Wednesday, November 17. 2010
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Anyone who knows the situation in the AOC knows that there is and always has been a double standard among clergy ... there's one set of rules for the Old Country clergy (or their children) and an entirely different set of rules for converts. Yet, while it is the convert clergy who could and should provide the heart of the Archdiocese, +Philip has constantly disdained them. In short, +Philip just doesn't "get it". He's not an American and his cultural leanings and understanding are not American. He doesn't understand converts and he doesn't understand nor relate to concepts such as free speech, openess and freedom. These are real, critical concepts that are completely lost on him (and one might suggest they are VERY Orthodox concepts as well).
#1 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-17 07:59
All I can do is weep for the multitude of suffering Orthodox Christians in the Antiochian Archdiocese. Lord have mercy. I am grateful to have a "father" in the church who loves his children.
I posted a comment that about Hypocrites. Can you please delete it. I do this all the time. I need to read before i click "submit" lol. I believe it will make people upset rather than understand my point. I can't seem to find a balance? How do you do that? Thank you.
(Editor's note: Christ is the balance point; and like a seesaw, we often tip to one side or the other. In general, I am really reluctant to call anyone a hypocrite, being one myself far too often. Of course, when it jumps out at you, slugs you in the face, kicks you while you are down, and walks away smiling, it is best to warn others that a hypocrite is on the warpath....
But more importantly, I try to maintain consistency, so that reason, in the classic sense of noesis, becomes a habit. This means speaking the truth, not defending the indefensible, not excusing the inexcusable, and not covering up injustice, but exhorting everyone to a higher standard. I take the words of our Lord seriously, that if it happened to the least, it happened to him. In other words, Mediocrites is not the chief philosopher ( "Oh, its good enough", "just move on") of CHristians, but Christ. And sometimes, happy, you have to realize you will not be, as a Christian. That turmoil has a spiritual purpose as well. Otherwise, chocolate and liquor would do just fine.)
#3 Happy on 2010-11-17 08:46
The Antiochian Archdiocese is an American Church of Arabic heritage, and this is not a "convert vs. cradle" issue.
This fight was picked by a discrete (and shrinking) subculture in the Archdiocese which wields outsized influence with the Metropolitan. The failure to transmit the post-WW2 liturgical/monastic revival, the thuggish behavior and lack of transparency--these are concerns shared by many cradles. Their children have outmarried and they want a Church that welcomes and nurtures their new family, not ghettoized clubs where the spouses will take a suspicious look around and promptly sweep the family away.
#4 The Anti-Gnostic on 2010-11-17 08:48
The title of this post says it all: THE MYTH ENDS. As a convert, ever since I became Orthodox, I had heard the story of +MP's generosity in letting the evangelicals into the AOC. Since my early years in the Church, I have also heard that he was anxious to have them because of their tithing. I also know that those who came into the Church did not have adequate instruction as catechumens, and this situation caused many problems and tensions in convert and traditional parishes. Admittedly, some of these problems were bound to surface when a large number of converts suddenly became Orthodox, but still. . . .it is well known that convert priests have been treated as second class citizens, and they have been intimidated or ignored by the Metropolitan (not necessarily by their Bishops--as those who have had good guidance from Bishops Basil and Mark.) But it is hard for converts to comprehend the fawning that goes on when the Metropolitan is around, and the unthinking donations to his coffers. And it's not just that we have come from a different culture. We feel strongly about love and obedience to our own Bishops and to our priests. The comments of the "anti-gnostic" seem the most relevant in describing the situation for the AOC.
" This fight was picked by a discrete (and shrinking) subculture in the Archdiocese which wields outsized influence with the Metropolitan. The failure to transmit the post-WW2 liturgical/monastic revival, the thuggish behavior and lack of transparency--these are concerns shared by many cradles. Their children have outmarried and they want a Church that welcomes and nurtures their new family, not ghettoized clubs where the spouses will take a suspicious look around and promptly sweep the family away."
All of this may change when the Metropolitan passes on to his reward, but if he has his way, he will control the archdiocese from the grave with critical appointments. It is difficult for converts like me to know what to do. While we love our local parishes, it seems unlikely that the situation of corruption and favoritism will end in our lifetimes. It may be too early to discern, but it seems that the OCA is the right path for those who take the faith seriously and want it to be something beyond a middle eastern social club. Sorrowfully, we continue to struggle with this man's actions.
#5 anon on 2010-11-17 09:30
Time for everybody to grow up.
1. If you want to be on the monastic side, great. Be that way. Don't expect all the other members of the laity to join you, though, and don't scorn those who aren't inclined to be so removed from the society you despise. Besides, I thought humility was supposed to be the norm, not scornful, pharisaic pride.
2. There are a lot of things I can do on a Sunday that are more pleasant and edifying than having a jerk rail at me from the altar about how I suck, how the society I live in sucks and how I don't donate enough - all while he receives a salary paid for by me, drives a car paid for by me, lives in a house paid for by me and yammers on with his little cadre of convert wannabe monastics on a cellphone paid for by me.
3. Neither Jean Calvin, Girolamo Savonarola, Oliver Cromwell nor Cotton Mather were Orthodox, a fact that Mark Maymon never seemed to get through his Pentecostal skull.
#6 Michael on 2010-11-17 09:59
may I first say that I am glad that you continue your postings, and have seen many of your postings as very humble and just offering your honest assessment of the situation at hand.... but let me ask you this... how can you continue to defend this non-shepherd ( I will not call him a wolf ) but it has become obvious that there is not a shepherding bone in his body, ( except, perhaps leading one to slaughter ) Here are his words no official Arabic translation needed:
"The depth of my disappointment in your letter exceeds the joy which I experienced when I received you into the Holy Orthodox faith. "
That is the height of disdain towards his children, that he presumably had "led" into our Archdiocese. Can you please counteract this letter with a letter that shows him to be a true shepherd. When confronted by a "stray sheep" he reacts to them as if they are wolves. Oh how the bleating of his sheep annoys him, how dare these sheep ask for sustenance or greener pastures... or a cup of cold water.
Lord have Mercy.
#7 CJ7 on 2010-11-17 10:24
You wrote: "...it is the convert clergy who could and should provide the heart of the Archdiocese."
I must disagree with this statement: it is instead Christ Who could and should be the heart of the Archdiocese, with all of us--lay and clergy, "cradle" and "convert"--deriving our life from and through Him.
It is where we betray our true Heart that we fall into the problems we are experiencing.
I'm sure you would agree with that, but thought it bears re-emphasizing, particularly since some people would use your statement to further twist the problem into an ethnic/cultural clash.
#8 Jason Barker on 2010-11-17 10:47
I have to say, I really don't think Metropolitan Philip is just like a father who beats his children.
Metropolitan Philip is like a father who beats his children and then blames them for making him angry.
#9 Cordelia on 2010-11-17 10:50
I reread the loetters of the EOC and Met Philip. Only Fr Gillquist (former EO leader) did not SIGN the letter re Fr Allen sent to the Met.
Why - because he took care of "himself", rewarded with a top salary as Dept of Missions Chair, even though he NEVER had a mission or a PARISH. But he wrote a book (twice) lauding Met. P and received a GOLD MEDAL from his leader. Good lesson for ALL - honor the Leader and YOU will be rewarded. Hope, too, like my friends, saving for your retirement, as the $800. a mo NON VESTED check will not go very far. Already an Eastern region brother cannot retire at age 72 and slow health. "Can't afford it," he says!
#10 Anonymous Priest on 2010-11-17 12:01
2. There are a lot of things I can do on a Sunday that are more pleasant and edifying than having a jerk rail at me from the altar about how I suck, how the society I live in sucks and how I don't donate enough - all while he receives a salary paid for by me, drives a car paid for by me, lives in a house paid for by me and yammers on with his little cadre of convert wannabe monastics on a cellphone paid for by me.
#5 Michael on 2010-11-17 09:59 (Reply)
Talk about unfair! If I were you I'd insist that some of those monk wannabee's throw a few bucks on the old collection plate. No way should you have to pay the salary, car allowance, house payments and cell phone all by your lonesome. No wonder your knickers are in a twist.
I mean a brass tag on a pew with your name on it or some kudos in the Church Bulletin is the least they could do to honor your generosity.
#11 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-11-17 13:06
Michael writes: ". . . Mark Maymon never seemed to get through his Pentecostal skull."
Long disgusted at the obloquy and disrespect shown toward Metropolitan Philip in the comments on this blog site, let me remark that Michael's deliberate insult to Bishop Mark---a man much loved and missed here in the Midwest---leaves me with an equal sense of loathing.
#12 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2010-11-17 13:08
The lack of charity, ignorance, and disrepect that you display in your posts, are a big part of the reason for this crisis. May God forgive you.
#13 M.A. on 2010-11-17 13:08
Bp Mark frequently quotes St John Chrysostom.
I never heard him quote or refer to any of these other western scholastics.
Why is embracing orthodoxy portrayed by you as monasticism?
You seem confused was bishop Mark a proponent of orthodoxy, monasticism or Protestantism?
To be an orthodox monastic is far from ring a Protestant.
Perhaps you are a protestant in a crae orthodox skin?
#14 Anon on 2010-11-17 13:14
Wow.....a little angst ridden?
#15 Antionymous on 2010-11-17 13:17
How dare you say that I beat you? Take that! And that! And that! Now apologize!
#16 Antionymous on 2010-11-17 13:18
A few things Michael:
Bishop Mark was raised in the novus ordo post-Vatican 2 Church of Rome, not a protestant sect. Or do I repeat myself? Ok I take that back.
I've never heard Bishop Mark mention any of those names.
I'm with you on point #2 especially how I "don't give enough" which I find interesting given that my Trophy Wife and I combined had an AGI of 20k last year, lost our insurance due to the economy killing our jobs and are just trying to not end up on the street. But yet we're expected to give to "the poor"? HELLO?! WE'RE THE POOR!
So what's 10% of nothing? Then they wonder why we never attend these $100 per person haflis or those $50 a plate dinners to bestow honor on such and such for such and such years, usually after Vespers which has more people in attendance than all the other saturdays combined!
#17 VSO on 2010-11-17 13:18
There are two comments I find very interesting here, Michael, upon which I would be most appreciative if you would expand.
1) Your point #2 appears to suggest that you think that if you're paying the priest, you expect to be told what what you want to hear, or at least not be told what you don't want to hear. I'm sure that's probably not what you mean, but clearly there is something here about which your feelings are strong and sincere, so please tell us more about what you DO mean.
2) "Neither Jean Calvin, Girolamo Savonarola, Oliver Cromwell nor Cotton Mather were Orthodox, a fact that Mark Maymon never seemed to get through his Pentecostal skull."
These are fascinating names to be lumping in with Bp. MARK, but I'm afraid I don't understand in exactly what context Bp. MARK's name is being invoked with the rest of them. Could you please expand on this?
Finally, I may be wrong, but my understanding is that Bp. MARK is Orthodox, not Pentecostal. Do you have information that I don't on this point?
Perhaps the Holy Synod of Antioch will act on behalf of her children in this country who are crying out for help. If not, here is a very simple option that +Metr. Philip, himself, can exercise: Between now and the first of the year "any Antiochian priest" who wishes to be released, to another jurisdiction, may do so without penalty. You may not keep the building but you may be released. This would solve a lot of headaches in a hurry.
#19 Frustrated Antiochian on 2010-11-17 14:52
How would that solve any problem? What about all the people who might be without priests? How would that bring peace and order to the Church? No, the problem is disorder and confusion and a lack of leadership and a surplus of cynicism because of this lack of leadership. We're not living behind the Iron Curtain here, we're living in a mess, a mess which cannot be cleaned up by removing priests or even changing Metropolitans or exiling the whole Holy Synod to Siberia. The mess can only be cleaned up by accountability, transparency, and responsibility. The climate of fear (the people and priests are afraid, the Metropolitan and bishops are afraid) must disappear, and this can only be done with humility (especially on the part of the clergy and hierarchy) and knowing the truth of things. There must be a common desire to know and reveal the truth, whether it be good or bad, so that there might be trust again. (Whatever happened to having an external audit? That would go a long way, I think, to helping the situation, even if it reveals mismanagement.) It's not just about people, but institutionalized incompetence and a lack of accountability and oversight. It's a problem that exists in many other American archdioceses as well. If people leave the Archdiocese, it just makes it that much harder to do things the right way and that much more likely that greater evils will occur, followed by more pain and confusion. Nevertheless, God is the One taking care of His Church. It is His Church. It doesn't belong to any one man or any collection of people, but to God. He will work things for the best for those who love and serve Him, and He will clear out those who do not.
#20 Eric Peterson on 2010-11-17 15:52
My Dearest Michael,
If you have other things to do on Sundays, please... do them. Based on your comments, the overall intellect, holiness and humility of your parish will improve accordingly, as you pull your car out of the parking lot. Perhaps you could trying "sucking" less, so your priest could move on to a new topic.
And by the way... I wouldn't be too sure who IS and who is NOT "Orthodox" when you start compiling a list of names. When was the last time you looked up the definition of Orthodox? There's more to being Orthodox than having a hard to pronounce last name. (yes... I'm a convert)
#21 Ivan HadEnough on 2010-11-17 16:38
Michael, read what what a true Son of Antioch, Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos of Tripoli has to say about monasticism as a model for the life of the lay Christian:
"An Orthodox person is austere in his life, a monk in his household furnishings, in his labor, in his clothing, chaste in his senses and his thoughts. This is because he desires the Lord, loves his neighbor, has an open heart and an open mind to those of all religions and all ideologies though he holds strongly to his own belief. He denies himself. Here someone might hasten to ask, “Are these virtues not found in every Christian, even with every good person?” We answer: in Orthodoxy this spirit predominates. It is the inclination above all other inclination. The love of God dominates over the love of the world. The Orthodox person does not allow a worldly institution or even the law or the system to get a hold over him, to rule over him, to have exclusive power over him. A powerful inclination streams grace into his heart, ignites a fire in his heart."
Look around online for writings by men like Met. Ephrem, Met. Georges Khodr, Fr. Pandeleimon Farah, Fr. Touma Bitar, Fr. Elias Morcos, among others, and see what the authentic teaching of the Church of Antioch is about the Christian's relationship to the world and the role of monasticism within the wider Church.....
Kevin, if they would give you your own time slot and meeting room at the Kind of but Not Really Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest Parish Life Conference, I would spend the money for the travel, the hotel, the registration, and (possibly--I'd have to swallow hard for this one) even the hafli. In fact, I might just go all in and buy an ad in the convention journal.
And I'm not even a member of that diocese... region... entity.
#23 Anonymous on 2010-11-17 18:51
Irony is so ironic. I'm amused by the notion that so many terabytes have been generated and so many innocent electrons slaughtered on this blog in the chastisement of Metro Phil by Maymon's flying monkeys, yet (as usual), His Evangelicalness expects total obeisance.
#24 Michael on 2010-11-17 19:04
Perhaps Michael's parish could have a $50 a plate banquet thrown in Michael's honor and he could thereby recoup his tremendous cash outlay in financially carrying the entire parish all on his lonesome. Of course, Michael would have to be sure to give 'Philip & Thugs' [TM] their customary 75% cut or he'd likely receive a late night visit from Walid.
#25 Heracleides on 2010-11-17 19:10
Happily, now that the years of the Maymon reign are over (it feels like the successful end to a hostage crisis), I'm not the one who is going to be skittering off into the sunset. In fact, I'll be happy, secure in the notion that our parsishes in the Midwest will once again be in the hands of those whose minds grasp reality, where pastoral care is again important, where the laity are respected as partners and people.
No longer will we be subordinated to the agendae of odd, emotionally stunted folks who can't cope with reality or the society in which they live.
So no, I won't be going away now.
#26 Michael on 2010-11-17 19:18
Hey I'd love the gig but I don't have enough bling bling for that crowd and my powder blue tux with the big black lapels is to small now. Besides who could guarantee my security?
#27 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-11-17 19:56
"How would that solve any problem?"
That question depends on from whose perspective you're viewing it. Frustrated Antiochian was addressing the problem, I believe, from MP's point of view. If he (MP) feels many of his problems are coming from unhappy, discontented priests -- then let them leave. That will leave, presumably, the satisfied, happy clergy so alot of MP's problems go away. Granted, there are other problems this will generate but presumably more workable ones. But this is serious actually. Some discontented clergy is no joy for any hierarch and there is the potential they may influence others -- so if you let them go, everyone can move on.
#28 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 01:39
At this juncture, I would recommend that everyone stop responding to Michael. He continues to talk about things that "suck" while hurling insults against +Mark. I believe he is getting a kick out of angering people. We must go into monastic mode and treat him with silence.
#29 M.A. on 2010-11-18 07:22
Thank you for posting "The Mystery of Sin in the Mystery of Salvation" by Archimandrite Touma (Bitar). A positive message from within Antioch is most welcome. In comparison with more prominent Antiochian writings, Fr. Touma proves to be one of Antioch's most spiritual and discerning clergy. He holds Christian teaching in his region to standards higher than we are used to. I look forward to the day the American Archdiocese produces spiritual leaders of similar depth.
When AEOM were being received into the Antiochian Archdiocese, a prominent Orthodox theologian said to me, "It's good they are coming to the Orthodox Church. Once they've settled in with + Philip and find out exactly what a despot he is, they'll voluntarily come into the OCA." Well, there you have it; prophetic words! A tyrant is a tyrant is a tyrant. Even Saddam loved certain people around him yet, he could easily murder hundreds of thousands of his own people. A tribal thing?
#31 Anonymous on 2010-11-18 07:42
There is one point I do agree with, that is #1.
I really don't mind people trying to practice monasticism, but don't force it upon the person sitting in the pew beside you.
To each there own, but do not be judgmental. I guess I sound judgmental when I say things about people who try to be monastic because usually only see nothing but a facade, not all, but at least half those I meet that try to be super pious.
There is nothing wrong with this practice, that is perfectly great and is the way they want to express their faith, however I am just as faithful as those practicing monasticism in a layman's world.
If one thinks they are more faithful for that expression then they are being judgmental and purely mistaken. We each have our own way within the Orthodox faith that feels right for us. What I'm saying is don't push it on others or be scornful like Michael said, likewise we should not be scornful or judgmental back. Keep the peace
#32 Happy on 2010-11-18 07:58
I appreciate your comments.
But there's need for some clarification, I love converts, I don't even like to call them converts, but people who embraced our faith later in their lives and this is so, for a good reason, which makes a very long story and I'm not going to share that in this comment, maybe some other time.
However, everybody who is a member of The Orthodox Church, needs to understand one thing, there are not any rules or special rules for America(maybe United States of America) since "America" can represent two continents, The Orthodox Church is The Orthodox Church all over the place, there are not "special rules for this country, which are ignored else where! Cultural differences, yes, but even from that perspective, we can't talk about special rules or needs for The American people. In short, whoever wants to be one of us, let him/her, change, let them become truly Orthodox Christians, not American, not Russian,Greek,Romanian,Serbian, Lebanese or Syrian, or God knows how many more ethnic groups we can enumerate here.
I had in the past parishioners who told me, "Father, here is America!", and I replied, "So what if it's America!", The Orthodox Church doesn't make exceptions, based on that!
The culture of Personality needs to go away.
Met.Phillip has been praised so much that his head got too big. Now look where we are.
The Evangelicals joined the Antiochians, bringing their own culture of Personality with them - Heads of the church, self-appointed, who were given prestigious positions right off the bat - not having to put in their time like the clergy they joined ranks with. People who were from that group speak for the Orthodox - people who have little ORTHODOX theological training (NOT that that is the be all and end all of qualifications, but it sure does help!) - they are charismatic and in high demand - once again, it's the personality that brings their audience.
At a recent church conference, I was somewhat taken aback when I was sitting near a group of evangelicals that was eager to meet one of the bishops (not Antiochian). It was as if they were going to meet a rock star!
Bishops - and the rest of the clergy, for that matter - are like we are - humans, with faults. To be a worthy Communicant should be the primary goal for us all!
My friends of other faiths are quick to quote the writings of current gurus - Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Dr. Phil - just to name a few. We have such a rich resource, why do we also fall into that trap? Have we created our own gurus (Met. Phillip, Fr. Gillquist, Fr. Mathewes-Green, etc) - ones which take our focus away from the real Truth?
#34 justamom on 2010-11-18 10:02
"Long disgusted at the obloquy and disrespect shown toward":
If we were all as disgusted with obloquy and disrespect in ourselves as in others, things would be different. As long as MP rules with fear and arbitrary authority, those who serve at his pleasure will be either forced into talking out of both sides of their mouths ... or not talking. There must be a way, let's call it the Trinitarian way, between obsequiousness and insult. It is a difficult road to discern.
So the convert honeymoon period is over. We don't say we have fallen out of love and deal with it like a teenager convinced that the crush is the same as *love*. But we also fail if we simply entrench ourselves in the local community, keep our heads down even when the innocent are persecuted, and wait for a better day. I don't think that is what humility and patience teach. The reality is that we all come to appreciate our own platforms, our ministries that we carve out for ourselves. Perhaps we could consider more the role of Athanasius of Alexndria in the Church, with his repeated banishments.
I recall that fellow, who when told to turn over the church's treasure to soldiers, distributed the monetary wealth to the poor, and then pointed to the people, saying "This is the treasure of the church." It is harder to keep that sensibility when we become stewards of great cathedrals, magazines and wide influence. It is worth noting that MP and his friends are openly antagonistic to monasticism. It is precisely the monastic witness that frees us. MP and his goons do not understand it because they do not know Athanasius the Great. It will be ironic if it ends up being a monk's witness that reveals a great fraud but that is an aside.
We must remember ourselves. We must remember our Lord. We must remember who the Enemy is (hint, not MP) and in what realm the battle takes place. I cannot think we are acting illumined by humility and temperance when we have these annoyed exchanges. I am more irritable than you all and certainly a chief among irritators so I know of what I speak. Would that I could speak by the authority of the Holy Spirit rather than the gadfly but we all do what we can.
#35 Monologistos on 2010-11-18 10:34
Until you get another bishop you don't like. Then you'll crucify him too....
#36 Antionymous on 2010-11-18 11:24
If those who are "practicing" their Christian disciplines, do it to be seen or impressed by you, shame on them. That's what Christ taught (Beside it ain't impressing you anyway)
On the other hand if you are like me the mere fact that others enter into ascetic struggle and I find out, it tends to upset me. I mean how dare they show me how lax and insincere I am in my own Orthodox Faith. But that certainly is my problem and mine alone.
#37 Kevin Kirwan on 2010-11-18 12:30
I don't think it means we are lax? I sure am not lax because I'm not doing service ever day or doing prostrations. Everyone are individuals that share the same faith. If I wanted to be a monastic I would personally join a monastary, however I am not "FIT" for that lifestyle. I'm fit to go to church, pray whole-heartely to my Lord and participate in the Sunday service or any service i realistically can attend. Realistically I can attend every service if they were given but I would not function or get done with all my work during the day.
I dress in decent/nice attire, go to church, participate in the service, and connect and give thanks. I leave church and try to live a life built upon the principals and values of my faith.
I am not going to force my lifestyle to be submerged in the lives of the saints readings etc. Not because i think it's a waste of time because it is not...it is because I have tried my best to read the history and continue to but I just am not that interested or doesn't capture my attention as much as things I'm doing in terms of work and enjoyments.
This is not a bad thing, maybe people are shocked by me expressing this. But it's just not my cup of tea, and that doesn't mean I'm lax or not as faithful, or not trying hard enough to be a true Orthodox faithful.
God knows that I try daily and I believe that, and I also believe that on my judgment day he will not ask me if I read "Lives of the Saints" though it could help
#38 Happy on 2010-11-18 13:30
Speaking as a person who attended an EOC/AEOM parish, the reality is that at first people really admired Met Phil's willingness to break what seemed like oudated rules to let the people in. I frankly still admire this. There is this sense taht Orthodoxy is frozen in time, bogged down by byzantine arcane-ness, and what is needed is someone like Philip. It is just as this writer says : a mythic sense that the Ancient Church was finally encountering us moderns, in the person of Metropolitan Philip. The problem is that as time wore on, one could adhere to the myth by ignoring one inconvenient reality after another:
Most of the day-to-day materials came from the OCA: music, catechetical materials, singable online music, books, speakers, seminary, etc.
The bishops had nothing particiularly meaningful to say to us. I recall a visit from bishop Joseph with a sermon on Y2K, as though we in the parish were getting panicked about it. Basically the encounter with the bishop was always a tedious formality.
The english-language liturgical materials and music are mediocre at best, and often reprints of russian materials. Again, the tendency was to use as much of the stuff as the parish could tolerate. That's why few people outside the Antiochian jurisdiction use the materials.
No one in the parish, until perhaps very recently, ever expressed interest in attending parish life conferences, unless they wanted their daughter to lose their virginity.
Multiple scandals: the joe allen affair, ben lomond, anti-semitism in the Word Magazine, the very strange effort to arabize the Jerusalem Patriarchate, the Bishop Demetri affair. In each case, the Metropolitan is not the solution, but the cause of the scandal.
Over the last 10 years there has been a steady drumbeat of "reining" people in and making life more "Standard Antiochian". This is rarely an opportunity for rejoicing in convert parishes.
Occasionally, Metro Phil would hit a home run, like with the Self-Rule announcements.
But even then, it slowly became clear that Metro Philip was always willing to break rules, referrring to the canons as pharasaical if they got in His way, but the self same canons were to be obeyed to the letter if they supported his authority in some matter.
If you go into an EOC or convert parish now, if you ask about the latest Word Magazine, you will tend to hear, "O, I don't follow that stuff." Which speaks volumes about Metropolitan Philip's unpopularity and also that the rank and file aren't likely to do anything "en masse" because to so would be to admit that after all that work and sacrifice they're still not "Home." To admit that they're still in exile would be to admit that they've been taken advantage of, and who is ready to do that?
Re the reflection by Fr. David Hudson: Metropolitan Philip was never in any real sense anyone's "Father", for converts, the whole antiochian thing is just a flag of convenience. It was a door into Orthodoxy, a portal to the ancient church, not a door to Syrian America, not a door into the magnificent soul of Sayedna Philip, nor to "Arab Orthodoxy" or anything else in the Levant. At some point, the concept of "not reviling one's parents" breaks down, and the family dysfunction needs to be discussed openly.
#39 steve knowlton on 2010-11-18 14:34
There have been times when others have described Metropolitan Philip as too "American" in his mindset. Such critics were disturbed by what they would have called his ready willingness to disregard any Orthodox canon or teaching he considered too restrictive for him.
Now, Sean seems to see +Philip as not American enough for our continent. Isn't this a bit ironic?
Americanism is clearly not the issue at stake. We have had plenty of old country clerics who fit right in with the cultural values we consider "American" such as "free speech, openess, and freedom." This is because these are Orthodox values as well (Thanks for pointing this out, Sean.).
In fact, several canons recorded in The Rudder expressly direct bishops to practice financial accountability. It directs them to make their personal and church properties known to the presbyters and deacons of the Church.
Unfortunately, some American Orthodox hold The Rudder in disdain. I have been told several times over that such canons are "only guidelines" (as though it is some type of "pirate's code").
Guidelines, by definition, are only guidelines when they are actually used from time to time. Otherwise, they are merely anecdotal footnotes. I would certainly like to see our holy canons used as guidelines rather than not used at all.
I expect that this alone would help put the AOC back on the right course. It would at least require our hierarchs to work conciliarly rather than despotically.
#40 Grant Medich on 2010-11-18 14:36
I cannot believe you a priest would talk about our leader like this.
+Phillip is a great leader and his letter of response in 1992 was charitable and good! And if you are apart of the group that wrote this letter shame on you for judging a great priest! and shame for not supporting your Metropolitan! Not all converts and white cradle want to be associated with the EOC by the way!
#41 Antiochian on 2010-11-18 15:05
That "fellow" would be St. Lawrence, Martyr and Arch-Deacon of Rome.
#42 Heracleides on 2010-11-18 15:48
I would rather have as a leader one who is obedient to the holy tradition of the Orthodox Church and her holy canons, one who embodies the Lord's commandments to Church leaders that they who would be first would be the servants of all, one who cares more for shepherding his flock than retaining hisi throne. All who act otherwise are not worthy of their consecration.
#43 John Maximov on 2010-11-18 16:27
I can't help but shake my head in dismay when I see some of the crude comments aimed at the EOC, AEOM, Evangelicals, Protestants... or whatever label you want to attach.
I've been with the EOC folks since before there was an EOC. During our journey to Orthodoxy, I was fortunate to have Frs. Gillquist, Braun, Sparks, Berven, Ballew, Hardenbrook, Walker and others... along with Bishops Antoun and Demetri in my home... and I treasure the long talks I had with each of those men. I felt a special love for +Demitri and was broken-hearted when I learned of his fall at the Casino and his underlying struggles.
I have a deep love and respect for all these men... and I deepy desire to have the same love and respect for Metropolitan Philip.
Back in late 1986 I happen to work with a Serbian Orthodox woman. I thought I'd break the ice by explaining how excited I was that my little church would be brought into Orthodoxy in a few months. As I explained how this was going to happen, she gave me a dirty look and said, "Oh... Philip."
I had no idea why she seemed disgusted with him (and me) but I sincerely wanted to defend the Metropolitan, though I was so confused by her response that I simply dropped the subject. That desire to defend and support MP was strong for a long, long... LONG time. Every time he lashed out at someone I knew and respected, I did my best to convince myself he had his reasons.
But... eventually... issue after issue... scandal after scandal... and the all-too-clear desire this man displayed for power and money... well, I finally had to accept that he had "helped" us into Orthodoxy so that he could grow the archdiocese in a matter of months, and reap the monetary benefits and "power" of some sort. I still can't accept that it was the ONLY reason he embraced the EOC... but ask me again in a year or two.
You know, we EOC folks never asked to be called "Super Orthodox" or felt comfortable with being labeled the "cure" for the AOC and/or all the Orthodox Churches in America. We simply wanted to be part of the fold. We had this silly idea that the Church was One, and if we did as we were told we'd experience that Unity and Antiquity and get a true taste of Church of the Apostles and Martyrs.
I have no regrets and I'm convinced that God knows exactly what He's doing as this mess plays out... but I simply don't understand how "The Evangelicals" (some who lost family, friends, jobs, security, etc.) are to blame for the problems in the AOC.
#44 Ivan HadEnough on 2010-11-18 22:54
The touch upon the EAOM elicits a response from me.
I was a cradle roman catholic who was alienated from the latin church in my teen years which happened to coincide with the promulgation of Vatican II "reforms" (mid-60s)--basically, the beginning of the trashing of the Roman rite. Then, in the Jesus People era (1970), I "accepted Jesus as my personal Saviour" and it changed my life--a move of Grace which I always am grateful for. After years in "Jesus communes" then Foursquare Gospel Church, then United Methodism and finally--thank God, to the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church (in short, I became Antiochian "Rum" Orthodox-Catholic), where-at last--I found HOME.
Why do I supply the bio? Because I have no personal interest in the EOM history--it is simply NOT my story. I didnt need to be convinced that Mary was important, or that early christian worship was liturgical, etc. Since I came into the Orthodox Church of Antioch, I have found it necessary quite frequently to distance myself from the "knee-jerk" reaction some have to my own story. I am not a stereotypical "Protestant convert"--I have MY OWN story. I think this is true for others as well. Here is the point which the aspersion cast against "Maymon" (very disrespectful reference to His Grace, the Rt Rev Mark) founders: he has his own most unique and wonderful story! He is /was no Pentecostal.
In the end, due to the rather impressive honesty and high spiritual standards of His Grace, the Rt Rev Joseph (of Los Angeles), I joyfully entered the Antiochian Archdiocese (after having converted in another jurisdiction, and after having worked that out with that bishop).
Frankly, I do not know Metr Philip personally. I honor and respect him as the presiding bishop of the Archdiocese. My pastoral relationship is with Bp Joseph. This is where I work out all my issues. He has been nothing but a huge blessing for me. I thank Metr Philip for arranging (or allowing such arrangements) for Bp Joseph to come to the region / diocese (whatever it is) of the West in 1995.
Maybe this comment is meant only to serve to underscore that there are a great many directions from which folks enter this Church. Let us be careful about black and white characterizations: cradle vs convert, etc. This is theologically indefensable as well as naive.
I trust that our growing pains as holy people will enable us to endure the conflicts and points of confusion and difficulty we now are passing through with long-suffering and good Christian manners.
Thank you, Mr Stokoe, for providing a forum for all this.
#45 Fr Patrick B. OGrady on 2010-11-18 23:06
Very well said! Thank you.
#46 Karen on 2010-11-19 08:41
I must admit that I too completely agree with the point being made above about Monasticism or a "lay monastic lifestyle" and how there is an attempt to force it down the throats of Orthodox Christians. However I don't see this as a convert/cradle issue. I know several cradle Orthodox priests who are big time into the whole monastic thing, it's not just converts like Met. Jonah who seems to believe Monasticism will fix all the Churches problems. After studying Church history rather deeply for the last 4 or 5 years I've recognized more and more than Monasticism has at times wielded too much power and influence over the Church at large. So I do agree with this particular and yes I am a convert. (obviously...lol!)
#47 Chuck Shingledecker on 2010-11-19 09:50
There's nothing that trolls for a reaction like a blogpost titled "The Myth Ends" by "An Anonymous Priest", which then goes on to express roughly 1500 words trashing Metro Phil.
The ludicrous semantic twists that accompany the naked hypocrisy of Maymon's hooting howler monkeys never ceases to amaze me. You folks are true products of the most negative aspects of the Western culture that you so despise - spiritually rootless, emotionally stunted and unbound from the reality of the normalcy of everyday life, you engage in these lifelong quests for spiritual happiness to fill the void created by your life failures. You bounce from mainline protestant sect to cult like a yoyo, each time finding your next perfect spiritual experience wanting, all while your personal and professional lives spin out of control. You then go on and try and ruin any sense of community and joy in each congregation you join, I guess assuming that everybody else should be as miserable as you.
(Editor's note: Got issues, Michael? Don't hold back: let us know how you really feel. Would you like a broader brush?)
#48 Michael on 2010-11-19 10:15
Sorry I never got around to addressing this one earlier.
I have a unique perspective on Mark's prior spiritual affiliation - if you note his prior grounding in an AOG church.
As to my observation on rudeness from the altar - which did become a problem, particularly with his special favorite, the reaction of most folks when subjected to a constant and repetitive harangue on Sundays is to remove themselves from the misery of it. In my parish, they weren't generally finding other parishes or sects - they were dropping out of the habit of coming altogether. nothing focuses the rational, generally happy and contented mind like the constant drumbeat of fundamentalism and threats of eternal misery. That sort of thing has always tended to destroy faith in any culture it is tried.
As for my comparison of Maymon with Savonarola, Calvin, Cromwell and Mather, it comes from this notion of monasticizing the laity that they seem to share.
Now, back to work.
#49 Michael on 2010-11-19 10:37
Michael, read what what a true Son of Antioch, Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos of Tripoli has to say about monasticism as a model for the life of the lay Christian:
And he would be wrong. My experience with married parishioners who attempt that lead me to believe that it is a disaster to attempt it in a lay relationship.
And if you have any kind of a normal marriage, you'd understand why.
#50 Michael on 2010-11-19 10:41
Of course I agree with the fact that Christ is The Heart of the Church. No disagreement on that, at all.
Perhaps what I was suggesting, is that, as a convert, I do see a difference between the approaches of convert clergy (who I think, although not entirely sure, now out-number the 'native-born' clergy in the AOC) and those clergy who were raised in BOTH the Orthodox Church and in a specific ethnic heritage (Arabic, Russian, Greek, etc.). While we can change a vision and practice of our faith, it is much more difficult to change the cultural heritage we have been raised in (Although some convert clergy make every effort to out-culture those who are actually from that foreign culture - ex. beards and hats).
In addition, I have also seen foreign-born clergy given a great deal more "forgiveness" for mis-deeds than convert clergy. At one point I even heard +Philip discuss this and confirm this (this was perhaps two decades ago) when he said "foreign born clergy don't understand the culture here and they need time to adapt". Even +Philip recognized that there is a difference in cultural approaches.
Finally, given a couple decades, parts of that letter from the "Evangelical Orthodox" seem completely inappropriate, and parts of +Philip's reponse all too true. It was a good bit presumptuous for them to critisize +Philip who was perfectly willing to accept them in mass ordinations, accepting some as Archpriests who had never served a single service in the Orthodox Church, and accepted some of them who had been married twice (I think this last one is true). Somehow that was okay, but allowing a widowed priest (who had proved himself a capable shepherd) to re-marry wasn't?
And while we are on the subject of twice married clergy ... I know or have met three Orthodox priests who, for a variety of reasons, left the priesthood after the ending of their first marriage and then married again. All three have lead very fulfilling and useful lives, receiving a multitude of honors in their new-found professions, who have received advanced degrees and who are leading, caring and nurturing, and shepherding people in other ways (as a psychologist, for example). They have all found it VERY difficult to even attend Orthodox services (although they have made every attempt, and they still do attend services) because of the judgementalism of the people in the churches. How sad it is that we have allowed an ancient rule, accepted within a totally foreign cultural context, to dictate that we reject the talents and skills of these or any capable leaders. As Jason has suggested, isn't it about Christ being The Heart of the Church, and not a set a rules we "have" to follow like blind Pharisees? Trust me, I'd MUCH rather have any one of these twice-married priests as my pastor, rather than over half-of the once-married priests I've seen in parishes who have no clue how to shepherd a flock or evangelize the church.
#51 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-19 10:55
Thank you for your post. I thought it was balanced and forthright. We must all avoid sweeping condemnations. Just as everyone's personal history is different, so too is everyone's knowledge and experience of the current problems in our archdiocese. From where I am, I have seen and experienced a lot of fear. It is my hope and prayer that the causes for this fear may vanish, so that we might all make some spiritual progress. May God reward you for the prayers you can offer at the holy altar for the peace of the Church and our archdiocese.
#52 Eric Peterson on 2010-11-19 13:30
Many of us who come from 33 generations of Antiochians welcomed you and still welcome you into Orthodoxy. I don't blame you for any of the problems in our eparchy. All the problems were there before you all joined. My close relative, who was very involved with the formation of SOYO and was once a member of the BOT always knew Met. Philip had issues. He also told me that one of our bishops failed the seminary. He knew there were Arab priests who had committed sins that mad them ineligible for the priesthood but they remained priests anyway. And there were many other scandals which happened before any EOC members joined.
I could be wrong but it seems the GOA, OCA and now we Antiochians are all be swept clean these last ten years. And I do have to wonder if all those who sincerely joined Orthodoxy during the last 20 years have had a cleansing effect on all of the jurisdictions. The sincerity of the prayers, fasting and almsgiving along with the welcoming missionary worked I have witnessed from all those who have joined us must show our Lord what Orthodoxy in America could be.
But in order to be truly effective God needs to chop off the unfruitful vines, even if those vines have been there for a millennia or two in order for the new grafts to become more fruitful. Time will tell but that is where I am placing my hope.
#53 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-19 15:30
I once attended your parish and think and believe otherwise of Bp Joseph. He was not fair to your predecessor. And now we learn you are buying a Church very close to an OCA affiliated existing parish? How Orthodox and such a display of Unity! No, all seem to praise only that which benefits them. Where is Truth?
#54 Anonymous on 2010-11-19 21:37
A hostage crisis????
Wow, Metropolitan Philip supporters are utilizing a lot of hyperbole these days. As for odd, emotionally stunted folks, that seems to describe better the few (but wealthy and/or connected) people of Middle Eastern descent who are proving incapable of understanding the American culture and who shout curses from the convention floor (as witnessed by some in Palm Desert last year).
#55 A Midwest Observer on 2010-11-20 00:07
And the majority of the Antiochian Archdiocese gladly receives it, thinking the beatings of their brothers and sisters in Christ must be endured in the name of piety and meekness.
#56 A Midwest Observer on 2010-11-20 00:11
Amen! to Fr. Patrick OGrady's post!
#57 David Feliciano on 2010-11-20 16:01
I am an Antiochian Orthodox by adoption, in that I became part of the Antiochian Archdiocese when my family left the Holy Land because of the unbearable Zionist occupation and came to the USA for refuge. Our experience in the USA has been a strugggle -- dealing with your childen just being in an American school is a constant battle to have your children not "lose their virginity." Be that as it may, I have many qualms with Metro Philip, including allowing those "converts" in without proper catechism, which is something a jurisdiction like ROCOR was rightly demanding of them. He is now paying the price for that and his many un-Orthodox liberal tendencies.
While I certainly agree with most of the criticisms of Metro Philip here, I find it disgusting that those criticisms are juxtaposed with the Zionist tendencies of the former Protestants who complain about nonexistent "anti-semitism" in the Word and who harbor the broader Protestant anti-Arab attitude which is aptly expressed by their contempt for the "very strange effort to arabize the Jerusalem Patriarchate." What is strange about trying to have a Church properly reflect its local constituency -- this is one of Metro Philip's commendable legacies.
#58 Palestinian Orthodox on 2010-11-20 16:52
The beating will continue until the moral improves!
#59 constantine v on 2010-11-21 16:43
Thank you for your words Fr. Catalin. I do so appreciate them. It would be interesting to see what you and I both consider to be expressions from the heart of Orthodoxy and what are expressions of culture and ethnicism. We might agree on most everything, or perhaps on everything. But then again, all too often I've seen lay people and priests explain things in terms of Orthodoxy when indeed they were merely expressions of culture. A lot of this can be experienced by belonging to several jurisdictions (yes, I know, a problematic term) over the period of a life-time. It would be a fun conversation.
#60 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-22 07:48
Thank you for your post Fr. Patrick ... just one comment: While I agree that each story is fairly unique, only one time in the past century has such a large group entered Orthodoxy at the same time and from the same direction - I think it was something like 17 parishes and 1,500 people (?) all beginning at Fr. John Bartke's parish in or near Los Angeles (?) - that in-and-of-itself makes the movement rather rare or in modern times unique. Yes, everyone has a different story, and my story is actually fairly similar to yours ... but there is perhaps a reason this is pointed to, because of sheer numbers.
#61 Sean O'Clare on 2010-11-22 07:56
I am well aware that Bp. MARK was Pentecostal. However, my understanding is that he is Orthodox -- and an Orthodox bishop at that. I was at his enthroning in Toledo in the summer of 2005, and that was certainly the distinct impression that was left on me. Do you have information that I don't regarding this?
And since I've never heard Bp. MARK harangue anybody from the altar in his multiple parish visits to All Saints, I'm afraid I just don't know what you're talking about, nor do I know what you mean by "his special favorite". If you have a specific example, I'd be very interested to hear it.
Regarding "monasticizing the laity" -- I'm afraid I don't really know what you mean by this. I have heard Bp. MARK encourage people to keep the fasts, attend the services, and to make their churches the instruments of charity rather than recipients -- and I've also heard him say that churches shouldn't host bingo games, they should pay their priests, and non-Christians shouldn't be communed. None of the things I've heard Bp. MARK say fall into a category of "monasticizing the laity," at least as far as I'm concerned. If there's something obvious that I'm missing, I'd be curious to know what it is. If he's telling married people to live as brother and sister (which is what you appear to assume Met. Ephrem of Tripoli means), well, I've never heard him say that.
1) There is undeniably a tension between monasticism and "the world", and it has existed at least as far back as the late third century when St. Anthony first headed out to the desert. This tension is natural, healthy, necessary, productive, and largely misunderstood in this country, so far as I can tell. One of the healthy things about it is exactly what Fr. Touma is doing from afar -- monastics, for whom the worst thing you can do to them (send them back to their monastery) is exactly what they want anyway, are able to be critical without fearing the consequences. For my own part, I generally don't see monasticism as "better"; it is certainly a different path, but in my view it's rather like the military in a lot of ways -- I'm glad it's there, I recognize its necessity, I respect the people who are able to do it, and every time I'm around it it's underscored why I'm not in it. The Antiochians in this country have largely skewed the balance away from monasticism, even in the face of what is apparently a monastic revival in Syria and Lebanon, and I think that has had the unfortunate effect of a) normalizing an "Antiochian Orthodoxy" (whatever that means) that is largely free of this tension, and b) has meant that the AOCANA hierarchy has been largely free of monastic critical voices (perhaps this is a feature and not a bug). In any event, the tension and the balance is necessary, to skew too heavily in any one direction is to lose the "both/and" that is vital in Orthodox Christianity.
2) An Arab-American friend of mine has suggested to me that Bp. MARK's real sin was not understanding the pan-Arab solidarity that exists, particularly in Detroit. For the Arab-Americans who are part of this, all Arabs, regardless of religion, are family, and you don't mess with that or speak badly about Muslims or other non-Orthodox, particularly given the intermarrying that has gone on. When he found out that Bp. MARK had said that Muslim spouses of Orthodox Christians needed to not be communed, his response was, "You can't do that out of the blue and expect it to go over well with that crowd. You're messing their own when you do that." This seems like a bigger issue than I'm able to pass judgment on one way or the other, but what I will say is that this seems like a complex, tangled matter that somebody like Bp. MARK would have been largely unprepared to navigate without some seriously offered and seriously received counsel and help. If he was sent in and just told, "Your job is to make sure the faith is being kept," well -- maybe there was hope that somebody like him would be able to just cut through the nonsense, and that gambit failed. Or, perhaps, he was set up to fail.
I think an unintended consequence of the phenomenon of "convert parishes" has been a general isolation, perhaps by design and perhaps not, of converts and cradles from each other for the most part, meaning we don't understand each other very well. I don't know what the solution to this is, but I think this can manifest itself as a gap between people who see Orthodoxy as an ideal to be striven for and people who see Orthodoxy as a lived experience that just is what it is, whatever that is. That's not exactly a cradle vs. convert problem; I know cradles who are very much about seeing Orthodoxy as the ideal, and I know converts who are very much in the "lived experience" camp, and at the casual end of it for that matter. (A friend of mine likes to say, "The final stage of conversion is realizing you don't actually have to go to all these services, so you stop going altogether." Another friend of mine, on hearing this, said, "He has a point.")
Just a wee bit bitter Michael.
I am going to assume you are a cradle like myself.
Can I ask you how many of your relations are still Orthodox?
Siblings? Cousins? Children, (if you have any)? Nieces, nephews?
You get my drift.
Thankfully, my extended and immediate family are still Orthodox.
Quite a feat for 33 generations. But it is not because we stayed in an Arab Orthodox parish. Unlike you, I am grateful for what the newcomers have
brought with them. It is refreshing. No more silly food festivals, no dumb fashion shows, inane sweet sixteen balls, or repetitive haflis. No more being yelled at by sexist immigrant Arab men during parish council meetings. Or being shoved off a curb by one of them because I stood up to his blusterings (what is it with Arabs, why do they get physically violent with you when you argue points with them?) Saw this same kind violent behavior in Palm Desert...Arab thugs pushing delegates to the ground!!! No more worries about funding the church on $50 a year pledges because these new folks tithe! We can actually use our money to help the poor and support the homeless. Wow, what a concept!
Oh, and my children notice a difference in attitudes when they go to church camp. The Arab teen boys tell my children how girls are inferior to their maleness. My children just shake their heads in utter disbelief. My one child said,"Mom, are these guys for real?" Thank God my kids aren't surrounded by these future sexist losers at church. No, the teens at our church serve the poor in Mexico, in our city and some are planning on going to other locations to continue to do more work to help the least of the brethren.
Back at the Arab parish, when I visit, I try to console the older ladies whose children no longer attend. "Honey, my daughter, she won't bring her boys to church. She said the service is too long and well, they kids they get bored.
And they play soccer on Sundays...."
Oh yes, I have seen a whole generation of Arab children no longer come to church. And they are only the second generation to live in the United States. Haram! Wonder why they lose their faith? Hmmmm...
Heard there are other Arab parishes like this one....Fr. Joseph Antypas' church seems to have lost quite a few members, some now attend OCA parishes. Good for them....at least they will have a chance of retaining their
The unfruitful vines will be cut off and thrown in the fire.
Allah Maa 'ak
#63 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-22 09:16
Whether Bp Joseph was fair to my predecessor or not, is not mine to judge. But that predecessor is a friend of mine and now happily assigned to a parish in our deanery.
And, you judge falsely when you cast aspersions on our move to our new location. I / We keep good relations with our sister Orthodox parish in the same town. There is plenty of room for all of us. Do not judge what you do not know or understand. This kind of thing is what contributes to evil thoughts. And we all know the insidious power of impassioned thoughts (pathetikoi logismoi)!
#64 Fr Patrick B. O'Grady on 2010-11-22 09:52
You assume incorrectly. I'm not a cradle - I'm a "generation and a half" skip, have no knowledge of the Arabic language, and grew up completely immersed in and enthusiastically remain a part of North American polyglot culture.
I've done my share of ripping of some of the racist and sexist attitudes that some of the elder folk have on behalf of my own family, and noticed a vast improvement of attitudes there.
Unlike you, however, I enjoy the silly food festivals, the haflis, the social things. But that's me - I'd rather see people doing things corporately. I'm also fond of those silly, evil check writers that you and some of the folks here despise, but without whom, you'd lose those magnificent structures that you stand about in, smug in your "better than them" status. Of course, without them, I suppose you could lurch from financial crisis to financial crisis in the manner of an OCA parish. That would have been great fun.
One other thing - oddly, my daughters don't have the same complaints about church camp that you report, and maintain positive relationships with male, female, arab and non-arab peers. Your complaints must be a West Coast thing.
(Editor's note: We prefer the term " muddle through" to "lurch". And not all OCA parishes are unstable financially. Mine's budget, for example, has grown every year for the past decade. (Reality Check: Of course, the local Lutheran church had to cut 10% of its budget this year due to the economy - an amount greater than my parishes' entire budget. ))
#65 Michael on 2010-11-22 13:27
Actually Michael, the people who support our parish are those folks you despise. They tithe. The Arabs folks are the ones putting dollar bills in the plate. And their children no longer attend.
There are ethnic parishes all over the US that have this problem.
#66 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-22 16:18
These so-called scandals, like the moving of Bp. Mark, the suspension of the priest, the movement of the priest with little notice, the demotion of the bishops, etc. are not really scandals but the reality of the Orthodox Church throughout the world.
I am Russian Orthodox and I know that for many years, and I'm sure even now, these types of things took place in Russia and the Ukraine. The only difference is that we are learning about them through the internet. In fact, I know of many more scandals that were significantly worse. I am not trying to make excuses and say that all of what has taken place is right, but I think we have to step back and understand that the church has its own way of dealing with things. Certainly it can be grossly offensive, abusive, and downright meanspirited. But sometimes they are just painful and necessary. Transfers , demotions and suspensions are extremely painful. However, they are in the hands of our hierarchs, who are entrusted with keeping the faith and keeping the order in our churches.
I have known many bishops and priests who were moved. Many of the moves seem to have been based on no logic whatsoever. However in most cases the individuals and parishes bounce back, and what seemed illogical at the time turns out to be okay. Again, I am not saying we haveto lay low and play dumb, but we sometimes have to allow the Holy Spirit to work through our hierarchs so that they make the best decisions, even if we disagree with them.
I don't know Bishop Mark or Metropolitan Phillip, but as an example, to an outsider it looks like Bishop Mark was not actually chosen by the people of the Midwest diocese. He was elected to be a bishop and essentially placed there by Metropolitan Phillip. If he was actually elected by the people of the diocese I stand corrected. If he wasn't elected and simply placed there, Metropolitan Phillip is well within his rights to transfer any auxilliary bishop he chooses, and the same goes for any priest. In the Russian Church at least, each bishop takes an oath of allegiance to the Metropolitan to uphold the teachings of the church and to do be obedient. It is not quite the same with a priest, but he is still ordained with the understanding of being completely obedient to his bishop, which may include packing his bags in a day and moving to a new city, if the bishop feels that it is in the best interests of the Church.
Certainly forgeries and fraud have no place in the Church. Anyone who commits these crimes is no longer worthy to be a bishop or a priest. If some of these acts have occurred, those involved should be defrocked and turned over to authorities. But if the matters involve the canonical order of the Church, they are matters left up to the local hierarchs to deal with and we must simply pray that the Holy Spirit guides them to the right decision.
#67 Anonymous on 2010-11-23 06:59
To bring you up to speed regarding Bishop Mark. He was elevated and enthroned as Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest. He was only fairly recently asked to accept the title of Auxiliary Bishop, while several other bishops had been auxiliary bishops prior to be assigned their own dioceses.
The idea of any bishop being "auxiliary" is entirely nonsensical. Our traditions simply do not support the continuance of this ill-advised phenomenon.
Either one is a bishop or one is not a bishop. Laying hands upon a man to elevate him to the episcopate while depriving him of a clearly defined diocese is not only a grave error in ecclesiology, but it stinks of hypocrisy and self-serving motivations. Bishops should be allowed the crowns of their own diocese, not just a fancy hat which does nothing but confuse the issue.
If a diocese is too large for a bishop to handle, it should be split. If a bishop is truly a servant of Christ, he should be the one to request such a split. Playing games with the episcopacy is not only confusing, but hampers the growth of our faith.
As for the misleading idea that Bishop Mark is not wanted by his diocesan churches, that's nothing but foolishness. Many have heard about some of the foolish people from the Detroit area who shout down fellow parishioners who would consider supporting Bishop Mark. I have heard of only isolated incidents elsewhere within the diocese where Bishop Mark was not highly valued.
I can assure you that in west Michigan, he has been very highly regarded. I have seen evidence of the same elsewhere throughout the diocese despite what Metropolitan Philip's beloved Parish Life Conferences might indicate. I have attended only one of these conferences in my eleven years in the diocese, and have to admit that I saw little spiritual benefit in any of it.
On the other hand, I have noticed continued growth in each of our west Michigan parishes - both in parishioners as well as in community outreach. We continue to attract both relocating "cradle" and local "convert" parishioners. This success has been largely attributable to Bishop Mark's loving attention to his flock.
#68 Anonymous on 2010-11-23 08:47
By the way, brothers and sisters. I would advise against you sending any anonymous letters of complaint to Metropolitan Philip. I made the mistake of doing so after the Bishop Mark issue. I told him in no uncertain terms what I thought of him. I figured he gets lots of letters, and either out of cowardice or prudence decided not to sign it. I wish now I had. Anyway, he checked the post mark to see where the letter came from. He then sent a letter to my priest asking him if he sent the letter, or if it came from our deacon. Obviously, it was neither of them. If it had been either of them, I am sure they would be suspended. My priest figured out it was me, and I told him it was. I also told him to go ahead and tell Philip it was me if it would make life easier for him. I did not want him to be punished for my actions. I'm waiting to see if that is going to happen. My priest considers my words unfair and unfounded-the rantings of a person who spends too much time on the internet. Anyway. I think the fact the Metropolitan actually checked the post mark and came looking for the offender tells you all you need to know. If you love your priest, don't write critical letters to Philip. He will be looking to see if your clergy are the guilty parties.
#69 Anonymous on 2010-11-23 15:02
We have learned that the church building you are planning to purchase is indeed very, very close to the existing "OCA Affiliated" parish. You are in the city of San Dimas,CA and they are in Pomona where you are relocating.
What can we believe when we speak of Orthodox cooperation and unifying existences? Does your Bishop Joseph approve or know of this? Room for everyone you state while both churches are very small.
Tell us if we have Unity in America and there was now One Bishop for all peoples of a certain area - would that Bishop place a parish within blocks of one another?? We THINK not and you KNOW not. And both with non ethnic composition using english only in their services!
We have a great deal of growing up to do!
#70 Anonymous on 2010-11-23 22:02
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
#71 Macarius on 2010-11-24 07:39
Anonymous wrote: Anyway. I think the fact the Metropolitan actually checked the post mark and came looking for the offender tells you all you need to know. If you love your priest, don't write critical letters to Philip. He will be looking to see if your clergy are the guilty parties.
How ironic! Just before I read this I had spoken to an AOA priest and noted that many (most?) of the clergy in the AOA are now living like priests in the Soviet era: attempting to live a pious life, guiding their flock along traditional lines, but being very careful about who actually knows what they are doing. Why? Fear of retribution. Who would have ever thought that the source of fear would be one's own Bishop. Sadly, this same pressure is present in many of the GOA Metropolis' as well. IMHO the tide has turned and just as Soviet Union collapsed, we will see the collapse of misguided leadership in the AOA. Metr. Philip, tear down that wall.
#72 Frustrated (but hopeful) Antiochian on 2010-11-24 19:09
Do you have a timetable for the glorification of Iskandra Tannous?
In her case, doing so without the usual posthumous wait would bless the whole Church. She already displays the qualities of a true Saint in abundance, as well as those of a true Biblical Prophet. And yet in her true humility she would truly call herself "her unworthiness"!
And no, this is NOT being said with tongue-in-cheek. This is for real.
#73 John Battye on 2010-11-26 04:42
I'm not surprised that postmarks are being checked by MP. I thought it wise to have NON Orthodox friends - who live in the middle of nowhere - mail my letters for me. They don't need to know why. You prepare your letter and send it to them... and then they just drop your already-addressed-letters in the mail. This not only protects my priest (I don't care about me), but gives me the pleasure of imagining MP (magnifying glass in hand) going over a stack of U.S. maps trying to figure who he should kick. For added effect, have a friend mail them from Detroit!
#74 Ivan Had.Enough on 2010-11-26 09:15
Wrong, John, wrong. I am a product of the second generation of Arab-Americans who were coddled which means my spiritual life is not very ascetic to say the least. I have more in common with those on the other side than with folks like you. Why do you think I go after them with such a fury? I know how they think because I am one of them! LOL!
Many of my postings have not made it because Mark has wisely chosen
not to post them. He knows I am no saint.
But I like what those who are new bring to our churches.
And I hope to witness a rebirth of Orthodoxy in North America before I die.
#75 Iskandra Tannous on 2010-11-26 11:20
His mitre is obviously too tight.
#76 Anonymous on 2010-11-30 01:05
Ahhhh... or it could be that Philip's Anglican collar is obviously too tight.
#77 Heracleides on 2010-11-30 14:26
Concerning the parish moving blocks away from another, in all fairness, it's not like affordable church properties are available just everywhere -- a congregation on a budget has few options and it was basically bad luck that it occurred this way.
On the other hand, a new parish nearby should not pose a threat to a healthy parish -- in fact, disgruntled parishioners at the new parish may visit the old one to see what it's like. The two parishes may actually be able to do things together and work together -- maybe even a Pascha picnic together. Depending on how close they are, they might have joint liturgical services -- our modern-day processions grew from the congregational processions from one church to another in Jerusalem.
This doesn't have to be a tragedy, it might actually end up being a good thing unless one side or the other is really hung-up on keeping tightly together in their own enclave.
(Editor's note: Really, this is absurd. You don't find two Catholic churches a block away; nor two Episcopal Churches, nor two ELCA Churches. To suggest its just 'bad luck" there are two Orthodox Churchs siting themselves across from each other only testifies to our disunity and lack of integrity, honesty and common sense. Bad luck has nothing to do with. If they want to worship in that area, why not just join the existing church? Not an option? Then stop pretending we are one church, and be honest that we are just tribal, and marketing ourselves to different niches, so your original premise is at least honest - there is no real competition.
Lord have mercy.)
#78 Anonymous on 2010-12-07 13:37
"You don't find two Catholic churches a block away"
Who said they were a block away? No one did and they are not.
(Editor's note: I was not asserting a fact, but making a comparison. One does not ever find two Catholic churches next door to each other. Nor should one find two Orthodox churches....)
#79 Anonymous on 2010-12-10 01:31
The 30 characteristics of the manipulator (psychopath, in French "perverse narcissist") from the book "Les manipulateurs sont parmi nous" by Isabelle Nazare Aga.
In order for a person to be a psychopath, at least 14 items from this list must be present as permanent traits. For example item 18: almost everyone has told a lie at some points in their life, but item 18 only applies if a person uses lies as a habitual strategy.
 1 Burdens others with guilt while appealing to family ties, friendship, professional ethics; (and let me add - nationality)
 2 evades responsibilities or pushes them onto others;
 3 remains vague in the communication of his/her claims, needs, feelings and opinions;
 4 often gives vague answers;
 5 changes opinion, behaviour and feelings depending on people and situations;
 6 makes use of logical arguments to camouflage claims;
 7 wants to make others believe that they have to be perfect, that they can never change their mind, that they have to know everything and have to respond immediately to claims and questions;
 8 disputes the qualities, the ability and the personality of others;
criticises without giving that impression, despises and condemns;
 9 lets others convey his/her messages;
 10 creates havoc (fights), creates distrust, divides to be better able to rule;
 11 positions himself/herself as a victim to elicit compassion;
 12 ignores or does not honour requests even if he/she declares that they will be taken care of;
 13 misuses ethical principles of others to serve own interests;
 14 threatens in underhanded ways or commits open chantage (blackmail);
 15 suddenly changes the subject in the course of a conversation;
 16 avoids or flees relationships and togetherness;
 17 targets the ignorance of others and creates an impression of superiority;
 18 lies;
 19 tells lies to find out the truth
 20 is egocentric;
 21 can be jealous;
 22 does not bear criticism and negates evidence;
 23 does not care for the rights, opinions and wishes of others;
 24 often uses the very last moment to give commands to others or to instigate them to act;
 25 his/her words seem to be logical or coherent while the attitude and behaviour give evidence of the opposite;
 26 he/she exerts himself/herself in making compliments in order to gain your sympathy, gives presents, becomes suddenly very caring for you;
 27 gives you an uneasy, unfree feeling;
 28 extremely expert in accomplishing own goals, but at the expense of others;
 29 pressures us to do things that we would not do of our own accord;
 30 is the subject of conversations all the time, even if he/she is not present.
#80 Pauline Costianes on 2010-12-28 13:51
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