Friday, November 21. 2008
Your comments and thoughts about the Metropolitan's comments are welcome.
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It all sounds so good. All I can say is verify verify verify. I for one am too far gone to be very happy, and buy into all this OCAOBAMA moment. Jonah is the Obama of the OCA, and while I have confidence in my future president, the OCA is another matter. Am I curious? Yes. Am I confident? No. Too much pie in the sky....
I understand the energy behind this selection, I can almost feel it myself when I read these comments of His Beatitude. The problems that face this Church have not ..all been brought into the light, ...
Lord Have Mercy!
#1 Anonymous on 2008-11-21 16:05
May God Bless our Church with many fruitful years under Metropolitan Jonah. Axios!
#2 Rachel Andreyev on 2008-11-21 16:22
It all sounds so good. All I can say is verify verify verify. I for one am too far gone to be very happy, and buy into all this OCAOBAMA moment. Jonah is the Obama of the OCA, and while I have confidence in my future president, the OCA is another matter. Am I curious? Yes. Am I confident? No. Too much pie in the sky, too many prepared speeches, too much daily horror. Many of these bishops and a number of "The Seventy" are and have been merchants of death too long. I have no use for, or confidence in the monastic branch of the Church in America and that goes for all the "married" monastic priests in parishes. Our confessors cannot be trusted, and there is no one to confide in, We are alone.
I understand the energy behind this selection, I can almost feel it myself when I read these comments of His Beatitude. The problems that face this Church have not yet even been brought into the light, and Metropolitan Jonah has no idea what they all are. He too, has been lied to.
Lord Have Mercy!
Your Beatitude. Make me repent for these words, so me I am wrong.
#3 Anonymous on 2008-11-21 16:26
I think that Metropolitan JONAH placed the emphasis EXACTLY where it/we need to go now: OUTSIDE ourselves to the living out of the Gospel through action. We need to focus on the hungry world (the young, the old, the poor and needy, etc.) who need to hear and see the Gospel in the flesh (OUR flesh)! If we do not, then we will re-wound and re-infect the Body of Christ and feed upon our hurt and anger...and simply self-distruct. Let us do what we couldn't do for the past thirty years (for lack of direction and leadership) and get serious about the "Great Commission"---living and preaching and being Christ in the midst of the world...while never forgetting how we got to the place where we've been, so that it never happens again!
In His great love for us,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#4 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-21 18:03
I hardly think the OCA is in a position to be preaching "repentance" to the country at this point in time! Nor do I think that Metropolitan Jonah's vision, at least as articulated in these remarks, is focused or realistic for the most part.
A monk's vision of prayer, fasting alms giving, confession, etc. seems at first glance to be just what the doctor ordered for revitalizing the OCA. Or is it? At least, coming from Metropolitan Jonah, it seems devoid of the hypocrisy that usually accompanies it from on high. And certainly all of these practices are part of Christian (or least Orthodox, Catholic and other liturgically minded confessions) living, but not, as the Metropolitan himself says, ends in themselves. But to overemphasis these things is to fall prey to Pharisaic behavior or something close to it. Furthermore, to fail to adapt them to modern circumstances, to mindlessly proscribe their application as they have been utilized in the past or at a given point in time is counterproductive and ultimately self-defeating.
Painful as it may be for some to hear, the fact remains that the monastic era is dead. Of course there are still monasteries and monastics, which is a good thing, but their power and influence, indeed their stranglehold over society and culture, is long gone--not necessarily a bad thing. To try to impose their regimens on the parochial life of the Church is, in my view, a tremendous mistake.
We need to revisit the way we do many things. Not in a throwout everything, start over mode, but in the same way many parishes currently adapt themselves intelligently to the realities of modern living. I welcome a full range of services, for instance, but understand that many, if not most, will not be able to go to everything--myself included. Are they second rate Christians therefore? Are they unworthy of receiving communion if they can't go to Vespers or make confession on some clerics predetermined schedule? I think not. And furthermore I think it should be up to their own conscience and ultimate determination whether or not to partake of the Sacrament--not some overbearing spiritual father. (BTW, I like the concept of a spiritual brother much better.)
The practicalities of establishing a network of Orthodox schools, hospitals, retirement homes, etc., I leave to others. But common sense dictates that we are no position to be building major Orthodox infrastructure (other than churches) anytime soon.
As I have already said previously, I admire and support wholeheartedly Metropolitan Jonah's concept of how the ecclesiology of the Church should work as outlined in his address at SVS, also referenced in his comments on this thread.
I offer these thoughts in what I hope is constructive, if controversial, criticism.
#5 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-11-22 08:21
How much money is sitting in the parish coffers across the country, gathering dust? I know of one small parish that has at least a couple hundred thousand dollars. Every year at the parish meeting I got to hear about how much money they had, and nothing about how it could be used to live out what they had confessed just an hour before, suspended between heaven and earth, as they say. Yet when a handful of people from the parish took a week or so to go to the orphanage in Guatemala, they had to raise their own money. They give maybe a hundred or so dollars a month to causes outside themselves. If that parish is typical of many, then the buck IS stopped, your beatitude, right there in the parish coffers.
What is good in humanity, is the capacity to help others in need, and there are plenty (well, not enough, but many) in secular and non-Orthodox Christian organizations doing the work, filling up what is lacking in the "true Church" - if that's what Orthodoxy is. Without that kind of sacrificial giving from good people, whether they are religious or not, the world would truly be in despair.
If, if, if... if the Orthodox people start doing what the Metropolitan is encouraging them to do, it would be a good start towards getting away from the enclosed, self-absorbed, self-protective church the OCA is today. I know it's possible to make a difference. It's happening all over the world, all the time. It wouldn't hurt the leaders in the OCA to learn from what the non-Orthodox organizations are doing to help others in America and all over the world.
Take a look around at all the other, non-Orthodox people who are ethical, good, giving, self-sacrificing, tolerant, non-hypocritical, honest, moral people. If there is grace, it is "everywhere present and fills all things."
All the bad things the Metropolitan mentions, are as prevalent in Orthodoxy as they are anywhere else. There is despair, immorality, and addiction inside and outside the Church. There is also hope, help, peace, morality, fulness of being, and all kinds of goodness, both inside and outside the Church.
One thing Orthodoxy has, that other Christian churches do not have, is the belief that all human beings, though broken, are not "utterly depraved," but inherently good. Orthodox don't have an edge up just because they are Orthodox, just because they have the privelege of being Orthodox. They are not more moral, or more anything. Holy water and oil, and even the Eucharist, doesn't make you more holy, it doesn't make you better than an atheist or a Muslim. An atheist or a Muslim is as capable of being a comfort to others, as a Christian, yet the Holy Spirit is called the Comforter. What does that tell you? That an atheist or Muslim is capable of being what the Holy Spirit is: a comfort? Of course! It happens all the time!
This should be the purpose of the Orthodox Church in the world: to bring comfort to those who are uncomfortable. Comforting is a verb, it is an action. It is possible, it is easy, and it is good.
#6 Anonymous on 2008-11-22 09:42
Metropolitan Jonah had many good things to say in his speech! Thank you for all your good ideas, and also thank you for recognizing that our life outside of the church building is also to reflect our life in Christ.
In Education more and more schools across our country are implementing the Problem-Solving Model (PSM), It is the new buzz word and it is simply this:
Identify the problem.
Develop a plan.
Implement the plan.
Analyze if it is working.
It is cyclical and continues on an on in for continual improvement and perfection.
This PSM is now being worked out within educational schools throughout our country in an initiative known as Response to Intervention (RTI). One can simple google this to understand how it would work for our church.
It would be well to look at this model, attend conferences and trainings about this model and to understand how well it would work within our church. It allows us to examine all the problems in the OCA in a more indepth, hard-working, results-oriented way. If I had the money I would pay for several clergy to go, but just have the clergy in each of their hometowns get a hold of their school districts to learn about this RTI problem solving model and see the analogies and potential for it serving the church. I would recommend that several committees be formed to tackle each different problem area for the OCA.
One comittee would be for missions to implement the PSM as discussed above. What I am advocating here is to REALLY look at the mission situation within our OCA and REALLY apply some elbow grease to this area.
I have several ideas and I don't think we are doing enough in this area. Put more positively, I feel we can do more in this area. I can be reached for further discussion.
#7 Pschellbach@msn.com on 2008-11-22 09:53
PS, and addendum to my earlier thougths before I lose them to other tasks:
Response to Intervention (RtI or RTI) is the currently advocated problem-solving model (PSM), for educators which is gaining in greater popularity across America. It is basically borrowed from the age-old medical problem solving approach being applied to education and is simply a strategical medical triage approach applied to students, but now, in education, with more elbow grease, persistency, care, and data (qualities that could easily be transferred to the church using this model): which students need more interventions to be able to perform at grade level within the regular education classroom and how do educators go about providing these interventions so that student does not have to go to special education so soon, or at least at such a high level of placement?
Thus, we can easily apply RTI to our church in a variety of ways. I believe RTI, response to intervention was and is at least being applied to our central church finances. The SIC committee and their great efforts, along with the MC with their efforts to implement recommendations, and Fr. Michael Tassos and his host of workers to find the data, analyze the data, and report the data, were intensively intervening to make sure the financial books were in order. RTI was a success in ordering our financial books. I think it was taken off of life support, just like the medical triage problem solving model would have wanted to do.
RTI brings in much more collaboration, our conciliar approach to things, so that a single teacher in a classroom, or the single hierarch, is not having to do everything himself to figure out, plan, implement and analyze solutions.
Whatever problems that still remain to be worked on in the church, I know that my husband and I had been in at least one mission, All-Saints of America OCA mission south of Salt Lake City in West Jordan, which was closed, by the then Bishop Tikhon, now retired.
Why it was closed, however, at least to us two, was never brought to a logical, sound, and firmly articulated conclusion which the currently advocated Problem Solving Model (PSM) and RTI really ask for accountability and want explanation for. These one-way, linear hierarchical decisions, or decisions done without good conciliar collaborative planning, bring harm to our church, as our recent financial scandal has proven.
For such a struggling mission, the RTI model may have been implemented that is currently being used in schools across the country. I recommend we learn more about what RTI and how this PSM can offer to our church. I hope that whoever is reading this will google RTI and go to their children's schools and find out more about it. It is a model that can bring much better, long-lasting positive results to our church. For all of our OCA missions, this would be a great resource to implement. But it should be carried out decisively, not just hit and miss.
RTI and its PSM would identify: 1) the problem; 2) form a plan; 3) implement the plan; and 4; analyze the plan and do these four steps until the situation was stabilized. In the case of the student, it is when he or she is on grade level. In the case of the mission, it would be when full-parish status was reached. However, the RTI model allows the PSM to continue indefinately depending upon the goals.
At any rate, my point is why have any OCA mission struggle so much and eventually close before the problem-solving model PSM and its framework of RTI be thoroughly implemented? It starts before a mission is fomed. It anticipates the process the mission will inevitably go through.
The other point is that if any serious church person or committee would seriously take this PSM and RTI, such events would probably not need to occur. Missions that close, through linear decision-making, or not good decision making, present a whole world of difficulties for OCA Public Relations, the husband and wife who may have had jobs in the area and now need to relocate; possibly dipping into retirement funds (as we did); moving expenses, and on and on, not to mention the emotional stress.
It is my great desire that the OCA stop doing things piecemeal, with no thought out plan behind them. Hierachical decisions may have to be made, but they have to be grounded in facts, logic, and through a conciliar consensus of opinion.
Someone out there may say that there is now a stable plan to build missions; really? Where? We have not been led to such a plan. We have not seen or heard of it for St. Nicholas OCA mission down in Fayetteville, NC. We are in, again, another struggling mission.
While I think we are making progress, there is no systematic problem solving model to lead us through the ropes of establishing and growing this mission on a firm foundation. What is our churches' triage model of response to intervention?
Some missions will be easier to start up than others. Some get a great population, location, funding, salary, what people can afford to give, are the simple and easy answers. But the other guess work, the more difficult aspect of it all can planned for and be taken out, just like the guess work for teachers trying to help struggling Suzie or Johnny is now being given a whole support team, model, and data, to help shore her or him up and to get him or her to where she or he needs to be functioning.
Great speeches, I am sure, at the AAC. And this is good. It is good to be inspired. But what are the formalized plans of effective problem solving? Where are the formal plans to form existing intense interventions when they are needed?
I just heard a principal give a great testimony to RTI up in his Ashe County, NC elementary school. The low socio-economic kids whom some are transient and homeless are closing the gap on their ability to read. They are making great progress. Did the principal do it himself? No, because it is a model of collaboration. Did he provide the time and resources for the model to be implemented? Yes. The leader can do much to affect change. But he is still not his team of teachers in classroom. The hierarch can do much to affect change. But he is still not the team of priests in their churches.
I hope the OCA will look at this problem solving model, RTI, and see its great potential for the church. It allows conciliarity, collaboration, to bloom. We are just getting to learn that great strength within our church.
Yes, we do have much work to do.
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2008-11-22 15:39
If we do what we are supposed to at this point, we'd listen to our new leader and respect him. We'd put his words into action and build more.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-11-22 18:21
Many people here don't get it; THE OCA SCANDAL IS OVER! The guilty people have been purged; the new metropolitan is exactly what is needed; the clean up of the scandal has moved to criminal investigation; the OCA central church is clean and checks & balances have been put in place; yet, some posting here want to look for more issues and problems. IT'S OVER!
If your entire life thrives on scandals, go to the other Orthodox and examine them!
(Editor's note: Accountability and transparency are not states to be achieved, and then ignored; but processes which, to have efficacy, must be maintained. If you think it is "over", you have learned nothing from the scandal, and I will guarantee you will end up back in another faster than you would imagine. The scandal is being resolved, and much progress has been made. But much remains to be resolved: the EEOC investigation, the Koumentakos case, potentially missing bequests, the financial audits of both St. Tikhon's monastery and the former diocese of NY-NJ, as well as other matters. Are these "over?" No. We can only hope they will be shortly. But as of now, the only thing "over" is the pillaging of the OCA by certain individuals, and the active cover-up of it for twenty years by several others, and the passive complicity of most others who chose to "wink and nod" at the bad behaviour. )
#10 Anonymous on 2008-11-24 06:57
Remember Dear Brother/Sister: It is HIS Church, His Bride---and we have HIS promise "...and the gates of hell shall NOT prevail against it!" That is the LORD'S promise---He will be with the Church until the end of time...period. So lift UP your head and know that He is in our very midst. If you cannot believe in this...then you need to pray seriously for the grace of increase faith.
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#11 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-24 08:00
First of all, you are completely wrong about the monastic life. Orthodox monasteries in Orthodox countries have never been bigger...and even here in the USA, we now have FOUR times the number of communities we had ten years ago. The Greek Archdiocese had two tiny monasteries ten years ago---and now has over fourteen. In Belarus (for example) in 1989 the women's monastery of St. Euphrasinia in Polotsk had three nuns (from the days BEFORE Communism) and by 1992 there were 66 nuns in the monastery---in only THREE YEARS! The history of the monasteries in other Orthodox countries is simular. The strength of monastic communities tells the spiritual strength of the Church...and so, in this, as Bishop Kallistos says, the American Church is not that healthy yet---but there are signs of growth in this regard. Things are beginning to look up.
I am really at a loss when I try to understand what YOUR vision of the Church for the future should be! It seems to me that you are saying, "...we all just need to be nice guys...and help each other...and be kind to one another...etc." What are you saying exactly? I really what to understand YOUR vision. Maybe you could sum it up in 'a nutshell version'?
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#12 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-24 08:19
How much money is sitting in the parish coffers across the country, gathering dust?
My historic parish is in the process of planning on how to pay for major capital expenditures that need to be made to ensure the long-term health of the parish (e.g., replace the 100 year old boiler to save on oil expenses; repair the foundation, roof, etc.) One possibility we have discussed is in using www.kiva.org as a clearinghouse for the parish to reach out to other churches and individuals for no or low interest loans. This would be a way for our churches to help each other: loan money to each other; loan money to front the start-up costs of some of the projects Met. Jonah discussed. We may not make as much interest as we would have in a money market account or CD, but we would be putting the money to use while also retaining the capital for local use in the future. This seems to me to be an ingenious way to follow the parable of the talents and multiple what has been given to us.
I'm sure there are other ways to provide microloans to do a great deal of good while earning a little bit of interest.
It seems to me Dear Brother, that you have made at least one serious error: the Lord did not come to earth and die and rise from the dead so that we could be "nice guys" or comfort one another. The Lord Jesus called/calls us to be HOLY. The Christian life is a call to HOLINESS not just plain goodness. My neighbor, who is a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddist, can be as good as me and often even better, but I am not called just to be good---but to holiness or spiritual perfection...and THAT takes the work of the Holy Spirit. Who can do it? NO ONE on his/her own---but WITH the Holy Spirit, we believe it is possible. The proof that it is possible: we have the Saints...those who have done it and succeeded at it! Take St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Elizabeth the New-Martyr, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Metropolitan Leonty, Archimandrite Vasili (of St. Tikhon's Monastery)...and many thousands and thousands of others (over 14,000 recorded at the present time). Read and study the lives of the Saints and you will begin to see the difference between being just a nice guy/gal and being called to holiness.
In His Holy Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
In His grace and love,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#14 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-24 08:32
Please--Let's try to keep secular politics out of this discussion; I, for one,....am extremely uncomfortable with comparisons between Metropolitan Jonah and Mr Obama--for any number of reasons.
#15 Sdn Henry Shirley--St Herman of Alaska Chapel, WEst Bend, WI on 2008-11-24 08:47
Patty: Suggestion: Copy and paste your thoughts into a Word doc and send them to the MC, Attn Strategic Planning Committee.
#16 Michael Strelka on 2008-11-24 13:11
What has happened to "accountability"? Are any of the millions stolen going to be returned? Are there plans to have money returned from +H, +T, RK? What about the 1.7 million loan and the mortgage on St.Tikon's? What about the P.Rose and the accountant's reports that are still hidden but paid for? If there is no clarification and release of ALL the facts, I doubt if the people will TRUST again. As for me, I am planning to contribute DIRECTLY to my church, the seminaries, the individual charities rather than the OCA. At least I am sure that the funds are where they should be.
#17 Anonymous please on 2008-11-24 13:34
KRT declared: "Painful as it may be for some to hear, the fact remains that the monastic era is dead."
But others are saying:
"Among the most spectacular achievements in North American Orthodoxy during the past four decades is the establishment of an extraordinarily vibrant monastic life."
- Fr, Thomas Hopko, ' A Spiritual Springtime for American Orthodoxy', 9/2008
"The Spiritual Foundation: The Blessing from Valaam and Elder Ephraim
The Monastery was founded by Hieromonk Jonah (Paffhausen) as its spiritual father and confessor, in obedience to his spiritual father Abbot (now Bishop) Pankratiy of the Valaam Monastery of the Transfiguration, in Russia. This direction was given following a meeting between Abbot Pankratiy and Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, where they blessed Fr. Jonah with the obedience to establish a monastery in California."
- OCA parish listing for the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and SF
"One of the most important elements that the twentieth-century American Orthodox mission lacked was the presence of monasticism as its foundation and inspiration...In the attempt to blend in with “normal” American society and churches – Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian – the Orthodox communities adopted many Protestant elements,from pews and organs to parish by-laws. Most significant of all, the ascetic worldview, which is at the core of monastic witness, was replaced by an ethos of mutual support in search of worldly success and recognition. To Americanize meant to uncritically adopt the general American religious worldview, with its forms and attitudes, while retaining the external forms of Orthodox worship....The growth of monasticism in the past decade is a manifestation of the maturation of Orthodoxy in America."
Then-Abbot Jonah Paffhausen, 'Monastic Mission and Witness in the History of American Orthodoxy', 2002
"In the words of my spiritual father, Bishop Pankratiy of Valaam, 'the episcopate is the ultimate fulfillment not only of the priesthood but also of monasticism.'"
- Metropolitan Jonah, Acceptance Address, 10/31/08
C'mon KRT, the Chicken Little routine (mixed with wishful thinking) is getting old! Get with the NEW program!
#18 Anonymous on 2008-11-24 17:13
As I listened to his speeches, both before his selection and afterwards, as well as his speech to the Cathedral in Dallas upon his return, all I could think of was: ..... It all sounds well and good, but when the rubber meets the road, I have a feeling the road is going to win.
#19 J J J on 2008-11-24 21:21
This is just the sort of lukewarm (Rev. 3:16) thinking that needs to be cast out, lest Orthodoxy suffer the same crippling fate the Episcopal Church (and other do-it-yourself protestant denominations) has faced. Seriously - your spiritual brother? Do you counsel him on his priesthood? "Clerics" as you so gracefully describe them are not quaint artifacts with inconvenient schedules - they can be vehicles of Grace. We don't need to cast out monasticism or the fundamental reliance on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. What we need to cast out are your nearly heretical ideas for 'sprucing up' the Church.
The alphabet soup of secular problem-solving models offered by Patty Schellbach makes me uneasy, as I instinctively feel that the Church has a native solution, developed from 2,000 years of holiness. But at the moment, it's hard for me to articulate an alternative. Surely, the solution will come from Scripture and Tradition.
One sentiment I would agree with is the concern over Metropolitan Jonah's proposal to build Orthodox infrastructure - hospitals, schools, retirement homes, dorms. Having seen how awkward Catholic hospitals' "witnesses" can be, I'd hope the OCA would have the integrity to size it up and say "no thanks," selecting a more powerful forum to interact with society. Like Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals seem to have the uncanny ability to drive people away, not bring them in...
Even more frightening is the proposal to build Orthodox dorms at universities around the country. I would've thought avoiding this was common sense. The residential 'lifestyle communities' I've seen are typically so ridden with behavior contrary to the original intent, that it ends up destroying the students involved, and desecrating the 'lifestyle' it was trying to promote. (Alternative: the community becomes a black hole of counterculture that shuts out the world to the point of dysfunction.) I can only imagine what kind of sad stuff would end up in an Orthodox dorm, and how it would negatively effect the dorm's ministry. Another concern: the increased risk of hokyness - college students can smell it from miles away, and it is more dissuasive than a pack of wasted sorority girls. I can see a mediocre effort at an Orthodox dorm translating into more damage than any benefit ever offered... or at very least, an empty dorm. What ultimately makes this idea a bad one is the fact that it was borne out of a motive to generate revenue. This fact alone would taint the project, transforming it from a mission to save students into a mission to make a profit for a cash-strapped OCA... and would end in failure.
A much better objective: more support (financial and otherwise) to the grassroots efforts - the Orthodox Christian Fellowships. Instead of assigning a priest to run an Orthodox dorm, how about making sure that every university has a priest affiliated with the school's office of religious affairs? Spiritual leadership is desperately needed - it cannot be self-guided. (A sidenote: let's stop outsourcing parenting to schools and institutions. If children were raised in a family where Orthodoxy and worship were important, the child will not forget these priorities when they reach college. If they were raised to understand that the Church was not a high priority, that is what they will carry out. No amount of Orthodox dorms or OCF chapters will change that.)
In my (admittedly short) experience, the best way to interest people in Orthodoxy is by highlighting its underdog status in the American scene. Many haven't heard of this underground, obscure, ancient religion free from the institutional death and cultural stigma associated with Catholicism. It is Christianity in its purest, undiluted, unblemished form, preserved from the Reformation and the Culture Wars. We don't have a crappy book of common prayer, we have the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. We don't have megachurches with shopping malls, we have the noble legacy of liturgical architecture (that abomination in Maryland notwithstanding) and arts. It is the same faith that was whispered in the streets of the Middle East back in the first centuries. The solution to Orthodox missionary work is not to become the institution - this will invite spiritual death. Let us render unto Caesar what is Caesar's (hospitals, schools, governments) and use our grace and creativity to compellingly subvert these institutions.
With all this said, I am still extremely excited and energized by Metropolitan Jonah's election. I look forward to his other building projects: building confidence in the episcopacy, building Orthodox unity in America. I cannot wait to meet him, and look forward to all his work and stewardship for Christ's Church as revealed in the OCA.
St. Andrew's Church, Dix Hills, NY
Student at Syracuse University (School of Architecture)
Co-President, Syracuse OCF
#20 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-11-25 01:26
I don't want to see Orthodox nursing homes. I want to see families where the elders are respected, valued members of the family and cared for as they once cared for us. It is easy to speak against the horror of euthanasia, but how many many would consider taking their parents into their homes? And how many of us would want to spend the last years of our lives in a nursing home?
It's easy to speak out against the nightmare of abortion, too, but I don't see anyone working for the universal health care or for the living wage that would make it possible for a low-income family to actually support additional children.
My point is, it's so easy to speak out against our immoral society. It's like fishing with dynamite. But until or unless I am willing to take personal responsibility--*me*, and not just the Metropolitan--any talk of institutional solutions is just passing the buck. If I am serious about living out Christ's command to love as I am loved, one thing it does not include is passing any metaphorical currency. This is one thing that was so radical--and so attractive to potential converts--about Christianity when it was still a new religion: We took care of our own, and we took care of the stranger in our midst, with our own hands, and with our own resources. We tried to love as we were loved. We held all things in common.
What has happened to us? I don't want to be cynical: It is exciting to hear the new Met speak of all these possibilities. But until the 80/20 rule changes (20% of the people do 80% of the work--and it's probably more like the rule of 95/5), we will most likely end up with the same church we have now. "Let my tongue cleave to my throat if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!" Can I say that of myself? Can any of us? I have my work cut out, every bit as much as His Beatitude, may God grant him many, many years.
#21 Morton on 2008-11-25 11:18
My aunt lives in Wisconsin. She is about 86 years old and so is her husband. About 4 years ago, her children took their father to the doctor and the doctor insisted the father go into a care facility for a 'short stay'.
He requires full time care and is not able to walk. He is incontinent and refuses catherization. His wife struggled with this for about 4 years before the family decided it was an impossible situation for them. He has been there ever since.
My aunt lives 4 miles away from him and visits him every day for a few hours. He tells her everyday that he wishes to come home, but the reality is that it is simply too difficult for her and her children are all working to earn a living.
For as many like him that have a family that has found it impossible to care for him outside and institution, there are others that have no family at all that the conservative, 'responsible' notion completely forgets.
An Orthodox care facility/assisted living center is a great idea and there is nothing about it that we ought to shrug off as irresponsible. In fact, it would be a way to unify the churches as long as its membership wasn't jurisdictional.
As for the abortion issue, it seems to me there are far more eligible, less divisive problems that have a clear need than this ghastly, but legal medical practice. I don't think it is a wise use of any part of 2.7 million dollars a year to go off battling the US Supreme Court with legislation. The best thing that could come of it if you are 'pro-life' is state powers to decide, so perhaps to some extent we agree.. The anti-abortion dialogue sounds good, but doesn't have much value.
#22 Daniel E. Fall on 2008-11-25 16:17
I always find your comments stimulating and to the point--no less so than now, even if I am the object of your attack and criticism. One can only hope that you are representative of the younger Orthodox generation in this country.
I really do think, however, that you have misunderstood me or I haven't made myself sufficiently clear. Coming from the Episcopal Church, I have no desire to return to it or repeat its many mistakes in my present communion. The same tone in the Metropolitan's comments regarding "Orthodox dorms" is what bothers me in a larger context. It's not that prayer, fasting etc. are not needed and important, but that our witness to the non-Orthodox world needs to be made in a way that eschews an inward preoccupation with mere Orthodoxy, by which I mean trying to preserve a cultural identity that in many ways has outlived it usefulness or needs to be re-articulated in contemporary terms.
As Father Hopko has said, we really need to focus on what is essential in our Faith and express this in terms that resonate in the modern world--a world that sad-to-say is post Christian in many respects, at least in the West. Instead of debating the merits/demerits of eagle rugs, for instance, why aren't we addressing the many challenges posed by science/rationalism in defending a Faith that is based on the seemingly (to the world) preposterous notion that the universe was created out of love and that that continues to be the basis on which it does and we should function?
My comment re spiritual father/brother was prompted by a post I saw where an actual spiritual father saw his role in exactly those terms--i.e. a brother offering advice and counsel, not a hectoring overseer. Of course, many spiritual fathers, I'm sure, see themselves in precisely that brotherly role. Is it not the autocratic and despotic control freak mentality that so many of us (yourself included) have been protesting about?
Finally, my comments concerning monasticism are simply telling like it is. I acknowledge its continuing value, but see no reason to mourn its demise as a major social institution, i.e. Byzantium and Medieval Europe.
#23 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-11-25 17:25
Back in the early 1990's, St. John of Damascus parish in Poway, California, a suburb of San Diego, used "church bonds" to raise the funds necessary to build the church proper. At the time, there were at least two companies licensed in California whose business was to help congregations fund capital improvements by issuing "church bonds". The company drew up and filed the necessary papers and managed the periodic payments to the bondholders; the congregation raised the money for the periodic payments.
One big plus of the "church bonds" was that they were considered investments for IRA purposes, i.e., you could use money in an IRA to purchase "church bonds." How many people would be willing to use some of the money in their IRAs to purchase no-load church bonds paying market rate interest to help fund church capital improvements? Could this be one way to help finance Metropolitan +Jonah's vision for Orthodox charitable institutions in North America?
#24 Mark C. Phinney on 2008-11-26 05:13
Dear Father Pius,
The monastic era I was referencing has been gone for about half a millennia, i.e. Byzantium and Europe. Certainly monasticism has continued to survive, and even periodically thrive in some areas, but without the impact and importance it previously had on culture and society. Many regret this development, I don't. I am tempted to retort that it is God's will, so get over it, but that would be trite.
I don't think my vision of what the Church should be is much different from yours. It's all in the Gospels, but actualizing it in our own lives is the hard part. I think some of our small t traditions often get in the way of our witness, as I have repeatedly said. Our leadership, and ourselves as well, need to address the many serious challenges from those who reject a God-centered universe, and see all reality as defined by science and rationalism. Once upon a time, Christianity was up to this intellectual challenge, but today we are too focused on our own internal preoccupations and one upping everyone else who calls themselves Christians (or Patriarchs ).
Finally, and here's where I often feel out of step with many Orthodox Christians, I place the highest value on individual freedom and liberty of conscience, i.e. Free Will. While the ultimate objective is union with God and His will, Free Will is the the indispensable means to that end. I don't think this is fairly characterized as being merely "nice, helpful or kind." It does mean rejecting all forms of coercion and treating everyone as an icon of Christ, and allowing for differences and diversity.
Needless to say, I fall way short of this vision, but it is, at least, what I strive to meet.
#25 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2008-11-26 07:43
Just curious--which abomination in Maryland???????
--A priest in Maryland
#26 Fr. Dennis Buck on 2008-11-26 07:52
If you choose to cast aspersions on the OCF, it would be wise to state actual experiences from actual people who have lived in OCF dorms. I have heard nothing by positive from students at Univ of Illinois. And personally, I can't imagine that an OCF dorm could possibly worse than living in some fraternities.
#27 Michael Strelka on 2008-11-26 10:48
I don't think the topic should be steered away from the discussion of the sad tendency in the Orthodox Church today, to be self-absorbed, close-fisted, and self-protective, in monasteries, in seminaries, in parishes, and even on Orthodox Forums online.
Making the Orthodox Church in America a better church means reaching out more to those who hurt, whether they are inside or outside the church. Holiness then becomes a "by-product" of the act of comforting.
I hear your claim that Orthodox are to be holy. But I have seen a tendency in the thinking of the everyday Orthodox person to pass off the responsibility to be holy on the Saints, which lets the regular guy off the hook. We can never achieve what they did, nor endure what they endured. We can never reach their heights of holiness. It's easy to pray to them, and doesn't take any real sacrifice to do that, but that is not what being holy is about.
You can do a thousand prostrations and fast for weeks, be diligent in prayer, and go without sleep, and go to every service. But that's not what holiness is about. Holiness is about comforting others. Help the widow, send a card to a lonely person, reach out more.
I have seen it more outside the Orthodox Church, than inside. Compare non-Orthodox outreach and charity work to Orthodox outreach and charity work, overall. The non-Orthodox do a much better job. It stands to reason, therefore, that the Orthodox outreach programs can learn much from the non-Orthodox. If an idea works, why not learn from them?
I'm not down on the efforts that are being done. But what bothers me, is the gap between what is said, especially during Liturgy, and what is done in everyday living. I have lived around a lot of places, and volunteered not weeks, but years, for Christian and secular organizations, worldwide. There is nothing more inspiring than going on an outreach, whether for a couple of weeks, or a couple of months, with a group of people, young and old, who are not out to "convert" so much as simply to help, and by helping, be light all around them. This is the spirit of Christ. This is being holy.
Let me say one more thing. It seems to me, based on what I've seen and experienced overall, that many cradle Orthodox, down deep, don't really want a bunch of converts invading their little world and making them uncomfortable with their zeal. Maybe, for whatever reasons, many in the Orthodox Church today do not really want the Church to change, or grow, or reach out.
C.S. Lewis warns of this self-absorption in his book "The Last Battle."
Near the end of the story, some of the children who follow Aslan go out into a field where the dwarfs live. They want to make friends; they want to help them see the light and the beauty of the world which surrounds them.
When they arrived, they noticed that the dwarfs have a very odd look and were huddled together in a circle facing inward, paying attention to nothing. As the children drew near, they were aware that the dwarfs couldn't see them. "Where are you ?" asks one of the children. "We're in here you bone-head," said Diggle the dwarf, "in this pitch-black, poky, smelly little hole of a stable."
"Are you blind?" asks another child. "No," respond the dwarfs, "we're here in the dark where no one can see."
"But it isn't dark, you poor dwarfs," says Lucy, "look up, look round, can't you see the sky and flowers - can't you see me?" Then Lucy bends over, picks some wild violets, and says, "perhaps you can smell these." But the dwarf jumps back into his darkness and yells, "How dare you shove that filthy stable litter in my face." He cannot even smell the beauty which surrounds him.
Suddenly the earth trembles. The sweet air of the field grows sweeter and a brightness flashes behind them. The children turn and see that Aslan, the great lion himself, has appeared. They greet him warmly and then Lucy, through her tears, asks, "Aslan, can you do something for these poor dwarfs?"
Aslan approaches the dwarfs who are huddled in their darkness and he growls. They think it is someone in the stables trying to frighten them. Then Aslan shakes his mane and sets before the dwarfs a magnificent feast of food. The dwarfs grab the food in the darkness, greedily consuming it, but they cannot taste its goodness. One thinks he is eating hay, another an old rotten turnip. In a moment, they are fighting and quarreling among themselves as usual. Aslan turns and leaves them in their misery.
They children are dismayed. Even the great Aslan cannot bring them out of their self-imposed darkness. "They will not let us help them," says Aslan. Their prison is only in their minds and they are so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out. "But come now children," says Aslan, "we have other work to do," and they leave the dwarfs alone in their miserable world.
I believe it is changing, and the dialogue on this forum is helping. I am so glad for the opportunity to remain anonymous on this blog so that I can post freely, and hopeful that all the comments here will be heard, and heeded.
#28 Anonymous on 2008-11-26 13:53
KRT, you said, "Finally, my comments concerning monasticism are simply telling like it is."
I'm pretty sure you meant to type, "Finally, my comments concerning monasticism are simply telling like it is TO ME," or: "The fact remains that the monastic era is dead TO ME."
Dead to you but to me? To Metropolitan Jonah?
No and no. I pity this vision of Church that you carry about you. St. Theodore the Studite said that, "Monks are the sinews and foundation of the Church." Your vision of Church is without sinews and foundation. It's loosey goosey and ungrounded.
The new Metropolitan is telling it like it is. Though it had a good almost 50 year run, the Old School Knee Jerk OCA Anti-Monasticism is going, going, gone as evidenced by the election of Metropolitan Jonah.
Metropolitan Jonah: "Obedience is the very heart of monasticism. Christian obedience, monastic obedience, has nothing at all to do with institutional or military discipline.
"To paraphrase Archimandrite Zacharias, those kinds of discipline are impersonal, structural, having to do with the continuity of an organization, enforced by compulsion. This may be necessary for the lowest level of spiritual development, but will otherwise quench the Spirit.
Authentic monastic obedience is profoundly personal, a communion of love, a willing self-offering by the disciple in which there can be no compulsion.
It is through this profound personal relationship of love that the disciple is transformed, empowered to transcend his passions and ego, and to control his thoughts; and to work out his growth to maturity through purification by self-denial. Being loved, he can grow in love, and be illumined
by the grace of God, which is love, forgiveness, acceptance, and healing.
The spiritual father becomes God’s co-worker in bring a man up from an isolated individual into an authentic person. The authentic relationship of elder and disciple in holy obedience can only work in profound freedom, as the disciple’s free offering to God of his obedience to his elder. The grace of self-denial in obedience breaks down the ego, the self-centeredness, and self-will. Thus the father begets a son, who in turn becomes a father. The community becomes one in Christ in the bond of love."
Lead on Vladika!
#29 Anonymous on 2008-11-26 17:09
Dear Mr,Tobin,I ,for one,do not give a fig for what you think.I realise you have a liberal bias(just like our editor,I suspect;so probably this won't get printed)I can't see squadering almost 2000 years of Christian tradition to accomodate those like yourself who want to make the church"relevent" to a fallen world.Forget about me,I'm a sinful priest,but this is what my late Spritual father,Hieromonk Kallistos used to tell his spiritual children,"The church is not a begger of souls.The church doesn't need you.You need the church."
(editor's note: Well, you are wrong in that this won't be printed - most everything is. You are wrong in thinking Mr. Tobin wants to make the Church relevant to the fallen world in a culture sense - if you read him carefully over these past three years as I have, you would see he means it in an evangelical sense. It does no good to preach the Gospel in a room of deaf people. You need to learn to sign. And finally, I think you are mistaken in being so closed-minded that you do not care what others think. You should. Jesus did, which is why he asked so many questions. As Orthodox we have tendency to tell people the answers without even bothering to listen to their questions....)
#30 Anonymous on 2008-11-26 18:49
Thank you for your encouragement. You said, "Patty: Suggestion: Copy and paste your thoughts into a Word doc and send them to the MC, Attn Strategic Planning Committee."
I just did this but sent them to three persons, Fr. Alexander, and to also Fr. Eric, and Fr. Michael whom we personally know, who are on the MC, so that they hopefully forward it to all the right persons.
Thank you for being so supportive and thank you for personally emailing me with what you all do in the Dicoces of the Midwest. This, too, I hope, is in the hands of the MC's Strategic Planning Committee.
I hope our OCA can become more effective. The PSM as used in RTI has much to offer our church to make it so.
#31 Patty Schellbach on 2008-11-26 19:26
This is a bit more of an analogy on how Response to Intervention (RTI) can be a constructive model for the church:
RTI develops a tiered approach to students (envision a triangle) iwho are academically or behaviorally behind their peers because the regular classroom is designed to teach, or reach out to about 80-85% of the students. Regular education realizes that it may not reach 100% of the students, as each child is unique and different. Some may fall behind.
To know which students are at grade level, simple academic screeners are designed in reading, math, and writing to determine if they have met grade level criteria, or if they are behind. The big buzz word out there across the country is DIBELS, a reading intervention program developed at the University of Oregon. Some of your children may be taking this as we speak.
Such programs, such as DIBELS, are called universal screeners because all children receive the program. It would be estimated that some children may fall behind, given the typical probability that the classroom is just reaching maybe 80-85% of kids. These screeners are called universal screeners because they are designed to determine where the entire classroom is. This universal screening level is also known as Tier I, because the simple screener intervention is open to all in the classroom.
The universal screener should generate data, however, as the program rolls out to see which children are "responding to the intervention." Those children who are behind receive interventions right in the classroom, to see if they "respond to intervention," hence the name of the new initiative, "response to intervention."
If these few children make progress with the regularly implemented interventions, then they are not in need of more intense interventions and they stay with the regular classroom. The key to seeing if the few children who may be behind are catching up is to keep data through the intervention process and to thus progress monitor, or collect that data. A simple graph can be maintained on each child to determine if progress is being made, hence the important "progress monitoring" of RTI.
If these few students do not make adequate or timely progress, they progress to Tier II in which these children may be getting taught more often, with a few more different or intense interventions within small groups, but they are still in the regular education program itself. Progress monitoring allows data to be collected to factually determine if they are making progress.
If these few children are not responding to Tier II, (still within regular education) then a team of educators meet now together, to determine if even stronger interventions are needed. Special Education services are considered and they are tested to determine if the more intense level of Sp. Ed. is the right support for them.
Thus, let us look at ONE analogy for the church: mission growth. Perhaps each diocese, preferrably the central church so that the wheel is not reinvented per diocese, may sit down and formulate such an intervention plan, such as the plan Michael Strelka gave me to look at church stability in the Diocese of the Midwest. What does a collaborative group with the bishop at the head want a typical church to look like, what is the vision, what are the goals, and so on.
Thus, Tier I is what a typical church has in place (so many church services in place, support groups, and so on).
If a church is having difficulty with this Tier I "universal" model, certain interventions can be established to help them stabilize. Teh interventions can be thought out so there is less of a "hit-and-miss" approach to it all. But most importantly there is an established process of collaboration to be able to address the problem. If these less complicated interventions do not take hold, more intense interventions are put forth on a Tier II and Tier III level that most of the regular churches would not need.
Thus, for instance, some years ago at St. George OCA Church in Hesperia, when the people "voted" the bishop out, little was done right afterwards to help the priest out to help stabilize this hurting community. No immediate visit took place by the bishop or the administration, no effective trust plan was put in place. The bishop wrote only to to fire the old council and replace it by a new council of people that knew all about the first situation. Thus, the event of "voting" a bishop out probably would have taken Tier III, intensive interventions so that this church would have more quickly and efficiently stabilized. This really did not happen.
Also, another example is to for all of our OCA Churches across the country, "progress monito" by keeping simple data of effective financial books and to report on this. Each church could be examined by that diocesan treasure, who would "progress monitor" the monthly finances. Of course, where a church is located and other cultural and environmental factors can affect what a churches budget is. However, trends can also be seen. So, for instance, why is Church A dipping in received funds in June (gee, the bishop was voted out) and why is Church B thriving (gee, the bishop visited). Thus, a bit like the stock market, the simple data of monthly funds are tracked not to necessarily increase funds but to look at what events in the church may have affected giveing (gee, so many people lost their jobs; perhaps we can initiate our intervention plan of possibly sharing an overabundance of funds to make sure the priest has a salary for that month; or the people are served through a food outreach program; the point is to strategize for difficulties.
For example, St. George was undergoing an audit before the new priest arrived due to the previous priest being accused of stealing much money. The audit was never completed. The audit was being done by one of its own parishoners who had much feeling about the bishop who never visited the parish. Thus, the audit would have been much more effective on a Tier III intervention plan model. Perhaps such a Tier III model may have insisted that this audit be done by an outside firm no matter what the cost, and to be able to get cost relief for such an outside audit from the diocese or even central church. But this did not happen. The audit just "faded" away which continued to deteriorate the trust towared the bishop. Again, there was need for a Tier III type of intervention for this particular church to make sure it became financially and spiritually stable. But without such developed, thought-out problem solving interventions carried out on a collaborative team level that could have served as a great resource n the first place, the stabilization of St. George took much longer to implement, to the detriment of the well-being of the entire parish, and to the detriment of the well-being of the priest and his family.
Folks, this is not rocket science, even as it is getting more and more press for the school systems. But it does takes some planning, organization, and collaboration even within the school system.
The same could be said for our churches and our OCA.What should a church should look like at Tier I. I am not asking for exact replicas but can we not have some constructive creative thought to this end so that church communities, such as the OCA mission in Salt Lake, may not have been closed before its time, or churches, such as St. George in Hesperia, would have seen quicker stabilization after a bishop was voted out? What type of Tier I, II, or III interventions may be thought about, formed, created, and needed to help stabilize a church or a mission?
The educational system has figured out a way with RTI and its problem solving model that they do not have to try hit-and-miss interventions, but to puposelly plan on how to intervene for a child so they may become successful through a tiered intervention approach, such as the medical triage model. The onus is not on the child, but on the educator and the systems of support that RTI ensures. The onus does not have to just be on the parish priest but on the diocese or central church that can provide the necessary support.
Does all thiis take good effort and planning? Of course.
Can our central church or diocese each have a similar problem solving model for the good of the churches? Of course. Does it take effort and planning. Yes. Can it be done? Yes, it can be done. A developed and planned-out problem solving model would help strengthen the entire organization so that efffective and purposeful collaboration and communication become the order of the day.
The recent events of trying to turn around a sinking OCA with the great collaborative efforts of this web site that cared, new treasurer, SIC committee, and an MC who implemented several recommendations demonstrate how effective collaboration and a good concilar modelcan be. We do not have to go the way of an unproductive unilateral decision-making process that seems to have done greaer harm than good in our recent OCA past. I hope we can say we are now changing for the better.
#32 Patty Schellbach on 2008-11-27 10:23
Dear Editor,I do indeed care what others think.I do not,however,care for those whoare quick to disparage institutions such as Monasticism,using the OCA finacial scandal as a smoke screen.First,we hear that Metropolitan Herman was too wordly for a monastic.Then a genuine monastic becomes Metropolitan and suddenly that doesn't cut the mustard,either.What I meant to say is I don't care what some thinks when he/she wants to put personnal opinion above almost 2000 years of Christianity.I recall debating a future Baptist preacher at work more than 30 years ago.Like most fundementalists,he believed in literal interperatation of scripture.But when asked about Our Saviour's words,"except ye eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you"(John 6;53),the Baptist relpied."I THINK Christ meant that as a symbol."Or also,Protestants qustion many of our traditions which carry over from the Old Testament,saying,"We're not living in the Old Testament times anymore,Christ's coming changed all that." But when they want to "proove" that Icons are idols, then of course,the Old Testanment is needed.I certainly care about Mr.Tobin's salvation as I would care for any other Orthodox or any other human being at all.However,when he or any other person uses."I think" in the context that the above-mentioned Baptist,I become a bit leery.
(Editor's note: Thanks for the helpful clarification. )
#33 Anonymous on 2008-11-28 15:20
I'm very excited about Metropolitan Jonah's proposal to build Orthodox infrastructure - hospitals, schools, retirement homes, dorms. Having converted to the Orthodox Church 10-years ago from the Catholic Church I've always wanted Orthodox, Hospitals, Schools etc. I still to this day look for doctors associated with catholic Hospitals because I feel better going to them.
Last week at Thanksgiving dinner my 6-year-old niece said a prayer before the meal that she learned in Catholic School. She reads the bible and says her prayers and has a love for Christ that she learns about not only at home but in school. This would not be the case if she was in a public school devoid of Christ. The sad part is she is the first person born Orthodox in my family and she now attends a Catholic school because there is no Orthodox school for her to attend. How wonderful it would be if she was attending an Orthodox school!
I would also love to see something like the KofC for the Orthodox Church. Orthodox Infrastructure & Institutions supporting all aspects of life will only help grow and strengthen the Church.
This election has really excited and energized me!
#34 Innocent ReDavid on 2008-12-01 08:52
Dear KRT: +CHRIST IS IN OUR VERY MIDST!
First allow me to suggest that there is no such thing as "the monastic era"---never was really...unless you want to travel back to the days of St. Anthony himself in the desert of Eqypt (and even there , by the way, there is a has been a tremendous revival!). So what exactly ARE you saying dear brother Ken? "It's over for me"---I'm not even sure what THAT means, since I presume that you are not a monk yourself---then I could understand your comment and it would even make sense). All I know is that monastics (male and female) are those who 'live on the fringes of our societies' and as such, by maintaining our core values of NON-ACQUISITIVENESS, CONSECRATED CHASTITY FOR THE KINGDOM, and OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF GOD, we try to grow constantly in clarity of vision...so that we can help the societies in which we live keep their focus on "the one thing needful": The LORD JESUS and The Coming of His Kingdom! For those living in a materialistic world of 'sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll' this has always been an unpopular way of life that we try to lead...and it is even (for most) an utter waste of lives. But for those few who have the common 'other-worldly' vision and desire support and direction in their earthly pilgrimage, our life is understandable and even precious for them...because it shows that (as my novice master 44 years ago taught us): the pure Christian life CAN BE LIVED! Monastic life will swell and shrink throughout the years, but in eternity it will shine as the priceless jewel that it is...having helped to save millions.
For me it has been my very salvation all these many years (not that I have lived it perfectly) but it has kept me on the path and continues to lift me and challenge me as no other way of life could to the same degree. Is is better than other lives?---certainly not, but it does keep a check on the societies in which we live, and as such, should be of priceless value to the whole world!
I wish you peace in His Name,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#35 Fr Pius on 2008-12-01 10:00
The church in question is that of the parish in Columbia, MD.
I'm an architecture student, and one day during class, one of my professors was flipping through slides, discussing the sad state of ecclesiastical architecture in the United States. There was a photo of this church in his presentation. Having no cross or recognizable Orthodox architecture, I never would've dreamed it was an Orthodox church, if even a church at all. A month later, when the parish's consecration photos were uploaded to OCA.org, I recognized the church from class, and was surprised, to say the least.
(If the exterior wasn't upsetting enough, it gets no better inside, where rows of plush leather chairs aren't simply a concession to parishioners' weaknesses, but rather, a luxuriation in them. The iconostasis has been 'reconsidered' to the point where the concept barely remains, and the faux corbel dome appliqué, now devoid of any structural logic, laughs in the face of the ancient Mycenaean domes it imitates.)
I feel bad for the parishioners, and I don't mean to undermine their achievement in building a temple, especially as Scripture reminds us that one of the greatest blessings we can have is the opportunity to labor in God's House. However, for an architect, I would imagine building a sacred temple is a most serious responsibility, and I think that the architect here certainly missed the mark.
Another example of where "progress" throws the baby out with the bath water.
#36 Reader Nilus Klingel on 2008-12-01 17:09
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