SCORCHING THE EARTH
Well, I guess Yours’ Truly was right, wasn’t I?
What I said specifically was that Metropolitan Savas Zembillas of Pittsburgh would back down in the face of a well-heeled Greek-American’s defiance, that the priest in question would be thrown under the bus, and that the accommodation of the GOA to the Zeitgeist would proceed apace.
Truth be told, I thought that that would be it. Once having made his point, Mr Pappas would chalk up a win, then go along his merry way. That’s more or less what the gays and feminists did with the Episcopal Church: make some demands, give in a little here, take some more there; gain some valuable real estate for the future. That’s the smart, Fabian way of fighting whenever you’re in a long, hard slog. You know, boiling the frog little by little.
Didn’t happen. When I quoted a Greek-American friend of mine, who said that “Greg was going to go to war with the GOA” I intuitively agreed with that assessment. I didn’t like it and I thought it was harsh because I don’t know Mr Pappas personally. But I trusted my source so I agreed. Throwing caution to the wind, I put it in last week’s essay on this subject. Then as soon as I hit the “publish” button, I thought “Uh oh George, you’ve overshot yourself this time.” Alia acta est!
My fears were confirmed in less than two hours when one of my editors called me up (I was driving to Santa Fe) and said, “George, Pappas has the first comment. He’s come after you. He’s really pissed about what you said.” I told my editor to go ahead and release the comment and let the chips fall where they may.
Boy, did they fall. Unfortunately for Pappas, there was a blow-back, but it was 90 percent against him. Pappas, for all his eloquence, didn’t think this thing through. He’s a clever man but not a clear thinker. When all was said and done, he didn’t understand the logical and inevitable consequences of his actions, which are nothing less than the transformation of the Christian moral tradition according to the whims of the moment. It is the caprices of the gay lobby which –thanks to Savas’ capitulation–rule the day.
Now, let us be clear, the moral tradition of Orthodox Christianity has not changed. Nor can it, Pappas’ sophistry about masturbation and nocturnal emissions to the contrary. As seen by the ferocity of the counter-attack in this blog, Mr Pappas and his supporters have had the wind knocked out of them, at least temporarily. Seeing that his flowery words could find no purchase among a wide swath of the laity, he decided to double-down and go for broke, taking his case to the wider American establishment.
Because of his own elite status within the GOA, he was able to publish an editorial in The Washington Post. This is a huge accomplishment and will set the narrative of his gay “martyrdom” with the wider American public, who by all indications are even more poorly catechized than the average Greek Orthodox layman. If he could transpose a picture of himself standing with Martin Luther King or, better yet, standing next to Harvey Milk while he lay dying, he would no doubt do so. And of course the subtext will always be “hateful Orthodox rednecks tackle the saintly Pappas as he goes for Communion.”
This of course puts thoughtful laymen in the uncomfortable position of having to explain that it is Pappas who compares Jewish ethnicity to sodomy, something that the Church never did. It also puts us on the defensive, having to explain that the Church does not equate the sin with the sinner (indeed, it is Pappas who does that).
These fundamental truths are rather easy to point out but now Pappas won’t allow that to happen. He’s upped the ante and with his own words and actions, he has instituted a scorched earth policy against the GOA. There is no middle ground. Either the bishops will acquiesce to Pappas’ demand that he is entitled to the Eucharist because he has a spiritual father who says that he can, or the bishops will uphold the moral tradition of the Church.
This is a new paradigm, one initiated by Pappas. Just as the Church has changed its position on Jewish doctors (my own is Jewish), so too will it change its position on homosexual nuptials.
The question now before us is, will he succeed?
Forget about the effrontery of putting the hierarch — and by extension, all other GOA bishops — on the spot. What about the recent encyclical of Patriarch Bartholomew which explicitly condemned homosexual “marriage”? Didn’t Metropolitan Savas get that memo? Couldn’t he have shown this to Pappas and told him that his hands are tied? Or was that encyclical nothing but a pious charade, issued because Bartholomew felt the Russians breathing down his neck? I for one, choose to believe that his eloquent words came from the heart and were inspired by the Holy Spirit. If so, then doesn’t Zembillas understand the import of what he has done by caving in to a mere layman?
The bishops of ROCOR undoubtedly saw the handwriting on the wall when, for all practical purposes, they pulled out of the Episcopal Assembly. How long before the other jurisdictions leave less they be tainted by their association with the GOA? Especially should it continue along this path? Things are probably so far gone in the GOA that even a strongly-worded encyclical from the Primate with explicit protocols for receiving the Eucharist would be impossible to issue in the present environment. And even if it was to come out, it would be largely ignored –such is the power of the homosexual juggernaut.
I could go on, but what’s the point? Merely this: that thanks to the idolatry of Greekism that has been inculcated by the GOA these many years, gentle souls like Greg Pappas can’t be blamed for believing that they’re God’s gifts to mankind. And the more successful you are, the more indicative of God’s favor. This is nothing short of Calvinism. Such megalomania is inevitable given the Greekism that has been inculcated in the GOA over the generations. Today it will be gay “marriage,” but what about tomorrow? Polygamy? Priestesses? If not, why not?And let’s be honest, there are more that a few bishops who are morally compromised themselves. They couldn’t take on Pappas and his ilk even if they wanted to. For various and sundry reasons, they don’t want to. It’s possible that some of them have tired of playing the game themselves, always looking over their shoulder as they leave the gay bar with lover in tow, telling the Chancellor that their “nephew” has come over to visit for a few days, etc. You get the picture. Some probably admire V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, who proudly poses with his lover. For all his sins, at least Vicky Gene doesn’t have to worry about being blackmailed or controlled by others. Maybe the time has come to be open about one’s sympathy for sodomy. Like homosexuals in the secular sphere, they may have grown tired of the closet and yearn to break free of its constraints and hypocrisy.
Others of course may be more skittish; some may even like the game. Who knows? At any rate, the question before all Orthodox who are serious about their faith is stark. Pappas’ latest editorial in the Post is an occasion for moral clarity. Greek-American laymen have to make up their own minds about their commitment to the GOA. And by extension, those bishops in the Episcopal Assembly who are not part of the GOA will have to make up their minds for themselves and their flocks on whether to commune with that jurisdiction should it accept the terms of the Pappas Paradigm.
Ultimately it depends on whether Pappas prevails. That unfortunately will be up to the bishops of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The question is, are they up to the task?