Hangnail Proposes a Toast

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

-St. Peter

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” and

 “For God and not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

-St. Paul

“I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”

-Ray Parker Jr.

Hangnail Proposes a Toast

(Inspired by the classic work, Screwtape Proposes a Toast, by C.S. Lewis)

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.  Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.”

-C.S. Lewis

In hell, Graduation commencement services for the American College of Demonic Culture had concluded prior.  An enormous and well-attended banquet followed. The ACDC President, Dr. Under Ruse, just proposed the health of the guests.  Hangnail, Experienced Tempter, Senior Demon, and guest of Honor, rises in response:

Honorable President, Your Imminence, Disgraces, Dark illuminators, Forces Unseen and Shadies; graduating class of 2019, including my own dear Nephew and Valedictorian, Tale Spin. Demons all:  I greet you in the name of Our Father Below.

It is customary, on such occasions, one is called upon to address those of you who have just graduated.

Such pleasure is granted to me tonight.  Indeed, I have some things to say concerning the state of our efforts.  I wish to impress upon you the importance of the work that is before you, as you prepare to launch into your glorious and profitable careers as tempters.

ACDC class of 2019, I commend you.  You have joined the ranks of the most notable graduates and tempters of this fine historic institution.  This institution, which has helped ensure that human souls stay on the sublime path of the highway to hell,

So we can dine on them, not just for tonight, but forever – throughout the damning age to come.

As tempters, we stand on the shoulders of giants. 

As such, I am reminded of my Cousin Screwtape and his Nephew Wormwood across the pond.  Their work over the years in Great Britain have made us great beneficiaries of their deeds to this day. 

Why, where would we be without their groundbreaking and foundational work in modern androgyny?  Or their mastery over such individuals as Crowley?

However, we are not sophisticated and silly Brits.  You are the demons of America.  As such, your mission is America.  Your assignment is both most delightful and extremely important.

Why, you ask?

You see, in capturing America, we are capturing the entire world.

Through the advancement of technology, largely inspired by American industry and pop culture, we have piggy-backed our very own demonic culture to such.

They are the hosts.  We are the demon ticks to spread our spiritual black plague.

Any human culture is not inherently bad.  We make it bad.  Culture itself is merely a medium.  However, we seek to corrupt any and all cultures in order to introduce our own.

We care not if the culture is American, Greek, Russian, Chinese, African, Indian or even Samoan.  If it can be used to overtly express our own demonic culture, the culture of death, then we have succeeded.

We just have never found a culture so far-reaching as well as conducive to our global plan as the multi-ethnic American culture.

Therefore, our aim right now is such that anywhere in the world you find a Kentucky Fried Chicken, you will also find our secret recipe of disaster.

If America doesn’t directly export their benign as well as their goods we’ve tainted, those influences will be transported around the world by extension to the foreign families by the immigrants who live in the United States.

Immigrants, who come in enormous numbers at a steady influx from all parts of the globe.

So, if you want your impact to be experienced globally, simply concentrate on those who dwell in the United States.

To win America is to gain the entire world.

Sure, we already have agents in all parts of the world already, corrupting every and all cultures.

However, we believe in multi-layer demonic culture redundancy.

Really consider where we are at right now in this American inspired digital age.

The world used to look to America for blue jeans and Coca Cola.

Now America exports their demonically enthusiastic decadent and hedonistic desires by a simple click of the mouse.  Sometimes even by simple voice command.

Through social media and other web sites that allow for an average one among them to become an overnight sensation, we’ve created an entire multi-ethnic culture of narcissists. 

That was step one.

Step two will be to eliminate any left-over empathy in those narcissists and turn them into full-fledged sociopaths.

Imagine, an entire culturally American inspired global population of sociopaths with technological doom at their fingertips.

But I remind you, that is not our ultimate aim.  Not really.

Entertainment, however enjoyable, is not the dinner.  Our goal is the unprecedented feast of innumerable souls.

My fellow demons, you must play the diabolical long game, and delay your fervor for final global catastrophe.

We want them all, as many as we can get, to suffer for all eternity, not for just a few moments in a glorious global fireworks display – but to be slowly digested in the bowels of hell forever.

We want them now to think that they are good, decent, tolerant, spiritual, well-meaning individuals – who are just entering into a new advanced and progressive golden age of humanity.  One that oozes with civility and like-mindedness.

With no idea that they are headed straight for our insatiably greedy teeth.

If they carry this attitude, yet view themselves as devoted to the Enemy, even better!

The fact of their various “noble” causes, such as struggles for environmental protection, religious tolerance, sustainability, and human rights – gives them the alleviation they need to feel good about the future and themselves.  All the while they are completely inoculated concerning their actual present spiritual conditions, as well as total indifference to the spiritual conditions of those who surround them.

They are warmed and comforted by the trance-inducing soft glow of the fire, as they are standing by, watching the world burn.

To this end, I bring to you my true message, tonight.  That message can be summed up in one word:  Containment.

Why containment?

Because we are concerned about one specific variable to undermine our well-woven diabolical scheme:

The Enemy’s Church

Ughh.  I just threw up in my mouth a little . . .

Notice I didn’t say one of our “churches.”  We have many of those.  In fact, we have implanted one of our snugly within one of theirs – complete with our very own demonic mysteries!

Any time you see the Enemy’s Church acting uncharacteristic to its own principles, you see our hidden hand hard at work.

Why, just look for our signs in some recent “iconography!”

Or even what appears to be etched into the floor of one of their “primary” temples.  Go ahead, look it up on Google Earth.  You will find it on the floor a few meters in front of the royal doors, intersecting almost directly out from one of their thrones. 

Whether authentic, or a digital hoax, I do not know.  Regardless, it brings a smile to my face and gives me hope.

However, I digress. I am speaking overall of that dreaded assembly that we can’t seem to wipe out entirely.  For centuries on end, we have tried.  We have failed each and every time.  Often with counter-productive results.

So we minimize it.

Like an outbreak of measles, that which can’t be eradicated must be contained.  Marginalized.  Minimized.

The humans must not experience the life-altering “good infection” of the Enemy, as described by that deplorable Brit.

We must keep the Church contained.  It is our best strategy, and really, our only way of winning.

As demons, we must do all we can to see the Enemy’s Church under containment.  We do this by redefinition, domination, and fear.

First of all, containment by the redefinition of terms.

We seek to minimize the existence of the Enemy’s Church by making it harder and harder to find it by definition.

First, we did so by distortion and multiplicity.

Regardless of intent, the Protestant Reformation, along with American religious freedom, has played directly into our hands.

As such, America has been the incubator and/or breeding ground of over 44,000 different hybrid Christian denominations, including some seriously monstrous Christian cults.

Those, too, have been marvelously exported all around the world.  Including Ukraine.

But those efforts had only so much effect.  Some of them were beginning to discover the Enemy’s Church. 

More was needed to complete our plan of distortion.

Therefore, recently, we piggy-backed on (if not directly inspired) a council in order to try and redefine the term, “Church.”

We did this by attempting to redefine the term, Church, to include all sorts of Christian faith communities.

This council was done with minimal success, but it was a good start.

First, we will unite all Christians according to our terms.  Then, we will include all the faiths and religions of the world out of “love, mutual understanding, commonality, and collective human interest.”

A super church.  A super church for the new age.

Once we’ve succeeded in redefining the term, “Church.”

The Enemy

The Enemy’s Messiah


Can then also be distorted in their eyes by us with maximum effect. 

This accomplished, we will be able to more easily than ever before, give them the messiah distortion of their choice.  Any messiah they want or wish they themselves could be.  A reflection of good desires, or simple interests, along with their own darkened ego.  A reflection, not of the Enemy, but of themselves.

Are they concerned about the habitat?  We will give them Green Jesus with recycled heresies.

Are they heroic?  G.I. Jesus.  He will even be a video game player you can unlock.

Are they peaceful?  Hippy Jesus.  We already have an assortment of bumper stickers.

Are they passionate about animal rights?  PETA Jesus.  Not to be confused with Gyro Jesus.

Do they hunt for Sasquatch?  Smelly, hairy Jesus.  Not to be confused with Hippy Jesus.

And so on.

Until we have so distorted the image of the Enemy’s Christ, we can very easily import our idea of God.

The true illuminator:  Lucifer.  Our Father Below.

And trust me, gentle demons, they will worship him!

Don’t believe me?  You underestimate how spiritually blind and manipulated they can be.

Even one of their books says it will happen.  Of course, we all disagree about how the end will turn out.

What other terms will follow?  We’ve already done in Catholic.  How about Ecumenical?

This brings me to my next point.

Containment by domination

They believe in one Church that is everywhere yet operates in a conciliar manner.  One bishop who is in one reasonable and limited geographical location who also has one vote.

We believe in a world religion dominated by a limited number of remote distant control seats of power.

Or, if you will, the seat of power.

I’m rather enjoying this comical spectacle of ecclesiastical Highlander, aren’t you?

Every time they figuratively lop off another head through political pressure, intrigue and loftier titles, we gain more and more potential to manipulate and distort through a long and isolated supreme power source.

It is far easier to corrupt a small number of them with great far-reaching power than a large number of them with minimized local power.

For us, in the end, “There can be only one.”

This way we can most easily disseminate distorted and false beliefs by engaging powerful mind control tactics through a consolidated seat of power.

They will be given over to our strong delusion.  Whatever we choose that to be.

As it is said, “Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Learn these words, demons, and speak them into every ear:


How do we make a local Church into a global religion?

Domination.  Domination by distorting not just the term, “Church,” but “Mother Church.”

Again, we redefine the terms.

Therefore, right now, to assist this effort, and as I had indicated, we are also in the process of redefining that term of theirs, “Ecumenical.”

We don’t care what they mean by that.  It is our meaning that matters.

And what do we mean by “Ecumenical?”  It depends.

When it comes to other faiths, we’ve made it to mean, “Whatever you say.”

However, when it comes to the actual Church, we’ve made it to mean, “Do as I say.”

Catholicism 2.0.  Catholicism on steroids.

Top down, unquestionable, unchallengeable domination.


It is not the Enemy’s way.  It is our way.  And so many of them are eating it up like ham sandwiches in a concentration camp.

Most, however, we treat like mushrooms.  We keep them in the dark and feed them a bunch of crap.

By this, we are succeeding in oppressing the Church in Ukraine, while suppressing the Church in the United States.  These locations are only the beginning.

If even only one key Church jurisdiction in America fully embraces this concept, we estimate we will be able to cut their numbers in half.

Which, due to our already meddling in the areas of multiple “Christs” and gospel messages, ethnophyletism, juristictionalism, and secular humanism, the Church in the U.S. is already estimated to be merely 1% of the Christian population, or approximately 0.5% of the overall American population.

Imagine the Church in the United States being only 0.25% of the overall American population.  A quarter of one percent!

We are winning, my beloved boogeymen!

We are winning by containment.  Containment through redefinition and domination.

So eat up tonight!  Feast upon those pathetic human souls on your oversized plates.  There will be no shortage of food to come.

Unless . . .

Unless our plans come to an end.

This brings me to my final point, which is fear.

What if the Church defies the odds and triumphs in America?

Could the reverse happen?  Instead of a dominant corrupted culture of death and a minimized Church, could there be instead a healthy society where death and corruption is minimized and the Church swells in numbers?

You see, I’m concerned the reverse is true about America.  What if, by some means, the Church shakes off our master plan of containment by redefinition and domination?

As the insidious and insightful tempter Screwtape has been known to say, “The great (and toothsome) sinners are made out of the very same material as those horrible phenomena the great Saints.” *

What if, through influencing the American culture with all their sub-cultures, they influence the world for good?

Not through corruption, manipulation, redefinition, dominance or vice – but in humility, meekness, personal integrity, compassion, and bold truth?

Persons, in whom the Spirit of the Enemy dwells?

It would be the total inversion of our plan!

You don’t think it’s possible?  Not so!

I call to your attention that there has always historically been a significant and substantial ebb and flow of the devotion of American souls to the Enemy.

They have shown us what it is to be unbelievably depraved human beings.


They have also shown us through the Holiness Movement, that they can, in fact, hunger for holiness.

They have shown us, through such things as the Jesus Movement, that they have the potential to be absolutely passionate for the Enemy’s Christ.

For good or bad, they have shown unprecedented evangelical fervor.  Why, look at how much damage was done by one lone idiot holding up a sign while wearing a rainbow wig!

Some of them have demonstrated a drawing towards the Enemy’s Church.  Some even discovered it and participated in those mysteries that we want them to avoid at all costs! 

We have worked at great lengths to try to bring an end to that movement!  May it serve as a great warning to us.

The only thing I hated more than that rainbow wig idiot was that insufferable Gillquist!

The fact of the matter is that it is possible that America could turn out differently.  If a unified local Church were to thrive there, America could actually turn into an absolute fanatical factory for making saints instead of demon fodder!

Even if they don’t recognize it, the Enemy has given them all the resources to make it happen if they are just willing!

Now, we have helped to ensure that this is truly a perplexing issue for them. 

However, they also have many top leaders who feign incompetence to satisfy their own best interests.  These highly educated men, the best and the brightest – just can’t seem to get things together? 

It’s like a crowd of hypnotized and sympathetic observers watching an astronaut act like he can’t work a doorknob. 

I love an enabler.  A crowd of them is indispensable!

What if that comes to an end?  What if Church the leaders and laity come together in honesty and become bold and purposeful?

What, then, do we do?

Every great plan needs some reinforcement.  An insurance plan to ensure the success of that strategy.

What is our plan to ensure the strategy of containment by redefinition and dominance remains a success?

The answer to that question is fear.

We demons prefer deception.  When that doesn’t work, what do we rely on?  We rely on fear. 

This will be your first assignment as you leave this place.

Containment through the redefinition of terms and dominance is for the advanced demons.  You must first cut your teeth with the mastery of fear.

Do not begrudge your assignment.  I guarantee you will find it most enjoyable and look back fondly on this early foundational stage of your career.

As such, you’ve also been entrusted with our insurance plan of fear.  Failure is not an option.  You are aware of the consequences of underachievement if you fail to perform satisfactorily in this area.

If you look at most ordinary human beings, you will find the vast majority of them make regular fear-based choices.

There are two types of fear that humans experience that you must exploit.

The first is based on the instinct for self-preservation.   The second fear has to do with the human ego.

Humans want to preserve their life at all costs.  That life that includes not just their physical well-being, but whatever they consider, “life,” to be.  A rich and full life, a purposeful life, a peaceful life – whatever.

They fear being hurt or killed.  They fear to have that which they find meaningful taken away from them.

Such mortals!

It has been said, “Every man has his price.”

If you want to buy a human soul, you must know what to bargain with.  Bargain in fear.

Fear drives a man away from making the right choice.  Fear will cause someone to ignore their conscience and not do what they know they should do or do what they normally would not.

When their conscience stings them, we work in the little logic of justification based off of their fears

“I can’t stand up for what is right.  My opinion does not matter.  I’m just a low man on the totem pole.”  Says the person who fears for his job.

Fear will also cause them to do something against their conscience.

Peter denied Christ for no other reason but fear.  Pontius Pilate only granted the crucifixion after he became greatly afraid.

If all else fails, use fear.  Find out your subject’s biggest fears, and exploit them.

Every man has his price.

A culture of fear is a silent culture.  We want our opposition to be quiet and stay that way.

It can be argued that there are two types of fear:  Real and imagined.

Sometimes the fear is based in reality, sometimes in imagination.  Sometimes the fear is a combination of both.

It doesn’t matter to us.  As long as they fear and stay silent.

Make them afraid to speak up for what is right. 

Can they trust their priest?  Is their bishop or hierarch an agent of the government willing and eager to report them as dissenters?  Is the government then out to get them?  Are they on any and all security watch lists?  Will the government then track their every move through modern technologies?  Though patriotic, will they then be targeted, unjustly branded a collaborator with other foreign governments and picked off one by one?  Caught secretly and silently shipped off by railcar to some concentration camp posing as a disaster area refuge where a modern guillotine awaits their arrival?

Black helicopters following them everywhere! Drones ready to fire upon them at any time!  Frogmen in their birdbath!  Air assault troopers ready to crash through their dining room window!

What’s this?  Ah, HA!  Lenten noodles . . . we got you, ya prayer-ropin’ scumbag!!

Just because they are paranoid, doesn’t mean that we aren’t out to get them!

Not that we don’t have plenty of infrastructure and technological means of terror to surprise them to our enjoyment if we want.

But are their fears based in reality or imagination?

It doesn’t matter one bit to us.  As long as they believe it so and are completely incapacitated by fear, we get the right result.

We want them to be so twisted and contorted like silent and disabled fear pretzels wearing tinfoil hats.

To make them so afraid that they won’t even walk in the light for fear of their own shadow!

Their only true catacomb will be their own bed, hiding in absolute silent terror under the sheets.

They love their puny little short-term lives.  That works so well in our favor!

However, there is even greater fear than the exploitation of self-preservation.  It has to do with the ego.

You see, it has been said that the fear of death is the number two greatest fear among humans.

If death is number two, what could possibly be number one?

I kid you not, the thing that human beings fear the greatest is public speaking.

Death is number two, public speaking is number one.  No, I am not pulling your tail.

I pondered this for quite some time.  Why in the world would public speaking be their number one fear?

Then it hit me.  They fear to look stupid.  Therefore, they really fear to look stupid in front of a mass audience.  The root of that fear has to do with their ego.  A prideful ego!

That’s why death by banana peel is so funny.  You die, but first, you look stupid!

None of them want to feel the pain of awkwardness, exposure, embarrassment, to the disapproval of others – especially a lot of others.

They have a reputation to uphold! Plus, they absolutely fear the disapproval of others.  They do not wish to appear foolish at any price.  Even if that price is the Enemy’s “truth.”

So, fear of shame, embarrassment, and so on, just brings the real issue to the forefront by that exercise of speaking in front of a mass audience.  It is really the fear of others, the fear of public disappointment and disapproval they truly fear.  The core issue is not the audience, but how they feel about their exposed yet prideful self.

This fear of disapproval keeps them silent when they ought to speak.  This fear will also cause them to nod their head in agreement when they know deep down that they do not agree. 

They betray their conscience by the fear of appearing foolish, or bigoted, or uncompassionate, or intolerant and mean-spirited.

For instance, we love the use of dialog.  It was the first tactic Our Father Below used to corrupt the humans.  He opened a dialog:

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”  Then he provided a contorted and compelling argument with the temptation to get those humans to disobey to their deaths.

It still works.  We’ve got many of them to change their mind on some moral issues important to the Enemy.  Such as, if marriage is between one man and one woman only.

We’ve done this right in their midst.  We plant an idea using one or two of their own, convince a small minority, then use fear to keep the rest silent. 

Silent by fear of being misunderstood as an uncompassionate, intolerant bigot. 

Fear of being labeled a fundamentalist (my, what mileage we get out of that word.  Remember that one). 

Fear of what others might think or say about them if they do not remain silent.  So silent they remain.

By this, we are able to dislodge some long established and problematic moral and spiritual beliefs for us and get our way.  By fear, we win!

By the way, if you ever have an especially difficult human subject in the area of tempting by fear and/or simply a target of extreme high value, combine both fear types:  the fear for self-preservation as well as that of personal reputation.

Use our superweapon:  BLACKMAIL

Trip them up, set up power over them (temporal governments work the best for maximum fear through power) then blackmail them.  The fear induced by blackmail will successfully tempt almost any one of them to give into it and betray their God, themselves and anyone else.

Every man has his price.  Bargain in fear.

The great thing about fear is that it is not just a bargaining chip.  It is also an investment with compound interest.  Those who live in fear will end up, more often than not, terrorizing others.

The ancient church was much established and safeguarded by the Enemy’s use of such loathsome and fearless persons as that troublemaker Paul.

Paul, who was an unashamed, “truth” speaking “fool.” Paul, who loved the Enemy more than his own neck.  We were able to hassle him a bit, but we couldn’t stop him.  He was fearless.

Hell forbid a fearless Church in America.

As demons, we must do all we can to see the Enemy’s Church under containment.  We do this by redefinition, domination, and fear.

Devils, tempt them through fear!  Do whatever you can, do whatever it takes.  Make them fear in silence.

Otherwise, we will be the ones who will fear losing everything. 

Your task is at hand.  Make us proud!

And now for my pleasant task tonight.

Fill your glasses, my gentle demons.

What is this?  Intriguing!  What a fine selection for this occasion.

What a delightful bouquet.  An absolute nostril symphony of complete and total suffering anguish, with notes of remorse and hopelessness, along with pure terror.

Mr. President, you have selected a fine vintage tonight for all your guests and graduates!

Everyone, put your glasses up to the light.  Swirl it around.

Indeed, this is quite a vintage preserved by your President.  Why, I remember the time when we captured these ridiculous souls hundreds of years ago.

What an excellent crop that was.  A fine selection of heretical hierarchs, bribed and compromising bishops, erring, and complacent priests, along with cowardly and worldly laity – complete with your common everyday ignorant and hedonistic sinner.  Together, they were picked off, trodden down, blended and diabolically bottled – then placed in the deepest cavern cellars of hell.  Placed on hold for ages on end to wait in agony for our very enjoyment tonight!

Their combined desires for dominance, power, and freedom have left them empty and powerless, hopelessly bobbing in our goblets of malice and doom.

Roll them along your tongue for a moment, before swallowing them completely.  Let the burning of their self-hate and remorse warm your innards.  Envelope their egos and be refreshed to the bloating of your own; for they successfully resisted the grace to be united spiritually in life and love to the Enemy without the annihilation of their own individuality.  Not so with us.

We have won by their forfeit and you are satisfied with the work of all the tempters who have gone before you.

Fulfill your assignments of fear and oppression. Work the fields, my evil ones, work them over – and it will be from your joyful labors that we shall drink and toast in times to come!

Your Imminence, Disgraces, Dark illuminators, Forces Unseen, and Shadies:  I give you the toast of – Dr. Under Ruse and the College!


*From, “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” by C.S. Lewis


  1. Mystery Deacon says
  2. “There can be only one.”
    It seems Hangnail has either forgotten (impossible!) to give more detailed instructions or else he has explained it on a different “occasion”:

    To achieve “only one”, there needs to be perfect discipline:
    -The people should not criticize even the worst actions of the priests,
    -and the priests the actions of their bishops,
    -and so on, remembering:
    “How can they sinners check their superiors?”
    After all this has been largely achieved in Rome!

  3. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Hey, George.
    A couple of links.  
    An actual link between Ancient Faith and the topic of this letter from Screwtape.
    And a link to a blog post that describes said link: 
    (I wasn’t sure how else to get it to you.)

  4. Sure Pope Saint Gregory the Great long ago taught us that anyone desiring the title and power of an “Ecumenical Patriarch” is diabolical. What we are seeing is more proof that Blessed Gregory knew of what he spoke.
    But let’s be honest. Our “churches” are doing a fine job of carrying out the devil’s wishes independent of the EP: ethnocentrism, lack of evangelism, lack of service to the poor, marginalized and needy. A neighbor just told me she loved the Russian Orthodox Liturgy but the nearby ROCOR parish was “only for Russians” so she can’t attend (she is accurate; of course they don’t evangelize or help the poor or marginalized either).
    Our problems are much deeper and wider than the EP. In many respects he is just best ignored.

    • Greg,
      Yes you are absolutely correct.  It is unconscionable that now, 100 years after sizable Orthodox migration to the United States, we are still so fractured and insular.  There are about as many Muslims in the United States as there are Orthodox Christians, however the Muslims outshine us in every way when it comes to working together, building schools for their children, etc. 
      By all demographic accounts, Orthodox are the wealthiest faith group in America per capita, yet what do we have to show for it?  Not much.  Rather, what we show for it is that we don’t care.
      Orthodox in the United States have been stuck in “survival” mode for a long time (my personal opinion is that it’s an unhealed trauma response, but that’s another topic).  Yes, there are some parishes that break free from this state, but they are easily overshadowed by the majority of Orthodox Americans and episcopal leaders who remain overwhelmingly phyletist and insular.  
      I love my faith and the sacramental growth toward Christ that it offers — I cannot imagine life without it — but our insular outlook on life makes me understand completely why some serious American Christians won’t even consider Orthodox Christianity.
      This new GOA Archbishop certainly won’t help the insular, ghettoized state of American Orthodoxy.  Rather, he apparently wants to make the GOA even more insular, even more Greek, even more ghettoized.  Is that pleasing to Christ?
      As much as people give them a hard time, I really do applaud the OCA for taking a tremendous efforts 50 years ago to get our church out of the ethnic ghetto and into the lives of regular Americans.
      I work near a federal building which has institutional chaplains, and the other day I was in the elevator reading the “religious service” schedule: Protestant service at 9am, Catholic at 10am, Islamic service at 1pm, Jewish service at 5pm, or something like that.  This is too common; Orthodox nowhere on the radar.
      Here we are in 2019, and still Orthodox Christians are simply not found on the radar of the American religious landscape. If we are thought about, we are either put or choose to keep ourselves within our own ethnic enclaves. 
      It’s our own fault; it did not have to be this way.  SCOBA made tremendous efforts back in the 1960s to move toward an administratively-unified Orthodox Church in America.  After Ligonier, though, we put what is best for the old-country patriarchates above what is best for the Christian mission in America.
      Too many of the old-country patriarchates do not love America but simply shame us into being used as a cash-cow, and we just let it happen.
      At least we know that when Americans do become Orthodox, it is certainly a miracle, as God knows that their conversions are not because of any serious efforts we have made on our part.

      • Anon2. A trueful post. Nothing will change until american Orthodoxy is run by and in America. If the relatively small number of Fins can do this very successfully, as the japonese also, why not you guys after a 100 yrs. ?   Well u supplied the answer. Reading about the scandals of these bishops, only makes it worse. 

        • Michael Bauman says

          Nikos, we are the cash cow no one in the old world wants to let go of–especially Bartholomew. We live in our grandparents basement, but we pay the rent for the whole place.

          The only one’s to whom this does not apply are the Russians.

          • Yes, Michael, I think you’re correct. The only American jurisdictions that don’t have to regularly send cash back to the “old country churches” are the OCA and ROCOR, I believe. The OCA because it’s ecclesiastically & administratively independent, and ROCOR because of the agreement it made during the restoration of canonical communion with Moscow in 2007.

            It works both ways, though. Many people erroneously think that ROCOR is funded by Moscow (not true). ROCOR doesn’t get a dime from Moscow, which is one of the reasons that despite the abundant resources of the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in the world by far (Moscow, 70-75% of the world’s Orthodox), ROCOR remains relatively poor and meager financially, though thanks to the faithful tithing and the overall spiritual health of so many ROCOR parishioners, she’s doing much better financially these days than in past decades.

            I’m not sure about the small MP jurisdiction in America, though I’d think that they both get financial help and also send back tithes or something to Moscow. Though I don’t know. Hopefully that small jurisdiction will be absorbed into the OCA or ROCOR one of these days.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Anon 2, like most people, I don’t mind helping our Mother Churches, but I don’t think we should be funding political causes like the Lebanese Freedom Fighters, for example. I also don’t think we should be expected to turn over money that will be given to groups our government views as terrorist organizations. We do not exist to support them (or shouldn’t). We should be able to determine how much money we send and not be told from the pulpit that it is expected that we fund this or that effort and by how much. We definitely should not have to put up with old world tactics and if a member of the clergy has stolen money, forged a priest’s signature to get two first cousins married or terrorize people, we should be able to say, “You’re outta here!” Too often, the Metropolitan’s hands are tied. Even the Patriarch’s hands are tied with respect to Antioch. They have to support Assad because it’s the only way they can protect the Christians.

              We need to separate ourselves from old world politics. If our jurisdictions united, it would be a much easier process.

              • Michael Bauman says

                My parish was founded by people who came from the diocese of Homs in southwest Syria. It is one of the oldest Christian diocese in existence.  Many parishinors still have family there. The current bishop, BP Saba spent over a year here prior to his consecration.  They are our sister diocese.  When the dogs of war were unleashed by our government, much of Bp Saba’s tremendous work of rebuilding his diocese by serving both the Christian and Islamic people was destroyed.   So we send them money.   We sent money to help prior to the destruction.  That, I have no problem with. In fact such help is a command by Scripture.  

            • I guess I would be interested to experience one of these “spiritually healthy” ROCOR parishes. I am in the center of Russian emigres in the US and spiritual health is one thing I have not observed there. Ethnocentrism (particularly absurd as most Russians here have zero interest in the Church) and a concern with preserving Russian culture and rubrics, but none of the parishes I have been to – and that would be many – seem spiritually healthy to me. I say that as a Russian-American/russophile, who would love to find such a thing. In one area we regularly attend we practically drive by an unwelcoming, slavonic oriented parish to go to a vibrant and Christian GOA parish. 

              • Matthew Panchisin says

                Dear Greg,

                Well at least we know that Vladyka Peter or Father Andre (with the best interest in the Church in their hearts) didn’t give you a blessing to be online to bash ROCOR. As far as your interest are concerned, I’d start with that matter in terms of embracing a disposition that is conducive to learning at the ROCOR online seminary. To me it seems like a rather inconsistent distant learning choice for a student considering your opinion of ROCOR Church life. I’d make some adjustments. Keep us posted as it would be interesting to see how your grading works out.

              • Greg I agree with you.  Orthodoxy in USA needs to be in english and to use all the traditions it  has as an inheritence,musically etc, etc,  to forge an american authentic church that has the same relationship with Moscow or Constantinople as  the other patriarchates.   And you need an elected Patrarch.  
                It comes down to individual clergy and parishes U have found a vibrant open greek one, many have experienced opposite.  As a greek outsider I found the OCA to be both american,in english, faithful to Orthodox worship ( acapella etc)  and related to the society it lives in. I found however in  attending St Nicholas Russian Cathedral in New York, nr Bronx I think,  like attending a secret society that did not want me.  Totally different to the Russian church in London which is vibrant, and warm. 
                But ethnic must go.  We can still enjoy the food and dance, why not and the languages as needed,  but the Church should be american,living and breathing in english and in USA. Above and beyond that it needs to be open to not just the nice people.  
                I had it said to me that westerners will not prostrate themselves in church so we should not.  Quite, but Christians do and why Muslims do actually.  As to the russians. The reality is that if u talking about new immigrants, they coming from society with virulent atheism from 1918-1991 and that has left it’s Mark. Also pre 1917 Russian society was in ferment and the Church was in disaray. So all this reflects in modern russians.

                • Well Nikos, I guess you are “bashing” the Church and i have been told one rather ought not to speak the truth since it might hurt the Church to hear the truth. The truth related to the Gospel, no less.

                  • Greg there is so much I could say. As I have joined this blogg and followed it has been an eye opener for me. In that the issues are large and wider than appear.
                    After the fall of communism it seemed to many Orthodox that ‘we had won’ and the west was thirsty for our truth.
                    Seems on contrary that the wave of interest and convertion that netted bishop Kalliroy Ware etc, is long gone and we are on the defensive.
                    Someone of the statue of Anthony Bloom in London understanding this (+2003) but the rest not.
                    They have become bureaucrats with the canons as their business. Elpidophoros is a prime example. They HAVE NO INSIGHT AT ALL.
                    And yes the byzantine court ritual around the bishops, the regal robes, mitre. They all grate on me and on most people now. And the pompous titles. It’s not a question of protestantism. But of the fact thst all this just grates on people today and is unrelated and dead and gets in the way.
                    They have turned the Church upside down so the people serve them. Yes they talk the talk.. We ALL CAN, CAN’T WE? But that is it. Their actions as elpidophoros and his next Saturday soire with their meaningless speeches, say it all. Who gives. …?
                    This attitude may have been ok in 18c Ottoman Turkey but is not today.
                    This is the corruption of power in the Church that goes above and beyond the sexual or financial of which too much.
                    It is not a church for 21St c. It is a failing museum. We are a FALLING % of world’ s Christians. Here in Bulgaria Sunday attendance is 4%. It rises at big feast but not massively so.
                    We have in Orthodoxy an uninformed laity who no more can reply on a Orthodox Culture to keep it going.

                    The Church that thriving, here in Bulgaria such as my local Parish, understand that. And to be fair the Church here turning the corner and much humbler.
                    But too much of the Church is living in the 4 th century and the empire of Konstantine. No one gives a toss anymore about byzantine rules to run the Church. As Fr Alexander Schememn once said, ‘ What did Christians do all week when they did not have the Church to run? ”

                    Those who have read my stuff here know that i am no modernist, especially liturgically. But I AM A REALIST. It is the parts of the Church who have understood this that are thriving.
                    The answer is not pews and dog collars and the rigid worship style of a dead 19c Europe that greek archdiocese
                    Seems to love, but if u like a flat church, where hierarchy is service and the last are first.
                    The days of St Nicholas projects and large flash parishes are over. We need small groupings and emphasise on community worship and the believers. If any think I am some radical, they should know that I am quoting almost the replies of the Russian bishops in 1906 to the pre -Council commission. Hardly a radical bunch.

                    I am a committed but concerned and angry Orthodox believer from what i see. Yes we know within all the mess is the hand of God and the Saints and the EUCHARIST AND U will all know I am sure bishops who are humble servers of the people as clergy and living parishes. And the witness of rhe Soviet period. And i was cheerrd to read about fr Paul Abanathy.


                    • Greg I just read the article about the new archbishop of Church in Uk.Niketas, and seeing a photo of him in St Sophia, byzantine Cathedral London with the clergy there. And i am reminded of before left for Bulgaria of going there with english friend to show him Cathedral. We saw a man come out dressed in a colourful tight suit with shaved head and a day’s  stubble. THE rest I won’t comment on.  When he announced himself as the priest, my english friend said, ‘ No u not,  you not a greek priest looking like that’!!! 
                      But it’s a nice sinecure with the greek shipowners who don’t attend too often. 
                      The Church in the Uk Southampton  greek Parish that i know had a priest there over a decade not speaking  english,  which could account for the fact if u took greek ex pats  away as me really, apart from a few it would be empty on a Sunday. The current cypriot generation no where to be seen  and modern english Culture is vehemently secular.  Yet the Church is stuffed with kitsch candalabra so beloved of greek churches and tiers of icons added to the beautiful  Original Russian painted iconostas painted by Fr Sophrony at St John Baptist monastery. 
                      Yet none  of this reality will be allowed to break through the omogenia rubbish. 
                      Look I am greek,  i prefere worship in greek, so would not bother me, but church is not just me. 

                  • greg two other entries meant for you but I felt I had to add this as now feeling so strongly. 
                    I am a believing Orthodox Christian yet I fear for the Church.  I know thst large parts of greek youth unchurched and increasing numbers not baptised or married in church if married at all.  You  now have generations like this.  They see the Church as a irrelevant museum u visit at Easter for ten minutes to get the ‘ Holy light’  .  That damn Jerusalem light worship that has displaced the Reserrection of Christ as the main focus.  Thank God in Bulgaria nor so.  
                    Is it genuine?.  I have no idea and do not care ladies and gentleman and reverands. but anything coming out of that Patriarchal sewar must be suspect. 
                    I suspect  God would have set fire to the last couple of crooks occupying that mafia seat and travesty of Christ. Who do NORHING for their flock but take their money and sell them out. Literally.  
                    I have fast come to the point I find it difficult to give our clergy automatic respect.  Very sad because some deserve it. 

                • Niko, I forgot to tell you a “bad” joke:

                  Daughter: -“Dad, I am going to marry William…”

                  Father: -“No, you not gonna marry an Anglos!”

                  Daughter: -“But Dad…Dad, he is ORTHODOX!”

                  Father: -“What’s that?”

          • Very well put, Michael.

          • michael well put. While helping the elderly is good maybe they should swap places and down size! ? 

          • Gail Sheppard says

            You’re right about that, Michael.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Gail, I too was concerned about our money supporting terror about the same time you were. I did not write a letter but I did send an E-mail to the webmaster.  He actually replied and we had a brief telephone conversation.  He admitted to me at the time that he and others felt the same way but their hands were tied.   
              I never went further because I simply did not see a way to do so.  In retrospect I find it amazing that Homeland Security did not take action against us.  It was not hidden.  

      • Anon 2 I agree on many points, but I have one remark.
        “This new GOA Archbishop certainly won’t help the insular, ghettoized state of American Orthodoxy. Rather, he apparently wants to make the GOA even more insular, even more Greek, even more ghettoized…..SCOBA made tremendous efforts back in the 1960s to move toward an administratively-unified Orthodox Church in America. ”
        Can you imagine somebody like the current EP becoming head of ALL Orthodox in America?So, the current multi-head situation does give more overall “safety”.

      • Lewis Luckenbach III says

        Right on target.

    • Very interesting, Greg.
      Similarly as Saint Gregory the Great,
      St.J.Chrysostom refused to be ordained because he was afraid he would sin with the beautiful female, the Doxa, the Glory of the Bishop!
      However, today’s bishops are holier and wiser than the Golden-mouth Saint.  
      “the nearby ROCOR parish was “only for Russians” so she can’t attend:
      ONE explanation is SOMETIMES a mutual agreement of the “Head” of a Church with others not to take other congregations. This was the case in the UK in the 1800s. Read the biography of Fr. Stephen George Hatherly who was not allowed to convert the English, because the then EP had so agreed with the Anglicans.
      Stephen Hatherly,  achieved some notoriety as the firstEnglishman to become an Orthodox priest

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      RE: “the nearby ROCOR parish was ‘only for Russians’ so she can’t attend (she is accurate; of course they don’t evangelize or help the poor or marginalized either).”

      “Greg,” I presume you intend by that statement to characterize the ROCOR parish near you and not to stereotype all of ROCOR.

      I can assure you and the many readers of and contributors to this website that a steadily increasing number of ROCOR parishes, such as my former parish in Virginia (St. Herman of Alaska Church in Stafford, VA. near the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico), are fully engaged in evangelism to non-Orthodox (and therefore “non-Russian”) Americans and in humanitarian outreach to the local community (food banks, soup kitchens, thrift stores, outreach during regional emergencies and disasters, support agencies for poor pregnant women, etc.).

      I can also assure you and the many readers of and contributors to this website that the next generation of Russian Orthodox (and Serbian Orthodox and, soon, Orthodox from other jurisdictions) clergy whom we are teaching and spiritually forming at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, New York, will be well-equipped to provide the full range of pastoral ministries, including humanitarian service, evangelism to non-Orthodox throughout North America, Australia, and Western Europe, and parish religious education and classes for prospective converts at every stage of life.

      Our “brand” in Jordanville is “Traditional Orthodoxy for the 21st Century”–not the 19th or even the 20th century.  And that entails, ironically, a 1st century mandate by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts of the Apostles 1:8).

      • Gail Sheppard says

        In the context of bringing people to God/Christ through providing places of worship, ROCOR is even evangelizing to our own Orthodox population! They’ve opened two missions in TX with Greek-speaking priests.

      • Michael Bauman says

        There is a lot of really good Orthodox work going on in our own backyard. To share a couple of things: Search for Fr. Paul Abernathy and look at the You Tube videos and other material about him out there. He is an Afro-American Orthodox priest from Pittsburg. A U.S. Army veteran and a director of FOCUS, Pittsburg. Oh, I am sure many will criticize the fact that he does not have the right beard or wear traditional Orthodox garb but he is a dynamic and powerful Orthodox man and priest. I especially like his Ted Talk: Trauma Informed Community Development: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Fr.+abernathy+ted+talk&view=detail&mid=07F76FEA20FD338045DF07F76FEA20FD338045DF&FORM=VIRE

        Here is another link: http://healthychurches2020conference.org/2019/speakers-presenters/rev-paul-abernathy/

        Much on Facebook too.

        Maybe, just maybe if we poke our heads out of the basement and ignore any crap from the old country God will raise up more like Fr. Paul. He now has a storefront church in the Hill district of Pittsburg https://www.post-gazette.com/news/faith-religion/2018/12/24/Black-Orthodox-St-Moses-Centre-Paul-Abernathy-FOCUS-Pittsburgh/stories/201812190161rg.

        There is much more out there like this and George, you ought to be paying much more attention to that than to the politics of death, doom and destruction.

        • Michael.  I followed the stuff about fr Paul Abernathy.  And was most impressed.  As u know my views on beards and clergy well, but two things to say.  
          One is as it says in that wonderful book,Light out of Darkness, by Sergei Fudel,  ‘ there are all sorts of priests and it is not the beard that makes the priest but the look in their eyes’. Now this is not a piece for  support in getting out the razor blades as a clean shaven face does not make a priest either. 
          Clothes.  At least he not wearing thst 19c huge dog collars that not been seen in Europe since about 1920!!.  I personally do not see what that bit of plastic has to do with being a priest and a Cross would be best,  but one has to judge him overall. 
           A good man.  I have black family members so quite relevant.  
          As it happens today here in bulgarian, we visited for feast day of Holy Trinity a monastery of St Peter and Paul with nuns now and attended liturgy.   
          At first I was annoyed because the nuns, all young,sang rather badly and that rare in Bulgaria. Very. And the priest celebrating  was an elderly man with a goatee.  A younger fully bearded  priest stood in altar.  
          Gradually I became aware of feeling at peace and slowly could see these young and pretty nuns,  full of peace and when i looked at the elderly priest HIS EYES spoke of deep love and Peace and when he preached  he had authority. 
          It was an amazing experience. 

      • Michael Bauman says

        Some how, I cannot escape the belief that St. Moses, the Black has adopted us here in the U.S. and can be considered as an American saint.

        • Monk James Silver says

          In the tradition of The Church, people are recognized as saints only of/in the places where they lived and worked, and –especially — died.

          So, for example, the recognition of St German of Alaska as a saint was one of the first things which the Orthodox Church in America did as an autocephalous church, and at the request of the Church of Russia, which had no authority to do it, as good as it was to do. In the same way, the Church of Russia, at the request of the OCA, glorified St Innocent, who had served in Alaska for many years, but died as Metropolitan of Moscow.

          It’s not clear to me why Michael Bauman thinks that St Moses would be especially venerated in the U.S., but I’d like to point out that he is not called ‘the Black’ in the service books.

          Rather, he is referred to as ‘St Moses the Ethiopian, monk of Sketis’.

          Through his prayers, Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.

      • First my name is in fact “Greg”, which I am sure our host can validate for you.
        I am glad your parish is doing the right thing. Most of my experiences with ROCOR are on the west coast, some in the NE; very few have been positive when weighed in the balance, which makes me incredibly sad. I can’t comment on Jordanvilles program, when I looked long ago it was more of the same problematics. I attended the ROCOR online seminary program in Chicago in part.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

          Thank you, Greg, for the correction regarding your true first name. I concur with some others on this website who deem only those posts with full names as significant–unless the anonymity or first-name-only identity is necessary to prevent adverse personal repercussions.

          I must, however, correct your reference to “the ROCOR online seminary program in Chicago.”  The only seminary in all of ROCOR worldwide is Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, a traditional residential institution save for a “guided reading” program one-on-one with a professor in each course of our Certificate in Theological Studies (C.T.S.)  The latter is merely an adult education program neither intended  nor advertised as an “equivalent” or “alternative” to a traditional residential seminary degree program.

          The Orthodox Pastoral School (O.P.S.) in the ROCOR Diocese of Mid-Western America is a strictly online program and by no means a “seminary.”  I do not know how the O.P.S. was presented when you enrolled, but we in Jordanville safeguard, adamantly when necessary, our unique role as the only ROCOR institution of higher learning that teaches and forms future clergy and other servants of the Church on campus: in the classrooms and library, dormitories and graduate housing, trapeza, and, most distinctively, the Monastery Cathedral with its full cycle of liturgical services and opportunities for seminarians to “learn by doing.”

          Holy Trinity Seminary is the only Orthodox seminary in North America that offers both a full four-year undergraduate Bachelor of Theology degree program and a full three-year graduate Master of Divinity degree program–both only in residence at the Seminary in Jordanville.

          Frankly, I would not trust, or even respect, an Orthodox priest who obtained his only theological degree and formation online.

          • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster wrote:
            “Frankly, I would not trust, or even respect, an Orthodox priest who obtained his only theological degree and formation online”

            Indeed. Actually the name of the Seminary or School is important too:
            I would not trust a priest who graduated for the Halki School in the last decades before closing by the Turks, since it produced Ecumenists.

          • Monk James Silver says

            Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster (June 17, 2019 at 1:26 pm) says (among other things):

            ‘Holy Trinity Seminary is the only Orthodox seminary in North America that offers both a full four-year undergraduate Bachelor of Theology degree program and a full three-year graduate Master of Divinity degree program–both only in residence at the Seminary in Jordanville.’

            Father Alexander neglects to mention Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline MA (GOA) and St Tikhon Seminary in South Canaan PA(OCA), both of which are Orthodox Christian seminaries accredited to confer the Master of Divinity degree.

            While Holy Cross’s accreditation is in jeopardy at the moment because the American Theological Society has found financial irregularities there, the M,Div program is alive and well at St Tikhon Seminary.

            In fact, Fr Alexander also neglects to mention here that seminarians from Holy Trinity in Jordanville NY have been spending at least a year at St Tikhon so that they can receive an accredited M.Div. which is NOT available to them at Holy Trinity.

            We can hope that this will change for the better, if it hasn’t already, but it is simply not true to state that Holy Trinity Seminary has the only full three-year residential M.Div. program among Orthodox seminaries in North America.

            A correction is in order.

            • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

              RE: “In fact, Fr Alexander also neglects to mention here that seminarians from Holy Trinity in Jordanville NY have been spending at least a year at St Tikhon so that they can receive an accredited M.Div. which is NOT available to them at Holy Trinity.”

              Fr. James, I am delighted to hasten to correct your misinformation or outdated information–whichever it is. 
              Since April 10, 2018, Holy Trinity Seminary has been accredited to offer the Master of Divinity degree by the New York Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department, the ONLY such state accreditation–along with the regional accrediting agencies, Association of Theological Schools, etc.–recognized by the federal Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).
              Moreover, a middler (second year) M.Div. seminarian and ROCOR priest at St. Tikhon’s Seminary transferred to Holy Trinity Seminary mid-year in January of this year to complete his M.Div. with us in Jordanville.  

              I would appreciate your conferring with your “sources” of the false information and setting the record straight with them.

              Your other comments suggest that you missed the “both . . . and” in my original statement.

              • Monk James Silver says

                Father Alexander, are you unaware that Holy Cross offers a bachelor’s degree in theology?

                The seminary and the college, often referred to as HC/HC are a cohesive unit, and students can go through all seven years there seamlessly as they once could at St Vladimir or St Tikhon seminaries, so I still think that your assertion is insupportable.

                Holy Cross’s present predicament is another issue, although I rejoice to know that Holy Trinity is now accredited to confer M.Div. degrees.

            • Fr. James,
              Fr. Alexander said both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. a little detail you overlooked in your haste to – as usual – correct everyone else.
              The MDiv at HTS is also accredited, something the seminary has been advertising for over a year now.
              An apology is in order.

              • Monk James Silver says

                Not so, ‘Basil’.

                The other schools had BOTH undergraduate and graduate programs in place well before Fr Alexander wrote here just now. I emphasized only the M.Div level because that was the signal difference.

                If the M.Div. program at Holy Trinity has now been accredited by the ATS, I’m glad to know it, but it was remiss of Fr Alexander not to mention the help in credentials which Holy Trinity’s students had until very recently received from St Tikhon Seminary hen he made his insupportable assertion.

                • This “my seminary is better than your seminary” mentality is counterproductive and is characteristic of a pi**ing contest that a couple of 6-year-olds would have with each other. 
                  Do you all really need to hash this out in an online forum?  Get together for a beer and argue it out.  Please let us know who wins.
                  Don’t HTS, STS, SVS, etc., all have the same goal?  To train clergy to labor in Christ’s vineyard?  To spread the Orthodox Christian faith to North America?
                  Yes, one environment may be better for one seminarian and his family than for another, and one jurisdiction may encourage/require its developing priests to attend one as opposed to another, but this ridiculous “my seminary is better than your seminary” and “you need to apologize” must stop.
                  (Unless, of course, you’re talking about HCHC in Boston.  Then yes, by all means HTS, STS, SVS, SHS, CTSOS, and Libertyville all far surpass HCHC.  I don’t even think HCHC is Orthodox anymore, or it won’t be much longer. The “Greek Ivy League school,” as it was one envisioned…. Tragic.)

          • Correction noted.
            And with this I unreservedly concur: “Frankly, I would not trust, or even respect, an Orthodox priest who obtained his only theological degree and formation online.”
            For what it is worth I found the online course work interesting and engaging, my only interest was education as a layman so I found it relatively worthwhile.

  5. Michael Bauman says

    Monk James, didactic as usual.  Why focus on my statement about St. Moses instead of the work of Fr. Paul Abernathy of which I posted just prior?   That post gave context to my statement on St. Moses.    
    I know all that you say and do not care.  I would rather see Mat. Olga  whose  love is amazing but the OCA is dragging it’s feet on her it seems. 
    Nevertheless, my statement about St. Moses is linked to my friendship with Fr. Moses Berry and other dear friends of mine who are Afro-American. All of the Afro-American Orthodox I know have told me how important it is to see someone who looks like them.  It is  my sense that the future of the Orthodox Church in this country lies with the Afro-American and Native American communities.   Call my feeling a pious hope.  He can be a stand in until we have more of our “own”.  Those will come, I suspect more from the Afro-Americans than from we Anglos.  
    BTW, the only Anglo saints we have are from the British Iles pre-schism.  Where are the Orthodox parishes of St. Patrick, etc.
    Right now we are quite short on indigenous saints.  St. Herman is the only one I know of who is widly venerated.  Plus I rather think that a saint can adopt folks.  Otherwise almost none of our parishes here across the pond would have real intercessors.

    • Michael, very well put, as usual. 

    • Monk James Silver says

      Michael Bauman (June 16, 2019 at 9:11 am) says

      Monk James, didactic as usual. Why focus on my statement about St. Moses instead of the work of Fr. Paul Abernathy of which I posted just prior? That post gave context to my statement on St. Moses. SNIP


      First, Michael Bauman, it’s a good thing to be didactic. What’s the point of learning only to keep knowledge to ourselves?

      Second, I wrote as I did because you had previously written ‘Some how, I cannot escape the belief that St. Moses, the Black has adopted us here in the U.S. and can be considered as an American saint.’

      I acknowledged your point head-on, but I disagreed with it and explained why. I regret that this annoyed you, but that’s the simple truth of the matter.

      In the case of Mtka Olga Michael, I was told by the bishop of Alaska (at the time) that there was very little local interest in promoting veneration of her. Without some sort of grass-roots movement in the eparchy where an individual lived, worked, and died, the Holy Synod is unable to move forward, so it’s unfair to say that ‘the OCA is dragging its feet’.

      You adduce St German of Alaska as ‘indigenous’, but he’s not — he’s a Russian. Having left Russia to live, work, and dies in Alaska, which then became part of the United States, it was no longer within the competence of the Church of Russia to glorify him. That task, as I mentioned, fell to the newly autocephalous Orthodox Church in America. We will commemorate all the saints of North America next Sunday, 23 June, but only a very few of them are indigenous, and there is some doubt that one of them, ‘Peter the Aleut’ ever existed.

      I neither agree nor disagree with your suggestion ‘that the future of the Orthodox Church in this country lies with the Afro-American and Native American communities’, since it’s speculative 8in the extreme and has almost no basis in fact.

      Here in New Jersey, a parish of mostly Black people with a Black priest is named for St Simon of Cyrene. They are under the impression that St Simon was a Black African, but he was not. He was an observant Jew, visiting Jerusalem for Passover (as all Jews are expected to do each year, if possible, and for two other festivals as well), when he was pressed into service to help our Lord Jesus Christ carry His cross to Golgotha.

      It’s helpful to remember the history here. Some years before the birth of Christ, the Roman occupation forces exiled a million or so Jews from Israel in order to make their ruling the place a bit easier. A large number of these exiles were willy-nilly sent to Cyrene on the African coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

      Anyway, that’s just a little background to just one story which causes me to hesitate in thinking that Black and Native Americans are the future of The Church here. There’s a lot of housekeeping to do.

    • michael. Quite.   I have already posted about it so will not repeat but didactic statements are all very well and needed but as you say missing point of what u trying to say. 

    • M. Stankovich says

      To accept that “some think” Blessed Peter the Aleut, Youth-Martyr of San Francisco, did not exist would be to say that Blessed Father Herman of Spruce Island was “duped” in calling upon Blessed Peter the Aleut to intercede for us (which was a significant factor in the canonization of St. Peter).

      Further, it would be necessary to accept that the Orthodox Church, both in America and Russia (but when a local church canonizes a Saint, that Saint is venerated throughout Orthodoxy), were deceived into Canonizing a “myth,” therefore suggesting we need to change our liturgical texts to reflect a more tentative assertion – something Peter Moghila would fashion: “If you actually existed, Blessed Youth-Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!”

      In other words, one would have to reject the divinely-derived authority of the Church – the “apostles and elders and brethren” (Acts 15:23) – to gather and declare, “It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord,” (Acts 15:25) “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us” (Acts 15:28).

      I reject this, not because this is promoting of conjecture, (though it is) – but because continuing to promulgate the possibility that, even though we are frequently misguided by the foolishness of men, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth.
      Blessed Youth-Martyr Peter, the Aleut, pray to God for us!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Agreed, Dr S. And well said.

      • Monk James Silver says

        M. Stankovich (June 19, 2019 at 4:47 pm) says:

        To accept that “some think” Blessed Peter the Aleut, Youth-Martyr of San Francisco, did not exist would be to say that Blessed Father Herman of Spruce Island was “duped” in calling upon Blessed Peter the Aleut to intercede for us (which was a significant factor in the canonization of St. Peter). SNIP

        I served on the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission for several years, and it was an OCA bishop, expressing concerns shared by his fellow bishops, who told me that there was doubt that ‘Peter the Aleut’ ever existed. So — with no lack of respect on my part for the authority of The Church to recognize people as saints — it appears that the glorification of ‘Peter the Aleut’ was at least premature, given the lack of documentation. This is inconvenient and embarrassing, but it must be acknowledged dealt with.

        St German of Alaska, on hearing the story of the martyrdom in question here, stood up and said ‘Holy new martyr Peter, intercede with God for us!’ This was not out of character for the saint, but it does nothing to support the story of ‘Peter the Aleut’. If the anecdote is true, it serves merely to show that St German believed what he was told.

        In fact, there are a number of compelling reasons to consider the whole thing as some sort of tale produced by someone’s overactive imagination. The martyrdom, for example, was said to have been perpetrated by Jesuits or people directed by Jesuits, but there were no Jesuits in California then. The facile excuse that ‘Jesuit’ was used as a catch-all description for Roman Catholic missionaries in California at the time is just not credible, since — not having Jesuits there in the first place — it would be quite something for people to describe other RC missionaries by naming that particular order or religious men.

        Then there is the great significance of Aleut story-telling as a means of cultural continuity. These people had no written language at the time, and depended entirely on lore passed down orally. Yet there are no stories about a fishing expedition of Christian Aleuts to California in which people were ‘captured’ by Jesuits and treated badly and killed unless they converted to Catholicism. And no Aleut lore ever mentioned ‘Peter’.

        But if Michael Stankovich is aware of something substantial and verifiable in the matter of ‘Peter the Aleut’. I hope that he will share it here.

        • M. Stankovich says

          First, let me say I find it astonishingly offensive & disrespectful that you would put quotation marks around the name a glorified Saint of the Orthodox Church – and that would be the entire Orthodox Church – and refer to this as the “matter” of the youth-martyr Peter, without acknowledgement that he is, in word and fact, a glorified Saint of the Church. Shame on you.

          Secondly, that the Orthodox Church in America’s Canonization Commission of which you were a member could not even objectively verify the existence of this martyr – a fact that does not surprise me in the least – has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the “legitimacy.” The fact that you claim a “lack of evidence” speaks to the lack of dedication & commitment on the part of the Commission. Your statement, “This is inconvenient and embarrassing, but it must be acknowledged dealt [sic] with,” and that a bishop – citing the “concerns shared by his fellow bishops” as to the existence should be shocking to all Orthodox Christians of faith and good will. Worse, it begs the question of how members of a “Canonization Commission” – bishops, for heaven’s sake – allowed the composition of liturgical texts and proceeded to a formal glorification, formally announcing it to all Orthodox Churches in order that they might, with joy, celebrate the glorification of a new Saint of America – all the while holding the opinion that this “saint” did not exist! What a fundamental lack of courage and a monumental demonstration of hypocrisy, if true.

          As to your last point – as to whether I have “something substantial and verifiable” – you know I do or I would not have entered this discussion. I believe it essential to first acknowledge and express our profound gratitude to the Hierarchs, monastics, and learned laypeople of ROCOR for their diligence, persistence, and love of the Saints. They fastidiously sought out and published an abundance of “substantial and verifiable” information, information that the OCA Commission of which you were a member were apparently oblivious.

          A first account of the martyrdom of St. Peter was discovered by the Russian Orthodox Church (which was gathering information on the missionaries sent to Alaska in the period of the consideration of glorifying St. Herman of Spruce Island ) in the contemporaneous notes of a spiritual son of St. Herman of Spruce Island, Simon Yanovsky (who later became a schema-monk with the name Sergius). It was Yanovsky who told St. Herman of Peter’s martyrdom:

          “Once I told him how the Spaniards in California had taken fourteen of our Aleuts captive, and how the Jesuits had tortured one Aleut to death, trying to force them all to accept the Catholic faith, to which the Aleuts did by no means consent, answering: “We are Christians, we have been baptized,” showing them the crosses on their necks. But the Jesuits retorted: “No, you are heretics and schismatics, and if you do not agree to accept the Catholic faith, we will torture you to death.” And they left them in the prison until evening, two to a cell, to think it over. In the evening they came with lanterns and lighted candles and began again trying to persuade them to accept the Catholic faith. But the Aleuts, permeated with Divine Grace, firmly and decisively answered that they were Christians and would not change their faith. Then these fanatics began to torture them. At first one, with the other as witness. At first they cut off one joint of his toes, one toe at a time, then the next joint; he endured everything and kept on saying: “I am a Christian, and will not change my faith.” Then they cut off one joint from each of his fingers, then the next joint; then they chopped off his hands, then his feet – the blood flowed. But the martyr endured to the end and repeated unchangingly this one phrase. He died from loss of blood. The next day they wanted to torture others, but the same night an order came from Monterey that all captive Russian Aleuts be sent at once under guard to Monterey; and so on the next day all, except the deceased, were sent off. This was told to me by an Aleut who was an eyewitness, a comrade of the martyred one; he later escaped captivity by fleeing. Upon hearing this report I reported it to the Central Administration in St. Petersburg. When I finished relating this to Fr. Herman, he asked me, “And what was the name of the martyred Aleut?” I answered, “Peter, but I don’t remember his last name.” Then he got up and stood before the icons, piously crossed himself and pronounced these words: “Holy New Martyr Peter, pray to God for us!”

          Obviously, your casual rendition of the response of St. Herman of Spruce Island differs significantly form the reality. In fact, it astonishes me that you would conclude that the first Saint glorified in this country – the “Wonderworker of All-America” – offered a perfunctory, pro forma invocation of the new martyr because it was somehow “characteristic” of him. If you cannot rely upon the declaration of a very Saint of heaven – so frequently described as having “his mind in heaven, while his body remained on earth” – as to both the existence of a new-martyr and his worthiness to act as our intercessor before God Himself, and our benefit in invoking him, nothing more “substantial and verifiable” will convince you, “even if a man were to rise from the dead.” (Lk. 16:31)

          As to the remainder of your “compelling” points that are “inconvenient and embarrassing,” they are more than adequately refuted by the evidence gathered by ROCOR, including a complete timeline of his life and martyrdom, which began with the translation of Simon Yanovsky’s (Schema-monk Sergei) account of the details of the suffering and death of St. Peter, and the response of St, Herman of Spruce Island, published in The Orthodox Word, as “A Pilgrimage to the Orthodox Holy Places of America. The Seventh Pilgrimage,” in 1967. The culmination of this extensive and exhaustive investigation was completed by ROCOR scholar Marina D. Ilyin, titled, “The Historical Background of the Martyrdom of St. Peter the Aleut,” published in Orthodox Life, 1981, vol. 1. This would be a year after you are telling us hierarches of the OCA shockingly proceeded to formally glorify, before the entire Orthodox Church, a “saint” they actually believed did not exist. It is extensively cited, and she clearly explains how she discovered the sources of her study, and she references both the American and the Russian sources.

          I have challenged your various “opinions” over the course of the past eight years on this site – including your insistence that the Octoechos of St. John of Damascus contains grave dogmatic errors, if not heresy (of which I will provide a word-for-word statement of your insistence and my castigation from the archive of this site). Your current proposal, including your persistence in perpetuating the idea that the Church has irresponsibly stumbled into an “inconvenient and embarrassing” predicament by trusting the word of a Wonder-Working Saint is preposterous.

          • Papouli Theodore says

            Dearest Michael,

            Amen. Amen. Amen!

            May Martyr Peter’s shining example embolden us to endure every trial to the glory of our God, who does great and wondrous things through His Saints!

            Holy Martyr Peter, intercede for us!

          • Monk James Silver says

            M. Stankovich (June 22, 2019 at 2:28 am) says:

            First, let me say I find it astonishingly offensive & disrespectful that you would put quotation marks around the name a glorified Saint of the Orthodox Church – and that would be the entire Orthodox Church – and refer to this as the “matter” of the youth-martyr Peter, without acknowledgement that he is, in word and fact, a glorified Saint of the Church. Shame on you.


            I regret to write that Yanovskiy’s account is not evidence of anything, since that’s all there is and it is without corroboration of any sort. It is, and must be regarded as, hearsay, with its inaccuracies and all its other insupportable circumstances which undermine its credibility. And there are no relics or eyewitness accounts, either, and no oral tradition about the event among the Aleuts. These are major problems.

            Adducing ROCOR’s publication of Yanovskiy’s words adds no credibility to them, since, as is well known, the ROCOR glorified the last tsar of Russia and his family and attendants as martyrs, including someone who wasn’t even a Christian. This was well before the Patriarchate of Moscow (disregarding the ROCOR’s earlier move) decided to recognize them as ‘passion bearers’ — a significant difference — including only the Orthodox. Sts Elizabeth and Barbara, though, were unquestionably martyrs.

            Michael Stankovich doesn’t know when I served on the OCA’s Canonization Commission, whether or not I was involved in this investigation (which might have preceded the Commission’s establishment) or how much material was available to the bishops at the time, so he is in no position to criticize them or their decision in the matter, which — as I wrote earlier — was premature and to be regretted. This last concept was all I was reporting, and that was a concern of the bishops themselves.

            So, perhaps Michael Stankovich should better direct his complaints to the bishops of the OCA, and not condemn me here for merely being the messenger.

            • M. Stankovich says

              In 8-years, I have corrected you numerous times; sometimes for mistakes, sometimes for fabrication. Tagging me with the claim of “ANIMUS” toward you suggests my objection is to you personally, rather than my objection to your attention-seeking at the expense of the Holy Scripture, the Liturgical Canon, and now the very Saints of heaven. You are simply too inconsequential that I would harbor animosity toward you. I don’t even know you. 

              I know that those who love the Holy Martyrs and the Saints of America will disregard your “message,” and will emulate Blessed Father Herman of Spruce Island, Wonderworker of All-America, in asking the intercession of the Youth-Martyr Peter.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                Perhaps instead of spending the time talking about the Saints, we should try and act like the Saints.

                • AgiosforAllofus says

                  Yea. That would be a great idea. Hopefully you will lead the way, and stop with the snarking, paranoia-festing, mindless George M. cheer-leading, and show us how its done.

              • Constantinos says

                Dr. Stankovich,
                I’m not going to continue posting on this forum because there’s no point, however, I am going to continue reading your posts. It really is good to see you back on this forum. You bring a certain gravitas that was sorely missing during your hiatus.
                The only reason I am posting today is to reply to Martin/James. Other than that, I’m outta here. I wish you God’s blessings in all  your endeavors. I think you have an extremely difficult job; I wouldn’t last one day in it. Your blood pressure must be sky high. Anyway, thank you.

                • Constantinos: “I’m not going to continue posting on this forum because there’s no point, however, I am going to continue reading”
                  It is better to listen than to to talk. Good luck with your podvig 🙂

              • Monk James Silver says

                M. Stankovich
                (June 25, 2019 at 3:31 pm) says:

                In 8-years, I have corrected you numerous times; sometimes for mistakes, sometimes for fabrication. SNIP


                it’s a great relief to have Michael Stankovich standing by to correct my mistakes and catch me in ‘fabrications’. Now, as an ordinary human being, I make my fair share of mistakes, but I am not a liar, and I won’t bore the readership by suggesting that MS produce examples of falsities I’ve written here or elsewhere.

                BTW: Since, in MS’s opinion, what I write is either mistaken or false, and I am so insignificant that I don’t merit his attention, I find it odd that MS continues to harangue me here, but hasn’t gone to the OCA bishops, the source of the current issue. It would be good if he told us what they had to say in reply to his questions about their discomfort over the lack of evidence supporting the very existence of ‘Peter the Aleut’ and the story of his martyrdom.

                All we have is n account attributed to Yanovskiy, and the assumption that St German of Alaska was somehow able to know that the report was true. That is not enough.

                And yes, the saint’s name really is ‘German’ (hard ‘G’, from the Latin name ‘Germanus’, ‘Germanos’ in Greek) as we see from the earliest documents about him and from his own correspondence, not to mention the statements published by the OCA at the time of his glorification.