Monday, June 14. 2010
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Wheeler is right! This Ep. Assembly is baloney! If the OCA is going to be treated as a "non-entity," then the OCA should not participate. And when was Orthodox Canon Law changed giving foreign bishops control over local churches? The ONLY canonical church in N. Am. is the OCA - all the others are "visitors" and representatives of "foreign bishops." They have no canonical authority over N. Am. - READ CANON LAW!
#1 Anonymous on 2010-06-14 15:54
Nothing but the TRUTH! Amen!
#1.1 Anonymous Antiochian Priest on 2010-06-14 22:40
Amen Deacon! Could you pass the apple pie please?
#2 Andrew A.Lukashonak on 2010-06-14 19:33
There are several online sources available to learn more about the reactions of participants and observers of the Episcopal Assembly -- some are written, but a couple of the potentially more significant (e.g., interviews with Bp. Basil and with Fr. Mark Arey) are only available as audio recordings. I've set myself the task of reviewing these materials before making any comments on the substance of the Assembly, and it's a bit of a challenge integrating audio recordings into my daily routine.
But there's enough written material that I have had an opportunity to review, at least in cursory manner, that comments on style and approach are possible. And the Episcopal Assembly may be one of those things where style is at least as important as substance.
First, look at two pieces -- Abp. Demetrios's opening address and the communique issued at the end of the Assembly. Both deserve multiple readings because there are a few different things going on. On first read, my overwhelming impression was how subservient each is to the "Mother churches" and to the letter of the Chambassy structure. But on second and third reading, it seems to me that both items are masterful examples of painting creatively inside the lines. While constantly acknowledging the ground rules (we're not Ligonier!!!), there appears to be a commitment to engaging with the realities we face here in America in pragmatic and meaningful ways.
As an example of creative painting within the lines, one unofficial report has said that Met. Jonah will be included in the Executive Committee as an invited guest. Now my OCA pride bristles at this as much as anyone's, but we have to be real -- for various reasons our autocephaly is not accepted or understood in the same terms as we understand it by various of the "mother churches." We have a choice -- stand alone on principle or engage in a pragmatic manner as we are invited to do. Pragmatic engagement requires both humility and courage, and strikes me as the profoundly right approach.
Reports and reflections from various participants and a couple of observers (even if they weren't in the room with the bishops most of the time) paint a very positive picture of open, sober, and very personal interactions among the bishops. The building of constructive human relationships is key to the future of the church here in America, and in that regard the EA seems to have been a great opportunity that delivered on its potential. Ultimately such relationship building must happen at all levels of the church. I think we could all acknowledge that such building has already been happening, albeit in a spotty and inconsistent manner, at sub-episcopal levels. But bringing the bishops, all of the bishops, together to form real, face-to-face relationships is a critical and positive step forward.
To some it may appear to be a baby step, and it can be very frustrating to be asked to rejoice in mere baby steps after all these years. But let's take positive things where we can find them.
It's also clear that there's a lot more going on here than a simple kumbaya moment of episcopal harmony -- agendas abound. But it has always been thus and if we never tried anything because there are agendas in play, well, we'd never try anything at all.
I have no idea where any of this ends up from a formal, structural point of view. But we've been handed an opportunity to re-examine and restructure how we as Orthodox here in America interact with one another and understand ourselves. There's so, so much more to say and so many complicating factors to consider -- and the whole thing could fall apart at any minute. But fundamentally I believe that the OCA should embrace the EA, with all its limitations, and work within this new structure towards whatever the future is going to bring.
#3 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-15 03:11
Rebecca: You said, "We have a choice -- stand alone on principle or engage in a pragmatic manner as we are invited to do."
The Phanar with his subservient bishops, has decided to treat the OCA as a "NON-ENTITY." Well, baloney! What we have is the "tail wagging the dog" in N. Am. The OCA is the legitimate successor of the ORIGINAL ORTHODOX MISSION in N. Am. and we should be treated as a "NON-ENTITY?" Our canonical autocephaly should be dismissed by a bishop who follows Roman Catholic ecclesiology and seeks world domination of the Orthodox Churches? NEVER! + Jonah can be replaced if he wants to roll-over for this folly. Just as + Isidore returned from the Council of Florence to Kiev/Russ and was thrown out of Russia by THE PEOPLE for signing this false union, so can the OCA bishops who wish to follow the false eccesiology of the Phanar. Recognize and respect the OCA or get out of OUR LAND!
(Editor's note: Ah, as the song says, "This Land is your land, this land is my land.." - everyone is welcome here, as were our all our ancestors, whether they came last week, or 10,000 years ago. The ecclesiology of the Phanar may be deficient, but they too are welcome. Our goal as Orthodox in America must be to work out a way forward for all - not just some. It is absurd for the OCA to ignore the fact that at least half of the Orthodox population in North America is Greek, even as it is for the Phanar to ignore the 1/4 of Orthodox America that is in the OCA. The OCA has shown it is open to a larger solution; but it requires autocephaly, even if it subsumes the OCA's. The Phanar killed the last step forward at Ligonier in 1994 because that is where it was naturally headed. Will this time be different? How? Why? What changed? I for one would love to hear those questions explained. It seems to me the Phanar can spend the next 40 years trying to ignore and deny the OCA's autocephaly, as it has spent the last 40; or seek a new way forward. It would seem the exigencies of history are on the OCA's side, for in 50 years the OCA will be here. Will the Phanar? Of course the traditional Byzantine way of dealing with administrative problems were twofold: bribery or assasination. Is the Phanar's goal to murder the OCA administratively through the EA and Chambesy process? (Because if anybody thinks the Orthodox in Switzerland and Leichtenstein are in a process towards autonomy or autocephaly, give me some of what you are smoking....) A great deal of trust has to be created here, given the last century of ideology, dictatorship, phyletism, etc. Including the OCA on the Executive would have built some: the denial simply encourages the perspective for many that trust would be misplaced at this time. The EA smacks a bit too Byzantine for America and Americans; at least for those of us who do not share that culture tradition - nor have any desire to do so in the future. Why not be scriptural instead, and let our yes be yes, and our no, no; and if we don't know, just say, we don't know? Orthodox unity cannot be so important that we are willing to "murder" to achieve it, is it? )
#3.1 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 06:51
This is exactly the kind of rhetoric that is profoundly unhelpful because it deals in caricature of all sides and favors a mythology of what should be over the reality of what actually is and has been.
All of the OCA bishops were included in the Assembly. Some way has been finessed by Abp. Demetrios to include the OCA in the work of the Executive Committee. Is it all ideal? No. Is it time to take our marbles and go home because everyone won't bow before our mythologized version of the history of the church in America? Also, no.
50 years have passed since SCOBA began. 40 years have passed since the autocephaly of the OCA. 15+ years have passed since what ended up being the debacle of Ligonier. All have moved the cause of unity in America forward. Now there is this new structure which has the potential to move things forward in a new way. Right now it's only potential. Our role, and the role of all the various jurisdictions at this point, should be to encourage the positive aspects of the EA process and structure and come to it in good faith, open minds, open hearts, and prayerful consideration. To do otherwise would be destructive of our common goals and, ironically, of the original vision of the OCA herself.
No real solution to the problems in America can come about by ignoring the OCA as an entity. Likewise, no real solution can come about by sticking to a vision of the OCA as the only legitimated entity. We have to start with reality, not with ideology. And the ultimate solution will come from human relationships worked out in love and mutual understanding, not from an imposed structure (no matter what the structure and no matter who it is imposed by).
A useful reflection on these matters can be found at:
#3.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-15 08:29
" ...bow before our mythologized version of the history of the church in America? Also, no."
The history of the Orthodox in N. Am. is documented and mythologized. Namee's work is good, but he knows nothing of Canon Law or Orthodox Ecclesiology. The Greeks and ALL other ethnic clerics who came to America, wherever, understood that N. Am. was under the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church - that is fact! No ethnic cleric served in N. Am. without understanding this FACT. Orthodox Canon Law.
#126.96.36.199 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 12:18
Did you even look at the link? I think not.
Namee's point is that the Sunday School version many of us have of the history is simplified to the point of inaccuracy in many respects. He also focuses on the historical facts rather than what we would like the facts to have been -- and, yes, in a sense that means disregarding the theoretical canonical framework within which the history played out for the simple reason that the canons were not referenced or applied.
You can bemoan and criticize that reality -- but the facts are that we're all here and all under different jurisdictions and arguing about primacy based on a disputed version of history is simply not a pragmatically useful way forward.
(Editor's note: You will notice that even the EP's representatives have abandoned citing Chalcedon 28 in North America, speaking of disputed versions of history. But while pre-revolutionary unity may be a factual overstatement, the vision of unity of St. Tikhon was not; and the calling of the 1905 Sobor was fact, not myth. In our attempt to revise our view of the past to more closely attune with all the facts, we cannot overlook/ignore the previously accepted ones, just because they were overstated, either.)
#188.8.131.52.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-15 13:55
Last comment --
Mark quite rightly says, "In our attempt to revise our view of the past to more closely attune with all the facts, we cannot overlook/ignore the previously accepted ones, just because they were overstated, either."
And finding the balance must involve ceasing to use any version of history as a club to beat our fellow Orthodox about the head. That's at least a two-way street.
I think we can and should look to the history to inspire us -- in particular, the vision articulated by St. Tikhon, even if never fully realized, remains to me personally the most compelling (and practical) vision for how we can approach unity. I also believe that we can best move forward concentrating on unity of action and purpose (with unity of administration to follow).
#184.108.40.206.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-15 14:22
I was thinking as I read these comments of the 300 years between the Resurrection of our Lord and the Council of Nicea. It's almost impossible to imagine greater diversity in the church than existed in those early centuries, along with the huge, mutually exclusive understandings of basic teachings. And yet out of that ferment was forged a church that was truly catholic for more than 700 years, and whose orthodox descendants have kept intact to the present day.
The issues facing us in this country are irritating, and I'm not minimizing them. But they are mainly structural, procedural, and administrative. We are not facing major heresies or widely divergent interpretations of fundamental teachings. I take heart at the many, many examples at the grass-roots level of communities from different jurisdictions working together for the coming of the Kingdom. This is the true "tail wagging the dog." As this continues to be the case, ultimately, I believe the head will have to follow.
#220.127.116.11.2 Morton on 2010-06-16 07:45
Again I am favorably impressed with Dn Wheelers excellent perspective and grasp of the issues in front of us.
Recently I am wondering why these tired old men in their ancient churches are doing things that have little if any relevance to the modern world and the Church's place in it.
Is it not their place to see that the Church is positioned to do God's Work today throughout the world in a proper and Christian manner?
I think the Canons that everyone seems to be alluding to were meant to effect that the Word could and should be carried or brought forth unto the world, not used as a tool for creating intolerance and damnation of those who dont fall under or outside their jurisdiction for whatever reason.
No... I dont know anything about the Canons... nor do I pretend to be some authority on any of this mess... but I do know that what they and others are doing is not Christian nor is it working for anyone... is that not reason enough to seek another way or means to an end?
#4 Ted Panamarioff on 2010-06-15 04:00
The OCA is a perfect place for people to play out there weird latent ( at this point in American history) European snobberies. a perfect place for one to indulge in a certain historic American anti-intellectualism. It's a place to play out a weird kind of isolationism all these things are very much American and people indulge in them in the same breath they say "that's so western". What this orthodox church is selling is it's own brand of American cultural isolation, delusion and self indulgence not XC and the holy Orthodox Church.
Choosing what is best in American culture is what is looked at as un Orthodox so I'd have to say you're not to American you're to honest.
(Editor's note: "You're not too American, you're too honest?" Wow. Sounds like you, not the Archdeacon, has "European snobbery" issues. That being said, I don't think anyone could honestly claim the Archdeacon is "anti-intellectual", although such a tradition certainly exists in America. The fact is that the OCA is a Church which exists in and for America, and is bound to exhibit the traits of that culture - just as the Russian, Greek and Arab churches, to name a few exhibit - for better or worse - the traits of their culture. To insist that we in America must adopt those cultures - or their tortured history and politics - to be "fully" Orthodox; or that failing to do so we are "weird" evidences a peculiar reading of the Orthodox Tradition, which is a living thing, not a museum of dead empires, lost kingdoms and failed civilizations. Of course, life is threatening - to sleep in the past and call it "fidelity" is soooooo much more comforting, easy and safe....)
#5 Anon on 2010-06-15 06:18
"The OCA is a perfect place for people to play out there weird latent ( at this point in American history) European snobberies.
I don't think so! What is "weird" & "latent" are a group of American clerics wearing weird hats and parading around in black robes, monastic robes, long hair & beards playing 15th century Russia or Greece or wherever. LITURGICAL REFORM IS NECESSARY IN AMERICA! We are "American Orthodox" not Greek, not Russian, not Syrian, etc. Dump the weird hats; we need to go back to married bishops not more celibate whatevers; cut the hair & shave the beards; dump the black and go to blue, grey, off-white, etc.; no service should be longer than 1 1/2 hrs; all bishops should serve as the 1st priest without the pomp; etc., etc., etc.
#5.1 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 08:08
I hope - I really, really hope - you are being sarcastic. If you are not, then I cannot express my dismay at the utter garbage you have just spouted.
What is wierd about the hats? In FW we wear cowboy hats. Is that wierd too?
Any service shorter than 1:45 hours has left out a lot!! We should be greatful that we are able to partake of the DL and stand in the presence of God!
LITURGICAL REFORM IS NECESSARY IN AMERICA! - Why? What about the DL requires reform. Tell you what; there is a nice Methodist church down the street where it doesn't matter what you believe. Why don't you give them a visit
My feeling about the services in America is that we have already strayed from what we should be doing. Let us pray that we find our way back or at least not stray any further.
#5.1.1 Steve in FW on 2010-06-15 08:31
Steve in FW: Not sarcastic at all! Your bishop, + Dimitri, a convert to Orthodoxy, has done more harm to "retrench" American Orthodoxy to look like 16th century Russia than an AMERICAN CHURCH. Look at all the photos of the consecration of the new bishop of NY/NJ. THIS LOOKS LIKE AN AMERICAN CHURCH? This is ridiculous. Then people wonder why more people aren't attracted to Orthodoxy. "Who are these weirdos (mostly converts or non-Russians) playing 16th century Russia?" And how long was the church service? 5 hrs? Com'on. Pomp, ceremony and false piety. Not an "American Church," but Pharisees in Parade!
#18.104.22.168 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 12:30
Just for the sake of comparison, how long was the last movie you went to see? the last football game? the last brawl in which a hockey game broke out? Or are you suggesting that when it comes to church, Americans (unlike Canadians, of course) have the attention-span of a mentally-challenged radish?
Moreover, I wonder what it is that you do during the Divine Liturgy. Do you sing the responses and the hymnody, being prayerfully mindful of the words in your mouth? I've noticed that when I'm praying the Liturgy and participating actively in it, the time goes by rather quickly.
Concerning the role of the Bishop in the Divine Liturgy, are you sure your essentially-Presbyterian attitude squares with what is taught clearly and unmistakably by St. Ignatius the God-bearer? I only ask, because my copy of his letters gives rather a different view.
As for funny costumes, do you train the same fire on R.C. bishops and their pointy hats (mitres) or square hats with pom-poms (biretta)? academics, with their mortar boards and rabbit-fur trimmed hoods? And have you gotten a load of the USC (or just about any other) marching band in full costume? or of grooms who wear the gentleman's evening clothes of 100 years ago for a morning wedding today?
All told, I beg and beseech you to see your family doctor as soon as possible. Clearly, you are suffering (and making the rest of us suffer) from a severe over-production of bile.
#22.214.171.124.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2010-06-16 03:27
Regarding our services, I am reminded of the following by C. S. Lewis:
"This quality will be understood by anyone who really understands the meaning of the Middle English word solempne. This means something different, but not quite different, from modern English solemn. Like solemn it implies the opposite of what is familiar, free and easy, or ordinary. But unlike solemn it does not suggest gloom, oppression, or austerity. The ball in the first act of Romeo and Juliet was a 'solemnity'. The feast at the beginning of Gawain and the Green Knight is very much of a solemnity. A great mass by Mozart or Beethoven is as much a solemnity in its hilarious gloria as in its poignant crucifixus est. Feasts are, in this sense, more solemn than fasts. Easter is solempne, Good Friday is not. The Solempne is the festal which is also the stately and the ceremonial, the proper occasion for pomp-and the very fact that pompous is now used only in a bad sense measures the degree to which we have lost the old idea of 'solemnity'. To recover it you must think of a court ball, or a coronation, or a victory march, as these things appear to people who enjoy them; in an age when everyone puts on his oldest clothes to be happy in, you must re-awake the simpler state of mind in which people put on gold and scarlet to be happy in. Above all, you must be rid of the hideous idea, fruit of a widespread inferiority complex, that pomp, on the proper occasions, has any connexion with vanity or self-conceit. A celebrant approaching the altar, a princess led out by a king to dance a minuet, a general officer on a ceremonial parade, a major-domo preceding the boar's head at a Christmas feast -- all these wear unusual clothes and move with calculated dignity. This does not mean that they are vain, but that they are obedient; they are obeying the hoc age which presides over every solemnity. The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender's inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual."
C. S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost
#5.1.2 Carl Kraeff on 2010-06-19 05:29
I totally agree and perhaps was being obtuse? ; let me clarify I wasn't calling the Archdeacon "antintelectual " but those opposed to a genuine American Orthodoxy who ironically exhibit what is worse in this culture while extoling the " museum of dead empires". I was suggesting that the Archdeacon was choosing ALL that is best about this country; I abhore the toadism in the OCA especially to the Russian church it's truly delusional.
#5.2 Anon on 2010-06-15 08:22
Right on! Except for the bit about expecting those who have deemed it wise to lead us to where we are, with growth downward and expense upward, to listen and to correct the course. If they could have, wouldn't they have done it by now?
There is a bicycle path along the river where I live, it goes by a 30 acre field with broken pavement and weeds surrounded by a fence. It once held a John Deere farm equipment manufacturing plant. A mile down the way there was a similar Catipillar earth-moving construction equipment plant, and another mile down was an even larger International Harvester farm machinery plant. The union leadership could not see beyond ’sticking it to the man’ and the business leadership couldn’t get the message across that agreeing to the union terms meant closure and loss for everyone because the world had changed due to overseas competition. It wasn’t about whether ‘the owners of capital’ would ‘exploit the working classes’, because the business just could not survive if it had to pay union demands for labor.
But like our bishops, the union leadership just refused or were unable to see the world had changed. They were unable or unwilling to live the intended Spirit that got them started, feeling the purpose of it all to see that generating a future might require different immediate choices than repeating yesterday’s dance. Lost was a sense of balance, only ’some is good, more is better’ so they pushed and pushed along the path their predecessors did unwilling to change or pause, even for survival’s sake, until the cell boundaries of their living organism burst.
Everyone lost, and now on Father’s Day we ‘ride the river’ past the weed filled acreage where manufacuring plants once employed thousands. Plants leveled to the ground as property taxes for unimproved land are less than for land with idle manufacturing buildigs. So if someone, someday wants to bring those jobs back– now there is the cost of erecting the buildings too.
Vision. Feeling and living the call of the old Spirit informing and shaping the old decisions that made sense in those days to retain that same good sense as applied to here and now is what we need, not living the rules appropriate for another day’s circumstances until we die. Look at the empty factories and ‘unfunded pensions’ the ‘The Union Vs. Management Show’ got us!
If we leave it to the overseas ordained young never married set that has forced itself into the essential parish decisions, steering by it’s old world wake, taking ever more money and returing ever fewer people over the years will our kids drive by the empty lot that once was a parish?
Deacon Eric’s good words follow and improve on those of many others. But here we are. The ordained young never married set in overseas leadership hasn’t noticed so far in actual decisions, only allowing words helpful for fundraising. Shall we add more words? Will that help? Or is it time for something else?
#6 Harry Coin on 2010-06-15 09:35
With all due respect. I suggest you read the founding fathers of America in context. If you would like a modern interpretation read the southerna agrarians. They (the founding fathers) were deists. The rebellion against England was a necessary evil. None the less a rebellion. They stole thousands if not millions of acres of land from my ancestors--the five civilized tribes. Our Presidents have been corrupt for generations as has our indurstrial business culture---no I am not a socialist or communist. Yah this is the can do culture we have inherited. We instigate one trouble after another France and Spain to get the south. Not something to revel in. American culture (my culture Anglo-Celt) has produced a culture of greed, dishonesty, power grabbing and avarice that rivals anything that the byzantines could offer. Oh by the way I am a member of a ROCOR parish. Rant off. The orthodox church in america is too young to be on her own. Where are our martyrs? We celebrated this past sunday those Martyrs who shone forth in N. A. We could count them on our hands. How healthy are our monasteries and convents. And seriously how healthy are the seminaries. Has German Higher Criticism crept into them?
#7 Steven A. Barker on 2010-06-15 09:53
Why is it it that so many converts like you hate where you come from? I am a naturalized citizen who decided to become one after long and careful considerations. How come we have arrived at diametrically opposite positions regarding this great country of ours? How can you truly belong to a Church that finds itself in the place that you hate? Indeed, why did you decide to join a jurisdiction like ROCOR that was created as a holding place, a temporary arrangement, until Russia shook off its Bolshevik yoke? Do you plan to go back to Russia? Whatever the answer is, why do you feel constrained to criticize those of us who want to make a go of it here in North America, like any other Church had done?
#7.1 Carl Kraeff on 2010-06-15 14:41
You wrote in response to my comments to Dcn Wheeler
"Why is it it that so many converts like you hate where you come from? I am a naturalized citizen who decided to become one after long and careful considerations. How come we have arrived at diametrically opposite positions regarding this great country of ours? How can you truly belong to a Church that finds itself in the place that you hate? "
What????? My ancestors have been here since 1650, some of them came as slaves from fighting against Cromwell in Scotland. My ancestors are as blue blood as they get. At present I have two sons serving in the US Marine Corp--ooorah. Hate my country utter balderdash. We have fought in every fight where we were needed. We were neighbors to the Jeffersons, Washingtons, the Lewis's and the like.
What I was asking for is a return to being a good american via the understanding of the southern agrarians---they argued for a traditional society, a local economy and responsible living. So....Please Carl go and read these men.
Oh by the way I am a former Lutheran Pastor who resigned his call over truth----the Orthodox Truth, way and life.
Oh, also, I left the OCA because it is Orthodoxy lite.
Go to Russia? Why? I am an Orthodox Christian who lives in America. This is my pratromony.
I came to ROCOR because I was told by the local Greek Parish not to come there because I was not Greek, the local Antiochian parish is problematic---we want to be Arab. Oh yah, the OCA parish was struggling with James Dobson, cut the liturgy to reach out to Americans..... you get my drift. My ROCOR parish is a little slice of Heaven on Earth: Russian, Serbs, and Anglo-Celts doing one thing---striving to reach the eternal kingdom of God
As for ROCOR being a holding place for The White Russians...ooorah ( as my marines would say). They resisted the Communists. And we stopped supporting them In Archangel in 1922. Now what do you say?
Answer my question. Where are our Martyrs? How many do we have? Which local, national saints does your parish celebrate/commemorate?
What do you know about St. Innocent of Moscow who came to Alaska? Scriptures in native Language, Liturgy in native language.
Oh by the way. My Saints name is St. Alban, Proto-Martyr of Brittain.
Steven A. Barker
#7.1.1 Steven A Barker on 2010-06-16 06:26
My OCA parish is very similar to the local ROCOR parish--that is nothing is left out. We have no pews, we do prostrations, we strive to live a full liturgical and ascetic life. No Orthodoxy light in my parish. The only things that are different are (1) we use the correct calendar; (2) men and women do not stand in separate halves of the church and (3) we are a pan-Orthodox group while the ROCOR parish is 100% convert (our former parishioners). Oh, we also have established two missions (not counting the ROCOR parish) and are planning to start a third one, and many vocations have come out of my God-blessed OCA parish.
You laid out a short bio. Let me reciprocate: I am a naturalized citizen, a patriot, and a former career military man. I believe that we must have an Orthodox Church in America who is more than a footnote in the religious landscape; we have constituted no more than 2% of the population for decades.
On the other hand, ROCOR is dedicated to be part of the Church of Russia and was indeed created as a temporary institution--she is truly in diaspora. It continually surprises me that American Orthodox folks join ROCOR.
I have also noticed that former Catholics are more anti-Catholic than cradle born, with the same phenomenon often manifesting itself in converts from other churches. Many but not all coverts seem to be afflicted by a "more Orthodox than thou" attitude and "more vehemently anti-heterodox than thou" stances than the cradles. You may chalk it up to zeal, which is indeed a good thing, but it does bother me that some folks do hate the places where they come from. It does bother me that some folks are attracted by the exoticism of foreign languages and cultures rather than just the Orthodox way of life. Finally, it does bother me that some folks are so focused on the externals that they become worshipers of calendars and rubrics.
(editor's note: If by "correct calendar" you mean the NEW, as opposed to the OLD, neither is accurate as a means of keeping the date as revealed by nature. So let's not go there. As for pews meaning you have "Orthodoxy lite" - LOL. My parish choose to have pews because we are missionary oriented - and our wider religious culture expects to have place to sit in Church upon entering one. No place to sit, they don't come back for another 90+ minutes service. (We also have place for those who wish to stand as is more traditional.) As a result in the last 15 years in a dying city ( top ten in the USA!) in a depopulating state, our parish has grown from ministering to 40 to over 200. The more traditional ROCOR parish up the road, no pews, is gone. As Ecclesiastes says: "Better a live dog, than a dead lion." Feel free to disagree.
I reject the "Orthodoxy lite" slam, based on whether one sits, or stands; or uses Calendar A or B which are both inaccurate; or has 3 hours services or shorter ones; or what one eats or doesn't eat. ( As our Lord said it is what comes out of your mouth that defiles) You risk confusing the symbol for that which it symbolizes, and the means for the end. The world is so close to totally forgetting God our Father, that his Orthodox children should not be arguing about which one of them remembers Him most. )
#126.96.36.199 Carl Kraeff on 2010-06-17 08:33
Sorry Mark, I should have made it clear that my second post was a follow-up to the one from Steven A. Barker, who converted and went to ROCOR because of the perceive Orthodoxy Lightness of OCA. Hence my references to the calendar, no pews, etc...
Having been in many different Orthodox churches, I appreciate diversity. I must confess, however, that even at my age (nearing retirement), I appreciate the longer services and the lack of pews (gives me the option of sitting in the back or standing and doing prostrations if my back and legs will allow me at that time). Of course, externals are not nearly as important as what they represent so I would not terribly mind variations. What I think is important, however, is seriousness of purpose and a relentless drive toward what the Lord wants us to be and do.
At least in the Deep South where I now live, I do not believe in changing the externals to make things easier or more relevant to potential converts. I must hasten to clarify that certain things are indeed quite important to the whole experience of the Divine Liturgy, primarily to cement the truth that the service the common work of us all and that we should all participate in it as much as possible. Thus, it is essential that the people sing along with the choir, that they say their "amens" at the appropriate times (as during the Epiklesis) and that they hear and understand the Anaphora prayers.
#188.8.131.52.1 Carl Kraeff on 2010-06-17 15:29
bla bla bal! its over. game called for rain in the 8th inning. alllll this discussion, is now, just so much cotton candy. the bishops in this country had their xxxxx cut off by the ep and rightly so. none of them are worthy to be a leader here in this country. under the weezy guise of humility and obedience, these non-entities have betrayed the very people they were meant to care for. it was really over they day the ep shot down iakovos megas, once that was over, the only bishop left with any brains and courage was metropolitan philip, and what can he do alone, here, with all these limp, soggy and brainless bishops?
many people have argued, and fought the case of an american church, but nothing has happened, and as for the oca, in it current condition, it is nothing more than the device that forgot meyendorff and schmemman. these two heros, saints really, of the north american orthodox experience labored long and hard, while the window of opportunity was already closing.
what the oca has left behind is a legacy of shame, crime and horror. the present leadership in the oca is finished on the world stage, and since the popular movement for self-autocephaly never took root, only death is left.
enter ep stage left, the ep with the historical vision and patience to wait for the right moment, had grabbed that moment by its privates and will squeeze it until it crows the right tune. the patriarchates are dividing up the world, and do you think that we would be in this position if
1.) the oca and other bishops in this country had the vision to take control long ago?
2.) iakovos has been even 5 yrs younger at ligonier one?
3.) if jonah the wise has not shoved foot in mouth and insulted the ep?
it all so sad. by game called in the 8th inning.
as for the ep, i say welcome! if you had brains to engineer this, maybe, just maybe you have the brains to solve the north american situation. don't get me wrong, i'd love to see a real american church, i just don't see any real bishops here .....
#8 craped out on 2010-06-15 13:17
Adding to what's been said, the cassock is nothing more than an outer garb, like a suit in the Western world. It isn't "Orthodox." In the Mid-Eastern countries, it's normal for all men; Christian, Muslim, etc., to wear a "cassock" or outer garb. And, married men never wear black, only monks. Taking this further, a crown was not something a bishop wore. The patriarchs began wearing them after there were no emperors. Same with the "saccos" or bishop's garment - this is the emperor's garment, not bishop. As for different languages, Orthodoxy always adapted to the culture it was immersed in and adopted the language of the culture. Here in America, this is English! If you are going to fight for what "IS" Orthodox, learn what is and isn't Orthodox!
#8.1 Anonymous on 2010-06-16 06:14
Truly this article is disgusting.
To all you who are trying to change Orthodoxy to your personal conformity as Americans. Let me say I'm American born and raised, and I will be the first to suggest you go to the nearest shopping plaza and find a new "religion" that fits your "personal" desires.
If you don't like hats...I'm sorry...Orthodoxy is probably not up your alley.
If you don't like the multilingual services...I'm sorry...Orthodoxy is probably not in your best personal interest.
If you don't really think cassocks are hip because they can't be used as chaps....sorry, I don't think Orthodoxy will fit well in your lifestyle.
These are lame jokes for examples but true. Offensive...probably about as offensive as you trying to destroy the church by changing a 2,000 year old tradition.
Don't change something that has been protected for so many years, we will become another street corner church.
Here is proof why...because we have no religious example here to use as validation that we can preserve "A" single church in America on our own, there is no Christian religion in the US that shows consistency other than Orthodoxy...wonder why? Think about it.
(Editor's note: Is that what you think Archdeacon Wheeler was talking about? Hats? Do you really think there must be two languages in a liturgy to be Orthodox? Where in his reflection did the Archdeacon say anywhere he wanted to change 2,000 years of tradition? Methinks you doth protest too much...)
#9 An honest American born Orthodox Christian on 2010-06-15 14:32
Hey, "Honest American": The problem is, you don't know what is Orthodox and what isn't! For instance, "kamalavka" are a Muslim invention! The Muslims insisted that Orthodox clerics wear these hats to distinguish them from Muslim clerics. Today, people like YOU think these are part of Orthodox tradition - they aren't - they are an aberration! Monks wear them, bishops wear them, elevated priests wear them and THEY ARE MUSLIM! Same with the riasa or jibby - Muslim judges garb. This is just an example. People like YOU don't have a clue what is really Orthodox and what isn't yet, you'll fight for what is wrong! Sad!
#9.1 Anonymous on 2010-06-15 18:06
let us look at the clerical garb. you are partially right about the kamilavka, mostly its form, which is that of the turkish fez,worn by officials of the ottoman empire. however clerical caps, skoufo or skoufia were born by clergy long before the turkish yoke, as have long clerical robes, which were and still are also worn by catholic clergy who never were under the turks. thus, skull caps and long robes are not turkish,they are orthodox tradition. the canons order clergy to were distinct dress. long robes are good. they cover up the body. many years ago at a church summercamp i overheared a couple teenage girls commenting on how cute and well built father (the priest) was. well, he was clean shaven and wearing a short sleeve clergy shirt. had he worn a cassock and a full beard, as orthodox clergy should, those girls surely would not have noticed his looks. CLERGY ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE HUMBLE SERVANTS OF CHRIST, not sporty fashion models.( and there is a canon that prohibits clergy from using parfumes) the clerical robe also reminds the priest who he is and how he should behave. AND our cassocks, crosses and beards are excellent missionary tools. they provoke interest in people. i have had many conversations with people coming up to me asking me what religion i was which gave me the opportunity to explain to the our holy faith. i do not say that the cassock and cross make the priest, but i think they are good and so does the church.
#9.1.1 Anonymous on 2010-06-21 16:31
Just to clarify it wasn't just the article, but more peoples comments on this board I was referring too.
Well, believe it or not, it's still tradition. I think it's awesome to have multilingual churches because the church is welcome to all, if one person can hear a Lord have mercy in their native language than that is beautiful. I am for it.
No one has yet showed me one example of an organized religion in the US that has not been warped by personal desires and arrogance. Give me one undistorted church in here and i may eventually change my mind, but that is what led me here in the first place...being preserved from the western influence. Tired of seeing website churches now, what is this? Does anyone understand my point. If not, than you obviously don't drive to work every day and see for yourself.
#9.2 An honest American born Orthodox Christian on 2010-06-16 06:33
Dear So-Called "Honest" American Born Orthodox Christian,
Your rant smells acutely parallel to those immigrants who come over here to America, and then bellyache what a lousy country this is!! Really??? Then, why the hell did they come over here in the first place?? I guess it can't be that bad if they came here and, more significantly, have stayed here, can it??? Same with your supposed points: No church in America has done things authentically, as (supposedly) the foreign ones have done!! Really??? Well, then, why don't you go and move to one of those foreign countries and enjoy your "authentic" Orthodoxy?? Move to Constantinople - oops!! - I'm so sorry!!! It isn't Constantinople anymore, is it?? It's been Istanbul now for almost 700 years!!! Why not move to Istanbul for your "authentic" Orthodoxy?? You can not only rub elbows with +Bartholomew, you might actually get to have tea with a Turkish official or two!! "Genuine," "authentic" Orthodoxy!! It should really make you happy!!
#9.2.1 David Barrett on 2010-06-17 12:03
You are the exact reason why this issue exists. They came here for freedom, not to change the church. They came so they wouldn't get killed for their faith, most importantly!
Everyone including you and I know they love this country, the only thing i have heard complaints about is foreign policy which is not relevant in this conversation. Is that wrong? We are not perfect, even though this is the best country in the world....we are not perfect either and people have a right to disagree.
You still did not give me an example Mr. Barrett of a Church here that has been preserved...waiting patiently. Also thanks for showing your true colors, your a cold soul in a warm place.
Mark...I appreciate if you post this too, i want to hear his answer if possible.
#184.108.40.206 An honest American born Orthodox Christian on 2010-06-17 15:04
First of all, I agree that we all have a right to disagree with each other! I *don't*, however, feel it is constructive in our disagreements to resort to name-calling or similar tactics (such as my being a "cold soul in a warm place").
Secondly, I find your points contradictory. In all of your posts, you lament the fact that you cannot find one Church here in America that is devoid of distortions! Yet, in your latest post (to me), you twice state that "We are not perfect!" Exactly!!! We are not perfect!! So, then, how can you expect to find a Church that does not have distortions, if we are not perfect?? As you well know, the Church, just like her Head (Christ), has two natures: divine and human! In her divine nature, the Church is perfect: the presence of the Kingdom of God here in the fallen world, Christ's Body, with Him as her Head!! In her human nature, however, she is, alas, made up of us sinful, fallen human beings!! Which means, therefore, that she only does not exist now in America without distortions, but has *never*, in her entire history, existed without distortions!!! From deposing and sending into exile many of her official, canonically-recognized saints (John Chrysostom quickly comes to mind), to torturing and maiming some other of those official, canonically-recognized saints (Maximus the Confessor is an in-your-face example of this category) by those of her leaders who should have most fully made Christ present in His Church (meaning, the bishops and patriarchs who had Maximus' hand cut off and his tongue cut out), the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Orthodox Church has never, EVER been void of acute sin, blasphemy, scandal, heresy, and, yes, my friend, distortion upon distortion upon distortion!! THIS is the point I was trying to make in my first post to you, and, if I did so inaccurately or confusedly, I offer to you my most sincere apologies!! We will not get anywhere looking for a distortion-free Church in the Americas!! But, we can move forward by working through our distortions and "work[ing] out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12), and not allowing the distortions of other churches (like those overseas who wish to have us under their ecclesiastical and financial thumbnails) to keep us from growing, both spiritually and administratively!!
I pray that this clarifies my position in greater detail!! Let's not let outside influences/churches work to divide us! Rather, let us work in unity to really UNITE ourselves, fully, as Orthodox Christians in America!!!
#220.127.116.11.1 David Barrett on 2010-06-17 18:43
I thank you for your response. That is fine. I will quit commenting on this post. If by me saying a cold heart, please re-read your 400 word blast on people who immigrated here. That wasn't from my mouth.
Much like my and your families did generation upon generations ago, these families just immigrated here maybe 1 or 2 generations ago, or even last month... That also could be a reason why it's hard for them to adjust, even though they know it's better here. The generations of understanding American culture here are shorter than people born here. This is a process. Give them support and love, just like they did by introducing the Orthodox faith to us here.
Anyways, to be honest again, i did not read your response beyond the first few paragraphs because obviously I know you cooled down, and secondly you did an extraordinary amount of research for a great response that didn't answer my question. Forgive me for that. $100 says we'd get along fine too, I just didn't feel like reading it all right now no offense...though i will later and hopefully read the response.
However, I will take your advice and only post constructive comments after this, but will still defend my opinions, but in a constructive way. I suggest you also be more respectful as well for what you wrote has been read a hundred times already....just as mine probably was too.
All the best.
A fellow Orthodox Christian trying my best....a.k.a. An honest American born Orthodox Christian:)
#18.104.22.168.1.1 An honest American born Orthodox Christian on 2010-06-18 09:15
Thank you!! All the best to you, as well!!! God bless you, and all the Orthodox Christians in our country!! May the Holy Spirit guide us into unity, both spiritually and administratively!!!
#22.214.171.124.1.1.1 David Barrett on 2010-06-18 20:53
Hey, "craped out," yes, the Pat. of Istanbul is trying to engineer a good one, but remember, if the radical Muslim element should decide to hang him and burn the Phanar, it's over! Maybe 1,000 Orthodox left in Istanbul and this guy wants to rule Orthodoxy? As for the OCA scandals, do you think the Greeks, Antiochians and others have had no scandals? + Iakavos was key in several major real estate scandals as well as other activities. Upon his death, people tried to sanitize his legacy, but proof still exists. The Antiochians, lots of $$$ flows in and out and over-seas. + Jonah was absolutely right, "If we wanted to be under a Pope, we would have chosen the real one!" We'll see what the Holy Spirit has planned. My bet, the American Church will win, but the hierarchs must stand up. There is no future under foreign bishops!
(Editor's note: As I remember, +Jonah was quoting someone else with that statement - the late Fr. Justin Popovich, comes to mind.)
#10 Any Moose on 2010-06-15 14:47
Why do we (North American Orthodox Christians) continue to participate in this "Alice in Wonderland" farce that calls itself an Episcopal Assembly. Most of our bishops may be blithering and gutless idiots who conflate pity and obedience with servility, but at least they are real bishops! That is bishops who have real dioceses, parishes, and laity. Not phony and defunct relics of a long dead past era ( Moscow excepted), which really wasn't so great to start with and has demonstrably been abandoned by the Holy Spirit, if one equates viable Christian communities with the indwelling of the Spirit.
Certainly the Greek Church long ago figured this out--why can't we? Are we really so timid and unimaginative that we can't break the ungodly fetters of this vampiric hierarchical embrace? It is long past time that we took our Orthodox witness into our own hands whatever the international consequences. I mean really, who cares if they cast us out of their decaying club of increasing irrelevance, so long as they continue to treat us with contempt and have the effrontery of deeming us a mere diaspora-- that is a cash cow to be repeatedly milked and looked down upon in their pathetic attempt to survive and find relevance in the modern world.
If the bishops (ours that is) will not lead, then the clergy and laity must not follow a path that leads only to eventual institutional extinction as a viable presence and witness in the Americas. We must demand and declare our independence from foreign principalities that no longer are doing the work of, or walking in the ways of, our Lord.
#11 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-06-15 15:38
Dcn Wheelers article is a very interesting article and addresses burning questions in the Orthodox Church in general. But there are a several flaws and inaccuracies that spoil his over-all argument. He says “the revolutionary spirit which led to the establishment of the United States in America has not waned; it is still very much alive in our spirit and culture – we are a “can do” people”. This is flawed because you cannot apply a Political, Protestant and revolutionary mindset of 1776 to Orthodox Christianity. Yes you can say Christianity is a revolution against one’s passions and sins, but it is not about political revolution. So to apply a revolutionary spirit when it comes ecclesial hierarchy in Orthodox is flawed and just wrong. We should remember that Orthodox Christianity is not a democracy; it is hierarchal body with Christ as its head. Where there is a bishop there is a Church and the people are the keepers of the piety and are to remind the clergy and hierarchy of that piety, but the clergy take care of Theology. Also, in the US the founding fathers have been deified politically, and there work as a measure of all things political. This is fine, politically, but to throw their intentions and philosophies, as some were deists, into the Orthodox Church and how it functions is just plain wrong and detrimental to Church life. Like the Psalmist says: “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help” (Psalm 146:3).
The “can do” people is something very enviable that the US has but when this statement (only as a statement) is put into Church life it lacks something - Christ. As everyone one knows we cannot do anything without Christ. To rely only on ones self is comical if it lacks Christ. I don’t know whether Dcn. Wheeler thought that this is understood or not.
Dcn. Wheeler incorrectly says that the “homogenous traditional Orthodox Lands”(sic) are completely foreign to diversity and “lack our capacity to adapt to change and our ability to forge solutions in a rapid manner when faced with obstacles”(sic)! If anyone would actually look at the population in, let us say, modern Serbia , they would not see a homogenous state. Serbia is a country of barely 10 million people and the size of Florida , it has over 27 nationalities within its borders and 4 other major world religions as well, not including former Yugoslav states. Also Russia , which is 1/6 of the all land in the world, has an enormous amount of nationalities and all religions, even nationalities that are only found within the Russian Federation , like the Native Americans in the USA . And both of these “old” Patriarchates(Moscow and Belgrade) are Evangelizing those minorities and “are able to solve problems by charting a course of action” (sic), such as translating the Gospel and Divine Services into their native languages. As far as I know the Serbian Orthodox Church is the only Church to translate the Gospel and Liturgy in to the Roma(Gypsy) language and serve it for them.
“I am concerned that the ancient Orthodox Patriarchates do not have a clue when dealing with the multi-jurisdictional situation in America because in large part they do not understand our American spirit.” This statement can be reversed, they don’t understand the American spirit, and Americans don’t understand them. It would be arrogant to think Americans understand everything about everyone else and no one understands them. It is wrong if the Old patriarchates don’t respect the Orthodox America but it is also wrong if Orthodox America does not respect the Old Patriarchates. Plus in Europe all the Orthodox Churches are shoulder to shoulder with each other. Within a day’s drive you can be in at least 4 different jurisdictions(like in the US) and there is still discussion about what land belongs to who.
I agree that the Orthodox Church of America has been marginalized in these conferences concerning the so called “Diaspora” which is certain people playing politics and trying to spite each other and causing the OCA to be caught in the middle. I applaud Dcn. Wheeler’s efforts in spreading Orthodoxy in America and supporting his local Church but he should do more research when making such statements as the ones above. Also not assume that America is the most vibrant place of Church life while everywhere else is stagnant and stuck in ethnic ghettos where Orthodoxy is walled in by nationalism and ethnicity.
Dcn Wheeler does make some great points but should learn more details to strengthen his argument.
#12 Radomir Plavsic on 2010-06-15 17:17
Talk about "the pot calling the kettle black!" Mr. Plavsic's condescending misrepresentation of Deacon Wheeler's illustrations is what needs to be reexamined. After all, the Wheeler examples are not similes, but rather a very accurate description of where most Americans are coming from in terms of their national ethos--even if they are not direct descendants of the Founding Fathers. Most immigrants, and we are all the sons and daughters of immigrants, came here to make a better life and to escape oppressive conditions from elsewhere--hence our innate suspicion of foreign structures and control.
And while we are about the messy business of rebuking people for their lack of sensitivity, how about a moratorium on denigrating those who don't happen to be Orthodox, as if we have a monopoly on all truth and wisdom. One need not subscribe to the creed of American Exceptionalism to believe that our culture has made unique and worthy contributions to the polity of the world. That being the case, Americans, of whatever stripe, are not about to be lectured or dictated to by the overseers of foreign regimes however ancient their linage.
Respect is a two way street--to be earned , not commanded. Our brothers in Christ abroad would do well to remember that simple concept.
#12.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-06-16 05:58
As I am both an immigrant and naturalized American, having lived most of my life in the US and educated here, I feel that I understand the ethos of both the old and new world. I understand the contributions that the Founding Fathers made, and I like their system the most, when it comes to the US. But When you go to old world you can see it’s a different ballgame, things that work here don’t work over there and vice versa. But one thing is obvious, no one, not just Americans, likes to be lectured and dictated to by overseers of foreign regimes. France didn’t like in the 40’s, neither did Poland, or Greece, or Yugoslavia or Romania or Russia, etc. Also the US is not immune to oppression, you just have to look around you and see the rise of big brother, similar to totalitarian regimes but hopefully won’t turn it one.
As American’s, in the modern age, we are used to getting everything our way, right away. We all suffer from being “cafeteria Christians’’. Let us look at history of the other old patriarchates like Russia. After the baptism of kievan Rus, the Russians received their first ethnically Russian bishop after almost 2 centuries(if I remember correctly) later even though everyone was already baptized. Even Serbia didn’t get its own diocese and ethnic bishop until St. Sava(and there was a Serbia kingdom before St. Sava) and the baptism of the Serbs started in the 6-7 century. At St. Sava didn’t demand it, he asked for it from the Patriarch and Emperor of Constantinople. My point is that achieving the goal of unity takes time and maturity. Are we mature? I don’t know, its not up to me and am glad for it. One thing is for sure is that we do have the Fullness of Truth in the Orthodox Church, if we didn’t why not leave and going to another religion where fasting is not a important step in spiritual life. There is no need for denigrating, but being aware of the fact that we do have the Fullness of Truth is necessary.
We are mature enough to know the difference between respect and obedience. The clergy and laity should have obedience to their bishop, obedience is not earned like respect, it should be automatic. Like Adam and Eve, they were disobedient and look what happened. In American politics, dissidence is a virtue but not in the Orthodox Christian Church. The priests are to be obedient to the Bishop, the bishop to the Council of Bishops and dogmas and canons of the Church. And if you are not, there is no gray zone, it's either you are apart or not. But the sad problem is that there are overlapping jurisdictions and people who are disobedient just run to another jurisdiction and Bishop and give a sob story. This is a major problem that needs to be addressed. If there was a single Church jurisdiction in the US it would fix the problem.
So I think, Mr Tobin, we do agree with each other on what should be done but disagree on the way and pace.
#12.1.1 R. Plavsic on 2010-06-16 09:34
i have heard that the executive committee is simply the heads of the churches here in america - but this committee has no power within the assembly. each bishop gets a vote and the assembly is much more conciliar than SCOBA was - so if metropolitan jonah is not on the committee, it really makes no difference - he votes like everyone else.
(Editor's note: If it makes no difference, and it has no power, why have one? So, I guess it does make a difference, because the easiest thing in the world would be to just invite him for what he is - the primate of an American jurisidction - rather than deny his existence and participation- while claiming the body is meaningless. )
#13 david on 2010-06-16 04:56
Well, in his recent AFR interview, Bishop Basil said that the Executive Committee is for "conslutation" only. It sounds like it's just a way to keep the "Mother Churches" informed of what the Assembly is doing. If you want to talk about a group with real power, other than the Assembly as a whole, you should focus on the Secretariat that Bishop Basil is running. It sounds like the Secretariat will have far, far more influence than the Executive Committee. Which means that Bishop Basil will have a lot of influence -- is that such a bad thing?
Also, the EA's other committees seem to have more substance than the Executive Committee. The OCA isn't excluded from the committee that will come up with a plan to unite the jurisdictions. They aren't excluded from the pastoral committee, or the canonical committee, or any other committee. And it's those committees that will be coming up with plans to present to the whole Assembly for approval. The Executive Committee won't be doing that.
Everyone here should go to AFR and listen to Bishop Basil's interview, if you want to know what's actually going on with the Assembly.
(Editor's note: Well, if that is their function, shouldn't Jonah be on it to inform his Church of what is going on, if that is their purpose? Oh, that's right, his Church is in America, which is why he can't be on it. Now I understand.... C'mon, Ferris, stop trying to justify the unjustifiable and focus on the positive you are trying to convince us of. So, if Bishop Basil is going to pull unity out of his klobuokh, as you suggest, just how is it going to be done? Through committees? I'd love to hear more about them....)
#13.1 Ferris Haddad on 2010-06-16 06:54
(responding more to Mark's comment on Ferris Haddad's comment)
Everything you say is true, but I'm not sure that it's helpful. Well, maybe it is helpful in some limited sense, but it strikes me as missing the forest for the trees.
The refusal of the EP to include the OCA as what we are -- a separate jurisdiction in America (I'm deliberately avoiding the "A" word for a moment) -- is frustrating and ultimately silly. And the degree to which the EA is painting within lines drawn from abroad is frustrating. Indeed, the fact that even such a senior hierarch as Abp. Demetrios with his substantial "power base" in America must be deferential, to the point of obsequiousness at times, to the letter of the Chambesy documents demonstrates the limitations and ultimate ineffectiveness of Orthodoxy in America being under these mother churches in the long run -- no one's forgetting any time soon what happened after Ligonier.
All that is true and annoying and stupid in a particularly frustrating and even infuriating way.
But I'd argue it's not the whole picture and assuming an attitude of blanket criticism toward the EA is a mistake. There is an opportunity here for a fresh approach to unity. It may not be the perfect opportunity, it may not look like our pre-scripted notions of how unity will come about. But I'd argue that most of our pre-scripted notions have run their course. The institutional cooperation model of SCOBA led to some coordination among the jurisdictions and led to successful organizations such as OCMC and IOCC, but SCOBA seems to have become a bit of a formality over the years. The autocephaly of the OCA was many things, but in relationship to unity it has been an attempt at independence first as a step to unity. In this regard, it has been partially successful, sweeping up several other groups and integrating them into an administratively coherent body. But the momentum behind the OCA as leader of unification was lost some time ago. At this point it's highly unlikely that, though much talked about and seemingly very close at times, the Anticohians would unite with us under the OCA banner, and it's utterly inconceivable that the Greeks would. When it seemed that the OCA was a plausible path to a unified "everyone but the Greeks" model, it was reasonable to promote our autocephaly as the best path forward. But that path to unity is no longer plausible -- again, I'm not arguing the rightness of this, I'm arguing the practical realities. And I'm also not parroting those who use this line of argument to undermine the OCA's legitimacy -- with respect to the future path to unity in America, our autocephaly may not be the answer; but as an existential reality our autocephaly is a fact.
So -- Chambesy, without any involvement from anyone in America, comes up with this plan of regional assemblies. They've set down lots of rules. Is there any value in playing by these rules?
I think there is. It's a fresh start and a different approach.
Look for decades I've heard people say as a truism that our people and parishes are more ready for unity and that the bishops are the impediment. I don't know that that's really true -- but it's been spouted for ages and must reflect something. Well, here is a bishops first approach to building real relationships and cooperation.
Let's give it a fair shot.
Mark, you spoke disparagingly of the committees -- but I think they're a very positive thing. As I understand it (and as always I remain open to correction), the committees are formed around real tasks that pertain to how we live and operate. Working together on problems seems a more promising path to unity than banging away over and over on the potential administrative structure for unity. SCOBA successfully fostered coordinated outward facing action, but it did not address issues within or between the various jurisdictions. The EA committees are designed to address these "within and between" issues which are the things that actually divide us.
To my mind the EA has the potential for success if it can:
1. Foster real, human, face-to-face relationships among all the bishops.
2. Coordinate productive activity in engaging on issues we all face internally and between the various bodies extant in America.
It's not much ... but if successful, I think much could be achieved.
Unity of purpose. Then unity of action. Eventually, unity in some form of administration. Maybe way down the line, a fully independent administration.
It's a different model. But I feel we've gone as far as we can with the old models.
Is it the "right" model? Maybe, maybe not -- but it's on the table, so let's engage.
Could the games the EP is playing with respect to the OCA undermine the effort? Quite possibly. Maybe it's our version of the three-fifths rule -- necessary to get the ball rolling, but creating a profound flaw in the founding process. But as a nation, we corrected that original error (albeit with a horrendous cost).
One other encouraging thing here is that by all accounts the marginalization of the OCA appears to be a demand of the EP that the GOARCH is trying to work around in every way possible and with good faith. [And we also should remember that the EP is probably still acting in a snit about +MJ's comments in Texas a while back. Having our future governed by the whims of foreign hierarchs in this way points to the ultimate need for independence, but maybe we can just be bigger than he is about this particular snit?]
Going back to the comment and response this is a reaction to -- I don't think you have to be wearing rose-colored glasses to see positives here. It's a complex situation, but I firmly believe that it would a mistake for the OCA to walk away from it. And I also firmly believe that while our autocephaly is valid and a reality and must be acknowledged in some way (we're here and we account for a big chunk of the Orthodox in America), the autocephaly is no longer a viable path to further unification.
(Editor's note: By all means, let us be more helpful than truthful! Sorry, I couldn't resist that shot, because that is the impression many of the supporters of the AE are giving: everybody smile and it will all work out, somehow. I fundamentally disagree with your final statement, as well. Autocephaly is the only path to further unification. I, as most non-Greeks, have no desire to be under Istanbul; nor like many Serbs to be under Muslim/dictactorial control from Damascus, nor like many Romanians/Bulgarians/ etc. to return to Mr. Putin's Church. I live in America, want to worship God according to the Orthodox Tradition, and do so without compromising my freedom as an American ( political and civil). If that is not possible, then I don't think Orthodoxy has a great future in North America; but I think it is possible, and autocephaly is the way. Is the OCA the only vehicle for autocephaly? No. But Right now, it is. As the events of the last year have clearly pointed out, no one else comes close to the OCA on that point. So until the EA declares itself as "uniting" us to makes us autocephalous - in word and in deed - pardon me if I remain skeptical. I may be a barbarian, indeed, as the good Archmandrite makes clear, I am, but I am not stupid. The EA has two futures: it can work to make the rest of North AMerican Orthodoxy as "free" as the OCA of foreign control and domination; or it can destroy the OCA, and call it "order". If it is the former, however they want to work it out, good; if the latter, count me out. Because any "order" they attempt to create over the corpse of the OCA, will be no "order" at all, but be seen for what it is: so-called disciples of Christ ignoring the Gospel, while fighting over who will be first in the Kingdom...)
#13.1.1 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-17 03:52
Mark writes: "Because any "order" they attempt to create over the corpse of the OCA, will be no "order" at all,"
I totally agree with this. And undoubtedly there are many who have the destruction of the OCA on their agenda. Honestly, it seems to me that it's even higher and more firmly placed on the agendas of some elements in the MP/ROCOR than on the EP's agenda. And, Lord help us, that archimandrite from the EP is seriously bad news.
On the other hand, Abp.Demetrios appears to be acting in good faith, as do at least some (many?) of the other GOA and Antiochian bishops.
Could nasty agendas kill this thing and make it a vehicle of some really unpleasant developments? Sure. Is that necessarily the outcome based on what we've seen to date? Not in my view. Should we engage constructively? I'd say yes; I think you'd also say yes. Maybe the difference is over what limits and preconditions to put on "constructive"?
I don't mean to be starry-eyed about this. I could offer a pretty devastating indictment of some of the dangerous and destructive agendas circling the EA. But based on what I've seen and heard to date (which is admittedly very limited) I do not see evidence that these agendas and the people who would pursue them have the upper hand in the fledgling EA endeavor.
Also, just to clarify -- my expectations of what it will accomplish are relatively low. I'm not looking for it to solve the problems of unity or independence any time soon. If it simply brings the bishops together and they get to work more in concert with one another, it's a positive step. Perhaps my greater satisfaction with the EA is simply a manifestation of my very low expectations -- when you don't expect much, even a little progress is good news.
#126.96.36.199 Rebecca Matovic on 2010-06-17 14:58
Of course it's not a perfect process. Of course Jonah should be on the Executive Committee (though thank God the EC doesn't have any real power). But the OCA bishops are full members of the Assembly, which is a pretty big deal. By all accounts, they handled themselves very well at the first meeting. I'm not sure who your sources are, but I'm hearing lots of positive things, and little in the way of negativity.
In the end, the OCA has the freedom to walk away -- to say to the Assembly, "There is an American Orthodox Church; leave it alone!" Met Jonah and his fellow bishops haven't done that. So far, they've been full participants in the process. Should everyone just recognize the OCA as autocephalous and submit to Jonah's primacy? Many think so, and for good reasons, but that's just not going to happen. Realistically, if our bishops are going to cooperate in this country, it's going to be through a body like the Assembly. The OCA can opt out, but why? What is to be gained?
I really don't understand your total negativity regarding the Assembly. We all know how many bad bishops there are, and how bad the odds are of a positive result. But we also know (or should know) that the Ecumenical Councils had similar issues -- selfish bishops, power plays, meddling civil authorities, etc. -- and the Holy Spirit found a way to work through them. Will He do the same thing with this Assembly? Maybe; maybe not. But this is still the Church, and the Holy Spirit is still here. We've got some really excellent hierarchs on the Assembly. Maybe they aren't the majority, but if things go right, they can drive the process. Rather than assume the Assembly is dead in the water, or doomed to be a playground for foreign ecclesiastical interests, why not have an open mind about the work of God and the capabilities of the good bishops involved?
(Editor's note: Well said! The crux of my skepticism is contained in your final remark. I have not assumed the Assembly is dead in the water: whether it goes somewhere, though, depends mainly on Bishop Basil and money. He has the spunk, and access to money. Voila, it may go somewhere. My concern is where it is going - and that is a question no one can answer yet - not you, not I, not Bishop Basil. Our good Greek Archimandrite has shown that the EP considers the EA to be " a playground for foreign episcopal intrigue", namely his: can the Bishops refute that? No one knows, but the track record of the Greek episcopate in this country is not good in this regard. Can the Holy Spirit act through bad people - of course! But it doesn't stop good people, or even skeptical people, from questioning. And if the AE can't endure questioning, it is doomed, no matter how much some want it. It trust it can endure in the short run. My question remains though - for what purpose? And to what end?)
#13.1.2 Ferris Haddad on 2010-06-17 06:48
as it seemed from an interview i heard with bishop basil - it is not really a body within the assembly, rather simply an acknowledgement of the local primates. it doesn't seem as if it's supposed to be a little scoba group within the assembly.
(Editor's note: And Jonah is not a local primate? C'mon.)
#13.2 david on 2010-06-16 10:15
Maybe I Am Just Too Orthodox for this American Church. Get the Roman Catholicism out of the OCA and go back to your Orthodoxy. Ethnic churches attract those of us who are seeking a truly Orthodox church that keep all of the traditions and canons. I have found a lot lacking in the many OCA churches I have visited. Let us start with the Orthodox calendar--throw out the Roman Catholic calendar. Thanks for allowing me the comment. Glory to Jesus Christ! P.S. I have visited quite a few OCA churches that are very ethnic also.
#14 Aleksandra Adamiak on 2010-06-16 11:55
There is one major miscalculation in Fr. Deacon's assessment. The more realistic understanding between the EP and the MP's arrangement in US primacy is not a trade off of EP recognizing OCA autocephaly for backing out of Ukraine but rather EP backing off in Ukraine for the MP recognizing EP primacy in US. This includes the MP not protesting the EP's non-recognition of OCA autocephaly. Notice also the MP did not speak in defense of OCA autocephaly. Notice the MP did not speak up for the terms afforded ROCOR in the Act of Canonical communion either. Neither did the OCA nor the ROCOR asserted their positions secured in either of their agreements with the MP. Both the OCA and ROCOR agreements with the MP granted powerful independence to these groups (obviously not autocephaly for ROCOR but as close as one could get). This non-response concerning those agreements from both OCA and ROCOR lets the MP off the hook for deals it made which in essence are in conflict with the EP's EA strategy. Considering the sphere of influence the MP would "firm up" in Ukraine, such a trade off would be a welcome strategy for both EP and MP.
Also, it is no secret in ROCOR and MP clerical inner-circles that the MP is not really happy with what has become of the OCA autocephaly. The OCA's treatment at Met. Laurus' funeral was ice cold. The new "good" relations with the OCA and ROCOR can be seen in the context of neither side asserting their independant status afforded by their agreements with the MP. If one doubts the idea that MP does not respect OCA autocephaly, consider this: The Act of canonical communon between ROCOR and MP completely tramples on the OCA autocephaly. Think on that next time we read about how the MP recognizes OCA autocephaly! If that were really true the MP would not have given such sweeping privilege to ROCOR in that Act. Regardless, the new EA structure gives MP a much better hand now and wipes away the obvious OCA/ROCOR agreements which contradict each other!
#15 Russian Orthodox on 2010-06-18 07:59
Let us suppose that what you say is true. Let us also assume that Mark's analytical conclusion that in the foreseeable future nothing will really change much (the new EA structure being SCOBA under a new title). I do not see an existential reason for any church except Constantinople to change the status quo. That means that Constantinople may make a play to unite as many of the North American jurisdictions under her proxies in North America. That does not mean that the rest have any reason to put themselves under a Greek Archdiocese; in fact they have tons of historical reasons why they should not do so.
This issue may well be decided by individual Canadians, Americans and Mexicans, who shall vote with their feet and their wallets. So be it.
#15.1 Carl Kraeff on 2010-06-18 11:28
Carl said: I do not see an existential reason for any church except Constantinople to change the status quo.
RO: I agree. Hence the full on, full court press pro-EA hype going on with Ancient Faith Radio, their podcasters and bloggers. The so-called necessity of "administrative unity" is being droned on and on as if Eucharistic unity is irrelevant. As we all know the canons can be spun in any direction.
#15.1.1 Russian Orthodox on 2010-06-18 16:47
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