Saturday, December 22. 2007
Your comments, thoughts and responses to the two reflections posted today are welcome. Comments sent after December 24th at noon will not be posted until after the holidays....
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... over 20 years in AA, one day at a time. I'd like to know what Fr. Isidore thinks of this application of a Twelve Step approach .. but the 'word' is that he's cured so the Steps don't apply I guess.
Briefly, I see a few problems in this direct model if the AA program to the OCA's overwhelming issues. The Steps are for the individual and although they read well to to non-afflicted and have a blanket universality to the Higherarchs and enablers it is for the individual to recognize 'rock bottom' and say 'enough'.
What has happened with the OCA is that they reached rock bottom and started to excavate and get even lower. Oh, yes.
Brief closing on two points - Step 3 - yes
" Thy will be done..." the OCA rulers think "MY WILL BE DONE..." and that's what brought this about. And like an alcoholic this doesn't happen overnight.
Step 9 -- 'except when to do so would injure them or others..' That's the bail-out cover up justification right there, folks.
If the Truth came out it will ruin The Church. "Injure them or others.." If the Truth came out it will ruin The Church. "Injure them or others .." If The Truth came out ...ad infinitum ...
This is like a person who gets a drunk driving arrest and goes to the minimum number of meetings to get a court mandated form signed. Restored to sanity? Who me? I'm OK, AA is great for 'you people' who need it but I'm OK.
Nice try on the 12 Steps square peg in round hole of The OCA; but having Life experience in the AA Fellowship I can see the intended OCA enablers and abusers excuses a mile away. They don't get it and will leave at the smoke break.
Keep coming back.
#1 Friend of Bill W on 2007-12-22 15:16
These two reflections do nothing for me. Our challenge is clear--rid the Church of leadership that resorts to lies while mouthing words of pious fraud worthy of the Pharisees. And now, thanks to our bishops' failure to find and tell the truth, their outrageous claims of near papal authority have called into question the very ecclesiology of the Church, at least as practiced and understood by most of them. Only Archbishop Job demonstrates a conciliar and pastoral understanding of the nature of his office, while the rest, in various degrees, make increasingly autocratic claims of unaccountable authority.
So what began as primarily a search for the truth, has now evolved into a full fledged crisis of authority, just as was and is the case in the Roman Catholic Church. The difference is that this represents a departure from, and indeed a perversion of, the better side of our tradition (see Mr. Wachter's posts and website). And our silent, or even worse, colluding theologians, seminaries, senior clergy (with notable exceptions) can only whine about lack of funding and lay damage to the Church.
Enough! Reform or die. For make no mistake, the judgment of God and history is near and the choice is crystal clear.
#2 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-12-22 15:46
To Mr. D. Barrett: Your twelve steps for healing are very interesting but should be directed to +Herman,+Theodosius and Robert Kondratick., not to the members of the OCA who are suffering with heartache, disappointment, anguish and anger that the TRUTH is still being hidden from them. G.Curtis
#3 g. curtis on 2007-12-22 16:41
The disfunctiuonal family approach is part of the swelling can of rhetoric that has been asserted by our new chancellor. Is it that, we have an alcohol problem at the center of our Church? I think not, it is more of a tryanny. What is the cure for tryanny vs. the twelve step program.
#4 Anonymous on 2007-12-22 19:55
Christ didn't preach to us a 12 step program to love him and that's our goal. That's it! He gave us one commandment and if we can't follow that then eleven more steps ain't going to do any good!
The crux of this is that we exhibit the love of each other and of God that we are commanded to do. Anything short of that results in the mess we're in. He made it very simple for us and we can't even get that right. One commandment on which to base our lives. We need to concentrate on that and then all else falls into place.
I commend the writer on what he was trying to do, but its all in the Gospels and no matter how much we write on ways to resolve this situation, the truth is, we just need to open the Gospel and its there. Problem is that we have to question the faith of those that are in the lead, because even though they profess the Gospel, their actions are totally contradictory.
#5 Anonymous on 2007-12-23 11:44
Welcome to the discussion, Father. Why do people advocate cutting off all money even to the local parish? Because we’re saddened at the lack of voices such as yours. Only when we talked about money did you feel enough to write. What does that say? If you look at Eastern Pennsylvania we couldn’t even get a simple resolution passed about this scandal because the priests wouldn’t back it. These are the same priests who stand in front of the altar and tell us how to act and when we do the priests are nowhere to be found, and in some cases, they punish the parishioner. If we aren’t giving money to the central church because of this, why be inconsistent and send it the local parish and a priest who is walking in lockstep with the central administration?
Too many of our priests can be likened to an incident that occurred during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863 during the Civil War. The following is taken from Stephen W. Sears’ book on the battle (p 186):
“Washington had declared April 30 National Fast Day, and here and there in the camps an audience was rounded up for its observance. In Colonel Adrian Root’s First Corps brigade the men were formed in a hollow square to be addressed by the regimental chaplains. ‘They were eloquent in their appeals to patriotism,’ remembered the 16th Maine’s Abner Small. ‘… They besought us to all stand firm, to be brave; God being our shield, we had nothing to fear.’ Just then came several enemy shells from across the river and a general scattering. The chaplains were the first to flee, and the swiftest, their coattails streaming in the wind, “followed by gleefully shouted counsel: ‘Stand firm; put your trust in the Lord!’”
That is so very fitting for what is going on. You preach to us how to act, put our faith in the Lord, seek Truth, give of ourselves and then when we come to a situation where we are called do just that the priests scurry and leave us twisting in the wind.
Too much, with a few exceptions, this looks like a conflict between the laity and the bishops and the priests are too cowardly to go on the side of the laity who are just asking for accountability. We can’t support priests who don’t support what needs to be done after they are so adamant over how to act in our lives. When a priest doesn’t talk, and if they do in numbers retribution won’t be exacted, about the sins of this scandal then we have no recourse but to the think that the clergy are part of the problem. You may be in a crossfire, but we’re in a quandary.
#6 Stonewall on 2007-12-23 12:02
How appropropriate that an Alcoholics Anonymous program is utilized in a situation where the "shame" hidden at the heart of our OCA problems is that very problem. But the mystery that the unholy synod is protecting at all costs is "who".
#7 Anonymous on 2007-12-23 19:23
...and the "Crossfire" metaphor seems to assume that the "firepower" on both sides is evenly matched, which is obviously not the case. We laity using withholding/boycotts is a pea shooter up against ecclesial tyrants with spiritual automatic weapons (Excommunication, using Holy Communion as a political and spiritual weapon, etc.). Come on Father, you're going to have to do better than that...I say, WITHHOLD AND BOYCOTT! Maybe it's just the Tlingit in me, but I won't tolerate spiritual abuse of any kind. The Clergy can say I am sinning by my resistance till the cows come home. MY family was spiritually/physically/mentally abused by Protestant fascists here in Alaska already (from the 1800's on!), we've had enough...
#8 Moses on 2007-12-23 21:34
It works if you work it.
#9 anonymous, for one time only on 2007-12-24 08:44
May I suggest to everyone that it is most appropriate for all OCA members who are disgusted by the recent events to write and call their bishops offices and Syosset (or if you prefer, "Oyster Bay Cove"). Just the same as with politicians (which these bishops act like anyway), they could care less about what people say and do in the media because it doesn't affect them directly. HOWEVER, if they are bombarded directly by criticism it eventually wears on them if for no other reason than to stop the constant reminder and irritation. Even if you do so anonymously out of fear for their evil revenge, they will know someone is watching and holding them accountable.
#10 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 12:26
It applies to all of us, just like the 12 steps apply to family members of addicts and alcoholics in ALANON, NARANON and ACOA.
We have to admit that we are powerless over the addictions and sins of others, as well as powerless of the others themselves, and have to accept them, and give all desire to judge and control over to God ... but that doesn't mean we stop praying and working toward change where we can. But, having accepted our pwerlessness in the realms wherein we have no power, we are then freed to focus on those areas wherein we do have the power to change things.
We only need ask for the wisdom to know the difference.
#11 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 14:30
The tyrant is addicted to power ... this is his sin ... it is his own self-will run riot. The remedy is the same in all cases: sincere confession and repentence and obedience. That is the 12 step program; that is the sacramental life.
#12 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 14:35
You will never be happy in any Church. No Church is without its sins because it is made up of sinners. You need to step back from all of this and gain some perspective.
(Editor's note: So, you are saying that when Jesus said we were to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect, he was just blowing smoke? Or giving us an unattainable goal to inspire us, knowing that we should just sit back and accept the fact that Satan is the prince of this world? Silence and inaction in the face of evil may seem like sophisitication to you, anonymous, but let us call it for it really is - collaboration. )
#13 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 15:00
Isn't it obvious? Look at the Bishops involved, +Nickoli, +Tikhon, +Theodosios, + Herman. And how many others of the Kondratic connection? Can you see the pattern? One protecting the other. It will not be without them finally having to confess their misdeeds. God will not let them go unpunished. You who are hard hearted. Open your hearts, your minds and your souls. Admit your wrong doings and let us get over this nonsense. Stop pulling down the rest of the church with your failing to speak up and admit your wrongs. Isn't that what you expect of any sinner? If you are true Orthodox Christians you would do just that. If not you, then those who know of your failings, come forward and do something that the Good Lord would expect you to do. Do not continue to protect those who can do nothing for you. All they can do is pull you deeper into this mess that they created. Speak up, Fr. Kondratic, Proto Deacon Wheeler, or any other that has been close to or involved in this mess. Do not let those who have put the curse of silence on you hinder your right to speak the truth. Remember the scriptures, "the truth will set you free". How can you sleep at night knowing you know the wrongs and yet you do nothing to bring the wrongs to right? Speak up, be counted, be recognized as the one who helped save the Orthodox Church from total humiliation and destruction. Speak up and save YOUR church. If you really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ you would do just that. Stand up and be recognized as the one who brought all this shame to an end. The Lord will love you for your honesty and integrity...and your courage. Be not afraid,we the laity willstand by you. Just let us rid those who continue to dishonor to "OUR CHURCH".
Lord have mercy on us sinners.
#14 Anonymous on 2007-12-24 22:41
Anonymous: I think you are missing the point of my statement. "Alcoholics" Anonymous - think in that direction and we'll start to unravel some of the "why" behind the "who".
#15 Anonymous on 2007-12-25 07:51
God bless you, Anonymous. Your comment is one of the most balanced and sober responses that I have read on these topics.
I qualify for several 12 step programs and have spent over a decade participating in some of them.
We have to admit we are powerless and do what we can with what we've got.
PRAYER is the action that will effect the change. If all the "powers that be" are unwilling to admit their part then we can talk ourselves blue in the face and see no real change.
Let's concentrate on changing the things we can. Is there a specific group prayer that is circulating about these issues?
I would be happy to participate in a prayer of that sort...
I like to maintain my 12 step program anonymity in general and,quite honestly, I'm too much of a people pleaser to sign this any other way than anonymously.
Again, thank you, anonymous, for your good comments.
#16 Anonymous F.O.B. on 2007-12-26 09:53
When I was a boy, my first encounter with Orthodox hierarchy that I recall was serving in the altar with an unnamed Bishop (some of you can extrapolate to whom I refer), it doesn't matter. The fellow got a little upset about some minor detail of the service that didn't go quite right and we were all rather intimidated.
As an adult, I've attended a few Bishop services and found them to be uneventful and celebratory.
The only time I've been critical of the Bishops of the OCA has been the last two years and that criticism of them has been just.
Driving the church deep into debt is the Synod's own creation started in 1999 or earlier and left to fester until this dialogue (really pressure from clergy and laity) began in November of 2005.
Shifting gears at some point will become important for all of us. It would be good if some member of the clergy who has been critical of the administration gave us a reflection on forgiveness.
What must happen for us to forgive? Is it different for all of us? Is it ensuring the future won't allow such shenanigans? Is it empowering the people via the MC to take an action against an overspending administration? Is it blindly accepting the leadership of the same Synod slightly anew?
Perhaps forgiveness must happen first without any underlying caveats for the future.
Can it happen at all without completing the work of the 2nd and now politically inferior SIC?
Any takers on a forgiveness reflection? Bobosh, Berzonsky, others? A good sermon from Fr. Wojcik in Clayton this Christmas heralding forgiveness and others as gifts of God in the Christ child inspired me to ask.
#17 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-12-26 12:14
The reality, at least in some diocese, is that people are continuing to support local parishes and diocese. I've gotten myself worked up alot over the comments on posted here, but I've realized not everybody is listening, and more importantly, not everybody agrees with the proposition to starve the leadership out of the Church. For the most part, the parishes in the South contribute to the Diocese and the diocese in turn uses that money to help plant, support and expand missions and parishes.
On the flip side, there are some individuals, parishes and diocese that are withholding, and that is their perogative and it should be respected. Is it too much to ask, then, for those who withhold to respect the decision of those who do not withhold?
I guess it is. There are some who bemoan the tyranny of +Nicholai and his my way or the highway approach. In his world there is only two camps: those who are for him and those who are against him, there can be no middle ground. I wonder what would happen if people like Mark and Ken were in leadership positions of the church. I'm sure they are swearing up and down they do not, nor have ever, aspired to those positions. But, say they were. Would those of us who disagree with them recieve any mercy. If Ken was metropolitan now, and Mark the chancellor I don't doubt they would dismiss the whole synod, if not depose them all, except for +Job, of course. Mark has shown us what he thinks of all of us who disagree with him. We are the "collaborators". There is little color in their monochrome world. Fortunately, we do not have to live in their world. Fortunately we can disagree and they can't do anything to us, except rail against us here on the internet. Harmless.
Thank God, many, many people disagree with them, to their chagrin, and continue to support their local parishes.
Now, I do have to digress from my own position, especially in the case of Alaska. Nicholai must go, and boycots and withholdings are valid weapons that can and should be used to remove an obviosly abusive Bishop. I won't patronize Moses and say I understand his pain, but as an immigrant, especially one who had the audacity to enter it illegaly (though this country belonged to my ancester many years ago), let me tell you I understand the feeling of being cast out and denied a voice and identity.
People can and probably should withhold when the money is obviosly being used for things other than the work of the Gospel. Yet, support should continue where the money is being used, demonstrably so, in the work of spreading the Gospel. The world is not black and white.
#18 Bautista Cabrera on 2007-12-26 16:43
Is it possible to set up a non-profit organization (Friends of ... Church) to collect money, pay the priest and church bills without sending a dime to Syosset? Maybe several churches could pool their volunteers to do the paperwork.
#19 Anonymous on 2007-12-26 20:26
The Metopolitan and his administration has not really cared what the laity thinks. There doesn't seem to be any change of course. There are other ways for local parishes and individuals to provide charity without going through the central administration of the church. Bishops who abuse their authority and abuse individuals should be dealt with by the synod of bishops. However, when a bishops tries to do what is right, the bishop is threaten and is urged to ask for forgivenness. Everything seems to be upside down. The 12 step program for alcoholics and the reference to the church is just, in my opinion, just not addressing the issue. The "issues and problems and sins" are not being dealt with by the hierachs--only roadblocks, threats and newly hires who could put financial accounting practices in place are somehow "never really hired" and the person heads back to Canada. The church is more than a ceremonial, and liturgical practices. God knows the full truth as does the former administration and the Metropolitan. Where is real faith? It is time for the Metropolitan and most of the other bishops to voluntarily resign. But we all know that the bishops will not resign. But they appear to be all to ready to get Bishop Job deposed. How sad. Its more than sad---. Going to another jurisdiction or another church will not solved the probem. Because the other jurisdictions have their problems. Unity of all Orthodox jurisdictions is the real answer under one patriarch of North America.
#20 cshinn on 2008-01-04 07:55
Perhaps you've never read the 12 steps; perhaps you've never known anyone whose life has been transfigured and faith restored through practicing them. They are entirely Scripture based; not accidentally, either, but intentionally. They are a practical tool to effectuate the lessons of the Scriptures in real, day-to-day life struggles of people who want to change and to flee self-love.
They have a track record of moral and spiritual victories that rise to the level of the miraculous; anyone with even the slightest relationship with the Lord must admit He is active among those practicing the steps. The steps are faith in God (both as belief and as trust), humility, confession, repentance, accountability, acceptance of the present moment, prayer, evangelization and charity.
To eschew them merely because they lack an identifiable connection to apostolic succession is to reject what is clearly the Holy Spirit acting among His children outside the historic Church, as the steps again and again resurrect people from debasement, despondency and the captivity of self will run wild, restoring those who practice the steps to peace and love of neighbor and spiritual growth from glory to glory.
#21 Anonymous on 2008-01-04 13:26
Well Bautista, while I still retain some holiday cheer and goodwill let me assure you that I would not reconvene the Holy Office of the Inquisition and begin consigning unrepentant sinners and other assorted evildoers and heretics to the flames--yourself included. Actually, appearances to the contrary, I do have a kinder and gentler side that respects the individual choices of the very pious, the merely pious and the sometimes pious amongst us, so long as they don't seek to impose their preferences and practices on everyone else exercising their God-given free will.
On the other hand, for the OCA to avoid the quandary that Mormons have, as to whether or not they are really part of the Christian community, it will be necessary for us to purge and purify ourselves of the institutional failings that the scandal has exposed, long last, to the light of day. How long can we continue to call ourselves Christians if we corporately fail to address behavior and actions associated with criminal enterprises and tyrannical nation states? As others have said, we are currently failing to meet even the ethical standards established for most of the secular business community!
We all sin and fail as individuals, but the corporate life of the Church must be held to a higher standard--one that seeks the perfection in love demanded by our Lord. That is what I, and everyone else, should be satisfied with, no matter how difficult is is to meet the standard. In short, individual failures are one thing, institutional/corporate failures quite another.
#22 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-01-04 18:23
Forgive, but don't return the keys to the car to the drunken driver. Accountability, as the name of this website describes, is an appropriate answer. The church has always had both accountability and recourse to the secular authorities since Constantine. We don't yet (as Orthodox) understand how to operate in a democracy where state oversight is proscribed. We have a unique and demanding opportunity to chart a course for Orthodox Christianity into a democratic culture. There are no canons for this, although certainly the concepts expressed in the canons should give us adequate guidance in our task.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#23 Marty Watt on 2008-01-05 11:23
A very interesting, and likely very possible, scenario, however "congregational" it may appear. It feels as if we are in the midst of a reformation of Orthodoxy. I hope and pray that our Bishops will renounce power and authority, which is illusory anyway, and show us reform from within.
Martin D. Watt, CPA
#24 Marty Watt on 2008-01-05 11:28
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