Will Arida’s “Studied Ambiguity” Lead OCA into Schism?

robert-aridaFr. Robert Arida has been busy. He’s penned another manifesto and went after Your Humble Servant.

First Monomakhos. Arida claims copyright over his Wonder Blog essay. No problem there. But after republishing his essay here, Arida went after our web host who shut us down for about 25 minutes until the offending essay was removed.

Strange. The essay was fine for a ‘youth blog’ but not okay for adults. It means, I think, that even though Syosset was able to return to its secularist/humanist mindset with the removal of Metropolitan Jonah, they’ve lost control of the narrative. The temporary taking down of this blog by Arida shows desperation, not confidence.

Getting back to his original essay, Arida wrote “All history is destined for the future” which in fact is revolutionary Marxist-Hegelian idea. Orthodoxy doesn’t see history in service to revolutionary ideas — and the moral sanctioning of sodomy is a revolutionary idea.

This explains why any discussion with Arida about the language of the moral tradition will be impossible until his presuppositions about how the tradition functions in the Church are first examined.

In the meantime, the essay is still posted on Arida’s Holy Trinity site so you might want to download and save a copy before he tries to scrub history altogether.

Arrogance dulls perception and we know the Arida-Syosset crew is arrogant. But how arrogant are they? Arida’s new essay “How to Expand the Mission” posted on the Holy Trinity site was written to ready the OCA for the All-American Council. But how should the OCA be readied? Has Syosset learned anything?

Consider these two paragraphs (considered fair use) where Arida writes that the Church must…

…expand its mind and heart. The task is formidable for it demands a reassessment of how to speak and act in a culture that, while infused with religious pluralism, continues to turn a critical eye towards Christianity. By no means is the Orthodox Church in America spared this public scrutiny. In spite of our small numbers, our Church has assumed a noticeable posture in the public square that varies little from that of Christian fundamentalists.

And then this:

If the Church is to “expand its mission” it can no longer turn away from, ignore or condemn questions and issues that are a priori presumed to contradict or challenge its living tradition. Among the most controversial of these issues are those related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, and care for the environment. If the Church is to “expand its mission” then, in and through the Holy Spirit, it must be able to expand the understanding of itself and of the world it lives in.

Sound familiar? Arida and his enablers are the visionaries. Those who maintain the moral tradition are knuckle dragging troglodytes.

Critics of Monomakhos shout from the roof tops that Arida did not say the things we claim he says. In a sense they are right. ‘Studied ambiguity’ is Arida’s stock in trade and it allows Arida and his enablers to deny the obvious trajectory of their ideas.

No wonder they hated +Jonah. He called them on it early. Now we understand why they needed to destroy his reputation with the Stinkbomb letter.

Arida needs to be called out by the Bishops to explain what he really means by “human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life.” Be specific Father about how you want to change the moral tradition.

In the meantime look to his behavior as rector of Holy Trinity Cathedral until he comes clean. What he does is the template for what he means.

Arida and Syosset tried to sneak their secularist fueled ideas about sodomy through the back door on the Wonder Blog. They were shouted down. Now they want to use the All American Council for another try.

Bishops, where are you? It’s becoming ever more evident that Arida and his enablers in Syosset (and elsewhere) are prepping the battle-space for the upcoming All-American Council next year. If they succeed in doing so — even if they don’t win decisively — they will still have won, especially if these teachings get a thorough sounding and no censure.

At that point, the OCA will be in schism for all practical purposes. Why? Because liberal priests like Arida will continue what they do while traditionalists are put in the untenable position of communing with those who flout the plain teaching of the Church.

I imagine that this latest kerfuffle is the last thing the OCA needs right in the middle of the Syosset delegations “pilgrimage” to Russia. (Sources tell me it’s more a trip to the woodshed than a meeting of two co-equal primates.) Be that as it may, the only way to avoid this unpleasant scenario from being played out is to censure Arida — immediately and decisively.

Taking down his essay from the OCA Wonder blog site is not enough. Neither was Metropolitan Tikhon’s tepid rebuttal satisfactory (which was authored by Fr. John Jillions). Otherwise we are left with more confirmation that ever since the unjust removal of +Jonah, the OCA is incapable of doing anything resolute.

Doing nothing solves no problems. It only makes them worse.

Comments

  1. If the Church is to “expand its mission” it can no longer turn away from, ignore or condemn questions and issues that are a priori presumed to contradict or challenge its living tradition.

    We do not need to “presume” that the “question and issue” of homosexual practice contradict’s the Church’s living tradition. We know for a fact that it does.

    If the Church is to “expand its mission” then, in and through the Holy Spirit, it must be able to expand the understanding of itself and of the world it lives in.

    The Church understands itself and the world perfectly well, and far better than Fr. Arida does.

    This man needs to be disciplined immediately and severely.

  2. Ah, so now I know who to blame. I had composed a comment of staggering brilliance, in which all questions were answered — Michael S. and Michalopulos would have joined chorus in rejoicing without division or confusion.

    I was Coleridge and had written my Kubla Khan, sans opium. But alas, Arida was my person from Porlock, with the added perfidy of causing me to lose not just my train of thought, but the entire magnum opus.

    My only consolation is that the Orthodox blogosphere will never know just how close we came to pravoslavnic amity, comity, and unity. I must bear that burden of sorrowing grief alone in my personal cyber-desert.

  3. Salemlemko says:

    Mommie mommie, Fr. Robert is a meanie!!!!

    By now, everyone has copies of his copyrighted work, i myself, sent it to divines in Greece, Japan, China and Western Europe. The moment Arida moves this to a legal event, his own acts will become part of the record, as the walk of the living dead come forth and testify. Ouch!

  4. What is being done about this?!

    What action has been taken?!

    • Fr. John Whiteford says:

      It would appear that nothing is being done, and they intend to do nothing.

      • No, they do not intend to do anything, it is clear. Certainly not in a timely fashion. As I have said before, the real question is what faithful members of the OCA will do. The people in charge believe they can wait this out. And as Dr. Stankovich has pointed out, they are right. He points out all the “demands” that were made on thus forum in years past — none came to be, and yet now we have a different line being drawn in the sand.

        The fact is that once these sorts of politicians have decided to do politics and play church, the only thing they understand is hardball politics — and that means numbers, membership and dollars. If you don’t starve the beast, it will continue to live and thrive.

        • There is a horrible sickness infecting the world – that sickness is liberalism. And that sickness is infecting Orthodoxy, too. The cure? Ruthless surgery. Cut it out, root and branch. The heresy (yes, I said “heresy) of Arida (and other clergy with his beliefs) must be addressed seriously and comprehensively. Arida and other clergy with his beliefs need to be defrocked, and excommunicated. While there is always the possibility of forgiveness, their attempt to destroy (yes, destroy) the Orthodox Church must be addressed. These people are not worthy (ANAXIOS) to serve God at His Altar.

          “And if a Priest hath been ordained at this same Liturgy, the Bishop now biddeth him to draw near, and taking the Holy Bread, and breaking the portion XC from the top thereof, where the cross is, he giveth it to him, saying:
          “Receive thou this pledge, and preserve it whole and unharmed until thy last breath, because thou shalt be held to an accounting therefor in the second and terrible Coming of our great Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” ~~ Isabel Hapgood, Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic (Greco-Russian) Church

          The OCA must take heed of this.

          • Sue Simpson says:

            Elizabeth:

            You say, “There is a horrible sickness infecting the world – that sickness is liberalism.” I say, “There is a horrible sickness infecting the world – that sickness is CONSERVATISM.” Liberals don’t start WARS, conservatives do. Conservatives are PARANOID, RIGHT-WINGERS who want to enforce their will upon the world. The Nazi’s were right-wing, conservative nuts. ISIS are right-wing, conservative nuts. Putin & the ROC are right-wing, conservative nuts. Homosexuality isn’t limited to “liberals.” In fact, some of the biggest homosexuals are and were CONSERVATIVES. J. Edgar Hoover; Hitler was Bi; Alexander the Great; etc. Idiots who insist on strict rules and regulations are like the Pharisees of old who Christ condemned. Christ insisted that we are save by how much we “LOVE” our neighbor not rules & regulations. Should we show empathy and love to those in sin or do we condemn them and cast them out? Exactly who are YOU to judge a priest or bishop who uses his “pastoral” authority in a parish without knowing the truth?

            • George Michalopulos says:

              Since when don’t Liberals start wars? Wilson, FDR, Truman, LBJ. (I’d put Lincoln and Cromwell in this category as they were definitely Progressives.) Hitler was a Socialist, not a right-winger. Read the economic principles of the NSDAP as laid out in their party’s platform –they are indistinguishable from the Bolsheviks in many areas.

              Other left-wingers who started wars: Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev, the Spanish Republicans, the list goes on and on.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                George, you’re not Humpty Dumpty. Words don’t mean what you say they mean, just because you say it.

                To call Lincoln a “progressive” is not only a total anachronism, it deprives the word of any real meaning at all. To use only one of your “examples”.

                The emptying of words of their meaning is one of the curses of the contemporary West.

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Tim, you’re right, it’s hard to retcon modern labels on men who lived centuries ago. But in the grand scheme of things, Cromwell was a man of the Left if we consider what he did and how he governed. With Lincoln it’s a little bit more dicey except in this sense: the totalitarian project would be impossible to undertake in the absence of a centralized nation-state.

                  The Constitution ideally precludes such a thing from taking place given the fact that its original governing premise was that sovereign states would lend authority to the Federal government. As such, I’m guardedly optimistic that as our society continues to crumble, the various states will start exercising their original authority at the expense of the Federal government. Cautiously optimistic mind you. Certain nationalistic elements –Social Security, SSDI, Medicare, Obamacare–would have to be dismantled.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                    George, these sorts of disputes could go on and on, but I think phrases like “the grand scheme of things” don’t stand up to real scrutiny.

                    At the very least, “Left” and “Right” are extremely dubious labels to apply to anything before the French Revolution. (You and I might well agree that the FR was a very bad thing.)

                    As for Cromwell, his leadership was a product of the English Civil War, which had the salutary effect (in my ‘umble opinion) of putting paid to the pretensions of the House of Stuart to alien continental concepts of the “divine right of kings”. He had to fill a vacuum, and, in fact, he did a reasonably good job of it. But the Commonwealth was equally alien to the English sensibilities and character.

                    Charles II got the message, but his thickheaded brother didn’t. By then, the leading men had figured out how to hustle a recalcitrant king out with a minimum of fuss.

                    • George Michalopulos says:

                      In total agreement re the French Revolution. That’s when Satan set up his modern kingdom. And I agree with you re the retrocessing of L/R labels before that time. But regarding Cromwell, the execution of an anointed Christian king was unforgivable. All such acts are in the service of Satan. Now while I don’t agree with the concept of the divine right of kings, Cromwell behaved in the same manner. In fact, his legacy was so bad that he killed Republicanism once and for all in Great Britain. How bad? after his death, the English exhumed his body, drew and quartered it. They never exhibited this kind of hatred to any of their monarchs.

                    • Michael Bauman says:

                      What does it say of our system that it was an outgrow of the English Revolution?

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      Mr. Bauman asks:
                      “What does it say of our system that it was an outgrow of the English Revolution?”

                      I would say that it says positive things. Keep in mind that the English revolution that inspired the founders is the Revolution of 1688, the bloodless expulsion of James II from England, and his substitution by William III and Mary. It gave rise also to the English Bill of Rights, which inspired our own to a large degree.

                      James II could have easily stayed in power, but he was a Catholic bigot with the absolutist leanings of his father. That his fall did not involve violence is one of the great things about English history, indeed, that England did not share European violence during the wars of religion was one of its glories. The closest it came was in the Civil War, but this was a far cry from the European level of violence.

                      Our forebears created a Constitutional republic. One of the things that fascinates me here are the opinions held by some who extol our original Republic and monarchy both, in a sort of uneasy balance– deploring the erosion of both, as it were; remaining ever unsure whether or not an Orthodox should show approval of a republic!

                      Remember, “our system” was an outgrowth of two revolutions– the English and the American. Both were good things, as such things go.

                    • Кентигерн Сиверс says:

                      Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
                      Here fyi is a link from the Orthodox philosopher David Bentley Hart on Tolkien’s “anarcho-monarchism” that may be of interest on this thread:
                      http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2010/11/anarcho-monarchism
                      Besides the English and American revolutions mentioned in this thread, some scholars such as Donald Grinde argue that the Iroquois Confederation (which inspired Ben Franklin among others and whose influence is indicated in the cluster of arrows held by the American eagle symbol) was an important influence on the U.S. Constitution in terms of federalism, checks and balances, and separation of powers.
                      It may also be possible to find some indirect parallels to Orthodox ideas of conciliarity, symphonia, and kingship in the American model of government, however obscured.
                      In certain ways the U.S. President is closer to a king than the political leaders of most Western parliamentary governments today, but in theory in a more limited “conciliar” context in the Constitution than Catholic-style absolutist models against which the English had rebelled.
                      The Iroquois system did involve traditional spirituality imbued in governance, a bit like Byzantine symphonia of Church and state. But this was not picked up by Enlightenment-inspired “separation of church and state” at the federal level in the U.S. system.
                      Still, arguably Abraham Lincoln provided a capstone of sorts to an early “soft establishment” of Christianity in the U.S. with his vision by the end of the Civil War of “this nation under God.” The Gettysburg Address as an additional founding document added that phrase to the Declaration of Independence’s assertion of rights from our Creator under “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” That “soft establishment” effectively ended due to court decisions following World War II.
                      Fr. John Romanides in his writings decried the Catholic-based idea of monarchy in the West, exemplified by France, as the legacy of feudal oppression at odds with Orthodox Roman culture, and deserving of overthrow.
                      But the Byzantine ideal of Orthodox empire, with symphonia and concilliarity in its spiritual model, arguably was different from the Western Catholic model of monarchy, which paralleled the papal model of ecclesiology.
                      In certain ways, oddly, the Byzantine vision of conciliarity and symphonia was not wholly inconsistent with the American model as long as the latter included the “soft establishment” of Christianity, although of course there were lots of major differences.
                      Asking for your prayers as we near the end of the Nativity Fast,
                      Kentigern

                    • “But this was not picked up by Enlightenment-inspired “separation of church and state” at the federal level in the U.S. system.”

                      The Constitution says nothing about the “separation of church and state”. The earliest mention of it in Supreme Court opinions dates to the 1940’s when it was adopted as a tool by anti-Catholics. The Establishment Clause states that Congress cannot adopt a national church for the United States (like the Church of England, for example). A number of states had established churches at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and no one found any problem with this. Massachusetts was the last to disestablish in 1833.

                      “Separation of Church and State” was a principle of the Baptist church and mentioned in a letter between Jefferson and a Baptist church. It was also in the Soviet Constitution and used against the churches there.

                      The notion that Western liberal democracy or even the less-than-democratic republicanism of the early American republic is some natural outgrowth of Orthodoxy is facetious at best. Looking at about 1800 years of Orthodox government devoid of such notions should dispel the thought. It is merely a misguided exercise in wishful thinking which appeals only to those who have already rejected the political system traditionally preferred by the Orthodox in favor of one never seriously contemplated by the Fathers – one which always and infallibly results in moral decadence. It is governance by the passions, as herded by the media, and nothing more.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      The business about the Iroquois confederation contributing to the US Constitution is an old canard, often exploded.

                      I certainly don’t think Orthodox since 325 thought much, if anything, about republican government. They had no examples. On the other hand, in my opinion this says nothing at all about the merits of a republican form of government.

                      Obviously the US could never be organized on “Orthodox principles”. Why would anybody hope for the completely impossible?

                    • Obviously the US could never be organized on “Orthodox principles”. Why would anybody hope for the completely impossible?
                      Obviously, no country ever will.
                      Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
                      look it up…

                    • “Obviously the US could never be organized on “Orthodox principles”. Why would anybody hope for the completely impossible?”

                      Ye of little faith . . . I recall in 1989, no one in Poli Sci circles thought that the Soviet Union would collapse the way it did. Yet it did.

                      With the US, the collapse will probably come before the embrace of Orthodoxy, if that ever comes. The reason is that the Orthodox here in America take neither their orthopraxis nor evangelism seriously. Plus, really, the die is already cast.. The US is receding in its status as the leading superpower. That dynamic will not be changing.

                      Just sit back and watch it all happen.

              • Sue Simpson says:

                George:

                One could HARDLY say that Lenin, Stalin or Brezhnev were liberals. Understand, under the guise of COMMUNISM, these people were right-wing dictators. Remember “Animal Farm?” Some pigs are more equal than other pigs. Communism was a lie. FDR tried to keep us out of war and was criticized for his reluctance to enter the war. Pearl Harbor changed all that! WARS, KILLING, WORLD TRAGEDIES are always caused by right-wing, paranoid conservatives.

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Not liberals in the classic, Jeffersonian sense assuredly but definitely lib/progs in the modernist sense. Internationalism, egalitarianism, etc., all that sort of thing.

                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Wars are caused by unaddressed and unhealed sin. Every person partakes of the hatred, malice, fear and desire to control. “Wars and rumors of wars….”

                  Politics is a mess period. No goodness or righteousness will come from it except by accident. The best we can rightly expect is some sort of relatively benign order. We have long since lost that in our country.

                  Just as there is no Greek nor Jew in the Church there should be no conservative or liberal. They are illusory categories that simply have no application in the life of the Church.

                  There is far more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in the ideological political fantasies that are propagated by the arrogant, corrupt and power hungry people who seek political office and those that argue for them. There is no love at all in any political ideology.

                  That we should give any credence to any of them in the life of the Church is sad.

                  I say the same to Sue, to George or anyone else who thinks such things are anything but the dross of our fallen hearts. But these spirits have long sought to invade the Church and the hearts of her people. But such nonsense has always been alien to the doctrine of the Church

                  We all must face the words of Jesus Christ: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

                  Those that accept anything less are worse than Esau.

                  The words thrown at each other here are truly a sadness on my heart.

                  That being said, there are other things that are not acceptable in the doctrine of the Church that have never been acceptable in the doctrine of the Church and to those who seek to introduce a spirit of the world into the doctrine of the Church I say: “You shall not pass.”

                  May God have mercy us all and heal the wounds that are being and will be inflicted and bring us to our senses.

                • I’d say that Marxist Communists rule from the left-wing, even if they preached a middle road in order to sell it.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              Antinomianism has often arisen in the Church, and it had a heyday in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. It certainly seems to be showing itself in Ms. Simpson. It is definitely the spirit of this age amongst the Christian churches.

            • Fr. Herman Schick says:

              Alexander the Great was a conservative?! Now that is definitely one that His Grace, Bishop Tikhon might justly label “a howler”. I am sure the members of his Macedonian old guard would have viewed his plans at racially mixing Persians with Macedonians in his military and royal adminstration as anything but conservative. Never heard of the mass wedding in Susa in 324 BC?

            • Sue responds to Elizabeth,

              “There is a horrible sickness infecting the world – that sickness is liberalism.” I say, “There is a horrible sickness infecting the world – that sickness is CONSERVATISM.”

              If we try to reduce our Christian dialogue to left vs. right we will abdicate the correct framework to view the issue(s) that brought us here. Lord help us if we attempt to judge Fr. Arida’s comments by the conscience of a political base rather than the mind of the Church.

              Moreover, many like me who are politically disenchanted with both sides will roll our eyes and leave.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                I agree with this.

                I consider myself a liberal, but the sense in which I think of the term is pretty much extinct in the public square. I have described it at times as “Isaiah Berlin, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Jack Kennedy” (Niebuhr, because I was a Protestant most of my life). Nobody knows who any of those people are besides Kennedy anymore. Another phrase I’ve used is “a liberal without a progressive bone in my body”.

                When you talk to liberal/progressives in these terms, if they know what you’re talking about, they say, “so, you’re a neo-con”. I say no, neo-cons are imperialists and I’m not. So it’s hard to escape being called “conservative”, which I surely am in the “small-c” sense. Thus I can’t really escape the label in the political realm, alas.

                The big, big problem is that, at least in the public square and in the popular view, political liberalism is strongly associated with secularism and liberalism in religion and sexual morals. This is a great pity, but it certainly has a lot of truth in it. There was a time when political liberals who were traditional Christian believers abounded. That doesn’t seem to be the case much anymore. This is a great misfortune.

                Consider Sue Simpson’s posts. She would appear very “liberal” in her politics. No problem. But she evidently is very “liberal” in her views of Orthodox belief on the moral issues we have been discussing. More and more, these things seem to be linked to one another. A great pity, I think.

              • Carl Kraeff says:

                I also agree with you. It is unfortunate that we do not define our terminology more carefully. While fully aware in the currently fashionable political taxonomy, I am partial to that of Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian professor and Christian Monarchist (no, I am not a monarchist), who wrote “Leftism Revisited: From De Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot.” His taxonomy was based on two axes: the degree of state control (we are all familiar with this one) and whether one believes that man can improve mankind (Leftism) or only God can perfect man (Rightism). There are degrees of course, but this division is more useful to Christians than the one we have been thought. Leftism is a natural descendant of the Renaissance and humanism; even Marx takes a great leap of faith in believing that perfect man exists and that man can perfect mankind. (So much for the scientific underpinnings of Marxism!) But, let’s not forget that all manner of folks in our modern world are also deluded by the humanistic appeal of Leftism, which is indeed the big tent for Social Gospel Christians, Marxists, Maoists, Communists, Liberals, Socialists, progressives, Democrats, Nazis, Fascists, etc.. Lets us not kid ourselves, there are folks in the Republican Party, mainly libertarians, who are also Leftist. So, I cannot throw stones in a political sense and thus support your call for not engaging in partisan politics. I must make couple of exceptions here: Those of us who are opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage cannot in good conscience vote for Democrats or hard-core Libertarians. Individual Democrats and Libertarians may be anti-abortion but their number is so small that their election merely solidifies their national parties’ anti-life and same-sex marriage power.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                  ” Those of us who are opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage cannot in good conscience vote for Democrats or hard-core Libertarians.”

                  Very much so. It is breathtaking how opposition to same-sex marriage is being driven out of the Democratic party, or, rather how Democrats who hold that view are being driven out of the party.This has become a litmus test practically overnight.

                  In my state, Washington, always a pretty liberal state, if you oppose same-sex marriage, freshly passed by our Legislature a couple years back, you will not be welcome at any Party events (nor for that matter, at any political fundraisers or social gatherings) if those views are known. This ostracism is a powerful weapon.

                  For those of us who have been around a long time (I’m close to 67), active and engaged in our communities, even-tempered and optimistic by nature, it’s hard to keep the clouds of dismay at bay. The pressures on our children and grandchildren, who are mid-career or will be in the wider world soon, are going to be enormous.

                  • I think the greater point should be that no right dominated Congress has ever brought any legislation supporting or against those things so oft lauded by the left.

                    I think your own ideas are too black and white.

                    I can have personal views that differ from what I believe is right for the government.

                    As for being on one side of the bell spectrum or the other; abortion or same sex marriage are definitely not my reasons. Feeding hungry children is first. My wife, who is quite conservative, has trouble with the concept of spending 100 million dollars on a bridge. Governments can use the masses for great things…this is not a godless notion necessarily.

                    All said, I did enjoy your post, just don’t see things exactly the same..

            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              Mrs. Simpson, you keep talking about “pastoral authority” of a priest in a church, and how it is supposedly out of bounds to attack it, while always ignoring in your posts the fact that it was Fr. Arida himself who ignited the entire matter with his own public internet article.

              He sowed the controversy itself. That it was a controversy from the first was evidenced not only by the immediate replies, but by the swift action of his own Metropolitan in taking the post down, albeit with a lukewarm disclaimer.

              • Sue Simpson says:

                Tim,

                Re-read Fr. Arida’s article. Where is the reference to “homosexuality” that people here claim? There is none! What a contingent here have done is accused and publicly slandered a very good priest where there is nothing to back up their attacks. His article states NOTHING of what this “contingent” has accused him of. Furthermore, the “holier than thou” types here, probably ROCOR convert nuts, have proven who they are: Matt, 15 “[19] For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.”

                Regarding “pastoral authority,” Fr. Arida’s bishop has given him the charge to serve his parish accordingly. Fr. Arida serves at his pleasure. How a parish priest administers to his parishioners, on an individual basis, is no business of yours. What a person may confess is also no business of yours. All those priests bearing false witness and slander against Fr. Arida here should be defrocked. All lay people should be excommunicated!

                • Salemlemko says:

                  ROFLOL!

                  “EUREKA” its a fruitcake!

                • OK, one more time Sue Simpson,

                  Is Fr Arida communing a gay couple at Holy Trinity? A gay couple who have been civilly married of which one converted and was received into the Church by Fr Arida? (Do I need to provide the first-hand reference of this again as others have also?) Gosh, maybe the person was received into the Church but never communed? Not a snowballs chance in hell of that happening.

                  A simple yes or no will suffice? If the answer is yes, and you know it is, then everything you say falls apart. And if this were not the case, why has Fr. Arida refused to return calls, emails, and other communications from his brother clergy and others? Is he too good or too righteous to answer? Or maybe he thinks so little of his detractors that he doesn’t wish to enter a dialogue? Ironic, isn’t it!

                  Stop trying to defend the indefensible. His words point to what he is actually DOING! Get it? His ambiguous words are not ambiguous in the least when his actions are exposed. Get it?

                  You are not fooling anyone here. The facts are the facts and Fr. Arida does NOT have the pastoral authority to do what he likes, even if he believes what he is doing is right. If the Church teaches that it is impermissible to commune active unrepentant homosexuals, then that is the end of the discussion. No dialogue. No discussion, as much as he wants there to be one.

                  If you want there to be a dialogue, then as others have suggested, go to the Episcopal Church. They have done what we will never let happen in the Orthodox Church!

                  • James:

                    If you want there to be a dialogue, then as others have suggested, go to the Episcopal Church. They have done what we will never let happen in the Orthodox Church!

                    James, If you want there to be NO dialogue, go to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have done what we will never let happen in the Orthodox Church!

                    • OOM,

                      What you seem to not understand is that there is NO NEED for dialogue on the homosexual issue. The Church will not change its mind because it has no need to change its mind. Homosexuality is a sin, it has always been a sin and it will be so in the future. So what’s to dialogue about?

                      Nothing has changed except folks, maybe like you, and certainly Fr. Arida who want things to change.

                      And so I repeat again,

                      If you want there to be a dialogue, then as others have suggested, go to the Episcopal Church. They have done what we will never let happen in the Orthodox Church!

                • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                  Well, Sue, I can comment as a “convert”, but I’d have to be numbered with the GOC nuts rather than the ROCOR ones.

                  Fr. Arida was, in fact, talking about homosexuality. One of the things for which he is rightly subject to criticism is his deliberate ambiguity, designed to allow deniability by such as yourself.

                  We are not children. Many of us have seen it before. Long before. In fact, Fr. Arida’s language of circumlocution might even be called passe’, it’s so old. But perhaps amongst many of the Orthodox, it is new; and especially to Orthodox youth. It is deliberately lacking in frankness; it is and is meant to be insidious.

                  • Tim:

                    We are not children. Many of us have seen it before. Long before.

                    This statement demonstrates the validity of the point that you bring the baggage of old “battles” from other churches with you.

                    But perhaps amongst many of the Orthodox, it is new; and especially to Orthodox youth.

                    Dead wrong. What’s new is the spirit that seeks to vilify, condemn, harass, and bully into submission.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      No. When I first went to an Orthodox service, in 1979, there was no inkling (except perhaps to the especially insightful) of what might eventually come to the Presbyterian church. I attended Greek Orthodox services locally often for many years back then, and OCA services here and there many times a year, without any such apprehensions. Every where I traveled, here and abroad, I would seek out Orthodox services if time allowed and if I could find them. Indeed, I began attending Orthodox services often at much the same time that I became active again in the church in which I was raised.

                      This all began decades ago for me, and there would be much more to say, but the point is that my search for Orthodoxy began well before these disputes came to the forefront of the mainline Protestant churches.

                      There is something that needs to be said now and then: I, and many, many more like me who have come to Orthodoxy, were Christians for a long time before, by God’s grace, we finally did. These various “baggage” theories are very wide of the mark.

                      But we would certainly be fools to ignore what we have, perforce, learned along the way!

                • Salemlemko says:

                  No responsible Orthodox bishop is going to put his own ass on the chopping block, just so some no account like Arida can have ‘ pastoral authority ‘ to violate the canonical norms of the Church. This troublesome priest is off the reservation!

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              Fr Herman, don;t forget Alexander’s occasional pederasty!

              • Fr. Herman Schick says:

                Oh my, Your Grace, how could I have forgotten Bagoas and company! That definitely clinches the argument. How progressive and modern Alexander was!

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

              Why, Suzie! You actually wrote this: “Exactly who are YOU to judge a priest or bishop who uses his “pastoral” authority in a parish without knowing the truth?”
              Look at the garbage you attributed to me before charging OTHERS with speaking out of ignorance!

              • Sue Simpson says:

                BT:

                Your antics are well-known going back to the 1980’s on internet forums. Your attacks against other bishops, priests, deacons and lay people is legendary. Many here don’t know about your repeat reprimands by the OCA Synod due to your actions and how you were put directly under Abp. Dimitri’s authority because many considered you “nuts.” Out of all the bishops on the OCA Synod, you were never elevated to archbishop and were asked to retire because of your repeated antics. How about protecting that child molester in your parish? And the list goes on and on. These aren’t “imaginary” issues, but historical facts. Repent while you still can!

                • A Familiar New England Voice says:

                  Sue Simpson, you sound just like Nick Kobbs, that Syosset troll. I think you are Nick Kobbs and your venom toward a bishop exposes you. I pray you repent and will pray for you.

                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Ms. Simpson, I have read here and elsewhere a number of His Grace’s comments. None that I have read have even approached the sheer volume of anger, disrespect and ignorance that yours demonstrate.

                • There were internet forums back in the 80’s!!??

                  • There were internet forums back in the 80’s!!?? Yup. The Indiana list was the granddaddy of all Orthodox verbal slugfests. The archives make for fascinating readings — I lurked and browsed years later, but never participated, in no small part because I resisted computers and the internet (other than word-processing) as a tool of the devil taking a back seat only to Arianism, communism, and the internationalist game of soccer/football. I didn’t give in until the mid 90’s.

                    His Grace was an active Indiana List participant, although my memory of my limited browses through the archives was that he was, while ascerbic at times, a force of fact-based reason, more often than not. Those were “wild west” days of the internet, and its etiquette (such as it is) was still being developed…

                    “Sue” has suddenly been tranmogrified from a shrill little old lady who is slightly off her rocker into someone with a fairly sophisticated laundry list of grievances against Vladyka and with an amazing treasure trove of purportedly inside gossip. Interesting. In any event, as “Sue” points out, Vladyka took an open approach to expressing his views, while his opponents in the OCA preferred quiet knives in the back in the best Byzantine tradition. His priests who disagreed with him showed their spiritual maturity by simply ignoring his directives, in the best OCA tradition.

                  • M. Stankovich says:

                    Certainly there were, son. They were referred as “message boards,” and sponsored by major universities, paid subscription companies (e.g. Compuserve from GE), and even many private message boards individuals sponsored from their own homes. They were text-based only (i.e. no graphical interface) and you had to know something about direct modem communication (e.g. US Robotics top-of-the-line modems back in the day communicated at 9600 bits per secons – compared to today’s average home cable modem speed of 1.5+ megabits per second).

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                    Yes. FidoNet. FidoNet worked off a I should know since I was very active on this when we were all using 300 baud dial-up modems. It was set up in 1984. I don’t remember when I first started using FidoNet but it was probably the late 80s-early 90s. I was certainly online as soon as I got my first personal computer and modem. I think I have archives of posts I’d saved off FidoNet on some of my floppy disks, which are now basically unreadable.

                    CompuServe was started in the early 1980s and I was pretty active there as well. I know there was a Religion supergroup, and Eastern Orthodoxy (can’t remember the exact title) was a subgroup of that. I was pretty active in that group in the 1990s.

                    America Online started up sometime in the late 1980s and had a graphical interface and was aimed towards the general public. There were a couple Orthodox forums.

                    And of course, there is Usenet. Although, it is true that during the 1980s, it was people in the academia who had almost exclusive access to it.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says:

                      “FidoNet worked of a” should be “FidoNet worked off a network of BBS that could be accessed through dialup modems on the telephone”.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                      You had to be a pretty computer-savvy person, or a connected academic, to know much about the internet before the late 1990s.

                      I’m more typical, at least of my generation. There was a computer on my desk at my office but I never used it. In mid-1999, they installed an internet connection. I entered the name of a favorite author of mine, who was born in 1916, into a search engine. I didn’t know whether or not he was still alive. Seven months later, I was having dinner with him in Oakland, California. Thus I discovered the power of the internet! I have met people all over the world in person through this tool in the years since. I’m am sure that many of us have had similar experiences.

                      Guys like me were popping up on various sites like mushrooms at the same time. It was as if every office in the land had just gotten wired up, and we 50-somethings then discovered it all at once. Right away I learned to type, which I had never known how to do. Being a contrarian, I learned the Dvorak keyboard, and was a (slow) touch-typist within a few days.

                      Indeed, my cognomen here is from a poem written by a character in one of the novels of that author from Oakland. My actual name is Edward S. Winskill, and I’m a lawyer in Tacoma. I usually go by Ed.

            • Are you Republicans, are you Democrats?
              Are you Liberals, are you Conservatives?

              Or, are you all brothers in Christ?
              I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Cor. 1:10

              • Michael Bauman says:

                But brother, we Orthodox have always been contentious, a point to which St. Paul’s admonition points. Contention with one another is as much a part of our tradition as anything. It may not be the most Holy part or even the most edifying, but it is unlikely to ever go away.

                If we can contend in love and forgiveness for the Truth and not merely for our own opinions, that will be an accomplishment. An accomplishment worthy of much effort and self-examination.

                May God be with you brother Michael and may the bodiless power from whom we both take our name watch over you, protect you and guide you into righteousness and holiness.

                • “But brother, we Orthodox have always been contentious, a point to which St. Paul’s admonition points. Contention with one another is as much a part of our tradition as anything. It may not be the most Holy part or even the most edifying, but it is unlikely to ever go away.”

                  You ever been in a Greek parish??? This Orthodox tendency is because of the influence of the Greeks. Its a cultural thing that has influenced the whole Orthodox Church. You put two Greeks in a room togther and they will express 6 differing opinions. The atmosphere in the room will swing back and forth from agape agape agape to a rematch of the war between Athens and Sparta and then back again. Why?? Because Greeks express their love for each other and their joy of living through bickering about everything!! They are a strange strange people who have not really changed much in 2000 years. But you can find no better pr loyal friend or worse enemy than a Greek. Their influence on our faith and the way orthodoxy operates can not be underestimated. Bit they baffle people of nordic extraction like myself.

                • I can appreciate that, truly I do. As one who is of a Russian family background we too, stop short of choking each other at family gatherings when we talk politics only to come back to love, and embrace each other as if we all speak in unity. It’s a hoot!
                  On clear statement of scripture however, no amount of personal mental gymnastics has any of us divided. The scriptures, and the Church Fathers are not even close to being clouded on this particular issue at hand, and neither should church leaders.
                  Actions against such ones, action (even if it is somebody like Bishop Nikon, or whomever) should be swift, sweeping and concise. Keeping the congregation clean of such vile actions should be first and foremost.

                  • Michael Bauman says:

                    My home parish (not Greek) was, many years ago and before my time, was rife with dissent. The two factions had rival chanters for instance. No bishop close enough to do anything.

                    The priest at the time did what he could. He appointed an official chanter (who was Greek) and stopped the practice of the rivals doing it. Then, when he admitted he was an alcoholic, he asked the congregation for help. They began to come together over that. Subsequent priests built on that beginning. Now we are quite different.

                    The leadership has to come from within unless it is the type of parish that I have dubbed “a priest eating parish” that refuses to support, respect or follow any priest’s direction

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Father John–I am not so pessimistic. If this is an important issue, and it is, I would think that it will be addressed at the next regular meeting (Spring 2015). I have a feeling that nobody except a few folks on Monomakhos considers this issue to be so earth-shaking that an emergency meeting should be called. Actions taken to date are sufficient to hold the fort until next year. We shall have to wait.

  5. Will Arida’s “Studied Ambiguity” Lead OCA into Schism?

    NO

  6. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says:

    The central aim of the secularist is to get control over the tithe and the property of any church. Money talks and everything else walks in spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah. The fight over this will get as ugly as they feel they need to get ugly. After all, their queens and shall see no sorrow. This delusion cannot be reasoned with. They, like all created beings will reap what they sow. God also reaps what He sows,. His Command is life eternal, and has sow a perfect creation, after Adams fall. And it will be reaped in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Secularist’s need not apply, money is of no value. Smile, smile like a villain, but not forever, that is reserved for the Faithful forever.,.

    • M. Stankovich says:

      MICHAEL KINSEY,

      I am trying to contact you through your Facebook page! I have been communicating with several officials of the City of Toledo, and Fr, Hans and I are working to help you with your housing problem. Please check your Facebook messages and contact me as soon as possible!

      • Sub-Deacon Gregory Varney says:

        This is a very noble and christian deed. Fr. Hans and M. Stankovich who I don’t always agree with. This is wonderful. Good to see something like this instead of heretics and dead skunks.

  7. Engaged observer says:

    The fact of the matter is we don’t “dialogue” about matters that are settled church teaching. We can certainly explain church teaching, even on controversial issues, to make it clear to inquirers, but we don’t engage in a dialogue on settled subjects.
    Should we “dialogue” about whether icons are appropriate for use during worship and prayer? No, this was settled by the church long ago.

    Should we “dialogue” about whether abortion is acceptable sometimes, even for a young 16-year-old mother who is 6 months pregnant and scared? No, this young mother needs tender love and support, but there is no “dialogue” about whether she should be able to abort the baby.

    Should we “dialogue” about whether Christ is fully man and fully God? No, this is clear teaching from the church.

    For these same reasons, there is no need to “dialogue” with our modern culture or society about “questions and issues that are a priori presumed to contradict or challenge [our Church’s] living tradition,” as Father Robert writes.

    We can explain the Church’s teaching on the matter, for example if two men who are “married” in secular society have questions about Church teaching on homosexuality, we can and should make effort to explain our faith and Church teaching on the matter.

    But there is no role whatsoever for a “dialogue” to take place with these men over whether, as “married” homosexuals they can partake in the sacramental life of the church as active homosexuals.

    It seems to me that Fr Robert is intentionally ambiguous in this matter because there is a strong, pushy contingent who does want to “dialogue” about matters that are settled church doctrine.

    There is an excellent, brief AFR podcast (from Fr Lawrence Farley) on this subject from a few weeks ago, probably in response to Fr Robert’s original contentious essay:

    [audio:http://audio.ancientfaith.com/commentaries/afc_2014-11-24.mp3%5D

    But honestly, Fr Robert’s little sentence says it all: “In spite of our small numbers, our Church has assumed a noticeable posture in the public square that varies little from that of Christian fundamentalists.”

    It seems that a vocal contingent of Orthodox Christians, many in the northeast and who consider themselves educated, are embarrassed to be put in the same boat as Christian fundamentalists and are trying to distance themselves from that moniker, lest they be confused with backward, Bible-thumping folk from other parts of the country. Isn’t pride the mother of all sins?

    • who consider themselves educated

      I am in awe of their erudition and education… not.

      I am so tired of poseurs who think that trendy social positions are somehow reflective of intellect, knowledge, and an ability to think.

      And they presume to correct the Fathers and revise our liturgical texts.

      • Chris Banescu says:

        I wonder how Fr. Arida proposes to “re-assess” and “correct” these very clear, stern, and absolute condemnations and ORTHODOX teaching?

        St. Paul the Apostle – “Because of this did God give them up to dishonorable passions, for even their females did change their natural function into that which is against nature; and in like manner also the males having left the natural use of the female, did burn in their longing toward one another….” (Romans 1:26-27)

        St. John Chrysostom – “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one towards another.” ALL these affections then were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males; for the soul is more the sufferer in sins, and more dishonored, than the body in diseases. But behold how here too, as in the case of the doctrines, he deprives them of excuse, by saying of the women, that “they changed the natural use.” For no one, he means, can say that it was by being hindered of legitimate intercourse that they came to this pass, or that it was from having no means to fulfil their desire that they were driven into this monstrous insaneness. For the changing implies possession. Which also when discoursing upon the doctrines he said, “They changed the truth of God for a lie.”

        And with regard to the men again, he shows the same thing by saying, “Leaving the natural use of the woman.” And in a like way with those, these he also puts out of all means of defending themselves by charging them not only that they had the means of gratification, and left that which they had, and went after another, but that having dishonored that which was natural, they ran after that which was contrary to nature. But that which is contrary to nature hath in it an irksomeness and displeasingness, so that they could not fairly allege even pleasure. For genuine pleasure is that which is according to nature. But when God hath left one, then all things are turned upside down.” (Homily 4 on Romans by St. John Chrysostom)

        Saint Gregory the Great – “Brimstone calls to mind the foul odors of the flesh, as Sacred Scripture itself confirms when it speaks of the rain of fire and brimstone poured by the Lord upon Sodom. He had decided to punish in it the crimes of the flesh, and the very type of punishment emphasized the shame of that crime, since brimstone exhales stench and fire burns. It was, therefore, just that the sodomites, burning with perverse desires that originated from the foul odor of flesh, should perish at the same time by fire and brimstone so that through this just chastisement they might realize the evil perpetrated under the impulse of a perverse desire.” (St. Gregory the Great, Commento morale a Giobbe, XIV, 23, vol. II, p. 371, Ibid., p. 7)

        Saint Basil of Caesarea – “The cleric or monk who molests youths or boys or is caught kissing or committing some turpitude, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown [tonsure] and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spittle; and [let him be] bound in iron chains, condemned to six months in prison, reduced to eating rye bread once a day in the evening three times per week. After these six months living in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder with great spiritual experience, let him be subjected to prayers, vigils and manual work, always under the guard of two spiritual brothers, without being allowed to have any relationship … with young people.” (St. Basil of Caesarea, in St. Peter Damien, Liber Gomorrhianus, op. cit. cols. 174f.)

        Saint Thomas Aquinas – “However, they are called passions of ignominy because they are not worthy of being named, according to that passage in Ephesians (5:12): ‘For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.’ For if the sins of the flesh are commonly censurable because they lead man to that which is bestial in him, much more so is the sin against nature, by which man debases himself lower than even his animal nature.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Super Epistulas Sancti Pauli Ad Romanum I, 26, pp. 27f)

        Saint Augustine – “Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God’s law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust. … Your punishments are for sins which men commit against themselves, because, although they sin against You, they do wrong in their own souls and their malice is self-betrayed. They corrupt and pervert their own nature, which You made and for which You shaped the rules, either by making wrong use of the things which You allow, or by becoming inflamed with passion to make unnatural use of things which You do not allow” (Rom. 1:26). (St. Augustine, Confessions, Book III, chap. 8)

        Tertullian (great 2nd century Church apologist) – “All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish … from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.” (Tertullian, De pudicitia, IV, in J. McNeil, op. cit., p. 89)

        And on, and on, and on …

    • Heaven forbid we should uphold the fundamentals of Christianity!

    • Dear Engaged Observer,

      Very well said. Thank you for so clearly & succinctly articulating the position of our Holy Orthodox Church. Sophistry should have no place in rhetoric emanating from our clergy. Fr. Robert seem like he has no interest in clarifying his perceived pro-samesex position despite having had ample opportunities. Thus, his refusal to offer a rebuttal combined with his initial essay demonstrate where he stands (i.e., with the secular modernism as opposed to the Tradition of the Church).

      Archbishop Nikon needs to address this, and if not then Metropolitan Tikhon does because this debacle has been a public affair from day one. If Fr. Robert can’t clarify his position in a way that is consistent with Orthodoxy then he should be defrocked for promoting immorality. The Church cannot offer Christ’s healing grace to people if their disease is never diagnosed.

    • Carl Kraeff says:

      I for one believe that Orthodoxy is the most conservative of all Christian “denominations.” Not only are we the “Bible-thumpers” of all time, we are also unexcelled in holding onto the traditions that have been passed onto us. We refer back to the Apostolic Fathers all the time. We emphasize the fundamentals. We worship as the Apostolic Church did. We strive for personal and corporate sanctity as disciples of Christ. We are indeed Christian fundamentalists without any equal. The ones that Father Arida refers to are nothing but late-coming amateurs compared to us.

    • “Dialogue” sounds suspiciously like a certain political leader talking about “we can have a conversation” about this or that. Of course no conversation ever takes place once the other side gets what it’s after or finishes the press conference as the case may be.

  8. Arrogance is a minimal description of Fr. Robert and his ilk.

    Holy Scripture can continue to be interpreted and clarified. Patristic writings can continue to be re-assessed and even corrected. Liturgical texts can continue to be composed while existing texts can be revised. With the expanded mind and heart of the Church the ministry of Christ will be able to expand through the creative operation of the Holy Spirit

    What kind of man presumes to correct the Holy Fathers? Lord have mercy!

    • Salemlemko says:

      A fool, consumed with prelest.

    • What kind of man presumes to correct the Holy Fathers?

      One whose goal is to go against clear statement of sciprture

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

        As the world burns we fiddle:http://www.npr.org/2014/12/27/373298310/after-year-of-atheism-former-pastor-i-dont-think-god-exists

        If you catch it the answer to his atheism is smack dab in the middle of this article. He cared more about justice and equality than God.

        The very First Commandment says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:3 (RSV). To him so-called Justice and Equality are “Other gods.”

        The Great Commandment: “And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
        And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 (RSV).

        This is how you love God and your fellow man thus bestowing true justice and equality upon him.

        It goes to show you – you can read these passages, but unless you “Learn” them and meditate on them via deep prayer (Prayer of the Heart) they never mean anything to you and you miss it. This poor guy thinks Man gives Man justice and so-called equality, whatever that means, while never understanding that whatever we truly need comes from God and that its God himself that we truly need.

        Welcome to the new world. It looks like the Apostasy is going quite well. I hope we Orthodox have our doors open to catch these disenchanted Protestants and bring them into the fold. They are not “New and Alien” but lost souls that need a home and true relationship with the One True God.

        Lord Have Mercy!

        Peter

        Peter

  9. Jesse Cone says:

    Understanding of eternal truths is always an “expanding”. We should, in that sense, continue to expand our minds.

    “Expanding” does not mean two contradictory statements no longer contradict. After all, it is us that changes, not the Truth.

    I fear, based on Fr. Robert’s track record, he does not actually want us to expand, but rather to move our center of gravity away from where it is currently grounded.

  10. On a more serious note, I just read the piece. Here is what got my attention. Fr. Arida has declared total war: 

    …what is of the past can be augmented.  Consequently, Holy Scripture can continue to be interpreted and clarified.  Patristic writings can continue to be reassessed and even corrected.  Liturgical texts can continue to be composed while existing texts can be revised.

    Looking at this with fairly experienced political eyes, it appears that Arida is supremely confident that sympathetic apparatchiks are firmly in control of the AAC’s agenda and parliamentary process.  He is serenely confident that any potential opposition has already been out-maneuvered.  This is bold language.

    • Contrast what I quoted above from Fr. Arida about the need to revise our liturgical texts with this from (you guessed it) Metr. Hilarion (Alfaev):

      Orthodox liturgical texts are important because of their ability to give exact criteria of theological truth, and one must always confirm theology using liturgical texts as a guideline, and not the other way round. The lex credendi grows out of the lex orandi, and dogmas are considered divinely revealed because they are born in the life of prayer and revealed to the Church through its divine services. Thus, if there are differences in the understanding of a dogma between a certain theological authority and liturgical texts, I would be inclined to give preference to the latter. And if a textbook of dogmatic theology contains views different from those found in liturgical texts, it is the textbook, not the liturgical texts, that need correction.

      The entire lecture is well worth reading. I don’t agree with every single point he makes, but we could do worse that to heed his recommendations.

      • Salemlemko says:

        Arida, Robert, M., HOW TO EXPAND THE HERESY, HTOC Press, 2015.

        Preorder now at $ 666.00 at deadskunkhead.com

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

      …what is of the past can be augmented. Consequently, Holy Scripture can continue to be interpreted and clarified. Patristic writings [read: Frs. Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Hopko] can continue to be reassessed and even corrected [but only to the left, “to the left of Hopko,” aka made more pleasing to the “world”]. Liturgical texts can continue to be composed while existing texts can be revised.

  11. Tim R. Mortiss says:

    You’ve struck one big nerve, George! Utterly amazing that Fr. Arida would do that.

    By the way, when I first posted in this thread an hour or two ago, the site went down again– was that a coincidence, or something else?

    Anyhow, while the site was down, I found this very recent and powerful essay linked on Mr. Dreher’s site, a lament and plea of a Roman Catholic layman to the bishops of his church against the rot of our culture:
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/will-rescue-lost-sheep-lonely-revolution

    Unfortunately, I can’t get it to link, but one can cut and paste it. It is very moving, and very pertinent to the subject.

  12. Ashey Nevins says:

    ‘Doing nothing solves no problems. It only makes them worse.’

    Unless the structure and system of church authority in rule allows you to do something it will all grow worse. If the structure of rule is top down, authoritarian and centralized and if the system of the church is closed, isolated and subjective with an exclusive we alone are right viewpoint of itself it will be extremely difficult to solve problems if the authority is also corrupt, incompetent and abusive. The structure and system of rule will render you powerless to stop the immoral and unethical behavior of those who lead the structure and system of rule.

    The more steep the top down down structure, the more authoritarian it is and the more centralized it is the more it creates an unhealthy dependency upon the structure and system and its rulers. It creates religious codependency and religious codependency if you really understand it renders those practicing it powerless. The more exclusive the viewpoint of the rulers have of themselves the more the authority structure and system will really only listen to its exclusive self. They determine spiritual reality for you. That kind of religious power and control is really religious addiction and addiction is all about power and control.

    What you end up with is a church in a state of self idolatry. That idolatry will render you powerless to the idol that you serve. Why? Because the idol is not God or the power of God. The idol is a deceiver and liar who masquerades as God to steal your power to only use it against you. The idol is really powerless unless you hand your God given authority over to it. The more you believe the lie of handing your power over the more the lie controls you, manipulates you and uses you to its corrupt power and control ends. You become a powerless religious codependent puppet pawn that is easily played.

    That kind of sick power and control is not really under Gods authority or power. It is really under its own authority raised up over the authority of God in its own power. That is what renders the church powerless without the power of God. The more the church looses the authority and power of God in rule over it the more powerless it becomes and the more unethical and immoral it becomes. It does not have the ethical and moral power of God to stop moral and ethical corruptions.

    This is what I have noticed about religious codependent people who are in submission to religious addiction authoritarian power and control:

    1. They try to FIX and are powerless to fix.

    2. They spiritually apathetic and indifferent (religious and not spiritual).

    3. They are carnal spiritually immature.

    4. They fear and are easily intimidated, coerced and manipulated.

    5. They are idealistic and not realistic (deception leads to delusions).

    6. Their identity is in the object of their codependency and not Jesus Christ.

    7. They protect, enable and support the very thing that abuses them (Misplaced loyalty).

    8. They submit to known corrupt rulers who they idolize (Codependency is idolatry).

    9. They are about religious works and performance and are shame based.

    10. They have a dysfunctional and distorted viewpoint of God.

    The common denominator problem I keep seeing in the various jurisdictions is the top down authoritarian power and control being religiously codependently submitted too rendering all of you powerless. The closed system of exclusiveness will not listen to those it controls by religious codependency. The structure of authoritarian rule wants you religious codependent to it. It must be the God in rule over you to keep its power and control over you. Its power and control is its identity and that is not the identity of the humble servant Jesus. The unhealthy symbiotic relationship of authoritarian power and control religious addiction and the unhealthy religious codependency it creates is the core of most jurisdictional problems that are causing Orthodoxy in America to die a slow, ugly and painful death.

    The church structure based upon authoritarian power and control in religious addiction that creates a system of religious codependency is not a safe church to be involved with. Since its authority is over Gods authority it is corrupt and it will lead you by that corruption and your religious codependency will render you powerless to stop its unethical and immoral treatment of you. Every solution you try to bring to it will be rendered powerless by the religious addiction power and control in rule over you. The exclusive church with its exclusive rulers see themselves as more exclusive than those who bow in submission to serve their religious addiction. You are to serve their power and control as if it is God in power and control in your church. The religious addict in his power and control dictatorial rule is not going to come down off of his royal throne and come under you to serve you and raise the church up. No, instead he will by his religious addiction authoritarian power and control push you down to raise himself up over you as God.

    Do any of you feel pushed down, not heard, powerless, abused and abandoned? Does any of this sound familiar? It is the tip of a huge iceberg exposing what is really going below the surface. There is much more going on in the corporate pathology of the jurisdictions. The real problem is a word called ‘SHAME’. That word is a word most Orthodox really do not understand in regards to how it relates to their church and its treatment of them. Shame is the basis of a religious addiction and religious codependency based church.

    Have any of you been shamed by your church through spiritually abusive intimidation, coercion or threat?

    Have any of had your worth, value and significance to God shamed by your church leaders?

    Have any of you felt abandoned by your church leaders?

    Have any of you been rendered powerless to bring moral and ethical change to your jurisdiction?

    Do your jurisdiction hierarch’s come under you and the rest of the church and raise it up or do they always seem to be pushing you down in some fashion?

    Do you knowingly submit to known corrupt authority that refuses to repent?

    Are you a religious codependent enabler of unethical corruption, spiritual abuse and sexual immorality?

    Do the hierarch’s in your church operate like leaders in submission to Christ first or do they really operate like they are first? Are your bishops and metropolitan’s self centered? Is your structure and system of rule authoritarian self centered by being highly centralized?

    What is the true state of your jurisdiction, is it living, growing, dynamic and relevant to those outside of it or is it really just relevant to itself?

    All of the questions point to the church either being other centered or self centered.

    Religious addiction and religious codependency are both highly self centered and self protective of their addictions if you really understand them. That self centeredness combined with an exclusive viewpoint of yourselves and your church is going to translate into a church that is Jesus Christ other centered to the society and generation it is found in? Add in the ethnocentric exclusiveness and what results? Add in that the Orthodox are anti western, rational and modernity in western rational modernity America and what does this all result in as a church in America? What is your jurisdiction objective real world outcome telling you it has all resulted in here?

    The clearest answers to the questions in the previous paragraph to me is exclusive self righteousness that is proud and arrogant. The self righteous, proud and arrogant can bring the humble meek solution? They have the spiritual maturity in grace to bring about solution? In other words, the problem is not the solution to the problem and as long as it is no solution will come. I do not see any solution coming.

    Perception is everything. You get one good chance at making a good impression. What is the perception in impression of your church in America by those outside of it and when they can see its state? Does your church really have the relevancy needed so that people would even notice such things?

    Orthodox, you all have an opinion on what has gone wrong with Orthodoxy in America. You keep addressing the symptom of the problem as if it is the cause of the problem and the problem is not being resolved. You keep looking to the problem to provide a solution to the problem and that is irrational.

    George correctly says, that doing nothing will not solve the problem and it will only make the problem worse. I say in your doing something you must do the right something or it will not work either and things will get worse. Every solution I have seen has ended up powerless circular without solution going in circles with itself. Most of the solutions I have heard put forward are either as bad as the problem or worse. It all sounds like powerless desperation, but do all of you really hear yourselves in that and understand why the powerless desperation has come about? That powerless desperation is a symptom of what? What is it pointing too as its cause? If you heard and understood anything I have said here you know what it is pointing too as its cause.

    I wish I could bring something more positive to you but you have to deal with the negative issues causing a negative outcome of your church before you can have a positive outcome. I have just addressed the core issues causing the negative outcome of your church. That is positive. It is positive to point out things negative and that are stopping the positive outcome of a church. This is especially true when a church is found in a corrupt, incompetent, abusive and dying state and cannot correct itself.

    You get the church you pay the price for and make the sacrifices for and that is the other centered church that is alive, growing, dynamic and relevant church. The self centered church cannot become this other centered price paying sacrificial church unless reforms are made to what is causing it to be made self centered. The problem is that the self centered church cannot bring about that other centered state unless it recognizes what is making it self centered and corporately repents of its self centered sins. The exact nature and cause of those sins must be recognized and repented from. It takes humble repentant senior church leaders to lead that corporate repentance. The degree of your jurisdiction repentance will determine the degree of its ability to survive into the future. The degree of humility in repentance necessary to move from a self centered state to an other centered state is not to be underestimated or you will end up back at square one without solution. The degree of humility necessary to move from self righteousness to the humility of Christ is not to be underestimated or you will end up back at square one without solution.

    Orthodox, I believe what you are experiencing is getting the church you paid the price for and made the sacrifice for. I am talking about a different price and sacrifice than goes into building church buildings. That is an easy price to pay and sacrifice to make than the one I am really talking about. Only by grace can I say this, only by grace there go I, my local church has paid the real price and is making the real sacrifices that are necessary for it be alive, growing, dynamic and relevant. It is currently involved in a major paradigm shift and it is because it is not based upon what will hold it down and back. It is a generational paradigm shift that is making it relevant to a new generation. It is not passing on generational bondages that would hold it down and back and freeze it in a dying paradigm of the past. It is not in denial of its past and is facing its mistakes with transparency in integrity. No church is perfect, just some churches are far more open and honest about their imperfections and so that they can face them and deal with them transparently. All churches have issues, stuff and problems but not all churches are stuck in their issues, stuff and problems. The seven last words of a dying church are, we have always done it this way. In other words, no matter even it causes our church demise we will still continue to do it this failing way. The failure of the jurisdictions is their continuing to do it their failing way. We are Gods only true church and Christians is an exclusive claim that is stating we will always only do it this way.

    We are to be More Than Conquerors in and through Jesus Christ. If your jurisdiction cannot conquer its problems and seems to be always found with problems conquering it I would suggest you discover who and what is the God in rule of your church keeping it from becoming a More Than Conquerors church. If Christ is authority and the Holy Spirit is the power in your church then your church will more than conquer. It will more than exist in a survival existence dying state that has no solution. Many of you are living in fear, hopelessness and despair over the state of your church and you see its real world outcome unfolding right before your eyes and feel powerless to stop it. That powerlessness creates huge anxiety among all of you who seem to care. Some of you are concerned that hitting bottom for your church is church death and that there is no bottom to it going over the cliff into a dark abyss. You may not be saying it just like this but what you are saying is saying this.

    I see four basic groups of Christians among you, the apathetic and indifferent, the delusional who see it all as wonderful, the intimidated fearful and the highly discouraged who care. Those who care are far out numbered by the other three types. The majority rules. If there is not the necessary change needed among each of the four types nothing is going to change. Each type needs its own particular type of change or nothing changes. The apathetic and indifferent must become Christ alive, the delusional must become real world, the fearful must become brave and bold and the discouraged need to be encouraged or nothing changes and all of these types of people will only grow worse in what their issues are. I wish you the best but I know what the issues are that will keep that best from taking place. There is no easy way of telling you of the harsh realities your church faces and what those realities will turn more harsly into in the future if change does not come about. If you believe the reality of your church is harsh now you have seen nothing yet if change does not come about.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      I think Mr Nevins’s stuff is what was called “rationalizing” in any classical psych 101 class, no? Too much of it could drive one to suicide.

      • that was really fracking mean

      • What in the world made you reply like this? Unbelievable.

        • Ashley Nevins says:

          I once wrote a piece to the Orthodox on another forum that this bishop was posting on and it was on the pathology of a hierarch with a personality disorder. It was while +Tikhon was in bishop office. He did not like it. I don’t understand why he took it so personal. It must have struck a cord. I might post it again and watch the reaction.

          It is not unbelievable that he would say something like that if you know his character. It is the character that I speak into and expose. It does not like being seen right through and exposed. However, the bishop this time has exposed it himself. This is not the first time he has done that and I am not the only one he has said such things too.

          Spiritual abuse is a normal reaction by bishops to Ashley. They don’t like how I expose their authoritarian corruption and their character in that corruption. I have this way of bringing the true character of a hierarch out. What exposes them they spiritually abuse for exposing them.

          Thank you, +Tikhon for verifying, for validating and for proving true what I say about hierarchical corruption. Your response was perfect in that. It was a gift and you are the gift that keeps bringing these kinds of gifts that prove who you really are in your heart of hearts.

          If you cannot disprove what I am saying then resort to what the bishop has resorted too in his pathologically sick ad hominem. They will know they are Orthodox by their love. It was this kind of love that was showed to our son by the bishops of the GOA. You all share so much in corrupt common.

          No wonder to me why and how the OCA is in the state that it is in. It is a pathologically sick structure and system of authoritarian centralized power and control rule that is out of control by its authoritarian power and control.

    • Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

      “We are to be More Than Conquerors in and through Jesus Christ. If your jurisdiction cannot conquer its problems and seems to be always found with problems conquering it I would suggest you discover who and what is the God in rule of your church keeping it from becoming a More Than Conquerors church. If Christ is authority and the Holy Spirit is the power in your church then your church will more than conquer. It will more than exist in a survival existence dying state that has no solution.”

      Your “More Than Conquerors church” couldn’t even keep your own son in it and out of ours. Maybe you shouldn’t have refused to bless your son on his spiritual journey when he asked for it, maybe you even should have followed him, maybe you shouldn’t have treated a grown man like a child and undermined his every spiritual step, maybe you should repent and become Orthodox.

      Orthodoxy has survived state persecution by pagan emperors, Islam, Roman Catholics, and Communist police states; I’d call that “More Than Conquerors.”

      “my local church has paid the real price and is making the real sacrifices that are necessary for it be alive, growing, dynamic and relevant. It is currently involved in a major paradigm shift and it is because it is not based upon what will hold it down and back. It is a generational paradigm shift that is making it relevant to a new generation.”

      Powerpoint slides? Christian electric guitar music? Yoga classes and an ice cream bar? Switched from the King James Version to the *New* King James Version? Prosperity Gospel (Jesus wants you to have more stuff!) Approval of homosexuality and abortion? Female ordination?

      • Ashley Nevins says:

        You forgot to mention the priorities of my church, Rescue Like Jesus, Live for Jesus and Worship Jesus. The priority of my church is not the 7 last words of a dying church, we have always done it this way. You know, like the foreign ruled Greek or Russian way.

        You should visit our church sometime on a Rescue Like Jesus baptism Sunday and then call that prosperity Gospel, etc. We are developing a ministry to homosexuals and to others who have sexual issues. Our ministries to those who have had abortions, divorces and other issues in their lives are doing well. In fact, we plan on developing several more of them.

        Have you ever read Matthew 9:9-13? That is my church and you can see it in the homeless ministry at my church that works with several hundred people a week. Go be well Pharisee critic. Go be well. That is what Jesus told them.

        We also have an espresso bar at my church that people in between services have fellowship around (Heresy?). No ice cream or Yoga yet and no female pastors. But, there are two electric guitars in the worship service along with a key board and drums (What would Jesus say!?!). No we don’t have the exclusive Hellenic only interpretation of the Bible, but I can see how that interpretation in Orthodox America has turned out for them.

        • William G. says:

          Yet in all of this you fail to mention the centrality of the Eucharist or the transformation known as Theosis that the Orthodox follows. The Orthodox Church is the Guardian of Holy Tradition and many Orthodox jurisdictions are growing; in like manner I am also heartened by the continued growth in the Roman church of attendance at Extraordinary Form masses. People are growing weary of coffeehouse churches and rock music masquerading as “worship” and are gravitating towards the profound encounter with God in the Eucharist, in which Christ becomes known to us in the breaking of bread. 1 Corinthians ch 11 27-34 stresses the need for repentance and holiness in receipt of the Eucharist. We cannot communicate unpretentious homosexuals or give our approval to such unions because to do so would be to expose the laity in question to extreme personal danger when they partake of the body and blood of our Lord.

        • Ashley writes,

          We also have an espresso bar at my church that people in between services have fellowship around (Heresy?)

          Sorry to burst your bubble, but Orthodox parishes in the US serve coffee after the Divine Liturgy, often with snack foods, bagels, cake, sandwiches, etc. Our fellowship is an extension of our Eucharistic celebration.

          As for the rest of your comparisons of your church with the Orthodox Church, allow me to paraphrase Yoda from Return of the Jedi: “When 2000 years old your church reaches, look as good your church will not.”

      • This was a gratuitous and graceless comment. You should be ashamed of attacking someone who has suffered such a lost. Utterly ashamed.

  13. Heracleides says:

    Fr. Robert ‘We Are Their Legacy’ Arida’s drivel remains accessible via the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive: HERE. Any bets as to Arida and his lavender mob having the cojones to go after bigger fish than Monomakhos???

    P.S. George – you really need to update your file-photo of Fr. Arida.

    • Heracleides,
      I am sure that you and some of the readers of this blog find your caricatures, etc. amusing. Like you, I have little respect for many you satirize. BUT, it saddens me that you, who surely consider yourself a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, revel in publicly ridiculing those you do not respect rather than striving to see Christ in each of them.

      What you may not have considered is that your parodies suggest to many, including certainly those who disagree with you, that your position is not to be taken seriously, coming, as it appears to be, from one who is pleased to publicly turn his back on Christ’s commandment to love one another. Let’s pray for these folks instead of ridiculing them.

      • Heracleides says:

        Mary,

        Thank you for your constructive criticism.

        That said, I can only say that I offer respect to those too whom respect is due. Bearing the title of Bishop or Priest (or “Doctor” for that matter) does not automatically entail respect. For all the touchy-feelie jive often proffered, I only counter that Christ overturned tables – publicaly, in the forecourt of the Temple – and St. Nicholas gave Priest Arius a good smack-down – publicly, in the midst of an Ecumenical Council no less. If it was good enough for those two, it’s good enough for me.

        I take St. Issac seriously and dare to pray even for the fallen angels. Having done that, I’ve no qualms whatsoever in praying for those whom I caricature, and often do. In all sincerity – I would ask your prayers for me as well.

        • DC Indexman says:

          Have you had the opportunity to look at the OCA’s Delegation trip to Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate? It seems Archbishop Peterson managed to be present in some of the photos. He puts forth the impression he is having a good time. Any thoughts on how well he is representing the OCA Church?

          • It seems Archbishop Peterson managed to be present in some of the photos. I assume you mean His Eminence, Abp. Benjamin. I have seen neither his name nor his photo anywhere regarding the Moscow proceedings. Please provide links, and then give your own clearly stated thoughts rather than make sly implications.

            His diocesan calendar shows him in New York for the Antiochian enthronement through this past Sunday, and shows him in Oxnard tomorrow. It would have to be one heck of a whirlwind trip to Moscow.

          • Regarding His Eminence, Benjamin, I have seen neither his photo nor his name associated with the delegation and visit. His schedule had him in NY through this past Sunday for the Antiochian festivities and has him in Oxnard starting tomorrow. That would have to be one very whirlwind trip for him to have gone to Moscow — not that there would be anything wrong with his being there. He would certainly be a better representative than would some on the official delegation.

            Rather than making sly innuendos by asking if others have “any thoughts” about him — why don’t you have the courage to offer your own thoughts forthrightly?

            • M. Stankovich says:

              I happened to communicate with Archbishop Benjamin this afternoon. He is home in San Francisco. Any other water you would care to chum?

  14. How far will this go?
    Have a look here, but be warned, this is bad… I came across this when looking for an Orthodox Calendar application.

    http://www.orthodox-calendar.com/

    Or here: https://www.google.ca/search?q=orthodox+calendar&biw=1600&bih=767&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=fDWCVPmCO5CsogTA-IC4Dg&sqi=2&ved=0CD8QsAQ

    I am sorry if this offends some. It offended me….

    PS: Michael, if this is inappropriate, please delete.
    Thank you

  15. Sue Simpson says:

    George:

    If you really wrote the above, you’re as nutty as a fruit cake. Again, attacking a very good priest and attributing things to him that appear NO WHERE in his writings nor teaching. Your forum has become a WITCH HUNT and a place to CYBER-CRUCIFY and slander your enemies. The stupidity of asking if the OCA will have a schism is blatantly ridiculous. Maybe right-wing nuts will join your false cause like Don Quixote attacking windmills. This forum has degraded to the lowest levels of demonic slander.

    • It’s not slander if it’s true.

    • ChristineFevronia says:

      Fr. Robert Arida has been unwilling to respond to the questions raised to him personally by email, letter, phone call, or posts on multiple websites. Last time I heard, he refused to respond to his brother priests of the Houston Orthodox Brotherhood who penned a request asking for a very simple clarification of his words. And now he has shut down Monomakhos for a period of time to scrub it of all references to his public blog posting. I have absolutely nothing personal against the man, and never even heard of him until I read his recent article on the OCA’s website itself. So, Sister Sue Simpson, forget about those of us posters you call right-wing nuts and witch-hunters, and consider the priests who have tried contacting him but have had no success. Even you as his supporter can understand how his lack of communication to attempt to clarify the outpouring of questions and concerns based on his recent writings could be construed as questionable at best, stubborn and arrogant at worst.

      Sue, when you accused our beloved Orthodox priests as engaging in “demonic slander”, it brought tears to my eyes. When one of their brethren publicly writes a statement calling for the Church to reexamine its already-perfectly-examined definition of human sexuality and the configuration of the family, they must seek clarification. That is not demonic slander, Sue! It is the purest fulfillment of their holy vocation, which is to “rightly divide the word of Truth”. Slander is the opposite. Slander means that one knowingly presents lies or deliberate distortions as facts in an attempt to assassinate another person’s character and reputation in a public setting. The Orthodox clergy of every jurisdiction, from the east to the west, who publicly speak truth to power, are courageous heroes on the frontlines of the ultimate battle between Light and darkness that is taking place in our fallen world.

      You write as if you are personally connected to the OCA cathedral where Fr. Robert and Archbishop Nikon serve. When you go to Vespers tonight or Divine Liturgy tomorrow, please light a candle and say a prayer for all of us, that God will have mercy on our souls. And in this blessed season of the Nativity, may the Light of the Star appearing in the East guide us to Truth, which is not conceived in the minds of men or academics, but is found instead in Mary’s womb.

    • Jesse Cone says:

      Sue,

      If Fr. Arida has been misrepresented or misunderstood, how do you suggest we get him to clarify and correct the misunderstanding? Surely he’s welcome to post here or contact George directly? (I mean, besides issues other than copyright concerns.)

    • Boston Tea Party says:

      Oh, come on Sue. Grow a thicker skin. If you want to play in the sandbox of life, sometimes you are going to get kicked. Heck, even the Big Boys get taken to the woodshed sometimes.

      Now, just sit down, cross-legged in the Zen position as you do at HTC in Boston and repeat after me, it’s not slander if it is true. it’s not slander if it is true. it’s not slander if it is true. Repeat as often as necessary unto ages of ages. Amen. 😉

    • Boston Tea Party says:

      Oh, come on Sue. Grow a thicker skin. If you want to play in the sandbox of life, sometimes you are going to get kicked. Heck, even the Big Boys get taken to the woodshed sometimes.

      Now, just sit down, cross-legged in the Zen position as you do at HTC in Boston to listen to the Zen Master Fr. Robert, and repeat after me, it’s not slander if it is true. it’s not slander if it is true. it’s not slander if it is true. Repeat as often as necessary unto ages of ages. Amen. 😉

      • Salemlemko says:

        Its Ruby Slipper time! Sisters and brothers, brothers amd sisters! Join us in the chant of the cult! “there’s no place like HTC, there’s no place like HTC”

        The sad and all too true reality is, that the Army of Arida cannot function outside of that building. Take them out, and like the WW of the W, they will melt into a puddle of luke warm liquid. All jokes aside, this is a tragedy. They have been sold a rotting basket of fruit! Praiseworthy Boston Tea Party speaks the truth, and is another in a growing list of voices working here and elsewhere to expose the terror of Boston, the Archpriest Robert M. Arida

        Where is the Anti Holy Synod of the OCA?

        • This is a lesson to everyone. This is how idiots call for action from leaders.

          Offend them-works great.

          • Michael Bauman says:

            Evidently anon, you have never experienced the anger that follows the damage spiritual abuse. I am happy for you. The “leaders” are complicit if they do nothing.

  16. M. Stankovich says:

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    Good for you for closing out the the year on a fabulously dumb note, and bartender, make that a double: the OCA goes into schism for communing with… sinners. Imagine! And you simply cannot help yourself – like a classic compulsive/addictive disorder – you had to drag Jonah from his earned obscurity into the bright lights and pin a big sign on him that reads in three languages, “KICK ME!” Pardon me, with my glasses on I now see that the weather-beaten sign says “Stinkbomb Letter.” Mais, quelle que difference? Bravo, old man! A stingingly dumb sensation.

    I have said any number of times, simply using the criterion of the Nicean Creed, if we were to question the faithful as to what it is they actually believe – we commune with a band of heretics. And as I’ve also said, my personal experience is that younger adults in the Church are ambivalent if not outright indifferent in regard to the issues of abortion, gay marriage, surrogate parenting for gay couples, assisted suicide, unmarried domestic relationships, and so on. “Live and let live.” These are not viewed as “moral” issues, but issues of civil and human rights. You want to blame this on “dirty tricks” in Syossett? You have figured out the play-by-play and gameplan of this “cabal?” Go and read Alexander Schmemman’s Problems of Orthodoxy in America, written in 1965. Whatever you think of him as a person, he saw the reality of Orthodoxy and secularism in America. And for heaven’s sake sake, Mr. Michalopulos, when are you going to realize that it was not a “Stinkbomb Letter” that ruined Jonah’s reputation, it was Julie Dreher, who had the courage to go and confront his lack of leadership and the “disaster” he had created as Metropolitan. She humiliated him into action and revealed the depth of the problem as him.

    If this entire conflict regarding Robert Arida were to result in a spiritual renewal – a re-dedication to a pursuit of the Patristic & Scriptural tasks of bringing the message of the salvation of our God to the world as we are have been chosen and entrusted – no one would be more edified than me. But it will not happen when at the core is such purposeful scorn and divisiveness. If Robert Arida disappeared today, we are still left with the massive problem of secularism and indifference. And we are in denial.

    • And as I’ve also said, my personal experience is that younger adults in the Church are ambivalent if not outright indifferent in regard to the issues of abortion, gay marriage, surrogate parenting for gay couples, assisted suicide, unmarried domestic relationships, and so on. “Live and let live.” These are not viewed as “moral” issues, but issues of civil and human rights.

      That is why it is vital we take swift and decisive action when we find wolves among the sheep and make examples of them.

      Your incredulity is silly. You act as though the church has never dealt with twisted teachers and deranged philosophy.

      You correct the problem of heresy among the faithful by correcting the error, starting with those who promulgate it most vocally. And also those who sow confusion and doubt with their word games.

      That delightful line from the Akathist about “Rending the word webs of the Athenians” comes to mind.

      • M. Stankovich says:

        I suggest that you visit the largest and most active websites of LGBT activism, major US newspapers, political sites of all types, and medical and psychiatric websites dating back to 2006 and the issue of Prop 8 in the state of California, and there you will find me, by name, presenting and defending the eternal Truth entrusted to us, once and for all time. And son, I have been alone in doing so. You would preach to me about taking “swift and decisive action when we find wolves?” You are as naive as you are arrogant and self-righteous.

        “Your incredulity is silly. You act as though the church has never dealt with twisted teachers and deranged philosophy.” Please, provide me any modern example of of the moral voice of the Orthodox Church in this country exerting a modicum of influence: abortion, same-sex unions/marriage/adoptions/parental surrogacy, assisted suicide, genetics & stem cell research, the use of aborted fetus cell-lines in mandatory vaccinations of school children, capital punishment, etc. Nothing. We are voiceless and non-existent; the harbinger and defenders of the Way, of the Path, and the Revelation of Kingdom which is to come and we are voiceless and silent. And Lord forgive me for saying it, but so frequently when I read what those who believe themselves to be the “traditionalists” have to say, I must conclude it is probably for the better that no one does listen to us. And friend Ages, you would actually have me believe that Robert Arida constitues the greatest threat to the integrity of the Orthodox Church at this time. Tell me again: “Your incredulity is silly.”

        And finally, here is my ambivalence in summary: when I first came to this site, there would be no integrity until Mets. Herman & Theodosius were brought to trial; Robert Kondratik was exonerated and restored to the priesthood, Protodeacon Eric Wheeler was drawn & quartered for his perjury & manipulation; the Holy Synod was tried and dismissed for crimes against Met. Jonah in Phoenix, forcing him to admit “wrongdoing” at the AAC, sending him to a “Soviet psych facility” run by gays, and “stinkbombing” a righteous man out of his job; AND, the all-consuming, ever-present, ever-influential hatred for everything homosexual. And now Robert Arida.

        The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it has been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (Eccles. 1: 9:11)

        Stop preaching to me, son. I’ve seen too many bad things to be moved by your chiding. I will, however, always have your back.

        • I commend you for everything you are doing. And perhaps I was harsh, and I apologize for the tone.

          But I stand by what I said about Fr Arida being a wolf among the flock. There should be no tolerance for sowing confusion. Preaching outright heresy is better than that, because at least it is obvious. I’m not saying Fr Arida is THE threat to the church. But his methods certainly are a serious problem.

    • Кентигерн Сиверс says:

      Dear to Christ Michael,
      So is it of course the indifference of the world to clarifying, critiquing, and correcting of Tradition that we must embrace, as this “Expanding Our Mission” by your friend implies? Have you spoken with him about these issues to raise with him your own criticism about his ambiguity, which you have raised here publicly? The ambiguity and implied embrace of the world seems to offer only a preservation of the robes and titles and ritual without its transfigurative power. The stereotyping of converts only seems to provoke response in kind. Neither is conducive to real mission work in America. The Living Church idea didn’t work out in the last century in the East and is unlikely to keep the Church alive across generations amid Western secularism today, Indeed, the rapid decline of the mainstream Protestant and Catholic sects in America demonsrate that accommodation of the world is not a solution to worldliness. The Pharisasm of the secularized Living Church was to preach allegiance to ecclesiastical organization in the Gospel’s name while not offering the Gospel’s transfiguring power–only an organization rather than the organism of the Body of Christ. In the end the spirit of the Catacomb Church was more enduring, even if cnodemned by worldly officials as overzealous and out of touch.
      With love and prayers,
      Kentigern

    • Jesse Cone says:

      Stankovich shares,

      And as I’ve also said, my personal experience is that younger adults in the Church are ambivalent if not outright indifferent in regard to the issues of abortion, gay marriage, surrogate parenting for gay couples, assisted suicide, unmarried domestic relationships, and so on. “Live and let live.” These are not viewed as “moral” issues, but issues of civil and human rights.

      I was chrismated with well over a dozen people in 2007. Many of the parishes I’ve been part of, both in CA and TX, have a strong presence of youth (often “hipsters”) who are converts. My personal experience is the opposite. These are absolutely moral issues–and while myself and the younger converts I know are aware the moral topography they live in is vastly different than that of the generation before them–they come to the Church as an anchor, a harbor, a hospital in a topsy-turvy. They expect to be told the hard truth of things by that which is its pillar and ground; not to bring ambivalence and chalk up the Church’s instruction on these matters as archaic “issues of civil and human rights”.

      My experience couldn’t be more opposite.

      Stankovich, you used to continually tell me how young and inexperienced I was, so I’ll consider myself part of the demographic you are witnessing for. The converts I know are scandalized by the things they see coming from Fr. Arida, Leonova, Stokoe, the Manton scandal, etc.–even though we have nothing in common with the Westboro hatemongers you seem to fear we either are, or soon might become.

      One of the most astounding Orthodox parishes I know is St. Andrew’s in Riverside CA, lead by the dynamic (if controversial) Fr. Josiah Trenham. His parish is large, vibrant, incredibly young, and unapologetically conservative. If what you are leading us to believe is true it would seem unlikely that such a place would be what it currently is, especially in urban California. Yet, there is stands.

      • I have found that the young are very tolerant of what goes on in the secular world, in no small part because they have never known anything but aggressive secularism that is unstoppable. And they have never known what it is like to live in a society with a public code of morality (even if ignored by many in practice) that roughly coincides with Christianity.

        But they are quietly resolute about keeping this stuff out of the Church and out of their own lives. I see absolutely no evidence that young Orthodox Christians want our moral teaching within the Church to change one iota. Even those “going through a phase” of doing their own thing are not amused at the thought of their Church changing. They are not worried about what non-Christians are doing, though. They knew this battle in the public sphere was over before we adults did.

        It is the duty of older Christians to preserve a Church that their indifferent 20-somethings will find worth coming back to. And that isn’t the Church of Fr. Arida’s vision.

      • M. Stankovich says:

        Mr. Cone,

        I have great respect for Fr. Josiah Trenham,; I have enjoyed his writings and recorded sermons & talks; I also have dear friends who are parishioners of St. Andrews. Nevertheless, your point – “tit-for-tat” – is ridiculous. I can name any number of “vibrant, incredibly young, and unapologetically conservative” parishes. But they are anomalistic, not representative. Come 90-minutes south of Riverside & I will take you on the $5 “tour of indifference” and even let you honk the horn: multiple Greek, Antiochian, OCA, multiple Serbian parishes, and we’ll survey as to the moral issues of our day. Seriously, Mr. Cone, do you imagine I’m pulling my opinions from my derrière? I speak to people, I speak to the clergy, I speak to the bishops, Mr. Cone. I do not need a “head count” to realize that we – the Lord’s select, prepared at His right hand to witness and to suffer for the Eternal Truth that has been entrusted to us – have no moral voice or influence in our society and do not seem to be troubled by it in the least.

        Secondly, you seem to imagine I have some “issue” with converts, when, in fact, those who are converts are ordained to lead the the Church, and it is an astonishingly high calling. If you were listening during Holy Week, specifically during the Matins of Great and Holy Friday and the Reading of the the Passion Gospels, Antiphon 12 following the reading of the 4th Gospel says specifically:

        Thus Says The Lord To The Jews:
        “My People, What Have I Done To You,
        “Or How Have I Offended You?
        “To Your Blind, I Gave Sight, Your Lepers I Cleansed,
        “The Paralytic I Raised From His Bed.
        “My People, What Have I Done To You,
        “And How Have You Repaid Me?
        “Instead Of Manna, Gall; Instead Of Water, Vinegar;
        “Instead Of Loving Me, You Nail Me To The Cross.
        “I Can Bear No More.
        “I Shall Call The Gentiles Mine.
        “They Will Glorify Me With The Father And The Spirit,//
        “And I Shall Give Them Life Eternal.”

        We are a Church of converts, Mr. Cone, as the Lord explained to the Samaritan woman, “You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:22-24) You have accepted the greatest of callings, Mr. Cone, which demands that you maintain the “hard truth of things” in a society that has nominalized morality to the point of nonexistence in exchange for “rights.”

        So what is my point? Read Alexander Schmemann’s Problems With Orthodoxy in America. It is so succinct, so descriptive, and so prophetic that I waste my words. We are awash in secularism & indifference, despite the finest anomalistic examples both you and I can offer – thanks be to our God who plants these vineyards with His right hand, and that they serve as examples and goals, but anomalistic they are. We need prophets and leaders, hierarchs and voices of moral authority, and an attitude of intolerance for ineffective and indifferent leaders. And it will not be won at the hand of anonymous creeps on the internet. You will lead and guide the Church in the next generation, Mr. Cone, by courage, witness, fidelity to the Fathers before you, fearlessness, persistence, and martyrdom. Converts are my hope, and the only thing I fear is indifference.

        And why in the hell are you being so rude in calling me “Stankovich?”

        • Heracleides says:

          “And why in the hell are you being so rude in calling me “Stankovich?””

          Now, now, Mikey. You engage in such ‘rudeness’ on a regular basis, don’t you “son”…er, “bro”? Take your faux martyr’s crown and go cry yourself a handful in some other sandbox.

          • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

            Take THAT! Once again Heracleides Pompikos protects his”sandbox,”

            • Daniel E Fall says:

              Next thing your going to so is suggest it is a sin to publish woefully offensive remarks.

              Be careful there. There is more than one child at play.

        • Jesse Cone says:

          Mr. Stankovich,

          I apologize if my previous reference to you using only your last name caused offense. None was meant. Please forgive me.

          I do not think you have a problem with converts per se. I mentioned your reference to my youth to give my personal experience some credentials.

          Please do not take my disagreement as disrespect.

          It is not hard for me to accept your personal experience is different than mine. I find it hard to accept you speaking on behalf of my demographic and outright dismissing my personal experience.

          The thriving parishes I know are pumping out young conservative converts. They may be an anomaly but I have reason to believe they are the kind of courageous and faithful anomaly you desire in the fight against indifference.

          • Mr. Cone,

            Thank you for your respectful reply to Stankovich – sorry, Dr. Stankovich! Your humility outshines his needs for attention and affirmation.

  17. He may have targeted you, George (I was wondering what happened this afternoon when I tried to read your blog), but his essay is all over the place. I’ll bet your blog wasn’t the only one to post it.

    As for causing the OCA to enter schism, I highly doubt it. I am wondering if Pat. Kirill has had a little chat with Met. Tikhon about all these kerfluffles.

    Bishops are listening and reading but that’s about it.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

      Well, they sure rolled out the Red Carpet in Russia for His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon and his entourage during this past week! I hope this doesn’t cause too many twisted knickers here! Ever since Metropolitan Jonah so quickly caved in and RESIGNED, this page became the crying room of choice for a whole claque of gloom and doom criers!

  18. defrock him along with that dead skunk on his head ~

  19. Funny how Arida will go to such lengths to stop free decent but won’t life one fat finger to address the issues.

    How Soviet!

    Thanks Fr. Arida, you just confirmed to an entire new audience what a pompous arse you continue to be.

    You continue to bring shame to the Eucharist by communing “married gay couples” and you dare to invoke Copyright?

    If you have been so terribly misrepresented, then deny with proof what is wrong. Speak plainly sir, for once. What do you believe and teach and how do your actions verify them.

    I am sure George would be happy to open up his blog to your reply. We will wait.
    And wait.
    And wait.
    And wait.
    We are not going away.
    Copyright?
    How utterly lame and so OCA.

  20. Copyright? says:

    George,

    You must be making this Copyright thing up. You can’t be serious. But if you are, if anyone wasn’t convinced that the Emperor Arida has no clothes, this should confirm it.

    Funny how Arida will go to such lengths to stop free dissent but won’t lift one fat finger to address the issue.

    How Soviet!

    Thanks Fr. Arida, you just confirmed to an entire new audience what a pompous arse you continue to be.

    You continue to bring shame to the Eucharist by communing “married gay couples” and you dare to invoke Copyright? How much has your Rainbow Inclusive Eucharistic Theology been influenced by your daughter’s civil gay marriage to another woman? How much are you using your personal life to change Orthodox Dogma to fit your circumstances? You see, it is not just what you write, it is the totality of the circumstances behind what you write that is being exposed, and apparently you don’t like the attention?

    But if you have been so terribly misrepresented, then deny with proof what is wrong. Speak plainly sir, for once. What do you believe and teach and how do your actions verify them.

    I am sure George would be happy to open up his blog to your reply (which would be copyrighted, so I don’t know how that would work!)
    We will wait.
    And wait.
    And wait.
    And wait.
    We are not going away.

    Copyright?

    How utterly lame and so OCA. Kill the messenger.

    • oliverwendeldouglas says:

      Arida’s knowledge of copyright law is as limited as his knowledge of church doctrine. Who owns a copyright?
      Ordinarily, the creator does.

      However, if he or she CREATES THE WORK IN THE COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT OR is retained under an appropriate contract to make the work, then the work is a “WORK MADE FOR HIRE,” and the EMPLOYER OR THE CONTRACTING PARTY OWNS THE COPYRIGHT. Co-creators jointly own the copyright in the work they create together. * * * *
      Under the U.S. Copyright Law, for a work made for hire, that is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of employment or a specially ordered or commissioned work, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author.

      Permission is not needed for the use of facts, because Copyright Law does not protect facts.

      So, just because he sticks a “c” in a circle after everyone and his uncle has read and copies the writing does not do him much good. The thing belongs to the Metropolitan and/or the Synod. N.B. Not Jillians either.

      • knows the law says:

        Your explanation of “work for hire” is Disneyesque to the point of parody in it’s aggressive and overly-broad assertions. Copyright does not work the way you’ve explained it here, and never has.

        “Fair use” allows for a limited quotation of another work for the purpose of commentary, but not a complete reprint or reproduction.

        • oliverwendeldouglas says:

          Fair use is not the issue here. “Fair use” was not mentioned. The item in question was produced at the request of another department of the OCA, one which Arida does not manage or control. This is made clear by the action of the Metropolitan in removing it from the website the next day. He controls the website, solicits articles and approves items (at least in theory).

          P.S. My definitions were informed by the work of committees in Congress that oversee copyright law. They might have a general idea about how the law works. And even better, whatever Congress produces in available for free use by anyone.

          My definition stands.

          • You suggest Arida’s essay was requested in order to justify your assertion. I doubt the essay was requested or would fall under any employment matter. This is especially more true in that it is so controversial. The essay is pretty clearly not a standard bit of a priest’s role, so by your own definition, you sort of disprove your own argument.

      • Good point, OVH!

        This would mean that the OCA owns and approves contents of the Wonder Blog for Children and is responsible for its contents.

  21. Salemlemko says:

    Hey! Arida! Fr. Meyendorff, Fr. Florovsky, Fr. Schmemann and the Church Father’s called…. Their works are copyrighted, they said you can’t use them in your perverted writings……

  22. Chris Banescu says:

    Fr. Arida continues to spread confusion and scandalous ideas. He persists on using a worldly and twisted version of “love” that is a fraud. This “love” abandons a brother to his sin and does nothing to speak the clear and unambiguous truth to him. This “love” preaches a worldly Christ, stripped of His wisdom and authority. This “love” alienates the brother caught up in sin from the eternal truth, wisdom, love, mercy, and righteousness of GOD and prevents true healing from taking place. This “love” cuts off man from this Creator and shuts out the eternal light that must illumine all our hearts and souls, and is the only way in which our humanity can be restored and we can be saved and find real and everlasting joy.

    “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” ~ C.S. Lewis

    “It is not loving to affirm a person in their sin.

    It is not loving to affirm a person in their rebellion against both God and His created, natural order—not “supernatural,” or “unnatural,” but the way nature was always intended to be, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and all the Saints.

    It is not loving to affirm a person in their beliefs or perspectives that run contrary to the blessings offered us in both Christ and His one, holy Church.

    It is not compassionate to ignore truth in order to affirm a person in lies.

    It is not compassionate to let people live a life contrary to the author of Life.”
    ~ Gabe Martini

    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2014/08/orthodox-truth-in-an-age-of-relativism/

    “Woe to you who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Woe to you who call sin virtue, and virtue sin. Woe to you who call love hatred, and hatred love. Woe to you who call foolishness wisdom, and wisdom foolishness. Woe to you who call falsehood truth, and truth falsehood.

    “If your proclamation of the Christian Faith is not deemed to be a danger to the social norms of the fallen world… Then examine your Christian Faith and pray for the courage to go all the way. To preach love without discipline is to tell a lie. To preach of heaven without the consequences of hell is to cheat people of the truth. To sugarcoat sin is to be found complicit in its acceptance.” ~ Fr. Benedict Simpson

    “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  23. pegleggreg says:

    here’s a revolutionary idea: Christ rose from the dead. But I guess your traditional Orthodoxy rejects that too?

  24. His drivel is nothing new. I have read this stuff for 20 years on Episcopal blogs. And now even The mag. Christianity Today has fallen for it.

  25. I suppose I’m amused by it all. This is God’s way of allowing the Church to be tested. Tested to separate the dead from the living, the wheat from the chaffe.

    For years I’ve predicted that there would inevitably be a schism of modernists from the Orthodox Church. The only question I had was exactly where the lines would be drawn given the chaotic situation regarding faith and practice within the Church. My only concern would be that as few modernists as possible remain in the Church under this scenario. Such a sorting out is best done only once in a long while. It is difficult for friends and families. Arida’s is only one form of heterodoxy or heteropraxis.

    That said, I don’t see the Big Schism some predict here around the corner. Call me cynical but I don’t think the bishops have the balls to do it. I watched the progressive destruction of the Anglican Church over the past decade and a half or so. Everyone on the right was suggesting that schism was just around the corner and that the radical revisionists would get their rebuke oh so soon. It dragged on for a lot longer than anyone expected.

    Part of it is cowardice. Part of it is that such disturbances can affect the flow of money, Mammon, the real god of many Orthodox. Part of it is that being a theological liberal doesn’t make one any less Greek or Ukrainian or whatever. And lastly, a big part is the notion of the “company man”. A person loyal to the institution which keeps his food dish replenished. The “Truth”, to this type of person, is whatever secures his position.

    “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

  26. Michael Bauman says:

    All I can say is that the OCA administration continues to make the case that we ate not competent to be autocephalas.

  27. George,

    It appears you have received some criticism and even had your website be the subject of attack due to your role in bringing these matters to the light of day.

    For what it is worth, I think you have been doing the right thing. I’m not sure that any status quo will be changed as a result of Fr. Arida’s assertions or anyone’s reaction to them. However, regardless of the action or inaction of bishops, it is necessary to simply bear witness to what is happening and to the Truth. That is utterly invaluable in and of itself.

    Kudos.

  28. I very much doubt Arida would have given you a legal shot if it hadn’t been for all the nastiness mostly anonymous posters engaged in…

    People went way overboard on the subject matter with little or no chastisement from priests, save one.

    Just my theory…

  29. Tim R. Mortiss says:

    How splendid a spectacle it would have been had Fr. Robert himself ventured here to administer “chastisement”!

    I will say, Mr. Fall, that that’s a new one in the internet age: “I asserted ‘copyright’ to my public internet posting, because those folks were so, so nasty”!

    • Arida wanted constructive dialogue. If he had gotten that here; he would have been gratified. It has nothing to do with the internet.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says:

        Of course he wanted “dialogue” (aka ‘constructive dialogue’)! This is the modus operandi of the Episcopalians, the Presbyterians, and others, for decades now. The ‘progressive forces’ posit positions unacceptable to the Faith, and call for ‘dialogue’. In a couple decades, the Faith is driven out, although the believers still get asked to ‘have a conversation’ now and then, now that they’re harmless….

        The most reassuring thing about the reactions here and many other places to Fr. Arida’s writing is precisely and exactly that they have not produced ‘dialogue’!

        “[h]e would have been gratified”…. Indeed, he would have been. Thank God he has not been ‘gratified’.

      • Fr. John Whiteford says:

        I know of several priests who attempted to contact him privately to discuss this, and they have not received a call back.

      • What is the point of dialoging about settled theology?

        When was the last time anyone called for a dialogue about Arianism and how we can better minister to those who hold Arian beliefs?

        • Oh-must you?

          Can’t you keep the Hitler arguments out? I will pretend you answered sans garbage.

          There is nothing bad about the conversation. If nothing else, it allows for the ‘settled theology’ to get more discussion. My only point is the church has never addressed the impacts of secular homosexual marriage and that it ought to for the sake of children. Quite too horrible it seems.

          My children seem to have a better handle on it than most of the clerics.

  30. A great opinion piece, “FROM A LAX CHURCH TO AN AGNOSTIC CHURCH,” at the excellent Roman Catholic Blog Rorate Caeli nails this very theme. I’d suggest everyone read it. A couple of quotes:

    A God that no longer asks anything of men is one that doesn’t exist. Yet this has been the tragic consequence of the Post-Conciliar Church, which by espousing a secular vision of mercy has arrived at practical agnosticism. If it is true that practical atheism exists i.e. those who live as if God doesn’t exist, even if they don’t deny His existence explicitly, so then real agnosticism exists i.e. those who talk of an unknown God Who doesn’t speak clearly to men, from whom man gets what he wants according to the circumstances; a God Who is essentially there to validate without asking much in return.

    In one fell swoop Sacred Scripture in its entirety has been erased i.e. all of the Gospels and the Old Testament. There is talk of a God that we will not find in Revelation; of a Jesus borrowed from Masonic secularism, but Who bears no resemblance to any passages of the Gospels. A Lord who doesn’t indicate the way to life by asking men to distance themselves from sin; but a Lord who is in a hurry to validate what men do when they are intoxicated by sin.

  31. Gail Sheppard says:

    I have no doubt that “yours truly” can handle it. Keep on doing what you’re doing. . .

  32. Deacon James says:

    Fr. Robert Arida’s writings and position are only all too familiar to me. I grew up in the Episcopal Church and am now 75 years old, having come into the Holy Orthodox Church 25 years ago.

    In the late 60’s on into the 70’s I witnessed the creeping gradualism of secularism, liberalism, and heresy expanding within the Episcopal Church. It all starts and expands with the liberal faction calling for “dialogue.” Be reasonable, they say. We are willing to dialogue about important matters affecting the church. The opposing factions are routinely accused of being unreasonable, which becomes a cardinal sin in the mind of the liberals. Dialogue for them means that they are willing to talk to the other side for as long as it takes for the other side to come around to and accept the liberal agenda.

    My wife and I left the Episcopal Church in 1978. Along with the expanding liberal drivel came what was called the trial version of the Book of Common Prayer. Ostensibly, it was an update of the antiquated Elizabethan English of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. When I sat down to compare the prayers of the two books side by side, I found that it was not just the language that had changed, the prayers had changed, nudging everything over to the liberal agenda. That was enough. What is prayed is what is believed say the Fathers. The Episcopal Church has become some sort of a liturgical Rotary
    Club, no longer a part of the Christian confession. The Diocese of Los Angeles in which I grew up now has a lesbian suffragan bishop complete with female life partner.

    After leaving the Episcopal Church, I have had a tendency to look back over my shoulder to see if something might be gaining on me, and I see once again the same scenario striving to obtain a beachhead in the Orthodox Church.

    The importance of marriage, Holy Matrimony, between a man and a woman in uniquely channeling human sexuality must not be changed in the Orthodox Church. The acceptance of the practice of homosexuality is so obviously anti-Scriptural and anti- Tradition that it should not even be debated.

    Fr. Arida and his homosexual children and followers must not be allowed to encroach upon and blur the ancient boundaries set by Scripture, Tradition, the Fathers, and the practice of the Holy Orthodox Church. If they cannot conform to and abide by the ancient boundaries, they are free to leave.

  33. Salemlemko says:

    I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast of Fr Robert’s sermon for the feast of St. Andrew. If you can get beyond the Brooklyn born priest’s stained glass voice, you will hear the rehashing of the only sermon he has ever preached. See how crafty he is, with subliminal skill Pharaoh schemes and instructs his slaves to construct the pyramid of commendatory theology that feeds his enermous ego and prelest. He is, at his justification best even as he tries not to leave us any wiggle room. Very crafty.

    To his victims that remain silent here, and those that post, caution, you will be re-victimized if you listen.

  34. I have attempted to read Fr Arida’s writings and to listen to some of his publicly available speeches with an open, albeit disciplined, mind. To the best of my ability I set aside the serious concerns raised here and elsewhere while focusing strictly on what can be expressly understood from his works, listening with the assumption that what has been reported here and elsewhere is sheer calumny as some believe.

    What I have found is that there is a theme reverberating throughout his works. The one constant theme is a view of the Tradition as suffocating rather than life-giving. It suggests that much, if not most, of it is empty moralism and lifeless liturgical formalism. It could essentially be expressed as a conviction that we in the Church believe what we believe and do things a certain way merely because it is what has always been believed and only because it is the way it has always been done (or so we think). Moreover, we cling to these beliefs and practices in order to avoid opening our hearts, as well as to isolate ourselves from others.

    This sort of decrying of empty formalism, isolation, and rigidity can be perceived by some to be in the tradition of Fr. Alexander Schmemann who was very much interested in liturgical renewal, spiritual renewal, and the evangelization of America. There is a clear difference, however. Fr. Alexander (and others like him) sought to call us back to the Spirit of the Tradition. His criticism was never aimed at the Tradition itself. In fact, he sought to uphold it firmly – even to the degree of being what some might call ‘rigid’ about it. He knew from experience that life was to be found in the Tradition as received and sought to reveal its fullness, its depth, and its utter transcendence of this world for those who had come to view their Orthodoxy as little more than a religious ritual or obligation to be satisfied. One can argue over whether Fr. Alexander found the right words. One could also argue over whether the minor reforms he called for were appropriate. But it is fair to say that he expressed no desire whatsoever to alter any aspect of the received Tradition. He simply sought to call us back to its fullness. In doing so, he attempted to witness to what he had seen, what he had heard, and what his hands had handled concerning the Word of life. He understood the Tradition to be holy and immutable- not because human beings have hallowed it by time or religious inertia, but because it is the life of God Himself in union with His Church. It is, therefore, quite clear that Fr. Alexander’s call to continuous renewal of life in the Holy Spirit by means of faithfulness to the fullness of what has been delivered to us was of a far different kind than that of the continuous renewal suggested by the works in question.

    Rather than the renewal of our life in the Holy Trinity that comes of being faithful to the Tradition, the spirit of these works insists on renewal of a sort that changes in order to remain ‘relevant.’ Rather than judging ourselves and the culture by the Tradition (and yes, the unapologetically correct word is ‘judge’), it seeks to reevaluate – and therefore judge – the received Tradition by its degree of supposed relevance. It suggests that in order for the Church to remain relevant she must engage the culture on its own terms, and it does so by asserting that this is what the Church has always done. It must be stated emphatically that while it is true that the Church has modified certain practices somewhat over the centuries, she always maintains her internal integrity unchanged in accordance with the received Tradition. Her engagement with whatever evils exist in the surrounding culture is by virtue of the fact of her presence in the world and her steadfast resistance of them. She never engages in ‘dialog’ over the received Tradition in a manner that defers to the culture in matters of faith, liturgical practice or morality. Whenever she condescends to the culture in order to redeem it, she (as His Body) never questions any aspect of the Tradition she has received, compromises who she is, or seeks to renew herself in its image. The Church’s reference point for renewal (or theosis) is never the culture; it is Christ. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Wherever the Church has transformed culture she has done so by standing firmly and lovingly against its evils, often in martyrdom, secure in the fullness of Life she has received. By her very life, she witnesses to the truth and beauty of Christ in Whom alone is the only fully and truly human existence.

    How very alien is this spirit of cultural ‘relevance’ to the Life-giving Spirit of holiness! How foreign, and even opposed, to the love for God that burns in the hearts of the Saints! For only a fervent love of God – a love that on the surface appears to be indifferent to the world – can love the world as God loves and be the mediator of its salvation.

    The Church can only save this world by standing apart from it while living in its midst, testifying to the Eternal Life that is not of this world. By contrast, the spirit of these works suggests that our standing apart is inherently judgmental and therefore cuts off any possibility of the engagement with the culture. It suggests that Light and Life can ‘dialogue’ with darkness and death. But there can be no dialogue between Light and darkness, for by its very nature Light dispels darkness, exposing it as nothing. As for being judgmental, by her presence alone the Church cannot help but be a judgment upon those who are of this world because darkness and death cannot abide Life and Light. If the world perceives judgment from the Church it is due to the fact that the Light and fullness of her life exposes its darkness and emptiness. “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” The spirit of these works would seek to preclude us from letting this Light shine brightly in all its fullness. It would have us hide our Light “under a bushel,” leaving those in this world lost in the oblivion of darkness and deadly ignorance with no means of recognizing their deprivation of life and nothing toward which they could turn in repentance even if they did. Apart from the Light of Christ shining in His Body all of us without exception would remain dead in trespasses and sins. Thus, the Church’s love for the world and its relevance to the world is demonstrated and realized precisely in her steadfast refusal to become a part of it. And while the Tradition strictly forbids us to judge any person, we must nevertheless live in the fullness of the Tradition as we have received it, shamelessly confessing that the judgments of the Lord (who changeth not) are true and righteous altogether. Failure to remain faithful to the Tradition is a failure of love. For just as there can be no truth without love, so there can be no love without truth.

    This spirit of these works is bold in its assertion that the challenges presented by our current culture are new and that new accommodations must therefore be developed. It goes on to suggest that because these challenges have never before been faced, we cannot look to the experience of our holy Fathers for guidance.

    The first assertion falsely (and perhaps unintentionally) ascribes creative power to evil. In reality, the degenerative progression of human cooperation with evil in succumbing to the passions is remarkably predictable and highly uncreative. Being nihilistic, the works of evil eventually end with the death of its collaborators, however tenaciously they cling to life, and the inevitable collapse of their ideologies. Given the finitude and predictability of evil, as well as the countless generations that have lived and died since Pentecost, it is absurd to assert that our holy Fathers (and most especially the holy monastic elders who courageously plumbed the abyss of evil within themselves) have no experience to offer us as we face the depravities of our current culture. One can no more presume that the cultural challenges we face are ‘new,’ requiring a reevaluation of the Tradition, than the Saints of Russia could have insisted upon such a reevaluation in the face of the ‘new and never before seen’ challenge of Soviet Communism.

    It is therefore not a question of these challenges being ‘new.’ Nor is it a question of the Tradition being silent. The only question is: Will we have the courage of Christ to speak the truth in love, being fully prepared to allow those who reject it the freedom to walk away (as many inevitably will) and possibly to suffer for the sake of truth, or will we prefer to insist on maintaining our supposed ‘relevance’ and ‘rightful place’ in the culture. The later course ensures that our prophetic voice is silenced, our salt loses its savor, and our true relevance to the world is brought to a complete and ignominious end.

    • Fr. Herman Schick says:

      A wonderful post, Brian, and one of the fairest evaluations of Fr. Alexander i have seen on this site.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says:

      Brian, I echo Fr. Herman’s kudos. You have captured, at once, with great insight and eloquence the dubious, radical marginalizing of Tradition by Fr. Robert Arida, as evidenced in his various musings posted online, and the Tradition-respecting theological legacy of Father Alexander Schmemann, whom I knew, save for one personal visit with him at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in the 1970s, only through his brilliant published scholarship. The contrast could not be more stark.

    • Survey Monkey says:

      Great post Brian! To defrock Fr. Arida, please vote now at this link!

      https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FRQLGZ2

    • Chris Banescu says:

      That is an inspired and accurate analysis Brian. Wisely, truthfully, and eloquently stated. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!

    • This essay gave me goose-bumps and has been very inspirational to me during this season of Advent. How grateful I am for it! I will be saving it to read and read again. Thanks be to God.

    • M. Stankovich says:

      Basil,

      I have not read Fr. Arida’s writings, and I want to be clear that my comment is not connected nor referenced to him whatsoever.

      St. Irenaeus wrote that, “True Tradition is the only tradition of truth,” entrusted to the Church from the beginning. As Fr. Florovsky writes, “Tradition” in the Church is not a continuity of human memory, or a permanence of rites and habits. it is as Irenaeus states a “Living Tradition,” a continuity of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church, a continuity of Divine guidance and illumination. The Church is not bound by the ‘letter.’ Rather, she is constantly moved forth by the ‘Spirit.’ The same Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which ‘spoke through the Prophets,’ which guided the Apostles, is still continuously guiding the Church into the fuller comprehension and understanding of the Divine truth, from glory to glory.” If the Tradition is driven by the Spirit, I must assume from the Vespers of Pentecost that the Spirit is “light and life and living, spiritual spring. Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of understanding; good, right, spiritual, sovereign, cleansing faults. God and making divine; fire and proceeding from fire, speaking, working, distributing the gifts of grace,” which are all active, vibrant, and vigorous actions.

      St. Paul writes, “Stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our letter.”(2 thess 2:15), and I have written here many times of this attitude of a “static” Tradition, suggesting that everything that needs to have been said, has already been said, and as we also hear in the Vespers of Pentecost – “All gifts have been given” – also implies that all gifts have been “revealed” & understood. And I have quoted Fr. Florovsky’s concern numerous times:

      Our theological thinking has been dangerously affected by the pattern of decay, adopted for the interpretation of Christian history in the West since the Reformation. The fullness of the Church was then interpreted in a static manner, and the attitude to Antiquity has been accordingly distorted and misconstrued. After all, it does not make much difference, whether we restrict the normative authority of the Church to one century, or to five, or to eight. There should be no restriction at all. Consequently, there is no room for any “theology of repetition.” The Church is still fully authoritative as she has been in the ages past since the Spirit of Truth quickens her now no less effectively as in the ancient times,

      ultimately, Tradition is “that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that you also may have fellowship with us: yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 1-3) In this sense, “theology is never a self-explanatory discipline. It is constantly appealing to the vision of faith.” (Florovsky)

      For me, then, the questions become: 1) As the only form of our theology that is neither “decided” nor “declared” but revealed to the Church by the Holy Spirit & the wisdom of men over time, has all of Tradition been revealed to us?; and 2) If task of Patristic theology specifically is to properly and fully “articulate” the “simple message” because they “are not entirely clear and precise and therefore demand confirmation, (M. Pomazansky)” is it improper or “tampering” to re-articulate in a new generation?

      It is striking to me that Fr. Florovsky chose St. Gregory Palamas and Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) chose St. Symeon the New Theologian as examples for their discussions of the role of “Living Tradition”: both opposed any theology that attempted to artificially “contain” the uncontainable Energy of God the Father as the Mover and Influence of the Creation, and the Holy Spirit as the Invigorator and Motivator. God the Father is not passive nor “static,” they insisted, but always active, always intervening in the world, and the Spirit, “goes where He wishes.” And the Church, “is “not of this world” is here “in this world,” not abolishing this world, but giving to it a new meaning and a new value, “transvaluating” the world,, as it were. Surely this is still only an anticipation, a “token” of the final consummation. Yet the Spirit abides in the Church. This constitutes the mystery of the Church: a visible “society” of frail men is an organism of the Divine Grace… [where the] Christian has to be a “new creation.” Therefore he cannot find a settled place for himself within the limits of the “old world.” In this sense the Christian attitude is, as it were, always revolutionary with regard to the “old order” of “this world.” Being “not of this world” the Church of Christ “in this world” can only be in permanent opposition, even if it claims only a reformation of the existing order. In any case, the change is to be radical and total.” (Florovsky)

      While I completely agree that the Church never looks to the culture to determine its relevance or to “reevaluate” its “rightful place” in the culture, neither may we remain in the world and be silent. “The Church has, as it were, to exhibit the new pattern of existence, the new mode of life, that of the “world to come.” The Church is here, in this world, for its salvation. But just for this reason it has to oppose and to renounce “this” word. God claims the whole man, and the Church bears witness to this “totalitarian” claim of God revealed in Christ,” (Florovsky) “and the preservation of “Tradition” expresses the succession of the very essence of the Church.” (Pomazansky) Fidelity to the Tradition of the Church is insufficient. And in effect, we do nothing.

      We are bound to say, “the Age of the Fathers” still continues in “the Worshipping Church.” Should it not continue also in our theological pursuit and study, research and instruction? Should we not recover “the mind of the Fathers” also in our theological thinking and teaching? To recover it, indeed, not as an archaic manner or pose, and not just as a venerable relic, but as an existential attitude, as a spiritual orientation. Only in this way can our theology be reintegrated into the fullness of our Christian existence. One has to go to the very roots of this traditional “piety,” and to recover the “Patristic mind.” Otherwise we may be in danger of being inwardly split—as many in our midst actually are—between the “traditional” forms of “piety” and a very untraditional habit of theological thinking. It is a real danger. As “worshippers” we are still in “the tradition of the Fathers.” Should we not stand, conscientiously and avowedly, in the same tradition also as “theologians,” as witnesses and teachers of Orthodoxy? Can we retain our integrity in any other way?

      We have ventured such a great distance from the “words of confirmation” that we have lost our moral voice; lost the mind of the Fathers, independent of the culture, and lost our mission to this world.

      • Dr. Stankovich, I quite agree that it is vital for the Church as a whole to aquire and live according to the mind of the Fathers (not just the “letter of the law”), and for each of us to do so to the extent that we can.

        Are there issues with bringing up this eminently true and reasonable point in the context of this overall discussion? I would submit that there is: exactly how did St. Gregory Palamas, St. Symeon the New Theologian, etc. acquire this mind of the Fathers? For that matter, how did any of the people we consider to be Fathers of the Church acquire that mind? I would submit that the evidence shows that the overwhelming majority did so by first immersing themselves in and submitting themselves to the tradition of the Church as it presented itself to them in their day. Once they had absorbed this, they then began to transcend it (yet without contradicting it) because they were beginning to experience it as a living and direct communion with God. By that point, most were so immersed that they already knew most of the Holy Scriptures and liturgical texts from memory and had absorbed the existing tradition from elders, whatever spiritual writings were available, etc.

        I think it is a formula for spiritual delusion for anyone of any age to imagine that it is a relatively simple matter to “acquire the mind of the Fathers” — the implication is that if one knows to avoid dead traditionalism that the mind of the Fathers will arrive. I know you know better than that, but I think it needs to be spelled out.

        The witness we have in our Church, over and over again, is of people we know to have been great saints lamenting the fact that they could not begin to approach what those who went before them had achieved. Great elders would lament the fact that there were no more elders or spiritual guides in the Church, and that the people of their time just had to muddle through as best they could, in humility following the commands of Scripture and the writings of the Fathers. And yet they were, in reality, real elders and Fathers. This is the example we are given of how the mind of the Fathers has been obtained by those who have gone before us.

        I say this not to contradict you, but rather to add what I think is necessary clarification: One does the faithful (and the Church) a disservice by talking about “the mind of the Fathers” without, at the same time, talking about how what an incredible effort — ascetic, physical, spiritual, liturgical, mental, intellectual, moral, dogmatic — is necessary in order to acquire it, and without talking about how few in our age (or any age) have actually managed it. It comes through striving toward rooting out every kind of evil that we can find within ourselves (which is usually a disheartening amount and variety) and fighting sin of every kind. It comes through self-reproach, not self-justification. We can all acquire glimpses of it and should never stop in our efforts to do so. We certainly can increasingly learn over time to recognize it in others when we see it and read it.

        But when someone in 20th-21st century America makes claims in the name of “living tradition” or “the mind of the Fathers,” most of the the time it seems to me that they quite manifestly have acquired neither, and seem to have expended little actual spiritual labor into doing so.

        Those who seem actually to have made some strides toward acquiring the mind of the Fathers are, in my experience, the last people who would ever claim to have any knowledge of the subject.

        • M. Stankovich says:

          Edward,

          [W]hat an incredible effort — ascetic, physical, spiritual, liturgical, mental, intellectual, moral, dogmatic — is necessary in order to acquire it, and without talking about how few in our age (or any age) have actually managed it. It comes through striving toward rooting out every kind of evil that we can find within ourselves (which is usually a disheartening amount and variety) and fighting sin of every kind. It comes through self-reproach, not self-justification. We can all acquire glimpses of it and should never stop in our efforts to do so.

          This is exactly what all Christians are called to do! Do you read anywhere in the Scripture the Lord making a distinction for apostles, or “intellects,” or scholars? Of course not. In fact He declares: “Truly I say to you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt. 21:31). And how can He say this? Because He promises, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) The victory, Edward, is the struggle!

          “[W]ithout talking about how few in our age (or any age) have actually managed it?” θαυμαστὸς ὁ Θεὸς ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ! God is wonderful in his saints! (Ps. 67:35) What you seem to be missing here is Florovsky’s clarification that the age and mind of the Fathers is of “the worshipping Church,” not an intellectual endeavor: the Fathers may be referred to as “teachers,” even “doctors,” but fundamentally they preached within the context of worship.

          As St. Gregory of Nazianzus put it, “in the manner of the Apostles, not in that of Aristotle”— αλιευτικός, ουκ αριστοτελικός (Ноm. 23. 12). Their theology was still a “message,” a kerygma. Their theology was still “kerygmatic theology,” even if it was often logically arranged and supplied with intellectual arguments. The ultimate reference was still to the vision of faith, to spiritual knowledge and experience. Apart from life in Christ theology carries no conviction and, if separated from the life of faith, theology may degenerate into empty dialectics, a vain polylogia, without any spiritual consequence. Patristic theology was existentially rooted in the decisive commitment of faith. Patristic theology could be only “preached” or “proclaimed”—preached from the pulpit, proclaimed also in the words of prayer and in the sacred rites, and indeed manifested in the total structure of Christian life. Theology of this kind can never be separated from the life of prayer and from the exercise of virtue. Τέλος δε άγνείας ύπόθεσις θεολογίας “The climax of purity is the beginning of theology,” as St. John the Klimakos puts it: (Scala Paradisi, grade 30).

          “I think it is a formula for spiritual delusion for anyone of any age to imagine that it is a relatively simple matter to “acquire the mind of the Fathers” — the implication is that if one knows to avoid dead traditionalism that the mind of the Fathers will arrive.” I could not agree more, and I certainly made no such implication. Nevertheless, the “mind of the Fathers” is the mind of the Church, easily accessible to all who partake of the Banquet of Immortality, at the table of the Master, which always takes place in the kingdom which is to come. But again, even after realizing all of this, we cannot forsake our moral voice and our mission to this world. Fr. Pomazansky quotes St. Symeon the New Theologian:

          Inasmuch as the Church is the body of Christ, and the bride of Christ, and a great world, and God’s temple, so the members of His body are all holy. At the same time, not all of them have yet been born anew or shown them worthy. It is clear, then, that the body of Christ is not completely whole yet, that the higher world is not yet filled, that not the entire host of people have yet entered God’s Church. But to this day there are still many unbelieving people in the world who are going to become believers in Christ, there are many sinners, whose duty is to repent, there are many insubordinate, who will submit to Christ.

          “Historical failures of the Church do not obscure the absolute and ultimate character of its challenge, to which it is committed by its very eschatological nature, and it constantly challenges itself.” (Florovsky)

          • Again, Dr. Stankovich, I am simply observing that these profound and vital concepts of “the mind of the Fathers” and “living Tradition” can be life-giving in the right hands and in the proper spirit of humility — and that they can likewise be dangerous rhetorical weapons by those who are willing to twist their meanings in order to bring things into our Church that are alien to that mind and that Tradition.

            It does not take a master rhetorician to see that casual appeals to “living Tradition” and “the mind of the Fathers” — or even “apophatic theology” — can easily be used in a spirit of mendacity, creating a hole in the fabric of our Orthodox theological tradition big enough to drive the entire Anglican Communion through it. This is not a reason to reject or downplay those concepts out of fear of their being abused — not at all. It is simply a reason never to talk about them without talking about what we do not mean by those concepts — now there’s some apophaticism for you…

            But again, I disagree with absolutely nothing that you say or quote, and I know you have never advocated the kinds of abuses I am concerned about. I think I stated as much in my post.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

            Nice! Well said.

      • Michael S.,

        With apologies that this may be a reply to a comment addressed to… Basil (?).

        It should be stated at the outset that I lay no claim to formal theological training.

        This topic of the Tradition is difficult to discuss. Being the life of God Himself (“this Treasure in earthen vessels”) one should be extremely careful not to define it, limit it, or seek to contain it. Thus, I try to be careful with words, and it is noted with sincere respect that you seem to do the same. One can no more define the Tradition than one can define God. It seems appropriate, then, that the Tradition can only be rightly described in an apophatic manner. We approach it with the greatest reverence with the understanding that whatever words we may use can only be ‘iconic.’

        All the Fathers and respected theologians you have quoted state the truth. It is, however, understood by all that when they speak of the Tradition with such boldness they are speaking of the indwelling guidance of the Holy Spirit of Truth. Unfortunately there are other spirits, of whom the Theologian warns, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” It is these later, seductive spirits that arise “from among yourselves” of which St. John and all the Apostles warn that cause such grave concern whenever the subject of ‘development over time’ is raised in a manner that does not correspond to what we have received.

        There is no disagreement that to a large degree, as you say, “we have lost our moral voice; lost the mind of the Fathers.” However, I would strongly disagree that “faithfulness to the Tradition is insufficient.” Our unfaithfulness to the Tradition is the reason our prophetic voice has become so weakened. And if by “and we wind up doing nothing” you mean that there exists in some circles a sort of pathological conservatism that is afraid of change of any kind, I would agree. But I do not think that this is the attitude taken by most of the faithful in this conversation. It is not change per se or faithful re-articulation of the Tradition that raises such strong objections; it is change that is in accordance with the spirit of this world. Examples of such changes include the so-called ‘Living Church’ in Russia, feel-good ‘relevant’ liturgical reform, and the reimagining of anthropology for the sake of ‘inclusiveness’ or ‘opening our hearts to the moving of the spirit.’

        To put it succinctly, if we are to remain within the same Tradition (which, I believe, you have more or less rightly described) we must breathe the same Spirit. Far too often we do not – and this for many of the reasons Edward has pointed out.

    • Anonymus per Scorilo says:

      One can no more presume that the cultural challenges we face are ‘new,’ requiring a reevaluation of the Tradition, than the Saints of Russia could have insisted upon such a reevaluation in the face of the ‘new and never before seen’ challenge of Soviet Communism.

      The saints did not insist upon such a reevaluation because of Soviet Communism, but the hierarchy and many priests surely did. For example patriarch Justinian of Romania uttered the phrase célèbre: “Christ is the new man; the new man is the soviet man; therefore, Christ is soviet” (in Romanian: “Hristos este omul nou. Omul nou este omul sovietic. Prin urmare Hristos este sovietic!”).

      This reevaluated tradition, which results in an abominable mix between Communism and Orthodoxy, is alive and kicking: the theological university in Bucharest bears the name of patriarch Justinian, and if you want Russian examples just read the 02varvara blog.

      Given that Communism and the present liberal nihilism that is becoming widespread among US cultural elites have the same origin, it is no wonder that there is a similar pressure to reevaluate Tradition in the direction of Fr. Robert Arida’s essay. It is also quite likely that many of the hierarchy and clergy will succumb to this pressure…

    • Daniel E Fall says:

      I don’t know that I agree with you Brian.

      To suggest not one thing is incorrect in the Traditions or Teachings of the church is blind, but eagerly gobbled up like a savory dish by many.

      Christ found fault with Jewish teachings and was considered a heretic and butchered.

      And now the standard appears to be the same. Find a person that disagrees about one kibble and Chicken Little has arrived. If defrocking was a lower order punishment of our time, Salemlemko would be lighting the wood around the stake. All puns aside, I’m spot on.

      Take fasting for one example. Shellfish are allowed. This is arcane as we all know. The basis is from early times when shellfish were undesirable poverty food. Today they are luxury, but Tradition wins to the point of comedy.

      And to change; it must be done individually and quietly so not to upset ??? Tradition

      • Tim R. Mortiss says:

        Most folks can recognize gradations in some precepts of Tradition. Fasting rules are not equivalent to Jewish dietary laws.

        Shellfish is a rather small thing. One could argue that to trot out the example is a device to undermine Tradition in general, like one hears all the time now in the larger world with Levitical examples bandied about to mock the biblical rules of sexual morality.

        Fasting is not really about the food itself, is it? And it would be rather a waste of time to call a Council to address the “shellfish issue”– no? Perhaps we have bigger fish to fry….

  35. SteveKnowlton says:

    In addition to Fr. Arida’s ambiguous comments that everyone has complained about, I would like to point out another slanderous dimension of Fr. Arida’s article, perhaps not equally offensive, but that is observable from the outset, and that is the idea that converts are bringing all kinds of alien “fundamentalist” baggage into the church. His very first comment, and his overall thrust, is that converts have somehow uniquely endeavored to reduce the church’s tradition into a mere restatement of past prejudices. His very first salvo is this idea that converts believe that the liturgy has *never changed.*

    Has anyone ever met a person, convert or otherwise, who is so naïve as to think that first century Christians had iconostases, modern-day vestments, bells, church domes, eight-tone stikhera??? No, no one thinks this. It’s just a red herring introduced early in Fr. Arida’s article to unsettle his young readers.

    • SteveKnowlton,

      You are correct about the “convert” “fundamentalist” red herring. However I think it reveals a mindset of the types of converts that are acceptable to the Fr Arida’s and Dn Wheeler’s out there. Those acceptable are NOT of the “conservative” brand of Orthodox converts, rather the more progressive and “liberal” types are to their liking. The jurisdiction that these two individuals belong to has lauded itself as being missionary and pro-convert, which is not untrue, however it is clear that Fr. Arida and Dn. Wheeler do not want a conservative pushback. The stories shared here from people who tried to speak against his interpretation of Orthodoxy were not made to feel welcome and left. And that, is the height of hypocrisy coming from a man who just wants “dialogue” on certain sensitive topics. Dialogue? I don’t believe he wants dialogue. I believe he wants to push his political/theological agenda and thus uses the “convert/fundamentalist” boogyman language to try and galvanized his supporters and the time cloaking his language in Aridian Ambiguity. It is quite insulting.

      • Sue, I put up with 25 years of “dialogue” over these matters in the Episcopal Church. I learned that one can never have a dialogue in these matters. Ask any former Episcopalians. It is a total waste of time. Their ears and their hearts are closed. Their aim is to wear you down and out.

        Now that I am out of there, I find it very refreshing and enlightening to learn that there are other topics about the love of God to discuss.

        I rather like the bidding and promise of Psalm 1:

        Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
        But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says:

        While American “converts” to Orthodoxy come from many branches of Protestantism (as, for example, from high-church Episcopalianism through Campus Crusade evangelicals), I doubt that many “fundamentalists”, as the term is properly understood, have been among them.

        I think poor Fr. Arida is embarrassed that he finds the Orthodox in the same camp in the public square with them and assorted others on the issue with which he has so concerned himself! Poor fellow…to be confused with “fundamentalists”! You can lose invitations to the best dinner parties that way…..

        • SteveKnowlton says:

          And isn’t it odd that for some reason it’s considered noble and Christ-like to dialogue with unrepentant sinners, but for some reason dialoguing with fundamentalists is considered such an outré sell out? It’s a kind of upside-down Victorianism: still narrow-minded, preoccupied with “how we must look” to respectable people, allergic to any changes to the status quo, but completely opposite in its moral compass.

    • Sue Simpson says:

      Steve:

      It’s true. Converts “running” from whatever they have endured in other Christian denominations, bring their baggage to the Orthodox Church and try to interject them. This entire Bru-Ha-Ha over what you people are accusing Arida of is a good case in point. Homosexuality is not new. Before Christ this malady existed. If you listen to the wackos here, one would think this is the major issue of the Orthodox Church and Arida is the leader of unholy practices. This isn’t true, but manufactured by “converts” here with “baggage.” I think Whiteford must have some serious baggage regarding this issue. “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” – Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2

      • Sue Simpson: the mistress of the straw man.

        As I said somewhere above, the problem is that Fr. Arida is sowing confusion, under the guise of “asking questions” and “dialogue” about what is settled theology.

        Economy is extended in the confessional for those who have serious need for it. Outside confession, Orthodox standards of moral conduct are to be upheld to the letter. We cannot extend economy to ourselves, and it cannot be extended in a blanket fashion. This is common sense.

        As Metropolitan Joseph said at his enthronement, there is no such thing as converts and cradles. All of us convert to Christ every single day, regardless of when or where we were baptized. Your “convert” straw man is quite tiresome, as are your posts.

      • Sue, we are all converts, including you! Get your Orthodoxy straight!

      • Sue Simpson,

        You too are not interested in “dialogue” and every time you write something here you reconfirm it. What type of “baggage” does a married gay couple bring with them? Case in point, the couple at HTC that didn’t make a secret of their relationship, were open with Fr. Arida about it, and yet, Fr. Arida received one of that gay couple into the Church, knowing full well that by doing so he was not only condoning that relationship but somehow “crowning it” by at least Chrismating the man and offering him the Eucharist.

        This is the same couple that now proudly proclaims that HTC is fully canonical, at least by their definition. I would think that before you start calling people “wackos” for their “baggage” you should take a good look at the Samsonite Convention of baggage that has been dropped on HTC by a more than willing bellhop named Fr. Arida.

        But thanks again for posting. You make the case against Fr Arida easier with each word you write and the elitist mentality that permeates HTC. Well done, Sister Sue. Well done!

      • Carl Kraeff says:

        Sue–Some posters here indeed have used homosexuality to advance their agenda, but many others are very much concerned with same-sex marriage and the deviations from orthodoxy by the Episcopals and others on this issue. So am I and I am not a convert. Our gracious host is not a convert either. The only difference between us is that I am not worried that the Orthodox Church will go the way of the Episcopals and Anglicans, but he is. It seems to me that there is a very simple solution to the turbulence caused by Fr Arida; let him repudiate what he ius accused of and let him affirm his fidelity to our Holy Tradition.

      • Steve Knowlton says:

        Sadly, what you’re calling “baggage” here is simply not accurate. What’s going on is that a tremendous number of cultural and political conservatives are finding their home in the Church because the Church’s teaching is consistent with biblical values on a range of topics. What you call “baggage” is what I call “dogma.” These people are asked to leave at the door a whole range of political and economic “beliefs” that are not sanctioned by the Church.

        Another slander committed by Fr. Arida (and you) is to conflate basic moral issues with the well-known historical positions of Fr. Florovsky regarding the western pseudomorphosis, the long process by which western ideas have been unconsciously imported into the Orthodox Church *by churchmen*. Fr. Arida is guilty of this very thing when he lovingly quotes Boris Pasternak, who had some very flattering things to say about the orthodox church, but let’s face it: Pasternak was a silver age intellectual, not a moral person, and a modernist fellow traveler. Now that’s a man with some serious “baggage” that needs to be inspected! For some reason, Fr. Arida’s “baggage” travels in the diplomatic pouch, whereas the convert’s baggage gets the double inspection at the border.

      • Jesse Cone says:

        Sue Simpson says,

        Converts “running” from whatever they have endured in other Christian denominations, bring their baggage to the Orthodox Church and try to interject them.

        I love being psychoanalyzed by someone who doesn’t know me.

        And when a group of people is written off wholesale.

        But then again, I was “running to” not “running from”, so maybe this doesn’t apply to me.

        Sue, I would posit a more fundamental and pervasive problem than homosexuality is the sort of arrogant exclusivism that led one prominent priest to tell a young convert (me) they weren’t welcome after implying bishops had hidden agendas; all while defending the man-marrying unofficial journalist of the OCA who outright besmirched and attacked them because, “it is his church, not yours”. This exclusivism seeks to turn the Church into a club, and neglects the Gospel of Christ.

      • Converts “running” from whatever they have endured in other Christian denominations, bring their baggage to the Orthodox Church and try to interject them…I think Whiteford must have some serious baggage regarding this issue.

        Well, that’s just ignorant

        Fr John Whiteford did not grow up in a Protestant denomination that was ambivalent about homosexual practices.

      • M. Stankovich says:

        Sue Simpson,

        I have known Fr, Robert Arida for 41 years, and while I may have lost touch with what is currently in his mind, I believe that I can accurately state what I believe is accurate of his heart. You mock every principle important to him by this continuous derision of the clergy and Vladyka Tikhon, something he would never do, and – if he even knows who you are – would never condone from a “surrogate.” Is it possible that you are unable to see your crass and rude comments might directly reflection on Fr. Robert? You are nothing but a troll, and why people on this site are so stupid as to continue to respond to you is beyond me. Mr. Michalopulos historically cut off offensive trolls, but apparently is amused by you, regardless of the overall spiritual harm; so much for moderation. Give it up already. Your posts are repetitive & numbingly boring. And likewise for the jackasses who keep responding to you.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says:

          I like some of this post and dislike some of it, but you can only vote one button, as it turns out!

        • Sue, keep posting and ignore Stankovich’s admonitions. He is the troll who is boring and repetitive.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

          M. Stankowich, I think we are being pranked, and ‘Sue Simpson” may really be Lily Tomlin’s adorably cute dunce, “Suzie Sorority.” We should then appreciate her piquant utterances about converts more than we’ ve been doing.

  36. Somebody made a mention to Fr. Lawrence Farley podcast thinking it was a response to Arida. Mostly was a response to a different podcast from a different priest, Richard Rene. His article almost as disturbing as Arida`s, y can found here.

    http://www.thewordfrommysterion.com/2014/11/is-it-new.html

    Is it New?
    In my last article, I argued that we do not ask often enough to what extent lust is prevalent in our sexual relationships. I suggested that St. Paul’s exemplar of same-sex lust in his Epistle to the Romans in fact challenges all of us to critically examine how the worship of the creature rather than the Creator, that is, self-worship, permeates our lives and particularly, our sexualities, even if they do not take same-sex forms.

    My point was not primarily to wade into a debate about gay sex, a debate that is even now raging in North American Orthodox circles, having been kindled by an article by Fr. Robert Arida on the OCA’s “Wonder” Blog. Nevertheless, a thoughtful reader raised a question that my article may have begged or implied: by interpreting St. Paul as I did, was I suggesting that same sex intimacy is inherently lustful?

    Just so you know, I will not answer that question in this forum. The reason is, the question itself rests on certain assumptions which, if not shared, will result in a fruitless and empty debate. My purpose here, as briefly as I can, is to identify what I see as one of the main assumptions (there are certainly others).

    In particular, the question raised to me assumes that “same sex intimacy” is essentially the same sociological phenomenon to which St. Paul refers in Romans. Those on the conservative side may say, “Yes, of course it is!” but this belief is not shared by all involved in the conversation. Whether the contemporary LGBT community is indeed what St. Paul (not to mention the other biblical authors) is describing, is something that needs to be settled first and foremost, before the conversation can continue.

    If the two phenomena are not the same, for instance, then Orthodoxy must respond to something entirely new in its historical experience. We cannot simply apply traditional sources literally to the current situation, since those sources cannot speak directly about a reality that did not exist for them. James Alison put it as follows in one of our email exchanges, “How do highly skilled duck breeders react to the discovery that what they thought was an ugly duckling is in fact a swan, an unprecedented reality within the normal canons of duckitude?” In other words, if we recognize that LGBT persons are not merely ‘anomalous,’ but a genuinely new sociological group, how might we respond? One hopes that we would do so with the same theological rigor, depth and creativity that the Church has, at its best, demonstrated when faced with new challenges in its collective experience.

    If, however, the LGBT reality is substantially the same as we find testified in the writings of the Church, then we must contend with the testimony of our tradition as it stands. Just as we should not resort to mere ‘parroting’ of tradition to reject a sexuality that is truly new, it is not appropriate to try and exonerate a historically condemned sexuality by excluding the traditional testimony on the basis that it is the product of a particular time and culture, and therefore ‘irrelevant.’ Rather, as one friend of mine put it, we must see the substance of traditional testimony as inspired, and ‘save the appearances’ by finding a pastoral response that reveres the past while speaking in love to the present.

    How we answer this question of newness would have a significant effect on whether or not we see LGBTQ intimacy as inherently lustful. If it is new, then we may discern that same-sex relationships are consistent with the spirit of tradition, if not its apparent sense and meaning. Having made this determination and resolved to see our tradition in this way, we might envision a new kind of relationship—rooted in a new anthropology—where same-sex intimacy could speak the Gospel to the present culture.

    If, though, the LGBT community is not substantially a new phenomenon, then we would answer the question of whether same-sex intimacy is inherently lustful with a “yes.” However, we would then want to evolve a pastoral response to those with same sex attraction who wish to live as Orthodox Christians. We may want to ask, for instance, whether “intimacy” necessarily requires sexual intercourse to be meaningful. We may envision same-sex relationships that are committed, lifelong, intimate, and yet celibate, as a way to honour the testimony of our tradition while offering a way for same-sex attracted persons to work out their salvation in the full communion of the Church…

    Wherever one stands on this matter, it is crucial that we concern ourselves with the right questions. In the case of the contemporary culture of same-sex intimacy, such a question would simply be, “Is it new?” Unless we first answer this, our conversation will involve talking past, rather than to, one another.

    • Mom of Toddler says:

      Wow..Thanks for the information. Do you know if there are priests in other jurisdictions making public statements like this, or is it mostly just the OCA?

    • For Shame says:

      Fr. Richard Rene’s article is indeed almost as disturbing! What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks IS GOING ON IN THE OCA that its priests are writing these things?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Unbelievable.

      • Salemlemko says:

        Nothing new about the OCA here. Meanwhile His Beatitude Metropoltan Nero plays with his instrument.

    • by interpreting St. Paul as I did, was I suggesting that same sex intimacy is inherently lustful?

      His refusal to answer is all the answer that is needed.

      Of course it is inherently lustful. There is no life in same-sex intimacy, it is inherently sterile and a harbinger of death. It is an elaborate form of “self-abuse,” when you get to the heart of it.

      but this belief is not shared by all involved in the conversation

      Again with that word, “conversation”. Oh, how reasonable he is! All he wants is a conversation!

      If the two phenomena are not the same

      What about two members of the same sex engaging in sexual relations does he fail to understand? Does he need someone to draw him a picture?

      If, however, the LGBT reality is substantially the same as we find testified in the writings of the Church,

      If the Church is the pillar and ground of truth, how could it not be? How can someone have the audacity to even assume this is a possibility?

      to reject a sexuality that is truly new

      Dear God, is this man serious? A totally new sexuality, previously unknown to mankind? What?

      These priests keep asking questions, but the only question I hear is “Did God really say…?”

    • That is the damndest thing I have read in a long time. Honestly, are there any OCA bishops who just might want to suggest to their clergy that simply because they have an idea they don’t have to publish it on the internet? Rather to shut the heck up and be silent.

      Maybe there should be a few “thought police” aka BISHOPS who give a damn about their flock to keep this crap in check.

      And since, Fr Rene loves to ask questions, I have a few for him,

      Did you ask your bishop’s blessing before you wrote and published this nonsense? Do you think it is even necessary? Or is this just another example of being “free men” in the Midwest?

      God help us from such pompous, self-righteous theologian wannabes!

    • Interestingly though, he has approved and published all of the negative comments on his blog. I hope he gets a clue.

    • What do you read in this article?

      I read a priest who addresses an audience which may include all kinds of people.

      In such an atmosphere, as he notes, saying certain things lead to fruitless debates.

      But with a wink he suggests what he really means, which is that persons struggling with same-sex attraction be counselled to celibacy. Is there anything wrong with that advice?

  37. Michael Bauman says:

    The “convert dilemma” is merely this: lack of proper spiritual formation. I came into the Church knowing full well that most of my prior theology was a sham and left me with a tattered soul. I needed healing and reforming and orientation to a proper direction. I needed to come into a greater concord with the spiritual tradition and practice of the Church. I still need that but, by God’s grace, He has begun to give me a stronger foundation. The key: obedience–struggling and kicking against the pricks most of the time to be sure, but obedience–listening and repenting nonetheless.

    I had one rather important thing: I knew that Jesus Christ had led me to the Orthodox Church and wanted me here. That was all I knew. That is the only reason to be in the Church–not to reform her, not to argue about her, none of that. The only reason to be here is for the love of Jesus Christ. What does he say, “If you love me you will follow my commandments.” Homosexual fornication is not one of his commandments.

    It seems to me that the former Anglicans who speak in defense of Fr. Arida are doing so from a point of their own prior theology. They, after all, are converts too are they not?

    Those who come to the Church as adults all need healing. All of us have wounds and false beliefs. Even those who were raised in the Church.

    There is a pastoral problem that needs to be addressed pastorally. Unfortunately, false teachers make such pastoral work impossible.

    The guide we have is what is called Holy Tradition. It includes the lives of the saints. Let me ask you, is there one life of any saint who either by word or deed commends us to homosexual fornication? In 2000 years with innumerable opportunities to live that life where is the witness that it is in anyway acceptable? How does it further our union with God?

    In fact, the overwhelming testimony is that such a life is destructive.

    Search the Scriptures and it is easy to find that the male-female synergy that God created is integrally woven into creation in a remarkable manner beginning with “Male and female created He them”.

    Homosexual activity tears at that and is a mockery of it. Homosexual sex is a mockery of the natural bonds of filial love and affection that we should have with members of our own sex.

    As Gregory Manning succinctly said: “It doesn’t work”

    • Steve Knowlton says:

      Michael, lack of spiritual formation is everyone’s dilemma, not just the converts’. I’ve met plenty of “cradles” with a different cluster of issues, but which result from the same neglect. As an easy example, Fr. Arida’s first example, the idea that many converts have been deceived and “lured” into the church by the idea that nothing in the church has ever changed. My experience has been just the opposite: that this is more of a cradle issue, many of whom are simply not exposed to church history in any honest or objective way.

      Another problem is that a convert enters the church and, like you, is deceived into thinking that your prior theology is a “sham.” This is in itself a piece of convert “baggage.” The antidote to your prior theology is not “obedience”, but study. The idea that obedience and repentence will fix bad theological ideas is, it must be admitted, yet another very common piece of peculiar convert “baggage”. You must, as Florovsky taught, sift through everything you’ve been given and patiently test it against the church’s teaching. This requires a lot of time and reflection, you can’t beat it out of yourself with prostrations. By the same token, much of what is in your “baggage” is of great value, why throw it away? Some of what you have been taught is actually more faithful to the church’s Tradition than what is promoted within cradle households: if you don’t believe me ask any Treasurer about financial/tithing habits among converts vs. cradles.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says:

        This is very well said, Mr. Knowlton. I certainly do not think of my own prior theology as a “sham”. I do recall that Mr. Bauman had experience with something of an unusual sect, although I may be misremembering that.

        I can only speak directly from my own experience, but that and conversation with a few other “converts” tells me that most have studied and experienced Orthodoxy for a considerable period of time (in my case over 30 years) before joining, and certainly did not believe that nothing in the Orthodox Church had ever changed.

        Changes in the mainline denominations have been breathtakingly rapid, though. By that I mean the “terminal” changes. The processes that have led to the present situation there have a very long history, of course, but even the “liberal” denominations had large numbers of the traditionally devout and they were accommodated to a significant degree, in numerous ways, although the pressure was always on. But that accommodation has now totally collapsed, and such churches are now even expressly eliminating any of the traditional expressions of Christian faith that remain; they are literally being swept away– not only in recent years, but in recent months.

      • Michael Bauman says:

        Mr. Knowlton, my prior theology was heretical. I did not come from a place that had roots in genuine Christianity. That did leave me in tatters. When I say obedience I mean it as in listening with an open heart (the root of obedience is to hear) and entering into the praxis of the Church. I had little in formal catechesis so my study was largely self-directed, but I studied. I still study, but that alone would have born little fruit. I was fortunate in that what I studied and what I heard were in concert because I had good teachers. Had to overcome some rather difficult interactions with my initial parish and a priest who was not stable (but at least he did not preach heresy).

        From the time of my first conscious encounter with our Lord to when I was received into the Church was 20 years. For most of that time I was far from the Church in belief. Many things I experienced in that time were beneficial but there was much of my belief that was outright heresy (as I learned later). Healing was necessary.

        I was not intending to limit the need for spiritual formation to “converts” alone. I am quite uncomfortable with a division between converts and cradles anyway. I was taught that early on by a gentleman in my first parish who’s family can likely trace its Orthodox Christian roots back to the time of the Apostles. He always said, “No one is born Orthodox, I had to convert to become Orthodox.”

        However, when Ms. X or Mr. Y or Fr. Z says that “converts are a problem”; Ms. X, Mr. Y and Fr. Z are admitting to not having done their job in the first place.

        • SteveKnowlton says:

          A former chancellor once wrote an article in the official OCA magazine to the effect that there are not two orthodoxies, a “convert orthodoxy” and a “cradle orthodoxy.” He rather thought there was just one, and the very vocabulary of “convert” and “cradle” just produces more division. This, like the sentiment, of your wise friend, is very naïve. The cold hard reality is that growing up in the church is a very different thing than converting to it as an adult. These experiences tend to produce different temperaments, it is madness to pretend them away. Whether one is better or worse than the other is worth a long discussion with an honest friend, over several beers.

          • Michael Bauman says:

            Yes, there are clear differences in approach and different problems but we share one cup, one calling, one Lord, God and Savior and my friend is anything but naïve. He was simply saying that unless one’s heart is changed by an on-going encounter with our Lord, one is not yet Orthodox. He based his comments on the experience of his own life and the experience of living in the Church for generations.

            I value the consistency, sacrifice and dedication of the folks whose lineage in the Church is long. It gives us roots in the Apostolic faith. It gives us a lived understanding of persecution and martyrdom even if the current generation appears worldly and may even be worldly. Somehow the wisdom accumulated over the generations can still shine through. My own son, who was received as an infant on the same day as his mother and me does not understand the questions of folks coming to the Church as adults. He has no frame of reference. Things he understands by osmosis and living in the grace of God all of his life, I have to work at understanding.

            Those who come to the Church as adults are grafted on and not part of the original vine. But at some point the folks who are born into the Church so to speak were grafted on too or their families were. Each of us can be part of the living vine or simply a dead branch.

            When the word convert becomes an epithet as it has been used by some, it has become divisive and harmful.

      • …ask any Treasurer about financial/tithing habits among converts vs. cradles. If the theological and moral conservatives who are wringing their hands over Arida-itis were to ever figure out the implications of that statement, these things in the OCA would be cleaned up faster than spilled milk on a crazy cat-lady’s kitchen floor. Those in the Syosset crowd may love their liberal political correctness, but trust me — they love money more.

  38. Enough preaching to the choir! What is being done?! What actions have been taken?! Please list them!

    • Michael Bauman says:

      annoyed: A reasonable question. What can be done though? The OCA is not my jurisdiction. I did send e-mails to the bishops involved. I know several priests in the OCA who are good men dedicated to teaching the truth. I can pray for them and their flocks, I can support them more directly. I intend to talk to my own bishop when I can with the same question: What can be done? I know he would not support such preaching from any of the priests in his diocese.

      In reality I think the answer is very little. Keep your powder dry, be on guard and do not be surprised if the preaching comes to a pulpit near you.

      For those in the OCA, make your displeasure known in a respectful manner but with firm reliance on the truth. Unfortunately, many do not have a bishop other than a distant one just filling in.

      I am deeply saddened by the situation in the OCA both from a doctrinal position and because I have many good friends in the OCA.

      One thing to remember: Hold on to your peace. Don’t let the malfeasance of others drive you into reaction mode.

      If the OCA bishops don’t respond and the teaching spreads, eventually it will be a problem for the rest of us and other bishops will have to respond (if they are not already doing so behind the scenes). However, they suffer a great deal from the idea that to be of one mind requires unanimity. Most are not used to be really public people in the way that acting openly in disagreement with their brother bishops would require.

      • It will become a problem for the rest of us. In fact, I would go so far to say it already has. Say for example, one is involved in such pan Orthodox ministries as OCMC, OCF, FOCUS, etc, and someone there, perhaps ignorant of Fr Robert, invites him to speak at some event? What will we do then? If you google Fr Robert, you will see that he spoke at Cross Roads, which is for our teens!

        I think if any action is taken, Fr Robert needs to stay as far away as possible from youth ministries. I feel something is amiss with him and youth. I could be wrong, but the fact that two of his children are homosexuals, and that he seems to aim his “teachings” at our youth, makes me feel wary of allowing him to be deeply involved in youth ministry.

        The question is, do our clergy in all jurisdictions know about this? Not only about Fr Robert, but of all the stuff that has been going on within the OCA? Its possible we are not seeing things happening because they simply may be unaware of the situation? If they are not, how can they become aware?

  39. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says:

    Homosexuality is a plague that is sent to some of those who have entered into the great whore.. Those who serve God alone, and live by his Word do not experience this dire spiritual malady . Again, it is this simple. This evil tree cannot bear good fruit. The 2 Great Commandments, lived, protect all who do so from these demonic temptations, These are not led into temptation, but are delivered from this evil, not having the slightest appetite for it, rather real revulsion against it. To the pure all things are pure. This cannot apply to Fr. Adria,. His bent is to cast what is Holy unto dogs. The Communion. Nor can this help the married gays , who receive it unworthily.
    That being said, I checked my face book page, but found not friends request form Mr. Stanovitch. I will search and apply for friend at his site. I am near the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in downtown Toledo. Perhaps, Mr Stanovitch will contact some one there , if he knows anyone there. It is GOA.
    The spiritual leaders who ignore this transparent spitting in the face of all that is called good., might consider their own eternal salvation. I saw a video of Pope Francis in a highly televised mass, enact the worship of Luciefer I could hear the name pronounced, twice. This was a day or 2 before I was evicted. It might be wise to keep an eye on what in antichrist name they are doing too. It does qualify as a great falling away.

  40. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says:

    Homosexuality is a plague that is sent to some of those who have entered into the great whore.. Those who serve God alone, and live by his Word do not experience this dire spiritual malady . Again, it is this simple. This evil tree cannot bear good fruit. The 2 Great Commandments, lived, protect all who do so from these demonic temptations, These are not led into temptation, but are delivered from this evil, not having the slightest appetite for it, rather real revulsion against it. To the pure all things are pure. This cannot apply to Fr. Adria,. His bent is to cast what is Holy unto dogs. The Communion. Nor can this help the married gays , who receive it unworthily.
    That being said, I checked my face book page, but found not friends request form Mr. Stankovitch. I will search and apply for friend at his site. I am near the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in downtown Toledo. Perhaps, Mr Stankovitch will contact some one there , if he knows anyone there. It is GOA.
    The spiritual leaders who ignore this transparent spitting in the face of all that is called good., might consider their own eternal salvation. I saw a video of Pope Francis in a highly televised mass, enact the worship of Luciefer I could hear the name pronounced, twice. This was a day or 2 before I was evicted. It might be wise to keep an eye on what in antichrist name they are doing too. It does qualify as a great falling away.

    • M. Stankovich says:

      MICHAEL KINSEY,

      The messages & friend request come from the pseudonym “Uncle Ben”.

      Or go to my website:

      http://www.mstankovich.com

      and leave a reply to any post. I am the only one who will see it.

      Fr. Hans and I will try to help you, but I need a consistent way of contacting you. Is there any phone – even public – where I can call you? Leave the number, day, & time and I will call you.

  41. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says:

    I was sent to a drug, prison halfway house in downtown Toledo. It offered a bed, and meals. It was like being in a cage surrounded by polar bears. The staff proved untrustworthy, too. Bad company corrupts good manner. I am heading south to weather I can survive in. Commonsense tells me this is my first consideration. Perhaps, the DOS will welcome me. My email sites are shut down due to lack of phone number, at least denying me access. I thank any who troubled themselves to help. But it’s 75 degrees down there. and it’s the last days.. Don’t forget to check out the satanic mass ordered by the Pope. This is for real. It is stunning they would tout this apostasy, so arrogantly and boldly. But they have got nothing on Fr. Adria

    • Salemlemko says:

      God bless you and keep you!

      • Michael Kinsey 1380805 says:

        I arrived in Birmingham, to a balmy 60+ degrees. Hopefully, I will be following where the Grace of God leads.me. not spending the night freezing or frozen is my highest commonsense priority. I managed to take my Rose Versand Red Bull dual shox ,10 year old top of the line mountain bike , to . So I am mobile..Google Pope Francis Lucifer mass utube, . It ‘s only less than 4 minutes. Really creeps me out.

        • Michael, please let us know if we can help. Even in Birmingham, the winter nights can be cold. We want to make sure you are warm and safe.

        • M. Stankovich says:

          “The Lord preserves the sojourners.” (Ps. 145) May God watch over you and protect you, Michael Kinsey. Get off the streets as quickly as possible, and let me know if you need help!

  42. No good place for this to fit but it brings to the fore the problems that some Orthodox have dealing with either party here in America. Pat has another good one:

    http://buchanan.org/blog/russophobic-rant-congress-7200

  43. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/75796.htm

    So Pat. Kirill made some remarks about Orthodox cooperation between the US and Russia. He remarked that it used to be that the ROC shared a common moral vision with a number of other Christians in America but not so much anymore. In particular, the Episcopal Church’s follies with homosexuality have placed it beyond the pale of mutual cooperation:

    “Today we cannot talk about very many Christians in the United States, that we belong to the same values that they do. We feel how this spiritual, moral sense of community which united us during the difficult Cold War years is being destroyed today,” Patriarch Kirill said.

    For nearly 200 years the Russian Church had links with the U.S. Episcopal Church but this cooperation stopped after the latter ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003, he said.

    “Now restoration of the relationship that we had is out of question, but we are fully open to cooperation with the churches on the North American continent, which have remained truthful to Biblical morals,” the Russian Church leader said.

    Hmmm, interesting timing.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

      Gay evangelism coming to you:http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/12/12/homophobes_support_marriage_equality_when_gay_people_talk_to_them.html

      The Great Apostasy is underway and in full swing. No stopping it now.

      Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy Upon Us!

      Peter

      • Survey Monkey says:

        Updated Survey Results.
        https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FRQLGZ2

        1.Should Fr. Robert Arida be defrocked?

        NO. 54%

        2. Should the Bishop of Fr. Robert Arida be reprimanded?
        YES. 56%

        3. Should Fr. John Jillions be removed as Chancellor?
        YES. 63%

        4. Should Fr. Eric Tosi be removed as Secretary?

        YES. 55%

        5. Should Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky be removed from his position in External Affairs?

        YES. 60%

        6. Should the topic of homosexual union, communion, intercourse, and marriage be voted on at AAC 18?
        NO. 68%

        7. Should all clergy who believe in communing unrepentant homosexuals be anathematized at AAC 18, and cast out of the Holy Orthodox Church?

        YES. 51%

        8. Should Andrew Boyd, who has a sister who is a Gay Rights Activist, be removed from his position as Editor of the OCA Wonder Blog for Youth?

        NO. 63%

        9. Overall, is the Holy Synod doing a good job?
        NO. 70%

        10. Instead of the current 98% of OCA dues being spent on exorbitant salaries & benefits for a handful of insiders and a luxury mansion, my $92 should go to:
        (Select as many as you wish)
        1. My diocese and/or my deanery and/or my parish priest. 63%
        2. Helping the Poor. 41%
        3. Widows & Orphans. 38%
        4. Establishing an Orthodox home-school course approved in all 50 states. 31%
        5. Establishing Orthodox primary and secondary schools. 28%
        6. Establishing a fund for clergy health, retreats, education, and sabbaticals. 25%
        7. Funding the Monasteries. 22%
        8. Funding the Seminaries. 9%

        • I’d rather give my answers here. Most of my responses could not fit in a survey.

          1.Should Fr. Robert Arida be defrocked?
          NO. 54%

          He should be brought before a spiritual court.

          2. Should the Bishop of Fr. Robert Arida be reprimanded?
          YES. 56%

          Not just Fr. Robert’s bishop, but most of the OCA bishops, and more than just a reprimand.

          3. Should Fr. John Jillions be removed as Chancellor?
          YES. 63%

          Yes, absolutely.

          4. Should Fr. Eric Tosi be removed as Secretary?
          YES. 55%

          Same as #3.

          5. Should Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky be removed from his position in External Affairs?

          YES. 60%

          Same as #3.

          6. Should the topic of homosexual union, communion, intercourse, and marriage be voted on at AAC 18?
          NO. 68%

          I’m not sure what you mean by that. Frankly, I am a little afraid of how such a vote in the OCA would turn out.

          7. Should all clergy who believe in communing unrepentant homosexuals be anathematized at AAC 18, and cast out of the Holy Orthodox Church?

          YES. 51%

          I am not sure an AAC of the OCA is competent to declare anyone anathema. I would concur with a resolution affirming the moral teaching and disciplinary practice of the Church.

          8. Should Andrew Boyd, who has a sister who is a Gay Rights Activist, be removed from his position as Editor of the OCA Wonder Blog for Youth?

          NO. 63%

          No, because Andrew’s sister’s actions, if she is indeed a gay rights activist, are not his own. I would only answer yes if Andrew himself supports such activity.

          9. Overall, is the Holy Synod doing a good job?
          NO. 70%

          No, see answer for #2.

          10. Instead of the current 98% of OCA dues being spent on exorbitant salaries & benefits for a handful of insiders and a luxury mansion, my $92 should go to:
          (Select as many as you wish)
          1. My diocese and/or my deanery and/or my parish priest. 63%
          2. Helping the Poor. 41%
          3. Widows & Orphans. 38%
          4. Establishing an Orthodox home-school course approved in all 50 states. 31%
          5. Establishing Orthodox primary and secondary schools. 28%
          6. Establishing a fund for clergy health, retreats, education, and sabbaticals. 25%
          7. Funding the Monasteries. 22%
          8. Funding the Seminaries. 9%

          I concur with every one of these options as worthy of financial support. OCA needs to cut its overhead.

          • WHO ARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????????????

            (This is directed at Survey Monkey)

          • “No, because Andrew’s sister’s actions, if she is indeed a gay rights activist, are not his own. I would only answer yes if Andrew himself supports such activity.”

            I would answer yes because he is the editor of the Wonder blog and allowed Fr Robert to post his essay on that blog, so at the most, that makes him complicit in this.

            • Annoyed, the Wonder blog’s about page lists two editors, Andrew Boyd and a Deacon Jason Ketz, although the chain of command is not at all clear. It is possible that Andrew Boyd had nothing to do with posting that essay.

          • Carl Kraeff says:

            I would think that many of the respondents are not members of the OCA. However, they likely are knowledgeable about the OCA, perhaps having been part of it before but now in greener pastures. Not exactly a relevant poll, is it?

          • I come up with 257% for the total of what is to be done with the money. This appears all the people that voted would like an increase from $92 to $236. And then, you would like a reduction for overhead, but haven’t stated that amount. Let’s just call it to 50 bucks which means you want an increase from $92 to $286. Now as an accountant, you might call my math fuzzy, but the truth is, the survey is fuzzy when it reports all these wants and fully discounts the reality of overhead and salaries to live in New York or pretty much anywhere on the eastern seaboard. My suggestion is to go back and look at the numbers and condense them into a total of 100% for starters.

            • “…or pretty much anywhere on the Eastern seaboard…”

              Sounds like a perfect reason to move the Chancery to Texas or Oklahoma.

              • George Michalopulos says:

                Edward, I got a better idea: how about having dozens of chanceries, one for every diocese, and empowering those to deal with the administration of said dioceses? If the Diocese of Boston wants to have a Sex Czar –have at it! If the Diocese of Chicago wants to establish a seminary, go for it! If the DOS wants a mission officer but the Diocese of Detroit doesn’t want one, then who’s to say who’s right? Decentralization would be the mark of a healthy and growing Church.

                As for a primatial chancery, it should be located in Washington DC, be called the Metropolitan’s Council, and every diocese should send an observer to coordinate activities between the Primate and the dioceses.

                How to pay for this? Start-up money could come from the selling of the properties in Syosset. The Archives could be transferred to SVS.

                • George, it is far more expensive to set up shop in DC than on Long Island, unless it is to be done as a purely symbolic act using existing OCA property (i.e. a spare back room at the Cathedral with the Metropolitan sleeping in a kindly parishioner’s basement, and no permanent staff other than perhaps a single administrative assistant who does double duty as a deacon at the Cathedral).

                  I know this was a hobby horse of +Jonah, but unlike a move to Texas, it made no sense whatsoever in the context of a spiritually ailing jurisdiction that was hemorrhaging money. It was a perfect example of +Jonah’s tenuous grasp on reality and his Obama-like lack of preparation for the big job. I know he has retroactively been awarded traditionalist savior status, but the reality is that he was, on this point and others, acting as almost a caricature of an old school OCA triumphalist with no grounding in reality.

                  Only after restoring the OCA to spiritual and financial health should such a move have been contemplated. Moving an unhealthy church to the unhealthiest city in the country is akin to Lot pitching his tents toward Sodom. We will blessedly never have to contemplate it again, given the ongoing multilayered OCA mess.

                  Your sound proposal of multiple “chanceries” essentially means a complete elimination of the central administration and letting existing mechanisms of diocesan administration work. To that I say, “make it so…” Some things deserve to die quiet deaths. On the other hand, unhealthy dioceses would become increasingly diseased…

                  • Edward,

                    There was a house for sale close to St. Nicholas. It had plenty of room for the OCA’s needs, and was within the OCA’s means, without the odds and ends (like eleven acres of Long Island) that make the Syosset chancery very expensive to maintain.

                    Met Jonah also planned to phase out the exorbitant salaries of the OCA’s officers. Your comment about his disconnect from reality may have a kernel of truth in that he didn’t care whose sacred cow he just turned into hamburger. However, there was a method to his alleged madness. He was hoping to establish a streamlined chancery that could better tend to local affairs, while empowering the other dioceses to take care of their own.

                    Your comment about Met Jonah’s “traditionalist savior status” is neither here nor there. Look at how the OCA bishops are handling the current Fr Robert Arida crisis. Who wouldn’t look like a “traditionalist savior” by comparison?

                    • Quite the contrary, Helga, my comment about Metr. Jonah’s “traditionalist savior status” is very much both here and there. It is on the basis of his moral authority as a defender of traditional Orthodoxy who was done in by evil men that things like a move to Washington, DC are still being repeated as being part of the party line of what needs to be done in the OCA.

                      I have talked before about my take on how he accidentally stumbled into being on the traditional side of things, and I won’t repeat myself. I am glad he is on the traditional side of things now. Even though he very much seems like a duck out of water when I watch him in ROCOR settings, I expect that things will rub off on him with time. When I watch him give YouTube lectures under the auspices of the ROCOR cathedral, I must admit that I wince repeatedly with pain when I hear him uncritically repeat certain things that he learned at Crestwood — but I maintain my absolute trust that our ROCOR bishops and the Holy Synod of the ROC know what they are doing.

                      My recollection of +Jonah’s original plans were that they were considerably grander than a little house near the cathedral (of course you can’t get even a very small house in that part of town for less than a million), but perhaps I am wrong. I have no recollection that part of his original plan was to largely dismantle the expensive Syosset bureaucracy — but I’m not in the know on such things. I seem to recall that the move was proposed after he was already in hot water with the folks in Syosset, but that is all hot water under the bridge, and I may be remembering wrong.

                      The disconnect from reality regarding the abortive move to DC was not that Metr. Jonah didn’t care “whose sacred cow he just turned into hamburger.” The disconnect from reality was that he didn’t have enough connection with reality to know that he didn’t have the power to turn sacred cows into hamburger. Since those cows are still strolling around the pasture, calmly munching on feed provided by the OCA faithful, it is quite obvious that he didn’t have that power.

                      Anyone with a smidgen of political awareness knows that having a title or holding an office does not translate into power — certainly not lasting power. Power is complex and subtle and takes time to accumulate and consolidate. +Jonah crashed around like a bull in a china closet — an apt analogy, actually, since the point isn’t that the bull is evil or doing anything wrong, the point is that the bull has no clue that there is something breakable in that closet that needs to be handled with care.

                      Trust me, Metropolitan Philip — perhaps the single most powerful primate any church in America will ever see — wasn’t invested with that kind of power on the day of his installation. He built it up over time, little by little. Not that I am pointing to him as a model bishop, mind you, and certainly not that I think that +Philip always used that power in the right way — it is just that he always made sure that he had all of his ducks in a row and that he had plenty of ammo in reserve for anything that might come his way.

            • Besides, $96 of income and $236 of spending is right in line with the (north-) Eastern seaboard way. No reason to raise the national assessment — except perhaps on parishes in high-income states like NY, MA, CN, etc.

              That question was clearly flawed in its very premise. A better way to address the assessments is for the AAC to vote to cut it in half and leave it to Syosset to decide where and how they want to make the cuts.

              • Daniel E Fall says:

                Pretty much my point that the premise is flawed. But always reducing governing bodies totheir smallest participle is flawed badly. This currently trendy idea that any big governing body must be bad is not without problems. The federal government building a national highway system is a small example. The central church has an office, a leader, assistants, some goals. Abolishing it is tantamount to saying the Metropolitan needs no clothes.

                • The problem is that the OCA’s central administration is not controlled directly by the Holy Synod or Primate, unlike other Orthodox churches. It thus has a tendency to be a bureaucratic machine that goes runs on its own.

                  As long as that is the case, any attempts to reduce its funding are rational. Or if it serves purposes antithetical to the faith, as in this current morass, where it is incapable of acting decisively on behalf of Christian teaching, acting to defund it is rational.

                  • Edward:

                    The problem is that the OCA’s central administration is not controlled directly by the Holy Synod or Primate, unlike other Orthodox churches. It thus has a tendency to be a bureaucratic machine that goes runs on its own.

                    Edward offers no evidence for this claim. The OCA’s administration is neither more nor less bureaucratic than any other church, and it IS responsible to the hierarchy.

                    As long as that is the case, any attempts to reduce its funding are rational.

                    Why would a Christian attempt to undermine the financial situation of an Orthodox church based on the faulty assumption above, or on any other basis, and why would a Christian call that “rational”?

                    Or if it serves purposes antithetical to the faith, as in this current morass, where it is incapable of acting decisively on behalf of Christian teaching

                    If the church, or particular members of the church, have not acted in accord with Edward’s wishes and desires, it does not follow that the church “serves purposes antithetical to the faith.”

                    • OOM, I must assume you are joking. George has detailed eloquently the unique power structure of the OCA, and why the Synod tends more to serve the bureaucracy than the reverse.

                      I merely point out that when you are dealing with politicians, you have to talk their language. If the shoe I suggested doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. If you are in the OCA and want to see more of the same, by all means dig deep and vote with your pocketbook by writing big checks.

                      If you wish to believe that wanting Church leaders to unapologetically and clearly uphold traditional Christian moral teaching is an eccentric personal opinion of mine, be my guest.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says:

        Peter, did you INTEND to omit the word “sinners” from your public prayer?

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

          Actually the prayer of the heart can be said with or without “a sinner.” So nothing was intentionally omitted. Have a wonderful Christmas season your grace.

          Peter

  44. M. Stankovich says:

    Fr. Seraphim Holland posted a wonderful & inspiring sermon he gave on the (Old Calendar) feast of the Hieromartyr Stephan the New, who died for refusing to deny the theology of the Holy Icons. He speaks regarding the appointed reading, focusing on 1 Tim. 6:20-21: “keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” He stresses knowing the Truth entrusted to us, the fact that “mild insults” and “name-calling” have already begun for Christians who defend the faith and the moral principles with which we have been entrusted, and he offers encouragement, assurances. and comfort in the protection of the Lord as evidenced in the lives of the saints. Personally, I am saving this for future reference.

  45. Ashley Nevins says:

    Is a moral and ethical division really a theological division and can a theological division result in a physical division of church?

    What happens to a church that does not physically divide over moral and ethical issues that are not resolved?

    What happens to the theology of a church that does not physical divide over moral and ethical issues that cannot be resolved?

    I believe five things happen when there is no division over moral and ethical issues that cannot be resolved or are not resolved:

    1. A little leaven leavens the whole lump and the entire system of the church goes systemically corrupt.

    2. A culture of corruption is developed in the church that indoctrinates the church into lower ethical and moral standards.

    3. Immorality and unethical thinking, attitudes and behaviors are accepted as the norm and tolerated and many people are spiritually harmed.

    4. The church becomes carnal spiritually immature and the spiritually immature cannot produce a spiritually mature solution.

    5. The church dies by going spiritually morally and ethically dead. It divides itself from the living Holy Jesus and loses the power of Jesus to correct itself. It goes powerless to stop its death.

    I once owned a mahogany classic boat from the 50’s. Dry rot was a problem. Unless you surveyed the boat diligently and regularly dry rot could sink your boat. I remember on a couple of occasions taking dry rotted planks out of the boat that if had been left would have sunk the boat. I divided the rotten from the good and the boat continued to float. A wood boat not surveyed regularly will experience dry rot and it can reach a point of no return from so much rot that the boat sinks. A point of too little too late is reached and the boat sinks. When the majority of the wood in the boat goes rotten there is no fixing it. Best to start over again and build a new boat.

    Did Jesus in the Gospels divide, did He represent division? Did He divide over rot? Had the Apostles not dealt with rot in the church what would have happened? Was Paul in Galatians willing to divide over the legalism/tradition rot issue with Peter?

    The Orthodox believe that their bishops and metropolitan’s represent the direct spiritual line of the Apostles. That must mean that they take the same spiritual position as the first Apostles did towards rot in the church. The proof they do will be seen in the real world outcome of Orthodoxy in America. However if the rot has reached the point of no return there will be really nothing that can be done to stop the rot other than build a new boat. Out with the old rotten boat and in with the new boat or you don’t have a boat to float. If you don’t or can’t replace the rotten wood with good wood your church boat will sink.

    Is the boat of the OCA and GOA floating or sinking?

    The boat of Jesus floats and is not sinking due to rot. There is a safe, healthy, dynamic, growing and relevant Christianity whose boat floats. There is a Christianity that is moral and ethical as a result of diligence in dealing with the rot.

    It is easy to compare a rotten church boat to a clean church boat. The sinking state of the rotten boat church is an obvious dead give away. By the grace of God there go I in a church boat that floats. I am one in my church who continually inspects for dry rot. Those in denial of the rot I can find don’t like me. Some have a spiritual gift that can find the rot and call it for what it is. They usually see the rot and why it is rotting before most others do.

    The church that lives for its religion is a different church than the church that lives for Jesus. They have different priorities that determine their real world outcome and ability to fight rot and keep their boat afloat. Their identity is really their religion and not Jesus and so they do not know how by Jesus to fix their sinking rotten boat. Their power to fix their sinking boat is really the power of man in his religion and not the power of God in Jesus and so their boat is never fixed and continues to slowly sink.

    The thing about a sinking boat is that if you are on it and don’t get off of it you go down to the bottom with it. There is much chaos, confusion and panic when a boat starts to sink. If someone does not say ‘Abandon the Ship’ everyone goes down with it. A rotten, dead without power and rudderless boat sinks. No life boats on that boat and there is no escaping going down with it. The proud, self righteous and arrogant believe their boat is one of a kind without comparison and it cannot sink. No better boat has ever been designed and launched.

    They are shocked and dismayed when they find it sinking. What they believed about it was shown to be a lie. Many who still believe that lie deny the boat is sinking and the real reasons why it is and they go down with the boat. They feel if they leave the sinking boat that is an act of disloyalty, divisiveness and betrayal. Some believe they will somehow die if they leave the sinking boat.

    It would seem to me rationally that you inspect the boat yourself before getting on it and if you do get on it and later find out it is rotten and will sink that you would want to get off of it. To stay on a sinking boat is irrational and when no one can really stop why it is sinking.

    It is even more irrational to stay when what is causing it to sink is denied by those in control of the boat. If those in control of the boat deny why it is sinking and will not address that issue why would you want to stay on that sinking boat? If you tell them why it is sinking and you are ignored why would you want to stay on that sinking boat? If those in control of the boat recognize it is sinking and try to fix it and are found trying to fix the wrong reason why it is sinking and deny the real reason why it is sinking why would you want to stay on that boat? If those in control of the boat are incompetent to captain it and maintain it why would you want to stay on that kind of a boat? This sounds like a dangerous boat and who wants to be found on a boat obviously dangerous to their lives? If you got on the boat thinking it was not dangerous and found out it was why wouldn’t you want to get off of that boat?

    Misplaced loyalty, misplaced submission, misplaced respect and misplaced reality are the reasons why many go down with the boat. A delusional perspective of what they believe the boat is will keep them from leaving the sinking boat and they go down with it. In their deluded minds they really believe there is no better or safer place than on their rotten sinking boat and they go down with the boat.

    Personally, I will not get onto a rotten sinking boat and if I found out later that I was on such a boat and that those in charge of the boat deny the rot and its sinking or are incompetent to fix it I would get off of that boat. If the reasons why it is sinking are continually missed and denied I would get off of that boat.

    Dry rot weakens the strength and the integrity of a boat. If you apply pressure to it the wood easily breaks and crumbles in your hands. It is in a rotting process of disintegration. It is disappearing. If the keel of the boat goes rotten the whole boat integrity is threaten. The boat comes apart and sinks.

    Orthodox, what is the condition of your keel and those who captain your jurisdiction boat? Do they have the integrity to hold the boat together and keep it floating? Are the captains competent to keep dry rot out of the boat? Do they really have moral and ethical integrity themselves so that they can? Are they rotten wood or good wood?

    A little dry rot will dry rot the entire boat. It is like leaven. It spreads to all parts of the boat. If you have ever been close to a dry rotting boat it reeks of its rot. You can smell it rotting. Then with a little inspection you can see the degree of its rotting. I have seen wood boats so rotten they best be taken to the dump. They are not worth trying to repair and it would be foolish to try. You would spend all of your time trying to repair it and it would still not get back into the water for integrity of the stability of the boat being long gone. It would be a hard and unnecessary lesson to learn considering the obvious condition of the fully rotten boat. You would find that the only solution is a completely new boat.

    The cost of inspection and repair is far less than a new boat. That is, if you keep up with the inspection and repair. If you don’t your wood boat will rot right out from under you and you will go down with it. The church is just like a wood boat. The Orthodox believe their boat is the steel Titanic that is unsinkable. It is really just a wood boat. I smell dry rot, do any of you? I see the degree of the dry rot, how about you?

    Dry rot starts inside of the wood. It has this ability to hide, but if you knock something hard against it you can tell by the sound if it is rotten or not. If you poke a knife into it is really soft. I am one who likes to inspect, smell and poke the boat, you think? I do that much differently than the Orthodox do. I do because I am on a boat that floats and that is maintained and so I know the difference. I believe any church boat can become dry rotted and sink and no matter how indestructible the owners of that boat believe it is. I live in the practical realities of the real world and I don’t have a delusional perspective of any church boat.

    I find it interesting when the Orthodox notice another church boat sinking and don’t notice how their church boat is sinking just as badly or worse. When hypocrisy speaks the hypocritical listen. When truth speaks the hypocritical do not listen. I find it amusing that the Orthodox believe when they see another boat sinking that in their minds it proves their boat is right to them in their authoritarian and exclusive closed subjective isolation that is sinking them.

    Those with an exclusive viewpoint of their boat cannot objectively see their church with practical real world reality. Their boat has no comparison and that is why they do not compare to rational objective criterion’s that would show them the degree of rot in their exclusively right boat. They believe their boat is the comparison, but please ignore our rot that is sinking us. Deny it like we do and come aboard. Then once on board there is no way of escape off of the boat other than jumping. Most stay on the sinking boat believing it is safer than jumping. It would not occur to them to swim to other boats right next to them and that are not sinking. Those boats are not right like their boat is in its sinking and so they stay on board and go down with the rotten boat.

    You don’t use dry rotted wood to build a boat or to repair a boat. You don’t replace rotten wood with rotten wood. That would be counter productive, not intelligent, irrational and it results in the boat sinking.

    There is more going on here that I am speaking too in-between the lines than many reading it realize.

    It is rational Christianity speaking into irrational Christianity and many of the irrational just don’t like it for how it exposes how they really think in their sinking boat. How a church thinks determines its real world outcome. The outcome of the church that thinks Jesus and the outcome of the church that thinks its religion can be easily discerned and seen. Their religion is not God. Jesus is God. They have radically different real world outcomes because of how they see and think who God is. Oh, yes, they do too, Orthodox. The living see right through dead who cannot see their dead state and why they are in that state, John 8:31-59. It does not work the other way around. Those Jesus confronted in affect told Him that He was heresy practicing apostasy in comparison to them and their religion. He saw right through them. They then took up stones to kill Jesus, to kill the messenger, and all they really did was destroy themselves. Those in this state kill the messenger. It reminds me of the OT where the prophets spoke and no one believed them and then destruction came. The parallels and common denominators are as astounding as they are scary for that kind of a church.

    Denial is not a river that runs through Egypt, but does it run through Orthodoxy? Some of you are not in denial of the dying disastrous state of your jurisdiction, but are you in denial of the real source cause of its dying disastrous state? Get the cause wrong and you will get the solution wrong. I promise. All of my predictions of the Orthodox come true. All of them. You have the cause and the solution wrong and so it is all going to stay wrong and no real solution is coming. The prediction is true. Now watch it continue to be true and watch your denial as to the true source cause of the church destruction continue. The degree of your denial of the true source cause of your dying state of church in America will be the degree that it dies here.

    I have never heard an Orthodox speak directly to what the true source cause of what its dying state is. All I hear are them talking about symptoms that they believe is the cause. The symptoms point to the cause that their ‘we alone are Gods only true church’ exclusive claim denies. The Orthodox believe they are so right about themselves they cannot see what the source cause of their destruction is. In their seeing themselves so God right they can’t see how wrong they are in what is causing their implosion in America. Jesus faced the same in the Gospels. It is a warning to us to not become what He confronted or there will be serious consequences. I have had Orthodox call me a Pharisee for telling them this. I have had them tell me that I do not have salvation, am lost, fractionated and aimless by not being Orthodox. Many have told me I am a heresy practicing apostasies. I see the state of their church they are standing on as a foundation when they say such things and it is a dry rotted foundation.

    Is Aerial Toll Houses your Orthodox salvation? If I don’t have that salvation I don’t have salvation, right? If I have a righteous elder praying for my soul when I die that prayer will get me through the toll houses to heaven? Gee, I always believed that the gates of hell could not prevail against the church, against the Christians who make up the church by their salvation in Jesus Christ. The cross, the blood and the resurrection are not enough. Jesus is not enough. Gods grace is not enough, you must religious work and perform to salvation. Another man and demons who are not Jesus determines your salvation on your way to heaven.

    Jesus + anything else is not salvation. Jesus plus anything else can only be religious works and performance to salvation. Jesus plus anything else results in insecurity and fear in salvation. The insecure and who fear are easily intimidated and manipulated by works and performance salvation. The object they fear and call God is religious works and performance idolatry. Jesus + anything else is perverted salvation that can pervert and then destroy a church over time. It can still externally exist, but internally it is really destroyed. It is what we in rational Christian modernity call a Christian cult church. There are objective criterion’s that can be used to determine if this is the state of your church. That is, unless you by religious denial deny them. Religion denies, but Christ spirituality does not.

    There is rot in your salvation and more than anything else salvation determines the real world outcome of a church. It is more serious problem than homosexuality. There is a way you address that issue of homosexuality in the church and I have not heard one Orthodox offer up how you reach them with Jesus. You reach them by bringing issue specific ministry to them that addresses it. That is the best you can do other than develop relationship with them and relationally share Christ with them.

    The church that practices relational evangelism is the church that is relational like Jesus is relational, Matthew 2:13-17. The church of religion is not the relational church of Jesus. It is the Pharisee like church that is self righteous closed, isolated and subjective in its religious works and performance salvation. Religious works and performance make us feel exclusive superior to those who do not religious perform church like we exclusively do. That is religious legalism as church and legalism spiritually abuses. It wants you to have a relationship with the religion as God and not God as God and that creates powerless idolatry void of the power of God. It all goes powerless and that creates carnal apathy and indifference and spiritual immaturity. In that powerlessness it can control and manipulate you by its works and performance salvation that brings fear and intimidation of the religion as your salvation. It turns salvation grace into power and control as salvation over you and that then renders you powerless in your salvation. It turns a church into religion over people and many are spiritually harmed by the crushing push down of the religion that does not raise them up. It creates misplaced loyalty, respect and submission and it all goes systemically corrupt by the starting point of a corrupted salvation.

    Like most of you have never been told before is this. Religion does not tell you this. Christ in the Gospels does tell you this. So, why is your church dying in America? The answer to the question can be found by Jesus in the Gospels, by comparison of religion to Jesus the living personal relationship that is God. He did not come to us as the religion of His day did. He came to us as Philippians chapter 2:1-11. Orthodox, you come to us here as religion and not like Jesus did in Philippians or the Gospels. You came to us as the salvation that you are and now look at what has happened to your religion in western, rational and modernity America that no matter how you cut it your church is opposed too making it not inclusive but exclusive. The comparison is Jesus and not your exclusive religion that exclusively believes it is the God right comparison that determines the God rightness of Christians and churches not of it.

    Jesus told the exclusive in Matthew 2:13-17 to go be right and well and He knew they were neither right or well.

    I take no pleasure in telling you this. Go be right and well, Orthodox, and see where it takes you, see where it it has taken you in America. You came here as religion and not the living Jesus salvation and now it has caught up to you and it is not beautiful Orthodoxy that has no comparison. It is the reality of who and what your church really is and it is exposed in America by its failure that tells you what the source cause of the failure is and that is denied by the Orthodox. Your greatest failure is the failure to recognize the source cause of your failure. Your failure is not telling you what I am telling you in your failure and because it is in denial of the source cause of its failure.

    If you believe you know what the source cause of the failure is then identify it and correct me if you feel I have it wrong. Maybe a priest, bishop or metropolitan can weigh in, that is if they want to face what they have allowed happen to their church in America. Yes, clergy give us your best apologetic defense of your church in its current corrupt, failed, irrelevant, abusive, cultic and dying state. Point everyone to the source cause and give us your best solution, that is if you are not in denial of the cause and the state of your church in America. Your denial is symptom pointing directly at the source cause and in ways you deny to see. How, you the clergy, lead your church by its salvation, by the morality and ethic’s of Jesus and by the structure and system of your rule determines its real world outcome in America.

    Well, clergy, I am waiting. I know clergy reads this. Show us your transparency and defend your church by telling us the role you play in it to keep it from becoming systemically corrupt and failed. Tell us all the ways you are taking the risk, paying the price, suffering and making the Christ like sacrifice to keep your church from corruption and failure that results from corruption.

    In particular, I would like the priests to tell me how they are not religious codependents who enable church corruption by the hierarch’s they bow too and serve and who are the known corrupt that are not repentant. Tell us how you are not hierarchy over people that crushes people and how that does not lead to the crushed destruction of your church by your not being religious codependent enablers of what is destroying your church in America. Tell us how you don’t have misplaced loyalty, respect and submission to known corrupt hierarch’s. Yes, tell us all the ways you put yourself at risk for Jesus and His church by standing up to known corruption. Tell us how you lead your parish with a zero tolerance of known corruption. Tell us how your spiritual gift of pastor is to defend the laity from wolves in sheep clothing and cups that look clean on the outside but are rotten filthy on the inside. Yes, priests, let’s get down to the bottom line role you are playing in the corrupt destruction of your church in America.

    It is no wonder to me when a priest is made a bishop or metropolitan nothing changes. Yet, when the next bishop is to be put into place the religious codependent laity says, this priest made bishop is going to change our church. They all hope for the best and then it does not come and the whole cycle of church dysfunction continues to spiral the church down to its death in America. In other words, the entire church is so systemically dysfunctional it cannot correct itself and it dies. The problem is not the solution and the laity keeps the problem in rule authority over them to the church destruction that they and the clergy both enable.

    When you believe you are Gods only true and right in your religion then only your religion can be the solution.

    Only Jesus is the solution. Your religion in America has proved it is not the solution to itself. It is proving to be the destruction of itself. Your church needs Jesus to solve its self destruction, to stop its implosion. If your religion is Jesus then the destruction and implosion is not going to stop. Jesus is not corrupt and failed church that is dying. He is life over death and religion is death over life. He confronted what was death over life and it was a dead religion that He confronted. Only Jesus can resurrect a dead church from the dead. It cannot do it without Him no matter who or what it exclusively claims itself to be.

    I am humbled and by grace fortunate to belong to a church that wants to become more like Jesus and not more like religion. The comparison humbles me and makes me grace fortunate in my heart. I know what I am not missing by not being involved in a systemically corrupt and failed church that has no solution. Many Orthodox have told me that I do not know what I am missing by not being Orthodox. I know what I am missing and I am fortunate glad that I am missing it. It is they who do not know what they are missing.

  46. “A Report on the Homosexuality Debate in the Orthodox Church of Finland”

    http://www.kosmas.fi/PDF-files-veljeston%20paasivu/Finn_Ort_Probl_2009_Autumn.pdf

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

      OMG! I knew it was bad, but not this bad. It’s a carbon copy of what is happening here and in the RCC with Pope Francis. May God have mercy on us.

      So this is whst pastoral care means.

    • M. Woerl,

      I am at the same time grateful you shared the link and saddened to the point of tears by its content. For those who have not read it I strongly suggest you do. Many insist this could never happen in the Orthodox Church. Take heed, my brethren. It not only can happen; it is happening in the Orthodox Church in Finland.

      There is no more appropriate time to share the words of the Apostle Jude…an entire epistle – short, simple, profound, and very much to the point at hand.

      Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
      To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
      Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

      Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

      But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

      Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

      These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

      Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

      These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.

      But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

      Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.
      Amen.

      • One could wonder whether the “Dislike” vote pertains to Jude’s Apostolic Epistle or the brief introductory comment.

        • Daniel E Fall says:

          Or one could wonder if men simply fatigue over my interpretation is better than yours na na na boo boo.

          Or my dad is bigger than yours…and honestly, the letter has a very old testament ring to it.

          The tone of the letter is quite sandbox, but I did not vote. Voting is silly methinks.

          The classic notion of saint’s imfallibility is so Catholic. Could not the saints have erred?

          • Tim R. Mortiss says:

            Well, Daniel, St. Jude’s letter is in the canon of Holy Scripture. So, the question should be, are the books of the New Testament in error? The notion of Scriptural “infallibility” is “so Catholic”?

            This would be a good way around St. Paul, wouldn’t it? Who says he’s “infallible”? The…..Catholics..

            • Now, Tim. I enjoy the chat, but you changed my comment from a rhetorical question asking if a saint can error to the New Testament in error. And the error doesn’t need to be an error, per se, but maybe just doesn’t apply as interpreted by us. Or, it may not apply to every situation..etc.

              And actually, I find a few of St. Paul’s statements questionable. What is so horrible about that? If you never question anything stated by men; you’d be a koolaid drinker, and we know how that worked out.

              And really, I was only making a general comment about how I perceive the letter or why it might have gotten voted as it did.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

                Hi Dan:

                As far as finding parts of St. Paul questionable can you please explain? Do you mean he didn’t make certain statements or that you do not fully understand what he was getting at? Please clarify because I might me able to refer you to a book published by Norton Press a number of years back that actually ran the gambit of Christian faith traditions in reading and understanding St. Paul, which in the end all of the commentators came to basically a lot of the same conclusions about certain parts of St. Paul’s letters or had very interesting takes on them.

                Let me know and I can send you the Amazon link to the book. If however you want a Patristic take on St. Paul there is none better than St. John Chrysostom or Blessed Theophylact that are just know being published in English from Chrysostom Press.

                Let me know. Take care and Merry Christmas.

                Peter A. Papoutsis

            • Michael Bauman says:

              Well Timor don’t you understand. The Holy Scripture is just sooooooo Protestant.

  47. Sue Simpson says:

    For All of You Attacking Fr. Arida Here:

    Where in his writings are entries admitting “HOMOSEXUALS” to the Eucharist? Where are there “LIBERAL” writings stating that this should be the NORM in Orthodox Christianity? Aren’t there really one or two here attacking Fr. Arida for his “PASTORAL” practicies regarding a few who may have fully repented??????????????? Who are you to judge him?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

      First step: stop writing articles, if he can’t stand the heat.

    • Sue, Arida is a fraud in pastors clothing. The sooner you get that, the sooner the healing can begin…

    • primuspilus says:

      We are not judging him (something we should not do), but judging his actions (something we SHOULD do).

    • Peter A. Papoutsis` says:

      I know I am wasting my time here but:

      If the never changing Gospel who is Jesus Christ is to have a credible presence and role in our culture then the Church can no longer ignore or condemn questions and issues that are presumed to contradict or challenge its living Tradition. Among the most controversial of these issues are those related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, the economy and the care and utilization of the environment including the care, dignity and quality of all human life. If the unchanging Gospel is to be offered to the culture then the Church, in and through the Holy Spirit will have to expand the understanding of itself and the world it is called to save.

      If you can’t figure this out sue, I don’t know what more to say. I bid you peace.

      Peter

    • Sue, I will be very surprised if you get any answers to your correct questions. This is the not the forum for level-headedness anymore on this issue. It’s become a forum of falsehoods and denigration of people.

      • Michael Bauman says:

        What questions? Seems as if she only demands adherence to her own code of belief and behavior or “off with our heads.” The Red Queen in action and coming from a land that is just as disordered as the one Alice step into.

  48. I would like to put a period, possibly, on this Arida stupidity. I recently read on a blog the following, and I think it puts what Fr Arida is trying to do in the right context:

    When we confess a belief in “one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church,” we are not confessing a belief in our own personal preferences, scholarship, or convictions. Instead, we are confessing a belief in fathers, mothers, and martyrs gone before us to their rest; a belief in a Lord who endured the suffering and humiliation of a Cross, so that we might handle suffering alongside him. And in that suffering, we find true life and resurrection in him.

    a belief in a Lord who endured the suffering and humiliation of a Cross, so that we might handle suffering alongside him. And in that suffering, we find true life and resurrection in him.

    The standard has been set by our Lord. Anyone who wishes to lower that bar is wrong.

  49. K. Kalmakoff says:

    Thank you all, for opening my eyes to the fact that Orthodoxy too is part of “The Great Apostasy” that Paul spoke of. I’m 62 years old, and was to become a Catahuman in just a few more weeks.
    Reading the various articles, and many of the more intelligent and insighful comments, (and ignoring the simple gossip) I am truly convinced even Orthodoxy is just one more in a long line of apostate Christian organizations.
    Are there True Christians in Orthodoxy? Of course, Yes there are!
    Nonetheless, the title of, “One and Only, True Church” is not a title that any particular Christian religion can hang upon themselves any further.
    thank you again

    • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:

      May the Lord have mercy on you! I mean that sincerely and not condescendingly or judgmentally. It’s very difficult at a late age to make such changes in one’s life, and very discouraging when the refuge you thought you’d found turns out to be troubled. But Paul’s church was troubled, too, wasn’t it? There were wolves in its midst, and yet there were also miracles and blessings, which you’ll miss if you let the wolves chase you away.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says:

      I came to the opposite conclusion at age 66, after over 30 years of thinking about it.

      When my youngest son and I decided to become catechumens, we did so immediately.

      • I am not giving up on Orthodoxy quite yet. quite yet.
        After all, neither did St Chrysostom

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says:

          “Prayer without Ceasing” Is Necessary For All Christians

          St. Gregory Palamas

          Vatopidi: Let no one think, my brother Christians, that it is the duty only of priests and monks to pray without ceasing, and not of laymen.

          No, no; it is the duty of all of us Christians to remain always in prayer.

          For look what the most holy Patriarch of Constantinople, Philotheus, writes in his life of St. Gregory of Thessalonica. This saint had a beloved friend by the name of Job, a very simple but most virtuous man. Once, while conversing with him, His Eminence said of prayer that every Christian in general should strive to pray always, and to pray without ceasing, as Apostle Paul commands all Christians, “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17), and as the prophet David says of himself, although he was a king and had to concern himself with his whole kingdom: “I foresaw the Lord always before my face” (Psalms 15:8), that is, in my prayer I always mentally see the Lord before me. Gregory the Theologian also teaches all Christians to say God’s name in prayer more often than to breathe.

          So, my Christian brethren, I too implore you, together also with St. Chrysostom, for the sake of saving your souls, do not neglect the practice of this prayer. Imitate those I have mentioned and follow in their footsteps as far as you can.

          It Only Appears to Be Diffficult at First
          At first it may appear very difficult to you, but be assured, as it were from Almighty God, that this very name of our Lord Jesus Christ, constantly invoked by you, will help you to overcome all difficulties, and in the course of time you will become used to this practice and will taste how sweet is the name of the Lord. Then you will learn by experience that this practice is not impossible and not difficult, but both possible and easy. This is why St. Paul, who knew better than we the great good which such prayer would bring, commanded us to pray without ceasing. He would not have imposed this obligation upon us if it were extremely difficult and impossible, for he knew beforehand that in such case, having no possibility of fulfilling it, we would inevitably prove to be disobedient and would transgress his commandment, thus incurring blame and condemnation. The Apostle could have had no such intention.

          Moreover, bear in mind the method of prayer – how it is possible to pray without ceasing, namely by praying in the mind. And this we can always do if we so wish. For when we sit down to work with our hands, when we walk, when we eat, when we drink we can always pray mentally and practice this mental prayer – the true prayer pleasing to God. Let us work with the body and pray with the soul. Let our outer man perform his bodily tasks, and let the inner man be entirely dedicated to the service of God, never abandoning this spiritual practice of mental prayer, as Jesus, God and Man, commanded us, saying: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).

          The closet of the soul is the body; our doors are the five bodily senses. The soul enters its closet when the mind does not wander hither and thither, roaming among things and affairs of the world, but stays within, in our heart. Our senses become closed and remain closed when we do not let them be attached to external sensory things, and in this way our mind remains free from every worldly attachment, and by secret mental prayer unites with God its Father. “And thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly,” adds the Lord. God who knows all secret things sees mental prayer and rewards it openly with great gifts. For that prayer is true and perfect which fills the soul with Divine grace and spiritual gifts. As chrism perfumes the jar the more strongly the tighter it is closed, so prayer, the more fast it is imprisoned in the heart, abounds the more in Divine grace.

          Blessed are those who acquire the habit of this heavenly practice, for by it they overcome every temptation of the evil demons, as David overcame the proud Goliath. It extinguishes the unruly lusts of the flesh, as the three men extinguished the flames of the furnace. This practice of inner prayer tames passions as Daniel tamed the wild beasts. By it the dew of the Holy Spirit is brought down upon the heart, as Elijah brought down rain on Mount Carmel. This mental prayer reaches to the very throne of God and is preserved in golden vials, sending forth their odors before the Lord, as John the Divine saw in the Revelation, “Four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

          This mental prayer is the light which illumines man’s soul and inflames his heart with the fire of love of God. It is the chain linking God with man and man with God. Oh the incomparable blessing of mental prayer! It allows a man constantly to converse with God. Oh truly wonderful and more than wonderful – to be with one’s body among men while in one’s mind conversing with God. Angels have no physical voice, but mentally never cease to sing glory to God. This is their sole occupation and all their life is dedicated to this.

          So, brother, when you enter your closet and close your door, that is, when your mind is not darting hither and thither but enters within your heart, and your senses are confined and barred against things of this world, and when you pray thus always, you too are then like the holy angels, and your Father, Who sees your prayer in secret, which you bring Him in the hidden depths of your heart, will reward you openly by great spiritual gifts.

          But what other and greater rewards can you wish from this when, as I said, you are mentally always before the face of God and are constantly conversing with Him – conversing with God, without Whom no man can ever be blessed either here or in another life?

          Finally, my brother, whoever you may be, when you take up this book and, having read it, wish to test in practice the profit which mental prayer brings to the soul, I beg you, when you begin to pray thus, pray God with one invocation, “Lord have mercy,” for the soul of him who has worked on compiling this book and of him who helped to give it to the public. For they have great need of your prayer to receive God’s mercy for their soul, as you for yours. May it be so! May it be so!

          St Gregory Palamas, from “Early Fathers From the Philokalia,” translated from the Russian text, “Dobrotolubiye,” by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, eighth edition, (London: Faber and Faber, Ltd., 1981), pp. 412 – 415

  50. George,

    Blessed new-style Nativity to all on the New Calendar — Christ is born!

    A question for any Orthodox out there who might be able to assist… I’m in the Army, deployed to the Middle East currently. Sadly there are no Orthodox military chaplains out here for Nativity, and I haven’t heard of any planned for Pascha either.

    (Father Alexander Webster (retired) and all other Orthodox military chaplains, if you are reading: thank you for bringing the Divine Services to us when we are deployed! One does not realize how much he misses our Orthodox services until they are not available. The watered-down western style Christian worship that most military chaplains offer simply do not work. I’m sorry for so many of my brothers and sisters in uniform for whom the watered-down worship is all they are offered and is all they know. May God bring them home someday!)

    Anyway, in the spirit of the Nativity, I am trying to find recordings of the Nativity Troparion (the classic slavic/Russian style, Tone 4) in English. There are Slavonic ones available on iTunes (Rozhdestvo Tvoye, Khriste Bozhe Nash) that are good, but I’m trying to find an English Slavic Tone 4 recording somewhere.

    Same issue for the Festal Kontakion, the majestic Bortniansky arrangement (Deva Dnes – Today the Virgin). Many good recordings of Bortniansky’s Deva Dnes in Russian, but I cannot find any in English.

    Any information anyone has is much appreciated! In the absence of Orthodox services, being able to listen to these recordings is joyful. Thank you.

    Please keep all servicemembers who are deployed in Iraq and the Middle East, Afghanistan, West Africa, and many other places in your prayers this Nativity season! Christ is born!

    • Rdr. Daniel Kowalcheck says:

      GG,

      Glorify Him!

      I have mp3s available of the hymns you mentioned (Tone 4 Tropar and Bortniansky’s Bulgarian arrangement of the Kondak, both in English), as well as many other favorites from the Nativity season. Email George your email address (contact info above), and we can establish private email correspondence to get them to you. I know it’s a few days after new-style Nativity, but the hymns are still appropriate until Theophany! Or if you are on the Old Calendar, we have plenty of time!

      THANK YOU for your service away from your family, especially at this time of year. Through the intercessions of the Most Holy Lady Theotokos, may our Lord God and Savior protect you.

  51. Sean from Islington says:

    Nothing like bringing the Orthodox world back to reality which you claim to accept but do not. There are no LGBT people who are having sex to mock anything filial or pious in any church. Generally to say they have no concerns about these ideas when they are being themselves, living what for them is a normal life. So, tone down the false righteousness.