Comments Posted By Gregg Gerasimon
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I don’t know why you’re so concerned about this meat-cleaver-hatchet job done on a (probably racist) British soldier by these hard-working British immigrants, who happen to be Muslim.
Clearly their anger was the direct result of yet another scurrilous YouTube video, and from what I hear coming from the State Department, their anger was justified. We should not only find the producer of said YouTube video and throw him in jail, but we should also spend millions of British and American taxpayer dollars airing commercials in Muslim countries detailing how sorry we are and asking them to please don’t machete us up again. And we should go out of our way to NOT profile Muslims at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, just so that they don’t get more angry at us. It’s all a problem of education — if only we could educate them more and make them understand, then of course they wouldn’t hate us.
Seriously, though. This is disgusting. I have to admit that the lunatic butcher might have got something right when he said that “your governments don’t care about you.” I really don’t think that our governments in the West care about protecting their citizens or about doing the right thing. Prime Minister David Cameron can utter whatever platitudes he wants (like “there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act”), but if they were serious about protecting Western citizens, immigration from all high-risk areas would immediately cease. Islamic “hate preachers” living in Western soceities would be immediately deported. Public assistance (welfare, health care, whatever) to non-working immigrants would immediately cease, and any other high-risk immigrants would deported. End of story. Who cares if the feelings of some are hurt? Every single public policy and law offends someone — why bend over backwards to try to make immigrants who hate you feel comfortable in your country and then not give a hoot about your own citizens?
America thrived as a country of immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries not because of massive public assistance, but because of immigrants’ hard work. If it didn’t work out for them in America, they went home. And American leaders and society at the time didn’t spend hours stewing in guilt about this fact.
Blessed Father Seraphim Rose was right — what’s normal has become abnormal, and what is abnormal has become normal. I can only pray that British citizens (and the rest of Europe and America) have had enough.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On May 23, 2013 @ 1:38 pm
Thank you for posting this. The more I watch these Metropolitan Jonah talks, the more I believe that his leadership is exactly what Orthodoxy in America needs now (and the more frustrated I get at the leadership of the Orthodox Church in America for railroading him out). He gets it. “Secularism is the greatest challenge to our faith within our own culture. The greatest challenge to our faith outside of our own culture is Islam” (at approximately 42 mins in the video).
I suppose that he may have been too “intense” for what those in the OCA leadership wanted in a Metropolitan. But he gets it, he seems to understand the realities of what Orthodox Christians in America face, and what faces our church in the future, and he seems willing to address those issues head-on.
Thank you again for posting these talks for those of us who don’t live in Washington, D.C., and who are not able to attend.
Christ is risen!
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On May 21, 2013 @ 6:50 pm
Christ is risen!
“All of the names and the situations I listed are well known, especially in Syosset, which is the point, isn’t it?” — well, no, this isn’t the point at all.
If the goal is simply to complain and reprint anonymous allegations for the hundredth time, then yes, simply list what you’ve listed, and nothing will change. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If these allegations are true, and Syosset has known about them for a long time and has done nothing about them (ever), then to expect a different result by only listing these allegations again (with no documentation, names, or backup) makes absolutely no sense.
On the other hand, if you want different results (and if these allegations are true, rest assured that ALL of us want something done about these many problems), then name names, document, give proof, and get the word out.
Take your first allegation, the situation in Florida, for example. A quick search of oca.org shows that you’re probably talking about the retired Bishop Mark, as none of the other retired bishops live in Florida. If Bishop Nikon (the locum tenens of the DoS) were hammered with names, documentation, and proof about this issue day in and day out, and if the deanery in Florida were hammered day in and day out with specifics and with complaints of how ridiculous and non-Christian this situation is, how it sets a bad example for Orthodoxy, how it inhibits church growth and evangelism, etc., then something would have to happen and things would change.
But as it is now, most of us have read these allegations a hundred times, have no idea of their veracity because no specifics or documentation have been put forth, we have no idea what to think, and nothing ever changes.
Arguing that one should “take my word for it because I simply know” never works. I’m not saying that I or other people don’t believe you (given what’s gone on in the OCA over the past 10 years, I have a hunch that much of what you write has a good chance of being true). But nothing will ever change unless names, documentation, and proof are given.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On May 13, 2013 @ 8:54 pm
When stationed at Fort Lewis from 2002 through 2005, I took the Vashon Island Ferry over to Abbot Tryphon’s monastery a couple of times — highly recommended anytime you are in the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia area!
And to top it off, they have fantastic coffee: http://vashonmonks.com/coffee.htm
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On March 16, 2013 @ 8:58 am
So good to read about the new Roman Catholic Pope Francis:
“[A man who] chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace [in Argentina], who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.”
Actions speak much more loudly than words.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On March 14, 2013 @ 11:23 am
This is a great point. So the question: has Bishop Matthias committed any canonical offense? Has the Synod issued any statement as to their response to this question?
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On March 2, 2013 @ 10:07 am
Is this real, or is someone making things up? Once again, I can’t tell.
In the above, it states that Bishop Matthias said that “When I come back I won’t visit any parishes where I am not wanted.”
How is this statement at all in line with the role of a bishop? The bishop guides his flock, and where the bishop is, there is the church. The priest serves at the parish level in place of the bishop. In true Orthodox ecclesiology, the bishop *must* play a role in the life of his parishes (I don’t think this is optional — he can’t be a bishop for some of his parishes and not a bishop for other parishes). He cannot be a “bishop in name only” or a bishop who won’t visit certain parishes, for whatever reason. Honestly, where do we come up with this stuff? Did the Apostles even think of saying to their early church communities, “I won’t visit you if you don’t like me?”
It is alarming (to say the very least) that Bishop Matthias says that he is fine not visiting any parishes that don’t want him to visit — and it is even more alarming that others on the OCA synod seem to be OK with this!
The bishop is not simply a figurehead, along the lines of the Queen of England. He has a role, he has a purpose, his life must be integral to the church. It’s not optional. If he cannot fulfill that role for whatever reason, then he won’t be effective and cannot be a bishop. End of story.
What have we come to when we think that absentee bishops are OK? What would our forefathers in the early church think of this? I know that the OCA suffers from a significant shortage of bishops now, but man, it’s better to change the OCA structure to only 1 or 2 large dioceses with 1 or 2 good bishops, than to have a diocese like the Midwest with a “bishop in name only” who thinks it’s fine if he doesn’t visit some parishes!
I know that many OCA parishes haven’t have a bishop visit or otherwise be involved in their parish life for many, many years — but at least there is sort of an excuse, that there is no active bishop in that diocese now, or there is a locum tenens who is thousands of miles away and not able to travel. (But again, here you could argue: why not assign a locum tenens who can travel, who can be a true shepherd to the diocese while they are waiting for a new bishop? Why are we so enamored with the idea of absentee bishops or “bishops in name only?”)
Or, on second thought, maybe it’s time to visit Bishop Peter in Chicago or Cleveland and talk about the Diocese of the Midwest merging with ROCOR. I pray for Bishop Matthias and the Holy Synod and the faithful of the Midwest, but prayer can also be a call to action. Enough is enough.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 28, 2013 @ 10:45 am
The thumbs up/thumbs down vote option on this site is meaningless and ridiculous.
I’ve recommended before that George shut the thumbs up/thumbs down function off, since I fail to see what meaning it holds. Someone could post “the sky is blue,” and that statement itself would get a fair share of thumbs down. What is the point of it?
Again, I move that the thumbs up/thumbs down function is meaningless and should be shut off. And rest assured that I don’t care how many thumbs up or down votes this posting receives
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 24, 2013 @ 6:45 pm
Father Z writes,
“I think I’d get more benefit from a couple of days (with some good coffee and quality adult beverages for those so inclined) in informal discussion with a bunch of guys from this list than from anything likely proposed in this CE program.”
This is a fantastically good idea and something that should be cultivated in all cities. Doesn’t have to be a couple of days — meeting up once a week or so for coffee or adult beverages or pizza and wings (on a non-fasting day) for good discussion on a variety of Orthodox Christian books, subject, spirituality, or whatever other topic.
Jonathan Johnston writes,
“If the you want the OCA central admin to do more, GIVE MORE.”
But that’s the thing, we don’t want the central admin to do more. They could sell the expensive mansion in Oyster Bay Cove and use the proceeds from the sale of the mansion to fund continuing education. And move the central admin out of the Northeast for a fresh perspective to help our church grow.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 15, 2013 @ 11:17 am
I suppose that the process of Roman Catholic annulments could theoretically be healing for the parties involved, but it seems that these can simply be a bit ridiculous. An annulment essentially declares that a marriage never existed, but to say that a couple who was married for 25 years and had four children and then gets divorced for whatever reason — to say that such a marriage never existed from the beginning is going against reality. And if one is divorced and is not Roman Catholic but is going to marry a Roman Catholic in a RC church, then there is the bizarre predicament of going through an extensive process of getting a RC annulment of a previous marriage in which neither party had anything to do with the Roman Catholic church and may have been a Southern Baptist wedding, for example.
To top it off, the entire issue of Byzantine Catholic annulments raises more problems. In the West (and thus in Roman Catholicism), the couple themselves are the minister of the marriage sacrament, so an annulment presupposes that couple did not enter into the marriage in good faith (i.e., their “I do’s” were not sincere, not truthful, ill-informed, etc.). However in the Eastern Christian tradition, the priest is the minister of the marriage sacrament, not the couple. Anyone who’s been to Eastern Orthodox weddings, for example, knows that there are no spoken “vows.” Byzantine Catholics retain this eastern Christian practice, yet in the case of a byzantine catholic divorce, they must also get a western, Roman Catholic-style annulment as well. This makes no sense given that an annulment in a byzantine catholic marriage would mean that the priest himself did not act in good faith in marrying the couple. For similar reasons, this is one of the reasons why it makes no sense to talk about annuling Eastern Orthodox marriages.
This may be a job for the Episcopal Assembly over the next 50 to 100 years, but I think that the various Orthodox churches in America currently all have different policies on how they deal with divorce. In some of the Orthodox churches, a couple has to apply for and get an “ecclesiastical divorce” (whatever that means), while in others, the church is not in the business of granting divorces and simply uses the civil divorce that the couple gets in their local county or state. It makes sense to standardize this process across all Orthodox churches in America, so that they way the Greek Archdiocese handles divorces is the same as the way that ROCOR, the Serbian diocese, or the Antiochian Archdiocese would handle them, for example.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 27, 2013 @ 10:47 am
That’s the thing, George — these days, the *exceptions* (or outliers) drive our social policy. Most women have no interest in serving in combat units (as do many men). The requirements for being in a combat unit traditionally were a lot like the requirements for being an Orthodox priest — all women and most men are not eligible. But in an effort to avoid potentially offending the occasional woman who could keep up with the most intense of military units, do we change the policy altogether?
An earlier poster wrote that women should be allowed in combat units if they :
“1. Meet EXACTLY the same PT requirements, training requirements, and psych evaluations so as not to place the unit/team at a physical disadvantage and therefore at increased risk
2. Maintain celibacy prior to and during a deployment, so as not to leave the unit/team a person short due to pregnancy and therefore at increased risk
3. Accept that some geographical assignments may not work well with a female soldier mission, leaving units/teams in non-negotiable situations and therefore at increased risk”
The first requirement alone would exclude more than 99% (if not 100%, if we are precisely talking about meeting exactly the same PT requirements) of women from combat roles anyway. So again, do we change the policy to accommodate the rare outlier? That’s crazy.
The problem is that the politicians who make these decisions have no conception of what it is like to be part of a military unit. They are part of the post-Vietnam War, all-volunteer military era, when military service was looked down upon and few people volunteered for the military if they didn’t come from military families or had some other better option. Less than 1% of Congress has children in the military (which is embarrassing to say the least, and a different issue altogether). It used to be that military service was a prerequisite for running for public office — now, it’s practically a liability.
The groups who would be pressuring the military to push this social agenda act similar as groups that push abortion rights — they care little about the individual woman, they are simply out for a political goal. It’s very utilitarian. Just like they don’t care if a woman suffers with years of psychological trauma following an abortion that they encouraged her to pursue, they don’t care if a woman becomes physically damaged as she tries to meet the same PT requirements as men (something that she was never meant to do in the first place), or if she is gang-raped by a Taliban terrorist in the mountains of Afghanistan. These groups care only about achieving a political end, and they happily use naive and guileless young women (helped by clueless or out-to-lunch parents) to do the dirty work.
Our American founding fathers’s original point of the military being ultimately under civilian leadership is to avoid potential military takeovers of the government. But these days it seems that the point is more for civilian leaders to use the military more to make it “a giant experiment in egalitarian fantasy,” as the author of the piece writes.
And what happened to our national discussion on the logical next step of this new policy of allowing women in front-line combat units: when will our 18-year-old women start being required to register with the Selective Service? I must have missed the national discussion on this one because I never heard it.
The reason that only 18-year-old boys are now required to register with the Selective Service is because in a time of national military emergency, our society has historically deemed it appropriate for only men to go to combat. I know that no one in their right mind wants a boy or young man to have to go to combat, but now, do we want our young daughters to have to register for the same thing, and possibly be drafted, in case of a national emergency? Have we as a society even discussed this? Do we even care?
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 9, 2013 @ 11:43 am
In order to grow and to successfully missionize and evangelize, you have to be willing to take risks. The Antiochian Archdiocese seems to be aware of this fact and is, indeed, good at it.
Father John, you cite the example of the Orthodox missions/parishes in Britain and Ireland that were received from the Church of England into the Patriarchate of Antioch — this was indeed a risk — not a stupid risk — but a risk nevertheless. This risk was well worth it, and more British and Irish people are now able to be Orthodox and to worship in their language in an Orthodox parish because of it.
Metropolitan Philip here in the U.S. is also a risk-taker, and it pays off. When others said no to the Evangelical Orthodox Church years ago, Metropolitan Philip said yes and received them into the Antiochian Archdiocese. I don’t know of any single more important event in the last 50 years that has helped the spread of Orthodoxy more to the American people than this event.
The Antiochian Archdiocese and ROCOR have also taken risks in establishing Western Rite vicariates — something somewhat controversial in Orthodoxy and very small, but these risks help evangelize to western Christians who wish to be Orthodox and worship in a traditional western style. As St John of San Francisco said, “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies.”
By contrast, other Orthodox jurisdictions which do not take well thought out risks, or worse yet, make bad decisions altogether, see their growth stagnate or simply stop.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 24, 2013 @ 7:38 pm
Just an FYI that Father Tom Hopko’s sermon at the 17th AAC in November is available on Ancient Faith Radio podcasts, as are most of the talks and sessions at the Parma AAC. (On the iPhone AFR app, from the main screen, touch “Specials” at the bottom, then “All Specials,” then the 17th All-American Council.)
I really liked Fr Tom’s sermon, but I too was struck by how the prevailing sense was that all these unfortunate things have happened to the OCA recently, rather than how many active players in the OCA have contributed to causing these unfortunate events. I love Father Tom’s talks and have leared a ton from them, but a bit more introspection would have been good — i.e., how have we as a church caused all these bad things to happen to our church lately.
And kudos to Father Alexander Webster and his parish for following their consciences and transferring into ROCOR. I’m thankful that Met. Tikhon agreed to it. I agree with the poster above that I’m also one who “believes in the vision of the OCA, in the teachings and intentions of Fathers Schmemann, Florovsky, and Meyendorff (and Hopko!).” But at some point, people have had enough, and they vote with their feet. We have an upcoming move this summer back to the south (from whence we came a couple of years ago), and we’ll be facing the decision of returning to our old OCA parish vs. going to a new ROCOR mission that just started last year. I don’t know what we will do.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On February 6, 2013 @ 1:50 pm
This may be pedantic, but why is it called an “enthronement”? This word sounds a bit much. Is “enthronement” generally the term that is used when the first hierarch of an autocephalous church is formally installed as such? It gives connotations of a king being crowned.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 27, 2013 @ 6:12 pm
And then there’s the case of the Catholic couple in Vermont who are innkeepers and were sued by a lesbian couple who wanted to have their wedding reception at the inn. Apparently the Catholic owners said that they would host the reception but informed the lesbian couple of their beliefs against same-sex marriage as Catholics.
The ACLU helped sue, along with the Vermont Human Rights commission, and the innkeeper owners were fined $30,000.
One of the party who brought the lawsuit said that “We did not bring this lawsuit in order to punish the Wildflower Inn or to collect money.” Really? Then why bring the lawsuit? To teach the innkeepers a lesson, apparently, and to punish them for their beliefs. And to reinforce the power of the government and the homosexualist machine?
The innkeepers commented that “Our beliefs haven’t changed, but we do have lives to live, a family to love, a business to grow, and a community to serve. Small businesses like ours cannot match the limitless resources of the government and the ACLU.”
Yep, religious liberty and the redefinition of marriage *cannot* coexist in the same society. And which is coming out ahead?
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 26, 2013 @ 7:48 pm
I think that your statement is disingenuous, hopefully unintentionally. I’ve been in the active Army now going on 14 years — from the time when I started with the military in college but wasn’t on active duty, it’s over 20 years at this point.
I love the military and know and believe that our soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines are among the most unsung patriots that our country has. (These days, if you don’t live near a military base, many Americans have absolutely zero experience with the military — including most of the civilian leadership in DC — and sadly, many like it that way.) However, our military is led by civilians — originally designed as such to help prevent military dictatorships or military rule in America. But because of the non-military leadership, our military can be the petri dish for social experimentation, the place where progressive social ideals find their way into practice.
Take the recent edict allowing women into combat on the “front lines.” Yes, I admit, there may be the occasional Xena Warrior Princess who might keep up with the boys fine, carrying a 30-lb weapon and a 40-lb rucksack for miles in the Afghani mountainside. But most American girls and women aren’t Lucy Lawless in her Hollywood embodiment, and though I haven’t taken a poll, I don’t think that most American girls/women even want to be on the front lines in combat. Yet women’s groups (and some of my progressive women friends on Facebook) are applauding the recent ukase from the SecDef as a “huge win for women’s rights,” etc. Needless to say, these women have no intention at all of joining the military, let alone of camping outside when there’s a W Hotel nearby. Yet we haven’t as a society discussed the implications of this change in policy: will our 18-year-old girls now be required to register for the Selective Service if there’s another national catastrophe and the draft comes back? Do we as a society want that? Do we even care, or are we using our young women to advance bizarre social theories?
Getting back to the chaplain issue, all you need for Orthodox Chaplains in the military to be put in a difficult/untenable position with respect to our Orthodox beliefs is to have
(1) a servicemember who is willing to fight because of an alleged injustice as they see it, more of than not supported by a left-wing “civil rights” group who is using the servicemember to advance their agenda, and
(2) a civilian leadership who doesn’t understand a chaplain’s objection/conflict, and who really doesn’t care.
If two gay servicemembers at Fort/Naval Station/Air Base Wherever want to get married and the local chaplain is the Orthodox Chaplain who says that he can’t do it, well, yes, the two could go elsewhere, but what if they want to make a statement? What if the ACLU gets involved and encourages them to “fight their case?” This is hardly inconceivable these days.
Our civilian leadership won’t care about the 7 Ecumenical Councils or about our Orthodox faith and tradition. Most civilians in government (and in the media for that matter) view Christians much like you view a strange animal at the zoo, and for many (if not most), faith plays little role in their lives. As one of my favorite priests used to say, they have “forgotten about God.” Christians who are not in favor of the redefinition of marriage or sex without consequences or whatever are viewed as backward bigots, morally equivalent to those who used to discriminate against African Americans. The government won’t stand for it and, for reasons that Fr Hans Jacobse explains much more eloquently than I do, can easily persecute those who don’t honor these new precepts.
Interestingly, Muslim chaplains would also not perform a homosexual union, but it seems that few would go after them these days — Christianity is a much better target, as it’s socially acceptable to be prejudiced against Christianity but not Islam.
And lest we forget, kudos again to Metropolitan Jonah for trying to take a stand against these progressive social policies. Yet our church decided that he was Not The Right Man For The Job and tried to tarnish his image, yet this backfired and continues to backfire. Shame on us. I may have to go to DC for work in a few weekends, and while I normally love to visit St Nicholas on Mass Ave., this time I think I will go to St John the Baptist on 17th Street.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 26, 2013 @ 8:31 am
Religious liberty and the redefinition of marriage cannot coexist in the same society. Only one can take precedence over the other, and clearly religious liberty is losing.
Sooner or later, won’t the government sue one of our Orthodox parishes for refusing to marry a homosexual couple? Of course that could happen. Already our Orthodox military chaplains are at risk, as outlined in George’s piece here.
Again, religious liberty and the redefinition of marriage cannot coexist in the same society. We’re fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 24, 2013 @ 9:32 pm
“ROCOR can continue pretending 18th century Russia really means something in America today.”
Please. Does this look like a church that is not interested in America or in America’s history or in evangelizing America? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb6ZLx0qPNY
I was so impressed by this video. I don’t think any of the other jurisdictions in America are putting out things like this. The communications department of the ROCOR Eastern American diocese is impressive.
Plus, by far most Orthodox Christians in the world are Old Calendar. More than half of the world’s Orthodox Christians are Russian, and add to that the Ukrainians, Serbians, and other Old Calendar churches — by far most Orthodox worldwide are still Old Calendar. We in America get a skewed view because most English-speaking Orthodox have switched to the New Calendar, but English-speaking Orthodox are still a small minority of the Orthodox family worldwide.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 12, 2013 @ 9:10 am
Father John, I agree completely. I think this cathedral is technically called the Episcopal Washington Cathedral. When I lived in DC, while sometimes I liked to visit the Washington Cathedral, I made a point to never refer to it as the “National Cathedral.” I’m actually surprised that even atheistic folks who are so into the separation of church and state have no problems calling this place the “National Cathedral.”
It does have a lot of history reflecting our country’s protestant heritage — and essentially shows that for a long time, Episcopalianism was the de facto faith of our country’s social and political leadership elite. President Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech to large crowd when its cornerstone was laid in the early 1900s. Congress designated the Washington Cathedral as the “National House of Prayer,” and during World War II, monthly services were held there “on behalf of a united people in a time of emergency.”
The problem with calling it the National Cathedral is that it uses modern, liberal Christianity as the example of Christianity to display to the nation. That’s definitely not what our country needs.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 12, 2013 @ 9:02 am
This just shows that it’s not so much about what you sign, but rather about who you are. A lot of influential people in the OCA didn’t like Met. Jonah, and thus used his “unilateral” signing of the Manhattan Declaration against him. But if these same influential people like Met. Tikhon, then it’s probably fine for him to “unilaterally” sign.
Life often turns out just like high school. The popular folks can do what they want, while the less popular kids are reviled.
Anyone know what the status is on Met. Jonah being accepted into ROCOR?
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On January 12, 2013 @ 8:51 am
These are all fantastic ideas. If only we would adopt even one or two of them, how much outreach could we have to the local communities.
One of the chief problems, I think, is that in these older, inner-city parishes that are in mostly African-American or Latino neighborhoods, hardly any (if any) of the parishioners live near the church anymore. I’ve been to liturgy at these churches a few times and it is pretty much the same: mostly older, nearly all white, parishioners who drive in from the suburbs to go to liturgy. The few parishioners there in the massive, stately churches make it seem so empty and sad.
These parishes often don’t serve vespers on Saturday evenings (because few if any would come), and they are closed during the week except for the occasional feast day liturgy. You simply cannot have parish growth with this model. Forty or 50 years ago, there would have been hundreds of parishioners at these parishes at a liturgy, many of whom lived within walking distance of the church (after all, that is why the church was established there!). Now, the parishes are lucky to get 40 people at liturgy on a Sunday.
Your ideas are fantastic, but in order to be implemented, the parish must be open on more than Sunday mornings and must have a core dedicated to parish growth, who understand that, given the demographic of where the parish is located in the city, this might mean that the parish might be mostly black or brown in 20 or 30 years, if it does grow. A dedicated, evangelistic, energetic priest is essential as well.
The thing is, if there is no growth to the local community, these parishes will fold in 10 years or so. Already, I don’t understand how some of them stay financially afoot.
Christ is born!
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 29, 2012 @ 7:37 am
Christ is born!
With a few exceptions, can one say that we are even trying to reach out to African Americans and Latinos in America?
Look at the older Orthodox churches in the northeast: many are now in what are all- or mostly-black sections of our cities, from Baltimore up to Boston. Yet how many African American parishioners do these churches have? How much are we trying to reach out to our neighbors and local communities? In Philadelphia, so many of the older Orthodox churches are in mostly black neighborhoods. Is there much evangelization to the black community? Many of these African Americans are nominal Christians, too, just not yet Orthodox. But there are still ethnic church festivals in the fall.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 28, 2012 @ 11:35 am
I think that some Orthodox laity desire unity, but I think that most do not or possibly do not care.
If, in every Orthodox parish, most of the laity told their priest after every Divine Liturgy that they were upset with the administrative mess we have among Orthodox in America and that it needs to be fixed and that it was silly that they were in one jurisdiction and that the other Orthodox parish 2 miles away was in another jurisdiction, and if they told their bishop the same thing when he came to visit, things would change. The faithful, the clergy, and the bishops would figure out how to fix all the seemingly “unfixable” problems like defining the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople in world Orthodoxy or how to preserve local practices among various churches and not force predominantly Greek parishes to start singing in 4-part harmony or not force OCA parishes to start using mostly Byzantine chant, or whatever.
If there were a sense of urgency, and if the bishops both here in America and in the “mother churches” overseas felt this sense of urgency, it would be addressed. It would have been addressed already.
But I don’t think there’s a sense of urgency among most Orthodox Americans. Among some Orthodox Americans, yes there probably is, but among the majority there is not. Here in the northeast especially, where “convert” Orthodox parishes are so rare and it is still uncommon to see someone who is not Slavic worshipping at traditionally Slavic parishes, for example, I certainly don’t sense any urgency. However at my former predominantly “convert” parishes in the South and in the West, I did. There may be a difference in how the situation is viewed by adult converts who were once outsiders looking in, and observing that the administrative disunity is ridiculous. Compare this with “cradle” Orthodox (or Orthodox by inertia, as Met. Kallistos Ware likes to say), who say that jurisdictionalism is the way it is and who may actually prefer it.
I still believe that to say that administrative unity will come “in God’s time” is so misleading and is theologically unsound — it makes it seem that God does not want administrative unity in America yet, and that someday, when He does want unity, we as His puppets will suddenly do it! That is ridiculous — of course He wants unity now or yesterday, and we are not puppets — our free will must cooperate with His.
It is we Orthodox Americans who do not fully want administrative unity yet. The seemingly “insurmountable problems” of how to administratively unite could be easily solved if there was a desire for it and a sense of urgency about it.
Once again, my 2 cents.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 15, 2012 @ 12:02 pm
You write, “We must move slowly and let unity come in God’s time, not ours.” I find myself agreeing with much of what you write here, but I can’t agree with this comment that unity will “come in God’s time.” Honestly I think it’s a cop-out but is used pretty much all the time when discussing administrative Orthodox unity in America.
The only reason that there is not administrative unity in America is that most American Orthodox Christians do not want it. If we wanted it and were vocal about it to our bishops and to our clergy, we would have it.
I do not think that God is pleased or happy with the administrative disunity that we have in America. Indeed, I have been told that there is less inter-Orthodox unity now than there was in the 1960s shortly after SCOBA was formed. Things have gotten much worse in the past several decades, even with the formation of the Episcopal Assembly.
As a pastor, if a parishioner came to you and said that they were cheating on their spouse and they know it’s a problem and promised to stop cheating “in God’s time,” that would sound ridiculous, no?
Or if a parishioner said that they have brothers and sisters and parents and children in the same city only a short drive away, whom they never see or talk to due to whatever kind of family problems, but they are sure that things will be better “in God’s time” — also ridiculous I think.
But we American Orthodox Christians are perfectly happy to say that we have Russian or Antiochian or Greek or Serb or Romanian or “convert American” brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and children in parishes in the same cities where we live, yet we never see them or talk to them and have nothing to do with them. But “in God’s time” we will all suddently be unified?
Orthodox unity in America will come when most Orthodox Christians here want it. The reason it has not happened yet is not because of “God’s timing” but rather because it is simply not a priority for most Orthodox in America. God cannot and will not force His people to do what they do not want to do. We cannot forget that our free will must cooperate — if it was up to God alone, administrative unity would have happened years ago.
It’s not God’s timing that we must wait for, but it’s rather our free will that must come around to do God’s will.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 13, 2012 @ 12:52 pm
Yikes. Thomas seems to be using his freedom to show that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. ROCOR “believes in the destruction of America?” It’s so laughable that it almost doesn’t even dignify a response.
–St John of Shanghai and San Francisco, who was so thankful to America for accepting his flock as refugees from Shanghai and then from the Philippines? Who spearheaded the construction of one of the most beautiful Orthodox Cathedrals in America on Geary Blvd in San Francisco? Who was persecuted by his brother bishops (and even taken to a secular court trial), much like Met. Jonah was? St. John of San Francisco’s ROCOR wants to destroy America?
–Blessed Fr Seraphim Rose, an American “convert” of classic American protestant origin who founded a monastery in Northern California under ROCOR originally and who dedicated his life to evangelization, foremost to evangelizing Americans? Fr Seraphim’s ROCOR wants to destroy America?
–The ROCOR where many of us in the U.S. military (including myself, a military officer) love to worship and get much spiritual benefit from the publications, iconography, steadfastness of faith, richness of its heritage — the ROCOR where U.S. military chaplains are priests, including the priest at the new ROCOR mission in San Antonio, Texas — that ROCOR wishes to destroy America?
ROCOR, like all Orthodox in our wonderful country should do, believes in the salvation of America.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 8, 2012 @ 8:54 am
Yes I agree there shouldn’t be any “thumbs down,” but on a public site like this, anyone from anywhere can vote thumbs up or thumbs down. People who don’t like George’s site, or who don’t like the fact that this site has been at the forefront in pointing out the myriad of problems and inconsistencies in the forced resignation of Met. Jonah, people who want to be troublemakers, people who aren’t Orthodox Christians at all — anyone can vote thumbs up or thumbs down.
My opinion — get rid of the thumbs up and thumbs down ratings on comments here. It’s meaningless.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 8, 2012 @ 8:37 am
As a timely example of President Obama’s cult of personality, he was recently referred to as “our lord and savior” at the soul train awards:
Those who support this cult of personality will probably say referring to him as such is not a big deal, but truthfully it’s downright dangerous and demonic. Sad part is, a lot of the electorate seems to view him that way. So much for a Christ who suffers a divine humiliation on the cross. Many people still want a Christ with earthly power. Aaah, the joys of life in post-Christian America.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On November 27, 2012 @ 8:37 pm
Deacon Eric writes,
“I am also sick am tired of those of you who have come into the church deciding that the litmus test for Orthodoxy is the position on abortion and homosexuality. Note to converts, our Orthodox church has been dealing with these issues for centuries. Ya’ll, who are wrapped up in these conspiracies, need to rediscover why you joined our Church and if it is because you were runnin’ from somethin’ in your former delusion, you may have come for all the wrong reasons….”
Like other posters here, I have no idea what Deacon Eric’s point is. I was baptized as an infant, but like any active Orthodox Christian who is over 18 years old and whose parents cannot force him to go to church anymore, I’m a “convert” every day, just like most of us here. And honestly, if it weren’t for people coming to Orthodoxy as adults, our churches outside of the Northeastern United States would be empty.
I’m under the position that Orthodoxy has always had the same position on abortion and active homosexuality — that both are spiritually harmful, both separate us from God, if unrepentant both make true communion with God not possible, and in the case of abortion it’s the taking of life — these are not accepted by the Church as normative, never were, and never will be.
As Father John Morris writes so truly, “secular society has forced us to emphasize our position on these issues because many in society which now accept both as moral and acceptable behavior” — and it’s certainly true that in the years to come, in our western society, Orthodoxy must be even *more* vocal in our positions on social issues.
But again, I don’t understand the point that Deacon Eric is trying to make on abortion and homosexuality.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On December 12, 2012 @ 1:44 pm
What’s with this fascination on cutting military spending? Do so many Americans really want us to be defenseless? Maybe they do — maybe there is a bizarre desire to see our country overtaken by Islamic terrorists? Self-hatred, or self-despisement, I guess?
What will likely happen is that Iran and Israel will get into a war in the next few years, and we (America) will be forced to figure out what to do, how to respond. The Obama administration has done nothing to curb Iran’s progress toward getting nuclear weapons, and it has certainly done nothing to help heal the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. It will be curious to see how we do respond, especially if we cut military spending even more.
I suppose one way to make the non-Islamic-terrorist world realize how much it likes America is for us to completely withdraw from the world politics and engagements for the next 4 years. I imagine that the peace-loving world will miss us to no end.
On a side note, I have a friend who is a Palestinian (Catholic) Christian, a conservative eastern Catholic. He was a big proponent of President Obama in this most recent election because he felt that Romney would be too much a friend of Israel. Interesting, and I’d imagine that many American Palestinians may have voted this way — with Israeli/Palestinian politics trumping any other issue.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On November 10, 2012 @ 9:07 am
Back To Stats Page
I truly hope that the the Synod did NOT think that since there might seem to be no other episcopal candidates, then let’s just abandon common sense altogether and plan to return Bishop Matthias to the Diocese of the Midwest.
It’s far, far better to have one or two or three good bishops for the entire OCA than many bishops, among whom are some compromised and so ineffective bishops that they shouldn’t be in the episcopal office. My former OCA parish in Texas hasn’t seen an episcopal visit since 2006 or 2007 — that’s about 6 years. I understand that Abp Dmitri was elderly and subsequently retired in March 2009 (thus I understand why he could not visit in the latter years of his episcopacy), and now Abp Nikon (the Dos Locum Tenens) is ill and probably cannot travel. What good does it do anyone to have hierarchs in place who simply cannot perform their duties, one of which (and a foremost duty at that) is to regularly visit the flock?
Heck, I’d be happy if the entire OCA had only 2 or 3 good bishops, one of whom would be Met. Jonah.
We don’t need to keep ineffective or compromised hierarchs simply because we think that there are no others available. Christ is the head of the church — we should trust Him, should we not?
Also, why capitalize all the letters in a Bishop’s name? I’d think that this is the last thing our episcopate needs at this time. I take this from Mark Stokoe’s old site, from an Editorial, Nov. 27, 2007:
“…humility, perspective and common sense seem to have been abandoned in the OCA for ever greater and more pompous assertions of importance. It ranges from the silly (CAPITALIZING all the Bishop’s names) to the grandiose and illegal (such as attempts to buy influence and position by diverting charity funds to buttress the Potemkin village of an internationally significant OCA) to the surreal…”
I agree with Mark on this one — there is no need to capitalize all the letters in a bishop’s name. It’s ridiculous, and I imagine that it certainly does not help with one’s humility.
» Posted By Gregg Gerasimon On November 6, 2012 @ 8:45 am