Friday, March 18. 2011
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The article's photo caption reads: "Metropolitan Jonah: The 51-year-old leader of the Orthodox Church in America wants to add political action to the faithís traditions." Could somebody please explain what was so inadequate about our "faith's traditions" that they require "additions" by Metropolitan Jonah?
#1 Joseph Clarke on 2011-03-18 12:40
With respect for the varying interpretations of Metropolitan Hilarion's visit to the US, this most recent event demonstrates the absurdity of our situation. Isn't there a better way to address tensions and disagreements within the Church? Is a personal visit of a high-ranking bishop from the Russian Orthodox Church really necessary?
I know this is beating a "dead horse," as it were, but we have sister Orthodox churches and bishops right here in North America. One would think that this is exactly the kind of issue our regional "episcopal assembly" (which replaced SCOBA) should address.
If anything, this proves that the burden of demonstrating the local Orthodox Church as authentically Church remains upon those of us who understand ourselves as the local Church here, in America.
We'll know that we have grown as a Church when the representatives of our sister Churches abroad have enough confidence in us to address our internal issues that they won't need to send a representative to brief our leaders.
#2 Dn. Nicholas Denysenko on 2011-03-18 13:24
There's much I find disturbing in this article. I'm also disturbed by the uncritical and enthusiastic response it has received among some people.
An assortment of near random observations:
1. The article presents a choice between, on the one hand, being seen as "sponsors of bazaars featuring Slavic or Mediterranean food, crafts and dancing" or, on the other, putting ourselves forward as "societal firebrands." Is this really the choice? The only choice? No option of being known as those who faithfully maintain the fullness of faith and manifest Christ's love in the world in a personal, humane, responsive way?
2. When I think back on the truly great priests and bishops I've been lucky enough to know, I really don't have a clue what their politics were. That's not to say that they didn't instill an urgent sense that we must live the faith, not merely proclaim it. It's just that the living out of that faith was never expressed (and absolutely never mandated) in political terms. Neither their proclamation of the faith nor their pastoral care seems to have been undermined by this omission.
3. Articles like this don't get published by accident or because the reporter thought it up on their own -- the story is "pitched" in a manner that will make it appealing to a particular publication. The pitch here seems to have been: "see the familiar conflict between energetic Evangelical conservative values and dull, dying mainline groups play out on new ground, with some cool pics of beards and brocade." Do we now aspire to be a smells and bells accessory to an established political agenda? Is that what we have to say to the world? Or do we just like our picture in the paper?
4. As for the sources who provided the narrative to this reporter, portraying the current conflict as arising from a quest to assert conservative values seems disingenuous at best. Leave aside the Manhattan Declaration issue (a minor point), and the controversy is rooted in a combination of ecclesiology (respect for the conciliar tradition) and concern for practical matters (chaos and lack of follow through on matters that left the OCA exposed legally or financially). The Synod of Bishops hardly seems to fit the bill either of liberal agitators or indifferent ethnics.
Finally, is this the seemly way for our first hierarch to respond to the urging of his fellow bishops (now including Metropolitan Hilarion) to seek rest and reflection?
P.S., I'll indulge in a prediction -- we'll soon see a transition from the ROC/MP being portrayed as the adults to whom we children must listen, to +Hilarion being cast as part of the vast conspiracy, which apparently includes the MC in its entirety, the Synod in its entirety, and the administration in its entirety ... do the observers taking OCAtruth at its word really not understand that those three groups comprise an immensely diverse set of personalities, policies, perspectives and politics?
#3 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-03-18 14:05
In general, I find articles written in secular papers about any religion to be worth less than the paper they're printed on. This is no exception. There's always an agenda. As is pointed out in a later comment, no journalist just "decides" out of the blue to write such an article. It was embarrassing to read.
#4 Matushka on 2011-03-18 15:51
If the OCA represents a culture war.
Want no part of it.
#5 Daniel E. Fall on 2011-03-18 19:19
Well I can try, Mr. Clarke:
First of all you seem to have fastened on to a turn of phrase crafted by the reporter or a caption writer, not the Metropolitan himself. Or am I missing something?
That perhaps turns your question into "Can someone tell me why a secular reporter or caption writer would be so ignorant of the tradtions of the Orthodox Church as not to know that political engagement has always been a part?" I'll bet you can answer the question as rephrased just fine without me.
Or maybe it turns the question into "Why would Metropolitan Jonah need to make a point out of engaging our culture and our government on points of morality which have become political footballs and matters of political correctness?" One possible answer to that question is that he doesn't think Met. Theodosius or Met. Herman did a very good job of carrying on that tradition, and there is some catching up to be done.
#6 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-03-18 21:17
Rebecca, again, I agree with you. I, also, was thinking that this article was "pitched." As one of those who are puzzled by/have concerns about some of our Metropolitan's decisions and actions, including his choice of closest advisors picked from the old RSK circle, I pray for our Metropolitan and our Holy Synod. I think this article was aimed in part at image-making. We are called to be in the image and likeness of God -- and to cleave to Him and proclaim Him! By and large, I am neither encouraged nor lifted up by this article that will appear in the Washington Post on Sunday, 3/20.
Please forgive my remaining anonymous.
(Editor's note: Of course this article was pitched. All free-lance articles are. That is not wrong, or bad. So don't blame the messenger - or in this case - the writer, for writing what she felt was an interesting story. And it was both an interesting and revealing story. People can welcome, or dismiss, what it reveals about +Jonah, but the fact is the reporter wrote a most professional peice, and reported accurately, as far as I can tell, what she indeed was told. )
#7 No More on 2011-03-19 03:54
Having just read the DC cathedral statement, I am filled with dismay. Considering the financial mess he has caused there, I would have to say their statement is "generous"
As for the letter from a Fr. Gregory Jensen posted on the "truth" site, I am sad beyond belief. That they would single out the northeast, in such a way, these are the parishes that for years supported the diocese of the south. In my parish, that stops today, and I can deliver on that promise since I am parish council president.
The rust belt is alive and well, and contrary to the southies thoughts on what passes for a living and growing parish, or cutting edge Orthodoxy, there are plenty of growing and active parishes in the northeast. BTW, the Orthodoxy up here is a healthy biblically engaged faith, not one steeped in the dark reaches of a misunderstood convert piety or the malformed theology of the newly chrismated and ordained cleric.
No amount of Jonah's marching for an issue that is a safe harbor of frightened "single" male clergy will bring about unity. Why do they beat the drum on abortion? Where is the outrage about POVERTY, the death penalty, war, famine, the mass murder in Africa? You see, they are not interested in that, there is no publicity in that!
When did gay marriage fall into this discussion about Jonah's mental and spiritual health? As I recall it was the "truth" website that brought that topic up. The discussion here was about the Synod of Bishops, Jonah, Syosset and DC. BEWARE of people who call themselves unworthy yet set themselves up as the moral paragons.
I don't think that anyone wanted Jonah to fail, but the man has no judgement, and no ability to work well with others. For an answer to the problems we are in we need to look deeper, Jonah contrary to what his supporters like to say he is not from the MP, he came out of the spurious formation of the Holy Order of Mans, and Christ the Savior Brotherhood. This is what needs to be looked into.
I resent the OCAtruth site, the people behind it and their lack, total lack of humility. Were it not for the countless "rustbelt" faithful, and priests that were BTW, real missionary priests who suffered decades and decades of poverty, you would not exist today. I will stop all personal and parish support for the DOS.
When you become fully Orthodox, not just a bunch of spoiled children, with a dysfunctional daddy, give me a call.
#8 G.I.Y. on 2011-03-19 06:40
The issue here goes far beyond Metropolitan Jonah and the OCA.
It is vital to the whole of Orthodoxy in America.
I concur that the best bishops and priests that I have been privileged to know have never outrightly expressed their politics to their congregations but rather have instilled it through the actions of their lives and their faith.
What scares me the most about some of our Orthodox religious leaders is their naivete. The mostly evangelical leadership of the 'religious' right movement plays nice in public with Orthodox and Roman Catholics alike but in private, on their websites and in their churches they view us both as being something less than Christian and number us among the unsaved.' Why are we casting our pearls before swine? To footsie with them like I see many of our clergy, not just the from the OCA is dangerous in my opinion.
Frankly, I have seen far to many good Orthodox since Roe v. Wade get involved with the 'religious' rights' social agenda for honest reasons and fall under the Evangelicas's spell and become apostates.
If the cost of raising the profile of Orthodoxy in this country is to tie her to the anchor of the so-called 'Religious Right', I for one prefer to keep a low profile. Work within your own cities and communities, follow the old adage, 'Think Globally, ACT locally.' Reduce the demand for abortion in your own town by supporting alternative organizations such as Birthright and others.
Act upon your words, become foster parents or if you can not serve this way, encourage others in your parish and community to become involved. Marching once a year or signing petitions will do nothing except make you feel better. You can only change our nation's culture from the bottom up, not by starting at the top of the nation. A parish community is the perfect place to start.
I think that many who have become disillusioned with less doctrinally rigorous brands of Christianity have associated the inherent conservatism of the Orthodox faith with the current brand of American political conservatism. This to me is a fatal error.
I fear that your Metropolitan does not see the dangers inherent in his approach.
#9 'bez mena' on 2011-03-19 07:07
Dear Fr. George,
Thanks for your response. To my knowledge, it has never been part of Orthodox tradition to wade into a preexisting political "culture war," adopt the rhetorical frames of evangelical Protestant and conservative Catholic political groups, or advocate against the secular rights of citizens. The article is correct to characterize these as innovations which Met. Jonah would like to introduce to the Church.
Furthermore, my parents did not convert to Orthodoxy in order to be a "conscience" for America, or indeed for anybody other than themselves.
#10 Joseph Clarke on 2011-03-19 08:01
In fact, Metropolitan Herman was always faithfully present at the March for Life, along with other bishops, priests, seminarians and lay people.
His tenure as Metropolitan was disastrous for the OCA, and for years I cringed to hear his name commemorated during the Liturgy, but I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of his support for the Pro-Life movement.
The current Metropolitan and his close associates seem to be trying to manufacture a "culture war" within the OCA where none really exists. For what purpose?
By the way, has anyone else enjoyed the irony of folks in Washington DC trying to label people in Dayton, Ohio as coastal liberals? I drive 50 miles to church on country roads, and it's all corn and beans, except for the occasional winter wheat and one-stoplight town. The county three miles south of me is so rural that it's the only county in Indiana without a McDonalds. Did I somehow not notice the ocean?
St Paul Church
#11 Ann McLarnan on 2011-03-19 08:29
The point about how the story was pitched wasn't that there's something nefarious about the reporter pitching it to the Post, but something revealing about how the story was pitched to the reporter by whoever wanted it written in the first place.
#12 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-03-19 08:37
So, basically the uber pious converts want to put Orthodoxy on the front lines of the culture wars. Nice to know Jesus was a Republican (and you all know that is true-the culture wars in this case reduce solely to gay marriage and abortion, and for some people, that's all that matters).
I used to be one of those uberdox converts, hanging around the ex-CSB folk, visiting the schismatics in Felton, thinking BT was some sorta awesome traddie bishop telling those pesky Syosset types to shove it. My positions changed, right about the time I realized a lot of convert parishes and clergy instill an almost cultlike atmosphere, and the fact that too many ex-Protestant clergy still bring a Protestant mindset to Orthodoxy (hello, Ben Lomond schism!).
Why is it that West Coast Orthodoxy attracts the most...well, unstable converts? The Ben Lomond fiasco, all those ex CSB parishes, unsavory people on the margins of Orthodoxy seemingly always jumping jurisdictions, and now an OCA metropolitan who has a past with the Platina gang?
#13 Anonymous in CA on 2011-03-19 09:00
"When you become fully Orthodox, not just a bunch of spoiled children, with a dysfunctional daddy, give me a call."
Kettle, meet Pot.
#14 Heracleides on 2011-03-19 09:18
BRAVO - very well said!!!!!!
#15 sasha on 2011-03-19 10:37
"...seem to be trying to manufacture a "culture war" within the OCA where none really exists."
It seems to me that the "culture war" explanation is a smokescreen. I know of no-one, NO-ONE who is advocating for abortion rights or homosexual weddings within the Orthodox Church. I've never seen it, I've never heard it, I've never heard rumor of it until Metropolitan Jonah and the Synod that elected him completed their last meeting.
I would offer that "transparency" requires those making claims that such movements exist, indeed are widespread, to make their evidence public. Otherwise it's all rumor and gossip, smoke and mirrors, sturm and drang.
#16 westcoaster on 2011-03-19 12:26
After reading your comments I then read the article in question by Fr. Jensen. Being from a sister jurisdiction, I am not going to comment on the OCA's current troubles. I can assure you that you are in our prayers. however, I do have to say that as someone from the "Rust Belt" Father Jensen's comments about my region and my people (both in the OCA, the UOC-USA and elsewhere) who pioneered the faith in that region offended me as representing an elitist and condescending mindset that too many of us in the Church who are not converts receive from SOME converts.
#17 bez mena on 2011-03-19 14:13
St. Seraphim Cathedral does not stand for everyone in the DOS. Let that be made plain. Our parish has not ever received funds from another diocese, and is not angling for it. I, for one, do not want to be lined up against the wall with the St. Seraphim's crowd.
And, not to denigrate anyone in the rust belt who has lived with this reality, but as far as being missionaries and living in poverty, I think I can speak from both points of view quite comfortably.
#18 Matushka on 2011-03-19 14:58
Dear Mr. Clarke:
I enjoy discussing with someone who has, and uses, a real name. Thanks!
I must disagree in almost every instance with what I think are the categories and definitions which you seem to have chosen to employ in your polite and sincere reply. What you call a "pre-existing culture war" the Church has always called the question of the sanctity of human life. It dates back to the descent from Mt. Sinai, and even to Cain and Abel, and before that to the way Man was created by God - with something called God's "ruah" (breath) within him.
It is not novel, and in fact it is fully traditional in every possible sense of the word to say that the growing fetus is a human being made in God's image. Innovation obviously lies on the side of those who would assert otherwise. The media and other critics of those traditional views love to set up the terminology and the equation so as to cast anyone holding to historic beliefs as a fanatic hijacker of our political system and public discourse -and no doubt some are.
But if that is indeed a growing life breathed by God, not just the union of two people, then it is completely legitimate for an Orthodox hierarch who is traditional to say in rather strong - but also deliberately nuanced, almost diplomatic, terms that it is evil to kill it for convenience. And it would even be seen traditionally as dereliction of duty and a watering down of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints - for which the Apostle Jude (v. 3) certainly felt his readers were obliged to "contend earnestly" - to assert otherwise. Read the whole of Jude. Fundamentalists aren't making Jude up!
I will resist the temptation to dig in on the other MD issues. They are probably beyond my scope and your patience, at least here. But in sum I am not annoyed in the least that His Eminence would speak up at a time when others were too, and without first obtaining favorable straw poll results as to whether or not he should.
You seem ready to chastise the His Eminence for adopting the rhetorical frames of Western Christians. I find it ironic since you seem to have swallowed those of the liberal wing of our political parties with such relish. Sometimes you just have to stand shoulder to shoulder with people with whom you disagree less than those on the other side of the line, and I don't think it follows that His Eminence thereby endorsed or began to flirt with papal infallibility, serpent handling, or the Western mindests from which they sprang.
Your comment about "advocating against the secular rights of citizens" is to obscure and cryptic to discuss.
Your parents' motives in converting were no doubt excellent, and the result of grace, but they don't matter to this debate. Maybe they didn't see the need to take a stand in the very places where the present attack is being mounted. Maybe it wasn't their calling. Fine.
But we cannot deny that there is a long, long tradition spanning Moses' visits to Pharaoh, Elijah on Mt. Carmel, Nathan the Prophet in David's palace, Sts. Peter, Paul and all the other folks since we supposedly honor daily who saw a duty to point their fingers, and talk loudly and clearly in the presence of political correctness and illegitimate exercises of authority. How absurd to criticize him for that.
The difference between what I see as His Eminence's position - which I will try to summarize at the risk of being wrong or being declared his amaneuensis or apologist here, even though I have had NO communication with him (or anyone I can recognize in the least as speaking for him) since he visited San Anselmo for the St. Nicholas feast in 2008 or 9 - he sees himself as simply bearing witness to the truth, and at the very time that truth happens to be under serious attack. No attempt to hijack other people's consciences or trade cheap sound bites with PP or NAARL on the evning news. Just a stand.
The culture war folks are doing so, so much more. Does Met. Jonah have to watch out not to join or help them, or seem to through adopting their categories, ideas, etc.? Sure, and he will need and benefit from, the gifts and contributions of many others if he is to do that.
But I am absolutely sure that quite a few of what I see as anonymous (and even named) backstabbers here and elsewhere are doing so in some recognizable part because he stands for traditional positions on these issues which they have abandoned in thought and deed. But since he has dogma on his side they make other allegations, draw other conclusions, while secretly bearing him enmity for being more conservative on these key issues than they like ... or live.
But none of that explains away or cancels out the legitimate concern so widely and responsibly expressed by key people, about how well he really is, where His Eminence's gifts are best used for the good of all, or whether they can best be used in this office over a lengthy future. I do not express an opinion on that because SO many good and wise people of all ranks are better situated than I to participate, both from the standpoint of long, deep knowledge of and experience in the Orthodox faith and from the standpoint of seeing a body of evidence accumulate that we haven't seen. But I try to pray for what's best and criticize views that seem to me to be unfair, distracting, or wrong.
The media have gotten us in the habit of judging people on sound bite evidence, catch phrases and now the internet equivalent of lynch-mob dynamics. As if the devil and our own hearts (Galatians 5:20) needed the help.
#19 Fr. George Washburn on 2011-03-19 17:28
Please clarify how it is that Met. Jonah has a past with Christ the Savior Brotherhood? And if he did, how does this disqualify him from from being a Metropolitan?
As far as West Coast Orthodoxy, I belong to a parish on the West Coast with many converts. So far, I have not come across any "unstable" or "unsavory" converts. We have no "cult like atmosphere", on the contrary a very humble and wonderful priest.
Dear Anonymous in CA, please re-read St. Ephraim' Lenten prayer.
Eugenie Osmun, Cradle Orthodox
St. Elizabeth Orthodox Mission
#20 Eugenie Osmun on 2011-03-19 17:41
The Wash. Post article addresses nothing of why + Jonah is having problems with his brother hierarchs. The article is Jonah blowing his own horn. It does not address the fact that the whole Synod of the Orthodox Church requested that he take a respite and undergo evaluation. There is much more to this story than the Wash. Post story tells.
#21 Anonymous on 2011-03-19 18:08
Smokescreen? Try visiting SVS....
#22 Seminarian on 2011-03-19 18:12
Hi - I am the reporter who wrote the story. Want to say no one approached me to do a story on +Jonah. I'd had a story published in the magazine's Dec. 12 issue about the "sanity" rally on the Mall and - being that my specialty is religion reporting - quickly thought up 4 possible ideas about which the Post might want another article. They rejected 3 but accepted the Jonah idea. Almost all my contacts within Orthodoxy were with the Antiochians so I had to brush up fast in learning something about the OCA. I really enjoyed doing it (although we had some cliffhanger moments, didn't we?) and I hope those of you reading this can get a print edition of the story that has more of Yuri's gorgeous photos.
(Editor's note: Thanks, Julia, for the insight. I am sorry this was your intro to the OCA. )
#23 Julia Duin on 2011-03-19 18:17
EXCELLENT COMMENT !!! suppose, the evangelical "christian" right succeeded in establishing some kind of their theocracy here in the usa (they would have to change the constitution) you can be sure, that after stoning homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators and hanging supposed witches (remember salem) they would come after us orthodox and catholics and anybody else who does not share their believes. AND THAT IS A FACT. history has proven that, not too long ago millions of people were victims of religious persecution, in elisabethan protestant england catholic priests were quartered for saying mess, in catholic kingdomes anybody conceived as a heretic could fall victim to the inquisition and be "roasted". only some 70 years ago 600,000 serbs were exterminated by the croatian ustashe just because they were orthodox etc. etc. etc. .YES, INDEED, i believe the so called evangelical christian right is potentially dangerous and it bothers me that some orthodox collaborate with them. a secular government, total separation of church and state is best for all faiths. i am not against +JONAH, GOD GRANT HIM MANY YEARS, but for me, since +IRINEY BEKISH there was no "real" metropolitan, GOD REST HIS SOUL and that of protodeacon nikolaj polyansky and all the "oldtimers"
#24 Anonymous on 2011-03-19 19:25
"Articles like this don't get published by accident or because the reporter thought it up on their own"
Of course they do. Indeed, it is very common.
I have published scores of articles on things that just happened to interest me: the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the sentencing of Joan Andrews Bell, the changing conditions in Kosovo, the post-Vatican II Jesuits, and so forth.
(Editor's note: Please see Julia's note below.)
#25 Patrick Henry Reardon on 2011-03-19 19:44
What secular rights do you mean?
#26 Anon on 2011-03-20 05:58
I always find it very sad when other Orthodox malign people simply for being converts. I'm sorry that I wasn't lucky enough to be born to an Orthodox family in an Orthodox country; does this mean that I'm somehow automatically a worse Christian than a cradle Orthodox? That I somehow lack the ability to understand the appropriate mindset of Orthodoxy? I have met plenty of cradle Orthodox who lack this understanding as well...
I am far too young to know anything about the CSB or HOOM, but I can attest to you that my Canadian parish, which is about half converts and has had nothing but convert clergy, is probably no worse off than any other parish.
Is it not our mission to share the good news with all people? I would advise caution in disparaging converts on websites such as this, as they have every right to become Orthodox and may be put off by statements such as yours.
#27 Disappointed on 2011-03-20 10:46
Yes, and the fact that the article entitled‎"Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington" neglected to mention one very important aspect of Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen's problems within the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). The OCA's Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee sent a report to the OCA Synod that was highly critical of the Metropolitan's actions - and inactions - on reported cases of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct. As well as the fact that Fr Alexander Garklavs' wrongful termination was at least partly based on the Metropolitan's fury over that report.
#28 Kristi Koumentakos on 2011-03-20 10:47
With all due respect, it seems to me that the "culture war" meme is being used by the defenders of the Metropolitan as a deflection of the real issue confronting the OCA. It has not been brought up by His Grace's critics. At best there's a tangental assertion that the Synod has been surprised by the Metropolitan's actions, but none that they disagree with those positions.
The issue for our Church that elected as Metropolitan a person with little-to-no management experience is that he doesn't know how to manage. And +Jonah's got a huge job: not just the Chancery in Syosset, but the Synod, the Metropolitan Council, relationships with other Orthodox jurisdictions, relationships with non-Orthodox churches, etc.
Our Metropolitan seems not to have heard the first rule of good management: No Surprises.
The Metropolitan should never be surprised by actions in Syosset or by his brother Bishops and clergy, nor should the Synod and the Church find itself surprised by the Metropolitan's public and/or private actions. It does not matter if those actions are good or bad, surprises are pernicious in and of themselves.
No Surprises is the rule of good leadership, good management and good discipleship for the simple reason that surprises lead to speculation, and thanks to our sinful condition speculation most often feeds mistrust and a lack of confidence.
Mistrust and a lack of confidence is the fruit that we see on all sides of our current situation. Mistrust of Jonah, mistrust of his critics, a lack of confidence in our Bishops, conspiracy theories, etc.
Metropolitan Jonah's "management style" (as OCATruth.com put it) speaks directly to the real issue at hand. The culture war simply does not.
Rather than wedging a division between "cradle" and "convert" that need not be opened, it seems best to me to recognize that everyone knew our Metropolitan was inexperienced, and everyone knew he'd have to learn how to manage a very large and difficult position while on the job.
And so we now are forced to confront the question of whether the Metropolitan will learn this critically important skill. This is no reflection on +Jonah's many other gifts and qualities. One can be a Saint and still lack the skill required to maintain the good order of the Church.
I urge us all to focus on the issue at hand, and pray for the Metropolitan and the Church. Should the Metropolitan learn how to better manage and lead the Church I expect his critics recognize and support that, and should he not I would hope his defenders recognize that and support what is best for the Church.
Whatever happens, the present management style is manifestly not working. Something will have to change.
But our current condition is not about a culture war or the Church's clear teachings on morality, it's about something far less dire yet far more important to the harmonious operation of the Church.
#29 westcoaster on 2011-03-20 15:17
Dear Fr. George,
I don't want to rehearse the arguments of the culture war. Nobody here is questioning whether fetuses are human beings made in God's image; they are. What I question is whether political lobbying is a proper extension of the Church's tradition of proclaiming the truth.
According to the Post article, Met. Jonah desires to "have clout in Congress" in order to oppose the legality of abortion and other hot-button issues. Yet it's far from self-evident that criminalizing abortion would have any effect on the number of abortions performed (for example, see http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/12/world/12abortion.html). I'm not prepared to argue the question either way; my point is that given the murkiness of the data, we should think twice before assuming that the legislative agendas of socially conservative political groups have anything to do with our Orthodox mission in America. And the Metropolitan should not begin to consider this question without seeking the guidance of his brother bishops, which he currently does not appear to hold in the slightest regard.
Finally, I completely agree with you about the lamentable state of discourse in our media-saturated culture. It's reprehensible that the present discussion within the Church has degenerated into character assassination (of Met. Jonah, of Mark Stokoe, of others who have no apparent connection to this controversy). But I'm afraid that sound bites and catch phrases are fundamental tools of secular politics, and this, too, is reason to question the Metropolitan's objectives. To become a "conscience for our culture," as His Beatitude envisions, the OCA will need a sophisticated media strategy. If you think there's currently too much debate and judgment over the Metropolitan's words and actions, just wait until the OCA has "clout in Congress" and our primate really becomes a political target!
I truly admire Met. Jonah for wishing to move the OCA beyond ethnic enclaves and to engage more fully with American culture. I think culture war politics is the wrong way to do this, however, and I hope and pray that Met. Jonah will rethink his vision and approach.
#30 Joseph Clarke on 2011-03-20 15:37
Mark, I wasn't shooting the messenger/the reporter. I am concerned about who from our MJ+'s current inner circle wanted this article to be written and published - and why.
#31 No More on 2011-03-20 16:52
Here it is folks! This is the guy making all the problems for the OCA in the news. This is + Jonah's confidant and advisor!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rod Dreher (born February 14, 1967) is an American writer and editor. He was a conservative editorial writer and a columnist for The Dallas Morning News, but departed that newspaper in late 2009 to affiliate with the John Templeton Foundation. He has also contributed in the past to The American Conservative and National Review. He wrote a blog previously called "Crunchy Con" at beliefnet.com, then simply called "Rod Dreher" with an emphasis on cultural rather than political topics.
4 External links
Rod Dreher holds a B.A. in journalism from Louisiana State University. Raised a Methodist, he later converted to Roman Catholicism in 1993. He wrote widely in the Catholic press, but covering the Roman Catholic Churchís child sex abuse scandal, starting in 2002, led him to question his Catholicism, and on October 12, 2006, he announced his conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy. Dreher is married and the father of three children. At the time, Dreher had argued that the scandal was not so much a "pedophile problem", but was instead a "homosexual problem", the priesthood having been infected by large numbers of subversive individuals tied to the lavender Mafia.
On April 10, 2010, Dreher blogged about the abuse scandals (italics in the original):
They all did it -- by which I mean, virtually the entire hierarchy is complicit to a greater or lesser degree in shuffling child-molesting priests around, or keeping them in some way in a position to commit their crimes. Why? Clericalism. The clerical class is what mattered most to these people, not the children and their families, to whom they were functionally indifferent... if anybody thinks Pope Benedict should resign, they should sober up and understand that there is almost certainly nobody under him who is untainted by this thing. This was the way the hierarchy operated for a very long time. At least this current pope seems to have at long last been enlightened about the scope of this catastrophe. But he is not doing enough to make it right. What is it going to take?
Rod Dreher has written about religion, politics, film and culture in National Review and National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, Touchstone, Menís Health, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He was a film reviewer for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and chief film critic for The New York Post. His commentaries have been broadcast on National Public Radioís All Things Considered, and he has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Court TV and other television networks.
In 2002, Dreher wrote an essay in National Review that explored a subcategory of American conservatism he defined as "granola conservatism", whose adherents he described as "crunchy cons". He defined these individuals as traditionalist conservatives who believed in environmental conservation, frugal living, and the preservation of traditional family values. They also express skepticism about aspects of free market capitalism and they are usually religious (typically traditionalist Roman Catholics or conservative Protestants). Four years later, Dreher published a book that expanded upon the themes of this manifesto. This book was Crunchy Cons: How Birkenstocked Burkeans, Gun-Loving Organic Gardeners, Evangelical Free-Range Farmers, Hip Homeschooling Mamas, Right-Wing Nature Lovers, and Their Diverse Tribe of Countercultural Conservatives Plan to Save America (or At Least the Republican Party).
Dreher is working on another book. He has said on his blog that it will center on "the Benedict Option", the idea that those who want to live with traditional morality should separate themselves to some degree from mainstream society and try to live in intentional communities or other subcultures. On January 1, 2010, Dreher announced on his blog that he was starting work as publications director for the John Templeton Foundation 
(Editor's note: Rod Dreher is "not making all the problems for the OCA". Rubbish. He is a respected journalist and blogger, and whether one agrees with his views, or doesn't, is a matter of personal concern and conviction. I personally found reading his thoughts interesting, and have for years, although I do not always agree with him, nor I imagine, does he with me. The person "who is making all the problems for the OCA" at the moment is wearing a white hat, and is supposed to be in retreat, rather than leading them. At least according to his brother bishops... The "problem in the OCA" remains the same: Lack of Accountability.)
#32 Anonymous on 2011-03-20 16:59
Well, it looks like + Jonah is becoming the Col. Ghadafi of the OCA. He is defiant; he is going no where; he has done great things for his people; he is being persecuted by outside, nefarious forces; etc. Please, just step down!
#33 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 05:17
You know, brave anonymous, that we buried one of those scary ex-HOOMies a week ago Saturday. Fr David Shank, like many others in my parish, came to Orthodoxy from somewhere else. He was one of the kindest men I've ever known, who exemplified Christ for me in the way he lived and died. He was humble, wise and a far better man than I can hope to be.
Truthfully, brave anonymous, it hacks me off no end to read you slandering him and so many others of my friends and mentors and brothers and sisters. If they are Orthodox enough for our bishop, why are they not Orthodox enough for you?
I'm certain that Fr David is praying for your anonymous and smug soul.
If I were as as good a Christian as he, I would be doing that, too.
#34 Scott Walker on 2011-03-21 08:08
My sincere apologies, Ms. Duin.
My initial comment was rooted in at least three things: 1) working in an agency that does PR, and having a tendency to attribute more influence and centrality to our dark arts than they actually have, 2) assuming that you were a staff writer for the Post and that you hadn't previously written on Orthodoxy, which let me to think the whole matter was brought to your attention, and 3) thinking that the article had been done in reaction to the current controversy, when in fact it's apparent you'd been working on the cultural conflict aspect of this story long before.
It's always dangerous to guess at things we don't know and to come at the world too slanted by our individual and limited experiences.
Again, I apologize for imputing to you things that weren't there.
I still think that the comments and motivations of some of your sources are revealing -- one's reaction to what they reveal will vary according to one's predispositions.
#35 Rebecca Matovic on 2011-03-21 08:16
I just want to clarify my comments as I think you may have misundersood them as well.
When I wrote of the 'elitist and condescending mindset that too many of us in the Church who are not converts receive from SOME converts.' I certainly should have added, "...as well as from SOME so-called 'cradle' Orthodox as well.'
I have witnessed this behavior over the years from both 'sides' and frankly I have been blessed to witness true praxis and understanding of the Faith from both as well.
There are no 'sides' here, there is only the search for the truth.
If we from ALL Orthodox jurisdictions in this country devolve into a 'convert' vs. 'cradle' war, the only winners will be Satan and his minions.
#36 bez mena on 2011-03-21 08:29
Actually, the maligning was going the other way...see Fr. George Jensens' article.
The assertion is that it's the "old" Orthodox that are uncomfortable with Jonah's actions...that they're afraid of doing things in public.
#37 westcoaster on 2011-03-21 09:08
Ms Duin, I think you did a great job navigating the OCA's maze of twisting little passages, and I really enjoyed the article. It was head and shoulders above the kind of press coverage ("Weekend festival at All Saints Slobovian Orthodox Church!") we usually get. I will look forward to reading anything you wish to write in the future on Orthodoxy in America.
My favorite picture in the print copy is the overhead shot of Met. Jonah in the Washington cathedral. May it remain his cathedral for many years.
#38 Cordelia on 2011-03-21 14:45
Father George, if Metropolitan Jonah is "catching up" for his predecessor's perceived lack of speaking up for Christian values in the public square, he hasn't done much of it at all, either -- and neither have many of his brother bishops in any Orthodox Christian jurisdiction in America, though many leaders in other Christian traditions have.
A war with no end in sight, based on lies and cooked evidence, replete with government-approved torture and innocent civilian casualties on our part, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like loving one's enemy, eschewing violence, avoiding bloodshed and not answering evil with evil, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
An economic meltdown, caused by greed on Wall Street and gluttony on Main Street, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like not making a god out of mammon, being satisfied with life's basics, practicing self-control and self-denial, and putting the needs of others ahead of one's wants, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
A health care crisis, in which millions of uninsured and uninsurable go without coverage of their God-given lives because corporations say all must be driven by profit rather than humanitarian considerations, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like loving one's neighbor, considering the common good and caring for the sick being the same as caring for Christ, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
An ecology in trauma, in which our environment is becoming increasing toxic and damaged to our detriment, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like recognizing God's ownership of the earth, practicing responsible stewardship of it, and exercising self-control and self-denial (yes, again) to keep it viable for the next generation, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
An immigration problem, in which blatant racism and xenophobia have overshadowed sensible and just reform, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like rejecting hatred, recognizing God's image in all people and treating others as we would treat Christ, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
Budgetary politicking, in which we claim we have no money for bread for the hungry but refuse to cut cash for bombs for killing, might be a good time to speak up for Christian values like valuing all human life, imitating God's preferential concern for the poor, and defending the sick, the orphaned and the widowed, no? But what have we heard? Not a peep.
The list goes on... These problems have been around for quite a while. They impact far more people around the globe than homosexuality and abortion. There's been more than enough time for our bishops to say something about them. But what have we heard? Not a peep.
Imagine if Metropolitan Jonah spoke up in the public square for the Orthodox Christian take on money, materialism, doing business and economics we find in John Chrysostom, Basil the Great and Ambrose of Milan. Any applause he's getting from the so-called "religious right" at the moment would suddenly cease. If you dishonor the poor, you're dishonoring Christ? The uneaten bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry? Withholding help from the needy is theft? Glenn Beck and company would have a conniption over such a biblical, patristic stand that is part and parcel of our tradition. Funny how we don't hear much of that, eh?
Speaking of social agendas, surely Metropolitan Jonah knows our Church already has one. It's announced once a year from the ambo, in the gospel reading at the Divine Liturgy on Meatfare Sunday. But does anybody follow through on it? Maybe he and his brother bishops ought to check up on how well their parishes are feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, nursing the sick and visiting the jailed as though they are Christ himself, like the gospel tells us to. Sure, it's not as glamorous as headlining rallies or glad-handing politicians, but the gospel doesn't tell us to engage in those two things. Just the six enumerated in Matthew 25:31-46. Plenty of other Christians (and even some non-Christians) are doing them and doing them vibrantly. What about us? We'd better beware: "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit," Jesus warns (Matthew 21:43).
The chest-thumping of the Manhattan Declaration -- "I'll go to jail or even die before the government forces me to marry a same-sex couple in my church!" -- is disingenious political melodrama. The government already allows churches to discriminate in administration of their sacraments. When was the last time you quaked with fear over being sued or jailed for refusing to marry an Orthodox Christian woman and an unbaptized man, Father? Never happens: they just go elsewhere, without the government stepping in. What's next? Shall we lobby for repeal of the Americans with Disabilities Act, because "the government may force us to ordain someone crippled or missing a limb under its provisions, contray to our canons"?
"Politics makes strange bedfellows." Truer words were never written. If Metropolitan Jonah isn't careful, he might find himself standing with those American evangelicals and conservative think tanks pouring big bucks and peddling influence to legislate for the execution of homosexuals, for just being homosexual, in places like Uganda, all "in the name of Jesus" -- in complete contradiction of what Christ himself had to say in John 8:1-11.
Simply put, there can be no Christian politics without Luke 6:31 as a starting point; the Church does well to never forget that. And the best place to start reforming morals is with our own. Then, maybe, our personal example will shine vibrantly enough to make Christianity attractive to others again. Enforcing it by law and politicking won't.
#39 Diogenes on 2011-03-21 18:19
I was going to say something in response, but I couldn't better what you said.
#40 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 23:24
>>"...+ Jonah is becoming the Col. Ghadafi of the OCA."
I'm so glad to see rational discourse return to ocanews. I guess you included the "+" before Jonah to show your respect for the office he holds.
#41 Anonymous on 2011-03-21 23:28
I keep wondering just what was wrong with that article--other than the unfortunate mention of the Santa Fe meeting? I wish that our "dirty laundry" at the Holy Synod meeting had not been aired, but I found the rest of the article interesting and engaging.
It is hard for me to imagine, now, that the OCA isn't in a final destruct mode. Having barely survived the band of thieves, we are now faced with a civil war. Sounds like a polity in its death throes. I've been in the Church for over 20 years and never doubted that it was the model for a truly American autocephalous Church. Looking at the "sides" in this latest eruption, I'm very far from sure about anything. What I think has been demonstrated without any doubt at all is that the OCA is NOT a mature Orthodox local church. We are acting a lot like the failing denominations around us. Really, to read oca news and oca truth, you'd think that it was liberals vs evangelicals, or right wing vs left wing in the Anglican communion. If that is where we are, then it may not be such a bad thing if we do go under as an "organization". Maybe then what is really "Church" in us will have a chance to rise. At this point I could care less whether or not we are "autocephalous", "autonomous", or just a local diocese in somebody else's "jurisdiction"--if that's what it takes to wake us up to the fact that Orthodoxy is infinitely more than the ridiculous squabbling going on in the blogosphere these last two months.
My experience with the ex-HOOMies, also in Portland BTW, is that they foster cult like atmospheres in their parishes, and have a rather robotic way of looking at the liturgy. And yes, they blur the line between monasticism and being a lay person.
#43 Anonymous in CA on 2011-03-24 11:24
Well put Diogenes. Somehow, homosexuality and abortion have become the only things allowable to be engaged in social justice about.
And you know what political party that means supporting...I guess Jesus is okay with waterboarding and attacking the poor.
#44 Anonymous in CA on 2011-03-24 11:27
How can a place which is 30 minutes from Manhatten, 1 hour from one seminary and 3 hours from another, between 45 minutes to 1 and 1/2 hours from the headquarters of most of the major Orthodox jurisdictions be isolated? Most people in the area commute into NYC on a daily basis. 3 major airports or within less then an hour of the place. Ms Duin obviously never even looked at a map or even looked at a picture of the place.
The building is not a cottage nor does it even have high utility bills that is out of line with other comparable places (look at the financial report). It needs a good paint job and cosmetic work but was well maintained. It meets the needs of the Church and could be expanded (it sits on 12 acres) AND is paid off (except for that pesky mortgage that had to be taken to pay for the sins of the past.) The Metropolitan's apartment there is bigger then the apartment for the Metropolitan of ROCOR.
It was the home of beloved and saintly Metropolitans such and Leonty and Ireney. It was where autocephaly was discussed and approved. It was where we saw holiness and sinfulness, but it is our home. (But from a person who has 3 homes...Dallas, Washington and Syosset....perhaps he cannot find a home in any of them.) The reality is that Metropolitan Jonah does not want anything to do with that pesky past he keeps telling us to forget. he thinks a total break is the answer but that only leads to more division. But it is our past and we will deal with it as a Church and as a Church we will chart the future. We are all grafted into that regardless of how we came into the OCA and never has it beeen suggested otherwise by anyone in authority. There is no culture war except in the minds of the people who think there is. This Church is our treasure and our Cross....thank God for that.
#45 anonymous MC member on 2011-03-26 07:53
Perhaps the way to deal with the "problem" of Syosset is to make the Diocese of New York and New Jersey the diocese of the primate, then the Metropolitan could live at the chancery. Make the historic one of the two New York cathedrals the see for the primate.
For those that think that the see of the primate should be located in the national capital, redraw the boundaries of two or more dioceses -- at least the Diocese of Washington and the Diocese of New York and New Jersey -- to place Washington, DC, and metropolitan New York City in the same, physically contiguous diocese with the Metropolitan's see located at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington, DC. (I know this option has been tried and found wanting, but this time might be better since this Metropolitan would reside within the boundaries of his diocese.)
Either way, the Chancery of the OCA would be located in the diocese of the primate -- important to some -- and Chancery could remain in facility in Syosset -- important to some. Is either proposed solution ideal, NO. Is either proposed solution unworkable, NO. The only unknown is which proposed solution going to create the smaller group of those unhappy with the chosen solution.
Mark C. Phinney
#46 Mark C. Phinney on 2011-03-27 14:37
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