Is Orthodoxy in America Hitting its Stride?

Lately, Yours Truly has been pondering some interesting thoughts and coming to (hopefully) valid conclusions.

A lot of this is due to this blog and the very thoughtful (while often contentious) discussion on various topics. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to everybody of late who has stood up in and made his or her voice heard. Seriously, I mean that: everybody.

Certainly it’s not just this blog which has occasioned these internal musings. There seems to be something in the air so to speak which has led me to entertain these thoughts. Specifically, I’ve come to believe –and please hear me out–that Orthodoxy in America is well on its way to being spiritually and intellectually self-sufficient.

I fervently believe that the laity are becoming more mature. Whereas in the past we always looked to our bishops for guidance, I feel that for many of us, this is no longer a necessity. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t need bishops –we desperately do–but that we don’t need to avoid being bold in the Spirit simply because we haven’t received permission for doing so. In other words we don’t need to wait for word from some committee of the Episcopal Assembly on what to say of this, that or the other thing.

Indeed, it seems to me now that we expect too much from our bishops and clergy and that we’ve unnecessarily hobbled them with our incessant demands to be more like the other Christian confessions. Expectations that are not valid nor needed in my opinion.

That being said, the ferment that I’m picking up on is due to a spiritual maturity that can only arise from having a daily prayer rule, a spiritual father and partaking of the mysteries on a regular basis. Or so I believe.

Below, you will find a raft of Orthodox thinkers who are formidable presences on YouTube. I don’t know any of these people personally but I’m very intrigued by their boldness and their ability to speak the Truth in an American context within an Orthodox Christian matrix. It’s refreshing to see such people speak without having to constantly make some reference to Protestantism, the Enlightenment or Western humanism in general.

I trust that these people who I will introduce you to will not mind that I did so.

Here they are some of them in no particular order:

P.S. If you know of any others, please send them to me.


  1. Light of the West says

    I’m not sure how you folks swing, but the Western Rite is slowly but surely coming into its own in ROCOR, successfully engaging many Americans in the process. One of the recent group conversions in Iowa brought along a former Anglican radio station. The host’s enthusiasm is encouraging (as is his sense of humor!) and the number of regular ‘shows’ is increasing.

    You can check them out here:

    The old station is still online, featuring a number of recordings of talks from the ROCOR Western Rite conference:

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Keep going and keep growing. Love it brother, love it.

      Peter A. Papoutsis
      Christ, not man, is King!

    • Sean Richardson says

      Thank you Light, for your comments. I attended a Western Rite parish for a number of years, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel there was any real long-range future in it. To add to this feeling, being a convert from an evangelical church, I found the transition to Western Rite as daunting as the transition to Eastern Rite.
      For me personally, I think Eastern Rite is the way to go, although to be honest I just can’t cope with the concept of having to be Russian, Greek, an Arab, etc. in order to bond into the family.
      I’m as much an outsider to the family as I am to my inlaws. They’re very nice people, but I know, and am constantly reminded, that I’m not truly one of their family.

      • You do not HAVE to be some ethnic group to be part of the Orthodox family. My parish is Eastern Rite (Antiochian), but we are all Americans, and the liturgy is in English. We have quite a few Hispanic folks, so the priest throws some Spanish in the liturgy every once in a while.

        Yes, of course, some parishes are still extremely ethnic…and a lot of Americans still live in an Orthodox desert, with neither a parish nor a monastery within a reasonable drive. We’ve come a long way over the last half-century, but a lot of the U.S. is still Orthodox mission country.

      • Sean

        I totally know what you mean and that’s exactly where I’m at

        I raise a non-threatening verticle wrist, thumb on top of forefinger, slight shake up and down

        Eyes almost closed and with a slight gruff whisp:

        “I feeyel yer paynnh”

  2. George

    The cross you selected attached to the article is rad

    If I was helping establish an Orthodox mission parish, I might’ve used that one

    I wish I would have been more aware of the Western rite back in the day. Perhaps it could have really helped an extremely complicated reality I was dealing with at the time

  3. Virginia Dean says

    See You Tube for Alex Metaxas messages. Greek Orthodox but at a different level. Disagree with your “in stride” Orthodoxy characterization. Many good people have simply gone “beyond” Toxic Orthodoxy as administered by the present regimes in so many jurisdictions.

  4. Alitheia1875 says

    Where the bishop is, there is the Church. 2nd century, St.Irenaeos of Lyon. The idea that the bishop is no longer necessary for discernment of the Truth is truly Protestantism at its best, or worse. Why not just become an Evangelical, proclaim your belief in Jesus and be saved? Perhaps the problem with bishops today is that they are leading the flock towards being like other Christian confessions not because of clamoring from the laity, but because the bishops themselves are heading down that path because they want to. (read Ecumenism, joint prayer, etc.) As St. John Chrysostom was wont to say, when there is a problem in the Church, look to the bishop. There is no such thing as an American context for Orthodoxy. Remember, neither Greek, nor Jew….. As for the blogs, I’m not particularly impressed. If what they have to say is not based on tradition and Tradition, on the patristic interpretation of things, then what they say is NOT spiritually beneficial to the Orthodox Christian. You are certainly right saying that one must have a prayer rule, a spiritual father (not just a parish priest) and participating in the Mystical life of the Church. But when was the last time you heard a bishop or priest talk about that? Then again, when the GOA has parishes with one priest in a parish of 300 or more, and sometimes as much as 700 or 800, families what do you expect. Of course, parishes cannot afford to support more priests because so much money goes to the Archdiocese and the Metropolises each year, with no spiritually beneficial return. The answer is not for laity to take it upon themselves to create an American context for “the faith once delivered to the saints” but to become well informed and insist that clergy of all ranks begin to lead the laity in an Orthodox way of life. Thank you for bringing subjects like this to the forefront. Would that such discussions be fostered by the clergy!!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Alithia, you speak the alithia (i.e. “truth”). My only quibble is that I don’t want to veer the Church to Protestantism. Only that with the proper phronema, a lot of natural creativity can be unleashed and hence, evangelism. An example is this cross which came to me several weeks ago. It’s beautiful beyond measure.

      All I’m saying is that we don’t need to always look to the bishops for leadership in every little endeavor. It’s not fair to them. If we had more bishops and more priests per parish and more parishes and they were filled with congregants who are on fire for the Lord, the Church would break out into the greater culture and before you know it, America would be well on its way to becoming Orthodox.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Saunca, begging your forgiveness but reread what I wrote. Especially with this in mind: just because something is “Protestant” doesn’t mean it’s bad. If we believed that then we’d take all organs and pews out of our churches.

        Having said that, I have no quarrel with you about anglification. In fact, I completely agree with you. That’s why I endured a cultural rupture to help start an OCA mission here in the South. I would add this proviso however: the language used must be “high” and elegant. One could do no better –and far worse–than using the Venerable Dmitri’s translation.

        • If we believed that then we’d take all organs and pews out of our churches.

          That’d be a great start!

          • George Michalopulos says

            I can envision hundreds of bonfires going off simultaneously over the this great land of ours.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Of course you’re forgiven, Saunca!

          When I say “fill” churches, I mean fill those that are empty and then create new ones. I’ve become a devotee of Robin Dunbar, a British sociologist who has come up with a metric which is called “Dunbar’s Number” in his honor.

          Basically it’s this: the average human being has the brain capacity to know only about 150 people in a genuine manner. Their spouses, children, life circumstances. In his findings, those institutions which have “Dunbar’s number” as their outer maximum work best. Hence my realization that no parish should have more than 150 adults in it. The Blessed Dmitri had an intuition of this metric (imho) when in giving us his blessing to start a mission he told us that once we hit 125 we would need to seriously think of opening another mission.

          I hope this allays your fears.

          Regardless, like you, I consider the mega-church phenomenon to be most unfortunate. I am thus saddened by desperate efforts of the GOA to constantly sabotage missionary efforts (even from within the GOA) because they try to hold to the fiction of a specific parish having “500 hundred families” etc.

    • M. Stankovich says

      I suspect you meant to say Ignatius of Antioch, the Great Martyr…

  5. Michael Bauman says
  6. Check this out says

    Jay Dyer, without doubt, is American Orthodoxy’s big name for the future.

    He talks about a lot of different hings, but his theology and philosophy lectures are impeccable. The most recent video on his page is a debate in which he wrecks an up-and-coming Catholic figure.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Boring. Tired old nonesense from the RC side. Dyer knows Catholicism better than the RC guy. It’s kinda like Clayton Kershaw striking out a bad high school player.

      RCC theology fundentally denies the Incarnation.

      • Constaninos says

        Mr. Bauman,
        You menton Clayton Kershaw. Am I correct in thinking that you consider him the best pitcher in baseball? I know he has won three Cy Young Awards, but how many World Series has he won? Oh, do you remember when Black Jack Morris pitched ten innings of shoutout ball to win the World Series? It’s all about the big game.
        Also, I don’t know what you mean by your last statement about the RCC denying the Incarnation. Can you explain? Thank you.

        • Michael Bauman says


          Kershaw is a direct disciple of Koufax but has not yet equaled his master and teacher of the pitching arts. It is said of Koufax that he had an obvious “tell” when he threw his curveball. All of the hitters knew it was coming and they still couldn’t hit it. When he executed it properly it was impossible to hit.

          It started out looking to the hitter that it was going to be above the letters and seemed that way most of its journey to the plate. Then just as the hitter was poised to either swing in the higher plane or had given up on the pitch, it dropped through the strike zone like it was falling off a cliff and frequently the catcher caught it palm up at the batter’s ankles just before it hit the dirt.

          Hitters were always tempted to swing at it because, unlike his fastball, they could actually see it.

          Koufax threw his fastball at well over 100 mph most of the time. To gain control he had to tone it down to around 97-98 but the manner in which he threw made it seem even faster. He released the pitch roughly 55 feet from the plate in a trebuchet like movement. Pitching from the high mound as he did, it would seem to the hitters as if were coming out of the sky.

          For most of his prime he pitched with a mangled left elbow that would always swell to the size of a balloon after each game. He had to sit with it in an ice bath for a couple of hours after each game to allow him to use his left arm at all. He injured the elbow trying to run the bases. He attempted to slide into second base after miraculously getting on base somehow and just belly flopped hitting his left elbow hard.

          He was anointed by the baseball community: The Left Arm of God

          He was the worst hitter of any I have ever seen. He had no clue what to do with a bat at all. Had he been in the American League after the advent of the DH, he would have had a much longer career.

          So, in my example, Sandy Koufax would have been a better choice, but he last pitched in 1966 so I went with a current player.

          Why did he get hit at all? Major league hitters are quite good. Any mistake in velocity, location and execution will get hit by them sooner or later. Even though the best hitters have a 70% failure rate. Think of the mental discipline. If you only had a 30% closing rate by the sales force in your car lots, that would not be real good.

          Good pro quarterbacks these days complete at least 60% of their passes and pro basketball players who do not make close to 50% of their shots are not in the league long or relegated to the bench.

          Alex Gordon of the Royals for instance started most games in left field last year and failed at the plate close to 80% of the time (career fail rate at about 65%-75%). Still he is such a transcendent defensive player, he was an overall positive.

          The most elite hitter ever in the game of baseball failed at the plate 59% of the time in his best year ever. The absolute best home run hitters hit them only 10% of the time.

          That’s why I like baseball.

          • George Michalopulos says

            When one speaks of the likes of Koufax and Cobb and Gehrig and so on, one treads into the realm of legend. Of a time that no longer is and will never be.

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, I grew up watching Koufax rooting for him and the Dodgers. The bat assault on John Roseboro by Juan Marichal — all of that. Does that make me a ledgend too?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Also the player with the highest single season batting average was George Sisler. Anybody remember him?

              • Constaninos says

                Mr. Bauman,
                No, but I remember Rogers Hornsby. If I’m not mistaken Rogers Hornsby had a higher batting average of .424 in 1924 than George Sisler’s batting average in 1922. By the way, Rogers Hornsby is the only player to bat over .400 three times in his career. He also hit for power as well.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  I stand corrected….and Rogers Hornsby refused tobacco adds one of the reason his baseball card is so rare.

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says

                    Are you guys about ready to wrap up these sports talks?

                    I can see it for the Kaepernick article, all sorts of sports tangents, but at least still under a sports related article –

                    because you guys are starting to bury the comments in all the other articles with your baseball ‘member berries

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Joy spreads BJS. What can I say. Forty days to opening day. Don’t be grumpy. Besides baseball is probably Greek is it not?

                      Also baseball is a traditional but dynamically adapting sport.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Also, check out George Carlin’s comparison of baseball and foot ball. I will quote just the ending:

                  In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

                  In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!

                • Michael Bauman says

                  An interesting site maintained by the official historian of baseball:

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Constaninos , I picked Kershaw because he is a dominant pitcher. I was inclined to day Sandy Koufax.
    It is a large task to delineate the ways the RCC denies the Incarnation but think about the papal title Vicar of Christ. Let that roll around in your head and heart a bit then add in the essence of the Palamite controversy.

    RCC in its dominant theology says that we can only know about God, but not know God. It is much more nunanced but essentially that.

    If Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man and we are to be one we obviously can know God.

    Think on that awhile, read On the Incarnation then let me know what you think.

  8. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from the OCL website.

    The North American Thebaid Photographic Pilgrimage Project
    Source: The North American Thebaid