Monday, August 24. 2009
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Jason, best of luck in your upcoming new and as of yet unknown voluntary ministry you pursue in the Orthodox Church. My educated guess is, that it will not be affiliated with the AOC, at least in the short term.
I appreciated your article, your insights and your courage. Surely you are aware that in this regard, no good deed or good words will go unpunished.
#1 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-08-24 12:12
AXIOS! We all realize that you have put your work at risk by stating things boldly and truthfully. I, for one, thank God for you and your courage.
#2 Silouan on 2009-08-24 12:50
I commend the author on his courage in bringing his professional and personal expertise to bear on some of the psychological dynamics, particularly those involving women, at play within the Antiochian Archdiocese, of which I have been a member for many years. My own wife finally left the faith entirely, in part because of her own belief that the Church could not accommodate, honor, and respect strong-willed women as full and equal members of the Body of Christ. I mention this personal anecdote only to reinforce my conviction that our Church simply must come to terms with the issues raised in Mr. Barker's reflection if we hope to do our Lord's work in the 21st century. These are not simply academic disputes, but impact the spiritual health of our Body and its individual members. How many have been wounded by this kind of behavior? May God have mercy on us all.
#3 Not All Who Wander Are Lost on 2009-08-24 13:02
This is a well-written, sobering reflection. It is one of the best things I have yet read on the subject of our Antiochian crisis. Jason, thank you for your courage in writing this. Now, may God deliver us from our sickness, and bring us into good health.
#4 Ferris Haddad on 2009-08-24 13:16
Let's sum up this article:
(1) Jason Barker will soon be a former volunteer for Youth Ministry with the Antiochian Archdiocese. His services, I'm sure, will no longer be needed.
(2) Despite his initial comments indicating the contrary, he clearly shows that the Antiochian Archdiocese is being run like a cult.
(3) FINALLY!!! Someone has pointed out publicly that +Philip has never once condemned theAntiochian.com. I'll bet this article will prompt an immediate condemnation of that site. Maybe the Metropolitan will force them to issue an apology on antiochian.org.
Thanks for the great article, Jason.
#5 An East Coast Priest on 2009-08-24 13:28
I do not think that there is a cult surrounding Metropolitan Philip, although the characteristics of a cult he describes are there. Having been around an Arab parish for some time, (and I'm a convert), it think it amounts more to an ethnic pride in the favored leader, the man who has been photographed with presidents, who at least has given the impression that he is the major mover and shaker in Orthodoxy in the New World. Certainly his accomplishments have been hugely overblown, but for many Lebanese people, he is the symbol of their success. Newly wealthy Arabs have been "courted" by this man, and they love the attention he gives them, and in turn he loves the money they give the Archdiocese. There's a mutuality going on there, and at least some naive converts are oblivious. But as a convert, if you've been in an ethnic parish (with at least one notable exception I'm aware of), you will find that the real movers and shakers and the power behind the ethnic priests are not pale faced converts, but Arabs and wealthy ones at that. To be sure, in many ways, they should be there because over a lifetime, they have worked and slaved for the Church, and they certainly don't want to share that power with converts, although in most cases, they are unfailingly kind to their faces. St. Ignatius has been a good home for these people because they feel it is prestigious to be a part of the Metropolitans special "club." And yes, there are converts in St. Ignatius, but they really count for very little. Just look at the governing board of St. Ignatius, and other committees. There could be a token convert, or perhaps the wife of an Arab who converted to Orthodoxy. Many converts are really turned off by the lavish dinners for St. Ignatius, or when the Metropolitan comes to town, but these lavish displays are much, much more than dinners. They are symbols of something else, of having arrived, of getting dressed to the nines and being seen by other Arabs. There's a bit of oneupman'sship involved in these displays, and you
can bet that the Metropolitan when he comes to town is not going to spend ANY time with the common folk, except, perhaps, for a token walk through with the little children. When the Metropolitan is in town, he heads straight for wealth. SHOW HIM THE MONEY!!
But when the Metropolitan or his favored priests (The Shaloubs, Antypas, Gabriels) are criticized, naturally they feel threatened, and it seems to me that their natural tendency is to circle the wagons and defend the LEADER, and to demand that all Orthodox pay homage to him. After all, he is supposed to be the spiritual guide of the Church. Many of their comments are obsequious, and seem sickening to the outsiders, (witness that sickening, beyond obsequiousness, book that Antypas and Allen put out for the Metropolitan with a straight face) but you see, they are defending themselves, their pride in their ethnicity and also exhibit the mindset (as others have pointed out) of Old World Middle Eastern behavior. I know there are other models that might be used such as the one demonstrated by the Syrian monk, but the dominant model in this country is the one that we are witnessing right now.
But it seems to me that to call it a cult is a bit exaggerated. And what do we make of the Gilquists and Allens and Morris' who are Metro Phil's loyal supporter. Ah, another chapter in this crazy time. But one caveat: Jason, in his work, may have seen and heard things that I'm not aware of. This are just my musings in my decade or so of Orthodoxy.
One last comment. I think it is quite true that in Arab parishes, women on the Council are treated as second class citizens. I have experienced that myself. A comment from a woman is simply ignored, unless she is seconding or applauded something presented by a male. And believe me, I am not a feminist. I ran kicking and screaming from any association with feminism years ago.
#6 anon on 2009-08-24 15:30
"And what do we make of the Gilquists and Allens and Morris'"
It is very telling that we can name supporters but critics have to hide in anonymity. Actually it is clear proof that control in the archdiocese is being maintained by the use of FEAR, we .
Although control is essential to any organisation usually it is maintained by constirutions, policies and/or procedures. In developed orginizations the need for stability and control is operationalized into employee handbooks, policies etc.
In the Orthodox Church we have the canonical tradition and we have the conciliar structure to develop these things.
One of the challenges we face is that we do not have any real administrative unity in our own Archdiocese. Every parish has a different version of the archdiocese constitution, the priest's guide has not been updated in ten years and it is ignored and never referenced, we have had bishops for almost 5 years and yet to have a comprehensive manual of hierarchical duties and responsibilities. (Its completion would have actually prevented the Feb 24th fiasco) And we can't even agree as to standard financial reporting procedures for God's sake!
The problem is that control is maintained in the person of the Metropolitain rather in the structures, documents and policies of the Archdiocese. When our beloved Metropolitain stands before the dread judgement seat of Christ, as we all will one day, I guarantee that chaos and confusion will reign over this Archdiocese as the person who steadied this ship for the past 40 years will no longer be there.
My suggestion to the Board of trustees and to our local synod if they are reading this - start NOW establishing policies and procedures before it is too late!
#7 Delegate #1 on 2009-08-24 17:52
Reply to #6: You may be right, but that doesn't make it the correct way of doing things. Besides it is not only the Antiochians/Arabs who treat women as second class citizens. you can find this behavior in modern America in conservative business/educational institutions. Until women are allowed to be choir directors without having to submit to "tonsured readers", and until women are elevated to deaconnesses, things really won't change. In some parishes(regardless of jurisdiction) there are some priests who do honor women and do not make them second class citizens.
#8 anonymous on 2009-08-24 18:37
You chose not to speak in anonymity. May ALL follow your example. Please keep us posted of any reprisal and remember, "Greater is He who is in you than he that is in the world."
#9 Nathan Lee Lewis on 2009-08-24 18:47
Thanks, Jason, for a really helpful analysis. You make a lot of good points. We know His Eminence reads OCANews, and I hope he will take stock of your essay.
#10 anonymous on 2009-08-24 19:35
To: Anon - Reduction of egregious issues to mere ethnicity is simplistic. Supporters and detractors of Metro Philip are equally abundant in both Arab and convert circles.
To: Jason - You have written a brilliant article with hard won insight that gives many of us the voice we needed but didn't possess.
#11 Also anon on 2009-08-24 20:08
As troubled as I am by many of the current problems within the Antiochian Archdiocese, I must strenuously object to Jason Barker’s irresponsible use of the term “cult”, all the while denying that he is actually accusing +Metr. Philip of being a cult leader. If he is not going to make that accusation head-on, then why deliberately inject such emotionally-charged terminology into an already overheated debate?
As Mr. Barker himself notes, the definition of the term “cult” is itself a highly contentious subject, and every expert has his or her own checklist. From my knowledge of contemporary American religious history, the pejorative use of the term “cult” in describing groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses always involves the acceptance of most, but the specific rejection of some, of the key doctrines of historical Christianity. Hence, the term is immediately non-applicable to +Metr. Philip, and its deliberate use seems calculated to inflame.
Put another way, would any of Mr. Barker’s accusations (egocentrism, intolerance of dissent, arrogance, obsession with control) be any less serious if they were NOT on someone’s checklist of characteristics of a cult? I think not.
Mr. Barker does bring some new information to light with regards to the timing of the decision to move the incoming seminarians to Holy Cross Seminary. I fervently hope that the reporting of facts, along with cultivating an atmosphere where clear thinking and logic prevail, will remain the mission of OCA News.
#12 Cal Oren on 2009-08-25 03:06
I have been involved professionally with that mormon cult in teaxas and if I look carefully the Antiochian Archdiocese looks a lot like that group in terms of having a "Loving strong Leader".
Its very sad and scary.
#13 Stephen on 2009-08-25 04:53
I'm not sure where to post this, but I observed that my username from TheAntiochian.com appeared at times above the user login on the St. George, Troy website. I got to the church website via the archdiocesan parish search. I never logged in a user name before on the church website.
Just a little observation.
#14 A little observation on 2009-08-25 06:33
Ignore previous comment. It was generic Anonymous on user login. Stupid me!
#15 A little observation on 2009-08-25 06:45
Good article, but why would you say AXIOS to a laymen? Does that really make sense to this article? "HE IS WORTHY?" of what. A perfect example of misuse.
#16 William on 2009-08-25 07:05
"I do not think that there is a cult surrounding Metropolitan Philip, although the characteristics of a cult he describes are there."
"But when the Metropolitan or his favored priests (The Shaloubs, Antypas, Gabriels) are criticized, naturally they feel threatened, and it seems to me that their natural tendency is to circle the wagons and defend the LEADER, and to demand that all Orthodox pay homage to him."
Your observations are generally consistent with mine (a convert in a largely Arab parish), but your conclusion is odd, in my not-so-humble opinion. If it walks and talks and looks like a duck, probability is that it is, in fact, a duck, rather than something that bears all the marks of a duck but, yet, is not a duck.
To cast this as some sort of "ethnic" tendency is to deride Arabs as a whole and to buy into +Philip's own myth that this is simply a "war of cultures" (which is, of course, rich coming from someone who claims he wants to be "American" but, when threatened, reverts to needed to be "Arab"). I know plenty of first and second generation Arabs in my parish who are foaming-at-the-mouth mad about +Philip's actions. This is not Arab-vs-convert. This is persons of all backgrounds who love and believe in the Church vs the cult led by +Philip in which all those who seek to use the Church for their own wealth and aggrandizement participate.
Put another way, +Philip is the head of a pyramid scheme, his sycophants are the ones who have made the pyramid work for their own good at the expense of others, and the blind loyalists are those who are told of the wealth-creating potential of hte pyramid, believe in the pyramid, who pay into the pyramid for the support of +Philip and his sycophants, but who will never "make it" themselves.
The Archdiocese is indeed a duck.
#17 Silouan James on 2009-08-25 07:19
Technically, an "orthodox" Christian church - i.e., "orthodox" in its theology - is not a "religious cult." On the other hand, such groups can engage in cultlike behavior and practices, and even cultlike mind control practices and techniques. And the end result is the same as if it were a cult. Both types of groups - those that are religious cults and those that are mainstream religions that subject their members and followers to cultlike practices and treatment - are equally evil and equally wrong. There is a large body of literature out there on cult abuse and cult mind control, and as the saying goes, if it quacks (or chants) like a duck....
#18 antiorthodoxian on 2009-08-25 07:36
I don't think Mr. Barker is implying that what I saw (and he heard) at the Convention is a religious cult per se, merely that cultic behavior is making an appearance. I would characterize what I saw as something more social/political (a cult of personality, perhaps) that has emerged within a religious institution.
I sat on my Deprogramming article for a couple of weeks because I am fully cognizant that the use of the word "cult" is like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It was not chosen lightly, by me or Mr. Barker, I believe.
What are we going to do about this is now the question I would like to see answered.
#19 Mickey Hodges on 2009-08-25 08:06
Jason, THANK YOU for such a well written and documented article. In particular thank you for all the links to audio files and links! I've got a lot of reading and listening to do, but what I've heard so far is VERY disturbing. I can't make further comments right now, but thank you Jason for your courage and willingness to write this. It is exactly what is needed at this sad time, in hopes we can all open our eyes to the truth around us.
#20 Chuck Shingledecker on 2009-08-25 08:08
A much better example of misuse of Axios: saying it to an abusive hierarch.
#21 JPS on 2009-08-25 08:21
Axios is not some magical word that is reserved to declare the worthiness of someone for ordination. Would it sit better with you if I simply said: "Barker is worthy of our respect for writing this very fine piece?" He is, indeed, worthy . . . of our respect.
#22 Silouan James on 2009-08-25 09:44
Your objection to the use of the term "cult" on the ground that its definition is "highly contentious" or that it may be "pejorative" seems misplaced. The term "cult" has, as do many words in the English language, a multiplicity of meanings.
Louis Jolyon West, quoted on Wikipedia's definition of "cult," offers a definition of this term from a pscychological standpoint that applies, unfortunately, quite well to a certain segment of the AOCANA right now:
"A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of [consequences of] leaving it, etc) designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community."
Jason's article does an excellent job of demonstrating how this definition fits a large segment of the AOCANA like a glove.
#23 Silouan James on 2009-08-25 09:58
Mr. Barker is correct on one thing. The General Convention of the Antiochian Archdiocese does not follow proper parliamentary procedure as defined by Robers’s Rules of Order. This is because the General Assembly voted to reject a proposal calling for adherence to Roberts’s Rules of Order two years ago in Montreal. I personally favor Roberts, but in a democratic vote, the General Assembly voted not to follow Roberts. Thus, I must accept the decision that we are not bound by the standards of Robert’s Rules of Order.
I find your comments very interesting. You fail to recognize that many of your arguments could apply to Mr. Stokoe and his supporters. They have demonized Metropolitan Philip and all those who refuse to join their campaign against him. Because I do not agree with them, I have been called a “kool aid drinker,” and morally bankrupt. They were just as boisterous as anyone during the convention. My wife and I have been personally attacked and ridiculed by some writers on this site because we do not support a lynch mob mentality towards our Metropolitan. I have written many times and write again, I do not agree with either extreme in this argument. I do not agree with those who want to hang Metropolitan Philip, nor do I agree with those who want to hang Bishops Mark and Basil.
As Orthodox Christians, we must recognize that the Church is not a democracy. Not all decisions rest with the General Assembly or the majority vote of the faithful. Indeed, the polity of the Orthodox Church is a well balanced system of councils, each with authority over its particular area of the life of the Church. In the case of the authority of the diocesan bishops, that proper authority is the Metropolitan and our local synod under the guidance of the Holy Synod and Patriarch of Antioch. In the case of the demands concerning the management of the finances of the Archdiocese, that proper authority is the Metropolitan and the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese. In the case of Bishop Demetri that proper authority is the Patriarch and Holy Synod of Antioch with input from Metropolitan Antonio of Mexico because he serves under him. One does not have to agree with every decision made by Metropolitan Philip or any of our Bishops, the Patriarch and Holy Synod, or even the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese to be a faithful Antiochian Orthodox Christian, but one must recognize the power of the person or council with the proper authority to make decisions and humbly submit to them.
Archpriest John W. Morris
#24 Fr. John W. Morris on 2009-08-25 10:16
Some passions stirred up, this from the Admin(!) at www.theantiochian.com:
"Your speech Sayedna made our blood boil in our veins. Your speech showed us how loving, honest, transparent and STRONG leader and father you are. Your speech Sayedna was like a bullet that put the sick dogs to sleep and rest from their miseries, the miseries of envy, hatred and evil hearts.
Sayedna, in your speech you quoted Tomas Aquinas and said that “if you give a dog bread he will bite you” but I say to you Sayedna, there is an Arabic proverb that says: “the dogs bark and the caravan moves on…” Sayedna you are the KING of this Archdiocese … there will always be sick dogs who bark around, but they will not stop us from following your steps in building this God-protected Archdiocese."
Heads up o ye leaders!
Not much good will come of this. The Metropolitan along with the Synod must immediately issue a strong and unequivocal condemnation of this vitriol no matter who says this or which "camp" it comes from, be they convert, Arab, Swede or whatever. We are a Christian Church, first and foremost. There is but one camp, one Lord. We belong to Christ, we belong to each other.
We must hear from you shepherds, raise the banner of Light and Truth, lest the sheep be scattered and be devoured.
#25 Robert Fortuin on 2009-08-25 10:44
You took the words right out of my mouth.
The Orthodox Church is heavily into cult practices and mind control on so many levels and in every jurisdiction. Pokrov has tried to warn people about this trend for over ten years.
I see this getting worse and worse.
Mark my words.
Jason has proven that a cult is like pornography it may be hard to discribe or explain it, but you know it when you see it!
What is going on in our "God protected Archdiocese" is not a cultural clash. I know Christian Arabs who also find this whole thing very scandalizing. The real problem is character!
#27 Bubba on 2009-08-25 11:00
At the top we see an Islamified form of Christianity with Arabian totalism. At the other end is an evangelical form based on the wackball New Apostolic Order and EOC movements.
The Antiochian Church is controlled by two complementary cults that are making a pincer movement which will exclude any remaining Orthodoxy from its core.
It's a grim, yet fascinating, study.
#28 Stu Harris on 2009-08-25 11:03
Tribalism! Pure or rather impure Tribalism!
The non-Arabs who engage in adulations do so for acceptance within the tribal model!
The dogs bark but the caravan moves on!
#29 Anon and anon on 2009-08-25 12:33
Misusing authority for manipulative and control purposes has been with mankind since the dawn of time. Its abuse in Christianity is especially pernicious, since our Lord gives an example of loving sacrifice in complete opposition to rule by imperial command and fiat.
Our bishops, by and large, have deluded themselves that apostolic succession is to be equated with apostolic autocracy. Their motivations may vary, but it is obvious to even the poorly informed that self-serving interests, more often than not, are at the heart of their assertions of unaccountable authority. In many cases they are knowingly covering their own sins and failings, which they are quick to hypocritically condemn in others.
Thus they create a cesspool of corruption that is rapidly destroying the Church. Do they care? Or do they lash out in hysterical anger at the "evil forces" that are calling them to account and exposing their deeds?
#30 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2009-08-25 14:45
As Mickey said, I did not use the term "cult" lightly - my usage is rooted in years of education and professional experience.
There is one aspect of Cal Oren's writing that warrants a response. He rhetorically asks: "...would any of Mr. Barker’s accusations (egocentrism, intolerance of dissent, arrogance, obsession with control) be any less serious if they were NOT on someone’s checklist of characteristics of a cult? I think not." In this he is correct - any one of them would be just as serious, even if it was not noted as characteristics of a cultic system.
There are, however, several problems that this question does not address, and these underscore why I sadly but pointedly compared the problems in the Archdiocese with a cultic system.
First, it is not simply a matter of one, or even two, of these characteristics being present within the system, but rather the notable presence of ALL of them.
Second, these characteristics are not simply a hodge-podge of character quirks (or even flaws), but rather a coherent system of attitudes and actions directed toward one goal: absolute control.
Third, a notable characteristic that was excluded from Mr. Oren's list is a foundation for violence (including an acceptance of criminal activity). If this were simply a matter of a cantankerous bishop, or a lone parish council member with a criminal record, then it would be easy to ignore. Instead, however, we have threats of violence, an acceptance of criminal activity in the highest levels of leadership, and - for lack of a better term - a somewhat blasé attitude toward the safety and well being of women. All of this elevates the problem from mere impropriety to a system resulting in true danger to members.
Finally, while all of the characteristics I've mentioned - both here and in my original article - are existent within the system, the characteristic that makes it all particularly problematic (as if all this were not enough) is that is given an explicitly spiritual emphasis: people who object to any teaching or action of the leadership are depicted as opposing the will of God.
At 20:45 in the "Department of Legal Affairs" recording, +PHILIP sighs in response to Sarah Hodges' assertion that we do not need to pay +DEMETRI's salary, and then goes on to give what I will call a pseudo-spiritual rationale: if we object to paying +DEMETRI's salary we are scorning the history of St. Mary Magdalen, the Holy Apostle Paul, and the thief who repented while crucified beside Christ; we are taking upon ourselves God's responsibility for separating the righteous and the unrighteous; and we are ignoring the words of Khalil Gibran, who daily discovered within himself a new continent (but not, apparently, the ability to write good poetry).
While the focus of my article was on a strictly psychological definition of a cultic system, the fact is that the problem is compounded when, not only is it spiritual leaders with these problems, but they are attempting to use God and His saints as tools with which to manipulate the faithful.
So yes, the comparisons between a cultic mentality and actions, and the mentality and actions seen among some of the Archdiocese's leadership and membership, are valid.
At the same, your question as to why I did not go ahead and brand the Archdiocese a cult is valid, and I admit my article is weaker for my having neglected to address the issue. My answer is relatively simple: all of the characteristics I discussed can be found - in greater and lesser amounts - among some of the Archdiocese's leadership and membership; they are not pervasive and systemic, however, throughout the entirety of the Archdiocese. By this I mean that, while the problems are pronounced on the national level, and in some highly influential parishes, you can nonetheless go to many parishes and find sincere, pious Christians who faithfully worship God and serve His Church without being influenced by the corruption to be found elsewhere. In a fully cultic system the problems would be endemic from top to bottom. I regret that I did not make this clear in my article.
I should point out that the fact that the Archdiocese is not a cult is among the things that give me such great hope for it: God will work through the wonderful, faithful people of our Archdiocese to rectify the problems that are so troubling for it now. It will be difficult and painful, but it will happen.
#31 Jason Barker on 2009-08-25 19:37
Mr Barker is not acting irresponsibly, he simply is responding to the use of the word cult by an anonymous priest's wife. I thought that he was quite even in his 'expose' of cultic tendencies (in the common use of the term) in the AOCA.
Wikipedia states: A Cult is a group that share a common religious practice. The word originally referred to any such religious community, but though the twentieth century it came to be applied particularly about newly created small religious groups. Eventually the word acquired negative connotations and became equated to novel religious groupings often felt to have outlandish beliefs by the larger society and often thought to "brainwash" their members to unquestioning loyalty to the cult leadership.
If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it probably is a duck.
#32 Yanni on 2009-08-25 20:40
"I don't think Mr. Barker is implying that what I saw (and he heard) at the Convention is a religious cult per se, merely that cultic behavior is making an appearance. I would characterize what I saw as something more social/political (a cult of personality, perhaps) that has emerged within a religious institution."
I understand the qualification. And at this point perhaps it is wise. I don't understand two things though.
First, this 'behavior' is not 'making an appearance', as if it is something new. Rather it is, and has been, par for the course in this archdiocese. I have never met MP. Nor have I ever been to a Convention. (I have met Antoun a few times though.) Nevertheless, since before my family and I converted several years ago, I have struggled with viewing MP as a shepherd rather than a cult leader. And my experience in the archdiocese indicates that something like this opinion is not uncommon. More troubling than this though was my early impression that similar forms of unseemliness were not uncommon in Orthodoxy throughout her history. This leads to the second thing I don't understand.
Second, whether we use the term 'cultic' or 'cult of personality', it is deeply troubling that such a problem can emerge within Orthodoxy. It might not be so troubling if we could pin it all on human sin and be done with it. But it seems ineffective to blame everything on MP (and his supporters). For if conditions weren't conducive, this sort of thing could not happen. What factor or factors allow it? It will not do to respond by saying 'Well, Michael, we are all sinners after all', or something like that. This is not just a problem with human sin it seems. There appear to be institutional problems as well, systemic issues that allow, or perhaps even promote, this sort of practice. And playing the sin card just seems a convenient way of avoiding the real problem.
Mr Hodges asks 'What are we going to do about this?' I suppose most of us are thinking something like 'if we have a 'cult of personality' problem then we remove the 'personality' somehow’. Or, put differently, 'if we have a problem with cultic behavior then we remove the one / ones responsible for it’. This seems to be the logical implication of the discussion so far.
And doing so may be wise and healthy. But would it allow us to take measures to ensure that this sort of thing will not happen again? Or would it be merely treating a symptom of a more complex problem?
It seems to me that it might just be doing the latter.
#33 michael rhodes on 2009-08-25 22:04
I overstated. The Archdiocese is really not the duck, but a duck exists within the Archdiocese.
#34 Silouan James on 2009-08-26 08:50
Are only the clergy worthy in your world, William?
That would explain a lot about past posts.
#35 Scott Walker on 2009-08-26 10:25
Yes Father John, we really want to "hang the Metropolitan". These are your words not anyone's here. This is just ridiculous and beyond disappointing. You should be ashamed to try to pull off such a cheap shot.
Your appeal to "proper authority" is very cute. Provide assurance that things indeed are "proper"! From much of what we have witnessed since February, not much appears to be "proper". Au contraire! Have you not listened to the concerns and complains?
The Stokoe followers have a campaign, according to your words. Well it is a campaign for truthfulness, accountability and transparency. I am very disappointed to hear that this troubles you so much.
#36 disappointed antiochian on 2009-08-26 14:55
Fr. John said, "a well balanced system of councils"
Yes it should be, but evidence is mounting that this is not what we are looking at here. And top brass is digging in. Digging a hole for themselves.
I can hear a giant sucking sound. It is the sound of people leaving.
#37 disappointed antiochian on 2009-08-26 15:02
I agree. Forgive me for what may be an overstatement but, after reading all the comments on this and other threads the past few days, I'm beginning to think the whole Archdiocese needs to come under the care of a qualified psychiatrist. Especially one who understands the epidemiology of abuse.
Until people at every level within the Archdiocese stand up and say "no," this will not stop.
#38 Mickey Hodges on 2009-08-26 15:39
Dear Fr. John,
As an educated man who has written a book, I was very surprised that you made the illogical jump from comparing the unhealthy cultic aspects of the follower of Philip with his detractors. May I remind you that they are, indeed, two very different phenomena. On the one hand, Philip encourages his followers to excesses of adulation. He is accused of maintaining a strict centralization of authority based on himself. The opposition who impugns you has no leader. There is no center upon which the cult can derive its continued survival once Philip departs. A cult requires such leadership that the opposition has not proposed
As a student of history, you ought to be aware that whenever a strong group emerges within a society, it does so by demonizing its opponents. The fact is that Philip's cult demonized people within the Archdiocese who were not necessarily disobedient to Philip, but merely didn't share all of his opinions. Philip has made a career of mocking and openly disdaining other Orthodox, would you not agree? He has publicly ridiculed those with whom he has disagreements, and now he is stunned to discover that the 'demon' he cast has come alive.
Yes, even the opposition to Philip is still a cult of Philip, by Philip's own design. He put himself up personally as the 'great leader,' now he needs to take his lumps as the leader. He made it personal when he insulted and belittled people he disagreed with. He should have expected such. So should you when you wrote a book designed to condemn others. If you want to get into the slapping business, you should not cry when you get slapped back.
And, for Heaven's sake, please read a book on logical reasoning so you can draw appropriate parallels. There is no competition of cults here, only a cult and its own created opposing force.
#39 anonymous on 2009-08-26 22:18
Thanks for your comments.
It’d probably be quite difficult to find a qualified psychologist who would be willing to take on such an onerous task!
Two things. First, in my judgment, it's not just this archdiocese in particular, but Orthodoxy in general that needs the sort of help you indicate. Second, it is extremely unlikely that 'people (I assume you mean en masse?) at every level within the Archdiocese' will 'stand up and say "no"'. Most of the laity is too scared and confused, not to mention too powerless, and, unfortunately, our leadership just seems to lack courage.
#40 michael rhodes on 2009-08-27 22:29
I think this early impression is incorrect. I have been under bishops in several jurisdictions and abroad, and I have never yet encountered what we see in Antioch today. Criticism of the bishop is much normally freer than criticism of Met Philip has been, often enough beyond reason. The only phenomenon that comes close is the treatment of the Ecumenical Patriarch by many in the GOA; but he does not administer the day-to-day life of the archdiocese, so requires little or no doublethink to idealize him. On the other hand, the GOA Archbishop (who does fulfill this function), is routinely dragged through the mud, including in the ethnic press. Moreover, even during the bitter conflicts over Abp. Spyridon and the charter, I never heard of threats of violence. And even the OCA, for all its problems, never had the national totalitarianism of Antioch or worship of a Great Leader.
As to history, I do not know which sources you have in mind, but I see no warrant for the sweeping suggestion you’ve made. Certainly, many bishops have acted in imperious fashion, expecting their every word to be obeyed without question. But what one expects and what happens are not the same thing. Bp. Nikolai learned that at the hands of native clergy—who were not expressing a special American understanding of authority or appealing to the imagined condition of a primitive Church, but simply responding as Orthodox Christian souls, the heirs of a long tradition.
Among our most revered saints is Maximus the Confessor, a layman and who defied patriarchs in defense of the faith; and, in general, we celebrate Orthodox who abandoned heretical bishops, such as at Ephesus. On the contrary, Met. Philip’s followers define Orthodoxy, in terms of praxis at least , by what he says. When they bother to appeal to reason, it is entirely pro-forma, which is why the reasoning is often so transparently bad. Met. Philip himself rarely appeals to tradition or dogma — rarely proposes that there is an objective authority other than himself — when he makes his pronouncements. This is, to say the least, rather unusual in Orthodox history.
#41 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-08-29 17:50
You once stated there are bigger problems then just talking about 1 church. To start our own web site. But in your web site it is read by all the Archdiocese. So I much menstion that I have heard many times by many members the St. Elias Sylvania, Ohio has turned into a cult.Many people have left due to how the priest is towards members and the way the church is run. The Toledo Blade writes about the Archdiocese but does not write about the story about St. Elias (a church in it's own city) who's council member is the managing editor of the blade. Members have tried over and over to try to tell someone (LIKE Bishop Mark) that there are wrong doings at St. Elias....he will not see the truth or listen to the members.....We have asked for the books to be audited having proof things do not add up. But no one will listen. Many long time and life time members have tried to get answers and the answer we get from the priest is MY WAY OR NO WAY. I want to thank you for letting us get the word out that St. Elias is in trouble and if ocanewws is writing about the Detroit church then I hope you find it in your heart to print this to help us save our church.
#42 KRIS on 2009-08-29 22:13
I am becoming weary, weary, weary of this continuing Antiochian soap opera. It appears that there is no change in sight, no respite from the situation at hand. I don't know if this archdiocese is part of a cult, but whatever you want to call it, it's very sick, and I can see no end in sight. Bishop Mark is scorned, arrogant priests, like Joseph Antypas (I can call him that without the Fr. prefix, since members of his parish refer to the Bishop as "Mark") and his crowd are running the show. It is an unbelievable situation there with their finances, and the man apologizes for signing checks with a dead woman. Where are his scruples, where are his morals? It is a national disgrace, and increasingly, I am coming to the conclusion that to stay in this Church, and run, not walk, to the OCA is the only option. They may have their problems, but the situation in the Antiochian Archdiocese is unimaginable and people are powerless to reform it....
(Editor's note: Just because some are acting badly, one does not have an excuse to do the same. Moreover, it would be better if you stayed in the AOCA and worked to correct the problems there. Then, the two could more easily unite as they should, according to Orthodox teaching and theology, some day. Unity as a whole will not come through jurisdiction jumping, but through making the jurisdictions take the jump towards unity.)
#43 anon on 2009-08-30 13:18
"Bishop Mark is scorned, arrogant priests, like Joseph Antypas . . . and his crowd are running the show."
Yes, Bishop Mark is scorned in some of the parishes of his own diocese.
Let me suggest, however, that this really has little to do with Bishop Mark.
This would be the case, no matter who was enthroned in our cathedral. It has never been a secret that this diocese has some chronically dysfunctional parishes.
Indeed, I can't imagine anybody but Bishop Mark enduring what this good man has been forced to endure.
Heaven knows Bishop Mark's predecessor could not handle it.
On the other hand, thanks to the patience, humility, and pastoral wisdom of Bishop Mark, dysfunctional parishes are gradually becoming the exception rather than the rule. This is actually a very good diocese right now.
#44 Anonymous on 2009-08-31 09:51
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