Monday, March 21. 2011
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Who is this guy? A self-proclaimed scholar, priest & psychologist. The people to be avoided at all cost!
Fr. Gregory Jensen
Astrological Sign: Virgo
Occupation: Orthodox priest/psychologist
Location: Madison : WI : United States
Together with my wife Mary, I entered the Orthodox Church on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (15 August) in 1991. On the feast of st Nicholas (6 December 1996) I was ordained to the Holy Priesthood by His Eminence Metropolitan MAXIMOS at St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Pittsburgh, PA. By profession I am a psychologist of religion, by vocation a married priest. My wife and I live in the Madison, WI where my wife is a lawyer and I earn my keep as an independent scholar and writer.
(Editor's note: The poster is quoting Fr.'s Profile on his website, Koinoinia, where Fr. Jensen first posted the essay re-posted this morning.)
#1 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 06:31
I love it! Convert to Orthodoxy in 1991, 1996 priest and now an expert scholar and psychologist! Yep, this the ticket; let this guy have influence at top levels and scrutinize clergy with his EXPERTISE. His chrism isn't dry and he's the "go to guy." What is the matter with you people?
#1.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 11:21
As a psychologist he probably has a PhD. That means he was indeed trained as a scholar. It is likely that he earned his degree in psychology before he became a priest in the Orthodox church.
(Editor's note: Fr. Jensen lists on his resume a PhD in SpiritualitySpiritual Formation, a MA in Spirituality. Spiritual Formation, both from Duquesne: A MA in Theology/Ethics and a BA in Psychology/Theology both from the University of Dallas.)
#1.1.1 Isidora on 2011-03-22 01:12
Ummm, making no defense of Fr. Jensen's abilities or lack thereof, Mr./Ms. Anonymous:
1991 is 20 years ago. I'd hardly say his "chrism isn't dry" in any sense of the term.
#1.1.2 Archpriest Christopher Wojcik on 2011-03-22 08:22
Two 'E-ssassins' commenting in a row with nothing but ad hominem vitriol and ridicule! That's 'free' speech, all right, in both senses of the word! And costly in one sense!
Not an ounce of sensible critique of what Fr. Gregory wrote, a piece which was not above question and criticism. But instead of subtance, these guys offer just venting and invective - of course anonymously because they are SO legitimately afraid of retaliation.
The posts contribute nothing to this crucial discourse except a) encouraging the general tendencies to pessimism and conduct lower levels of discourse, b) tending to raise other people's temperatures and blood pressure, c) distracting from the real issues, which are tough enough already.
But they can't resist the opportunity. They can't! That giddy feeling of being on the side of muckraking angels, taking unattributed, free shots at others, with no immediate or foreseeable consequences ... except perhaps the ones they intend (or are content to produce without directly intending) : the encouragement of that general pessimism, the degrading of a debate they wish to see harm the Church, distraction from real issues.
It is long past time for people of intelligence, good will and churchmanship to severely question the legitimacy and usefulness of hosting such contributions here, and the virtual lack of editorship through which they get to arrive in our in-boxes. Preferably before untreatable wounds are suffered.
If we are really, really generous to these two posters we could perhaps stretch and find a single unsupported proposition of questionable value: "nobody who has been a member of the Orthodox Church for only 20 years and a priest for only 15 could possibly be good enough for such a crucial investigative role regardless of his experience and credentials as a psychologist."
I am trying to be generous in calling it an 'idea' even though they tell us nothing of THEIR credentials to make judgmental pronouncements on the professional credentials of psychologists or priests, let alone someone who is the rare combination of both. And we note they adduce no evidence or argument to support the generalization that 20 years or 15 is too short in the abstract. And no evidence to support their particular dismissal of this man's priesthood or his psychological/investigative qualifications!
The ideas Father expressed (and perhaps his credentials for all I know) are completely worth intelligent examination and critique, but quite apparently not by these two.
#1.1.3 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-03-22 14:25
Well just exactly how many years does one to be Orthodox before one can voice an opinion? I believe the Apostle Paul was out preaching the Orthodox Gospel a mere 3 years after his conversion on the road to Damascus.
No wonder the protestants won't have anything to do with Orthodoxy.....
#1.1.4 fr.blues on 2011-03-22 21:15
There is a big difference between someone who has converted, and someone with a fully developed and mature Orthodox mind.
Have a nice day.
#126.96.36.199 deep mitre on 2011-03-25 13:24
Whoa, hold on there a minute. Somehow you think that just because you're cradle Orthodox you know everything? That a priest who has served faithfully for 15 years somehow knows nothing? I've been around cradle Orthodox a lot and there are some who are insightful and have much to share spiritually, and I've also been around those who know nothing other than the mis-information that their grandmothers taught them. The same is true for converts, except that there is a certain level or presumption that a convert, at the very least, had to study, learn and know somthing before they became Orthodox. The same can't be said for the cradle Orthodox.
I have only met and spoken with +Jonah a couple times, and that was years ago, long before he became the Metropolitan. But I feel that Fr. Jensen does make a valid point in pointing out regional differences in Orthodxy in America. The is a vast difference between the Orthodox parish that is losing membership, through no fault of their own or their pastor, but due to the current economic climate, and the Orthodox church in one of the sun belt states that might equally be growing and prospering, again, due to no benefit of the parish or pastor, but to the economic conditions. The parishes and their outlooks are just going to be vastly different.
I still haven't picked up the full story of what's happening with +Jonah, because so much is couched in careful wording and personal bias. Yet, I feel that Fr. Jensen has the right to express his view on what is happening. It is one piece to a many part puzzle, and I do appreciate his sharing.
So thank you Fr. Jensen for taking the time to write your thoughts and ideas. I don't know if you're appropriate in your views, but I appreciate your thoughts, none-the-less.
#1.1.5 Sean O'Clare on 2011-03-23 15:56
It takes twenty years for Chrism to dry!?
Honestly, some of the folks around here remind me of The Church Of The Sanctified Brethren in Lake Wobegon.
#1.1.6 Scott Walker on 2011-03-24 09:55
I was a member of the Pitt-CMU OCF for a good period of time that Father Gregory was in Pittsburgh. Under his guidance, the OCF went from meetings of 4 or 5 students to having about 20 students regularly attending. While this might not seem like a huge number, it was a tremendous improvement for the long stagnant OCF here in Pittsburgh - and most importantly, he instilled real zeal in us. We students loved OCF and were moved to grow in Christ in many ways. His style wasn't to grab us and go, pulling us along, but rather to nurture us and let us develop our own initiatives. He was a leader who wanted to raise future workers (not necessarily future leaders as in bishops and priests, but laborers of the vineyard) for the church by nourishing them with joy in Christ, by cultivating their talents, and by fostering a critical mind able to honestly evaluate ourselves and our work. Most importantly, he taught us that each of us has something to offer to the church, and he strived to help us identify and use the talents that God has given us in order to better know Him and to do His work. He wanted to see the students draw upon all the disciplines we excelled at and to use them to know God and to make Him known, as opposed to the idea that the only way to serve is in the clergy or council.
Father Gregory served as an excellent spiritual guide. The breadth of his experience as a pastor in many diverse environments, coupled with his knowledge of psychology, made him a natural counselor for many students. His understanding of and devotion to nurturing vocations in Christ (and by this, I do not mean clerical ranks, but on graciously responding to the talents God has blessed us with) was an oasis in the barren desert of college life.
Father Gregory tried very hard to lead us to a more liturgically rich life, filled with authentic love for Christ. He espoused a missionary and evangelical mindset that I regret to say I have not followed upon. Critical to his message to us is that we have to reach out to everyone, especially those rejected by society (and those who have rejected society), and that we should see the yearning for Christ in every person. He was not someone who wanted to limit mission to people similar to us, but labored to help us see Christ and His gifts in everyone, and to minister to all that we encounter.
I must honestly state that I don't always agree with what Father Gregory writes (this article is something I'm on the fence about), and have indeed gotten into some heavy arguments with him. But it is important to understand that while his writing can sound cerebral, his focus is always upon helping people know God, and to use the gifts and talents that God has given us to share God's love and spread the Gospel message that Christ is Risen. He was able to help us understand, experientially, what it means to "be transformed by the renewal of your mind." He also sought to remove obstacles that had been erected in the Church that prevented this expression, obstacles that were often structural in nature but not necessarily consciously created (shoehorning spiritually interested men into nothing but seminary, for instance). Because of his challenge of such often unspoken attitudes and structures, and oftentimes by the very fact that he pointed them out in the first place, he was not always welcomed by other Orthodox.
Given my personal experience of his ministry over a number of years, I must say this: for any that criticize Father Gregory based off of something like the blurb on his blog's profile page or an article that you don't agree with, I ask that you please look at the witness of his life and labor for Christ. Sometimes it can be hard to understand what he is getting at and his nuance can be difficult to pick up, but knowing him and what he labored for in Pittsburgh, I don't think that his vision is that far from what many people on this site yearn for.
Of course, he hasn't asked that I write this, and I submit it anonymously so that he does not know who did.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2011-03-22 17:16
This is just another attempt at introducing yet another wedge issue to distract attention from the real issue at hand. This is not about north versus south; liberal versus conservative; convert versus cradle or whether one is a gatekeeeper or not. The real issue is the Metropolitan and his fitness to serve. All of these other items are just attempts to muddy the water and change the topic of converation by stirring up 'hot button' issues that are certain to divide everyone. This appears to be the Metropolitan's desire to 'add political action to the faith's traditions'.
No thanks; I have seen this picture before. The CSB/HOOM played this card as well as the politics of personal destruction on their opponents when their phony 'metropolitan' was disclosed to be a child molester. Considering that one of the real issues here is the Metropolitan's handling of the OCA sexual misconduct policy involving allegations of a Bishop molesting children; people need to keep their eye on the ball and not be distracted and divided by smoke screens.
The OCA doesn't need political action in Washington; it needs to clean its own house.
#2 Ex Cult Member on 2011-03-21 07:56
Dear Mark; Ex-Cult knows whereof he/she speaks. All of our problems stem from spiritual delusions - heretical doctrine leads to immoral actions. We warned (our voice is small) about the Platina cult but evidently "numbers" were the object of the "game" in our jurisdictional wars!! The parish problems which we have all experienced (!!!) stem from priests not being Christians, thus, the people are without a shepherd to lead them to Christ. So many have not converted to Christ personally and had no experience in receiving the Holy Spirit - obvious from their sermons without love of Christ and Holy Scriptures, and having no references to the fathers of our Faith. Again, I've seen mostly lazy and unbelieving priests who adopt the "latin" view of "ex opere operato" instead of praying the Divine services. This is tragic - I so wish that I could say otherwise. Seminary degrees replace any true spiritual call to serve as priest. Academics elevate "tolerance" and "all points of view" in presentations, and so ecumenism finds a comfortable place among the professors. Our prayer is that God grant the infilling of the All-Holy Spirit through our Saving Lord Jesus Christ from the Father as we utterly give Him our lives. There is no other way to be truly lovers of Christ in His Orthodox Faith and to have clergy who have the Grace from Him to serve.
Right on target, I totally agree with you Ex Cult Member.
There is no excuse for sexual abuse . So some sort of distractions and "bombs bursting in air", hot buttons as some call them, need to be set off to deflect the damages in progress by lack of attending to the matters only they the bishops and the metropolitan had authority within the given structure to act on regarding allegations of sexual abuse by their own fellow bishop. Metropolitan Jonah and the Synod of Bishops of the OCA together are guilty of the neglect in this area and for their support they have given sexual offenders in the past while perpetrating the hurt to victims of abuse.
#2.2 Survivor in the South on 2011-03-22 11:24
The Bishops have many more pressing domestic and spiritual concerns they should be addressing, before they try shoot for prominence on the national stage.
Generally, these problems plague all of our parishes in the OCA (and beyond) -- while they are the direct responsibility of parish priests, our bishops should be working to support and uphold the spiritual work of the priests, instead of political grandstanding. Before Jonah seeks to gain "clout in Congress" perhaps he should focus on fixing our internal problems.
Crazy idea, but... perhaps addressing these difficult problems might lead to a healthier church which, by its own virtue, would be "relevant." As a college student, I have had extended conversations with over a dozen friends/acquaintances who were/are interested in converting to Orthodoxy. Their reluctance isn't due to a lack of Orthodox presence on the political scene. It's the fact that our theology (what you read in the books about Orthodoxy) is so different from the lived experience of a parish (what you find discussed in the coffee hour on a Sunday afternoon, or who you find in the pews on a Saturday night). Frequent refrains I've heard:
Lack of attendance at Vespers, Vigils, feast day celebrations
Lack of attendance at Liturgies, esp. in summer.
Lack of preparation, timeliness, attentiveness for services.
Lack of serious "prayer life" esp. among cradle.
Western perversion of Orthodox 'sensibilities'
Services which aren't "beautiful" (transcendent, inspiring)
A 'popular' religion which is uninformed by theology.
Idolatry, shamanism among unlearned parishioners.
A reluctance to learn more, esp. among cradle Orthodox.
Apathy about spiritual struggle, growth - ritual obligation.
Fundamentalism and/or Clericalism
Misogyny, ethnocentrism, homophobia
Bishops who do not live up to their office
Scandal, infighting, financial and sexual abuses
Secrecy and poor communication on all levels
Ecclesiology which makes hierarchs necessary, but suggests 'ignoring' them if they are bad, or harmful to spiritual struggle.
Jurisdictional conflict and all that baggage
Lack of zeal for outreach to poor
Lack of presence in urban and 'minority' communities
Politicization of religion via "the culture wars"
Others could probably add to this list.
If Met. Jonah, or other hierarchs, do not make addressing these issues the #1 priority, and foolishly try to thrust the Orthodox Church into the limelight of the political arena, I think we will attract the wrong kind of attention and show ourselves to be hypocrites, or worse. There will be no benefit to our evangelistic effort if we talk a big talk in Washington, but then seekers find an empty ethnic church on a Saturday night or feast-day.
(Editor's note: Gee, I wish I had said that. )
#3 Nilus on 2011-03-21 09:03
It should be noted that one's astrological sign automatically appears on Blogspot when one enters their date of birth.
(Editor's note: Thank you for that clarification.)
#4 Andrew on 2011-03-21 09:40
Father Gregory fails to take into account a very significant detail: one can agree entirely with Metropolitan Jonah about the necessity of taking moral stands and action in the public square, while disagreeing strongly with the actions that he himself has taken. One must make a distinction between being PUBLIC and being POLITICAL.
I personally couldn't care less about how many times His Beatitude addresses the March for Life or what declarations he signs. Let him speak out with equal vigor about the necessity to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and defend the foreigner. Let him condemn the powerful of ALL political parties for miring this country in political quicksand while their brothers and sisters go hungry and sick. Let him be a gadfly to private wealth and public funding to give freely and without hope or expectation of profit or return to care for the widow, the orphan, the sick, and the imprisoned. Let him show by personal example that the least of Christ's brethren means more to him than a soapbox in the public square. Let him take off his tailored cassock and immaculate white veil, put on a t-shirt and jeans, and anonymously carry food and clothing to the homeless. Let him sell his jeweled panagias and extra vestments and help rebuild flooded homes in New Orleans and Nashville. And yes, let him condemn abortion, but let him not be deluded into thinking that the problem of abortion in our society can be addressed independently of issues of poverty, education, and healthcare.
In short, let him not confuse ecclesiastical position with moral authority. Let him earn the latter -- as Mother Theresa did, in the streets with the least of Christ's brethren -- and we'll talk.
#5 John Congdon on 2011-03-21 09:49
#5.1 Andrew A. Lukashonak on 2011-03-21 11:58
Tell it, John!
#5.2 Rachel Andreyev on 2011-03-21 13:25
this is what i've been saying for years. yes, the battle against abortion is important, but let's not also forget the insturctions of Christ to help those marginalized by society. many of the OCA's converts, however, are neo-cons and come with that baggage of hyper capticalism and militarism and disdain towards the poor who "do not help themselves." if the Metropolitan would get off his high horse about abortion and "homosex," as he disdainfully puts it, and really start putting Christ's commands into action, the other issues would follow. the culture wars had a lot to do with why i left the protestant world; the church should rise above them and preach the entire Gospel, not just what's in the Republican Party platform.
#5.3 Reader Joseph on 2011-03-21 15:30
"Let him take off his tailored cassock and immaculate white veil, put on a t-shirt and jeans, and anonymously carry food and clothing to the homeless."
The point of being anonymous is that you wouldn't know if he has actually done it or not. Unless your real name is Monk Gregory Stevens, you haven't been following the Metropolitan around for the past two years, and you couldn't possibly know for a fact that he hasn't done exactly that.
Also, at least some of Metropolitan Jonah's ecclesial bling is hand-me-downs, so it's not like he went out and bought it for himself. Other pieces were given to him as gifts, by people who followed the example of the woman who opened the expensive jar of spikenard over the feet of the Lord. (Look it up, it's Matthew 26:6-13. Or, since you're so busy slaving away to feed the poor yourself, just wait until Holy Wednesday Matins.)
#5.4 Cordelia on 2011-03-22 17:33
Thank you for this powerful comment. You've found the words that speak for many of us who have stood silent as this crisis unfolded.
#5.5 Jurretta J. Heckscher on 2011-03-23 01:22
#5.6 Anon on 2011-03-23 16:33
, your implicit criticism is invalid.Dear John,
May we assume that you also will be in jeans and T-shirt, working right next to the Metropolitan? If so, I agree with you. (Or you could come up here and just help in our very inner-city neighbourhood; I could use a hand!) But note that according to Eph.4:12 it is the task of pastors and teachers to equip the saints for their ministry, not to do it in their stead. So if you seek to exempt yourself from practical Christian servanthood, while demanding it of the Metropolitan...well...what can one say?
#5.7 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2011-03-24 05:15
I like to read the different views and opinions here. It is how we learn about the issues that matter to us. We should be informed in order to form our own opinions. I may not like or agree with what is expressed on this or any other site but I'm big enough to take differences of opinion, agree to disagree, and move on to share the Eucharist which we all love. But when we collectively keep banging the hammer on the wedge of cradle versus convert, that goes over the top folks. I may be a "cradle" Orthodox Christian myself but I try not view anyone else as "convert" Orthodox Christian or in any other manner. We are Orthodox Christians. PERIOD. We share the Eucharist EQUALLY. I am probably being very naive in my world view, but this divisiveness makes the job of evil easier, doing the evil one's work for him. I hope and pray that we can keep the "we" versus "they" aspect out of our spiritual lives and try to unite ourselves to Christ.
#6 A Cradle-r on 2011-03-21 11:04
This reflection is full of false dichotomy and frankly, I am wondering if the mind of the Metropolitan accurately reflects this same attitude. The attitude that all is black and white when it nearly never turns out that way. A typical ************ attitude that things are either this way or that; oversimplified and no in betweens.
What we really need are priests and bishops interested in teaching our children about Jesus, rather than getting into the public square with politicians and pundits. If they teach about Jesus to children, they will win almost all the hearts. If they get into the public square, they will get at best half; probably less when you add religious requirements. Talk about entrepreneurial, this is McDonald's formula. So far, Metropolitan Jonah has spent way too much time on adult matters.
What do you think my children will think if the church stands up and proclaims the ills of homosexuality while they are taught reasonableness and tolerance from 5th grade through college? I will indulge an answer for you. The children will think the church is odd and leave. Don't credit Jonah for risktaking here; it is just intolerance and to be frank, I don't recall Jesus preaching intolerance; especially to kids. And while you are thinking about it, why don't you leave the gay protest stuff to Westboro.
And it must really bother you to think I support Jonah in the March for Life, but also understand and respect the disgusting need for Roe v Wade. It isn't me writing that all is black and white; it is you. If I could erase the societal demand for abortion, I would, but noone will ever stop some women from destroying their unwanted fetus. The best we can do is promote motherhood and frankly protected sex(the Catholic church fully fails here by the way), which must be done everyday by the church. Promoting motherhood isn't done by walking in protest of secular law, by the way. The Treehouse in Wichita is a good example of a real effort and they don't even mention abortion in their mission if I recall correctly.
You suggest Metropolitan Jonah's critics believe he is destroying the OCA. I think that, too, is a stretch, with one exception. By using the phrase 'maximal autonomy or maximal autocephaly', it seemed possible. By following the notions of the Episcopal Assemblies, if you are worried about shrinking parishes, you better worry more. Trying to refit the American landscape into old canon law could only result in a huge shrinking of Orthodoxy. If children leave the church because it preaches intolerance; I suppose HB could get the credit there someday, too.
You also credit Metropolitan Jonah for entrepreneurial style. I say hardly. Show me what innovating ideas he has implemented with children to get/keep them interested in Orthodoxy.
At the end of the article you suggest a power struggle that is not due to Metropolitan Jonah. Okay, so I guess this means he'll let go of the Washington DC concept? So far, my understanding is he is the only one that has been powerfully struggling for it, but yet, you claim this desire is not his?
Thanks for putting your ideas out there. Sorry I don't agree with much you said. Everything isn't all black and white. Metropolitan Jonah had a simple job coming into the OCA.
The people were tired of secrets.
The people were tired of deceit.
The people were tired of individual agendas.
If you see everything in 2 colors, you can paint a picture.
A bigger question I have is if this is the way the Metropolitan thinks, what has happened to the strategy of the OCA?
And I'm a marginal person, not anyone in a zero sum game of any sort, by the way.
#7 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-21 11:09
"What do you think my children will think if the church stands up and proclaims the ills of homosexuality while they are taught reasonableness and tolerance from 5th grade through college? I will indulge an answer for you. The children will think the church is odd and leave. . . . And I'm a marginal person"
That about sums it up, I'm afraid.
#7.1 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2011-03-21 12:28
You know, I've been thinking the same thing. Except, about fasting. Fasting isn't effectively enforced by the government... in fact, the government allows the sale of wine, oil, fish, meat, and dairy during lenten periods - even Great Lent!
The virtues of fasting are lost on a generation of children brought up in a society where eating whatever you want, whenever you want, is the norm. Our government isn't doing enough. The Church needs to step up and take a stand - against the sale of non-Lenten foods during Lent.
It is time to assert the absolute truth of Orthodox Tradition by imposing it on the rest of the populace, regardless of their religious or dietary habits.
#7.1.1 Nilus on 2011-03-21 14:46
Your sarcasm aside, your point about human freedom and liberty is taken - even by the "conservatives" you deride. However, even you do not take liberty to it's absolute logical conclusion. You would not argue for the total freedom to drive at whatever speed you fancy, or to take the life of another simply because you are at "liberty" to do so. Indeed, to protect the unborn (by making it a criminal offense to end his life) is a recognition of said liberty (of the unborn person). Society, based on it's history and philosophy proscribes limits to liberty, often in an effort to protect that same liberty for others. Homosexualism is no different. There is no doubt about it's place (or rather non place) in our Tradition and there is no doubt about our position concerning it vis-a-vis the public square. Any argument to the contrary simply can not stand in the light of Tradition...
#188.8.131.52 Christopher on 2011-03-21 17:25
What you describe as "Tradition" is hardly an integral part of basic Christian doctrine. What it is is an outdated relic and prejudice of the past that no longer makes the least sense with our modern understanding of human sexuality. And there are many other instances of outdated relics littering the so-called Orthodox tradition. We may not like it when science, reason and changing social customs conflict with past "orthodoxies." But we can either adjust and face reality, or hide in a formulaic and outdated mindset that discredits our witness to the modern world and conflicts with our Lord's rejection of Pharisaic religion.
#184.108.40.206.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-24 11:03
JUST LOVE YOUR REPLY
#220.127.116.11 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 23:24
In America we have the 1st Amendment and it is a good thing or perhaps Orthodoxy would be an illegal religion. How fast this is forgotten by all the 'culture warriors'.
Perhaps twisting words out of context would be an illegal act, too.
That was pretty rude, good priest. You are a man of words, do you think impeaching mine will teach me something? For our likely common love of St. Tikhon's, I'll forgive you.
I'll let Nilus rebut for me, maybe you'll understand the way he frames it with a gentler subject matter.
#7.1.2 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-21 19:35
Well, my children are taught right from wrong at home - as they should be. If something isn't taught in the home, the church has an uphill battle. Lord help me if I ever expect someone else to teach my children morality.
And, incidentally, my children are homeschooled, and always have been. It isn't simply "so that we'll have a monopoly on their education" but also because we have only lived in deplorable school districts. A nice side benefit is that they haven't been indoctrinated in "tolerance" and relativism, so they are able to call a spade a spade.
#7.2 Matushka on 2011-03-21 15:31
"...also understand and respect the disgusting need for Roe v Wade. It isn't me writing that all is black and white; it is you. If I could erase the societal demand for abortion, I would, but noone will ever stop some women from destroying their unwanted fetus."
Sir, you have your "wants" and "needs" confused. By the government sanctioning the destruction of innocent human life, and by Christians not protesting, generations of young people (who managed to make it through the womb) are conditioned to believe that it is ok, necessary, unavoidable and all that other malarkey. Evil will occur, but we are called to fight it- not consider it a "need."
#7.3 K. Carlsen on 2011-03-22 13:25
I am not “pro-abortion”. I don't think anyone really can be. However I don't think it should be illegal either. I believe that those who end up “choosing” abortion do so because they feel they have No other choice.
I believe the teaching of the Fathers says that abortion is wrong. PERIOD. A mother whose life is in danger is no more allowed to end her child’s life than someone for whom it is “inconvenient”. That would require a lot of faith and trust in God, especially if there were other children needing that mom to survive. We are all called to be martyrs, but precious few of us have the ability or desire to do so. Most “pro-lifers” seem to waffle in their convictions under “the life of the mother” circumstance. Victims of rape and incest also seem to get a sympathetic ear. Some will even forgive abortion in the face of chromosomal abnormalities. Seems to me even “pro-lifers” can entertain the idea a life can be ended when it is “inconvenient”. If it would be illegal to perform an abortion, there would be no doctor trained and ready to perform this procedure in the “acceptable” circumstances, whatever our society determines that to be.
What of “in vitro” fertilization? I don’t hear the March for Life being against this. Very many of these new mommies choose to “reduce” their pregnancies so they have one healthy baby born, instead of compromised triplets (or worse). And they have a few embryos in reserve in the freezer for when (if) they are ready and willing to have more, or the first round doesn’t go well. Aren’t these “abortions” (or abortions to be)? Why is the church not making a visibly public stand on this new industry? What about couples borrowing wombs, sperm and eggs from others so they can have a “baby of their own”? Isn’t this another side to the same coin: I can choose to experience childbirth now (or not) because medical science and the law enables me to (or not), and it’s really all about me? Is Life a gift from God or a commodity I can buy or dispose of at will?
And what of the “pro-lifers” who bomb clinics and kill doctors? Is that what someone meant by “Society, based on it's history and philosophy proscribes limits to liberty, often in an effort to protect that same liberty for others.” ?
Never mind that the “March for Life” is not known for its cries against capital punishment or war. Nor does it say anything about life abused by smoking, gluttony, sloth, or drunkenness – the slow suicides.
Pregnancy is a very complicated issue, because there are 2 lives that are literally one at that point. Should we mandate that everyone be on the bone marrow registry, the organ donor lists, or donating blood several times a year? Don’t we all have parts we should be offering to keep another alive? Why does someone with a uterus have to be singled out?
While it may be easy to vilify the little hussy who sleeps around and should be punished for her actions and have to keep it (baby as punishment, how uplifting—and of course, she was alone in these actions), I think there are a lot of painful issues that drive women, and their families, to move on a path that ends the life of their child (or grandchild). And those who find themselves falling into these “sins” due to fear, lust, pride, lack of faith, selfishness should find a place of healing and repentance in the church that recalls the father of the prodigal son, rather than the unforgiving servant. That can’t happen if you are seen amongst the mob carrying around nasty signs and screaming murderer!
Plenty of young people have grown up knowing war is not OK, even if the state supports it. Ditto on capital punishment.I do think they will also see abortion as not OK, even if,like war, it is,unfortunately, sometimes unavoidable.
#7.3.1 margaret on 2011-03-25 11:25
Daniel I suggest you re-read the Bible because The Lord Jesus Christ preached "intolerance" every day. Just to list a few examples:
Luke 12 : Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.  For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three.  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against his father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
He also called Herod "that fox" (Luke 13:32) called Peter "satan" (Matthew 16:23) had nothing but contempt for Scribes and Pharisees, at first wouldn't even see that Cannanite woman who chased after him (Matthew 15:21-30) and told the Apostles to literally arm themselves (Luke 22:36) and even more intolerant: he constantly said "Go and sin no more!" He also said the Law still goes (Matthew 5:16-20) therefore sodomy is still an abomination. That may not be the feel-good PC ecumenist message that certain "Orthodox" hierarchs deliver to the press and the WCC, but then the Truth never was.
If your children are going to a school that is telling them otherwise, you had better send them elsewhere!
#7.4 VSO on 2011-03-23 11:27
What planet do you live on VSO?
There isn't a single college institution that preaches intolerance of homosexuality. If you tease or bully someone because they are gay; good luck with that plan in any public institution.
Further, sodomy, by the way, does not imply homosexuality. Heterosexuals can engage in that act.
There is a serious dichotomy between intolerance of homosexuality and any of Christ's words that I have ever been able to find.
Marriage itself can be a discriminatory practice. Single persons ought not be treated any differently by society than married persons and for that reason, I will never hold up a torch for gay marriage; not due to intolerance.
One ought to never mistreat another human being; regardless of their unknown sinfulness.
#7.4.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-24 20:48
But He will say, "I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.
Iniquity=absence of moral or spiritual values
Workers of iniquity=those who enable and assist unholy works either actively or PASSIVELY (not speaking/preaching the God’s truths.)
#8 ElizabethCradle-RustBelt on 2011-03-21 11:26
I don't know what Fr Gregory is talking about...all I see is more of the same, a Metropolitan more concerned with muddying the waters, dodging accountability, covering up wrong doing, abusing authority and power, focusing on moral, political surface issues, ignoring the real critical issues. I do NOT see an entrepenurial Metropolitan on the cutting edge.
The "lie of Satan" is using the public square to shout about morality and while doing the complete opposite in day to day life and operations of the Church.
#9 Kristi Koumentakos on 2011-03-21 12:02
This is one of Fr. Jensen's standard essays and is typical of his thinking since I have been familiar with him. He always oversimplifies a multitude of separate (if related) issues. he first sets up a dialectic (with the implication that he has captured all the diverse facts and feelings) and either comes up with a synthesis or (less often) sides with one side or the other. Most reasoning folks instinctively realize it's his (conjured) premise and dialectic that is wrong, even if their not sure why.
From the posting of this essay I have now learned that Met. Jonah has appointed him "Chief Investigator of the Office of Sexual Misconduct". I have largely come down on the side of Met. Jonah in these recent debates, but this is certainly a mark against Met. Jonah...
#10 Christopher on 2011-03-21 12:35
"From the posting of this essay I have now learned that Met. Jonah has appointed him "Chief Investigator of the Office of Sexual Misconduct".
Is this real or are you using sarcasm?
(Editor's note: The Metropolitan has announced he has appointed Fr. Jensen to the Office. He has also announced Fr. Jensen is to conduct an investigation. Since Fr. Jensen is the only one in the Office, that would make him the chief....)
#10.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 17:04
Hey, I was born and raised in Madison, WI. Beautiful, isn't it?
And I was chrismated into Orthodoxy at St. Matthews in Columbia, MD.
Small world, isn't it?
I'll forgo my ordinary rant on the evils and irresponsibility of anonymity. ocatruth.com has made the point for me.
We're in the Sweet Sixteen!
I think there is no theological or ecclesiastical importance in the fact that the Badgers were eliminated by another team from the Midwest.
#11.1 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2011-03-25 07:59
I tried very hard to read Fr. Jensen's reflection but frankly it just didn't make a whole lot of sense. Metropolitan Jonah enjoys speaking on the lawn in Washington and rubbing elbows with a few politicians in Washington. It's all fine and dandy but it really doesn't have a lot to do with running OCA.
Here's the job description of the Metropolitan: take care of the OCA flock. It's that simple. Don't give them away, don't spin stories every which way, don't hide on airplanes, don't fire your administrative staff who are trying to help you.
Fr. Jensen's remarks didn't have a lot of substance. The issues with + Jonah have very little to do with East coast vs. West coast ideas of Orthodoxy. They have to do with basic common sense. If anyone wants some concrete examples of bizarre behavior of the metropolitan how about addressing the fact that +Jonah was going to allow the deacon who is living with the former Bishop Mark of Boston (who is openly gay and now living in Florida) to partake of the body and blood of Christ? Is this your idea of a conservative leader? Come on. Let's stop playing games. I left the OCA because of these heretical shennanigans. And if someone doesn't believe me, I'm sure it's not too hard to call Bishop Mark up and ask him directly.
I can only hope and pray that +Jonah will just quietly step aside from a position he should never have been put in in the first place.
#12 Anon. on 2011-03-21 15:54
More important than Fr Gregory's opinion piece. Is he qualified to be the "Chief Investigator of the Office of Sexual Misconduct"? What licenses does he hold that make him the ideal candidate for such an important job?
#13 GH on 2011-03-21 17:12
The church’s witness to the world regarding moral issues would be far more effective if it had some coherence, consistency and less convenience. We would be better witnesses to outsiders if we started addressing the crises in our own midst.
How can our bishops hope to witness to the sanctity of life when they have deliberately ignored acts of genocide committed against Orthodox Christians; acts committed by other Orthodox Christians; acts committed with the public blessing of Orthodox bishops?
How can we proclaim the traditional Orthodox faith and the preaching of the Gospel, when the most ancient of the Scared Canons and the very commandments of our Lord are publicly and blatantly violated with impunity by Orthodox Patriarchs and bishops?
The silence of our leaders on this issue is deafening and damning.
The 2008 documentary “Orthodox Occupation” has been re-released and posted on You Tube at the following url:
Portions of this documentary plus additional footage are now available with English voice over at the following urls:
This television documentary carefully documents the complicity of the Moscow Patriarchate in the 20 year campaign of genocide against the Georgian Orthodox people and the Georgian Orthodox Church.
After the 1992-93 invasion of Abkhazia, when Russian military forces with allied Muslim militias massacred 47,000 Orthodox Christians and drove 247,000 into exile; the Russian Orthodox Church created a schismatic “Abkhaz Orthodox Eparchy” on the ruins of the legitimate Orthodox Diocese of Tskhumi and all Abkhazia. The “leader” of this schismatic church is the de-frocked Archimandrite Vissarion Aplia.
Despite the obvious schismatic, un-canonical nature of this so-called “Eparchy”; the Moscow Patriarchate has ordained and assigned clergy to this diocese, and has funded its work. The Moscow Patriarchate freely admits to its support for schismatic churches in occupied Georgia, as can be seen from the attached article “Unrecognized Eparchies” published by the Moscow Patriarchate. It is also clear that the Moscow Patriarchate has used false accusations and heretical phyletist arguments to justify its ecclesiastical attack on the unity of the Orthodox Church. By its own admission, the Moscow Patriarchate stands self-condemned of both schism and heresy.
In the “Orthodox Occupation” documentary, the Russian Bishop Panteleimon of Karabadino-Adyghe is shown con-celebrating with the schismatic Aplia, and officially awarding him the Order of St Seraphim of Sarov on behalf of the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. This demonstrates the direct involvement of the Moscow Patriarchate in the creation of the schismatic “Eparchy”
What is more, this same Bishop Panteleimon of Karabadino-Adyghe and the Bishop Feofan of Saratov are both shown publicly “blessing” the very weapons used by the Russian military to attack and murder innocent Orthodox Christians in their own homes. The very missiles “blessed” by Bishop Theophan were used to attack the ancient Ghvrtaeba Cathedral and the shrine of the Protomartyr Razhden in Nikazi, which lies outside occupied South Ossetia. Using the weapons blessed by Bishop Theophan, the Russians and Ossetians rocketed, then looted and burned this ancient House of God. They did not spare the holy icons, the Gospel, nor the Holy Table; not even the sacred vessels; but attacked and destroyed everything.
By their own actions, the bishops of the Moscow Patriarchate have violated the most ancient Apostolic Canons, and they have spurned the Lord’s commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. They have specifically violated Apostolic Canons 11-16, and 30 -35. (see the attached references below) The prescribed penalty for any one of these crimes against the church is deposition and or excommunication, both for the offender and any who continue to commune with him!
Through their infernal “blessing” of military weapons of mass destruction the Russian bishops have blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, since through their actions they have invoked the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life in the cause of murder, mayhem and destruction.
Canon XI. (XII.)
If any clergyman shall join in prayer with a deposed clergyman, as if he were a clergyman, let him also be deposed.
Canon XII. And XIII (XIII.)
If any one of the clergy or laity who is excommunicated, or not to be received, shall go away, and be received in another city without commendatory letters, let both the receiver and the received be excommunicated. But if he be excommunicated already, let the time of his excommunication be lengthened.
A bishop is not to be allowed to leave his own parish, and pass over into another, although he may be pressed by many to do so, unless there be some proper cause constraining him. as if he can confer some greater benefit upon the persons of that place in the word of godliness. And this must be done not of his own accord, but by the judgment of many bishops, and at their earnest exhortation.
If any presbyter, or deacon, or any other of the list of the clergy, shall leave his own parish, and go into another, and having entirely forsaken his own, shall make his abode in the other parish without the permission of his own bishop, we ordain that he shall no longer perform divine service; more especially if his own bishop having exhorted him to return he has refused to do so, and persists in his disorderly conduct. But let him communicate there as a layman.
If, however, the bishop, with whom any such persons are staying, shall disregard the command that they are to cease from performing divine offices, and shall receive them as clergymen, let him be excommunicated, as a teacher of disorder
Canon XXX. (XXXI.)
If any bishop obtain possession of a church by the aid of the temporal powers, let him be deposed and excommunicated, and all who communicate with him.
Canon XXXI. (XXXII.)
If any presbyter, despising his own bishop, shall collect a separate congregation, and erect another altar, not having any grounds for condemning the bishop with regard to religion or justice, let him be deposed for his ambition; for he is a tyrant; in like manner also the rest of the clergy, and as many as join him; and let laymen be excommunicated. Let this, however, be done after a first, second, and third admonition from the bishop.
Canon XXXIII. (XXXIV.)
No foreign bishop, presbyter, or deacon, may be received without commendatory letters; and when they are produced let the persons be examined; and if they be preachers of godliness, let them be received. Otherwise, although you supply them with what they need, you must not receive them into communion, for many things are done surreptitiously.
Canon XXXIV. (XXXV.)
The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit.
Canon XXXV. (XXXVI.)
Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits, in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so, without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.
September 16, 2008 (the date of publication in Russian)
THE UNRECOGNIZED EPARCHIES OF THE RECOGNIZED REPUBLICS. Part 2
The problem of pastorship of Orthodox believers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia has to be resolved
Part 1: (http://www.rpmonitor.ru/en/en/detail.php?ID=10966)
#14 Francis Frost on 2011-03-21 20:00
Quite frankly, I had no idea that the lurking monster in this current hoopla was a political divide. But alas...
Met. Jonah's actions on this issue are causing me to be very concerned. I am a convert, and I grew up in a conservative Evangelical Baptist church. There I was taught that being a good Christian meant believing that America is a "Christian nation", that one must always vote Republican, and that God has blessed America in particular because of America's friendship with the state of Israel (and the pope might be the antichrist, but that's beside the point). To fail to uphold any of these, to fail to pick up the "Voting Guide" in the church lobby produced by the Christian Coalition, to fail to celebrate every American military action around the world, meant that one was out...in a left foot of fellowship kinda way.
When I became Orthodox I was .... free. Free from the "optional" Voting Guide, free to consider a variety of political viewpoints, free to -gasp- even learn Arabic! Amazing! I have thoroughly enjoyed being in a church which includes both Fr Mark Hodges and Franky Schaeffer (Lord have mercy on them both!), a church where when I go to church I can focus on Christ first, and let everything wordly (including politics) fall into a row behind that. I have been in parishes where the priest has gotten political during the homily, and even if it is an issue I agree on, I wince. The church is a hospital for sick souls, not a PAC.
And that's what makes me uncomfortable about this whole thing. I went to the Manhatten Declaration website, and the media links all point to Chuck Colson, Focus on the Family, The O'Reilly Factor, and Mike Huckabee. I mean, I know the issue is bigger than just these people, but really? I mean, does Met Jonah really mean to align all of us into this very small political corner? I know the first two names very well, and frankly, I really don't want to be associated with any of them.
See, what I like about Orthodoxy and it's seeming apoliticism on "hot button" issues was that everyone seemed to recognize that issues of salvation are best worked out on the level of the individual person and God, with the priest assisting along the way. Take the issue of birth control, for example. There are as many "Orthodox" positions on this as there are Orthodox people, but the basic default position is that, in practice, it is something the couple should discuss with eachother and God, and ask their priest's advice if they are still confused. Because we are people who make decisions every day, not automatons who live according to some political set of ideas which only paint in very broad strokes.
To put it simply, I have very little faith in the effort to "legislate morality" as Focus on the Family wants to see it. Call me jaded by my upbringing or whatever, but I firmly believe that such an effort can do nothing but bring harm to the church. Therefore, things like signing declarations, or having a large presence at staged rallies, are not "entrepreneurial", they are simply things which do nothing but drive sick souls away from salvation.
If Orthodoxy is growing the the -Republican- West and South (which seems to be what Fr Jensen is suggesting), all fine and good. But if it growing with people who want to bring all their "America is a Christian nation" Focus on the Family/Family Action PAC with them and make the rest of us fall in line, then I'm out. Seriously, I will never again be involved in a church which becomes political. So help me God.
#15 Ann W on 2011-03-21 20:13
there are converts and there are converts, not all are alike. DON'T EVER leave the church because of the political opinion of some people in the oca, because they do not represent the ORTHODOX CHURCH at large. the oca is a tiny insignificant jurisdiction, totally irrelevant and unimportant in world orthodoxy.
#15.1 Anonymous on 2011-03-24 09:29
Now hold on there! The OCA might be small compared to the GOA but not the AOCNA. And to a member of a parish, and to the Lord, numbers count for little. Every parish church, no matter how pathetic it appears to the critical eye, conveys the Whole Gospel and the very Body of Christ to those faithful in attendance.Quality counts, and every priest worth his salt strives to give all that he can from the Tradition entrusted to him.
#15.1.1 Fr John on 2011-03-25 19:49
Father Jensen wrote: "His Beatitude’s supporters on the other hand come from the South and West, areas of the country where the Church is growing."
If one were to visit the reports of the OCA Diocese of the West's Diocesan Assemblies, unfortunately no longer available from their web cite, one would question this claim. The DOW has not even kept up with the general growth in population, no less exhibited and significant "growth" over the past decade.
Anyone able to offer real figures from the DOS?
Perhaps there are too many people who confuse "mythical" with "Mystical"?
#16 Overseas Observer on 2011-03-22 01:41
Your analysis is completely off base. The issues you raised have almost nothing to do with the current crisis in the OCA surrounding +Jonah.
Apparently a refresher is in order:
A vindictive firing of a key employee in retaliation for a report he did not agree with.&
Public comments about moving the chancery without regard to who is exactly supposed to pay the bill and the fact that he has been told explicitly that it is premature to do this without considering all of the finances, impact on all parties, and logistics.
Travel to Moscow for no official reason.
Public comments about how the Ecumenical Patriarch doesn't know what he is saying, followed by an apology, followed by more remarks that the OCA may have to "reconsider" its autocephaly.
Stalling and doing nothing in regards to formal allegations of sexual misconduct involving a senior hierarch.
Publicly condemning homosexuality in the priesthood and privately allowing former clergy who are openly living with same sex partners to commune of the sacraments.
Wasting enormous amounts of time, energy, and money of the OCA faithful on reexamining the statutes of the OCA, scheduling meetings and canceling them, and requiring additional meetings to deal with his antics.*
Publicly moving people tainted with the former administration into positions of authority.
Openly disobeying the Holy Synod of the OCA in regards to a leave of absence.
This is not about East Coast vs. West Coast, or competing ideologies. It is about a guy out of control and stubbornly refusing to get that he was asked to be the servant of the OCA, not its king.
#17 Anonymous on 2011-03-22 06:13
Having served in Rust Belt parishes, I know that many of the communities East of the Mississippi are simply afraid for their futures. Especially as the economy has shifted they’ve seen their own incomes drop and their children move away. Whether intentionally or not a minority is exploiting those who are afraid.
---Fr. Gregory Jensen
You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. [snip] So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
The "stupid, scared prole" fallacy has been rearing its head in the unlikeliest places, lately. Someone with a better command of Latin than I should give it a proper label, because I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of it.
#18 Christopher (a different one) on 2011-03-22 06:25
At the risk of being severely flamed here: God bless Metropolitan Jonah! And God bless Fr. Gregory for sticking up for him in what can perhaps best be described as a hostile environment! (Although I have it on excellent authority that Fr. Gregory's reflection was posted here by someone else, and without Fr. Gregory's permission. I seem to recall another, very controversial, letter being posted here without the author's permission. Whatever happened to common courtesy, anyway?)
By my own admission, I'm somewhat of simpleton and I do tend miss things that may seem "obvious" to others. However, one thing I do seem to have picked up on is that Met. Jonah was elected because it was perceived that he had balls (is that allowed here? The expression, I mean, not the possession of balls. Or, maybe that, too ). Anyway....now that it is becoming clear that that was more than just perception, those who want Orthodoxy to be not much more than "America's best kept secret" with "deep mystical theology", pretty vestments, pirogies, kielbasa, and hummus are freaking out.
Seems too, that if I vote for and elect someone whose views, background, and past behavior I have not investigated thoroughly, and then he turns out not to be what I "expected", who's fault is that? His for being who and what he is? Or mine for being impulsive and irresponsible? Are some experiencing "buyer's remorse"? If so, I would contend that they've never heard of "caveat emptor", and never "read the label", so to speak. Personally, I'm just fine with Met. Jonah and what he appears to stand for.
Speaking as a former Catholic who converted to Orthodoxy, isn't it time that we Orthodox stop letting the Catholics and Evangelicals do all the "fighting in the trenches"? If, for example, we're against the abomination of abortion, why not make it known publicly? Why should our leaders not be out there, in the public square, LEADING the fight, with as many of us who are able also there to support them? That's not to say that that is all they should do. Of course not. But why not that, too?
#19 Jeff on 2011-03-22 07:58
For comparison's sake, please see this article over at Patrol Magazine: http://www.patrolmag.com/2011/03/18/alisa-harris/conservative-christians-are-wrong-about-young-evangelicals-staying-on-their-side/
The last paragraph sums it up nicely:
"So is evangelicalism eroding? The retention rate among the young suggests it is, perhaps because evangelicalism has become irrevocably linked to politics they no longer embrace. The authors of the Evangelical Manifesto writers were correct to say that politicizing faith is “foolish.” When we equate faith with a certain political ideology—or, to use the Christian conservative vernacular, equate our faith with a certain “worldview” that always entails a political ideology—we are not entering into a deeper exploration of faith but reducing faith to the political. And when your politics change, as politics do, you find there’s nothing left to your faith.
I find the article to be personally true, insofar as it generally describes my own faith journey. And it may just be a lesson that Met Jonah should keep in mind before he dives headfirst into a party with Focus on the Family.
#20 Ann W on 2011-03-22 16:42
My sentiments exactly.
One's political alignment must never be put on the same plane as one's faith. Fr. Bobosh said this awhile back in a slightly different way.
The OCA found itself there on the healthcare debate. Not a word from the front office did I hear, when in fact, the 10th AAC talked all about it. Two separate studies show that either 18,000 or 45,000 US citizens die each year from lack of health care insurance. These numbers are a drop in the hat versus the abomination of abortion, but the church looks pretty silly if it conveniently forgets these people for a political party. Worse, yet, if the church conveniently forgets about its own statements from the 10th AAC under the strategizing of a new Metropolitan, what does that mean?
Frankly, I had always hoped the church would be above politics (at least external). The same church that preaches life can afford unique positions on everything that aren't in alignment with any political party, whether it be war, abortion, health care, medical advancements, even greed and taxes, etc.
I can't see any possible way that Christ would have aligned himself with either party; least not from what I've been taught of Christ.
And it is dangerous waters to decide the church should be aligned with one party because it has 65% of Christ's likely positions, or a 95% life rating, etc. I know where this will go; just tell me if Christ would agree a billionaire can get through the eye of the needle to start rebuttals.
As for the homosex issue, if you must, the church needs to walk a fine line. It must not teach us to be intolerant because it results in cruelty and I've personally witnessed it from myself. I really asked myself after contemplation how would Christ act towards homosexuals to get to a new place. People have sort of got in my face on this, for those I ask when was Christ cruel to gays or whores or anyone? As for gay marriage, the church could also hold its views and respect the problems faced by unmarried couples and singles. Why should marriage offer secular entitlements?
I've always been able to defend the churches positions when they are consistent. The church becomes bunk if I say the church follows the Republican party platform. I'm hoping our youthful Metropolitan and anyone else who thinks it sees the light on this issue sooner, rather than later. It is very serious and disheartening for one to view the church as bunk, but it helps with Sunday scheduling.
#20.1 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-26 00:29
Well Mr. Fall, consistency has been described as the "hobgoblin of little minds" in which case you and the Church are headed for genius status.
I really have resisted getting into this debate re the Manhattan Statement, but your comments have pushed me to respond in a manner that's probably more appropriate for a "reflection," since I have a low tolerance for verbose commentary on this type of site. But anyway, here goes.
To start with, I believe that most commentators on this site have missed its fundamental point, which is that the State has no business dictating, through public policy, what religious institutions can and can not do. Of course, we all realize there are some limits, but mandating abortion, or for that matter contraception availability (which, btw, I favor), on, let's say, Catholic hospitals, should cause us all to cringe. That, as I understood it, was the primary thrust of the Manhattan Declaration. The fact that fundamentalist Protestants were signatories doesn't bother me in the least--thank God there is some area of agreement on protecting the Constitutional rights of religion.
What gets trickier are pronouncements on social or public policy on which Christians of good will and standing may well disagree. To use abortion as an example again, Christians can have very different and legitimate differences on how this issue is addressed in law. In a pluralistic society consensus must exist for a law to pass and have continued support, whatever our moral perspective may be. These questions should be debated and decided in the political arena, not at coffee hour on Sunday, or even more offensively from the pulpit. Please note, I am not talking about the morality of abortion, but how the issue is dealt with in the secular world.
Finally, as a student and former practitioner of politics and political philosophy, let me say, without fear of contradiction, that God is neither a Democrat or a Republican. The same can not be said about the Devil! On the other hand, I think it is fair to say that the conservative philosophical perspective is more in line with Christian thinking when it comes to understanding that the human race is fallen and not subject to perfection through secular means. Does that mean that liberalism has nothing to offer to public discourse worth hearing? Of course not, but to conflate environmentalism, capital punishment, civil rights, economic freedom or justice (take your pick), etc., to name but a few issues, with any type of Christian moral imperative is just plain dangerous and arrogant.
In the Church, or even better the Body of Christ, let us agree to disagree without rancor on matters pertaining to our contentious secular world. We have plenty of Church issues to address as it is.
#20.1.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-03-27 11:23
You and I probably agree on balance more than disagree. Ever since I read the ManDec, I thought it was like signing on to suggest the first amendment was going to be magically repealed by Obama. Bunk.
I am confident I have been consistent, if not say where.
If you suggest there is nothing liberals fight for that has any Christian morality in it; we strongly disagree. Maybe you didn't and I misunderstood.
Noone need like the WIC program, but it'll be fought for longer and harder by Democrats than the others. If the country had not a dime to defend itself but 0.003 cents left; at least it could feed children before the takeover. The silly notion that charities will magically pick up the sick and poor is just that. As for defense, I don't see how it is a Christian imperitive to spend 700 billion a year on blowing up stuff. Maybe with my poor Bible study habits I missed that section.
As for abortion, when the Republicans hold the entire government, there is little likelihood you'll see a stoppage. This is one of those areas the conservatives have ZERO consistency. In every other situation where greed is vital and the meek get screwed; less government intrusion. But we must stay on top of bedroom matters and protect the meek?
One thing we certainly agree on is this conversation isn't something we've asked Metropolitan Jonah to answer debate on. And to suggest doing so is entrepreneurial is quite silly. Like Moses said in a final post....good luck with that plan.
Frankly, I think the Metropolitan is simply not a very wise man. I think he needs to have a few people around him that disagree with him and have the ability to point out things he doesn't want to hear. This is why I think the Garklavs firing spells disaster for the church. If you get rid of people that disagree with you like Wheeler and Kozey, you can pretty much run exactly as you damn well please. It is an interesting pattern, don't you think? Doesn't seem the Synod learned real well.
"Of course its a political statement"
#18.104.22.168 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-28 06:55
What a bunch of dribble!! This was so far off base I don't know what to say. "Entrepreneurial and not managerial?" Are you kidding me? What the heck does this mean?
Father, entrepreneurs, whether they are Donald Trump or Martha Stewart all have to work and be "managerial." Ask Martha what it was like sitting in a women's prison in West Virginia when she decided to take matters into her own hands with her stock portfolio. Ask Donald Trump what it was like to file bankruptcy three times and lose most of his Trump Enterprises when his creditors didn't think so highly of not getting paid because of his entrepreneurism.
The issue is not about whether the faithful in the OCA care whether or not +Jonah wants to proclaim the gospel in the "public square." The issue is about accountability and responsibility. What +Jonah doesn't get is that he is supposed to be working with and for the faithful of the OCA. He seems to at times be forgetting which team he is playing on.
In my own house, I could go out and purchase a new expensive car without telling my wife, but that would frankly drive a wedge between my wife and I: one, I don't have the money for it, and two, I would be completely undermining our relationship of trust. The metropolitan and the OCA are no different. It is a kind of marriage. He as the father doesn't have the right to unilaterally move the headquarters of the family, fly all over the world without a care as to whose paying the bills, make careless and insensitive remarks about the family, and basically ridicule the family. And I'm sorry but that is exactly what +Jonah has done.
I wouldn't make disparaging remarks about my wife's family heritage and +Jonah shouldn't make remarks about the Carpatho-Russians on the East Coast (which he has done publically and privately).
As I've said before, I think +Jonah needs to go. He seems hell bent on proving that he is right on every issue with regard to the OCA. What else do you call the firing of the chancellor, the disobedience to the Holy Synod, the refusal to work with your administration, and the constant flying off to Russia to play Russian bishop.
Again, putting this in the context of a marriage, this is a collision course for a divorce. If he is so hell bent on changing the family, then maybe he needs to find a new family.
#21 Anonymous on 2011-03-23 08:00
"fly all over the world without a care as to whose paying the bills"
Okay, I didn't much care for your comment in total, but the above phrase really crossed the line. I already posted a comment on here relating to the budget, but apparently the information bears repeating. So, I invite you to read the treasurer's report for 2010, and look at the line items for the Metropolitan's expenses:
He exceeded his travel budget by $3,880.51, but went under budget on office expenses. The total amount he went over budget for all his expenses was $2,310.96, which is certainly a drop in the bucket considering that the total for operating expenses was over two million dollars, and still came out with a positive balance of $181,893.67. Nobody's going to starve because it wasn't $185,774.18.
Mark may bring up the (fair) point that the 2010 budget hasn't been approved yet (what did the MC and HS do all last year?). But like I said before, if the budget was good enough for Melanie Ringa to work with, it's good enough to exculpate the Metropolitan. So, sorry to rain on your parade - or lynch mob, as the case may be - but continuing to criticize the Metropolitan's administration based on his travel expenses is really disingenuous and unfair.
(Editor's note: The MC did pass a budget: but it must be approved by the Synod. Ask them. As for criticisms of the travel expenses, I have never criticized the cost: it was the number of trips to Russia (3) that gave a bad impression when he had not even bothered to visit a majority of parishes in his own small diocese. )
#21.1 Cordelia on 2011-03-27 13:41
"not even bothered", Mark?
How do you know that?
Did you ask Metropolitan Jonah why he hadn't visited those parishes? I suppose you did ask him, and he did, in fact, tell you, "Well, my dear Mark Stokoe, it's because the welfare of parishes in the Diocese of Washington is less important to me than the ongoing expansion of my collection of Russian allies and furry hats! Now, off to my Washington lair to kill Bond, and crash the moon into the sun! Mwaaaahahaha!"
His Beatitude has had quite a broad swath of territory under his care at various points. Is it possible that while he was locum tenens of several dioceses in addition to his own, he might have determined his schedule by using a sort of pastoral triage? That is, he might have chosen to visit the parishes which were most in need of archpastoral care and attention, rather than the ones in closest proximity? Perhaps he thought that in years to come, he might be able to compensate for his absence in those Washington local parishes, assuming he'd be allowed to be their bishop for longer than twenty-seven months? Of course, that presumes the Metropolitan is a well-meaning but overworked bishop, instead of a preening, self-absorbed, swivel-chair-spinning and fluffy-cat-petting Bond villain.
I know you haven't personally criticized the Metropolitan's spending lately, Mark, that part of the post was mostly aimed at the nameless interlocutor, who did claim the Metropolitan overspent on travel to the point of not caring about the budget or where the money came from. That is flagrantly misleading. I think it is high time that charge of wild overspending by the Metropolitan was dropped by all.
And in all fairness, it seems that good relationship with Moscow has really paid off for the Metropolitan, right? Yeah. Nobody picks on the geeky fat kid, once they see his older brother!
(Editor's note: Let's see: you unfairly characterize the Metropolitan as both a "James Bond villan" and a "geeky fat kid" in the same post. Please, if this a defense, stop. Are you running out of people to attack, that you must now attack him as well? )
#21.1.1 Cordelia on 2011-03-28 15:11
No, I'm not really calling him either of those things, just exaggerating (for effect) real aspersions that have been cast upon the Metropolitan:
1. That he or his regime are able to solicit flattering media attention at will (http://ocanews.org/serendipity/index.php?/archives/605-+Jonah-in-Washington.html#c120622): hence, I pushed that into "Bond villain". Once you control the media, it's a short jump to controlling nuclear arsenals and celestial bodies.
2. That he is a weak leader who instead of working well with others, blames them for his own problems (your website): "geeky"
3. That he's a bad monk because he's a little heavyset (VfR): "fat"
4. That he's too young to be expected to do things properly (Lots of places, even people who like him): "kid"
No, I don't really think he's a Bond villain or a geeky fat kid. I like some of the stuff he's done, and dislike some of the other stuff he's done. As always, what I object to is the attempt to force Metropolitan Jonah out of office without due canonical process.
(Editor's note: And who has done that? The Synod? No. Clearly, they are giving him every opporutnity to change. The MC? Doesn't have the authority to remove him, even assuming they wanted to, for which you have no evidence they have ever even considered such - which they haven't to my knowledge. His staff? Likewise. Me? Even less. This is all a straw man created by +jonah and his minion to mask the real problem and issue: the Metropolitan's actions and inactions. What the screaming is all about, I am beginning to think, is that someone has come to the realization the enabling of bad beahviour has ceased. And they don't like it. )
#22.214.171.124 Cordelia on 2011-03-28 17:44
Mark, did you forget about Bishop Tikhi-leaks? (That's your own delightful turn of phrase, not mine!)
You said that Metropolitan Jonah "must be removed" and that this was the consensus view of Bishops Nikon, Tikhon, Benjamin, and Melchisedek. Your email was a plot to get other members of the Metropolitan Council involved; in case the four failed to remove, you were making plans on how to proceed as one MC lobby. The plan was to confine Metropolitan Jonah to a monastery, on a "leave of absence", until after the All-American Council, with the other four taking turns being administrator for six month periods. This was explicitly compared to the situation of Metropolitan Ireney Bekish, who was on a "leave of absence" for four years before his retirement. You said the only reason they didn't immediately retire him was that a retirement would trigger the provisions in the OCA statute for the vacancy of the office of Metropolitan. (Looking at the Statute myself, I see that it demands that not only an election take place at the next AAC, but that the AAC take place within three months.) Still, the plan was to delay things until after the AAC planned for this November.
When questioned about it, you said it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that you yourself wanted him removed, considering all the stuff you'd posted prior to Santa Fe. This is not coming from my imagination; it's your own interpretation of your own words from the original email that you admitted that you wrote.
Mark, I may not agree with you in this recent crisis, but I respect you enough to have not used anything you haven't published yourself to discredit you. If you've decided to stop wanting Metropolitan Jonah removed, and decided it's best to try to work with His Beatitude instead of running him off to Siberia, I applaud that. But please don't insult my intelligence and say you and the "Appalled Four" never wanted him removed in the first place.
(Editor's note: Since I never spoke with the "Appalled Four" personally about this, it would be hard for me to say exactly what they wanted. I surmised, at that time, and at that place, in that context, which I specifically wrote was changing by the moment, that is what they wanted. I was wrong. It is not what they wanted, because it is not what they did - and they did what they did before anyone knew of what I had written. So your real point is: did I/do I want +Jonah removed? I have never spoken publicly on that issue, because I did not believe it was/is a public issue, as it brings even more turmoil to the OCA than what he has already caused, and is causing. I have not changed that opinion. Moreover, as my email made perfectly clear - it is not my decision, it is not a decision for the MC, it is a decision for the Synod alone, and they, and only they, can make it. )
#126.96.36.199.1 Cordelia on 2011-03-29 11:40
"Satanic" lie?! I thought our editor had proscribed the use of such verbiage on this website.
Call it a lie, misinformation or just specious dribble, but this reflection distorts and confounds the real questions at issue with Metropolitan Jonah.
#22 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2011-03-23 14:09
Orthodox churches find it difficult to overcome differences
22 March 2011
Moscow (ENInews). Diptychs, an arcane liturgical term that describes
the order in which Orthodox churches commemorate each other at their
services, is one of the tangled issues blocking plans for what could be
the first great church council in 1,200 years.
Some Orthodox leaders say the churches need to get together to discuss
common issues and speak with one voice on such important topics as
bioethics, sexuality and the environment, but differences over arcane
church issues such as diptychs and autocephaly (the independent status
of Orthodox churches) run deep.
There are about 250 million Orthodox Christians in the world, belonging
to 14 or 15 independent Orthodox churches, depending on which church is
counting. The Patriarchate of Constantinople, for example, does not
recognize the autocephaly (independence) granted by Moscow to the
Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in 1970, and does not commemorate the
OCA in its diptychs.
Diptychs are not a question of dogma, but they are at the heart of
church protocol. A leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church cited its
founding in the fifth century in explaining why his church won't back
down in its demands for greater recognition.
If the Georgian church agrees to the current ninth place it holds in
the diptychs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, or Ecumenical
Patriarchate, and most other Orthodox churches, Metropolitan Theodore
of Akhaltsikhe and Tao-Klarjeti told ENInews, "This means that we cross
out our entire history. That is why we cannot agree with this under any
The Patriarchate of Georgia is sixth in the diptychs of the Russian
Orthodox Church, with which it is very close despite overall
Theodore was among representatives of 14 Orthodox churches who gathered
at the Orthodox Center of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Chambesy,
Switzerland in late February in the latest attempt to hammer out a
consensus in preparation for a pan-Orthodox council. However, the
Chambesy meeting ended without further agreements.
Consultations to hold a modern-day council began in the 1970s, with a
hiatus following Communism's collapse as churches struggled with
newfound freedom and jurisdictional issues.
The post-Soviet Russian Orthodox Church has emerged as the largest in
the world and chafes at any suggestion that the Patriarch of
Constantinople, also known as the Ecumenical Patriarch for his role as
the symbolic leader of Orthodoxy, is comparable to a pope. The Russian
church received its independence from Constantinople in the 16th
century. Seven great councils, known as ecumenical councils, at which
doctrine was confirmed, are Orthodoxy's foundation. The last was held
Both Moscow and Constantinople agree that Orthodoxy needs to streamline
procedures for making statements and granting independence.
"This is exactly why the Catholic Church had the Second Vatican
Council, because it clarified many questions," Metropolitan Emmanuel of
France, who represented Constantinople at Chambesy, told ENInews. "It's
not because the Catholic Church had its synod that we have got to have
ours, but I think everyone agrees to the need for a clear unanimous
position of our church. We cannot just be preparing for 50 years and
not come to an agreement."
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, who represented the Russian church at
Chambesy along with Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told ENInews
that statements that are presented as the unified position of Orthodoxy
should not come across as solely the initiative of the Ecumenical
"In order for the Ecumenical Patriarch to speak on behalf of all the
churches, they should be convened before to exchange opinions," he
said. Emmanuel said the procedure for granting independence discussed
at Chambesy would have the Ecumenical Patriarch proclaim autocephaly
and sign a tomos, or declaration of independence, that would then be
forwarded for signing by primates of all the other churches.
He said that not all the churches agreed with the form the signatures
would take. That question appeared to raise, once again, tensions
between Moscow and Constantinople that seem minor to outsiders but are
of great symbolic importance within Orthodoxy and a vestige of its
tumultuous history. The Georgian church's 11th century tomos, for
example, disappeared during 13th century wars with Turks and Persians.
Balashov said Moscow has no qualms with the Ecumenical Patriarch
signing first, but that discussion arose over whether his signature
"should in some other way fundamentally stand out from that of all the
Archbishop Jeremiasz of Wroclaw and Szczecin of the Polish Orthodox
Church cautioned that Orthodoxy should not necessarily emulate Rome in
articulating positions on politics, sexuality and other social issues.
"If each local church is a full, universal, united apostolic church, it
means that God's grace is present in it, the Holy Spirit is moving in
it, and the Holy Spirit will show the Polish church, the churches of
Alexandria, Constantinople and Russia how to act in given conditions,"
he told ENInews.
ENInews is published by Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100, CH
- 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland.
Tel: +41-22 791 6515/6111 Fax: +41-22 788 7244
#23 Anonymous on 2011-03-24 09:00
Most Orthodox have no idea about Chambesy nor the Episcopal Assemblies. This article sheds some light on this. What everyone needs to understand is that the Pat. of Istanbul is trying to usurp authority that isn't his - all over the world. Apparently, he doesn't really understand the term "first among equals." He doesn't have any "special" authority over other patriarchs or bishops. "First among equals" meant he ran the meetings when all the patriarchs met. Other than that, as the bishop of the Emperor and capital city of Byzantium (there is no empire and no emperor), he kept the church records of the empire and solved disputes between the patriarchs. He had no other powers or authority. Fast forward to Chambesy & the Episcopal Assemblies, the Pat. of Istanbul is trying to set himself up as an Orthodox Pope. The Russians say, "NO!" And, they are right.
#24 Anonymous on 2011-03-25 06:15
I don't really see the point in bringing culture or theology into this debate. The bottom line is that Jonah has engaged in personal politics of destruction of parishes, priests and the rest of the laity. I have seen it with my own eyes. His going rogue on pursuing a direction for The Church, has only made it worse.
At this point it would appear than Jonah, speaks only for Jonah. It is a shame to see the OCA go from financial impropriety to petty personal politics. May God have mercy!
#25 Rick Burk on 2011-03-25 07:09
Whoa, the author of this "civil society" piece is delusional, to say the least. Is this guy serious? Your vision of Orthodoxy in North America will be met with fierce resistance...make no mistake about it...
#26 Moses on 2011-03-25 09:44
#27 Anonymous on 2011-03-29 20:22
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