+Jonah, the Gospel, and America

Just days after a speaking on Orthodox unity in Houston, and a few days before he is to concelebrate with Metropolitan +Hilarion of ROCOR, our peripatetic Primate has yet another major speaking engagement. On Tuesday, December 6th, His Beatitude is going to give a major address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank.

Obviously, His Beatitude is a major draw. Not just at religious events but at venues that are not religious. Indeed, I can’t think of another American Orthodox bishop who is as sought after as a speaker. This is not a dig at the other bishops but there is something innate about +Jonah, what in public-relations circles is called the “it” factor. Whatever “it” is, he’s definitely got “it.” And that’s good, not for him specifically, but for American Orthodoxy.

This engagement is important in many ways. Ordinarily, the AEI is more concerned with politics and economics. But I imagine that +Jonah’s talk is not going to be a rah-rah endorsement of supply-side economics, materialism, or some-such. In fact, from the title I’d guess that it’s going to veer awfully close to the ascetic struggle, something that is the antithesis of American feel-goodism. That’s good, America needs to come to grips with the American Way. Our intelligentsia needs to be made aware of the eternal verities.

On another level, we can’t help but wonder about the incongruity between +Jonah’s popularity, the cogency of his speeches and the inability of his critics to appreciate his ministry. Let us be honest, the “evaluation” that he had to undergo recently is looking more and more like an unnecessary unpleasantness. At the risk of the typical Monomakhos sarcasm, His Beatitude is clearly not a menace to himself or his fellows. He’s as normal as the day is long. I pray that his brothers on the Synod take note of his humility and find more productive ways to work with him in the future. Without a ministry such as his, Orthodoxy in America will flounder for another half a generation or so.

At any rate, we wish him well. I’m sure he’ll do fine. (Hopefully a transcript or a recording will follow.)

+ + + + + + + + + + +


More information: The American Enterprise Institute

Introduction by Fr. Gregory Jenson of Koinonia

Live video streaming available on the American Enterprise Institute website.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: Faith in a Consumerist Society

Tuesday, December 06, 2011 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m


5:15 PM
Registration and Dinner

5:30 PM

FR. GREGORY JENSEN, American Orthodox Institute

Keynote Address
METROPOLITAN JONAH, Archbishop of Washington, Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Question & Answer

7:00 PM


  1. Two thoughts:

    1) Bravo to Metropolitan Jonah for taking his talks directly to the people. Keep up the speaking engagements no matter what. Never stop doing this. You are evangelizing America by doing this.

    2) If I was doing alot of speaking I would be sure to include some good old fashioned humor about the recent “bogus” evaluation. Laugh at it, make fun of it, invite others to laugh at it and show how silly it was. Find some funny analogies to compare it to. Humor is a powerful tool to disarm people. The folks at Slyosett will go nuts if you do this.

  2. John Christopher says

    I’m surprised to see you call AEI “conservative,” George. There isn’t a more influential — or culpable — advocacy group for neoconservatism than that sorry lot.

    • George Michalopulos says

      John Christopher, whether they are neo-cons or not is immaterial to me. (And my only disagreement with the neo-cons is that they are militaristic Wilsonian crusaders, otherwise, they get the rest of their conservatism is non-controversial by conservative standards.) The fact that HB is going to such a non-ecclesial venue is all that matters. Personally, I’d rather he go to Heritage or CATO, or even Brookings (which is liberal) or even Al Sharpton’s church (and I truly disdain that mountebank). They point is you can only preach the Word if you engage society. It’s like Jesus going to the house of the the publicans.

      • Fr. Justin Frederick says

        I can’t agree with you there, George. Traditional conservatives promote limited government. The neo-cons are all-too comfortable with big government. The rest of their so-called conservatism is plenty controversial by traditional conservative standards. That said, I’m glad His Beatitude is taking the Gospel to them.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          I don’t disagree with you at all Fr. Not all neo-cons like big government however. They tried that during Bush 41/Clinton years, so-called “big gov’t conservatism,” or “great nation conservatism.” It was flogged by The Weekly Standard. They appear chastened but if not, then fie on them.

        • Fr, if I may also add, some of the best apologetic for traditional conservative mores, especially in regards to heterosexual monogamy has been found in neo-con precincts (Commentary and The Weekly Standard specifically. And of course The National Review although I don’t think they consider themselves neo-con.). I only hope that more traditional thinktanks like Heritage and Focus on Family likewise invite HB to speak. Of course, I think that HB should go to Brookings, CAP, wherever to preach the Gospel. It’s much needed.

          I remember back in 2003 when +Philip rightly pulled out AOCNA from the NCC, he was cheered by The Weekly Standard. That may be small beer but it’s a start. I’m just giving the devil his due here, that’s all. Otherwise, I’m in complete agreement that neo-conservatism is a philosophical absurdity.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I think that most conservatives do not know their heritage. When you mention some one like Russell Kirk and tell them that his philosophical basis and outlook was traditional social conservatism, and that it was Kirk who is the modern bedrock of conservatisim NOT Irving Kristol they are either surprised or do not understand what you are talking about.

            I highly recommend to get Mr. Russell Kirk’s “The Conservative Mind” as this is the Bible for Paleo-Conservatism. This is my political and philosophical outlook. I love it.


            • Carl Kraeff says

              I agree with on the importance of Russel Kirk but must disagree that he was a “paleo-conservative,” a label invented relatively recently for folks such as Pat Buchanan. Although it is true that many “paleos” claim Kirk and Kirk himself supported Buchanan in the 1990s, I believe that he fits more comfortably under the simpler label of conservatism–the sort professed by folks like Buckley, Rusher, Herberg, Horowitz, Burnham, Weaver, Viereck, Vogelin, Nesbitt, Kuehnelt-Leddihn, and our own Rod Dreher.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                I agree with you, but the distinction of “paleo” is needed to separate itself from the neo-cons. However, yes you are correct this is just real conservatism.


                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Ditto. Just Conservative. “Paleo” is a qualifier made necessary because of neo-conservatism. Also, I’d Milton Friedman to that roster of Conservatives.

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                    Perhaps “Pre-Paleo” might be most apt. It hearkens back to the good ol’ days of Byzantium under the Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      If we are talking about going back…I was teasing my wife about being a descendant of Alexander the Great because my father’s ancestors came from Macedonia. My Bulgarian grandfather was from Monastir Vilayet, Sanjak of Monastir, Kaza of Florin, village of Ekshi-su (modern day Xino Nero, Greece), while my Bulgarian grandmother was from Salonika Vilayet, Sanjak of Salonika, city of Solun (currently Thessaloniki, Greece), and as we all know, Alexander came from somewhere between the two.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    If we’re talking Byzantine, that would be archeoconservative.

                  • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    Except that Friedman would not have agreed. He called himself a libertarian, a classical liberal, and a Republican “on grounds of expediency.” He never called himself a conservative, and he didn’t believe in the “permanent things” that were the basis of Russell Kirk’s thinking. Really, folks: Read the book.

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      And while you are reading the book, take a break to read this classic essay by Kirk:

                      Civilization Without Religion?

                    • David Yentzen says

                      And now for something completely different…errr…I mean similar: The Law by Frederic Bastiat. A free online download in three different formats from the Mises Institute. What is immoral for one to perform is immoral for a collective of ones to perform.

                    • My problem with LIbertarians though is that when things get dicey, they always come down on the side of progressivism (abortion on demand, unrestricted immigration, cultural rot, etc.). In this respect, I very much respect the Ayn Rand school of Libertarianism because they at least would come down on the side of Conservatives who believe that sometime we have to restrain the baser impulses of man –either through conformity to religious truths or *gulp* the government.

                      An example would be restricting illegal immigration. Only the government can do that, individuals can’t.

                      I guess what I’m trying to say is that Friedman was one of the few self-described Libertarians who I don’t think would have made the capitulation that 98% of Libertarians do. (Which they always do because they think Christians and Conservatives are icky.)

                    • David Yentzen says

                      What?…Nobody likes Monty Python? Well, George you have touched upon two things that have( like society at large) a wide degree of disagreement in the libertarian community. You can find large numbers of pro life and pro choice libertarians—to dismiss libertarianism outright because you find some that are pro choice seems to me that you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. For different views on this issue, I refer you to the writings of; R. Paul, L. Vance, W. Block. Again, just as in society at large, immigration is a complicated issue that carries a wide degree of disagreement within the libertarian community….once again the baby and bathwater. I refer you to the following writers for differing views on immigration within libertarianism; R. Paul, M. Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, L. Rockwell, W. Block. Though there are some, like me, that see no problem with unrestricted immigration( legal). It is also the case that they are a large number of republicans that are pro choice and probably differ with you on the issue of immigration…..what to do with them?
                      I won’t take your last sentence too seriously because icky is a word that 8 year old girls use…..sorry, a silly sentence deserves a silly response. I will refer you to a bounty of Christians( or resources) that are outright libertarians or heavy influenced by libertarianism see; here, here, here, here, here, here, here. If you wish you can refer to the writings of the following; Lew Rockwell, Bill Barnwell, Thomas Woods, Jeff Tucker, Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, Laurence Vance.

                    • Of all the political taxonomies that I have encountered, the one that is most persuasive is Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s Leftism Revisited (From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Pol Pot). I like the division into Leftism and Rightism, with the dividing principle being whether one subscribes to leap of faith that “man can perfect mankind” based on an ahistorical belief in the perfect man. For another appreciation, please read the review by Dr Enrico Peppe at http://www.intellectualconservative.com.

                    • The more sense we make of things, the more distinctions we make about things. Reducing everything to just leftism/rightism only makes us less able to understand the diversity of opinions on both the left and right.

                      The usual reasons people reduce things to a simple either/or are (a) it’s mentally less taxing and (b) they are angling for as much support as possible for their own position and want people to ignore all other options.

      • Agree with you – while it’s good to see our Metropolitan taking it directly to the prophets of the flesh-god Baal, everyone should realize they they are his minor priests at AEI. Taking the Gospel directly to Cato or Heritage would be a daring, bold, perhaps even dangerous move directly into the belly of the beast.

  3. cynthia curran says

    A Republican or a supporter of a Republic can sometimes be a conservative since the Roman Republic was before the Roman Emperors. Brutus and Cassius were Conservatives since they supported the influence of the Roman Senate, Julius Caesar was a liberal in his day since he didn’t support the influence of the senate but a dictatorship. Later on when the Roman Emperors were were the norm, Procopius was a conservative since he supported the land aristocracy and was opposed to the emperor Justinian brining in non-Roman forms of honoring the emperor like kissing the rulers feet which was more oriential than Roman. I bring this up because someone stated a Republican one who supports a Republic is not a conservative but a monarchists is but in anicent history some monarchies were after the Republics. Granted Rome did have 7 kings before the Republic but the Republic was around about 500 years before Augustus created the emperor. A little off topic here but some cliam here that those that support a monarchy are conservatives but this isn’t always the case.

    • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

      Inasmuch as the terms conservative and liberal are politically useful, they refer to opposite regard for hierarchical societal arrangements. Because the general movement of Western civilization for the past 500 years has been away from all “archy,” a conservative is one still favorably disposed toward archy, whereas a liberal is one who is not. Conservatives include both plutocratic nationalists who favor strong government (neocons) and republican constitutionalists who favor weak government (paleocons); conversely, progressives include both libertarian individualists who are both anarchical and anti-state and democratic progressives who are paradoxically anarchical but pro-state.

      This is all neatly laid out in Eight Ways to Run the Country, of which a brief summary with high praise appears in this article from last July.

      • Inasmuch as the terms conservative and liberal are politically useful, they refer to differing regard for hierarchical societal arrangements.

        Not at all; I would beg to differ with you. The essential difference between the Left and Right is to be found in their approach to economics. One philosophy is a result of the French Enlightenment (vide Marxism) and the other the result of the Scottish Enlightenment (vide The United States). One seeks to solve mankind’s problems by enforcing—often violently—an unnatural absolute equality among men and the other seeks to solve mankind’s problems by relying on the innate differences and unique personalities of men to devise morally sound solutions in the free market of ideas. One is a top-down approach, and the other is a bottom-up approach. These philosophies are diametrically opposed, and their practice leads to such radically opposed results—in practical, human, and moral terms—that it is well we become familiar with their very distinct differences.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          The economic thesis won’t work for several reasons:

          (1) It was the political left — the “liberals” — who favored free trade and limited government interference in economics in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

          (2) Europeans today still use “liberal” or “neoliberal” to mean people who are pro-business and anti-regulation.

          (3) Many Americans who call themselves “conservative” and whom most other people call “conservative” are quite comfortable using the force of government for economic purposes, like building infrastructure or subsidizing select industries.

          (4) If economic freedom is the basis of conservatism, then libertarians are “conservatives,” yet libertarians have historically refused the conservative label and espoused patently progressive social views.

          (5) In the Communist Manifesto, the evil to be destroyed is not economic inequality but social hierarchy, i.e., the domination of some people by other people. The focus on equality is merely a means to the anarchical end of freedom from domination.

          (6) Even today most progressives (a better label than liberal) don’t mind inequalities of wealth except inasmuch as they create inequalities of power. That’s how the Michael Moores of the world justify their luxury: They may be wealthy, but their wealth does not make them oppressors because of all they do against oppression.

          Read the second link I provided above. It’s by a conservative libertarian, and he buys what I’m saying. Then read the book, where you’ll find more proof.

          • David Yentzen says

            Dear Mr Mitchell,
            Thanks for sharing the link to Anthony Gregory’s article….indeed that article is how I became aware of your writings. It is encouraging to see such an exchange of ideas about the nature of politics. You are right of course in that no matter how you arrive at your “final conclusion” of description both the modern day left and right are statist. That is to say these individuals see no moral challenge in using the coercive action of the state to affect their view of what should be. Liberty and coercive action are not compatible. The nature of liberty is neither left nor right, it is unique( see W. Block http://tinyurl.com/2eqfrdy). I have long since taken the red pill of libertarianism and I find less about libertarianism incompatible with Christianity than any form of statist political/economic ideology. Even more importantly, for me, it is because of Orthodoxy that I ultimately came to a libertarian.
            My hats off to George for your website, you are probably a large part of “The Tipping Point” (http://tinyurl.com/ysy9dl) for American Orthodox traditionalism…..or more correctly those that seek the Royal Path.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Cynthia, thank you for bringing up these distinctions. We tend to forget that the labels lose meaning after a time. For example “liberal” is what I am. I believe in limited, constitutional, republican government. Equality of individuals but not equality in outcomes. That’s impossible.

  4. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Happy name’s day to all Nicks, Nikkis, Nicoles and Nicholas today, and all derivations thereof.

    Peter A. Papoutsis

    • Metropolitan Jonah just finished at AEI. Attendance was moderate and you could hear all the questions and answers. His Beatitude looked well and was comfortable with everyone, logical, down-to-earth.

  5. WELL! That was really something. Metropolitan Jonah’s whole presentation was great, but I couldn’t help but cheer at my laptop when he put the paper down and started addressing the audience more directly, getting into his element.

    I have to admit my eye started twitching when the German atheist said he does all these good things and His Beatitude didn’t do much with it, but I don’t think his response should be taken in the sense of “screw this religion crap, just live a good life and you’ll be fine”. However, I thought his response was not totally adequate to the question. This might have been a good place to underline the fact that doing things for other people and loving your family is a good place to start, and perhaps the extent to which his advice can be followed by a staunch non-Christian as opposed to one seeking something more… but as a Christian, he would have to tell you that this can only take you so far as long as you remain divorced from the source of life and love.

    • Monk James says

      Please forgive me for being a bit slow on the uptake here, but where can we see this?

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Helga, I like the fact that HB actually knows something about the culture. Not merely the references to Mad Men and the loveless sex that is pervasive, but his intimiate knowledge of the mortgage industry. I learned some interesting facts about it from his talk at AEI.

      • I liked that too, George. Met. Jonah is just an all around cool guy. He really knows how to relate to people, without being dated, or judgmental, but he is loving enough to tell you the truth.

        As for the mortgages thing, I just think it’s great that Met. Jonah has some experience working in the world. Those opportunities were clearly providential. He didn’t have the white hat handed to him for no reason; he got where he is by relying on the will of God, and struggling in the wilderness.

        Let’s keep Met. Jonah in fervent prayer today as the Lesser Synod meets. Pray that all the bishops will heed the Holy Spirit and not subject the Met. to undue harassment or criticism, but will deal with him as a brother bishop and listen to what he has to say.

  6. cynthia curran says

    I don’t always agree with the neo-cons on foreign policy but I do agree with them that military defense is important. It is as important as economics which is one reason I’m not a libertarian or believe that everything should be left to the market. That doesn’t mean one is a statist. In fact many here know that the selling of some things like Prostution whether its legal or not always has a human tricfficking element. I mention before that the Justinian Code even address the human tricfficking of girls from the country even below the age of 12 back in the 6th century.

  7. cynthia curran says

    One more thing here Eisenhower was able to do the highway act back in the 1950’s since the enviromential movement wasn’t strong in that decade and both left and right were not opposed to instruture projects that would take some private property away but would compensate the owners. I was reading in a country like Turkey they are going to built the largest canal for trade near Istanbul. That project would not fly now in either the US or Western Europe. Turkey isn’t the richest country but more richer countries would not do such a project.

  8. cynthia curran says

    Well, the last real big government conservative or moderate was Richard Nixon. Being here don’t like him because of wage and price controls and the gold standard. But, Nixon actually achieved a lot more than George W Bush and not all of it was in liberal things like the EPA. Actually, he and Kennedy helped set the stage to bring down the Mafia in the US and Nixon helped to widen the rife with the Russians and Chinese. And Reagan was able to correct some of Nixon mistakes with the Russians since Nixon idea was to get the Russians to get to a place where we could dismantle them which Reagan did. The Vietnam War might have ended better if the Liberals opposed to it as much would allow funding instead we ended up pulling out and some people were sent to labor camps.

  9. cynthia curran says

    Well, believe it or not as I said before Procopius is considered by classical historians the conservative in the 6th century since he favored the older Roman order and the land aristocracy which were getting tax well by Justinian. Justinian by modern politics would be on the left economy because of wage and price controls imposed because of the Plague which cause wages and prices to rise and he was a heavier taxer for government services and bribering foreigners mainly Persia. On the far right on morality since he did use capital punishment on homosexuals in certain cases and in the legal code he penalized Jews, Pagans, and heretical Christian groups who couldn’t represent themselves in court but had to testfied for Orthodox Christians in court. Also, a few heretical groups like the Mancheans were put to death under Justinian.

  10. cynthia curran says

    I mean the 6th century Plague caused a labor shortage and cause the wages and prices to rise sharply. Also, in ancient and medieval societies shortages because of slower transporation could result in someone actually taking advantage and hoarding and charging higher prices as a result of few alternatives. Granted, wage and price controls caused shortages but this explains Justinian or over two centuries earlier the Roman Emperor Diocletion who imposed wage and price controls because of hyper-inflation.

  11. cynthia curran says

    Here’s the Byzantine emperors of the 6th century. Anastasius, Justin I,Justinian(Petrus Sabbatius name at birth), Justin II, Tiberius II, Maurice. Maurice did a good job compared to the other emperors of that century defending the Balkins and gaining back some territorary. Phocas overthrew Maurice in a coup.

  12. cynthia curran says

    Well, George, Friedman stated that you can’t have unrestricted immirgation in a welfare sate. Most libertarians try to argue that illegal immirgants can’t get welfare but what they forget is their American born children do, and some studies now show hispanics behind blacks if you adjust for rent differernces. Hispanics live in very expensive states like California and Florida in the middle and cheaper states like New Mexico and Texas. Also, legal immirgation a lot of conservatives want workers from China or India to come here on work Vistas even though their is high unemployment. Also, the housing messed people were buying houses that cost way above income this is a regulation which is needed to stop things from getting out of control. Libertarians and even some conseravtives thought it was ok to lend money to people that couldn’t afford those houses in the first place.