Monday, October 30. 2006
Good News, bad news, no news. Your comments on the decisions of the Synod of Bishops here.
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As a covert from a Protestant background I have always thought we Orthodox could learn valuable lessons from our Protestant brethren. Now I see that we are not so different from Martin Luther, except that we no longer need to use the church door. We nail our statements to the internet. I pray that we are more successful at waking up the powers that be than Luther was.
Keep up the work of informing everyone and discomforting those “at ease in Zion.”
#1 Terry Morgan on 2006-10-30 14:05
Read the Syosset article....saw the same dog and pony show....saw the same smoke and mirrors Fortunately for us, the new Bishop of the West will be chosen by the Diocese, not by Syosset
#1.1 luke on 2006-10-30 22:46
Your diocese chose the last one, too.
#1.1.1 H Kahanik on 2006-10-31 07:02
I think that this posting reflects why there will not be a true Orthodox church in America in the near future. The very idea that the Protestant sects could teach the Orthodox Church is the height of hubris. I have read Martin Luther and Calvin and so on. It is one thing to be educated on the Protestant Diaspora, yet it is quite another to say that we should learn from them. They are diabolically opposed to the very foundations of Orthodoxy. Of course they have some good ideas, every broken clock is correct twice a day. We are the Apostolic Church. But in America Orthodoxy has been liberalized to a point beyond recognition at times. When I visit different communities and attend their liturgies I do not know where I am, but certainly in no Orthodox Church I ever imagined. It is no wonder in this environment that our Bishops are incompetent and embarrassing, we lack the proper monastery's in America to form and mold them.
#1.2 Anonymous on 2006-10-31 07:07
Take a deep breath friend. We Orthodox are called to appreciate and recognize Truth, wherever it is lived and expressed, Protestant or not. For example, The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountabilty is a wonderful organization and has a lot to teach us about how to heal from this scandal. Why would you reject their Christian recommendations because they haven't the correct label? If this scandal tells us nothing else, it shows us that our own hubris should be our first concern. Let us remove the plank in our own eye. "Give us that old time religion" is not constructive. Throwing around labels only further polarizes. We are called to do better than that. We are called to incarnate the Gospel in this culture in this time and place.
#1.2.1 Anonymous 2 on 2006-10-31 21:07
Dear Anonymous, Thank you for your reply to my post. I fully agree with you about the plank in our own eyes. I am sick to my stomach that priests were stealing from widows and orphans and not a one has either been suspended or has asked for forgiveness. This is contrary to our tradition and beliefs. This does not change the fact that the Protestant Sects are the antithesis of our Apostolic Faith and should not be a source for us. But Rather we should look to our ancient Patriarchate and such Church fathers as Saint John Patriarch of Alexandria. I am concerned greatly after reading the correspondence of the former Bishop of the West that in America we are surely lacking properly formed and educated Orthodox Bishops and Monks.
#188.8.131.52 Anonymous on 2006-11-01 14:24
Dear Anonymous: What parishes could you possibly be talking about? I have been to OCA (and Antiochian, for that matter) parishes small and large, mission and established, in just about every part of the country (save Alaska and the Northwest), and every Divine Liturgy was the one according to St John Chrysostom. To say that the liturgies have been liberalized beyond recognition sure doesn't fit my experience.
#1.2.2 Michael Strelka on 2006-11-01 09:27
Dear Mr. Strelka, Thank you for your reply. In my posting I said that the churches in general had been liberalized. The liturgy rubrics are still the same, though the attitude towards the liturgy has surely been diluted and liberalized.
#184.108.40.206 Anonymous on 2006-11-01 14:23
I agree with you.
In many parishes of the OCA, unfortunately, people talk and walk during the liturgy, even during the so called "high points", like the Gospel reading or the Cherubic Hymn. As if they do not realize in what holy place they have a privilege to be present.
I have witnessed people laughing loudly during sermons very many times. No reverence. Very worldly.
#220.127.116.11.1 Anastasia on 2006-11-01 23:29
And how is it different in the non-OCA parishes (except it's difficult to walk around in those parishes that have pews! Which in itself has transformed the character of the Divine Liturgy rather drastically)? In Mother Russia, there is typically a bunch of people standing close to the front participating in the liturgy, and a constant moving about the church of people who just wonder in to light a candle, wonder about to look at the icons, and wonder out without any concern for the service. Please - this is a permeating problem of the entire Christian world, not a function of "liberalization" of the OCA. Which is not to say that OCA shouldn't put this issue at the forefront of its parish ministry.
And, dear Anonymous - it really doesn't help the cause of Christian unity to use the word "diabolical" in a wide swath description of the Protestants. I would like to refer you to the beautiful memories of Metropolitan Evlogiy (the Exarch of the Russian Church in the West), who could hardly be called a liberal, lovingly describing the first World Council of Churches in Geneva and its "Christian spirit of unity"...
#18.104.22.168.1.1 Inga Leonova on 2006-11-02 09:57
Dear Ms. Leonova,
Thank you for your reply to my posting. I did not call the Protestant Sects diabolical, but rather I said that they are diabolically opposed to us. I see now I mispoke and should have used the word opposite of our beliefs and teachings. If I may also be so bold as to add, in Mother Russia we had an Atheist Regime eradicate our church, our priests and our bishops. How can we not expect that there will be a lack of knowledge of Liturgical Customs in this decimated country? As late as the 1980s when I was baptized and told my school teacher about it, she scolded me and told me that my parents were not good Soviet Citizens. My priest spoke on the importance of spreading the word of God during Lent in the 1980s and was reassigned to the village for five years by the authorities. This is why the Mother Russian Church and her people are only now beginning to see church as more than simply a place to kiss Icons and light candles. But in America and the Diaspora, what excuse do we have for such behavior?
Also, if we are not brave enough to say that Protestants are good people but are on the wrong side of the issues, are we worthy to be the heirs of Saint Alexander Nevsky who when faced by the Tartar armies and the Teutonic Knights made peace with the Tartars and fought the Teutonic Knights saying, " Our doctrines are those preached by the Apostles. The tradition of the Holy Fathers of the Seven Councils we scrupulously keep. As for your words, we do not listen to them and we do not want your doctrine."? As I said in my original posting, Protestants are very good people, very charitable, more charitable than we are currently, more active in the community than we are, but mistaken in theology and doctrine, and have severed themselves from the Apostolic Church. They are also constantly everyday at war with the Orthodox Churches in Eastern Europe stealing our flock before we even recover from the shock of 80 years of murderous abuse and to even rebuild our church buildings and schools. We should not look to them for guidance, but rather our church fathers and our 2,000 years of lessons learned.
#22.214.171.124.1.1.1 Anonymous on 2006-11-02 17:37
You only mentioned the problem of "wandering around".
In Russia, churches are crowded, so the movement, in my opinion, is understandable. However, most people there avoid idle talking in church, and when not, most priests there remind Christians to have the appropriate behavior. Here, nobody wants to offend others by telling them the basics of the church “etiquette”.
My family and I just returned from Russia a few months ago. We were in numerous parishes in several cities and towns. People there really try to have reverence. Of course, all kinds of things can happen anywhere due to human weakness. And I would never judge that!
The difference is that there they do not except this as a norm. My husband, an American, said to me this: "In Russia, what you see in the Church is very different from what you see in the world: the way people listen, pray, follow the course of the services, even the way they are dressed. I cannot say the same about the OCA."
I've been to ROCOR parishes. Was it just I who noticed the reverence and respect, and the atmosphere of awe and godly fear?
No, my acquaintances said the same. It was peaceful and prayerful there. During the prayers before communion, their batyushka reminded all how we should stand and pray, and that we're present in the midst of the greatest mystery, along with angels and saints.
There have been numerous jokes during our OCA priest's sermons, and people have been responding with deafening laughing. At the end of the services, along with normal announcements we very often hear things that are more appropriate to announce in a fellowship hall (for example, "If you are interested in a free stroller, see me - I have one"), and nobody cares to correct the poor people who in ignorance and involuntary show disrespect for the Holy Temple.
We are afraid to offend people. We forget that we are supposed to help each other grow spiritually.
It’s so simple. Love others and correct them with genuine love and respect. Then they will not be offended.
Priests, our shepherds, have got to show the example. But maybe even they don’t know the basics? A couple of months ago our parish hosted a large group of priests from different jurisdictions on a certain occasion. After the liturgy, only the Greek priests and their bishop remained reverent and calm. All the other priests started taking pictures of each other in front of the altar and talking so loudly that even our choir director snapped and tried to stop them. Because of that noise nobody could hear the prayers after communion.
Please, forgive me. I don’t want to judge. I just want things to be better.
I anticipate comments like: “ Start from yourself.” That’s the right thing to do.
But, please, the problem exists. And only if you are indifferent or ignorant, it wouldn’t touch you.
#126.96.36.199.1.1.2 Anastasia on 2006-11-02 20:02
Dear Anastasia and my Anonymous former (and current) compatriot,
Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I apologize if I overreacted to your postings. There is an inherent deficiency to non-face-to-face communication in that one reads more into brief written remarks than may be intended.
Sorry I am responding to both of you at once, but this discussion seems to be developing as a three-way (please feel free to e-mail me directly if you would like to continue it off-forum). Dear Anastasia, - While I fully share your frustration with the lack of reverence that we often observe in our parishes, I am still not sure that I agree with your contrasting it with popular piety in Russia or ROCOR. Church life is multi-dimensional and its outward appearance is as much a function of culture as of true piety. There is much truth to the argument that the present crisis in the OCA is greatly due to its frequent inability to handle the complexities of church life in the secular society driven by consumer culture. Yet there is much to be said for its counciliar foundation based on the direction of the 1917-1918 All-Russian Sobor, the direction that has been obliterated by the government in the Soviet Union and voluntarily abandoned by the ROCOR Synod. The very level of discussion and awareness of the clergy and the laity manifested on this site, in many parishes, and at several recent diocesan assemblies is testimony that this foundation is alive.
Forgive me if I may read different things into what I see in Russia than you. I am not terribly optimistic about the state of affairs in the Russian Church & society, and believe me, it pains me greatly. Yes, I also find our hierarchal "photo-ops" replacing Post-Communion prayers disgraceful, but no more so than, for example, the enthusiastic embracing of the state by the Moscow Patriarchate. This too, of course, may be the matter of opinion, and our Anonymous friend probably disagrees with me...
All that said, the way I feel about these things ultimately only resolves itself in prayer and studying and seeking spiritual guidance. I have been incredibly blessed with finding great teachers whose spiritual "compass" is clearly and unmistakenly pointing to Christ. I also feel that among the turmoils of the OCA scandal we can see many wonderful leaders of our Church, beginning with Archbishop Job, and including excellent priests and lay people, many of whom have become known to me thanks to this website. Perhaps things are not quite as terrible as they seem, although at times it is difficult not to lose heart...
#188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206 Inga Leonova on 2006-11-03 14:02
Forgive me; there is a mistake in my message. Not only the Greek clergy, but also the priest of our own parish did not participate in the “photo session”. Our priest was a celebrant at the liturgy so he remained in the altar.
Forgive me, please.
#220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168 Anastasia on 2006-11-10 23:47
VERY WELL SAID!!! THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!
#1.2.3 Anonymous on 2006-11-01 09:56
I never intended to imply that we could learn theology from the Protestants. I was referring rather to Luther's bold willingness to confront even the Pope when he was wrong, as this web site does to our leaders when they are in error.
#1.3 Terry Morgan on 2006-11-03 14:38
The Syosset minutes speak of Fr. Alexander Rentel presenting positions on canon law. Please publish the actual presentations so we can evaluate his points of view. Is the Synod getting good advice and not following it, or bad advice and following it?
#2 Anonymous on 2006-10-30 21:15
In light of the talk in past years of limiting the role of the Metropolitan Council, or even of eliminating it, everyone needs to pay VERY close attention to any proposed changes to the Statute.
If anything, the role of the Metropolitan Council needs to be strengthened.
#2.1 Fr. Daniel Swires on 2006-10-31 11:44
Can someone kindly get a copy of Fr. Rentel's presentation and post it? Please. If the subject is canons and statutes, at this stage, this subject must be opened up for dialogue.
#2.2 Name withheld on 2006-11-02 19:17
Fall 2008. Puh-lease.
#3 Sophie Orthy on 2006-10-30 22:16
Until the Synod repeals the Bylaw allowing discretionary, unauditable accounts, the OCA has not healed its worse cancer that certainly hurt the church. The vote would be telling if it failed.
As an idea for helping the impoverished Mexican Diocese, I'd suggest the OCA ask for sister churches instead of a vague, general help. In fact, some churches have enough stuff to give to another church.
#4 Daniel E. Fall on 2006-10-30 22:48
I don't know much about +Tikhon, and how his presence has affected the Holy Synod, and so on, but I think it will be very interesting to see who is appointed to replace him. Hopefully the Holy Synod will signal that they are at least groping for lasting change by appointing some fresh blood who is committed to getting to the root of the scandel, both financially, structually, and most importantly, morally. Otherwise, if the Holy Synod appoints someone who is just wanting to maintain the status quo, then I am afraid this scandel will probabaly drag on. The other alternative I've thought of, and I don't know if this is allowed, is if the Holy Synod delay in appointing a new Bishop, and the seat is left empty for the time being, or until the scandel is solved. I'm not sure what the ramifications of an empty seat would be at this time, or if such a thing is allowed. Does anyone else know?
In any case, whoever is eventually appointed does need our prayers, because unless the new person was an auxillary bishop, there will be a steep learning curve in dealing with this scandel right off the bat, and I think there will be a lot of pressure on the bishop from all sides right from the start. Lord have mercy on this man, whoever he is, and may God grant him the strength and courage to do the right thing.
#5 Stephen Ullstrom on 2006-10-31 03:55
I would like to add that the Holy Synod should NEVER AGAIN consider anyone for the office of bishop who has not graduated from an Orthodox Seminary and who has also never spent at least some time in a Monastery.
#5.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-10-31 13:27
Amen to the graduation from an Orthodox seminary requirement. However, rather than time spent in a monastery, I'd rather see a minimum of five years as pastor of a parish. I only wish we could somehow return to an earlier discipline of allowing married men (at the moment not canonical) to be bishops. Not that there is anything wrong with celibates, but the pool of candidates is so small and we are not getting the best and brightest for bishops. The reasons for restricting the episcopate to celibate candidates no longer obtain -- at least not in America.
Terry C. Peet
#5.1.1 Terry C. Peet on 2006-10-31 21:55
I, too, am very conerned about how we select candiudates to be bishops. Married bishops, I believe, were permitted in the early church and there is a great practicality to have married bishops who can relate to his married parishoners and their families. A great number of our parishes revolve around married couples and families rather than single members.
It even might be a good idea if bisop candidates have a financial background, if bot an MBA. The amount of financial decisions and considerations a leader must be aware of are considerable.
#22.214.171.124 Patty Schellbach on 2006-11-01 06:06
"I'm not sure what the ramifications of an empty seat would be at this time, or if such a thing is allowed. Does anyone else know?"
When Bishop Boris retired, Met. Theodosius was appointed acting bishop of the Midwest, and was for a number of years, until Job was moved from New England. Then New England was without a bishop for several years until Nikon was named.
Based on past experience, it is likely that Herman will appoint himself as Locum Tenens, and the West won't have a bishop for a while (although they already have an auxiliary bishop to shepherd them).
#6 Michael Strelka on 2006-10-31 10:44
"...Holy Synod should NEVER AGAIN consider anyone for the office of bishop who has not graduated from an Orthodox Seminary ..."
Wow! That would eliminate quite a few of the best and sainted bishops in the Church's history.
I would rather see parish life and monastic life so strengthened that any man lay or monk who has been in the Church for a few years would be fit to be a bishop.
#7 Matt Karnes on 2006-11-01 00:31
Good point Matt!
#7.1 Michael Geeza on 2006-11-01 07:16
I don't think that I can agree with Mr. Karnes. While I can see that someone who has been raised in the Church, and whose life is an open and well-known book, might be acceptable as clergy without a seminary education, I think it is a mistake to ordain men who are recent converts without, at a minimum, requiring such a program. Unfortunately, converts sometimes think they know more about Orthodoxy than they really do. The seminary not only provides an opportunity to correct that misapprehension, it also gives the Faith community a second chance to closely observe the character of the prospective priest.
Melanie Jula Sakoda
Dear Diocese of the West,
PRAY HARD for your new bishop! It will not be any easy job for him.
God strengthen that man!
#8 Rdr Alexander Langley on 2006-11-01 20:39
Not at all was I suggesting that someone only recently converted should be made a bishop. St. Paul was pretty clear about that. It is not to be done. And I wasn't saying seminary is a bad thing. And I wasn't suggesting that unqualified men be ordained. What I was suggesting is that the state of our parishes and monasteries should be such that a few years living as an Orthodox Christian in either of those envoronments should suffice; should give a man an education and spiritual development to be a bishop.
#9 Matt Karnes on 2006-11-07 20:54
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