The Progressive Captivity of Orthodox Churches in America

progressiveThere’s a saying in the Air Force: You’re only catching flak if you’re over the target. It looks like one of us anyway is not only over the target but has dropped some well-place ordnance as well.

Fr Hans Jacobse, of the American Orthodox Institute published this thoughtful essay on the recent Acton/SVS conference on poverty. We know that Fr Hans, John Couretas and the fine people at Acton hit one out of the ballpark when the preeminent voice of the Left Orthosphere ended his self-imposed exile to spread his healing balm in his own inimitable way. For awhile there, we thought that maybe his meds were working. But no, we were wrong, with his pictures of Chavez and Castro, we can rest assured that he’s as still as unglued as ever.

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. Fr Hans’ use of the phrase “The Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Church” has struck a chord. More than that, it encapsulates what has heretofore been the problem with many of our jurisdictional centers. That is to say that in Flyover Country priests and congregations are doing heavy lifting trying to engage the culture while well-fed flunkies at Central HQ can’t quite come to grasps that the old Progressive, socialist paradigm is a star-spangled failure.

It’s not just that these functionaries have plighted their troth to the WCC/NCC axis (which is likewise imploding as we speak), but because after years of ecumenist gatherings, they’ve imbibed their secular-humanist mindset and seek to impose on their own dwindling jurisdictions. The latest example that Central HQ of the various jurisdictions is copacetic with the way things are is from the silence we hear regarding the stunning advances made by so-called gay marriage. (For the OCA, we can also look to the ridiculous Synodal letter put out last November on the need for the reconstruction of the American economy along “radical” lines.)

We shall see whether the recent Acton conference held at SVS will bear fruit or at least provide ammunition to the traditionalist resistance. Regardless, Jacobse has done remarkable work crystallizing the problem and offering a solution. Please take the time to read his most recent essay.

Source: Acton Institute | Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

Most Christians who are received into the Eastern Orthodox Church as adults do so for the same reasons that others embrace the Roman Catholic Church: They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions. These great historical Churches offer an oasis of clarity where the first questions are settled and the foundations do not have to be laid again in every generation. At least that’s the idea.

Alas, it is not always so. Orthodoxy and Catholicism have their share of dissenters but this is nothing new to anyone who knows their history. Yet this realization often comes as a surprise – even a shock — to many Orthodox converts. They assume that the precepts of the moral tradition will be taught in our generation as well. Sometimes they aren’t.

Analyzing the present culture and discerning how the moral tradition speaks to it is always a complex business because people are dynamic beings. Truth is relational because Truth is a person – Jesus Christ. As such, any self-revelation of Christ whether it be Him directly or through the words and work of His followers requires much more than an outline of propositions. If it were that easy we would all be fundamentalists.

This relational dimension however, is where it gets dicey. Christianity’s secular counterpart – Progressive morality – has impressive fluency in the language of human compassion in which ideas that are inimical to the Christian moral tradition are hidden. It confuses believers and convinces secularists and lies at the root of much internal dissent in the historic Christian churches.

This problem exists in some quarters of the Orthodox Churches in the United States today. Take for example Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s statement on abortion (see: A Patriarch who ‘Generally Speaking Respects Human Rights’). He leads the largest, by far, Orthodox jurisdiction in America, the Greek Orthodox. Here the patriarch appeals to personal humility to avoid restating what the Fathers of the Church make clear: Aborting a child is a grave moral crime. Appeals to humility might be morally compelling, but in this case it is misplaced.

Consider instead the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church where the sanctity of all human life is unequivocally affirmed (see: The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church). Or read the statement on this same problem issued in Belgrade by the Serbian Orthodox bishops earlier this month. They spoke of “a deep moral degradation, a great crisis of family life and lack of true faith in God among many people, though many of our people declare themselves as faithful Orthodox Christians at least in the elementary sense of that word.”

When human dignity ceases to be the source and focus of thought on cultural issues the moral foundations of culture are undermined. One reason why the Church Fathers were clear on the moral status of the unborn child (today they would be branded as “haters”) is that they understood if the unborn child was seen as a commodity, any kind of cruelty could be justified in the end. They fought for the elevation of human morality. Today we fight against its devolution.

Sadly, this type of confusion often exists when American Orthodox Christians encounter other profoundly moral questions. Recently the Acton Institute co-sponsored a conference on poverty at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, the flagship of Orthodox seminaries in the United States. To its credit St. Vladimir’s, located in Yonkers, N.Y., resisted considerable behind the scenes pressure aimed at shutting it down. From whom did the pressure come? Orthodox Progressives.

Acton’s approach to poverty places the native creativity of the poor at the center of any program to alleviate poverty. People have natural dynamism because they are created in the image and likeness of God – an insight that can only be grasped and responsibly applied if one first believes that all people have inherent value and dignity. This moral vision is the legacy of the Christian moral tradition comprehensively understood.

This understanding is a threat to the Progressive vision however, because it lays bare the materialist vision of man (man is a biological machine, a better society is achieved by manipulating the mechanisms of state) that lies at its center. The reason for the confusion between the materialist (Progressive) and Christian vision is that the materialist vision borrows the language of the Christian tradition thereby making it appear that the ideas it champions are indeed Christian and thus in accord with cultural history.

Ecumenical discourse between the churches (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) that hold fast to the moral tradition will be fruitful if it stimulates internal reflection and prompts necessary corrections in our respective communions. The Acton-St. Vladimir’s conference reveals to the Orthodox that 1) thinking on poverty issues is underdeveloped and 2) the objections to the conference relied solely on ideas drawn from Progressive ideology.

This fact is not lost on Orthodox moral conservatives and traditionalists. We call it the Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Churches in America. There are historical reasons why we are late to the discussion (Turkish captivity, Communist tyranny, etc.).  It led to some missteps along the way such as joining the National Council of Churches (the NCC functions primarily as the amen corner of the secular left) but they are being corrected.

The hour has passed however, when we can excuse participation with those who misappropriate the Christian moral vocabulary in order to cloak ideas and policies inimical to the Christian moral tradition. The moral confusion in the larger culture should not become our own.

Acton grants permission to republish this commentary without restriction.

Comments

  1. steve turner says:

    Fr. Schmemann is turning over in his grave with this skata. Progressive, liberal, conservative, etc. all words which mean nothing. Fr. Hans has tried again and again to inject political right-wing assertions into Orthodox thought. It’s foolish. We follow Christ and His teachings. There isn’t anyone within the Orthodox Church professing abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc. as some here wish others to believe. Fr. Hans is just lost. He needs to return to what the Orthodox Church teaches and leave this paranoia of right-wing vs progressives in Orthodox thought; it’s silly.

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    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Not silly at all Steve. If terms like fairness, compassion, tolerance and so forth that find their proper meaning and application in the context of the received moral tradition are employed to defend ideas inimical to it, then great moral confusion is the result.

      That is point of the example with abortion I offered. (Point of reference: my first introduction to the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement occurred when I was challenged by a very bright teenage girl who told me that the Patriarch said abortion was allowed.) My essay is not about abortion as such, but abortion will always remain a flash point because it clarifies the materialist anthropology (man is a biological machine) that lies at the core of much Progressive morality.

      If we really believe these ideas have not influenced Orthodox thinking, then how do we explain the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement? Why is the ambiguity expressed in an appeal to private virtue? And why is that appeal persuasive?

      Don’t underestimate the persuasiveness of the moral vocabulary. Those words are very powerful. That is why they are borrowed to advance ideas inimical to the moral tradition. If we don’t examine what those ideas are, then many will assume that the ideas are a part of our cultural history since the language used then and now is the same.

      When the cultural break is severe, say the embrace of homosexuality by the Episcopalian Church for example, then opponents of those new movements have to be labelled as standing outside the tradition. That’s the only way to dismiss the moral power behind the ‘conservative’ objections. We say things like they are trying to “inject political right-wing assertions into Orthodox thought” and so forth.

      The upshot, and the purpose for which I wrote the article, is this: if we don’t examine the Progressive ideas critically and with intelligence, then the moral confusion in the larger culture will end up becoming our own.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Ah, Father, its about fairness and the economics. It always comes down to the economics. Many folks actually believe that Christian economics is socialist, i.e. , the government deciding to re-distribute the wealth. Along with that tis the tacit (sometimes no so tacit) that all wealth is evil even the simple ability of human beings to work and create and profit from the fruits of their labors giving as they receive.

        That is the result of the equalitarianism preached everywhere by all. Egalitarianism goes against everything the Church is and that She teaches. The economics, anthropology and political philosophy that egalitarianism gives birth is fundamentally evil, cruel and destructive. It is the cult of the individual that denies genuine humanity and destroys community. Paradoxically it is the groundwork for the victory of the Nietzchean Will to Power.

        Jesus Christ is not “fair” in human terms. His way is the Cross.

        Regardless of the form of government, Christians are free if we seek union with Him and our practice should not be dependent on what government decrees. That is not Caesar’s.

        Whatever good the Constantinian experiment in synergy did, it is now dead, IMO. The Church is and should be an implacable enemy to the secular, nihilist state. That means rejecting all political ideology from what ever source and direction. It definitely means not lifting the state to the level of the divine authority.

        There are moral dilemmas in all of the prevailing economic/political theories. We must do our best to avoid all of the ethical/moral pits that are there.

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        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

          Right you are Michael Bauman. Egalitarianism is Christianity lite — Christianity without the cross and thus without Christ.

          Egalitarianism will devolve into utilitarianism (human life is valued by a cost-benefit calculus; as a culture we are already there) and that will elevate the will to power as the supreme ethic and call forward the Strong Man. Nietzsche saw it and his prophecy will prove true if the Christian moral foundations of culture are not recovered.

          Solzhenitsyn, like Dostoevsky before him, warned us. He wrote in his Harvard Address:

          And yet in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding one thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims.

          Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in the West; a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming ever more materialistic. The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even excess, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistic selfishness of the Western approach to the world has reached its peak and the world has found itself in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the celebrated technological achievements of progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century’s moral poverty, which no one could have imagined even as late as the nineteenth century.

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      • steve turner says:

        Fr. Hans,

        You have always tried to push this right-wing political agenda of yours upon Orthodox thought. It really is silly. If is the Democrats (labeled as Progressives) who believe in giving to the poor and social programs, not your right-wing Republicans. Abortion came into law under Nixon, your quintessential right-wing nut. The GOP believes in war more than any progressive. It’s easy to label and demonize groups as enemies of your Orthodox Christianity, but we follow Christ. If the Anglicans or Protestants wish to try and twist and change the teachings of Christ, they will be in Hell. No where in Orthodoxy has this been done or is being done. Your paranoia is clear and just uncalled for.

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        • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

          You have always tried to push this right-wing political agenda of yours upon Orthodox thought. It really is silly. If is the Democrats (labeled as Progressives) who believe in giving to the poor and social programs, not your right-wing Republicans.

          As a registered Democrat, let me mention that Mr Turner’s introduction of party politics here is a distraction.

          The questions raised by Father Hans are directly prompted by sources in the Bible and the Sacred Tradition. Mr. Turner rejects discounts these sources at his spiritual peril.

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    • If words no longer mean anything, then we are lost. Distinct differences exist between Progressive, Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative and Christian ideas. You’d do well to study up on them. Your freedom, and that of your chidren, depends on it.

      “Progressivism” is a euphemism for Marxism, and that’s very important to Christians: Marxism is the primary enemy of the Church. (As well as of the classic idea of Liberalism.) It’s been eating away at the church like a cancer for more than 50 years. Why do you think the Marxist, Obama, is trying to shut it down by imposing draconian healthcare requirements on it, by persecuting pro-church groups via the IRS? Christianity and Marxism are competing religions, and their goals, methods and ideals are completely antithetical to one another.

      Thirty years ago, Americans could recognize Marxism whenever they heard it. (Now, they re-vote it into the White House. How historically illterate we have become.) Marxism was considered the province of naive, idealistic, historically-illiterate college students, and adults figured they’d mature out of it when they experienced real life. (Most of them did.) If you started spouting Marxism, educated people would laugh you out of the room. In fact, society at-large would laugh you out of the room. Remember this line from the Beatle song, Revolution? It reflects a commonly-held attitude, even among the cultural vanguard. The horrors of Maoism and Stalinism were fresh in peoples’ minds:

      “…and if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow…”

      Steve, the “meaningless”-ness of these words to you is less a truth than the result of a gaping void in your own education. In truth, you are the one who is foolish.

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      • Theodore says:

        There was once a Socialist political party in America. Dewey convinced them to change their name (not their principles) to Progressive because of the bad reputation Socialism had gotten.

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      • “Progressivism” is a euphemism for Marxism…

        Progressives were Republicans, not Marxists, and my understanding is that the modern movement by that name looks to the “Trust Busting” era of Theodore Roosevelt rather than anything by Karl Marx.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Some were. Teddy Roosevelt was a Progressive. That didn’t make it right though. By splitting the GOP in 2012, he made it possible for Woodrow Wilson to win. We have him to thank for making the Federal Reserve a reality as well as the national income tax. And World War I as well.

          TR was right to bust the trusts and for that he can be thanked but like most Progressives he was a racialist and a jingoist who helped destroy America’s fine isolationist tradition.

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          • Archpriest John Morris says:

            I do not think that it is fair to blame Teddy Roosevelt for the First World War. The Americans did not start the war which was one of the dumbest wars in world history. However, Wilson was hardly neutral and openly supported the British. The Germans, however, were stupid and forced us to get involved by the famous Zimmer telegram to their ambassador in Mexico that suggested that Mexico join the war on the German side and reconquer the American Southwest, which they lost after Mexico started the Mexican American war. When the war ended, Mexico sold the American Southwest to the United States, so we did not take it, we did pay for it.
            However, Wilson can be blamed for the 2nd World War because of the way that he ended with 1st World War by making promises to the Germans for a just peace without consulting the British and French who wanted revenge and forced Wilson and the Germans to accept the Treaty of Versailles that destabelised the Weimar Republic paving the way for Hitler.
            Progressivism was not really Marxist. It was elitist and believed that the government should be controlled by the elite who know better than the common people what is best for them. That is the philosophy of our contemporary Progressives. They believe that they know what is best for society and that government controlled by the elite should control all aspects of society. That is exactly what Obama and his supporters believe.

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            • Progressivism was not really Marxist. It was elitist and believed that the government should be controlled by the elite who know better than the common people what is best for them.

              This is true of the Progressive movement in any era. Prohibitionists were cut of this same cloth.

              The truth that got enshrined in the Constitution is that elites sometimes know better, and sometimes not. The balance achieved by the “bi-cameral” condition of the House vs. Senate is balance only when the House is not made up of millionaires, and when the Senate is made up of the scions of wealth. We have upset both apple carts, and so we wind up with “the best and the brightest” leading us astray in their hubris.

              And this truth applies not just to Obama, it was G W Bush, after all, whose “Wilsonian conservative” approach to deliver democracy to the Middle East has resulted in anarchy, the rise of radical Islamists in power throughout the region, and the eradication of tens of thousands of our Oriental Christian brothers and sisters.

              Elites need to be balanced by the common sense of the hoi polloi, and the passions of the common man need to be balanced by the dispassion of the elites.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                I never said that Progressives were Marxists or not Marxists. Like Marxists however, they very much believed that the elite should rule. As for the hoi polloi, I wholeheartedly agree with the late William F Buckley who famously said that he would rather be ruled by the first 4000 names in the Boston phonebook than the 4000 faculty of Harvard.

                The problem is that the Progressives/modern Liberals/what-have-you (of both parties) have succeeded in hollowing out the Constitution and through the judiciary have stripped the hoi polloi of any say in their respective societies. The list of referenda and just plain common sense that the Elites have hoisted upon us is truly appalling.

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          • Tim R. Mortiss says:

            Teddy Roosevelt’s “progressivism” has nothing to do with the contemporary sense of the term. “Progressives” of the current stripe specifically reject post-war liberalism (Isaiah Berlin, Reinhold Niebuhr, John F. Kennedy, etc.), to say nothing of the GOP of Teddy’s time. They are, as has been said here, nihilists ultimately.

            They are like the old Army Corps of Engineers (apologies to the Corps): when they finished one levee or dam, they looked around to build another, needed or not; building, itself, was just what they did. Except with “progressives”, it’s destruction: when they gain one victory over a “social problem”, they just move on to the next: destruction of what is, what exists, in human society is their only goal. Thus “progress” versus stasis; it’s the “process” that is the only thing.

            So, first it’s contraception, then abortion, then laboratory reproduction, which will soon be the “right” of every homosexual couple. First it’s “tolerance” of homosexuality, then legal non-discrimination, then it’s social acceptance, then it’s “marriage equality”. The same is true in all other realms of life; ‘sexuality’ is just the most recent (and most insidious) of the “issues”.

            That said, however, I don’t believe that the process was inevitable as a result of the expulsion of the Stuart kings from England, or with the election of Abraham Lincoln!

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        • You’re correct. Teddy was not a Marxist. Progressivism is now a euphemism for Marxism. It’s confusing.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            There’s no way that the reality of Marxism was any different from oligarchy. In fact, it was oligarchy on steroids.

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      • Gail Sheppard says:

        Thumbs up from me. Words do mean something.

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    • macedoniandeacon says:

      That may be so Steve. But there are those who proclaim that you can support a party or candidates that openly support and fund abortion and same-sex marriage, and yet be anti-abortion and same-sex marriage on the same token.

      That sort of duplicity just doesn’t work any longer and Orthodox Christians need to be finally called out on it. Gone are the days where we could count on anti-abortion or anti-same sex marriage DEMS (and the GOP is falling fast on same-sex marriage).

      It’s time to put away the “I Support Obama care” bumper stickers because you cannot and be an Orthodox Christian in good standing.

      If Orthodox insist on voting for DEM candidates they need to focus on finding the ones that do not vote to fund or get elected on issues that are, in reality spiritual, and which go against the teachings of the Church. Or they could begin running for office themselves as traditional candidates. Otherwise, they haven’t done the right thing.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        macedoniandeacon: which means that, unless we have the resources and the will to run ourselves, there is no party to support and only those candidates who have the support of the party have a chance of winning. Not that winning is everything.

        I can no longer vote or participate in the corruption that is U.S. politics except on a really local basis and that too, is getting tenuous.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          I’m increasingly coming to the same conclusion. I have to agree with Ann Coulter, if the GOP signs on to Amnesty for Illegal Aliens, then it’s so stupid that it deserves to die.

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          • Macedoniandeacon says:

            It’s ironic for me – I am either supporting the most Constitutional minded candidates who still hold fast to some form of social conservatism, or am slowly becoming monarchist in the ideological sense.

            The biggest temptation during these times is to be a-political or apathetic.

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          • macedoniandeacon says:

            George –
            I actually do not see the the complete tragedy in some sort of amnesty – what Coulter among the other GOP in congress are overlooking is that we are pushing bills that promote amnesty and yet do nothing to guarantee securing the boarder first. A lot of our families came here illegally – worked hard, paid taxes, and contributed. ON the other hand, many, many Americans are born here, do nothing but milk the system, and contribute absolutely nothing. If you ask me. These are the ones that need be deported.

            Put together a bill that secures the boarder first, and then give amnesty to those who are here and make them get in line with the rest. Heck, it may even reverse the demographic trends if the GOP do this.

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        • macedoniandeacon says:

          I agree Michael – I for one will never forget this. The GOP is not immune
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkvOdyG9d7Y

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      • In a republic such as the US it is nearly impossible to create the sort of micro-parties present in parliamentary systems that represent each unique, idiosyncratic belief of a given demographic. That means we vote for candidates and parties despite our differences with aspects of a Party’s official platform. There are always significant minority views in each Party who disagree with planks in the officially, democratically adopted platform.

        This wouldn’t be such an issue if third parties were rational in their pursuit of mainstream participation and influenc. Unfortunately, they are usually either personality driven (Perot, Paul, Nader) or more interested in maintaining the purity of ideology and opposition rather than in governing with its inherent difficulties, compromises, etc. If a third party was truly interested in governing it would start at the state level and build up to the regional level before attempting much at the federal level. Instead, they always start with the office that requires the broadest, deepest support across the nation: the Presidency. Thus, Lincoln was the last “third Party” candidate elected to that office, with Theodore Roosevelt the last serious third Party contender to lead the Executive Branch. It is easier on the ego to armchair legislate, that way you are always right.

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    • Alec Haapala says:

      “There isn’t anyone within the Orthodox Church professing abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc. as some here wish others to believe.”

      Right, not happening at all….

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/ProgressiveOrthodoxChristianity/

      http://www.orthodoxandgay.com/

      https://www.createspace.com/3515718

      http://astore.amazon.com/truthsetsfree-20/detail/0980443016

      http://www.inclusiveorthodoxy.org/

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/20917659986/

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      • Yes, and Western Rite usage is huge within the Orthodox Church. Online presence is not the same as real world presence.

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      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

        steve turner says:

        “Fr. Schmemann is turning over in his grave with this skata. Progressive, liberal, conservative, etc. all words which mean nothing. Fr. Hans has tried again and again to inject political right-wing assertions into Orthodox thought. It’s foolish. We follow Christ and His teachings. There isn’t anyone within the Orthodox Church professing abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, etc. as some here wish others to believe. Fr. Hans is just lost. He needs to return to what the Orthodox Church teaches and leave this paranoia of right-wing vs progressives in Orthodox thought; it’s silly.”

        Another Fr. Schmemann follower off in fantasy land, that or engaging in Big Lie tactics, as the list of sources from Alec Haapla demonstrates (there are of course many more that could have been provided). Read some real orthodox Orthodox sources about Fr. Schmemann and SVS theology.

        http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/pom_lit.aspx

        http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/frdaniel.htm

        My experience with Kochetkov’s followers (both former and current) shows that there is little room for the Christianity of the Fathers in their minds. Frs A. Schmemann, N. Afanasiev and Alexander Men (3), and, of course, ‘the great catechist, prophet, and teacher’ Fr G. Kochetkov, have taken the place of the divine wisdom of the Fathers of the Church. This movement has its own dogmas, from which they derive their own liturgical practices and peculiar moral concepts, notions that are very far from Orthodoxy.

        Here are some examples. Their custom of driving non-communicants out of the Church goes back to the idea of the Eucharist articulated by Fr A. Schmemann (see his book, The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom), which has its dogmatic basis in the Protestant doctrine of the universal priesthood of the laity. Consequently, he teaches that the laity concelebrates with the priest, who only presides and does not celebrate the sacrament. Of course, with this understanding of the Eucharist, there is no place for non-communicants at the liturgy, lust like the celebrant priest who must always take communion at the Liturgy in the Orthodox Church. However, if you follow this view, it is not clear why the Apostle Paul calls only the apostles stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4, 1) and not the whole Church. When Christ instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, He said the words, Do this in remembrance of me (Lk. 22, 19), only to the twelve, not to everyone. It is neither the priest, nor the people who have priestly authority in themselves (4), it is the Lord Jesus Christ Who performs all the sacraments through His apostles and their successors, the bishops and their priests, who are not creators of grace but distributors of grace.

        Therefore, every priest reads the following at the Liturgy, ‘Vouchsafe that I, by the power of Thy Holy Spirit and vested with the grace of the priesthood, may stand before Thy holy Table and celebrate the mystery of Thy holy and most pure Body and Thy precious Blood, for Thou art He Who Offers and He Who is Offered, He Who receives and He Who is given out, O Christ our God’. (Prayer at the Cherubic Hymn). Laypeople do not have the grace of the priesthood and therefore cannot concelebrate with the priest. ‘The royal priesthood’ (1 Peter 2, 9) of the laity means that they must, present (their) bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is (their) reasonable service (Romans 12, 1), not that they must concelebrate with the bishop or the priest. Therefore, the rank of penitent existed in the Church, they were those who stood together with the faithful and were not dismissed along with the catechumens, but did not take communion. St Gregory the Wonderworker (3rd century) speaks of this practice in his 12th canon.

        http://www.rocorstudies.org/articles/2011/03/10/comparing-notes-the-diaries-dnevniki-of-fr-alexander-schmemann-and-russian-church-unity-in-the-diaspora/

        http://www.blagogon.ru/news/60/

        Alexei I. Osipov: “Schmemann very far from understanding the spiritual life”

        11/08/10

        The famous theologian questioned the usefulness of reading the works of the priest-modernist

        Doctor of Theology, Professor of the Moscow Theological Academy Chirikov Osipov on the air “Union” expressed his opinion on the writings of the famous modernist Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, the official publication of the Yekaterinburg diocese “Orthodox newspaper” .

        Replying to a question, it is helpful to read the book Schmemann, known theologian said: “It depends on what you want … What do you mean, it is useful to read the? It is useful to go down the street and watch? It is useful to go to museums, the libraries? What does “good”? What the criteria are? Here’s what to talk about. But if you ask a Christian point of view of utility, it is – all the things that helped me change my life, evil and sinful. So look, does this literature a way to change your life? ”

        “Schmemann, I would say, a very intelligent man, a man of very high ratio. And his argument in terms of rational person does sometimes attract. He’s smart, I would say so, but, unfortunately, a long way from understanding the spiritual life. In his diaries, he just says, “I can not accept these Bryanchaninovs, Theophan the Recluse. My soul is not in contact with them, can not find communication.” So, please, and see if you read Schmemann gives impetus to a change in your life or not? According to this criterion, and to evaluate the literature “- rightly said Alexei Ilyich Osipov.

        The most in-depth analysis of work Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann spent famous church publicist Igor friends. According to him, “vague and very ambiguous book Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann incompatible with the letter and spirit of the Gospel and patristic writings, which always clearly defines sin, hard distinction between light and darkness, sin, and of righteousness, says about hell and punishment. In his books, these concepts and words denied by silence, they are completely taboo and his followers. ”

        “O. Alexander actually tried to undo the very concept of truth, always mouthing mutually illogical theses blasphemed fasting and prayer, the saints, ascetics, and confessors of the faith of Christ. With each of its blasphemous attack against them “diluted” sentimental mnogoglagolanem of Christ and unintelligible “primitive Christianity.” (…) The danger of books Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, especially his “Diaries” not only in the fact that he openly slanders the Church, our country, wants destructive reforms in the Church. He generally tries to cancel truth as such, cleverly mixing truth and lies. All of his books – a struggle against the hard criteria of good and evil. “Let your word be yes yes no no rest from evil. All his anti-clerical statements hide behind the fig leaf of “likely”, “may”, “possibly”, “probably”, “- said Igor friends.

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        • steve turner says:

          Dear Ladder,

          Both you and Pomazansky are truly unstable. Neither of you have any idea about what Schmemann taught and although his books clearly show the Orthodox Tradition in theology, you call him Protestant and expressing German theology. Before you post, you really have to know what you’re talking about instead of following rhetoric put forward by any uneducated SYNODAL wanna-be.

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    • M. Stankovich says:

      I absolutely agree with Mr. Turner that the introduction of this terminology of distinctions would have been disdained by Fr. Schmemann, as he frequently spoke with open contempt of its divisiveness. And the worst aspect in his mind was when this pitiful “jingoism” sourced from within the Church itself, contrary to our Tradition and the Apostle himself:

      There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)

      Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ to all and on all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:22)

      Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Col. 3:11)

      Are we now a neo-Masonic order with ranks and divisions – and in this very thread, someone taking the pseudonym “Traditional Orthodoxy” announces sermons, presumably from a “tradtionalist” faction? To suggest that this “labeling” and identification of “movements” and factions is proper and appropriate necessarily presupposes that the Church is divided at a more organic level than simply jurisdiction: “But [the Lord], knowing their thoughts, said unto them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falls.'” (Lk 11:17) This, of course, is an impossibility and the Word of assurance of our God.

      Therefore, Fr. Ioannes, the answer to the question, “Have these ideas influenced Orthodox thinking?” is absolutely not.. They have, however, influenced Orthodox individuals in positions of moral authority. It is you who influenced me, and I presume many others, in bringing to the forefront this observation: the bishops lack moral authority. “How do we explain the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement?” Good lord, man! You’ve answered your own question! He lacks the fundamental moral authority necessary – and as I have pointed out to you previously – and when he does so with moral ambiguity, he speaks singularly & alone.

      You are the one who wrote so elegantly & forcefully regarding Solzhenitsyn’s profession of the power of a word, and you are the one who spoke the word regarding the voice of moral authority. It seems to me that you are far too comfortable pointing the finger everywhere but at your own house – so to speak – which part of me understands and sympathizes. The other part refers you back to reread Mr. Turner.

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      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

        Michael Stankovich,

        “How do we explain the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement?” Good lord, man! You’ve answered your own question! He lacks the fundamental moral authority necessary – and as I have pointed out to you previously – and when he does so with moral ambiguity, he speaks singularly & alone.

        Well, OK, but…

        How do I explain the statement to the teenager who challenged me, especially when she read the inference correctly that “I have no business in the bedroom.”*

        (*I’ve written elsewhere that the Patriarch needs to be reminded that abortions happen in abortuaries, not bedrooms.)

        Responding that he “speaks singularly & alone won’t get me very far. It sure won’t clear up the confusion without putting her and me in a very awkward position. Adults can make the distinction and think beyond the moral ambiguity. To a teen, fundamental trust is being challenged and that’s dicey at that age as I am sure you know.

        And yes, the Patriarch’s statements don’t, strictly speaking, change Orthodox thinking. They do however, change the thinking of the Orthodox.

        Moving on…

        I am expanding my essay on the spoken word that I drew from Solzhenitsyn into a lecture and delivering it to Protestants and Catholics later this week at Acton University. It should be on Ancient Faith Radio in a week or two.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          Thanks for reminding us Fr. One bishop –especially one with papal envy–can make things extremely dicey for the rest of us.

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        • M. Stankovich says:

          Abouna,

          Obviously we are in “different” worlds on many planes. I strongly suspect you would not wish to hear of the concerns of the adolescents who confront me – just when I thought I could not be shocked… But in all honesty, I consider the enormity of diocese, the lack of “personnel” (i.e. bishops) and it is difficult to imagine that your own bishop has any influence on the moral life of your individual parish, let alone the Ecumenical Patriarch. These are no longer the days of Ignatius, traveling from church to church, “and where the bishop is, there is the Church,” inspiring, teaching, leading, providing authority, and importantly courage in an adverse society.

          I have written previously of when I was an adolescent, a pious, elderly woman in my parish (her name was Sarah and her husband was Abraham!) took the time to tell me stories of her life in Lebanon, and of how the Patriarch of Antioch would visit their village, riding on a white horse. She said he would chop wood for the elderly and the disabled, anoint the sick, hear confessions, go to the cemetery and pray for the dead, visit the school, and sit and drink the strong coffee, meeting and speaking with anyone who wished to speak with him. She said he was, literally, “dirty” when he finally left at the end of the day. Obviously, his moral authority was as much his physical presence & deeds as it was his words. Who in their right mind would have a question as to moral authority of the Church in society after such a visitation?

          I again hold you to your own words: the bishops lack moral authority. I do not believe that we were intended to “lead” ourselves – despite what I read on sites such as this – and in effect and by necessity, we are a “presbyter-led” conglomerate of parishes except for once a year (or less) that the bishop appears out of Chekhov’s story: unapproached & unapproachable. Chop some wood? Soil the podrazdnik? Drink the strong coffee? Well, there was Vladyka Dmitri…

          The question in my mind is, even with the reality of circumstances in this country, should we not demand moral authority? If this is not the best climate, then when? And in this context, what purpose is served by imposing labels and supposed divisions in the Body of Christ? What exactly does it take to stand up to the moral ambiguity of anyone, from the Ecumenical Patriarch on down? The power of words, I suspect. And it is ironic that the Fathers use the example, “even the old woman may chastize the Patriarch, and he must listen.”

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        • (*I’ve written elsewhere that the Patriarch needs to be reminded that abortions happen in abortuaries, not bedrooms.)

          Forgive me for nit-picking, but this is an incomplete, perhaps an incorrect, response. Abortions do happen in bedrooms in two distinct ways (and I draw on my experience as a prolife, post-abortion counselor):

          1. As thoughts enter the mind and then give way to deeds, so abortions happen in cars, hotels, restaurants, dorm rooms, church basements, and any manner of places where two people give way to their passions, briefly entertaining the thought that “if anything happens, we can deal with it later”. (See the Epistle of St James)

          2. With the advent of the abortion pill, mifepristone/misoprostol, abortions do, indeed, take place in the bedroom. The abortion pill actually involves two pills, taken separately. I cannot tell you the heartbreak I heard, over the phone, when women called our helpline after taking the first pill and, feeling great regret and remorse, not to mention serious cramping, wanted to change their mind. But it was too late… the second pill had to be taken at that point for medical reasons. Usually, these women were alone, in their rooms, weeping. So, indeed, bedrooms/dormrooms/bathrooms were the venues of choice. In fact, now, these pills can be had online for women in countries where surgical abortions are illegal (with warnings about counterfeit pills and instructions on how to lie to your doctor to get them “off-label” since they are real medicines with legitimate uses). Imagine. George, as a pharmacist, can relate to you the serious side-effects and complications of these medicines. I weep at this.

          So, indeed, abortions now take place at anytime, and in any place. It need not be only or always in abortion clinics. (My information was taken from womenonwaves[dot]org)

          Pray for these women. They generally know not what they have chosen.

          Lord, have mercy.

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          • Michael Bauman says:

            And all of these things come from a darkened heart and an evil culture where the Church most definitely belongs.

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          • Macedoniandeacon says:

            Bravo! Well said, Laura

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          • Tim R. Mortiss says:

            Yes, well said, indeed.

            I weep for them because their own society, nation, and people, including so often their very families (and the “men” these same have let down just as much) have deserted them.

            Each is thrown back on her, and his, own weak resources. It is so hard to make the right decisions when to do so you must act alone, against all that is around you.

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  2. Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

    Not silly at all Steve. If terms like fairness, compassion, tolerance and so forth that find their proper meaning and application in the context of the received moral tradition are employed to defend ideas inimical to it, great moral confusion is the result.

    That is point of the example with abortion I offered. (Point of reference: my first introduction to the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement occurred when I was challenged by a very bright teenage girl who told me that the Patriarch said abortion was allowed.) My essay is not about abortion as such, but abortion will always remain a flash point of contention because it clarifies the materialist anthropology (man is a biological machine) that lies at the core of much Progressive thinking.

    If we really believe these ideas have not influenced Orthodox thinking, then how do we explain the moral ambiguity of the Patriarch’s statement? Why is the ambiguity expressed in an appeal to private virtue? And why is that appeal persuasive?

    Don’t underestimate the power of the moral vocabulary. Those words are very powerful, That is why they are borrowed to advance ideas inimical to the moral tradition. If we don’t examine what those ideas are, then many will assume the ideas are a part of the cultural history since the language used then and now is the same.

    When the moral break is severe, say the embrace of homosexuality by the Episcopalian Church for example, then opponents of those new movements (I call them moral conservatives and traditionalists for lack of a better term) have to be labelled as standing outside the tradition. That’s the only way to dismiss the moral power behind the ‘conservative’ objections. We say things like they are trying to “inject political right-wing assertions into Orthodox thought” and so forth.

    The upshot, and the purpose I wrote the article is this: if we don’t examine the ideas critically and with intelligence, then the moral confusion in the larger culture will end up becoming our own.

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  3. Traditional Orthodoxy says:

    Sermons:

    June 13, 2013. Ascension of our God, Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    Sermon by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen)

    June 16, 2013. Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council
    Sermon by Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen)

    Sermon by Priest John Johnson

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  4. This Most Christians who are received into the Eastern Orthodox Church as adults do so for the same reasons that others embrace the Roman Catholic Church: They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions.

    This finds its echo in this comment, from an NPR article about partisanship:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/06/14/191601623/why-partisans-cant-kick-the-hypocrisy-habit

    Although many people like to describe themselves as independent, partisanship has become an important aspect of identity. Some are more loyal to their partisan leanings than their own church, says University of Notre Dame political scientist David Campbell.

    “Our findings indicate that for many but not all Americans, when they’re faced with this choice between their politics and religion, they hold fast to their politics and switch religion, or more often switch out of their religion,” he says.

    To me this tendency is epitomized when we identify churches by political labels: “Progressive” and “Traditional” standing in for “liberal” and “conservative.”

    As for me, and so many like me, we did not come to Orthodoxy while fleeing something else. We were drawn…some slowly, some quickly, to Christ. My great mistake was attending a Divine Liturgy. On Pascha. That experience quite literally changed my life.

    And to this day the intonation of “Blessed is the Kingdom…” stirs my soul.

    Considering that most people come to Orthodoxy for any reason other than finding Christ is to sell the Church, and those who’ve made the journey, short.

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    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      I think the study oversimplifies American cultural dynamics but that’s for another time. For now I explained it in an article I wrote a while back, Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World where I said:

      No one has really been comfortable with the arrangement, except perhaps the activists. Adding to the discomfort is our characteristically American way of adjudicating moral conflict. American culture has no institution of moral judgment. We have no national Church, no council of legislative elders, and no final court of arbitration that can definitively resolve the perplexing moral questions that face us. As a result, the debates and political maneuverings that follow are often raucous and chaotic affairs.

      Having said that, I have a lot of sympathy for your implicit point that the Church should be a politics-free zone, or at least we should understand that there are many issues on which reasonable people can reasonably disagree.

      The problem is that that Progressive morality, by hiding ideas that are inimical to the moral tradition by wrapping them in the language of the tradition, requires us to make sure that people, especially within the Church, understand what the tradition really says and means. If we don’t, we accede to the misuse of the vocabulary and thereby risk falling into the confusion of the kind, say, the Episcopalian Church did.

      I am gentler towards those who come to Orthodoxy fleeing other things as well. After all, we come to Christ to flee death. Nothing wrong with that. My own story is a bit different. I approached Orthodoxy with deliberation, waiting three years to convert because I knew becoming Orthodox was like getting married — no return. If I ever left Orthodoxy, I would become a lapsed Orthodox so I better be sure it was the right decision before I committed. Since the day of my Chrismation I have never looked back.

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      • The problem is that that Progressive morality, by hiding ideas that are inimical to the moral tradition by wrapping them in the language of the tradition, requires us to make sure that people, especially within the Church, understand what the tradition really says and means.

        Today it is a cultural assumption among many on the right that the poor are necessarily morally inferior (lazy, ignorant, unwise, etc.) to the wealthy, which is just as pernicious the left’s assumption that the wealthy are necessarily morally inferior (greedy, thieves, selfish, etc.) to the poor. What you identify as a problem with “Progressives” is equally true of “Conservatives,” especially our brethren on the right who’ve swallowed Libertarian economic theory.

        The Church should not be a politics free zone, but neither should it have political litmus tests. Putting things in proper perspective always means putting Christ, the incarnate expression of God’s ineffable mercy and great compassion, first.

        And yes, I know some who’ve fled the errors of their former congregations, and Orthodoxy opens its arms to them. But I don’t see that dynamic nearly as often as I see the proof of Dostoyevsky’s observation: “Beauty will save the world.” Then again, the members of my parish run the political gamut, and the first question “Are you Orthodox?” is most likely followed by “Are you Russian?” (This speaks to an interest that is different from moral teaching or political identification.) My experience traveling is that often the second question was designed to affirm the political views of the questioner…which were assumed to be morally superior to any other political views.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          CQ, you’re engaging in a diversion. Nobody here or at Acton or at SVS said that the poor “deserved” their fate in life. That’s Calvinism. I could just as easily turn on the Leftists and say that Leftism preaches infanticide. Neither are at issue here.

          Besides, if the Conservatives really like to keep the poor down and out, then why are we so exercised about the upcoming Amnesty bill? The opening up of the floodgates to millions of Third World people will so depress the wages of working people that what my father was able to accomplish will be next-to-impossible for my son’s generation.

          That’s one reason why we’re so against the current tax regime as well. When my parents married, the federal tax burden was 5%. With every increase, the standard of living for the working class went down and this forced the wives to get jobs. That increased cash-flow for a little while but then it was a wash because mothers had to put their kids in daycare. It’s at the point now that in order to have a middle class existence, both spouses have to work and be college educated. With a $100K debt load, how’s that working out for all those English majors making $25K a year?

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          • Putting Christ first is hardly “a diversion.”

            I did not write that anyone at Acton or SVS blamed the poor. You seem to have reacted without bothering to comprehend my post.

            I’m going to assume you’re having a bad night….and leave it at that.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              If anything, Conservatives/Traditionalists always try to put Christ above all things. That’s why we hate tyranny no matter how it’s sugar-coated.

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              • katherine says:

                I am with CQ on this one. There is a lot of contempt for the poor on the Right these days. The poor are depicted as being lazy bums who won’t work, ignoring the huge group of working poor, which is a large portion of the poor these days. The Right these days also supports the cutting of programs to help the poor while supporting the Government continuing to keep the programs that benefit big business and the wealthy. Which group can least afford the cutting of the programs? The wealthy are not going to suffer that much if their huge tax breaks get cut, while the poor will suffer if programs are cut. Did Christ see the poor as lazy bums who won’t work, especially when in many cases that is simply not true? Cutting programs isn’t the only way to cut the deficit. We also need to take in more money, which we can do by getting rid of some of the tax breaks for the wealthy and the big corporations who have been raking in record profits. I also see wealth Christian businessmen lionized for their Christianity, while they often pay their workers minimum wage (which means they have a choice between the basic necessities for survival and health insurance), while he (or she) has multiple mansions, private planes, etc.) Again, is this consistent with what Christ taught? I think He’d rather they use the money to ensure that their workers make higher wages where they could afford the basic necessities and have health insurance than buying the mansions, private planes, and all the other material things that money can buy.

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          • Nate Trost says:

            By all means, let us speak of the current tax regime.

            For example, a “working class” household of 2 married working adults, 3 children and an annual gross household income of $45,000. Go to church every Sunday, kids play in Little League, apple pie, etc etc. With standard deduction and exemptions, taxable income is around $21,700. Which puts you almost entirely in the 10% bracket resulting in an income tax bill of around $2,400. Except, this family could qualify for up to almost $9,000 in tax credits between the EITC and child credits alone, so their federal income tax bill is: $0.

            As a result, in our current oppressive tax regime, this hardworking family with two working parents and no health coverage is demonized in elements of the conservative media and political establishment as being part of the nation of moochers because they effectively pay no federal income tax. And make no mistake, part of the concept behind current GOP ideas of “tax reform” is cutting the tax credits and exceptions for cases like this family so they “pay their fair share” to help offset further tax cuts for people who don’t make $45,000 a year, they make $45,000 an hour. And to trim spending by doing things like cutting funding to programs like the one that provides subsidized health coverage to the family children, even if the parents don’t have any themselves. This is somehow supposed to help our working-class family make more money in the long run. Except, we have the inconvenient statistic that income growth in their category has more or less been stagnant for the past thirty years. Not so much with the $45,000 an hour set, their income growth has been quite impressive indeed.

            Now, if you are speaking of your parents total federal tax burden being 5% when they got married rather than income tax burden, then this modern family does have a slightly higher total federal tax burden: more like 7% due to the employee side of payroll taxes for things like SS/Medicare. So this family is paying about 7% of that $45,000 in federal taxes. But you’re going to have some heavy lifting to convince me that a 2% increase in tax burden is the driving factor in shifting from a single to dual-income household.

            I would also invite you to visit this page and see if your 5% estimate is also accurate, I do not have enough information to ascertain.

            I’m also willing to bet that when your parents got married, you were still considered to be doing decently well if you lived to 65, and medical science was still in the early decades of actually having significant positive outcomes on health. I suppose we could save our working class family, (and the rest of us) some of that 7% if we reshape society so those parents aren’t likely to live to age 65 anymore…

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          • Where do the facts that support your statement “When my parents married, the federal tax burden was 5%.” come from? The last time federal tax receipts were 5% of GDP was in 1936, by 1941 the bottom marginal income tax rate was above that. Indeed, during WWII the top income earners in America paid taxes of between 64% and 73% of their incomes.

            I got married in 1977. Back then we needed two incomes to begin to approach a middle class life. The trend that actually started in the late 1960s has only grown stronger for many reasons which we could discuss if you’d like. In fact this development has more to do with some macro-economic factors than tax policy…as even during the Reagan years it continued to be harder to support a family on a single income.

            The complaint about the cost of college and the declining value of a college degree are both understandable, but also reflect the free market’s law of supply and demand. Demand for college goes up, so the market values it at a higher rate. Supply of college grads goes up, so the market values that at a lower rate. The notion that the law of supply and demand should not apply here is interesting, but what would you replace it with that wasn’t some form of socialistic price or wage controls which were last imposed by Richard M. Nixon from 1971 to 1973.

            I appreciate if you don’t wish to discuss the factual, theoretical or philosophical basis for your post, but surely the truth should matter, shouldn’t it?

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              I think it was Mark Twain who said “figures don’t lie but liars figure.” (Present company excepted.) CQ, Nate, I deal in reality. If things are so good because of our present tax regime, then why is marriage at an all-time low?

              When my dad jumped ship in New Orleans and took a bus to T-Town, he was a callow, young 23 year old. All his compadres were young, moderately educated (if that), young men who had drive and ambition. He married my mother in short order and worked 1 full-time and often 1 part-time job. My mother supported him by keeping a clean, if modest home, raising his children, and stretching his pittance. Do you now ANY 25 year olds today who get married, expect to stay married, and strive against all odds to make a go of it? I don’t.

              Instead, the present tax regime punishes thrift, has forced women into the workforce (like my wife), desegregation destroyed the inner-city public schools, drove young marrieds to the suburbs (white flight –you got a problem with that take it up with them), and made it mandatory that our children have to go to college even if they don’t want to. Rather than teaching young girls home-ec and the boys shop, our betters thought that that was sexist and it was better to teach them how to put condoms on cucumbers.

              They liberalized divorce laws, made abortion legal, made our streets unsafe for kids to play outside all day (funny, there was no problem of childhood obesity back then), opened the floodgates to Third World immigration in order to dilute our cultural norms and now they want to do all this again with Amnesty!

              And through all this, our Churches were silent.

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              • George,

                You now write as a drunk pontificates at the bar.

                Facts in error. Assertions about reasonable responses to your fabrications in error. Racism and nativism expressed shamelessly, as if the truth of those errors were self-evident. The Truth (the person of Jesus Christ) declared a distraction, then claimed as your own true love, then utterly ignored as you regale us with tales not of your own life and doings, but of your father’s.

                When you wrote that the Churches stood silent “through all this” you committed libel. The Orthodox Church has been steadfast. The Oriental Orthodox Church has been steadfast. The Roman Catholic Church has been steadfast. But the multiple and various testimonies of the Churches against the errors of this modern age simply don’t exist because you didn’t make them up.

                I arrived here as a sober and fact-based Orthodox convert looking for a place where the spiritual struggle was ongoing. I leave here disheartened and disgusted. Not angry or upset or in a huff, but with the disappointment and disgust one feels when stepping past a drunk lying in his own vomit in the gutter.

                If your condition does not wake you up there is nothing anyone can write or do that will. The sole thing I can do is refuse to enable you to think you’re “passing.” And that’s why I won’t ever visit here again.

                You, and everyone who reads this, remain in my prayers.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  I do appreciate your prayers and I will admit to having a Screwdriver while writing last night. And yes, I was bombastic but I was cutting to the chase. In my daily life I deal with reality, not ideals. Case in point: I was working Memorial Day and an alien came into the pharmacy I was working at with a bleeding and blackened thumb. He worked at a famous fast-food chain which shall remain nameless. He asked in broken English what could be done, I said “go immediately to a minor ER. You need a tetanus shot and probably stitches.” He replied: “My boss no want me to go.”

                  That’s the reality on the ground. That’s what we’re dealing with. That’s what the crony capitalist Oligarchy wants more of. In the past, his job would have been taken by a young American and because of no competition, that young American would have been more justly compensated.

                  As for the rest of your criticism of me, your point is well-taken in re the Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church has stood steadfast in re abortion but otherwise has acceded to the demand for ever more federal spending from the federal spigot. Which of course sucks more monies from the private sector (i.e. families) to the Great White Father in Washington who dribbles it out to his favorite constituencies du jour.

                  Have the EO/OO churches been steadfast? Other than an amicus brief filed during Roe v Wade, I am unaware of Orthodox responses to the crumbling social fabric. The Catholics have their hospitals and unwed women’s shelters. We have –what? a paid agent of the Greek government who direct monies to Greece and Cyprus during the latest economic crisis? FOCUS is still languishing due to its non-recognition by ACOB.

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                  • lexcaritas says:

                    As you know, George, I’m not particularly anti-Catholic, but I’m not so sure how steadfast the RCC has been in many of the concerns you mention. In official ways, yes, but on the ground–in action–I’m not so sure. There is an interesting letter to the editor in the recent issue of the New Oxford Review taking Timothy Cardinal Dolan to task for talking a good line, but sidling up quite easilty to pro-choice/pro-abortion and pro-“gay”-“marriage” Catholic politicians in NY (a la the Al Smith Dinner) and doing nothing to quell or chastise Gov. Cuomo et al. for actions that fly in the face of their commitment to Christ let alone the Catholic Church of whcih they profess–with impunity–to be members and communicants in good standing.

                    Like our own bishops, let us pray for those in the RCC that they–and we–will have the be more and more conformed to the image of Christ and committed to His yoke and its ramifications in the way we live together in His likeness. This necessarily entails upholding and living according to the moral law which is barometer and measure of that likeness.

                    lxc

                    lxc

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                • lexcaritas says:

                  Thanks for letting us know, CQ,that you frequent bars and know how drunks on barstools pontificate. Some of us don’t. By the way it’s pretty hard to follow some of your own writing.

                  Aas for George’s facts, some of us can also testify to the accuracy of some of them since we still remember the 50’s and early 60’s before the world began turning updside down.

                  Obviously, not evertying George says is factual. Sometime rhetorical hyperbole is acceptable to make a point.

                  Most, if not all, of us agree with your statement that Jesus Christ comes first and is to be our first love. I know that George loves him. All of us are subject to being waylaid by our passions and fall short of perfection. Forgive me, a sinner.

                  lxc

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              • nit picker says:

                Mr. Michalopoulos,

                They liberalized divorce laws, made abortion legal, made our streets unsafe for kids to play outside all day (funny, there was no problem of childhood obesity back then),

                Come to think of it, not only did we play outside all day, we played outside well into the night as well during the summer time. We would siesta in the blistering summer heat. When the sun would start to go down and all the neighbors would start to bring out their lawn chairs and pitchers of ice tea and lemonade. That’s when all the kids would come out of the wood work too. Games of tag, hide-n-seek, street hockey, stick ball, and touch football until some times 3 am. Good memories. There was only one obese kid on our block. He was the victim of second hand smoke and chronic asthma. He couldn’t keep up with the rest of us. Just about everyone is gone from the old neighborhood almost 50 years later – died or moved away. My last trip there I didn’t see any kids outside playing at any time. It was sad.

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              • Nate Trost says:

                You cite a fact (the tax burden of your parents when they got married) of dubious veracity, and make an assertion (the working class have been crushed by the ratcheting of an ever increasing federal tax burden) that doesn’t hold up to a moments scrutiny of a couple tax forms and when called on it you invoke the spirit of Mark Twain?

                Mr. Clemens was not a man who suffered fools kindly. If he observed you opening your mouth and spouting such balderdash when you could have spent two minutes taking advantage of the miracles of our modern technological age to fact-check yourself, he wouldn’t be repeating the quote you posted. He would be verbally eviscerating you and wearing your guts for garters.

                If things are so good because of our present tax regime, then why is marriage at an all-time low?

                Except, of course, no one made a judgement that things are “so good” because of our present tax regime. You were asserting our federal tax regime was progressively crushing the working class and was a direct driver in the development of dual working parent households. When it is patiently pointed out to you that under our current tax regime, what we might consider “working class families” are commonly paying 0% of their income in federal income tax, you boldly proclaim you deal in reality while simultaneously doubling down on statements that have no basis in reality. Unless, of course, you were actually asking a serious question because you realized you in fact actually had no clue. But that’s not the impression one draws from the tone of your opening paragraph.

                I believe it is worthwhile to examine why marriage has declined as an institution in the United States. Although, when doing so, one thing that is immediately apparent is that this decline is not uniform in rate across socioeconomic categories. For example, looking at some figures from one Pew study, in 1960 there was only a four-point gap between marriage rates in college graduates and high school or less (76%/72%), in 2008 that had opened to a 16 point gap (64%/48%). The decline is most pronounced in the lower-income portion of the population we might consider “working class”. But, as I think has been amply demonstrated to you at this point, one of the factors we can discount in this current era is federal income tax burden at those low levels of income.

                There has been *no* shortage of ink spilled over studies and wonkery exploring the marriage decline in the poorer sections of our society. However, educating yourself on the influencing factors, perverse incentives and overlapping contributions to the phenomenon would require you to actually learn from people whose politics you disagree, instead of continuing to sit in your cozy partisan bubble of pat simplistic assertions. Given what you wrote next, I’m a little skeptical of your ability to do so.

                When my dad jumped ship in New Orleans and took a bus to T-Town, he was a callow, young 23 year old.

                Your personal family anecdote basically seems to boil down to: In the age your parents got married (70? 60?) years ago, there was enough economic demand for manual unskilled labor that your father, despite a lack of higher education was able to find employment that provided enough income to provide basic support for a family in a single-income household. And that the underlying society you grew up in had upward social mobility for the offspring of that economic class.

                Do you now ANY 25 year olds today who get married, expect to stay married, and strive against all odds to make a go of it? I don’t.

                I do. Our anecdata and anti-anecdata collide!

                It is relatively uncontroversial, I think, to state that due to the advancement of technology the demand for uneducated unskilled labor ain’t what it used to be. All the wailing about illegal immigrants in the world isn’t going to uninvent the ISO intermodal container. And as we progress, the process just continues, and increases the skill bar for remaining ‘blue collar’ jobs, and even begins to winnow out white-collar ‘middle-class’ jobs. Anyone born in the last 30 years is likely to live to see the end of long-haul trucker as a profession: there will come a point where it is not only more economically efficient but also safer to standardize on autonomous rigs. And on the logistical support end, a reduced number of highly skilled workers overseeing expert systems replace a previously much larger human headcount. At some point you may want to periodically reflect to yourself: do I still have a job because I’m less expensive than the capital costs for a significantly advanced automated dispensing system (achieving a lower statistical operational error rate than a human), a smartphone app and customer support call-center in India? Or is it because I belong to the rent-seeking analogue to a professional guild fighting a rearguard action wielding government regulation to protect my economic interests?

                These are big serious issues confronting society, but it isn’t where you go:

                Instead, the present tax regime punishes thrift

                Citation needed

                has forced women into the workforce (like my wife)

                If you are going to keep asserting this, you need to do a better job of backing it up.

                desegregation destroyed the inner-city public schools, drove young marrieds to the suburbs (white flight –you got a problem with that take it up with them), and made it mandatory that our children have to go to college even if they don’t want to.

                Wow, just, wow. The amazing thing is, there is a very salient tangent specifically related to the African-American population of the US in regards to what you had previously touched upon above: the plight of the modern “working class” in America. But, you did not bring up the history of the evolution and decline of the urban industrial environment of the US in the mid-20th century and its effect on the African-American working class who frequently occupied the bottom rung of that ladder. Instead of pointing to them as the proverbial canary in the coal mine for long-term processes that came to engulf the wider “working class” as a whole, with similar creeping economic, social and cultural effects previously experienced by the African-American community, you wrote….that. And I’m sorry, I don’t know your inner heart and you may not intend to come across as thunderously racist, but whatever your intentions, that pretty much comes across as “and then the blacks got mixed in, ruined the cities, and screwed up the white working class”.

                Rather than teaching young girls home-ec and the boys shop

                In the era where your parents got married, it really didn’t matter how intelligent or gifted a woman was: by and large she wasn’t going to be permitted to have a profession that would pay more than a man got for doing menial unskilled labor. Because she lacked a penis. I do not believe that was a good thing. You may disagree.

                Despite the fact that we still deal with gender wage disparities, we now live in an era where a good-hearted family-minded man of average intelligence and a good-hearted family-minded woman of greater intelligence and better career prospects can meet and fall in love and start a family with the option of inverting “traditional” domestic roles. I believe that is a good thing. You may disagree.

                our betters thought that that was sexist and it was better to teach them how to put condoms on cucumbers

                What a ludicrous statement. K-12 is 13 years, and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 56,160,000 seconds of classroom time. Of those 56 million seconds, it takes *perhaps* 120 seconds to use a functionally appropriate prop to demonstrate important operational nuances of one of the most widely used devices in human history. As a headline complaint for the shortcomings and failures of the modern American educational system, it’s just silly. If we had repeated the lesson 450,000 times to fill the majority of their primary educational experience I suppose you might have a point. Although amusingly, I don’t think even that level of relentless monotony would eliminate teenage sexual escapades.

                I will admit to having a Screwdriver while writing last night

                I am heartily in favor of consuming vodka while composing posts. Of course, in my case, when doing so, it is usually to facilitate wading through a dozen different open browser tabs and pdf documents of primary source data from relevant government and private sector reporting agencies and assorted higher-level analysis of said data from as many sources as I can get my mitts on. To each their own.

                Case in point: I was working Memorial Day and an alien came into the pharmacy I was working at with a bleeding and blackened thumb. He worked at a famous fast-food chain which shall remain nameless. He asked in broken English what could be done, I said “go immediately to a minor ER. You need a tetanus shot and probably stitches.” He replied: “My boss no want me to go.”

                That’s the reality on the ground. That’s what we’re dealing with. That’s what the crony capitalist Oligarchy wants more of. In the past, his job would have been taken by a young American and because of no competition, that young American would have been more justly compensated.

                I beg to differ, your crony capitalist oligarchy cover all the bases: even if the immigrants magically disappeared tomorrow, it’s not like there aren’t coordinated state-level initiatives to undo 20th century labor gains in employee protections and also ensure the twitching corpse of private sector unions fail to rise again. Instead of an alien (which, broken English or no, seems a presumption on your part), you’d still be faced with, depending on region, a hispanic, caucasian or african-american American with no health insurance making the wage your alien was making, plus or minus fifty cents. And even though he was legal, if he had the audacity to file a workers comp claim, he’d be fired, with a host of previously-logged utterly trivial infractions brought up to make it ‘for cause’, to lock them out of making an unemployment claim which would negatively affect the owning entities rates. And, of course, the state labor board is toothless and if the limited liability corporation controlling that particular franchise was habitually naughty enough, they might someday get a letter stating disapproval with the potential of trivial fines several years down the road if they had to send more disapproving letters. As the talented Charlie Pierce likes to say: this is your democracy America. Cherish it.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Lots to chew on. Basically I think it’s a matter of perspective. I imagine I’m older than you (as is Lexcaritas). Believe me, it’s a different world. Do I know young people who’ve gotten married? Yes, a few. Do I know a lot of 30-somethings who’ve never been married and are still living with Mom and Dad? Quite a few. Anecdote + Anecdote = Data.

                  Rather than bore you and others with data, I’d direct you to anything that Charles Murray has written, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, and of course Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The picture is vastly darker and has only gotten worse since 1965.

                  Here’s a depressing number that confirms societal and familial collapse: the illegitimacy rate. 36% whites, 53% for Hispanics, and 78% for blacks. And this with a legal abortion regime that exterminates 1/3 of all pregnancies and of which 2/3 are black. Mind you, the rich are getting –and staying married. The poor, the working class, and even the middle class are lagging behind in this metric, significantly more so the lower the income quintile. The result? the stratification of American society into a class system. Unlike the British class system, one could be poor and still be a nobleman since it was just a matter of heredity.

                  More anecdotes about the unmarriagabity and economic desirability of young men (at least from a young woman’s perspective)? Talk to your female coworkers who are under 35 years old. Because of the nature of my job, I work with a lot of young women –at least 60 different women throughout a typical workweek. Two are married, the rest are single, one is a bona-fide widow, all except three have children. Besides the assorted drama that is attendant with young, single people, I have to put up with absenteeism because of sick kids. I’ll stop there.

                  So what happened in 1965? Ted Kennedy’s open-borders act, Medicare, the growth of the Leviathan state, the liberalization of divorce and abortion laws (state-by-state I’ll grant you), Griswold v Connecticut which legalized contraceptives, the Miranda ruling and subsequent growth in criminal’s rights, an unpopular war which radicalized the young and delegitimized the old order, the subornation of the mainstream churches, Catholic seminaries lowering the bar for admission and flouting canonical law, etc.

                  I’m at a loss to understand what you mean about my critique about the K-12 education system (which I believe is imploding). My grandfather, who was a Greek peasant, received a rudimentary public education back in the 1900s, the first of his family to do so. His education (in Greek mind you) enabled him to balance his checkbook to the penny (something I can’t do to this day). His orthographic skills rivaled Jefferson’s. Because of his native abilities together with his education and gumption, he was able to operate a series of diners in Oklahoma from the 20s to the 60s, to raise a family, contribute to society as well as his church. He started his career as a young man under thirty, when most young men of acquaintance are busy playing Halo 3.

                  As for women lacking penises, all I can say is that Freud was right: anatomy is destiny. The vast majority of upscale women who have a degree and a profession, they are also married. Many have taken early retirement or only work part-time. (My profession is now overwhelmingly female, I work 55+ hours a week because my female colleagues take more time off.) Do I desire a regime in which women are not educated? No. Do I desire a regime in which women are not productive? I challenge your meaning of that word. The most productive, the most important profession in the world is that of Mother. Christ Himself did not fall out of the sky fully formed from the head of Yahweh but was born of a woman. A good woman who taught Him right from wrong. And He had a father on earth who supported Jesus’ mother and fed and clothed her and Him. He taught Him a trade so that He could support His mother. What more noble actions can any two human beings, male and female do that this? Make a bigger sale of widgets? Argue successfully before the Supreme Court? Get a bigger plasma TV?

                  You are right about technology having some displacement for unskilled workers but believe it or not, we have not yet achieved some Alpha-state of superiority in which we aren’t tied to nature. Plumbers, mechanics, technicians of all kind are needed. Manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas unfortunately but both Parties and labor unions are to blame for this.

                  As for your assertion that the disappearance of illegal aliens would still leave us with ill-paid whites and American blacks, that’s simply balderdash. If that were so then Cesar Chavez wouldn’t have worked overtime manning the Border turning in illegal aliens. He knew what he was doing and it worked. The one fundamental law of economics is Supply and Demand. The less you have of something, the more expensive it is.

                  Thank you for your approval of my choice of drink. I can now tell my wife that Monomakhos is a symposium (syn + posein/drinking together).

                  Thank you for your interest in my blog. I very enjoy the give-and-take. Your arguments certainly sharpen my mind.

                  Cheers! one and all!

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              • George,
                My husband and I married while still in college at 20 & 21 respectively, with the expectation of staying married, and we HAVE strived against all odds to make it work. All of my roommates married during college, or just after graduation, as well. Everyone of them is still married. 2 out of my 3 sisters married before the age of 25. They are also still married. None of us are “wealthy.”

                I have supported my husband’s military career (and 9 lengthy deployments), always made our house a home, and have been a stay-at-home Mother since the day we brought our child home from the hospital. Although not all of my roommates or sisters have chosen to be a full-time stay-at-home parent, they have ALL found a way to maximize their time in the home. In some cases, their husbands have stayed home while they worked. In two case, the spouses worked separate shifts so that one of them was always at home with the kids. In a third case, both spouses do work full-time jobs, but it is the HUSBAND who takes days off if their school-age children get sick…his job pays less. (Maybe there’s a female co-worker just as disgruntled at him as you are with your “sick” day co-workers!).

                I have, according to your comment, grown up during a time that forced me to go to college, has punished my thriftiness, and during which a cucumber & condom display morally corrupted & confused my young mind! Oh, and I got to take “shop” (which I chose) instead of home-ec (which I honestly would have loathed) This must have thoroughly confused my traditional, moral compass, right? : )

                HA! Shop taught me how to use a jig-saw and how to make common household repairs. This has served me EXTRAORDINARILY well during my husband’s deployments, and Tbh, has sometimes helped even when he’s home! As for the cucumber, it really didn’t effect me one way or the other. The Christian teachings and moral expectations I was raised with through the Church and the guidance of my parents were not weakened, to be sure, due to one, possibly 10 minute, birth control lesson.

                Was the Church silent during all of this? Not for me it wasn’t, not for any of us that were growing up within the Orthodox faith. Currently, does the Church need to broaden its sphere of influence to work outside the confines of its own congregation? How do we do that, while still maintaining small, local churches? How do we avoid having an Orthodox Church turn into a well-meaning, but wrongly focused, Protestant “mega-church?…so.heavily focused on outreach, activities, camps, new & innovative “feeling-based” services, clubs, membership drives, political ties, social cliques, WWJD, etc….that they forget WHY they are in church to begin with?
                All of that probably deserves an entire article or commentary. But, it also deserves a writer that can do the subject much more justice than I can.

                All I can offer you, in rebuttal to your commentary, is the examples above. Young, Christian, married couples that really don’t seem all that different from the story you’ve told about your own Mom & Dad.

                PS. I’m not sure where you live, but my daughter’s recent summers have been spent bicycling, swimming, cooking out, camping out, building “forts” and playing capture the flag, with neighborhood kids long after dark!

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Saunca, as a Conservative, I know that life is more complicated than black-and-white. To my mind, your husband sounds like a lucky man. I have nothing against women doing manly things like hunting, otherwise I wouldn’t have been smitten by La Palin. My point about education was that at one time public schools actually tried to promote life-skills for their young charges. Would you have loathed Home-Ec? Well, I loathed Math. It wasn’t my choice, if I couldn’t do Math I wouldn’t be able to support my family today.

                  My rant was painted in broad brushstrokes. Marriage is not extinct it’s just not a priority nor is it all that secure. A 40% illegitimacy rate overall makes my point. What also makes my point is that under the previous tax regimes the illegitimacy rate was less than 10%. Why? Because personal morality prevented women from getting pregnant just to get a Welfare check. The very idea that this could even happen was unthought by the FDR administration which created “pay relief.” Read what FDR said about Welfare, how he likened it to a narcotic which would entrap the recipient in a cycle of addiction. if a Republican said the same thing today he’d be hounded out of office.

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                  • George,
                    I don’t think we are in disagreement regarding welfare and the negative impact it’s had on women/children, for the very reasons you discussed.

                    Where we begin to diverge in opinion is when you lump welfare evils in with the advanced education available today for women and make a sweeping statement that you do not know even one example of a young, traditional, conservative, Christian married couple! I don’t think your looking nearly hard enough.

                    Also, reference home-ec: Unlike high school math, one can absolutely thrive, prosper and support her/his family without home-ec. If you can read & write, and have a high school background in math, you can run a household. That’s NOT to say that being a stay-at-home Mom & Wife isn’t hard. It’s just that cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, changing sheets, changing a diaper, nursing, grocery shopping on a budget, hemming a dress/sewing a button, balancing a checkbook, running a vacuum….is not rocket-science. In fact, sometimes it’s mind-numbingly boring! On the other hand, if I had not chosen Shop as an elective, I likely would have graduated HS and College having never operated an electric saw or any other power tool, never having opened and looked at the inside if a light socket or under the hood of my car, never having welded and, in general, would have had such a poor understanding of the safety involved in all of the above to ever be of use to my family in any of these areas. (if the need arose)

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                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      Saunca, you’re right in the ideal. Most of us need training in these regards (Shop, Home-Ec) because otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten it at home. More to the point, I’m not in favor of compulsory education.

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  5. Mike Novak says:

    I stopped reading after this sentence, “They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions.”

    This is the problem. If they are not coming because they have found the fullness of the faith and true worship, they are wasting their time, and those who baptize them, well I am not ever sure where to go with that thought.

    SIGH!!!!!!

    And a second thought, albeit without much reflection: the other problem manifest in this essay is Father does not allow that it is absolutely necessary for one newly received into the church the time to be seasoned in the life that is the Orthodox Church. “Becoming Orthodox” is not just finding the umbrella which will cover one’s moral needs; it is not just the new stump from which to “make America________” (fill in the blank).

    Simply stated: all of this is just missing the point all over the place.

    SIGH!!!!

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    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      I stopped reading after this sentence, “They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions.”

      This is the problem. If they are not coming because they have found the fullness of the faith and true worship, they are wasting their time, and those who baptize them, well I am not ever sure where to go with that thought.

      Mike, think this through. One does not negate the other. The moral relativism and the shallow theological traditions are what compel the search for something more true and enduring.

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      • mike novak says:

        well duh! of course moral relativism, shallow traditions etc may compel one to search for Christ and His Church. And it is in Christ and His Church were that search ends. Not in a religious organisation which meets ones criteria for what a ‘church’ should be. And please tell me why there needs to be anything more than Christ and His Church. Are you seriously telling me that the world is going to prevail against Christ and His Church. Are progressives in the Church ( please note I have not doubted they exist – they do and we must be mindful of false teachings – ahem Boston) but are you seriously going to tell me that some I types N like G those A not named here are going to prevail against the Church.

        Nothing will prevail against Christ and his Church: well except maybe this

        Friends, all of you who seem to have plenty of time on your hands: do a survey of the clergy with whom you are friends on FB; follow on Twitter; or read in Comboxes of blogs. Tally how many of their posts are sharing the Word of God and how many are talking about abortion, progressive orthodoxy, gay marriage, gay rights, gay anything. I dare say the ratio would not go down well at the “dread judgement seat of Christ”.

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        • Ivan Vasiliev says:

          So, who is the dude priest on the bike? Does he really ride fully vested for the Holy Liturgy? And why would he publish such a picture for all the world to see?
          I’m a bit confused. Are you holding this image up as one that demonstrates the meaning of the words in the quotes (i.e. the emptiness and silliness of the clergy) or as one of a modern with it type of preacher and evangelist? Or, is this some sort of Orthodox zen koan? If it is the last, then I appreciate it. If it is any of the former, then it seems only to demonstrate the confusion and triviality of so much of how we Orthodox “communicate” with the world around us. We don’t know how to fit in so we give mixed messages. We try to sound like “conservatives” or “progressives” or what have you. Our leaders give answers to important questions that confuse our youth and lend themselves to almost any sort of interpretation. Why not stick with the plain and simple teachings of the Church and the plain and simple appeals to God’s mercy on sinners among whom we ALL are first?

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  6. Mike Novak says:

    “If words no longer mean anything, then we are lost. Distinct differences exist between Progressive, Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative and Christian ideas. You’d do well to study up on them. Your freedom, and that of your chidren, depends on it.”

    OMG who are you people. My freedom depends on the battle Christ won on the Cross and through his decent into hades, and on my willingness to take up my own cross and follow Christ.

    Nothing more, nothing less. LIke the wise elder at Holy Trinity/St Sergius Lavra once told Fr Tom Hopko, “the world is evil; cry and ask forgiveness for your sins; and have a piece of chocolate (in other words enjoy life).”

    or, equally, as Elder Sophrony put it, to paraphrase; always live on the edge of despair, take a look over that edge and see how dire and fruitless despair is, and sit back and have a cup of tea.

    In short Father et al; lets get Christ back at the center of our lives, take up his victories as ours.

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    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

      Mike Novak says:

      “LIke the wise elder at Holy Trinity/St Sergius Lavra once told Fr Tom Hopko, ‘the world is evil; cry and ask forgiveness for your sins; and have a piece of chocolate (in other words enjoy life).’ ”

      I think Fr. Hopko has had too much damn chocolate. If only we could cut off his chocolate supply until he gets around to recanting of his lending critical aid to the coup against +Met. Jonah.

      “OMG who are you people. My freedom depends on the battle Christ won on the Cross and through his decent into hades, and on my willingness to take up my own cross and follow Christ.

      “Nothing more, nothing less.”

      Yeah, well, be careful, you’ll or you could end up prey to liberal/progessive theologians who will lead you into rebellion against Christ while claiming to still be following Christ and leading you into greater freedom in Christ. The below is the type of Heterodox “theologian” that progressive theologians inside the OCA/SVS invite to lecture them about Orthodox Christianity from their own podiums (such as was the absurd case with the “honorary druid” Archbishop Rowan Williams at the 2010 Schmemann Memorial Lecture).

      http://www.christianpost.com/news/episcopal-leader-claims-st-paul-of-tarsus-curing-of-demon-possessed-girl-was-wrong-96465/

      The head of the Episcopal Church [the American branch of the Anglican Communion that Rowan Williams is head of] has garnered outrage from some in the Anglican Communion over her claim that St. Paul of Tarsus’ curing of a demon-possessed slave girl as described in the Bible was wrong.

      In a sermon delivered before the Diocese of Venezuela on the island nation of Curaçao, Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said that by driving the demon out of her Paul was “depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness.”

      “Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness,” said Jefferts Schori.

      “Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!”

      The passage that Jefferts Schori was preaching can be found in the Book of Acts, chapter 16. The chapter provides an account of some of the mission Paul of Tarsus did in the early church.

      In the incident described in Acts 16, Paul cures a slave girl of a demon that had given the girl the ability to fortune-tell and made money for her masters.

      Archbishop in waiting becomes druid (flashback to 2002)

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1403657/Archbishop-in-waiting-becomes-druid.html

      The next Archbishop of Canterbury was inducted as an honorary white druid yesterday at an open-air ceremony in Wales reminiscent of a scene from a Monty Python sketch.

      Dr Rowan Williams, dismissing suggestions that he was dabbling in paganism, joined blue-hooded druids ranked behind a golden harp to be admitted into the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards.

      A trumpet fanfare and a 6ft sword being sheathed and unsheathed launched the ceremony at the National Eisteddfod in St David’s, Pembrokeshire. Dr Williams, standing in a circle of stones, wore a long white cloak and headdress.

      As he accepted the honour, he clutched the hands of Dr Robyn Lewyes, the chief druid of Wales, between microphones entwined with ivy.

      Archbishop in row over talk for gay clergy (flashback to 2002):

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1400581/Archbishop-in-row-over-talk-for-gay-clergy.html

      The leading contender to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury has agreed to address a conference organised by gay rights groups within the Church of England. His decision will infuriate traditionalists.

      The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Rev Rowan Williams, has agreed to attend the conference even if he is chosen as a successor to Dr George Carey. It would make him the first Archbishop of Canterbury to address publicly such an event. The disclosure could exacerbate already deep divisions within the Church over homosexuality.

      Opponents of Dr Williams, who are convinced that he wants to relax the ban on active homosexuals joining the clergy, reacted angrily to his decision yesterday and the news is likely to cloud tomorrow’s session of the General Synod in York.

      Dr Williams is the first senior bishop to agree to attend such a conference. He has been a long-standing critic of the Church’s stance on homosexuality.

      Last year he told The Telegraph that a new study of the Bible would not necessarily support a ban on homosexual partnerships. He said: “I think that the Church should find a way of saying to Christian homosexuals that it is OK to talk about this without instantly thinking you are going to be under a cloud.”

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      • Patrick Henry Reardon says:

        Ladder of Divine Ascent writes, “I think Fr. Hopko has had too much damn chocolate.”

        I wonder what St. John Climacus would have to say about a sneering public comment like this.

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        • nit picker says:

          St. John Climacus probably would have agreed and sent Fr. Thomas Hopko for some time of prayer and repentance at the monastery referred to as the “prison” in the Ladder of Divine Ascent.

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    • Macedoniandeacon says:

      OMG who are you people. My freedom depends on the battle Christ won on the Cross and through his decent into hades, and on my willingness to take up my own cross and follow Christ.

      We’re the former silent majority.

      The freedom Christ provides is in our ability to find ourselves in Him; to see Him. To see Him means to see the world through the Cross. When you do this, it is impossible to overlook the reality on the ground. I grant you that we shouldn’t be engulfed by politics or social issues and that the focus should be internal. And I am the first that will admit I need more humility – but my good man, Hesychasm isn’t somewhere you go to run and hide from the world, it prepares you for the world and beyond.

      Buck up – we need you. Enough with the theatrics.

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    • Mike:

      Of course, we place our ultimate reliance upon God, but being a Christian does not absolve us from knowing what is going on around us. Surely we’re participants in the world. I’m not aware of anything in Orthodox Theology that suggests Christians should sit passively, mindful of evil, yet allowing it to go unchallenged. Christ was mindful of evil, and we should be as well.

      And stop with the “you people.” You do not possess a higher morality.

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      Mr Novak, nobody here is saying that we shouldn’t keep our eyes on Christ. He is the be-all and end-all of our existence as perfected beings. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have jobs, vote, pay taxes, help the poor, right injustices, etc. I believe it was St James who condemned those who saw beggars and said “friend, I’ll pray for you.”

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  7. There’s an irony here that among Orthodox outside the United States, the free market is almost universally (and for that matter correctly) viewed as an engine of negative social change and so the only people you’ll find supporting Acton-style libertarian capitalism, which is at its core deeply anti-family, are those who also have less-than-traditional views on sexual morality and abortion…. The more ‘traditionalist’ one is, outside of the American bubble, the more opposed to capitalism one is, viewing it as a Protestant heresy, if not simply an elaborate form of theft. Examples:

    Fr. Vsevolod Chaplin (chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society), “The society living only for the sake of mundane interests of individuals is bound for failure, and capitalism will fall in a few coming decades in just the same way as communism and Nazism fell in their due course.”

    Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, ” Of course, there may be baptised Orthodox who are discerned in their lives by the Protestant morality and the spirit of Capitalism, and who belong to the category of the people analysed by Max Weber. These however are not genuine Orthodox Christians; they are not permeated by the atmosphere of Orthodox Tradition [...] Orthodoxy bears no relation to Protestant ethics or to the spirit of Capitalism.”

    Fr. Touma (Bitar) (Abbot of the Monastery of St Silouan, Douma, Lebanon), “No law has the right to protect those who accumulate those good things for themselves when they have no immediate need for them. Rather, it protects those who meet their need from anyone preventing them from doing so! The theif is the one whose cupboard is full while the hungry are outside, unable to find anything with which to assuage their hunger! This is the one that the law must prosecute, seize everything in excess of his needs, give it to those who have a right to it, and punish him! True law opens the storehouses of the monopolists so that the needy may eat freely. It does not protect the merchants whose concern is to hoard gold that they have acquired through selling that which in principle belongs to those who go starving and are shivering outside in the cold! The law that protects the wealthy against the widow, the strong against the weak, those clothed in silk against the naked, is a savage law, devoted to human savageness!”

    One could go on and on from similarly traditionalist voices…

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    • macedoniandeacon says:

      Action-libertarianism is “anti-family

      Now I believe I have heard everything.

      None of the quotes you provided deal with a free market system – if anything they are speaking out against a crony-captialism or even socialism.

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    • John Couretas says:

      The real irony is that you’ve quoted clerics with no discernible understanding of economics on economic matters. Perhaps they could spend more time studying how things are going today in Russia, Syria and Greece, three of the most broken, corrupt countries in the world. Do a little digging here in the 2012 Corruptions Perception index to see how these countries are viewed by their own people, compared to the United States. Makes you proud to be Orthodox and “traditional” doesn’t it.

      Also see Oil, gas, and the Russian petro-gas state: Q&A with Leon Aron over at AEI. Obviously, no one in Russia is engaging in “capitalism.” What about this, from today’s WSJ Energy Journal?:

      A new player is about to enter the North American energy game, as a man once described as the “last pillar of no-holds-barred Russian capitalism” prepares to flex his vast financial muscles in North America. Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridmanis one of the few businessmen-beneficiaries of post-Soviet largesse still successfully plying his trade. He hasn’t gone down the route of lavish spending on a trophy asset as Roman Abramovich has, or seen the inside of a jail cell like Mikhail Khodorkovsky, or gone into self-imposed exile like Boris Berezovsky. Now Mr. Fridman is to reinvest some proceeds from the $14 billion his Alfa Group conglomerate got from the sale of its stake in TNK-BP Holding. He has set up a new oil and gas investment company and as The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon reports, this new venture may even tap into the North American oil boom.

      Nope, nothing but “traditionalists” in Russia today. All shunning the “heresies” of those Protestant capitalists.

      Any idea what the youth unemployment rate is today in Greece? Or where those youth who are desperately trying to get out are headed? I’m thinking it’s probably not Syria or Russia. More likely the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Why is that? Does the Greek metropolitan have an answer for that?

      Also, please do not make representations about the Acton Institute without doing some simple fact checking. You could start with the Acton Core Principles under these headings:

      Dignity of the Person
      Social Nature of the Person
      Importance of Social Institutions
      Human Action
      Sin
      Rule of Law and the Subsidiary Role of Government
      Creation of Wealth
      Economic Liberty
      Economic Value
      Priority of Culture

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        John, (sarcasm on) What you clearly don’t understand is that is all due to the world-wide corruption spread by the United States and the evil heretic Protestants (sarcasm off).

        That being said, there is much licentiousness and hedonism in the United States culture which is, in part, the consequences of the heretic faith and philosophy on which we were founded. A faith and philosophy which does not easily fit with the Church and her teachings and shouldn’t.

        Still, neither did the pagan Greeks and yet, look what the Church was able to do in taking what was good, true and beautiful there and refining it.

        Seems to me we can do the same with what is good, true and beautiful in the culture and political economy of the west. Merely to shout “UNCLEAN” and try to hang a bell around our neck is beneath the Church.

        We are the tax collectors, Roman procurators and lepers of the world. I get that. We need the Church even more.

        With the ascendancy of secularism and the nihilism at its base, the Church has the best time ever to do the work of evangelization, healing and restoration she has ever had here. Instead, I see a continuing retreat from the, admittedly formidable, task laid at our doorstep.

        “Rouse yourself crying, Holy, Holy, Holy are Thou oh Lord, through the Theotokos, have mercy on us.”

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Samn!, these comments are simply saying that merchants are greedy. That is not the fault of the system. Greed, cruelty, theft, corruption and oppression will exist in any economy.

      Markets exist in all forms of economy. People trade goods and services in every form of economy. There are poor and hungry and dying for lack of basic needs in every form of economy. There is no such thing as an economy without markets. The question is how and to what extent they should be regulated and by whom.

      Let’s say you grow vegetables and are quite good at it. Your neighbor also grows vegetables but his are not as good either through poorer husbandry or poorer land, lack of water, etc. You each take you goods to the market to trade and sell. Who, everything being equal is going to come away with better results?

      Is it your contention that the better farmer should then be forced to give some of his gains to the poorer farmer? What about the scripture that a workman is worthy of his hire? What about the scripture “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

      Certainly, in the community the poorer farmer should be taken care of it he works his butt off but is still unable to produce enough for his needs, but charity is not charity if it is forced. It is no longer a virtue.

      Even in a primitive barter economy there are markets. Even in tribal barter economies there are people who do not have anything to trade (goods or skills) and have difficulty surviving. Not all tribal societies took care of those people unless they could fight.

      Monastery’s conduct trade in markets. All trade, to exist, has to have a market. In all economies there are people who are lazy and cannot support themselves.

      All other things being equal, which is better markets that allow for trade that is free, open and fair or markets that are rigged for the few. Capitalism supports the former. All other actual systems of which I am aware, past and present, support the latter.

      All that is being said by the people you quote is that when money and wealth come into play, greed and selfishness do to. DUH! What a revelation and how astute they are to notice.

      I also see more than a little envy and thwarted will in these statements. “They (whoever “they” are) aren’t doing what I think is right so they are evil” Also the comments are more than a little reflexively anti-western. Just another form of ethnocentrism that discourages actual evangelization and the planting of the Church in the west. We are simply too heathen to bother with. That is what I hear from these quotes.

      What actual system is better, name one: Communism; socialism; mercantilism; feudalism; fascism; theocracy; other; which?

      They are ascribing all of the economic ills that exist to capitalism. That simply is not true.

      While there is much truth in what is said in the statements you quote: they are not talking about capitalism..

      Today’s economic system, often called crony or global capitalism, has little to do with capitalism at all. It is essentially fascist.

      Besides, there is also no such thing as a free market anywhere in the world that I know of. All markets are regulated.

      The question is by whom and by what principles they are regulated. No Christian I know believes that totally unregulated markets are a good idea because of the basic human problems with greed, covetousness and selfishness. There is nothing in capitalism that prevents a Christian people from developing, promulgating and enforcing Christian regulations that help temper vices and protect people. In fact, the history of the United States is replete with such attempts and some successes.

      Monopolies are inherently non-capitalist. They are however a big part of every other economic system that I know except distributionism which is totally theoretical.

      St. Paul says that the God given authority of the state is to prevent and punish evil and wrong doing. So it should be in economics. However when the state gets involved, at some point the greed, selfishness and lust for power takes over and confiscatory tax policies; the creation of a dependency class which can be easily manipulated for political gain and regulations that are simply for the profit of the state itself and the favored few in the oligarchy are enforced. That is what we have now.

      That is not capitalism. Capitalism is not a zero-sum approach to the use and trade of resources. Every other system I have studied is including the global fascism we are suffering under now. Capitalism inherently allows for the multiplication of resources through giving and receiving many fold more. Of course, selfishness often short-circuits the process. Zero-sum economics promotes warfare because it assumes that there is one defined pie and “I must get my share.” It is not the relatively free market in which everyone has access to resources and the ability to trade them that promotes war. It is the artificial restriction of markets by cartels and monopolies that does so.

      Again I repeat: The question is who regulates, what should the regulations cover, to whose benefit should they be, and how much regulation should there be.

      No where I know of does God force us to be people of virtue. He lays out the rules, tells us how we need to act if we want to be close to Him and also describes the consequences of our failure to abide by those principles. He even sent His Son to model the way and open the way for us. His mercy tempers the consequences and His grace enables the virtue. So should it be in an economy. Christian tempered capitalism does that. No state controlled economy that I have ever studied does.

      The best tools available, IMO, for coming closer to the type of economy we all want are relatively simply in concept, difficult to apply: tough anti-trust laws that are consistently and fairly enforced plus tough anti-fraud laws also consistently and fairly enforced. But for any of these to work, the populace has to care and be working to retain both the sense of the sacred and Godly virtue. They also have to have trust in one another. When those are abandoned, all of society, including the economy, becomes corrupt and abusive.

      Are these things even a whisper of a reality in state run economies? Certainly they are not evident in Greece. They certainly do not exist in Islam or under communism. They have developed only in the evil capitalist world to my knowledge.

      The anti-trust laws have fallen out of favor as our economy has become more state centered and global. Fraud laws are not applied consistently. Laws that protect people and control the safety of the workplace, wages paid and hours worked are products of the Christian conscience at work in a capitalist system, but even those are being abused to punish virtue these days. Still, they do not exist in any other economic system, past or present, of which I am aware. Do you know of any?

      The ultimate solution is for each of us to realize that I don’t have any money, God provides. That is perhaps the place where capitalism can actually be criticized: the understanding of ‘private property’ rather than accepting and using the bounty of God’s creation for the benefit of all. Stewardship rather than ownership. How can that be regulated? Even the Biblical Jews never adhered to the concept of the Jubilee that I know of. If they did, it did not last long. Correct me if I am wrong. As I read history, actual stewardship is a personal responsibility within the community and is not done well if one person is not responsible for it.

      Even in the best system there will be inequities, there will be poor, there will be the lazy and incompetent. We can only do so much to rectify these inequities (more that we do, for sure) but there is a limit because we are sinful. But to whom does the responsibility fall for taking care of those who, for whatever reason, are unable to care for themselves?

      The problem is not an economic one, it is a spiritual one, it is one of virtue and a sacramental life. It does the Church no good to preach for or against a specific form of economy. What the Church needs to do is concentrate on spiritual formation of both the people and the communities in which we worship while pointing out abuses in the world AND suggesting alternatives that are better. That is what I see Acton attempting to do.

      I will only say that gifts we are given can best be used in a Christian manner with less rather than more state interference. None of us, the Church nor the state should micro-manage. The people in the market should be given full and free access knowing that they are protected against abuse even abuse from the state and other ‘big guys’. That is the essence of free markets.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        OK, a negative vote but no answer to my questions or attempt the address the content of my post.

        The main questions:

        Is it your contention that the better farmer should then be forced to give some of his gains to the poorer farmer? What about the scripture that a workman is worthy of his hire? What about the scripture “if you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

        What actual system is better, name one: Communism; socialism; mercantilism; feudalism; fascism; theocracy; other; which?

        Again I repeat: The question is who regulates, what should the regulations cover, to whose benefit should they be, and how much regulation should there be.

        The ultimate solution is for each of us to realize that I don’t have any money, God provides. That is perhaps the place where capitalism can actually be criticized: the understanding of ‘private property’ rather than accepting and using the bounty of God’s creation for the benefit of all. Stewardship rather than ownership. How can that be regulated? Even the Biblical Jews never adhered to the concept of the Jubilee that I know of. If they did, it did not last long. Correct me if I am wrong. As I read history, actual stewardship is a personal responsibility within the community and is not done well if one person is not responsible for it.

        The anti-trust laws have fallen out of favor as our economy has become more state centered and global. Fraud laws are not applied consistently. Laws that protect people and control the safety of the workplace, wages paid and hours worked are products of the Christian conscience at work in a capitalist system, but even those are being abused to punish virtue these days. Still, they do not exist in any other economic system, past or present, of which I am aware. Do you know of any?

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Peter, it would not surprise me. In the end I tend to believe Hamlet: If it be now, ’tis not to come, if it is not to come, it will be now, if it be not now, yet it will come. The readiness is all.

        If we follow Christ, we are free. He will provide.

        Many sober people seem to be coming to the same conclusion as you.

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          I’m afraid you’re onto something there Peter. I was shocked that during the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing how all internet usage was switched off. I didn’t think that something like that was possible.

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          • Nate Trost says:

            You’re going to have to explain what you mean by “all internet usage was switched off.” Cellular networks faltered under intense load, and there were erroneous reports that law enforcement had ordered shutdown of the networks, but it wasn’t actually something that happened.

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        • nit picker says:

          Widespread surveillance cameras were put into place prior to the Olympics in Athens for “security”. They are still in place. In addition there is the reality of Greece and Cyprus’ financial collapse, even though other terminology is being used to disguise what has happened and what is continuing to happen. Your wife is one smart cookie Peter.

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          • Someone in this thread made a comment about Distributivism (aka Distributionism & Distributism). I think we might find that we could place all of the economic views of the Orthodox clergy quoted more or less under the rubric of Distributivism. As the commenter stated, this system has never really been tried. As a “third way” between Capitalism and Socialism, yet with a nod to the concerns of both systems (upholding private property, encouraging widespread sharing in access to the means of production and hence wealth creation, subordination of the economy to man’s physical and spiritual needs) it might well hold promise of the post-Capitalist/post-Socialist economic future. Not only Orthodox, but also of course traditional Roman Catholics and traditional Protestants like Luther could be regarded as Distributivist in their economic principles. This is an area where the Church might yet shine a light into the darkness created by the failure of both Capitalism and Socialism. No tbeing American, I don’t know much about the Acton Institute, but would their principles be incongruent with the principles of Distributivism?

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            • John Couretas says:

              Last year, Joe Gorra at the Evangelical Philosophical Society interviewed Kishore Jayabalan, Acton’s Rome office director, on this subject. You can access the entire interview at the link.

              Is Distributism a Viable ‘Third Way': An Interview with Kishore Jayabalan
              http://blog.epsociety.org/2012/06/economic-theory-of-distributism-is.html

              Distributists seem to also be surfacing questions about what is the best way to protect individual liberty and private property.

              Jayabalan: Distributists tend to argue that mass industrial capitalism eventually gives way to socialism, and that only a properly “distributist” model can prevent monopolies and concentrations of power. They must, however, rely on state power to keep economies from becoming too “large”, to keep things “small” or “local.” Whether this prevents, rather than encourages, the growth of State power is the big question.

              At this year’s Acton University, which wrapped up last night, David Deavel lectured on distributism. I’m hopeful we’ll have the audio of that posted soon.

              Distributism: Theory and Critique
              http://university.acton.org/course/distributism-theory-and-critique

              We’ve put all of the downloadable lectures from last year’s AU on sale for 50 cents (including the Orthodox lectures).
              http://sites.fastspring.com/acton/product/actonuniversity2012

              And lectures from Day 1 and Day 2 for AU2013 (Day 3 on the way) are marked down to 99 cents.
              http://sites.fastspring.com/acton/product/actonuniversity2013

              Take a look at the very broad scope of lecture topics. This year we had more than 800 attendees at AU from 85 countries — and many young people. Very encouraging.

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              • George Michalopulos says:

                John, you all at Acton deserve much praise and prayers from us for the yeoman-like work you do. Keep it up Bro’!

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              • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                Is Distributism the same thing as Distributionism, that Hillaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton were on about, a few years back? (Haven’t read the links….)

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  I’d like to know a little more about it myself. In the end, no economic system will work well if the moral underpinnings of society are in the dumpster (like they are today).

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            • nit picker says:

              Maybe I don’t understand the concept very well (so please excuse me if I have misunderstood what has been described), but distributism reminds me of the system exercised by cenobitic monastic communities. In addition the goods collected by cenobitic monastic communities are distributed not only within the communities themselves but are also distributed to the local surrounding communities. People bring their excess goods to the monastery and the monasteries distribute to whoever is in need. In Greece the Orthodox Church has also had a program going where offered free cooked meals. Individuals didn’t have to provide paperwork or proof of hardship. They just needed to show up and eat.

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          • George Michalopulos says:

            Peter, you’re onto something.

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    • lexcaritas says:

      Samn!, I don’t think you understand Fr. Sirrico and the Action Institute at first hand. Neither he nor it is in any way anti-family or anti-small family owned business and a truly free market, nor does he or it favor croney capitalism or what we see run amock in America today. In other words, Acton Institute and the holy men you cite, may not be as far apart as you suggest. I can love and hear them all.

      lxc

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        Totally agreed. Anybody who thinks that traditionalist conservatives are “anti-family” has got rocks in his head.

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      • Archpriest John Morris says:

        One of the major problems that we must face is distinguishing between those who truly need help and cannot help themselves, and welfare fraud. Too many perfectly healthy people who could work collect welfare and money from other government financed programs. When we have welfare system that motivates young teen age girls to get pregnant so they can live off of welfare and do not have to work, we need radical reform. No where does Our Lord teach us that those of us who work and pay taxes have to allow ourselves to be exploited by a welfare system that is filled with fraud that allows people to live off of the labor of others while they themselves do not work. Theft is wrong. Welfare fraud is a form of theft. If we do not do something, we will very quickly become a society in which a small number of us work to support those who live off of “gaming” the system instead of honest labor. Eventually, this welfare system will bankrupt our country, especially since there are politicians who get elected by promising to keep the benefits flowing to the parasites who refuse to work for a living.

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    • Gods of the Copybook Headings says:

      Although I agree with Mr. Bauman’s economic critiques of the clerics that Samn! cites, Mr. Bauman, macedoniandeacon, and lexcaritas seem to be shooting the messenger a bit. I took Samn!’s main point to be reminding us that Old World Orthodox have very different views from many American Orthodox on economic matters. It behooves us to know about those views, and we should thank Samn! for bringing them to our attention, even if we disagree with them..

      As for whether “libertarian capitalism” is anti-family, let’s leave aside the ad hominem attack on Acton and approach the question from the opposite direction. Wouldn’t a pro-family economic system be one that rewards marital fertility and good parenting? Isn’t it true that only agrarianism has ever achieved that feat and that every post-agrarian Western economic system has paid people, especially women, increasing amounts of money not to have children?

      Under agrarianism, having and properly raising children was an act with positive economic expectancy for the parents. In crass terms, parents got their money out of their children. Children provided free labor for more than a decade before getting married in their mid-to-late teens. There was little or no out-of-pocket cost for schooling. The children then cared for their aged parents when the latter became too infirm to continue working. Under this arrangement, faithful children were a great economic blessing, and barrenness was a calamitous curse. The entire Old Testament takes this worldview for granted.

      Industrialization raised productivity so much that most child labor could be dispensed with by law. Then corporate pensions and old-age entitlements made having children irrelevant to old-age financial security. All of the economic return to the parents from their “human capital” investment in children was thus obliterated.

      While industrialization eliminated the economic benefit to parents of having children, the post-industrial economy has drastically raised the cost to parents of having children. The “knowledge economy” requires much longer, and much more expensive, educational investments, so that children are now routinely financially dependent on their parents well into their 20s. The direct cost of raising a child from birth through a bachelor’s degree now exceeds $300,000. The indirect costs are even higher. The replacement of corporate pensions with defined-contribution retirement schemes means that children are now a threat to the old-age financial security of their parents. If you have a child, and especially if you have several, the money that “should” go to the 401(k) account gets diverted to braces, bicycles, and ballet lessons. The anti-fertility incentive is particuarly powerful for women, who are at their most fertile when the power of compound interest is at its most potent. A dollar contributed to a retirement account in one’s 20s is worth much more than a dollar contributed in one’s 40s. This is why contraception and abortion are cornerstones of the post-industrial economy. The Old World Orthodox have perceived at least this much correctly.

      The results of this economic order can be seen in the below-replacement fertility rates that prevail throughout the industrialized world. The overall U.S. fertility rate has hovered around replacement, but that’s largely attributable to immigrants and the underclass. The fertility rate for college-educated white women in the U.S. is 1.6. That’s no better than much of Europe and the reason that deaths already exceed births among non-Hispanic whites in the U.S.

      One more thing: If a society’s economic order incentivizes and rewards sterility, non-procreative forms of sexual indulgence will proliferate. Phenomena that are routinely and rightly bemoaned on this forum, from the Super Bowl halftime show to the social normalization of homosexuality, are not unrelated to the fact that, all else being equal, being childless will leave one hundreds of thousands of dollars wealthier in old age. It is not irrational of the Old World Orthodox to call that “anti-family.”

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      • One more thing: If a society’s economic order incentivizes and rewards sterility, non-procreative forms of sexual indulgence will proliferate. …. It is not irrational of the Old World Orthodox to call that “anti-family.”

        This is of the better observations about family and economics I’ve read here.

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      • Michael Bauman says:

        Copybook; Yes, you are correct. It is utiltarian industrialization that is both anti-human and anti-family. The question is whether industrialization and captialism are so tied together as to be one. They need not be, IMO.

        We have not even begun to deal with the effects of the industrial economy and we are hit with the cyber challenge, a further potential de-humanization and atomization. The cyborg is a genuine possiblity and being touted as a good idea.

        From a utiltarian economics, it is not inconceivable that human beings will have no economic role at all in the not too distant future.

        At some point we will have to say NO to “progress” because from a material, utilitarian standpoint, we will be worthless. We have to purposefully be less utilitarian, less industrial, less digital.

        As Fr. Hans and others have noted frequently, the challenge for the Church at this time is anthropological. What is a human being and what is our reason for existing and what should that existence look like.

        It may very well become as monastic hermits, the few of us who are left.

        Lord Jesus come!

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        • John Couretas says:

          Copybook: Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m not so sure that agrarianism was as charming as we might think, viewing it through the rear view mirror. My family in Greece were all agrarians. They left Greece for Australia, Canada and the United States because they didn’t care to work in the fields for the remainder of their lives. If we’re talking about a modernized agrarianism, with electricity, sanitation systems, central heating, tractors, threshers, combines, etc., then we’re back where we started.

          As for how “Old World Orthodoxy” understands economics, I’m not so sure that it’s so Old World anymore. I wonder if the ghost of Max Weber has been prowling around the Holy Mountain of late … I wonder what the Met. of Nafpaktos has to say about this:

          Vatopedi linked to €4bn loss in Cypriot bank takeover

          EnetEnglish/Eleftherotypia (Tuesday 18 June 2013 )

          Cypriot inquiry hears how Mt Athos monastery played role in financial collapse of Marfin Popular Bank

          The former president of the parliamentary inquiry into the Vatopedi landswap scandal in Greece hands Cypriot investigators details of the Mr Athos monastery’s involvement in non-perfoming loans which contributed to the collapse of Marfin Popular Bank and subsequent €4bn cost to the Cypriot state

          The loss of €4bn due to the collapse of Marfin Popular Bank and its re-emergence as largely state-owned Laiki Bank in Cyprus has been blamed in part due to non-performing loans from Greece’s Vatopedi monastery.

          After a closed-door meeting in Cyprus’ parliament, the president of the committee investigating the country’s near financial collapse and subsequent bailout, Dimitris Syllouris, referred to non-perfmorning loans of the Mt Athos monastery.

          “There has to be a very deep and wide investigation because it is indeed a very large scandal, which has cost the Cypriot banking system, and involves monasteries and companies registered in Cyprus,” Syllouris said.

          [ ... ]

          Last year, a special report by Reuters, headlined ‘How a Greek bank infected Cyprus’, detailed how Marfin Popular Bank was a major lender to the Vatopedi monastery, which received swathes of prime state-owned land across Greecein return for less valuable land that it owned.

          Monks at the Vatopedi monastery, in turn, bought shares in Marfin Investment Group (MIG), owned by Andreas Vgenopoulos. That year MIG lost €1.8bn, the biggest ever for a Greek company to that point.

          A Greek parliamentary inquiry in 2010 alleged serious “conflicts of interest” in how bank loans were issued to finance MIG’s wider activities.

          “A special inquiry on Vatopedi heard the monks spent €30m they borrowed from Marfin bank, the monastery’s biggest lender, to buy shares in the MIG rights issue, plus another €42m in other investment schemes with MIG or its associates,” the Reuters report said.

          It added: “The monks were also major players on the stock market and received €109m euros in loans from Marfin bank.”

          Tsironis is quoted in the report as saying: “All the loans for shares were granted extraordinarily advantageous terms to the borrowers thanks to the close ties between MIG and Marfin. And it created a special credit risk that should have been spelled out publicly.”

          Special Report: How a Greek bank infected Cyprus
          ATHENS/NICOSSIA | Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:08am EDT

          (Reuters) – Like many Greek tycoons these days, Andreas Vgenopoulos is in trouble.

          The self-made businessman built one of Greece’s leading corporate empires over the past two decades. Among its jewels was a major bank in the nearby Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus. Then it all started to unravel.

          In 2010, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), the firm Vgenopoulos managed which has stakes in everything from privatized national carrier Olympic Air to food giant Vivartia, lost 1.8 billion euros ($2.2 billion). The loss, largely made up of write-downs on goodwill, was the biggest ever for a Greek company to that point. There is a joke in Athens that MIG’s initials stand for “Money Is Gone.”

          More >>> http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/13/us-greece-marfin-idUSBRE85C0M920120613

          Vatopedi land swap scandal ‘cost Cyprus 4 bln euros’ (18 Jun, 2013)
          eKathimerini

          The Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos, which was embroiled in a huge land swap scandal that emerged in 2008, has been linked to losses of some 4 billion euros for the Cypriot banking system from non-performing loans issued by Marfin Popular Bank, according to figures provided to a parliamentary committee in Nicosia by former Greek MP Dimitris Tsironis, who served as head of the parliamentary committee that investigated the case.

          more >>> http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_18/06/2013_504671

          Ephraim allowed to leave Athos for medical treatment (7 Aug, 2012)

          The key suspect in the controversial land swap involving the Vatopedi Monastery, Abbot Ephraim, was granted permission on Tuesday by a council of appeals court judges to leave the monastic community for medical treatment. Ephraim was released on bail from Korydallos Prison earlier this year but was barred from leaving Mount Athos. Since his arrest last December on charges of money laundering and embezzlement, the abbot had repeatedly appealed for his release on the grounds of ill health.

          http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_07/08/2012_455942

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          • Copybook Headings says:

            Mr. Couretas,

            Thank you for your reply. We agree: Agrarianism most certainly was not “charming.” It demanded harder labor than most of us can imagine, let alone perform. (My back wouldn’t last a day!) It brought frequent famine and pestilence. If someone born into it prior to the industrial revolution desired a different life, that desire was almost certain to go unfulfilled. I wasn’t suggesting that we could or should go back to it. (A program of compulsory agrarianism tends to involve killing a lot of people, as the Cambodians can attest.) My only point was that, under agrarianism, child-bearing and -rearing was an economically rational act. It’s now an extravagantly irrational act from a strictly financial standpoint. Although I know of no one who has realistic suggestions for how to change that, surely we can acknowledge this much: An economic system that heaps a high six-figure subsidy upon sterility (and therefore upon debauchery) can justly be called “anti-family.”

            As for corruption among the Old World Orthodox, I deplore it as much as you do. Surely, however, we commit the genetic fallacy if we dismiss their critique of our economic system based solely upon their corruption. If Bernie Madoff were to warn a child against drinking anti-freeze, his corruption would have no bearing on the toxicity of ethylene glycol. An economic system that pays people this much not to have children is the demographic equivalent of Jonestown Kool-Aid. Monastic fraud doesn’t change that.

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            • George Michalopulos says:

              Well said. John, if I may, you and I came from agrarian backgrounds in Greece where the toil was endless and largely unproductive. Agrarianism in America was significantly different. Greece’s soil is hardscrabble, mountainous, and not all that arable. The situation in North America was far different and the US could easily support tens of millions of people living as familial/agricultural units.

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            • John Couretas says:

              Copybook: Point taken. We should also be aware that as family size declines, we run the risk of a demographic spiral that would be very difficult to reverse. Which will make our spending on social welfare very difficult to sustain.

              George: I wouldn’t have a problem if tens of millions of people went back to “familial” farming. You might be [cough, cough] mature enough to remember the Foxfire books. I’m sure you and I would agree though that this movement would have to be voluntary. That’s the trick.

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              • Michael Bauman says:

                The economics of farming these days make such a “return to the land” nearly impossible. I have a friend in Minnesota who loves the land, loves farming, grew up on a farm but cannot really make ends meet as a farmer even with the help of her father nearby. Little market for her goods. Costs too high. Land too “valuable” for “development” . It is too convenient to go to the SUPERMARKET and buy produce from Mexico and who knows where and its “cheaper” And you can get stuff any time of year. Kinda like buying books on Amazon rather than Eighth Day Books.

                Hilly land in arid western Kansas where the Ogallala Aquifer is being drained dry to irrigate wheat, increasingly hybridized and genetically engineered (and don’t let them find you with a stalk of the stuff on you land that’s not registered, they’ll sue you into extinction) is going for over $1000 an acre.

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                • George Michalopulos says:

                  However pending a complete societal collapse (and this includes infrastructure like an EMP bomb going off), then once society recollects itself, farming with a little hunting and fishing thrown in, will restructure traditional familial structures.

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      • lexcaritas says:

        GCH,

        i couldn’t agree more.

        Craftsmanship, agrarianism (a la Wendell Berry ) and distriubtism (a la G. K. Chesternon and Hillaire Belloc)–the widespread ownership of real property–and the wisdom of the “Old World Orthodox” cited by you and Samn! should be heeded. The numbers are growing, but remain a tiny, tiny minority.

        Meanwhile, as our brother Peter has said the paradigm of socialism (government control of business) versus capitalsim (business conrol of government) remains a false opposition: in either case it is an elite in control.

        lxc

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    • George Michalopulos says:

      What you describe is not free-market capitalism but crony capitalism, the capitalism that makes common cause with tyrannies like Armand Hammer (USSR) and Joe Kennedy (Nazi Germany). The ability of people to freely engage in normal economic tropes is not anti-Christian or even un-Christian.

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      • George Michalopulos says:

        I was going back-and-forth on whether I should print this, because I have tremendous respect for all three men you quote. However Abbot Touma’s analysis is nothing short of unfortunate. In fact, it’s abominable.
        It is nothing less than the way of Marxism as seen through the prism of Stalin and Mao. I’m sorry, 100 million people slaughtered is not Christian. Does he not know about the Holodomyr in Ukraine, where 7 million peasants were starved into submission because they had two goats and a plot of land? Abomination is too soft a word.

        Does he really mean it? Then he should sell all the brass and gold implements in his monastery and give the proceeds to the poor.

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  8. cynthia curran says:

    How is Richard Nixon that created the EPA, did some affirmative action even if he pushed a southerner on the supreme court and did wage and price controls a Right Wing nut, you must be pretty far to the left to consider Nixon that conservative. I think though the problem on the social issues is this. There use to be more liberal Democratic against abortion or gay marriage. Personality, I think the way the country is now is to do the Rand Paul idea which is to lead it up to the states. So, Southern States have strict abortion laws while liberal states don’t. Liberal states can marry gays but churches should not be required. The main problem is philosophical and most Christians don’t believe what they did around 1930 when everyone had the same moral view whether he is protestant or Orthodox or Roman Catholic in the US>

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    • lexcaritas says:

      Right on, Cynthia. Richard Nixon was no constitutional conservative. He simply played to that constituency to keep them in his camp. And as for the Democratic party, yes there was a day when it was staunchly pro-family (which would imply being pro-life, pro-marriage as a life-long bond between a husband and his wife surrounded by their children. It was also once strongly agragrian and pro-subsidiarity–“states rights” and the reserved rights of the people and was aganst tariffs and other Federal revenue measures and a national banking system–but that was before the Progressives took over under Wilson with the direct election of Senators, the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve System. Then, came the Great Depression and the WWII after which Washington DC was transformed from a small town to a growing metropolis and center of power and growing influence to dispense funds to the favored political classes and interest groups and the Great Society and interfentions like the faile effort in Vietnam in which our Democratic Catholic President is said to have actually approved in the assassination of the Catholic Diem. it breaks one’s heart. This is not the America that we had been taught to honor and had hoped to love. It would be better to keep Christ and His commandments first and follow Him come what may, wouldn’t it?

      lxc

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  9. cynthia curran says:

    On the immigration Law George I agree with you, its a messed of a bill. I think Republicans not only like to support business with cheaper labor but the illegal immigrant population is so high that in some parts of the US labor shortages would occur to Republican thinking. Also, school districts in the southwest would lose lots of money and Landlords would have to lower the rent between $200 to $300 if people were serious about dealing with the 30 year old problem of illegal immigration. Instead George W Bush wanted guest worker programs continuously , no matter if your in Rand Paul’s state that still has lots of the native born do maid’s work or California where maids are many times in the US illegality.

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  10. Nate Trost says:

    Only in the fevered mind of the conspiracy theorist is such a clip some kind of proof of conspiracy. On July 17, 1996, the primary fear in the Situation Room would have been that Flight 800 was the victim of a bombing because of the initial information on the incident: ATC lost the transponder without the flight crew even having a chance to declare an in-flight emergency and the captain of another nearby 737 reported seeing an explosion at 16,000 feet.

    Reporting from New York City on 9/11 while things are still burning in the background, flashing back to the visceral recollection of previous events, including the Oklahoma City bombing, it is not in fact terribly surprising that in the moment George Stephanopoulos would say something like “Flight 800 bombing” when drawing on an emotional memory of the day in question. Glancing at his bio, it would appear he was still a senior White House staffer during both events.

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    • Michael Bauman says:

      Hamlet’s contemplation on the timing of things has always seemed to me to be in harmony with our Lord’s words in Matthew 24:32-44

      32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it[a] is near—at the doors! 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
      36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[b] but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[c] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

      The question is “What does it mean to be ready?”

      My reading and understanding of the Biblical instruction is summed up in the words: Watch and pray.

      Being ‘watchful” in Orthodox thought and teaching is definitely not about following the news, but entails a much deeper and higher level of attentiveness to our own soul and its desire for the created things and being more concerned about others than ourselves.

      Praying is for repentance and for the coming of the Kingdom.

      So as tempting as it may be to “stock up” that is an ultimately fruitless strategy. Unless one is Bill Gates or Warren Buffet there is simply no amount of ‘stocking up’ that will be adequate and they won’t have to.
      Gold or silver as a medium of exchange in times of catastrophe also will be of little value. Barter of goods and services that are actually needful for survival will be a better currency.

      Finally, I think perhaps we should heed our Lord’s words in John 16:33:

      These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

      Giving glory to God for all things and may He bring us into His Kingdom now and in the fullness of time.

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      • nit picker says:

        Giving glory to God for all things and may He bring us into His Kingdom now and in the fullness of time.

        Amen!!

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  11. BOO HOO BABS says:

    Poor Babs and his Voices. He relies on his so-called “cabinet” for intel, but his intel is not so good and never very accurate. Here is his latest screed on +Jonah…….

    http://02varvara.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/21-june-2013-rumblings-about-jps-monastery/

    Now here is where Babs gets it wrong again.

    1. The proposed monastery he screams about is no where near DC. It would be located in southern rural Maryland. Babs, get a map out for cryn’ out loud.

    2. The OCA is in a financial downturn, no new news there, but here is where Babs is out to lunch, the OCA has no problem with +Jonah starting a monastery but they won’t lift a finger to help and certainly won’t send a penny to support it. When was the last time the OCA ever helped one of its monasteries, even St. TIkhon’s Monastery with a basket full of cash? If the monastery would ever begin it would be paid for by supporters of the monastery not the OCA.

    3. The real intel that Babs knows nothing about is in fact that the monastery location that +Jonah and his supporters were looking at went to a higher bidder, so that location is gone. I guess Babs never got that memo from Harrisburg.

    Come on Babs, if you can’t get this straight do you really think people can give your rantings any cred? Folks read your rag for amusement not real news or insight.

    Just another day at the funny farm known as Voices from Russia. Can’t wait for his next no news “cabinet’ update.

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  12. Dude is confused says:

    Stan the man doesn’t understand why Takoma Park moved to Montgomery County as gay coupled transvestites usually have little interest in school systems.

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  13. cynthia curran says:

    copybook: Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I’m not so sure that agrarianism was as charming as we might think, viewing it through the rear view mirror. My family in Greece were all agrarians. They left Greece for Australia, Canada and the United States because they didn’t care to work in the fields for the remainder of their lives. If we’re talking about a modernized agrarianism, with electricity, sanitation systems, central heating, tractors, threshers, combines, etc., then we’re back where we started.

    As for how “Old World Orthodoxy” understands economics, I’m not so sure that it’s so Old World anymore. I wonder if the ghost of Max Weber has been prowling around the Holy Mountain of late … I wonder what the Met. of Nafpaktos has to say about this:

    Well, John immigration in today’s US is based upon if you have a relative in the US which of course would favor Mexico, China, the Philippines and so forth. Canada I believe is no longer in the top ten. Greeks have to go to EU Countries like Germany now not the US.

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  14. cyntha curran says:

    Frank Schaeffer’s fervide keynotes bookended the May 23-25 Trafficking in America conference in Nashville, Tennessee. Over 200 people from federal government agencies, non-profits and local churches attended the annual three-day event.

    The left-leaning son of L’Abri founder Francis and Edit Schaeffer was quick to list his bona fides as a Huffington Post and New York Times best-selling author, as well as an occasional guest on Fox News. While disclosing his liberal bent, Schaeffer reached toward the center in his appeal to combat human trafficking. “This is an issue that I think holds out hope in an odd way… it’s one of those few things that [liberals and conservatives] can agree on,” Schaeffer asserted.
    This is great that Frank is working on the human Traffick movement, I think the emperor Leo had the first laws against prostution.

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  15. 4 Recent Signs of the Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Church

    1) The National Herald endorses same sex marriage:
    http://www.thenationalherald.com/article/59768

    2) The Official Child Protection Coordinator of the Greek Archdiocese publishes an essay on the official youth ministry blog of the GOA basically say that the Church’s ministeries have caused gay people to commit suicide and become addicted to drugs. These cries out for a response. Who is this guy?
    http://orthodoxyouthministry.blogspot.com/2013/06/throwing-stones.html

    3) Meet Pistol Pete, Greek Orthodox Stripper. He doesn’t take bookings past 11:00 PM on a Saturday Night because he goes to Church
    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/my-biggest-sin-is-creating-lustful-eyes-meet-stripper-pistol-pete-20130524-2k4r7.html

    4) Meanwhile the assembly of bishops has issued no statement on marriage, the Church and Society Commission continues not to meet but hey there is a time for an Orthodox Comic Book Convention http://www.doxacon.org/’

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    • philippa says:

      At our priest’s request, I called the parish’s insurance company to inquire into liability coverage if a homosexual couple, who gets turned down for a church marriage, decides to sue him and the parish. The agent said, “Well, you don’t have to conduct a marriage if you don’t want to.”

      Me: “Really?”

      Agent: “Why sure.”

      Me: “What if an inter-racial couple wanted to get married in our parish and the priest said no and they decided it was discrimination, would we be covered? What if one person was orange and the other person was neon pink striped and the priest said no and they decided to sue because they felt discriminated against? Are we covered?”

      Agent: “Oh. Well, I hadn’t thought of that.”

      Me: “How are those questions any different than with a homosexual couple?”

      Agent: “That’s a new question I’ve never encountered. I’ll have to check with the underwriting department and get back to you.”

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      • Nate Trost says:

        I think you need a new agent.

        The answer is no: a church cannot be forced to marry an interracial couple. Loving v. Virginia merely meant the states couldn’t prohibit interracial marriages. They are rare at this point, but churches that prohibit interracial marriages between their members and won’t perform them still exist.

        What if one person was orange and the other person was neon pink striped

        Still no. The triviality is irrelevant. Divorced? Not Catholic? Pastor doesn’t like the tattoos on the groom and thinks he looks like a dumbass? The church in question doesn’t have to marry those people. Seriously people, it isn’t like we don’t have a couple centuries of Free Exercise clause precedent here…

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        • George Michalopulos says:

          “Can’t be forced to…” and “won’t be forced to…” are two different things, aren’t they?

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          • Nate Trost says:

            “Won’t be forced to” implies there is no actual prohibition against compelling behavior, the lack of such compulsion is itself a voluntary choice. “Can’t be forced to” implies actual prohibition against compelling behavior. I used the words cannot be forced due to that whole matter of the Free Exercise clause of the Constitution.

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        • Nate Trost says:

          That depends on whether a church decides to run a facility as a religious institution or as a business. If your church only conducts marriages among members of its faith, no, nobody is going to be able to strong-arm their way in and force the use of the facility.

          Now, if a church is basically operating a banquet hall business on the side, and is not restricting events according to membership in the church, that is a voluntary decision on the part of the church that can have legal consequences. In that situation, my sympathy is severely limited and even less so if the members of said church start hand-wringing about fiscal necessities. Because in such situations, I suspect more likely than not, the members of said church would rather see the church engage in tawdry commercial activity than, you know, actually properly supporting the life of the church through the faithful giving of tithes and offerings. But I’m sure people giving 0.005% of their incomes is probably the fault of “homosexual activists”…

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