One Picture is Worth a 1,000 Words

Truer words were never spoken.

I was hoping that part of the ceremonies would be things like feeding the poor and clothing the naked. Maybe even visiting a few people in prison. Instead, it’s just the same old/same old. You know, spend as much time with the Swells on the East Coast and get your picture taken with some governor or senator. Go home and put it on the mantle and make sure your poorer relations see it next time you have them over for Thanksgiving. We can’t expect the Archons and their wives to actually mingle with the hoi polloi, can we?

If you were holding your breath thinking that the GOA has now turned the corner and was going to become less celebrity-driven, then you can start exhaling. As far as unity with the other jurisdictions, you can stop wondering as well.

If I may add here what a difference two decades makes. When Spyridon Pappas of Italy was chosen to be Archbishop of the GOA, he came in like a lion as far as his brother Orthodox were concerned. I remember at the Chicago Clergy-Laity in 1996, he said he had no intention of being head of an “ethnic ghetto”. And he was met with thunderous applause. He repeated those words at his enthronement later that year –again to standing ovations.


In both cases, he was speaking to Greek-Americans. This was post-Ligonier; we were ready to go.

Compare that hope and optimism to what obtains today. Think of how decrepit the idea of pan-Orthodox unity is at present. Not only is it not on the radar of Arb Elpidophoros, but the Greek-American laity is completely oblivious to the concept.

There are reasons of course. For one thing, the GOA is a shell of its former self, people have been leaving in droves. Not only to other jurisdictions but leaving the Faith itself, joining some mega-church or no church at all.

Secondly, the heyday for the GOA as far as evangelism and outreach are concerned was the late 90s. Frank Schaeffer was making a tidy little living going to and fro talking about Orthodoxy. Some of the Greek festivals were likewise looking to keep the local parish open and do tours for the patrons. Inquirer’s Classes were all the rage and there was actual growth in numbers (more or less).

Now? Nothing. Zip, zilch, nada. Evangelism is all but extinct. Schaeffer has become an atheist (who in the interest of accuracy on my part, “loves God”). The only growth in the GOA is in the Athonite monasteries set up by Elder Ephraim, yet neither the hierarchy nor the parish clergy –and I’m being charitable here–are all that hopped up about them.

In other words, the GOA is running on inertia.

And to make things even worse, all of the attention of the new Archbishop and the Archon/L100 class is to throw more good money after bad and try and finish the St Nicholas Shrine and Ecumenical Contemplation Center.

How idiotic is that? Even if they are able to complete it –in say, ten years–so what? It’ll only be a pilgrimage site for those who go to Manhattan (one of America’s great dying cities a la San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle). Instead, the millions which could have been raised funding missions, endowing actual charities, or replenishing the priests’ pension fund, etc, will not appear. Parishes in Fly-over Country will continue to close their doors. Even parishes in the Blue-state GOA heartland (Chicago, New York) are in danger of closing their doors. Or being put on the auction block.

While those of us who consider America our homeland might view this as a catastrophe of herculean proportions, that’s not an issue with the Phanar. They simply don’t care if the new Archbishop turns things around, it’d be nice (if possible) but that’s not the point. His job is simply to serve out his term and then high-tail it back to Istanbul when Erdogan calls. The Phanariotes have the hope that as long as the GOA remains extant and distinct from the other jurisdictions, that there will always be wealthy Greek-Americans who will bail it out if necessary. And to be truthful, that’s usually been the case, hasn’t it?

That this is a myopic vision is beside the point. All that matters is that the money keeps on going to Istanbul to prop up the fantasy that is “the New Rome” and not a transnational gathering of Russophobic academics acutely aware of their cultural inferiority vis-a-vis the Russian Orthodox Church. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have sent an ethnocentric academic to be “Archbishop of America” in the first place.

P.S. Don’t forget to RSVP by June 10th!

About GShep


  1. Thanks George–great analysis.

    • It’s so easy to state how lame this inaugural Feast of  Balshazzar will play out – I can’t help but agree and then some. But tendentious assertions that the Megalopolises of America are ‘dying’ is absurd – I can only guess its a dogwhistle of fealty to another cult besides Greeky-Greek Churchianity. 
      Most Christians live in cities and always have. To talk dirt about all the big cities in an offhand way is a cheap shot signaling misanthropy. I guess suburban/rural folks need their own blog where they can make evangelical-style swipes at the big cities. Pretty lame.  

      • Will Harrington says

        as far as the great cities of the West Coast, with their catastrophic public sanitation problems and worries that the bubonic plague may actually make a comeback, they may indeed be dying. Time will tell, but they are certainly having severe problems with with homelessness, human feces, and a proliferation of rats. I don’t know about New York at this time, but the big cities on the West Coast mentioned above have serious problems that are only partially being addressed. Saying this is a cheap shot is simply ignoring the problem and is itself a cheap shot. Still, these are local problems and we folk in flyover country have our own problems to deal with. I do hope LA in particular gets a handle on this and pays attention . Plague is endemic in the American west and is fairly easily treatable, but if it appears in the homeless population and goes pnuemonic, then all bets are off 

        • To explain what the author of this blog means by ‘dying cities’ you go so far as to discuss public sanitation? That beggars the imagination and proves my point, that it is a dogwhistle pointing to the rhetoric from a certain NY con man who typically derides the big cities because voters there don’t support him or his agenda. 
          Back on topic, please!

      • paganus in Latin means country person.  The cities were the centre of Christianity and even in modern Greece, my observation is more piety in cities that villages.  

    • Thanks George.
      Terrific and …terrifying analysis.

  2. George. The food better be good.  Have u seen the prices for entre?    
    You know young people have many failings as us all but one thing they see a mile of is rank hypocrisy. We all guilty but never more so than this church of turning Christ’s  words into ‘ for listening to’..  Sorry, for not   hearing in background, anyway. ‘Don’t be serious, we not putting the first last and inviting the poor and needy and even ordinary middle class.   God forbidden when we have the Archons.   NOW GENTS 50K FOR SAINTHOOD. 
    No we going to do what we do best. 
    George. Excuse my language.and ladies also,  but   Γαμώ τους!!  
    As for St Nicholas, as Don my new Yorker army major and iraq vet brought up in Queens and having much love for us Orthodox and Greeks with Orthodox wife and son, said.  ‘BRO it’s an eye sore. What is it costing? ‘ Why did they not just rebuilt the Church?. That is THE memorial.! 

    • George Michalopulos says

      For that kinda money, Vasile should be cracking wise and being the emcee.

  3. Anonymous Priest says

    The Archdiocese will be here after His Eminence’s time and may his time here be blessed and fruitful.  Out of the Metropolis of Denver, there is this presentation at the Metropolis of San Francisco Clergy-Laity:  
    This young priest started a mission with 20 families and now there are 300.  All it takes is to place Christ first and make Him the end goal of all.  The problem is changing the health of the culture in the local parish.  To get them on board with a vision such as this.  It’s inspiring.   

    • Yes, papouli, Fr. Evan Armatas has done a great job in Loveland, CO and we should take notice to follow his example:
      Don’t teach Greek culture, just preach Christ crucified.
      Put your mission effort in a populous metropolitan area with growing college-educated middle class. 
      Anything I missed?

  4. Does anyone know when or where this practice of  displaying names of donors in a ” prominent place on the programme” began?
    I see it everywhere in Orthodox parishes. Donate a certain amount to the building fund and have your name chisled on a brick. Large donation gets your name on a plaque. Names and dollar amounts listed in church bulletins. 
    How did we get here? Seems that we have descended from  “let not your right hand know what your left hand is doing” to expecting public acknowledgement (or at least a plate of spaghetti ) for supporting the Church.
    This is not what the Gospel teaches yet it is commonplace in our parishes and no one seems to question it.
    Anyone know how this trend began?

    • Yes rank hypocrisy. To be fare the priest of the greek Parish in Tampa Bay. Florida, on his prayer blog, has attacked just this practice and the entire greek festival mentality as losing it’s way. He and I disagree on most things ( he is classic organ and. Choir, etc man with nothing seemingly Orthodox in what he says that could not be said by a protestant preacher) , but in this, this very good man, is totally correct.

    • I don’t know. But it is wrong. I used to attend an Antiochian Church that had a plaque with a name (of the donor) under every Icon in the Church…including the Iconostasis!!! It was horrifying to me!

      • Gasp! Pause, Gasp again!!!

      • I belong to an Antiochian parish and there is nothing of the kind there. If they decided to put our names on stuff, I’d be one of the first to object. I do NOT want my name displayed like that! What an embarrassment! They did that in the Catholic Church and in the Evangelical church I used to belong to, and I hated it.

    • Fr. Deacon John says

      I don’t know how it began but I know of one priest, now retired, who absolutely forbid this type of advertisement. He so bluntly stated (and rightly so) more than once – “I will not have this church turned into an outfield wall”. Bravo!

  5. Constantinos says

    Dear George,
    Most of your article is comprised of excellent points, but then a couple of statements are troubling. It’s easier to mention the parts in which I disagree with you.
    The Ephraimite Monasteries are extremely controversial throughout Orthodoxy. I don’t know why you are seemingly so blinded to the great harm they have done. The internet is replete with horror stories. My own personal opinion is they are lethal to your spiritual and mental health. On OCL, I mention they need to shut down the monasteries, and their toll houses nonsense down; I was delighted to see Mr. Karcazes agree completely with me.
    The other point that troubles me is cultural inferiority to Russian Orthodoxy. Greek Orthodoxy is culturally superior to Russian Orthodoxy. I avoid anything Russian like the plague. It seems to me hatred of the West comes from Russian Orthodoxy. That’s just my humble opinion. 

    • Costa. I am greek as you know but love the Russian church and I have always had nothing but respect from Russian church as Greek Orthodox and from russian friends.  Patrarch Nikon in 17th century, said he was Russian by Birth but Greek by Faith. Leaving out in his case the changes he wanted in church order etc to follow greek usage, were actually later than the russisn, then current usage. 
      Nor is the west evil per say. We should disern what is good and what not. And Costa as for being anti western, quite honestly the emmigration Russian church and Paris school and all that, often had  accusation of being very western!!.  AKA the late respected Fr Alexander Schememn of St Vladimir seminary (1983) He had great love of America.
      Yes there are extreme factions but also some  criticism of western thought etc t is valid if one is Orthodox. Some not.  We all ARE WESTERNERS after all. 
      And Costa do u denigrate the bloody witness of 70 yrs of persecution of Russian church and its martyrs.???  Let alone St Hernan of Alaska and St John Maximovitch of San Francisco.  ??   

    • Constantinos,

      For shame! That was not a very humble opinion. The Monasteries of Geronta Ephraim are a cool oasis in an arid desert. The people who calumniate those monasteries do not even understand monasticism. The same people would calumniate monasteries on Mt Athos or anywhere else in the world. I will not speak to your comments on Russia. Your gross bias comparing them to the plague speaks for itself.

      • Constantinos says

        Hi Mikhail,
        Thank you for reading my post, and for taking the time to disagree with me. Okay, brother, would you not agree with me that the Ephraimite monasteries are very controversial. They’re under the Greek Orthodox Church, but are they accountable? As you know, the monasteries have torn entire Greek Orthodox churches in half.  By the way, George Karcazes agrees 100% with me. The monasteries have caused untold damage to the Greek Orthodox Church in America. There is a plethora of information about these monasteries on the internet. Don’t you think it is permissible for each man to form his own opinion about them? My own personal opinion is that they are lethal to a person’s spiritual and mental health. If a person wants to confess his sins; shouldn’t he go to his parish priest, and not the monasteries? The only thing I can say is that they scare the daylights out of me.
        All I can say to you about Russia is that if it wasn’t for the Greek Orthodox, I never would have come into the Orthodox Church. I admit it; I’m a Russophobe. There is not one thing I like about Russia. Now, in this kerfuffle between Moscow, and the Ecumenical Patriarch, I support Moscow. The Ecumenical Patriarch has gotten way too big for his britches. Because of his “first without equals heresy,” he has dangerously placed himself outside of the Orthodox Church, and no one should respect or listen to him. To me, this man couldn’t care less about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s all about him! To be honest, the Ecumenical Partriarch of Constantinople fell a long with the Byzantine Empire. Not only is he not the “first without equals,” but he is not the “first among equals.” Canon 28 is null and void. It’s time for the Orthodox Church to enter the 21st century. Can I hear an Amen?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Costa, I too, have heard dark musings about these monasteries since they were inaugurated. Then I went to visit and now I keep going back. (Admittedly, I’ve been to only two.)

          I believe that you and Mr Carcazes are mistaken, however that’s not the point. The point of my essay was that they are the only thing growing in the GOA and yet, they are controversial, hence the idea of “growth” and “vibrancy” within the GOA is a net wash.

          Unless I hear otherwise from verifiable sources, I will continue to defend them. In any event, the stagnation that is apparent within the parishes is unarguable. And I use the word “stagnation” in order to be charitable. Until the bishops and concerned laity (such as the OCL) can turn things around on that front, then the monasteries will continue to grow. Indeed, they will be the only viable option for spiritual refuge for many in the GOA.

          • Constantinos says

            Dear George,
            Since you, Gail, and some other posters derive benefits from the monasteries, then, in the interest of peace and harmony, I think I should  cease criticism of them. It serves no useful purpose. After all, whom am I to judge?(Sorry for the plagiarism)
            I will say this: I can’t think of anything that is more of a waste of time than golf. Every Sunday morning, my brother- in- law is out on the golf links along with several times a week. To me, golf is his God.
            Now, Mr. Bauman has criticized me in the past for my advocacy of brain building. Believe it or not, there is a method to my madness. You see, brother, I am deathly afraid of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Many people in my family have died from various forms of this dreaded disease.  So, in order to prevent this disease from happening, I have made it a priority to engage in what I call “brain building.” I think my future depends on it. As I’ve previously stated, I believe in neuroplasticity. As I have repeated, “neurons that fire together, wire together.” I’ve decided to take up juggling because experts say that this is a good way to increase one’s intelligence. Some of my critics have stated, that since I’m a member of Mensa, why go to the trouble of Kaizen- continuous learning. I think one of my brothers is a cautionary tale. He was the valedictorian of his high school class, was voted Most Likely to Succeed, was accepted at Harvard, and had to leave during his first semester because he has a very bad case of OCD. He went back to Harvard the next year, and made a very serious suicide attempt. Well, it took him at least seven years to graduate from Harvard. He works for a bank. After my infrequent talks with him on the phone, I always say to myself after these conversations, ” what  a dope!” He has forgotten almost every thing he has learned, and, saddest of all, he doesn’t know the first thing about life. By the way, he is permanently on medication for his OCD. When we were kids, he used to burn the day lights out of me because every time I used the bathroom, and he came after me, he would use the end of a toothbrush to flip the light on. One time I beat him in tennis, and when we were changing sides of the court, I said,” Ah, I beat you,” then, he literally tried to strangle me. Now, to me, he’s a really loopy dude.

            • God either sends or allows illnesses — physical, emotional, and mental.  My mother died after eighteen (yes, eighteen) years with Alzheimer’s.  It was not a pretty end of life, but through God’s direct and compassionate intervention, she was granted two separate days of mental clarity, six weeks prior to her death.  That was all that was needed for her voluntarily to “say yes” to receiving Orthodox Christian baptism from our parish priest.  After each of those days, she returned to the “darkness” of Alzheimers. . . . As her child, I am “at risk” for developing dementia.  At first I was deeply troubled and fearful of the possibility.  Then I came to my senses and remembered that God is in control of my life — its conception, its continuance, and its end.  I no longer waste my time on fearful “what if” scenarios, although I do my best to live in ways that do not undermine good health.
              As for your brother and his OCD. . .  May Christ have mercy on your blindness regarding this serious condition.  If you are as intellectually gifted as you claim (and Mensa membership rates no gasp of awe), then turn your abilities to learning the facts about OCD, Asperger’s, and other emotional/mental health conditions.  Use your spiritual abilities to develop understanding of and compassion for those who struggle with such conditions.  Your brother has my sympathy, for I just happen to be one of those “loopy dudettes” born with OCD and Asperger’s. 

              • God does not send sickness but allows it. Jesus, who perfectly represents God’will, only healed people never did he once make someone ill. The closest he came to making something ill was the cursing of the fig tree. We have a sacrament in the church to heal not to make ill. Yes, illness is part of the human condition but NOT God’s will. By the way illness can have redemptive value.

              • The self-described  “loopy dudette” actually has a beautiful,  humble, loving Orthodox soul and a keen mind ~ glory to God for her gifts which bless all privileged to know her.  

              • Constantinos says

                As far as my intellectual giftedness goes, I always downplay myself. If I told the truth about how “gifted” I really am, I wouldn’t have a friend in the world and there wouldn’t be enough time in the day. I have always maintained that anyone can pass the Mensa IQ test with practice.
                There is no reason for Christ to have mercy on my blindness toward my brother’s OCD. I come from a family with a long line of suffering from OCD. I have a touch of it myself. With me, everything has to be straight and orderly.
                As far as autism and Asberger’s goes, actually, I know quite a bit about both disorders. It is a fact that many people who suffer from these disorders are true geniuses. I was very friendly with a young lady who happened to teach children afflicted with autism.
                With me, there is always a method to my madness. Please allow me to tell you more about my brother. Although he lives in the same town as my truly wonderful mother, he hasn’t called her in about seventeen years. The last time he saw my mother was one and one half years ago at my cousin’s funeral. When my father died, he told me he didn’t care, and did not attend my father’s funeral. He is one of the least loyal, least compassionate people I have encountered in my entire life. He’s not fit to walk in my shoes for one day. In fact, I wouldn’t even wipe the dirt off my feet on him. He really is an evil person. This man has no compassion for anyone on earth. He’s always been out for himself.
                I told my mother recently that I’ve disowned him as a brother. She said you cut your immediate family some slack. I said, “Mom, he honestly doesn’t care if any one of his immediate family lives or dies.”
                No, I absolutely don’t think I’m the one who has committed any sin whatsoever. My only regret is that I have been too easy on him, but never again. He has reaped the wind, now, he’s going to inherit the whirlwind because he’s got me, my brother and sister for enemies.
                Also, I think it would be extraordinarily appropriate for you to apologize to me for shooting your ignorant mouth off without knowing all the facts. Don’t ever use the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the context in which you did. It stinks of self righteousness, and gross ignorance.

                • I can’t think of anything to reply to such a post.   You know nothing of my experiences and knowledge base.  You reject my prayers.  That’s ok.  You won’t hear them. 

              • Constantinos says

                I’ll be honest; your comments particularly rankled me. This is the reason people should not shoot their mouths off without knowing all the facts.
                In my entire lifetime, I’ve never been a whiner. Sympathy for people with OCD? My father had severe OCD. He was an alcoholic until I was five years old. It was brutal living with this man. I would go on electrical and construction jobs with him since I was a little kid. He was also very lazy, perhaps, due to his perfectionism.
                Although he was a brilliant polymath, and was excellent with his hands, he would get very frustrated when he had to do construction work. Since I loved working and making money ever since I was a little boy, I would work with him on his various construction projects. On every single job, he would take his frustration out on me. One time it was so bad, I threw my tools on the ground, and walked home in tears.
                Anyway, I’m an avid DIYer. It’s one of my passions. I can fix anything. It’s a gift God has given me. Anyway, after my sister divorced, she bought a new house. Knowing how much I like to work with my hands, she asked me to build shelves for each of her bedrooms.( Like I wasn’t busy enough running several businesses. And don’t think for one second I didn’t love bossing him around when he worked for me several years. I paid him good money for running dealer swaps. That means just dropping off new vehicles and picking up cars and trucks I needed for customers that I didn’t have in stock ) I asked my father to give me a hand.  He started up with the OCD crap so I threw him out, and did all the shelves by myself. After my father left, I literally got everything done in half the time it would have taken if my father helped me.
                He was such a perfectionist that every chair around the dining room table had to be perfectly aligned. I would go around after with a tape measure to check to see if they were in perfect alignment to make a joke of his OCD. He’d laugh. Anyway, knowing my father always loved me, and was basically a kind man, helped me to deal with his problem. He was also very physically violent with my mother and me, especially. When I was older, and he was cheating on my mother, I told him ,” you better smarten up, my OCD brother wanted to kill him. His response was that he wasn’t going to listen to threats.. My brother was serious.
                The point of all this is I don’t need any lectures from anyone about compassion for someone who suffers with OCD. To this day, I still bear the scars from my father’s physical and mental abuse. I think the reason I became the great man I am today is because I had the best two grandparents in the world, and, in spite of everything, I always knew I was loved.
                The motto of the story: you owe me a major, massive apology.
                ps. Having a massive ego, my ex-wife said to me one time,” it’s not enough that I’m madly in love with you, but I also have to be in awe of you.” ( I absolutely expected that.)
                Also, after we were married for a year, I was reading and explaining the letters of St. Peter to her. As part of my explaining, I seriously told her I wanted her to start calling me “Lord.” All true DOWN PLAYED stories!

                • I am sorry that you have suffered trauma in your life.  I do not make light of it.
                  As noted before, you know nothing [ ! ! ! ] of my life, my experiences, my knowledge base, my past traumatic experiences, and so forth.  NOTHING. . . .    So I calmly set aside your posts and wish you well.

              • Friend after a life time in professional career in health care  and healthy gym going life etc, i collapsed last July on uk trip and ended up in my former hospital!!   I came close to death. 
                They diagnosed cardiomyopathy and aortic regurgitation.  From childhood they say but because of my general good health,weight etc and diet,  missed it seems. 
                My life has changed, my years ahead  dramatically cut. I have had one or two crisis now since back in Bulgaria where live from last August,  but God willing and good drs here and good medication and a vegetarian diet now, I seem stable. 
                Whst have I learnt?  To thank God, to appreciate every minute and to know thst death is my dawning reality and to try and live knowing that. God bless. .
                Oh, and WONDERFUL NHS. WONDERFUL. YOU yanks should try it.I would love to visit again USA , but the insurance alone would break the bank.   

        • Constantinos,
          […re]: the monasteries.They are not controversial. They are jewels in America. You should stop believing the propaganda against them…the term “Ephraimite” is derogatory.

          I do agree with you opinion of the CP.

          • Exact.  But that is the problem for GOA. Their version of the Church is a protestant, high church with byzantine kitsch and sterile sociologically informed Oprah sermons.  I listened to one at new York Holy Trinity Greek Cathedral centred on the film the Avatar.  As happened I had watched it on plane coming over from Greece. Trite, superficial.    
            I just wished I had brought ear plugs to keep out the organ and sacrilage of hearing the  Russian  setting of the Cheruviko hymn with blaring organ .  Bortnyansky,  italianate composor that he was, but he would have turned in his grave. 
            I walked out 

        • Constantinos,
          While your admission of hatred of all things Russian is extremely provocative it merely indicates bigotry on your own part. But it also  makes your argument against Phanariot shenanigans very strong – demonstrating that open hostility toward the Russian Orthodox Church does not necessarily prejudice one’s view of canonical matters in favor of the Phanar. For this I congratulate your nonpartisan independence of mind. But you really ought to consider why you hate Russians so much.
          As to the controversial monasteries of the GOA in this country, the rumors of abuses among them point more to the imbalance among postulants to the monastic life than they do the communities themselves. I have heard nothing that rises above sad personal pathology. 
          The existence of monasteries is always a fraught proposition because they demonstrate the other half of Orthodox life that is not emphasized in parishes. Which GOA parishes have frequent confession, for example? The Greek habit of taking the sacrament out of its Liturgical context is rife with opportunities for impropriety or its appearance. If I were a GOA priest I would NEVER meet a person in private in my offices. Who in their right mind would want to see a priest alone like that anyhow? The place for confession is in the nave and its time is during minor services which provide acoustic cover for the private things uttered  therein.
          The spiritual life of Greek parishes is largely moribund – Christ is present but the people, led by their Greek-American clergy, are largely not in the Spirit. If they were they would show it in so many ways.  By contrast the piety of Americans who follow the pattern laid down by their clergy properly trained to respect the Holy things of God bear fruit –  OCA parishioners are more frequently in church by a magnitude than GOA counterparts. 
          I defend Greek monasteries’ existence because the parishes ‘for greeks’ are so inadequate to the expression of Orthodoxy by themselves. But I’ve never been limited to attending Greek parishes, rather always avoiding them, as they consistently offend my religious sensibilities.
          I am not blind to the presence of many small parishes and monasteries of other jurisdictions which do not bear the burden of a foreign overlord in the Phanar and a ruling business class. It’s obvious that for the most part, Greek-affiliated orthodox are indeed blind to the existence of other churches which are not run by Greeks and therefore the monasteries exist for their benefit: the worship there is exclusively in Greek. If you don’t like what the ephraimites are doing then you might raise your horizons to include the monastic efforts of the rest of us. That will bring you into contact with authentic Orthodox spirituality of many accents, among them the American. 
          To stay Orthodox in this apostate land is not easy. The effort to do so requires jettisoning baggage of bigotry and chauvinism. Time maybe, to question your distaste for the spiritual traditions of the Slavs. 

          • Constantinos says

            Dear Claes,
            I shouldn’t have said I hate all things Russian. I should have said I’m indifferent to all things Russian. I’m just a Greek American who loves his country- the USA.
            If it wasn’t for Greek Orthodoxy, I wouldn’t have come into the Orthodox Church in a million years.  Also, brother, despite the situation with Constantinople, I believe there are many Greek priests who truly love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The same thing goes for the majority of the parishioners.  In other words,  the Greek Orthodox Church loves Jesus Christ. I guess most evangelical converts go to the Antiochian Church with a smattering of folks ending up in the OCA. Being an American, I don’t want to attend a church that has the word Russian on it. In case you didn’t know it, the Russians and Americans are enemies. What do you think it would do to my reputation if I drove hundreds of miles to some Russian Church? 

          • Thank you friend. Yes agree totally and I am greek.  My hope is for what you describe.
            I have directed several posts at costas bagging him not to  slander the martyrs of those 70 yrs  and to read say life of mother Maria of Paris, or bishop Anthony Bloom, at least. Or attend a OCA church.
            He has a good heart and love him to bits and yes he has got the Phanar taped.  But…. 
            American Orthodoxy will only thrive when all that pseudo Hellenism rubbish, and I speak as proud greek, is thrown away with the carpet baggers and their nominal church wealthy attenders.  As for St Nicholas shrine. An ugly eye sore  and monument not to the dead, to Christ, or as the humble church that was there, BUT TO THEIR ARROGANT VANITY  
            Do they actually believe in Christ, in God, in the Church ? 

        • Dear brother in Christ Constantinos,
          Christ is Risen!
          Re the Elder Ephraim monasteries:
          I pray you will actually “come and see” before believing what you read on the internet.  These hard-working, hard-praying monks are not living the high life but rather embody many of the principles and work ethic which you espouse.  And they preserve and try to live out here in the USA/Canada ~ as on Mt Athos in the Patristic monasteries ~ the teachings of the Holy Fathers and the Canons and Traditions of Our Holy Orthodox Faith.  No one is perfect of course but to have monasteries founded and established by the former abbot of Philotheou on Mt Athos and to hear from recent loving pious travellers to Philotheou as well as having gone myself to 5 of the Elder Ephraim monasteries here…well I am grateful and can only say, don’t read about something on the internet but come and see!  
          Getting over prejudices against groups, people, etc. (Thus  honoring what our Lord said about loving our neighbors and our enemies) Can be difficult for many!  That doesn’t happen to be one of my main passions only because my parents taught me something different “from the beginning” but I surely sympathize with the efforts needed to douse even slightly one of my ruling passions so understand all struggle and ask your prayers!  
          All the best in Christ,

          • Constantinos says

            Dear Nicole,
            Thank you for your very kind post. It is readily apparent to me that many posters on this forum get great comfort from these monasteries.  I see no useful purpose in me criticizing them anymore.  We have freedom in Christ so people are free to go where they get spiritual renewal. I’m happy for the posters who derive comfort from the monasteries. Thank you and I wish you all the best in Christ as well.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Costa, remind me next January to ask George to take us to the Sophia conference.  I went with him this year and really liked it.  That way we could both show you what a monastery is all about.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Costa, never criticized your brain building, just the priority you seem to put on it.

          “All is vanity”… and the rest of Ecclesiastes 1

          Our conscious cognitive functions are not the most critical. There is a much deeper and more profound communication that goes on beneath of which most of us know little. It is the level of the intercommunion between God and us and the rest of creation. I know it is there–little else. It is were those moments of clarity in the midst of conscious darkness come from. The communication is always going on whether we are aware of it or not. It is to this level that the lives of the saints lead us. Our bodies–including our mental faculties, our passions and the distraction of the demons are in the way. Only by placing ourselves in obedience to God’s proper order by His grace can the demons be vanquished, our passions tamed and our mental faculties combine with our heart in one unique expression of God’s love and mercy.

          Christ is Risen!

          • Michael Bauman, Beautifully stated.
            Are we not all disabled, in one way or another? Regardless, we know we are all made in the image of Christ, with a path and purpose. Some believe, that those with Down’s Syndrome or severe autism are living saints because of their simple innocence of thought, free of all the vanities of this life. Because of this, they might be in higher degree of communication with God, naturally. So the the ironic question is who is more disabled, them or us?

            God will never abandoned us, with or without control of our facilities. Faith in God is always the answer.

            • George Michalopulos says

              The innocence of those with autism/downs syndrome/etc is indeed wondrous.

              • Gerry Zakotis says

                Not entirely. There are two autistic young adults in my parish who look almost identical. But one is always well behaved and the other one always disruptive. I have friends with autistic adult (almost elderly) siblings and their it is a challenge to care for them. Bless tose who do.

                • Two yrs ago I sat on a coach from London to Canterbury with a 10yr old autistic lad next to me.His mum, wonderful lady,  had asked me  if he could.  
                  I worked in mental health and psychology so if anyone,  I  had a  head start.  Now given I had been travelling for almost 24 hrs and had bad head cold, but that two hr journey was a nightmare. 
                  His mum was a wonderful lady. She has it 24/7. 
                  Here in Bulgaria I sometimes spend time with an autistic lad and again the day is exhausting. But he loves Church and will stand ( no rows of chairs here)  quietly through the liturgy. 
                  Such parents etc need our support and love and prayers and skills help.. 

              • Michael Bauman says

                Dino, Christ is Risen. While Down’s Syndrome can certainly manifest as unconditional love, Down’s folk do, in fact, share the same frustrations as all of us in terms of their will, etc. It is no easier for them where they are, than for us where we are.

                Autism is quite different. NPR had a feature a couple of years ago about a man who was a high functioning autistic. He was married and owned a successful business, but what was missing was his ability to appreciate the feelings of his wife and others he knew. He went through a “cure” that involved systematic electro-stimulation of his brain.

                The “cure” did enable him to experience feelings for the first time, but he was totally unequipped to manage them. His life went down the toilet. His wife divorced him, he lost his business. It took him many years to recover any semblance of a life.

                The lack of feelings can make it difficult to communicate though. Despite the fact that it can also enable an uncommon precision of thought. My mother, a dance teacher**, developed a way to help autistic children find their own unique physical rhythms. She observed low functioning autistic children one on one at the Institute of Logopedics here in Wichita, then worked with them intensely in patterned movement exercises using the child’s own intrinsic rhythm. That enabled them to feel more at home with themselves, more in control I suspect. In turn that correlated to improved communication. Some were even able to achieve verbal communication for the first time with their parents. But every night my mother came home exhausted (she was in her late 60s at the time) and eventually had to quit. Her method was unique to her I am afraid, but there are similar ways out there that are possible to replicate that involve establishing rhythms. Snoopy was a prophet: “To live is to dance, to dance is to live.” One of the many things pews hinder BTW.

                We human beings all face our estrangement from God, our sin and our diseased wills. Our bodies lead us into many things but whatever those are, there is also an opportunity for salvation present. Romans 5 comes to mind.

                ** My mother was a life-long dancer from age 7 who was part of the contemporary dance movement in this country in the early 20th century and was a teacher in Martha Graham’s studios in NY and Washington DC as well as founding and directing her own dance companies in Lawrence and Wichita KS and headed the dance department at Wichita State University for many years.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Michael, first of all, your mother sounds like a remarkable woman.

                  As to autism (and other conditions in general), it’s important to remember the first dictum of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm”. This poor fellow of whom you write, sounded like he had a successful life even with his condition. He should have been left well enough alone.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Yes, but the combined quests to be normal and the desire to play God created a perfect storm that ended up hurting the man but the false gods go on.

                  • Michael Bauman,
                    Truly He is risen! Never too late my brother.
                    Thank you for sharing about your mother. I can understand how drained she must have been. My first cousin has severe autism, and does not speak other than a dozen words. He must be attended at all times, and it has been a struggle for my uncle(memory eternal)until his untimely death four years ago, from cancer, and his now widowed wife. The love is always there, but a tiresome struggle always. My cousin is sweet most of the time, but does has his moments, such as banging his head, or punching himself when he get frustrated. I imagine because he cannot communicate what is bothering him, hungry, or in pain that we cannot perceive. Still most of the time he is simply like a sweet little 18 month old child that lacks speaking skills, but laughs and giggles, hugs, and loves on us all like a little toddler. How he can be accountable for sin is beyond me, all he knows is the basics for survival. Vanity does not exist in his mind, nor manipulation, or deceit. 
                    At the same time he can neither express his faith or belief in Jesus Christ as his savior.  So does he communicate with God, in a higher degree, that we may never understand, or simply saved by the mercy of God, similar to that of the death of a infant or young toddler? Either way, I am not worried about my cousin’s salvation, seems guaranteed, mine on the hand is not.
                    Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set in the midst of them and said,”Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 18:2-4)

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      God wills that all of us be saved and brought into the fullness of life in His Kingdom. If one follows the story of the man born blind, then there is no sin in the man.

                      It is impossible to even approach an understanding of such things if we look at each person as an isolated individual. We are not, our pains and struggles are always born by others. Those struggles somehow are involved in our salvation.

    • Stefan Evgenii says

      Thankfully for you Greeks, we don’t hold the same views as you do Constantine.
      We Russians don’t avoid anything Greek like the plague. See an example here Constantine. Representatives from Mt Athos regularly came to our churches in Russia. I doubt that you would hear an example of cultural exchange in your American Greek church?
      Your views are not a shock to me [however], I had them my whole life from American Greeks You can imagine my families indignation of being told before communion at a Greek church that it was for Greek Orthodox only by the priest We non-Greeks would have to attend another Liturgy.
      As for us being anti-western is asinine What have you Greeks given to western culture in the last 500 years?
      I was taught that there is neither Jew nor Greek (or Russian) slave nor free in Christ Jesus. Maybe you should get out more and see the real Church. Like Jacob’s coat, it has many clours, Constantine.
      “Never, never, never let anyone tell you that, in order to be Orthodox, you must be Eastern. The west was fully Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.St. John Maximovitch,

      • So true and well said. 
        A lot of greek America is actually protestant in ethos and preaching.  It is their particular captivity, which is why,leaving aside any particular issues, the monasteries are a shock because quite honestly these people not really Orthodox as you and I experienced and live it. 

        • Stefan Evgenii says

          Nikos, I always found the whole thing odd considering my Godparents were Greek I’m a second generation Russian American. My parents struggled to make a brighter future here in America upon leaving the Soviet Union.

          • Stephan, hi. And I’m sure yr parents proud of you.  
            I’m Greek, living in Bulgaria now, and I know Russia fairly well having friends there and staying in Moscow,St Petersburg and Kostromma.  I have a great love for my greek tradition, although not in the decadent form seen in USA where they think as long g as it’s in greek it must be ok.
            I have a great love and respect for the Slav and other Orthodox traditions and above all of Russia which has suffered ao much,  has so much to offer, and speaks more easily to the ‘ west’  than we greeks with our more eastern tradition.  
            But in today’s world we not engaged in a cultural society but  as a witness to Christ in the world. You in USA have the marvelous opportunity to gradually evolve an american Orthodoxy from all the traditions you have there. I would say it is the OCA and russian church that is doing this and the monasteries greek and russian.  Бог да благослови, приятели. 

      • Stefan Evgenii, brother in Christ, you wrote very interesting things.
        I suppose there are two extreme kinds of Greeks (and flavors in between). You presented the bad extreme, which may represent a larger percentage than the good extreme.
        On the other hand there are those Greeks who follow the words of General Kolokotronis who fought for the liberation of Greece from the muslim Turks in 1821. Kolokotronis said: “we shall fight first for the Faith (Pistis) and then for the Country (Patris)”.
        Nationalities we shall have until we die. There is no passport control at the gates of Paradise! The only nationalities then will be either with-God, or without-God.
        There are many Greeks who love and esteem the Russian Orthodox brethren (and any other nationality and race) exactly like the Greek ones.
        Unfortunately the GOA has allowed the archons to have a say in the Church because they have given 100 thous.$. Thus the rich have influence on the church, not the holy and saintly old widow who can only pay 10 cents?   
        Regarding your important question:
        “What have you Greeks given to western culture in the last 500 years?”
        NOTHING, to start with.
        However, carefully reflecting on that, I have found one thing which you may find worthy:
        In the last 500 years THOSE Greeks  (not we, today)  have indeed given something to the West which is even superior to the secular term “culture”. They have fought/ contained/checked mohammedanism and thus protected the West. They have thereby produced many martyrs and saints of the Church. To fully appreciate it, think of the Russian 70-year struggle against the Satanic Marxism. Other nations have used those same 500 years to give many things to Western culture, including colonies and slaves, but that is their problem.

        The problem with the majority of modern Greeks is that they ignore these past 500 years and the struggles of their ancestors.   They are more interested in the current Western “culture” far from Christ.

        • Ιωάννη thank u for yr comment.  
          And we brought the seems of renaissance to western Europe.  
          And yes my good american friend Don recently read the excellent american author introduction to byzantium book and he was amazed at the fact that from 650s to 1453 byzantium was the bulwark against islam spreading.  We do not appreciate how under threat Europe was and that in 1688 turks stood at the gates  of  Vienna. Now turks had a civilization, they were not barbarians,   but not that of Europe and not one to progress,but the phanariots  totally supporting it  . 

          And  I am sick at being told to apologise for crusades.   As an Orthodox we were just as much their victims BUT they were A REACTION to continual islamic aggressive attack against Christian Europe and asked for initially by byzantine empire under threat in 1099. When will Islam make  apologies to me?   But that won’t come in the  politically ‘incorrect’ apologies agenda, will it??

        • Stefan Evgenii says

          Thank you Ioannis, I found this sort of snobbery from the supposedly  “educated” the formed ideas in little hothouse circles in University and seminaries. 
          The Greeks in Grece are a different animal than the ones in the USA. I loved them, they were so warm and open. It was so refreshing to be in a Orthodox culture. There are all shades I guess like some Russians have the same attitude about Russia too.
          Russia was involved in the fight against the Ottomans also, so I’m indebted to our common Christian Empire that gave of the knowledge of Christ our true God to my people. We hold to East Roman culture also.

      • Solitary Priest says

        Did the priest specifically say that non-Greeks could not commune? Is it possible that he used the expression Greek Orthodox to mean Orthodox? I know that many OCA priests announce at communion time that only Orthodox who have prepared themselves may approach the chalice.

      • Constantinos says

        Hi Stefan,
        I should not have denigrated Russian Orthodoxy in any way, shape or form. Those comments were divisive, unkind, and unhelpful. I apologize to you and any one else who was offended by my callous remarks. I think George said it best, ” Do no harm.” Thanks to Nikos and everyone else for your corrections.

        • Constantinos: “I should not have denigrated Russian Orthodoxy in any way, shape or form. ”
          Well, I am not surprised. Since the defeat of Napoleon,  establishment of Holy Alliance,  and suppression of Decembrists, the masonic lodges started to see Russia as the main bulwark of reaction, opposition to progress and source of obscurantism.

          • Constantinos says

            Hi Martin,I really wish you would understand one thing about me. I only act in my own best interests. Since many Greek Orthodox Christian businessmen I admire have had a long association with the masons, and the Shriners, I felt it might be something to my advantage. People don’t like the lodges? Great! I highly doubt I’m actually going to get involved with them. They seem to be more of a thing of the past. Bottom line, they are of no spiritual value to me,  or in business. I neither have the time, nor the need for masonic involvement. They’re not going to get me any closer to Christ. The lodges are on their way out. Not even worth talking about them. Not for me, anyway. Bottom line: I simply don’t need them.

            • Constantinos: “Bottom line, they are of no spiritual value to me, or in business. I neither have the time, nor the need for masonic involvement. ”
              I do not question your sincerity. My impression is that you absorbed their attitudes and ideas, what shows in your posts. Very likely you do it unconsciously.

              • Constantinos says

                Martin, By the way, I have already sent in my demit so I’m no longer a mason. Why did I do that? Because I don’t need them. No other reason.

          • I being to yr attention an article in foreign affairs, tittled, ‘ Russians getting sick of Church’ 
            About the protests in a central Park in Ekaterinburg against building of a church with referendum showing 74% against building. Kick Putin time would seem. 
            It then goes on to say that Russian liberals are seeking more fulfillment in on line society, veganism!!  Me too etc etc. and not what goes on in Stone buildings. 
            Says hierarchs have not engaged with young but preached at them how to light a candle before an Icon and fast etc rather than about the language of worship and participation in worship. 
            Says that perhaps an open air swimming pool best instead of Moscow Christ Saviour Cathedral. AND contrasts the attitude of   anti -communist  Soviet liberals in 1970s and 80s etc with the western secular one now. 
            Of course this article is a classic part of the attack on  Church which is not to say that Kyril and the Church have not played into their hands on occassion or that current anti religious  secular views do  not have fertile  soil in a land of seventy yrs  of official atheism. These people have not gone away.
            But it merely shows that the traditional atheist Russian intellegentsia have gotten over  their tempory infatuation with icons and incence  and priests and normal service has resumed!!  The article states that the Culture wars have come to Russia. Did they ever leave.? 
            But above all this it shows that the attack on the Church is the same world wide and uses the same liberal humaitarian language that one simply cannot attack!!!!    

            • Niko: “About the protests in a central Park in Ekaterinburg against building of a church with referendum showing 74% against building. ”
              This church is going to be built in a little different location. In Ekaterinburg center there is a shortage of open green spaces, and many (including churchgoers) wanted to preserve the small park.
              Of course some want to present this issue as a test for Church or Putin’s popularity, but it is not so. BTW, I myself would prefer a different location.

              • Martin exactly.  I knew this. But it is indicative of how they built a whole narrative around it of anti church etc. But yes those who had a fashionable icons and incence five minutes, have moved on. But hardly news that is it since 1750s!!  .  It’s because the Russian church is a bulwark they want ro bring down. In some respects the greater testing time is now. 
                Thanks for mail. And best regards!! ? 

        • God bless Costa!! ? 

          • Costa I know where you coming from in things greek, especially american greek, are currently being bashed every which way. From me on occassion. 
            But Russian and Slav Orthodoxy are one of the fruits of the tree of Greek Orthodoxy and a witness to our outreach and cultural level. 
            They also have repaid the debt, many fold. 
            Don’t forget it was the Russian intervention in greek war of independence in 1829 that led to our freedom. The Cathedral of St Vladimir in Saint Petersburg has a fence around it of captured Turkish Cannon from that war.  I have a photograph of me there!!. 

            • Constantinos says

              Hi Nikos,I believe you are right. You must treasure that photo. Thank you for your kind words.

              • Thank you Kosta.  I show to all my Turkish friends!! ? 

                • Bella Zafita says

                  Plenty of Turks in Bullgarisha.
                  When they don’t have neough dancing bears,
                  they use Turks.

                  • BELLA U  are a sad person to be always posting illiterate meaningless comments. But if makes u happy. ? but would be nice if you could add to discussion. Have a good day. 

          • Solitary Priest says

            Are you a priest then, Nikos, that you hand out blessings? Perhaps you are translating from the Greek in your head? I don’t know Greek, except for the alphabet and a few words. I could read Bulgarian better, since I know Russian and a few other Slavic languages.
                  In Russian, one could say.” Храни Вас Господь.” But that would translate as, “(May) God preserve you.”
                  I associate myself with Martin’s remarks above. 

            • At the end of the Divine Liturgy the choir/people sing:
              “Lord, grant long life to him who blesses  (eulogises) and sanctifies us.” Source: Orthodox Service Book, Buffalo,p.35

              The substance of this, is a prayer of the people for the benefit of the priest. So the people may and do indeed pray that God helps their priest. So Nikos can pray for other people like Costa,John, George, anybody.
              Please be  accurate: Where did you find that a simple person (not clergy) is NOT allowed to say “may God bless you”, or simply “God bless”? 
              Please mention source document and page, just as I did above.  

            • No I am not a priest.  But I was always told a Christian can bless. Yes May God preserve ( you) might be better Fr. Point taken.  Good to hear from you. 

              • In Greek a layperson can say May God bless you.

                • Matthew Panchisijn says

                  Dear Nikos,
                  God bless you, can be said in any language by any Orthodox layperson.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  I seem to have missed whatever started this controversy here, but I would share something with you anyway, dear friends.

                  When a hegoumeness or hegoumen of a monastery is asked for a personal blessing — although they are not priests and even if the person asking for the blessing is a priest — she or he makes the sign of the cross over the petitioner’s upturned hands just as a priest does, with fingers formed to represent the letters ICXC, and says ‘May the Lord bless you’ or ‘God bless you’ or something like that. The recipient of the blessing then kisses the right hand of the hegoumen/hegoumeness.

                  (Incidentally, this happens before each time a priest enters the altar to officiate in a monastic church. He must receive a blessing from the superior even though the superior may not be a priest.)

                  When people ask an unordained monk (such as myself) for a blessing, I first assure them that I am not a priest, and so cannot bless them as if I were. On the other hand, I praise them for their humility in asking, and I bless them as would any of the laity, holding my fingers as I would in crossing myself, touching their foreheads and chests, their right and left shoulders in the sign of the cross.

                  This is the proper way for us Christians to bless each other, at any time, especially in times of danger or of happiness. and it’s just the same as any of the laity bless their children every night after family prayers — if they bother to do it.

                  • Letas Cafinas says

                    Stop being pretentious. Call them Abbot and Abbess. You Russians almost neevr understand the Greek words you misuse, staring with phyletism (which means racism).

                    • Monk James Silver says

                      To a very large extent, the current state of illiteracy in English-speaking Orthodoxy is due to a rather long history of Greeks’ advising translators of our sacred texts into English, and urging the adoption of analogous (yet not really equivalent) terms because ‘people are used to them’ or ‘people will think that we are foreign’.

                      It is no more difficult for most people to learn ‘hegoumen’ than ‘abbot’. , and following our correspondent’s reductionist line of thinking, we’d be saying ‘chasuble’, too, instead of ‘phelonion’.

                      When words can be accurately translated, they should be, so I’m content with ‘prayer cord’ for _komvoskhini_, even though the original word’s root is /knot/. But when it comes to, say, _Theotokos_, I’m just as content to leave the word in Greek and teach its meaning to native speakers of English, just as we do with ‘thermometer’.

                      BTW: The bigotry represented here, and directed at me, is folding back on itself: I am not a Russian, but I have an earned degree in Classical Languages, Greek Concentration, and in Slavic Languages, Russian concentration, so my Latin and Church Slavonic are respectable, too, along with other languages ancient and modern. I generally have clear ideas about language, and translation, and they are not based in racism or any other sort of ignorance or prejudice. I can defend my choices in translation better than some people, no matter how strongly they feel about the issues at hand.

                      I highly recommend that our correspondent learn to ‘speak Orthodox’ rather than merely spout opinions.

            • Let’s be accurate. Nikos did NOT handout blessings,
              Nikos only PRAYED to God, any laity may do THAT.
              Nikos, himself, did NOT bless anybody!
              He said “God bless…”
              In other words he prayed to God so that GOD will bless the other person.

              Where did you read that only a priest can say “God bless” for somebody?

              • Thank you.  Any lay person can express the blessing of God  . We all share the priesthood of believers.  I hope all of u are always blessing. !!  When we are there with a bowl of Holy Water and brush doing it, perhaps we will have over stepped the Mark. But seriously parents bless children with an Icon.  My dying  mother blessed us on her death bed. 

  6. Lon Colefas says

    They get trained in non-profit management in the same universities as everyone else. 

    • National Herald also reporting that Fr. Alex made a quick, last-minute trip to Greece to meet with the newly-“elected” Archbishop, reportedly about New York dropping its lawsuit in the Shrine mismanagement affair.. Another example of utter waste–there are no cell phone towers in Greece to reach anyone on a phone? What was so important for OUR money to be spent this way? I am sure Fr. Alex did not fly economy. And why should the investigation be dropped? Business as usual in the GOA.

  7. All in all a well analyzed article especially with regard to the “sponsorship” dimension.  It may be a spillover from secular events in Greek America.  I think of those events, which feature the same sort of appeals to the “elite” and wannabe elite, as “cocktail party Hellenism,” or as “photo-opportunity Hellenism.”  This tendency seems to be prevalent in spades in the replacement (I wouldn’t call it a “rebuilding”) of the Church of St. Nicholas with a so-called shrine.  I believe that that effort reflects a desire to somehow further weave the GOA into the political and social fabric of the U.S. at the expense of other, more essential qualities.  It’s an effort that may be due to a lack of self-confidence and a desire on the part of some of our supposed leaders to fit in to the establishment.
    I agree with Nikos’ friend’s comment: they should have simply rebuilt it.  A modest church, such as St Nicholas was, would have been a more potent symbol and quiet witness to the things the church should represent.
    I write this as a Greek-American who was raised with a deep sense of loyalty to that somewhat ill-defined (as it applies in the present day) concept of Hellenism.  An illustration: I am fluent in both Greek and English, as are my American-born children (of an American mother).  So much for my cultural background.  As for religion, I acknowledge that I am not a good Christian, let alone a good Orthodox Christian and perhaps that should disqualify me, a sinner, from even commenting at all.
    My reason for writing this comment is focused on a reference to “Russophobic academics acutely aware of their cultural inferiority vis-a-vis the Russian Orthodox Church.”  I think both you, Mr. Michalopoulos, and reader Constantinos are wrong, although in different ways.
    First, it is possible they are “russophobic,” if you mean that they are interested in advancing Greek-related interests at the expense of Russian-related interests.  The problem is with the word “russophobic.”  It is ambiguous, especially when coupled with the issue of culture and cultural inferiority or superiority.
    Second, I have noticed fairly regular negative references to Russia and Russian culture in the comments to your blog.  Constantinos’ comment is simply one of the latest in a long series: “Greek Orthodoxy is culturally superior to Russian Orthodoxy. I avoid anything Russian like the plague. It seems to me hatred of the West comes from Russian Orthodoxy.”  This statement needs to be “unpacked” and addressed.
    I will start with the most important point, the suggestion that “Greek Orthodoxy” is somehow superior, culturally, to “Russian Orthodoxy.”  It is convenient to distinguish between “Greek Orthodoxy” and “Russian Orthodoxy” if one is referring to differences in how the liturgy is sung or in how people dress when they go to church, or in the language or languages used in the services.  But at a higher level, there is no “Greek” or “Russian” or “Romanian” or “Serbian” Orthodoxy.  Ethnic characteristics add richness to how Orthodoxy is lived, but there is and can be only one “Orthodoxy.”
    I remember when I first became aware of the fact that there were Orthodox Christians who were not Greek or Greek American.  I was enchanted by the fact that they exist, and that they are our brothers and sisters, even though they might use a different language in their services or decorate eggs at Easter time with different colors or designs.
    Later I came to appreciate, albeit not at a very sophisticated level, the contributions that have been made to Orthodoxy by the Russians, not only by religious people like Andrei Rubleev but also writers such as Fyodor Dostoevski and Alexander Solzhenitsyn and our contemporary Eugene Vodolazkin, author of Laurus.*   I do not think it is correct or fair to say that a culture that produced works such as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Russian Easter Festival Overture; Overture on Ligurgical Themes,” is inferior.**  It may be different, but it is not inferior, and we lose nothing, but gain a lot, by appreciating it.
    We should think also about what the Russians have gone through, things that shaped the works of people like the above-mentioned Sozhenitsyn, and which are indelibly associated with Orthodox spirituality.
    As for hatred of the west coming from Russian Orthodoxy, I suspect that if Russian Orthodox clerics condemn or criticize certain features of the West, those condemnations and criticisms would be well-received by people who read and contribute to this blog.  The criticisms are to the decadence of the West, not to the West itself.  In fact, Russia is an important part of the West culturally, and has tried to be part of it politically.  If there is hatred or hostility, it is coming largely from some quarters in the West and is aimed against Russia.
    We learn nothing about something if we avoid it, and in the case of Orthodoxy we lose a great deal if we avoid the Russian dimension of and contribution to Orthodoxy.  In any event, if Hellenism means anything, it stands for the spirit of inquiry embodied in the works of Plato and Aristotle and others.  Ask yourself this, Constantinos: would Aristotle have avoided anything Russian like the plague?  I think the answer is “no.”
    * (
    ** ( )

    • Constantinos says

      Dear Blimbax,
      I have to say you make great points, especially your last paragraph. Now, for some reason, I have a great interest in Leonardo da Vinci. I’m reading another biography about him right now.
      With your great knowledge(I’m being serious), you know one of the things that spawned the Italian Renaissance was the fall of Constantinople when many of the Greeks fled to southern Italy. Leonardo was very influenced by Aristotle and Plato. The treasures from the ancient Greeks were considered so precious that the Italians paid a premium to obtain them.
      Now, there are many people I admire such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bruneschelli  Leon Alberti, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Einstein, and the fictitious  Duncan McCleod from the Highlander TV series. I admire the fictitious Duncan McCleod because he reminds me of myself.
      In any event, since I’m  still studying Leonardo(have been studying him for over twenty years), and his influences, I simply don’t have the time to delve into Russia. If my extremely humble opinion, to me, if Russia was all that important, I would be studying the Russian influence on the Italian Renaissance, but, alas, it had no influence. The more I study history, the more in awe I am of the Greeks.
      Also, to me, a group of people who admire Seraphim Rose, his Protestantism, rigid fundamentalism, and his toll house crapola just don’t interest me.

      • George Michalopulos says

        “There cae be only one!”

      • “toll house crapola”
        And then the thief enters and denounces and rends the soul from the body.
        Then we will require many prayers, many helpers, many good deeds, and a great protection from the angels on the journey through the spaces of the air.  If when traveling in a foreign land or a strange city we are in need of a guide, how much more necessary for us are guides and helpers to guide us past the invisible dignities and powers and world rulers of this air who are called persecutors, publicans, and tax-collectors by Holy Scripture.
        St John Chrysostom

    • You wrote very wise words, blimbax, God bless you!

    • Dear Blimbax.  I could hug you close as i read yr posting.  Gave me so much Joy.  As u I am greek, living in Bulgaria now, Slav, but very greek influenced land   .  It may not come across in my postings because of the issues but I have a great love for my  greek Culture and language as a vehicle to Christ, to God.  My beef with much of greek America is how it has corrupted that tradition in a BANAL way. 
      But I have had the good fortune to come to know Slav and especially Russian Orthodoxy and at close quarters also in Russia. Including attending the famous old believer Cathedral in the Rozkoe Moscow  cemetary, with it’s austere 15c znamemy chant. Moved me greatly.  And Christ Saviour Cathedral whose choir took one to heaven.
      I know  its amazing Culture in music and thought and art. Anyone who interested should watch Tarkovsky ‘ s  Ivan Rublev, an amazing film, obtainable on Amazon.   I just re- read Dr Zhivago, which influenced my youth.  It is not a theological book but has an amazing  amount of theology in it . 
      And as you say the experience of those seventy yrs of persecution are not something gone and done,  but relevant to us believers today, with a message for us. also the resurgence of monasticism,  for without, the Church is crippled .To worship at Sergei Posted as i have, is to experience profound impressions .  To learn about Fr Alexander Men, murderd in 1990, and the life of surgeon bishop Anthony Bloom London whom I personally knew, Surgeon Bishop St Luke (+1961), St Patrarch Tikhon, who was american citizen and myriad other confessors.   I love Costas to bits but he does frustrate me,  especially as i said all this to him before .
      To worship as I have in a re-opened church that was a factory with it’s toilet on the altar space.  To hear an lady elderly doctor, much suffered, say that her hope was to be buried in the next door being renovated church, and and.   
      I have had nothing but respect and warmth from russians,  lay and clerical, and total respect for greek church and its role with Bulgaria in bringing Orthodoxy to them. 
      And St John Maximovitch of San Francisco, whose body I had the blessed good fortune to venerate.  
      To denigrate Russian and Ukrainian Orthodoxy is to denigrate ourselves who gave it Birth. 
      In Athens in centre by Zappeio  former royal garden, is the 11c church of Holy Trinity, which the russisn community use since 1920s. Has a superb choir singing in greek and  slavonic, Russian style, and well worth attending if you there. 
      Once again. Thank you for yr posting friend,God bless. 
      I could go on about the support Tsarist Russia gave USA and the absurd russophobia abroad but for another time. Ο Θεός να σας ευλογείσει και μαζί με  την οικογένειά σου.  Νικος   

      • To add that it is the Church of Russia that could be bitter, because in 1920s in it’s hour of suffering, it was Constantinople that recognised the communist sponsored, revisionist ‘ living church and demanded that Tikhon go into a  monastery.   To give rare credit to Metaxas Metaxakis,  it was not him as he refused to do this, but his successor.  
        Costa could do no better than to read about the life of surgeon bishop Anthony Bloom who died in London in 2003, or that of St surgeon bishop Luke whose poineer work on infection eye surgery,  won Stalin prize. He spent many years in the Gulag under torture without bending. He was a married man with children whose wife died.  Can we in our comfortable lives imagine what he, they, went through.?? Or the life of St Seraphim of Sarov. 
        One of the things I notice about many greek american clergy is how their words are  often so shallow and secular and showing no contact with any wider Orthodox  spirituality or figures.  No I am not saying we ignore all else.  Bishop Anthony even mentioned islamic sufis on occassion, but  if it is not grounded on Orthodox spirituality what is the point?  Perhaps this is because that is how their audience is??! 
        As regards Greek America perhaps the words of St Silouan of Mount Athos, Keep yr mind in hell and despair not’,   should be kept in mind. 

        • To costa I want to say that Russia and Ukrainian are like brothers,  connected closely but with different personalities.  
          As to wider Culture, in art, ballet,  music,  writing,  science. Russia can hold it’s own with the west.  IT IS PART OF THE WEST ACTUALLY . And no I do not denigrate western Culture for it is us,  but it is not the centre of the Universe.  To read Ivan Bunin,Chekhov etc and then state what Costa does would be impossible or witnessing to untruth.  
          It is not a question of competition but an acknowledgement of wider reality. 

          • George Michalopulos says

            Of course Russia is part of the West! And so is Byzantium. It’s the stupidity and intolerable ignorance of the Enlightenment thinkers who created an historical narrative that despises Christian spirituality.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              When I read the Federalist Papers, I kind of admire some of those ‘stupid enlightenment thinkers’.
              But stupid they weren’t. At any rate, I was trained that as soon as you call an opponent ‘stupid’, you’ve already lost the argument.

              • George Michalopulos says

                My brief wasn’t against Publius. Give me “enlightment” thinkers like our Founding Fathers any day of the week when it comes to governance.

                My brief is with the Enlightenment in general. Real enlightenment comes from the Gospel. The Church Fathers were intellectual giants.

                The scientific method began in Franciscan monasteries. Natural law arose from the Church’s understanding of Aristotle.

                I resent those enlightenment thinkers who renamed the Middle ages as “dark”. Our entertainment industry and universities presage a real dark age on the horizon.

                Our legal system tells us that anal coition=marriage and that there are no sexes but 38 genders. And woe be to that person who dares to say otherwise.

                • George, Boris Pasternak makes this point in Dr Zhivago which not a theological book but has much theological thought. He states through  Dr Zhivago,  that Christ was THE START of history because before Christ, there was not THE PROSOPO, OR  INDIVIDUAL PERSON. 
                  This is the concept of personhood, not in the modern sense of a dribling Id,  shouting ‘ I want, I won’t!!  but in the total value of each individual unrelated to money or position or looks or intelligence. 
                  The Start of History. And the end will be not with Huntingdon but with God.  As he no doubt knows now. 

                  • Sorry. Fukyama wrote end of history, Huntingdon, clash of civilization. 

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Think of how much great anthropology has come out from Russian literature.  In this case pasternak.

                    It has to be because of the Orthodox phronema.

                    • Exactly George. We face a new dark age of ‘ alternate reality ‘ and rest. That it bring happiness we see with the suicide rate and mental health.

            • Constantinos says

              Dear George,
              According to Quora and many other web sites, Russia is not a Western country. Ancient Rome and  ancient Greece are considered the birth places of Western civilization.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                An old ‘controversy’, I think. They speak an Indo-European language. Their alphabet derives  from Greek. They are Christians. Line them up with any number of Europeans, East and West, and they look the same. Sounds sort of “Western” to me. ..

                • George Michalopulos says


                  • George Michalopulos says

                    The problem is that ever since that darned Enlightenment, the Protestant thinkers have been going out of their way to highlight the differences between East and West.  Eventually, they came up with a “Whig sense of history” which is completely illegitimate.

                    Cf Francis Fukuyama The End of History (ca 1998).   Though a conservative, his thesis is that democratic liberalism is the logical end-stage of history.  Essentially no different than Marxism.

                    Just a few years later and Kaboom!  Jihad and back to AD 650.

                • Morry Cositas says

                  Athens farmed Scythia while Sparta farmed Sicily. (Bernstein, Splendid Exchange). Further, the Athenian Attics were Ionian, derived from Scythian Jovans (Unani). And King David was a red haired Scythian and the name Askenazi derives from Scythian. While the Hamitic Ahiya Spartans came from Egypt/Africa. Then “Western” civilization is all about Peloporican mafia fascist ounia fatsa ounia ratsa molestors. Magog means Magyar/Mongol and Gog is Uighur/Hungar/Hangook. The Scandinavian Lapp/Finn lineage and German Huns are the real Magog just as Churchill said. Dulles and Acheson got it backwards.

              • George Michalopulos says


              • Constantine I find yr russophobia very limited and ignorant. God forgive me but I feel deeply insulted as an Orthodox Christian and you insult and dishonour the martyrs.
                What ever problems they have, give me one Russian priest to ten greek uniates, especially of the ilk of karloutsos and emanuella . Just look at his ugly mum, it tells u all.
                I have always kept clear of greek old calandarists but you know, I begin to see they are right.

              • Constantinos says: “According to Quora and many other web sites, Russia is not a Western country.”

                Was Judea where the Church was born, a Western country? Was Abraham a Westerner? Is West superior to the East?
                Ex Oriente Lux.

                • Constantinos says

                  Hi Martin, 
                  I don’t have any problem with what you’ve written. By the way, I like your use of Latin. 
                  Say, George, I’ve only seen you use Latin one time when you about lex talionis. You stated it meant “the law of the jungle.” Another interpretation is “an eye for an eye.”

                  • Monk James Silver says

                    Sort of.

                    The principle of Roman civil law called _lex talionis_ means pretty much what it sounds like: the law of retaliation.

                    It was invoked when someone falsely accused another person of a crime punishable in civil law. If the accused were found innocent, the person(s) who brought the false accusation would then be subject to the same penalty as would have been imposed on the accused, had he been found guilty.

                    This principle is also applied in ecclesial courts, the hope being that no one will bring false charges against a member of the clergy. In The Church, a false accuser would be deprived of his ordination if he himself were a clergyman; one of the laity would be excommunicated, perhaps permanently.

                    The notion of ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’, though is intended to put a strict limit on retaliation. This restriction appears three times in very different places in the Torah. It enjoins people to use, as an example, the loss of an eye or the loss of a tooth in some sort of attack not as an excuse to kill the attacker, but to deprive him only of as much as they lost in the attack. Occasionally, a financial settlement is recommended, and the rabbis prefer this to bloody revenge.

                    But when our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:38) quotes the Law of Moses on this point, He tells us Christians not only not to take revenge of any sort, but to ‘turn the other cheek’.

                    Now, THAT is a significant difference between Old Testament law and New Testament grace!

    • Blimbax I could go on and on and have but must add.  Does Costa know Fr Alexander Elchaninov,  fr Alexander Schememn,  (usa),  Mother Maria of Paris and Yuri  her  young son and other lay person # Konstantine Moulchousky I think?)  and fr Dmitri Klepenin, all martyrs in concentration camps in 1943/4 for helping jews in Paris, or the profound theology  of the icon of that great icon  painter and  theologian, Vladimir Lovsky , Nicholas Zernov in Uk? PAUL Evdokimov  in a France, and and.   
      I feel so sad all this and rhe millions of martyrs and the immersion suffering just unknown.   And truth to tell it was Russian arms that destroyed Napoleon and Hitler.  One does not need to defend Stalin,  but witness to the millions of Russian dead and their sacrifice and that of the Church that stayed loyal to the people and their suffering and did not throw itself into hitler’s embrace. 
      As for the molotov rubentrop 1939, August pact, no more henious than the betrayal of Czechoslovakia at Munich. 

      • The excuse for Munich was it gave us time.  Well also gave Germany another year of production and it gained the modern Skoda arms factories and the modern arms of Czechoslovakia army.  Plus in 1938 Hitler was not totally doninant over his generals and Stalin was prepared to act. 

    • Blimbax again thank you.  A breath of fresh air. As I said earlier Greek Orthodoxy is in crisis.  If i had not experienced much of this in London Anglo – Russian community with bishop Anthony Bloom etc I really think I might not be in the Church now.  
      I love my greek inheritence,  deeply but not as a kitsch addition or some nationalistic God in our pocket.   But the Greek church, often even in Greece,  seems bereft  of this spiritual element,  of this spirit.  
      What can it say to a searching soul.?  NOTHING, IT IS DECAYED AND EMPTY. Reality on ground of dying parishes, shows this.  Why?  Because it was founded on the back of this mentality brought from Greece and used all it’s capital.  Hear the words of Elpidiophoros,  as if a CEO of a business that he is going to pull through the hard times.  Deeply, deeply empty as the reaction of the clergy hoping the new CEO will be better for business. 

    • speaking ro my good friend Don yesterday and mentioning this  ground Zero and shine, he said again that it looks ugly. Souless and what was wrong with just rebuilding the Church!  What better memorial.!  Exactly. 
      But we should be grateful to them because as it has turned out it enables you greek Americans to see the dead secular establishment that runs the Church.  

      • George Comney says

        Don’t worry, we speak to Pastor  Rosen Rushev
        about biker doc Stone all the time, too

        • Good. Enjoy friend. I just quoting one New Yorker ‘ s view. He is perfectly entitled to express it and u perfectly entitled to disagree. I presume u have friends and you comnunicate with them. This Subject not a daily topic as it were but as i am Orthodox etc it has come up. So has much else.

  8. Getting my name in the program!  Next to buying a quarter, half or….A FULL page in the “Comemorative” book!  Small things appeal to small minds.  Without them what would patriarchs and archbishops do?  This is the depth of intellectual inquiry required for our clergy and bishops.  It starts with shallow laymen and continues through shallow semineries to shallow useless bachelors. And then people wonder why you get a cinderblock in a miter.

    • Bob total truth but when are the punters going to wake up to this scum. 
      It’s 2019., when is some reality going to break through?  I despair. WHY DOES A MILLION DOLLARS ANNUALLY GO TO TURKEY WHEN AMERICAN -GREEK CHURCHES ARE CLOSING DOWN??  Can any one answer that?
      What is Elpidophoros going to do? Send the mafia round to push the punters back in the doors. . .  
      It’s a con,  a scam dressed up in make believe language and they ain’t got a clue.

    • When they have their big meal for Elpidophoros on Saturday and rest, they will talk most elequently about the Gospels and Christ etc etc.  But will not seem to know or care where it says in Luke,  about when you plan a official meal to first make sure you invited the poor and the homeless and the humble. 
      Never mind even all that, to invite the ordinary punters??!  
      But you see these people like  elpidophoros,  can only talk about Poverty, love,  what ever, IN THE ABSTRACT.  But about the individual poor person in front of them,  they never see. It’s all theory.  Like the delusion that in 2019 there is in USA a greek community in any meaningful way. This man may be well meaning but has lived a theoretical life. All theory and books.  

      • They need to publicly read John 10: 1-16 at this “enthronement” (what an awful term for this… puhleeze) and then ask the new Archbishop his thoughts on these lines.

        Did this new Archbishop become the GOA Archbishop by “some other way” (John 10: 1)

        Will the GOA sheep “follow him, for they know his voice” ? (John 10: 4) Or will they flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” ? (John 10: 5)

        Does this new Archbishop believe that he has other sheep “which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” ? (John 10: 16)

        These are indeed quite serious points to consider.

        Gospel of St John, chapter 10: “(1) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (2) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. (3) To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4) And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. (5) Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (6) Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

        Jesus the Good Shepherd
        (7) Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. (8) All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. (9) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (10) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

        (11) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. (12) But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. (13) The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. (15) As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (16) And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

  9. Exactly George. We face a new dark age of ‘ alternate reality ‘ and rest. That it bring happiness we see with the suicide rate and mental health.

  10. Lon Calefas says