in China, which were already heavily policed. Further regulations of the same nature also appeared to be in the pipeline.
And while the authorities called the measure part of a drive to forge greater “social responsibility” and “civility” among users, they moved forward surreptitiously and suppressed reports about it, said the editors and others in the media industry familiar with the measure, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid putting their jobs at risk.
Asked why the policy was pushed through unannounced, the chief editor of one site said, “The influence of public opinion on the Net is still too big.”
This is just the first third of the article, but funny how the same themes and expressions keep coming up in repressive situations....
#19 NY Times Reader on 2009-09-05 14:34
I doubt that the Lord will use the US Constitution as a criterion to judge the one who said Englewood's critics should "go to hell". The job of the US Constitution and its amendments is to restrict the republic's government from encroaching upon rights and freedoms that are recognized as coming from GOD (cf. the US Declaration of Independence). God, being our Creator, grants rights and freedoms. Governments do not, even if its framers think that it does....Christians ought to know better.
What I do not doubt is that the Lord will judge me and everyone, and that I and everyone else will have to give an account of every careless word we speak.
This humbles me, but unfortunately I sometimes speak as if I have forgotten this. I wish Father George, being a priest, would have said something about that, because I think that's far more important that the laws of men.
I don't think Mark Stokoe should clean anyone's cups. Whether Mark had censored that post or not, the fact is the writer's heart was in such a place as to feel those sentiments in the first place. By the time the post got to Mark, it was too late. Careless words were uttered. Add them to the list...and beg for mercy.
People shouldn't say horrible things in the first place, especially Christians, who should know that we all deserve to go to hell, but because of Christ, who alone is worthy, God is willing to overlook our transgressions. That is true freedom, and such free people should not be telling anyone to "go to hell."
Ya Rabb irhamna!
#20 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2009-09-05 18:48
Which proves my point, Alexander, that the "free speech" bit is entirely besides the issues at hand, i.e. the need for accountability & transparency in our organization.
#20.1 Robert Fortuin on 2009-09-08 13:32
What a terrible thing it would be, to believe that we all deserve to go to hell, or that there could be a God who would want us to believe that, or that such a thought would be thought by anyone. Really awful.
#20.2 Anonymous on 2009-09-09 14:04
You think that you deserve salvation?
#20.2.1 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-09-10 15:58
I think it will be more awful for those who take God's grace for granted and somehow think they don't deserve eternal condemnation.
Do we pray and acknowledge "Lord, have mercy!" for nothing?
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life."
We do not deserve that gift.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
This is the Good News.
If we deserved of our own merits to be in heaven with God, Christ would not have had to die.
Rdr. Alexander Langley
#20.2.2 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2009-09-16 13:27
Cockroaches and evildoers hate having light shone on them and their deeds, and/or hate being exposed for what they are. Those in a church hierarchy who rebel against having their actions held up to scrutiny or criticized or questioned, or who refuse to have their financial dealings audited, rank three levels below cockroaches.
#21 antiorthodoxian on 2009-09-06 16:42
The way Fr. George makes it sound as if Mark puts his stamp of approval on everything that makes its way onto the site. I think it's not fair to ask Mark to be an arbitrator of whose comments are worth staying up. Let each one's true colors be shown. Such censorship is neither practical nor necessary.
#22 Gabriel on 2009-09-10 21:07
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