Monday, September 13. 2010
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If anything observing Moscow and Athens should give one pause and in particular addresolve to the OCA of distancing themselves from these corrupt churches instead of romanticising them and playing toady to them !
#1 ANON on 2010-09-14 07:03
Background regarding the "historic" announcement that the Holy Synod of the Church of the Church of Cyprus has "approved the text of a new charter rendering the Church of Cyprus truly autocephalous":
"The Orthodox Church of Cyprus, under its archbishop, enjoyed a historic claim to autonomy and independence from any Patriarchate [i.e., autocephaly]. But in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the attempts by the [French] Lusignan government of the island to subordinate it to the Latin Church induced the Orthodox in the island to tighten their links with the Patriarch of Constantinople, who thus obtained a vague and unofficial authority over it." (Runciman, 'The Great Church in Captivity' [Cambridge University Press, 2006], p. 25)
This is an interesting example of an autocephalous church ceding at least "a vague and unofficial" portion of its autocephalous authority to another local church. It also points to the complexity of examples surrounding both the theory and practice of 'primacy' and the interrelationship of bishops in the Orthodox Church. The textbook answer common in America about autocephaly, primacy, the equality of all bishops, etc. may turn out to be more prescriptive and ideal than descriptive or practical; these nuanced differences in ecclesiology between and within the Orthodox churches may be part of the difficult behind our current jurisdictional morass, the challenges facing the EA and the ongoing crisis within the Antiochian Archdiocese.
#2 orrologion on 2010-09-14 07:28
According to the author of "Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds," the Greeks need to restore "civic morality and trust" in order to save their civilization.
Well then, if that's the problem, here's a suggestion. The Greeks just need a change of paradigm. Instead of allowing the anarchistic impulses of the individual citizen free reign, why not restructure Greek culture along the lines of American corporatist nihilism? In this way Greek civic morality will become much more recognizable and acceptable to the IMF.
But first some practicalities. Remove regulations which inhibit free markets from working their miracles. Privatize everything beginning with the water, telecommunications, transportation, and publicly-owned land. Let multinational corporations buy up all Greek resources and national treasures at fire sale prices. (A Disney ride over and through the Acropolis, "Marriott's Ithaca", or "The Blackwater Mercenaries of Sparta" all have distinct possibilities). Better yet, throw out all those troublesome monks on Mt. Athos and turn those monasteries into casinos and pleasure palaces for the mega rich who have tired of traveling all the way to the Maldives. Slash and burn all social programs, of course, along with all pensions, and teach those lazy government parasites the meaning of a dollar, er, I mean, a euro. Let austerity have its way. A healthy dose of hyperinflation, destroying the wealth and power of the working and middle classes, will show them their proper place in the great scheme of things. And, most especially, give the Greeks the kind of government that corporations work best with; picture Chile in the late 1970s; a real government, not afraid of making profits appear and problem people disappear. (Wait a minute, wasn't Greece like that in the 60s and 70s? hmmm....)
I know it sounds a bit harsh, but it's all necessary to remake Greece in the image of the modern globalized economy. After all, they need to recreate their civic morality and preserve their civilization, ostensibly so it can be.... well, what? Why, parlayed into the next free market opportunity.
And such opportunities! Imagine the chance to destroy and rebuild countries, thus creating whole new market niches. (Well, the rebuilding part IS a bit harder than destroying, but why quibble over details when there are profits to be made!) And since it is patently obvious that the private sector is so much better at that type of thing than the public sector, it's just a no brainer.
No doubt, Greece has committed an egregious error, one to be corrected sooner than later by its creditors. They have had the audacity to allow the poor to become as corrupt as the rich.
#3 Dn. Jeremiah Crawford on 2010-09-14 14:39
I, for one, would like to ask "orrologion"or somebody else with the knowledge and experience to write us an essay touching on two items from the two above comments, a) the reference in the first comment to the "romanticizing" of the patriarchates and b) his own reference to the distinction between what is prescriptive and ideal and the descriptive and practical.
Where does this American tendency to idealize or romanticize come from? How does it operate - and distort - in discussions like these about Moscow, Damascus or Constantinople? I do not think I see it in more traditional societies, where perhaps its opposite - cynical pragmatism - tends to dominate.
Is the Church called to live with and by ideals but not idealism? By prescriptions, but not in one-size-fits all doses and uses? Do we in North America, evangelical converts in particular, really have the maturity as Orthodox Churchmen and women to be led by the ancient canons without being shackled or straighjacketed into rigid literalisms or ignoring them as historical leftovers?
#4 Anonymous on 2010-09-15 07:31
Well they're on there way because it all starts when corruption is carried out in the name of religion, the worlds oldest form of globalization.
#5 Anon on 2010-09-15 09:16
The "anonymous" designation on my last post (2.1) was not added or intended by me.
Fr. George Washburn
#6 Fr. George Washburn on 2010-09-15 15:34
Father George I wrote the 1st comment and second the motion particularly my point. Someone with means greater than mine (obviously)please address these very important points. The OCA is infected with monarchist freaks and armchair ethnic avengers of all types romanticizing anything that isn't American, it has become a haven of delusion and thus easy corruption. What has happened to Fr. Schmemman and Myendorff's legacies like the tea party people these folk a minority in my opinion have over the last few decades become with their pomp and toadyism the noisy drunk on the bus obscuring the veracity of the OCS's mission and our true lives in XC!
#7 Anon on 2010-09-15 18:36
...the distinction between what is prescriptive and ideal and the descriptive and practical.
A simple example is the idea that all bishops are equal and that no bishop (even a Patriarch) has any rights different than any other bishop, especially within another bishop's diocese. This is the 'prescriptive' view of Orthodox ecclesiology, it is what 'ought' to be the case, according to some. Oftentimes, primacy is set over and above the idea of a purely conciliar, almost democratic or republican view of inter-episcopal relations.
However, a 'descriptive' view of how bishops, metropolitans and patriarchs (and local churches) work is far more complex. Yes, there are any number of conciliar examples, but there are also primacies within the Orthodox Church and within the various autocephalous churches of long-standing tradition. There are also historical factors to take into account, e.g., the Turkish conquests ended up decreasing the number of diocesan bishops within a metropolis and raised the 'rank' of the metropolis to an eparchy in its relations with the Turk and the Patriarch thus equating eparchy/metropolitan with diocese/bishop - which isn't a problem except when 'simple' bishops within a metropolis/eparchy/diocese are consecrated thus raising other questions and a variety of answers.
The question comes down to whether we defer to the living tradition, the continuity of faith and practice (tradition) as we have received it locally; or, do we defer to the more ancient practice preserved elsewhere in the Orthodox Church (and thus a living tradition) when the cause of 'aberration' is removed; or, do we research ancient practices and revive them when we have the ability to do so, especially when there might be a pastoral need to do so. The last option is highly prescriptive; the first option is solely receptive of the existing practice (descriptive); the second option seeks only to prescribe what is a part of the living tradition as a corrective to local, received tradition.
One might define the Moscow Sobor as highly prescriptive, as well as any jurisdiction that sought to follow that (then) received tradition. However, it seems as if much of the Church today (Slavic and Greek) stands against this view of tradition, they seek to simply retain and follow their existing, received practice - with the possibility of 'purifying' that practice, without fully reforming or changing it.
I would argue that the reason there is difficulty in these matters is that there is disagreement as to the validity or preference for these various 'tracks'. Some want to return to a given ancient practice, some want to hold only to what is currently done, some want to rationalize current practice with other current practices in the Orthodox ecumene, some may even want to add complete innovations from secular or non-Orthodox sources. We don't agree.
Where does this American tendency to idealize or romanticize come from?
When one converts, one has opened oneself up to change. This break with the past ranges from radical to nominal. The more 'serious' a change there is, the less weight one gives to personal preference and precedent. This zealousness is carried over into Orthodoxy - why can't we just do what the bishop says? why can't we just do what the canons say? why all the excuses? The convert has already committed himself to accepting something new and different, those born into the faith and those with many years following their conversion have become used to the status quo and see value in it. Those with influence in the current system are also loathe to see the status quo change, as are those who draw a paycheck from the status quo, who have 'succeeded' in the system as it is.
Thus, some will romanticize the Church as it is today (here and/or in the Mother Country), others romanticize the Church as it ought to be (either what it was or what it can be). This would seem to coincide with the tension between the now and not yet of the Church as both a historical (today) and eschatological (end times) organism; a comparison can also be drawn between economia and akrevia, pastoral condescension and maximalism; one can also look at the convert who breaks with family to convert versus the convert who marries into the faith for purely family reasons as well as to the cradle Orthodox who is Orthodox for purely familial reasons and cultural inertia versus the cradle Orthodox who flees to the monastery to live a maximal, conscious Orthodox life.
'Romanticism' or declaring something sacrosanct and unchangeable is a factor for all involved, the objects are different as are the motivations.
#8 orrologion on 2010-09-16 10:15
Fr. George, I like and appreciate your sentiment. I think we often do romantisize the past and fail to look at it with a critical and reasonable eye, especially from the point of view of a historian. We want to see what we want to see, not what is truly there.
If I might ... I read an article recently that reported on negotiations for the opening of the seminary at Halki in Turkey. The Greeks made it very clear that this was fair and reasonable so they could serve their faithful. Fair enough. Continuing to read, however, I noted that the representative of the Turkish government then asked: "And can we hope to open one mosque in Athens (it has been forbidden to open any mosques in Athens) to serve the needs of the our people living there"? Again, a fair question.
We need to learn to talk, to discuss and to question. This is the heritage we received from the earliest Christian Church, wherein they questioned Gnostics, Arians etc. At times I sense that the Orthodox Church remains very unsure of itself, and is hesitant to question anything in history ... and so we are left with some real "issues" that we just bury, and never hear about.
#9 Sean O'Clare on 2010-09-16 15:47
Wouldn't you agree that "Fr. Schmemman and Myendorff's legacies" have been equally "romanticized", especially as they differ from the traditions found in other local churches and jurisdictions from ROCOR to the EP, including Moscow and Bucharest and Antioch? I would argue that "Fr. Schmemman and Myendorff's legacies" have had enormous influence on the OCA, far in excess of any naysayers.
#10 orrologion on 2010-09-17 08:29
It all boils down to the fact that there are some traditions that exist in the various Orthodox Christian Churches that are neither Holy nor Apostolic. Some of these traditions can be helpful, some benign, and some harmful.
Those traditions that are adverse to the building up of the Body of Christ in unity, should be discarded.
#11 Marc Trolinger on 2010-09-18 09:21
I just looked at the 250 signatures on the Bulgarian Petition online. Most of the people live in Bulgaria. Of the ones in America almost all are from Chicago. There was a new Bulgarian parish started in Chicago about 20 years ago and the parishioners are new immigrants from Bulgaria. They are also ethnic Bulgarians as opposed to the Macedonians who started the parishes in the first quarter of the 20th century. At that time their land was under Bulgaria. Now there is a country called Macedonia.
I guess the new Bulgarian immigrants in Chicago feel that their parish belongs to them and that they can take it with them (the property) and join the Patriarch of Bulgaria. What is the legal status of the church in Chicago? Can the new immigrants take their parish out of the OCA or not?
The problem with this simple dialectic is that some what is "holy" and "apostolic", "helpful", "benign", "harmful" and "adverse to the building up of the Body of Christ in unity" is variously understood. Some see conciliarity as the problem, others as the solution; the same is said by some regarding primacy within an Orthodox church, between the Orthodox churches, within Christendom; some will lament the errors of "so-called" tradition, others sanctify the particulars of each and every local tradition.
#13 orrologion on 2010-09-21 11:33
It is true that there are many opinions regarding these issues among those in the Church. However the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, is still present to guide us. If we don't allow our opinions to harden our hearts to the Holy Spirit's guidance, He will enable us to collectively discern what our Lord's will is for His Church.
#14 Marc Trolinger on 2010-09-22 06:02
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