Note to our Readers: Mr. Frost Gets the Chill

Recently, an erudite correspondent (Mr Francis Frost) and I have engaged in an earnest debate on Georgia and Russia. I have tried to scrupulously not take sides on this issue but have merely pointed out that it is far more complicated than this particular correspondent lets on. Indeed, I have respected his editorial position and let his comments dealing with this issue stand.

Unfortunately, he overstepped the bounds of propriety and I warned him of the consequences should he persist in doing so. I regret to mention his name as this personalizes the issue, but he left me no choice.

Therefore, let us proceed.

In making his case, he earlier mentioned a close, personal friend of mine who is not germane in any way to the issue at hand. Indeed, this friend has not influenced my own views on Russia, Georgia, or anywhere else for that matter. (Indeed, this friend and I never talk politics, which is one reason I treasure his friendship.) I warned Mr Frost not to mention him again or any other of my friends for that matter as Monomakhos is concerned with the broader issues concerning our society, essentially politics, culture, and religion. It is not a website devoted to my own personal agendas. If it were, it would not have the impact that it does. And, lest anyone think I’m an apologist for the OCA over and above any other jurisdiction — well, I’d say that that person hasn’t been reading Monomakhos very carefully lately.

I gave him fair warning. Unfortunately, he decided to ignore it and posted two responses this morning, the first of which he continued along his anti-Russian diatribe. Worse, he continued to mention my friend and his family in Russia. As such, I removed these comments and placed them under moderation (I have let his others dealing with Georgia stand). Because of the most recent infraction however, this particular correspondent will join the ranks of ASIATR who — like himself — continued along the path of personal diatribe and/or vendetta.

Again, let me reiterate: I welcome any and all arguments about this issue both pro and con; I will not welcome personal comments directed against my family or friends, or comments on local issues that are not germane to broader issues which afflict our Church and society.

Mr Frost will be welcomed back into the good graces of Monomakhos should he prove himself able to adhere to the parameters of this blog.


  1. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    For some time, George, I have felt that you were too lenient in the discipline of this blog site, where there have appeared far too many personal criticisms.

    I am glad to see Mr Front get the cold shoulder.

    Mr Frost, in my opinion, is not the only offender on the present blog.

    I take particular exception to the personal insults of Heracleides, who seems to think his “posters” and denigrating comments lie within the bounds of charity, or even civility.

    At the Touchstone blog site, a correspondent gets one warning about personal attacks. If he repeats the offense, we remove him from the lists.

    • Heracleides says

      Huge surprise there Fr. Patrick given our past disagreements, particularly over your being a willing propaganda tool for your Despot Philip and his overlord, el presidente Assad.

      Yes, yes, I know. Given that you’re AOA you have to cover your arse for the sake of your pension, but still, the length’s too which you’re willing to do so in that particular instance continues to cause me to question not only your “civility” but your humanity as well (yes, dear Father, others can also engage in hyperbole). As an aside, don’t you think you’ve played the “charity” card a bit early?

      • Jane Rachel says

        I don’t know what you are doing on “Touchstone” but here we are waging war. It’s a whole ‘nother thing. And I could have a thing or two to say about a lot of hypocrisy in the ranks of the AOC …. but I’m not going to say it. grrrr…..

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Jane Rachel explains, “I don’t know what you are doing on “Touchstone” but here we are waging war.”

          Ah, that does explain a lot.

          Since I am not interested in waging war within the Church, I am certainly out of place on this blog site.

          I take my leave.

          • Jane Rachel says
            • Heracleides says

              Contrast that report with Priest Patrick’s whitewash as crafted for and at the behest of Despota Philip which is hosted on the Archdiocesan website:

              • Heracleides says

                Here apparently is a screen capture of Fr. Patrick appearing on Syrian Television during his recent propaganda tour:

                • You would be making a grave mistake to believe that Father Patrick was doing anything but trying to fulfill his brief as he understood it—to try to be a dispassionate and fair-minded Christian. An honorable man often finds it difficult to discern the base motives of others, as he would never dream of operating from those motives himself. The worst Father Patrick can be accused of is being naive. He is an honorable man, and he does not deserve your scorn.

                  Your ignorance is profound, and your arrogance is breathtaking.


                  • Hardly. Fr. Patrick was a willing tool of Philip and Assad, and I am certainly not the only one to come to such a conclusion as is witnessed in the comment section on AOI ( ).

                    Unlike his groupies, I hold Fr. Patrick in no higher regard than any other priest. He is a man like any other, replete with swollen ego and who, after taking a calculated dig at me in the opening comment of this thread, has now taken his toys and stalked off in a fit of pique (I can’t abide people who announce they are leaving blogs, forums, etc. – if you’re leaving, then leave without making a production of it). Fr. Patrick is no better or worse than any of the living & dead OCA saints like Fr. Hopko and Frs. Schemmen and Meyendorff… (yes, three prostrations in unison, all-together now: go).

                    Did I miss goring any American Orthodox sacred-cow cult personalities? If not, it is not from a lack of effort.

                    • …Fr. Patrick was a willing tool of Philip and Assad…

                      That is an absolute lie. You maintain your opinion as if you were in command of all the facts—you aren’t. But, hey, don’t let that stop you.

                      Truly, you should be ashamed. You are not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.

                    • Heracleides says

                      “That is an absolute lie. You maintain your opinion as if you were in command of all the facts—you aren’t. But, hey, don’t let that stop you.

                      Truly, you should be ashamed. You are not a Christian in any meaningful sense of the word.”

                      Pot, kettle. Kettle, Pot.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Father Patrick please do not leave. I am a great believer in talking, and arguing, as long as we can work out our differences. Please stay. Heracleides is going to do what he does. Let him. I understand his pictures. I even understand his comments that are full of fustration. I do not agree with everything he says, but that’s him.

            If one is right or wrong its the content of their argument as well as their presentation. As of right now I do not like most of what Heracleides and others have had to say, but I still talk to them and with them on this blog. Also, Jane Rachel is not correct! There is not war within the Church.

            Can we reprove? Can we correct? Yes. Even you did so when SVS, I believe, honored Archbishop of Canturberry Dr Rowan Williams. I agreed with you then and still do. Did SVS listen? no. What the voice of Orthodoxy heard? Yes, and very loudly, and by you.

            So let Heracleides and others do and say what they want. Get your point across, be or attempt to be as nice about it as possible, sometimes we do all fail, including me God knows, and move on.

            Unfortunately, this is the state of American Orthodoxy. Everybody hating and disrespecting everybody else. Clergy and Laity. The OCA and the MP disrespect the EP. The EP disrespects the MP and American Orthodox Laity. AOA laity disrespecting Met. Philip. The Old Guard of the OCA disrespecting and hating Met. Jonah. Met. Jonah disrespecting the EP. The EP and GOA Clergy disrespecting Met. Jonah, etc., etc., etc. It makes your head spin and hurt.

            Everybody has an opinion and everybody has some kind of an agenda, and everybody hates everybody else for one reason or another. We all say Father or Despota, Bless and then rip into him. Its like saying “with all due respect” and then slap the guy in the face. Do I like it? No. But that’s the internet and blogoshere, especially among American Orthodox Christians. People are going to say offensive thing, and not even apologize for them. Just keep going, keep shooting, and let the Almighty Ego run amok.

            YET…we are still talking to one another. As long as we are talking and having our own little individual cartharsis then things aren’t bottled up just waiting to explode.

            So please stay, unless you want to take a break. I took one, and came right back. I’m going to take another one in a few days to enjoy Christmas. So stay and say what you want. However, the choice is always yours. Take care Father, and enjoy the nice weather we are having.

            Peter A. Papoutsis

            • Our Sunday school lesson this past Sunday seems appropo here:

              THE EASTERN / GREEK ORTHODOX BIBLE (EOB) 1 John 3:11-24

              11This is the message which you heard from the beginning: that we should
              love one another! 12We should not be like Cain who was of the evil one and
              who killed his brother [Abel]. Why did he kill him? Because his works
              were evil, while his brother’s works were righteous. 13Do not be surprised,
              my brethren, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed out of
              death into life because we love the brethren. Whoever does not love his
              brother [or sister] remains in death. 15Whoever hates his brother [or
              sister] is a murderer, and you know that eternal life does not remain in a
              16This is how we know what love is: that he laid down his life for us. We
              too should lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But if someone is well-off
              in worldly possessions and sees one of the brethren in need and yet refuses
              to help, how does the love of God remain in such a person?c 18My little
              children, let us not love only in word or speech, but in deed and truth.
              19This is how we know that we are of the truth and obtain assurance in his
              presence; 20even if our own hearts condemn us, God is greater than this and
              knows all things. 21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have
              boldness toward God. 22Whatever we ask, we receive from him because we
              keep his commandments and do what is pleasing in his sight. 23This is his
              commandment: that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ,
              and that we should love one another, even as he commanded. 24All who
              obey his commandments remain in him, and he remains in them. By this,
              we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

              • Jane Rachel says

                Hi Alec, been wondering how you are up there in the north country, and here I am not an hour’s drive away from you. Thank you for the passage. Amen. We do battle against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world. The battle is raging around us in the Church especially. It’s war, all right.

                Here is the war I’m talking about, Peter, and Father Patrick knows this is what I meant: A war against the acceptance of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church. A battle against “The Big Lie” and “the culture of mutual embarrassment” in OUR HOLY SYNOD. You also battle hard here against what is wrong and for what is right. Heracleides’ cartoons fight against it, too, and I was afraid he was going to be told to leave when Father Patrick registered his complaint against him. Heracleides said that there is much to be praised in Father Patrick, and I agree, but I am also chilled by his support of President Assad and the Grand Mufti, and I hold my thoughts about Metropolitan Philip to myself because I don’t know enough to know, but I do know enough to wonder.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says


                You are using the EASTER/GREEK ORTHODOX BIBLE? Love it. Fr. Cleernwick did the translation of the Septuagint of the Old testament. I provided editorial work for the first five books as well as alternative translations throughout the Five Book of Moses. I do not know, as of yet, if he has used and/or followed any of my suggestions, but I personally love the EOB New Testament and highly recommend it. I also told Father Cleernwick to use my footnotes to my translation and have given him my translations for the rest of the LXX OT. Again, I do not know what father has used, but I will soon find out when he finishes his LXX OT English translation.Keep it up Alec. Good to see.


                • I haven’t ever heard of this EOB translation of the Bible.

                  Where can I get a copy?

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    If I have George’s Permission I can post a link. If not, just google it and you will find it on the internet. The New Testament is quite frankly just awsome. Modern English, informative articles, and translated from the Offical Greek New Testament text of the Patriarch of Constantionple of 1912.

                    I had all of the subsequent copies , but sold them as it was not fully updated and corrected. It now IS fully revised and corrected and IMHO just a wonderful English translation of our Greek New Testament.

                    Peter A. Papoutsis

                    • I’m using a PDF version that was created in May of 2009. I don’t remember where I found it, but it has all the pages.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Peter, go for it! Nobody needs my permission to link to anything on this website. (Within reason of course, preferably things that are germane to religion, politics, and culture or the issues at hand.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says
                    • Many thanks to Peter Papoutsis for this link.

                      The EOB’s Psalter was unavailable, so I couldn’t evaluate the translation in the area of my specialty, but I have several other shibboleths which I usually look at first as a sort of index for any biblical translation’s quality.

                      Of course, there’s ‘Our Father’ (MT 6:9-13). EOB’s people took a good run-up at it, but sputtered and died before reaching the summit of that problem. It especially annoyed me to have a ‘liturgical’ rendering side-by-side with an attempt at a better one. We really can’t be expected to pray a wrong translation, can we? Although we have done just that in English for the last seven centuries or so, we now know better, so that has to cease.

                      Then there’s ACTS 6:2. Guess what Εθνική Τράπεζα της Ελλάδος means? That’s the ‘National Bank of Greece’ in English, and it’s a bank, not a dining room, which the apostles are too busy to run. That the distribution of money is at work here is clear all through chapter 6; ‘food’ comes in only when people mistakenly read ‘table’for ‘bank’.

                      The greek word is the same, but the meaning is different. This happens in many languages, and scholars of the scriptures have to know this, and not just in this verse.

                      Altogether, just based on these two snippets, I suppose it seems unreasonable of me to say that I’m not too interested in seeing the rest of the EOB unless it’s up for a complete revision. Everybody needs an editor. Even I need an editor. SIGH!

            • ‘Unfortunately, this is the state of American Orthodoxy. Everybody hating and disrespecting everybody else. Clergy and Laity. The OCA and the MP disrespect the EP. The EP disrespects the MP and American Orthodox Laity. AOA laity disrespecting Met. Philip. The Old Guard of the OCA disrespecting and hating Met. Jonah. Met. Jonah disrespecting the EP. The EP and GOA Clergy disrespecting Met. Jonah, etc., etc., etc. It makes your head spin and hurt.’

              The church mirrors our society in this respect; and we have the temerity to think we can transform the world!

              • DC Indexman says

                Basil, you have put forth a very insightful set of statements. And from my perspective, upon reflection, very much true. What do we as Orthodox have to offer others if we are so busy bashing, discounting and ignoring each other?

                It does make your head spin. From a spiritual point of view, we should approach each of these groups with love and humility. We are all suppose to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

                Isn’t ironic that the very people who are trying to bring canonical order and unity to American Orthodoxy are the ones who have the greatest set of difficulties with each other.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Basil, what you say is largely true. I must take issue with your assessment of +Jonah “disrespecting” the EP. His first statement upon election was one of utmost respect for the prerogatives of C’pole. The speech in Dallas 3 yrs ago was given in response to an odious speech given by Rev Lambrianides, which alarmed most everybody, even the GOA in its extreme negativity.

                  Lest we forget, all HB did was reiterate the autocephaly of the OCA and its prerogatives in North America.

                  • George,

                    I was quoting Peter Papoutsis in reply.

                    My observation was a general one about the state of the church.

                    In any case, I believe Jonah apologized to the EP, which was a step in the right direction.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Fr, I’d rather you didn’t.

            Everybody, please let’s take a breather. We’ve all had our beefs with +Philip, myself included. But in the grand scheme of things, he’s held a tight lid over at the AOCNA, perhaps a little tighter than is necessary, but at least they don’t have the nonsense like we do in the OCA with a Gay Cabal nearly running their jurisdiction into the ground or forcing a good man into “evaluation.”

            As for Assad and his overlordship over the Church of Antioch, what’s the difference between what he does and what the Turks do to C’pole? I dare say that he’s been more benign than the Turks. Of course, the fact that these ancient patriarchates are under the jackboot of non-Christians is a scandal in and of itself, but when it came to Evangelism, Antioch came through with shining colors. To this day, the Phanar doesn’t understand the basics of Evangelism, just some vague, anodyne words about “creativity” and “submission the First Throne of Orthodoxy.”

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            It seems to me that if one is not interested in waging war within the Church, one believes warfare, such as spiritual warfare, is only to be waged outside the Church? This is the first time, actually, that I’ve heard of someone “not interested in waging war within the Church.” Somehow, we must fight the good fight but not make war…somehow….

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Is Christ at War with Himself? What are we fighting? Gay Cabals? Hierarches’s control over people and lands? I read and see that Christ loves his enemies and prays for them. Have we prayed or said anything good of Mark Stoke? Have we reached out as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to talk to the man? Only one person did that towards Mark, and that man, that priest was right to do so. He also stood firm in his beliefs, but still cared enough about the man to call him and attempt at correction. I believe it was Fr. Alexander that did this. Good for him. We call him Ms Stoke-Brown, Herc puts him in pink tu-tu and insult the Man. Can we disagree? Yes, and we be vigorous in our disagreements? Yes. Insulting? NO! We did the same thing to OUR OWN clerics. OUR OWN clerics even do the same thing and eat there own.

              What witness are we as Orthodox Cristians putting forward to the world?

              So I would not say there is a war in the Church, but a disease. A disease of pride and hubris that unfortunately is growing not lessening.


              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Thanks, Peter, for correcting yourself about war in the Church. By the way, I don’t recall Heracleides caricaturizing Mrs. Steve Brown (Steve is accepted in the Stokoe family as an Inlaw) in a pink tutu. I know he caricaturized Bishop Benjamin by depicting him in a pink tutu and the rest of a ballerina’s traditional costume, but NOT Mrs. Brown, so where does Heracleides insult him (who Peter calls “the Man”)?

                • Heracleides says

                  Umm. I imagine Peter is referencing this image:

                  I’d ask Peter how he knows Mark was insulted? Perhaps Mark enjoys ballet and is fond of the color pink. Have you, Peter, “reached out” to the man on this issue? If so, please share. If not, then perhaps you should follow your own prescription and do so. I for one would be interested in the response you receive.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Your right. I will attempt to do so and let you know.


                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    Where do I start to contact him?


                    • Google Irongate Realtors – Mrs. Stokoe-Brown’s “spouse” works there – I’m sure he can put you in touch with his, ah, husband? wife? – you might want to clarify that little detail first. But then, that is the crux of the problem, isn’t it Peter?

                    • You can get his home address and phone number through an internet search. He lives in Dayton, Ohio. Play nicely!

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Heracleides and Helga:

                      Thank you.


                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      To All:

                      I contacted Mr. Mark Stokoe and he contacted me back via e-mail. I asked him directly about his opposition to Met. Jonah and his apparent support for Homosexual acceptance in the Orthodox Church, and he basically stated that his opinions are of no further concern and that he wished me well for the upcoming holidays.

                      I thanked him for his many years of service to our Church and wished him happy holidays as well. He was very respectful as was I. At least he knows some one cares and reached out to him.

                      No matter what he did, and he has done good and bad, recently mostly bad IMHO, he cared enough to give his time and service to our Church. For this he should be thanked and commended. As for what he did or attempted to do to Met. Jonah and to the OCA in general in the past and present – disagreement and bad feelings will continue. Nothing new and nothering earth shattering.

                      Just keep him in your prayers along with all the other cast of characters, and let God do the rest.

                      Peter A. Papoutsis

                    • Geo Michalopulos says


                      Forgiveness is essential. That doesn’t mean that real people with real lives weren’t really hurt. The Lord forgave King David, calling him a “man after his own heart.” Yet we can never forget that he committed adultery with another man’s wife and he then sent that man into battle to get killed. The adultery resulted in the still-birth of his baby and Uriah still remained dead. Neither were brought back to life by the Lord.

                      Fr Robert Kondratick likewise gave his life and time to the Church. As did Bp +Nikolai and Fr Joseph Fester. How about HB who has had to live with the taint of insanity? These mens’ careers were destroyed. It’s not ours to forgive but the prerogative of these men. How about the fact that the coterie of which he was a part of has so demolished relations between the OCA and the rest of Orthodoxy that it is an open question whether the OCA continue to exist? Think of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars it took to build the hundreds of churches in the OCA, to mention nothing of the toil, blood, sweat, and tears of these poor immigrants? (Who else do we know about?) How about the legacy of Schmemann and Meyendorff, who tried to fashion an autocephalous church that was truly conciliar and laymen had an important role to play?

                      May I suggest that since we are in a forgiving mood that you re-contact Mr Stokoe and ask him if he’s asked for these men’s forgiveness? I’m not being harsh, but asking in good faith. Will I pray for him? I continue to do so and I ask for his prayers as I am the chief of sinners.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      George, you are absolutely correct. The forgivenss and charity that we must show towards Mark Stokoe does not ersae the devasating affects of his actions. Far from it. But forgiveness in this ENTIRE mess from 2005 to the present has to start somewhere. Otherwise we get caught up in the vortex of hate, ego, pride, etc.

                      I do not know where Mark got off the tracks, but he did. Even St. Paul persecuted and killed Christians before his conversion. Now I am NOT comparing Mark to St. paul, but what I am saying is that no one is above forgiveness, and no one should be forgotten. Reconcilliation is possible for all of us even Mark Stokoe.

                      What Stokoe does from here on out is between Mark and God, and I do hope he has a moment of clarity and reaches out to these men and asks for their forgiveness. I readu do hope so. I agree with you that he needs to do that. Buts its clear from his response that he will offer no confession, least of all to me, and will most likely NOT reach out to these men. I pray that I am wrong.

                      In the end you are correct in listing the carnage and bodies left behind in this little dirty war. I just did not want to add to it.

                      However, now its in the hands of the HS to clean up this mess. To reinstate Fr Robert Kondratick. To reconscile with Fr. Fester and the rest. This Stokoes mess, but the HS can clean it up if it has the heart and spirit of forgiveness, and to admit that it also was at fault for either being led astray, intentionally orcestrating these events from behind the scenes or both. Its up to them and the MC to fix this.

                      I sincerely hope they do. But again I do not disagree in the slightest with you. I just think healing has to start somewhere. let it start here and then let’s move on down the line with the HS, the MC, etc.

                      The clerics for some reason cannot do it, so let the laity do it and start demanding that past wrongs bge corrected and wounds healed. If the OCA and the ROCOR can do it, it can also happen here.

                      That’s all.


                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Mark Stokoe, I forgive you.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      I’m not sure how Peter thinks it was at all appropriate for him to thank Steve Brown’s spouse “for his many years of service to our church.”
                      I remember Archbishop Dmitri, when he was still the Archpriest Dmitri Royster, telling me he did not On Principle, ever thank a choir. In his estimation thanking people for what they are blessed or permitted by God to do in the Church as members of it, is a kind of false teaching: as if the Church NEEDED something, anything, from anyone. He said if people begin to the think the Church needs them, those who thanked them in the past must bear some of the responsibility for that mistake. I believe His Eminence maintained that attitude.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      wise words, Peter: “reconciliation has to start somewhere.” I hope it does, for the sake of American Orthodoxy.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says:

                      I’m not sure how Peter thinks it was at all appropriate for him to thank Steve Brown’s spouse “for his many years of service to our church.”
                      I remember Archbishop Dmitri, when he was still the Archpriest Dmitri Royster, telling me he did not On Principle, ever thank a choir. In his estimation thanking people for what they are blessed or permitted by God to do in the Church as members of it, is a kind of false teaching: as if the Church NEEDED something, anything, from anyone. He said if people begin to the think the Church needs them, those who thanked them in the past must bear some of the responsibility for that mistake. I believe His Eminence maintained that attitude.

                      Your Grace, the last time I checked the people that work in the front office, that bake the sweets, the run the festivals, that work as ushers, that sit on Parish Councils give of their time, efforts and money. That is their Stewardsheip towards God’s Church. These people, us included, ARE THE CHURCH! Not the building and not the Icons.

                      I do not know Abp. Dimitri or in what context he said what he said or whatever he said. What I know is that a simple thank you goes a long way. And if the Church does not NEED these people you can attempt to run all the necessary and needed services by yourself. Tell me how that works out.

                      A simple thank you does not hurt,but uplifts and showing appriciation is never a sin or in bad form. Should we not thank the Parish Council President who steered a church through many hard years and helped it to Grow? Even if that President was rude and gruff? I think not.

                      I do not want to live in a world like that, and something tells me neither do you. a soft word does more than a harsh or indifferent word any day of the week. This is the heart of the Gospel.

                      Again, this is just MHO.


              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Peter, you’re very correct. Our frivolity is a way of letting off steam but is not spiritually profitable I’m afraid.

              • Funny, as this is being written, I’m hearing in the background a program on PBS. The narrator is saying how saints like St. Irenaeus “thundered” against his enemies. These saints didn’t visit people like Mark Stokoe with tea and cookies. They railed against those who wanted to change the Church. Ahem.

                • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                  Insults are not the same as thundering. I argue for a living. Never once did I hate my adversary and I have lost a considerable amount of money that should make me hate. But I do not. There is a difference. Big difference.


                  • I know, Peter, oh, how I know what you are saying. By the way, is “snakes and vipers” considered an insult?

                    To answer my own question, yes, calling someone a “snake” or a “viper” is insulting.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Depends on who you are talking to. Some actually consider it a complement.


                    • Jane Rachel says


                      There’s a difference between Heracleides and Christ, St. John the Baptist, and the Saints: Heracleides is nicer. Also, he hasn’t been killed, though he was threatened and he is under attack by people who swallow camels and strain at gnats. If you are offended by tutus don’t read his comments or look at his artwork. If you want to coddle his subjects, go ahead. Perhaps you have forgotten the lives Mark Stokoe has devastated with his words, typing away and click, click, clicking on his keyboard while eating a sandwich. While you are reaching out with love for Mark Stokoe, patting him on the head and letting him know it’s okay, what he did wasn’t THAT bad, why don’t you reach out to Metropolitan JONAH, Father Robert Kondratick and his wife Bette, or write a letter to Bishop NIKOLAI or say something nice to Monk James?

                      Sorry you lost all that money being nice in court. Man, if you only knew.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I can assure you I didn’t lose money being nice. I just didn’t hate the other attorneys over it. As for Mark, yeah I know what he did and I know it was wrong, but that does not mean we write him off. God does not write off people, unless God was lying in John 3:16, which I do not think He was.


      • Heracleides says

        For those wondering what I might have done in the past to piss-off Fr. Patrick to such a degree, please see the following image entitled “Lamp-Post” and which may be viewed here:

        As way of further explanation: The image above was one of several made as a favor for a now defunct website a little over a year ago and too which Fr. Reardon and others took great exception. It evoked a strong response (which was the intention after all) not only from him, but certain others well up the Archdiocesan food-chain. In particular a couple of high mucky-mucks made it quite plain that they knew who I was “in real life” (and they were correct) and that I would “decease and desist immediately” with an unspecified ‘or else’ being the consequence if I did not comply. I wasn’t silenced then Fr. Patrick and you’ll not do so now. Deal with it.

        • Writers write and speakers speak and artists, well, do what they do to express themselves. It’s all to be taken as the constitutional right of Americans. That some people will disagree with those expressions is inevitable. Some people might actually waste their time getting angry about them.

          But that’s all a question of public and unrestricted discourse. When the conversation is controlled or moderated, some expressions might be rules out of order. Not the POV — just the expression of it.

          Anyway, and a bit obliquely to the current thread: Why did ‘Heracleides’ depict Met. Philip wearing the monastic hood?

          AFAIK, he never received the monastic tonsure, as appears to be true of several other AOCA bishops.

          MetP famously once said that Bp Basil Essey is the only monk in his church.

          • Heracleides says

            The image of Bp. Philip was based on one of his official portraits (in-other-words, I didn’t alter his attire, only his episcopal staff).

            • Thanks. So, the official pix make him look like a monk even though he isn’t. Not good.

              • If I may just bring up things in general, I admire Fr Patrick immensely and totally understand his picque in the past regarding disrespect to His Eminence, but we must allow honest criticism on this site. Sometimes it gets a little rowdy but that’s ok. As for myself and most of my readers, we very much like Herc’s graphics. In some ways they are cathartic and anyway they’re part of the American political tradition. I think our bishops need to know that they are not above criticism.

                Maybe I’m giving myself more credit than I deserve, but I can’t help but think that if Monomakhos was around 2 or 3 years ago, a lot of the tumult that has engulfed the OCA would not have transpired. The absolute rot that existed within the Syosset/MC axis was allowed to form a Hate +Jonah meme that had no bearing on reality. (I mean really: +Jonah being forced to undergo “evaluation”? Is this Planet Marx?) Maybe, just maybe if we’d been around to draw cartoons of HB’s antagonists they would have acted more circumspectly. Now at least they know that they got somebody looking over their shoulder.

                Certainly the reasoned discourse that has transpired on this blog by myself and others has had some positive effect. Likewise I believe that Herc’s graphic talents have drawn blood as well.

                • I think we have to be aware of the price one could pay if one were to “cross” Met.Phillip. One could not have one’s books pushed by Conciliar Press and one could lose the speaking engagements at Parish Life Conferences….retribution would be swift and painful…sounds like Assad doesn’t it?

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    As an Antiochian I have to say I am blessed with a wonderful parish, a wonderful priest and a wonderful bishop other than Met. Philip. I will not defend Met. Philip’s style or approach, neither will I get into the game of bear baiting which seems popular with many. Each of us must find our own way to deal with his perceived weaknesses. We in the laity have a bit more freedom than do the priests and that should not be forgotten. Personally, I found it spiritually damaging to become a protestant toward my ruling bishop, spiritually norishing when I actively pray and forgive.

                    He is a bishop. There is a grace and a chrism that comes with that office despite one’s own personal short comings. He will face a much more compassionate and demanding and truthful assessment of his actions soon enough.

                    The only thing I will say is that since he gives my bishop quite a bit of freedom in running his diocease, despite the confusion as to whether it is a diocease or not–the work of God is going forward under Met. Philip’s watch in a manner that appears to me rather more coherent, vigorous and evangelical than I see anywhere else in American Orthodoxy, at least in the heartland.

                    The costal mentality is the problem IMO for all of us.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      I know, Michael. You are right. Evangelism does seem to happen easier in the heartland and in the South –among all jurisdictions. The question that concerns me is what happens after +Philip? He’s held it all together with an iron fist but at the expense of growth and maturity. Ultimately, no difference than what the EP ahs done with the GOA. Like him, he’s retarded the natural growth of the Greeks here in America.

                      If I may continue to ramble: I fear a schism in the AOCNA, between the Coasts and the Heartland/South. We saw this first erupt 2 years ago at Palm Desert in which the Arab majority pulled out the knives. Ironically, the hero in that encounter was Bp Mark Maymon, unfortunately, he used the offices of Stokoe to get his way and continued his pathology in the OCA, where he is now bound that that sorry chapter.


                    • Prospective Nomad No Longer says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      While no one can know for certain what will happen after Metropolitan PHILIP reposes, it’s worthy of note that Patriarch IGNATIUS elevated Bishop JOSEPH of Los Angeles to the dignity of Archbishop about ten days ago. It’s worth remembering that Bishop JOSEPH restored peace and order to his diocese after a conflict that some portrayed as convert vs. Arab more than a decade ago. He would seem to be well prepared to hold the Archdiocese together.

                      It’s probably also worth noting that Metropolitan PHILIP has been proven spectacularly right about almost every major issue that has disturbed American Orthodoxy in the past few years. He was right about the pernicious and poisonous effects of OCA News. He was right about Bishop MARK’s untrustworthiness, particularly with respect to keeping confidences. He was right to be skeptical of the Episcopal Assemblies, wherein he was the OCA’s most forceful advocate. Most sadly, he appears to have been right, at least for the present, about the need for a strong Metropolitan in governing an Orthodox jurisdiction on this continent. While I was inspired by Metropolitan JONAH’s vision of a decentralized model in which Church life is grounded in a real spiritual relationship between the people and their diocesan bishop, subsequent events seem to have revealed that vision to be better suited to a generation more after God’s heart. Metropolitan JONAH’s enemies have shown themselves to be in need of being ruled more firmly, not in need of even more autonomy, which they would surely abuse. No one would ever have forced Metropolitan PHILIP into an unnecessary psychiatric evaluation. I can scarcely imagine what Bishop ANTOUN might have said to anyone who proposed it.

                    • Prospective Nomad No Longer, I don’t know how I missed your insightful post all this time. I think you make a lot of good points. I think Metropolitan Philip has made some inexcusable and indefensible decisions in both former and recent times. But I have to admit you’re right in the main about his predictions coming true.

                      The problem is the way Metropolitan Philip went about enforcing his preferences. Bishop Mark’s personality flaws don’t change the fact that he was a diocesan bishop, and that Metropolitan Philip ripped him from his diocese in an uncanonical abuse of power. Mark Stokoe’s shameful behavior on the OCA News blog does not justify Metropolitan Philip’s holding Antiochian seminarians hostage in an attempt to force Metropolitan Jonah to accede to his demand. Also, don’t forget his single-handed overturning of the limitations placed on Bishop Demetri by what was once called the local Synod, now the Metropolitan’s “assistants”.

                      Metropolitan Jonah may not have been able to seize control by force over the OCA, but I don’t think such an action would be in his nature. There was more courage, and far more grace, in Met. Jonah’s humble acceptance of persecution, than in Metropolitan Philip’s show of force in Palm Desert. Eis polla eti Dhespota.

                    • Prospective Nomad No Longer says


                      Thank you for your kind remarks about my post. I admire Metropolitan JONAH immensely and agree entirely with you about the depth of his grace and personal courage. I am in awe of his humility.

                      It seems to me, however, that in circumstances such as these, there is a tension between the personal and the official. A bishop is given a staff because sometimes he needs to hit people with it (figuratively speaking) for the good of the flock–as Bishop MATTHIAS did when he removed Mr. Stokoe from the Metropolitan Council, to nearly universal applause on this forum.

                      He doesn’t always get full credit for it, but Metropolitan PHILIP really does view most issues from a practical pastoral standpoint, as evidenced by his frequent exhortations to priests and seminarians to shepherd their flocks and resist the temptation to retreat into theological abstractions. He views discord in the Church as an obstacle that may cause the little ones who believe to stumble, and he views it as his job to remove the obstacle. Sometimes he removes the obstacle in ways that appear to rely more than I would like on his understanding and less than I would like on the received wisdom of the Church. Such an approach is indeed fraught with temptation to self-will. I suspect that he would view his disregard of canonical precedent in such cases as akin to healing on the Sabbath. Reasonable people may disagree with that.

                      Consider the situation in the Antiochian Diocese of Toledo. It had been living with some level of discord at least since Bishop DEMETRI’s suspension, if not before. That’s eight and a half years ago. Once it became clear that Bishop MARK was causing or at least permitting synodal deliberations and even privileged legal opinions to be leaked to OCA News, Metropolitan PHILIP had two choices: He could appeal to the Holy Synod of Antioch for a resolution, or he could resign himself to a permanently dysfunctional Eparchial Synod whose members could never trust each other. The latter option promised serious and ever-increasing damage to the work of the Church, as energy got diverted from prayer, evangelism, and charitable work to plots and turf battles. If I were a member of the OCA, the aspect of the current turmoil that I would find most distressing is that there seems to be no prospect of it ending. In the case of the Antiochian Diocese of Toledo, the consecration of Bishop ANTHONY (Michaels) offers hope that the discord can finally end. That’s worth a lot in the fulfillment of the Church’s mission.

                      In just the past few days, Metropolitan PHILIP has appointed a new Vicar General, a new Protosyngellos, and a new chairman of the Department of Missions and Evangelism, and moved the administration of that department back to headquarters under the supervision of Bishop NICHOLAS. I’m not smart enough or well-connected enough to know the reasons for these moves. I pray that they are all for good. I am grateful, however, that no one is going to spin sinister conspiracy theories about them or start a distracting campaign to undermine them.

                      I don’t want to leave the impression that I agree with Metropolitan PHILIP about everything. I wish we had more clarity about the “few million dollars.” I wish that he had supported Bishop MARK’s attempt to improve parochial financial controls. The Metropolitan’s handling of Troy bothers me a lot. The fact that Fr. Antypas is still the chaplain of the Order of St. Ignatius seems particularly incongruous. Although I don’t know Fr. Antypas well and he may well have many admirable characteristics, creating an atmosphere of financial integrity within his parish would not seem to be one of them.

                      Those reservations notwithstanding, however, imagine Metropolitan JONAH with Metropolitan PHILIP’s institutional prerogatives and institutional respect. Would there be more or less harmony in the Church? Would more or fewer people be evangelized? Would more or fewer people be scandalized? Would the OCA have more or less influence on the wider culture? Would more or less money get wasted? Would the normative level of piety throughout the OCA be higher or lower?

                      Finally, allow me to agree entirely with you that Metropolitan JONAH will not and should not “seize control by force over the OCA.” From this outsider’s perspective, however, it would be a good thing if right-minded clergy and laity were to give it to him.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Prospective Nomad No Longer–The governance structures and principles of the Antiochian Archdiocese and of the OCA are not the same; therefore, it would be difficult indeed for +Jonah to emulate +Philip. IMHO, it also would not be desirable.

                      Regarding the transfer of Bishop Mark to OCA, this was decided before he was released to the OCA and the reasons, again IMHO, were grounded on +Mark’s objection to the dethronement of diocesan bishops (to auxiliary status) and his insistence on proper audits in his own diocese.

                      I think it is also important to put controversies and discord into perspective. Here is what Father Schmemann of blessed memory wrote long ago:

                      What is important and what is not

                      When controversies are ignited and flare up in the Church, which happens and has happened often, alas, we inevitably hear appeals from Church circles to cease these controversies in the name of peace and love. Now, this would be cause for great joy, if only in these appeals there were no unmistakably different overtones: “Your controversy is not important. It is of interest to no one: only ‘specialists’ and ‘scholars’ can understand it, so all this argument leads only to seduction and harm.”

                      And here we must point out to these accusers something very important which they have apparently forgotten. They have forgotten that peace and concord in the Church are inseparable from the Truth. An outsider who does not believe and is not part of the Church would smile and shrug his shoulders, “What is truth?” That is precisely Pilate’s question to the Savior who stood before him. And the Savior did not respond, because and “outsider” does not believe in the possibility of Truth. For him the truth is always relative and measured according to advantage, improvement or expedience. But for us who know and believe that the Church is founded on the Truth made flesh, that all her life is in Him who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” for us there is nothing in the Church which is unimportant, because everything is measured by this Truth and is subordinate to it.

                      Yes, there have been many controversies in the Church, and its earthly history is replete with them. They occurred not only in times of trouble, like ours, but also when Church life flowered, in the golden ages of the Ecumenical Councils and the Fathers of the Church. Only then no one would have dared to acknowledge anything in the Church as unimportant. So for this cause they debated and for this cause they were persecuted and exiled for one word, for one “iota” (an accurate assessment of the Aryan controversy at the time of St. Athanasius the Great), that above all on earth they placed the Truth and fidelity to the Truth. And in these controversies there was more true love for the Church and her people, whom the Lord Himself through His incarnation deemed worthy of the knowledge of the Truth — more ardor, more faith than in the lukewarm “latitude” and “tolerance” of our time, when so much in the Church has become the portion of the clergy alone and the “specialists”. We should not be seduced by controversies about how to plan our Church life in accordance with the Truth, because in these controversies there burns a living anguish for the Church and its destiny, but rather by the sea of indifference among the Church populace itself which surrounds these controversies and by the skepticism with which even religious people treat these “unimportant” matters.

                      Of course in our controversies there is so much human passionateness, sinfulness and narrowness. They should and must be enlightened by prayer, love and patience. No one person embodies the Truth in its fullness, but each one is required to aspire to it, to call upon his spiritual intellect, his will and his heart to come to “the knowledge of the Truth.” “Put everything to the test; hold fast what is good,” says Paul the Apostle. And if in humility we attempt always to obey the Truth, if we try unceasingly to overcome all which is sinful and narrow for the sake of the Truth, then our controversies born of human weakness may lead to the glory of the Church, “for the strength of Christ is made perfect in weakness.”

                      Priest Alexander Schmemann
                      The Word of the Church, Paris, December, 1949

                      Translated from Russian by Robert Parent and first published in English in the Holy Trinity Cathedral LIFE, Vol.1. No. 6, February 1994″


                    • Prospective Nomad No Longer says

                      Mr. Kraeff,

                      I doubt that Mr. Michalopulos wants us to rehash this history, but it’s worth remembering that Bishop BASIL and, arguably, Bishop ALEXANDER also objected to the dethronement of diocesan bishops, and they didn’t get transferred anywhere. They conducted their part in the controversy circumspectly, and they abode by its resolution.

                      I would never presume to disagree with Fr. Alexander of Blessed Memory, and I thank you for sharing his wise words. I agree that there must necessarily be controversies within the Church and that we must strive to resolve them according to Truth. On the other hand, there must be a process for the definitive resolution of controversies, and there must be effective punishments for people who wage controversies using weapons that do undue and long-lasting harm to the Church’s ability to fulfill its mission. The alternative is endless and destructive internecine wawrfare. We do well to remember what St. Paul said about the factious. The Antiochian controversy over the standing of diocesan/auxiliary bishops under self-rule was an important debate that we needed to have. It was resolved by the highest authority in the Church of Antioch after a debate of more than a year and a half. It’s over now, and we have a chance to get back to the work that Christ gave us to do. People who lost honorably are warmly welcome to participate fully in that work.

                      Your point about the difference in governance structures is entirely correct. If the Antiochian Archdiocese had the OCA’s governing structure, we would still be at each other’s throats. Thanks be to God, we aren’t. It’s not an accident that most of the world’s autocephalous Orthodox Churches have ended up with Patriarchal structures. Those arrangements don’t prevent or squelch controversies; they do provide a credible mechanism for resolving them in love and good order.

                    • Prospective Nomad No Longer,

                      I have a strong respect for Metropolitan Philip for all the reasons you mentioned, and I fully appreciate that the motive for many of his decisions can and should be seen through the lens of practicality you’ve provided. I do not, however, trust him – again for all the reasons you mentioned and several more. But since the Church is not a cult of Episcopal personality my lack of faith in him is of little consequence.

                      You are correct when you speak of those who are scandalized by the chaos in the OCA, yet there are just as many who are scandalized by the sheer authoritarianism of the AOANA. Few would deny that it ‘works’ (at least in the short term), but this sort of order and unity has such an artificial, utilitarian, and even personality-based quality that I fear it will not stand the test of time. A father’s exercise of raw authority is necessary at times, but if it is strictly fear-based and not employed to foster genuine love, truth, and unity among his children, then the order and unity he imposes dies with him

                • My own bent is to cringe when Heracleides posts his barbs and to want to handle others in awkward-looking situations, especially those in authority, with kid gloves (this latter tendency in my case reflecting not an appropriate humility and deference, but rather a lack of courage!). But when all is said and done, and I have the opportunity to reflect, I find his H’s sort of truth-telling has acted as an astringent on the murky parts of my soul.

                  If I am reading many of the Fathers rightly, they urge us to accept and be thankful for criticism and abuse, whether deserved or not, exactly because it has this astringent ability and serves as an aid to humility. In my own experience, I find it is the justified aspects of others’ criticisms that most get under my skin.

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          Heracleides, I’m not entering this fight, not yet anyway 🙂 since my comments about Fr. Pat’s visit are already posted on my blog (Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon: Delegation to Syria).

          But regarding the quote in your latest editorial cartoon, a few friends of mine looked for the Chrysostom quote in his writings but could not find it. Do you have a reference? I’m starting to think it may be an urban legend

          • After a bit of digging, and as you perhaps already know, Father; the ‘quotation’ appears to be a very loose understanding, traceable through the centuries, of an utterance of the saint in his “Third Homily on the Acts of the Apostles” wherein he preached the following:

            “I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience. I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish.” ~ St. John Chrysostom

            His experience matches mine, your mileage may vary.

            P.S. The image was composed & published over a year ago and just now posted to my photobucket page to illustrate the underlying basis for the ongoing ‘tiff’ (in lieu of a less charitable word) that it engendered with Fr. Patrick and a couple of higher, non-convert, toadies in Englewood.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              No, I didn’t know about this quote and appreciate you finding it. It’s considerably more restrained than the revised version, however.

              • Heracleides says

                Agreed, it appears to have been embellished over the centuries. In my admittedly brief investigation this morning, it seems that the current form was fairly set by the mid-late 18th century (per notes found in John Wesley’s personal bible).

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  I chalk it up to “if it’s not something Chrysostom said, he SHOULD have said it!” (It certainly does sound Chrysostomic!)

                  • Heracleides says

                    George, there is apparently some speculation that the quote, more-or-less as we know it today, was derived from one of the (now lost) “pseudo-Chrysostom” texts. That would explain the attribution at any rate.

      • o•ver•lord/ˈōvərˌlôrd/ Noun: A ruler, esp. a feudal lord. A person of great power or authority.

        Synonyms: lord – master – suzerain – sovereign

        Both the supporters and those disillusioned with the direction of the AAONA would find your placement of this word with the possessive pronoun that precedes it an offense to the truth.

      • Brian McDonald says

        Hercleides said about Fr. Pat Reardon: “you have to cover your arse for the sake of your pension. . . ”

        Why make Father Pat’s point for him by responding to his charge of “personal criticism” by making just such a personal—and totally unfounded—criticism of the motives underlying his views? Why not either refute his critique if it’s wrong or accept his rebuke if he’s right? Why guess at motives when you couldn’t possibly know them—especially guesses so lacking in charity? Unless you know him personally, how do you presume to know that he is “covering [his] arse for the sake of [his] pension?” He hasn’t said a thing about your personal motives—only expressed his view that your posters and comments are denigrating and uncivil. Well, are they or aren’t they? I notice that in subsequent posts you provide some reasons for arguing that he’s wrong. Why not keep it at that level?

        By the way, those who know Father Pat (I do) would have a hard time imagining anyone LESS likely to trim his opinions to promote his self interest. I don’t always agree with his rather stern convictions on people or issues in the church, but have no doubt at all of his willingness to express those convictions in season or out, in whatever circumstances he feels they are called for. Not only that, he’s also quite as forthright in dealing with people face to face as in the more indirect confrontations of the blogosphere.

        • Heracleides says

          I also am well acquainted with Fr. Patrick, and the man is praiseworthy in many respects. That does not however apply to such instances as when he allows himself to be used as a tool by Bp. Philip and his gang of thugs. A specific example would be his pimping for the Assad regime per orders from the Despota. I can speculate that he panders to Englewood so as to protect his pension – many AOA priests do so (and I know that for a fact). You may disagree, which is fine; it is speculation after all. And lastly Brian, I don’t give a fig if my speculation or other efforts offend you or Fr. Patrick’s sense of “charity” – a term invariably lobbed to stifle speech in Orthodox circles.

          • Just a few thoughts…

            By the way, those who know Father Pat (I do) would have a hard time imagining anyone LESS likely to trim his opinions to promote his self interest.

            As one who also knows him, I couldn’t agree more.

            …so as to protect his pension

            Are you kidding? A priest’s pension in the AOANA couldn’t feed a small swarm of flies, and I can assure you that Fr. Pat could make far more money teaching than he does as a priest.

            I am not qualified to comment on Syria, but I do know that the U.S. media presents us with a highly simplistic and often inaccurate view of events, particularly when it comes to the Middle East. As a result the United States has a long history of getting into bed with tyrants who later become our enemies. I don’t question the Metropolitan’s or Fr. Pat’s motivations with regard to Assad, but I do fear the possible future repercussions to the Christians of Syria as a result of overt political support of one perceived as their protector.

            As for your images, I don’t particularly care for them, but that’s neither here not there. I wouldn’t stifle your expression. All I know is that we are commanded to love our enemies. There are far too many ‘drive-by shootings’ coming from all sides.

            • If I could go back to the quieter, less angry me, the happy, clueless, Orthodox me before I experienced first hand how some spiritual Orthodox leaders can use a person up and then discard them without so much as a how-de-do, I would. When things finally get ironed out in the OCA, it will help. In the meantime, please bear with me when I get touchy. We are all living different lives and see things differently from one person to the next. But together, we make a ragged whole, ISTM

              I don’t understand about President Assad. I just read his entire interview with Barbara Walters. Still can’t figure it out. It’s troubling, yes it is.

              • Oh, Lord! I’ve lost count of the ways in which I wish I didn’t know NOW what I didn’t know THEN, especially WRT recent OCA history.

                But knowledge is responsibility, and I can’t feign ignorance to secure some false peace.

                I’m sure that just this sort of tension underlies Francis Frost’s continuing to bang the warning drums about poor Georgia’s troubles.

                How ‘diplomacy’ and ‘politics’ work is beyond me. I could never be so unprincipled as some of these international and even ecclesial actors seem to be. Thank Heaven, I have no such responsibilities.

                • ‘How ‘diplomacy’ and ‘politics’ work is beyond me. I could never be so unprincipled as some of these international and even ecclesial actors seem to be.’

                  In my experience, Monk James, there are two types of people who stride the corridors of power: the evil who seek power precisely because they are corrupt and the relatively good who gain power and are corrupted by it (thus Pitt the Elder’s remark: ‘…power tends to corrupt the minds of those who posses it’). The relatively good who remain uncorrupted by power once it is acquired are rare.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                I’m with you, there. This whole mess is certainly not helping in hubby’s case, it just bolsters his belief that religion is just a way for church to control people.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Lola J. Lee Beno. That is a cool name, btw, and I always like reading your even-handed comments. The difference with Orthodoxy is that the living humans are all too often the way he sees them, but the whole of Orthodoxy is just beyond description and can’t be boxed in by humans. That is the most amazing thing. There’s no other religion like it and never will be.

              • “…the quieter, less angry me, the happy, clueless, Orthodox me before I experienced first hand how some spiritual Orthodox leaders can use a person up and then discard them without so much as a how-de-do,…please bear with me when I get touchy.”

                Indeed we must bear with each other, Jane Rachel, hoping all things, believing all things; wise as serpents and harmless as doves. As much as some of my comments may seem naïve, trust me when I say that I know exactly how you feel.

                I have often commented to my friends that these are the times in which we live. Some lived through Nazi Germany. Some lived through wars. Some through the persecutions of the Soviets. Some through the centuries of iconoclasm and other heresies in the Church. Others…well you name it. These are our times – a time when confusion reigns, when one’s ‘Orthodoxy’ and outward confession guarantee little or nothing, and the words of our Lord, however horrifying and unjust from our viewpoint, are fulfilled:

                And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

                Those in whom we trusted and the things we assumed in ignorance are proving to be false; and if we are wise we will avoid the temptation to trust even in those who are more trustworthy than those in whom we trusted before. I believe these times are teaching us that there is no security apart from knowing God and obeying His commandments. God bless Alec for reminding us all:

                This is his commandment: that we should believe in the Name of his Son Jesus Christ, and that we should love one another, even as he commanded. All who obey his commandments remain in him, and he remains in them…

                This lest our own love wax cold.

                • Brian, are you in the Antiochian Church or the OCA or the GOA? I’m just curious. No other reason. Thanks!

                  • Jane Rachel, I have found myself in all three during various periods of life (in addition to the ROE/OCA and the GOA). I am presently in the AOANA.

                    I have a special love and concern for the OCA because for all their faults there is still a shared respect for canonical order and a commitment to America free of much (although not all) of the baggage that comes with dependence on foreign patriarchates . It was also through their early efforts (translation, publishing) to bring the Gospel to America that I came to understand (to the extent possible) the Orthodox Christian Faith. I am also obviously deeply indebted to those Saints and theologians whose works they translated and the priests and brethren I have had the privilege of knowing. I have never been in a ROCOR parish, but even they have played an important role in my formation. Every one of them, whether sinner or saint, taught me something worthwhile.

                    May God bless them all for sharing his unspeakable love with me!

            • I think there’s fault to be found on both sides here. Herc, while some of your images are funny/cathartic, some do cross the line into bad taste. The skull on Metropolitan Philip’s staff is way, way over the top. As far as I know, he has never harmed anyone to the point of being culpable for a death.

              With that said… Metropolitan Philip has done many great things, but he has tarnished his own legacy with some egregious behavior, and he will be called to account for that. May he be accorded enough time to give a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ. In the meantime, Fr. Patrick would do well to consider how his defense of Metropolitan Philip could be read as a defense for this behavior instead of simply a defense of the man and the dignity of his office.

              • Umm.. Helga – the skull is meant to be viewed in conjunction with the words of St. John Chrysostom quoted in the image. If the image crosses the line, then I am sure the same was said of the quote when it was uttered. And yes, I do feel that St. John Chrysostom was warning of hierarch’s like Bp. Philip and his ilk, hence the linkage.

                • I know what you were *trying* to do with the image, Herc, but St. John’s quotation refers to the bishop’s own skull being a lamppost, not the bishop using a skull to be the head of his bishop’s staff.

                  As for supporting the Assad regime, I know Fr. Patrick has written some stuff that sounds like it’s shilling for the regime, but cut actual Syrian Christians some slack for wanting things to not get any worse for them. Mubarak wasn’t perfect, but it certainly isn’t better for our Coptic friends in Egypt to have him gone, since their “democratic elections” have all but guaranteed an Islamic theocratic takeover.

                  • Ha! Well Helga, what can I say? I *tried* to come up with a way of lighting the staff up like a lamp-post (light streaming out of the eye-sockets, smoke curling from the ears, etc.), but couldn’t pull it off to my satisfaction. The other alternative would’ve been to take the saint literally and light ‘ole Bp. Philip up like a torch – but didn’t as I figured *that* would have been in bad taste. Some days ya can’t win. 😛

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      You know what it is that bothers me about all this? Not the fact that there was a delegation, or that they ate at the same table with, or shook hands with, or had their photo taken with… These things happen all the time and the reason for that is Politics. But given what we know is true, Fr. Patrick’s praising of the president of Syria and the Grand Mufti beyond what was necessary gives me the most uncomfortable feeling in my stomach I’ve had in a long time. The fact that I am not allowed to question him really gives me chills. Chills and a churning stomach about sums it up.

            • Sometimes we forget there are good numbers of people in the Antiochian Archdiocese who are immigrants with family and friends still living in the Middle East. What happens there matters and is personal to them in a way that many of us who are generations removed from our immigrant ancestors could ever imagine.

              I also think that its easier, at least it is for me, to have simple answers when there is little, personally, at stake. When it involves family, friends, historic institutions and a Patriarch then things get much more complex. From a distance I have all kinds of solutions but this isn’t just about theories, its about real people, real events, and real consequences. I try not to be flip about other people’s lives, yet I do want to do something constructive in the face of it all.

              In my ponderings on these matters I know only one thing for sure. Our brothers and sisters in Christ from, and in, the Middle East are being challenged and tested by these times. Whatever else we may say or do we can at least remember them in our prayers and give them whatever Christian support possible as they walk through these events. I’m sure however we can help them with their burdens will be appreciated and its the least we can do. Then we have to trust God for wisdom and guidance for the rest of it knowing that even history is not outside His sphere of influence.

              • Thank you, Father. It is the realization that I have no first-hand understanding of those pressures and, like one of the commenters above, find I can discern next to nothing of real substance (beyond the fact that we are collectively as humans in deep trouble as a result of sin) about what all is going on politically in the world, who is really responsible for what, etc., and especially in the Middle-East. Truly may the Lord have mercy on our brothers and sisters there and on all who stand to suffer more by the way current events are flowing!

            • “Are you kidding? A priest’s pension in the AOANA couldn’t feed a small swarm of flies…”

              To clarify: my use of the word “pension” was meant in the Antiochian sense of the term “housing allowance” granted at retirement – there, happy now Brian? And as an aside – while you may pooh-paw the amount doled out at the whim of Bp. Philip, it is the envy of several retired (and impoverished) OCA priests with whom I am acquainted.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Yeah, and all the while priests who work in Syosset get ~$140K year. Given that there are priests in the OCA on food stamps, that will forever stick in my craw.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            Heracleides proclaims, “I also am well acquainted with Fr. Patrick.”

            This, I’m afraid, is an outright lie.

            There are only a handful of people in the world who can legitimately say they are “well acquainted with Fr. Patrick.”

            Whoever this Heracleides is, he is not one of them.

            • Heracleides says

              No it is not. Your assertion is simply uninformed – and no – I will not enlighten you further. And expecting an apology from you, given your record of kowtowing to Englewood, is not expected.

              Edit: I see you’ve added to your original posting. You may be right, Priest Patrick. No doubt your pals the Dictator Assad and the Grand Mufti of Syria are included in that minuscule circle; so perhaps I should count myself fortunate and amend my statement to indicate that I am not as well acquainted with you as that duo. Dogs, fleas, etc.

              • With all due respect, H. You’re not the one to be enlightening anyone–about anything. Your own lamp has gone out.

                • Heracleides says

                  Again: Lamp, pot. Pot, lamp.

                  With minimal respect qwfwq, let me extend my apology for having apparently gored one of your favorite oxen. I’d urge you not to overly vex yourself as this is not the first time Fr. Patrick and I have sparred and yet somehow we both manage to slog onward. Now, back to your prostrations before your favorite issue of Touchstone magazine.

  2. Jane Rachel says

    Is there anyone else?

    I take offense at Mike Meyers’ constant insults, especially those against George, but I don’t think he should be banned if George doesn’t ban him. It’s up to George. Besides, I really care about Mike Meyers. I think he’s trying.

    When the world comes to an end, I do believe, and I’m not generally inclined to think evilly, that Heracleides’ caricatures, which really are weapons, will be judged to have done some good in this ongoing war between good and evil. I believe that after inner debate, the moniker, “Mrs. Stokoe-Brown,” for example, is a weapon. It may not be nice, but it’s powerful.

    I am also offended by Carl Kraeff’s vicious attack against Metropolitan Jonah just now. Heracleides strode in with his sword and pushed him back. Let the artist be an artist, let him fight the way he fights. He hates evil, that’s for sure.

    • It’s certainly ok to disagree and discuss but when a person’s integrity, physical attributes, and intellect are assaulted that’s plain mean. I remember being compared to Barney the Dinosaur. I couldn’t figure out if it was because I was child-like( inferring a lack of education) or didn’t engage in a lot of hyperbole or because my hair may be purple.

      • Purple hair might raise a few unpurple eyebrows! [[;-)33

      • Jane Rachel says

        Anna, I don’t know you but I am pretty sure you were innocent and without guile and basically minding your own business when others were being mean to you.

    • Jane Rachel, thanks for coming to my defense. I really appreciate it. As I’ve said before, if people want to attack me or my site they may do so. If nothing else, it keeps me humble. However, Mr Frost’s offense was that he mentioned a friend of mine by name and made mention of my parish (both past and present).

      I also agree with you about the Mike Myer’s of the world. I think they really are trying. As are the Ashley Nevin’s of the world.

      • Geo Michalopulos says:
        December 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm
        “I also agree with you about the Mike Myer’s of the world. I think they really are trying. As are the Ashley Nevin’s of the world.”
        Add to that the Carl K.s also.

  3. cynthia curran says

    Well, I can understand George if he mention about a personal friend and your church which should not have been in a political argument.

  4. Having posed with the Butcher of Damascus, I am sure he does.

  5. Heracleides says

    Lest it be lost unread in the static, I’d urge those interested in the topic of Fr. Patrick’s Englewood spin on Assad and Syria to read an opposing view on the matter which was posted on Monomakhos yesterday:

  6. I can’t help it!

    Peter Papoutsis wrote:

    Mark Stokoe… “cared enough to give his time and service to our Church. For this he should be thanked and commended.”

    LOL! (I have to laugh or I will cry.)

    • Heracleides says

      Jane Rachel,

      Your post caused me to wonder when Peter will also be contacting Inga Leonova to thank her for her contributions to the OCA. 😛

      • Jane Rachel says

        Now Heracleides, don’t go rocking the boat. Again.

      • Jane Rachel says

        But seriously, Heracleides, what do you think about reconciliation?

        P.S. I have three minutes to edit this comment. .. can there be reconciliation? Does the idea of “Reconciliation Commission” have merit?

        • Sure, to a point. I think that above all honesty (i.e. “truth-speaking”) – starting with acknowledgment of what has truly transpired – is the first and most essential step. That is what I think is still the primary problem in the OCA right now. Things are still covered up for the most part almost reflexively – on the Unholy Synod, on the Metropolitan Council, and at Syosset. Until the individuals that comprise those three entities come clean, nothing much is going to change in either the short-term and most certainly not the long-term. Bandaging a festering wound without through cleansing is a sure recipe for eventual amputation, which is where I see the OCA headed in terms of the rest of the Church if things continue the way they have been.

          I mean come on – the Synod is the most dysfunctional pack on fools (yes, fools) I have had the misfortune to lay my eyes on since I took on child welfare investigations many years ago. They (our bishops) make me think of crappy parents against whom I would petition the court for the removal of the children (laity) in a heart-beat. That said Jane, I’d urge you to read the Third Homily on the Acts of the Apostles by St. John Chrysostom ( ) – the stupefying episcopal failure we have witnessed is nothing new in the Church and his insights (given that he was exiled three times and died in exile) have helped give me some perspective on the entire OCA episcopal mess. I say episcopal mess because like any stinking fish, the rot starts from the head down and as St. John so aptly puts it in the above homily: “Do not tell me, that the presbyter is in fault, or the deacon. The guilt of all these comes perforce upon the head of those who ordained them.” Our bishops, both past and present, have much for which to answer. The Synod acknowledging this on their part (with specifics!) would be a good place to begin any process of reconciliation.

          • All the good — if at times painful — comments we post here are helpful only to us who write and read them, but they’re likely to remain on the level of reinforcing our own ideas and not produce any sort of positive change on the part of the OCA’s Holy Synod unless and until the bishops themselves are aware of these conversations.

            Even then, it will take some major conversions on the part of some of them even to entertain the possibility of reversing themselves on the errors and sins and crimes they’ve committed.

            That sort of conversion comes only by the action of God’s Holy Spirit, Who can certainly act on His own, but I suspect that we’d better be entreating His intervention and help for the sake of our OCA and the salvation of us all, even the bishops.

            Myself, I’ve been entreating the Holy Archangel Michael several times a day to protect our OCA, especially Met. Jonah, since we are under demonic attack. Or didn’t you notice?

          • Jane Rachel says

            Until the individuals that comprise those three entities come clean, nothing much is going to change in either the short-term and most certainly not the long-term.

            You’re right, they will not come clean, to the detriment of their salvation, as St. John Chrysostom says. I’m sure they are worried first about their income and secondly about how bad the skeletons truly are. I suspect based on what Bishop Nikolai and Bishop Tikhon and Monk James Silver and George and others have written that some of those skeletons are so seriously ugly that these men are making up excuses in order to sleep at night. “That was a long time ago. I have a right to be angry! Look, I’ve repented. What I did wasn’t that bad. I couldn’t help myself. I don’t want to lose my job. Look at all the people who love me! I served the Church faithfully for decades. Who are they to judge ME!? They should be thanking me instead. Look at all the support I have from people. My critics are like crickets. I can listen to them but they can’t do anything. If I wanted to I could stamp them out with my foot.” and, “You can’t handle the truth! Now shut up! Revealing the truth would bring more destruction than good. ”

            But can we go on living a lie? Mark Stokoe started with a lie, not a question. Everything he did was to serve that lie. The allegations were false and they knew it.

            Here are two more questions:

            1) Can “they” be made to “come clean” and if so, how?
            2) Who has the authority to act in order to start making changes?
            3) Why are we stuck? What is already in place within the Wisdom of the Church to help get us out of this mess?

            • Heracleides says

              1) Can “they” be made to “come clean” and if so, how?
              2) Who has the authority to act in order to start making changes?
              3) Why are we stuck? What is already in place within the Wisdom of the Church to help get us out of this mess?

              1) I doubt it – many of the condemned at the Nuremberg Trials went to their hangings justifying their deeds.
              2) As Monk James states above – only through the action of the Holy Spirit (perhaps via the MP – some of which I think we’ve aready been the recipient of). Perhaps a letter writing campaign to Metropolitan Hilarion might be in order at this point.
              3) I daresay there are canons already existent that could resolve the issues assailing the OCA – but when have the canons ever actually been enforced in the OCA?

              • Jane Rachel says

                1) Still, they were stopped. Our guys might not repent, but they might. Still, they can be stopped, can’t they?
                2) What could the MP or Metropolitan Hilarion do? We need leaders. It cannot go on like this. It can’t.
                3) is there anyone out there who can enforce the canons? Are they waiting until after the first of the year? Is something going to happen?

                I am worried about these men, the bishops of the OCA who need to be stopped in their foolishness. God is not mocked. He does step in when there is no other way. Scripture doesn’t lie.

                What can we do?

                • Heracleides says

                  Jane Rachel,

                  I should have been a bit more precise. I meant Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk. I think a brief letter to him, simply thanking him for his past efforts in supporting Metropolitan Jonah and the well-being of the OCA in general would be sufficient. I feel that this would serve to inform him and others within the MP that our Metropolitan has our support and does not stand alone. It will also hopefully encourage the mother church to continue keeping a watchful eye on our Unholy Synod and its doubtless ongoing efforts to make life miserable for all whom they seek to destroy. I intend to write just such a letter when I return home from the holidays at the end of the month. The mailing address for the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk is:

                  Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk
                  Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate
                  22, Danilovsky val, Danilov Monastery DECR MP, 115191 Moscow, Russia

                  Merry Christmas!

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    That’s a very good idea. When the story of this sordid affair is finally written (hopefully soon), the ROC and ROCOR are going to play a very prominent part in holding back the anti-+Jonah forces. And also every one of you who contribute and/or read this blog. I know many of you went to Seattle and there we carried the day.

                    • Pravoslavnie says

                      The brotherly love and support continues. Metropolitan Jonah is to lead the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, Jan 1 (New Style) at ROCOR’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in DC. There will be one combined service there beginning at 9:30AM.

                    • Glory to God!

                      I wish I could attend this liturgy and lend my own support. Do you know what feast they will be celebrating? It will be the Sunday of the Forefathers on the Old Calendar, right?

                    • Pravoslavnie says


                      Yes, it’s to be served on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers, old-style. The announcement does not say that it will be a full hierarchical liturgy, and I’m not sure what language he will be serving in, it was only announced that Met. Jonah will lead it. Typically St. John will combine its separate English and Slavonic liturgies only when a hierach visits, so I think the Metropolitan will be receiving the full honors due his office and his rank as an archbishop. Other than Met. Hilarion, the highest ranking clergy I’ve ever seen at St. John was the Met. of Kazhakhstan a couple of years ago, but Jonah is a autocephalous church primate so this should be a real treat.

                    • Yes, when Met. Jonah has served with Met. Hilarion in the past, Met. Jonah has always been in the primary position. That was the case in both the MP and ROCOR cathedrals in NYC. The only time he takes second or later is when serving with another primate of an autocephalous church. Then they serve as equals, but I believe they would be sorted in the order of the diptychs, which would always put Met. Jonah in 15th place among the primates.

                    • This is an interesting development. As we all know, January 1st is a feast day (Circumcision) and ranks higher in the calendar than the Sunday of the Forefathers (which does have, however, a major significance as a precursor to Nativity). Here is what I am thinking: this is another gesture of brotherly love, telling everyone that despite the fact that we have already celebrated Nativity, we had not done so in conjunction with our ROCOR brethren because of the use of different calendars. Therefore, the OCA would like to share in the joy and expectation that ROCOR is experiencing during the Advent season. Am I close?

                    • Pravoslavnie says

                      While the calendar difference and Jan 1st date might make one search for some symbolic meaning, I think it’s more likely that the Metropolitan accepted an invitation that happened to work with his schedule

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Where did Herr Kraeff hear that the Feast of the Lord’s Circumcision takes precedence liturgically over, or is higher in rank than, the Sunday of the Forefathers? The case does not exist in any Typikon. However, we may observe that if the Feast of the Lord’s Circumcision falls on a Sunday, it would be the Sunday before the Theophany. The typikon tells us in that case that during the Vigil, the Resurrection Troparion and Kontakion are read before the Troparion and Kontakion of the Circumcision; likewise, Resurrection verses on ‘Lord, I have cried unto Thee’ and on the Praises precede the verses for the Circumsion. At Divine Liturgy, we note that the Prokeimenon, the Epistle reading, the Alleluiarion and the Gospel are ALL of the Sunday before the Theophany, and the Circumcision readings are not heard. at all.
                      Therefore, if, at the Divine Liturgy at St. John’s Cathedral the propers for the Sunday of the Forefathers would take precedence over anything from the Circumcision, this would be liturgically proper by analogy.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      His Grace Bishop Tikhon wrote; “Where did Herr Kraeff hear that the Feast of the Lord’s Circumcision takes precedence liturgically over, or is higher in rank than, the Sunday of the Forefathers?”

                      My source was the Church calendar produced by St Tikhon’s Seminary Press, where the Circumcision of our Lord is listed as a major feast, whereas the Sunday of the Forefathers is not listed as such. Also, if anyone would care to reread what I posted, I did not claim that either takes precedence liturgically over another; I said “…January 1st is a feast day (Circumcision) and ranks higher in the calendar than the Sunday of the Forefathers…” Nonetheless, we can all be grateful to His Grace for pointing out the intricacies of our Typicon, something that I have always cherished.

                      Now, if I may be a bit irreverent, I would like to point out that I have never called His Grace with an unusual title, such as “Dear Internet Bishop,” or “Your Internetship.” Therefore, I find it odd that His Grace would title me “Herr.” I am not German, although my fatherland has been characterized by some as being populated by “the Germans of the Balkans.” I could understand if one would call me “Gospodin,” or “Monsieur” (since I went to a French school), “Effendi” (lived in Turkey), or “Signore” (you guessed it: lived in Italy). Just, don’t title me “Herr” please. 🙂

                    • Pravoslavnie says

                      Well, thanks be to God, it happened as scheduled. The OCA’s Metropolitan Jonah was welcomed this morning at the ROCOR’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in DC where he led a combined Slavonic and English liturgy in front of a sizeable New Year’s Day congregation, and presented a homily on the true meaning of Christmas.

                      Afterwards, his Beatitude was an honored guest at a luncheon in the parish hall where he thanked the parish rector Fr. Victor Potapov for his hospitality and mentioned how this opportunity to serve liturgy at St. John served to bring together the DC communities of St. John and St. Nicholas cathedrals which both serve, in essence, the same community. By his words, the Metropolitan meant to stress that we are all part of the same church, and that the administrative differences that separate us exist only at the human level.

                      His Beatitude made mention of the diaspora, and referenced a quote from St. John of Kronstadt who suggested (I paraphrase) that perhaps the diaspora was God’s will into order to spread Orthodoxy to all corners of the world. He referred to the first group of monks from Valaam who in the 18th century came to Alaska on a mission to evangelize the “Americans” who as we all know consist of many different peoples.

                      The Metropolitan also said he admired much of the work and programs the ROCOR has been involved with, and said he was grateful to Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR) for the opportunity to serve today, and how they have developed a warm and sincere friendship. For his part, Fr. Victor expressed thanks to his Beatitude, and mentioned that the day was historic in that his Beatitude was the first OCA archbishop, not to mention its primate, to serve in a local ROCOR parish. Fr. Victor also mentioned that in a conversation with Metropolitan Hilarion (ROCOR) his Eminence said that Jonah is welcome to visit and serve at St. John’s anytime without going through the usual formalities.

                      Also present were the sisters of the Convent of the Entrance of the Holy Theotokos (a.k.a. “the DC Nuns”) along with their recently appointed clergy. Metropolitan Jonah was accompanied by two subdeacons and an OCA priest who was introduced as chairman of its Evangelization department from South Carolina. I didn’t catch his name, but I believe it was Fr. John Parker who was recently appointed to that post.

                      For our part we were pleased to witness this positive event demonstrating what unites us as Orthodox Christians after wallowing in so much negativity for so long. ROCOR is usually pretty speedy in posting photos online, and we’ll probably find a link later in the week.

                    • Thank you, Pravoslavnie. Glory to God who has generously given us this glorious feast, as well as this bond of brotherhood between His Beatitude and His Eminence. May God grant them both many years.

                      Metropolitan Hilarion’s invitation to Metropolitan Jonah to celebrate at St. John’s in the future is especially heartening. What a lovely and welcoming gesture!

                      Yes, that’s Fr. John Parker who now heads the Evangelization department. He’s commented here at Monomakhos a couple of times.

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    I’m going to write a letter, too. And use my REAL NAME. That will feel nice.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Dear Jane, please, under no circumstances whatsoever sign off a letter to
                      ANY Orthodox hierarch at all with “In Christ.” What an idea!!!! The customary phrase should be or resemble this one: “Asking for Your Eminence’s archpastoral prayers and blessings,”
                      The Primate of a Local Church may very well choose to sign off a letter to a friend from another faith community or to the mayor, ‘In Christ’. He may even use it with another Orthodox hierarch whom he’s never met. Also, a Hierarch might very well sign off one of his pastoral letters/encyclicals to all the clergy and people of his diocese with “In Christ.” Helga’s suggestion is about as appropriate as telling your bishop, ‘May the Lord’s blessings come upon you!” or blessing him with your hand.
                      You should never address him with “you” or even “thou”, but only in the 3rd person:
                      Your Eminence, Very most reverend Master!
                      I am (identify yourself by name and parish and local church) and I am writing to Your EMinence (NOTE: NOT writing “you”) in order to bring to Your Eminence’s attention (in order to ask that Your Eminence and so forth) I don’t know where “Helga” learned the idea of customary protocol she provided: perhaps it was in the Midwest or from a Priest or Bishop who is a recent convert?

                    • Your Grace, I was *never* taught to refer to a bishop in such obsequious terms, especially within the OCA. “In Christ” does not put the bishop beneath the letter-writer, or even imply equality, it’s a simple closing to a personal letter.

                      Of course, since the bishop in question is not in the OCA, I suppose the more imperial-sounding closing is more appropriate.

                      Your most divine lordship’s least-profitable servant, who would rather walk on her knees on a fifty-pound burlap sack’s worth of dry rice than offend her most-exalted master,

                      P.S. Please have fun reading this letter to your most esteemed brother hierarch. I am sure His Eminence is flattered by the knowledge that he is held “dear” to the “Orthodox theologian” who wrote that letter.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Helga, thanks for directing our attention to the letter which takes His Eminence to task for supposedly disbelieving in science or positing science as opposed to faith.

                      I intend to spend the new year talking about Darwinism and its defects. The letter would be an excellent starting point. If nothing else, we will be able to see that the capitulation of Christian belief to Darwinism is way premature. And second, that Intelligent Design is not “creationism” (as it is being purposely mischaracterized) and finally, that Christian Darwinists are themselves believers in Intelligent Design even though they would bristle at the notion.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Helga, how a doctrinaire ideologue devoted to a kind of Orthodox “Woman Church” and the ordination of women to the Orthodox Priesthood might address a public letter of instructions to an Orthodox hierarch is of no use whatsoever in informing Jane Rachel or any other inquirer the “proper” way to address a letter to an Orthodox Hierarch, to wit, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev).
                      Why in the world any such Metropolitan would feel “flattered” by the knowledge that a woman who has never studied at an Orthodox institution of higher learning, but has, in fact, ESCHEWED seeking out Orthodox faculties anywhere in order to imbibe all the Orthodox lore taught at Fuller Seminary and Boston College instead who has addressed him as “Dear” is a mystery to me.
                      I, Helga, informed Jane Rachel what the conventions in correspondence of an Orthodox parishioner to a high-ranking foreign prelate (as well as to any hierarch) ARE. What you were taught or “never taught” is of no interest whatsoever and is not helpful. I don’t give a fig for these conventions, Helga, but i know what they ARE. Jane is free to write:
                      “‘Dear Metropolitan (may I call you “Larry?” That’s what my friend Ilarion Goosecheck likes me to call him), How are you?. May God bless you in all your deeds which I admire and praise. I’m asking you as my brother-in-Christ to help me out with the problem of a Holy Synod which acts entirely in an ad hoc and arbitrary way, as if there were no Canons or other conventions by which they might be guided. Hey, let me know your thoughts, OK?
                      Your Sister in Christ,
                      I’m aware that many prefer such a quasi-Franciscan, quasi-Roundhead, quasi-Levelling Orthodox polity and culture, and that’s all right with me.
                      I can’t imagine any member of the faculty of SVS, STS. SHS, the Theological Faculty of Belgrade, Athens, or Thessalonika signing off a letter to a bishop with the self-description “Orthodox Theologian.” To designate oneself a theologian is appallingly arrogant. I can’t imagine, for example, ever-memorable Fr. Alexander Schmeman saying, “I am a theologian.” But it’s typical of Woman-Church. To call oneself a teacher is quite all right, but “theologian’ especially among the authentically Orthodox, is always something to which one aspires.
                      I repeat, I’ve informed Jane Rachel of the conventions for which she asked. My knowledge of those conventions is based on correspondence to and from Bishops which I’ve read as a Layman, Deacon, Priest and Bishop, as well as correspondence in histories and archives, especially the Archives of the OCA. I KNOW from my studies, Helga, what the conventions are. I’d guess you are in some yuppy parish, maybe in the Midwest, where, OF COURSE, you’d never been taught the conventions, as you admit.

                    • Your Grace, I appreciate the instructions and wasn’t thinking of writing anything to any hierarch until I knew how to properly address him in a letter. Lola J. Lee Beno asked, but I didn’t know either.

                      Thinking this letter-writing business over, it seems as though the problems in the OCA are known and understood by the non-OCA Orthodox leaders already. We have a chance to express our concerns openly on this blog, and I would like to think maybe they do glance over George’s articles and the comments, and read what is written by the people who comment here, who include lay men and women, deacons, priests and bishops.

                      It’s hard, actually it’s depressing, in looking forward into the New Year, to think that the OCA Holy Synod will not make changes for the good this coming year. In fact, it’s unbearable to think nothing will have changed by the end of 2012. But isn’t there good reason to be hopeful? After all, Christ is born! On that hope alone, I do trust – or at least, I want to trust – that there will be changes for the better, and that’s encouraging.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I have also seen the convention advocated by His Grace Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) and I always wandered why would you ask for the hierarch’s blessing twice–once in the beginning and again at the end. One would think that the hierarch is of sufficient intelligence to have understood the first time.

                      I have known at least one bishop who absolutely detested such formal phrasing and just suffered through this “convention”–I think that he read the communication (written or oral) as “Blah blah blah (Name), blah blah blah…(Content) Blah, blah, blah.” Of course, we also know bishops who would be appalled if the protocol is breached in any way. I have one thing to say about this: I am glad that our bishops are real persons and not “cookie cutter” ones.

                      But, regarding the substance of this minor detour from the main subject, I do wonder why it is so profoundly wrong to address a hierarch in terms other than those prescribed by the current convention. It seems to me that a sincere “Dear Vladika” is worth a lot more to the recipient than the convoluted phrases and overblown terminology that the convention prescribes. Another intersting thought is that if not enough people use the convention, would that usage still remain the convention?

                      I do not know about y’all but if I dearly love my priest or bishop, I will find a way to express it. And, it is not going to be by using the convention so beloved of His Grace. I guess I have lived long enough not to let such formalities bog me down; I will not call my Father in Christ in the third person, period. I will gladly accept the 40 lashes by a wet noodle.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Helga, why did you post that link? Oh, never mind, I see that you’ve referenced her before on Monomakhos.

                      The proper way to address a bishop in a formal letter (and I would consider a letter written from me to Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) to be more formal than personal since I have never seen or met him), isn’t “obsequious” or “imperial,” and I’m a bit confused as to why you would write that. The words are simply true. My stomach did a nauseous flip when I read Maria’s opening and closing words in her “open letter to Met. Hilarion Alfeyev,” and then reading her description of herself I said, “Ah, that explains it.”

                      I think she will be a big part of the NIOCA. New and Improved Orthodox Church of America.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      George also closed his open letter to Metropolitan Jonah posted here recently with “In Christ, Monomakhos.” But he opened it with “Master, Bless!” not “Dear”. Perhaps it is that given the wide diversity of humanity and the organic rather than legalistic nature of Orthodoxy, there are several different “right” ways to address a hierarch depending on the situation?

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Ah, Herr Kraeff graciously informs us how HE would address his “Father-in-Christ.” That’s fine. But the Woman-Church “theologian” doesn’t consider herself to be anybody’s daughter in Christ, no not even the Metropolitan’s to whom she is imparting her instructions, she signed herself as Sister in Christ, not daughter.z
                      I think any Bishop who was brought up a (Latin-rite, by the way) Roman Catholic and converted to Orthodoxy because of Vatican II, would still maintain the typical Roman Catholic clerics style of humor, like “Blah,blah, blah!” Try to imagine ANY other Hierarch past or present who would indulge his self-appreciation that way. “Blah, blah, blah!” No doubt the bishops of the Spanish Inquisition also said that when confronted with humility. I hope our Good God granted them a “Christian ending to their life….” even so, not a sudden death all alone.
                      “Blah, blah, blah!” Now we see the REAL Archbishop respecting his sons. I wouldn’t even say that of or to Carl Kraeff, no matter whom he admires.
                      I know or knew a Bishop who used to malign the Internet and its improprieties. He, too, would probably say, “Blah, blah, blah,” when reading what someone replied to Mrs. Brown’s stuff with less than respect. It’s SO rational, right? So Apostolic, right?
                      And as for conventional phrases, why assume they are not used with heartfelt sincerity?

                    • Your Grace, I didn’t use that letter as an example of what one ought to do, but as a display of what else passes for hierarchical etiquette in the Orthodox world. I think it is a particularly effective example because the arrogance and disrespect is not just in her failure to follow your conventions for salutations and valedictions, but in the whole content and tone of the letter.

                      (Also, I am pleased that George has found the link helpful. Miss McDowell is one of the *cough* luminaries of the infamous Facebook group based on redefining Orthodox teaching on sexuality.)

                      The term “theologian” is, of course, best left to others to bestow, much as Your Grace would look quite the pompous ass if he had appropriated that style for himself rather than receiving it by his election and consecration as a hierarch.

                      I think the bottom line here is that hierarchical etiquette is not an exact science, and that one’s intention in writing is important. From the example provided, it is easy to see Miss McDowell’s intent is to present herself as an equal, even a teacher to someone she ought to call Vladyka.

                      On the other side of things, I’ve only ever met one person who referred to bishops directly in the third person.

                      Perhaps you should write a manual for it, Vladyka.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Speaking of “brothers and sisters,” I have it on good authority that the Holy Apostles originated that usage (Hint: Use a tool such as Bible Gateway to make your job easier, but you may start with Acts and just keep on reading). In Hebrews 2:11, Saint Paul says ““For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” This echoes what Christ said in Matthew 25:40: “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

                      Now, I do not know where this “All Holiness,’ “Holiness,” “Eminence,” etc.. business started, but in the beginning they were not so sure of their holiness or of their eminence (at least they did not shout it from the roof top). They used simpler appellations, such as “a bondservant of Christ,” “the Elder,” “an apostle,” or just “Paul.” However, we are where we are, but I find subtle differences in usage between the Greek and the non-Greek Orthodox worlds.

                      My first piece of evidence is a June 2006 letter from the Armenian Patriarch to the Patriarch of Constantinople. The letter is addressed to “His All Holiness…” but in the Greek version, the greeting is “Παναγιώτατε, ἠγαπημένε ἐν Χριστῷ ἀδελφέ (which Google translates as “Your Holiness, Dear Brother in Christ”). However, the same official Patriarchal Site turns that into “Your All Holiness, Dear Brother in Christ.” If anyone starts objecting to my use of Google Translate, may I please point out that the Patriarchate uses “Ἡ Αὐτοῦ Θειοτάτη Παναγιότης” and translates THAT as “His All Holiness.” See By the way, there are many other letters, with some interesting ones being from the Greek hierachs from Jerusalem, Cyprus and Alexandria, where you will find perfect examples of the grovel-prostrate-grovel method that is so beloved of some.

                      Secondly, the Greeks seem to be a bit more paternalistic. The Patriarch of Constantinople in his 2011 Nativity Encyclical greets “Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the Lord:” His Exarch in America greets “Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,” but closes with “With paternal love in Christ,” In contrast, Metropolitan Jonah greets “Dearly beloved in the Lord,” and closes with “Faithfully yours in Christ,” Patriarch Kyril’s Nativity Encyclical greets “Eminent hierarchs, reverend fathers, God loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!”

                      Third, the Patriarch of Constantinople seems to have a difficult time addressing women. In the Nativity Encyclical of 2011, for example, only the English version includes the word “sisters,” as I showed above. The Greek, French, Russian and Italian versions all omitted “sisters” from the greetings. And, I had thought that it was normal and Apostolic usage!

                      Now, comes our beloved Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) who seem to think that the present practice conforms to the apostolic practice. My impression was that early on they had a much healthier respect for the essential equality of all before God, no matter what their station in life. Thus, Saint Paul uses the word overseer for a bishop, “overseer” meaning the head of the slaves! So, what we now have is the head of the slaves acting like an earthly king, expecting for us to observe the court etiquette of Byzantium, where you verbally and physically approach/address the head of the slaves with a series of groveling, prostrations, wringing of hands, mangling of Christian principles, and groveling some more.

                    • It seems so contrived, disingenuous and, frankly, stupid, doesn’t it?

                      Someone once observed, perhaps even on this blog, and I’m paraphrasing here: “dress a man up like an emperor (crown and all) and put him in the middle of a magnificant cathedral. Then have 150 voices bellow in prayer that he live forever … what do you think that does to him?” Of course they’ll expect to be called their Universal All Supreme Spectacularness.

                      Maybe I’m just too American, but we Orthodox tend take this title invoking nonsense way, way too far. So its complete hogwash when we use all the invocations, the “+” before his name, CAPITALIZE it, and then blast away at him and his “partners.”

                      Can’t simply “Vladyka,” or “Bishop” be appropriate? (Mind you, this comes from a guy who dislikes and refrains from using “Dear X” in business correspondence because there is usually nothing “dear” about the person to whom I am writing.)

                      One of these “grovel, prostrate, wring, prostrate, grovel” types once told me that it is entirely inappropriate for me to correspond with any bishop without the blessing of my parish priest. Really?

                      For whatever it may be worth, the saintly Serbian Patriarch Paul bristled at this perfunctory, honorific title noise. In fact, outside of Liturgy, he even asked that we refrain from using “Eis Polla Eti Despota” and other “live long and prosper” stuff.

                      Nothing like a dolip of humility to help keep things in perspective.

                      PS Can some one edify me on the periodic use of “Kyr” before a bishop’s name? Some are extra special and they get two, “Kyr, Kyr.”

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Carl, I find myself agreeing with you for the most part here. (Not that I disagree with His Grace, I think formalities within correspondence are useful –up to a point. I am almost as appalled at the verbiage used by this woman as I am at the content of her “open letter.”) But the imperiousness that is Istanbul versus the directness that is Moscow is much to be derided. The problem is one of a a historical meltdown that happened some 500 years ago and a deep-seated cultural inferiority.

                    • Maria Gwyn McDowell, Orthodox Theologian

                      Nancy Pelosi, Catholic Theologian

                      Brian, Bonzo’s Uncle

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Carl Kraeff wrote this: “Now, comes our beloved Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) who seem to think that the present practice conforms to the apostolic practice.”
                      In this thread I have never referred to apostolic practice, let alone indicated that present conventions in Orthodox letter-writing are anything but present conventions. What have I done or said to Carl Kraeff that motivates that kind of prevarication and evil spin on anything I’ve written, I wonder?
                      But I am in good company, the best! Here’s what he does to the Holy Apostle Paul:
                      “Thus, Saint Paul uses the word overseer for a bishop, “overseer” meaning the head of the slaves!”
                      No, no, no, Carl! You’re confused, obviously. There is a Greek word, used by the Holy Apostle in his writings: “episkopos” There is also a Greek word used in the navy: “periskopos”. The Greek word “episkopos” is the ancestor of the English word “Bishop” through Latin episcopus and Old English Biscup (just as Presbyteros is the ancestor of the English word ‘Priest’ through Latin presbyterus, then through the various Germanic dialects as Prester, Preester, Priester, down to the English (or Low German) Priest. And the Greek word “periscopos” is the ancestor of modern English “periscope.” (It hasn’t had time to develop into “Perishop.” The Holy Apostle Paul could never have used the word “overseer”, because he couldn’t speak any English. Clear?
                      The Greek word episkopos has two parts: a preposition, over: “epi” and a verb, look: or see: “skope” . In English it means a person or instrument which or through which one may see or look over something or place, just as the Greek word periskopos has two parts: a preposition, around or over: “peri”, and the same verb, look or see: “scope,” an instrument or person who looks or sees around or about.
                      It is true that on American plantations, the bishop or supervisor (Supervisor is Latin for overseer) of the slaves saw over them and was often called an Overseer.
                      St. Paul had no experience of American plantations. So Carl is just giving him the same treatment he gives me. I’m in great company!
                      I wish he’d get over it. Someone asked what the conventions are. I stand by my summation of those conventions. If anyone wants to take the opportunity to adopt a pose defending Freedom or Love or Peace or Holiness against my re-statement of conventions I had no hand in developing, so be it. We’d all like to be seen as valiant Defenders of Faith, Truth, and Love; so why not toot our own horns here, right? I just ask for more straightforward and intelligent responses from which we all can learn.
                      My question: Will American Orthodoxy go the way of the ancient Church of Carthage?

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Bshop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) wrote: “In this thread I have never referred to apostolic practice” and lectured me on using the word “overseer” to mean “bishop.”

                      I would refer His Grace to the sources that I used. Regarding his first objection, His Grace said in his post of December 28, 2011 at 11:15 am: “It’s SO rational, right? So Apostolic, right?”

                      Regarding the second, my New King James Bible reads as follows:

                      1 Timothy 3

                      Qualifications of Overseers
                      1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,[a] he desires a good work.

                      Footnotes:a.1 Timothy 3:1 Literally overseer

                      In all fairness to His Grace, I did also say that in Saint Paul’s time, “overseer” meant the head of slaves. His Grace believes that this particualr connotation belongs to a time centuries later, in the American plantations. However, the word “overseer” was used as early as 170 BC as witnessed by Cato the Elder when he wrote how the recommended rations for various categories of slaves: “For the actual laborers four pecks of wheat in the winter months, and four and a half in summer. The overseer, housekeeper, foreman and head-shepherd should receive three pecks. The chain-gang should receive four pounds of bread a day in winter, five from the time when they begin to dig the vines until the figs start to ripen, and then back to four again.”

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Carl. I never referred to apostolic PRACTICE, but you said I did. You now sidestep your mistake.
                      You are not interested in the content of anything i and others say: only in personal comparison of yourself with us, I think. This leads you to such carelessness where truth is concerned.
                      Nevertheless, I will not show my contempt or dislike for any interlocutor by writing something like, “Blah, blah, blah!”, by which YOUR bishop SHOWED his contempt or dislike for someone who wrote to him.
                      I felt a couple people here wanted something from Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk and wanted to know the conventions of approaching via a letter. I ASSUMED they wanted to get off on the right foot by being as conventionally courteous with him as possible, so that he might perhaps say, “Oh, my! How carefully this person writes to me!” and so that the writer would not risk the letter remaining on the desk of some secretary who thought, “I’d better save this until His Eminence is in a better mood: no time to pester him with the Yokums.” Someone took great care in writing to your Bishop and he wanted to show his companions how ‘down to earth’ he is (as if anybody needed showing by a man who liked to “let his hair down by knocking back a few with them), and he contemptuosly, according to Carl, dismissed the courteous approach with “Blah, blah, blah!” (SO Apostolic a leader, right?)

                    • Your Grace Tikhon, Master bless!

                      I stand corrected. Indeed you did not state that the current practice conforms to the apostolic practice; I inferred it in context.

                      I see also that you are deeply hurt by example of a bishop who did not care for the current practice. I must rush to tell you that I believe he was simply embarrassed by those overblown titles and Byzantine conventions. He was a simple and Godly man, much like Patriarch Pavle of blessed memory (as related above by Alexander). And, he would never have muttered the blah-blah-blahs in the presence of anyone who might be offended by them.

                      Given the disparity between the apostolic and current conventions, as well as the differing approaches taken by individual hierarchs, would it be possible for several conventions to coexist? For example, I believe you and I agree that the title “His All Holiness” is inappropriate (indeed I think you called it heretical). Except when one is communicating directly with the Patriarch or his fellow hierarchs, would it be proper to refer to the Patriarch of Constantinople as “His Holiness” or simply “Patriarch (Name) of Constantinople”?

                      I do apologize for misunderstanding you and for upsetting you. Please forgive me.

                      With filial love in Christ, Carl Kraeff

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      For some reason, Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” came to mind rather quickly after reading Fisherman Carl’s latest. I thought of Archbishop Job’s “charming,” “innocent,” “un-conventional,” and “simple” ways and then remembered all those faithful and charming presbyters and followers of his. (Come to think of it, I believe Carl’s praise is the only praise for Archbishop Job that has been posted on this blog. I wonder why.)

                      Well, then, following Bobby’s lead, I feel like saying:

                      Positively 4th Street

                      You got a lotta nerve
                      To say you are my friend
                      When I was down
                      You just stood there grinning

                      You got a lotta nerve
                      To say you got a helping hand to lend
                      You just want to be on
                      The side that’s winning

                      You say I let you down
                      You know it’s not like that
                      If you’re so hurt
                      Why then don’t you show it

                      You say you lost your faith
                      But that’s not where it’s at
                      You had no faith to lose
                      And you know it

                      I know the reason
                      That you talk behind my back
                      I used to be among the crowd
                      You’re in with

                      Do you take me for such a fool
                      To think I’d make contact
                      With the one who tries to hide
                      What he don’t know to begin with

                      You see me on the street
                      You always act surprised
                      You say, “How are you?” “Good luck”
                      But you don’t mean it

                      When you know as well as me
                      You’d rather see me paralyzed
                      Why don’t you just come out once
                      And scream it

                      No, I do not feel that good
                      When I see the heartbreaks you embrace
                      If I was a master thief
                      Perhaps I’d rob them

                      And now I know you’re dissatisfied
                      With your position and your place
                      Don’t you understand
                      It’s not my problem

                      I wish that for just one time
                      You could stand inside my shoes
                      And just for that one moment
                      I could be you

                      Yes, I wish that for just one time
                      You could stand inside my shoes
                      You’d know what a drag it is
                      To see you

                      Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      JR–Here is something from Kevin Ayers’ Whatevershebringswesing:

                      But you won’t find the answer
                      Even when the wind blows
                      ‘Cause the answer, my friend, is in front
                      Right there in front of your nose
                      Everybody knows, it’s their nose.

                      And, no it was not Archbishop Job.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Oop! It wasn’t? It wasn’t Archbishop Job who said, “Blah blah”? Oh, I apologize, then. Forty lashes with a wet noodle.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Oh, I am so dense. This is the best-ever 2011-Going-Out present ever. Bishop Tikhon said “Blah Blah”?! It was right in front of my nose and I didn’t see it!

                      And here I am spouting off about Archbishop Job’s contribution to the destruction going on, quoting Bob Dylan and everything in all seriousness, with a heavy heart, as if THAT mattered!

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                    Ahhh . . thank you for the address! By the way, what is the proper way to address a bishop in a letter?

                    • Lola, since he’s a Metropolitan but not a primate, you’d call him “Your Eminence”.

                      I think the proper way to start off would be like this:

                      [start with addresses, date, etc. for the usual starting off of a personal letter. Put these on the right margin and then switch to left margin for everything below this]

                      To His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations

                      Your Eminence,

                      Master, bless!

                      [Letter stuff]

                      In Christ,
                      Lola J. Lee Beno

                      I’d sign it with legal name, and with a different church name I would put below it “In baptism, Anastasia” or whatever.

                      Also, if your letter date falls between the New Calendar Nativity and Old Calendar Theophany (December 25th to January 19th on our civil calendar), you should incorporate “Christ is Born! Glorify Him!”

                      One thing I would try to make very clear is that this is a letter from an involved layperson, not an official representative of the OCA. Also, it’s best not to give any impression that Met. Hilarion’s involvement should be or has been (like the March meeting) an interference in OCA affairs. If anyone did get that impression, it could seriously limit how much Met. Hilarion could help Met. Jonah in the future.

                    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                      Helga, thank you for the etiquette lesson!

                    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                      Putting aside the proper way to write letters for the moment, the letter referenced on Darwin and Orthodoxy is impenetrably (hopelessly?) bound to the categories of popular culture. It sounds like something you would hear on NPR.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Father Hans is much too charitable. I would say it sounds like some high school sophomores playing NPR.
                      And I sometimes feel guilty about being long-winded, but for wordiness and even the dread logorrhea, or just quasi-theological bombast, the letter takes the cake. There is a point buried in there somewhere, but she didn’t get it herself. A kind of Stan Drezhlo with aspirations.

                  • Lola J. Lee Beno says
      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        Herc. I have no problem talking to anybody in fact I prefer it. I talk to people all day long as part of my job. However, something tells me that you should call her as a concerned member of the body of Christ and talk to her in person. Commenting on a blog befind the safety of your computer, and cute little pictures is not necessarily the most courageous now is it?

        So stop the typing, find where the woman is, and place a call. You know what will happen? You will start to realize that you are talking to an ACTUAL human being, and one that does not necessarily agree with you. Now if she is against the church’s teachings on the issue of Homosexuality then fine. Tell her she is wrong, offer her the opportunity to repent to Christ and her own priest and be done with it. Maybe you will be surprised who knows? You won’t know until YOU call.

        But always remember you are talking personally to a human being, which means you will have to be on your best behavior, and have to give an accounting of yourself. So tough guy YOU DO IT. Because you need to do it more than me and anybody else around here.

        Peter A. Papoutsis

        • Brian McDonald says

          Hear Hear!

        • Heracleides says

          Thanks, but no thanks Peter, er… touchie-feelie guy. No doubt your ‘talk’ (email in fact – wanna talk about computer screen communication?) with Mrs. Stokoe-Brown made you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but in fact accomplished absolutely nothing. Nada, zip, zero, zilch. What Stokoe, Leonova, Peterson, and several others need is a swift kick in the ass, ala St. Nicholas, not the asinine coddling you espouse. I now return you too your Oprah reruns marathon.

        • Finally…goodness prevails. 감사합니다

          • Heracleides says

            Indeed… Group hug. Free purple hair-dye. Occupy Syosset. Life is good. Kumbaya. Peace-out! 현실을 직시해

            • Heracleides, 한 국 말 을 잘 해 요. 韓國語 어 디 서 배 웠 습니까??

              • Heracleides says

                아뇨, 구글은 번역. 메리 크리스마스!

                • Mr. H, 몇 년 동안 한국말 을 공부 해서 구 굴 은 번 역. 누가 생각이 나 했 겠어요.
                  메리 크리스마스 !

                  • Is anyone else getting trash characters in the 5 posts prior to this one? Any idea about the cause?

                    • Heracleides says

                      Heh… those “trash characters” are in fact Korean. 이해?

                    • Monk James says

                      Heracleides says:
                      January 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm
                      Heh… those “trash characters” are in fact Korean. 이해?

                      We know that.

                      If this is some sort of accident, a quirk of the ‘Net, it ought to be fixed.

                      But if people really want to be in public conversation here, it would be better if they wrote in English, except for selected quotations.

                      Even then, we ought to provide a translation at the same time as we attest the original words.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Actually, you “know that” – Trey apparently did not. As for the rest of your comment – Google Translate works wonders with minimal effort. 땡!

        • Jane Rachel says

          Peter. I am absolutely sure that even though you think you get it, you don’t get it. There’s more than that, but there’s no reason to keep this discussion going. We who speak out here with words and images you disapprove of are going to continue to be who we are, and there is integrity and truth in it. Christ Himself used words to love His enemies that I don’t (usually) have the courage to use. If I had had the courage, maybe somebody would have been saved from God’s wrath.

  7. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Oprah has re-runs? Where?


  8. Love your blog!

  9. Jane Rachel says

    George wrote:

    But the imperiousness that is Istanbul versus the directness that is Moscow is much to be derided. The problem is one of a a historical meltdown that happened some 500 years ago and a deep-seated cultural inferiority.

    When you have time, would you expand on this?

  10. Carl,

    If you’re still reading this (I can’t get this to appear under your comment),
    Παναγιώτατε = “All Holiness”. Google has neglected to translate the preposition Παν which means “All”.
    This usage even seeped from the Greek into American English, e.g. “Pan American World Airlines” or “Pan Am”.

    In any case, I couldn’t agree more with you on the ridiculous nature of these titles.

  11. On one level, I couldn’t agree more. If these titles were intended to refer directly to the person holding the office, it would indeed be highly pretentious.

    However, I have always understood these titles to refer not to the person directly, but to the Lord Himself whose grace is manifested in the office regardless of the person’s ‘holiness’, ‘eminence’, or whatever. It is the Lord alone who is Holy, All-Holy, Eminent, Father, etc.; and every righteous cleric understands that he is an unworthy participant by grace in these titles which he freely acknowledges are proper to God alone. Thus, when I seek a blessing from a priest or bishop of whatever dignity (“Father bless” “Master bless”) I am seeking the blessing of God Himself, and the cleric understands the blessing he grants to be “in the Name of the Lord.” – not his own (except by participation), but that of the Lord Himself.

    The use of these titles is a strong affirmation of the grace of God in His Church. They only become pretentious when clerics ascribe the grace of their offices to themselves or when the laity ascribes God’s grace directly to the persons who hold these offices. I grant that both these distortions are common, but they are nevertheless distortions of what is otherwise true and ought not be denied.

  12. Brian,
    It’s very difficult in practice to separate an office from the holder of the office, in fact an office requires an incumbent for its functions to be operative (thus the Presidency, for e.g., or the monarchy of England). In the case of the Ecumenical Patriarch the official title or honorific makes it quite clear the title refers to the occupier of the see by naming him, in this case Bartholomew, thus “Αυτού Θειοτάτη Παναγιότης ο Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Νέας Ρώμης και Οικουμενικός Πατριάρχης Βαρθολομαίος”. Now, with all due respect to Patriarch Bartholomew and the legacy of Byzantium, given the present circumstances of the Phanar, that is indeed highly pretentious. I can understand holding on to “Constantinople”, but it’s a long, long time since anyone regarded Istanbul as the “New Rome”. One can’t help but make a comparison with those sad episcopi vagantes whose self-chosen elaborate titles invariably seem to be inversely related to how many followers they actually have.

  13. Basil,

    I was, of course, only commenting on titles like “All Holiness,’ “Holiness,” “Eminence,” etc.. You are entirely right about the nonsensical territorial titles. They deny reality, and therefore truth.

  14. Understood, Brian. But in the case of the Patriarch of Constantinople I think the whole title, from “All-Holiness” to “New Rome”, speaks of living in denial.

    • Christ is risen! Truly risen!

      Dear Friends —

      Well, there’s more than enough denial to go around.

      At least and especially in America, there’s a sort of cultural reluctance to address anyone with honorific obeisance.

      I’ve noticed, for instance, that while american judges and mayors might be described as ‘the (right) honorable So-and-So, they are increasingly less so addressed. It is not now considered bad form to address a judge, even in trial, as ‘judge’ or ‘Judge Jones’, or a mayor as either ‘Mister Mayor’ or ‘Mayor Smith’.

      Of course, no one would balk if either official were addressed as ‘Your Honor’, but nobody now expects — much less demands — such an indirect, 3rd-person form of address.

      What worked in Europe centuries ago in monarchic societies, what worked when bishops were referenced (if not always treated) as royalty, hasn’t ever worked in America and it’s not working now.

      In fact, it lends itself to caricature, a fact which I exploit when I occasionally address my superior as ‘Your Latitude’.

      For that, we might almost realistically address our hierarchs as ‘Your Vicissitude’ or ‘Your Patience’, considering how much bilge they’re expected to float over.

      I have to say that I originally thought that this thread needed no input from me because I considered it silly and unnecessary. Obviously, I’ve repented.

      While I’m here, I’ll tell you that it’s erratic and ungrammatical in English to say things such as ‘Father, bless!’ or ‘Master, bless!’. The verb ‘bless’ is irretrievably transitive and needs an expressed object. Hapgood was wrong on this point, as on many others in her translations.

      Several american bishops have told me that they’re completely comfortable with being addressed, in person or in correspondence, as ‘Bishop Name’.

      I formally address my superior as ‘Most blessed Master’ or ‘holy Father’ or ‘my Father’ whether in writing or in person. I write to and address other bishops as ‘Holy Master’. I haven’t ever used a 3rd person form in addressing bishops and I haven’t yet been struck by lightning. One single only OCA bishop ONCE said that he wasn’t happy with this, but no one agrees with him.

      Altogether, if people wrote or spoke to Met Hilarion Alfeev and addressed him as ‘Dear Metropolitan Hilarion’ and at some point asked ‘Bless me, holy Master’, I seriously doubt that he’d be put out about it.

      Peace and blessings to all.

      Monk James

      • Sorry for a detour, but I am struck by “It is not now considered bad form to address a judge, even in trial, as ‘judge’ or ‘Judge Jones’, …”

        This one is news to me. Across the USA in state and federal courts “Your Honor,” “Judge Jones,” (“Justice” or “Magistrate Jones” as may be appropriate) or simply “Judge” are proper form across the board. During any appearance, and especially during longer appearances, use of “Ma’am” or “Sir” are unquestionably acceptable. Over 25 years or so, I’ve appeared before trial and appellate courts in at least 30 states and have never known otherwise.

        Certainly, current convention calls for the attorney to be conversational, but not familiar, with the bench during oral argument or even routine appearances. But, “remember, that there must always be a respectful distance between you and the court. A chummy or chatty attitude is inapporpriate,” says Garner. This is especially true at trial.

        Some advocates refer to “the Court,” something I find a little awkward. It is purposefully de-personalizing and often used when the lawyer may disagree with the judge on something.

        (Yes, years ago, SCOTUS written opinions and other papers abandoned using “Mr. Justice X” in favor of simply “Justice X” — I surmise because women finally joined the Court. To the extent similar form existed in appellate and trial courts, they have also changed. In England and Wales, as one may imagine, the formalities are more intense. “The Right Honourable Madame Justice Smith” is proper, but there too, in my experience, “Your Honor” is entirely appropriate.)

        Again, sorry for detouring. Happy New Year.

  15. “Your latitude”, LOL!
    Thank you for your humour and for your common sense, Monk James.

    However, I beg to differ on the grammatical correctness of “Father, bless”, Monk James. I’ve not read Hapgood in many years and no longer even have a copy of her work, but if her point was that in the request “Father, bless” the object of the verb is understood then I think she was grammatically correct. That’s not to say that “Father, bless” isn’t anachronistic or even a tad pretentious in modern English, especially American English I would think (my spelling will have alerted the observant to the fact that I was not educated in the American system).

  16. Basil,

    Were it not for spellcheck, the observant would be alerted to the fact that most of us here were educated in the American system.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I think the modest addition of “more or less” after “educated would be appropirate.

  17. :0)

    Personally, Brian, I think Noah Webster’s simplified spelling has much to recommend it, but whenever I consciously try to “Americanize” my spelling I see a vision of my 4th grade English teacher’s face with a frown on it.

  18. Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog.

  19. Sorry, here is my posts translated. No disrespect to English. I checked out Google and is not correct especially when you are used to Hanja (Chinese characters with Korean script). Basically what is in the newspapers.

    Finally…goodness prevails. 감사합니다 (thank you)

    Heracleides, 한 국 말 을 잘 해 요. 韓國語 어 디 서 배 웠 습니까?? (you’re Korean is very good, where did you learn ir?)

    Mr. H, 몇 년 동안 한국말 을 공부 해서 구 굴 은 번 역. 누가 생각이 나 했 겠어요.
    메리 크리스마스 ! (I spent many years learning Korean and Google translator does it. Who’d have thought. Merry Christmas!