From 105 to 50 in a New York Minute — Part II. Syosset: A Trajectory of Failure

Editors Note: In Part I we noted that the OCA’s administrative model is based on an outmoded, eparchial mode of ecclesial administration –this despite the fact that the OCA has been autocephalous since 1970. Dissatisfaction with the present way of doing things is manifested in many ways, particularly in the method of funding the central church admnistration. Presently, the Diosese of New York/New Jersey is proposing a decrease in the per capita assessment from $105 to fifty dollars. In this part, we will discuss the finances of the central administration, which is headquartered in Syosset and the real-world implications that the siphoning of money at the present rate has for Dioceses.

Part II. Syosset: A Trajectory of Failure

The New York Plan

Melanie Ringa, the Treasurer for the OCA has released a report (.pdf) in anticipation of the upcoming All-American Council. Although it is concerned with the costs of the central church administration, it must be viewed in the broader context of what it means for the OCA as a whole. The picture is not a pretty.

Interestingly, the report presents a way out of the morass albeit unwittingly: buried in the final paragraphs of this report is mention of the dissatisfaction from several of the Dioceses with the present way of funding operations. One Diocese in particular (New York/New Jersey), has proposed a resolution of funding the central administration which has become known as The New York Plan. As noted in Part I, this resolution aims to cut assessments to Syosset by over 50 percent. To be sure, this alternative budget is shocking to the central administration but in reality, it actually provides a life-jacket to the Dioceses (to be dicussed later), allowing them to grow by focusing on the needs of each Diocese as they see fit.

That this is alarming to the present regime is obvious. When discussing the alternative budget Ms. Ringa writes in foreboding tones about what this will mean for the Church as a whole. To her credit, she sees the urgency of the questions that were put to her by some of the Dioceses earlier in the year and why some would view the alternative budget as preferable.

Nevertheless, their concerns are dismissed seemingly out of hand because there is no time to give them due consideration. As Ringa writes, “These are questions that need to be addressed PRIOR [sic] to determing the level of assessment required.” In any event, the Treasurer’s Report for the AAC that she provides only mentions the New York Plan but not the actual numbers on how a budget of this size would actually look, thus making it difficult for the delegates to make an informed decision one way or the other.

Accounting of Present Finances

So where are we as far as the finances of the central administration are concerned? According to the latest budget for the OCA, the costs of funding the Central Chancery (CC) in Syosset for the year 2010 are as follows:

Programs & Ministries: $131,472
General Administration: $1,662,908
Professional Fees: $260,623
All-American Council: $13,843
TOTAL EXPENSES: $2,068,846

To be fair, these numbers (like all numbers) mean nothing unless they are viewed in a larger context. Specifically how many members the OCA has, whether these numbers are a realistic representation of the actual members that attend church regularly, whether they reflect growth, and how much each diocese must submit as a percentage of its budget in order to fund the CC.

Questions that Need to be Asked

Once answered, then other questions need to be asked, especially:

1. Are all of the CC’s functions mandatory?
2. Can any of them be devolved to the dioceses?
3. Could the dioceses make better use of the savings?

Unfortunately none of them are asked by Ms. Ringa. Instead we are given ominous warnings about the “elimination of personnel and ability to function and to fulfill our duties” without any clear indication what these duties are. We are instead given anodyne assurances that at “the end of this Council” answers to other questions such as “Who Are We?”, “Where Are We Going?”, and “How Do We Get There?” which will be “…hopefully provided by the Strategic Planning Committee.”

Interestingly, since 2006, all categories within the OCA’s budget have shown a decline, both on the credit side of the ledger as well as the expense. This should not be surprising as the population of the OCA has declined as well. Shockingly, the present budget submitted for the AAC’s consideration is based on the subset of 22,000 actual givers.

A Dire Picture

This of course is an appalling statistic. If true, then the OCA for all intents and purposes is far smaller than even the “second tier” of Orthodox jurisdictions and should no longer be considered part of the so-called Big Three (the other two being the GOA and AOCNA). There are actually dozens of mega-churches throughout the United States which have congregations larger than this. How dire is the picture? According to Ringa’s report:

1. Diocesan assessments have decline steadily during this time period.
2. The Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards contributions have gone from $146,000 in 2006 to only $7,971 as of June 30, 2011.
3. The sum of Charities, Ministries, Seminaries, Theological Education and General Contributions has gone from $344,895 to $9,399 as of June 30, 2011.
4. Total revenues have fallen from $3.3 million to $2.6 million (2006-2010).

More importantly for purposes of this essay (which proposes switching the majority of Syosset’s functions to the Dioceses), Program and Ministry funding has been reduced from a high of $670,000 in 2008 to $130,000 in 2010.

What Does Syosset Provide?

The question that the Dioceses seem to be asking is “what are we getting for our giving?” Syosset is unable to provide a satisfactory answer. Regardless, this question will continue to be asked and eventually will be answered one way or the other.

For example, the most recent Chancellor for the OCA continued to receive a compensation of $140,000 even though he was fired from this position by the Holy Synod in late February. Based on the numbers provided, the average administrative salary is a little over $90,000. It remains the case that the former Chancellor continues to receive the same benefits package which at the very least calls into question the integrity of the present administrative model. Athough this may seem harsh, what other description can be given to such a tin-eared assessment which seems unaware of the severe economic pressures that currently afflict our nation (to say nothing of our Church).

How is this funded? Monomakhos has been told by reliable sources that the Diocese of the West gives 41% of its operating budget to Syosset while the South gives 40%. According to this same source, the Diocese of New England gives 56%. Shockingly, the Diocese of New York/New Jersey gives almost 90% percent!

These are staggering numbers. In real-world terms, this translates into tens of thousands of dollars that are not being used to build missions, endow ministries such as soup kitchens, or help augment the salaries of priests, who compared to priests in other jurisdictions have meager salaries. Evangelism –and thus growth–is moribund under this scenario. It cannot be otherwise.

Real World Implications

What are the real world implications of these numbers? Let us look directly at the Diocese of New York/New Jersey, which gives the most (percentage-wise). According to that Diocese’s Treasurer’s Report for 2010 (.pdf), the assessment to Syosset from NY/NJ was $452,780. Total income however was $511,787. This means that a staggering 88.7% of all monies collected by that Diocese went to support Syosset.

That means that barely 12 percent is left to fund the Diocese itself. Out of that remaining 12 percent, $48,402 was left to pay the total compensation package for the Bishop, $18,800 was left to pay for missions, and $27,000 for the total chancery staff. This is unconscionable. Based on these figures alone, the Diocese of New York’s long-term future is questionable.

Some critics of course could counter that this astonishing number is the driving force behind the New York Plan. In any event, this is neither here nor there because if this particular Diocese were given some exemption from paying this staggering sum (which would have to happen in order to remain viable), then other Dioceses would seek redress as well. If that is the case, then the $105 per capita assessment would then be a nullity regardless of whether it remains on the books or not.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Part I. How We Got Here

Part II. Syosset: A Trajectory of Failure

Part III. Syosset: Ends, Means, Wants and Necessities (coming soon)

Part IV. Back to the Future? A History of the Diocese of the South (coming soon)

View entire essay (coming soon)


  1. Martin Pendergrass says

    George, I agree with all you have written here. But let us be clear on one matter. This question: Could the dioceses make better use of the savings? is a false question. The $55.00 cut from the national assessment does not go to the diocese. It is $55.00 less the diocese will collect from it parishes. If the diocesan bishops want to use some of this ‘savings’ to bolster their programs they will have to go to their Diocesan Assemblies to ask for an increase in the diocesan assessment. The problem with that is most of the Diocesan Assemblies are taking place prior to the AAC and the vote.

    To be short, the NY/NJ resolution does not call for a redistribution of assessments.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Martin, excellent point. However as a general rule, people tend to bolster their giving when they see results. Speaking as a member of the DOS, we saw results almost daily, ergo, giving was never that great of a problem.

    • I think the idea behind not automatically redirecting the $55 to the dioceses is that part of the problem is $105 is too much. Some dioceses might ask for $55 per capita, but others might ask for less, or use this to transition to a percentage system. These are tough times, and not everyone can spare $105 per year on top of tithing to their parish.

  2. Martin,

    Your point is well taken and it would be up to the dioceses to each decide how best to use the “relative savings”. A diocese may decide to keep collecting that same dollar amount but then redirect it back to diocesan programs. For the South, which does not collect the assessment from its parishes, the positive effect on the diocese is immediate because tithe income stays home thus more for local use.

    The point is that dioceses will be able to decide what is uniquely best for them. Some may argue that the dioceses aren’t capable of doing anything (an elitest attitude that has been heard for decades) but they have also been hamstrung with an ever increasing assessment.

    Let’s start viewing the work of the Church from the bottom up and not from the Syosset perspective of the top down.

  3. Alexey Karlgut says

    Additional numbers for CCA

    While vast majority of vital and fundamental witness, ministries, and life of the Church are manifested most directly and dynamically in local parish communities and sustained, nurtured, and empowered within the diocese, CCA is only concerned with collecting taxes to pay salaries and to perpetuate bureaucracy.

    This is verified by the report of the OCA treasurer for 2010, wherein it clearly states that during the year 2010 the CCA expended 90% of revenues from fair share assessments contributed by participating dioceses toward administrative expenses, while for the same time period reporting expenditures of 2% for charity, missions, Church growth, and seminaries (COMBINED!), and 3% for evangelization, Christian education, Christian service, youth/young adult ministries, pastoral life, vocations, liturgical music/translations, and chaplaincies (COMBINED!). And that is while reporting an operating surplus of over $450,000.00 for this same year 2010! 

    The CCA assessments at current $105 per capita level, levied upon participating dioceses, and, thereby, diocesan parishes, constitute a financial hardship in distressed economic circumstances, and hinders the ability of the parishes and dioceses to properly attend to strengthening the parishes, establishing and growing missions, and expanding witness, ministries, and Christian outreach.                              

    • George Michalopulos says

      Thank you Fr for the additional information. Also, I failed to mention that the Dioceses of the West and New England “garnish” individuals for the assessment, whereas in the South, the Diocese itself gives the CC money from its own budget.

      I realize that some may think that this is a semantic difference but it’s not. The late +Dmitri of Blessed Memory instilled the tithing principle from parishioner to parish and parish to Diocese. He and many of his priests felt that it was unconscionable to ask parishioners to tithe to the parish and then on top of that, ask them to pay a “head tax.” (And, as I’ve said before, as a Greek-American, whenever I hear the word “head tax,” shivers run up and down my spine.)

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        George. you are incorrect. The Diocese of the West does NOT garnish or assess individuals for anything. It assesses the Parishes a percentage of the average of income and expenditures for the previous year The Diocese of the West has been on a percentage assessment since the 1970s. Moreover, the OCA’s CAA which is based on a head count, is assessed by the OCA and collected by the Diocese BASED on the head count, but NEVER garnished or collected from individuals. Perhaps you meant to type “:Diocese of the MIDwestZ?

    • Thank you, George, for providing these percentages of the diocesan budgets. I had no idea that dioceses were sending such a large percentage of the money collected to Syosset. One could answer, “Well, that’s not a function of the CA. The diocese can collect whatever they want.” That’s just a canard. These parishes only have so much money.

      I will reiterate, however, that I believe this money should stay in the parish. Let the parish spend these monies on ministries that will directly serve them. Each parish can decide for themselves – educational material, church growth, evangelism, music, or whatever. I don’t believe the diocese can do this effectively, but ministries run as a professional organization (business) would and could. This is also an opportunity for faithful Orthodox Christians who are very talented in various areas of ministry to build organizations *businesses) which would provide such services. Parishes will spend the money when they see they’re actually getting something in return, instead of throwing it into the black hole of Syosset.

      • Spasi, excellent point! I think this is a wonderful time for creative Orthodox Christians to step into the breach and created ministries that would allow parishes and Dioceses the flexibility to pick and choose those projects that are of immediate need (i.e. educational materials, dedicated construction firms, outreach programs, medical clinics, etc). The only caveat I think should be insisted on is that these ministry/corporations should be blessed by the bishops.

        How’s this for an idea: a group of dedicated well-to-do Orthodox Christians pooling their resources to create a capital-assets firm that provides low-interest mortgages to parishes for building programs? Or Orthodox medical professionals who are semi-retired who can advise parishes on how to run a part-time medical clinic? Or retired volunteers who can run a soup-kitchen? The latter is very do-able as most Orthodox churches have parish halls that are empty throughout the week and the USDA provides surplus commodities that are in need of being consumed otherwise they’ll go to waste.

      • Just curious: What’s the $31,893 line item for “Lawsuit settlement and legal fees” in the NY/NJ financial report for 2010?

  4. One area that Ms Ringa touches on is the voluntary gifts that once supported the OCA program work through the Fellowship of Orthodox Stewards. At its high water mark, don’t recall which year but it was 2003 or 2004, someone can look that up, FOS contributed something like $345K. To see that number now down to $7K is amazing.

    Amazing, yes, but not unexpected when one looks at the leadership of the Church stabbing one another in the back. When you see the open contempt for bishops displayed on the Internet, when the bishops display this in public toward one another. When a senior Protopresbyter of the Church calls the Metropolitan “gravely troubled.” When Pandora’s box was opened by the likes of Stokoe and Wheeler and the disobedience of Job in withholding assessment income and the ouster of Herman and others it should not be too surprising that we now have what we have. This translates into a full-scale lack of confidence by the rank and file of the OCA in believing that the OCA is worth investing in.

    One cannot blame fiscal mismanagement any longer, with all the safeguards now in place, but one can certainly question the expenditures of the Metropolitan Council and blessed by the Synod to spend millions of dollars on lawyers to first try and protect Herman, then going after Herman and trying to go after Kondratick.

    As Fr. Karlgut says, we are living in very tough economic times. People are out of work, clergy standard of living is declining. I would guess that a majority of clergy wives have to work and there are too many clergy who have to work outside the parish to make ends meet. Yet, the 1% in Syosset want to still have their $140K salary and benefit packages, and $70K for a part-time treasurer. Something is wrong when a priest who is fired as chancellor continues on the dole as a “consultant” to the Interim Chancellor. That is just offensive. Could you tell me where I can get fired and still get paid my salary?

    In checking back a few years to past AAC reports, in the bad old days of the Theodosius/Herman/Kondratick times (crossing myself three times!!!!) no one in Syosset made more than the Metropolitan and his salary and benefits were around $100K at the end of his 25 years of service as Metropolitan. The chancellor made less and even the FOS director who brought in lots of money, was only making $42K in salary plus benefits.

    I can only view this as a long time OCA member and not an insider, but it seems to me that we got more bang for our assessment buck back then than we do now. The TOC newspaper came out monthly, we had a visible Youth department, workshops by Syosset staffers, a responsive staff, a human person answering the phones, and a general sense that you were taken seriously when you had a question. All of that might have been a facade and under the surface other things were happening, but I got to tell you, lots of stuff is happening now below the water line but next to nothing of value is visibly happening to impact my parish. We see infighting, church officers getting fat-cat salaries, lawyers siphoning off loads of money, and very little if much of anything that helps my parish priest in his under paid and overworked vocation. He dosen’t complain but I can. Hey, it may just be me. I might be living in some “Fringe” alternative universe, but I kinda think I am just a regular OCA member. If perception is reality, then it is no wonder that folks are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

    If I could give just one bit of advice to the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod, I would say, start burning the midnight oil, present a budget based on a significantly reduced assessment, maybe not as low as $50 but not any higher than $70, show good will, be responsive to economic realities in the USA and get out in front of this issue. If you show good will, the delegates will also. Start the very hard work of rebuilding trust and hope in the OCA; stop all the public fighting and trying to get rid of Jonah. Ramp up the voluntary giving programs, make the case that the OCA is worth investing in again. Don’t expect people to hand you their hard-earned money, earn it, make the case. Be willing to sacrifice yourself first! It will not be easy because so much ill-will and destruction has taken place since 2006. It will almost be like starting over, and maybe that is not such a bad thing.

    But, if you go to Bellevue and cry poor and paint a doom and gloom picture because you can’t get your $105, you are going to get thrown out on your ear. And you should expect it.

  5. Is the GOAA as open about its finances as the OCA?

    • How do you measure that? If the OCA has a line item in their financial statements for paper clips, and GOA doesn’t, is that better?

      The GOA publishes their yearly financial statements here:
      Links to budgets and year end totals are on the left.

      But let’s ask the right question: Is the GOA producing something of value for the $20-25 million that their church collects and spends each year? And we could ask the same of the Antiochians. Are they? The answer is easy: Look at what they both produce. Look at their outstanding websites, look at their ministries, look at their camps and buildings and expansion programs, mandatory educational offerings for their priests, rich publications sent to the laity, and look at the quality of the media they produce. The answer is a very clear YES.

      Can we say the same about the OCA at the national level? What have they produced? Virtually nothing.

      The OCA is paying a disgraced and dismissed former chancellor, Fr Garklavs, $140,000 a year. The man was FIRED, and yet he still collects a pay check, because the MC wanted to give the middle finger to Met Jonah. His salary is 7% of the entire budget, at the expense of important ministries which build up the church. Frankly, that’s akin to a criminal act. The Metropolitan Council should offer their resignations en masse immediately for that particular act of disobedience.

      • Thanks.

      • Spasi, when you put it that way, I’d say that on Garklavs alone, that’s misfeasance. It also dovetails nicely with DeCodevilla’s essay on The Ruling Class. Basically, screw up and get promoted.

      • The Metropolitan Council should offer their resignations en masse immediately for that particular act of disobedience.

        I agree. I wonder if any of the delegates to the AAC will be brave enough to demand that. Fr. Garklavs and Bishop Melchisedek should both have been fired from chancery positions in May, yet the Synod – including Bishop Melchisdek himself, in a massive conflict of interest – enabled them both by declaring that the chancery staff was under their collective oversight instead of the Metropolitan’s (contrary to the human resources handbook, common sense, and the entire history of the freaking OCA).

        As for the Metropolitan Council… I don’t know if it’s possible under normal procedures, but I’d love to see every current member forced off and new elections held. The dragnet is large enough to catch any of the good guys left on there, but I guess they would be like the healthy cells that get cut out with the cancer. I don’t think that’s too likely to happen, but I will say that at least there’s going to be four at-large positions and two alternate positions open for elections at the AAC. It’s not much, but it’s something.

        • Heracleides says

          How truly bizarre Helga… (I guess great minds think alike 😛 ) I say this because I was also thinking about the Metropolitan Council At-Large positions today and had whipped up the following image, which is titled “Yes He Can!” and may be viewed at:

          Wouldn’t that outcome place the “Holy” Synod on the horns of a dilema.

          • Herc, if they elect Mark Stokoe to an at-large position and say “Yes, he can!”, I hope Bishop Matthias will step in and say, “Oh, no, he can’t!” 🙂

            • Is Stokoe a delegate from his parish? That is the only way he would have a chance at being elected at large. Also, his bishop, has to approve his credentials. Thus he could reject him even being a delegate. That would be the best option and most consistent given his removal from the MC by his bishop. Maybe someone could find out if Stokoe is trying to attend as a delegate. BTW, even if he tries to attend as an observer, his credentials have to be blessed by his bishop.

              I don’t know if the Metropolitan Council has usurped that power from the bishops yet, I am assuming they have not.

              • One would think that should be the case, Jacob. But we’ve seen quite a number of OCA regulations thrown out the window recently, right?

                Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to have enough oversight over the chancery staff to be able to fire people who aren’t doing their jobs, but that was taken from him.

                Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to have the authority to appoint locum tenentes to vacant dioceses, but that was usurped by the Synod on a number of occasions and finally taken from him formally in May.

                Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to have the same authority over his diocese as other bishops have over theirs, yet the Synod forced him to fire the dean of his cathedral and release a monastery to another jurisdiction.

                Metropolitan Jonah is supposed to receive compensation for his work, but according to his draft speech, some of it was withheld by the chancery staff. Mark Stokoe attempted to explain this by claiming Metropolitan Jonah expected another $20,000 payment after that amount was given to him for moving expenses, but no such payment was ever disbursed to the Metropolitan to begin with.

                Also, people who aren’t in good standing with the Church are not supposed to serve on the Metropolitan Council, but we had two of them until quite recently. The one who resigned is from Metropolitan Jonah’s diocese, so he technically could have removed her, but I’d be willing to wager that he wasn’t allowed to.

                So if the All-American Council is now magically allowed to elect someone who isn’t a delegate, who was just thrown off the council by his diocesan bishop, I would not be surprised.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  I can now honestly say that when it comes to the OCA leadership, nothing would surprise me.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Helga, the usurpationi of power by the MC is the logical end-result of what Fr Schmeman of Blessed Memory set up but I’m sure would now regret. A good quesiton to be raised is: why did he do it?

                    My guess is that after he invigorated American Orthodoxy and esp SVS, he looked around at what constituted the “aristocracy” of the Metropolia and was genuinely shocked at the homunculi which were proferred up as episcopal candidates. I guess he felt that these singularly mediocre (at best) men had to have handlers who were not as corrupt and more intelligent than them.

              • In time, they will.

            • Do NOT vote for OCA proposed Amendment #2 then. The amendment states anyone elected “shall serve” three years–which means they can not be removed. It should state “shall be elected” for three years.

              • Good catch Robert. Another example of the MC and Synod keeping a close eye on the shop! Sheesh! Does anybody there know what is going on? I mean that is just embarrassing.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Helga. Someone referred to the requirement that the diocesan bishops each certify to the legality of the delegates from their parishes. I know that no general parish meeting whatsoever elected the two women who will be going to the AAC as delegates from the Los Angeles cathedral. It was forgotten at the Annual Parish meeting early this year. The current Rector, however, nominated two members of his Parish Council and announced in the parish monthly bulletin that members should stop by the parish office at their convenience and vote for Ms.. A and Ms. S.!!! As we all know, those of us who can read and have access to the OCA’\s Statute, delegates to AACs are elected at a parish general meeting, while delegates to a Diocesan Assembly may be elected by the Parish Councils. A special parish meeting with one agenda item only could have been held, after proper notice. No such meeting has been held. I mention this because one of those women, Ms. A., is an attorney who Bishop Benjamin appointed to his SIC!!!! It’s also amazing that she, recently widowed and the current choir director, was married to another lawyer, a Jewish one, whom she married some time after she converted to Orthodoxy. How do you like them apples? I bet they’ll be certified. Any takers? Maybe Ms. A., will be nominated from the floor. for the Metropolitan Soviet…..?

          • Your Grace, I dislike those apples intensely. However, Mrs. A was not appointed by Bishop Benjamin to the SIC, she was chosen by the SIC to serve as a legal consultant.

  6. I think the reason for the FOS decline between 2004 and 2010 is very simple: “Don’t throw good money after bad.” If they want anything close to 2004 levels, they’re going to have to clean up their collective act.

    • What took me too many words, Helga sums up in a few!

      Syosset. You want it? Earn our trust first. Then we can talk in three years!

      • Well, I try, Jacob. 🙂 It was just the first thing that popped into my head after reading your post. It’s just absurdly insulting to hear someone making $70,000 on a part-time job – she gets another paycheck from SVS because she’s also their part-time treasurer – try to poison people against the New York resolution. How many of us make what she does, or $140k on a full-time job? How can they tell us to keep throwing money down the Syosset crapper?

        Did anyone read those officers’ reports? Fr. Eric Tosi’s ode to the OCA chancery made me nauseous. It has everything, gardens, paths, a fancy sitting room, everything!… except room for larger meetings, which they rent from a nearby hotel. Strangely enough, I kind of thought one of the reasons for having a chancery is so they can hold meetings and stuff like that. Not so the chancery staff can go traipse along garden paths and invent stuff to do!

        Poor Metropolitan Jonah. If I were in his place, I’d have a concussion from banging my head against the wall.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          He would not notice it, Helga. He has a very sore neck from constantly turning the other cheek to his opponents over the past year.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Point taken, Fr. Maybe he should stop for the time being.

            • Ah, George, but if they continue, and Metropolitan Jonah continues turning the other cheek, he will be heaping burning coals on their heads. The way of repentance and humility is always the right choice. Whatever else happens, may God strengthen Metropolitan Jonah and preserve his soul for the Kingdom.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Helga, it’s a good point. One of the Desert Fathers (St Isaac the Syrian?) said that when people see repentance it leads to one of two opposite reactions in the observer: repentance or further hatred. We see an indication of this in Exodus where Pharoah’s heart is “hardened” in its resolve against the Hebrews. Unfortunately for him, he and his army were destroyed by his obstinancy.

          • Fr. Patrick, I wonder if you notice in Stokoe’s latest where he says the Metropolitan simply “stared silently into space” at times during the meetings.

            I had just been really struck by Metropolitan Jonah’s chapter on forgiveness and reconciliation in his new book, speaking of Christ-like humility in the face of torments, citing this verse from Isaiah 53: “he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”

            Somehow it would not surprise me if Metropolitan Jonah’s opponents mistook seemly humility (and probably the Jesus Prayer) for a mere daydream.

            • That response by the Metropolitan was certainly lost on Stokoe, “stared silently into space.” Just that one observation by Stokoe speaks volumes as to where he is at and will continue to be until he accepts the instruction of his bishop to close down OCAN. He and his crank website has done so much damage to the OCA that it may be too late. Only now folks are beginning to realize the depth of his perversion of the words conciliarity, transparency and accountability, let alone telling the whole truth. If Stokoe is seated at the Council it is just another sign of the toxic culture in the OCA.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Amos, agreed. When I read that I said to myself “wow, Stokoe doesn’t know anything about ascesis and the life of prayer.” Anybody with even a cursory knowledge of Christianity recognized what +Jonah was doing –praying, probably for his tormenters.

                Sheesh, what corruption plagues our Church. Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.

                • George, I bet you remember the psych tests that Metropolitan Jonah passed, where they found he didn’t have so much as a case of ADD, “as one well-known priest predicted”.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    You know, Helga, the GOA couldn’t have orchestrated the demise of the OCA any better than the Stokovites have. 22,000 “dues-paying members.” If this is a joke, it’s a sick one.

                  • Helga,

                    Jonah passed his pysch tests, but the Synod did not like the results BECAUSE Benjamin wanted Jonah to check himself into a drug and alcohol treatment center. That is an old soviet trick, put the party into a treatment center so you can say to the world, “see, he had a problem and we only wanted the best for him.” Pure baloney.

                    The fact is, the treatment center that Benjamin wanted him to check into would not even take him even if he went there because he would not have passed the tests to get in, being he is neither a drunk nor an addict. So it was a well-orchestrated “catch-22” for Jonah. Because he did not do the insane that the Synod wanted him to do, he is branded insane, gravely troubled, ADD, or whatever else.

                    Some whisper or even worse make fun of him saying, “Jonah is so obese, there must be something wrong with him…” Well, they are right. He is FAT. Very FAT. He knows it. He has battled it his whole life. So let’s call him insane because he is so FAT. Let’s call him names.

                    Sadly, what often happens is that people who have addictive personalities or their own emotional issues, some even who have gone to the extreme to lose weight by undergoing stomach stapling surgery, those who have even been arrested for DUI or been through a rehab program, and who, in the case of weight, have put back almost all the weight they lost after such a surgery, thus continue to display their own patterns of additive behavior – as some of these types of people instead of showing compassion and patience lash out in projecting their own troubles onto others, their own self-hatred, their own disgust for themselves. One would think, and maybe should even expect, that if a person like that was a bishop or high-ranking cleric of the Church, that they would not be so quick to judge another especially when they themselves are battling such demons.

                    There are just way too many angry and unhappy people in high places in the OCA. It is no wonder that when they come upon a guy like Jonah who they really can’t seem to figure out because when he is attacked he does not attack back, it must be darn infuriating for them. So, Jonah must be crazy. Yeah, right!

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      When you have had your life and reputation taken away from you, and you are shunned, despised, hated, maligned, slandered, and have had all manner of evil said against you falsely and relentlessly, it makes you kind of mad at the ones who put you there.

                    • Amos, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photo of Metropolitan Jonah that’s earlier than 2002 or so, but he was probably fat before he became a monk. It offends me when I see accusations that because Metropolitan Jonah is overweight, he must be a secret eater and a hypocrite. Even when following the monastic fasts, it’s hard to lose weight once you’ve gained it, and it’s especially hard for a man his age. It’s his body and his struggle, and it shouldn’t be the concern of anyone but himself, his spiritual father, and his doctors.

                      If they want to make a big deal about it, though, maybe we should start weighing and judging Bishop Benjamin and all of these paunchy archpriests, too. I think you are right to see this as others projecting their own problems on Metropolitan Jonah. Did you notice in Met. Jonah’s podcast for AFR anticipating the council, he referred to the OCA’s recent problems as “spiritual warfare”?

                      One of the most striking comments I’ve ever read on Monomakhos was that of the seminarian who posted that at a gathering for the graduating classes that was held at Syosset, a priest working there openly mocked the Metropolitan to his face in front of the seminarians, making rude comments and interrupting. (I will assume that the seminarians and faculty were too shocked by the rude display to say anything.) You can be sure that was done to put Metropolitan Jonah in his place, humiliating him in front of new priests and lay leaders of the OCA, making sure they would see him as a weak figure, easy to push around. Add to that the information gleaned from the Metropolitan’s speech in Santa Fe, and it’s not hard to believe that seminarian’s account is true.

                      Even scarier is Fr. Thomas Hopko’s allegedly claiming that the Holy Spirit was not at work in the previous election. If he truly said that, that is outrageous. Whether we like them or not, the Holy Spirit chooses our bishops, even Metropolitans Herman and Theodosius. Their failures as bishops are due to their inability to bear the light yoke of Christ and to fulfill that awesome calling. But that does NOT mean the Holy Spirit made a mistake in choosing them or that the Holy Spirit was not present when they were elected. To say otherwise is to embrace a bizarre and perverted pneumatology, not unlike the Donatist heresy. To say that the Holy Spirit was not present at the election of a sitting hierarch is nothing short of base treachery.

                      There is also the possibility of others’ sinfulness sabotaging one’s episcopal ministry, as in the case of St. Nektarios of Aegina and many others, and I believe the number of those sabotaged includes our Metropolitan Jonah. It’s just ludicrous to send him to an addiction rehab when he doesn’t have a problem. I don’t think insurance covers alcohol/drug rehab unless you ACTUALLY HAVE A PROBLEM. So he would have not only had his reputation tarnished, he would have been on the hook for paying for the unnecessary treatment.

                      The more I think about it, the more I am profoundly grateful for the Moscow Patriarchate watching over the OCA, and particularly Metropolitan Hilarion’s visit to the OCA in March. No autocephalous church exists in isolation so absolute that they can act however they want without reference to the rest of the Orthodox Church, without reference to our faith and traditions. The sight of God is where we have real accountability and transparency, and where the obscene rhetoric of OCANews supporters dies its well-deserved death.

                    • Even scarier is Fr. Thomas Hopko’s allegedly claiming that the Holy Spirit was not at work in the previous election. If he truly said that, that is outrageous.

                      Seriously? That truly is outrageous. No wonder I rarely listen to him any more. I’m quite over him.

                    • Helga, very well put. I for one would like to confirm the two stories you related (about what Hopko supposedly said and the priest who humiliated HB in front of the seminarians). If true (and I’ve heard them myself), I’d like to post them on this blog so that these priests who acted in such an un-Christian manner can be made to answer for their grotesque statements.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      It’s a bit dizzying to read about the (alleged) struggles of Bishop Benjamin and the (known) struggles of Metropolitan Jonah in the same paragraphs. They are both our bishops, and they are both in line with the Holy Apostles. But for me, thinking about Metropolitan Jonah reminds me of the feeling I have while waiting for spring to come in April in northern Wisconsin. Like waiting for Pascha during Lent. You know what I mean? Not so much when I think of Bishop Benjamin. I always think of how utterly worn he looks in the photo of him blessing the frozen waters of Alaska. He looks older than he is, that’s for sure.

                      Also, remember, Metropolitan Jonah’s attackers have agendas.

                      On the other hand, if a bishop cracks down hard on another bishop he knows very well and has supported in the past, and if that is done in a private letter, and if the cracking hit the spots where it might have done some good for the sake of the recipient’s salvation, even if it seems brutal to those of us who were not intended to read it, it might not have been as unwise, cruel, impatient and lacking in compassion as you might imagine. Sometimes there is no other alternative when all other “softer” avenues have been exhausted. I don’t know, I wasn’t there but it seems like a possibility.

                      AA and all its offshoots offers help for every addiction, and these programs work. But the person has to follow the program.

                    • Well, the priest in the seminarian story would probably have to be one of the three currently working at the chancery. It was originally posted here.

                      I can’t remember where I read the thing about Fr. Thomas Hopko, but I know I’ve read that recently.

            • Is there a chapter on there about dissembling regarding the disclosure of the Church’s legal strategy to the opposing party?

              • Ted Logan, the OCA’s legal team does not exist to execute justice for the oppressed, it exists to cover the OCA’s institutional ass.

                • And not doing a very good job of “covering that institution” with the string of lost lawsuits and payouts they have incurred. Sidebottom, Koumentakos, Kondratick. Did I miss any? Seems like only the lawyers are getting rich these days on our assessment money. I bet if it goes to $50 and no lawyer who will defend them if they can’t pay, that the MC will be a bit more circumspect and prudent with other people’s money.

              • I’m assuming that the OCA’s legal strategy is only as strong as the leaders that are outlining it? If so, the OCA is screwed no matter what. We could go through the three big suits and realize that it was apparently led by the firm of Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dee.

                Sidebottom – they signed an agreement which forever changed the way they handled misconduct allegations. In other words, they gave away the store in proportion to the weak Sidebottom case. Settled promising a sledge hammer when a feather would have sufficed. Stupid.
                Koumentakos – she continues to bad mouth the OCA and the priest in question even though she signed an agreement to the contrary after a big pay-off. Stupid.
                Kondratick – $750,000 was spent on settling a $250,000 note. And, the entire OCA SIC report was rejected by the DA as being inadequate evidence to prosecute. Stupid.

                Great job. $2.5 million spent on legal matters since 2006.

                • Spasi, maybe the institutional corruption is so bad that it will take prayer and fasting to overcome it. Certainly a change of heart.

                  • I’m sorry if I seem jaded. I probably am. So many have worked their lives to build up the OCA, and it only took a few to bring it down. I will reflect on your words at Liturgy tomorrow as I’m singing with the choir.

                    • That’s the sadness isn’t it? Just a select group of corrupt men who never made it to the priesthood or because they’re married, feel cheated out of the episcopate, but whose institutional memory of corruption based on their own corruption is enough to bring down the Church. Lord have mercy.

                    • Metropolitan Jonah is hoping that this council will mark a spiritual renewal for the OCA. Maybe we can help that come to pass by joining together in prayer.

                    • I understand. But let’s also heed the words of our Lord to his Apostles: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” (Mt 10:16).

                      We can’t do one while leaving the other undone.

                    • Absolutely, Spasi, but I’m afraid a trip to Seattle is not in my budget right now.

                • Spasi, to be fair on the Sidebottom case, I don’t think he even asked for any money. Between that and the Iliff case, the OCA and its institutions did need some reform in how they handle sexual misconduct allegations. I just wish they’d stop dropping everything else onto the sword of this sexual misconduct policy. Metropolitan Jonah is not stupid or crazy, and he knows how devastating sexual abuse is to the victims. Not following the suggestions of the SMPAC does not mean the OCA will get sued into oblivion. It’s just a big scare tactic designed to make people afraid to support the Metropolitan.

                  As for Kondratick and Koumentakos, you’re totally right. Koumentakos is just plain mean sometimes. Metropolitan Jonah gave her a very nice apology, considering that the whole thing happened while he was an abbot in California and he never did anything to her.

                  The Kondratick countersuit was a total waste of time and money. They knew they didn’t have a prayer of shirking that promissory note, and they should have just settled to begin with.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  Spasi, you’re sure right!
                  But, you know, even though the SIC report SEEMS worthless, according to the treatment it got from the DA, there’s another side to that process. Last year, for example, a resolution of the Diocesan Assembly of the Diocese of the West thanked Bishop Benjamin for “restoring Transparency to Christ’s Holy Church (sic) through the SIC Report!” And then, this year, on Facebook, an Archpriest member of that SIC published the cover picture for the “2011 SIC Calendar.” It shows the whole blessed SIC sitting around the table looking at the camera. It’s a rip-off calendar stapled to a large piece of cardboard with the photo on the top of it.
                  I confess I lost it when I read of that resolution, and I wrote to some leaders and asked,,
                  Do the Ecumenical and Moscow Patriarchates reallze what Bishop Benjamin has done for their Church, “Christ’s Holy Church”, restoring (sic) Her Transparency?”
                  I wanted to write all the delegates and ask them to let me know when Christ’s Holy Church was becoming opaque again.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              You’re absolutely right about His Beatitude’s staring into space. Mrs. Fitzgerald always told her son that when someone loudly breaks wind, one should not say anything, make no answer or comment but just try to look as if nothing at all happened!.

              • Your Grace, are you saying His Beatitude’s detractors were issuing the verbal equivalent of flatulence? LOL.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  Why, Helga! As the Prime Minister in “House of Cards” might say, “You could very well think that: I, on the other hand could NEVER say such a thing;!”

                  I also know that SOME people might say that the Bishop who is supposedly dumber than a pailful of hammers was just covering up his own loud flatulence when he “shouted,” as Mrs. Brown reported

                  • Ah, the Bishop Nikon shouting incident, another anecdote used out of context to humiliate Metropolitan Jonah. It reminds me of Stokoe’s gratuitous swipe at the end of his account of the May MC meeting, saying that the “Eis Polla” was weak and died out quickly. I hypothesized that perhaps the Metropolitan Council is simply a lousy singing group.

                    • Your Grace,

                      The Synod is less a body with you absent. If you did nothing else, and you did much more, you kept them humble with your wit. You, like so many were a senseless casuality of Stokoe and Wheeler pogrom.

                      BTW, is it true that Bishop Benjamin wrote you and said that because of the longstanding practice of the OCA, retired bishop sit with retired clergy? If indeed that is true, Benjamin is a petty liar. That has NEVER been the practice of the OCA. Retired bishops always sat with the episcopate of the Church, even as late as the last AAC when retired bishop Puhalo sat at the main podium in Pittsburgh.

                      What an angry bitter man he has become and how he continues to humiliate you and others to rule his diocese by intimidation. Disgusting.

        • Can everyone please cool off with the $140k number? Do you know how much it costs to live in the greater NYC area? Doing a cost of living comparison from Yonkers (where SVS is located) to Dallas, TX (which is roughly average for the country) says: “A salary of $140,000 in Yonkers, New York could decrease to $84,737 in Dallas, Texas.”

          $140k might be high, but its not *that* high. I can think of a lot better places to cut $20k out of the budget than a treasurer’s salary. The best way I can think of to save money is to move the chancery ANYWHERE but NYC (or major CA cities). If you did that, you could cut all the salaries in half and nobody would notice. 🙂

          The funny thing is how they are willing to consider any option to reduce the budget except the one that +Jonah proposed, which was in my mind quite a sensible move, namely: move the chancery to DC. The amount of money lost on the sale of the property and the cost of the move would be more than made back in a few years by the decrease in salaries resulting from a decreased cost of living.

          • You make an excellent point, Anonymous. I believe the salaries are still high even for the Syosset area, though, because a $140k salary there is still like making $100k in a more average part of the country. Yet the money for that salary comes from all over the country, where the cost of living is lower. In other words, it costs the people who give that $140k a lot more than it gives to the person who receives it.

            Remember that Yonkers is the least-affluent part of Westchester County. SVS is technically within the city of Yonkers, but is in a very affluent neighborhood (Crestwood) near the city limits, close to the villages of Bronxville, Tuckahoe, and Scarsdale, so the cost of living is comparatively high in that area compared to the rest of Yonkers. Also, Syosset is a very affluent part of Nassau County. Keep that in mind when comparing costs of living, and try to use a calculator that works by ZIP code rather than city or county.

            Moving to DC would not only mean a decreased cost of living, pretty much every expense would be decreased because of it.

            • Well Anon if that’s the case, then shouldn’t all OCA parish priests in that state make a comparable salary? I mean, because they actually work for a living. also shouldn’t the bishop there make at least as much as that? According to George, he makes close to $100,000 less than the chancellor.

              • Jim of Olym says

                Since the epicenter of the OCA is in the Midwest, the South and the West, why not move the Chancery to someplace like Tennessee, or Kansas (God help us!) Then our HQ would be in the epicenter of the USA.And it would be a lot cheaper than NYC or DC. The skufia belt is moving westward, even as I speak. We could use some more monasteries out here in the hinterlands as well.
                Not trying to be snarky, but well…..
                Rdr. james morgan
                olympia, WA

                • Jim,

                  There are those who think the OCA is imploding. I rather think it has imploded. Moving the chancery to Kansas at this point would make about as much sense as trying to do a redesign on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

                  Talk of moving the Chancery is one of the reasons why Jonah became Public Enemy #1 by his chancery staff who had a vested interest in keeping Syosset in Syosset.

                  The OCA now has a bit part in a much bigger Orthodox picture here in the USA. The days of Moscow or the EP through the GOA considering what the OCA thinks about a particular issue are long gone. Long gone is the sense of cooperation and good will.

                  We will go through the motions at our AAC and thump our collective chests and tell ourselves that we are still the Church of Fr Alexander or and Fr. Meyendorf, but that legacy is long gone memory. We will invoke the names of Sts Herman, Innocent and Tikhon and say that we carry on their legacy. But the truth is that we have failed them. Others are carrying on their work with much more veracity than we are. Yes, there are parishes, dioceses in the OCA that are doing the work, more or less, but as a local Church, the OCA is in her twilight.

                  So, Jim, Kansas is not the answer for the OCA. A change of location is just a change of location and will solve nothing if you take the same dysfunctional mentality and characters with you.

                  I really feel sorry for Metropolitan Jonah because I think he was the right man, but the wrong Orthodox Church.

                  I pray that your efforts in hosting the AAC will not be in vain.

          • As a Priest’s wife, I had to comment on the “poor” salary equivalent of $84,000 or whatever it was in Dallas vs. NYC. Many priests live on $40,000 or less including healthcare in metropolitan areas like Pittsburgh and Chicago, etc. I know that my husband is on call 24/7 and works 16 hour days frequently. He does this willingly, and frankly, the Lord has provided everything we have ever needed. ( Maybe not everything we have wanted.) He has put two girls through college, and we go on vacation every year. We love our people, and we try to be frugal and not ask for stuff for the rectory, etc. because we know they struggle with their finances, also. Maybe the corporate priest types need to live on faith like the rest of us blue collar clergy types do.

    • Maybe someone can dig up the FOS number for 1994-2004. I think it was in steady decline under Fester’s leadership, such that after Fr Eugene Vansuch reposed, they treated it as if it had died with him.

      • Ted, I’m not sure what you mean. Please understand that I’m not carrying Fester’s water here. My thesis is that American Orthodoxy in general, and the OCA in this case, has been a petri dish of dysfunctionality. I identified this dysfunction as “The Dumping Ground” and one of its hallmarks is that there are corrupt cabals which grow and gain momentum. These cabals try to govern but most often simply derail genuine reformist efforts. Because of their knowledge of corruption, they can stop certain careers and derail others simply by threatening the real leaders (i.e. bishops) with exposure if they don’t do what they say.

        It appears that what is coming out from all this is that Stokoe was part of this cabal as were others who have been mentioned. It’s messy and more complicated in that some of these people themselves get thrown under the bus. It’s part of homosexual pathology that this happens.

        • another one says

          George, Ted, Amos,

          Please, isn’t it Father Fester? And still is, isn’t it?

        • M. Stankovich says

          I find your final statement, “it’s part of homosexual pathology” to be nothing short of a common racial slur. It is unsubstantiated, ignorant, childish and lends absolutely nothing to your point but purposeful, mean-spirited insult. If I were one who was given this struggle as podvig, as a path of σωφροσύνη – whole-mindedness, purity, and self-control – to which we are all called, I would cite you as someone who speaks of “integrity,” but acts as a “loose cannon.”

          • I would tend to agree with you to point out that it would have been more precise to say it was Stokoe’s pathology which is on full display. No need to blanket an entire group of people because of his poor example.

            • I agree, Amos – homosexuals should not be held out as some discrete pathological entity. It’s interesting that real civil rights activists would argue the essential humanity of the group being discriminated against, while so-called gay rights activist dogma holds that homosexuals are a special, separate class from other people, defined by their ‘sexuality’.

            • Jim of Olym says

              What if Stokoe were a married heterosexual? Would you be slamming him as you do now? I don’t think all his posts from whenever his blog started are out of line. Was some ‘homo’ agenda at play when he pointed out the errancies of the Antiochians, or those of +Theodosius and +Herman, which in turn led to the current snafu? whatever Mark’s ‘proclivities’ (which were supposedly outed by a bishop who should perhaps hold his head in shame over someone else’s private sins) they should not be held against the truth of what he posts on his own website. I’m not commenting on the ‘truth’ but on the content of those who now militate against him when the applauded him heretofore.
              Rdr. James Morgan

              • Reader James, you are quite mistaken. I would come out foursquare against the calumnies and slanders of Stokoe if he were a married heterosexual as well.

                Do you want proof? OK, here it is: I don’t know if you’ve been following this blog for long, but several months ago I came out with both guns blazing against Frs Ted Bobosh, Robert Arida, and Alexis Vinogradsky –all married (I assume heterosexual) priests within the OCA. Why did I do so? Because they have accepted and preached the homosexual apologetic either in writing or in preaching. I even coined a term for this apologetic, “the ABV axis.” They are far more damaging to the Church than Stokoe, who at the end of the day is a mere layman.

                Want more proof? I took both Frs Michael Oleksa and Thomas Hopko to task –not for preaching–but for bearing false witness against Metropolitan +Jonah. That sin is just as egregious as theft, adultery, fornication, etc. That sin alone, in a court of law can send an innocent to death row.

                So, please quit your moral posturing and insinuations that I’m some “gay basher.” If any of these men were homosexual but otherwise private and not preaching their grievous heresies or breaking one of the Ten Commandments, then I wouldn’t have taken them to task, like I did Stokoe. Who, let us not forget is bearing false witness against his neighbor as well as living in open sin (by his own admission).

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Mark Stokoe was “outed” by no bishop whatsoever. He was “outed” by the writer of his mother’s obituary in Seattle’s main newspaper who identified Steven Brown, Mark Stokoe’s long-time companion and housemate, as her son-in-law. You know, even Orthodox read, even in the Northwest! It was impossible for even an obituary to “out” him at, e.g., the OCA Chancery or amongst his SVS schoolmates or among his close associates in the Diocese of the Midwest.
                I remember when someone asked Fr. Alexander Schmeman of blessed memory about a Metropolitan who had been retired from the San Francisco see and made to live in Canada, ‘Did you suspect that he was a homosexual, Father? ” Father Alexander, in his inimitable way, retorted, “What do you mean, ‘suspect?” He LIVED with us when he was at the Seminary!”
                Outed Mark Stokoe? My, oh, my.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                I’m sorry for this additional note. Jim of Olymp referred to homosexuality as “someone’s private sins.” There are no “private sins.” That is elementary. Moreover, there ARE “things which are doe in secret which….”
                As for what was bruited on that confounded web site: What about the references to Metropolitan
                Theodosius’s habits and blackmail referencing them? Those were two allegations in the original filthy missive of Protodeacon Eros Wheeler which were never demonstrated or substantiated by anyone or any publication. It was Mrs. Steve Brown, whose “private” sins should never be mentioned, I guess, who, ironically, right behind Archbishop Job, relentlessly and repetitively intoned that Wheeler’s sordid allegations must be answered. From that the OCA was launched on a path of allegation, recrimination, investigation, prosecution, condemnation. PerhapsTHAT is what Americans are uniquely contributing to the Orthodox Church; the Bishop, the Priest, the Deacon, the Layman as investigator and prosecutor! Not only a Metropolitan Soviet, but a Special Investigative Commission!!!!
                Too bad the Old World Churches never had this sort of thing! Of course, if anyone in the OCA would have the dastardly temerity to “lawyer up” in response to such scurrility, THEY would be despicable and uncanonical people.

          • M: I’m gonna break my rule about commenting on my blog on the Lord’s Day ((whch I started about 2 months ago) and state that I know this is an unpopular statement, but these types of “mind games” are very common in homosexual circles. Common sense alone indicates that. For a more objective assessment gleaned from the historical record, I’m going to wait until tonite and publish on this thread the words of William L Shirer, who wrote the first, definitive book on the Third Reich.

            Until then, I would comment that just because this may be given as a “podvig”, does not mean that its pathology cannot induce the sufferer to behave in certain, negative fashions. By your reasoning, some are given the podvig of drunkenness. I know many alcoholics who are now sober and wonderful people. They know however how they have to navigate through life and some of their decisions can impact others.

            Let me give you a minor example: if I know someone who is to be my dining companion to be an alcoholic, I will try to suggest a place where no alcohol is served. If that’s not possible, then I won’t order an a drink in his presence, but something like an ice-tea.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Not to belabor the point, but I believe you know exactly my point. I, again, suggest that we are all called to σωφροσύνη – self-control & purity – irrespective of the struggle to holiness in specific. I fail to see your purpose as other than to purposely demean, and more often than not, I believe rationalization is embarrassingly transparent.

              • M, I do not mean to demean. As I’ve said time and time again, I think that there are men and women struggling with this passion who are far holier than myself. However, that does not obviate the fact that there is a pathology associated with this passion, as there is with promiscuity, alcoholism, drug-taking, etc. There are good reasons not to have any men who struggle with these pathologies in positions of authority. (Former President Clinton, a man of base appetites, was very susceptible to being led around by the nose because of his weaknesses.)

                I told earlier I’d bring a reference to how homosexuality used to be viewed as a pathology with no hint of criticism. Here it is:

                “After considerable difficulties the S.A. was reorganized into an armed band of several hundred thousand men to protect Nazi meetings, to break up the meetings of others and to generall terrorize those who opposed Hitler. Some of its leaders hoped to see the S.A. supplant the Regular Army when Hitler came to power…But the brown-shirted S.A. never became much more than a motley mob of brawlers. Many of its top leaders, beginning with its chief, Roehm, were notorious homosexual perverts. Lieutenant Edmund Heines, who led the Munich S.A., was not only a homosexual but a convicted murderer. These two and dozens of others quarreled and feuded as only men of unnatural sexual inclininations, with their peculiar jealousies, can.”

                –William L Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster,1959, 1960 ed., p 120.)

                • Jim of Olym says

                  Well, to get political, George, what about George W. Bush who was evidently led about by greed and lust of power and led us into not one but TWO stupid wars which we are fighting even now.
                  As well as all the Republican and Democratic politicians who have succumbed to lustful sins.
                  Remember that ‘lady’ in the lagoon in central Washington? Wasn’t that with some guy from Congress, Wayne whatisname?
                  Give me a break.

                  Jim of olym

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                    “Jim of Olym”: Would you please explain why you think the U.S. military operation against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11 was (or is) a “stupid” war? [Full disclosure: during my last five years on active duty as an Orthodox U.S. Army chaplain, I deployed to Afghanistan on nine occasions–each, to be sure, for a month or less–to offer the Holy Mysteries of Confession, the Eucharist, and Unction, and even one Orthodox memorial service and “ramp ceremony” to our American and Coalition troops of the Orthodox faith. I also made four similar trips to Iraq for the same purpose.]

                    • Fr Webster, you have highlighted the essential reflexive stupidy and mendacity of modern liberalism. It was just five short years ago when things were going good in Afghanistan that these same people held it up as the exemplar of the “good war” as opposed to the Iraqi intervention which was the “war for oil.”

                  • Jim, you’re making my point re the Congressman. He was a victim of his own lust. As for GWBush, you’re making my point again as he is an alcoholic. We are dealing passions here, Jim. Passions are not simply sexual in nature but they all make us slaves one way or the other.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      I don’t recall anyone calling the war in Afghanistan a “good war.” Many considered that there was something “righteous” about it, because it was focussed on getting revenge on Osama Bin Laden for 9/11. Making war on Iraq was total misdirection.
                      Of course, neither war was just. it MIGHT have been just to make war on Saudi Arabia for many reasons, but we did not. America was left with many steamy, stinking messes when Bush, Cheney and the rest were vote out by the American electorate. I think it’s….oh…..not gracious to pile on President Obama He, Pelosi, and the rest of them could very well have piled on the previous administration with impeachments, etc., as for example, the famous retired prosecutor, Vincent Bugiliosi recommended.
                      I’m 78, going on 79 next month. I was born the year FDR was elected. That liberal President and those with him led us through the Depression and LED the United States of America in an unconditional surrender war against the mightiest forces ever assembled and allied against Liberalism where ever it dared to appear.. Hitler and Tojo’s and Mussolini’s hatred of Liberalism was never exceeded by any other hatred of Liberalism but that of Mao-tse-tung and Yosif V. Stalin.
                      Just war! It’s as Latin and scholastic an idea as ANYTHING dreamed of in Russia or by Metropolitan Peter Mogila!.

                    • Your Grace, several commentators on TV (all channells, not just FOX) remarked throughout the 2004-6 period that our role in Afghanistan was good and just. After all, the host government there –the Taliban–hosted Al-Qaeda, which perpetrated the attacks on us. That’s all I was saying. Personally, now that we’ve taken down Al-Qaeda and sent their leader to his Maker, we should pull out post-haste.

                      As for Iraq, I would recommend a very good book called The Third Terrorist, which was about the OKC bombing. The author, an investigative reporter at the time in OKC, did a very credible job of providing evidence that the destruction of the Murrah building was perpetrated by a local Palestinian cell that was directed by Iraqi intelligence. Although the bombing was not the casus belli for Gulf War II, it gives the lie to the idea that Saddam’s government was not involved in anti-American terrorism. The original cause of course, was WMD, which was not found once we conquered Iraq.

                    • George Michalopulos says:
                      October 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

                      As for Iraq, I would recommend a very good book called The Third Terrorist, which was about the OKC bombing. The author, an investigative reporter at the time in OKC, did a very credible job of providing evidence that the destruction of the Murrah building was perpetrated by a local Palestinian cell that was directed by Iraqi intelligence.

                      If you’re interested in fiction, it does make for a fairly riveting story.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  Yes, Hauptmann Roehm was a notorious homosexual, and the SA, or Brown Shirts, was as “gay’ (in the fully modern sense of the word) as any organization could be. Hitler pandered to them because they were enchanted with the idea of “strong men” and admired him for being just that. When they became a liability to Hitler, he waited till they were gathered together and ordered them massacred: they had served their purpose and now he could proceed to concentrate on Jews ‘Commies and Liberal-Leftists. Black shirts were the only way to go after that.
                  But, you know, Adolf never ever rejected his favorite, personal pianist, the German American lad who returned home from America to play at home for “Der Fuehrer.” His name was “:Putzi” Hanfstaengl.” He transcribed Wagner’s works for the Piano, and regaled Hitler with that lush, melodramatic stuff, like the Liebestod, etc. EVERYBody loved Hitler’s “Putzi!”

                  • Your Grace, in addition, there are credible sources that stated that as a young man, Hitler himself engaged in homosexual activities, once while in the trenches with another soldier, and then more regularly in Vienna where he was a starving artist and was forced to work as a male prostitute and had been arrested. This may have increased his desire to annex Austria where he could destroy the police records in Vienna.

                    With his rise to power however, his self-loathing triggered impotence and his “acting out” may have provided whatever sexual release he needed.

          • Same-sex desire is a podvig (struggle, right? — I know no Slavonic at all) only if a person is fighting against the passion. But same-sex desire, like all passions, has a particular pathology if it is embraced rather than resisted.

            Take the alcoholic for example. If the alcoholic drinks instead of attaining sobriety, then his entire life and everyone around him is affected by his drinking. This includes the organization he works in. Ask any person who has ever had an alcoholic for a boss, or a person who has to straighten out an organization with an alcoholic culture, and he will outline it for you.

            To think that relationships and the cultures of organizations are not changed when homosexual activity is tolerated (functionally normalized) is simply not true. This is just basic family systems theory and it is accurate. The normalizing of passions (and one of the unspoken rules is that we must deny the problem is really a problem even though everyone knows it is) always corrupts the organization, even though the patterns of the corruption — the pathology — might differ.

            • Monk James says

              Just for the record: russian podvig = greek askesis. A russian podvizhnik is called an ‘ascetic’ in English.

              • Ah, askesis. Thank you Monk James.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                A ‘Podvizhnik is a struggler. “Podvizhnichestvo” is struggling. A podvig is an act of (heroic) struggling. In this, a podvig may be compared with “jihad.” A muslim who rescues a man from sin considers that to be a jihad. They have many kinds of jihads. War on behalf of Islam is only one (huge to be sure) possible jihad. One may likewise consider that the monks under the abbacy of St. Sergius who fought to defend their monastery were accomplishing a podivg, and, in that case, there was absolutely nothing “ascetic” about it. It is, of course, nonsensical to call “same-sex” attraction a podvig. It is STRUGGLING AGAINST one’s “SSA” that could be a podvig.

      • No, Mr. Logan you are mistaken. FOS had its best years under Fester. He took over FOS in 1994/95 from Fr. Basil Summer and quickly doubled the annual income of FOS and it peaked under his tenure in 2004 at around $345K before he gave it up and Fr Vansuch took over, who by the way had the misfortune of trying to pull FOS along in the midst of the takedown of Herman. He gave it his all, may his memory be eternal, with little support from the OCA, but you are right Ted in that it does appear that FOS died with him.

      • Let’s be clear that Fr Vansuch was put into an impossible situation. Fr Joseph Fester did an outstanding job while he was there.

        Who’s going to financially support the Titanic of the Orthodox Church above and beyond the assessment? Who’s going to fund the travel budget of the Metropolitan Council and Holy Synod which seeks only to destroy Met Jonah? People would have to be out of their minds to support such chaos.

        Think of the death of FOS and then the subsequent death of the various ministries of the OCA as the bitter fruit of the past five years.

        • Jim of Olym says

          If all the people in the OCA truly believed in the mission of the Orthodox Church, we would not need things like the FOS (or the Archons of the whatever in the GOC) or the antiochian guys with medals. We would be giving sacrificially to promote Orthodoxy here and abroad without added perks. I myself have in the past given more than a tithe to institutional Orthodoxy, but not now, since I am wondering if all the money actually goes to mission rather than to hierarchs and panagias.

  7. For the record, lists a “Top Division Treasurer’s” median salary as $175k in Yonkers, NY. I certainly don’t mind paying $140k for a qualified treasurer in Yonkers, that actually seems like a steal.

    • The chancery is not in Yonkers, it’s in Syosset. Syosset is a village in Nassau County, Long Island, New York, east of New York City. Yonkers, on the other hand, is in Westchester County, north of the Bronx. Yonkers and Syosset are about an hour apart, and you have to travel through New York City to get between them.

    • It’s a “steal” alright. From the hard-working people of the parishes and the priests who support their families by being on food stamps.

    • Anonymous says:
      October 15, 2011 at 11:42 pm

      For the record, lists a “Top Division Treasurer’s” median salary as $175k in Yonkers, NY. I certainly don’t mind paying $140k for a qualified treasurer in Yonkers, that actually seems like a steal.

      Well if a budget of $2,500,000 required a “Top Division Treasurer” it would be a good comparison. That amount of money is less than most “small business” run through in a year! And she has two assistants doing most of the data entry!

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        excellent point Remnant. A 2.5 million budget can be handled with Quicken. BTW, does anybody know how much Blackbaud costs?

        • I believe the Blackbaud system was about $100K and it is still not fully implemented. That system was a holdover of the Kucynda era craziness that you had to pay top dollar to attract the best people and have the best software to lead the new OCA.

          Oh, the history of the OCA computer system is priceless. And yes, that history includes Stokoe and Wheeler.

  8. Let’s pause for a minute before we get envious of the GOAA’s $20-25 million they collect annually.

    I grew up in the GOAA in the northeast and (while there are some GOAA parishes that I would be happy to continue attending), I ultimately left because:

    1. In my experience, the focus wasn’t on Orthodoxy. It’s on perpetuating Greekness and Hellenism and making money. It further ghettoizes Greek culture (to a huge detriment in my opinion).

    2. Those horrendously awful fundraising carnivals many GOAA parishes have once or twice a year. Why do they do that? I imagine because the people may not give as they could/should? I live in the Philadelphia region now, and the GOAA parishes here have their carnivals once or twice a year. Many call them “festivals,” but they are hardly that. I stopped by one the other week and it was complete with a ferris wheel, rides, funnel cake stands, and yes, an Orthodox church was there too (by the way). But the focus was on carnivals, amusement-park-style rides, and Greek food (although I’m sure the Greek food was excellent — it typically is). I walked in the church (sadly empty, while the funnel cake stand and the ferris wheel were packed) — this was on a Saturday night when the church should have been serving vespers. I prayed before the icons, lit candles, and left. There’s usually a token table at these carnivals with some icons and Orthodox books, but I couldn’t even find that.

    Yes, this parish and the GOAA have wealth, but is this how we want Orthodoxy pictured to America? As an ethnic club that throws parties for the city a couple times a year to raise money? This is how many GOAA parishes raise their funds — I’d be curious to know how much of their funds come from individual stewardship as opposed to ostentatious parties. I can’t help but think, what would St John Chrysostom think of this type of fundraising? The parish carnival that I stopped by was at the GOC of St Luke. I can’t help but think how insulting the whole event was to St Luke himself. Yes, they make money from it, I’m sure. But at what cost?

    3. At least in the OCA, Orthodoxy is stressed. We know the fasts, we know the feast days, we celebrate the feast days, we have vespers on Saturday nights. In the GOAA, I never knew that there was an Advent fast. I thought eating fish on Fridays during Great Lent constituted fasting. I had never even heard of the various feast days of the year (Transfiguration, Elevation of the Cross, etc.).

    Sorry guys, but I’ll take a poor OCA that is supported by its humble members over a wealthy GOAA that is supported by awful annual or biannual carnivals anytime. The minute my humble but spiritually enriching OCA parish starts having carnival rides and ferris wheels a couple times a year to raise money from outsiders because her own parishioners won’t give, I imagine that the spiritual health will have deteriorated too.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      LV mentions “Those horrendously awful fundraising carnivals many GOAA parishes have once or twice a year. ”

      Ah what memories!

      Back when my family was struggling in the Episcopal Church, trying to find our way to the Orthodox Church—or anything faintly Christian!—we decided to go to a food festival one night at a local Greek parish.

      It was a Friday night.

      When we tried to order supper, we discovered that all the meals at the food festival consisted of meat dishes.

      As good Episcopalians—and in accordance with a rubric in the Book of Common Prayer—our family never ate meat on Fridays. For us, the Friday fast represented the bare minimum of Christian discipline.

      We left, of course, and went to Long John Silver’s for a more-or-less Orthodox meal.

      • Surprising that you came to us isn’t it? Maybe its about the heart and not the law..

        • Heracleides says

          Spoken like one of Leonova’s tried & true minions…. hold please, I sense a touchy-feelie moment coming on.

          • Monk James says

            Was that really the kindest thing could be said?

            Nobody knows who eats what at a fundraiser. It’s entirely possible that the orthodox people there avoided eating meat at the same time as it was available to everyone else, the paying customers whose dinners would help support the parish.

            That said, I’ve long been of the persuasion that we ought to support our parishes sacrificially, pace those who’d resist tithing.

            Maybe twenty or so years ago, the Baptists did some statistical analysis and came up with a 10-20-30 model of church giving: Ten tithing families could start a mission. Twenty tithing families could support a full-time pastor. Thirty tithing families could build a church — or something like that.

            Were we all as generous with our money as we are with our time to run these events, the events could be modified to include a free lunch with a theological tour of the church and an opportunity to hear qualified speakers describe orthodoxy in relation to whatever our visitors’ religions might be.

            Or are we stuck in ‘diner’ mode?!

            • Jane Rachel says

              I would take the Orthodox Church over a Baptist church any time, no matter what I or anybody else eats or don’t eat. What difference does that make? At least at an Orthodox Church I don’t have to eat gravel in Sunday School. I love my Baptist Church where I was baptized at nine and love the people and the stained glass windows, devoid of recognizable images. I loved Pastor Curt Akenson. I loved all of it. Except what they taught me about God. Awful. Unbearable.

              I LOVED the quote from “My Greek Wedding”: “You don’t eat meat? I make you lamb!” LOVE that!

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                I could say the same about the Baptist church I used to go as a teenager. There was always something in the back of my mind that was saying that something was “off” about what they were teaching.

            • Speaking as a veteran of oh, about 45 Greek festivals, I can honestly say that the rubric of fasting was never honored except in the breach. Fist-fighting and drunkenness was not unknown either. A few families were broken up as well by the flirting that went on and led to…well, you get the picture.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                George, the worst thing I ever heard about the famous Greek Festivals that so many Greek communities hold was when I was still a Priest, the Greek Priest in Long Beach (as I recall: it could have been another Greek parish in So. Cal) told us. “This year we reached a true milestone. We make so much money on our annual Greek Festivals that we are able to announce that we no longer need to require contributions from the Faithful parishioners! We’re not even going to pass the plate :we make enough off the annual Festival to cover salaries, maintenance, everything!”
                Nevertheless, the kids love those festivals. I remember as a boy going to a German Lutheran Church how much we loved it when the (awful, of course) local Catholic church had its annual carnival with BINGO! I think we all “snuck over” to St. James’s to try our luck. (Of course, after the Sunday services in my grandparents’ church, everybody would head for the church hall for beer, sausages and many card tables with noisy games of Skat, 500, or Pinochle.)’What we have to watch out for is a “:Purity” which we Pride ourselves on. Much worse than rubber duckies in a baptistery.

            • Monk James, I agree with the Baptist rule. I think it’s largely correct. The other rule is that 20% of the people in a parish give 80% of the money.

          • Yeah, I felt my lunch come up a little. Obviously, there is a difference between bending the fasting rules for a festival weekend, and exchanging the truth of God for a lie by pretending homosexual relationships are ‘salvific’.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          StephenD reflects:

          “Surprising that you came to us isn’t it? Maybe its about the heart and not the law.”

          When Orthodox parishes are visited by non-Orthodox Christians who are struggling with the raw apostasy of their own churches—which is certainly the case with the Episcopalians—it would be useful for Orthodox Christians to realize how truly injured, confused, and vulnerable these people are. In such circumstances, scandal rises easily.

          I recall how desperate my family was, 25 years ago, to find the True Faith. If, at certain points, some Orthodox Christian then had simply declared, “Maybe its about the heart and not the law,” I wonder how that declaration (obvious enough in itself) would have affected us.

          The Friday fast, after all, was one of our very few remaining links with the Apostolic Church. We were terribly discouraged and despondent to discover it was of no consequence whatever to a Greek food festival.

          The next question on our minds was, “Do they take Nicaea seriously?” And, “How about the New Testament Canon?” The answers were not obvious to us.

          The Friday fast, after all, was older than either Nicaea or the the fixing of the New Testament Canon. When the Didache canonized the weekly fast days (probably prior to the year 100), it did not qualify that canon with a comment about the superiority of the heart to the law.

          For the past few decades, thousands of disillusioned and desperate Christians have worked up the nerve to “look into Orthodoxy.” I fear that many—-and perhaps most of them—-have turned away in distress and despair at what they’ve seen. I tremble to think this could have happened to my own family.

          This is not theory, gang. Some Orthodox Christians, if they willfully and maliciously set themselves to discourage other people from joining the Church, could not do a better job of it.

          Fortunately, our family was already safely inside the Orthodox Church, for instance, when I first heard Metropolitan Kallistos Ware announce that the ordination of women was still an open question, as far as the Orthodox were concerned. At many points in our pilgrimage, that insouciant comment from a bishop would have been the end of our search.

          Back in those days, when we were certainly “weaker brethren,” I am glad we did not know that active homosexuals were in positions of great influence and leadership in the OCA. And it was a very good thing that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (which I have seen for sale in book stores at Greek parishes) did not come out until our family was safely in the fold.

          If Orthodox Christians really wants to evangelize this country, they had best get serious.

          When the Christians from Asia Minor settled in the town later known as Lyons, the whole of southern Gaul became Christian in less than fifty years. This would not have happened if those Christians had celebrated their ethnic roots and financed their congregations with food festivals.

          The Orthodox have been in the New World for over two centuries. Think about it.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Father Patrick wrote:

            Back in those days, when we were certainly “weaker brethren,” I am glad we did not know that active homosexuals were in positions of great influence and leadership in the OCA. And it was a very good thing that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (which I have seen for sale in book stores at Greek parishes) did not come out until our family was safely in the fold.

            There’s no comparison between: “active homosexuals were in positions of great influence and leadership in the OCA.”

            and: “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”

            Finding out about the first devastated me and my family. More than you can imagine. Still, the knowledge did not take away my mustard seed of faith.

            “You don’t eat meat? I make you lamb!” To me, this reveals a wonderful thing. You have to think about it, though. They had a unique joy, a celebration, a freedom. Even his uptight parents were converted to their joy. To me, this is also what “conversion” is about. That joy. But like I said, that’s me, and I was drawn to that freedom and joy those Greek Orthodox showed in the film. The message of the film is joy.

            I also love this little story:
            There’s the story of an Orthodox monk who lived next to a scholastic Dominican friar.

            One day, after dinner, the friar was examining his fork. In true scholastic fashion, he tried to understand the nature and essence of a fork by stripping it down to bare minimals.

            “This has 4 tines… if I remove one, leaving 3, will it still be a fork? YES! It picks up food still!”

            “This has 3 tines… if I remove one, will it still be a fork? After all, it still pokes and picks up food…”

            Finally, with one tine left, and finding that was the bare minimum he needed, he was excited at his discovery and went next door to the Orthodox monk to share his discovery.

            “The essence of a fork is a toothpick; for even a toothpick is able to do what a fork does!”

            The Orthodox monk, of course, looks very oddly at the scholastic. He says, “The essence of a fork is that it is here to feed us and sustain us so that we may give glory to God – we’re better off glorifying God than to try and pick apart the essence of a fork.”

            They both went back to their houses thinking, “I don’t understand this guy…”

            • Jane Rachel says

              I heard a Greek priest very seriously telling the young children after Divine Liturgy that they needed to fast very strictly during Great Lent. I also watched that same priest tell a hungry homeless man who had come there in the cold of winter for help, that he was too busy and the homeless man would have to go away. I offered to help the guy and buy him some food, and then the priest said, “No, I’ll take care of it.”

              On the other hand, I knew another Greek priest who was so compassionate and kind and wonderful, I think he must be a Saint. I don’t know whether they served meat at their festivals on Fridays or not.

            • I saw “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in a special showing with a lot of members of my GOA parish at the time. I cringed at the baptismal scene (in particular the comment “Now you are Greek” and the eroticizing of it), wondering how anyone with even a thimble full of Christian sensibility could treat a sacrament that way. It told me that the movie makers were completely secularized.*

              The exaggeration of cultural foibles was harmless enough, but I saw that the Greeks watching this were really Americans. If it were otherwise, the portrayals would not have been funny but offensive. My parishioners didn’t realize it, but the people that they thought they were, they no longer were. This isn’t going to play well in Athens I thought and sure enough, the Greeks in Greece were offended by the movie, wondering why they were being laughed at.

              Greek culture has a lot going for it despite the present hardship in Greece, and the pride of Hellenism, properly understood, is deserved (I’ll explain what I mean later if anyone is interested). The success of the movie however, revealed a cultural shift among Greeks in America. They are American, not Greek, in their cultural orientation and the appeal to Greek self-identity is more a matter of nostalgia than active comprehension of the meaning of the older cultural forms.

              Most Greek-American leaders missed this point. Consequently, the success of the movie does not represent the successful contribution of Greek-American cultural forms to American culture, but their weakening.

              *(The secularist treatment of baptism meant too that the movie makers were blind to the religious sensibility informing many of the cultural forms they poked fun at even though those forms were part of the immediate history. I kept waiting for criticism from Greek Orthodox leaders about the baptismal scene (even just to clarify the distinction between sacred and secular), but none was forthcoming. More on this some other time.)

          • Fr Pat, I completely agree with you. Speaking as an American of Hellenic heritage, I can’t tell you how offensive that movie was. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like for black people to feel when they think of Steppin Fetchit in his moview or Amos and Andy on the TV. That this “film” would be sold at a GOA parish leaves me sputtering in agony.

            Thank you as well for the anecdote about the Christian migrants to Gaul and the converion of that country within 50 years. In comparison, Orthodoxy in America has been a failure up to this point.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Well, I’m sorry then, I was wrong. 🙁

              • JR, don’t apologize. It’s your opinion and I value it. I don’t expect any non-Greek to get the offense and if you enjoyed it, more power to you. It’s just not a movie I would have made.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              As much as I am prideful of my Greek heritage most Americans, and most Americans of Greek heritage, do not know anything about Hellenism. For most people Hellenism is only about ancient Greece, the Togas and the Greek Gods of old. Westerners, particularly the British and the Americans, always talk about the Golden Age of Greece, about Pericles, and Demosthenies, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great.

              Yet, they never talked about Athanasios, Basil, Chrysostom, etc. They never talked about the “Greek” Old testament, the Septuagint. The Greek New Testament that was preserved in the Greek Monasteries of the Greek East. Never realized that the historic Christian Creed, the Nicene Creed was written and imbudded with Greek thoughts and concepts.

              The West never talked about, nor knew about, the Last Great Roman Emperor, Constantine Paleologos IX. They never knew that Roman or “Romiosini” came to mean a Christian Greek, and that the basic term Greek or Hellen was an insult as Romans were Christians, whereas Greeks were Pagans. My Grandafter on my father’s side went to his death never calling himself a Greek but a Roman.

              The West did not know or never understood the Fall of Smyrna, the genocides of the Pontic Greeks, and the population exchanges between Greece and Turky in 1923/24. Again, my grandfather was in the Greco-Turkish War of 1922-23 as a medic and he told me that he still remembered a young 17 year old boy begging him and others in the Greek Army to take him with them out of Smyrna as the Greeks made their March to the coast. The Greek Army never took this young boy. This was the story that was told to me by my grandfather a few years before his death.

              Being Greek or Hellenism in general is not just about the 4th and 5th centuries BC, with people wearing togas and living in all white marble structures. Its about a people and a culture that asked questions, that refused to just say it was lightning from the Gods. Its about a culture that valued reason, study, rigorous investigation, comtemplation of the meaning of things. It was the start of a fire that has extended into the West and to all cultures around the world that strive to understand the meaning of things, of nature and life itself.

              Further, its also about bringing clarity and precision to the spiritual aspects of human existence. The Coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ did not destroy Hellenism, but merged with it and the one enhanced the other. Now Christianity has spread to the entire world, and still going.

              Hellenism should not be and cannot be ever placed and confined into a “Greek Cultural Ghetto!” We do a great diservice by showing America only the outward expression of Hellenism because if that is all we show them then all they will ever see is the old pagen toga wearing people that make up one sliver of Hellenism.

              I grew up down in the south in Clearwater, Florida, and my evangelical protestant friends did not understand me or my culture at all. In fact, at times they were quite cruel. But it was during these times that mom and dad told me and taught me about who we were and from where I and came from.

              The West sees the togas. All I ever saw and still do is my grandfather’s eyes that streched back into the past who refused to be called a Greek, but a Roman because Roman were Christians. And so am I.

              Peter A. Papoutsis

              • excellent points Peter. And lest we forget, the Romans themselves were part of Hellenistic culture. As were the Jews of Judea from the time of the Maccabees on.

              • Beautifully said Peter. The West sees more than togas however (looking past popular culture for a moment). I think you can make the argument that the Hellenistic principles were carried forward in the West after the fall of Byzantium. In fact, I would argue that they are best enshrined today in such places as the US Constitution. Also, the debt to the heritage is enshrined in such things as the neo-classical architecture of the earlier public buildings of Washington DC, as well.

                But I lay some of the blame for this dimming consciousness in both the Church and culture of the Hellenic legacy at the feet of our leaders. For example, I hear constructs like “Orthodoxy and Hellenism” posited (and I hear it continually in the GOA and from Constantinople). The problem is that the construct is a a-historical. Hellenism does not exist as a distinct historical stream along side Orthodoxy. Hellenism was brought into Orthodoxy in the Cappadocian synthesis when Hebraic Christianity was fused with Hellenic thought (when Hellenic thought was “baptized”) thereby laying the foundation for the emergence of Western Civilization — Christendom as it used to be called and what it should be called again .

                This a-historical divorcing of Hellenism and Orthodoxy, of falsely positing two distinct historical streams (follow them back and one ends up at Jerusalem, the other at Mt. Olympus) is promulgated by the same men who, by virtue of their office, are charged with guiding culture. They ought to be teaching the history instead of obscuring it.

                And the rupture conforms exactly to secular paradigm. It separates form from content (the forms lose their rationale) as we saw in the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” baptismal scene. What difference does it make if one is Greek but not Orthodox? More troubling, what difference does it make if baptism functions merely as the entrance into a family as the movie contends?. And why didn’t any leader speak up to correct this?

                The West owes much to Greece (as well as the Syriac Fathers I am learning) and I wish that those entrusted with this historical deposit would be more responsible with their charge of protecting it.

                Ironically, a leader of the West — Pope Benedict XVI — seems more aware of the value of the resource and the need to bring it forward than our own leaders. Read his Regensburg Address.

                (I grew up in a culturally European home BTW, and understand very well the idea of one world at home, and another outside of it. My mother would always say (in Dutch) when we were misbehaving as kids, “You are acting just like an American!”)

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  I agree with your points Father. However, I think I would say that America in the past realized the contribution of Hellenism to Western Civilization. Currently, if you were to stop a person on the street they would have no Idea. But to be fair most people do not even know where California is on a map.

                  I guess what I am getting at is I just don’t want Hellenism to be held captive in either the Classical age or in the modern “Greek Experience” of Americans with a Greek Heritage. It is so much more! Not just to Western Civilization, but also to the development of Christianity.

                  Further, Hellenism was the starting point or better yet the predicate upon which Western Civilization is based. While the pricipals are basically hellenic in nature we as a civilization have surpassed the rudimentary beginning of Hellenism and have progressed to a whole other level where new questions and understandings have come and are coming into play because of our advances in technology, science, medicine that this is where our Orthodox Christianity through the Gospel of Christ comes into play to help us advance as a culture to the next level of Western Civilization, maybe even Globalization.

                  Yet our Orthodox Christianity is more paramount than any single or collective cultural contribution. However, it is all our cultures that have contributed to and greatly benefitted our Orthodoxy. Greek with its precision and clarity of language. Russian with its deep pathos and spirituality, Syrian and Lebanese with the depth of their Middle Eastern Spirituality and Virtue, and even our American culture infusing our Orthodoxy with vigore and energy.

                  This is the true greatness, no matter what culture it is – Our Orthodox Christian Faith!


                  • The two leaders who I see moving in this direction Peter is Patriarch Kyrill and Pope Benedict. I have an essay coming out for Acton that touches on this and I will give it to George to post (if he wants to) here. It will be on AOI and too as soon as it is published on Acton.

                    What you are focusing on however is absolutely correct. It’s what makes the upcoming engagement with Orthodoxy and American culture so intriguing as well. America could, if we are faithful, draw the cultural strands of the Greek and Slavic cultures with their particular distinctives into a particularly American Orthodox synthesis. Sometimes I lament our short-sighted and even dim-witted actions, but deeper down I believe it is entirely possible.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      And now we come to the truth of the saying that: “Orthodoxy is the best kept secret in America.” I truly believe that the uniqueness of the Orthodox Christian faith being THE CHRISTIAN FAITH is so desperately needed in America and the West, as well as all over the world.

                      Africa and Asia have been the mison grounds in the past for our church, but now with the rise of Millitant Atheism and secularism America has become such a fertile ground for Orthodoxy I am surprised that our Orthodox Church leaders have not seized upon this great opportunity.

                      Is it our disunity? Is it our Church leaders stuck in their cultural ruts? Is it us? Its is all of the above? I do not know. What I do know is that when true seekers of the truth discover the Orthodox Christians faith they are exposed for the very first time to REAL christianity. This is NOT Orthodox triumphaism, but a general statement of fact and discovery for those who were truthly seeking the One True Faith.

                      Now Orthodox administrative practice and in-fighting, well we are not so perfect on that front. However, being that we are fallen humans some deference should be given on this point. Does not excuse our Administrative debacle, but it should not obscure The Faith.

                      I look forward to the article. Thank you father. Also thank you George for your previous comments on MBFGW.

                      PS The movie the Immortals is coming out 11/11/11. Its totally pagan, but should be a blast for a good Saturday night out with my wife while my destructive due sleep quietly at home. You know the most intense prayer I have had lately is: “Please God let them sleep!” But I digress.


          • Fr Pat, you hit the nail on the head. I am one who is looking at Orthodoxy. Many valuable resources are on the web, but so is all the dirty laundry. As for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, when my wife discovered my interest in Orthodoxy, her first comment was, “They are all worldly just like in that movie!” I have been slowly showing her how the teachings of the Church agree with the majority of the things we already believe and she warming to the idea. But seriously folks, you call the Bishops “Vladyka” and “Blessed”, then rake them over the coals and accuse them largely based on rumor and innuendo. Sometimes I don’t know whether to jump in or run for my life!

            The bottom line for me is this: As far as my research has discovered, the Orthodox Church still teaches what the Apostles taught. When I read Justin, Irenaeus, Ignatius, the Didache etc., I see this church doing and teaching the same things. I know it is not perfect because there are people in it, but at least row the boat in the same direction.

            Ok, enough ranting.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Eric wrote:

              The bottom line for me is this: As far as my research has discovered, the Orthodox Church still teaches what the Apostles taught. When I read Justin, Irenaeus, Ignatius, the Didache etc., I see this church doing and teaching the same things. I know it is not perfect because there are people in it, but at least row the boat in the same direction.

              Thanks, Eric. Absolutely right. This is the reason I said “What difference does it make?” regarding whether the Greeks serve meat on Fridays at their festivals, In other words, this is the way things are. They should serve delicious fish dishes, but if they don’t, I can’t do anything about it. It’s up to the parish and the priest. What I can do something about is to speak out against those who want to unravel the Truth. This is the purpose of all my writing here.

              I love the Greek parish I attended a few years ago, with all its people in various stages of becoming Orthodox. I know how important Orthodoxy is, and I believe most of them do too. How good it is to keep the fasts with joy, how good-tasting Orthodoxy is. I remember the old man in the Greek Church raising his hands up and closing his eyes in prayer, the old woman crossing herself, and how lots of people attended the Bible Studies there, how full the Church is on Sundays and even during weekday services. How kind they are.

              I hope that the All-American Council will bring some clarity and closure to the mess in the OCA. Also that the “rumour and innuendo” will be proven convincingly to be true or false so we can get past it and get on with our lives. If Father Kondratick is indeed innocent of the allegations against him, and if some of the ruling bishops at the time had anything to do with getting him defrocked, and if those bishops had agendas that threaten the fabric of Orthodoxy in America, then that certainly needs to be made known to all. It’s more important than the movie or meat. We have better things to do, that’s for sure. Go, good people of the AAC! Do what needs to be done. If nothing happens for the good, at least we will know one way or the other.

            • George Michalopulos says

              JR, what sealed it for me was when the girl’s fiancee was being “baptized” (and I use that word very loosely) in the little kiddie blow-up pool with the duckies on it. To add insult to injury, it was placed on the Ambo of the Church. Once I got over the shock, I wanted to hurl my popcorn in a projectile stream that would have so forceful that it would have ruined the screen and they’d have to call security on me. Alas, to my everlasting regret, I did not do so.

              • Jane Rachel says

                I totally forgot about that! BLECH!

                • Jane Rachel says

                  George, you’ve changed my mind totally about the film. I really had forgotten that part. Why would they sell it in the parish bookstores?

              • Actually, on Youtube I saw a beautiful and reverent baptismal ceremony in a parish in Russia or Ukraine that also took place in a kiddie blow-up pool. It was not in the Ambo that I recall, but I understand use of such pools is not all that uncommon now that more never-baptized adults are coming back into the Church (many parishes having only the small baptismal font suitable for infant baptism, in which dunking only the head of a larger person is possible–my OCA parish fits this description, unfortunately). Personally, I would rather see adults fully immersed in a kiddie pool than just have their head dunked!

                • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                  Our parish invested in a portable baptistry, 26 inches high and 5 feet in diameter. It is an interesting device, held upright by the water itself.

                  It comes with a heater. I don’t want my catechumens freezing to death.

                  I can put a couple of adults into it at the same time.

                  The baptisms are done between Matins and the Divine Liturgy on Sundays or major feast days (Holy Saturday morning, at the beginning of the Vesperal Divine Liturgy, is a favored time, of course). The entire congregation is present.

                  Except in danger of death, I have consistently refused to do private baptisms. I just won’t do it. It’s bad liturgical theology.

                  When I ordered the new baptistry a few years ago, I was struck by the cost. It was $1004, plus $50 for shipping.

                  Yep, that’s right: 1054.

                  • A lot of churches use livestock water tanks. They are not terribly attractive, but they’re inexpensive, only $200-300. I’ve seen them spraypainted or had fabric covers sewn around them to make them a little more presentable. You fill them partway with garden hose water and the rest of the way with hot water so your catechumen/neophyte doesn’t get too cold.

                    I feel strongly about churches having the ability to baptize adults by immersion, so this is a subject I’ve studied for a while.

                    • Jim of Olym says

                      There is a story about the coming of Christianity to Iceland. Many were convinced to leave the old ways and be baptized. There were two springs: one icy cold, and the other hot. Most of the people opted for the hot spring, with the result that Christianity in Iceland has been lukewarm ever since!

                  • wow.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    I don’t have a problem with a Baptism done before the Divine Liturgy as Fr. Patrick does, as long as his Bishop has blessed him to do that. I DO have a problem with ‘I have consistently refused to do private baptisms. I just won’t. It’s bad liturgical theology.
                    Any ideas of how many Orthodox Christians alive today were baptized “privately?” What is meant by private? Does Father refer to the traditional or majority practice of holding a Baptism on a day and time in Church requested by the parents and Godparents of the candidate for Baptism? If it’s in Church, all the Holy Saints are present and the Church is as full as during a Sunday morning Liturgy. Or perhaps he refers to Baptisms served in private dwellings, as Frs. Alexander Schmeman and John Meyendorff were known to do (very occasionally, to be sure)? I would hate to think that Father Patrick was comparing himself publicly with other clergy, favorably! That would be worse than “bad liturgical theology!”
                    You can buy a RubberMaid portable full-size bathtub for MUCH less than a thousand dollars, too.
                    I’m also a little uncomfortable with two naked adults at the same time in a circular pool five-feet in diameter and 26 inches deep. Surely, they must be immersed and raised up three times each, separately from each other! Why make them get in together? And if they are Riters of the West, why immerse them at all?

                    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                      The Bishop observes:

                      “I’m also a little uncomfortable with two naked adults at the same time in a circular pool five-feet in diameter and 26 inches deep.”

                      I would have trouble with that, too.

                      In my experience, adult catechumens are baptized in heavy canvas robes. Any good Baptist supply house carries them.

                      The Bishop also inquires:

                      “And if they are Riters of the West, why immerse them at all?

                      I hope the Bishop does not imagine I am a priest of the Western Rite.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      “Heavy canvas robes?” What next? I shouldn’t be surprised at these extraordinary adjustments to Orthodoxy to “make it more American” or “make it more normal.”
                      After all, it’s almost fifty years since I visited “St; Mary’s” Antiochian Church in Brooklyn when ever-memorable Fr. Schneirla reigned there. At Communion two servers stood at either side of the Priest with large ice-cream soda glasses. On the Priest’s left side the glass was filled with long, clear plastic soda spoons. As each communicant appeared the Priest would grab a plastic soda spoon from his left, then impart Christ’s Holy Mysteries with it, and then drop it into the large ice-cream soda glass on his right side! Then, at St. George’s Church in Detroit (the old church on Grand Boulevard) I noted in 1960 that they had a tiered tray of glass vigil lights before each icon down front. Under the tray there was a coin box and a placard which said “10 cents for 10 minutes.” So, I guess a couple naked adults wrapped up in heavy canvas robes should fit into a pool five feet in diameter, in order to each be baptized separately.
                      Deaconesses in the early Church had one main function, to assist, by removing and then putting back on, the thin, single garment women candidates for Baptism as they were immersed and then raised up from the waters. I asked an American girl who married a Priest’s son in Moscow (she was from SoCal, but worked as a nanny at the American Embassy) how she was received. She said she was baptized. I asked if she were baptized naked and she said yes. I myself have baptized adults, but they were clothed in something like a night-shirt (only)….nothing made of canvas.
                      I guess Antiochenes also keep the casket closed at their American funerals as well.
                      I thought you referred to praying your rosary, Father, that’s what made me think you were a Riter of the West.

                    • Your Grace, the heavy canvas is because white fabric tends to become transparent in water. This is a particular problem when you have a female catechumen. You may get something akin to a wet t-shirt contest. I’ve heard horror stories.

                      In my experience, priests usually tell the catechumen to wear something thick underneath the robe for extra protection. If there isn’t a robe, they just wear regular clothes that won’t get ruined in water.

                    • Your Grace, within the last couple of years, there was a photo of a Russian woman in her hot pink bra (only her upper body was visible) being baptized by her priest with a couple of others (mixed gender group) looking on (likely family?). The photo appeared in a National Geographic piece on the growth of the Orthodox Church in Russia (which if I recall correctly was written by Fr. Alexander Schmemman’s son). I admit I was a bit scandalized by that picture (I would have preferred more complete coverage from the men’s gazes). If I recall correctly, the fellow being baptized in the kiddie pool somewhere in Russia/Ukraine in the Youtube video, was in white boxers or briefs. So, even in the former U.S.S.R., in historically Orthodox countries, complete adult nudity is not being required for Orthodox baptism. Here in the U.S., I think given our more intense scruples about public nudity compared to our counterparts the world over, it seems an appropriate economy and concession to modesty to allow an opaque white full coverage garment during baptisms!

                • I agree, Karen. There are numerous problems with MBFGW, but I thought of that as a humorous exaggeration, since I’ve seen some *real* baptismal fonts that were truly strange in my time.

                  What offended me was that they made a point of portraying the Orthodox services as crazy, foreign things that Americans can’t comprehend. I wish they had said something about Ian receiving catechism before the baptism, and that they hadn’t had him say “I’m Greek now!” And translating “Christos anesti!” as “Happy Easter” was unforgivable.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    At the risk of getting myself in trouble again, the scene in “Tender Mercies” where Robert Duval’s character is baptised in a Baptist Church is so beautiful and so tender. It’s just how I remember it as a child. The same feeling.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Alec, rant away! One suggestion: if we don’t want people airing our dirty laundry in public, the way to stop is to not have any dirty laundry. Get rid of corrupt bishops, time-serving bureaucrats, and the problem is solved.

          • Monk James says

            Good words here from Father Patrick.

            I’d like to add that roman-rite Christians also used to observe the fast on Wednesday as we still do.

            A long while ago, I remember hearing that the Wednesday fast was abolished in The West in the tenth century or so because italian fishermen were losing income. I have no way of attesting this.

            Even so, it’s of some value to note that — by inference — we can see that the Romans felt that it was allowed to eat fish on days of abstinence/fasting.

            The Byzantines excluded fish from their meals on days of abstinence/fasting, and that is the practice which we’ve inherited. Fish is allowed the orthodox on such days only when a major holy day falls on a Wednesday or Friday. This is so deeply entrenched among us that we cherish the tradition of serving fish during the Great Fast only on Annunciation Day and Palm Sunday.

            Of course, local practice — and individual practice within local practice — varies.

            For instance, fish might be unobtainable or very expensive in some areas and cultures — or it might be the only food available. Consider Siberia or Alaska from September to May, when preserved fish might be the only food available before vegetables might be harvested again, so the Nativity Fast and the Great Fast would produce nothing more than a lot of starved-to-death-but-faithful Christians. Clearly, such a situation is in need of mediation, and so some of our saintly bishops have mediated it.

            These extreme conditions are not at work in food festivals. Serving fish on Friday is a latin custom and is not a way of observing the fast, although it’s a step in the right direction.

      • I once talked to a Greek priest about that, and he explained that they were worried nobody else would want meatless stuff. I don’t know what the festival workers would eat, but I did not think it right to ask. The fast was made for man, not man for the fast.

        • Not all Greek Festivals are alike. The recent one in Flushing,NY served fish and no meat on Friday of the festival. Crowd size, huge. Food amazing. Atmosphere, warm and genuine. Saturday and Sunday, lots of tasty meat dishes. The weekend, a success in finances and keeping it real for all the folks to see.

  9. cynthia curran says

    Well, George W Bush in my opinion wasn’t led by greed and lust considering the wars which were a miscalculation on his part. He thought he could do a scale down campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan but that doesn’t work it takes a lot of time and money to fight wars. His lust and greed was for cheap labor. During his first term he encouraged millions of immirgants from Mexico to come to the US to work for less wages in construcation than the average American. A typical cheap labor Repbulcian guy.

  10. Reader James,

    You are doing a rework of the old “guns or butter” argument, aren’t you? Giving panagias to bishops is a waste of money which could be going to do missionary work. Added perks? Are you now making a judgement call on all clergy who must wear vestments, crosses or panagias? Why don’t we just do away with vestments like the Baptists preachers and our clergy just wear suits, but be careful, people might give their pastor a suit, which, of course, they shouldn’t so that money can go to missions! End of snarky reply.

    People organize around a cause and if that cause is something they are called to as an expression of their Faith (Archons, FOS, etc) or an opportunity to share that Faith, why do we think that is somehow less noble to join those organizations who, in fact use those resources to support the mission of the Church?

    As for the OCA, there is no FOS and I doubt seeing it revived given the dysfunction in the OCA. We have leaders who openly dislike each other and who are vying to remove our Metropolitan. A Protopresbyter who calls our Metropolitan “gravely troubled” and openly supports a Mark Stokoe as the measure and standard of what is good with the OCA and denounces a senior Archpriest and effectively helps to drive him out of the OCA. What examples of missionary outreach and leadership.

    People in the OCA are now saying, with such leaders, we don’t need to throw good money after bad. They deserve $50 not $105 and certainly not any more. Not too inspiring is it?

    We can hope that people in our parishes will avert their eyes from such disgusting examples of Orthodox leadership and will concentrate on matters closer to home. That is the whole idea of reducing the OCA assessment so there can be more funds available in your parish. How about coming up with ideas of how you can use the $55 per person in savings and use it to plant another mission or support a mission priest, or feed the hungry in your neighborhood more than you all are doing now. How about coming up with your own strategic plan and not try and waste our time with another OCA top down plan which won’t work as how many other Syosset plans have not worked over the decades.

    Maybe we don’t need to waste our money on an AAC? Well a good start would be to reduce the Assessment. Then let’s see if that message will be delivered and force Syosset to change her priorities.

  11. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    I hate to break the news to you guys, but the toga was not Greek.

    If memory serves—for I was young then—the toga was originally Etruscan.

    The Greeks, who were hard-workers, would never have worn the toga, because the only thing you could do while wearing a toga was stand up and give a speech.

    It could only be worn by Roman citizens. In the Senate, where they gave lots of speeches, the wearing of the toga was de rigeur.

    The toga came east when the Senate came east, in the reign of Constantine.

    Recall, however, that even in Constantinople the Senate spoke Latin, even as the laws were still published in Latin thorough at least the sixth century.

    When wearing the toga, one always spoke Latin.

    The Greeks wore a shorter robe, called the kitona—tunica in Latin. Much more practical. You could actually get some work done.

    The Greeks have enough problems. Don’t burden them with the toga.

  12. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Sorry. Blame my logorrhea on AT&T.

  13. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Karen writes:

    “Here in the U.S., I think given our more intense scruples about public nudity compared to our counterparts the world over, it seems an appropriate economy and concession to modesty to allow an opaque white full coverage garment during baptisms!”

    I truly hope Karen won’t get any disagreement on this.

    I am confident that the restoration of nude adult baptism would not bring us the right sort of catechumen.

  14. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Bishop Tikhon inquires:

    “‘Heavy canvas robes?’ What next?”

    The toga?

  15. cynthia curran says

    Well, I agree with Peter, a lot of Americans barely know anything about ancient Greece or Rome which contribute a lot to America. In the founding Fathers day you had to study both Latin and Greek to be considered educated. A tradition in the west that goes back about the 1400’s or 1500’s.

  16. cynthia curran says

    Father Reardon is right the Toga it wasn’t in the Greek East and came over with Constantine’s new empire and I bl believe that the Etruscans were the ones that invented it too. Also, its truth in most of the Theodosian Code and a lot of the Justinian Code except for some of the newer laws in the east were in Greek in the Justinian Code..

  17. cynthia curran says

    Well, I agree with Peter that Constantine Paleologos IX was a Great man since unlike most rulers he was one of the few that actually gave up his life for his country or city. As for the Eastern Roman Empire its not popular in the west as its in the east. However, a lot of the top scholars in the field are western European. A lot of people here would definitely disagree with Gibbon’s put down of the Eastern Roman empire. However, before him hardly anyone in the west wrote about it. Eastern Romans think of themselves as Romans but they tended to relate more to the Greek East than the Western Roman tradition. For example I read that they prefer Demosthenes over Cicero and Alexander over Julius Caesar, usually they prefer the Greek over the Roman in terms of culture. And I believe that some of the laws coming from the Eastern Roman Empire had a Greek influence over the Roman like marriage dowries and donations in Byzantium in the ancient world or medieval world. The eastern Empire was the develop of the Roman east into the middle ages somewhat different from the Greek East of the older Roman Empire or the Latin West of the older Roman Empire.