One of the beefs Monomakhos has with those who disdain Metropolitan +Jonah is their claim that Metropolitan Jonah is not “conciliar.” You know the drill: +Jonah acts “unilaterally;” his letter to the US Congress (.pdf) about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and signing of The Manhattan Declaration is “divisive;” he risks “marginalizing” the OCA by “aligning” it with the Christian Right, and so on.
It’s all specious nonsense of course, but that doesn’t deter +Jonah’s detractors. His “unilateralism” requires that the other bishops constrain him, they argue. That’s why they passed their “nonbinding resolutions” in Chicago recently. The Stokoevites want to marginalize +Jonah by reducing his role to a mute figurehead.
Monomakhos categorically rejects their efforts. A bishop — any bishop — has the right to act and speak according to his conscience. A bishop is first the protector and teacher of the Gospel. His role is to guide his Church in living this Gospel in the concrete exigencies of the culture. That is how the tradition is carried forward from one generation to the next. If a bishop is constrained by forces outside of his office, then in the end the preaching of the Gospel will be muted and the Tradition skewed.
Bp. Benjamin’s Activism in Alaska
For that reason I do not object to Bishop Benjamin Peterson’s current involvement in a local controversy in Alaska. His Grace has lent his considerable moral authority to a project sponsored by The Renewable Resources Foundation (RRF). I don’t know many details yet but it appears that RRF is against a proposed gold and copper mine called The Pebble Project, a conflict that pits developers against environmentalists.
The Pebble Project is obviously a hot-button issue, at least locally, but that doesn’t bother me. If RRF is on the side of the angels then good for the Orthodox Church. We are Orthodox Christians and we are Americans. We believe that reasonable people can reasonably disagree on reasonable things. We believe that among men and women of goodwill the relative truths — the way that we must live as Christians in the world today — can be discerned and applied without the subterfuge of non-binding resolutions and other backroom skullduggery that is calculated to close debate under the rubric of “conciliarity.” (Here conciliarity really means everyone must agree with the Stokovites.)
What happens if +Benjamin is wrong? What happens if conservatives like myself feel +Benjamin is aligning the Church too closely to the pseudo-spirituality that informs too much of the environmentalist movement?
We discuss it. We hash out the ideas, the history, the ramifications, every constituent that informs the decision. We do not attempt to muzzle the man just because we disagree with a decision he made or stand he took.
The Video “Someone Has to Protect the Water”
First the video, then some questions:
It’s clear +Benjamin is stepping into a political issue that has ramifications far beyond politics, just as +Jonah did with his DATD letter and his signing of the Manhattan Declaration. +Benjamin’s support of the Pebble Project is more than a mere photo-op or moral pose. Overall I find his involvement encouraging.
The Stokovite Attack on +Jonah and the Silence about +Benjamin is Inconsistent
I have to ask however, were the new rules that tried to create the bureaucratic hyper-conciliarity in operation here? Did His Grace run the video by the Holy Synod, the Metropolitan Council, the Chancellor in Syosset, or (God fobid!) Mark Stokoe? I don’t think so because he does not have to. So why the alarm when +Jonah was the featured speaker at the March for Life? Why the dressing down (by +Benjamin no less!) when +Jonah was featured in the Washington Post for his cultural involvements? Does anyone else see the inconsistency here?
Furthermore, why didn’t OCANews inform us plebeians, we denizens of the great unwashed, that one of our Bishops was involved in such a high-profile endeavor?
It is possible, especially as I look more closely into the particulars of RRF, that I may find areas of substantial disagreement with PPR. I am a cultural conservative after all. Nevertheless, I applaud +Benjamin for reaching into the larger culture. I offered the same kudos to +Demetrios Kantzavelos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese for spearheading the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois, even though I do not agree with his conclusion that the death penalty is morally illegitimate in all circumstances.
OCANews and the Stokovite Vision for the Church
It’s no secret anymore that OCANews is agenda driven. The closer we watch it, the more evident it becomes that the “news” it reports is selective and portrays the people that Stokoe dislikes in the worst possible light (“+Jonah Goes Rogue!”).
So why did OCANews ignore this report? Is is because Stokoe was not aware of it? That hardly seems likely. The video is sure to get a lot of notice. It features Fr. Michael Oleska, a high-profile priest in the OCA and a fan of OCANews. Remember, Stokoe’s sources leak like a sieve. He publishes private speeches intended only for the Holy Synod and private emails stolen from computers. Do we really believe he didn’t know about this?
Maybe our intrepid Apostle-of-Accountability-and-Transparency can dig deep into the dungeons and discover if +Benjamin vetted his involvement with the Synod. Or maybe, and most likely, he will ignore +Benjamin’s initiative because it gets too close to revealing what the the “non-binding resolutions” are really about: intimidate +Jonah to quit speaking about the things that the Stokovites disapprove of.
First they tried to oust +Jonah by branding him as unstable. That didn’t work. Now they are trying to silence him with bureaucratic duct-tape. That won’t work either.
In the meantime, enjoy the video.
Download a full size copy of the Alaska Magazine ad (.pdf).