Friday, March 18. 2011
Your comments on any of the reflections posted today are welcome.
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As if it were the whole story, you title your article "Jonah Retreats" and then point out +Jonah's willingness to change his management style, as if it were your victory rather than his recommitment to work things out with the synod. And isn't it also true that in his visit Metrolpolitan Hilarion gave a 'strong message' to the synod "encoraging them not to take any uncanonical actions against His Beatitude?" (quoted from OCAtruth.com) A better title might have been "Taking it Down a Notch," but then you would have had to tell the whole story.
Where is the balance in reporting the events of these unfortunate days? As it turns out, The Washinton Post gives us a passionless report. Thank you for posting it. I hope it's wide readership will ameliorate any lopsided information and attitudes that have taken root. We really do need to take it down a notch.
(Editor's note: And what uncanonical actions taken by the Synod would you be speaking of? His agreeing to take a Leave, and then refusing? The only one who claims the Synod has done anything "uncanonical" is +Jonah's surrogate website; and the only one claiming +Hilarion "warned" the Synod is , well, that the same site, speaking, one assumes, for +Jonah. No one else - the Synod of the OCA, +Hilarion, the staff at Syosset, etc.- seems to say that. But of course, having created the fuss, +Jonah's surrogates now say" Let's all get along now", even as you say "Take it down a notch". No one but +Jonah raised it up. And that is a fact. You are entitled to your opinion, but not your own facts.
As for "victory", there are no victors in this story. None. Surely not +Jonah, who has done nothing but embarass himself Surely not the Synod, who has waited patiently for the Prodigal to return. Surely not Fr. Garklavs who has been unjustly fired. Surely not the poor OCA. We all have been made poorer by yet another Metropolitan's poor behaviour. And that is a victory for whom?)
#1 Vicky Bolts on 2011-03-18 11:01
It's been stated here and elsewhere, all of this began in 1970 with + Dimitri setting up Dallas as the "Anti-Syosset." Resulting in this + Jonah bru-ha-ha and the culmination of the DOS and it's right-wing views hi-jacking the OCA. What is so ironic about all of this is, THESE PEOPLE ARE CONVERTS! + Dimitri was a Baptist; + Tikhon (retired) was a Lutheran, + Jonah was an Anglican; etc. Much has been written about how converts become the "SUPER-ORTHODOX" and wish to save the church, save Orthodoxy and save the world. Well, as Fr. Schmemann remarked many years ago when converts entered the seminary, "In their first year they are here to save the world. In their second year, they believe they are here to save Orthodoxy. In their last year, they learn they are here to save themselves." Some converts have learned this lesson via theological education; others have not! They have not been called to service in the Church to "save the Church," but the Church saves them. They are called to service to become vessels of the Holy Spirit serving "the people" and put their own agendas behind them.
#1.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-19 09:36
Maybe Orthodox seminaries need a 4th year then, when students actually read the Bible instead of Orthodox fathers and theologians and learn what the holy apostle Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago: we can't save ourselves, it's all by grace through faith...cf. Romans 5:1ff.
(Editor's note: I cannot speak for seminaries now, but anyone who attended SVS in the early 1980's had Old Testament 101 with Fr. Paul Tarazi. We spent two semesters reading the OT - and taking tests, chapter by chapter, on the content. His comment was yours: until you know the text, you cannot interpret the text. )
#1.1.1 Anthony on 2011-03-19 21:06
Actually, M Div students at SVS are required to take several courses on both the Old and New Testament. I can't speak for other seminaries but I would say it's a safe bet that their students do as well.
#22.214.171.124 Anon on 2011-03-21 10:13
My point was rhetorical; I didn't expect a rebuttal.
But...since you both offered one, I think it tends to prove my point - no-one who actually understood the OT or Paul or...Jesus(!) would talk about "saving themselves".
#126.96.36.199.1 Anthony on 2011-03-21 14:33
> Much has been written about how converts become the "SUPER-ORTHODOX"
> Well, as Fr. Schmemann remarked many years ago...
Google produces only your comment as an exact match to the quote you attribute to Fr. Schmemann. Are you paraphrasing, or is this quote unavailable online?
#1.1.2 Anonymous on 2011-03-20 13:07
I heard that His Beatitude canceled a visit to one of his parishes this weekend, but is leading the Saturday retreat which is being held at his cathedral, St. Nicholas, in D.C. I don't understand...
#2 No More on 2011-03-18 12:41
LOL...sorry, I just like calling myself The Parishioner like the moron behind OCAtruth...I just had to go to the site to see what it was all about and I read some of the articles.
WOW...talk about sensationalized journalism! I don't think FOX NEWS could top it! [Yea, I'm one of those parishioners who don't like FOX NEWS.] Anyway, the OCAtruth is confrontational. It's mud slinging. It's uncontrolled drama. It incites hysteria and paranoia. Oh heck it's just plain STUPID!!!
The most important point is simply this. We know who is behind OCAnews. He has a name. He has an identity. I guess that means he has nothing to hide and doesn't mind accepting responsibility for his actions. All you can do is laugh in the face of the ranting of an annonymous lunatic who appears to be behind that other site dedicated to "truth".
The OCAtruth offers one thing though...comic relief! If you haven't done so already, you really should check out the site. I mean really, it is so funny! It pretty much has Mark lurking behind every tree, under every bush! Talk about trying to demonize someone. Poor Mark.
(Editor's note: Yes, I have been busy of late, between "kingmaking", and "conspiring" with my bi-coastal coterie of leftists so as to conspire to bring Orthodoxy in neo-Episcopalianism in my spare time, when I am not "muck-raking" electronically. I hardly sleep. LOL.
Actually, it would be funny if it wasn't so absurd, but as it is, it is sad that people can't just disagree without demonizing the other. ...)
#3 Observant Parishioner on 2011-03-18 12:44
Is it any more Christian to call the other side morons or label what they say *stupid*?
#3.1 anonymous on 2011-03-18 17:32
A shepherd was given clear and free title to the field in which his sheep grazed. The landlord said; the flock is growing, the sheep need their own field. But one day, fearing his responsibility, the shepherd said: take back the land, I wish to pay rent again, so that my sheep will have less, and have no future.
#3.2 deep mitre on 2011-03-18 17:57
After reading both Reflections today (the one from Rod Dreher and the one from Fr Skidmore), I find myself thinking of common threads to answer the points both men have raised. Mr Dreher spoke at length about his journey from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy, comparing the similarities and differences in both "religions." Fr Skidmore reflected on the need for embracing the beauty of Orthodoxy amid all the hue and cry of the current crises. To Mr Dreher, I respond with words from Fr Schmemann himself: Orthodoxy is not a "religion" in the sense that this term is bandied about: The central focus is not the dogmas, or the canons, nor even the liturgical services. The nexus of Orthodoxy is a Person and that Person is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who became incarnate, was crucified, and arose from the dead!!! Here, Orthodox Christianity breaks away from all "religions" before and after: Our main crux is an encounter with the living Christ!! Therefore, our central task is to become Christ-like, to acquire "the mind of Christ," as St Paul is so bold to claim, to become full persons who are made in the image and likeness of the living God!!
In turn, this leads to a response to Fr Skidmore's article. My first thought, as he sadly enumerated the various details of our current crises and the responses to them, was that, in no time in our history, even in the Old Israel, was there a "golden age" that we should romanticize about and yearn for in a pollyanna way. For me, our main problem is precisely that: looking back on an imaginary idyllic period in Church history, rather than, as we should, looking forward as people preparing for and anticipating the Kingdom of God, realized and manifested in all its glory when Christ comes again! In other words, our perspective needs a radical change from being nostalgic to being eschatological!!! I agree with his comments on beauty, which fit perfectly here: We are to experience (as he implies) the beauty of the Kingdom, given to us primarily in the liturgical services and the Sacraments, and become what we already are and are also struggling to become: the Church as the presence of the Kingdom of God, which is not of this world, fully present in this world!! Keeping that as the crux of our focus and the nexus of our perspective and Faith, will lead us in the right direction that Fr Skidmore so rightfully yearns for us.
One last point on this: I do not believe that we, as a Church, are yearning for a type of reform in the sense of a magical pill that will miraculously solve all of our problems (Fr Skidmore himself did not propose that, but some people may read that into his remarks and suggest that we move in that direction). Again, quoting Fr Schmemann, he used to say that the Orthodox are so great at fighting heresies that no longer exist! In other words, we are wonderful at tooting our horns about our victories over heresies and problems of past centuries (which, as noted, is amplified on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which, in many places, sadly, just results in being the annual Orthodox pep rally!!), but have no clue whatsoever about how to address the problems and issues of our own times!! What we need to take from the Church fathers, he said, was not an imitative, word-for-word formula to artificially apply to all situations, but to see how these fathers discerned the problems of their times in the light and perspective of the Kingdom, and apply this to these situations. In other words, we need, just as our Church fathers did, to look at our current problems from the viewpoint of the Kingdom, to think eschatologically and refer these various issues to the perspective of the Church and the Kingdom of God! I believe that we, in the OCA, are doing precisely that! While there are many non-loving, black-and-white posts on this and other sites, most of what I have read shows that the majority of the people in the OCA, clergy and laity together, do take their Faith seriously (celebrating the divine services, perusing the Scriptures and other writings, etc.) and do struggle to attain the eschatological perspective needed to address the time-related issues of our era via the lens of the timeless perspective of the Kingdom! Keeping this "one thing needful" in the forefront of our thoughts will allow us, through our surrendering to the will of God, to adequately witness to that Kingdom and apply its principles and perspective to our lives here in the 21st century!!
#4 David Barrett on 2011-03-18 13:59
It speaks to our condition that the political is far more compelling than the aesthetic.
I was going to comment on the importance of beauty as related in both Fr. Skidmore and Mr. Dreher's articles. In their own ways each speaks eloquently of that thirst we all share for Divine Beauty, but both have been overshadowed here by the post next door, as it were.
And perhaps this makes Fr. Skidmore's point more eloquently than he did. As important as process is, it is beauty that will draw men to Orthodoxy, not how things work (or don't) in Syosset, Washington or elsewhere.
I don't doubt that you see this, Mark, or you might not have posted those two articles.
(Editor's note: Darn, and I was trying to be so subtle. LOL. And right you are westcoaster!)
#5 westcoaster on 2011-03-18 15:12
Your slip is showing. I am both disappointed and pleased.
In your commentary you inaccurately refer to "Jonah's own ocatruth website." You also give the site a conclusory title: the "surrogate" website.
These mischaracterizations - and they are clearly such - suggest that you have, and the misstatements suit, an agenda which is not consistent with objectivity and you feel is so weak and crucially important that it must be advanced by clever or careless spin.
Metropolitan Jonah insofar as I have been able to find *HAS NO WEBSITE*. And certainly not this one. But you expressly say it is his "own." Moreover he has never made any public statement approving of its content, has he? Your use of the word own shows what you believe and want others to believe (that the Metropolitan is a sneak) but it is not factual as I understand facts and evidence.
Your piece also describes the website as a "surrogate." For this, at least, there is some slight, inferential evidence. The proprietor is obviously far more on the Metropolitan's side than on that of his critics, and credible information suggests he is a former parishioner of a strong supporter of the Metropolitan. Wow! That sort of reasoning would have made this operation Vladyka Job's surrogate wouldn't it? A characterization I believe you have often denied.
But the actual evidence is slight, and inferential. If you have proof that His Eminence has been deliberately feeding this young man his lines, whether directly or through an intermediary, out with it. Otherwise I think you are guilty as charged of tendentiously stating your own guesses or beliefs as fact by using the word "surrogate."
And "surrogate" ain't fact, either. But it suits the agenda, because statements or misstatements by a true surrogate may be validly attributed by inference to the one whose surrogate he is.
I think we all do well at such a crucial time to distinguish between 1) a person surreptitiously set up and used as a surrogate by someone acting with the benfitted party's knowledge and approval ... and 2) a zealous person who takes the Metropolitan's side but is not on hidden puppet strings.
Spin aside, the question which remains is whether or not the Metropolitan can and will do better, can and will overcome anything which might seriously detract from his ability to be the right man in the right place at this time in the OCA. You clearly have a jaundiced view of those prospects. We'll see, or perhaps I should say the key people (not me) will see, and hopefully based on facts, patience, sober analysis, and altruism rather than their opposites.
Meanwhile it only detracts from the credibility of your views when you editorialize and mischaracterize in the guise of factual reporting.
p.s. - Voila! Gesundheit!
(Editor's note: As they say, Father, if it looks, quacks, and walks like a duck, its a duck. Feel free to disagree - you always have, and most likely will continue that fine tradition, even above the quacking. Just continue to ignore it.)
P.s. Touche! Bless You!)
#6 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-03-18 16:34
Not a question of ducks or quacking, Mark. It is a question of truth and accuracy in reporting, and holding yourself to "accountability" on the inevitable occasions when you flub too.
You said "his own" and it isn't. You said surrogate and the evidence is sketchy at best.
Both these slips tend to discredit His Eminence because they tend to pin on him the mistakes and overzealous doings and sayings of some of his partisans. The force of your true argument does not lie there, and you make those of us who are looking for the fullest measure of truth and dispassion all the more skeptical of your ability to retain objectivity and candor as a reporter when you have so obviously become a partisan yourself.
There is a reason why there is a third guy wearing a striped short in the middle of a boxing match. When you're busy pounding or being pounded you just don't have the time or perspective to call fouls on the other guy, let alone yourself. You verbalize, pull in ventriloquist red herrings, disguised and quacking as ducks, and try to distract us from the fact: you weren't being scrupulously fair or accurate.
Why you could post a little "Stokoe Retreats" headline just for once. Or to continue our witty repartee in schoolboy phrases, a "mea culpa."
Is that site an outlet for some of His Eminence's most zealous supporters who are not thereby distinguishing themselves? Yes. But not "his own" and not his "surrogate," although it certainly seems to be for some unnamed supporters.
(Editor's note: Since we last spoke the site has put up its own anonymous disclaimer stating that it is in no way connected with +Jonah, Fr. Fester, or anybody else known. Well, that clears it up doesn't it? All that quacking was for nothing...)
#6.1 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-03-19 18:01
"I think we all do well at such a crucial time to distinguish between 1) a person surreptitiously set up and used as a surrogate by someone acting with the benfitted party's knowledge and approval ... and 2) a zealous person who takes the Metropolitan's side but is not on hidden puppet strings."
Must we distinguish only from the two choices you have listed. What about this third possibility?
3) a zealous person who takes the Metropolitan's "side" because he has been convinced by someone (and is therefore, unbeknownst to even the zealous person himself, on hidden puppet strings) that Mark Stokoe is hell-bent on orchestrating a coup to topple an innocent and falsely accused Metropolitan, and, in response, this zealous person creates a website which contains neither "facts, patience, sober analysis, nor altruism," full of scathing commentary with the intent of destroying the person that he has been convinced is hellbent on orchestrating the aforementioned coup as if it were the truth; and that even though the benefitted party didn't say, "quick, set up a website in support of me", a website was indeed created by this zealous person based on what he was told by his sources (whoever they may be) to be the truth, and that this zealous person's website has been allowed to exist for 3 weeks with the benefitted party's knowledge and without correction (therefore implying approval); a website, by the way, that numerous innocent parishioners in Fr. Joseph Fester's former Dallas cathedral and his current cathedral in Washington, DC have signed their names in support of because they are outraged by what they have been told (i.e., the loud-mouthed and evil-intentioned editor of ocanews.org is hellbent on "getting rid of" Metropolitan Jonah); a website, by the way, that for a few days a certain "James V Paffhausen" (I'm guessing the Metropolitan's father in San Diego) also signed his name in support of, a name that was deleted at some point and replaced by "the family of Metropolitan Jonah"; a website, by the way, that has the appearance of resounding support by bolstering its lists with repeat names, the names of children and housewives, and of readers and subdeacons (I know, yes, they are technically clergy), and of parishioners as far north as Madison, Illinois and as far south as Venice, Florida (without apparently the benefitted party having qualms about causing a potential stumbling block to someone new to the faith or innocent at heart).
#6.2 Anon this time because I wanted to be snarky on 2011-03-20 00:49
There is a lot of snark here. Even if OCAtruth engaged in outright mudslinging, that doesn't justify snark. It makes it harder for the average person who is trying to be Orthodox, who wants Orthodoxy to survive and flourish in this country, who wants his or her children to embrace Orthodoxy-- it makes it harder for that person to venture an opinion here.
(Editor's note: Don't let the snark put you off. Part of the purpose of having comments like this is to help people learn to how to express themselves in public, and many of us are still learning. Some people are snarky, some rude, some exceedingly polite, some timid, some bold, some stupid, some wise; some liberal, some conservative, some clerics, some lay, some funny - some even intentionally so. All opinions are welcome, as are all. The Church encompasses all, for Christ has saved all.)
#7 anonymous on 2011-03-18 16:47
What does snark mean?
(editor's note: Rudely sarcastic, often funny, snide, ironic. Watch the Daily Show sometime. )
#7.1 Vlad on 2011-03-19 09:59
Snark, short for Snarkoral Theology. A school of though, founded in Dallax, TX. A modern response to the wisdom and thought of a particular Northeastern seminary, and its adherents. Named for the original Greek; Snarkos through the Slavonic: Snarkovstvo. The Snarkonistij were a group of Nikonian supporters of an obscure doctrine, a short lived group who's existence died out after 11 years. The Texas group died out after 15 minutes in the year 2011. The inspiration for this group can be traced back to an obscure NY artist of the Pop Art Movement of the 1960's, named Warholak, though his first name and details of his life, have been lost.
Taken from: Alexieev, I.N., The Theological and Historical Dictionary of the Russian Orthodox Church, Rooster Press, Moscow and Washington DC., 3014
#7.1.1 Balvan on 2011-03-20 12:16
Mark - This article is worthy of reply:
#8 David Feliciano on 2011-03-18 22:11
I read Fr. Skidmore's reflection and while it was a nice piece of poetry, all I kept thinking is that it seemed to me, to be the typical expression of the Orthodox ideal; "take the Sacraments and nothing else matters". Well I've tried that, countless numbers have tried that for 2000 years and the reality is all this "stuff" that isn't supposed to matter in fact does matter. It's very easy to look back on 19th century Russia and say that the hierarchy was corrupt but the people were all saints; do saints round up Jews into pogroms? It's easy to look back on the 5th century Church had say the hierarchy had faults, much more than today (this is certainly true) but what really matters is taking Communion and living "beauty" . . . is that what mattered when Christians rioted in the streets over doctrine? The idea that beauty will save the world is, well a beautiful ideal, but it is not the reality. Not on the grand scale and not on the personal scale. Many Orthodox struggle every single day to do as he suggests but when we're confronted with the darkness that dwells within the Church it's mighty hard to say "well I'm taking Communion nothing else matters!" Our hierarchy takes Communion every day; this hasn't been a magic pill for them, why would it be for us? The piece while beautifully written, just doesn't seem to stand up to the reality many of us see. It does seem to glorify the past and at the same time it seems to be telling us we need to just ignore all that is around us and just work on living Sacramentally in all walks of life. While I certainly agree we should all do that, and that is in fact where the Christian faith begins and in fact ends (after all if we don't do our part to live the faith and transform the world on a personal one on one basis, it will never happen) I don't think that means we can just ignore all the problems in Orthodoxy, the harsh realities, the corruption, the sexual scandals and the like and think they'll all go away if we will all just live in truth and beauty. Yes, that would happen, if every one of us lived that flawlessly. In a weird way the idea proposed comes off as a suggestion that we should focus on the good and ignore all the bad, but the suggestion is fluffed up with poetic language so we don't realize it's a suggestion to just ignore all the bad. But the bad is as much a part of the Church as the good is. The ugliness is as much a part of the Church as the beautiful. Otherwise we're getting close to an "invisible Church" mindset where we can say the good stuff is the "true Church" but the bad is "not the Church". I don't buy that. It's all the Church and we must own up to it and accept it and then learn from it's mistakes, sins and errors and then move forward and maybe we can become better at living the beauty of Orthodoxy with the full knowledge that the beauty doesn't come easily or naturally but it must be fought for. Beauty is what draws people to Orthodoxy of course, but we need to be more upfront about it's ugliness too. Every single person must do their own part to help overcome the ugliness, pretending it doesn't exist or worse, admitting it's there but that it doesn't really matter only causes more harm in the long run than good. Orthodoxy is not the Orthodoxy we read about in Metropolitan Ware's 'The Orthodox Way' only, it also the Orthodoxy of pogroms, riots, force feeding Communion to heretics and sexual scandals and corruption. It is both these things; all these things, and everything in between. Living beauty and living a Sacramental life (by that I mean in our every day lives not just "the Sacraments") is what will change things for the better but we shouldn't fear or ignore the other side of the coin either. It's entirely possible I've totally misread Fr. Skidmore's words; maybe I've just become so cynical that I cannot see the forest for the trees, or perhaps I'm seeing things that aren't really there. I do agree with much of what he was saying but still felt as if it was more of the "ignore the bad" advice we hear so often; never the less, it was a fine reflection and I'll attempt to broaden my thoughts on the matter as I read it again and again.
#9 Chuck Shingledecker on 2011-03-19 04:26
The same Apostle who was capable of tearing the Corinthians a new one was also the man who told us to think on whatever things are true, beautiful, encouraging and so on. We cannot grow in Christ if we feed ourselves on nothing but anger and dismay. There is a place for anger and dismay, but it must not be our steady diet. Our souls need beauty, of all kinds, all the time, and God has shed beauty along with grace (one really cannot separate the two) all across the universe.
Hang in there, Chuck. I like reading your stuff.
#9.1 Scott Walker on 2011-03-19 08:52
I think that one thing that might help those of us who are "on the inside" of Orthodoxy might be to realize that God is also at work outside of our own church and to study how He works there with those who are obedient and pleasing to Him.
When we as the Orthodox Church "drop the ball" other Christians take it up, even though we claim to be THE Church that Jesus founded.
I remain committed to the Orthodox Church and Faith, but I haven't forgotten for a moment what other Christians do that is right and good and many times better done.
When I get discouraged over our own dryness, failures and shortcomings, I realize that we aren't the only game in town, even though we are supposed to be.
Too often as Orthodox Christians, we dismiss everything outside of our own world, or, if we are converts, we dismiss everything we experienced before our conversion.
God is everywhere and fills all things. When we fail to live out our faith, He won't hesitate to work through others who are more available to Him.
This should remind us to be deeply humble and more optimistic at the same time. God is still at work reconciling the world to himself, whether we Eastern Orthodox are doing well at it or not.
And the point is, we can do much better and should.
Metropolitan Jonah is not "the enemy." Neither is Metropolitan Philip. These men are on the front lines of the Spiritual War and take the damage that position exposes them to. At times, this damage comes in the form of their own delusion and prelest, as it does with all of us.
These men, even thought they like us are "The Chief of Sinners," are part of our FAMILY. We can be frustrated with them and angry at them, but we must SIN NOT when we are. We must not be the army that shoots it's own wounded soldiers and generals.
Our first attitude should be prayer that they are restored to spiritual health and ransomed from the attacks of the ENEMY, Satan.
Please pray and fast for these men that they be returned to spiritual health and balance. Make that your first response, and then call them to account as you are doing here. Pray that they return to their first love. It's doubtful they would have risen to where they are without once having had that first love for Jesus Christ.
Too often our first response is to bypass the prayer part and move right into the criticism and castigation part when our leaders fail us.
May we pray and fast first, and question them afterwards.
#9.2 Columba Silouan on 2011-03-19 09:20
Those who cry "Sacraments alone!" or "Beauty alone!" are closer to those who cry "Scripture alone!"
As much as I'd like for there to be a simple answer, Christianity is a synthesis - everything does on some level matter, and yet on each level it also doesn't matter. It is a paradox, this Christianity.
If we want black and white, with precious little in the way of gray, there is the Roman church. They are experts at putting everything into the little buckets and you are either in or out. Moral, spiritual, theological - everything with a place.
Discussions here and elsewhere seem to reflect the same ethos - in or out. No room for mercy, no room for forgiveness. Looking at the objectives of this site, which I have since the beginning, it is nothing but a call to transparency and playing by the rules - the Statute of the OCA. Or, use the mechanisms in that statute to change it, as we are led by the Holy Spirit to do from time to time.
The Orthodox Church is full of little moral ambiguities - yes, we can espouse with moral certainty that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, that abortion is wrong, that charging interest is wrong, that lending rather than gifting is wrong, that suing a fellow Christian is wrong ... oops, perhaps I quoted a few too many canons there.
And yet, each of those are perfection, ideals if you will, that are the target that only few of a hundred million achieve recognizably in this lifetime.
We also, as Orthodox Christians, recognize that each of us, from me (the worst of sinners) to you (the heights of perfection) cannot count on our own worthiness to become One in the Kingdom of God. How bold (arrogant?) we are to be able to speak for God about who will or will not be saved! The Savior said, "Let he without sin cast the first stone." "Do not judge, lest ye be judged also."
Yes, the Orthodox Church has moral standards, moral objectives - but, again paradoxically, we live in the cradle of God's love and mercy. Which is why the Church, worldwide and throughout time, has always held to the highest of ideals, but largely stayed on the sidelines in the political process. If there is one thing to be learned from Church history, particularly the political machinations of the late Byzantine era, it is that forays into political realms place us squarely in the realm of the diablos, the ruler of this world. The result is rarely if ever good. Political dialogue comes at a significant cost, because politics is never successful without compromise, and the Church is never successful with compromise.
May the God who accepted the thief on the cross, the prodigal, the prostitute, the tax collector, may that same God who forgave David the Fornicator, Adulterer, and King, have mercy on me a most unworthy sinner.
Dn. Marty Watt
(my comments are my own and do not represent those of any body that I may be affiliated with)
#9.3 Dn. Marty Watt on 2011-03-19 11:41
I took a different message away. I thought more "transform" or "transcend" than "ignore". I don't think Fr. Skidmore was saying ignore evil or sin, rather remember (in the full Orthodox meaning of that word) the good and beauty. There's a reason "ugly" is often used as a synonym for "evil." In somewhat the same way that the Divine Liturgy lifts us into the Kingdom of God, so also beauty lifts us out of the mire of sin and into the Kingdom. In other words, he wasn't saying ignore sin; he was saying here is a way out of our present troubles, a way to stop the evil, to stop the sinfulness. No?
#9.4 Kathy Erickson on 2011-03-19 12:34
I am an occasional visitor to this site and grateful for Mark's efforts. Thank you to Father Tom Hopko for his "First Day of Lent Letter"
THIS WHOLE THING IS A MESS!!! This entire episode shows why young, inexperienced bishops are NEVER allowed to lead. They have no mentoring and have little respect for working within existing norms. Most of the time, older bishops are chosen who's time can be counted and who MUST relay on others advice and guidance or become ineffective. + Jonah cannot recover now....
#11 Anonymous on 2011-03-19 07:47
Fr. Isaac ends his reflection, “Beauty will save the world.” I agree with Fr. Isaac, but I have some additional thoughts about the what, how, and when of this hope.
The what of this beauty is the Heavenly vision of the Kingdom of God. Some of the Old Testament Prophets were blessed to see this vision, if only briefly. The Apostle Paul was blessed with this vision, although he was not free to share it (2 Cor. 12:1-4). It is in The Revelation of Jesus Christ given to St. John the Theologian that the beauty of the Heavenly visions of the Kingdom of God are revealed to us (Rev. 4:1 - 5:14). Our Divine Liturgy and worship traditions are fashioned to express this Heavenly Beauty in a way that we can experience while we await the transfiguration reality of the New Creation (Rev. 21:1 - 22:21). At the center of this Beauty is our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of all. The beauty found in the material and spiritual Creation is all a reflection of the pure love of the Holy Trinity revealed to us personally through the Incarnation of God the Word.
How this Beauty saves the world is through Communion with our Creator. The beauty that is present all around us, even in this fallen world, is a constant reminder of this reality. As we are drawn closer to the Beauty of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ revealed in His Creation and Church, we can actually become like Him through Communion. This reality is actualized by embarking upon the way that leads to truth and life. This journey along the way that leads to life, is guided by truth. We know that Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life, but how can we know that we are being guided by the truth that keeps us on the narrow way leading to life? Learning to discern what is true by weighing the pertinent facts of matters regarding ourselves, others, and God’s revelations, is a crucial part of the process. Our faithful editor has pointed out more than once that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. I would add to this that we must strive to gather and weigh all of the facts, not just those that we find to our liking. When the weight of the factual evidence reflects poorly on ourselves or those whom we love and respect, the truth can be a bitter reality we would rather flee from than embrace. Yet if we are to continue along the way that leads to life, we must accept the truth and repent to be healed. This painful therapy is necessary for us if we are to experience eternal life with our Beautiful Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Although we Orthodox Christians confess that we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come; now is also the time when Beauty will save the world. Orthodox Christian eschatology is both realized and yet to come. Since Pentecost in A.D 33, the Holy Spirit has brought the experience of saving Beauty to those whose hearts were receptive, enabling them to actualize the first resurrection (Rev. 20:6). The Body of Christ, the Church, continues to overcome Satan, great tribulation, and death. From the beginning of the Church age, the one holy catholic and apostolic Orthodox Church has been in spiritual warfare with the evil powers of darkness; Satan, and his demons. This great tribulation of the Church will continue until the Day of the Lord (Matt. 24:21, 29-31; Rev. 7:13-17). That the Church is clearly winning this war is not always appreciated from our earthly perspective. But from a Heavenly perspective, the continued growth of the Church in Heaven is conclusive evidence that our Lord God and Savoir Jesus Christ has indeed vanquished Satan and death. This Heavenly perspective is important to remember as we strive to overcome our current tribulations in the Church.
Although we can never be certain when Jesus Christ will come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead, the weight of all the Biblical, historical, and current evidence indicates that no further prophecies remain to be fulfilled before His Second Coming. Because the Day of the Lord is not limited to 24 hours, but is rather a specific time period of judgment and resurrection (Dan.12:12), we would be wise during this Lent to heed our Lord’s admonition: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).”
#12 Marc Trolinger on 2011-03-19 17:00
Unrelated, but perhaps important.
Metropolitan Herman is pictured here on the Greek Archdiocese website conducting a panikhida for the late and blessed Metropolitan Nicholas.
I understand that our Metropolitan Jonah is on "leave", but why isn't he there /or a current member of the synod. Also, why is +Herman wearing the white klobuk? Wasn't this reserved for only the acting Metropolitan? Also, was he sent by the synod to represent the OCA?
It's just all chaotic and so very disturbing to me. I am a successful businessman with several master's degrees. By no means do I suggest the church be run as a business, but shouldn't it consult business practices to make itself more professional and organized, nonetheless profitable? In a good way, I believe that a counsel of business professional outside of the regular Metropolitan counsel may be useful to lend insight and advice that may be used at the discretion of the Synod as positive practice.
Thank you for all you do. God Bless.
#13 Anonymous on 2011-03-19 19:27
Metropolitan Herman was a long standing personal friend of Metropolitan Nicholas. He and Metropolitan Nicholas were the first Orthodox prelates to bear public witness to the anti-abortion issue by participating publicly and visibly in the March for Life in the years before Metropolitan Jonah even joined the Orthodox Church. Human decency and kindness would tell one the he has a right to pay his respects to his friend and fellow hierarch.
Secondly, Bishop Melchizedek of Pittsburgh was present at the Friday Parastas in Johnstown and later conducted his own Trisagion there with the OCA priests of the Pittsburgh Diocese.
Thirdly, Bishop Michael of New York was present this morning in Perth Amboy for the Metropolitan's funeral as were numerous OCA and other Orthodox priests and prelates.
It is appropriate protocol that the ruling Bishops of the regions where these events took place, i.e. western PA and New Jersey, would be present.
People make too much out of reading tea leaves.
Bringing the mourning of the faithful of my diocese into your disputes and attempting to ascertain the intent of your bishops as they pay there respects to their friend and fellow Orthodox Bishop is inappropriate and saddens me.
#13.1 'bez mena' on 2011-03-21 08:18
I'm no Herman fan. But let us treat him the way we ourselves would want to be treated.
#13.1.1 Hermwood on 2011-03-21 12:47
To be fair, none of us would expect former Metropolitan Herman to Not attend the funeral of an acquaintance. I don't believe that is what the poster intended to say.
To be fair, I think the bigger question is about the white hat.
If I recall correctly, I believe he was told to not wear it, but I don't know any of the rights or wrongs of it, the whens or the hows, etc. Perhaps a smarter person could coin in on the matter.
Frankly, most of us only want things done in good order and don't care about hats worn to funerals. I believe an Apostle wrote on that a little.
#13.1.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-21 13:04
Two years ago, the retired Metropolitan Herman was indeed explicitly told not to wear the white klobuk (this being the prerogative of the current Metropolitan). You can read more about it at that other OCA news website, OCA -dot-org-slash-news: http://www.oca.org/news/1790
However, unless the issue is specifically and publicly dealt with, no one outside the Synod should presume to accuse the metropolitan of disobedience. (In fact, I'd say that's good advice all around!)
For all we know, Metropolitan Herman may have been given permission to wear it for the occasion, or for any number of other reasons. Maybe he grabbed his old white klobuk by mistake when he left his house, and he couldn't find a Sharpie to blacken it with. Who knows? Like you said, there are better things to worry about than what color hat someone wore to a funeral. If he was out of line, I'm sure the Synod can handle it.
#188.8.131.52 Cordelia on 2011-03-24 12:41
I've missed something in my years absent from Orthodoxy...when did the Orthodox Church in America become for abortion and gay-marriage? Sure, I had a priest who held a liberal view on abortion about 25 years ago, but I regarded it as an aberration. Now all of a sudden it's the de facto position of whole geographical areas of US Orthodoxy? What's going on?
#14 Anthony on 2011-03-21 14:44
Good question, Anthony.
I have been reading all of the OCANews posts and the OCATruth posts (which, contrary to our beloved Fr. Tom's admonition, and several of the characterizations of the site on this page, are often quite thoughtful, good reads) and I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a lot to this issue of a culture war within the OCA. Try as I might, I can't for the life of me comprehend what +Jonah has done that in the opinion of some rises to the level of having him replaced. After sifting through all of these posts, my strongest impression is that most of the issues raised are quite petty and stem from a group of people at Syosset and those closely connected with Syosset who don’t like the Met's leadership style and his tendency to make "unilateral" decisions (i.e., they want control of the OCA). Of course, the decisions are only "bad" because they go against what the group in question wants done on any particular issue—whether it be moving the headquarters to DC, signing the Manhattan Declaration, or whatever.
Like most people, the Syosset staff would prefer not to have their job and worship site moved. Is this a surprise to anyone? On the other hand, living in the DC area, I rather like the notion of having our Metropolitan located at the OCA cathedral here. Two differing opinions—nothing more, and nothing unusual. Companies make these decisions all the time based on a number of factors, and IMHO there are many good reasons to make the move to DC. Others may disagree, but we are all entitled to our opinions. Demonizing our Met. for wanting to make this move is a bit over the top.
But it does seem to me that the issue that most infuriates the Metropolitan's detractors on this site (whether they will admit it or not) is that of his having signed the Manhattan Declaration—thus taking a public stand on what has always been the Orthodox Church's teaching on the issues of abortion and marriage. Like you, I have been more than a little appalled at the number of people posting on this site who do not hold to the Church's teachings on these moral issues—and who brand those of us who do as "right-wing," "converts," etc. who want to--get this!--hijack the OCA! I am bemused and at a loss to understand how we could want to hijack the Orthodox Church only to take it where it has already been for 2000 years. If there is any effort at hijacking here, I submit that it's coming from those who now want to see the Orthodox Church change its teachings on these issues (or at least its practices) to make them more palatable to contemporary society.
If this email is posted at all, it will no doubt be followed by the editor’s comments—once again listing (for me, the dunce who doesn’t get it) all the many reasons why +Jonah deserves to be crucified. I would ask the readers here to weigh these matters more objectively and determine whether you believe that the complaints against our Metropolitan are such as warrant his being forced to step down. I find this whole scandal so overblown—and, frankly, much ado about nothing.
#14.1 Cathryn M. Tatusko on 2011-03-22 09:38
Cathryn M. Tatusko wrote, "I have been reading all of the OCANews posts and the OCATruth posts (which, contrary to our beloved Fr. Tom's admonition, and several of the
characterizations of the site on this page, are often quite thoughtful, good reads) and I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a lot to this issue of a culture war within the OCA."
IMO, the "culture war" issue is a complete red herring.
Moreover, at this point speculation that the synod will remove Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen from office and/or depose him is premature. He was asked to take a leave of absense. Whether or not the synod takes any further action against him would seem to me to depend on the metropolitan's future actions.
I don't pretend to know all of the synod's concerns re: the metropolitan.
However, I am informed and believe that there is a serious disconnect between the metropolitan's public statements and his private actions with respect to clergy sexual abuse and misconduct.
In fact, this has been a concern of mine since the metropolitan, while still the abbot of the Manton monastery, wrote to the GOA archbishop asking him to rescind
the deposition of Michael Rymer, who was deposed after admitting to a sexual relationship with young Greek man with a mental disability. The metropolitan's poor handling of the case of Father Raymond Velencia further illustrates this point.
The mishandling of cases of sexual abuse and misconduct exposes the OCA to legal liability, liability that it can ill afford. In addition, the recycling of abusive priests may in the future open hierarchs and others who enforce such unChristian and unwise policies to criminal prosecution for child endangerment.
I believe that the synod was right to take action. I only fear that they will not follow through.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
The Orthodox Church likes to make icons out of pseudo-pop stars who have found their way into the church (e.g., Polamalu, Schaeffer). Rod Dreher is a writer and columnist who had worked for the New York Times and later the Dallas Morning News. He was a well-known Catholic who left the RCC when he became disturbed about the priest sex abuse scandal. As such, it is not so much that he embraced Orthodoxy as he rejected Catholicism. Even though he has only been in the church for a short time, he has been held out as a speaker knowledgeable about Orthodox topics, and handled through the Orthodox Speakers Bureau. He has been pushed into the limelight by his friends and fellow converts, Terry Mattingly and Frederica Mathewes-Green. During his time in Dallas, he worshiped at St. Seraphim ..and so I was not surprised to see his name on ocatruth.com in a list of +Jonah's supporters.
I followed his blog, Crunch Cons, for several years. .... I think he is attracted to Orthodoxy because he views it as a form of elite Christianity. There ought to be a rule that a convert ought to spend ten or twenty years in the church before they are asked to bloviate about what they find attractive in the Orthodox Church.
#15 St. Anonymous on 2011-03-21 21:16
i'd go further and say that no convert who has not been in the church for at least fifteen years should be ordained a priest or given any influential position in the church. there is a serbian saying "divlji teraju pitome" which means "the wild are chasing the tame". this is what's happening in our church. or to make it clearer, it is like ma and pa kettle put in charge of the LOUVRE.( they would exhibit kinkade next to the mona lisa). but, to be fair, some cradle born should not be ordained either.
#15.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-24 19:55
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