One of the glories of Autumn in the Sooner State is Friday night football. In most places, the town’s entire social life revolves around it. Nights are filled with tailgate parties, cold beers, meeting friends and family, talking about last week’s game and wondering if we’re going to make it to the playoffs — the whole nine yards.
Contingencies are part of the package. Everybody has their ideas, pet strategies, and ideas about what went wrong last week. But one constant is the “home-field advantage.” This is important in a state where football teams drive two or three hours to play another high school in their category (from “A” to “AAAAAA”). Distances can be vast: From Konawa to Tahlequah it’s about 2 hours; from Kiowa to Okmulgee, about three; McAlester to Beaver, close to seven.
Getting the team there is easy. Getting the fans there is a lot harder. The longer the distance the more difficult it is, and anybody who’s ever played high school football knows how important the fans are. All things being equal, it’s tough to get beat at home.
Bp. Benjamin got beat at home — big-time. Not only did +Jonah disarm his vociferous gaggle of critics, but the Bishop of the West gave him the ammunition he needed. Frankly, Bp. Benjamin came off as petty and vindictive as did the new chancellor, Fr. John Jillions. Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky couldn’t help but get a few licks in himself and looked no better. Clearly this was the last hurrah of a team that had seen better days.
At the start, +Jonah threw a Hail Mary pass in his opening speech when he took responsibility for the various administrative failings. Though this admission shocked many (this writer included), it became clear that His Beatitude was not throwing in the towel but raising the stakes.
What followed was a litany of successes (certainly not framed as such but successes nonetheless) that have occurred since his election three years ago. He pressed his advantage by underscoring his bold vision for the Church, and ended with a resounding rebuke to the prevailing moral zeitgeist, serving notice that the OCA will remain firmly within the received moral tradition of Orthodox Christianity.
The crowd rose to the occasion. Two courageous delegates — Maureen Jury of Dallas and Fr. Chad Hatfield, Dean of St Vladimir’s — stood up to the bishops and asked them if they would own up for the failings of the recent past. Bp. Benjamin came down on Mrs. Jury like a two-ton blocker. Fr Chad wouldn’t stand for it. For their trouble, they were overwhelmingly elected to the Metropolitan Council. (The look on Bp. Mark Maymon’s face was worth the price of admission when Mrs. Jury’s election was announced.)
From there, the end was foreordained. The fear of the present regime in Syosset was palpable, especially towards the now-famous New York Plan. Melanie Ringa gave a presentation of the Budget for 2012 which Fr. Alexander Webster challenged. Fr. Webster asked why the new budget did not include a line-item for the continued “severance” pay of Fr Alexander Garklavs. Fr. Garklavs, the former Chancellor of the OCA, was fired in February but was surreptitiously kept in place by Bp. Melchizedek of Philadelphia.
Fr. John Reeves (a conspirator in the failed Sante Fe putsch) rose to make an impassioned plea against the New York Plan . In the end, he and the other Stokovites failed; when the votes were counted it passed two-to-one.
Finally, the delegates voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution mandating that the OCA celebrate a “Sanctity of Marriage Sunday.” This is a stinging rebuke to the homosexual apologetic recently propagated by Fr. Ted Bobosh, the crew behind the We Are Their Legacy website, and other critics of His Beatitude.
The present regime was able to run out the clock on some resolutions they didn’t like, specifically a vote on whether to remain in the National Council of Churches (see: NCC Exit Poll) and whether the bishops should submit themselves for an evaluation as His Beatitude had volunteered to do. It’s an old ploy, but the fact that they failed to both remove the white klobuk from His Beatitude and derail his vision of a decentralized Church can only be viewed as a stunning and catastrophic defeat.
Clearly Team Syosset went home dejected. More good news was soon to follow. Yesterday Mark Stokoe (“I don’t make up the news, I just report it”), the chief cheerleader of Syosset, threw in the towel and shut down OCANews. That execrable website by which Stokoe and his Syosset handlers destroyed the reputations and careers of anyone caught in their cross-hairs is gone. Good riddance.
More to follow.