Tuesday, November 25. 2008
Your comments are welcome. I will not post comments on the the glories or failings of the Russian Church, nor on the current politics of Russia, so please save me the time of having to delete them. THere are many other places those conversations may be appropriate. Not here. Our issue is transparency and accountability, or lessons we might have learned.
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I'll take a stab at commenting. That is a Russian fish fry, and we of the common people of North America ought to say prayers for them and concentrate on cooking our own. I believe there is relatively little to be learned from any examination of and/or comment on their post-Communist situation in this forum, especially by comparison with all the better uses of our time, such as prayer, scripture, repentance, and minding our own business. The scriptures say that the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24) and I think that is a fit description of who I would be and what I would be doing if I were to get into this problem or any of the other far flung difficulties of other Churches.
#1 Fr George Washburn on 2008-11-25 22:52
It is so simple:
You cannot serve God and Mammon
This article is entirely relevant, because like the Bible, it WARNS the Church of Christ.
What is the god of business? The god of business is Mammon (personified avarice).
What does the god Mammon promise? Power, luxury, worldly honor, the means and and ability to satisfy in secrecy the flesh in any and all immoral ways, and at the end it effects a spiralling fall and a complete turning away from serving God.
The Church, its seminaries and its monasteries should consider carefully this article.
#2 Ever and anon. on 2008-11-26 07:36
Let me disagree with Fr. George. Just wanted to share the thought
(and I think it follows from Mark's introduction) that the whole orthodox world is the proximate environment of our orthodox church here. Sometimes we need to be aware, so that
we may learn something - but at other times, so that we can
stand with those who are arguing and fighting for what is better and truer... Mainly, though, we must be able to resist a natural gravitation towards the ways of doing things which are those of larger bodies - which, however, may be corrupt...
If we can find our place as being within the whole Christian world and the whole of humanity and the needs of the real whole (that is, beyond moscow and belgrade
and so on) so as to be the lodestone for the compass, then
we will be better aligned yet.
#3 Anonymous on 2008-11-26 08:16
This is why i stopped watching news: they only focus on the bad. They think that by constantly looking at the darker side of life somehow we are enriched. Mark, you've lost me.
Yet ah! why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes too late,
And happiness too swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
'Tis folly to be wise.
Thomas Gray, "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College" 1742
To which the anonymous writer can only add:
"If ignorance was truly bliss, why aren't more people happy? "
The truth is, paraphrasing Tolstoy, "Happy Churches are all alike. Every unhappy Church is unhappy in its own way...." This site has sought to examine why the OCA is unhappy, in its own way. I am sorry if the effort no longer interests you. But unless we perserve to the end, the effort will be wasted. And we are by no means at the end, alas.)
#4 anonymous on 2008-11-26 09:53
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
God bless the founding fathers of the USA from government interference or the lure of governmental preference to set up a state religion.
Indeed, our history is not the history of Russia so we cannot blame the Russian Church for using the state to redress the grievances against it during the Russian Revolution, but sadly using now its preferred status against other religions in Russia to again be a "state religion" or at least "most preferred" blurs the line and has made it easy for the Russian Church to be seduced by the power of prestige.
Such a relationship is a very sharp two-edged sword and the time always comes when the state uses the Church for its bidding (Stalin upon the Nazi invasion of Russia) and more recently the Russian invasion of Georgia and the mutted response of the Russian Church to that act of aggression.
Like my mommy use to say, "if you lay down with dogs your gonna get fleas." We have started the process of delousing our church life, may the Church in Russia find a way to do the same for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of our souls.
#5 Anonymous on 2008-11-26 12:10
It appears that Met. Jonah understands this quite well too. His remarks at SVS last week bear witness as reported by the OCA website:
""All leaders of the Church, who take up the yoke of Christ," he urged, "must have a clear vision of theological education, which consists in four things: first, we must present the gospel of Jesus Christ; second, we have a mission to evangelize all people, regardless of color, ethnicity, or socio-economic status; third, we must bring integrity to the gospel message; and fourth, we must take up the task of bearing the presence of Jesus Christ to those around us."
On the last point, he particularly reiterated the need to imitate the sacrificial path of Christ and his mother, the Virgin Mary. "To become the living presence of God, the living temple of God, requires us to crush our ego and shatter our will," he said, "so that we might conceive God within us and become his presence in this world.
"Seminarians," he noted, "do not come to theological schools to become 'professionals' and to be 'respected,' but rather to be crucified and thereby shine forth the light of Christ." His Beatitude reminded the seminarians that his own title of "episkopos" means not "master of the house," but "slave of slaves"
#6 Anonymous on 2008-11-27 07:33
Dear Fr. George, Christ is in our very midst! I agree with you COMPLETELY. As during the time of Communism in Russia, since we are not there, we do not know the situation and would be far better off praying and fasting for the Church of Russia. I have spent much time in the post-communist Russia and still do not feel myself prepared to make any judgements about its condiction. What I do know is that the Church in Russia is very much alive and vibrant and my sense is that they will be able to deal with their own problems and issues with the help of God. Again: it is Christ's Church and His Body...and He is more than capable of caring for it.
Kissing your holy right hand,
Your poor brother in Him Who calls us,
Fr. Pius, priestmonk
#7 Fr. Pius on 2008-11-27 10:12
Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Church of Russia so that they are mindful of their financial situation, that the leadership of the Church does not act in hubris but in humility, obediance, and love for the flock that Our Triune God has given to them in trust.
#8 Vladimir Bogolyubov on 2008-11-27 11:44
The source of the article is most unfortunate. Garry Kasparov is known to stage shows for the western media and give interviews in English. Here in the US we do not have the knowledge of the life of the Russian Church, a very large and complicated organism, to make an unbiased assessment of its flaws and strengths.
No jurisdiction is free from controversy. Would you want to start looking for flaws in all of them in this country and abroad? The list would be quite long while the approach hardly constructive.
Firstly, because criticism is warranted when the critic can implement a positive change to try and correct what is faulty. Being a separate jurisdiction, the OCA can only influence by example.
Secondly, such an approach sows discord. Many on this site would be up in arms if Moscow had expressed any criticism of the OCA situation. And by the way, it did not interfere in the current scandal in any way. I think it is quite foolish to alienate the only patriarchate that recognizes us and, as attested by Bp. Alfeyev’s letter, is standing by our autocephaly.
Finally, it is not about the truth either because the truth is found in objectivity. If the message here is that we are to learn from the mistakes of others then let us look for what good they have to offer as well. If I have missed anything specific pertaining to the merits of the Russian Orthodox church or any others then I’d happily have it brought to my attention. IMO, this site has expressed a huge slant towards the negative in that respect.
The Orthodox Church is indeed one. I think before pointing out the faults of others, it makes sense to try and sincerely answer the question of how the awareness of those faults makes us feel. Do we think they are just as bad or worse than we are? Do we gloat over their troubles? Are we trying to blame them for ours? What sacrifices are we able or willing to make to bring about any positive changes for them? If we cannot earnestly say that we are aching because they are aching then it is best for us to mind our own business.
#9 Karina Ross on 2008-11-27 16:37
We should not be surprised at corruption in the Moscow Patriarchate. Those familiar with Russian history, know that this is the way business has always been conducted in Russia. Autocracy and corruption go together like hand and glove. There is an amusing story in the life of St. Innocent of Alaska about his first experience of the ubiquitous practice of bribery in Tsarist Russia. The totalitarian mentality is the one constant in Russia’s history, from the Tsarist times, through the Soviet era, and into Putin’s new Russian empire.
The real tragedy of the Russian church is that the Patriarch’s focus on accumulating material wealth and political power has caused him to neglect the process of re-evangelizing the Russian people. After two decades of religious freedom, the Moscow Patriarchate has had almost no effect on Russian society.
After two decades of freedom from governmental control, and increasing official endorsement, the Moscow Patriarchate has failed to re-establish the religious culture in Russian society. While 80% of ethnic Russians consider themselves Orthodox Christian, only 10 -15 % actually participate in the life of the church. The majority of Russian Orthodox Christians have never read the Gospels, never learned how to pray and have never participated in the sacramental life of the church, True to the autocratic model, the Moscow Patriarchate has asked the Russian government to teach the Orthodox faith in public schools. Thus, if the Russian people will ever be taught the faith, it will certainly be taught as an adjunct and support to the Putin doctrine of Russian imperialism. It is no accident that when Dmitri Medvedyev delivered his state of the nation address, with its anti-American rant the day after the US elections, he had standing by his side two persons: Vladimir Putin and Patriarch Aleksei. This demonstrates that the Moscow Patriarchate remains what it has been since the time of Peter the Great, a department of an imperial administration, suborning the Orthodox faith to the ideology of totalitarian autocracy.
Today, twenty years after the fall of communism, the Russian family continues a steady disintegration. Over 70% of Russian marriages end in divorce. Casual promiscuity has become commonplace, particularly since there is a growing shortage of healthy men. Even today, more Russian children die from abortion than are born alive. The Russian population is shrinking by 800,000 persons per year due to the low birth rate and the decreased life expectancy. If the current trends continue, Russia’s population will decrease by one half within several decades.
Russia has the lowest life expectancy of any industrialized nation, despite the past 10 years of economic growth. The average Russian man dies by the age of 61, twenty years earlier than his counterparts in Western Europe, North America or Japan. The reason for this miserable performance is rampant alcohol and drug abuse (primarily IV heroin). The rate of death by acute alcohol intoxication in Russia is 500 times that of any other country. The prevalence of IV drug abuse and casual sex has led to a rapid rise in HIV /AIDS infections. Russia now has the highest incidence of HIV /AIDS in the northern hemisphere. For more about AIDS in Russia, see the following article from ABC News:
All of these social ills have one common denominator, a spiritual vacuum that leads to nihilism and despair. Where is the Moscow Patriarchate in this national crisis? Attending to its financial and real estate assets and fighting ecclesiastic turf battles over who “owns” the church in Estonia or Ukraine.
There are Orthodox Christians here in America, who believe we should look to Moscow for an example to follow, or as an authority to whom should submit. It is clear that such a course would be spiritual and communal suicide.
#10 Francis Frost on 2008-11-28 08:20
TELL ME ITS TRUE! BISHOP JOB HAS TOLD STOKOE TO SHUT DOWN THIS EVIL WEBSITE OR ELSE! ITS ABOUT TIME! ALL THE LIES THAT HAS BEEN SPREAD ABOUT MT HERMAN BY MR STOKOE AND CO. TO GET GET BISOP JOB ELECTED HAVE FAILED. I THINK THESE PEOPLE NEED TO REPENT WHO HAVE MISLEAD PEOPLE! AND MADE UP STORIES! AND SPREAD GOSSIP! YOU WOULD AGREE Stokoe! AND YOUR ATTORNEY FRIEND WHO FABRICATED A SICK REPORT TO FIT HIS NEEDS! SOME ONE WILL ANSWER FOR THESE ATTACKS SOMEDAY! RIGHT STOKOE? RIGHT BISHOP JOB? WHO WILL BE NEXT ON YOUR EVIL HIT LIST? MT JOHNA? by the way when you state you check out information before you print it! THATS JUST ANOTHER LIE TOO! THIS WEBSITE HAS GONE BELLY UP ALREADY!
(Editor's note: No, All Caps Guy, it is not true. Archbishop Job has never told me to start or stop publishing on this website. Show me one lie I spread about Metropolitan Herman. Just one. I think the SIC report said it all, and more, than I ever did - and the last time I looked, that was created by a bishop, two priests, two laypersons, and two advisors, none of whom qualifies as "my legal friend", so to speak. I have no "evil hit list". Evil, as is well-known, destroys itself, which is what has happened here, even though it took 20 years in some cases. All the people who have been terminated, resigned or retired, were asked to do so because of things they did, not things Mark Stokoe did. I imagine it will continue to be so. And by my count, this is the 15th time you have predicted this website is belly up, or at its end, in the last 18 months. Keep up that wishful thinking.)
#11 Anonymous on 2008-11-28 09:12
May be so.
But I get nervous when I read what he (Metropolitan Jonah)said about having Orthodox housing facilities for college and university students at every university in America *as a means of generating income for the Church, ha ha*.
And would these Orthodox housing facilities not, in reality, insulate Orthodox students from the rest of the student body? Is that good? I don't know. A group that insulates itself from the secular world can hardly witness faith existentially (day to day, moment to moment)
Is this idea to protect the students from secular influences?
Or is to funnel them into the seminaries?
Or is to make money, perchance?
It makes me nervous to think that the parish community itself and its liturgical life would not be considered adequate
for young men and young women to hear the call of God to attend seminary and/or to grow strong in the faith that has to be lived out in the world.
(editor's note: That hasn't been working out so well, though. Perhaps it would be helpful to try some new ideas to see if they work. ...)
#12 Ever and anon. on 2008-11-28 11:39
the people who comment are very few! why is that? did they see your agenda? IS IT TRUE THAT AT THE AAC YOU WERE GIVEN AN AWARD? IT DID COME FROM BISHOP JOB? YES? NO? IS IT TRUE BISHOP JOB WAS IN LALA LAND MOST OF THE TIME? OR HE BECAME DYSFUNCTIONAL! AT THE AAC? OH WELL HAVE A NICE LIFE!
(editor's note: I was not given an award at the AAC. Archbishop Job was not in "la-la" land at the AAC, although he was, by choice, very quiet. He spoke only privately to people, rarely in public, as he did not want to attract any attention or give anyone cause to cast their vote for him to become Metropolitan. There was also the fact, unforeseen, of Fr. Samuel's death, which affected him greatly, as that was Archbishop's Job home parish which had just lost its priest, and he was concerned about Fr. Sam's family, etc. And yes, I shall have a nice life, having already had one so far. Thanks.)
#13 Anonymous on 2008-11-28 16:59
I think the purpose of your site has now been remedied. If you have to reach out to the ROC-MP for material and conjecture, it's time to wrap it up. I think it's important to note the Kasparov is not necessarily a friend of the church, and definitely an opponent of the Russian govt., which has supported the church well. It exists in completely different circumstances and is in a much more tenable position due to the political situation there.
Also, as you probably know, very few people actually "tithe" in Russia, instead giving very small amounts by buying candles and what not, which are not nearly as expensive as they are in US parishes.
Leave the Russian church alone, I rebuke you with love. I also call upon Metropolitan Jonah to close this site.
Rush Limbaugh is railing every day on the air lately, because he must continue to generate and foment scandal and fear to keep his listenership going in the wake of a disastrous election for his party. I wonder if, though unintentionally, the same thing is going on here.
(Editor's note: That is the first time I have ever been compared to Rush Limbaugh! Although I can't stand his politics, one does have to admire the showmanship. There are at least 450 million reasons why he is good. But that being said, do you really think that I have been formenting scandal and fear these past three years? And am doing so now? If so, for what purpose? For the money (none), power (none) or fame (ah, have you ever read ALL CAPS GUY?) that has accrued to me? Get serious.
As I said in my introduction, the report on the Russian Church is by way of comparison and warning to us. No more, no less. If you, or others wish to take that as an attack on the Russian Church, feel free. The fact is that your problem is with Mr. Khramov, not with me. Finally, I look forward to the day this site can morph into something different and be carried forward by others- but as for now, there is still work to be done on the scandal, for many things still need to revealed, discussed, and changed, and alas, I seem to still be the best positioned to assist that work. One thing from the scandal that leaps to mind that needs changing, is your attitude that the Metropolitan of the OCA would or even could close this site. Metropolitan Herman could not; I doubt Metropolitan Jonah would even try. The former understood nothing of the information age, and to the day he was forced to resign kept repeating " This will blow over....". It didn't, and it won't for a time yet.
Metropolitan Jonah understood that from the beginning. The site will "end", in the sense of change, when there is no need for it. Do not mistake an excursis as lack of focus. Sadly, things will re-focus in the coming days as investigations currently underway are disclosed.)
#14 James Fisher on 2008-11-28 17:09
Golly, let's just keep doing what we are doing and hope things will be different!!!!!!
The idea of a Orthodox house or (let's think bigger) Orthodox housing complexes for college students with a chapel sounds like a logical idea for a Church which is called to evangelize. Instead of worrying about insulating college students we should worry more about Orthodox parishes which insulate themselves from college campuses. This one idea could be the single most transforming outreach effort our Church could make.
What doesn't make sense is that we have not done it before.
#15 Anonymous on 2008-11-29 05:21
Why all this talk of the Russian Church? Is it a move to take the attention off of the mess created by the leaders of the OCA? The Russian Church has not commented on our debacle -- why don't we leave them alone. There is no perfect church nor is there any perfect jurisdiction! Let's support Met. Jonah and pray that he can get the OCA out of the mess we're in thanks to certain individuals. Russia's problems are minute compared to ours! Don't confuse the issues.
#16 Anonymous on 2008-11-29 09:52
"And would these Orthodox housing facilities not, in reality, insulate Orthodox students from the rest of the student body? [snip] Is this idea to protect the students from secular influences?"
Trust me when I say, Orthodox housing will not insulate any student from the rest of the student body. I am sure of this due to first hand knowledge. They still need to, and would, interact with other students in classes and whatever other clubs/programs/etc. they get involved in. As well as where they eat, who they befriend, etc.
#17 Philippa Alan on 2008-11-29 11:09
Asking Met Jonah to shut down this site?? Are you nuts man?
#18 Rich Kendall on 2008-11-29 21:19
Yes, it would do us Orthodox well to consider ways of assisting our college aged faithful. We lose many Orthodox believers at the college level. OCF is a start but is not the catch all. I think we need to be cognizant of the situation and begin adapting better. I don't have the answers, either, and I am focusing on serving a parish here, but this is an area of Orthodox life in American that ought to concern us all. Perhaps, at some point in the future, this website might become a place to discuss such issues. Until then, Mark and the OCA must keep fighting the good fight.
#19 Fr. Oliver Herbel on 2008-11-30 13:23
Concerning "Orthodox Housing" ... I feel that the Point is being overworked! the point, whether it is mentioned by the Metropolitan or anyone else, seems irrelevant to me, at this point in Time. Why don't we Orthodox just go to the WORD of GOD a;s expressed in the Gospels. this sunday's Gospel for example speaks of Jesus' call to the first called: Andrew. Jesus didn't give housing to those whom He called to follow Him, only a TRUE VISION of what He was asking .... the Son of man has nowehere to lay His head, as the gospel says. There was no place in the Inn at the birst of Jesus! Why was that? If we humans, Orthodox included seek material gain and not the Kingdom of God we have failed the Gospel calling to be Holy as God is Holy. Our concern should be to SEEK GOD, don't you think; not necessarily should we be trying to make ourselves all-comfy again, now that we have a new Metropolitan. Let's take some time out to be STILL in the Presence of God during this time preparatory to the Nativity of Christ in time, and forget about justifying ourselves as politics would be directing us. It is the Holy Spirit who is the guide of the Church not any of us trying to be at the Helm of this great ship that is still buffetted by storm and wave.
Lord have Mercy upon us all! Nibety uis not the answer, nor is it housing for university students, or any other mondain endeavors.
I've already said too much, please forgive me. Let us look to the Star as the Wise Men of old did, and go out in search for the Living God who dwells among us in the poverty of a stable.
#20 annonymous on 2008-11-30 13:36
So, if I don't read you posts then I'm uninformed, sticking my head in the sand, ignorantly living in bliss. Very funny, Mark, but I would expect a little more from you that these uninformed comments. Just like you, I live in the trenches, where I come face to face with the complexity, contradictions, beauty and horror of life in the 21st century, and that's just life within my own family, not to mention the hundreds of lives I interact with on a daily basis. C'mon Mark, stick your head out of the clouds every once in a while and breathe.
So, go on, do what you do Mark, and I'll just keep my head in the sand. Ha, ha, ha. Have you ever thought about doing standup?
Oh, by the way, I'd be careful about pushing this "accountability" stuff out of balance. It has its place, as Met. Jonah has stated, but I can see where it can quickly grow four legs, hooves, a tail and turn into gold. Don't get me wrong, I want accountability as much as the next, but going half way around the world to deliver a resounding wallop to the MP with the "accountability" stick seems distasteful, irrelevant, unbrotherly, and just plain "I-don't have-a-whole-lot-to-write-about-so-I'll-pick-on-the-MP-esque.
But, don't mind, mark, my head is firmly planted in the sand. ha, ha, ha. You kill me Mark! But. I ain't mad 'atcha, got nut'n but love f'ya.
(Editor's note: So glad to know I am loved. Back at'cha.
As for not having anything to write about, alas, as today's post reveals, that is not the issue. Moreover, I did not reach around the world to bash the MP - as I tried to make clear in my introduction to the article, I thought it worth reflecting upon. Others, including yourself, did not. Fine. But the reason it is not worth reflecting on cannot be that it is "none of our business" as some have suggested. The Church is always our business, and the Church is One. If only others had taken interest in our "business" earlier, perhaps we would not be in the mess we are currently digging ourselves out of...
As for your other concerns, they worry me. After thirty years of no accountability, less than one year of it hardly makes it a "golden calf". On the contrary, it is prudent, wise, and good stewardship, and no, there will be no shortcuts allowed in good stewardship. We allowed them for thirty years. And that hasn't worked out so well, has it? So if the air is a little rarified for you, don't worry, you'll get used to it. Taking your head out of the sand will help you breathe. It is always so much easier to live transparently, accountably, truthfully - one doesn't have so many stories to keep straight!)
#21 Anonymous on 2008-11-30 21:23
If the motive is not-for-profit evangelization, then I can more readily accept the idea. But coupled with money-making (rent), it becomes suspect. Monasteries do not charge; why should Orthodox student housing!!! Check out this link for good Orthodox belief where money is concerned.
#22 Ever and anon. on 2008-12-01 07:15
Oh please don't shut this down. Posters may not all agree with what each other write, and that should be expected in this kind of public forum. It is the open discourse that is vital to the health of any society. But please, if just for the unintentional humor in the postings of All Caps Guy, please keep this blog alive! I know Caps is probably quite serious but the accidental humor makes me smile and looking forward to the next literary contribution. Advice to Caps, please re-read your posts, take a deep breath, then wait a few minutes before you hit the send button.
#23 Anon E. Mousse on 2008-12-01 11:55
My take on this is that it would be GREAT to have Orthodox students living together on campus. The way it is now; if an Orthodox student gets stuck in a dorm with kids who are all party, fun, booze, sex, drugs, etc., it's so easy for him/her to get sucked up into that. With an Orthodox house, our kids would have a haven to go to. I don't think they'd be insulated. Students don't just socialize with their dorm-mates; they are just as likely to make friends with kids in their classes; those with the same major, etc. I would love to see campuses with Orthodox houses, and hopefully, neighboring priests would be willing to be their 'chaplain'; obvioiusly, he'd be the spiritual leader for the OCF group as well.
#24 Fr Walter Smith on 2008-12-01 12:18
What +J said was not that the Church should have housing facilities for college and university students as a means of generating income for the Church but rather for purposes of ministering to Orthodox students and evangelizing to non Christians. That such might generate income was a happy aside … from a man whose past secular life included the world of real estate and that provided an insight into what might be a helpful, naturally tangential benefit. Making money, btw, is not only not bad ... it’s necessary to those living in the world (even if not of the world). That’s not the goal, but good stewardship can allow and even shoot for a bit of modest profit in the exercise of a godly goal.
As to insulating Orthodox students: No. That’s neither the point of the idea nor can that be drawn from +J's words. Such facilities would be located at universities where students attend classes and mingle, become involved with sports and student organizations and other activities; +J's was not -- nor could it have been read as -- an insular approach, else he'd have said as much: "And where are the Orthodox universities where our young men and women can be educated and not mix with the children of the night, lest they be forced to let their light shine." No -- the idea is to spare Christian college students to the extent possible from the wilds of modern dome life (if you know nothing of the madness of them, you are lucky). The Scripture is clear both that the Christian's light is to shine in the darkness of the world, but also that his duty is to beware bad associations, for bad associations corrupt good morals (paraphrased Paul, but not too badly, I think). In fact, many saints influential to those in the world were influential precisely because they had retreats -- sometimes retreats years long in duration. The idea of retreating from the world (especially regularly, as would be avail in such housing facilities) to "recharge" one's Christian batteries is not just consistent with the life of the Church, it makes sense. You can't give what you don't live or have, and there is no reserve tank for spiritual fuel.
As for your nervousness ... I guess you'll have to be nervous, because a modern parish community does not have what it takes to do what you envision. The parish cannot successfully counterweight the hedonistic, materialistic, multi-media, sensual, consumerist, love-thyself messages of modern campus life that address -- nay, target -- all the human sensory faculties on a 24-7, 365-day-a-year basis. 4 or 5 hours of Sat vespers, Sunday liturgy, coffee hour and maybe a weekly Bible or Fathers study -- if even attended -- are not enough for one whose morals are being formed at so influential a time in human development (the "college years") to counter the other 160+ hours of the week. And, indeed, the parish does not offer an alternative to where one lays one's head at night, each night … in dorms where moral life is not only not encouraged, but in the case of state schools, deemed "unconstitutional."
Moreover, when a kid goes off to college, he or she might well be attracted to an Orthodox college housing community (even if living there as a resident) away from home much sooner than to an unfamiliar parish, which just as likely as not (depending on geography) may have services in other than English, be peopled with non-college age kids, and perhaps not even have much more than Sun Liturgy (which is very easy to miss if you've had a few or more beers with friends the night before).
So, be nervous, but be nervous for the Animal House to which your nervousness would consign those who might otherwise be saved by the efforts of a Church that understands the new pagan empire in which college kids must try to survive.
Will this idea materialize? Who knows? But, it’s a good one. A very good one.
#25 Anonymous on 2008-12-01 17:05
I have heard some clergy in both the OCA and the Russian Church brag about funneling big bucks into Russia within the last 20 years and I think at some point we will find out that it is all a bigger mess than we could have ever imagined; this so called scandal. That is why the recent developments in the OCA are so heartening. We recognize the mother church we honor her but time to grow up and leave the house and that seems to be finally happening in the OCA and that is how we can best honor Christ's Church. The OCA as a beacon of a living Orthodoxy, it is possible despite what all the morbid ethnophiles think.
#26 Anon on 2008-12-01 17:52
Just a personal aside on this conversation --
The OCF was an important part of my growing into Orthodoxy as an adult even though I attended a local parish regularly throughout college.
The OCF went through two incarnations on my campus while I was in school -- the first was next to useless to me, the second was critical to my maturing as an adult in the faith.
The first was run by the priest at the parish I attended. It met in the building next to my freshman dorm, but there were no under-graduates in the group. Mainly it was a few people who were close to the priest from the parish and a couple of grad students. They may have all felt that they were close to the student experience, but to me as an undergraduate, they were from a totally different sphere of existence. The group wasn't about student issues and concerns, but was sort of another thing for the churchy crowd to do. It didn't meet often, and fell apart over the next couple of years.
I took a year off before my senior year and during the year that I was away the OCF was reconstituted by the local Antiochian priest, with a couple of undergraduates taking the lead. When I came back, an enthusiastic sophomore in my house came knocking on my door delighted that she'd found another Orthodox in our house when she was given the religious affiliation cards. That group was a mix of undergrads and a couple of grad students, but it was all students and it was relevant and a real complement and addition to my parish experience.
My understanding of +Jonah's idea was to have a house that would be sponsored by the OCA and offered as housing to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. People might choose to live there for a variety of reasons. They would pay just as they pay in other campus housing. It would be regular housing, with some house rules to ensure that behavior was consistent with Orthodox standards.
Seems like a very good idea to explore.
#27 Rebecca Matovic on 2008-12-01 18:24
Wow. Two shrieking rants on one thread. One might expect the keyboard to short out with all of the spittle flying at the monitor. It's a sad thing, All Caps Anonymous Guy, to be a lapdog for any man, even a Metropolitan. It's beyond sad to continue as lapdog once the Metropolitan in question has taken the Nixon route, and resigned rather than be firmly escorted off the premises by his peers, once his crimes (yes, I said crimes...not sins, not flaws, not charming little lapses in judgment, but crimes) had come to light. Not content with shrieking at the rest of us, you go on to throw some mud at Archbishop Job. If you have proof, put it forward. If you have none, do your soul and our eyes a favor, and dig deep, and summon up some residue of honor, and have the decency, sir, to kindly shut up, before you damage your soul and heart even more.
#28 Scott Walker on 2008-12-01 18:44
then why not write up several posts about the 2004-2005 Jerusalem Patriarchate scandel, the 2005 Greek Bishop's scandel (in Greece), while your at it dig up some dirt on Damianos in Sinai, or Seraphim of Sendai, etc., etc. You see Mark, we're not as naive and uniformed as you think us. I was in Jerusalem when Ireneus was ousted, and in Greece when the scandel broke about the sex, drugs and money. My real point is that more knowledge about the dirt, sins, and mistakes of other churches ....of what value is that? I've had more than my share, and it did me no good, I couldn't concetrate while at prayer, rancor festered within my heart, and doubt clouded my mind. Conciously turning away from the darkness is the only honest thing I could do. You might have the stomach for it Mark, but not all of us are spiritual giants. I do better looking into the Light.
And about the golden calf, anything, I mean anything can become one, Mark. There are plenty of well run, transparent, accountable organization who are ungodly and lead people down the wrong path, the ...... comes to mind.
(Editor's note: Point taken! You are right about golden calves, anything can become one, including obedience, passivity, and a host of other " virtures" frequenty extolled by writers to this site as well.
As for preferring to look into the light - that is fine, but don't please don't dispage those of us at the back of the line who hear noises and look behind - we may be trying to warn all of you preferring that light that something is creeping up on you....
Finally, sorry about the edit of the last line - the election is over. Let's leave it that way. )
#29 Anonymous on 2008-12-01 20:33
The fault lies not with NOT having Orthodox housing facilities on campuses; rather as you point out it is the problem of parishes near campuses not able (in your words) to adequately confront secular evils. Well then.......how about concentrating on improving and enabling such a parish ministry???
The early Church had the same materialism, paganism and so on to deal with and they lived as a parish that opened their homes to any and all as needed to facilitate their witness. Why not concentrate on
bringing the parish through its church facilities, its members and their homes to the place of becoming a haven for the Orthodox college student? This would be much less expensive for the Church which may be losing (thanks to the political power of Darwinism in the realm of education) its tax-exempt status AND it would provide not a building as a haven, but RATHER the warmth of a parish home and its inhabitants, a vital dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
I am glad to have this forum that allows all ideas to be freely expressed and analyzed.
If one good thing has come out of all this crisis and scandal, it is the freeing of ideas from which will come the needed change and improvement. Let the ideas flow!
#30 Ever and anon. on 2008-12-02 09:47
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