Deep Institutional Mediocrity

The title for this posting comes from “Anonymous” who first used this phrase about a week ago to describe the governance of the OCA by Syosset. It immediately encapsulated for me the institutional lethargy that has characterized the OCA on the national level since almost its inception.

I realize that this is offensive and hurtful to some good people who’ve worked hard over the years as best they could. And I don’t mean to single out Syosset as the only ecclesiastical institution that is so afflicted. I believe that all of the Orthodox eparchies that are centralized suffer from an institutional mediocrity that is impossible to escape. More so if they are nothing but colonial eparchies which are essentially Old World nostalgia cults.

Why do I say this? Because a Church which exists in all fifty states cannot be governed by a central bureaucracy and still be a Church.

I mean this in all sincerity. The life of the Church is the diocese, which is made up of interdependent parishes. It is only at the local level (diocese and parish) that the innate creativity of Spirit-filled Christians can be cultivated.

Some might object: well, what about the Roman Catholic Church? Isn’t it governed from the Vatican?

Surprisingly, that is not the case. Bishops indeed are chosen by the Roman Curia but the dioceses themselves are remarkably independent. You would be surprised at how much variation there exists even between contiguous dioceses as well as from parish to parish within dioceses. We also know about how most of the institutions we associate with Catholicism — hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc. — came about on the local level. Both lay people and the religious orders took a lay of the land and built accordingly. They wisely husbanded their resources. That can’t be done from corporate HQ with any precision or efficacy.

Fortunately for us, we have in the OCA remarkably independent dioceses, much more so than in the Roman Church. Increasingly, our bishops are being raised from within the dioceses and selected by local committees. That’s good. And we can see the fruits of this process in the dioceses themselves. The freedom that emanates from individuals living in parishes has never been snuffed out by the centralized bureaucracy. Some dioceses (like the South) thrived because they had godly bishops who were completely independent of Syosset. At the same time, the centralized bureaucracy has rarely done done anything of significance. It’s really a vestige of the old days, in which the Metropolia was an eparchy and there was only one real bishop.

So is a central bureaucracy really needed? The only thing I could imagine that the OCA needs is a chancery where relics are kept, schedules are maintained, and travel arrangements for the Metropolitan are made. That’s it. Otherwise, turn the whole shooting match back to the dioceses.

Has has thought of this? Lo and behold! +Jonah first articulated this vision years ago!


  1. What would be the purpose of a Metropolitan under this scenario? Sounds a bit like a “figurehead monarch”, as in Great Britain. Nothing to do but wear elegant vestments in public and catalogue relics the rest of the time? Not sarcastic here, just curious. . .

    Or, perhaps, this suggests that a Metropolitan would govern one of the dioceses, and also speak for the jurisdiction as the “First Among Equals” . . . ?

    • I think we need to define the role of an OCA bishop. We expect a bishop to be the presence of Christ in the church – a prayerful link with truth.

      So why all this involvement with this other stuff? A monk told me that bishops are so busy they never have time to pray, and thus small stuff gets the best of them and they become upset over trivialities. Bishops do not need to be good at in-fighting. Bishops do not need to be good at GAAP accounting. Bishops do not need to be good at marriage-counseling. Bishops don’t need to be good at schmoozing (although it helps). Bishops do not need to be good at all the things that Martha was good at.

      Bishops need to be good at the “one-thing needful” which Jesus mentioned – closeness to God. If they can do all the other things and aren’t doing that it’s useless. And if their job description is not structured to reflect this mission, the church will have the big problems like we have now.

      I truly do not understand the hierachial structure of our church and the expectations we have of our leaders, or they of us. The church seems to value the recreation of a mini-Byzantine society from days of yore – like what George aptly calls an “Old World nostalgia cult” – replete with ecclesiastical emperors, court attendents, and sergeants-at-arms – rather than producing leaders who perpetuate productive relationships with priests, and significant, meaningful contacts with laity and students.

      For a lay person in our church, a bishop is a guy who blows in once or twice a year for an extra-long service and is the most super-important person you’ll never get to know; the parish priest fawns over him superficially or is gingerly afraid of him; the congregation too. Everyone is bowing and scraping and hyperventilating with spiritual mannerisms. How does being around this “king for a day” expose us to a leader in the church?

      And then at brunch, “his eminence” sits at a table apart from everyone (or elevated up on a dais) only enhancing the isolation (and only sitting with the clergy). There is a sense that you can “look but not touch”. It’s a private members-only club of elites. Sonorous speeches follow soon afterwards. The implication is that there is an enormous gulf between common people – the laity – and leadership. And it must be awful (after the first few times of this) to be placed in this position. Where is the authentic interchange between Christ and his church, or man to God, in all of this? A hierarch can be kept so busy with a parade of these “events” that he doesn’t have time to nurture things that count.

      And this can affect outcomes at every level. Parishioners will financially support organizations that nurture them spiritually; and won’t if they don’t. There is a quid pro quo to this investment on the most basic level of heart to heart and hand to man.

      A “new” OCA can’t expect Americans to ignore our history of leaders who are both “one of us” and yet who lead us.

      I think a better model is deans, experienced archbpriests with thousand of hours of experience working with lay people and families; who have built churches from scratch. Give them an administrative function over geographic areas and elevate the role of bishop to one of being spiritual father for the priests and laity in that geographical area. I think this is the idea that St. Peter had in the early church when they appointed deacons to oversee the day to day functions of the church so they could concentrate on teaching, preaching and the spiritual life of the church.

      • I recognize that your stereotypical description is, sadly, the reality for many (most?) people in all of the Orthodox jurisdictions in the U.S. I am permanently grateful to God that for nearly twenty-five of my over thirty years in the faith (came in as a college student), I was under the same bishop — a man who bore NO resemblance to what you describe as the norm. Although my family lived several states away from him for our first ten years under his leadership, when we moved to his cathedral parish at the end of that time, he knew us immediately, and called us by name. I was astonished, but only until we had lived here long enough to see first-hand what kind of a God-loving pastor he was — a pastor in every best sense of the word. We love him as deeply as if he were “a father in the blood” as well as our “father in the faith.” In fact, most of the slanders that I encounter about him derive from his weaknesses at “playing the bureaucrat”. His life has been prayer and personalized pastoral ministry. THAT is “a bishop”.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes, exactly. He would be the diocesan ordinary of the Archdiocese of Washington. First among equals, President of the Holy Synod. Speaks for the Church on an international level. +Jonah has said these things time and time again.

  2. A. Rymlianin says

    I think that the latter suggestion is closer to the ideal. the Metropolitan should mediate differences (if they exist) between his own bishops, should be the spokesman for our church to the world and to other Orthodox Churches, should preside over the Synod and govern his own diocese. The problem that I see is that the diocese are incredibly big. I do not think that any canonist ever seriously thought that a diocese could be the size of seven states. Eparchies ,in the Roman conception, were the equivalents of counties, or possibly small states like Rhode Island. I think that the notion that a bishop can adequately govern seven states is patently ridiculous and is a large part of our problem. What we need to do is establish monasteries in each eparchy to properly train future prospects for the episcopacy and begin reducing the size of the eparchies to a manageable and reasonable size, lets say half of a state. The amalgamation of jurisdictions could also go a long way in this process.
    I know that this sound pie-in -the-sky, but if we do not begin working on it now , I think Orthodoxy in North America is doomed.

  3. Chris Plourde says

    Eparchies ,in the Roman conception, were the equivalents of counties, or possibly small states like Rhode Island.

    A bit off topic, but interesting data:

    Today the County of Los Angeles has a larger population than 42 of the States.

    More people live in the County of LA than in either Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, etc.

    If you combined the populations of America’s 10 smallest States (Maine, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) and added the District of Columbia you’d still have a smaller population than the County of Los Angeles by nearly 1/2 a million people.

    (By the way, if you want to talk about “small government” compare the governance of any those states with the County of Los Angeles, which has only 5 elected Supervisors who do all the work, there is no “executive” and no legislative body, just the most powerful 5 politicians in America. And, of course, the county itself has no US Senators….)

  4. Anonymous since it's all the rage says

    Sorry to change the subject a little, but I was wondering if Rod Dreher could expound on this tidbit in his comment of April 1 at 12:23 PM:

    “I have tried to provide background in this way to my friends at OCATruth”

    Who are these friends, Mr. Dreher? They haven’t the decency to give us names as they slime and attack and make suppositions and gossip about the sexuality of Stokoe, the alleged “conspiracy”, the motives of various hierarchs, and the state of Orthodoxy in this country as they see it from their lofty posts, so I figured that you, a decent man, might illumine us a little bit.


    • Heracleides says

      Lol – You request transparency whilst remaining “Anonymous” yourself. Gotta’ appreciate the irony.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Glad you appreciate the irony. Ironic, ain’t it. And thanks for Rod’s “transparency”, below.

    • R. Dreher says

      They are a tequila-sloshed coven of pre-op transsexual Bolshevik sympathizers who are inconsolably angry and jealous because unlike some Orthodox bloggers, they can’t afford surgery. Pray for them, in your charity.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        So, you can’t answer a question from someone with a smart-assed anonymous moniker, but we’re to take your anonymous “friends” at their word?

        • R. Dreher says

          I wouldn’t say your moniker is smart.

          I don’t care if you believe them or not. It’s nothing to me. I trust them, but if you don’t, or can’t because of their anonymity, that’s fine. Your argument is not with me.

          I just wish I knew what you had against pre-op commie transsexual Orthodox bloggers.

          • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

            You trust them when they say that the MP has sent the Synod a “blistering letter” that is a veiled threat to OCA autocephaly, and have threatened “ecclesial sanctions” against our bishops? That’s an extraordinary claim, and anonymous posters citing anonymous sources is far from being “extraordinary evidence”. I picked on you, Rod, because of the “my friends at OCA Truth” comment. Do you trust them because you know them? Are you one of them? Are you a part of the grand “anti-Synod Conspiracy” that is on the march against conciliar Church governance in favor of a neo-Papal regime?

            My point is this: There is damned little evidence, that I’ve seen, that tells us what is actually going on. I wish I knew, but taking what little evidence there is and spinning wild conspiracy theories about it, as your “friends at OCA Truth” are doing, is damaging, and it is leading to outrageous accusations like I just made about you. The “split” in the Church is because unknown muckrakers are forcing people to pick sides. Love him or hate him, Mark Stokoe at least signs his name to his stuff, and he has a track record of putting himself out there to be a lightning rod. He has done incredible service to the Church. Now, he is under the most intense of personal attacks, and I find that quite distasteful.

            As for Drezhlo, I love all of my brothers and sisters, and the various iterations thereof, whether liberal, conservative, or downright Fruit-Stripe. Do you have proof of your accusation of “pre-op”? Huh? Do ya?!

            OK, we probably don’t really want an answer to that one.

            • R. Dreher says

              La Drezhlo has had the operation, I am reliably informed. The ruffians at OCAT, in my personal opinion, are driven by barely concealed rage over their inability to afford the procedure. Those poor lads can’t even afford to have their hair permed. It’s sad.

              I bet if you sent them a set of Lily Pulitzer summer dresses, they would stand down. Think about it.

              • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

                “La Drezhlo”, Rod? “La Drezhlo”? So, by your use of the feminine article, I take it you accept the person in question as an actual female?? Defend yourself!

                Why don’t we compromise and go with “Das Drezhlo”?

              • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                If you look around you can find Drezhlo describing the operation and the result online in his/her own words.

                I think one begins “As a contented, post op M to F … ”

                My wife loved your comment about Liz Taylor and the cat lady!

                When I became Orthodox in 1990, if someone had told me, “wait 20 years lad, you and all your friends across the land will not only know what a mean transexual in upstate thinks, but will discuss it”, I would have found it utterly unimaginable.

                For me the transexual bit did make the penny drop about what was going on there and why it was so nasty and over the top. I thought: We all treat it as a blog about church stuff, but the genre is really the drag act – the Shirley Q Liquor of Russian Orthodoxy. Since then, it has all made a weird sort of sense.

                • R. Dreher says

                  “the Shirley Q Liquor of Russian Orthodoxy”

                  I cannot believe I’ve just seen Shirley Q. Liquor mentioned on an Orthodox blog! What a great, great day this is. Father Yousuf, I bow in your direction! If anybody reading this does not know who Shirley Q. Liquor is, wait till you get home from work and Google her. You will see that Fr. Yousuf has just said the truest thing about the Drezhlo trainwreck that has ever been said, and can ever be said. Axios!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Fr Yousef, perhaps the reason we’re all sitting here talking about a pervert like Drezhlo and his contretemps is because we’ve been reduced to this by the deeply mediocre institutionalists at Syosset and all Orthodox eparchies that have sexually ambiguous mama’s boys in positions of leadership.

                  I bet they don’t have this problem over at ROCOR (or in the Antiochian jurisdiction). I wonder why that is?

                  • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                    O George,

                    Just couldn’t resist a pot shot could you? And boy can’t everything be made to fit the story you really want to tell.

                    It is the internet and our own curiosity that are responsible. Drezhlo doesn’t bother the Antiochians because she is interested in Russians, and relatively uninterested in anyone else. In other words, when she decides to care about the Antiochians, (which is very rarely), Met. Philip’s stances against perversity of certain sorts don’t deter her at all.

                    That blog effects ROCOR at least as much as the OCA. Here is that blog being quoted, and favorably, and not for the first time, by Fr. Andrew Philips, a ROCOR priest in England. He doesn’t seem a sexually ambiguous mama’s boy, though I’ll bet other colorful descriptors might be found.

                    She is perfectly happy to dish on ROCOR, and the fact that the Moscow Patriarchate has the clearest statement on transexuality from any Orthodox jurisdiction I am aware of doesn’t stop her from demanding that we all go back to the Moscow Patriarchate and abolish both the OCA and ROCOR.

                    Nor does that blog promote transexuality. Far from it, the subject is never ever allowed to come up there, on the contrary, she seems to think it is immoral to be aware of her own public utterances on the subject, which she has made elsewhere, never on her”Russian Church” blog, which presents itself as the thoughts of an ordinary lay woman.

                    • Fr, you missed my point. Which was we in the OCA (and GOA) are mired in scandal because the priesthood has become the outlet for sexually ambiguous mama’s boys. My question was why doesn’t AOCNA and ROCOR have this problem? I’ve got my own ideas as to why this is so but since you’re a priest with pastoral experience, maybe you could give us the benefit of your wisdom on this problem. (And I’m not being sarcastic.)

                • Harry Coin says
            • Harry Coin says

              I’ve been following the discussions long enough (>20 years) to feel confident Marie is/was Stan.

              The ‘OCATruth’-chiks, well, only their buddies know for sure.

        • Heracleides says

          Now perhaps you’ll toddle on over to the OCA News tabloid and inquire of Mark Stokoe as to why the other “editors” of his site remain anonymous?

          In case you can’t be bothered, let me save you the time:

          “Oh, and by the way. I notice on the masthead, quite near those nice graphics on the 2009 and 2010 awards of blog excellence, a reference, in the plural, to the editors of this site. In the interest of “transparency and accountability” we deserve to know who the others are who make the plural accurate, or to see it changed to the singular.


          Fr. George

          (Editor’s note; Somehow, Father, nothing I say to you persuades. Why am I not surprised? As for the Editors, I am the Senior Editor, and the one responsible. The others, who proofread, edit, and try, against huge odds, to make my writing better, prefer to remain as they have been, lest they, too, be thrown on the fires of Maloch. So, no, I have not changed the masthead in 5 years, and will continue to leave it as it is – anachronistic as it may be.)”


          So…. the OCA Truth folks are pilloried by Mark & his groupies for not allowing themselves to “be thrown on the fires of Maloch” but the anonymous editors of OCA News get a pass from their “senior editor.” Go figure.

          • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

            To make a moralequivalence between anonymous proofreaders of work with named authors and wholly anonymous work for which no one has to take responsibility at all ever is quite a stretch. While we are on the subject, when I toddle off to Church to pray, may I assume that Heracleides is your Chrismation name? I am sure God will be able to figure it out one way or another.

            I expect it’s now possible to get a commemoration slip with an email address or facebook handle etc.

            When does “Well Mark’s doing it” run out of steam as a moral justification? And how did Mark get to be the moral exemplar in the Church such that his most bitter foes find ethical guidance in him?

            • Heracleides says

              I wasn’t pointing to Mark as “moral justification” for anything – his choice in a ‘domestic partner’ puts the kibosh on that. I was instead pointing out the hypocrisy of “Anonymous since it’s all the rage” in trashing the folks at OCA Truth whilst giving Stokoe and his crew of anonymous editors a free pass. But then, I am confident that a priest of moderate intelligence such as yourself (or so it would seem) caught the gist of my thrust to begin with.

              As for my own moniker, please refrain from using it in your prayers once you’ve toddled off to church as I find your making a moral equivalence with a rag like OCA News and prayer in your parish of St. Innocent to be quite a stretch. (But then, I’ve never attended your parish, so who knows.)

              • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

                Yes Heracleides,

                I did get it, and I think it didn’t work. “ABIATR” is not hypocritical for finding a named author editor with anonymous proofreaders more credible than wholly anonymous assertions. Someone takes responsibility for the first, no one does the second. That is an undeniable difference, and I am sure a person of your intelligence knows that. I would bet that most of us instinctively and usually trust more that for which somebody claims responsibility. I’ll bet that you would trust a signed article in a major newpaper, (for this one lets just say the Washington Post), over an anonymous handbill sent to you with no name or return address, even if the proofreaders for WaPo were not an immediately known quantity.

                The section on prayer in Church, names, and commemoration slips was 2 things, perhaps both of them incomplete. ABIATR and you are both anonymous as far as I can tell, and you are having a discussion on anonymity. Second, a slight rumination on anonymity and internet communication for members of a religion that prides itself on personal relationship and puts a great deal of importance on proper names. I asserted and assert no equivalence between any blog and real Church life, ever. If anything, once in a while I choose for a space to try to communicate this on a blog and making that point is one of the reasons.

                I admit pointing out to Mark as moral justification was not quite a specific response to your post, but if you can look up my parish you can look this up pretty easily, how often have my recent criticisms been met with some retelling of the perfidy of Mark as if it absolved some how his opponents? I am beginning to think it is an antiphonal refrain here.

                • Heracleides says

                  Just because ONE of the editors of OCA News signs their name does not elevate them to some higher moral plane in my estimation, nor does it make the matters they opine upon somehow superior or more reliable than that of other anonymous opinionators. In fact, in this instance, it lowers it in my view as Mr. Stokoe is certainly no moral paragon and all the ‘reports’ he and his anonymous editors publish on their rag appear agenda driven with an underlying motivation that is suspect (to put it mildly) in my view. You want to trash one blog and elevate another over this issue? Knock yourself out. Just don’t pretend that OCA News is somehow more committed to “transparency and accountability” than the other. Both hide behind some degree of anonymity – and I, unlike yourself and ABIATR, am fine with that.

                  • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


                    I think I understand your position to be that the opinions of OCATruth are more correct than the opinions of OCANews, and that the agenda of OCATruth is better than the agenda of OCANews. I think we are both agreed in seeing these sites as having plenty of opinion and agenda.

                    Do you really mean to argue that the degrees of anonymity are the same, or even comparable? That is if we were discussing any two sources of information, in a case were you didn’t see the agenda of the one so much more preferrable to the agenda of the other (and able to out weigh other concerns), you would still find the anonymity of a proofreader equal to the anonymity of an author?

                  • Harry Coin says

                    “Heraclides”.. if whoever leads OCATruth left the closet shadows and put their name to the words on the website they lead, that would go part way toward giving the views expressed there some weight. To go the rest of the way they would have to welcome comments and answer them.

                    Why not start yourself? What’s your real name?

                  • Heracleides says

                    Harry, as I’ve stated above – I have no problem with anonymity in others and the same goes for myself – hence no need to post my given name. If that makes my words of less value to you – oh well – don’t read ’em. As Ian has stated below – the facts speak for themselves. Tie yourselves in knots over the smokescreen of anonymity; I’ll focus on the leaked emails and the picture they paint of Mr. Stokoe and his fellow insurrectionists (both those listed in the emails and his crew of anonymous editors – that is if they are not in fact one and the same).

                  • Ian James says

                    Fr. Yousuf,

                    Of course they have an agenda. OCANews want to push +Jonah out, and OCATruth is resisting it. The difference is that OCANews hides their agenda while OCATruth is clear about theirs despite the anonymity.

                    You guys want to highlight the anonymity to hide the facts. Facts are facts, even if anonymously delivered. Stokoe’s name is on every email. Stokoe’s war against +Jonah is clear for all to see. The emails prove that Stokoe’s claim to objectivity was contrived, despite putting his name to his “reports.”

                    The OCATruth guys might have good reasons for anonymity. Who knows? In any case, there’s no going back, for Stokoe, for the people who signed the emails, for OCANews. It’s done. Stokoe might as well close up shop. No one will trust OCANews anymore, not after the emails.

                    Remember that OCATruth was not the source of the emails. Bp. Tikhon was. No anonymity there, although he properly keeps his sources anonymous.

                  • I don’t think the equivalency is in OCANews using anonymous proofreaders versus OCATruth being totally anonymous. Rather, it’s between the anonymous sources Stokoe uses and OCATruth’s anonymity. If OCATruth is not accountable, then neither is OCANews for the most part.

                  • Chris Plourde says


                    The OCATruth guys might have good reasons for anonymity. Who knows?

                    I always have a good reason for doing the wrong thing. 😉

                  • Chris, you are assuming they are doing the “wrong thing.” Prove your assertion. Otherwise it’s gratuitous.

                    OCAT and I have already proven that Stokoe is completely biased. All we did was quote his own words.

                  • Heracleides, especially if the one editor who does sign his name puts out propaganda and twists facts to suit his own agenda (which is that bishops should wear pretty vestments and execute intricate moves while performing an opera instead of engaging the culture).

        • Harry Coin says

          There’s probably a few people who think they know who the ‘OCATruth’ authors are. Do they? Who really knows?

          Real profiles in courage, there. Yup, just like you read about in the church histories, people who stand up for what they believe though they might get killed or jailed.

          Martin Luther could have not signed his posting he nailed to the church door, probably wouldn’t have made any difference, nope.

          But, people like to feel all involved and like to think they know secret things insiders know. Gets you invited to all the special parties.

          It isn’t worth it. If you know the people involved, have them find someone literate they trust to get the facts correct in writing who has decent church credentials and knows how to check whether something’s true before he/she posts it– then have him/her/them launch a new website that has facts on it that person believes enough to stand behind with their name on the record.

          This whole ‘anonymous websites passing opinions’ is beneath the dignity of church people and does their point of view no favors at all.

          • Chris Plourde says

            This whole ‘anonymous websites passing opinions’ is beneath the dignity of church people and does their point of view no favors at all.

            Reposted because it’s worth reiterating.

            • Chris, Harry, if all you’ve got against OCAT is their anonymity, then there’s not much left in the anti-+Jonah jihad is there?

            • Chris, really we don’t care . . . . . no Russian or anyone whose lived under the Soveit’s are going to sign their name to anything and for a similar reason Americans may not either. The acts speak for themselves, that is what I look for.

              • Chris, do you remember the “samizdat” era of Russian journalism during the days of Brezhnev? I guess now that we won the Cold War we should go back and apologize to the Soviets because we relied on anonymous sources to get the truth out.

      • Harry Coin says

        Already my policy of not drinking while reading these posts has paid off! Screen safe and dry.

  5. A. Rymlianin says

    Tequila? That explains a great deal about our mutineers. And its probably Cuervo Gold, which any Mexican will tell you is mediocre garbage that will eventually drive you crazy and blind if you drink it long enough . Not 100% blue agave- bad stuff.

  6. Ian James says

    Nice try, except that the most of the evidence, including those damning emails, is not anonymous.

    You guys chirp away about the anonymity of OCATruth as if that nullifies real facts. It’s doesn’t.

    • Harry Coin says

      Ian, Only with the two emails, if they haven’t been doctored and cleverly edited even perhaps by the retired bishop of the west who, being retired, and even before being retired, is not without many an axe– is there some connection to known people.

      We see a link to an email allegedly posted correctly by Bishop Tikhon by Faith S’s email. Clearly there we see the majority of the synod voting to do something the first among equals there only later decided he didn’t want to do– have the synod meet again. The retired bishop of the west didn’t like having the meeting during lent, but being retired his opinion ends there. If the Metropolitan didn’t like having a meeting during Lent — he could have mentioned his desire to reschedule during the synod meeting he chaired and not only after they voted to give him time off without the option. So the whole business of ‘not meeting during Lent’ as a lofty theological and good management notion must be seen as an attempt to put lipstick on the pig of fussing the bishop’s calendar for reasons that arose after the meeting of the whole synod — and the dates lent falls upon certainly didn’t arise only after the meeting.

      The notion that someone might need to be removed on the basis of the contents of a sexual misconduct report of course might be a very good idea depending on what truth is in the report. The OCATruth people seem disposed not to think so, odd that…

      We see what purports to be leaked email attributed to Mark Stokoe on the OCATruth website, but as they do not offer a link to any original source and are anonymous who knows whether it’s true, false, edited, some mix. Until there’s a link to an original with someone’s name taking responsibility for posting the whole of it on what basis should it be taken seriously?

      In the end, the content of a sexual misconduct report appears to be so explosive it has precipitated a whole synod wanting to give its leader a time out. Wonder what it says? Plainly it’s about somebody or some group. Perhaps the OCATruth anonymous effort might really be all about trying to discredit it because they are part of the group? Why else hamstring and bring in to question their own effort with anonymity?

      Ah speculation upon the agendas of the anonymous– there’s a certain Rorschach test quality to it, no?

      • Harry, did you miss this? This has Stokoe admitting to writing that email. So no, it is not a fabrication by Bishop Tikhon.

      • Then why doesn’t Stokoe publish the leaked e-mail which you assert may have been doctored. Because he’s already commented on it and tried to spin its text (as Helga has pointed out).

      • George Michalopulos says

        Harry, re your first sentence: “only two e-mail…” How many times was the Watergate broken into? One conspiratorial e-mail is bad enough. In reality, we now have three (Skordinski’s and Solodow’s as well).

        I started going down the road of Stokoe-skepticism just on the basis of his report of Santa Fe just four weeks ago. A lot of it was contradictory with the facts or heavily twisted them.

      • Ian James says

        Why don’t the signatories just clarify it for us? Instead, Stokoe tries spin and the rest are silent. If Stokoe didn’t try to spin it and remained silent like the others, your points would be stronger. But the spin is tacit affirmation the emails are accurate as presented by Bp. Tikhon and makes the silence of the others incriminating.

        Notice how all the skulduggery comes from those who squawk the loudest about transparency?

        All this could be put to bed in two hours if the signatories just explained themselves. Stokoe has already confirmed so a denial is out of the question.

        My take is that the emails mean what they said, including the one that outlines the steps to move +Jonah out. Hard to spin that. Stokoe hasn’t addressed it even though his name is on the recipient list.

  7. A. Rymlianin says

    If our bishops want to accept drunks, perverts and dope fiends into the hierarchy, I suggest that they look into the ” Inclusive Orthodox Church ” in Hawaii and leave those of us who prefer traditional Orthodoxy to practice our faith.

  8. Anonymous says

    I want to make one point abundantly clear: the anonymity in my mind is necessary given the unfortunate truth that our hierarchs are “covering the sins” of those engaged in immoral behavior in direct disobedience to the apostle Paul and punishing the wistleblowers.

    Discrediting someone’s opinion merely because they are anonymous is just another form of ad hominem. A person’s status or motives are entirely irrelevant, all that matters is the veracity of what they are saying.

  9. I find the initial and subsequent postings of “Anonymous since it’s all the rage” to be nothing more than the same kind of diatribe used by OCANews, its adherents and defenders, in their attempts to discredit and sideline OCA Truth, just as they are doing to discredit and oust Metropolitan +Jonah.

    Also, Metropolitan +Jonah’s opponents who believe that the Orthodox Church in america should not be in the “limelight” of moral change in the USA should see “Orthodox Christian Social Action, Abp. Iakovos & Martin Luther King, Jr.” at

    diatribe |ˈdīəˌtrīb|
    a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something

  10. R. Dreher says

    For my fellow rubberneckers in this bunch, I just wanted to point out the latest post from the Woman Formerly Known As Stan Drezhlo. The same person who almost daily calls the OCA primate “Fathausen” and “El Gordo,” and deploys extreme language while demanding that nasty things be done to him and to all others she concludes are her enemies (including, note well, Mark Stokoe), is suddenly a shrinking violet and an advocate of Decency when people point out that she permanently excommunicated her piddle-widdle. Come back, Jerry Springer!

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      I truly appreciate this vastly amusing interchange. Whoever Stan/Varvara Drezhlo is, he/she has provided us with shocking, vitriolic, sometimes “breaking-news” information. I look as the site as something like a tabloid and enjoy being shocked and offended by it. My political views are quite opposite his/hers and my opinions about Metropolitan Jonah, quite different, too. I read for entertainment value and because, like it or not, there is some important information to be gleaned from a “close reading” of the text.
      All that aside, the Drezhlo-Dreher (et al) interlude is really and truly funny. I hope everyone can take a break from the awful seriousness of what is happening to enjoy this SNL moment.

      • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

        Yes, but the “yuck” factor has finally caught up with me. I just shivered, the culmination of a cumulative case of “the willies”.

        In a strange way, of course, I feel really sorry for this person. What an odd way to spend the one life you’ve been given.

        • R. Dreher says

          Yeah, I get that. Seriously, I do. While it’s entertaining to read her insane, vicious rants about various people (myself included), and to try to figure out whether anything she says is based in truth, in the end this is a really sad, messed-up person who is in a lot of pain and confusion, and who deserves our pity. When we first got married, my wife shamed me into not watching Jerry Springer and shows like that. She said it was bad for my soul to get cheap thrills watching broken people degrading themselves in public. Of course she was right — and her insight applies to the weird fascination I have with Stan Drezhlo’s site. I find it incredibly funny that a man who had a sex-change operation sets himself up as a denouncer of those he calls “poofters,” and as the passionate advocate of good old blue-collar cultural Orthodoxy, when it’s perfectly obvious that any Carpatho-Russian auto mechanic from New Jersey would run the other way if Drezhlo showed up in babushka mufti. As a Southerner and a Flannery O’Connor fan, I am fascinated by grotesque characters, but in the end, it’s probably not good for me to spend so much time trying to fathom how somebody gets to be as messed up as Stan Drezhlo.

          • Ivan Vasiliev says

            My point is that we take ourselves too seriously sometimes–even when the issues ARE truly important. We have to back off and see the (perhaps unintended) silliness of some of our pronouncements.
            I would suggest that all of us, in our various and broken ways, love God and the Church. To credit Vavara (I will refrain from the “Stan”, him/her usages from now on because they trouble me), I am always touched when I read, “they all had names and faces”, when she covers a disaster in which human life was lost. I, of course, will apply that to the Bishops, Metropolitans, OCA News, OCA Truth, and every other soul I encounter because it is the only way to live as a human being, much less as an Orthodox person.
            Our literary and political tradition allows wide room for biting, even vicious satire. A good sense of humor allows us to take delight even when our own political and social leanings are satirized. The first sign of evil is the disappearance of mirth and humor. Hell is a deadly serious place and so are most dictatorships.
            I am not arguing for compromise on the Church’s moral tradition or any other theological point. If I thought those were qualifiable, I would become an Episcopalian. Likewise, I don’t think we should overlook blatant compromises of these things among those in power. But I will not let this keep me from having a good laugh, even at my own expense.
            So, thanks again to everyone who contributed to making this day a bit more loonie than it would have been otherwise.

          • Anonymous since it's all the rage says

            Drezhlo actually has some real talents. They’re hidden by the mental issue, but the choice of photos to post is often breathtaking. Some truly wonderful images show up on that site. And as Ivan says, there’s real compassion there, as well.

            I know it sounds patronizing as hell, but it’s not a bad thing to be able to see Christ even in a loon-ball transexual. In fact, it’s incumbent.

            • R. Dreher says

              If she would only learn how to format those photos for web display!

              The thing about Drezhlo that’s so revolting, but also fascinating, is the unhinged hatred she has of … well, everyone, it seems, except the late Vladyki Nicholas, of blessed memory. I think the only people I have ever hated were the sex abusers in the Roman Catholic church, and (even more) the bishops who covered up for them — but I never took pleasure in that hatred, and knew that I had a grave obligation to try with all my might to overcome it, for the sake of my soul. As far as I can tell, however bad the sins of commission and omission of Stokoe, Met. Jonah, the konvertsy and anybody else in this OCA drama might be, they don’t even remotely merit the kind of vitriolic spite the exhausting Drezhlo pours out on them almost daily. Something is very, very wrong with her, and even though she makes a daily spectacle of herself (in fact, because she makes a daily spectacle of herself), I ought to be praying for her, not laughing at her. Nobody who was mentally stable and spiritually healthy could be capable of expectorating such copious amounts of volcanic bile on a regular basis.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Rod, us Southern boys gotta stick together.

    • Don’t you understand, that’s the difference between public people and private people! You can make fun of public people for their weight and call them ridiculous, juvenile names, but private people (even ones who post defamatory, public blogs under their own real names) are utterly above reproach, and if you expose their hypocrisy, you’re a murderer. Makes perfect sense!