Thursday, September 3. 2009
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"All pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others."
I wonder how many of our church leaders will recognize this quotation, Chris.
Your citing it puts a firm finger on a very delicate spot.
#1 Father Patrick Reardon on 2009-09-03 18:11
This quote is the famous "rule" of the animals from George Orwell's "Animal Farm." From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm:
"Later on, Napoleon and his pigs were corrupted by the absolute power they held over the farm. To maintain their popularity with the other animals, Squealer secretly painted additions to some commandments to make it benefit the pigs while keeping them free of accusation of breaking the laws. The laws are eventually completely removed, and replaced with "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others", and 'Four legs good, two legs better!" as the pigs become more human.'"
Chris, your Reflection really hit home. I felt my heart pounding as I read it and thought, "That's how I was made to feel!"
The good rule, "Silence is golden" can be twisted by leaders who know they are weak but want to continue to appear strong, into "Silence is a fist." Silence is a powerful weapon that can really, really hurt those dangling like mice underneath it. We are already afraid to speak because of the power the person has over us, and when we do speak, they respond with... nothing, or a frown, or criticism. This kind of silence is not kind. It feels like disapproval, and disapproval is more power. After all, they are all-wise, and we are nothing. Wracking our brain in self-doubt, we wonder what we did or how we acted wrongly. We go on and on, wondering and waiting, forever. Even now, no matter what I say, I know that nothing will happen in my situation, except the silence. If something does happen, the truth will be twisted and I will be blamed, somehow.
If you are a leader and you feel that silence is best in a given situation, be sure your silence is the good kind. If you are a lay person and you know what I'm saying, rest assured that you are not the only one.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2009-09-05 13:35
Chris are you a former bishop that like a Prodigal came to his senses? Excellent piece! axios
#2 Kevin Krwan on 2009-09-03 18:29
Lord Acton, an eminent 19th Century Catholic layman, who courageously opposed the promulgation of the doctrine of Papal infallibility, is one of the great proponents of ordered liberty. How appropriate to remind us of his famous dictum on authority! Would that we heeded its sage insights.
But alas, we continue down that same sad road of putting our trust in Princes and failing to do our duty as stewards of God's creation, and most especially as members of His Church. Whether by abdication of responsibility, selfish indifference or outright hostility to truth and accountability, we collectively fail in our mission to grow the Body of Christ by refusing to follow the very precepts we so noisily proclaim in church.
All of the warning signs in Mr. Banescu's reflection are present now, as they have been for years, throughout the OCA,and worldwide Orthodoxy for that matter. Our failure to address and redress them will rightly spell the doom for any institution that continues to be so obdurate and unreformed.
#3 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-09-03 18:35
Two comments: Being a Delegate and being present for all that was said,
1). I was under the distinct impression that it was the Search Committee's choice to remove Fr. Brum. I personally think it makes a big difference whether it was his choice or the choice of the SC acting "in the best interests of the Diocese". Why weren't the delegates informed that Fr. Brum had removed his own name?
2). I'm not positive this is a direct quote as I didn't write it down, but in his letter (read by Fr. Karlgut), Fr. Mahaffey made a statement to the effect that "you can either postpone the vote or LET THE HOLY SPIRIT DO ITS WORK". Did Fr. Mahaffey truly feel that anyone who voted for postponement (I admit to being one of the 42) was trying to interfere with the Holy Spirit? I can't imagine any of those who voted for postponement possibly voting for him after that statement.
#4 Fr. Stephen Mack on 2009-09-04 04:22
Thank you very much for your excellent piece, Mr. Banescu. I pray that people reading it will have the eyes to see the truth, the ears to hear it, will take it seriously and will do their part to bring about change, no matter how hard it is.
#5 Kristine Patico Koumentakos on 2009-09-04 07:05
One of the best reflections to date on Ocanews!
Perhaps we as an Archdiocese find ourselves on that Island described by William Golding, the tribal mentality certainly applies but perhaps we may have more in common with Oceania as depicted by George Orwell in 1984 - read it again and then weep for our Church.
Saint Anthony the Great said:
A time is coming when people will go mad and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, *You are mad, you are not like us.*
#6 Delegate #1 on 2009-09-04 08:06
Or that Island on the TV show LOST, where NOTHING makes sense....
#6.1 Antionymous on 2009-09-05 14:59
Thank you, Chris,
These are keen insights into watching for all the pitfalls in leadership.
If there is not diligence in maintaining character, ethics, and morals, we end up with the leadership weaknesses you wrote about.
#7 Patty Schellbach on 2009-09-04 09:55
Another, similar quote from Lord Acton:
And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
#8 yet another George on 2009-09-04 11:18
This is why the only legitimate King is Christ.
"Encountering these signs in your institution can be even more unsettling." I would add, that this is not just because the truth can be ugly, but because often the men and women in power who become corrupt are idols in the eyes of many. Tragically it seems that enough people would rather pretend that nothing is wrong and "turn a blind eye" than admit that their idols (aka people placed on pedestals) are false gods. So, the cycle continues, for the time being. As long as there are people settle for less and worship idols, there will be weeds growing with the wheat.
I mean really, the only way these people get to places of power and possibly corruption is all the people helping them get there!
It's scary to expose people, because it means then the exposers are subject to being exposed as well.
God help us!
#9 Rdr. Alexander Langley on 2009-09-05 19:03
I guess we shouldn't even salute our president or any other world leader since you are so fanatical to not realize that Christ is the true King but we also have leadership in society with rules.
Might as well say we shouldn't even listen to a priest because Christ is the High Priest.
Please realize how ridiculous everyone sounds when they keep saying that stuff.
A proud Antiochian under Metropolitan PHILIP
#9.1 Yeah on 2009-09-08 14:11
I read your remarks with sadness for you seem to have crossed into the realm of "us versus them" where opponents' statements are perceived in the worst possible light. Reader Alexander merely pointed out, in the context of the reflection, that the followers of a leader are also responsible for the descent into a cult.
We should respect and accept the roles of all in this Body of Christ that we call the Church. Deacons, priests or bishop have a claim on our respect and our acceptance of their leadership by virtue of the charisma that they receive on their ordination. However, they have no claim to on our love (which must be earned and given, beyond Agape love), they have no claim to infallibility, they have no right to insist on blind obedience, they can claim no immunity from criticism, and most importantly they have no right to assume that the followers who onced judged them Axios may in time judge them Anaxios...
You get my idea: criticism of a leader, even one that you love, does not by itself make it an act of treason, ingratitude, or disrespect. And when you criticize the leader, you are not debasing or disgracing the office. It is extremely dangerous to anyone's soul to attach oneself to a "dear leader" with cult-like devotion and intensity. Please reconsider. Carl
#9.1.1 Carl on 2009-09-10 15:56
There is respect and then there is something that goes way beyond it -- and sometimes that is a cultural idea. Quite by accident I have recently been reading a humorous novel called "Florence of Arabia" by Christopher Buckley. Much of it is set in the Middle East and I am sure he exaggerates for comic effect, but there are some curious parallels between the approach of people to an emir or an imam that is reminescent of the Palm Desert convention. The praise and flattery sounds strange to American ears but maybe part of normal discourse when speaking to someone in leadership over there.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2009-09-11 09:58
As a free American citizen, I do not salute the President. If I was in the armed forces, I would, but I'm not, so I don't. We hire the President. He works for us. It's the same with all of our leaders here. Citizens do not salute them. Yet.
As far as saluting any foreign leader, not just no, but hell, no. My great great great great grandfather fought a war to get rid of that nonsense.
You see, I really do believe that all men are created equal, even Metropolitans.
#9.1.2 Scott Walker on 2009-09-11 09:54
A worthy and accurate reflection. This rubric shows how sickly and dysfunctional the OCA remains - and will likely always remain. Sadly, there will never be an official response to your reflection. As you said, they will ignore the message, and shoot the messenger.
#10 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-09-07 04:43
Actually the OCA is going through a process that gives it more credibility than all the other Orthodox Christian jurisdictions in America. The Orthodox Church finds itself in much the same condition as Israel did at the time of our Lord's First Coming.
I would strongly recommend that we all focus on the eschatological world view that is truly a part of Holy Apostolic Tradition. We need to keep our priorities in perspective and not be deceived and diverted by the evil one.
#10.1 Marc Trolinger on 2009-09-08 15:29
I absolutely oppose condemning actions that have not taken place. You've predicted the future with a prestense of wisdom. This form of debate is empty.
#10.2 Rdr. Tracey on 2009-09-09 12:34
Ha! Saying that the revelation of a weak and regressive (and entrenched) leadership somehow increases our "credibility" is laughable.
It could only be a positive development if it provoked change: a desire for a new, strong leadership of integrity, with a reinvigorated energy and mission so palpable when reading about the OCA's early days. But... that hasn't happened, and based on the most recent developments, there's no reason to suspect otherwise for the future.
There's nothing to debate - empty or otherwise.
There has been no official OCA comment or participation in discussion here - or anywhere. Our bishops, chancellors, deans, and administrators, have displayed no desire to engage in a conversation. The spirit and energy of the OCA 'project' has been extinguished, and we're left to muck through an ossified institution plagued by the soul-destroying symptoms Chris eloquently identified in his reflection.
Thanks for your optimism, guys, but I don't share it. All I see is a lot of uninteresting rubbish.
#10.2.1 Rdr. Nilus on 2009-09-12 03:21
We get the kind of leaders we want. Bad leaders relieve mean that we are less accountable (or so it is easy to rationalize).
Only Jesus Christ is sinless and I am the greatest of all sinners. So, the most lilkely result from any one as bishop is failure. Sometimes abject, spectacular failure, other times not so bad as to be noticed.
I my life were subjected to the same temptations and scrutiny as the bishops......? No question, it would be a disaster.
Solution: repent, pray for God's grace to be poured out on those who lead us.
#11 Michael Bauman on 2009-09-08 17:17
Sometimes "not so bad"? Michael, I appreciate your humility and we all need to take stock of it, but at the risk of offending you, I would like to point out that some bishops have become saints. We are each called to be saints. Let's not let the bishops off the hook of that calling. Some of every rank have become saints. Let's all strive for that.
#11.1 Phileas on 2009-09-10 11:27
You are correct of course and while the sanctifying grace that makes saints comes down from above (as all good things), the raw material is produced from the Body. It is my point exactly that if we strive for holiness ourselves, we are far more likely to have leaders who are holy. It would also help if we did not engage in bishop worship as many seem to.
Of course, IMO, it is the spectacular isolation in which so many bishops live that adds to the corruption. I was quite heartened by Met. Jonah's recent address to the Mission and Evangelism Conference in which he remarked that he had just come from Alaska and had been in at least one village where he ate walrus among other things. He also expressed his desire to cannonize Matushka Olga. God be praised.
In short, we have corrupt rule (relgious and secular) because we allow it, even want the benefits such corruption offers us. Why else has it been tolerated for so long, is still being tolerated by the people who actually have the ability to do something about it?
Pray, fast, give alms and repent with ferver, hope and love. Then is it possible to confront evil and speak the truth without rancor.
#12 Michael Bauman on 2009-09-10 16:16
>>"It is my point exactly that if we strive for holiness ourselves, we are far more likely to have leaders who are holy."
I'm not sure how that follows, although I think that as we strive for holiness, worrying about the beam in another persons eye is probably not going to cause us emotional fatigue. We would, in fact, start praying for those sins as if they were our own and that we were a contributing participant to it (or so I've read).
#12.1 Anonymous on 2009-09-11 16:49
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