Comments Posted By Seraphim
Displaying 1 To 30 Of 34 Comments
The url here is off by one letter. The correct url is: http://ryanphunter.wordpress.com/2013/01/
I would urge “Monomakhos” readers to take a look at this account by a very perceptive and articulate young man, in whom there is no evidence of anything other than trying to deliver a faithful account of the reports as he has received them.
I have long observed that people often follow wrong and unsavory actions with thoughtless chatter and dumb jokes in a fruitless attempt to normalize what they have done. The tastelessness of the remarks, seating arrangement, etc. is further evidence of a bad conscience on the part of the participants.
» Posted By Seraphim On February 10, 2013 @ 6:33 pm
Helga, I don’t think you were in any way unkind to Ben. I just think people who post on this blog might do well to consider whether or not their tone, and certainly their lexicon, is often less than truly Christian. And you make a good point that there are doubtless individuals who are spiking their votes. Still, it bothers me when I see (for example) a regular poster ask for forgiveness for his sins of the past year and receive a negative net vote. It really amazes me how someone could do this.
George, not just the OCA but American Orthodoxy as a whole owes you an enormous “thank you” now at the end of the year. Generating the lively reflections you offer and moderating the site is itself a full-time job, and I know that you are also otherwise employed. It could only be a labor of love, and for this I am grateful to you. I hadn’t meant in my comments to criticize your moderating, but since you have brought it up, I will confess that there are certain remarks from certain people that I would cull if it were my own blog, not because of their content, but because they are rude and gratuitously nasty. The Enlightenment vision of truth as emerging through open discourse presupposes non-coercion, and after a certain point, ugly remarks become coercive and begin to suppress open discussion. But I suspect we may differ on this one, and besides, it is your blog and not mine. And for your work here, which has been invaluable to the cause of American Orthodoxy, I wish you “Many Years!”
» Posted By Seraphim On December 30, 2012 @ 8:40 pm
Your historical sense here leaves something to be desired, Catholic Observer. The papacy, as it is understood today, has endured for little more than a century, i.e. from the time of Vatican I in 1870 when the concept of papal infallibility was invented. (Yes, yes, I know that it was argued to have been latent or virtual or hanging around all along, but if it was always an essential part of the basic understanding, why were so many Latin Christians upset/enraged/heartbroken at this latest innovation?) It is rather the episcopacy as such that has the honor of being the oldest “institution” in the Church, but papists like to forget that their primate is in fact essentially the Bishop of Rome. As to the alleged gentleness of the Latins toward Orthodoxy, I fear it is the “love” that hungry wolves show toward little lambs. They are always exceptionally “nice” when they invite them over for dinner!
» Posted By Seraphim On December 30, 2012 @ 8:29 pm
Helga, I think you dismiss “Ben in SoCal’s” complaint too easily. The impression of the Orthodox Church that this blog offers, largely through its comments, has become too much a drone of nastiness and ill-will, with many commentators reading the remarks of others in the most uncharitable way possible in order to make themselves look smart or clever or pious. I have reached a point at which I have found it spiritually demoralizing to read the comments regularly, and I have not posted in several months. Then I got the newsletter from Manton via email, and since conditions there had been a matter of some concern to readers of this blog, I decided to post it here, along with an exhortation that those who care about +Jonah should not only continue praying for him, but also pray the monastery that he worked to build up. The post, which is below, has as of this moment a negative response of -3, i.e. out of 11 responders, seven “disliked” it.
Forget the fact that I posted this. Anyone could have done it, and most people who cared would have said something similar about the need for prayer on their behalf, etc. Is this not an indication of a nasty, rancorous mood that has infected this blog? I marvel: what, exactly, do the thumbs-down people wish to condemn. What do they not “like.” The conveyance of information? The exhortation to pray for a former primate of the Church? Or to pray for a holy monastery of the Church. Or is this just a knee-jerk response to any mention of Metropolitan Jonah, no matter what. This is not an isolated case, for many other times I have been amazed at negative reactions to the most innocuous things posted.
My answer to Ben is that most Orthodox Christians I know do not typically behave like people do on this blog. In fact, none of them do. Even at parish council meetings, at least in my experience, they maintain a civil tone, even in disagreement. Nor do I think the people on this blog who say ugly, negative, insulting things here are themselves behaving in the same ways they do in their daily lives. I think technology has both an amplifying character (which is why most of us have learned NOT TO USE ALL CAPS IN EMAILS AND POSTS) while at the same time it has a way of diminishing individual ownership of our own acts. It gives us the kind of faceless anonymity that we easily exercise on the phone when we are rude to people we don’t know, or in the car to the generic human drivers in other cars who annoy us. This has nothing to do with whether commentators should or shouldn’t use their own names (Seraphim is in fact my baptismal name) but rather with technological anonymity which serves as a mask for ugly impulses and serves as a temptation to indulge them.
I conclude, then, that we need to exercise a kind of mildness here that actually exceeds that which we exercise in daily life, be even more courteous than we customarily are to those who know us and face us. Otherwise, I think we discredit the Orthodox faith that I believe everyone who posts on this blog sincerely wishes to uphold and defend. It has been about a year since I started following this blog, and during that time I have noted at least a half dozen catechumen, inquirers, and newly illumined converts who have been scandalized by what is said here and how it is said. During this time in which we celebrate the birth of our Savior, this fact should give us (myself above all) pause for prayer and self-examination.
» Posted By Seraphim On December 27, 2012 @ 3:14 am
Friends of the Monastery of St John of San Francisco will be pleased and relieved to see that it is still alive and functioning. The newly posted newsletter can be found here:
I would especially urge supporters of Metropolitan Jonah to not only continue praying for him, but to pray also for the survival and renewal of the monastery that he worked so hard to establish. Good and holy monks still remain there, and God willing, the monastery will once again flourish.
Concerning the monastery’s recent “time of troubles,” after narrating the close encounter with the August fires, the newsletter continues as follows:
“Another conflagration raged through our monastery over the last few months, this time within the brotherhood, and this time a metaphorical and more damaging blaze. In the last days of June, when our abbot Archimandrite Meletios and one of the senior monks, Fr Nektarios, had just returned from just over two weeks in Greece, a division took place within the brotherhood which resulted in the departure of half the brotherhood and the resignation of our abbot. Most of the monks who left went to another monastery in another jurisdiction.
“We currently have eight members in the brotherhood. We do not currently have an abbot, but in obedience to our archbishop, His Eminence Benjamin, we meet often in council to make decisions. Hieromonk Photios is entrusted with managing the monstery’s finances and oversight of daily services in the church, while day-to-day matters are decided jointly by Hieromonk Alexis and Monk Innocent. Just as fire often purges dross from ore to create pure metal, so have we experienced the events of the last few months, which have spurred us to a deeper emphasis on repentance, forgiveness of one another, and a greater willingness to listen to one another and yield to one another.
“The monastery has survived the two fires—literal and spiritual—and continues to operate. Some obediences have shifted around, and some of us have taken on tasks that are new to us. Just as before, we welcome visitors.”
» Posted By Seraphim On December 22, 2012 @ 2:42 am
It is the universal practice on Mt Athos not to accept chrismated converts into monastic tonsure there, because the monks do not consider them fully Orthodox.
I would never dream of insisting that their view is the only viable one, although I give it strong credence. Reasonable people disagree on this. But you seem to think not.
You dare to accuse this great lineage of holy monks, going back more than a thousand years, of all being heretics. And to top in off, you then go on to say that they are the ones who are being proud!
Nor is theirs an isolated view, embraced only by monastics. Protopresbyter Geroge Metallinos, one of the most highly regarded theologians in Greece, has written a one-hundred and forty page scholarly study (“I Confess One Baptism”) rejecting the chrismation of converts, and it is far more exhaustive and frankly more persuasive than the very brief treatment of the issue in your “Fundamentalism” book. Here he cites many of the Fathers saying that your view is the heretical one.
Don’t you think more humility is in order here? You are not the only one to have made a study of this issue, something that your several pronouncements on this blog seem to always ignore. I think we should be hesitant to call other Orthodox Christians heretics, especially holy monks who speak in unanimity on this matter.
» Posted By Seraphim On October 15, 2012 @ 3:06 am
This is by no means an age of moral clarity, despite the beliefs of some, who seem to assume that modern Western humanity represents a higher stage of goodness and decency. In addition, as Orthodox Christians who are heirs to a long and great tradition of civilization (as well as theology and spirituality) we need to look at how matters have been dealt with in the past before striking out on moral crusades (such as one against capital punishment). I am by no means a historian, but from what I know, neither the Byzantine nor the Russian Empires banned capital punishment in a global and consistent manner, although there were localized times and places where it was not practiced. On the other hand, there was always (in both Empires, but especially in Byzantium, which preferred mutilation and especially blinding) a strong bias against shedding blood, which is always terrible and momentous in Orthodox moral theology, even when it is involuntary. I would like to hear from an Orthodox historian on this. And also hear what, if anything, the canons have to say. We are not, after all, free to just rationalize about this as we see fit, at least if we wish to call our thinking Orthodox. Meanwhile, it is worth pointing out that the belief that it is always wrong for the state to take a life originates not from Christian theology, but from a philosopher very skeptical of theological claims and legitimacy: the English Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who to my knowledge was the first to claim that life on earth was the highest “value.”
» Posted By Seraphim On September 22, 2012 @ 10:17 pm
The Western Media has been almost completely unaware of the existence of the Eastern Orthodox Church until about the last 3-4 years. 60 Minutes did great pieces on Patriarch Bartholomew and the real stunner about Mount Athos – I loved it. Christmas Day (new Calendar) they did 20 minute segment on the Vatican Library, and the whole rest of the show on Mount Athos.
Fox News is beginning to pick up articles written by Orthodox journalists, and icons are even getting into the mainstream press, though sometimes, woefully twisted – anyone seen the icon with Obama in Christ’s place? They even left the O ON there…
And then of course the bit with the girls in Russia. But that piece is made partly to make Russia look bad, far more than the Russian Orthodox Church itself. That’s because Vladimir Putin is a challenge to Americanism. His Russia is heading back to monarchy – the return of the Tsar… and the Russians want this – despite what they think about Putin, they want to return to that way of government – and they will. When it happens, a very vibrant and resurgent Russian Empire will not threaten the West, but it will be seen here like it does. Oh, well.
It looks clear that this hapless woman who accosted Patriarch Kyrill was intending her message to be picked up in the West somewhere – either Britain or Australia, or the USA, but apparently it got mostly ignored. To me, this backs the point – Orthodoxy is not yet on the radar screens of the American Left. In fact, a Greek Hierarch did the benediction for the DNC (and in my never-humble opinion on this I would say that the DNC has no idea just how much they need prayers – goodness!) But the Hierarchy in the States – at least on the East Coast – has seemed to show a remarkable preference for the Left – which I just don’t understand. Jonah wouldn’t have – and I think that is part of the reason he got run out, because he doesn’t believe that our Faith is to be equivocated with those who would seek to undermine it, as the Left in this country seems rather determined to accomplish.
Perhaps if Vladyka Jonah had remained Metropolitan through the election we would have had some real news come out about the Orthodox Church – but now, we probably won’t, and it will remain America’s best kept secret… Something we ought to really undo.
» Posted By Seraphim On September 6, 2012 @ 6:38 pm
A good summary of who these people are, what they did, and what they stand for can be found here: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/western-media-concealing-facts-about-female-rock-bands-desecration-of-russi/
A statement by the Russian Church, in Russian, but which your browser can probably translate, is here: http://www.pravmir.ru/zayavlenie-vysshego-cerkovnogo-soveta-russkoj-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-v-svyazi-s-sudebnym-prigovorom-po-delu-lic-oskvernivshix-svyashhennoe-prostranstvo-xrama-xrista-spasitelya/
I agree heartily with those who believe that the punishment was really rather lenient, given the diabolical sacrilege these people (who are neither “adolescents” nor “teens”) purposely undertook. Russia has shown us what a society that respects religion as relation to the sacred, and not just as a consumer preference, actually looks like. I would expect similar sanctions against someone desecrating or defiling a synagogue or mosque. It is interesting how many of the liberals who are shocked, just shocked, at the penalty are at the same time curiously supportive of “hate speech” and “hate crime” penalties, seeing “hate” crimes not as the expression of opinion, but as performatives—as actions meant to demean and degrade and defile. Why are acts of blasphemy any different? It seems to me they are worse, unless one truly believes that sacred space is, in fact, empty space.
» Posted By Seraphim On August 22, 2012 @ 3:51 am
The storm is currently headed toward New Orleans. Does this now mean that we should stop eating gumbo?
» Posted By Seraphim On August 26, 2012 @ 7:58 pm
To Fr. John Morris,
Father, you maintain that there are two ecumenisms: a Protestant, heretical ecumenism, and a faithful, Orthodox ecumenism. I agree with you on the first, but I have serious reservations on the second, which I would characterize instead as a faithful, Orthodox ecumenism that is fraught with dangers and pitfalls. It seems to me that there is an inherent contradiction in entering into a “dialogue” with someone when you know beforehand that you know the Truth, and the true Church that He commissioned, and that they don’t, or at least that they do only partially. How do you enter into real dialogue with people who hold heretical or wrongheaded views without compromising your own? Does conversation really count as dialogue unless you open yourself up to the possibility that the other person’s views may contain elements of truth that yours do not? Can I truly enter into dialogue with someone who insists that 2 + 2 = 7? Must I not rather instruct him? But that is not the premise under which “ecumenical dialogue” occurs, i.e. that one side is being instructed by the other.
The only faithful option, it seems to me, is the one hit upon by Socrates, who through the posing of questions, and through the occasional use of gentle irony, gradually led his interlocutors to the truth, making instruction appear to be discussion. So I suppose if one enters into what is supposed to be a “dialogue” with the covert aim of Socratic instruction, then this is consistent. But it would need to be done very skillfully, lest one be percieved as patronizing. Moreover, if in the attempt to persuade, I translate Orthodox truth into heterodox terms, is there not a great danger in distorting the faith and confusing myself as well. If I call the holy mysteries “sacraments,” for example, in order to continue the dialogue without seeming contentious, don’t I tacitly concede a most important point in the process. And I note, as well, that two of our greatest Orthodox theologians, Fr. George Florovsky and Fr. John Romanides, who were both heavily involved with ecumenism, both became disillusioned with the whole idea. Nevertheless, I appreciate your insistence on a list of principles that must be observed if Orthodox “ecumenism” is to proceed.
To M. Stankovich,
I will try to overlook your offensive personal accusations and your condescending tone—neither of which I would expect from someone who tirelessly assumes the mantle of clinical professionalism—and stick instead to what I see as the weaknesses of your arguments.
First, you create a “straw man” and then proceed to assail it passionately, without once looking back. I merely wrote that the Anglican communion of a few decades back was “a place where tradition was respected and maintained.” Not too controversial, I should think. Yet solely on this basis, you assign to me an imaginary belief that the Anglicans possessed “the fullness of faith.” I neither said nor suggested any such thing, and it is not honest to claim that I did. It was perfectly clear to every other reader that my comparison was purely institutional and sociological. I could just as well have used the example of nineteenth century Judaism under the “reform” movement, which undertook to modernize Judaism and bring it in line with a contemporary, scientific world-view, probably an even more instructive example for us Orthodox Christians, as we compare the radical decline of Reform Judaism to the vigor and vitality of Orthodox Judaism. Or does this suggest that I believe Judaism, too, possesses “the fullness of faith”? It is disheartening to have to point out such an elementary error in reasoning.
Second, you maintain that it is not “possible” (your italics) for “the Orthodox Church, protected by the might of the Precious Cross, continually watched over by the Theotokos, founded on the rock of the Holy Martyrs, on the pillars of the Holy Fathers and the Defenders of the Faith, and guided by the Spirit” to reach such a “tipping point.” This glibly triumphalist claim is both counter-factual and dangerous. Don’t you think that Orthodox Christians in Egypt, or Syria, or Persia, or indeed Western Europe (all homes of great and holy saints) and all the other Orthodox lands overtaken by heresy in the ancient world believed the very same thing about themselves? And yet they all succumbed to heresy and decline, not uncommonly perpetrated by their own bishops. (Yes, I know the name Thomas More. Do you know the name Nestorios?) This seems to me something like the Protestant notion of “election” applied to the Church itself—once it’s the Church, it’s always the Church, no matter what. And I think it poses the same dangers as the former.
Third, this kind of “objective” understanding of the Church is exactly what allowed the Latin communion to fall in more recent times. (My apologies here to the well-intentioned “Setting the Record Straight”) If one is convinced that the Church against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” is “us, here, right now,” this actual empirical group of people just as we are, rather than the Mystical Body of Christ, toward which we must always strive, in order to actually possess that to which our baptism makes us heirs—strive to make the earthly communion in front of the altar coincide with the heavenly “mystical supper” that is often iconically depicted in the apse behind the altar—then of course we need not worry about novelty and innovation. Innovations from having the priest turn his back on God during the Eucharist, to giving up the fasts, to using vulgar show tunes in liturgies that would be laughed off from Broadway (not to mention fooling around with the altar boys) are not such a big deal if one knows beforehand, with certainly, that one has the church “franchise” from God, and can never lose it, no matter what. Let me be clear: the Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox Church alone, IS the Mystical Body of Christ. But for me, or anyone else, to assume (without prayer, obedience, and indeed, the self-accusation that the ascetic fathers commend) to assume that we ARE the Orthodox Church, is perilous.
And here you have helped me resolve a longstanding perplexity. How can a certain triumphalism and a certain objectivist, legalistic view of the Church be combined with a modernist imperative, which you have represented energetically, and often acerbically, in your insistence on the superiority of the latest clinical research over traditional wisdom? The answer now seems clear: if one is convinced that the Church (as this empirical group of people) will retain its identity no matter what—just like a name brand retains its claims and (at least temporarily) its cachet, even while what it has to offer changes character dramatically—then the doors stand wide open to modernist adaptations of every kind. To me, the interconnection between this pair of seemingly contradictory mindsets—a triumphalist ecclesiology combined with a modernist agenda—explains much of what is going on in the OCA, and American Orthodoxy as a whole, today.
» Posted By Seraphim On August 26, 2012 @ 12:35 am
Readers of Monomakhos should not be smug about this decline, but take it as a wake-up call. I entered the Orthodox Church in 1999 from the Episcopalian Church, where I saw from within just how rapidly things can go south, once the commitment to a modernist path is embraced.
The General Convention sanctioned the ordination of women in 1976, and issued a new Book of Common Prayer (incorporating much Vatican II theology) in 1979, the same year it committed itself to a number of worldly political crusades. Within twenty years this once-great communion went from being a place where tradition was respected and maintained to becoming a madhouse of bizarre innovation and weirdness of every kind. The collapse was quite amazing. No one could have imagined in 1980 just how fast the rot would spread. Do not believe that it can’t happen to the OCA!
I firmly believe that the OCA is very near that tipping-point at which the ECUSA began its precipitous decline. In my view, modernism (which I define as placing the desire to be up-to-date over the desire to preserve holy tradition) is threatening American Orthodoxy in general, but especially the OCA. Ecumenism is a modernist heresy, born of the liberal (in the classical sense) belief that tolerance has a higher value than truth. Modernism entails the belief that evangelism, of the sort that +Jonah embodied, is gauche and tasteless and rather insensitive in a multi-cultural world. It entails the belief that the results of modern psychology and medical science always trump the wisdom of the Fathers, despite the fact that like both are rife with philosophical and theological presuppositions, and like all modern science, both embrace a methodological atheism (i.e. a method that sifts out beforehand grace and revelation as irrelevant to science). Modernism requires that the “best practices” of modern business management prevail over traditional ways of doing things. It mandates that seminaries teach scripture according to the latest results of modern research, and not the wisdom of the Church Fathers. It requires us to assume that monasteries are cults, unless they prove otherwise by embracing a modernist mindset—and we have been seeing recently where that one leads. It would be easy to go on.
The main division within the American Church, and especially the OCA, and to some extent the participants on this blog, is between those who start from a secular, modern mindset, and judge the thought and practices of the Church accordingly, and those who have (usually through sad experience) seen through the limits and downright corruption of modernity and are therefore wary of change and innovation. I know it would be perceived as sensible to say that both sides possess half the truth, but in fact I don’t believe this. Modern insights should be seriously considered ONLY if they are entirely consistent with the wisdom of the Fathers, who sadly are invoked only rarely in discussions here, and the ancient traditions of the Church. Without these critical standards of truth, the way of the ECUSA lies waiting for us.
» Posted By Seraphim On August 24, 2012 @ 1:03 am
“Why was he a monk in the first place if he is the sole support of his mother and sister?”
Because this wasn’t the case seventeen years ago when he was tonsured. Circumstances do change.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 21, 2012 @ 1:05 pm
This is heartbreaking any way you look at it. I too am a great supporter of Met Jonah and his vision for the OCA. I know that he made some mistakes and aggravated the Synod in ways – I am told that the Metropolitan is not the ruler of the Synod but that he is the chairman of it, and that there is a protocol about acting in concert with, rather than independently of, the other bishops. I know there are times MJ seemed to disregard this. What does NOT make sense is how bad things got – like all this stuff about a treatment program and psychological evaluations and such. This stuff we hear about, but not why.
With the release of the letter from the Synod that was analyzed here, at first I was heartbroken that apparently Vladyka had really run afoul – not only of the Synod but of Holy Orthodoxy’s own moral and ethical principles. It is something that I find hard to believe in an arbitrary sense, but I also know that clergy do things wrong and the laws of repentance and reconciliation do apply and there is also a pastoral issue that the legalities of these things all too often miss in their reports. However, the analysis seems fairly sound, and I am THEN heartbroken over the Synod – some of whom I know personally and love very much as well. I contacted one of the bishops, thanking them for the release of the letter, because I am usually very frustrated with the OCA’s way of telling you nothing on their website. I was relieved to see something concrete, and though it was sad, I trust the bishop who I contacted. I still do, as a matter of fact, yet at the same time, I am grieved over MJ and all that is happening to him.
I am not deeply in the clergy, and this sort of thing makes me want to stay out of it at all costs. I am also not in the OCA, though frankly this letter was at least presenting something clear enough to make me want to finally throw in and join. At least, more. But what is still unexplained here is why the Synod would say what they have said. Before their letter went out, and after, I have looked on the internet for SOME indication of Metropolitan Jonah’s reaction or statements or SOMETHING about all this, and I have seen nothing. And the Synod is writing like MJ is out speaking against all that happened. So, what is up with that?
MJ is in my mind and in knowing him personally, truly a man of God. And, that is not saying that the members of the Synod are all not. Like I said, I know some of them personally and I am blessed in so doing. So the real mechanics about all this are still somewhat mysterious. What is clear is that the Enemy is attacking the OCA very hard. And, considering Who we are followers of, that makes good sense. Since we follow Christ in fulness and truth, that makes the Enemy even more angry. What is tragic is that the spiritual focus of Met. Jonah was unmatched by anyone I have seen in the USA for a long time – among the ranks of bishops. Again, not to say that the others are NOT spiritual, but rather, that Jonah’s approach was nothing but spiritual – at least at the beginning. I think that is why he got elected – as someone ‘untainted’ by the history of being a bishop. It is sad that once this happened, his doing what he believed best ran so afoul of the others.
When MJ was elected Metropolitan, there was a newspaper article talking about the “obama effect” as it applied to Jonah. Someone who was new, not coloured and worn by the ‘system’ and very popular. While Obama has turned out to be the antithesis of many people’s hopes – especially, I should think, in the Church, Who he has mercilessly attacked through his policies – Jonah was the opposite. A good man, indeed a very good man, who as he himself noted in his own letter, was in a position he was not temperamentally cut out to do, and he never wanted that position anyway.
In his resignation, though it looks like it was a bad thing, he may have saved his own soul. Hopefully over time, this will be revealed. That is my prayer for him. Perhaps he will be like St Tikhon of Zadonsk…
My prayer is also that the OCA is able to bring it together.
If there are so many that desire to see Met. Jonah exonerated, I have one suggestion. It is apparently the case that the Synod or one of its members – or the MC members – acted to cut MJ off from being able to appeal to Patriarch Kyrill. If there is indeed something deeply not right about all this, I’d suggest that everyone really mount appeals to Moscow to help us. The Laity is, after all, the people who validate the councils and all the ordinations – in concert with the Holy Spirit, WE are the ones who say “Axios!” or “Anaxios!” as needed. This has helped people before – St Seraphim of Sarov springs to mind – the laypeople was where his exoneration came from, not the Holy Synod, as I recall. Appeal, but be mindful that there are great servants of God in the Synod, and if they need help, they need help. May the truth and the right prevail.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 20, 2012 @ 4:12 pm
Please do not just accept as factual the second-hand information you may hear about either Geronda Dionysios or his monasteries in Greece. I have often visited both St George and The Red Church (from which most of the sisters near D.C. originated) and I have had a personal audience with Geronda Dionysios. He is a holy and charismatic man, whom I will never forget. And the two women’s monasteries (neither of which has ever had more than a small minority of Americans) are wonderful, holy places. In fact, everyone I know who has visited these two monasteries has had powerful, often life-transforming experiences, and visitors often return year after year for spiritual renewal. You need to know that in Greece it is entirely to be expected that all kinds of slanderous rumors will be circulating about monasteries and their elders, due to the fact that for a variety of reasons, many Greeks are really quite hostile to monasticism. This happened to St Nektarios, it happened to Elder Paisios, and it happened to Bishop Athanasios, whom many will know as “Fr Maximos” in Markides’ “Mountain of Silence.” Terrible, unspeakable rumors circulated about all of them. Perhaps even more sadly, it is all too usual in Greece for monastics to engage in uncharitable gossip about other monasteries and their elders, often circulating things they have heard that they are perfectly convinced are true. This was one of the problems that led to the government persecution of Vatopedi, i.e. that other monasteries on the Holy Mountain were envious of their success and indulged in gossip about the fathers there. Dionysios is not perfect, nor are the sisters who are struggling to establish a holy monastery in Maryland. But they are warm and sincere and prayerful people, engaged in good and holy work, and we should be careful not to impede it through uncritically circulating rumors as truth. Orthodoxy in America stands in dire need of healthy monasticism, and if it had existed here already as a nurturing ground for the episcopacy, we would certainly not be experiencing the woes about which many of us are so concerned today.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 18, 2012 @ 12:23 am
Robert: I don’t want to seem harsh or ungrateful, but your petition is just not put together very well, and I believe this is limiting its appeal.
First, as has been pointed out on this blog already, the inclusion of anonymous “signers” renders the outcome rather meaningless beforehand.
Second, the grammatical errors in your petition make it seem amateurish. Predicates need subjects, and singular subjects require singular predicates. (And “lets” in your comment requires an apostrophe.) You may think this is not a big deal, but many people will simply dismiss a petition, if they see the document they are asked to sign as something of an embarrassment.
Third, the demands seem not very consequential, and rather easy to fake. You are basically asking for the truth to be aired about how the process unfolded. It would be all too easy to answer this with just the kind of spin and vague generalities already coming from the OCA power brokers. And even if they were completely candid in their answers, what would this accomplish? Most would grumble and then move on.
People want more than understanding. They want change. Demand adequate financial recompense for Vladika Jonah. Or better, demand that his evangelical energies be re-employed at the episcopal level. The thought of a man who is that charismatic, and so deeply loved by so many, being mothballed at such a young age is intolerable and absurd. Demand that the Synod make a statement that the lavenders are not behind this, and that homosexuality will no longer be condoned in the OCA, either theologically or practically. Demand a traditionalist bishop for the DOS. And ratchet up the consequences as well. Threaten not just with a suspension of donations, which can be weathered, but with a class action suit by the DOS for damages and redress. These are, of course, meant not as specific proposals for a new petition, but merely as examples of the kind of robust, significant demands that a good petition ought to make. I am sure many readers of the blog will have better ideas than these.
One of my disappointments in following the comments here for the last week is how much energy is going into venting and speculation and how little is being spent on proposing practical courses of action. I commend you for your attempt, and I would urge others to come up with other alternatives. But as your petition stands, I don’t think it will get much traction. It may even end up being used by the status quo as evidence that there are no more than a few discontented people. And that would be a pity.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 15, 2012 @ 10:03 pm
Nicely done. The best spin doesn’t seem like spin at all, and you have shown a mastery of this dark art. Continually evoking esoteric knowledge that you miraculously possess, you confidently present a seemingly objective, independent account that neatly supports the “official” OCA spin. But a little too neatly. . . .
First, it contradicts everything that those of us who know +Jonah personally have experienced of him, as well as very public details of his biography. (Perhaps you would like to spend a year or two at Valaam, especially during the winter, and then let us know how comfy you find the novitiate there.)
But secondly, exactly how do you possess all this information to which no one else on this blog, including numerous priests and deans, seems to be privy? I can think of only two plausible ways. Either you are simply making this up, spinning a tale to support the view of events you want people to believe. Or else you are a sock-puppet for someone on the Synod, or else one of their enablers or collaborators. In either case, it is just the same old same old—a story that we’ve heard many times before. (There are more exotic, but less likely possibilities: you are a [literal] fly on the wall; you learned the art of hacking emails from +Mark; you have been spending quality time with gypsy fortune-tellers; etc.)
But you had us there for a second. Nice try.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 14, 2012 @ 5:01 am
I don’t think it’s “going” to happen either. But it “might” happen, especially if so much of a fuss is made that it seems clear that this is the only way to keep the Diocese of the South on the reservation. If it seems to the Synod that this is the only way to prevent secession, something about which the South knows a thing or two already, I think the odds go way up. As has been argued well on this blog already, the DOS is where the numbers are, where the spiritual energy is, where the growth is centered, and not least, where the money is. Without the DOS, the OCA is toast (which it may be already). And if this effort fails, then the DOS can go its way with good conscience, knowing it has exhausted every measure of good will.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 12, 2012 @ 1:29 am
Search “Fr Martin” within the earlier “INEPTOCRACY” comments and you will find far more than you ever wanted to hear.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 12, 2012 @ 12:11 am
JB says: “There’s really no way to rectify this situation, without the [sic] collective resignation and public repentance, followed by the rest of their lives in private repentance”
Matthew says: “Anything less than complete restoration as Metropolitan of the OCA is a compromise and an acceptance of Syosset business-as-usual”
Yes, in some parallel universe, where justice is meted out swiftly and proportionately. But these are fantasies, not real possibilities. They will not happen. Going to Miami to fight for what is possible rather than fantasizing about what is ideal and impossible is the better course of action. The only other plausible alternatives I can imagine are to begin considering other jurisdictions (which makes sense, but only as a last resort) or else continue venting and dealing in fantasies, which is in fact an indirect way of accepting the status quo.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 11, 2012 @ 11:17 pm
The installation of +Jonah as Bishop of Dallas would be a nice start.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 11, 2012 @ 5:31 pm
Just as in English-speaking folklore, the ancient Greeks too believed that the third wave was the one that the swimmer had to look out for, lest he go under, never again to re-surface. Several days ago, when only the first wave had washed in (the suspension of the voting for DOS Bishop) many suggested plausibly that the upcoming meeting in Miami should be boycotted. But after two more waves (each more threatening than the last) this no longer seems like sound counsel. Before, it was as if there had been a discovery that the house had faulty wiring and needed inspection as soon as possible. Now (after the removal of +Jonah and the scandal at Manton) it seems clear that the house is on fire and in immanent danger of being consumed. All the institutions of the OCA seem profoundly compromised, while the Synod remains in a state of delusion They really do seem to think things are fine and that they are rolling on down the highway. When, as Paul Simon puts it, they are in fact “slip-sliding away,” the future of the OCA (and Orthodoxy in America) in tow. The Diocese of the South now seems like the last hope for the OCA before mass defections to ROCOR begin—perhaps not a bad thing, but it should be a last resort. So attendance in Miami now seems not only like something that could have a positive effect, but like a last stand. I would urge those who are able to attend this meeting and raise hell. Or rather, fight hell. At the risk of being over-dramatic, the Continent has fallen and the Battle of Britain is underway. From this perspective, a boycott now seems like a nicety that would have made sense only in peacetime. Go to Miami, and let them know how you feel, in hopes this will snap the Synodal-MC-Syosett Axis out of its trance and wake them up to what will surely happen if they don’t work hard and fast to rectify the situation. Otherwise, I see no way at present that the OCA can survive in anything like its present form.
» Posted By Seraphim On July 11, 2012 @ 5:07 pm
Colette makes a good point: “cults” certainly do not welcome outsiders as visitors. But it may be helpful to push this a bit further, since the Liturgy of the Ancient Church asked those who were not initiates (i.e. catechumens and all those who had not been baptized) to take their exit prior to the Liturgy of the Faithful, and to this day the Divine Liturgy commemorates this with the Deacon’s exclamation: “The doors.! The doors!” (Note Bishop Tikhon’s fine post above.) Could it be that the Church itself is, and always has been, at its heart (and in some deeper, more basic sense) a cult? That “culture” in general, as the word suggests, is founded in cult?
Where do we turn for an understanding of “cult.” To Mr. Rick Ross, who has never attended college and whose felonious activities, from burglary and jewelry store heists to false imprisonment, span several decades? (There is nothing wrong with not going to college, unless one wants to set himself up as an “expert” in a field whose scientific and academic literature spans multiple disciplines from the behavioral sciences to history and theology? And, of course, there is something wrong with committing felonies.) Or should we turn to the Ancient Church itself, with its “cloud of witnesses,” its holy men and women whose spotless lives and character and wisdom are testified by their martyrdom and their incorrupt relics, as well as by the narrative testimony of both contemporaries and later generations who have come to know them in prayer. A quick perusal of the Book of Acts will send up all kinds of red flags to those conditioned by publicity hounds and “victims rights advocates” to seek “signs” of cult behavior. And just as shocking is the fact that the Orthodox Church itself asks all the faithful to strive to live the kinds of lives that monastics are able to carry out with greater rigor: strict fasting that scandalizes secular minds, frequent confessions to a Spiritual Father, a time-consuming rule of prayer, long vigils that prepare us for Great Feasts and the Holy Mysteries, and so on. Unlike the Latin Church (which divides the “religious” from the laity) there is nothing expected from monastics that is not expected from us all, to the best of our current ability.
But what of scowling nuns and getting smacked by stick-wielding elders? The modern age (at least since Kant) has reduced religion and spirituality to ethics, and then further reduced ethics to being “nice.” Scowling nuns are not nice, nor are elders who give you a good whack with a stout pole. But was St John the Baptist, the first monastic, a “nice” person? Were any of the prophets, who harangued their contemporaries in the most unpleasant way, “nice” people? Was Jesus Christ Himself nice? Was the encounter with Christ on Mt Sinai a nice experience for Moses? Understood traditionally (and I would say authentically) religion is not about niceness or any kind or about conventionally good behavior at all. It is about holiness, about purifying oneself to enter into the presence of holiness and even becoming holy oneself. (The German, Lutheran theologian Rudoph Otto, early in the twentieth century, rediscovered this ancient truth that the Orthodox Church has always known.) Look at the icons of the Church, starting with St John the Forerunner and concluding with Christ Pantocrator. Holy faces, awe-inspiring faces, but hardly nice in any conventional sense.
Mainline Protestantism is all about being nice, and since everyone is nice, it is easy to feel good about oneself. This is the utopia of bourgeois values, a place where everyone is “good” in this very conventional sense. But it is not, in my experience, what authentic spirituality is about at all. Holy people often seem at first to be rather harsh, perhaps even a bit fierce. Try doing battle 24-7 with the Evil One for a while, and monitor the results. But as you get to know them, as they see that you are a genuine seeker, a wonderful and unforgettable warmth and radiance begins to penetrate your heart, and you start to see: “Yes, this is what real holiness is all about”!
And pole wielding holy men, who haven’t bathed in non-geological time? Elder Joseph the Hesychast (Elder Ephraim’s own Elder) was an extraordinary man, an exceptional man. His followers have been largely responsible for the revival of monasticism (without which the Church has no living compass) in the twentieth century. But this too repels us moderns, that there could be holy men and women, called by God, who are called to do unconventional things? Here, all I can suggest is to spend some time with Holy Scripture, and you will find more testimony to the soundness of this principle than I could offer here.
Dangerous stuff. But what if, as I suggested an earlier post, everything good and worthwhile is dangerous? What if the safe and the tame is a delusion and a trap? (Readers of Lewis’ fantasy works might think here of Aslan, who as the children need to be reminded, is after all “a real lion.”) And all this can be so easily abused. But so too can what is nice and safe and conventional. Mephistopheles, at least as envisioned by Goethe, is an awfully nice guy. So was Jim Jones: watch the old videos. Both of them charming fellows. Spiritual discernment is imperative, and there are no algorithms, no rules that can substitute for it. We must approach with fear and trembling. And humble prayer. But I would, at the very least, urge that we not assume in our discussions that it is a good thing to judge the Ancient Church by worldly and conventional standards. Everything in the Gospels points in just the opposite direction.
» Posted By Seraphim On June 20, 2012 @ 2:51 pm
Maria: Being “accepted” at an Orthodox monastery is not a simple matter of being “in” or “out.” At the discretion of the abbot or abbess, and as accommodations permit, virtually any sincere person will be accepted as a guest and given monastic hospitality, just as you or I would be. Beyond this, if a person stays more than a few days, he or she will generally be assigned some work to do. If that person begins to start thinking about an ongoing commitment, their work will probably start to become better defined, and they may be eventually granted the status of postulant, which usually entails the wearing of black clothing but no part of the monastic habit. If this is successful, as judged by all concerned, and if the person begins to feel that there might be a monastic calling, they may be granted the status of novice, which will usually involve the wearing of at least the monastic belt. Eventually, and if the preceding conditions are met at a higher level, and if there is proper spiritual growth, he or she may receive tonsure as a Rasophore Monk, perhaps a bit like being an untenured instructor at a university, but not fully a professor. They will wear the rasson or outer part of the cassock, and take on more rigorous ascetic rules of life. And finally, if it becomes clear that there really is a monastic calling, and if the person fits well with the brotherhood or sisterhood, then that person can become a Stavrophore Monk, which entails being given a monastic name different from ones Orthodox name. ONLY at this point is that person considered to have taken full monastic vows. They will add to their monastic garb the inner part of the habit, but not yet the “schema.” In addition, it should be emphasized that any one of these stages (including that of guest) can continue indefinitely, and each will almost certainly go on for a period of many months and in most cases, many years. The status of rasophore and stavrophore, for example, customarily require at least three years preparation each. And there are cases in which very celebrated monks have remained for a lifetime at an earlier stage, even at the stage of novice, as an expression of humility, or for some other pious reason. Every stage is, of course, voluntary. And there are stages beyond this, most notably the Great Schema, which entails wearing the full monastic habit, and which is reserved only for the most spiritually advanced. Beyond this, there are levels of leadership and responsibility such as abbot and archimandrite, and of course there is also ordination to the priesthood, which may or may not take place, and upon which the person is termed a hieromonk. There is wisdom in this gradual and nuanced approach, for lifetime commitments are no small matter. It has been worked out over the course of many centuries, and shows an awareness of the dangers of rash or premature commitments. (NOTE: Monk James or others, please correct me if any of this is erroneous or seems misleading. And the details can and do vary. But what is important is that it is not a matter here of an all or nothing acceptance, but a very gradual process involving much discernment and reflection on the part of many people. And, of course, the latter is never, by any means, infallible.)
» Posted By Seraphim On June 19, 2012 @ 1:55 am
Due to a special set of circumstances, I have been blessed to spend considerable time in a wide variety of Orthodox monasteries, visiting over the years at least fifty monasteries (often numerous times) in nine different countries on four continents. I have made five pilgrimages to Mt Athos and my spiritual father is an Athonite monk. I also have a godson who is a monk, and I have spoken often with him about his experiences. Although I am happily married, monasticism is an important part of my life. I have read widely on Orthodox monasticism and taught a college course on the topic. Altogether, I have spent at least a year of my life in residence at Orthodox monasteries. For me, it is an essential element to living an Orthodox life, and I am convinced that the next step in the maturation of Orthodoxy in North America will be closely bound up with the growth of monasticism here.
Monasticism is not something optional, a kind of add-on to Orthodoxy, but since the third century, it has been an essential and irreplaceable foundation of Orthodox Christianity. Take a look at the lives of the Church Fathers—virtually all of them were monks. Orthodox monasteries are holy places, venerable places that we should hold in the same kind of reverence that we reserve for holy icons and relics. As Orthodox Christians, we are not at liberty to slander them thoughtlessly. (I am not thinking of the Orthodox commentators on this blog, but of at least one web site that seems to take zest in the defamation of our holy monasteries, often on the basis of little more than hearsay and conjecture.) Nor should we provide a forum for any other individual to make (for whatever reasons) absurd and scurrilous and reckless attacks on holy people and places, let alone a continued verbal assault upon our Holy Church. To continue allowing this would, in my view, risk a certain impiety. (And from a merely psychological view, it would be unhealthy as well—not just for Mr Nevins, but even more for us readers. Any more of this would involve us in the kind of morbid curiosity to which we are tempted when passing by an ugly car wreck. Beyond a certain point, you either pitch in to actively help, or keep on driving past and leave the help to professionals who know what they are doing.)
I have visited six of the Elder Ephraim’s monasteries, and there are two of them that I regularly visit—at least once per year each. I have also made several pilgrimages to St Anthony’s Monastery. In a different venue, there would be a few minor criticisms that I could (very hesitantly) make of them, all having to do with taking certain canons in a somewhat overly legalistic manner. But this is something I have encountered widely in other Orthodox monasteries as well, and there is nothing extraordinary or unseemly about how things are done at the Elder’s monasteries. And above all, I have experienced absolutely nothing even remotely cult-like about any of them. (I was in a college fraternity long ago, and the brotherhood there was exponentially more cult-like than at any Orthodox monastery I know.) Everything is voluntary, everyone if free to arrive or leave at will. Monastic obedience is simply cooperation of the same sort that is required for progress in any program of therapy. One can always walk away, pick another physician, or decide that no treatment is needed. Some treatments are more demanding or rigorous than others, although we need to bear in mind that if it is practiced in anything like a traditional manner, Orthodox Christianity as such is very strong medicine indeed, and if we don’t experience it this way, I think we need to be suspicious. Likewise, equally good monasteries vary in all kinds of ways, including their degree of rigor. Elder Ephraim came to America from Philotheou, which of the twenty monasteries on the Holy Mountain has a reputation for rigor: perhaps the Athonite equivalent of the Marine Corps. And the Elder has carried something of this to America, just as one would expect. Moreover, St Anthony’s (as his flagship monastery) is one of the most rigorous of the Elder’s monasteries. But this is just its draw for young people, for this kind of rigor has the potential to evoke healing and holiness in a most impressive manner. (If you need to be reminded of the results of religions that make few or no demands on people, stop by your nearest mainline Protestant Church on Sunday morning. There will probably be plenty of room.)
Is this for everybody? Of course not. There are monasteries of all kinds for all sorts of people. Can certain people be harmed by rigorous monasticism? Of course, but no more than they can be harmed by undertaking any demanding endeavor: violin or ballet lessons, medical school, or law school, or just attending a difficult college or university—any one of which certainly has far more casualties of various sorts than any Orthodox monastery. Every winter, students leap to their deaths into the abysses of Cornell University. Does it ever occur to anyone to call Cornell a cult for that reason? Despite our very modern eagerness to make the world safe from every human folly, it remains true that everything worthwhile has certain dangers that are intrinsic to it.
If anyone has made it this far in my post, I apologize for its length. Nor have I meant to appoint myself as the arbiter of all things monastic. But I do believe that we need to approach Orthodox monasticism with respect and humility, for it is something holy and something of which our Church stands in the greatest need. And I believe that those who persistently seek to disparage its holiness should not (both for the sake of their own souls, as well as ours) be offered an Orthodox venue to continue this unhappy pursuit.
» Posted By Seraphim On June 18, 2012 @ 3:10 am
Jane Rachel says:
“I can tell you for sure that we are all in the same boat”
I’m afraid this is really too glib. The Antiochian Archdiocese certainly has its problems, but to my knowledge the clergy and hierarchy stand firm and united on the polarizing modernist issues of homosexuality, ecumenism, and women’s ordination. This is a significant difference with the OCA, and I don’t see how it is helpful to gloss it over. There are clear strengths of the OCA and the GOA, but on this at least (and I am sure someone will turn up an outlier or two) the AOC is keeping the ancient faith. It may be useful to ask how and why, rather than assuming we are all “in the same boat.” Nor does it seem legitimate to suggest, as does StephenD, a moral equivalence between problems concerning financial accountability in the AOC (which are by no means trivial) and heterodox views on moral and theological issues in the OCA.
» Posted By Seraphim On August 12, 2012 @ 7:57 pm
I have no wish to either defend or denounce HOCNA, and I am in general quite sympathetic to your comments on this page, but you should do a bit more research into the so-called “name-worshipping heresy” in pre-revolutionary Russia. There has been a good deal of solid scholarship on this controversy, both in Russia and in the U.S., where both a Masters Thesis and a Doctoral Dissertation have concluded that it was not a heresy at all. Nor is “name-worshpping” an accurate translation of “Imiaslavie.” The Athonite practices were, in fact, supported by both St John of Kronstadt and Fr Pavel Florensky, and an impartial examination will show that most of what was deemed questionable was nothing more than the practice of the Jesus Prayer, which invokes the Name of God, but which had (sadly) itself become largely ignored in Russia due to the predominance of a Scholastic mindset and a Synod hostile to monasticism and monks. (Sound familiar?) Metroplitatn Hilariion has recently given an insightful appraisal, which is not without relevance to certain issues recently discussed on this blog:
“Even though the movement of the “Name-worshippers” was crushed at the beginning of the century on the orders of the Holy Synod, discussion of the matter regained impetus in the years preceding the Moscow Council (1917-18), which was supposed to come to a decision about this but did not succeed in doing so. Thus the Church’s final assessment of Name-worshipping remains an open question to this day.
“I would emphasise that this is by no means simply an issue of local concern, nor of merely historic interest, but a matter of no less theological significance than the argument between “Palamites” and “Barlaamites” in the middle of the fourteenth century. Name-worshipping was an expression of the centuries-old Athonite tradition of the activity (prayer) of the mind, while the “synodal” theologians were backed by the traditions of Russian academic scholarship. Study of the conflict on the worship of the Name could illuminate the mutual relations between the monastic theology of the experience and the “academic” theology of educational institutions.” (http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/11/1/1.aspx)
» Posted By Seraphim On August 11, 2012 @ 11:50 pm
I can’t imagine why you would think that Rubin’s discussion includes “both sides” of the political spectrum, unless you mean “from far right to extreme right.” And why does the fact that there are worse offenders against Christian populations in the Middle East get Israel off the hook? It is a constant talking point of Israeli apolgists that they embrace and uphold Western values. So shouldn’t they be judged by those same values of fairness and tolerance, and not those held by, say, the Saudis?
» Posted By Seraphim On April 25, 2012 @ 2:26 am
The “60 Minutes” report really bent over backward to be fair, and anyone who sees this as a “hit piece” is simply uninformed. I was once a reluctant supporter of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, seeing the wall as a necessary evil. And then I visited Israel and the West Bank twice, spending significant time both in Arab cities in Israel, such as Nazareth, and in various parts of the West Bank, interviewing people on both sides of the conflict. This experience has changed my views quite dramatically, and I would like to share some of what I learned, since a number of comments in this blog show that there is much misinformation out there.
1) Arabs in Israel and the West Bank are not seething with hatred. Never once did I hear rancor or rage expressed against the Jewish people. Arab peoples, Christian and Muslim, with whom I talked just want to live out their lives in peace, without the kind of harassment to which they are constantly subjected, and which I shall very partially document in what follows.
2) First, take a look at an Israeli “settlement.” To most of us, the word conjures up log cabins and “Little House on the Prairie,” but the “settlements” are densely populated and highly developed areas, almost always on the top of hills, looking down on the Arabs in the surrounding areas, both for “security” and for the symbolic effect. Here is a photograph of one that is fairly representative:http://www.imemc.org/article/58154 Or you can just google “West Bank Settlement” to view hundreds of images. They are populated by heavily armed “settlers’ who will not hesitate to shoot any hapless Arab who may wander into range. The settlements are connected by a sophisticated series of highways, which the Palestinians are not allowed to use, or even to cross except at checkpoints, which are staffed by Uzi-toting Israeli teenagers. Moreover, in a semi-arid part of the world, the settlements suck up the lion’s share of the water, while the surrounding Arab villages often have only a few days per week when they can use the water systems. (Settlers get water freely to sustains lawns, etc.)
3) At this point, a map is useful. You can view one here: http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/israels-generous-offer/ Or there are many other settlement maps easily available. You will immediately see that in what is supposed to be their own country, they are faced with an intricate web of impassible roads and checkpoints and vast restricted areas where Arabs are not even allowed at all. Note too that the “Wall” is often well within the West Bank boundaries, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs in a “no man’s land,” which makes life exceedingly difficult. George advocates a wall across the border with Mexico, but I’m sure he would want it to remain on the U.S. side, and not encompassing (for example) huge parts of Tijuana or Juarez.
4) What I have said so far can be immediately verified by anyone with good will and an open mind. And remember that all this is in a country that has been occupied for nearly 50 years. (How many “occupations” can you think of that have gone on even a fraction of that period?) But innumerable books, articles, and personal anecdotes give consistent testimony that the land for the settlements, highways, etc. is acquired through the most high-handed manipulation of the legal system, along with “gotcha” rules and regulations that are rigged against the indigenous peoples.
5) There are a host of voices, both right-wind Israelis and crazed Christian Dispensationalists in America, who are entirely candid in their advocacy of outright ethnic cleansing to finish the job, and these people are by no means marginal. In America, they make up a significant percentage of the Christian Evangelical world, and in Israel, they have the ear of Netanyahu and other decision makers, as well as an inordinate influence on Israeli politics
6) in view of this, the notion that Christians are leaving Israel and Palestine solely because of the Muslims is just naive and absurd. It cannot be sustained by a fair-minded person who looks into the facts, apart from some ideologically-driven political narrative.
» Posted By Seraphim On April 25, 2012 @ 12:54 am
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Sadly, this is only a more intensified display of what goes on all the time. I have made two fairly lengthy trips through the Holy Land, where Greek monks are in charge of many of the holiest sites. Both times, I found that they have a richly deserved reputation for rudeness and downright hostility among pilgrims in the area. I have actually been pushed roughly to the floor, capriciously and without warning, by a Greek monk during Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Holy Resurrection in Jerusalem, for no offense beyond being perceived as “in the way.” Pilgrims are routinely barked at and scowled at for the crime of wanting to visit places like the Orthodox temple at the peak of Mt Tabor, without having a Greek-speaking guide. Some of the most pious Christians in the world visit Palestine as pilgrims, and this bad behavior is giving Orthodoxy a terrible reputation among many thousands of devout visitors, who are often the very people we would most like to have as inquirers into the Church. Yes, there is occasional rudeness and bad taste on the part of visitors, but it hardly justifies this kind of nastiness as a modus operandi.
» Posted By Seraphim On January 18, 2012 @ 2:47 am