Ecclesioclasm, Lesson #70: Ukraine, Derailments & More on the Charter

The virus is only the beginning. . .

Fr John and I touch on a lot in today’s lesson, including the spate of derailments, the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, Project Plowshare, the Ukrainian situation, and the latest on the GOA Charter.

I know these can be longish but you may learn a few things.  I know I do!  (Stock up on staples!)  Fr John’s a wealth of info.





  1. In addition to this, here is a great article from Fr. Zechariah Lynch on the situation of the EP/Rome/OCU:

  2. Lord have mercy. Does this priest have a flock to attend to? It is Great Lent. What are we all reading, how much time are we spending in prayer, as well as in attending to the cares and responsibilities each day brings? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil. 4:8). Not the spirit or words/exhortations I read in Scripture, the fathers or the elders of the Church.

    • Actually, Fr John is a very busy parish priest. If memory serves, he’s set up four missions in AZ all within the last three years. I wonder how many missions the GOA has set up in the entire USA within that same period of time?

      Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. Here’s a great military summary about Bakhmut as Stalingrad:

  4. Now this is something of a positive note, what an Orthodox Church can do when it puts its mind to it:

    It was on this day 80 years ago when the Bulgarian Orthodox hierarchy defied the Tsar and prevented him from cooperating with the Third Reich when the latter wanted to round up the Jews of Bulgaria and send them to the death camps.

    • But then here’s the bad news:

      The canonical monks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are to be fully expelled at the end of this month.

      • Joseph Lipper says

        This reminds me of the Old Believer schism in Russia and the famous painting by Vasiliy Surikov that depicts the exiling of the Boyarina Morozova, showing her being carried off in chains on the back of a horse-drawn wagon and defiantly holding up her arm with her two fingers raised:

        How many Old Believer traditionalists here sign themselves with the Holy Cross using two fingers instead of three? Yes, the Old Believers were unfairly persecuted for their defiance of the Nikonian reforms, but they weren’t persecuted for their belief in Christ or any actual dogma.

        Likewise, the Ukrainian government isn’t demanding anyone to deny Christ or Orthodox dogma. They are simply demanding that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church be fully autocephalous. This demand may not be fair, but my goodness, the Russian Church self-declared their own autocephaly in 1448.

        • Joseph, I say this with respect to you as a person:

          The comparison of the persecution of the UOC for refusing to unite with (previously universally recognized) appropriately-defrocked and still unrepentant clergy with the persecution of the Old Believers is appalling and historically illiterate.

          What concord hath Christ with Belial?

          May God give us clarity, increase our love even for the schismatics, and grant repentance to those persecuting His Church..

          • Problem is that according to modern, post-Christian, Western sensibilities, all that matters is appearances and achieving power. To the modern secularist Westerner, data, facts, outcomes, collateral damage, emotional impact on people’s lives — all of these are meaningless.

            The fake, magically-“created”-out-of-thin-air “OCU” (under the pretender “Metropolitan” Epi-phony and created by his benefactors Patriarch B and the American CIA and State Dept) may look Orthodox to an untrained outside observer. And they sort of “appear” Orthodox in liturgical form to those outside of the Church and to the secular Westerners who created them.

            The idea that there are standards to be upheld, that there are clear boundaries of the Church structure (that the visible Church exists! protestants deny this fact…), that ordination is a sacrament and that it actually means something — all of this is hocus-pocus nonsense to the secularists who created this fake church.

            To the chatterboxes on CNN, all that matters is appearances. Thus the living saint Metropolitan Onuphriy and the suffering/persecuted UOC are “mean” and “stubborn” because they stand against this fake Church — “C’mon guys, they’re just trying to be Orthodox… You guys are just so mean, I mean, why won’t you be nice to them?”

            Those of us who try to be Orthodox Christian and live in the West see this idiotic dynamic as clear as day. Many of us have experienced it and continue to experience it ourselves. To the outside secular observer, though, how the Orthodox faith appears to operate is nonsensical. We do not abide by their “appearances is all that matters” rule.

            There are many realities of life that are clearly apparent to practicing Orthodox Christians in the Church that the rest of the world is completely unattuned to or unaware of. Add this to the list. (I think that this is why, to deep Orthodox Christian, attending a Byzantine Catholic liturgy simply feels weird and “not right” (our soul knows that it is not Orthodox), while to the outside, non-baptized observer, it looks no different than our Church.)

            Seems that God will hold those alleged Orthodox Christians who played a part in creating this fake “OCU” which persecutes His Church — and thus persecutes Christ Himself! — to a much higher account than he will to the uninitiated secularists who think that this is all just a fun board game of Risk. The uninitiated secularists like Ms. Neocon Sam Power may say, “So this guy named Metropolitan Onuphriy and some monks in something called the Kiev Caves Lavra are put out…. so what? They’ll get over it. The important thing is that my side wins and that I get more power.”

            These secularists who push this garbage down our throats have not been illumined, but baptized Orthodox Christians have been. God holds us to a higher standard, I think.

          • If there is a parallel, it is between the UOC and the Old Believers. But even that is inapt. Both the UOC and the Old Believers simply sought to remain as they always had been and were/are being persecuted for it. No one is persecuting the OCU. The difference is that the Nikonian reforms did not center on canonical matters whereas Darth Varth’s “reforms” are categorically uncanonical and, moreover, violate basic apostolic succession.

            • Joseph Lipper says

              The UOC is being persecuted for not fully seeking autocephaly. While the UOC has omitted all mention of the Moscow Patriarchate from their charter this past summer, they still make claim to the same autonomous status that Moscow provided them in 1990. That technically makes them still part of the Moscow Patriarchate.

              The Ukrainian government simply wants to see a clear break between the UOC and Moscow. Given that Ukraine is being attacked and invaded by the Russian Federation, this is not really such an outlandish request. Autocephaly is precisely the given vehicle that allows a Local Church to maintain the good graces of the local government and also the canonical communion and unity with other Local Churches. Yet the UOC has not sought this option out, and such inaction can easily be interpreted as being politically subversive against Ukraine.

              • So it is obvious to all that the UOC is being persecuted? isn’t this the whole point we’ve been making all along?

                And how does this square with all of Pompeo’s (and Bart’s) tendentious talk about “freedom of religion”? It’s crap like this which gives sophistry a bad name.

                • What he’s saying is that the persecution is justified, George.

                  Think about that.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The Kiev Caves monastery really shouldn’t be owned by the state government. That should have been rectified after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It now puts the monks there in the unfortunate position of having to be obedient to the whims of their landlords.

                    • And yet, they wouldn’t be in this position had Bartholomew not legitimatize the faux church belonging to the fascist government, which they dubbed their NATIONAL church, to further the divide between it and the canonical Church.

                      It is Bartholomew’s “church” who is kicking the canonical Church out of the Kiev Caves and out of Ukraine altogether.

                    • Joseph, it wasn’t for lack of trying that the UOC has so far been unable to secure ownership of the Caves Lavra. Orthodox Reflections cites a document submitted by the NGO “Public Advocacy” to the UN Human Rights Council:

                      “The legal entity of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – The Holy Dormition Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra (Monastery) – is part of the confession of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. From the moment of its foundation, this monastery sought to reclaim its ownership or use of churches historically belonging to the Orthodox denomination. The state bodies of Ukraine satisfied the petitions of the monastery, transferring to it the churches and buildings that are part of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra complex, mainly on the rights of rent and free use. At the same time, the state reserves the owner’s rights to these buildings, which actually testifies to the failure to fulfill obligations for the restitution of church property in full scope.”

                      When I was living in St. Petersburg in 2002-04, I worshiped several times at the Kazan Cathedral which had been returned by the state to the Russian Church a few years earlier—but St. Isaac’s, the largest Orthodox cathedral in the city, is still state-owned today, more than 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Soviet successor states (whether Ukraine or Russia or others) are understandably reluctant to give up the tourist revenue, prestige, and control that comes with holding on to these sacred buildings that in some cases were seized from the Church a century ago. And as long as the Ukrainian government regards the relics of the Lavra’s saints as state-owned “museum exhibits,” this situation is unlikely to be able to change for the better.

                      In July 2000 when the head of Saint Panteleimon was being exhibited at the Kiev Caves Lavra, I went with some Ukrainian Protestant friends as curious onlookers to join the line of pilgrims waiting to venerate the Saint’s relics. (That summer I was living in Kiev and teaching English there.) I will always regret that my friends and I dropped out of the line long before we reached St. Panteleimon’s relics—it was a hot day, and the line was a full kilometer long! But so many of those around us were standing barefoot on the cobbled street, some were weeping. The treasures of this Lavra are no museum exhibits.

                    • The crosses on top of the Kiev Caves Lavra’s Refectory Church (one of the churches in the Upper Lavra that was seized back earlier by the state and given to the OCU to use for services) have turned black, according to this article (with photos) from the Union of Orthodox Journalists.

                • Anonymous II says

                  Zelensky backs expulsion of Christian monks

                  Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has endorsed the order to expel monks of the canonical Orthodox church from the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, insinuating they were agents of Russia. Moscow has called on all Christian churches, as well as the UN and other international organizations, to respond to the “outrageous” decision.

                  “This week there is also a move to strengthen our spiritual independence,” Zelensky said in a weekly address to the nation on Sunday evening. “We will not allow the terrorist state any opportunity to manipulate the spirituality of our people, to destroy our holy sites – our Lavras – or to steal valuables from them.”

                  He also claimed the steps his government was undertaking were “completely legal” and had the full support of the Ukrainian public.

                  On Friday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture notified the monks they had until March 29 to vacate the monastery, claiming they had violated the 2013 agreement under which the state allowed them to administer the national historic preserve. Founded in 1051, the Pechersk Lavra (‘Monastery of the Caves’) is considered the most prominent Orthodox Christian site in Ukraine.

                  Church appeals to global religious leaders over Zelensky plan
                  Read more Church appeals to global religious leaders over Zelensky plan
                  Kiev has already expelled the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) from two of the cathedrals above the monastery. Within days of that decision, in early January, the government-created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) was allowed to hold services on the premises.

                  The UOC monks will “not carry out the order” to leave, the abbot of the monastery said on Monday. The head of the church, Metropolitan Kliment, had called Friday’s note the personal opinion of a Ministry of Culture official, with no legal standing. The UOC remains in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church, but has declared itself independent and condemned the Russian “invasion” to remain in the Ukrainian government’s good graces.

                  Kiev’s move to expel the monks is “unacceptable” and “absolutely unprecedented,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. “We believe that the world community should respond accordingly to such an outrageous decision.”

                  On Saturday, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church compared the eviction to the expulsion of Orthodox clergy under Communism. Such a move would “lead to a violation of the rights of millions of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful,” said Patriarch Kirill, in a letter sent to the UN, the heads of other Orthodox churches, Pope Francis of Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, and others.


                  • RE: “We believe that the world community should respond accordingly to such an outrageous decision.”

                    Throwing out Christian churches is not a palatable option for many, many people. Sure, it’s “Poor Ukraine,” but when you start throwing out Christian Churches, people are not going to be so sympathetic! The unfortunate thing is this information may not even get to the American people.

                    Until someone gets the MSM to start reporting the actual news, nothing is going to change. They should be held libel for every bogus report they’ve aired and every legitimate report they’ve ever withheld. Their reporting on Ukraine, alone, should put them in jail. Their reporting on January 6 should earn them a double sentence.

                    And those smug, indignant so-called “journalists” should be walking the street looking for another job.

              • Alexander II says

                This is utter nonsense.

                Why should any canonical church give a rat’s a$$ about what a corrupt, belligerent, fascist regime — the “Ukrainian government” — wants?

                Yeah, it is an outlandish request. “Easily interpreted”? Did you really write that?

                So, we need His All Supreme Intergalacticness, Barth Vader, declaring self-proclaimed heretics in Montenegro an autocephalous church because the Montenegrin Kleptocracy deems the Serbian Church as “politically subversive” against Montenegro?

                Or have this same lying fool create an “Autocephalous Kovovar Orthodox Church,” because the US State Department and EU-created fake state of “Kosovo” says that the Serbian Church is subversive against the Kosovo Kleptocracy? Then have them run the canonical monastics out of the holy sites there and turn them into museums? And then the parallel in Moldova and a dozen other places?

                The cognitive dissonance is astounding and frightening, but unsurprising. To quote an oft-repeated line proffered by one of the chattering numbskulls on ESPN, “Come on, man.”

                Disgraceful. Simply disgraceful BS.

  5. There is a certain “teaching the enemy how to defeat you” dynamic at work here. Pushing NATO toward Russia has forced the Russians to reform defense arrangements to counter the impending threats. Cornered and threatened with the destruction of their kin right in their front yard, they re-entered the Ukraine. The Russian state had been preparing for this likely eventuality since the 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine. So Russia was already in a mode to compete with and defeat US/NATO. The flurry of sanctions leading up to and subsequent to the start of the SMO has further repurposed Russian fiscal and energy policy to overcome these challenges.

    We are helping to create, through our attempts to defeat and dismember Russia, a civilization state independent of the West which must be committed to undermining the West in every way in order to carry on its resistance to it. There is a certain beauty to it, really. Unintentionally, we are almost forcing the Sino-Russian Alliance to take over world leadership.

  6. This from Redacted and Scott Ritter is interesting if you can ignore the bad subtitles:

    Ritter thinks that the next stage of the Russian offensive in the Ukraine will be an air offensive like what we saw a few days ago with the 81 strikes throughout the country. There is a certain amount of logic in this. Bakhmut may be the last major effort necessary to enable securing the Donbas. What you are seeing, IMHO, is essentially the Russians making a distinction between Russo-Ukrainians and the rest in their strategic thinking. If you think of the five annexed provinces as Novorossiya, that area and any others inhabited predominantly by Russophones who are culturally Russians are to be consolidated through the present efforts of the SMO.

    However, the strategy for the rest of the country may be less humanitarian. An air war would be advantageous to the Russian side if they can keep it up (and it appears they can). But this entails attacking the energy infrastructure of the rest of the country. Ritter thinks they’re trying to collapse not only the military but the entire state edifice, forcing Zelensky to either flee or be offed as a failure by those surrounding him.

    Like I wrote a few days ago, Miami should be looking pretty good to Z right about now.

  7. Pray for the UOC and for the Kiev Lavra. The monks are being completely expelled at the end of this month.

    “The Apocalypse Begins in Ukraine” – the Vicar of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra is not afraid of execution and intends to defend the shrine to the last

    The abbot of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, Metropolitan Pavel, commented on the decision of the Ukrainian authorities to expel more than 200 monks of the UOC from the monastery by March 29 and urged parishioners who were ready to listen to a sermon even on the street not to stand aside. According to the metropolitan, “the devil cannot stand it when believers pray,” so he does everything possible to stop conversations with God in the Lavra.

    “And the pocalypse begins with Ukraine, but we will defend our rights and shrines to the last. There are people who have put on the clothes of priests who dream of defiling everything they can, they have desecrated the Assumption and Refectory Cathedral ,” the Metropolitan addressed the parishioners.

    The same rector of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra called the Ukrainian authorities “grandchildren of the leaders of the October Revolution”, who carried out repressions against Orthodoxy. He also urged Ukrainians to defend their faith at any cost: “ Let them even shoot me. I’m not afraid of death. We are not for riots, not for revolutions, let us pray and pray as we want, as we have been taught ,” the Metropolitan said.


    A Pan-Orthodox Synod, as is known, is convened by the Ecumenical Patriarch, which convenes and acts, even if some Local Churches are absent, as was the case with the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church in Crete in 2016.

    But how does this work if the one who is to call the council is the belligerent?

    That’s like asking Hitler to call the Nuremberg Trials

    • Touche!

    • It’s so ridiculous when they call what happened in Crete in 2016 the “Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church.” They were calling and styling it this way before it happened, as part of a P.R. campaign.

      This was a giveaway that said “council” would be a nothing-burger. The Church does not work in this manner, as I understand it.

      Synods or Councils are only later proclaimed as “Great and Holy” decades or centuries after they happen, if what they proclaimed/explained/characterized is proven to be in line with and appropriate Church teaching.

      There was no big P.R. campaign before the 1st Council of Nicaea in 325 — there was no public buildup of “The Great and Holy Council of Nicaea in 325 will put together an amazing Nicene Creed.” Yes, that resulted, but it came about as a result of what went on at the Council, from my understanding. The Nicene Creed was compiled about after a month of discussions at the 1st Council of Nicaea. The Holy Spirit was given time and permission to act during the long council and did so.

      Similary, at the 2nd Nicene Council in 787 that shot down iconoclasm, there was no P.R. buildup. The iconodules were in the minority! There was no “We will gather together soon to uphold the Holy Icons!” Yes, that happened, thank God, but as a result of the Holy Spirit acting at the Council. The Church spoke, and over time wisdom has been reinforced.

      Calling any Church meeting “Great and Holy” before it happens almost seems to guarantee that said meeting will be neither Great nor Holy. It’s a form of incredible pride, in my opinion, to do so.

      • Should any man call himself ‘Great’ and ‘Holy’,
        it is usually good evidence that he is neither.
        To call a Council ‘Great’ and ‘Holy’ and ‘Pan-Orthodox’
        before the event does seem to be tempting fate.

        In the case of Crete, many Orthodox chose not to attend.
        How then can the title of ‘Pan-Orthodox’ be justified?
        And if that claim fails, how can the other two stand?

      • Alexander II says

        Ok, now back to the stupidity of The Great and Holy Paper Shuffle, that turned into the pretext for Arhondonis’ grand heresy.

        His All Intergalacticness is evil.

        Pure evil.

  9. And now Zelenskyy’s government is considering taking action to change the name of Russia to “Muscovy”:

    Rename Russia? Zelenskyy wants to look into it

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    However, buried in one of the articles about this is a significant claim: “[The name ‘Russia’] leads to confusion at the international level. Fiction books are being written, films are being shot where Russia is presented as Rus, which is unacceptable,” says Valeriya Shakhvorostova, the author of the petition to Zelenskyy to change Russia’s name.

    From the 9th century to the present, the name Rus resonates with a historical and spiritual continuity that links St. Vladimir the Great with modern Russia (Rus-ia), Belarus (White Rus), and Ukraine (the ancient capital of Rus was Kiev)—and with Patriarch Kirill, whose title in the Church is “Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus.”

    However futile, an initiative in Ukraine to change Russia’s name is an attempt to unseat both Russia and its Church from their positions as the primary political and spiritual successors to the shared Rus legacy.

    • Jeff, if I were Zelensky, I wouldn’t be worrying about such ridiculous things. If I were him, I’d be looking over my shoulder right now!

    • Johann Sebastian says

      That’s all fine and dandy, but the elephant in the room asks, “Why are Ukrainians so hell-bent on calling themselves Ukrainian instead of anything that remotely acknowledges them as the heirs of Rus’, whether that be Russian, Rusian, Rusyn, Rusynian, or Ruthenian?”

      Just a whole other level of stupidity and prideful self-loathing. Like a rebellious child, really.

      • It’s estimated around 8.1 million people have been displaced from Ukraine and no one is asking them their origin.

        No one is asking the UOC, either.

        They’re asking the Nationalists, a movement orchestrated by the Fourth Reich that wants to erase Ukraine’s Russian past.

        They crafted a plan to use Poroshenko, a politician who later dropped into obscurity, as a proxy. Poroshenko wanted to get reelected and thinking the Fourth Reich would help him do it, he petitioned the EP to grant the Nationalists a tomos.

        Men who are motivated by fear rarely make good decisions and Bartholomew greatly feared and continues to fear that Russia might become the Third Rome. So against the advice of all his brother bishops, he took matters into his own hands and legitimized a schematic church bent on destroying all of Russia including the Russian Orthodox Church.

        Bartholomew knew the Nationalists intended to confiscate Russian parishes and their property. The fact that Bartholomew never once spoke out against it is proof of this. But what’s more telling is what Epiphany said in 2018.

        He said: “According to the explanations by Patriarch Bartholomew, all Orthodox parishes in Ukraine belong to the OCU, which implies that all parishes in the country belong to the new church, which is independent of Russian influence.”

        He goes on to say: “A certain ‘canonical collapse’ is being observed in Ukraine. . . [I]n Ukraine there are those who don’t recognize these realities. But gradually, I believe, they will join the recognition of the tomos. This is not transition, because they [the parishes] are actually in Ukraine. And, as per the decisions taken by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, they all belong to the OCU. Temporarily, though, they prefer to be part of the ROC, although this is canonically wrong.”

        (This is rich: An unordained schismatic telling us what is canonically wrong.)

        Look at that icon (that was later turned into a mural) that the Nationalist presented depicting them shoving a sword down Russia’s throat! These are the people Bartholomew hitched his wagon to and this will NEVER be forgotten or excused. Not by the canonical Church. And maybe not by God, as it is His Church Bartholomew conspired against.

        The irony is that if Russia does become the Third Rome, Bartholomew would have helped them get there by traitorously backing its enemies. God will not be mocked. A whole lot of Orthodox Christians are tired of the wok agenda he supports and he has all but ruined our chances for unity in this country, as no one trusts the Greeks under his leadership.

        If the GOA were smart, they would find someone else to rally around. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is a sinking ship. And the GOA isn’t stupid, so this may be exactly what they’re going to do. For the GOA, the present Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only a money pit, it diminishes the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the past, and has cost them their status as the leaders of Orthodoxy in this country, as we’re moving on and they’re not.

        Or rather they can’t. Not as long as the EP is holding them down. The Ecumenical Patriarchate needs to be moved out of Turkey so it can function as a regular patriarchate, not as a throne, and it is Bartholomew’s tenure that needs to be erased; not the history of Ukraine.

        • Well said, Gail! Bartholomew, Epiphany and Zelensky will soon feel the snap of the BIG boomerang heading their way. It didn’t have to be that way, but they’ve sealed their fate in stone.

        • If the GOA were smart, they would find someone else to rally around. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is a sinking ship. And the GOA isn’t stupid, so this may be exactly what they’re going to do. For the GOA, the present Ecumenical Patriarchate is not only a money pit, it diminishes the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the past, and has cost them their status as the leaders of Orthodoxy in this country, as we’re moving on and they’re not.

          Amen, Gail!

          And this is the great irony. In trying to prop itself up to be “Above Equals” they have actually diminished not only the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but the GOA.

          Most Orthodox in America want nothing to do with the GOA because no one trusts them or trusts Bartholomew. That’s why I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at the recent AOB meeting. Our bishops aren’t dumb, including those in the GOA, they know there is a demographic collapse in GOARCH. The GOA might be the largest jurisdiction, but, lets not forget they are by far the fastest shrinking. Why should the Antiochians, or the OCA or anyone be Lorded over by them?

          No one cares about the EP or the GOA anymore, they have done more than any patriarch in the past 100 years to damage the unity of Orthodoxy. In their great coveting for conquest and political power they have made themselves obsolete and I greatly agree with what Alex said above.

  10. I saw this on the Inkless Pen Telegram page.:

    The crosses on the Refectory Church of the Lavra darkened on the day when the commission of the reserve began work on checking the monastery.

  11. George Michalopulos says
  12. Alexander II says

    Something a little less snarky.

    Last week, I happened across Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware)’s seminal book, “The Orthodox Church,” while looking for something in my library. It was the first book on Orthodoxy that I ever read as a kid. It stands there, a resource, tattered and torn next to “The Catechism of the Saints” gifted to my mother by St. Nicholai (Velimirovich) when she was a young woman. These books have shaped and sharpened my intellectual understanding of our faith. They are now “re-purposed” as resources for my children as they seek to better understand their own faith and the faith of their ancestors.

    That’s a sappy wind up to recounting an observation that Kallistos makes in the opening pages of his book. He asserts that the present fragmentation of Christendom has evolved in three basic stages, occurring at roughly five hundred-year intervals. He says that, “It is interesting to note how cultural and ecclesiastical divisions coincide. Christianity, while universal in its mission, has tended in practice to be associated with three cultures: the Semitic, the Greek, and the Latin.”

    Kallistos’ relatively brief discussion mentioned the “lesser” churches, i.e. the Persian Nestorians and Monophysites of Armenia (and elsewhere) separating from the Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Then, famously, the Great Schism of 1054, followed by the Martin Luther inspired “reformation” in the early 1500’s. (1517, to be more precise with that 95 theses thing.)

    If there is something to this 500 year interval that Kallistos recounts, there’s no sophisticated math needed to conclude that we are scheduled for another one of these great divides. So, the question that lingers is whether we are now living through it? The first divide stemmed from a dispute over the nature of Christ; the second, a dispute over papal power and the filioque; and the third over the role of individuals and their reason defining faith.

    The fourth fragmentation of our Orthodoxy will come not over a dispute on Christ’s nature, a rejection of papal power, or the role of reason. It seems at the moment that it is coming because of a dispute over the nature of humanity: defining and understanding our anthropology — what is a human, what is a man, what is a woman, and what is a family. It’s a dispute over “gender,” race, “ethnicity,” “nationality,” “have or have not,” “oppressed or oppressor,” and even “trans-human.” It is a dispute over whether humans are “imperfect.” It is a dispute over the permissible murder of babies in utero; fostering euthanasia of the elderly and infirm; and justifying the suicide of the mentally and emotionally troubled. It is the assumption that humanity is so powerful that it can fundamentally and irreversibly transform nature, the land, the seas, the air, the weather.

    We have believed that God made humanity in his own image, man and woman, charged us to multiply, and gave us dominion over the world. We have believed that God defined what it means to be human, and, after Adam screwed up, sets forth a path for us to become divine, giving us his Son as ransom and as an example.

    If correct, this new divide will come to a fruition in the new “Post Modern” cultural anthropology, a dispute over whether God, or we humans, define who we are, and therefore our relationship with Him.

    For the love of power and ego, His Intergalacticness is willing to embrace this new anthropology; Lambriniadis acts upon it; and Athens, Cyprus, and Alexandria facilitate it by excusing it.

    Dunno. There are infinitely more intelligent people here who may have it better figured out.