I Guess Bill Maher Didn’t Get the Memo Either

A few years ago, Yours Truly asserted that there was a “gay cabal? in the OCA. I was derided by some for even believing such things existed. Since that time, Pope Francis revealed to the world that there was indeed such a cabal in the Vatican (he called it a “gay lobby”) and now ultraliberal Bill Maher said the same thing. Only he called it a “gay mafia.”

What he was talking about was the recent defenestration of Brendan Eich, (former) CEO of Mozilla. Eich’s crime? He gave $1,000 to California’s Prop 8 back in 2008, a proposition which passed with 52% of the vote. Proposition 8 if you remember, was crafted to codify marriage as properly understood. It was supported overwhelmingly by African-Americans, Latinos, whites, and a certain candidate for President named Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. It’s since been struck down by a tyrannical court but that’s a story for another day.

Savor the irony. Drink it in as you would a rich, aromatic brew of Ethiopian coffee. Eich committed Crimethink. He is being subjected to a Two Minute Hate. He doesn’t have the popularity or the fan base of a Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty so he’ll probably retire into obscurity. Hopefully he’s socked away enough cash to live out the remainder of his days in comfort, otherwise he’ll have to don an apron and work at McDonald’s.

I’d like to think that we’re at Peak “Tolerance” and that ordinary people have had enough of the Progressive Brownshirts but I have a feeling that we’re going to see more of this for the foreseeable future. Maybe not. Who knows? In any event, those of us who are firm in our faith will need to pray for an extra measure of grace because I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse. Many of our bishops will be no help in this matter. Indeed, some (and we know who you are!) will welcome the new moral regime. And it won’t just be gay ideology driving the coming persecution but all manner of immorality.

In the meantime, I’ll gladly accept the apologies of my critics who took me to task for believing such conspiracies existed.

Source: Real Clear Politics

In the online-only “Overtime” portion of his HBO show Real Time, host Bill Maher weighed in on the Mozilla controversy, and did not react in a way that you would think. Maher seemed to disagree with gay rights activists for targeting Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich because of a 2008 donation to support a ballot initiative that would ban same-sex marriage in California.

“Well, and he gave it when President Obama was still against gay marriage. So, I don’t think it’s very fair,” Carrie Sheffield of Forbes said.

“Good point,” Maher responded.

“I think there is a gay mafia,” Maher said. “I think if you cross them, you do get whacked.”

Transcript below.

Comments

  1. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    Has anyone said there is no Gay Mafia? Who? When? Where? I’m serious.

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  2. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    Remember how Metropolitan Jonah “weighed” in when the “Don’t ask; Don’t tell” policy was revoked?
    How many, IF ANY, Christian, Jewish or Muslim Chaplains have been compelled to perform “gay marriages’ since then? Helga? George? Was the government brought to its senses after learning of Metropolitan Jonah’s brave threats? No doubt…..

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Your Grace, it’s rather early in the day regarding this fight. I am convinced that the way things are going, sooner or later a Jewish, Muslim, or Christian chaplain will be forced to perform a homosexual nuptial. Of course it won’t be put like this, he will be given the choice to resign his commission or whatever.

      Just curious, what if Mr Sprecher had decided to remain in the Navy, whether secretly or openly? Could he not have been the test case, the point man in this regard so to speak?

      Your Grace, I commend you on your optimism, you’re obviously a better Christian than myself but I know for a fact that a few of the newer bishops have absolutely no problem at all with the Church “revisiting” our stance on marriage. When the dust clears and the older guard have gone to glory, it will be very difficult for a chaplain to remain resolute when his own bishop is undermining him.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        The operative word is “yet”. At the Air Force Academy open expression of Christian beliefs is considered offensive. Your Grace, you under estimate the tenacity and influence of the “freedom from religion” crowd.

        And George, you may find the Orthodox priests who wish change to go the military route because they will be able to do what they want and dare the bishops to take action, perhaps eliciting the support of the US government if they are discipline–offering far more than a pinch of incense to Caeser

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        • Gail Sheppard says:

          RE: “And George, you may find the Orthodox priests who wish change to go the military route because they will be able to do what they want and dare the bishops to take action . . .”

          Whom will they dare? A group of heterosexual bishops or a group of bishops who struggle with same sex attraction? If it’s the latter, where will their loyalties lie? With the Church or with their own experience? This is the concern.

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    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

      https://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2014/January/Military-Chaplains-Punished-for-Marriage-Beliefs/

      Another example included a chaplain who was relieved of his command for refusing to allow same-sex weddings at a military chapel. And an Army Equal Opportunity Officer listed Christians and Ultra Orthodox Jews as religious extremists like the Klu Klux Klan and Al Qaeda in a power point presentation.

      The new Defense Authorization Act requires the military to accommodate religious beliefs but the Obama administration is opposing those protections.

      The Chaplain Alliance’s testimony was sent at the invitation of the U.S. House Armed Service Committee.

      ========

      Lesbian “commander” wants to find way to punish a chaplain for opposing sodomy, calls in soldier to consult on how to do so, forces soldier to tell his personal views and then punishes him for it:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAxwGlyAP1Q

      http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/09/06/air-force-cracking-down-on-christians/

      Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk found himself at odds with his Lackland Air Force Base commander after he objected to her plans to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. During the conversation, his commander ordered him to share his personal views on homosexuality.

      “I was relieved of my position because I don’t agree with my commander’s position on gay marriage,” he told me. “We’ve been told that if you publicly say that homosexuality is wrong, you are in violation of Air Force policy.”

      In one of her first meetings with Monk, the commander expressed concern about the chaplain who would deliver the benediction at her promotion ceremony.

      “She said she wanted a chaplain but objected to one particular chaplain that she called a bigot because he preached that homosexuality is a sin,” Monk said.

      ….

      Steve Branson is the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church, about five miles from the Air Force base. He tells me that as many as a half dozen of his church members are currently facing persecution on the base for their religious beliefs.

      “Sgt. Monk is just the tip of the iceberg,” the pastor tells me. “Anyone who doesn’t hold to the right view on homosexuality is having a very difficult time.”

      Branson said one colonel is not even allowed to voice an opinion on the matter over fears it might cost him his job. Another airman has been brought up on charges eight times.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        Ladder, you failed to show that any chaplain has been forced to perform any marriage, and you can’t. Period.
        Your first link mentioned a chaplain being disciplined for forbidding a same-sex marriage in a base chapel:
        “Another example included a chaplain who was relieved of his command for refusing to allow same-sex weddings at a military chapel.”
        That is an idiotic thing to oppose. NO chaplain has the authority to forbid any other chaplain to perform any act in a base chapel. None of the base chapels is a consecrated temple of any religion at all. If a Methodist or Jewish chaplain wants to perform a same-sex marriage in a base chapel, no other chaplain has any authority to forbid it. I don’t know what ignoramus wrote that article, though. It says a chaplain was ‘REMOVED FROM HIS COMMAND! What “command?” Chaplains don’t command anything at all, nor should they.
        “removed from his command”!!!!!…!” Even a “Command Chaplain” commands nothing and nobody, but is called such because he is the Chaplain at a command headquarters. This is awful. I was initially upset by Metropolitan Jonah’s embarrassing rant-announcement of how he would address any same-sex marriages forced on any Orthodox chaplains, but when I see how many people have been misled by his rash and ignorant hypothesis, i am all the more appalled that a correction has not been forthcoming from anyone in the OCA leadership.
        Obviously, this legend, like that of the release of Metropolitan Jonah, has achieved immortal status and no one will own up to having been misled.

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    • Jackson Downs says:

      Actually, of the Jewish chaplains on active duty in the military, only a very tiny number are Orthodox Jews – maybe one in the Navy, two in the Army, and one in the Air Force. The rest (the vast majority of Jewish chaplains) belong to sects that are more open to homosexuality. Even Conservative Judaism, which at one point in American history essentially bore little difference to mainstream Orthodox Judaism apart from an egalitarian rabbinate, has a strong movement committed to the homosexual agenda (oh, the sad slope that seems to inevitably await those who embrace an egalitarian approach to ordained ministry, it seems to me). Not that my personal experience is much of an argument, but I did once meet a Navy rabbi from the Conservative sect that was willing to marry homosexual couples, and this was a number of years ago, before the cultural tide had turned on this issue. As for the Reform and Reconstructionist sects, well, almost anything goes these days, from my outsider’s perspective.

      I post this to say that maybe it is more meaningful to stick to Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim chaplains when discussing those taking a generally firm stand in the military – alongside of the evangelical Protestants, of course! Sometimes I thank God for the cultural support of the evangelicals, at least on this issue and on the life issues.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Mr Downs, thank you for pointing out that distinction re the Orthodox/Haredi sects of Judaism vs the Conservative/Reform/Reconstructionist. It’s an important one as the more liberal wings of Judaism have long been in the ascendant and trump via their actions/liturgics/beliefs what non-Jews consider to be normative.

        That being said, because of higher birthrates, the Haredi faction of Judaism will prevail in the long run bu not in time to rescue Judaism from its present Unitarian-like celebration of homosexuality.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        I remember going on a tv show with rc, protestant and Jewish clergy. The representative of the Jews was a Lesbian Conservative Rabbi. This was in the late 1970s.
        Recently I learned that the Kaiser’s army in WWI had twenty-one Jewish chaplains. One may extrapolate from that to an estimate of the number of Jewish German soldiers served in that War.

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  3. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

    Well, George, I’m not going to take your prediction on faith. You may very well do so. I don’t have your unshakeable faith in the accuracy of Metropolitan Jonah’s or anyone else’s so popular “sky is falling” remarks.
    I rather think, George, that if anything like what you predict happens, it will be a case of a Bishop having to face a Chaplain who thinks the Bishop doesn’t understand “changing American culture’ and the environment in which young soldiers have grown up and should not take away his accreditation, especially because the chaplain is married with children and the mean bishop is celibate and has no children and (as Greek parish presidents like to say) ‘Has never had to meet a payroll.’

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      I’m sorry, I lost you. I laid out a realistic scenario in which I could easily foresee an Orthodox chaplain being forced to either (a) bless a homoerotic coupling, or (b) resign his commission. I could add (c) be forced to perform said ritual upon pain of court-martial.

      Let us be clear: every scenario which conservatives have envisioned regarding the state-sanction erosion of culture has resulted in exactly those things which liberals have long assured us would never happen. We on the right have long had to contend with liberals rolling their eyes at the seeming absurdity of our fears which they always assure us could never come to pass.

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      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        George, you were mistaken, in my opinion, when you wrote this: ” I laid out a realistic scenario in which I could easily foresee an Orthodox chaplain being forced to either (a) bless a homoerotic coupling, or (b) resign his commission. I could add (c) be forced to perform said ritual upon pain of court-martial.

        The reason I feel I dare to say what you wrote is, contrary to what you wrote, UNREALISTIC is because of my REAL experience of the U.S. Army for three years as an enlisted man, and my REAL experience of the U.S. Air Force for eight years as an officer, and my close friendship with two outstanding USAF Chaplains; Archpriest Peter Zolnerowich and Archpriest Michael Margitich.

        My experience of the armed forces in general and of chaplains in particular leads me to say that your scenario is absolutely fantastic. You have no idea how the military authorities, base and unit commanders, as well as major commands interact with chaplains and have imagined a uniformed service where arbitrary commands are issued routinely.

        I don’t doubt that you “easlly” foresee anything. Your easily foreseeing something is the only realistic part of that statement. Nothing was easier for Chicken Little to see than that the sky was falling…

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Well, Your Grace, then how do you explain the rash of hetero and homosexual assaults which have been plaguing the Armed Forces? Chuck Hagel the SecDef called it “an epidemic.”

          How do you explain the recent drag-show in Okinawa, or the numerous selfies and Youtube videos of soldiers celebrating the worst tropes of homosexuality? I’ve never seen black servicemen putting out videos in which they act like Steppin Fetchit or Golliwogs. Or Jewish servicemen doing shtick comedy highlighting the worst Borscht Belt stereotypes of Jews.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            George: Answer; I don’t know how to explain the events you publish here, especially since they appear to have NO CONNECTION WHATSOEVER WITH ANYTHING I WROTE and/or with the fantasy of a command-directed “same sex marriage.” NO military commander at all, George, can force ANY Chaplain to perform ANY marriage whatsoever, nor can they force any chaplain to divulge the contents of any private confession.

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            • Gail Sheppard says:

              Your Grace, I’m not sure George indicated that someone can force a chaplain to divulge the contents of a private confession. What I gleaned from this discussion are the implications of homosexuality being celebrated on the Internet, as this seems to be representative of things to come. What George is talking about is a future trajectory. I don’t see him challenging your position that this isn’t your experience with or in the military. – George, if I am mistaken, please correct me.

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        • William Harrington says:

          Your Grace. How long ago was your service? My father, who served twenty years in the Air Force and who still follows these things has pointed out to me that the administration has been actively removing officers who have conservative viewpoints and replacing them. I believe that your experience in the military may be outdated compared to what is happening now.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            The president has never touched a junior officer, whether a chaplain or not, but he may, like Harry S. Trruman, have got rid of a peacock like General Petraeus and another General beloved in Hollywood, almost being as powerful a Commander in Chief as HST, but he had no Douglas MacArthur (you know, the man who said, ‘I’ll be r-i-i-i-i-ght back” when leaving General Wainwright behind to deal with imprisonment by the Japanese) to have stuffed and posed as a trophy..
            Almost all base, camp, fort, unit chaplains are junior and the highest rank they can attain is Colonel, except for one lucky Baptist or Catholic or Methodist who may become Chief of Chaplains. Please ask your father how many officers with conservative viewpoints have been removed by President Obama for being conservative and have been replaced.
            It’s true, I left my Pentagon office in the “D” ring on the 5th floor in 1971, a long time ago. However, I belong to the
            American Legion, the Air Force Association, the Association of the U.S. Army, the Reserve Officers Association and subscribe to the monthly Army Times and Army magazine and keep in touch with certain active duty personnel and civilians. NO DOUBT, your father from his armchair is likewise connected, so it should be easy for him to produce the names and ranks and quantity of actively removed officers who have conservative viewpoints. How acquainted is your father with the culture of the military chaplaincy, William, especially relative to their relationship to the U.S. Administration?
            Now, tell me, please, does your in-touch father agree or disagree with the following, which I wrote and to which you did not respond;

            “NO military commander at all, George, can force ANY Chaplain to perform ANY marriage whatsoever, nor can they force any chaplain to divulge the contents of any private confession.”

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Your Grace, you’re dealing in absolutes. The world we live in though is infused with all shades of gray. Government, which is itself a gift from the Almighty, was instituted among men to restrain evil, not promote it. In fact, our Constitution states that it is there to “provide for the common defense and to promote the public welfare.” Madison at least understood Natural Law.

              Because of our culture’s apparent besottedness with homosexuality, we are now at the point of promoting evil. Most men (myself included) do not have the wherewithal to remain true to the Gospel, try as we might. I know that’s not an excuse but that’s the way most people operate.

              And let’s be fair: when the Synod did something questionable (and I’m being charitable here) thing like bringing in the vagante deacon Ron Huler to the OCA and accepting him as a duly ordained bishop, you resigned from your seat. I applaud you. But you didn’t have a family to support and you still drew a pension.

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                George, Revelation: If I had been tried by a Spiritual Court and deposed from the episcopate, I would still get my pension.
                I had been “fully vested” in the pension plan LONG before I retired. The U.S. Government and ITS laws, not the Church, regulates whether I or anyone else in the pension plan is eligible to draw a pension upon retirement!!
                Why ever did you say, “…and you still drew a pension?” Was someone that you know deprived of the pension they earned? Who, and when?.

                Yes I always have believed in absolutes and living according to them and dealing in them. You assert the world is infused with shades of grey—if that is your attitude, is it not also the attitude of those who are speaking of a more “nuanced’ (i.e., non-absolute) treatment of homosexuality and marriage and birth control?

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        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says:

          Your Grace: I submit that you underestimate the enormity of the “groupthink” that the highest echelons of the Obama administration and its obsequious generals and admirals have imposed on the U.S. armed forces. As more cases come to light of punitive actions against those chaplains who continue to dissent from the new homosexual orthodoxy, we shall begin to understand the full range of coercive measures that traditionalist chaplains, including many of our own Orthodox priests, have to confront. Conscientious chaplains who decline to include homosexual military couples in “marriage retreats” or pre-marital counseling together with traditional man-woman couples or to engage in ecumenical events with “gay” chaplains or to support in other ways the homosexual agenda as a matter of “civil rights” may suffer marginalization or even administrative penalties such as reassignments, mediocre officer efficiency reports, non-retention in their service component, or non-selection for promotion to the next rank.

          The day after the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” era officially ended, thanks to the votes in the lame-duck Congress in December 2010, I published a guest editorial in the Stars & Stripes newspaper, which has a global circulation online and in print editions on U.S. military bases at home and overseas. It did not require any special insight or brilliance for me to perceive the emerging trend some three years ago–only open eyes and ears. Here is the full text of the op ed:

          GUEST COLUMN
          End of DADT paves way for new discrimination

          By Alexander F.C. Webster

          Published: September 22, 2011

          On Sept. 20, 2011, a date that will live in infamy, the U.S. armed forces were deliberately and successfully attacked by advocates of the scourge of homosexuality. The elimination of the last vestige of moral restraint on sexual perversion in the U.S. military, commonly known as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, ushers in a new Orwellian era in which the military leadership of our nation will proclaim the unnatural as natural, the unhealthy as healthy and the immoral as moral.

          On Aug. 25, 2010, before the DADT policy was rescinded by Congress and the current president of the United States, I wrote the following in a guest column in Stars and Stripes (“Chaplains in no-win situation on ‘don’t ask’ ”): “A ‘nondiscrimination’ policy would surely mutate into approval and celebration of the ‘gay’ lifestyle, followed by ‘affirmative action’ recruitment of homosexuals, politically correct ideological indoctrination throughout the armed forces including family members, and, finally, active discrimination against — and persecution of — those who dare to express a dissenting opinion.”

          Perhaps in another year or so we shall know with certainty whether that prediction was exaggerated or prescient. However, several portents of the latter prospect are already evident.

          Wasting no time, U.S. Marine Corps recruiters accepted an invitation from the executive director of a “gay rights” center in Tulsa, Okla., to “celebrate” the end of DADT on Sept. 20 by setting up a recruitment booth near the center’s AIDS quilt. The New York Times reported that the USMC was “the only one of five invited branches of the military to turn up with their recruiting table and chin-up bar”. That gives new meaning to the Corps leading the way.

          Last April, still five months shy of the mandated expiration of DADT, the U.S. Navy chief of chaplains, Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, publicly embarrassed himself and his Chaplains Corps when he proactively paved the way for homosexual weddings by U.S. Navy chaplains in certain U.S. Navy chapels. In a memo dated April 13, Chaplain Tidd announced: “Consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with a state that permits same-sex marriage or union; and if that chaplain is, according to the applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state’s marriages.”

          He also gave the green light for Navy chapels to be the venue “if the base is located in a state where same-sex marriage is legal”.

          What the admiral and his legal advisers somehow overlooked was the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which does not countenance such faux “weddings” in lieu of marriage between one man and one woman. Since Navy bases fall under Title 10 of the U.S. Code and are federal territory, the admiral, in his eagerness to accommodate a sexual minority, was effectively authorizing a violation of federal law. Four weeks later, after a storm of protest across the nation, particularly some 63 outraged members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the admiral ordered a right full rudder reverse starboard, changed course, and suspended his directive “pending additional legal and policy review.”

          Most ominous, however, was the punishment that a military chaplain had to endure as long ago as March, fully six months before the official commencement of the new post-DADT era. That chaplain’s endorser — that is, the religious authority who approves clergy of a particular faith group or denomination for military service — informed me on background that the eager minister’s orders for an assignment in Germany were suspended by the service component’s Chief of Chaplains office, and that the minister would have to be “supervised closely.” Why? The young chaplain had forwarded an email opposed to repeal of DADT and to homosexuality on moral grounds.

          There we have the first punitive action, to my knowledge, against conscientious chaplains who dare to dissent from the new ideological groupthink that has captured the minds of the American military leadership. If my prediction last year proves correct, I fear that chaplain’s fate will be suffered by many.

          As an Orthodox priest who still loves all of the troops I served as a chaplain for a quarter of a century, I pray that God the Holy Trinity will preserve and protect the U.S. armed forces — especially in this new Dark Age.

          Father Alexander F.C. Webster, an archpriest in the Orthodox Church in America, retired in June 2010 as an Army Reserve chaplain at the rank of colonel after more than 24 years of military service. He is the author or co-author of four books on topics of social ethics, including “The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West.”

          http://www.stripes.com/end-of-dadt-paves-way-for-new-discrimination-1.155890

          Of course, the several years since then have brought the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act; Lone Ranger judges unilaterally declaring “unconstitutional” various state constitutional amendments acknowledging traditional marriage between one man and one woman alone; the Department of Defense’s full embrace of homosexual marriage at the federal level and on all federal military bases; widespread affirmation, celebration, and advocacy of all things LGBT in the popular culture and by the American intelligentsia; and an increasingly aggressive, intolerant, ruthless take-no-prisoners enforcement of the new homosexual orthodoxy in every nook and cranny of American society.

          As a retired senior Orthodox U.S. Army chaplain, I now routinely advise current and prospective Orthodox military chaplains to plan to serve on active duty only one three-year tour at a time in the hope that they can continue to minister to the troops and their families, in good conscience and without compromise of our venerable Orthodox Tradition, until the normal retirement age. Since “hope is not a plan,” as Lieutenant General Russel Honore (the “Ragin’ Cajun” U.S. Army commander during Hurricane Katrina in 2005) once chided me during a staff briefing, I also encourage those Orthodox chaplains and prospective chaplains to cultivate a willingness to walk away from military service, if it should prove necessary for their own souls.

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          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            Father Alexander, I read your presentation. I see nothing at all in it that contradicts my categorical statement: ““NO military commander at all, George, can force ANY Chaplain to perform ANY marriage whatsoever, nor can they force any chaplain to divulge the contents of any private confession.”

            Thank you, for even though you addressed several other points that are problematical, you kindly chose not to trot out your customary obsession, an Orthodox theory of the “Just War.” This sort of thing, imported from your R.C. seminary days always caused the hair on the nape of my neck to stiffen. It was very wise to turn to the military chaplaincy after a short experience of Orthodox parish life.

            So, the “Stars and Stripes” is still around? I don’t remember when I last saw an issue, although the father of a childhood friend of mine was editor of “Pacific Stars and Stripes” when I arrived in Tokyo in 1956, and i met his wife, Mrs. MacNutt, in the Hardy Barracks cafeteria when I arrived in Japan. I never saw a copy of Stars and Stripes in my years in the Air Force, not even in the Pentagon. The Army Time, the Air Force Times and, I presume the Navy Times are still very popular and widespread periodicals and I subscribe to the Army Times. if I wanted to get a copy of “Stars and Stripes”, where in the world could one find a copy?

            I think the idea that Congress or the Supreme Court could defend marriage is somewhat comical. They can’t defend marriage, they can’t prevent booze and, anyhow, the Fathers of our country showed no interest in public morality at all, according to anything I’ve read in American history, until Abraham Lincoln came along.

            Oh,I just checked, “Stars and Stripes” newspaper is NOT DISTRIBUTED in the United States, except “online’. THAT”S why I haven’t seen a copy since the 1950s when I was overseas.!

            Oh, and you started with this adversarial canard: “Your Grace: I submit that you underestimate the enormity of the “groupthink” that the highest echelons of the Obama administration and its obsequious generals and admirals have imposed on the U.S. armed forces.”
            Far from underestimating that or anything else, I made no estimates whatsoever relative to the “enormity of the ‘groupthink’ that the highest echelons of the Obama adminstration and its obsequious generals and admirals have imposed on the U.S. armed forces.”
            Are you referring to unit cohesion? And is it only bad generals and admirals that are obsequious while good generals are obedient? You weren’t clear on that or where you “draw the line.”

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            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says:

              Vladyka, you must be confusing me with another “Father Alexander,” who went to a Roman Catholic seminary (I did not), had only “a short experience of Orthodox parish life” (my three full-time parish pastorates span more than 23 years interspersed with full-time active duty tours as a U.S. Army chaplain), and suffers from a “customary obsession” (my scholarly work in the Orthodox moral theology of war and peace dates back to 1978 and includes four books and more than forty publications in academic journals–hardly a psychological disorder).

              Let’s try to “aim high” (the current U.S. Air Force slogan, by the way) and confine this discussion to the issues instead of sniping at one’s personal history and character.

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                Father Alexander, I apologize for confusing you with another priest whom I met around the same time i met you. Here is my message with all references and premises relating to my mistakes removed ;and confined to “the issues.”

                “Father Alexander, I read your presentation. I see nothing at all in it that contradicts my categorical statement: ““NO military commander at all, George, can force ANY Chaplain to perform ANY marriage whatsoever, nor can they force any chaplain to divulge the contents of any private confession.”

                Thank you, for even though you addressed several other points that are problematical, you kindly chose not to trot out your customary obsession, an Orthodox theory of the “Just War.” This sort of thing always caused the hair on the nape of my neck to stiffen. It was very wise to turn to the military chaplaincy after your experience of Orthodox parish life.

                So, the “Stars and Stripes” is still around? I don’t remember when I last saw an issue, although the father of a childhood friend of mine was editor of “Pacific Stars and Stripes” when I arrived in Tokyo in 1956, and i met his wife, Mrs. MacNutt, in the Hardy Barracks cafeteria when I arrived in Japan. I never saw a copy of Stars and Stripes in my years in the Air Force, not even in the Pentagon. The Army Time, the Air Force Times and, I presume the Navy Times are still very popular and widespread periodicals and I subscribe to the Army Times. if I wanted to get a copy of “Stars and Stripes”, where in the world could one find a copy?

                I think the idea that Congress or the Supreme Court could defend marriage is somewhat comical. They can’t defend marriage, they can’t prevent booze and, anyhow, the Fathers of our country showed no interest in public morality at all, according to anything I’ve read in American history, until Abraham Lincoln came along.

                Oh,I just checked, “Stars and Stripes” newspaper is NOT DISTRIBUTED in the United States, except “online’. THAT”S why I haven’t seen a copy since the 1950s when I was overseas.!

                Oh, and you started with this adversarial canard: “Your Grace: I submit that you underestimate the enormity of the “groupthink” that the highest echelons of the Obama administration and its obsequious generals and admirals have imposed on the U.S. armed forces.”
                Far from underestimating that or anything else, I made no estimates whatsoever relative to the “enormity of the ‘groupthink’ that the highest echelons of the Obama adminstration and its obsequious generals and admirals have imposed on the U.S. armed forces.”
                Are you referring to unit cohesion? And is it only bad generals and admirals that are obsequious while good generals are obedient? You weren’t clear on that or where you “draw the line.”

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          • Indeed. Far from deriding as fear-mongers those who, whether rightly or not, fear that the current course of events portends a future of Soviet-like ungodliness and persecution of the righteous, it would seem that a more appropriate course of council would be to trust in God and be prepared to face our fears with the courage our faith requires. The ‘sky’ may not have ultimately fallen in Russia, for example; but thousands upon thousands of faithful endured the suffering of its dark clouds and terrible storms.

            A disciple is not above his Master. If the hated Me, they will hate you also. But be of good cheer… To him who overcomes…

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  4. Steve Knowlton says:

    Unfortunately, it only takes one situation to generate a serious legal or PR case.

    Moreover, layman are unlikely to support the Church in any public controversy because, as the Mozilla story teaches us, we can now lose our jobs for something as simple as a political donation from years ago. How might the activists like to scour the web for postings on blog sites such as this?

    An author at Slate magazine is saying that anyone who would secretly deny a marriage to a gay couple is no different than racists who forbade mixed race marriages. That comparison will soon be standard fare.

    The gay marriage issue is bound up with other very divisive issues, making this a very difficult topic to address even within the church. For example, I somewhat dread the annual observance in our churches of Sanctity of Life, because half a dozen people are always disgusted, not because they outwardly disagree with the teaching but because they’re political liberals, and from their standpoint I understand the frustration: if we’re going to address abortion, why not address: capital punishment, income inequality, global warming, the plight of the palestinians, etc.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      I can answer that very easily: because the mutilation of an innocent baby in its mother’s womb is an unarguable evil. Global warming, income inequality, and even capital punishment are arguable.

      We don’t know whether global warming is an actual fact, a hoax, or something in-between. “Income inequality”? Why is the fact that Tom Brady makes more money throwing a football than a hamburger-flipper at McDonald’s unfair? It may be but it may not be. In other words, it’s arguable.

      Capital punishment? Unfortunate but a savage murderer is not on the same moral plane as an innocent child. Again, it’s arguable.

      Abortion is a categorical evil for which there is no moral amelioration.

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      • Heracleides says:

        Very well said.

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      • Steve Martinez says:

        Some on the liberal side would disagree about the abortion being evil. No one can tell the future so the worst or the best can happen, or the best possible for a us humans. There’s something to be said for allowing time to give us perspective on whether there will be problems from removing DADT from the military. The problem of assaults on military esp. women predates the removal of DADT. This recent focus on rape in the military comes from a change in definitions of what is considered rape, which in the past was under-reported such as date rape, domestic violence rape and taking advantage of (mostly) women under the influence. Active male-on-male activity predates the twentieth century, if one listens to the “oldtimers.”

        Some realistic concern is coming from the administration of the military on the issue of sexuality which comes under the heading of “fubar”, which I expect many know what that means–or snafu–which the military has a long and rich history. Over zealous officers are bad for morale as are the lax ones. I don’t despair over this as the military day-to-day bureaucracy is bound to step up to keep the machine rumbling ahead. There’s no reason to assume the worst, as officers are mostly let go for performance reasons, or for lack of promotion. The military again is always looking for personnel who go along to get along. Sure, sometimes transfers and poor evals are used to “punish” recalcitrant officers, but the chain of command is more important than any one particular command passed down from above. And, none of this is new at all, in fact its quite old.

        Perhaps you as a group or individuals were not following the problems occurring in the Air Force Academy, which is proximate to many of Colorado’s finest evangelical “establishments.” From at least ten years ago Jewish, Catholic and non-believers were literally being confronted by zealous evangelicals, getting “in the face” of these “unbelievers” to insist that they’re faiths were wrong and having quotes from the bible shouted at them. This presented morale problems at the Academy until recent changes in administration have moved to change this “dynamic.” Since then, the Evangelicals have been on the forefront of claiming that they are being “persecuted” and not allowed to practice their faith since they’ve been reeled back from confrontational evangelizing. This complaint is one of the reasons for that rider on the Defense Appropriation Bill. You think its fair for Orthodox believers to have their faith defamed? You can follow the history of this in the links below.

        http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/92042:underground-group-of-cadets-says-air-force-academy-controlled-by-evangelicals

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/23/politics/23academy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E06E6D61138F932A25755C0A9639C8B63

        http://www.wnd.com/2014/03/billboard-confronts-air-force-censorship-of-religion/

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Many on the liberal side do “disagree that abortion is evil.” That’s the problem. When they are asked what sin they do consider to be a categorical evil they cannot come up with one but instead pick and choose fabulous fads like “social justice” or “global warming.”

          They only compound the problem because these are not categorical evils but debatable economic and/or scientific propositions. In doing so, they muddy the waters thereby hoping that normal people will not see that they have no over-arching principles other than maintaining power for its sake.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Thanks very much, Steve. There are many here on Monomakhos and elsewhere who do not KNOW the military or American military culture, yet they are full of expert diagnoses and alarms relative to it.
          There is a wide range of opinion amongst “liberals” or “on the left” relative to abortion, and the practice of abortion is not confined to liberal circles, by any means or stretch of the imagination. Conservative couples that obtain abortion, though, add hypocrisy to the evil.
          One of the most effective and outspoken enemies of abortion has been the far-left liberal, Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice.
          There are as many predators lurking and hungering for the slightest indication that the repeal of DADT (which was a Clinton innovation, by the way) is harmful, as there are predators lurking hungrily for any vulnerabilities whatsoever in “Obamacare”. This gives meaning to the lives of many not sure about their own intelligence.
          George is right that many educated Americans, including some Christians, are reluctant to name any categorical evil at all. Now, one traditionally categorical evil used to be divorce (even I can remember when the very word “divorce” was uttered ONLY in a whisper as soft and frightened as the word ‘cancer.’ THOSE were ‘categorical evil’ once
          True it is only scientists who consider global warming to be a categorical evil that can even be measured, while others (much smarter, of course) who consider it to be a ‘fabulous fad” as they navigate the North Pole and discover fertile territory in Greenland not seen since before Adam and Eve.

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    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

      This business of “if we’re going to address abortion, why not address: capital punishment, income inequality, global warming, the plight of the palestinians, etc.” is a pure fallacy. What, one evil cannot be addressed by the Church on a particular day unless all other evils have their special day, too?

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      • Fear of Death Tim,

        Joseph Cardinal Bernadin was the originator of this approach. I think he called it the “seamless cloak of life”, or more prosaically the “consistent life ethic”. Ostensibly based on Roman Catholic respect for human life, while Bernadin may have had good intentions in practice it seems to have become a sort of Trojan horse by which the influence of liberal values (on the death penalty, economic “justice” (read: socialism) for e.g.) in the American RCC has increased.

        Btw, George, I believe Pope Benedict said opposition to abortion was not negotiable for RCs while different opinions on the legitimacy of the death penalty were permissible.

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  5. Pat Teague says:

    May God have mercy on America, though I fear He will just let us go.

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  6. The oppressive political and educational methods of the sexual anarchists were completely predictable, even by a fool like me. It is bound up in their literature, and in the methods of European anarchists and social utopians whose methods they have appropriated.

    For what is is worth, below is a lengthy letter I wrote to my priest 6 years ago detailing the events that are unfolding today. The letter was prompted by a conversation with him where he expressed puzzlement as why I was concerned about the matter.

    I am still amazed when I encounter priests and bishops who are unconcerned about the consequences for them before Christ for not protecting their flocks and for not preaching the Gospel.

    ————————–

    Father,

    I understand that you want us to have a good marriage. Especially after my history, that is critical.

    My mind however lingers over several things in thinking over your theory that our marriage and good marriages in general will keep Christians and our nation from harm.

    When Constantinople fell I am sure there were good marriages in Byzantium, yet the Christians allowed themselves to become militarily weak, falling behind the Muslims in technology, weakened further with a declining population and economy. Finally they were lax in their defenses and the Muslims entered the city through an unsecured gate. This happened despite the processions within the city of the Christians with their icons, essentially relying on a last resort spiritual solution for their neglect of their practical military duties. As the city fell Orthodox husbands were killed. Those who lived watched many of their wives raped.

    In the past century Viktor Frankl had a very good marriage by his account in Man’s Search for Meaning, but his wife died in a Nazi concentration camp and he himself barely survived his camp experience.

    Most likely there were many good marriages and good Christians in Russia when the Bolsheviks took power. The Orthodox Bishops that had previously been involved in the political life of the country stood by while the democratically elected Duma and Kerensky’s government failed and Lenin eliminated all rivals to Communism. Christianity became illegal and it was mostly destroyed for nearly a century. Parishioners and Priests had to renounce their faith, hide it, or died in concentration camps in what had been a Christian country for centuries.

    What is the lesson from these events? I don’t know of any historical precedent of a people facing a crisis having that crisis turn around because of their good marriages.

    I don’t see that individuals having good marriages prevented these catastrophes, so I don’t see how Christians having good individual marriages in our country will stop evils enforced by law coming to our doors.

    Evil in the scriptures and throughout history is an aggressive and unrelenting force targeting the symbols of good and the lives of people who represent goodness. The Evil One labors to overturn the created order, as God ordered it in Eden. Many have observed that this is Satan’s one great pleasure, fouling the purity of the creation, spiting God by tricking his mortal creatures into immoral actions, turning the beauty of the creation into something distorted and monstrous.

    Similarly, the laws of urban criminal sociology apply. When one window gets broken, days pass and time reveals that no one cares to repair it, then all the windows get broken. I think of Christ’s parable where the evil spirit leaves a man but returns, finding things cleaned up but unguarded, and is even more furious in wreaking havoc the second time.

    The symbols of good, Christian symbols in particular, are being desecrated purposefully by Gay activists. We see this in how homosexuals are attacking especially the icons of the Last Supper and The Crucifixion:

    http://blogs.sfweekly.com/shookdown/2007/09/folsom_street_fair_last_supper.php

    Now in Europe, Canada, and California and in the northern states the legality of gay unions has advanced. Massachusetts has gone further in marrying same-sex couples from outside of their state, preparing the way for court challenges in states that do not yet perform same-sex marriages. There have been fines, imprisonment and loss of jobs for people already for Christians who even disagree with the Gay lifestyle in many countries.

    It is also happening in Brazil, where one house of the legislature unanimously passed a law that requires imprisonment for interfering with homosexual expression. http://worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=69775

    Though Christians are numerically greater in our country, the numbers of Christians have been declining in proportion to the overall population for some time, and have had the substance of their Christian faith reduced, especially in terms of sexual morality. As rank sexual material in public discourse has exploded over the years, the spiritual counterweight in Christian discourse has shrunk, which in generations past has been the rewards of traditional Christian virtues as continence, self-control and celibacy, and the judgment of God against sexual lawlessness. If it does make an appearance in our day, it comes dressed in silliness or is conducted in an uncompelling and untranscendent manner.

    Federal and state governments have the power to mandate curriculum changes and access to facilities (Churches) where it finds it has an interest in protecting and promoting the acceptance of sexual minorities. That is how the thinking is and if laws get written around it, the Churches will lose in court every time. And who has the money to pay all the lawyers?

    That is, if the laws get written and or the Courts interpret Constitutional rights feeling only pressure or input from Gay activists as it is now — as they are feeling no influence from Church leaders.

    Gradually, as they are continuing to find, Churches in California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are coming into a de facto outlaw status. Catholic charities have closed and long-standing Protestant organizations have been punished by being taxed for not recognizing Gay marriage. If gay and heterosexual marriages are equal under the law, to not recognize this equality is to automatically be at legal peril.

    The Bishops who were canonized were elevated as protectors of the church as shepherds and promoters of good and the knowledge of God in the face of the agents of evil in their day. They were able to speak with powerful words as God-inspired prophets before the legal authorities of their times in which they lived. SCOBA has itself expressed their obligation to weigh in on these moral issues http://www.scoba.us/articles/2003-08-13-moral-crisis.html. Though this statement was made two years ago, they have fallen silent as the crisis grows progressively worse.

    It will be all the more shameful if a country founded on principles of religious liberty and a Christian public morality by the Founding Fathers, establishing our Constitution on these ideals — that their words on these subjects and laws they painstakingly worked out would not be valued by present day religious leaders, the very people the Founders respected and created a form of government to protect.

    We are on the verge of having our religious liberty whittled away in the midst of a spreading sexual anarchy not seen even in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are undergoing a fundamental redefinition of human nature much in the same way, challenging the religious and moral underpinnings of our democracy and way of life, by people inspired by the same theoretical basis of Marx that the Bolsheviks used in the Russian revolution. But the focus is not on destroying the economic/political order and replacing it with something revolutionary, but on demolishing the established sexual/cultural order and supplanting it by a legally enforceable revolutionary experiment.

    http://orthodoxytoday.org/articles8/Lee-The-Truth-About-The-Homosexual-Rights-Movement.php

    Am I saying it means concentration camps for us? I don’t think that is the present threat, and there are other means that can accomplish the same goal of intimidation and thought control. I do think it will mean more of what is already starting to happen American-style:

    • Rewriting public school curriculums and pressuring private schools to do the same to enforce positive attitudes toward gay and transgender lifestyles. http://antioppressiveeducation.org/definition.html

    • The publication of gay-perspective children’s books (Such as King and King) and the obsoleting of traditional heterosexist children’s books.
    http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2006/04/28/3
    http://antioppressiveeducation.org/definition.html

    • Children, following the current trend, will be sexualized at increasingly earlier ages. Paradoxically homosexual and transgender behavior will be tend to be protected against disapproving adults while heterosexual experiences will tend to be punished.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,404502,00.html

    • Lawsuits to force Christian institutions and churches to accept the gay and transgender lifestyle, including use of facilities, or face judgments, taxes, fines or prison time.
    http://orthodoxytoday.org/articles8/Morse-Same-Sex-Marriage-And-The-Persecution-Of-Civil-Society.php

    • Christian principals and teachers forced to compromise their faith or lose their jobs. http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=8356379

    • Christians in private business being sued for discrimination or hate crimes and being abandoned by their churches for being too controversial.

    • Restrictions on home schooling to make it burdensome (just happened in California) so that children taught to resist the gay lifestyle will be a tiny minority.
    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28800

    • Gay and transgendered characters and relationships featured regularly in children’s television and movies, and in adult sitcoms and movies.
    http://omg.yahoo.com/news/transgender-contestant-to-compete-on-top-model/11949?nc

    • The increasing “cool” factor influencing young people for the gay and transgender lifestyle as more celebrities participate in these lifestyles and are congratulated for it. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,391048,00.html http://www.foxnews.com/video2/video08.html?maven_referralObject=2605988&maven_referralPlaylistId=&sRevUrl=http://www.foxnews.com/

    • Corporate mandated sensitivity training to accommodate gay and transgender people and modifying the English language, obsoleting terms like husband and wife which are heterosexist and religiously discriminatory. http://www.oit.edu/Default.aspx?DN=22326,22320,21707,2789,3,1,Documents&Print=true http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2004/10/25/gay_marriage_ns041025.html

    • The pressuring of Christians to acknowledge same-sex and transgender marriages in social and business situations or face ridicule, lawsuits, reprimands, or loss of their jobs.
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,405801,00.html

    • Christian families forced by the courts to support their children’s participation in the gay and transgender lifestyle or face having their children taken from them by the state.

    • Further Loss of Christian influence and population due to the religion being portrayed as discriminatory and hateful. http://www.religionislies.com/marriagecrime.html
    http://www.cultureandmediainstitute.org/articles/2008/20080827094844.aspx

    • Increased dissension in the churches because of all the pressures above and a deemphasizing of doctrines on sexuality.

    All this will happen but will not be reported in the mainstream media. Instead the developments in gay and transgender liberation will be celebrated, and Christians who oppose it will be portrayed as prudes and hate-mongers. Instead, there will be a climate of increasingly daring sexual displays by gay and transgendered people: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/general/view.bg?articleid=1105329&srvc=rss

    St. Chrysostom saw the great significance of human sexual behavior, the large metaphysical frame bounding it, finding its full scope in the war between God and Satan (from Commentary on Romans, Homily 4):

    The desire of intercourse…united the sexes to one another. This desire the devil having taken away, and having turned the course into another fashion, he sundered the sexes from one another, and made the one to become two parts in opposition to the law of God. For it says, “the two shall be one flesh;” but he divided the one flesh into two: here then is one war. Again, these same two parts he provoked to war both against themselves and against one another. For even women again abused women, and not men only. And the men stood against one another, and against the female sex, as happens in a battle by night. You see a second and third war, and a fourth and fifth; there is also another, for beside what have been mentioned they also behaved lawlessly against nature itself. For when the Devil saw that this desire it is, principally, which draws the sexes together, he was bent on cutting through the tie, so as to destroy the race, not only by their not copulating lawfully, but also by their being stirred up to war, and in sedition against one another.

    How many hells shall be enough for such? But if thou scoffest at hearing of hell and believest not that fire, remember Sodom. For we have seen, surely we have seen, even in this present life, a semblance of hell….For such is the burning of Sodom, and that conflagration! And they know it well that have been at the place, and have seen with their eyes that scourge divinely sent, and the effect of the lightnings from above. Consider how great is that sin, to have forced hell to appear even before its time!

    Sometimes when I become afraid or I can’t sleep because at the speed of these developments and what they portend, because of the inevitability that the force of darkness will press its advantage against the children of God to the extreme, the feeling is like that of the Jewish writer Kafka, whose writings in the 1920’s anticipate the experiences of innocent people overwhelmed by the dehumanizing forces just a few short years later.

    It looks as if much had been neglected in our country’s system of defense. We have not concerned ourselves with it until now and have gone about our daily work….

    “What is going to happen?” we all ask ourselves. “How long can we endure this burden and torment? The Emperor’s palace has drawn the nomads here but does not know how to drive them away again….The guards, who used to be always marching out and in with ceremony, keep close behind barred windows. It is left to us artisans and tradesmen to save our country; but we are not equal to such a task…This is a misunderstanding of some kind, and it will be the ruin of us.” (from “An Old Manuscript”)

    I don’t see hierarchs like Saint Basil, Saint Ambrose, or St. Athanasius standing by indifferently to these kinds of threats to the church and their countries, continuing their routines like nothing new is happening. Failing to act on their public commitments and recognition of the gravity of the crisis. Our Christian leaders could be appearing in the halls of government, writing amicus briefs to the courts. Making appearances on television, even friendly television like the Fox network, appealing to their fellow Americans with words of wisdom and clarity on matters of sexual morality. Writing editorials in the newspapers. Meeting with each other and strategizing. Coming together in vigils and fasting. Making the case for how keeping the definition of marriage between a man and a woman benefits society and children in particular, and the great risks to our society experimenting with a novelty so destructive and loathsome in the eyes of God, scrapping an understanding so fundamental to every human society that ever existed. (I do wonder however what Father Seraphim Rose’s activity in the face of these threats, especially since I understand he had a homosexual relationship in his youth before coming to Orthodoxy. I wonder if he had any inkling how far things have come in such a short time).

    Is this effort really so hard? They are the actions of the Apostles themselves, spreading the light of the Gospel as St. Paul did, persuasively explaining to Felix the beauty and dignity of a moral life before God in terms of righteousness and self-control. The opponents of the Church and the agents of darkness don’t seem to have a hard time doing it.

    You are a good man Father. You have natural abilities and grace from God to use words with clarity and power. I for one don’t want to see that not pressed into these extraordinary times, limited to concerns within the walls of our parish when there is a spiritual contest about us that will determine our destiny as a nation, and the destiny of Orthodoxy in America and in the future and in the world beyond, a larger destiny from which our parish cannot avoid forever.

    If Christians and their leaders do not quickly mount a response to the quickening tempo of this revolution we will find ourselves trapped in a new legal order that will take generations to undo and to have become enemies in our own country.

    I know that my concerns here are easily dismissed because of my own unimpressive history and lack of spiritual attainment. But I ask that you at least give it consideration as our shepherd, not for me, but for all of us.

    As an Orthodox Christian with many frailties, I hope our Bishops, Deacons and Priests will not be found standing idly by before these threats to the ultimate moral climate of our country, the spiritual health of our children, and our religious liberty.

    On your consideration if there is any direction you think of to give to me please let me know.

    Your parishioner,

    Trudge

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    “Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice….As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is our responsibility….Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder….I do not believe that civilizations have to die because civilization is not an organism. It is a product of wills.” Arnold J. Toynbee

    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

    William Buckley on Playboyism (October 2000 James Rosen interview):
    In his final years, Bill Buckley resignedly accepted Playboy’s cultural triumph.
    ROSEN: I just wonder, if you look around you at the society we have today–the hip-hop culture, the rap culture, just walking around New York City streets–do you see us as a more religious country, or a more moral country, than we were thirty years ago?

    BUCKLEY: No. No, I do not. There has to be some consequence of an amoral education and we’ve had amoral education now for quite a while. And there are corollaries which are plausible, even if they aren’t conclusive. The increase by four or five hundred percent of the number of illegitimate children is one of them. It is extraordinary to me that you can, in fact, engage in public education beginning at the age of six and never, ever meet a teacher who feels any responsibility to encourage you to distinguish between right and wrong. That is the conclusive victory of epistemological pessimism…

    Once again, Buckley returned to “the Playboy philosophy,” declaring it “permissive on all points that have to do with sexual predilections (though minors are not allowed).” If anyone doubted gay marriage will eventually become legal, Buckley advised his readers, pessimistically, to the contrary: “[T]he Playboy philosophy has every reason to believe it will be so….The Playboy Channel on television regularly displays scenes not even Abercrombie & Fitch would dare to put into its catalogs…The clear winner on the scene is Hugh Hefner. Going to church has become one more exercise in permissive behavior. Go ahead on to church, but be careful not to get in the way of Playboyism when you step back from the church to real life.”

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Trudge, thank you for taking the time to write one of the most thoughtful, insightful, and resourceful commentaries on this problem.

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      • I appreciate your words George.

        However, the letter brings me a lot of pain because of everything that happened since.

        The father I wrote it to helped bring me into Orthodoxy and has reposed. Unfortunately, he was not willing to consider his approach to ministry and the influence of the new thinking and many of the children in that parish have left Christianity for secular or alternative lifestyles.

        Metropolitan Jonah visited us and addressed this problem when I asked him about it to the relief of many. Questions came pouring out to him when the subject was broached. Now he is gone from his position of leadership. My wife and have since left to be under a GOA priest who is not American-born and is energetically trying to guide the children in his parish from the influence of the new thinking.

        Still what I hope for is to join with others under Toynbee’s words as a rallying cry that I quoted at bottom of the letter. May our rallying cry be the ways of Christ and the saints before us, and may we labor to be filled with the Holy Spirit for this beautiful work!

        Let us shoulder this work!

        “Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice….As human beings, we are endowed with freedom of choice, and we cannot shuffle off our responsibility upon the shoulders of God or nature. We must shoulder it ourselves. It is our responsibility….Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder….I do not believe that civilizations have to die because civilization is not an organism. It is a product of wills.” –Arnold J. Toynbee

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    • colette says:

      Trudge,

      I liked you bullet points-thank you for sharing your letter.

      Along those lines . . . .This article doesn’t even name all the law suits right now , but it’s worth a read. . . .
      http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2014/04/05/eich/

      I am not surprised that Stankovich and Retired +Tikhon can not grasp this and think it paranoid because they are not raising children. . . . . It would be easier if it were just oneself. They jump on the bandwagon of attacking worried observant parents who battle the brainwashing of their children everyday, who seeking support are met instead with frightened priests who will not lead or those who are sucked into the delusion themselves. . . . . .

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      • M. Stankovich says:

        colette,

        As I recall, Rod Dreher’s wife, a mother of young children, got up before dawn, walked to the train, and traveled to bang on the front door of Met. Jonah, demanding action and demanding support. Listen to the hymns of Holy Week: “Arise, arise my soul! Why are you sleeping?” “I sleep in the laziness of my soul like the foolish virgins, O Bridegroom!” “You entrusted me with a talent, but I gained no interest for You. O Master.” “Eve heard Your feet in the garden and hid in fear, but I shall kiss Your pure feet and wipe them with hair of my head.” You simply have no excuse in pointing your finger at Vladyka Tikhon, me, or the “frightened priests.” “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” (Eph. 5:30), and it is absurd to say it, but we are not saved without you, and you are most certainly not saved without us, for our salvation is of the Church, one and undivided.

        We are all called to varied “vocations,” and you would never undertake what I have chosen to undertake. Your words are divisive, colette:

        Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man for profit. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another various kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But in all these works that one and same Spirit, dividing to every man individually as he will. (1 Cor 12:4-11)

        I believe it is shameful of you to suggest that, having spent years proving care to terrorized, victimized children preyed upon by criminals, I would “jump on the bandwagon of attacking worried observant parents who battle the brainwashing of their children everyday.” This is a despicable comment.

        Likewise, whatever you thinks of Vladyka Tikhon personally, nevertheless, he is the anointed of God who served faithfully for a quarter-century as a Bishop:

        For if any one will consider how great a thing it is for one, being a man, and compassed with flesh and blood, to be enabled to draw near to that blessed and pure nature, he will then clearly see what great honor the grace of the Spirit has so vouchsafed; since by their agency these rites are celebrated, and others nowise inferior to these both in respect of our dignity and our salvation. For they who inhabit the earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels.

        St. Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, III, 5

        My thought is that if your ill-will is necessary, save it for Bright Week.

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      • I appreciate also your words colette.

        May you be strengthened in the Lord to steer your children in the narrow path of the Gospel of the Kingdom!

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        • colette says:

          Thank you Trudge! You as well.

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          • colette says:

            If you all haven’t heard of this newsite check it out-not all easy to read but thought provoking . . .

            http://www.spiked-online.com/freespeechnow/articles

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Collette, thanks for the link. I clicked on and was shocked. The New Totalitarianism has begun. (Maybe there’s hope however, I encourage people to go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It’s a fascinating and lively critique of the NSA security state.)

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                George, did you see that Brandeis University has rescinded its offer to confer and honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali a well-known and staunch critic of the misogynist view of Islam because, “gasp”, she is critical of Islam. Who knew?

                The trumpet the extensive accomplishments of the name sake Louis Brandeis but probably have forgotten that he was a Zionist.

                I sent a polite e-mail to the office of the President of the University calling this to their attention and pointing out to them that a free society demanded engaging views with which one does not agree, not censoring them and that I felt they exhibited moral cowardice with their action.

                I asked if they would similarly dis-honor someone like Richard Dawkins who is offensive toward Christians.

                I don’t expect an answer.

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                • Sounds like someone – faculty? donors? – objected when they found out. Moral courage is a rare thing among university administrators and boards.

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              • M. Stankovich says:

                Shocked? Are you kidding me? Where have you people been? Prop 8, the basis for the SCOTUS decision upon which states now rely to justify their decisions to declare bans on same-sex marriage constitutional occurred in 2008! Mr. Michalopulous, you began dogging my intentions & “motives” on this and other sites three years ago, suggesting I was covertly attempting to undermine the Church’s unchanging anthropology and the theology and nature of Christian Marriage! I warned that the organized movement to overturn the DOMA and Prop 8 were exceptionally organized, funded, open & specific as to their tactics, and had five full years to stroll through the legal system, unimpeded and literally able to select from any amicus supporter they wished. And what went on here? Empty, useless. and pointless distractions of “cabals” and the love of murderous gossip. We had no voice of moral authority, and we have since not developed a voice of moral authority. Shocked? As Michael Bauman has so poignantly noted several times, ultimately the victory will be won, probably not in our lifetime, but the burden is suffering, as we will hear in Holy Week:

                Who is this that comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, he that is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save. Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press? I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. (Isa. 63:1-4)

                You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (Jn. 16:20-24)

                As I have said to you before, this site is rich in bitching and whining, and nearly void of any serious discussion of what an Orthodox Christian living in this society might do to survive.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  I guess the reason many of us were shocked (myself included) is because of our naivete, the wish to believe the best in people. Most traditionalists I know only want to be left alone and not see their culture continue its downward trajectory. At the very least, we bought into the “tolerance” and “diversity” slogans that were bandied about by the homosexual activists. “OK, you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone. We’ll all be happy. What could be wrong with that?”

                  That’s why we’re shocked. Because the Brownshirts had no intention of respecting our views. Like most Progs they are totalitarians at heart.

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                • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

                  you began dogging my intentions & “motives” on this and other sites three years ago, suggesting I was covertly attempting to undermine the Church’s unchanging anthropology and the theology and nature of Christian Marriage! I warned that the organized movement to overturn the DOMA and Prop 8 were exceptionally organized, funded, open & specific as to their tactics, and had five full years to stroll through the legal system, unimpeded and literally able to select from any amicus supporter they wished. And what went on here? Empty, useless. and pointless distractions of “cabals” and the love of murderous gossip. We had no voice of moral authority, and we have since not developed a voice of moral authority.

                  I’m afraid you’ve been giving people, or me at least, the impression that you hold to babies being born with natural urges to sodomy, and that you and your various high placed friends in the OCA were going to bring us bumpkins into the New Truth, one way or another. From possible faulty memory, haven’t you praised Fr. Alexis Vinogradov and haven’t you been extolling to us something like his words below?

                  “Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us. ”

                  And, this is how Fr. Vinogradov’s words come across to me, as if they coming straight from the “Mouth of Sauron”:

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                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Ladder of Divine Ascent,

                    You can quickly and easily cite quotations from the “New Truth,” yet your memory seems to fail you when attempt to connect me. While I am happy to refer you to a neurologist for your “faulty memory,” let me save you the time and money by being emphatic: I have never, nor will I ever support anyone – regardless of relationship or history – who holds or teaches opinions that are contrary to the Holy Scripture, the Patristic and Canonical Fathers, or the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Got it? Never.

                    It seems to me that you testify to your fundamental lack of integrity by, anonymously of course, attempting to create ill-will during the Week of the Palms by stirring the pot of conjecture. And for what? Recognition? “Thumbs-up?” There, enjoy one at my expense. Happy to oblige you.

                    Lazarus has now been dead for two days.
                    His sisters Martha and Mary shed tears of grief for him,
                    Gazing at the stone before his tomb.
                    But the Creator has come with his disciples,
                    To despoil death and bestow life!
                    Therefore let us cry out to him:
                    O Lord, glory to You!

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                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                    Fr. Vinogradov:

                    “Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us. ”

                    The grave weakness in this presumptive call to moral rectitude is its flawed anthropology.

                    Presumptive: “Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual.”
                    Clarifying: It is true that people experiencing same-sex desire did not choose the passion. However, there is no such thing as a “homosexual person.” Defining personhood solely in terms of desires or sins is reductionist. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27) is the foundation of Orthodox anthropology. The scripture does not say that God created both man and woman either heterosexual or homosexual.

                    Presumptive: It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin.
                    Clarifying: Same-sex desire is not sin.

                    Presumptive: “That much we know today.”
                    Clarifying: Orthodoxy always knew this. See 1 Cor. 6:9-11:

                    Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

                    Presumptive: There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact.
                    Clarifying: What fact? That Orthodox anthropology reduces the definition of what constitutes a human being to passions and sins?

                    Presumptive: “But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons.”
                    Clarifying: Man is created for communion with God and others and that communion occurs within the bond of love (love constitutes that bond). Indeed, one of the therapies for healing same-sex attraction is the restoration of the male to male (or female to female) bond within the proper moral boundaries (violation of those boundaries prevents the healing from occurring).

                    Presumptive: “God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us.”
                    Clarifying: Men need communion with men and women with women in order to grow into deeper self-knowledge. Fr. Vinogradov’s implicit conclusion that same-sex behavior fulfills this need violates the Orthodox moral tradition and reveals a flawed understanding of Orthodox anthropology. God did not create men to have sexual relationships with men (or women with women) as the means by which the need for brotherly love is met.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Father Hans,

                      It is true that people experiencing same-sex desire did not choose the passion.

                      Is it also true that people experiencing anger did not choose the passion? Is there therefore nothing wrong with them? Aren’t they doing something wrong when they get angry?

                      However, there is no such thing as a “homosexual person.”

                      Doesn’t personhood involve not just nature but also behavior — logos and tropos, as St. Maximus says? So persons can be either heterosexual or homosexual, just as they can be either good or bad?

                      “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27) is the foundation of Orthodox anthropology. The scripture does not say that God created both man and woman either heterosexual or homosexual.

                      Isn’t heterosexuality all about the difference of male and female? Didn’t God intend all along for men and women to live heterosexually, as either a man or a woman? Isn’t it possible to live both heterosexually and celibately at the same time?

                      Same-sex desire is not sin.

                      Is it really that simple? Can you say the same for other passions? What about anger? Is anger only wrong when acted upon? What about the difference between so-called blameless passions like hunger and the “shameful passions” [πάθη ἀτιμίας] St. Paul mentions in Rom. 1:26?

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                    • “Defining personhood solely in terms of desires or sins is reductionist.”

                      Hmmm, if we call people homosexuals and heterosexuals, should we call people who love their sheep . . . sheepsexuals??

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Is it also true that people experiencing anger did not choose the passion? Is there therefore nothing wrong with them? Aren’t they doing something wrong when they get angry?

                      Feeling angry and doing something in anger are two different things. Feeling same-sex attraction and acting on it are two different things.

                      Sin enters when a temptation takes root — when the passion is engaged, first with the mind and then through action.

                      One does not choose his passions — the temptations they fight or the sins they struggle against. Most people struggle against one or two major ones.

                      Doesn’t personhood involve not just nature but also behavior — logos and tropos, as St. Maximus says? So persons can be either heterosexual or homosexual, just as they can be either good or bad?

                      If you are arguing that homosexual or heterosexual is a category of being, part of created human distinctiveness, then no, one cannot be homosexual. God does not create people homosexual.

                      If you are arguing that homosexual behavior reinforces homosexual orientation, then yes, one can self-identify as a homosexual. But this is true of all passions that are internalized, not just same-sex attraction. A person with a passion for stealing (greed?) is called a thief. He self-identifies as such and can be said to have a thief’s orientation (kleptomania). God does not create a person a thief however, thus the passion is inordinate.

                      Isn’t heterosexuality all about the difference of male and female? Didn’t God intend all along for men and women to live heterosexually, as either a man or a woman? Isn’t it possible to live both heterosexually and celibately at the same time?

                      Yes, yes, and yes.

                      Is it really that simple? Can you say the same for other passions? What about anger? Is anger only wrong when acted upon? What about the difference between so-called blameless passions like hunger and the “shameful passions” [πάθη ἀτιμίας] St. Paul mentions in Rom. 1:26?

                      Passions acted upon affect the inner structure of a person (orientation). Passions brought to Christ can be healed. Romans 1:26 deals with the former. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 deals with the latter.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Fr. Hans,

                      I have no argument with your initial perspectives other than to say if you are presuming that “healing” is to transform all those who are same-sex attracted into functioning, restored heterosexuals it is foolish. This is not to say some are not capable – and blessed is God Who has delivered some individuals by any means at His disposal. The Church has no ministry to address this issue; we have no form of treatment demonstrated to be more helpful than harmful and the field has been dominated by Christian extremist charlatans; and the gay lobby has pressured all major psychiatric & psychological professional organizations to prevent research – even among volunteer patients. While the science of epigenetic influence in some individuals is undeniable, as the comments above indicate, we are still unable to make distinctions between what is perfectly “natural” to the anthropology of the creation, and what is endemic to the order of the fallen humanity. If one cannot discern the difference between passions, behaviours, desires, and orientation, my opinion is that you do not belong in a discussion such as this.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Fr. Hans,

                      In his April 10, 8:28 pm, response, Michael Stankovich demonstrates the problem with your clarifications and answers: Your contrast between strictly natural heterosexual “categories of being” and conscious, deliberate, and “sinful” homosexual choices does not adequately account for the passions in a way that distinguishes blameless passions and shameful passions. All passions thus appear as neither natural nor voluntary but as merely temptations accosting us in the fallen world.

                      Thus, someone sexually attracted to others of the same sex may say: “I didn’t choose this attraction. It’s just the way I am. Maybe it’s natural (the way I was born, as some people are born blind) or maybe it’s an injury inflicted on me by others. Either way, the attraction itself is in no way sinful and nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a cross God has given me to bear, not much different from other crosses, except that it’s an especially heavy one, and all I can do about it is resist to the temptation to act on it.”

                      Many Christians now think this is the best way to look at homosexuality. It seems compassionate because it relieves homosexuals of the shame of being homosexual and sets for them the more achievable goal of chastity instead of the more difficult goal of actual healing, which would involve conversion from homosexual to heterosexual.

                      Unfortunately, it doesn’t deal adequately with much patristic teaching on the passions or with what is known about the causes of and remedies for the passion of homosexuality. It tempts people to ignore the underlying injury manifested symptomatically in some cases by the erroneous response of homosexuality, and to give up on the possibility of healing the underlying injury. It also encourages them to be more open about being homosexual and to more openly identify themselves as homosexual, the way people with blameless infirmities admit without shame to being not quite whole.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Deacon Mitchell,

                      You do more here to confuse the issues of anthropology by nature and what is endemic to the fallen humanity. St. John of Damascus:

                      Concerning what is Voluntary and what is Involuntary.

                      The voluntary implies a certain definite action, and so-called involuntariness also implies a certain definite action. Further, many attribute true involuntariness not only to suffering, but even to action. We must then understand action to be rational energy. Again, some actions enlist pity and are pardonable, others are hateful and deserve punishment. Voluntariness, then, is assuredly followed by praise or blame, and renders the action pleasurable and desirable to the actor, either for all time or for the moment of its performance. Involuntariness, on the other hand, brings merited pity or pardon in its train, and renders the act painful and undesirable to the doer, and makes him leave it in a state of incompleteness even though force is brought to bear upon him.

                      Thus we may give this definition: “An involuntary act is one in which the beginning is from without, and where one does not contribute at all on one’s own impulse to that which one is forced.” And by beginning we mean the creative cause. All involuntary act depends, on the other hand, on ignorance, when one is not the cause of the ignorance one’s self, but events just so happen.

                      An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book II, Ch. 24

                      The issue here is orientation, not the “passion of heterosexuality” or the “passion of homosexuality” as you have created these terms. The passion here, should you force and reduce the entire nature of sexuality, is lust. Orientation is endemic and integral to the construct of of our fallen humanity, but it does not identify the construct, and the “urge” to continuously challenge this point – “Does homosexuality exist?” – by a semantical “sandboxing” of terminology is not only short-sighted, it has left us without a voice of moral authority.

                      And thus, Dn. Patrick, we do not have a clue what might be effective in addressing homosexuality. I have demonstrated many, many times that there exists a group who appear to have moderate familial genetic factors (e.g. 1st and or 2nd degree relatives who are homosexual; in men, are middle sons of multiple brothers; have similar physical characteristics – the meaning of which are unknown at this time; experience gender definition conflicts at a young age, etc.) as well as significant epigenetic factors (e.g. events that occur in the uterus post-genetically but pre-delivery – generally hormonally) that place them at a potentiated risk in their lifetime for homosexuality. While on the one hand, my tendency is to believe that more would respond to reorientation – not necessarily to “heterosexuality” as we understand it – but to but in some form, there will be always be a group as I have described who will not.

                      My direct response to your final comment is that, quoting beloved Professor SS Verhovskoy, “God is our Father and the Holy Spirit goes where He wishes, but somethings can be said predictably to be unchanging.” Encouraging homosexuals in the climate of the Orthodox Church “to be more open about being homosexual and to more openly identify themselves as homosexual, the way people with blameless infirmities admit without shame to being not quite whole” would be tantamount to inviting the “Cabal” to have tea with the anonymous posters of Monomakhos. What in heaven’s would you offer? NARTH or sequestration camps?

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      In his April 10, 8:28 pm, response, Michael Stankovich demonstrates the problem with your clarifications and answers: Your contrast between strictly natural heterosexual “categories of being” and conscious, deliberate, and “sinful” homosexual choices does not adequately account for the passions in a way that distinguishes blameless passions and shameful passions. All passions thus appear as neither natural nor voluntary but as merely temptations accosting us in the fallen world.

                      Dn. Patrick,

                      As I read it, Stankovich has a slippery notion of what constitutes human anthropology regarding homosexuality. Stankovich seems to argue that the ground of homosexual attraction is bio-chemical (or at least he is searching for it) and that this ground effectively neutralizes any moral onus against the passion and thus behavior. Homosexual “orientation” in other words is naturalistic, a function of fallen humanity.

                      My question is always why restrict the theory to homosexuality alone? Why couldn’t it equally apply to, say, bestiality?

                      Now it may well be that passions (which arise because of the Fall), when acted upon, affect the materiality of the body as well. We know that all sorts of behaviors can affect brain chemistry (viewing pornography releases the same chemicals in the same places in the brain as using crack cocaine does for example). But if we use these biological effects to construct a theory of “orientation” and thereby posit that a passion is natural and the resultant behavior morally neutral, then it ought to be applied across the board and not just to homosexuality.

                      Many Christians now think this is the best way to look at homosexuality. It seems compassionate because it relieves homosexuals of the shame of being homosexual and sets for them the more achievable goal of chastity instead of the more difficult goal of actual healing, which would involve conversion from homosexual to heterosexual.

                      Here you and I differ somewhat. The men I know who struggle with same-sex attraction are often locked into a matrix of shame that gives rise to the passion. IOW, while same-sex behavior is indeed shameful, shaming someone for a passion they did not choose (or, if you will, initially engaged under emotional duress, immaturity, confusion etc.) won’t do anything to aid their healing if they indeed are seeking healing (and many do). So I agree that there is a volitional element involved in the initial cultivation of the passion that has to be understood to enable healing, but in my experience the initial circumstances are so complex and often so emotionally severe that I don’t place blame. In other words, the shame is already there. Why seek healing otherwise?

                      Further, chastity is absolutely essential to the taming of the passion, and that passion *must* be tamed in order for any healing to occur. It is the essential first step.

                      Healing can and does occur but the healing of the passion is ground zero in the conflict between gay cultural polemics and the Patristic understanding of the human person. At this stage in the culture war the gay mafia wants to silence any dissent altogether (the Mozilla CEO for example). I’m of the mind these days not to engage them at all. Just assert the opposite so the lie does not stand unchallenged but go about bringing clarity to those who seek healing unimpeded by the confused polemics surrounding this issue.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Fr. Hans,

                      Bad enough I have to ride around with the police all day – sun-up until sun-down – to re-certify for crisis interventionist in the county, I open the iPad to read this:

                      As I read it, Stankovich has a slippery notion of what constitutes human anthropology regarding homosexuality. Stankovich seems to argue that the ground of homosexual attraction is bio-chemical (or at least he is searching for it) and that this ground effectively neutralizes any moral onus against the passion and thus behavior. Homosexual “orientation” in other words is naturalistic, a function of fallen humanity

                      The lesson? Even in agreeing with your initial statement save a single point, I prove myself a jackass for ever engaging you. You are unqualified, incapable, and whatever positive and correct you might happen to blurt out regarding these issues, you learned from me. Otherwise, you are incapable of even attempting to seek some common, united ground that takes into consideration the enormity of what we face as a Church: a movement that denies eternal truth, morality, theology, philosophy, and natural law as “oppressive.” You continue on this path of nitpicking inanity and contrivance – “There is no ‘homosexuality’,” “There is no ‘orientation’,” “If homosexuality is orientation than so is bestiality” – because you have no answer and nothing to offer. Period. And quite obviously, you are not alone. You waste my time.

                      And to all: с праздником! Joy of the Feast!

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Fr. Hans,

                      It’s a difficult issue in any case — divining how much of what’s wrong with us is our own fault and how much can be blamed on something else. But real healing can only happen when we take full responsibility for our part, which we don’t do when we hold ourselves entirely blameless of our passions.

                      Now, of course, pastorally and clinically, we don’t want to load others down with more shame than they deserve. But at the same time, we oughtn’t be telling everybody publicly that shameful passions are actually shameless. That’s Stankovich’s line, and he will make the most of any apparent support we give him.

                      That said, let me recommend to everyone Jeffrey Satinover’s classic work Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. The title is a bit misleading, since it doesn’t have much to say about politics; most of the book is about the nature of homosexuality from both a clinical and a spiritual perspective. Satinover covers all the bases very well.

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                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                      If it is proposed, as one person has done, ‘Now it may well be that passions (which arise because of the Fall), when acted upon, affect the materiality of the body as well,” might one not inquire, “Were no “passions” involved in the desire to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” I believe that passions are created and it is our response to them that preceded or precipitated the Fall.
                      I think that referring questions about homosexuality and heterosexuality and about marriage to the saga in Genesis is doomed to failure. Some will infer from that saga that incest was here from the time of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel: the latter of which bore children upon either the body of their mother or of their sister, while others will wonder why no one but Noah had a boat (or houseboat) at the time of the flood! These things hurriedly written down while sojourning amongst the Babylonians preserved a nation’s heritage, but require mental feats almost acrobatic in quality, when applied like some kind of remedy to the controversies of later civilizations, as if avoiding pork will be salutary, while eating it will be a horrible abomination! Our Lord did not so much rely on the (O.T.) scriptures as point out how they are subject to misinterpretation….’You have heard it said that….. but.I tell you…..”

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                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                    Dn. Patrick,

                    Now, of course, pastorally and clinically, we don’t want to load others down with more shame than they deserve. But at the same time, we oughtn’t be telling everybody publicly that shameful passions are actually shameless. That’s Stankovich’s line, and he will make the most of any apparent support we give him.

                    It is my view that every person engaging in homosexual activity experiences shame and this shame is what drives gay ideology. The ideology shifts the locus of responsibility for the shame on society in the false belief that if prohibitions against homosexual behavior are lifted completely, then the shame will disappear. The false belief is actually a false promise of healing, i.e., a lifting of the shame will enable self-integration.

                    On a pastoral level however, I’ve learned that deep shame often causes the passion to take root. A person dealing with the passion often had deep emotional trauma in their younger years and the shame they experienced (and often still carry within them) mutes in a sense the native shame associated with homosexuality – one shame mitigates the other so to speak. In other words, if a person is swamped by a tsunami of shame (often brought on by events not in the person’s control), then the shame surrounding the passion is not as evident and the signal that homosexual ideation should be avoided gets lost.

                    So that presents me with a conundrum: Do I write against the ideology knowing that engaging the cultural polemics might cause misunderstanding on the pastoral level, or do I remain silent about the ideology in order to preserve trust in the one on one (pastoral) encounter?

                    I choose the latter for the most part except when I see the ideology promulgated in the Church in which case I speak out.

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                    • Thomas Barker says:

                      Fr. Hans,

                      You wrote “On a pastoral level however, I’ve learned that deep shame often causes the passion to take root. A person dealing with the passion often had deep emotional trauma in their younger years and the shame they experienced (and often still carry within them) mutes in a sense the native shame associated with homosexuality.”

                      Would you be so generous as to give an example of what kind of trauma, what age of child and what sort of family situation could give rise to this? Are you alluding to chronic emotional mistreatment? Severe physical abuse? I ask in all sincerity and not in the spirit of sarcasm or challenge. Just trying to understand the basis.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Fr. Hans, we pray every week that God will forgive us all of our transgressions, “whether voluntary or involuntary.” Yet you have written here as if there are no such things as involuntary transgressions; there are only blameless passions and conscious, deliberate, voluntary transgressions, and only the latter count as “sin.”

                      That’s pretty much was Stankovich says, only he doesn’t count sexual “orientation” as a passion; for him, the only passion in this case is lust. Even so, you both assume a very narrow, very Western definition of sin that exonerates unnatural sexual desire — as if unnatural desires of all kinds are not a part of our sinfulness, as if we bear no responsibility for them, as if they are merely inclinations inflicted on us by God or the world.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      And now we have literally fully digressed three years to where I entered this discussion with you regarding Dr. Papas and her bucket of stereotypes: deep emotional trauma in their younger years, “native shame” into a “tsunami” of shame all derivative and causal in some “psycho-phenomenon” of passion that is homosexuality, yet in “reality,” essentially and fundamentally disproven and void of any foundation in reality or empirical research. It is simply untrue. In fact, it is so soundly untrue, that is is dishonest of you to make such a statement and demonstrates why we now stand empty-handed and voiceless before the “gay cultural polemics.” What you are doing is what Fr. Schmemann referred to as a “reduction of theology to a harmless intellectual game of ‘interesting points of view’… the sad irony of the situation is that, ignored by the Church, they are not truly accepted by the so-called ‘intellectual community’ either, for which, in spite of all their efforts ad captatiam benevolentiae, they remain non-objective and non-scientific “mystics.” λογομαχία. Thankfully, nobody is reading this pitiful exchange to begin with.

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      You may have to define what you mean by “involuntary transgressions” and “sinfulness” here. I’m reluctant to endorse your implied definition because it seems so close to Calvin’s notion of total depravity.

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Thomas, emotional trauma, however it comes. People are different so they respond to the same kind of event in different ways. Basically it’s a rupture of the child-adult relationship that the child needs for stable emotional maturation.

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                    • Michael Bauman says:

                      Father, it seems to me that in addition to those suffering from a deep emotional trauma there are those who do not and yet still are deeply troubled by homoerotic desire and might reasonably have involuntary transgressions . Such are still transgressions and are part of our brokenness. It has nothing to do with Calvin as the good image is still there to be restored by His grace.

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                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

                      Michael, that may well be true but the thing that holds me back is that it appears that what Dn. Michael is saying that shame ties together voluntary and involuntary sins). IOW, your qualifier that even involuntary sin is part of our brokenness is unquestionably true but Dn. Patrick seems to be saying this definition absolves one of responsibility because it precludes shame as a necessary element of the awareness of sin.

                      My view is that if any taming and ultimately healing of the passions is to occur, we have to move beyond shame.

                      I’m not sure if this is what Dn. Patrick means but this is how I read it. I may be mistaken.

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                    • On the contrary, Dr Stankovich, I for one am following the discussion with great interest.
                      Fr Hans, your remarks on shame are very instructive.
                      Perhaps Dn Brian Patrick is thinking of our Lord’s observation that “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” The evil thought precedes the evil act and we are culpable for both. One doesn’t have to be a Calvinist to assent to that. I hope Dn Brian will respond for himself; I am finding this discussion very helpful and hope it continues.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Basil,

                      Then be aware that what Fr. Hans proposes – an etiology of homosexuality founded in “childhood emotional trauma” – is a gross stereotype for which I provided him an abundance of data for three years and which he purposely continues to promulgate because he has nothing else to offer.

                      Classically, this “catalog” of stereotypography fits into the categories of 1) direct sexual/emotion/physical abuse or deprivation (e.g. child sexual perpetration, perpetration specifically by homosexual offenders of the same gender of the child, foster-care placement, foster-care placement with homosexual caretakers, abandonment, neglect, attachment disorders, etc); 2) socially imposed consequences (e.g. racism, classicism, poverty, segregation, unequal access to education, lack of employment, addiction, etc.); and 3) quasi-psychiatric contrivances such as “inadequate developmental gender role-modeling,” and now he and Deacon Mitchell has settled on the “tsunami of shame” as the “underlying injury” and answer and solution, as if somehow they are the first to stumble upon the concept as a theological or driving force in psychiatry. Ask if either of them has heard of, let alone read a true pioneer, Dr. Gerston Kaufman from Michigan State University, and his work in the psychopathology of shame.

                      All of these theories have been disproven massively with replicable, legitimate research; while people may indeed be homosexual and have been exposed to these various trauma, as has historically happened to many of us, these trauma were neither causative nor etiological factors in the development of homosexuality. One example: a new study published in February, 2014 by the University of New Hampshire (downloadable here) regarding the lifetime prevalence of child sexual abuse and sexual assault by assessing late adolescents (under the presumption that adults lose childhood memories, whereas adolescents are more likely to retain them) found that nearly 27% of 17-year old females and 5% of 17-year old males reported having been “exposed to sexual abuse and sexual assault.” On Fr. Hans’ site, I offered statistics as to the number of male children that lacked appropriate “gender-role modeling.” By these two factors alone, we should be inundated with homosexuality, yet the fact is, the epidemiological data – as difficult as it is to determine – indicates a relatively stable prevalence rate.

                      And so, the “gay polemicist” mock us and rage at us for our disingenuousness. They are aware of the research. They are also aware of the science of genetics/epigenetics of sexual orientation. Shall we honestly be telling them it is a “contrivance intended to absolve you of your sense of guilt and shame because orientation, in fact, does not exist?” According to the gay polemicists, we have no voice of moral authority, we are “oppressors” of civil liberties and purveyors of hate speech, and we must conform ourselves to a modern society. In my opinion, we have no ministry, no plan, no direction, no desire. What we do have, in abundance, is stinging rage and hate for homosexuals in the Orthodox Church. And it is continuously being played out in the distraction of “discussion” that prevents the depth of hatred and disgust that exists from being revealed.

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                    • Dr S., thank you – I will endeavour to find your comments on Fr Hans’s site. You say ” What we do have, in abundance, is stinging rage and hate for homosexuals in the Orthodox Church. ” Well, I can honestly say I have never personally witnessed such “stinging rage and hate” expressed in the Orthodox Church. Strong views expressed against, yes, of course, as people are entitled to do, but never personalised against any Orthodox worshipper and I have lived and worshipped in three countries. I have in recent times seen rage and hate directed against Orthodox Christians by people who identify as homosexuals, though. Lord, have mercy on them!

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      I was going to let this conversation go, thinking that perhaps I’m making too fine a point for a public forum, but since Basil is interested, I’ll say a little more.

                      First, the problem: Fr. Hans has not provided any basis for the distinction between blameless passions (like hunger for cake) and shameful passions (like hunger for dirt, known as geophagy). He also has not provided a basis for the distinction between voluntary transgressions and involuntary transgressions. He appears not to believe in the possibility of involuntary transgressions, since that seems to him Calvinistic. Thus he says the desire to sin is not sin, only the commission of sin is sin. He admits that he says this to avoid over-burdening with shame those sexually attracted to their own sex. I wonder: Would he say the same to those sexually attracted to children? How about those sexually attracted to their neighbor’s wife?

                      That’s the problem. To solve it, we have to ask, why does anyone sin? God does not make us sin; it’s not a part of our nature, but free will is, and with it we do often sin, and our sins create conditions that make it easier and easier to sin even more. We are born into a disordered world, and from the start we respond to that world willingly and at first innocently, but also selfishly and ignorantly. At a very early age, we begin to make choices about how to perceive things and how to react to them, and often our choices of perceptions and reactions are wrong. Our wrong choices create even more disorder in our experience of the world, to which we must also respond, rightly or wrongly.

                      In time, our way of responding becomes habitual, so that we seem to respond “involuntarily,” as if something has forced us to act against our conscious will. This is the “law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23). We desire things we were not meant to desire, things unnatural for us, things we even know we should not desire. These desires are not a part of our nature; they are products of the unending interplay of our experiences and our responses, habits we ourselves have had a hand in forming through our wrong responses to the world.

                      To free ourselves from the law of sin, we must recognize sin for what it is, both that which is wrong in the world and that which is wrong in us. The wrong in us is not just our conscious, deliberate actions but also our habitual responses in the “involuntary” forms of perceptions, thoughts, and desires. These habits are “hardwired” in the sense of being deeply ingrained, but they are not dictated by nature and can be overridden by new habits of thought guided by the enlightened will. Cognitive and behavioral therapy can help, whatever the habit is, but a lot depends on our will to change.

                      For more on how this works with the habit of homosexuality, I recommend Jeffrey Satinover’s Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Satinover is a Jewish psychiatrist with a surprisingly sophisticated understanding and appreciation for the power of Christian faith to change lives. His book covers all the bases on the causes of homosexuality and potential for change.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      My thought is that you probably should have gone with your first instinct and let this drop as you have now added another equally specious element to an otherwise unfounded argument, and that is homosexuality as “habit.”

                      I would simply point out to you that in psychiatry, thoughts, impulses, or behaviours that are perceived as contrary to or in opposition to my concept of myself – in other words, at some point, I am aware of the opposition – they are considered “ego-dystonic.” They are conscious and cause me conflict. In fact, it is the conflict that drives the desire for change, and I could easily make the argument that this same movement of the conflict from unconsciousness to consciousness is at the heart of the Scripture (cf. 2 Sam. 12:7 and Mk. 10:21). Nevertheless, for you to generalize all responses as habitual in a dichotomy between voluntary/involuntary and consciously/unconsciously as matters of “will” and “nature” again confuses what we are by creation and what we have become in this fallen humanity.

                      Since you are focusing on “habit,” I would use the common, well-known example of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, and behaviours that are perceived as intrusive & inappropriate and result in marked anxiety, yet despite attempts to control, ignore, or suppress them, the individual cannot stop them. The level of dysfunction can vary greatly and co-morbid conditions are frequent. As you are not a clinician, I would note to you that a heavy historical burden has been placed on persons with OCD as to the “cause” of their condition, ranging from “habit” to “pathological undoing” some traumatic event (e.g. think Lady MacBeth “washing” her hands). The fact of the matter is that according to the DSM-V, the 12-month prevalence rate is 1.2% and it generally is not a childhood disorder (mean age at onset is 19.5 years). The most significant risk & prognostic factor is genetic. OCD responds well to cognitive behavioural therapy, but astonishingly well to a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Shall you recommend this for all “hardwired” habits not dictated by nature as well?

                      The fact that Dr. Satinover’s book was published in 1996 and is heralded by the extreme Christian Right charlatans and deceivers of NARTH speaks to the integrity of your argument.

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                    • Dn Brian,

                      While I wouldn’t necessarily want to dispute what you have written here about how…

                      At a very early age, we begin to make choices about how to perceive things and how to react to them, and often our choices of perceptions and reactions are wrong. Our wrong choices create even more disorder in our experience of the world, to which we must also respond, rightly or wrongly.

                      …and while I also have difficulty with the idea that…

                      …the desire to sin is not sin; only the commission of sin is sin.

                      ..I do, perhaps, have something of value to add.

                      First, to define sin only in terms of commission (or omission) may be true on a certain superficial and strictly moral level, but it reduces sin to mere transgression. And as know both theologically and experientially, sin runs far deeper in us. Our problem with sin cannot be solved – and ought not to be addressed – on the level of morality, at least not as morality is commonly understood.

                      Our problem with sin is the problem of death, of being severed from the life of God. The state of unregenerate man (and we are all, to some degree unregenerate) is an ontological state of sin – not in the sense that we ourselves caused it by committing sin, but in the sense that as descendants of Adam (“in Adam”) we are born into a state of being severed from the divine energy of the life of God, and thus our human nature is disordered: weak and in need of strength, sick and in need of healing, dead and in need of life. In Biblical terms we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” This is why we “must be born again.” We were incapable of fully being in God’s image and likeness, or to put it again in Biblical terms: “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” When understood in these terms, the supposed ‘righteous’ or ‘morally upright’ are in no better condition than the worst of transgressors.

                      Secondly, it can be helpful in the furtherance of compassion both toward ourselves in our own weaknesses and toward all those with inordinate desires to realize than all desires, whether apparently good or evil even in terms of Christian morality, are ultimately desire for God, for the eternal kind of life found only in Him.

                      It is death – the fact that humanity, severed from the life of God, is subject to death – that makes us slaves of sin (name your variety). ..”.sin reigned in deathAnd ye were dead in transgressions and sins”.

                      What is this all-pervasive, ever-present fear of death? It is not merely the death of the body, but also the death of relationship, of pleasure, the death of the ego, the death of our social and economic status. It is the death we feel deeply and know experientially even though we may not be able to identify it as death because we have been immersed in it since the day of our birth. It is the death that is at the root of all our fears, anxieties, tensions, our chronic sense of isolation from God, from others, and even from ourselves; the death that is manifest when we find that no matter how much we may try and wish it were not so, we are ultimately incapable of being who we want to be and of doing whatever good we desire; the death in ourselves and in others that renders us incapable of living in peace with one another; the death that is a constant reminder to us that something is horribly wrong in us and in the world in which we live (and we know this intuitively in spite of the fact that we have never known any other state of existence). It is the death we spend every ounce of energy to avoid or medicate away by any means available; the death that we seek to drown out with constant activity, noise, music, pleasure, entertainment because it seems to scream and terrify us in stillness and silence… This is the death that drives us to sin and makes us slaves to our passions, impelling us to fight for relational, physical, economic, hedonistic, and egoistic survival. Cut off from the eternal life of the Holy Trinity we seek life in self-preservation, pleasure, power, etc., and we seek it in the creation rather than in the eternal, uncreated, life-giving Trinity. And in doing so we fail to be and to become who we are: the glory of God, His image and likeness. In sinning we were seeking what is good (life, pleasure, power, health, esteem, satisfaction, etc. – and it must be emphasized that these are good when found in God). Human beings who are not completely given over to depravity do not commit acts of evil in order to be evil. We do them out of a desire for something good, something that we are deceived into believing will be true to who we really are, something that will fill the infinite void within us. We sin because we are ignorant of – and incapable of reaching – our only true Good, for only God is good; only He is Archetype of His image within us, and only in union and communion with Him can we find the fulfillment of who we are.

                      Such is the abyss of death that is overcome in the Pascha of Christ.

                      We can – and perhaps should – discuss how best to order a society immersed in a ‘life’ of death, but no philosophy, no law, no human therapy, and no amount of nurture in morality can raise us or those around us from death. Only the Gospel has such power.

                      Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Here’s what the NIMH says about OCD:

                      OCD sometimes runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people have it while others don’t. Researchers have found that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. By learning more about fear and anxiety in the brain, scientists may be able to create better treatments. Researchers are also looking for ways in which stress and environmental factors may play a role.

                      Does this mean that OCD is genetically determined? Of course not. Lots of behaviors run in families without being genetically determined.

                      The only fault I find with Dr. Satinover’s book is that he spends too much time debunking the lie that genes cause homosexuality. He had to do that in 1996, but nowadays only the most ignorant believe the lie and only the most dishonest continue to repeat it.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Brian, a few things:

                      You say, “Our problem with sin cannot be solved – and ought not to be addressed – on the level of morality, at least not as morality is commonly understood.” I would say, our problem with sin cannot be solved SOLELY on the level of morality, understood as a matter of dos and don’ts. The failure of the Israelites to keep the Law proves that. OTOH, our problem with sin MUST be addressed in part on the level of morality by our conscious choices of what is good and true. Indeed, our salvation begins with the conscious choice to “turn and live.”

                      Secondly, Orthodox Christian anthropology is founded on the understanding that sin is not ontological, not part of our nature, not what we are as human beings but the way we sometimes behave as naturally free-willing human beings; it is behavior contrary to our nature, which separates us from the source of our being. Sin is thus anti-ontological. This is an important point because man often wants to blame his sin on his nature. Stankovich, for example, has argued that homosexuality is ontological, understanding ontology as merely whatever is. Here St. Maximus’s distinction of logos and tropos is very helpful. The Persons of the Trinity share the same logos but are distinguished by Their different tropos. Likewise, we share the same human logos but differ in our various tropoi. Sin is a matter or tropos, a wrong way of behaving, not in accordance with our logos.

                      Finally, about death, much of what you say is true, but remember, sin preceded death and was in fact the original cause of death, whereas death was not the original cause of sin. Eve did not eat of the tree out of a fear of death, neither did the angels fall for that reason. So there must be more to sin than the fear of death.

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                    • Sin is thus anti-ontological.

                      Agreed. That is a better way of stating it. Still, as mortals severed from God’s life we are born with the propensity to sin, so it seems reasonable to say that our existence is existentially, if not ontologically, contrary to nature. That is, our nature is designed to share in divine life, but we are born severed from Him.

                      With regard to…

                      Finally, about death, much of what you say is true, but remember, sin preceded death and was in fact the original cause of death, whereas death was not the original cause of sin. Eve did not eat of the tree out of a fear of death, neither did the angels fall for that reason. So there must be more to sin than the fear of death.

                      …I would share the following thoughts.

                      Adam’s personal sin made him and all his descendants subject to the slavery of death and sin (the existential fact that our nature is severed from the eternal life of God). His descendants’ personal sins are the result of this slavery, of being driven by the desire for life while cut off from its only possible Source – and of being driven by the fear of death to preserve their egoistic and biological existence. Adam’s sin (as well as that of the demons) is unique in that his was a completely free choice – free of any compulsion, necessity of his nature, or fear of death. Thus Adam’s sin was the cause of death while the fear of death in his descendents became a force (what the Apostle calls “the law of sin”) impelling them to commit personal sins of their own. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”.

                      Having severed himself from the life of God and having become subject to his own nature, the (in the strict sense) ‘natural’ (although unnatural) mortality of his nature, Adam could only beget mortals like himself: persons who in their own strength are incapable of fully being in the image and likeness of God. “And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” Sexual relations between mortals can only produce more mortality – more persons subject to death: “that which is born of flesh is flesh” and therefore inclined toward sin.

                      In no sense should this be construed to imply that we have no ‘moral’ choices to make, nor are we excused from these choices merely for being weak. But the choice is life or death, God or ourselves. Anything less than this remains death. The morality of our choices must be understood in this context. Otherwise, morality becomes a deadly diversion that leads back into slavery of a far more subtle kind: the slavery to morality as an end in itself. What God and His Church have in view is not the improvement of behavior for our own sake or even for the sake of the Church or society. Such improvement is unquestionably a good thing in terms of improving our common social condition in this life, but it fails to transfigure the human person. It is not by itself a participation in eternal life. Our salvation is not a matter of adherence to the best utilitarian ethics available (even those given by God Himself through Moses), however good and ‘useful’ they may be to our health and the good order of the world in which we live. This is clearly demonstrated by the thief on the cross, the Prodigal son, the woman taken in adultery, Zacchaeus, the woman who anointed Christ with ointment, the paralytic carried by his friends, the blind man who cried, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”, Lazarus, the Gadarene demoniac, Mary Magdalene…and most of all myself. All were bound by death, passions, sins, blindness, and sickness of soul and body yet liberated through a personal encounter with the living God while the ‘righteous,’ secure in the virtue of their utilitarian ethics and bent on maintaining the good order of society, murdered the incarnate God who made both them and their laws.

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                    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

                      Brian, your argument that Adam’s sin was “unique” because it was “completely free” of any “necessity of nature” implies that we sin by necessity and are therefore not in fact to blame for our sins because they are all the “result” of Adam’s sin. Such thinking tends to deny both the genuine possibility of free will and the relevance of moral choices, which you seem to do when you stress transfiguration by “personal encounter” over our efforts to live morally and ethically.

                      Carry that logic out a little further and you will reach one of two conclusions:

                      (a) universal salvation, in which everyone is eventually saved by a “personal encounter” with God that gives them an unmistakable and therefore irrefusable choice of life; or

                      (b) Calvinistic damnation, in which some are damned not by their own choices but by God’s choice not to grant them a “personal encounter” sufficient for their salvation.

                      The only way to avoid these conclusions is to believe that we can sin like Adam and the angels — not fully knowing God (we never do) yet nevertheless rejecting Him based on what we do know.

                      Of course, logic can only take us so far on this issue. Wherever it takes us, we are left with a mystery, but some mysteries are more consistent with patristic tradition as well as more practical for urging others to choose life.

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                    • You have misunderstood, but that is my fault. I will leave it there.

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                    • St. Mark the Ascetic has some pointed observations concerning our free will to make moral choices and our rationalizing tendencies to excuse ourselves:

                      from On the Spiritual Law:
                      84. Do not say: ‘I do not know what is right, therefore I am not to blame when I fail to do it.’ For if you did all the good about which you do know, what you should do next would then become clear to you, as if you were passing through a house from one room to another. It is not helpful to know what comes later before you have done what comes first. For knowledge without action ‘puffs up’, but ‘love edifies’, because it ‘patiently accepts all things’ (1 Cor. 8:1; 13:7).

                      85. Understand the words of Holy Scripture by putting them into practice, and do not fill yourself with conceit by expatiating on theoretical ideas.

                      from On Those who Think that They are Made Righteous by Works:
                      61. Grace has been given mystically to those who have been baptized into Christ; and it becomes active within them to the extent that they actively observe the commandments. Grace never ceases to help us secretly; but to do good, as far as lies in our power, depends on us.

                      64. He who seeks the energies of the Spirit, before he has actively observed the commandments, is like someone who sells himself into slavery and who, as soon as he is bought, asks to be given his freedom while still keeping his purchase-money.

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                    • M. Stankovich says:

                      Well, BPM, there you have it. You should have followed your first instinct just as I told you. You have again confused the distinction between what we are “by creation” and what we “have become,” corrupted in the fall of our humanity. Another round of your tangentiality and attempting to sell a “new discovery” that purports to “cover all the bases.” For as long as I have been engaged in this “debate” with you, such as it is, it is one Google-fueled riff after another with no unifying coherence, cogency, or consistency; locking on to some obscure theory, author, or movement based on your particular “fancy,” rather than rigorous measurement or integrity. And you have no qualms whatsoever of insulting me to my face with “science” you cannot even vaguely comprehend, yet suggest “nowadays only the most ignorant believe the lie and only the most dishonest continue to repeat it.” Your arrogance might earn you “thumbs-up” here, but you are an embarrassment.

                      What is clear is that at the heart of all your dance theology-cum-deprecation is that it is paramount that homosexuals must be “damaged” – and the earlier in their development the better – among human beings and among sinners. They must possess a deep and dark shame, a hurt that drives bestial urges and robs men of their “masculine characteristics” that would preclude them from leadership “among real men.” The problem with this form of hatred – and hatred it is – is that there is no evidence to support that any of this is true. None. Keep trying. Maybe it will keep you quiet.

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              • Here’s another one-although you may need to sign up for the blog to get it . . .

                http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/catholic-schools-pressed-to-give-up-morality?

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            • Steve Knowlton says:

              Funny! The guy at OK Cupid who demanded Eich’s ouster is named “Christian Rudder.” LOL. Wow, what a name for this context, and what an upside down world.

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              colette, did not take me long to find comments hostile to Christianity from posters who otherwise seemed to support the purpose of the blog. Not surprising, may ‘libertarians’ look on we traditional Christians as ignorant, archaic, tyrants who want to oppress everyone as so must be opposed.

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  7. R. Howell says:

    A correction: presidential candidate Barack Obama opposed California’s Proposition 8. Source: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Obama-opposes-proposed-ban-on-gay-marriage-3278328.php

    I know it’s hard to make sense of the distinguished gentleman’s ever shifting positions on marriage, but that is the fact.

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    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      Has anyone at all expressed doubt that President Obama changed his stance on proposition 8? I missed that; who expressed that doubt?
      Since Mr. Howell referrs to the President’s “ever-shifitng positions on marriage (and complained he can’t make sense of it), please, give us some other examples!~ There must be a lot, right? I mean, ‘ever shifting’ should produce of lot of them.

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      • Let’s bomb Syria. ok let’s not.

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      • R. Howell says:

        “Has anyone at all expressed doubt that President Obama changed his stance on proposition 8?” Yes. I doubt that, and in fact deny it. As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama opposed Proposition 8. To the best of my knowledge he has never changed that position.

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  8. M. Stankovich says:

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    I strongly urge you and Trudge to avail yourselves of the “School of Theology” that is Holy Week. Turn off the computer – Trudge, abandon this insufferable λογομαχία of Google – and immerse yourselves in what Fr. Alexander Schmemann termed “the astonishing conclusion; the process of the end made present.” We have not reached this point as the result of “mishaps” related to politics, homosexuality, the acceptance of gay marriage & unions, gay mafias or gay cabals, or Bishops & priests who did not lead:

    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 10:34-39)

    The only sensible comment you have made, Mr. Michalopulos, is “I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse,” and the fact is, it has only begun: “I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (Jn. 15:19), and “the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” (Jn. 16:2) Fr. Alexander Schmemann once gave a sermon about a poor fellow standing at the Judgment, hat in his hands, eyes to floor, whining to the Lord, “I am weak (and heaven knows now he would say, “The ‘Holy’ Synod is hardly “holy’ and has lost its credibility”) and am just a man.” And the Lord responded, “Who told you this? You are not weak. You were created in our image and likeness as the crown & lord of creation, and by this you are judged.”

    “I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them.” (Jn. 16:4) There seems to be such surprise that the “complications” of practicing are Faith are increasing and will continue to increase. Some Orthodox banter the term “persecution,” somehow liking the sound, liking the “tactic,” while others deny it could happen in a Constitutionally protected environment. Already among us are those who have capitulated “points” of the Faith so as to avoid “discomfort & conflict” (“Can’t we all just get along?”), and they will join in oppressing us:

    Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Matt. 23:37-38)

    It seems to me impossible to participate in Holy Week and imagine it possible to elude persecution. “Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.” (Jn. 16:20) “”Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (Jn. 12:31)

    You do not need Google to understand the ultimate victory of our Lord on the Cross. You only need listen.

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    • Longue Carabine says:

      Well said.

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    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      M. Stankovich, No sane person would sign his or her name to the long message that the entity calling itself “Trudge” deposited here. I think a more fitting moniker than ‘Trudge” would be “Fear, Inc.” If “Trudge” is a man, he’d be the kind whose greatest nightmare is the vision of himself standing naked in a shower while a homosexual in the same shower laughs, astonished! A lot of guys fear that very thing. What’s the big deal with them, anyhow? Answer: Fear, abject fear.

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      • William Harrington says:

        This is unworthy.

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      • Thomas Barker says:

        Isn’t that a shower scene from the Jerry Sandusky trial?

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      • Jackson Downs says:

        What a crazy, undignified thing to say. Where, exactly, are you serving as bishop? I find the things you say interesting, from time to time, but other times I have no idea where you are coming from.

        In my own military experience over the last decade, which included some combat deployments to Afghanistan (I was no hero – just your run of the mill guy trying to keep his head down), I didn’t see much in the way of open homosexuality. There seemed to be more openness among lesbians than among gay men, although I was mostly a part of units that didn’t have females. There is a “jock culture” that still mocks male homosexuality, and doesn’t have much time for it, although most guys don’t feel that homosexuality is “morally wrong.”

        That’s the greater issue, I think. Guys do sense something is wrong with homosexuality, but don’t want to take their consciences seriously, because our culture is saying “don’t trust your conscience – that’s just the repressive voice of some out-of-date sensibility from your grandparents’ time.” We are living in a state of almost complete moral disorientation, but no one feels disoriented. No one in the military seems interested in taking a serious moral stand that pushes against SECDEF instructions, or even taking a stand that cuts against the grain of the zeitgeist – “whatever, as long is doesn’t get in my way.” The main moral compass of the grunt is more like “am I coward or not?” and “am I loyal to my brothers?” and that’s about it, because that’s all they’ve got left. It will get them to “take the hill,” but it won’t teach them how to take a stand.

        I don’t know what life was like as an Air Force officer back in your time, but I’ll say this – the fact that homosexuality doesn’t seem like a big deal in today’s military isn’t because everyone is necessarily fair and equitable, but because in a lot of ways they don’t listen to their own consciences, and they no longer have a meaningful sense of right and wrong, or at least any sense that is recognizable by traditional Christian teaching.

        These are my two cents.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Jackson, guess what? I don’t fear homosexuality, nor do I feel threatened by it. I don’t fear Islam either, nor do i feel threatened by it. You are free to attribute this to a defective or evil-controlled conscience, if that does it for you. I fear neither the left nor the right. I DO fear the tendency of many to brandish slogans. Father Alexander Schmeman once remarked that one may make a slogan out of anything, even the EUCHARIST.
          i live by the Orthodox Holy Tradition to the best of my abillity and try to teach what is canonically and morally correct and true, but I refuse to be cowed by those who shout FEAR day and night and on the Internet.
          You began your message to me by addressing my character, and omitted commenting on my reasoning. This is ‘the name of the game’ on Monomakhos, I’ve learned through experience.
          You say you don’t know what life as an Air Force officer back in my time. I’ll go back to long before my life as an Air Force officer to my life as an “EM” in the U.S. Army in 1954-1957. In Japan the remnants of the wild and open homosexuality found here and there in the Armed Forces, as in General MacArthur’s generat staff in the last days of WWII and long into the occupation of Japan, were still around. Our Army and Navy back in those days were guided as much by “am I a coward or not” and “take the hill’ as you say they are now. That is what armies are all about. Serving in the armed forces was NEVERabout upholding public morality, not even in the “Christian” Crusades/JIhads. We went to war in WWII (despitethe fierce opposition of conservatives and isolationists on the right) on behalf of America’s LIBERAL values.
          I truly regret that the selective service system, the “Draft’, was abolished. The cost of abolishing that automatic education of young Americans in the world outside the nests of their famlies and local
          communities is immense.
          You asked me this: “Where, exactly, are you serving as bishop?” As a parish priest I was popularly elected by the Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the West, The Orthodox Church in America, to be the diocese’s candidate for consecration as Bishop of San Francisco and the West and was consecrated by representatives of the Holy Synod (Hierarchs: Dmitri Royster, Boris Geeza, Job Osacky and Theodosius Lazor in 1987. I served honorably and my diocese thrived and grew from then until I retired in 2007 at the age of 75. During the period 1972-now, I’ve lived next door to the Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. Thank you, Jackson, for unloading what you have on your mind.

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          • Jackson Downs says:

            Well, I do think you make some interesting points about whether or not “upholding public morality” was ever a political agenda in American history, until recently. I think a lot these days about whether or not Christians should be attempting to legislate morality – certainly issues of great moral consequence are being legislated, and sometimes by people who seem to have immoral aims, so it does beg the question of what a Christian response should be. I think it is one of the most difficult questions of our time.

            Thanks for your service, by the way. It made me pause to think that it came 60 years before mine. I think our jobs and our travels were probably quite different, and we were in different branches of service, but I’m sure there are some similarities – and some things that never change.

            I still think what you said about the shower was a little crazy, and undignified. You make some good points on this blog, but I wish you would consider being a little more careful with your language, especially holding such a rank in the Church. This may not matter much to you, because you seem pretty confident in your ideas, but I find myself wanting to take you more seriously than your posts let me sometimes.

            Just some feedback from a nobody-special guy named Jackson Downs.

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              Jackson Downes. Thank you for your message.
              I admit to being fed up to the teeth with the endless repeated nonsense about homosexuals sharing a group shower with heterosexuals. That is not an issue and never has been. Chances are that any man who has had to use a group shower has shared it with one or many homosexuals. What’s the big deal? is a many, then, defiled or lessened by a homosexual’s leer or laugh? Why would any man assume that he was attractive to all homosexuals? Would he fear that if women were sharing the shower they would automaticallly be attracted to him? Are men too fragile to share showers with anyone but the virtuous?

              Even relatively sober periodicals, such as the Army Times could not resist commenting on this ‘weighty” factor during the period when repeal of DADT was being considered. “Commanders suspect that men are worried about sharing the same showers with homosexuals.’ It made the American soldier look like a frightened and sheltered young girl of the old days.

              Almost as inane as, but even more fantastic than the bogeyman of a shared shower, is the bogeyman of some Orthodox Chaplain being COMPELLED to perform a same-sex marriage! And to realize that this foolish fear was shared by an allegedly intelligent and educated Orthodox hierarch who thus solemnized the Ridiculous, is almost as depressing as seeing others so desperate to prevent ANY criticism of that person that they went along with the ludicrous scenario, Well, as a Britisher might say, ‘It really gives me the pip!”
              Total inanition!

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            • Michael Bauman says:

              Morality if the basis for all law and is thus always legislated. The question is which morality? Since all morality entails a cosmological assumption, one’s faith is a pre-requisite and inseparable. The question is what faith?

              Certainly any attempt to legislate against the prevailing faith of a culture is going to fail and sometimes fail spectacularly.

              It is futile to engage in purely political battles of a sectarian nature when the larger culture is no longer Christian even in a generic way.

              The individualistic secular materialism that is the faith of our culture has a cosmology that is equally material and therefore a morality that is characterized by the accommodation of individual desires.

              In such a faith, as Malcolm Muggeridge pointed out decades ago, sex becomes sacrament. In such an environment, any prohibition against any kind of sex will erode. Anyone who objects to anyone else’s personal fulfillment of their sexual nature is a hater. Thus the status that freedom of religion once held in our culture, reflected in our Constitution, is replaced by freedom of sexual expression.

              The way to counter such nonsense is to evangelize, not legislate. That takes more engagement in the public square on a much more personal basis than legislative politics requires So much easier to withdraw entirely into the closet and hope one is not outed. The Transvalutation of All Values preached by Nietzsche and at the heart of nihilism.

              Christ is Risen trampling down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

              Crazy right?

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      • Centurion says:

        “Truth is hate to those who hate the truth!”

        When you can’t argue the facts, just label as “fear” the accurate and truthful warnings of the messenger. While the darkness and evil spreads like wildfire, the supposed “bishop” does NOTHING to fight against it. Worse still, he does attack those who are trying to warn and help the innocent.

        What madness and delusion!

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          “Centurion,” you, whoever you are, wrote, as a quotation, ““Truth is hate to those who hate the truth!”
          I don’t recognize the quotation and am mystified by it. It seems spontaneously produced and nonsensical. Does it mean something like ‘Those who profess to hate hate are REALLY hating Truth?”

          At any rate, who said it, please, or did you, whoever you are, make it up for this occasion?

          PS NO ONE here is trying to warn and help ANYONE, let alone “the innocent!” The name of the game is scoring points over others and defending points of view. The blog could have more accurately (and just as vainly) been named, “The Valiant Solitary Hero.”

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      • Bishop Tikhon,

        You have spoken ill of me, my brother, and in the grossest terms. You have done the same to many on this site and repeatedly.

        Why not love me, and be a father to me and the rest of us on Monomakhos? If you want to be first as a bishop why not be a servant to all of us and honor the words of Christ and the purpose of a bishop in this way?

        I do not want you to forfeit your soul over me and the others that you ridicule, because if you continue in this way that is what will happen as surely as the words of Christ to us are true. Is your soul worth less than a website?

        I also don’t want to find myself in Hell because I ended up hating you in return, or became cynical of bishops, or lost my faith in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        This Lent has been difficult for me to my good, because in my confessions to my parish Father, helped by the prayer of St. Ephraim, it is coming clear to me how much of my mental life is spent judging others, not necessarily in gross ways, in rejection or avoidance or in other more subtle ways that is normal for us all. But it is judging nevertheless.

        I want to learn to have moral clarity and at the same time not judging or despising those who have entered into a destructive way of life through the tricks of Satan and the present atmosphere of things where virtue is a cause for mockery.

        So please, for the love of God, help us!

        I can only imagine the things you have seen and experienced as a bishop. Has the hypocrisy of the way the Church has come to be “administered” made you a cynic? If so come back to your first love of Christ and your desire which you must have had in your youth to be a servant of the Gospel.

        There are many good things that you can do even in these last years of your life, which I cannot because I am a nobody, that is in the eyes of men because I have no position, and because of sins that prevent me even if I were to acquire virtue to have position.

        I beg you, Bishop Tikhon, to reflect on this, to rekindle love for us.

        I want to work this out. I am willing to board a plane and pay you a visit so that we learn to love each other. I would like to take you to dinner so that in love I can honor you as a bishop. I am sure I could learn some wisdom from you from all your years, and perhaps you may find something of merit from my life.

        Thank you for your consideration.

        –Trudge

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          ‘Trudge”. If you believe and trust in God, then tell us your name, OK?

          Then tell us exactly where and in what way I have spoken ill of YOU.
          I don’t know who or what you are, whether a man or a woman or a child, whether you’re baptized, etc.
          Do you perhaps identify yourself with your opinions? I advise against that. I attack error wherever i perceive it and am not ashamed of doing so.
          I do not BELIEVE I have spoken ill of you—but then, nobody knows who you are….You might be “Heracleides” or “Helga’ or “Curious” or “dcvisitor” or anybody else posting here for all anyone knows, and nobody knows who they are either.

          PS If you tell a lie, I will say so. It doesn’t mean I don’t strive MIGHTILY to love you. If you write something ridiculous, I might mock you as did the man born blind mock the leadership when the latter asked him ridiculous questions repeatedly, and he replied, “Perhaps you want to be His disciples?”

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          • Bishop Tikhon,

            My brother, my desire is for us to love each other and to honor Christ with our words and actions.

            I am serious, I will book a flight to meet with you in order to honor you as a bishop and a brother in Christ and seek for a better basis for us to get to know each other, and in the end truly love one another.

            Then you will know my name and anything else you wish to know about me.

            I only hope you will listen to me and the others on this site in their concerns they have expressed about your treatment of your fellow Christians, for the sake of your own soul, for which we hope you care.

            If you are determined to not bend in any way, denying actions that everyone has seen, especially the Lord, then please do not respond to my posts with further ridicule and just ignore them. Because, through the intercessions of the saints and the grace of God, it is not hurting me any longer, but because it harms you.

            I hope this will not be the case forever, and that you will change your mind about your treatment of others. But until then it would be must better for us both before Christ if you did not write and simply remembered me as Trudge or Ephraim in your prayers. Either way God knows who I am.

            –Trudge

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              Trudge, whoever you are, just give us one example of how I allegedly “spoke ill” of you. I didn’t sense any love at all in that accusation of sin. Thanks in advance. I would never invite anyone to visit me who didn’t identify himself or herself. Unfortunately, i’ve had a couple of bad experiences with incredibly persistent and energetic stalkers who have used incredible ruses to get in physical proximity to me. Do NOT book a flight to meet with me. You have more than enought people in the place God has put you that need your love. Don’t run from them because you find somebody on the Web.

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              • Bishop Tikhon,

                I only want to speak of love to you, my brother.

                A bishop is a beautiful thing. With your beards, in procession, you lead us to things otherworldly and holy. Our hopes are raised, our expectations turn to longing.

                As Christ said to his apostles that they would long for even one of the days of the Son of Man in pointing to what they would feel in the pain of his departure, through you and your position in the place of the apostles you are able to touch the apostles for us, through your love for us and obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

                We long for our bishops to have the radiance of Christ in them, that we may cling to your garments as if to touch one of the days of the Son of Man.

                Please let us see this radiance in you, that we may receive grace and be strengthened to live the Gospel of the Kingdom, to hope in its truth and to labor for its fulfillment in our lives.

                With love for you,

                Your brother Trudge

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                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                  Trudge, whoever you are, just give us one example of how I allegedly “spoke ill” of you. I didn’t sense any love at all in that accusation of sin. Thanks in advance.

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            • M. Stankovich says:

              Trudge,

              You are asking Vladyka Tikhon, before Christ, to stop writing? In what has become customary, you cannot follow your own advice: Stop reading his posts, for heaven’s sake! “He has opened a pit, and dug it up, and he shall fall into the ditch which he has made.” (Ps. 7:15)

              This is taking on the flavor of the “real-life” television show Intervention already. Do you honestly mean to suggest that the unsubstantiated “theories,” conjecture, and murderous gossip that has been published on this forum over the past three years do not cry out to heaven for justice? Which Bishop – living or dead – has escaped the filthy scrutiny of anonymous cowards who can substantiate nothing, yet you are prepared to rush by plane to save Vladyka Tikhon because he “roughed up” a few anonymous characters talking trash? Have you noticed that the internet and the world are full of people with opinions I neither like, respect, and in fact find offensive? And so it goes.

              It is you who need to take a break.

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              • I am also desiring to love you brother Stankovich, and not to hate you. I do not want to fight with you and provoke you into saying things that will harm your own soul or mine.

                I try to imagine you, for what you are like in person, and the potential of brotherly love between us. That would be a wonderful thing!

                Love between brothers, like the radiance of Christ in a bishop is a wonderful thing.

                We two are alike, sprinting to our graves. The worms will soon gather about us and make a tasty feast. Where will our opinions and wit and fickle knowledge be then? It will not even provide nourishment for the worms. But our souls? Will they be purified and loving so that they will rise?

                You have expressed concern for a number of us that we enter fully into Lent.

                Please show your love for us and for Christ in addressing the matter of a hanging article on your website. I think you know the one I am thinking about and why it would concern your brothers and sisters on Monomakhos, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

                I think that would pave the way to the love that we need to have for each other. I trust that article is not who you want to be and how you want to be remembered.

                I want to work this out between us and for there to be a loving embrace on Monomakhos so that the world can see what is possible through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

                Your brother in Christ,
                Trudge

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                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                  Trudge, whoever you are, you wrote this to M. Stankovich: “I do not want to fight with you and provoke you into saying things that will harm your own soul or mine.”

                  I think you may be unaware of how hostile such a remark is.

                  You imply that M. Stankovich is apt to say things that harm his own soul or yours. PLEASE, tell us all what harm could possibly befall YOUR SOUL through any remark of M. Stankovich.

                  I see you’ve been investigating M. Stankovich..

                  .If you want him to love you and if you love him, why not tell him who you are?Are you hiding your identity out of fear of retribution? I find that bizarre

                  Show you trust in God and reveal yourself for who you really are, ok?

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      • Gail Sheppard says:

        Fear is often a healthy response to an unhealthy situation.

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        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          Fear might indeed inspire a healthy response to an unhealthy situation, or it might inspire an unhealthy response.

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          • Gail Sheppard says:

            Tomatoes (/təˈmeɪtoʊz/); tomatoes (/təˈmɑːtoʊz/), Your Grace. ;-)

            Trudge, try to relax! Everyone loves everyone here.

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            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              I think you meant stimulus rather than situation, Gail. As for fear, I’ll stick with FDR. And I prefer the willow branches loved by Russians to sections of (Anglican) RUSHES on The Feast of the Lord’s Entrance—relative ;to your love apples.

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            • My sister Gail,

              “Relax” is easy for you to say, because you haven’t been called crazy and been scorned for posting a letter written to my late priest dealing with a serious problem, including the drifting of youth away from Christianity because they are not being taught the Gospel effectively.

              This in a nutshell is why people are so frustrated with their experience with the leadership of the true faith, the one beacon of hope and truth in this country. Because the method is when someone brings up a problem that needs to be addressed they are treated as crazy or that they are not spiritually elevated, and told to relax and be quiet.

              That is more the conduct of a cult than of loving Orthodoxy. Isn’t that exactly what happened to Metropolitan Jonah?

              For converts like me who wandered for many years in pain and anguish and was relieved to have finally found the “true faith,” it is especially galling.

              As for me this lent, I have been spending time with my confessor struggling with my own lack of virtue for being “relaxed” for many years and living for my own pleasures, and the poor harvest of that, rather than laboring for my salvation and those around me so that at my age I might have something to bring to the table on these things. There is a lot of regret in that.

              I don’t get how you can say that everyone loves everyone on this site when that is plainly not what is happening here, which many have observed. Would a stranger, a non-Orthodox person coming to this site we impressed with our love for each other? Is that what they would perceive? Would they say “surely this is the true faith?” What would a loving Orthodox person say who encountered this site?

              What would the apostles and our patron saints say, the very saints whose names we have taken? If our priority is not to show our love for each other, then what good are we? We are then hypocrites. And what did Christ say would happen to hypocrites? Than concerns me. I don’t want to be found to have been a hypocrite. Do you want to be found a hypocrite?

              “Consider whether the light within you is darkness.” That scares me, that what I perceive is light within me may actually be darkness. God help me a sinner!

              The attitude of many who participate on this site is something like “it doesn’t matter what I say or how I say it. If you disagree with me it is because you are an ignoramus or are crazy. And brother if you continue I will use my wit to slice and dice you until you crawl away.” And we think this is pleasing to the Father? Is this in keeping with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what he says about our use of our words?

              Sister Gail, these are not days to like the rich fool be found relaxing!

              To conclude, please see the post on the documentary “Forpost,” the first youtube imbed (how did you do that Ladder?) that Ladder of Divine Ascent posted under the Buchanan and Noonan post. There you will see the beautiful love of Orthodoxy where people are kind and loving to each other. (click on the English link)

              Your brother in Christ,
              Trudge

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              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

                “Trudge,” once, decades younger, I made a remark with content similar to that of your lengthy proclamations, and Father John Meyendorff replied, ‘Stephen, you can find love and embraces in a Communist Party CELL if that’s your aim in life.”

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                Actually Trudge, Gail has experienced vituperation similar to yours.

                Relax does not mean be quiet and shut up.

                Hold on to your peace. Don’t allow the actions of others over which you have no control so disturb you that you fall into despair or worse. Then when you speak it will carry more authority and have more impact.

                Folks still may not listen, but that too is not under your control.

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            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              Brothers and sisters, pray for me and my son as we are received into the Holy Orthodox Church tomorrow, Palm Sunday, during the Divine Liturgy.

              Ed

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  9. Tina Hovsky says:

    Why Are So Many Greek Orthodox Leaving Church?
    By ROD DREHER • April 7, 2014, 3:56 PM

    According to this article on the Greek Archdiocese’s website, it’s about intermarriage. Excerpt:

    In a startling find, statistics disclose over 60% of Greek Orthodox families of the last generation and 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Church. It is a concern shared by learned religious leaders who understand the need for a compassionate outreach towards intermarried families with sensitivity to differences among intermarried couples and the problems they face as a family. In the transition, as each population passes into successive generations, growing numbers of families move further from their origins, with the probability that our beloved Greek Orthodox Church in America will become moribund in the very near future.

    Anybody else see what’s wrong with this? Intermarriage only makes these families less culturally and ethnically Greek. It need not make them less Orthodox. The fact that the Archdiocese conceives of this as a problem of intermarriage, and not as a failure of catechesis and evangelism, indicates a basic misunderstanding of the problem. If you acculturate your people to think the experience of the liturgical life of the Church is pretty much The Tribe At Prayer, you shouldn’t be surprised when their loosening of tribal bonds through intermarriage results in a falling away from the Church. I have two Greek friends who were raised Greek Orthodox but no longer are (one’s Evangelical, one’s Catholic) because, as they put it, Christianity was all Greek to them growing up.

    All churches in this country are facing a crisis of the young falling away. We need not make the situation worse than it has to be by misdiagnosing it. Or is there something I’m not seeing here?

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  10. Pere LaChaise says:

    This loss of tribal religion resulting in loss of Orthodoxy is observable everywhere. I cautioned one priest not to teach the N. culture, just teach the Gospel of Christ. I know he didn’t hear me, because the preservation of the N. culture is inseperable from their sense of Ortrhodoxy. I know this preservationist effort is a loser at the outset and can predict how long this new mission will last: one generation. And after that, all the kids who grow up in it will have left it and Orthodoxy.

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  11. Well folks “Big Brother” has arrived. We now have a government by the oligarchy for the oligarchy supported by a totalitarian judiciary. The government not only tells us what to do (Obamacare) and penalizes if we do not but also what to believe (homosexuality and all other forms of deviant behavior). We have a judiciary so wrapped in analytic reasoning that it can no longer recognize the consequences of its decisions (Khomiakov), that will redefine words whose meanings have been understood for thousands of years. A government that gives away the wage earners money (after skimming as much as it can for themselves first) with flick of the wrist. Madeline Murray O’Hare must be ecstatic with the consequences of removing any semblance of moral training from our schools with political correctness as its replacement. We have become an arrogant, amoral, selfish nation; just read the business section to see where this has led. I grieve for my grandchildren.

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  12. Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

    ” Madeline Murray O’Hare must be ecstatic with the consequences of removing any semblance of moral training from our schools with political correctness as its replacement.”

    She was murdered in 1995 by an employee of her American Atheists group, along with her son Jon and grand-daughter Robin (both members of the AA group), tortured and cut into dozens of pieces and needed to be identified from dental records, DNA testing, and the serial number on her hip implant.

    On the other hand, her son, William J. Murray, in whose name she fought to ban the God from public education, became a Christian in 1980. Learning of this, she commented: “One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times … he is beyond human forgiveness.”

    Make of all that what you will. The below is her son William writings about her and the murders:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1936488345/

    My mother was not just Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist leader. She was an evil person who led many to hell. That is hard for me to say about my own mother but it is true.

    When I was a young boy of ten or eleven years old she would come home and brag about spending the day in X-rated movie theaters in downtown Baltimore. She was proud of the fact she was the only woman in the movie house watching this filth. My mother’s whole life circulated around such things. She even wrote articles for Larry Flynt’s pornographic magazine, Hustler. My mother lived in spiritual death as Paul writes: “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” I Timothy 5:6

    My mother delighted in hiring unrepentant criminals to work in her atheist office. She particularly enjoyed hiring convicted murderers who had served their time but were unrepentant about what they had done. She got a sense of power out of having men in her employ who had taken human life. It was love of power over people that finally caused not only her death, but the deaths of my brother and my daughter.

    My mother had complete power over my brother, Jon, and my daughter, Robin. Although I was able to break away from the evil of this family, an evil that had been there for generations, they could not. My mother did not permit either my brother or my daughter to speak to me. She had total control of them.

    My brother would have been forty years old the month he was murdered. He lived with my mother. He had breakfast with my mother. He went to work with my mother. He had lunch with my mother. He had dinner with my mother. He went on vacation with my mother. He never married. He never really even had the opportunity to have a serious relationship with a woman because Of the control my mother possessed over him. My mother had the same control over my daughter. She was just thirty the year she was murdered. She also lived with my mother. My mother used food to control her and make her unattractive to men. By the time she was murdered she was so heavy she had to purchase two airline tickets because she could not fit in one seat.

    For twenty years I could not talk to my brother. He would hang up the phone on me or tear up my letters and send them back. The same was true of my daughter. They both called me “TRAITOR” because I had accepted Christ and changed my life. By “traitor” they meant that I no longer followed the absolute direction of my mother as they did.

    Where The Lonely Ones Roam:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDcYSN_-A7s

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  13. Francis Frost says:

    Well, here we go again, another trip through the hall of smoke and mirrors that is Monomakhos!

    Topsy-turvey morality, twisted inferences, hysteria over changing mores and the uniquely twisted Michalopu-logic. Vai Me !!!

    First, as has been pointed out, neither you nor your fellow hysterics have suffered anything, let alone persecution. “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Hebrews 12.

    You wax hysterical at the very thought that somehow, somewhere, at some time you might have your right to despise some sinner for his sins abridged. Horrors.

    At the same time you have casually dismissed the very real sufferings of those who have indeed suffered unto the shedding of their blood. On multiple occasions, I have provided you and your readers with documented proof of the genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against innocent Christians perpetrated by your “heros of the faith” in the Kremlin – crimes perpetrated with the public blessing of the KGB dominated Moscow Patriarchate.

    Despite the horrific nature of these crimes your response has been a shrug and:

    Bad things happen in war

    and

    Don’t tweak the bear.

    I will have more to say on this later.

    You decry the moral decadence of the West that allows legal abortions. Never mind that every so-called “Orthodox” country also allows legal abortions. Never mind that the rate of abortions per population in ‘Holy Russia’ is three times that in the decadent US!

    You have publicly accused the bishops of your own OCA of harboring a “Lavendar Mafia” and pursuing a pro-gay agenda. The only evidence to support this assertion is the restoration of a repentant deacon by your own Archbishop Dimitri, and the defection from the church of a priest-monk whose spiritual father, abbott and bishop is none other than your hero, Metropolitan Jonah! You have used these facts to accuse the bishops of undermining the moral teaching of the church, while exculpating the only two bishops involved in the factual instances! Go figure!

    To help you understand the real nature of suffering and persecution I have attached excerpts from the Life of the Holy New Hiero-martyr Andrea Kurashviliv and the New Martyr Giorgi Adua.

    Following that are descriptions of the actual horrors inflicted on innocents in occupied Abkhazeti by Muslim militias under the direct supervision of the Russian military.

    At 3 o’clock at night, the battle had spread to the very temple. “Any moment we can expect death. Let us prepare for confession and Holy Communion.” father Andrew told them, and for the last time he brought out the Holy cup from the Alter and gave them Communion. “Father Andrew was very calm when he announced to us to prepare for Communion. After the Communion he asked us not to talk amongst ourselves and to try to turn our thoughts deep within so that in this hell we can hear the quiet, but ever powerful and majestic voice of the eternity. These moments were unforgettable… The light soul of father Andrew revealed itself to us with unknown and mysterious force, he felt towards us the most gentle and all reaching love of Christ, seeing God’s light according to the words: And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1,5) A feeling overcame us that father Andrew is breaking into the other dimension of life where harmony and beauty rules and that no hellish forces, all joined together, will be able to do anything to him, because the source of this indescribable beauty and grace is God Himself, eternal and all reaching”- witnesses the novice Maria.

    At 5 o’clock in the morning outside they started yelling for them to open the door. With the blessing of father Andrew, Yuri opened the door. They grabbed him and with beating they dragged him outside. They were hitting him with the butts of their rifles and they dragged him away such that none saw him again. Latter it became known that he was dignified with a martyr’s death.

    Later they also dragged out father Andrew and as the lamb is mute before its shearers, in such a way he too did not open his mouth. Father Andrew sought to accept that cup and he drank it. He kneeled on his knees and he fervently prayed. His enemy shot him in the back of his head, but he even as dead he did not surrender himself and submit to them. Instead of, according to logic, falling down on his face, he fell on his back. Twenty minutes from the wound poured out streams of blood.

    In the mean time the group that was in the temple did not know what was happening outside. After they took out father Andrew the wild and drugged up Abhaskan soldiers came into the temple, started to shout, swear and to desecrate it, and they even tipped over the grave of St. John Chrysostom, and after 3 hours some young man ran in and yelled out: “They killed your elder!”. They with all their strength went to the place of the crime and found the martyred body of their young by age, but elder by wisdom, spiritual father and Hieromonk Andrew. On his face, instead of grimace there was a sweet smile.

    They transferred him into the temple, and prepared him for burial by laying him on a catafalque before the altar of the church. In his left hand they placed the prayer beads from which he never separated himself, unceasingly repeating the Jesus prayer. They passed the entire night in prayer. His face glowed with a blessed smile that still did not escape him. Even though it was a warm July summer, there could not be noticed even a trace of decay on his body or release of offending odor. His blood did not coagulate and stop flowing.

    The consequence of that night was terrifying. All Georgian soldiers were killed. As martyrs also died Yuri and father Andrew, for which many felt sorrow and remorse. Among them there were some that immediately wanted to take revenge on the perpetrators, but knowing that father Andrew would never allow that, according to his words: “Completely surrender yourselves to God and to His Holy Will.” A few days later it was learned that the killer of father Andrew stepped on a mine and had lost his right arm and leg. By the prayers of father Andrew God did not take his life, but left him with a chance to repent for his crime, but he cut off those parts of his body with which he sinned, according to the words: ” Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire” (Matthew 18,8), and so saved his soul.

    The next day a telegram arrived from Moscow: “The temple St. John Chrysostom is of significance for the entire world. Neither the temple nor its property are to suffer. The guard needs to be strengthened. The servants of the temple must not be harmed.” NOTE: who actually supervised and controlled Father Andrea’s murderers

    After 52 days of siege and capture, Zoya Anua, the wife of Yuri Anua, and their daughter were released and transported to the Suhum airport, and from there they flew to Tibilisi to the Patriarch Elijah II. In Suhum they also met with bishop Daniil. While they were captured in the temple, Zoya had made a promise before the miracle icon of the Mother of God of Tihvin, that if they survive they will dedicate themselves to God as nuns. They fulfilled that and now both are nuns with the name Maria.

    On 7th July, on the day of the birth of St. John the Baptist, the body of the new martyr Andrew was handed over to the blessed land of Komani.

    Father Andrew had left the Georgian church with an pledge to publish his translation of the “Three keys to internal prayer.” That pledge was fulfilled by the Archbishop of Ciklim, Zosim, who stated: “When the shepherd worked on his book, in the province around Komani was unfolding a fierce war. In these difficult moments, father Andrew never left the temple. His faith he laid only in God, Who thanks to the power of his internal prayer was always with him. When I prepared the mentioned translation for publication, I felt the presence of an invisible help from father Andrew.”

    His martyr blood, will remain an eternal witness and an unpleasant mark of the headless and mindless nationalism that appears in the 20th century, particularly among the Orthodox, which sadly still continues. We, foolish and blinded by it, think that we are making a sacrifice for God, but are infact killing particular innocent people. Entire nations suffer. Orthodoxy and our love amongst ourselves weaken, and all that can only be for the glory of the enemy of human kind, the devil, and our shame. The young 27 year old Hieromonk of the Georgian Orthodox Church is a clear victim of ethnophilitism. His only wrongdoing had been that when asked “Whose is this land?”, he answered “God’s”. May God forgive us and has mercy on us by the prayers of the newly martyred Andrew of Abhasia and Georgia.

    From Digital Caucasus Blog:
    http://digitalcaucasus.blogspot.com/2007_12_02_archive.html

    In spring 1992, especially in June-July, acts of armed aggression and attacks got systematic character on highways and railways of Georgia. These attacks caused serious economic damages to the country. Criminal bands robbed trains and seized Georgian and other countries’ goods. Georgian government had no choice but to defend the highways and railways by the national army in order to secure safe travel of goods. As Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti was the main area of the criminal bands action, on August 1992 Georgian central leadership decided to bring additional troops into Abkhazeti. This decision had been preliminarily submitted to the region leaders’ approval. It was personally coordinated with Chairman of Supreme Council Vladislav Ardzinba. The movement of the Georgian Army within the Georgian territory became a reason for starting the conflict. Here is what was written on this subject by Chervonaya Svetlana – Ph.D., leading specialist of Institute of Technology and Anthropology of Academy of Sciences of Russia (see the bibliography):

    “Shevardnadze did not start this war. By noon of the 14th of August 1992, «the Georgian party» had not fired a shot, none Georgian soldier had been brought into Sokhumi yet, and nothing was threatening the peace in Abkhazian towns and villages. Vladislav Ardzinba declared this war on Georgia in his radio speech. He drew the Abkhazian people into the heinous crime. Vladislav Ardzinba announced total, forced «general mobilization» (every man from 18 to 45). He provided the soldiers with arms seized or stolen from Russian arsenal, and promoted unlawful actions of the Abkhazian armed troops in Abkhazian towns, villages, and roads (the “enemy” had not even reached this territory). The Abkhazian separatists searched for everything they considered worthy, terrorized and killed Georgian peaceful inhabitants. Abkhazian snipers opened fire to people being in Sokhumi sanatorium. They shot scores of Russian holidaymakers on the beach of the air defense forces’ and other sanatoriums. These were the crimes that had to be stopped. The criminals must answer for these deeds. The political purposes of the organizers of these crimes are known: division of Georgia, drawing Russia into a war, Soviet-communist revenge and restoring the Soviet Union.”
    That is how the war broke out.

    …When they [Abkhaz] entered Gagra, I saw Shamyl Basaev’s battalion. I have never seen such a horror. They were raping and killing everyone who was captured and dragged from their homes. The Abkhaz commander Arshba raped a 14 year old girl and later gave an order to execute her. For the whole day I only could hear the screams and cries of the people who were brutally tortured. On the next day, I witnessed the mass execution of people on the stadium. They installed machine guns and mortars on the top and placed people right on the field. It took a couple of hours to kill everybody…”

    Georgian government repeatedly appealed to the UN, CSCE, and other international organizations to intervene, while at the same time refusing offers of Russian military assistance. Several UN Security Council resolutions and decisions failed to lead to a de-escalation of the conflict. On July 27, 1993, a Russian-brokered trilateral agreement on a cease-fire and principles for the solution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was signed. Complete demilitarization of the region, supervised by Russia, was to follow the separation of the military forces of the two sides. However, the UN failed to implement its long-sought decision to send a large group of military observers to Abkhazeti. Furthermore, the Russian military observers insisted that Georgians did not participate in the supervision of the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.

    “…When the Abkhaz entered my house, they took me and my seven year old son outside. After forcing us to kneel, they took my son and shot him right in front of me. After they grabbed me by hair and took me to the nearby well. An Abkhaz soldier forced me to look down that well; there I saw three younger men and couple of elderly women who were standing soaked in water. They were screaming and crying while the Abkhaz were dumping dead corpses on them. Afterwards, they threw a grenade there and placed more people inside. I was forced again to kneel in front of the dead corpses. One of the soldiers took his knife and took the eye out from one of the dead near me. Then he started to rub my lips and face with that decapitated eye. I could not take it any longer and fainted. They left me there in a pile of corpses…”

    At the end of August 1993, S. Shoigu, chairman of the Russian Emergency State Committee, declared on Russian television that demilitarization had reached a stage at which resumption of the war would be impossible. Large numbers of hopeful refugees returned to their ruined homes and began rebuilding. Then on September 17, a surprise attack by Abkhazian tanks and artillery, supported by their Russian North Caucasian and Cossack allies, forced the remaining disarmed Georgian troops, together with tens of thousands of civilians, to flee in panic. Many of these victims later starved or froze to death in the Svaneti mountains. Shevardnadze himself, who was besieged along with the defenders of Sokhumi, had a narrow escape. The sudden clandestine Abkhazian rearmament remains a mystery only for the extremely naive.

    “…The Abkhaz separatists killed people of other nationalities as well, including those who tried to protect Georgians. After the city was seized, the streets were covered with bodies. Separatists destroyed the Baramidze, Chkhetia, Baramia, Gvazava, Dzidziguri, Absandze, Shonia, and Kutsia families, as well as many others…”

    The war ended in late September 1993 with Abkhazeti’s virtual secession from Georgia through a radical ethnic cleansing of its multi-ethnic population and the destruction of its cities, including Sokhumi.Just at the beginning of the war adherents of Vladislav Ardzinba started killing, tormenting, raping, and robbing the inhabitants of Georgian nationality. At first Georgians of the following towns and villages experienced the sadism of the separatists: Gagra and Gudauta, Akhaladze, Bzipi, Ipnari, Otkhara, Akhali Sopeli, Eshera, Kochara, Ketevani, Labra, Kvitouli, Kindgi, etc. Ugrekhelidze, an inhabitant of the village Eshera, was forced to dig a hole of his own height, then he was pulled out his teeth and nails, and buried alive. They left his hand above the ground (the symbol of the Abkhazian banner.) Another Georgian was captured, cut his veins. Then the Abkhazian separatists poured his blood into glasses and drank it. After this they let him go to Sokhumi to tell everybody how Abkhazians drank Georgian blood. The Abkhazian butchers captured sisters – Eka Jvania (17 years old) and Marina Jvania (14 years old), Leila Samushia and others in village Pshadi. They undressed them in front of their parents and neighbors, and raped them. After this the Abkhazian butchers executed all of them by shooting. The Abkhazian “liberators” did not spare workers of education system. They execute by shooting 78 teachers and lecturers. For instance, a teacher Bichiko Ekimiani, Armenian, was executed by shooting together with his family in his own house; a teacher of a secondary school at village Kochaki, Bajiko Vekua firstly raped, then tormented and killed; Bichiko Baramia – an assistant professor of Abkhazian University, diseased and disabled man was executed by shooting together with his wife; Shota Jgabadze – professor was executed by shooting when he was operating a wounded patient. It’s just a drop in the ocean of separatists violence. 30000 innocent people were killed in Abkhazian War in 1992-1993.

    “…They captured a young girl. She was hiding in the bushes near the house where they killed her parents. She was raped several times. One of the soldiers killed her and mutilated her. She was cut in half. Near her body they left a message: as this corpse will never be as one piece, Abkhazia and Georgia will never be united either…

    The war was over in September 1993, by actual separation of Abkhazeti From Georgia, by genocide of Georgian population, by destroying towns. As a result of the war 200000 people were forced to leave their own places of residence. The refugees moved to various regions of Georgia.In spite of Russian repeated recognition of Georgian territorial integrity, since the beginning of militant actions representatives of Russian Federation officials, several ministries, and departments, various political parties and organizations have been supported the separatists with political, military, economical, financial and moral aid. Even before the conflict, on March 1992, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti without submission of Georgian government approval began making economic agreements with Russian Federation. In early March V. Ardzinba applied to B. Eltsin for economical aid. On March 19, 1992 B.Eltsin ordered Krasnodar and Stavropol Administration leaders to make direct trade-economic agreements with Abkhazeti. The orders were fulfilled during the next three months.

    POSTED BY DIGITALCAUCASUS AT 8:20 AM NO COMMENTS: LINKS TO THIS POST
    LABELS: ABKHAZIA, ABKHAZIAN, CAUCASUS, CHECHNYA, ETHNIC CLEANSING OF GEORGIANS IN ABKHAZIA, GAGRA, GENOCIDE, GEORGIA, GUDAUTA, OCHAMCHIRE, TBILISI

    In spring 1992, especially in June-July, acts of armed aggression and attacks got systematic character on highways and railways of Georgia. These attacks caused serious economic damages to the country. Criminal bands robbed trains and seized Georgian and other countries’ goods. Georgian government had no choice but to defend the highways and railways by the national army in order to secure safe travel of goods. As Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti was the main area of the criminal bands action, on August 1992 Georgian central leadership decided to bring additional troops into Abkhazeti. This decision had been preliminarily submitted to the region leaders’ approval. It was personally coordinated with Chairman of Supreme Council Vladislav Ardzinba. The movement of the Georgian Army within the Georgian territory became a reason for starting the conflict. Here is what was written on this subject by Chervonaya Svetlana – Ph.D., leading specialist of Institute of Technology and Anthropology of Academy of Sciences of Russia (see the bibliography):

    “Shevardnadze did not start this war. By noon of the 14th of August 1992, «the Georgian party» had not fired a shot, none Georgian soldier had been brought into Sokhumi yet, and nothing was threatening the peace in Abkhazian towns and villages. Vladislav Ardzinba declared this war on Georgia in his radio speech. He drew the Abkhazian people into the heinous crime. Vladislav Ardzinba announced total, forced «general mobilization» (every man from 18 to 45). He provided the soldiers with arms seized or stolen from Russian arsenal, and promoted unlawful actions of the Abkhazian armed troops in Abkhazian towns, villages, and roads (the “enemy” had not even reached this territory). The Abkhazian separatists searched for everything they considered worthy, terrorized and killed Georgian peaceful inhabitants. Abkhazian snipers opened fire to people being in Sokhumi sanatorium. They shot scores of Russian holidaymakers on the beach of the air defense forces’ and other sanatoriums. These were the crimes that had to be stopped. The criminals must answer for these deeds. The political purposes of the organizers of these crimes are known: division of Georgia, drawing Russia into a war, Soviet-communist revenge and restoring the Soviet Union.”
    That is how the war broke out.

    “…When they [Abkhaz] entered Gagra, I saw Shamyl Basaev’s battalion. I have never seen such a horror. They were raping and killing everyone who was captured and dragged from their homes. The Abkhaz commander Arshba raped a 14 year old girl and later gave an order to execute her. For the whole day I only could hear the screams and cries of the people who were brutally tortured. On the next day, I witnessed the mass execution of people on the stadium. They installed machine guns and mortars on the top and placed people right on the field. It took a couple of hours to kill everybody…”

    Georgian government repeatedly appealed to the UN, CSCE, and other international organizations to intervene, while at the same time refusing offers of Russian military assistance. Several UN Security Council resolutions and decisions failed to lead to a de-escalation of the conflict. On July 27, 1993, a Russian-brokered trilateral agreement on a cease-fire and principles for the solution of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict was signed. Complete demilitarization of the region, supervised by Russia, was to follow the separation of the military forces of the two sides. However, the UN failed to implement its long-sought decision to send a large group of military observers to Abkhazeti. Furthermore, the Russian military observers insisted that Georgians did not participate in the supervision of the withdrawal of heavy weaponry.

    “…When the Abkhaz entered my house, they took me and my seven year old son outside. After forcing us to kneel, they took my son and shot him right in front of me. After they grabbed me by hair and took me to the nearby well. An Abkhaz soldier forced me to look down that well; there I saw three younger men and couple of elderly women who were standing soaked in water. They were screaming and crying while the Abkhaz were dumping dead corpses on them. Afterwards, they threw a grenade there and placed more people inside. I was forced again to kneel in front of the dead corpses. One of the soldiers took his knife and took the eye out from one of the dead near me. Then he started to rub my lips and face with that decapitated eye. I could not take it any longer and fainted. They left me there in a pile of corpses…”

    At the end of August 1993, S. Shoigu, chairman of the Russian Emergency State Committee, declared on Russian television that demilitarization had reached a stage at which resumption of the war would be impossible. Large numbers of hopeful refugees returned to their ruined homes and began rebuilding. Then on September 17, a surprise attack by Abkhazian tanks and artillery, supported by their Russian North Caucasian and Cossack allies, forced the remaining disarmed Georgian troops, together with tens of thousands of civilians, to flee in panic. Many of these victims later starved or froze to death in the Svaneti mountains. Shevardnadze himself, who was besieged along with the defenders of Sokhumi, had a narrow escape. The sudden clandestine Abkhazian rearmament remains a mystery only for the extremely naive.

    “…The Abkhaz separatists killed people of other nationalities as well, including those who tried to protect Georgians. After the city was seized, the streets were covered with bodies. Separatists destroyed the Baramidze, Chkhetia, Baramia, Gvazava, Dzidziguri, Absandze, Shonia, and Kutsia families, as well as many others…”

    The war ended in late September 1993 with Abkhazeti’s virtual secession from Georgia through a radical ethnic cleansing of its multi-ethnic population and the destruction of its cities, including Sokhumi.Just at the beginning of the war adherents of Vladislav Ardzinba started killing, tormenting, raping, and robbing the inhabitants of Georgian nationality. At first Georgians of the following towns and villages experienced the sadism of the separatists: Gagra and Gudauta, Akhaladze, Bzipi, Ipnari, Otkhara, Akhali Sopeli, Eshera, Kochara, Ketevani, Labra, Kvitouli, Kindgi, etc. Ugrekhelidze, an inhabitant of the village Eshera, was forced to dig a hole of his own height, then he was pulled out his teeth and nails, and buried alive. They left his hand above the ground (the symbol of the Abkhazian banner.) Another Georgian was captured, cut his veins. Then the Abkhazian separatists poured his blood into glasses and drank it. After this they let him go to Sokhumi to tell everybody how Abkhazians drank Georgian blood. The Abkhazian butchers captured sisters – Eka Jvania (17 years old) and Marina Jvania (14 years old), Leila Samushia and others in village Pshadi. They undressed them in front of their parents and neighbors, and raped them. After this the Abkhazian butchers executed all of them by shooting. The Abkhazian “liberators” did not spare workers of education system. They execute by shooting 78 teachers and lecturers. For instance, a teacher Bichiko Ekimiani, Armenian, was executed by shooting together with his family in his own house; a teacher of a secondary school at village Kochaki, Bajiko Vekua firstly raped, then tormented and killed; Bichiko Baramia – an assistant professor of Abkhazian University, diseased and disabled man was executed by shooting together with his wife; Shota Jgabadze – professor was executed by shooting when he was operating a wounded patient. It’s just a drop in the ocean of separatists violence. 30000 innocent people were killed in Abkhazian War in 1992-1993.

    “…They captured a young girl. She was hiding in the bushes near the house where they killed her parents. She was raped several times. One of the soldiers killed her and mutilated her. She was cut in half. Near her body they left a message: as this corpse will never be as one piece, Abkhazia and Georgia will never be united either…”

    The war was over in September 1993, by actual separation of Abkhazeti From Georgia, by genocide of Georgian population, by destroying towns. As a result of the war 200000 people were forced to leave their own places of residence. The refugees moved to various regions of Georgia.In spite of Russian repeated recognition of Georgian territorial integrity, since the beginning of militant actions representatives of Russian Federation officials, several ministries, and departments, various political parties and organizations have been supported the separatists with political, military, economical, financial and moral aid. Even before the conflict, on March 1992, Autonomous Republic of Abkhazeti without submission of Georgian government approval began making economic agreements with Russian Federation. In early March V. Ardzinba applied to B. Eltsin for economical aid. On March 19, 1992 B.Eltsin ordered Krasnodar and Stavropol Administration leaders to make direct trade-economic agreements with Abkhazeti. The orders were fulfilled during the next three months.

    POSTED BY DIGITALCAUCASUS AT 8:20 AM NO COMMENTS: LINKS TO THIS POST
    LABELS: ABKHAZIA, ABKHAZIAN, CAUCASUS, CHECHNYA, ETHNIC CLEANSING OF GEORGIANS IN ABKHAZIA, GAGRA, GENOCIDE, GEORGIA, GUDAUTA, OCHAMCHIRE, TBILISI

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    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

      The next day a telegram arrived from Moscow: “The temple St. John Chrysostom is of significance for the entire world. Neither the temple nor its property are to suffer. The guard needs to be strengthened. The servants of the temple must not be harmed.” NOTE: who actually supervised and controlled Father Andrea’s murderers

      There are no “good” Muslims, only less “bad” ones, for our purposes, the less genuinely Muslim they are, the better. So, unless a country expels all Muslims, refuses all aliances with Muslims, they end up funding and supporting Muslim atrocities, one way or another, to one degree or another. However, if Moscow really controlled and supervised these Muslims, to the degree that you imply, then the Muslims probably wouldn’t have have attacked the church in the first place, because they would have known better and not needed any such telegram. The telegram, if it existed, I’m not going to bother looking into it; because of your endless “throw as much shit at Russia and hope something sticks approach” makes it pointless and tedious; it could be explained simply as a threat to Muslims whose intentions Moscow had caught wind of, and thought that they were anticipating and hopefully preventing. However, assuming Moscow did have some influence or ties with this group, then I have to give “props” to Moscow for at least trying to control them, in contrast to Obama. Obama who seems to order, or allow, the CIA to go the other side of the world to stir up revolutions and civil wars, funding and arming the most Muslim (thus most evil) faction, and intervening directly if they can’t get the job done (Libya) or at least threatening to do so (when stopped by Russia, as in Sryia).

      http://www.storyleak.com/bama-funded-syrian-rebels-beheading-christians-child-soldiers/

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Francis, until you come to grips that Shaakashvili handed over his country’s foreign policy to American Neocons and they goaded him into provoking Russia, you will never understand the simple concept that actions have consequences.

      While in a better world, I would institute a policy that Orthodox countries should never attack other Orthodox countries, I am also aware of the example set by Emperor Basil II of Byzantium who blinded 14,000 Orthodox Bulgarian prisoners-of-war after he repulsed their almost successful invasion of his Empire: the Bulgars never attacked Byzantium again.

      “Michapulogic”? I love it! Let’s take it out for a spin: You cite the fact that all “Orthodox” countries have legal abortion. When in fact “all” those countries you cite (Greece and Cyprus excepted) were not “Orthodox” in any way for the better part of a century. Unless you are so deluded that you believe that the Orthodox hierarchies of these Bolshevist slave-states really controlled the moral life of their countries, then I would question your grasp of simple logic of any kind as well as your grasp of history.

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  14. This is in response to Brian but there is no reply button by his comment. I agree with you. So much of what I have encountered in Orthodoxy so far, is a pull yourself up by your own bootstraps attitude. Long before I entered into Orthodoxy, Jesus was both my Lord and Saviour. What does it mean when Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone open the door I will come in and dine with him.” or words to that effect. What does it mean to invite Jesus into my house? My experience of doing so was that he began to clean house, and is still doing so many years later. He is the One who is basically saving me from myself. Jesus wants our hearts. How much do we trust Him with them. Every Divine liturgy, the priest says, “Lift up your hearts.” My understanding of this sentence is that we hand over to Him, everything in our hearts, the good and the bad. Only then can He begin to transform, transfigure our hearts.

    Psalm 51(50) Says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit, THEN, I will teach transgressor Your ways and sinners will be converted to you. ”

    (I put THEN in caps. Often we try to teach without ourselves being rightly prepared by God)

    I cannot save myself. God can, Jesus can.

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    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      Lina, one of the many differences between Orthodoxy and Western Christianity is that the latter has tended to stress the saving grace of God to the point of denying any involvement on the part of those being saved. This is plainly true of Calvinists, but it is also true of Roman Catholics, who sometimes accuse the Orthodox of “semipelagianism” for believing in the synergy or cooperation of our will with God’s. In Orthodox understanding, salvation is not a single act but a synergistic process — the process of theosis or deification, by which we become more and more like God. The process begins with what Christ does for us, but it proceeds with what we do for Him. Christ knocks, and we answer. Christ continues to work in us, and we continue to work toward Him. So while Christ does the saving, He doesn’t do it against our will or without our cooperation.

      Damnation works the other way. It begins with us. Christ knocks, and we don’t answer. We turn away from Him and do nothing to bring us back to Him, believing either that we don’t need saving or that we can save ourselves without Christ. The ancient Pelagians tended toward the latter belief — that we essentially save ourselves by our own efforts. By downplaying Christ’s role as Savior, they provoked Westerners, notably St. Augustine of Hippo, toward downplaying our role as saints.

      My own experience of Orthodoxy has been different from yours. I have not found the Orthodox to overemphasize the bootstrap approach. Instead, I have found them, when struggling to explain salvation, to rely too much on metaphors expressing Christ’s work of “recreating human nature” or “trampling down death by death.” The result is an overemphasis on the mystical side of salvation neglecting its practical side. This sometimes contributes to the common human error of wanting someone to save us without us doing our own part. People come to church for the Sacraments but make no effort to learn God’s precepts and practice them. Or they line up to be anointed with oil from an icon but not to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ. Why? Because only the latter requires the preparation of prayer, fasting, and confession.

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