Wednesday, November 17. 2010
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The more I delve into this situation in the AOC the more I notice the fear in some of the clergy to "speak too much." There is, definitely, a 'culty-Sopranos' mentality in the AOC and that needs to be nipped in the bud. If anything because it's annoying and I left this nonsense in my former jurisdiction to get away from it. And now, it's reared it's ugly head in the one jurisdiction I thought was above it. Too be clear, I won't be raising my children in this sort of atmosphere, which is a pity since my parish is the prototypical Christ-centered Orthodoxy parish. I just wonder, how much longer before the poison reaches us?
However, I also see that it's not that deep rooted and that it could be taken care of easily - I just don't know how or what it would take to get from point A to B. If anything, we need to do it for our Children. The Youth mission in the AOC has been outstanding to this point. We musn't let the poison hit our little ones.
#1 The Lorax on 2010-11-17 08:37
I fear we might end up like the Episcopalians, in that we take comfort in the soundness of our own parishes, while the hierarchy degrades itself and its own authority by its actions. It's true that the Church most of us encounter has almost nothing to do with the bishops; one can happily get along without having to lay eyes on any of them, thanks be to God. But our children are being raised in a culture that places no premium on loyalty to an institution, and instead valorizes loyalty to one's individual preferences. It may well take extraordinary strength of character for our children to hold on to Orthodoxy if they perceive that the institutional church itself is corrupt, morally and otherwise. Add to this concern the likelihood that for most of us, our children will not be living in the parish they grew up in (if, that is, they follow the usual American migration patterns). If they can't be reasonably sure that they're going to encounter a strong, faithful, healthy Orthodox parish wherever they end up, then their own grip on the Orthodox faith could be weakened.
All of this is to say that while the actions of the Metropolitan and the hierarchy seem far away to most of us, they actually have a lot to do with us, and our children.
#2 Aloysius on 2010-11-17 09:24
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
#3 Macarius on 2010-11-17 11:04
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
#4 Macarius on 2010-11-17 11:38
This remark about Episcopalians really caught my eye. When I was a child--say, 40 years ago--the Episcopal church boasted fully 50% more members than it has now. That's roughly a million people. I don't really see the kind of fragmentation due to doctrinal disagreements happening amongst us. But the insularity that came of disaffection could very easily happen here. What our leaders need to realize is, whether or not North America can be united into a single Orthodox church, many, if not most, Orthodox Christians here already see it as a single church. Look at the jurisdiction-hopping that goes on all the time. People move to a new location and pick whichever local Orthodox church best suits their needs. Or maybe they don't even have a choice. So Carpatho-Russians end up attending Greek services and Antiochians end up in the OCA, etc.
This is a good thing. But our church cannot really be a bottom-up organization. I have no business making theological or doctrinal decisions, and nor do most lay people, albeit our laity is generally better informed about these matters than in most denominations. We need strong, visionary leadership to help us remain coherent and true to our Orthodoxy in a very dangerous and crazy world. I used to think Metropolitan Philip was an example of that, and perhaps he was at one time. But no more.
These are serious times. Instead of squabbling over money and stuff, I really need my leaders to be guiding our church through the shoals of moral relativism, material greed, and political partisanship that are leaving millions of our fellow Americans impoverished. If our current crop of leaders aren't up to it, we should find men who are.
#4.1 Morton on 2010-11-19 09:16
If the Metropolitan could lay aside his personal aversion to monasticism, he could find a quiet monastery to retire too. Unfortunately, due mainly to his own leadership there is no such community in his jurisdiction. He has tried his best to force his flock into a mold which isn't authentically Orthodox.
#5 Formerly of Antiochian Archdiocese on 2010-11-17 12:42
Macarius, I don't mean to offend, but I don't have a lot of patience for confronting critical, urgent practical problems by citing Scripture. Of course -- of course! -- Scripture is important, but it does us little good to be told "don't be anxious about anything" if the lesson people take away from it is, "Don't worry, everything will take care of itself." Please don't read me as saying that St. Paul was wrong, but I fear that quoting him in this pious way, in this context, is a way of denying both the seriousness of the crisis and one's own responsibility for acting for the good of the Church. You may not have intended it this way, I know, so forgive me if I have wrongly understood you. It's only that I have seen far too often pious statements and pious intentions invoked as an exhortation to sitting still and hoping everything comes out fine in the end. I heard a priest recently tell a congregation to "submit to the Church" with regard to the Met. Philip crisis -- by which I took him to mean, "Don't complain, don't pay attention to it." I think this is exactly wrong, and no service to the Church. Submitting to the Church means recognizing the Church's authority. Protesting against unjust actions by the bishops, or the Metropolitan, does not imply a failure to recognize the authority of the Church.
#6 Aloysius on 2010-11-17 14:10
Aloysius, I could not agree more with your two previous statements. My thoughts exactly. We have to realize two things--that what happens in one part of the Church, be it good or evil, affects us all as members of the Body of Christ; and, that each of us, as Orthodox Christians, has a responsibility for the Church and the faith.
#6.1 Eric Peterson on 2010-11-17 17:05
Aloysius and Eric, thank you for your caring and well-reasoned comments. I also could not agree more. The only comfort I can take is knowing that we are all mortal and so are the bishops. Their leadership and their positions are transient and may last a day, a month or a year and then be blown away as the Autumn leaves.
One of the regrets I have is: An old Orthodox friend is delaying starting a mission in his community because his first choice had been the AOC and now he was serious reservations. It is so tragic when the Gospel is not being preached because of the policies of the bishops. Tragic indeed. Another regret is, again, that our beloved clergy are not given the respect and honor that is due them for their years of service by vesting their retirement. How anyone can deny them this bit of justice is far beyond me.
#6.1.1 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-18 10:47
This is one Makarios who agrees with Aloysius on this one.
#6.2 Makarios on 2010-11-17 19:54
Dearest to Christ Aloysius,
Your reaction is correct regarding what you have been told by your priest. I am saddened by his response. It is the same response that was heard in the OCA in the days of our recent assault on the Bride of Christ.
An Orthodox Christian cannot be unwilling to work and participate in that which he/she is praying to God for. That is, if one is praying to God for a change, but is unwilling to do all they can to effect that change then we can say it is not Orthodox because it lacks the action of Christ in us. Orthodoxy is about participation in divine things. Everything we pray for as an Orthodox Christian we must be willing, according to our ability, to work for. If it is not divine, do not pray for it. If though your prayer is of Divine origin then we must fully participate in that prayer with all our works and efforts. The problem in the diocese right now is that many Bishops, priests and laos are willing to pray with both head and heart but not with action. That is a type of partial deification that is wanting.
MANY ARE PRAYING ABOUT PHILIP'S ACTIONS BEING ABSENT OF CHRIST, BUT FEW HAVE BEEN WILLING TO SPEAK THAT TRUTH IN LOVE BOLDLY IN FRONT OF ALL. THIS IS NOT HELPFUL TO PHILIP WHO NEEDS LIKE ALL OF US, REPENTANCE. IT IS EVEN WORSE FOR THE PEOPLE TRYING TO MAKE SENCE OF THIS TYPE OF EXTREEM SELF LOVE IN THE PERSON OF THE BISHOP.
Fr Andrew Moore
#6.3 Fr Andrew on 2010-11-18 09:20
Yes, it would be a false humility to submit to heresy. It would be a false humility to be ashamed of our Lord. It would be a false humility to be ashamed of the words of Scripture or to wish to appear groovy and liberal when among liberals yet stolid and conservative when among conservatives. Let our yes be yes and our no be no. Granted, there are always shades of gray and the truth is difficult ... but it is also pretty simple while it is we who have become complicated. Simplicity seems beyond our reach. Jesus' answers to those who came to entrap him were not examples of great complexity ... it is their basic simplicity that leaves his enemies speechless.
Can we really say American Antiochians lack a monastic witness currently? Have we forgotten the saints? Have we forgotten Orthodoxy does not stop at the borders of Antiochian jurisdictions? As we begin to remember this, monks will come. But they will not put themselves or a monastery under the authority of MP. One cannot build a foundation of asceticism upon MP's understanding.
#6.4 Monologistos on 2010-11-18 10:56
I'm not advocating passivity. I want people to act, but to act from a place of hope, of confidence in who God is, a place where the goal is simply not to match power with power or anger with anger, but to overcome evil with good.
It's easy to ask someone else to be Orthodox in their actions. It is much harder for us to be Orthodox ourselves. Whatever our feelings on these matters, we still are obliged to live and act on our faith, not our emotions, our fears, our anger, or a feeling of being wronged. We need to do this regardless of whether the person we believe is harming us is operating from the same set of standards.
These texts are about the hope, the grace, the power of God in all kinds of situations, even trials. People who take these to heart will understand that this time is not a time to ride the various waves of passion. It is a time to draw close to God, to seize on the reality of who He is and who we are in light of this, and face any darkness in our lives, in our church, or in the culture from a position of peace and hope.
Truly, if God is for us, and we believe as Orthodox Christians that is he for ALL of us, then nothing in a moment can take us from His love, His presence, and His grace. This is not merely pious pandering. This is armor, light, power, hope and all things we need to make it through the days ahead. The wise among us will understand.
#6.5 Macarius on 2010-11-18 18:44
Though vocally protested by the ordained young never married leadership, their choices accelerate the problem.
Only when there is a synod capable of removing misdoing members and not protecting their further misdoing under color of authority and secrecy, only when there is a balance of 'ordained young never married' and 'married empty nester' bishops can we pretend we don't want extinction as a church in the USA.
No quantity of words on paper or lay involvement can substitute to provide the value we need. This recipe is well within Orthodox tradition and we should do it while we still have enough people in this country to make a go of it.
I think we are having a survival level issue here, this article sadly by 'Anonymous' amply demonstrates we don't have 'decades' to get this done.
#7 Harry Coin on 2010-11-18 12:08
What we are seeing here (at present in Englewood, but potentially elsewhere) is a conflict between a developed Roman Constantinian ecclesiology versus a first century Jewish “Jerusalem-Central” ecclesiology.
The First flowed from St Paul and his two major defects: (1) unacceptably loose language regarding the role and place of the Torah in the New Covenant Community - a radical concession to the Hellenism of Antiochus Epiphanes; and (2) an unacceptably uncritical acceptance of all things Roman at (a) the macro-level with his “obedience to all constituted authority” (read Rome and Pagan Romanism), and (b) the micro-level with male headship in the family, and the silencing of female prophetesses in Church.
The Second, “Jerusalem-Central” one flowed from the extended Household of Arimathea, the Holy Apostle: St John the Evangelist and his wife, St Mary Magdalene - something which we British inherited in 36CE.
The Pauline defects almost cost him his Church Membership in the Jerusalem Council of c50CE. Unrepentant “Pauline ecclesiology” flowed through Justin Martyr, the Epistle of Barnabas (not the Barnabas of the Book of Acts) Marcion, Montanus, Victor, Cyprian and thus into the official Church of the Roman Empire as founded by Constantine with himself as the new “Chief of the Apostles” - pace his Church of the 12 Apostles in Constantinople.
The Administrative Canons of all Ecumenical Councils and Councils accepted as “Ecumenical” are all, without exception, designed to bolster and support Roman Constantinian ecclesiology.
The Johannine/Arimathean Church of which both the Messianic Jewish elements within the Roman Empire, and the mostly gentile Celtic Church in the British Isles knew nothing of these Roman “Constantinian Canons” within their Church life. As was clearly demonstrated when Augustine of Aosta (later of Canterbury) came to commandeer the British Church for Rome in 597CE.
Whilst the Doctrinal Canons of the Ecumenical Councils remain eternally valid irrespective of administrative enviromnent, their Administrative Canons only apply within a jus Romanus framework.
What the Roman Catholic Church in the white, English-speaking world is discovering since Vatican II (shock-horror) is that it does not live within a jus-Romanus environment, as the recent Article by “Anonymous” demonstrates:
“Earlier yesterday morning, the Roman Catholic bishops avoided a major public relations debacle by electing as the new leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan. By custom, the Bishop of Tucson, Gerald Kicanas, was in line to be elected . . .”
White, English-speaking Roman Catholicism, under the influence of its post-Vatican II, Irish scholars, at the level of parish-priest and below has already moved away from Roman Constantinian ecclesiology in a major way, and is still moving towards a pre-Roman (pre-Augustinian) Celtic ecclesiology - much to the anger of the Roman Magesterium. It has not given up the Catholic Faith, only the Roman, Constantinian Ecclesiology.
Here, all branches of Orthodoxy could (or should that be - must?) take note - on the strength of the British reaction to Augustine of Aosta:
You can fully retain your Orthodox belief and glorious liturgical practices WITHOUT exhibiting or retaining a single trace of Roman Constantinian ecclesiology!
You can remain fully and authentically Orthodox, whilst remaining in full contempt of all Administrative Canons of all Ecumenical Councils which support a Roman Constantinian ecclesiology!
And what is more (!), you will be in a more authentic “Apostolic Succession” with those in the original, Jewish, “Jerusalem-Central” Church than those who are in the later, all-gentile, Roman “Constantinian apostolic succession”!
Most converts in Antioch (and elsewhere) know this, and I would not be surprised if they “walk” from (initially) Antioch, but ultimately all branches of Orthodoxy who stubbornly cling to Roman Constantinian ecclesiology..
It may well be now time for those afflicted-ones in Antioch to consider the possibility of “walking”. And leaving all Orthodox Hierarchs and Arch-Priests who stubbornly insist on retaining a Roman Constantinian ecclesiology as a “free-floating-Apex” with nobody underneath to “govern” and hence financially-fleece and ecclesiologically-terrorise. Your children will bless you for doing so.
Can I also suggest that in doing so, all you who “walk” will be less “Pauline”, and more “Johannine” in your outlook and ecclesiology!
#8 John Battye on 2010-11-18 18:50
So one is for Paul, another for John? This sets off so may knee-jerkings in me I will pass over in silence lest you think I'm dancing to the music of St. Vitus.
There is an apropos and interesting article over on Touchstone regarding the Narnian movies, "Narnia Invaded" by Steven Boyer. http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-030-f
I would like to state my agreement with the central importance of hierarchy in Lewis' stories and my outright disgust with the psychologizing of the characters. They have made Lewis' heroes into something akin to the unredeemed character of Eustace in _The Voage of the Dawn Treader. I can only hope that contact with the further stories serve to convert the screen writers.
Apropos to the current crisis of authority in the Antiochian Archdiocese, I draw your attention to the character of Miraz, the wicked king who rejects old Narnia, crying out in a rage, "How can there be two kings at the same time?" In this article I cite, the author mentions that this disbelief results from Miraz's understanding hierarchy and authority only in terms of power to make people obey. How indeed could there be two kings at the same time? How could there be two bishops married to their flocks? If we are to draw out the question of hierarchy in that way, how can MP be married to the entire archdiocese, including presumably you and me, when that role is given only to the Bridegroom of the Church? That's not a hard question for Orthodoxy. It may nonplus a Protestant who has lost sight of Holy Tradition or a tyrant like Miraz.
I commend the article to you. Consider well the possible contrasts in the understanding of authority we see between Lewis' character of Miraz the Usurper and Metropolitan Philip's statements about only one marriage or else bigamy regarding the relationships of bishops. Granted, one is only a type, the other is our brother. Therefore, I make the contrast not with the intention of demonizing MP but in order to address MP's understanding of authority that it might be understood by all and healing for the archdiocese begun with a more adequate perception of the disease, lest in leaping away from discovery, anyone be caught on a nail halfway. Truly, it is a difficult place for us to be ... how do we deal with a hierarch who is damaging the whole church with a secular understanding of his office without harming him and thereby our own obedience? We certainly do not WANT to act like those who have thrown pastoral responsibility along with Fr. Elias under the bus to cover their failed responsibility ... by which they appear to have failed Fr. Elias at every level. I do not suggest an equivalence but only sound a warning against my own hypocrisy. We are engaged in spiritual combat. May our striving be honorable as may be.
#8.1 Monologistos on 2010-11-19 00:24
I enjoyed the reflection by Anon.
My perspective is a bit different.
Facts are facts. There are tons of things that interfere with church life today.
I don't need reasons to be frustrated and disgusted when our Metropolitans and Bishops are lauded and praised in Liturgy. I don't go to church to celebrate liars, thieves, and thugs, or fibbers, self contradictory men, or cruelity.
I find myself easily falling into a person satisfied with a small prayer of my own when the Liturgy frustrates my sense of right.
It isn't too complex.
And there are plenty of other choices for things to do...
Anon is right.
The hierarchs need to recognize the need for integrity, or the Liturgy bombs.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2010-11-18 21:25
Like Mr. Fall, I too second the sentiments expressed in this reflection. And believe me, it is not just younger persons who are leaving the institutional Church. Failure to change and grow are clearly a sign of decay and failure, that in the long run can only result in the further irrelevancy and marginalization of institutional Christianity in Orthodoxy and elsewhere. When lies and stonewalling become the modus operendi of Church witness, a retreat to the desert (not without historical precedence) becomes a moral imperative for anyone with a modicum of a conscience.
Especially abhorrent are the exhortations from our pious overseers to not inform ourselves on the various scandals engulfing the entire Christian spectrum. See no evil, hear no evil, speak about no evil, if it embarrasses the institutional structures of the Church. Do those preaching such blasphemies really believe that that line of reasoning will pass mustard with our Lord at the Last Judgment? Have they read the Gospels?
Well no, they are just to self-absorbed and preoccupied with their "sanctified and historic prerogatives" to care.
#10 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2010-11-19 10:46
Short of "voting with their feet" (which some folks don't have the choice of doing if the Ants are the only game in town) or having a mass petition go to Damascus to remove him (the enablers and idiots who have allowed this to happen and to continue- right!) these poor people and their clergy are just stuck with this tyrant and his henchmen. May God help them!
#11 Pauline Costianes on 2010-11-19 14:39
Wow, I've never commented on OCANews before, but this reflection, well, reflects my immense frustration so well. How can I justify this church of ours to my children when the behavior of its leaders is regularly so far below what I expect of them? "Well, kids, I would never let you get away with this sort of monkey business, but we don't hold our bishops to the same high standards we have for ourselves."
Honestly, I've resigned myself to the fact that at least some of my children will probably leave Orthodoxy when they reach adulthood. Yes, I can pray, but that's really no guarantee. I'm very certain that the parents of many of the multitude of young people who have left the church prayed for them. My kids are growing up in a wonderful parish, but, like the author stated, there's very little chance they will end up as adults in this area. Who knows what sort of parish they will end up living near?
I'm very discouraged about the state of Orthodoxy in this country. Someone I know said to me when Met. Herman was doing his best to keep a lid on the pot that was already starting to boil over that the OCA seems to have some sort of death wish. I scoffed and was sure he was wrong, particularly after the election of Met. Jonah. Now, after the spectacle of the St. Tikhon's pilgrimage this year, and the report about the potential reinstatement of Mr. Kondratick to the priesthood make me think my friend was right. All the talk about autocephaly and our status in the EA just seems like a distraction to me. The sorts of issues brought up in this reflection about the trends in religious life in the US and how the church responds are much more pressing. I'm sure most will disagree.
#12 nameless here on 2010-11-19 15:08
Nameless, right you are. If Kondratick is reinstated, the morale of the OCA Laity will take a huge hit. The AOA -- well, we know the problems there. The .... GOA leadership is a problem that will sooner or later explode (might be happening with the monastery scandal in NY). All jurisdictions have some great priests, but are they enough to keep the ship afloat? No.
The laity has to stand and say we've had enough of this nonsense. We should demand an accounting of every dime we give.....
#13 Anonymous on 2010-11-23 05:32
Take it easy! RSK ain't coming back. The OCA is on sure footing and all the right things are being done. Bishops, that's another issue.....
Now, exactly what happened at St. Tikhon's on this past Memorial Day?
#13.1 Anonymous on 2010-11-29 15:39
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