Monday, November 23. 2009
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The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism.
- Sir William Osler
#1 Anonymous on 2009-11-24 10:23
The internet gives a voice to people in the past who were voiceless for various reasons such as available budget, position, connections, network, maybe thought no one would listen, etc. In the past the opinion and influence outlets were fewer and generally controlled by some elite or other (radio, TV, print, politics, business). What I find amusing about these anti-internet diatribes is that they seem to come from people who thought they knew the rules (like some of you who were ordained and thought you'd been given a mantle of power over others by the sheer fact of your ordination?), perhaps did know the old rules, and are grousing at the fact that just when you thought you'd arrived in your particular chosen center of power and influence, the rules changed on you. Quite whining and learn to communicate effectively in this new medium would you? In the end, those that have something to say and make sense will last and the nonsensical bloggers will fade from disinterest and triviality.
The internet is another communications medium within which us human beings can share, learn and grow. It can be used for both good and ill. It is up to us how we use it. Just because someone once stabbed a person to death with a ball point pen doesn't mean we must revert to chalk and tablets to communicate. This medium gives new opportunity and challenge. Christians must lead the way and call humanity to the high moral ground. Are we up to the challenge? I pray so. I believe our Lord expects no less of us.
#2 Anon. on 2009-11-24 20:55
Fr. George in his lawyeresque newspeak has attempted to divert our focus from the festering and ongoing corruption in the AOC to this forum's imagined shortcomings not to mention the lay peasants who merely emote and who are unworthy to participate. Nice try on the part of his clericalness but if I may use just one of the seven dwarf's moniker to describe the effort it would have to be... well forgive my reactive though considered opinion just plain Dopey.
#3 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-24 22:14
Mark, you've done a nice job here of describing the realities of sharing information in this medium, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I am also an optimist that, in the end, Truth will prevail and the God will be glorified in his Churches as a result of the tools of the information age.
I've commented on this elsewhere, but the ability to post an anonymous comment seems to be both a necessary evil and also a source of concern for people. Personally, I exercise my freedom in how I digest information to just not read anonymous comments. For me they are unimportant simply because the veracity of the poster's claim even to their opinion is suspect. I would no more open my front door to a person wearing a ski mask as to read the claims of someone unwilling to tell me who they are.
I would suggest that one way to perhaps have a via media between allowing anonymous posts and yet holding people somewhat accountable would be disallow anonymous comments based substantively on the person's claim to be something that can't be verified. For instance, if, instead of including my name in this comment, I had signed it "Anonymous Expert in the Topic Under Discussion," should that be posted along with what I have to say? Should my unverifiable claim to be an expert on the topic be passed along uncritically? This is the same thing as posting anonymously and saying, "I used to go that parish and let me tell you what's really going on there" or "I'm a priest of that jurisdiction and I'll say here what I wouldn't dare say out loud."
If anonymous people what to make a topical comment on one of the actual posts you make here, it is harmless. But anonymous comments that are ad hominem, objectively and subjectively, retract from this medium and ultimately its mission.
I have seen your comments on many occasions. Here you write of "the festering and ongoing corruption in the AOC". I would appreciate knowing specifically what "festering and ongoing corruption" you refer to.
From my seat, I see that many issues have been, or are being addressed in our archdiocese; perhaps not as quickly or in the ways you (or I) might choose, but it seems to me to write of "festering" corruption is at minimum an overstatement, and at worst a corruption of the truth.
The situation with the statis of our bishops - resolved. Ex-Bp. Dimitri - resolved (an action taken by our Synod of Bishops). Archdiocesan audit - internal (I favor an external audit, but I believe ANY audit will be an improvement over no audit).
Diocesan audit (Toledo) - mandated by H.G. Mark (pethaps other diocesan audits will follow).
Am I missing something that demands such hyperbolic langauage like "ongoing corruption"?
#5 Kevin Allen on 2009-11-25 13:43
The internet in particular this website, has drastically reduced church attendance, created hatreds and has showed the world how to inflict pain on someone without leaving your computer. Because people are allowed to make statements without substantiation, opinions are viewed all over the world no matter how rediculous or biased they are. Very sad indeed!
(Editor's note: If someone stopped going to Church and lost their faith because "opinion are viewed all over the world no matter how ridiculous or biased they are" one could argue that there was not much there to begin with. I don't know what parish you attend, but every parish I have attended in the past fifty years has had members with ridiculous and biased opinions - not to mention my own family. The flip side is that people are allowed to read wonderful things as well that could help their faith. So don't blame the medium, refute the ridiculous and biased opinions.)
#6 Another Anon on 2009-11-25 14:06
I very much enjoyed Mr. Stokoe's reflections on the a-hierarchal, Nietschean, and ubiquitous (as opposed to intrusive) nature of the Internet. I thought the Seven Dwarves analogy was borderline snarky and disrespectful in response to a thoughtful post about this forum but his insights about this medium were helpful in seeing the front and back of Fr. George;s criticisms. Except for two points.
First, Fr. George suggested that the a-hierarchal nature of the Internet was counter-productive to spiritual life and cited experience in which the Protestant impulse to diminish (demolish?) exoteric structure undermined church life. This is less a criticism of this site, perhaps, than it is of editorial participation in news stories here or anywhere well outside our ability to know details for certain, but it remains an important point of reflection for all who choose to come here. Is reading these posts drawing you closer to God? Is what you choose to share uplifting and important?
Second, Fr. George asks repeatedly for a clearer statement of purpose for OCANews.org than the the one of several years ago. This request is a legitimate criticism of the forum. Unless Mr. Stokoe wants this site to be truly Nietschean and each post "good" or "bad," appropriate or inappropriate, according to his unspoken standards, he needs to explain what OCANews.org is about -- or re-name it "Mark's Place" for clarity and transparency. That Mr. Stokoe neglects this point, which was the heart of Fr. George's comments, reflects badly on his otherwise very helpful and insightful response.
I enjoyed your reflection and would like to make a request. Since you are a member of the MC, I hope that you will bring up the subject of communications at the next MC meeting.
It's very clear that a communications department is absolutely necessary within the OCA and the latest decision, if I understood it correctly, was to eliminate the department. Just like your work with ocanews.org, it's not the messenger that's the problem. I completely understand the financial constraints placed on the OCA at this time but it appears that some of the recent decisions are really short-sided. The decision to eliminate hard copies of The Orthodox Church magazine may have been necessary because of finances, but as I recall a budget was established at the beginning of the year. Who blew the budget so bad that the magazine stopped being printed entirely? And what about future communications? Is the expectation that the OCA is really communicating effectively with one picture a week being posted on its website?
Just as you and others have pointed out, the internet is not going away. In fact, it is or has become the most dominant player in terms of daily communications. One of the primary ways in which the OCA should bind itself into one united Orthodox Christian church in America is through communications. So other than the fact that there is a Holy Synod of the OCA, how on earth is someone from Topeka, KS supposed to be connected to someone in Trenton, NJ?
In the OCA today, the reality is that there is very little which binds one diocese/community to another. From one diocese to another you will find variations in liturgical language, ethnic identity, fund raising concerns, and many other things affecting parish life. Despite all of the variations, the ability to read about other dioceses, see pictures of events, and to read about the lives of Orthodox Christians throughout the Americas has been extremely powerful. The loss of this powerful medium is staggering.
I hope that you as an MC member and members of the Strategic Planning committee will take up this subject and reverse the course. I believe that you can say many things about Mr. Kondratick, but under his leadership there was a much more developed plan of growing the OCA than there appears to be today. I never met him but somehow he seemed to instinctivley know that for the OCA to remain relevant, a tremendous emphasis would have to be placed on communications. He seems certainly to have been misguided in financial areas and much of what he produced was smoke and mirrors, but his essential push to grow the OCA and to use communications effectively wasn't necessarily bad. I don't know if it is just a backlash to everything Kondratick, but one person's opinion is that the OCA is throwing the baby out with the bathtub. In its lavish days, there were something like four or five people working on various aspects of communications at the chancery. Now there are none. And let's not forget the subect of the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards. It has been pretty much stopped in its tracks. Why should anyone give a dime to FOS anymore? What, exactly, is necessary in Syosset? If communicating and acting like a national church isn't the least bit of a priority, then why give to a national church? I could just as easily support my local community.
I hope and pray that you and others will encourage that OCA to rethink the current reductionist path. I for one think that a church that is united not just theologically but physically, spiritually, and practically, is a good thing. So far, it appears that the only thing uniting Orthodox Christians in the OCA are the words Orthodox Church in America.
#8 Julia d'Amours on 2009-11-26 09:31
I don't understand why someone who takes the time to read the Comments section would, as a rule, ignore any 'anonymous' comment. Signing a name to your post is often meaningless. In most cases, most readers have never met, and thus, have no idea who a commentator is just based on the name they attach to their post. No 'accountability' is achieved. Is an anonymous post any less legitimate than one signed using a realistic-sounding pseudonym?
Perhaps the only people who might recognize your real name would would be your priest/parishioners and your bishop. All suitable subjects to be shielded from by anonymity, especially if you're a dissident. (Alternatively, perhaps you're trying to shield your identity from Google's trawlers, which is equally legitimate.)
The only way to ensure commentators are both real, and accountable for what they say, is to require all commentators to sign using a link to their personal website, where readers can access their full name, phone number, home parish, and resume. That would ensure everyone was accountable for -- and qualified to make -- their comments. But that would also be somewhere between Orwellian and absurd.
#9 Anonymous on 2009-11-26 09:55
Fr Washburn, as to the purpose of this website; it is real easy just move 3 letters around.
Change OCA to AOC and you've got your answer.
Now that this is cleared up, shall we work together on bringing about solutions?
We can write about media and website purposes all day long, but so far this has proved to be an elaborate distraction.
Fr. Washburn's writing mode leads me also to fairy tale metaphors, I regret not thinking of the seven dwarves.
His writing recalls to my mind that scene from the old Wizard of Oz movie where the bad witch was trying to distract our heroes from their purpose of self-knowledge and restoration of relationships with loads of pretty flowers in their path that had the side effect of distracting them and putting them to sleep until they died.
Can you see that scene in your 'wayback machine' mind's eye? The witch waving her wand over the big misty globe showing "our heroes" crossing a field, and the bad witch saying 'poppies, poppies' (opium producers), waving her wand, 'pretty, see! sleep, sleep...'
And the only thing that saved our heroes, the only thing that could wake them up was cold uncomfortable truth -- ice and snow -- sent by 'the good witch'.
Well, it's just a metaphor and you can't really push them too far. But I find Fr. Washburn's writing to always identify some group of passing actual features of little importance and then 'riff' on this and that off into further true irrelevancies. "You can't use the interestate highway system, why the mile markers are green with white letters, and they only mow the grass using gasoline powered mowers-- nay, nay! stay home".
Always hoping enough truthful irrelevance will lead a reader to make his suggested, implied but not actually stated thesis.
#11 Harry Coin on 2009-11-28 20:53
Since this particular thread is partially dedicated to Fairy Tales it might be appropiate to ask for an update on the Archdiocesan Oversight Financial Commitee headed up by it's overseer and the # 1 Assistant to the Metropolitan Bp. Antoun.
You know little things like where are they meeting ( Whose condo in Florida?) what will they be looking at, and when can we expect His Eminence Philip to announce the pre-determined findings he wants us to swallow?
#12 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-29 18:03
What lies were here that caused someone to leave the church, or those who left in droves (as you allege) to do so en masse? Or was the truth revealed here over and over again about those who should be shepherds but have been revealed to be wolves? I pray that we have the strength to persist in seeking the truth and doing what is right in God's eyes, and that any who have left because of sinful leaders will realize the Church is much bigger than any sinful people found there, with or without a miter!
The reality is that we would be in far worse shape today without this website...whether we like the truth or not!
#13 Anonymously sad about it all on 2009-11-30 10:20
Dear Mr. Allen,
First let me freely admit my ongoing agitation with our God Protected Archdiocese's festering corruption and my complete and total lack of hesitation or remorse for the assertion.
What you describe as my hyperbolic language I would contend is nothing more than a reasoned response to the statements and activities of our Metropolitan and his accomplices? OK for the sake of decorum his entourage.
You see no corrruption when His Eminence made his unilateral move to demote rightfully entrhroned Diocesan Bishops and make them mere assistants to himself?Something he then attempted to pin on His Beatitude and The Holy Synod and which subsequent events and correspondences disproved (Except of course the doctored ones our Archdiocese displayed on it's website for quite some time in an effort to continue their deception)
This is to say nothing of what has been going on financially in our Archdiocese for years without any system of true financial accountability in place to account for the funds which they manage.
When you have a few extra hours on your hands peruse the volumes of documents this site and others have made available regarding the manipulations coverups and stoewalling of reforms whether ecclessiastical or financial and tell me then if a word like corrupt is an exageration or merely an appropiate adjective with regard to our Archdiocese.
#14 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-11-30 11:10
I would have to agree with Anon. Mark seems to equate the effect of the varied opinions of several people in a parish with the agressive, pervasive and tabloidesque nature of this site which has attracted the attention of people everywhere. The post-RSK OCA is currently in a new crisis of its own making and it's trickled down to the parishes. Check the assessment numbers for 2010 and compare them with 2005. If anyone thinks that such a movement hasn't caused untold damage at the parish level, they're in denial.
(Editor's note: To argue that the internet in general, or this website in particular, is the cause of the numerical decline of the OCA is to ignore the advice and counsel given to RSK, among other leaders, in the 1990's that this decline was coming, given the demographics of the OCA then - and now, in spades. We are reaping what they so conspiciously failed to sow.
But let us not dwell on those failings, but rather take counsel on how we can change things for the better. I would suggest one way would be to deal with facts, not ever more apologies for the failed policies of the past. )
#15 Anonymous on 2009-11-30 11:19
Right. And what would the landscape look like if it weren't for this website?
And why is this so, Mr. Allen?
#16 Robert on 2009-11-30 17:42
"Ex-Bp. Dimitri - resolved (an action taken by our Synod of Bishops)."
Has anything official been announced? I'd appreciate any info you can point me to. This is a major issue for many of us.
Thanks in advance.
#17 David Feliciano on 2009-11-30 19:25
talk about fairy tales...from the oca website:
Raymond Velencia represented the OCA at the meeting with OCMC ---
What is up with that? I just do not get it. Instead of discliplining the guy, they keep giving him positions of authority/honor. Oh yeah, maybe after enough people screamed they took him off the MC, but this is pathetic.
#18 Anonymous on 2009-12-01 05:45
My perspective is that our archdiocese - like most jurisdictions - is transitioning from (for want of a better word) "an old world" hierarchic model of governance and leadership.
This is the cultural model H.E. Phillip inherited from his Synod (Damascus) and from the imperial Byzantine legacy (within which he has learned to function with great success). His style of management and leadership within the Orthodox framework is most certainly not an exclusive one. This is how business tends to be conducted in the Middle East and is the model Met. Phillip has employed for nearly 50 years.
Many would say that his legacy overall - despite some recent bumps in the road - has been admirable. One man who knows him well said that it is Met Phillip's very personality and nature - that people now criticize - that allowed him to "buck the system" and open the doors to the Evangelicals (when no one else would), through which many have entered. The liklihood is that you and I would not be posting here, were it not for H.E. Phillip.
One can and may disagree (and I have) with some of the decisions and even the opaque nature of governance that has characterized the archdiocese (especially of late). One can and may feel that the archdiocese needs more "openness", more "Synodal" input, etc. (I agree). But I believe that to characterize Met. Phillip as "corrupt" is unfair and wrong. While I am not a personal acquaintance of His Eminence, I am acquainted with good men in our archdiocese who are. No one who knows him characterizes him as "corrupt". No one imputes "corruption" to his motives, or questions his love and commitment to the archdiocese. Some decisions - yes. His "heart" for the archdiocese, no.
My point is that regardless of what has transpired, changes are taking place in our archdiocese. Most of the specific issues you address in your email reply to me HAVE BEEN addressed - in a positive way - by the archdiocese.
We have diocesan bishops. So far as I am aware, no one is micro-managing them. Our financial and accounting reportage (and management) will undoubtedly be under greater scrutiny than it has in the past. Our Synod appears to have more clout than it ever has. One of our Diocesan Bishops has mandated diocesan financial audits (+Mark). Others continue to do excellent work in their dioceses and are men of high moral character.
I am sure you love the Orthodox Church and are frustrated by some of the things that have transpired. So am I. But to continue to throw a blanket over His Eminence and all his associates (or as you call them, "cronies") as "corrupt" is to mis-represent him (and them) and to frankly insult those of us who labor in this vineyard.
#19 Kevin Allen on 2009-12-01 09:44
THIS 'EVIL GOSSIP WEBSITE' HAS DONE MORE HARM TO THE CHURCH, THAN GOOD! MANY PEOPLE HAVE LEFT THE CHURCH! WHY? BECAUSE THE CHURCH NOW! IS NO LONGER A LOVING AND FORGIVING CHURCH! IT ALL ABOUT MONEY AND HATRED! AND WHOES NAME CAN WE SMEAR NEXT! THAT'S STOKOES AND COMPANY'S NEW CHURCH! ENDORSE BY MET JONAH, BISHOP JOB AND THE MC! THOSE PEOPLE WHO ENDORSE SUCH A WEBSITE DONT HAVE A CLUE WHAT THE CHURCH IS ABOUT! THIS WEBSITE REMINDS ME OF "JIM JONES"! MANY PEOPLE FOLLOWED HIM TOO! ALL THE WAY TO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION! YOU KNOW MARK, THE BANNER I PUT IN FRONT OF YOU CHURCH LAST YEAR! THAT READ!(MAKE A CHOICE! LOVE AND FORGIVNESS OR MARK STOKOES WEBSITE PREACHING HATRED!) MAYBE IT WASN'T A WASTE OF MY TIME AFTER ALL! I WONDER IF ANYONE IN YOU PARISH IS UPSET WITH YOU? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE FIND OUT THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT RSK, AND OTHERS WHO YOU HAVE TRIED TO DEFAME? WHAT WILL YOU TELL THEM, IT WAS ALL A JOKE! GOD HAVE MERCY!
#20 Anonymous on 2009-12-01 10:58
This morning I posted a link to the OCA website which reported on the recent OCMC meeting. I commented on Raymond Velencia's attendance at that meeting,
wondering why he is continuing to be given positions of honor/authority while he has yet to be disciplined for his gross pastoral misconduct by +Jonah.
... See More
Apparently Raymond Velencia has been on the board of directors of OCMC,representing the OCA, for years. While I knew he had been treasurer of OCMC
awhile back, I did not know he continued on the board as a director.
Thank you to the individual who corrected me on this. So, I stand corrected and apologize for any confusion.
I also want to thank the person who notified me that Raymond Velencia continues to hold positions in the OCA departments of Evangelism (!?) and Christian Service (!?) as an Elder Care Consultant.
This continues to blow my mind, but, hey, what do I know? And, really, who cares anyway, right? Raymond Velencia represents the OCA. Thats a fact that speaks volumes and we should all be listening.
#21 Anonymous on 2009-12-01 16:08
Enough of your cynical, sarcastic accusations!! Your false proclamations, your slander is repulsive. Don't throw stones so readily.
OK...I am not a shrink but...
Let's just say your bored and have a really dead end job in the middle of Iowa somewhere. Let's say your are selling insurance polices all day and are frustrated that your life's work has no redeeming value. Do we have to listen to your flat witticisms because you are angry at the AOC and the Met and many priests and every other person who made fun of you in grade school...we can go on and on about how you are a victim.
Didn't you get the latest WORD Magazine? I didn't see manipulations, cover ups. There was charts, grafts, debits, credits, ledger sheets..an accountants nirvana. And guess what there was fellowship and smiling kids and yes the Met was there showing his paternal leadership.
Yes, your language is hyperbolic and your reasoning is askew.
#22 Glad to be an Antiochian.. on 2009-12-01 18:15
Although it appeared in an OCA News story, I have yet to see any official confirmation about your statement that:
"Ex-Bp. Dimitri - resolved (an action taken by our Synod of Bishops)"?
Perhaps I'm not looking in the right place, but unlike virtually everything else that Mark reports I've not seen this portion of the OCA News story verified by the archdiocese.
And by the way, I'm not grinding any axes. I'd sincerely like to know where to find it
#23 Brian Van Sickle on 2009-12-01 20:34
The following "Thought for the Day" was posted on the Website of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West - it's a quotation from St. John Damascene, part of the daily thoughts from His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH:
"If anyone should preach to you something contrary to what the Catholic Church has received from the Holy Apostles, Fathers, and Councils, and has guarded to this present day, do not listen to him. Do not receive advice from a serpent, as Eve did, and receive death. If an angel or an emperor teaches you anything contrary to what you have received, close your ears."
Does this tell all of you something? We are being deceived by MP and his inner circle - they are leading us astray from our journey with God. We only follow God and no one else. We cannot continue to follow God and follow these men who think they are God. When I read this thought, it made so much sense. If we leave God for these men, we are doomed.
So it is way past time to act, to put these men out of the temple, and to restore holiness and order to our temple. Do not continue to be loyal to them - they have lost the respect of so many people, and they have burdened us with so much strife, causing family, friends, clergy and laity to argue and fight with each other. This is not the church God gave to us, but rather the church that man has destroyed because of his lust for power, control and money. Sounds like satan has possessed all of them, and they can't tell the difference any more. Don't be fooled - open your eyes and see this mess, and work hard to fix it. We have to do this for our salvation and for the future generations so that they will love Orthodoxy and not turn away from it.
What this site is highlighting is incompetence and ignorance in Orthodox leadership at all levels, bishop, clergy and laity... and our efforts to address it. We need to see competence develop across the board. This is the essence of Christian stewardship. Perhaps when we start demanding excellence of ourselves (instead of the endless excuses), we will start experiencing something other than pettiness and discouragement. Perhaps what we are seeing now is the fruit of the level of leadership to which we have chosen to rise. Perhaps we need to set the bar higher and then strive to do better. No athlete improves without hard work and dedication. Perhaps too many Christians expect God to just zap us into the results we'd like. It doesn't work that way. Lets stop whining and making excuses and start working and being accountable.
#25 Anon. on 2009-12-07 18:15
Ouch, looks like you will have to eat that second to last paragraph in light of today's news!
But you didn't know this at the time of your writing. Now you do.
What say you now?
I say, bad deal. Eyes wide open.
#26 Robert Fortuin on 2009-12-08 00:13
Kevin Allen writes:
"We have diocesan bishops. So far as I am aware, no one is micro-managing them. Our financial and accounting reportage (and management) will undoubtedly be under greater scrutiny than it has in the past. Our Synod appears to have more clout than it ever has. One of our Diocesan Bishops has mandated diocesan financial audits (+Mark). Others continue to do excellent work in their dioceses and are men of high moral character."
I bet you wish you had waited to write your comments after Met Philip's latest letter? Face the music. His Eminence is in his own mind, lord, king and sole bishop of in this his own personal archdiocese.
Our Assistants to the Metropolitan cannot even pretend to exericse the simplest episcopal prerogatives according to his most recent papal bull. Poor Bishop Mark, staff and a royal crown and not a word he says is to be listened to or considered.
Here is why I use the word corrupt when referring to recent and ongoing activities in our Archdiocese. Pope Gregory the Great himself used such imagery to describe the acts of any Bishop who would dare unrightfully elevate himself above his fellow Bishops and attempt to exercise a singular authority while despising their own authority and prerogatives.
He calls this an imitation of the father of corruption and states it is the devil himsel who is being emulated.
I guess such pretensions and if an Orthodox Pope of Rome and Saint in our Church can be trusted, is not merely a problem or confined to medieval Europe or the modern papacy.
#27 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-12-08 06:37
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