On Monasticism

Lately, there has been some interest and criticism about monasticism on Monomakhos. Misconceptions abound in general and they are sometimes reflected here. Likewise, honest criticisms and we air those out as well.

As for myself, I could say that I’ve embraced both sides over the years, that is to say being somewhat critical in my youth but being more tolerant and even sympathetic now as I enter the seventh decade of my life.

Rather than me explaining the ins and outs of monasticism, the pros and cons if you will, I would ask that you take the time to watch this short, 12 minute video in which Mother
Christophora talks about the monastic vocation. It’s quite edifying.


  1. Constantinos says

    Hi George,
    Very nice, interesting video. I was reading about the Monks of Mt. Athos. Did you know that not one Monk on the Holy Mountain uses a cell phone or a computer? Bottom line- if a monk uses a computer, he is not a real monk. Instead of using a computer, spend your time praying, and working on your own salvation. That’s the way a real monk does the most good. I wish the real Monks from Mount Athos did use the computer and the internet, that way we could drink deeply from their well of wisdom.

    • Many monks are given upkeep of monastery websites and email accounts as their monastic obedience. I know Fr. Macarius at the Hermitage of the Holy Cross Monastery currently has the obedience of responding to emails and receiving and reading online prayer requests. And he is a real monk if I ever saw one.

      • ROCOR seems to do well in this regard. The young Scottish monk at Jordanville, Fr. Theodore, helps out seekers and enquirers from all over the world by e-mail and answers their questions. He also travels and gives talks to the youth sometimes. Thank God for ROCOR and its outreach!

    • Fr. Deacon John says

      I have been to Mt Athos twice and some of the monks there (at least at Vatopadi Monastery) have cell phones. Only a few have access to a computer and internet but many, not all, have cell phones. Thanks George for posting this interview. It was informative and enlightening.

      • George Michalopulos says

        You’re welcome. BTW, it sort of “fell” into my lap yesterday as I was going about my business. It just came up on my YouTube rotation and I thought it was providential alll things considered. (This particular channel isn’t even on my subscribe list. It is now.)

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        We were in Cyprus last October, on a trip/pilgrimage led by our priest, who spent the first two years of his priesthood on the island, after being ordained in Jerusalem.

        We visited the women’s monastery where he had been the priest. He is a somewhat charismatic person, very well-liked and well-remembered there.

        A considerable number of the nuns pulled out smartphones and videoed him as he spoke.

    • A few do take to the computer, and are contributors on sites such as http://anothercity.org/. A number of articles on http://orthochristian.com/ are by monastics. One priest-monk has his own site of thoughtful, reflective articles(https://www.rememberingsion.com/) and another has published insightful and practical talks (orthodoxtalks.com), quite popular in my parish, which are now available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXylAJpasmGnyoeeZSWi6dg). Enjoy; lots of great stuff at these sites.

    • ChristineFevronia says

      Beloved Abbot Tryphon recently posted a thoughtful blog entry about why he, as monastic and Abbot of a thriving monastery in Northwestern America, uses the web. I hope you find his comments helpful to understand why some have undertaken using the internet to evangelize and proclaim the Good News:

      Abbot Tryphon: “The Internet: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Actually, monks on Mt. Athos do use computers. I got was in an email exchange with a monk from Vatopedi Monastery about five months ago that had the blessing of Geronda Ephraim, the abbot of the monastery.

  2. Who would criticize such a Godly and devoted spiritual path as monasticism? I am young myself and I have always thought of monasticism as a great spiritual goal to aspire to. I’ve also always thought that if more of our bishops were taken from monastics like they do in ROCOR we wouldn’t see a lot of the problems we see in the church today. God bless our Monastics!

    • Randy u are so right. If the bishops were real monks we would avoid much of the institutionalised corruption and soft living that breeds it. I have experience of the well known monastery of St John Baptist in Uk.
      Here in Bulgaria there are many monasteries, many minus monks due to communist times, but there does seem to be a stirring of monastic life now.

      • I meant that St John Baptist monastery in Uk a example of Orthodoxy, love and genuine lived faith. Sadly currently under Phanar but I wonder if this might change?.

    • Monk James Silver says

      Randy (May 23, 2019 at 9:30 pm) says:

      Who would criticize such a Godly and devoted spiritual path as monasticism? I am young myself and I have always thought of monasticism as a great spiritual goal to aspire to. SNIP


      May the Lord help you to guard the purity of your heart, and may He guide you in doing His will.

  3. I’m not sure where Constantinos gets his information, but the email addresses and phone numbers of numerous monasteries on Mt. Athos are readily accessible on the internet, suggesting, of course, that computers do exist on the the Holy Mountain. I suspect that in some cases, cell phones may as well.

    Email addresses of the monasteries
    01 Great Lavra: iera.moni.megistis.layras at sign gmail.com (thanks Joseph Skinner 11/8)
    02 Vatopedi: filoxenia at sign vatopedi.gr or monastery at sign vatopedi.gr
    03 Iviron: imiviron at sign gmail.com (thanks Michael, Michalis and Vasilis)
    04 Chilandariou: pilgrims at sign hilandar.org
    05 Dionysiou: monidionysiou at sign gmail.com or grafiotaxis at sign yahoo.com (thanks Michalis 28/7) ! According to Vladislav these addresses do not seem te be valid- 2/12/2017! another adress: agiosnifon at sign gmail.com (January 2018 – thanks Guido)
    06 Koutloumousiou – imk.athos at sign gmail.com (thanks Cris 25/8)
    07 Pantocratoros – filoxenia at sign pantokrator.gr (thanks Gabriel 16/5/17)
    08 Xeropotamou: xeropotamou at sign yahoo.gr
    09 Sografou: zografergo at sign gmail.com or zograf.logos at sign gmail.gr
    10 Docheiariou – dohiarmon at sign gmail.com (thanks R.V. Knezevi 30/11)
    11 Karakallou – karakallou at sign yahoo.gr : most of the emails are read by the Dutch monk Pachomios, who speaks French, English, Greek and of course Dutch (thanks Hadrian Liem – 2/12/2017)
    Notice: according to Angel – see comment 5/2/18- this mail address is not correct.
    12 Filotheou: philotheou.filoxenia at sign gmail.com (thanks John 5/4/2017)
    13 Simonopetras: hospitality at sign simonopetra.gr
    14 Agiou Pavlou: visit at sign agiou-pavlou.gr (thanks Vladislav 2/12/17)
    evdokimos at sign me.com (thanks Ioan 27/7)
    15 Stavronikita – no email, no electricity
    16 Xenophontos: arhontariki at sign imxenophontos.gr or inxenofa at sign gmail.com (thanks Michalis 27/7)
    17 Grigoriou: imog at sign cosmotemail.gr (thanks Bart)
    18 Esfigmenou – ? (konaki in Karyes: info at sign esphigmenou.gr, do not use for reservations)
    19 Panteleimonos: rpm.palomnik at sign gmail.com
    20 Konstamonitou – imkonstamonitou at sign gmail.com (thanks Mihail, 12/2/19) (beware: the monastery does not have electricity and non-orthodox pilgrims are not allowed in church and the trapeza, such a pity….).
    We have 19 addresses of monasteries now, only one to go, Stravronikita (12/2/2019).
    Skites and kelli
    Prodromou: prodromuarhondaric at sign yahoo.com (thanks Gavriil 24/8/18)
    Nea skiti: evangelismos.neaskiti at sign gmail.com(thanks Michael, 12/2/17). This email address iera.nea.skiti at sign gmail.com I found here. (3/12/2018). The email address seems to be offline (9/2/2019 – thanks Vladislav).
    Try to contact Father Eusebios Christofi from England on his Facebook-site.
    Skiti Xenofontos: eugeniosathos at sign gmail.com or nikonathos at sign gmail.com
    Skiti Profitou Eliou: skitioros at sign gmail.com : ask for Father Filimon (thanks mr “Jeltsin”, 28-12-2018)
    Timiou Stavrou – Father David: crest1969 at sign hotmail.com
    Mylopotamos – Father Epifanios
    info at sign mywines.gr or go to the website mywines.gr.
    Michalis made me aware of this website from the Mount Athos Center, with lots of information.
    Wim, 12/2/2019 – update 11
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    • Gail Sheppard says

      I cleaned this up a bit. As mentioned above, not every address may work. (/= at sign and ^= dot)

      01 Agiou Pavlou: visit/agiou-pavlou^gr or evdokimos/me^com
      02 Chilandariou: pilgrims/hilandar^org
      03 Dionysiou: monidionysiou/gmail^com, grafiotaxis/yahoo^com, agiosnifon/gmail^com
      04 Docheiariou: dohiarmon/gmail^com
      05 Esfigmenou: info/esphigmenou^gr
      06 Filotheou: philotheou^filoxenia/gmail^com
      07 Grigoriou: imog/cosmotemail^gr
      08 Great Lavra: iera^moni^megistis^layras/gmail^com
      09 Iviron: imiviron/gmail^com
      10 Karakallou: karakallou/yahoo^gr
      11 Konstamonitou: imkonstamonitou/gmail^com
      12 Koutloumousiou: imk^athos/gmail^com
      13 Mylopotamos: info/mywines^gr
      14 Nea skiti: evangelismos^neaskiti/gmail^com or iera^nea^skiti/gmail^com
      15 Panteleimonos: rpm^palomnik/gmail^com
      16 Pantocratoros: filoxenia/pantokrator^gr
      17 Prodromou: prodromuarhondaric/yahoo^com
      18 Simonopetras: hospitality/simonopetra^gr
      19 Skiti Profitou Eliou: skitioros/gmail^com
      20 Skiti Xenofontos: eugeniosathos/gmail^com or nikonathos/gmail^com
      21 Stavronikita: No email, no electricity
      22 Timiou Stavrou: crest1969/hotmail^com
      23 Vatopedi: filoxenia/vatopedi^gr or monastery/vatopedi^gr
      24 Xenophontos: arhontariki/imxenophontos^gr or inxenofa/gmail^com
      25 Xeropotamou: xeropotamou/yahoo^gr

      • Papouli Theodore says

        Christ is Risen!

        I understand the list dear Gail posted seems more useful, but this list with linkable email addresses should be removed.

        This creates a problem with spam, and God forbid we make those whose obedience it is to answer emails, more difficult.

        The original list with written out email addresses prevents this from happening.

        Christ is Risen!

      • Fr. Deacon John says

        There is also a website that I am on the ListServe for. http://www.asceticexperience.com About twice per week I receive an e-mail from this website with insightful discussion about spiritual healing, monasticism, etc. Very good reads. Check it out if you have a mind to. I recognize a few of the monks from Vatopadi on this website.

      • Don’t post these links openly on the web. They will be now targeted with spam, which is why the original poster put it in the format he did.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Gene, since one of our fellow readers provided it, I wanted to help him out and make it more readable. I’m not removing it because it’s important for people to have this list. I took off the personal “thank you to . . .” and alphabetized this which does not target anybody. The only other thing I added was the at sign which I have since removed, even though it is extremely unlikely that some spammer is going to pick up email addresses from a single comment under the discussion section of a WordPress blog. People have spam removal these days and rarely see it, anyway.

  4. They’ve been using those for years. They alo have electricity, indoor plumbing and modern medicine. And starry eyed fans.

    • Bob what is so shocking about any of what you say? You have a curious view of monks! . Starry eyes fans? Doubtless, Starry eyes haters too but what has that to do with anything?.
      Monks and nuns are simply people who fall every day and get up every day and fall again, and get up, as we all do before God. Scandal and Sainthood, they, us, we all in the mud looking up at the stars to quote Oscar Wilde!! Monks and nuns live that total life given to God and as i can speak personally, can give so much just by being. Maybe you do not understand that. Do not see it.
      That is ok. God bless.

    • r j klancko says

      unfortunately, my experience has not been so rosey —- most of the monastics that i have met, including non widower bishops seem to have baggage that they are carrying and are escaping and seeking refuge as such they can be considered as damaged in certian respects — as such i would find it difficult to go to them for advice — of course there are eceptions to every rule and consideration — un fortunately i have even observed some of them behaving badly — egotistic,,, fits of rage,,,insensitivity,,,,,lack of lact,,,, yes we all exhibit these characteristics but i have seen them manifest moretimes in the monastics i have met and i have met many —– so when i see a black cassock and black kobluk i am now conditioned to ask why, what are they hiding from,, are they truly sincere or caught up in the mysteek — so i now am initially always wary — an i know that should not be but c’est la geurre i must add that the cbs special on mount athos underlined my perceptions — the monk whose father was dying but would not go to his bedside was just deplorable to me and totally non Christian — this exhibit of a lack of humanity made me ashamed that this person was an example of what out church stands for. we have a lot of work to do,,, no wonder we are loosing and have lost so many people

      • Dear r j klancko,
        Professor Cavarnos, resident in the US, flew to mount Athos every year.
        When asked whether the monks, there, were so special he replied something like:
        “No, they were like the clergy we have in the US, BUT I found some elders there, who do not exist anywhere else. It is for those few that I go there”.

        So, you probably want to do your homework before going there.

        • Exactly. Rasputin who visited in 1900s was shocked by the open homosexuality. I have been once some yrs ago and was impressed but as you say, they, we, in the mud looking up at the stars.
          The thing we miss, and I advise to read life of St Seraphim of Sarov, is that where there is struggle for holiness, there also will be evil on the attack. The heresy of today is to deny evil. The results we seeing.

  5. Thank you, Gail, for cleaning-up the mess I made of my posting.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      My pleasure. Thank you for providing it. I think it’s wonderful to be able to reach the monasteries when you need them. I have a few stories I could share where I have reached out to them for people who were in great pain, dying, facing a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, etc. In these cases, I contacted all the monasteries in our country and in every instance, mountains were removed. That’s what monasteries do. They pray. Plus, one day we may have to encourage and support them with respect to Bartholomew. Now people know I have the list and they can contact me through George if they’d like me to send it to them with the at signs and dots in place.

  6. Professor Cavarnos became a monk at St. Anthony’s in Arizona. He reposed there as Fr. Nectarios.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Part of the antipathy to Monasticism in the west comes from the Reformation. The iconoclasm there is refected to some degree in the criticism of Constantinos. It effects us all.

    I just learned of a book “Stripping of the Altars” by Eamon Duffy that is a history of the descralization.

    Tim, it is also likely to be scholarly support for my statement that the English state has been an enemy of Christianity since Henry VIII.

    • Monk James Silver says

      This is all so sadly true.

      The intellectual — pretended to be theological– protestant resistance to monasticism is based in a very warped understanding of the theological anthropology consistently taught in the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition.

      It’s just amazing to see it expressed here by a self-described Mason who thinks that he’s an Orthodox Christian.

      • Constantinos says

        “Monk James,”
        Your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance. There is a very ugly strain of fundamentalism that is destroying the Orthodox Church. For example, Orthodox fundamentalists believe God’s grace is found only within the parameters of the Orthodox Church. Then you must explain all the Eucharistic miracles, and saint produced by the Catholic Church. Since the Great Schism, there have been many documented resurrections from the dead by Catholic saints. Only Christ can raise the dead.
        I think it is extremely dangerous for you to go around condemning people. I believe every word in the Nicene Creed without the filioque. The people in my Orthodox Church completely accept me as a brother Orthodox Christian.
        Can’t criticize monasteries? There is a plethora of criticism by Orthodox Christians all over the internet of the Ephraimite Monasteries. Orthodox Christian Laity has condemned them as has Go Truth Reform, and many other experts on cults.
        “Monk James,” are you not a very controversial figure in the Orthodox Church? Were you not silenced by the OCA? Personally, I think the OCA should force you to live in a monastery. You do Orthodoxy no favors.
        This is the problem with Orthodox fundamentalism. Father Timothy Cremeens, a board member of OCL board is ecumenical. He has spoken to members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He has never condemned the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, nor denied his experiences with God when he was a minister with the Assemblies of God. In fact, he got his doctorate from the Protestant Regent University.
        On facebook, Father Cremeens has a page on Orthodox renewal, and has a page on Father Eusebius Stephanou-may his memory be eternal. Interestingly on the Father Stephanou page, Henry Zmuda, a deacon in the Catholic Church, and an extremely brilliant professor of electrical engineering, also the holder of several patents pertaining to his field of expertise, states that Father Stephanou has been very helpful to him in his walk with the Lord.
        The scourge of Orthodoxy is this rigid fundamentalism that is smothering you. As far as freemasonry goes, the Antiochian Church allows masonic funeral services INSIDE the church. There are vast numbers of faithful Greek Orthodox Christians who are freemasons. The Greek Orthodox Church does not condemn or forbid its members from belonging to the benevolent fraternity. Of course, the Orthodox Church has been, and still guilty of anti-Semitism. In fact, many Orthodox saints have been anti-Semites. I believe sheeple control, rigid fundamentalism, and anti-Semitism are at the root of the lies told against the lodges. I shake my head in sorrow at your sad, misguided arrogance. May the Lord forgive you and be merciful to you on that terrible day. I’m praying that the Lord will remove the hatred from your heart. I pray every day that you will be truly converted to Christ and live out the rest of your life in a monastery under an abbot. I don’t hate you brother. When you have the love of Christ in your heart, there is no room for hatred. I know that God is not through with you. Like you, I am a sinner.
        George, I know I said I wasn’t going to post on this forum, but I ask that you and Gail allow this response to “Monk James” be published, since he mentioned me indirectly, and Mr. Bauman directly mentioned me. I trust in yours and Gail’s judgement. Thank you ever so much my brother and sister in Christ. May the Lord bless and keep you both as you continue to do God’s holy will.
        Christ is risen!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Costa, indeed He is arisen!

          If I may answer your thoughtful critique from my own limited perspective, I’ll let Monk James defend himself otherwise.

          First of all, let us please dispense with the epithet “fundamentalist”. Like “racist” it has no more meaning. It used to have what Fr Hans Jacobse called a “surplus of meaning”. That was true up until the election of Trump. Now these and other such epithets are completely devoid of meaning or they are the last-ditch efforts by progressives to avoid the fact that the conservative has won the argument.

          As to the Church, I was told by an Evangelical-turned-Orthodox godson of mine that in Evangelical circles all “fundamentalist” meant was that the guy to my right was such but that guy over the left of me was a “liberal”. I however was a “moderate” and/or “sensible, non-bigoted, Bible-believing Christian.” In other words, in its degeneration to slur, it began to lose all meaning and the more frequently it was used, the more obvious it became that a game was being played.

          As for Freemasonry, please see my own response to it by going to the archive and typing in the word “Freemasonry”. Please understand, I left the Lodge not because the men in it were evil or corrupt –they were among the best men I have ever known–but because “if it walked like a duck, quacked like a duck, it was a duck”. In other words, if it’s not a religion (as it maintains it’s not), then it did a darn good imitation of what a religion should look like. If you ever get a chance and your in the DC area, go to the Scottish Rite Temple, it is as beautiful and sacred an edifice as I have ever seen. (Same with the Scottish Rite Temple in Guthrie, Okla; astonishing.) My point? Men don’t erect such temples just for fellowship but because of a great need for religiosity. My working thesis is that Masonry arose mostly in the Protestant countries of the West; the more low-church a society was, the more the need for religious beauty and liturgy. That’s another reason why it never really took off in the Catholic countries and even less in the Orthodox East.

          As for certain Orthodox jurisdictions allowing Lodge membership and/or the Masonic ritual for burial in their churches (or at the grave-site), the less said the better.

          As far as “anti-Semitism in the Church”, that’s also a red herring (as I will explain further down the road in my upcoming treatise on Jews and their relationship to gentile societies [which I will take straight from the tracts of Zionist writers themselves]). Short answer: 98% of all anti-Semitism (itself a loaded word anymore as Arabs are Semites) takes place in and among Islamic cultures. Nor should we forget that racial anti-Semitism preceded the creation of the Church as the ancient Persians, Greeks and Romans were all virulent Jew-haters. And they were all pagans.

          As a Christian, I bitterly resent the implication that the font of anti-Semitism is the Church and I will bring forth considerable evidence as to why this is a canard.

          Anyway, keep on keeping on. I pray that you get a blessing from the local Antiochian bishop to start a mission. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about the ins and outs of doing so.


          • I should hope we are all fundamentalist in the love we have for our loved ones, in the belief we hold in the fundamentals of our faith , in our deepest values.
            Like virtue signalling and the rest of the destruction. Journalistic verbal vandalism does to english language, it’s a sign of the times that everything is recast anew in this ugly and stilted fashion.

        • Monk James Silver says

          Constantinos (May 28, 2019 at 6:05 am) says;

          “Monk James,”
          ‘Your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance.’

          I don’t owe the writer an explanation of any of the confused and misconstrued ideas which he presents here, but I’d like to clarify a few points.

          1. I haven’t EVER described God Himself or His divine grace as having limitations. People who think that I have done so would do well to re-read whatever words of mine made them think that I did, and understand them better.

          2. I am not a ‘fundamentalist’ of any sort, at least I don’t think that I am. But perhaps the word has a specialized definition (apart from American Protestantism) of which I am unaware.

          3. I firmly believe that The Church, the very Body and Bride of Christ, has specific definitions and boundaries, and that only the Orthodox Christian Church satisfies all of those parameters. Other Christians, the heterodox, are not within those boundaries, as close as they might come to the wall which they themselves erected between themselves and The Church.

          4. Freemasonry is a religion, not merely a fraternity. It has its own rituals and hierarchy and temples, and it is not a Christian religion by any description. People can choose to be Masons if they wish, or they can choose The Church — that’s an inherent characteristic of the free will with which God endowed us all. Yet it’s only in a climate of great confusion and error that people might think that they can belong to the Lodge as well as to The Church and be considered faithful members of both.

          5. I have never been ‘silenced’ by anyone, especially not by my superiors. If anyone thinks that I should be muzzled and sequestered, I invite him to take up the matter with my superiors. Just remember, though, that this absurdity was brought up by someone who asserted that monastic men and women don’t use computers and other modern technology.

          ‘Be prudent, be watchful, for your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, strong in the faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters are undergoing the same sort of suffering all over the world.’ (1 Peter 5:8-9)

        • Michael Bauman says

          Your approach to Monk James is neither prudent nor appropriate: “Your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance.”

          Read Matthew 5:22. It is one of the scriptural warnings that I have never yet heard a sermon on, yet it seems quite critical to our life in Christ. First of all there is nothing wrong with ignorance. That word is not pejorative. Each of us is ignorant. Each of us is plagued by arrogance as well.

          The Orthodox Church is not being destroyed by “fundamentalism” whatever that word means. It is being destroyed, if such is possible, by my own lack of fidelity to the Truth revealed through Her and my unwillingness to be obedient to it. That is true for almost all, IMO. It is so much easier to follow our itching ears and say….”There is Christ, no, there is Christ” seeking Him everywhere but where He is for sure, in my own heart, closer than hands and feet. But I can only do that in the context of the worship and practice of the Church, which includes, and always will include monasticism. Indeed the fullness of salvation and our communion with the Risen Lord, is and can be found only within the Church.

          It is futile to attempt a “renewal” or “revitalization” of the Church. It is necessary to go higher up and further in with what is right here. It is not up to us to form or reform the Church, but to be transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit that flows abundantly in and through the Church despite our many failures.

          The big lie of “renewal” is that such man made efforts inevitably lead to wanting to “purify” the Church which is a never ending journey of legalism and scapegoating ideas and the people who hold them—forcing them out. That is the opposite of Christianity. Christianity is following Christ into repentance so that we may be with Him this day in His Kingdom–which includes even the depths of Hades. All we need is already here. We just have to open our eyes and see it. We have to respond in an affirmative way to our Lord’s question to the paralytic by the pool: “Do you want to be healed?”

          Alexander Solzhenitsyn famously said: “Live not by lies” It is too easy to hold others to that high standard and avoid looking at the lies in our own life, at least for me.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Profoundly put. For what it’s worth, the scales started coming off my eyes way back in 2001/2002. I was listening to Glen Beck (I know, funny guy) and he was saying something about what Islam needed was a “reformation”, that “that is what saved Christianity in the West”. (Paraphrase.)

            I almost choked on my vomit. How bloody historically illiterate such a pronouncement was. Abysmally ignorant that it can only be categorized on a logarithmic scale.

            I realized then and there (although as a Greek Orthodox layman I really “knew” decades before) that our government schools are so profoundly inadequate that it would take perhaps a century of dhimmitude for the average non-Orthodox Christian American to even fathom what we know.

            And I’m not talking merely about Islam vis-a-vis the West. I’m talking about the entire concept of a “reformation”. It is so profoundly evil and stultifying that it’ll take another generation for those of us who are Orthodox to break free from what the late Fr Schmemann wrote about when he said that “we were in a Western Captivity”.

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, as I am sure you know, Glenn Beck is a Morman. Therefore he is automatically disqualified from saying anything worthwhile about Christianity or our history.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Yeah I know but Mormonism is an outgrowth of the reformation. Je couldn’t say otherwise.

                Regardless, I don’t think the protestant exists who doesn’t agree with him on principle.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  Oddly, the rituals of the Mormons are drawn largely from the Freemasons. Since human nature prefers rituals (everybody knows how to sing ‘Happy Birthday’) and the Protestants from which Mormonism’s founders came didn’t have any — but were Masons — that’s what they adopted. Not Christian in any way.

                  But this is all supposed to be a secret, so don’t tell anybody.

                  And we haven’t even begun to think about what passes for ‘theology’ in Mormonism!

            • “he was saying something about what Islam needed was a “reformation”

              Well, they did get a reformation. Quite similar to the Cromwell Puritanism. It is called Wahhabism and is spreading.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Touche! Beck forgets that the original Reformers were far more fanatical than the Inquisition.

    • Michael, the book “Stripping of the Altars” is excellent and very well-researched. It blew the lid off what until then had been considered the “glorious Reformation.”

      Really a massive forced, violent conversion of an unwilling devoutly Catholic populace to Protestantism. Completely stripped churches of goods supplied by parishioners for centuries: carvings, candles, tapestries, metalwork, you name it. Plenty of bloodshed. Destruction of shrines and monasteries, religious and laity who had lived on and farmed monastery land for centuries thrown out and turned into beggars, the land redistributed to British aristocracy. (The beautiful mansion in “Downton Abbey” most likely was a former such abbey).

      Which resulted in the biggest sudden rise of wealth at the top in history – and an explosion of abject poverty at the bottom not seen in many centuries. (And, incidentally, contributed to the little-known but extensive white slave trade later with the discovery of the Americas and founding of the Virginia colony. Impoverished white Catholics were the first slaves held in America, not black Africans; see the book “White Cargo”).

      To add insult to injury, at a Marian shrine a rare diamond was stripped out of the crown that adorned the statue of Mary’s head, and made into a ring for King Henry to wear. It was truly an era of unrestrained greed in the guise of religion.

      It’s a long and detailed read, but very much worth it, if upsetting.

      • THEO, you are wonderful. !! I have been saying we Orthodox need to look carefully at the reformation. We often act as nothing to do with us, as also with renaissance,but it is.
        And yes in Uk all the ‘Abbey ‘ names stately homes, are just that because it’s monastic land and stripped down ruins. At a stroke it tied the nobility to the new religion. Even queen Mary in her return to Catholicism, 1553-1558, could not take the land back.
        And yes Poverty increased dramatically in elizebethan england with vagrancy laws brought in. It destroyed AKA taliban much beauty. Thst book is excellent. And the one about the priest of the Devon Parish from 1520s to his death in 1570. Probably such continuity and the ambiguity of prayer wordings, enabled many to feel they were remaining Catholic. But gradually catholicism was associated with Spain and european rivals and as NOT ENGLISH.

        Interestingly enough in 1620s the Bishop of London forbade Greek exiles to worship in London because as he put it, ” Popish worship is forbidden in this realm, even though it be in Greek “!!!

        • Michael Bauman says

          Not to mention all of the wars of religion that followed. They spread over parts of three centuries. To be fair, many of these wars might have occurred anyway as the monarchs of Europe fought for control over their lands and the extension of their power. Religion gave them a convenient excuse. Religion was made into an ideology.

          Some meandering thoughts:

          A cautionary tale for today as the twin ideologies of “capitalism” and “socialism” are used as levers to gain and maintain power without respect to the consequences.

          So far that war has been going on for 100 years officially, but closer to 160. The Communist Manifesto can be seen as an analog for Luther’s 95 Theses.

          When an ideology is seen as a governing principal, death, destruction and doom follow (sorry, couldn’t resist the alliteration).

          BTW, what is championed as “capitalism” today is much closer to fascism.

          It is an interesting factoid of history that freely elected governments (whatever one calls them) rarely go to war against each other. That is a great distinction from monarchs and tyrants. Just another reason I prefer a confederational approach to polity.

          As Nikos, others and I have pointed out, The Patriarch of Constantinople was made a monarch for Christians within the Ottoman Empire with disastrous consequences.

          All the more reason to reject the crazy idea of Symponia in the Orthodox Church. The Church is and always should be the active conscience of the state. Few rulers will tolerate that for long. Henry VIII being an egregious example.

          One really good reason for Orthodox Bishops not being married is that a government threatening one’s wife will break many men because we feel we have to protect her. Of course there is the example of Richard Wurmbrand’s wife, Sabina Oster Wurmbrand, who told him if he did not stand up to the communists, no matter the consequences, he would no longer be her husband. It could work both ways.

          I cannot get Solzhenitsyn’s warning that if you are taken, you have to understand that all those you love are dead, otherwise they will break you.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          Queen Mary, indeed. Had her widower succeeded in his plans for England, there would have been holocausts to behold! Hers would have paled by comparison.

          And, fortunately, nobody was ever able to execute the Pope’s hit contract on Elizabeth!

          Not for lack of trying….

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        The Roman Catholic church was a little rough on Tyndale, though, don’t you think? Then again, they didn’t even allow the translation of the Bible into English directly from Greek, as opposed to the Vulgate, until the 20th century.

        It is interesting to encounter some Orthodox attitudes towards the Catholics. On the one hand, fount of heresy, legalism, abuses of every kind; on the other, well…..not so bad, really, compared to the Protestants.

        Can we have it both ways?

        There was a Reformation for a reason, after all: the reason being most of the things that the Orthodox dislike in the Roman Catholics to this day, except even more so back then. So, it failed. Should we suppose that nothing should have been attempted?

        This discussion reminds me of the time in high school when I read my girlfriend’s English history textbook. (I later married her.) I was a public school kid, and she went to the local girls’ Catholic high school. Full of tales of brave Jesuits hiding in manor houses, perfidious Protestant Englishmen all about, &c. I was quite unconvinced, even back then….

        • Monk James Silver says

          That Protestantism arose as a ‘protest’ against abuses among Roman Catholics is a matter of historical fact. What is less often realized is that the Protestants over-corrected.

          In the 17th century, Protestant theologians from the University of Tuebingen made several visits to Constantinople and held conversations with Orthodox Christian theologians during the episcopate of Patriarch Jerimiah ii. It was their intention to learn if their correction of Vaticanism might have brought them closer to Orthodoxy. After a number of those meetings, the patriarch suggested to the Protestants that they not visit again, except perhaps for tea, and discuss religion no more.

          Instead of merely correcting Rome’s theological errors, the Protestants tried to go back to some sort of imaginary time before the Vatican was so invested with authority that it controlled all of Europe. In the process, they began to define Christianity and authentic ecclesiality as something lost at the death of the last of Christ’s apostles, and revived only by virtue of their reformation, their reshaping of it in (only) western Europe. They were very wrong then, and remain so.

          Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, in his ‘The Orthodox Church’, first published more than fifty years ago and republished several times since, observed that Protestantism hatched from the egg which Rome laid.

          Here is an important principle of relations between Orthodox and heterodox Christians: Vaticanism and Protestantism are two sides of the same coin, and that coin is counterfeit.

          May the Lord lead them to come back to The Church!

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Perhaps the coinage is debased rather than counterfeit.

            And…don’t hold your breath.

          • Monk James,

            Well said.

            “In the process, they began to define Christianity and authentic ecclesiality as something lost at the death of the last of Christ’s apostles, and revived only by virtue of their reformation, their reshaping of it in (only) western Europe.” <——— Isn’t this sort of what the Mormons believe also? That the church was “lost” after the 12 apostles, only to be reconstituted by the child molester and science fiction fan Joseph Smith in upstate New York in the 1800s?

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              Don’t confuse Protestantism in general with Restorationism, which, while of course it arose out of Protestantism, is way out of its mainstream. This is why Mormons always insist they are not Protestants– because they are not.

              The mainstream of the Reformation: Lutheranism, Calvinism, Aglicanism, and their offshoots most certainly did not hold that Christianity and the church was “lost” at the death of the apostles. They held that the Church (i.e. the Roman Catholic church) had become seriously corrupted and needed reformation.

              All of them accepted the authority of the early Councils, the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed, and Chalcedonian Christology.

              Here’s one sentence that sums my view, which I could spend thousands of words on: The Orthodox should give up their preoccupations with Catholics and Protestants, and attend to Orthodoxy and its promulgation.

          • “[The Protestants] began to define Christianity and authentic ecclesiality as something lost at the death of the last of Christ’s apostles, and revived only by virtue of their reformation”

            As someone once said, to believe this you’d also have to believe that Christ’s Church lasted for all of 5 minutes before Luther and others came to the rescue, long after.

            Let he who’s brazen enough to believe it, believe it.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Indeed. Once, I was working with a delightful young man who was a Mormon. Knew his stuff. Sincere, goodhearted, the whole 9 yards. I was gently asking (prodding) him questions all of which he knocked out of the ballpark (or at least a solid triple). Finally when it came time to the “Restoration” I asked him: “But didn’t Jesus say that His Church would be built upon a rock and that the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against it. That would make Jesus a liar, wouldn’t it?”


              When it comes down to it, even buffoonish bishops, mendacious monks, or a lacksadaisacal laity haven’t been able to destroy Christ’s holy church.

              • Even the odd Patriarch George

              • Sounds good to me.

                And although it’s been said a hundred times here before, I might as well say it again: the buffoonish bishops, mendacious monks and lacksadaisacal laity are even a sign (combined with other factors, of course) that Orthodoxy is the way to go. Anything else would speak to the spirit of this world, where only that which is superficial is (en masse) well ordered, efficient, popular, appealing etc. For me, the Roman Catholic Church’s past success in these areas speaks against it rather than for it.

                This isn’t to say that all chaos or order is good or bad. It’s specific to orthodoxy where the order that’s there is impeccable (nay, divine) while the disorder that also comes with it can only be expected when divinity comes into the fallen world and dwells among fallen men.

                I think that if anything was to be more popular, less popular, more ordered or less ordered than orthodoxy, then questions could be raised about its authority, seeing as truth is both powerful and unpopular in this life.

                • Steven, I must admit I don’t know what you are talking about but I do know that when people tell me, ” I don’t believe in organized religion”‘ I tell them you should join the Orthodox Church.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Excellent analysis, Monk James!

    • Lon Colefas says

      Not entirely true. Many America protestants automatically assume all monastics are Catholics, but the Episcopaleans for one, have nearly all the same monastic orders that the Catholics do.





  8. Michael Bauman says

    Monk James, why be surprised? There are many in the Church, in fact probably all of us who have desacralized our minds and suffer from the cultural iconoclasm. It is impossible to avoid. The heresy is so prevalent it is in all of us so we must gently and prayerfully bear each other’s burdens.

    As with many things even in our highest understanding, we fall far short of the glory God has for us. Still, He is with us, filling all things.

    Christ is Risen

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, the Western Captivity which Schmemann wrote of is preponderant. It not only deforms our spirituality, it deforms our politics. We have made the State the focus of the Millennium and we send young men out to fight and die because we are the closest to the Millennium.

      This is the demon which the Jacobins unleashed from the abyss. It was conjured into existence by Woodrow Wilson, who sent off tens of thousands to die to “make the world safe for democracy” and to fight a “war to end all wars”. (Give me a good pagan like Heraclius (>?) or Plato, who said that “only the dead have seen the end to war” and “War is father to us all”. Now we fight to spread the gospel of abortion rights and LGBTQ; it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same emancipatory nonsense. In time, we’ll find an excuse to rehabilitate Herr Hitler and use him to “liberate” Ukraine from the clutches of the Wascally Wussians.

      It’s just a shell game at this point.

  9. There is a book, “The Apostasy That Wasn’t”, by a Roman Catholic, Rod Bennett that completely destroys the notion that is called the Great Apostasy. This idea is used by many Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons to explain what happened to the Church from the time that the Roman Empire accepted Christianity until the time of the Protestant Reformation. They maintain that most Christians accepted this heresy. Bennett demonstrates very clearly that the idea of a Great Apostasy is pure fiction.

    • George Michalopulos says

      This goes in line with every socio-cultural phenomenon renaming the past in dark colors. The Middle Ages become “the Dark Ages”. The “Enlightenment” presupposes that what happened before was not light. And so on.

      Orthodox spirituality has no room for a reformation because the true Enlightenment happened 2000 years ago when Jesus arose from the dead. And we are all still sinners, regardless of whether we use air conditioning or not. The man in the horse-drawn buggy is just as sinful as the guy in the Ferrari.