Aussies: Good on Them!

Recently, the new Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Australia (under Constantinople), issued a letter –exhortation really–condemning the Parliament of New South Wales. For those who don’t know (and I certainly didn’t), they are pushing for a more liberal abortion law. The GOA in Australia doesn’t like it one bit. Here is the relevant letter from His Eminence Archbishop Makarios:

Now, as you all know, Your Truly has become an inveterate critic of the Church of Constantinople, what with its globalist and neo-papalist pretensions and all. I do not withdraw one argument from my critique. However, because of my commitment to fair play, I must commend it (or at least one of its eparchies) when it does something right. Integrity demands it.

And in this case, the Greek Archdiocese of Australia did the right thing. My only question is, why cannot the Greek Archdiocese of America do the right thing? As far as the moral tradition of the Christian Church is concerned, abortion is still relatively low-hanging fruit. After all, Patriarch Bartholomew himself stated that “generally speaking, the Orthodox Church is pro-life”. This should be a no-brainer as far as the new Greek archbishop in New York City and his political handlers are concerned.

As a dedicated pro-lifer, I realize that those people and institutions that are committed to protecting life in the womb are fighting a Sisyphean battle. Certainly so here in the States. I also realize that Markarios’ exhortation to the Parliament to reconsider their legislation may be too little, too late. But that is not the point. As Christians, we are called to fight the good fight in whatever arena we find ourselves in.

For some, that arena is in the legislature; for others, it’s in prison or a homeless shelter. For yet others, it will be in the literal arena where like the martyrs of old, Christians will be torn apart limb by limb. (Kind of how babies in the womb are destroyed if I may say so.)

For our Aussie brothers on the other side of the world, their new primate has decided to witness for the Gospel in the political arena and since he has time to do so, we should pray for him and his success.

And I for one, will give him a good Aussie commendation: Good on You, Mate!

[Many thanks to Byzantine, Texas for this story.]


  1. Solitary Priest says

    Like I said, that particular church under the EP is more traditional than its counterpart over here. And in Central America, missionary work continues
      Ironic, the EP is kissing up to the Pope, while in Guatemala, Papists are being converted by priests of the EP. One wonders.

  2. Agatha Vournas Mantanes says

    I often have discussions with so-called eastern orthodox if America. I remind them that no real Christian can be a Democrat/Socialist and no socialist /Democrat can be a real Christian. The 2 do not mix.

    • “For me, a hand which doesn’t do the cross, whether it’s ‘right’ or ‘left’, is THE SAME [i.e. atheistic politicians either of the left or of the right]. They don’t have any difference.”
      “Personally, if the communists weren’t atheist, if they didn’t hunt Christ, I would agree with them. It’s good for the plots of land, the factories, to belong to everyone; not for one to be hungry while someone else is throwing away food.”
      “If material goods are not distributed with the Gospel, in the end they will be distributed with the knife.”
      From Talks With Father Paisios by Athanasios Rakovalis (Thessaloniki 2000).

      • Michael Bauman says

        Ioan, fine sentiments except human nature being what it is, there is no such thing as common ownership ideal though it may be. Shoot, even two people often cannot agree on common use of assets. Group theory tells us that within any group, control and authority will always devolve to a few.

        So what is the best way of countering we human’s tendency toward greed, fraud and lust of power? Every government ever instituted among men has had to come to grips with those tendencies. All have ultimately failed. Every economic theory of which I am aware tends to understate the force of such sinfulness and makes inadequate allowance for those tendencies, especially communism.

        Even monasteries have not been free of such cupidity.

        However there is no such thing as a communist who is not an atheist so Father Paisios is engaging in a bit of a non-sequitur here. Sort of, if a communist were not communist, I might like them. Not only are communists atheists but they are idolaters since they worship the state instead of God. Lenin’s Tomb was, during the Soviet heyday an idol set up in to worship that false god and the men who served him.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Agatha Vournes Mantanes,

      If a person lives in a socialist country, abides by the law and pays their taxes, and has no real objection to their government being socialist, is that person then a socialist?

      This is not an ideological question. A lot of people find themselves in this situation where they support a socialist government for no ideological reason, other then that they are simply trying to be law abiding citizens who pay their taxes. Does that preclude them from being Christians?

  3. Jim Jatras says

    Perhaps having a Patriarch whose views on abortion are (put as charitably as possible) ignorant and muddled is relevant:

  4. Joseph Lipper says

    Sometimes I wonder how many women who have had abortions, have later been led to deep repentance of the heart because of the shame and sin of their abortion. I would guess there are many such women.

    On the other hand, I sometimes wonder how many women have hardened their hearts against God and the Church, because they see the “Church” as primarily a crass political lobby trying to recreate John Calvin’s Geneva experiment.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Indeed there are (with regard to your first category). I am a good friend of one such person.

    • “I sometimes wonder how many women have hardened their hearts against God and the Church, because they see the “Church” as primarily a crass political lobby trying to recreate John Calvin’s Geneva experiment.”

      So true, in my opinion, particularly here in America where we deal every day with the fallout of our unfortunate Calvinist cultural heritage. The Church suffers tremendously in America because when so many people hear of the “church,” what their minds automatically go to is Jonathan Edwards’ Calvinist-style screaming that “God hates you.”

      I’ve always felt that one of our foremost responsibilities as Orthodox Christians in North America is to convey to our country that God loves us. Most Americans don’t believe, in my opinion, that God loves His people. Most believe in an Islamicized/Calvinist-esque “God” who is just waiting for His people to slip up so He can hurt them. A vision of God such as this is not Christ or God; frankly, such a vision is sick.

      On the abortion front, the men who compel the women in their lives to have the abortion bear much of the responsibility and will have to answer to God for their role as well. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that 85-90% of women would not have an abortion if it were not for the man/boyfriend/husband/whomever urging them to do so. Virtually all of the time, she would not abort the baby if he said he would help care for the baby.

      To all of us who have known mothers, it is extremely unnatural for a mother to want to hurt her child. We often condemn the woman for having the abortion, but the truth of the matter is that most women would not abort their children if their boyfriends/husbands/fiancés were not urging them to do so. The men bear much, possibly most, of the culpability.

      • George Michalopulos says

        The trouble Anon2 is two-fold:

        1. the Calvinist underpinnings of New England have simply transitioned from the theological sphere to the social sphere. If you ever wondered why dialogue between the North and the South regarding slavery went nowhere, do research on how many in the North felt about Southern whites. They were exterminationists in their hearts. (I’ve written about this before in “The Long Cold Civil War: Part 1). John Brown, the archetypal self-righteous American terrorist had every intention of using slaves to effect a genocide against all Southerners.

        Although he failed, this same self-righteous sanctimony has infected our foreign policy at least since the time of Woodrow Wilson. I realize this is an oversimplification but our State Dept feels that we have the right to invade and/or overthrow regimes because of “muh democracy”. (If Tulsi Gabbard gets the Dem nomination, the Calvinist Establishment will pull out all the stops to have both her and Trump taken out.)

        2. The distaste that many women feel for the so-called patriarchy is always one-way: Many of these bozettes have absolutely no qualms about submitting to the patriarchy that is Islam or being on the front lines regarding illegal immigration (they’re for it). My hunch is that the soyification of the American male is so complete that liberal women need the injection of foreign testosterone in order to “get what their missing”. I realize what I said sounds horribly sexist but there you have it.

        Yes, I do have a similar distaste for the Calvinist underpinnings of this nation but let’s be clear about the intentions of the feminazis. I for one have absolutely no desire to throw out proper Christian teaching about the sexes when I know full well that those on the other side are all in favor of submitting themselves to a far more patriarchal regime at the drop of a hat.

        They are simply not acting in good faith.

        • Yes, George, isn’t it interesting that America still has not given up on its worldwide missionary activity. We simply shifted gears as to what we are missionaries about.

          A couple hundred years ago, the New England Puritans set up their city of Boston as a “Beacon on the Hill” to show the world how they believe God intended life and society to be. All other cultures were backwards backwaters, and the goal was to make everywhere a little America.

          These days, we’ve abandoned any semblance of our protestant Christian heritage, but America is still very much a missionary country. Only now, we strive to export American versions of militant secularism, “liberal democracy,” “human rights,” “abortion rights,” etc., to the rest of the world. It’s the same story, though: any place in the world that doesn’t buy into our versions of secularism, “human rights,” etc., is a backwards backwater that needs to change. Remember Iraq?

          Our national level of hubris can be nauseating.

          Such a stark contrast with the likes of St. Herman of Alaska, St. Nicholas of Japan, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and countless other missionary saints who loved the cultures that they were missionaries to, learned their languages, helped them develop alphabets, and over time taught them how Christ’s light and love could shine within their cultural framework.

          This is where we still fall very short as a Church in North America. By far, most Orthodox Churches in America are simply translated Russian Orthodoxy, translated Arab Orthodoxy, translated Greek Orthodoxy, etc. We still don’t know how to make American life shine with the love and light of Christ, though I think a huge part of the problem is that there is no single consensus on what an American or American life is, and much of America aggressively does not want Christ, anyway. It’s hard to fight that, since Christ always honors man’s free will, even if his free will is to reject Christ.

          For now, we may just have to deal with translated Russian Orthodoxy, translated Greek Orthodoxy, translated Arab Orthodoxy, etc., for the next several hundred years, until a unique form of the North American Church develops.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            Good point. We don’t have an American identity as a Church. As a matter of fact, we’ve been encouraged NOT to have an American identity.

            • Monk James Silver says

              For various historical and practical reasons, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) seems to be the most reasonable ecclesial entity on which to build a truly North American church.

              The OCA is autocephalous by every authentic canonical standard. Constantinople recognizes the OCA’s legitimate standing as an Orthodox Christan church, yet withholds its formal acknowledgement of the OCA’s autocephaly because of ignoble concerns which, frankly, boil down to international politics and financial arrangements.

              Among the Orthodox ‘jurisdictions’ in North America, only the OCA owes nothing in the way of obedience or financial obligations to a foreign ‘mother church’.

              Growing out of the ‘Russian Mission’ to North America, originating in Alaska in 1794, the OCA still retains some of its Russian heritage in terms of music and liturgical usages, and a smattering of Church Slavonic here and there.

              At the same time, though, the OCA includes (at least for now) the use of both Julian and Gregorian calendars. With no prejudice whatsoever, parishes of the OCA use many different languages in the services, including native Alaskan tongues. The liturgical music heard in the parishes and monasteries of the OCA includes not only several forms of Russian chant and composed hymns, but also Byzantine, modern Greek, Alaskan, Georgian, Romanian, Albanian, Serbian, Syrian and other melodies, including — just recently — some works by American composers intentionally meant to be ‘American’.

              So, I unequivocally recommend the OCA as a good place to start building an authentically American Orthodoxy.

              Now it remains only for the people in the other ‘jurisdictions’ here to get over their tribalism and ethnic exclusivity, and cut the strings which tie them to their mothers’ aprons.

              • Hi Monk James,

                I agree with you in theory (I am 100% American, after all), though in practicality I think that North America has simply too few active Orthodox Christians and no deep-rooted Orthodox Christian history to justify a fully “autocephalous” church.

                At best estimate, there are maybe 1-1.5 million active Orthodox Christians in the USA and Canada. Being generous and assuming 1.5 million, out of an American population of 330 million and a Canadian population of 37 million, that’s only a 0.41% Orthodox Christian population in the USA & Canada. And though we have some awesome North American saints, our cultural history is undeniably much more Calvinist/protestant. We have no deep-rooted Orthodox Christian heritage to fall back on for support.

                I think an autonomous church is much more appropriate in North America, similar to what they have in Japan or in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (the real UOC, not that fly-by-night creation of C’ple). I think we are still far too small and far too immature to hold our weight as a fully autocephalous church, not to mention the fact that a huge proportion of American Orthodox Christians (the Greeks, Serbs, Arabs, some Romanians, some Bulgarians, etc.) still haven’t come on board with the autocephaly project, even now nearly 50 years after its proclamation.

                You write: “Among the Orthodox ‘jurisdictions’ in North America, only the OCA owes nothing in the way of obedience or financial obligations to a foreign ‘mother church’.”

                I believe that ROCOR is the only other jurisdiction in North America (besides the OCA) the does not have any financial obligations to a foreign ‘mother church.’ ROCOR does have an obedience piece that the OCA does not have: the ROCOR First Hierarch must be confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow, similar to how the UOC metropolitan must be confirmed by the Patriarch of Moscow (other than that, the UOC is fully autonomous). But other than the confirmation of the First Hierarch, the MP has no involvement in ROCOR affairs.

                Obedience to a solid, loving archpastor such as Patriarch Kyrill is good thing, not a detriment. Loving obedience that is not abusive is a virtue.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  It doesn’t even have to be autonomous, or even unified, but it would be useful if the names could be changed to at least not repel ordinary non-Orthodox Christian Americans. “Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia” is never going to be a best-seller; even less so than “Greek Orthodox Church” (the big sign on my parish church).
                  Maybe something that will not be too painful for those to whom ethnicity seems inseparable from the Church, and which might pass muster with ‘westerners’. 
                  I suggest for the GOA “Second Roman Orthodox Church”, and for ROCOR “Third Roman Orthodox Church”.
                  I hereby release any copyright interest I may have in the proposed names.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Cute! Seriously, how about “St B– Orthodox Christian Church”?

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      George, if you mean St Benedict of Nursia here, I’d like to mention that he lived in the fifth-sixth Christian centuries, well before the Great Schism, and so is venerated as a saint by us Orthodox Christians.

                      We remember him on 14 March each year as the patriarch of monasticism in the West. He learned much of his great wisdom from St Basil the Great and other Eastern teachers of the monastic way.

                      If you didn’t mean St Benedict of Bursia, please tell us whom you did mean, and I’ll try to repair that idea, too.

                    • how about ORTHODOX CHRISTISN CHURCH OF SAINT X, Y,Z  ETC? 
                      U don’t need american as u in America and we can make obvious connection,  or greek or Martian,  just what it is, that is an  Orthodox Christian church .   Oh. AND what we often fail to have incase anybody actually wants to go inside!!! SHOCK,  SHOCK,…    THE TIMES OF SERVICES. Just saying. 

                • Monk James Silver says

                  With all the best intentions, ‘Anon2’ writes here with an (at least an apparently) inaccurate understanding of the canonical relationships among the Church of Russia, the ROCOR, and the OCA.

                  The ROCOR, by definition and in accordance with its very name, is entrusted by Moscow to be the Russian Orthodox presence everywhjere but Russia. Yet the Patriarchate of Moscow is establishing parishes all over the place. What has happened to the ROCOR’s purpose and mission?

                  The same thing is true of Moscow’s relationship with the OCA. In accordance with the terms of the 1970 Tomos of Autocephaly, the church of Russia retained certain parishes here, while conceding that they would establish no other entities in North America. They have not been honoring that agreement.

                  The fact remains that — no matter what we might think could have been done better — the autocephaly of the OCA is an accomplished fact, and the other churches, including and perhaps especially Russia, must live with that.

                  We can’t make canonically legitimate decisions and then go back on our promises, at least not if we’re Christians.

              • Monk James Silver,
                I am not an expert on OCA, but if what you write is accurate, then I think OCA is indeed the best for the US.
                However, obviously Bartholomew, thinks about his glory first of all.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  What I wrote is accurate.

                  Patriarch Bartholomew and his Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are canonically out of order, as are all the other ethnic ‘jurisdictions’ in North America.

                  The clergy and laity of those ‘jurisdictions’ would do well to cut their ties to foreign churches and come into the OCA. Their bishops will do what they want, no matter what, but it would be good if they would come along, too.

                  • George Michalopulos says


                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Back when I first read Timothy Ware’s book about the Orthodox Church, the tome that introduced English-speaking Christians to the Church to a degree that has probably not been exceeded, it was, I believe, 1979.
                    Like, I’ll bet, many another Protestant seeker, I followed this closely with works by Frs. John Meyendorf and Alexander Schmemann, and others, GOA writers included.
                    All agreed as to the canonical irregularity of the ‘jurisdictions’. All seemed hopeful that a new North American day was dawning!
                    Laggard that I was, 35 years passed before I joined, and of course change was no nearer than before, if not farther away. Maybe multiple jurisdictions are OK, we now see, for various reasons.
                    My own narrow, purely personal sights were lowered well before I joined. All will be one only after the Great and Terrible Council, sometime eons hence, probably the same one that solves the Oriental Orthodox schism.
                    In the meantime, I think it possibly realistic that at least the names can change, say to “St. [insert name] Orthodox Church, in big letters on the sign, with the GOA diocese, and ROCOR, in small letters on a medallion.
                    I know that some Antiochian (Artichokian?) ones do that.
                    By the way, what is Antioch? (Asks the innocent citizen of the US.)

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      The Patriarch of Antioch normally resides in Damascus on a street called Straight and the Holy Synod meets there.  Now he resides in Lebanon and the Holy Synod meets there.  The city of Antioch where we were first called Christians and St. Peter presided prior to Rome no longer exists.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Well said, Michael. One could just as easily say that the First and Second Romes no longer exist as well; one in the theological sense the other in the political sense.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      I hasten to say of course that I do know of Antioch. But I wonder what many Americans make of ‘Antiochian”.
                      Since I became Orthodox, I have quit counting the people who have asked if I am Greek, or who have said “I didn’t know you were Greek!”

            • Michael Bauman says

              Gail, perhaps one of the reasons we tend to say we are not protestant and we are not Catholic.  At times aggessively.  

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Yes, I used to be a member of the Scottish Presbyterian Church Outside of Scotland (SPCOS). I have some friends who are members of the German Lutheran Church Outside of Germany (GLCOG). They are in full communion with the Swedish and Norwegian Lutheran Church Outside of Scandinavia (SNLCOS) though. (The SNLCOS was formed out of the old SLCOS and the NLCON. Shrinking demographics drove the merger; there was quite a struggle over whether the S should come before the N or the other way ’round. This almost scuttled the merger talks, but mediation by the Finnish Lutheran Church Outside of Finland (FLCOF) resolved the issue.)
            I attended the SNLCOS for awhile, but couldn’t really get with the annual Leftse and Lutefisk festival. (Uff da!)
            All of these churches are shrinking, though, because most passerby aren’t of the relevant ethnicity, and thus don’t dare enter.

          • George C Michalopulos says

            Profound words.

          • Calvinist thought explains much, even extreme feminism.  
            And as u say, islamic patriarchy ok.  But  why is female domination in matriarchy ( as some Irish and Scottish celts had) seen as good? Surely it’s dictatorship by another Sex?  Surely aim is for equal and balanced society? 
            I am horrified now that for these angry harrigans,  LOVING ABORTION PER SE IS THE LITMUS TEST OF BEING ACCEPTED.  

            • George Michalopulos says

              Niko, there has never been a successful, viable and self-sustaining matriarchy above a certain primitive level in history.

              • Joseph Lipper says

                What about Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II of England? Empress Elizabeth and Empress Katherine the Great of Russia?

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  They certainly weren’t matriarchs. They were queens in a patriarchy, something else entirely.
                  As Queen Bess said at Tilbury, before the dread Spanish Dons sent their fierce Armada: “I have the belly of a King.”

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Indeed. The patriarchy still stood. During the reign of Queen Victoria, whenever liberals (whigs) would approach her about female suffrage, she invariably replied “what madness”.

                    Now, I’m not saying women shouldn’t vote, I’m just saying that even in hereditary monarchies, the patriarchal basis of society remained unchanged.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    Not matriarchs? Well, they weren’t patriarchs. They were female ruling sovereigns of their countries. Of course, Elizabeth II is much less so. What else to call them, but the ruling queen/empress/matriarch?

                    True they did not destroy a patriarchal system. None of them were interested in doing so, and that’s probably how they were able to maintain power.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      These women were an example of the rhetorical principle of “the exception proving the rule”.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Joseph, for a matriarchy to exist, each of those rulers would have been followed by another woman or at the very least, a male monarch would have been chosen only as a last resort (no women available).

                      That did not happen. Of course Elizabeth I made sure there were not female claimants. Unfortunately, the Stuart clan who took over after her were inbred, stupid and incompetent.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      The kind of ‘archs’ they were were (and are) monarchs. Because a monarch is a woman does not make a society a matriarchy, obviously. 

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Glad to hear that everyone’s just fine with a “patriarchy” headed by a female monarch.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      And modern Britain was at its most patriarchal under Margaret Thatcher!

                  • Xenofon Matrikas says

                    The Jews had Patriarchs, Nassi (from which comes the name Onassis, after the ottoman Princes of the Cyclades). Constantine the Great recognized Gemaliel IV as Jewish Patriarch, which debunks Hellen Thomas’ claim that the Jews were eradicated from palestine.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Man, as an old former Presbyterian, I am almost moved to jump to the defense of Calvinism, when I hear it said that it might be the cause of extreme feminism!
              John Knox is turning over in his grave!

              • George Michalopulos says

                And yet, I’m forced to conclude that Calvinism is the font of modern totalitarianism.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  Please, George. The defining modern totalitarian states have been Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China. Hardly Calvinist places.
                  One could add North Korea, I suppose. 

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    It’s the impulse, not the philosophy. Just as there’s no difference in attitude between the Puritans and the know-it-alls from New England.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss: “The defining modern totalitarian states have been Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Communist China. Hardly Calvinist places.”

                    Puritans begat Jacobins, Jacobins begat Bolsheviks.
                    Read The Revolution of the Saints by Michael Walzer:
                    ” It interprets and analyzes Calvinism as the first modern expression of an unremitting determination to transform on the basis of an ideology the existing political and moral order. Michael Walzer  examines in detail the circumstances and ideological options of the Puritan intelligentsia and gentry. He sees Puritanism, in sharp contrast to some generally accepted views, as the political theory of intellectuals and gentlemen attempting to create a new government and society.”

                    • “Puritans begat Jacobins, Jacobins begat Bolsheviks.Read The Revolution of the Saints by Michael Walzer”
                      Years ago, I pondered how Bolsheviks have seen the world, independently I pondered on Calvinism. And in one moment it clicked – the spiritus movens was the same! Immediately the missing link fell into place – the Jacobins.
                      Then I thought it is a good subject for a book, perhaps someone else discovered it before me. I searched and voila – I found Walzer. So …

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Who could say you nay?
                      We Presbyterians (ex or otherwise) have a lot to answer for. Especially all the ones who signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution…..

                    • Tim, understand me well, please. I am not condemning anyone, rather I was fascinated by the Calvinist way of looking at the world. So I was exploring it  by an intuitive and empathetic getting into their mental shoes.  Quite a trip. In a way I like them. 😉

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      That’s all good, Martin. I’m no defender of Calvinism. Presbyterianism, at least US style, left Calvin mostly behind generations ago. Indeed, in the ’50s and ’60s, in Sunday school etc. it was made plain to us that Presbys did not believe in predestination, the old hallmark of Calvinism. But then, of course, US ‘mainline’ Presbyterianism doesn’t believe in much of anything anymore….
                      No, my mild hang-up, if you will, is that tendency so often on display here at Monomakhos, of this building of causal castles in the air, unsupported by any proof. It’s what makes me a non-conspiracy theorist, to start with….I’m happy to accept a lot of things, when I see the evidence.
                      You know….from the filioque to the ungodly Gothic cathedral, to the atomic bomb. From Calvin to the death camps. And so on. Maybe? And maybe not. (I do exaggerate to make the point!)
                      Let me say I take it all in good spirit. But half of my career as a trial lawyer was spent in dismantling unwarranted assumptions and unsupported assertions. But then, Presbyterianism is a lawyer’s religion, which might be related to Calvinist rigor….oops, there I go!

                    • “my mild hang-up, if you will, is that tendency … building of causal castles in the air, unsupported by any proof. … I’m happy to accept a lot of things, when I see the evidence.”
                      If I am may be so presumptuous, I command such attitude. That is why I proposed this book by Michael Walzer. I would be very interested in your (or someone else) conclusions.
                      Now, I see two basic approaches here. One is a meticulous, academic one. The second one (favored by me) is very different.
                      I love to have an inner intuitive grasp. What made the original Calvinist tick? What made them to form spectacular sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” or to purge English cathedrals from medieval art?
                      My method is to suspend disbelief and to take their doctrines seriously, to become one of them, look at the world through their eyes and to feel their passion.
                      I call it an exploring empathy or compassion in an original etymological meaning – feeling and thinking together with them.
                      What do I find? A moral outrage at the wickedness of this world, a revolutionary desire to cleanse it with fire and sword. A very addictive fiery passion, indeed.
                      When you put aside dogmatic definitions like TULIP, or even generic Christian presuppositions, you discover that this spirit lingers in the hearts of those who are not associated with Christianity at all. Same intoxicating spirit (pun intended).
                      “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

              • Tim they said of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet that she had the only pair of testes around the 10 Downing St  table. 
                Today none in evidence at all. 

  5. George C Michalopulos says

    Here’s some news on the Russian natalist front:

  6. Michael Bauman says

    George Michalopulos says
    George said,
    August 12, 2019 at 8:39 am

    “Well said, Michael. One could just as easily say that the First and Second Romes no longer exist as well; one in the theological sense the other in the political sense.”

    There are some who say that the Patriarchate of Antioch is illegitimate because the original city of Antioch no longer exists and it certainly has had its ups and downs, but it persists for two reasons: 1. It’s undoubted Apostolic origin reinforced by its residence in Damascus on a Street called Straight; 2. A large number of indigenous and faithful Christians who’s Christian ancestry is unbroken since Apostolic times. Even my local parish has families like that.

    The EP unfortunately has neither of those. It is, was and ever shall be a political entity only. Thus, it plays politics because governments are far more willing to recognize transient political entities than soundly Apostolic centers. A knowledge that Rome has long known and why the early Protestants competed for princes to be on their side.

    A political seat at the table is always dangerous for the Church because it is easier to weaken the witness to the Gospel.

    The lack of an identity, the tendency in the U.S. to make everything as “politics” and lack of roots will likely plague any attempt to establish a true autocephalous Orthodox Church in the U.S or Canada. Roots grow where seeds are planted in good ground. At best the U.S. is rocky soil. Indeed because of the consumer culture many tend to see rocks as bread and good soil.

    • Cogent analysis.   But we must sow! 

      • Michael Bauman says

        Nikos, in order to sow and be fruitful we have to love the land and its peoples. I have seen very little evidence of that in the Church in my 30+ years as a part of her. Part of that is due to the fact that there is very little to love easily. Our culture is in practically every way antithetical to Christian truth. As my priest said in his sermon Sunday, the culture serves up stones and calls them bread. We are constantly being seduced and live a life of unremitting temptation. The soil is inhospitable and rocky–like my own heart. The land has been salted and so have our hearts to some extent.

        The other problem is related to what Gail said earlier, there is no American national identity and the political forces at play in our country do not want one. What ephemeral national identity there is right now seems to try to coalesce around a document or series of documents: The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Even great documents as these are are not sufficient in and of themselves to create a national identity. The other form of identity is revolution and social justice.

        What does it mean to be an American? There are probably close to 327 million different answers to that question. One thing that is clear to me, there is almost no hint of the central Christian paradigm “Take up your Cross and follow me”. It comes out as “We are going to force a cross on you and you must follow us” Right, left, or just plain crazy all are saying that nationally and internationally.

        The concept of individual freedom as embodied in the Declaration is not particularly compatible with Orthodox spirituality. Certainly the spirit of revolution expressed by Thomas Jefferson and others in which the polity must rise up on a regular basis and demand freedom definitely does not fit. At the same time the U.S. Constitution set in motion a centripetal force toward more and more centralization of government power and the famous checks and balances simply do not work very well as a more and more entrenched oligarchy seeks only power and protects its own or eats its own. Jefferson’s call for periodic revolution anticipated that dilemma I think but that is not a solution.

        So it is not surprising that many Orthodox cling to the Old Country.

        Consequently everything from what kind of food I eat, the type of toilet I use and the light blubs in my home has become a political issue. And yet the chaos of individuality prevents any long term solution about anything.

        The only evangelism I can see working in our environment is martyrdom which I fear we are spectacularly unprepared for.

        My parish has icons of the stylites Symeon and Daniel at the entry to the sanctuary facing the altar. Perhaps they represent another type of effective witness and evangelism similar to martyrdom but not requiring an outside force.

        All of this smacks of quietism to many. We are so endued with the spirit of “doing things”, “progress”, productivity and change to the new and improved we tend to demand a new and improved Jesus Christ and a new and improved God as well.

        At the same time the Church as the real answers to all of the dilemmas people in our society say they want answers to: Repent and sin no more. That, however, is just not acceptable because to many people there is no such thing as sin except in a political and ideological sense and there the penalty for disagreement is banishment, disenfranchisement and death. So, right back to martyrdom unless one wants to engage in revolution and/or self-protection which is ultimately self-defeating.

        Feed the sick, clothe the naked, visit those in prison but rest assured the powers at be will put blocks in the way to prevent us from doing that.

        • Michael, your post is a comprehensive and useful account of our everyday practical problems in being real Orthodox Christians.

          If I may comment on your wise words,
          I think we are trying to keep our balance while standing on two different boats, having different courses:
          God and the secular world. We are trying to satisfy both masters. That causes disappointment to one direction or both.

          True, monasticism is not for all of us but for very few.
          It seems that for the rest of us Orthodox there also has to be one ultimate criterion ie God. The rest comes after that. It is a matter of priorities:
          First God and AFTER that the rest, e.g. Country, myself, family, friends, money etc etc.

          I guess, we should ask ourselves: “Does God agree with this action of mine?”

          The constant internal prayer will certainly help,
          “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess.5,17).

          We will certainly love our Country but not more than God, the Creator of everything! We shall love our neighbor as ourself and so on.

          At the same time we shall remember the words of Prophet and King David:
          “Trust not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no safety. (Ps.145,3, LXX)

          Or, another example from Christ’s words:
          “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matth.10,37)

          I certainly do not imply that I have achieved the above, it is a constant struggle…

          • Michael Bauman says

            Ioannis, I would add to my statement the fact that most of us have absorbed the idea that the Church has to be “successful” in worldly terms to be worthwhile. Linking worldly success to salvation has always been a problem. Even the Apostles did it at first.

            Jesus said just the opposite: They hate me, they will hate you. You will be scorned, despised and abused for my sake.

            The Cross is the way of Christ and His Church and His people.

            It is a stumbling block.

            It is easier for those who have been oppressed, abused and marginalized to understand truly what that means. Not so easy for those of us raised without any real suffering.

            • Yes, Michael:
              “It is easier for those who have been oppressed, abused and marginalized to understand truly what that means. Not so easy for those of us raised without any real suffering.”
              That probably explains
              -why God allows some people to be persecuted and 
              -why the wise oeople of God consider these persecutions as a BLESSING! 

              • Michael,  Ioannis,again a cogent,  thoughtful and true description of situation outside the twins Bubbles of Phanar la la land meets modernism and exotic beard hobby land.  
                For me as i assume for any modern Orthodox, the outcome of the communist Assault on the Church in Russia, here in Bulgaria, and eastern Europe and China,  the myriad of new saints and martyrs and the Insights that the great Russian thinkers,  Dostoyesky, Florovsky, Fedotov, Florovsky and the advancement of icon painting and understanding with the great work, The Meaning of Icons by the great Paris based Icon painter, Uspensky, That  my Orthodoxy, theirs, is informed and enriched by this. 
                BY Bishop surgeon Luke,  Patrarch Tikhon ( USA citizen) and on and on. Bishop Anthony Bloom in Uk (+2003)
                Yet in some contact with the priest of greek Tampa Bay Parish, A GOOD DEDICATED MAN, let me say, hard working,  I understanding that all that I have just said MEANS NOTHING TO HIM OR IS NOT KNOWN, except vaguely perhaps and by his people not at all. And his language is basically not even Catholic but protestant. As he says being clean shaven with organ is all he has ever known as the Church and continual talk of ‘ ministries’ As if to be a Christian we need it defined in lots of activity IN CHURCH as if early christians had all this bureaucratic  going on. Do we live in same Church!?   Sadly have to say NO. 
                Do i see THEIR church as american future,well figures tell their own story about the pretend omoyeneia in USA.  And I am Greek. Passport included. 

  7. It’s worth your time as Americans studying the 17c english civil war between King and Parliament. It’s interesting how it gave rise to almost communist movements such as the levellers, etc. Cromwell put them down harshly and I believe england after, exported them to american colonies and later to Australia etc. 

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nikos, good advice. I have long thought that our revolution was a continuation of the English civil war. The many utopian communities here also points to what you say. Although trying to trace the historical antecedents of events is a torturous process, or can be since time and history are neither linear nor didactic as we tend to suppose.

      Ultimately we still have to rely on the sacramental providence of God in all things, including time. Expanding one’s heart and mind to attempt to see God’s sacramental providence for His creation is an effort. Well worth it however.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      It is certainly true that the English Civil War resonated heavily in America, particularly New England, given the heavy Puritan presence here. Indeed, many of the regicides took refuge in New England at the Restoration, because they were explicitly excluded from the Act of Oblivion.
      As far as the Founders were concerned , though, the big emphasis was the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which really became the touchstone of the political thought of the Revolutionary generation.
      Obviously, there is a relationship between the two events. Poor James II didn’t see it coming, though!

      • Michael Bauman says

        Tim, when I took the history of Tudor and Stuart England in college, my professor would routinely say things such as: “The reasonable, rational thing to do would have been X, but being a Stuart….

        He did not think highly of the Stuart clan to say the least.

        • The Stuart,  apart from Charles ii who was determined to die in his kingly  bed, with the odd mistress or two, and did!!were perhaps the english)/ British equivalent of Bourbons.  James ii certainly was chip of old block. They were also far more european and via Scottish ‘Auld alliance ‘,  pro French. Shades of brexit politics and modern scotland. 
          I had wanted to add re Church in USA that yes much of ground is arizona spiritual desert with salted fields!  But there is also an authentic tradition of equality, of strong congregational worship and responsibility and morality and decency which could if allowed to develop, form back drop to healthy american Orthodoxy.   The greek, Slav etc traditions and Culture should  be welcome to enrich this and form connection with living Orthodox Culture. Language of worship can be what ever is needed for locale,  spanish, greek etc english, BUT, A BIG BUT,  the official communication in church etc in english  and first language of worship,high quality english, and the concerns of the Church related TO SOCIETY THEY LIVIΝG IN. THAT IS USA. Above all NO FOREIGN BISHOPS AND HQ LOCATED ELSEWHERE. In a word GOOD BY MR LAMBRIONIDIS, come to patronise you in Greek Fantasy land.  They need to go home and sort their own corrupt pigstye out. 

          • And name on notice board 

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Certainly ‘Old Rowley’, Charles II, is the Stuart most fondly looked back upon by the British, or at least the English.
            He had a most interesting life too. And he did die in bed, but without mistresses therein. It is almost certain that he confessed the Roman faith on his deathbed and died a Catholic. He had a good sense of timing, unlike his brother.