Pithy Thoughts from the Protodeacon

When it comes to the Syosset Apparat and its brain-trust, we have an embarrassment of riches in The Protodeacon Eric Wheeler.

A public intellectual, he has shown us the casuistry that is needed in order for the OCA to swallow the camel of sodomy while choking on the gnat of conservatism. For this we can be grateful.

His eloquence sometimes needs visual assistance. We therefore provide you, Dear Reader, with his graphic sermon.





  1. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Well, George, this rather bolsters the rumors going round.

  2. John Pappas says

    Stuff like this is why nobody takes the OCA seriously anymore.

    Wheeler just appears immature, Jillions creates a new sociological category called “sexual minorities,” Stantovich comes out of the gate braying “We are the Legacy!” along with Jillions and Arida and makes gay stuff his first cause, Arida manipulates the tradition as cover for a gay-friendly theological agenda, Benjamin allows a transsexual to be a monk and some other mess about marrying two transgender people (we still don’t know the truth), Bobich proclaims, “Homosexuality is not a vice because heterosexuality is not a virtue” (what!?)…

    It’s just wackoville.

    • Heracleides says

      Let’s not forget the daft OCA “Bishop” who states he will not march in support of natural marriage because it is simply (!) a sacrament/mystery.

    • M. Stankovich says

      No, Mr. Pappas, you will not blame me for this moral mess in which Orthodox America again finds itself. I am but one jamoke in a big pond of indifferent, secularist, multi-jurisdictional misanthropes like yourself, looking for someone to blame. Go over to Fr. Hans’ site and examine the thread entitled, We Live in the Age of Dostoevsky, apparently intended as a sorrowful commentary on the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. What you will find, however, is how one crafty gay man – a regular on the site – hijacked the entire discussion, and in a logical, systematic manner, made sense. And how did he do it? By carefully eroding the basis of the defense I have emphatically stated is wrong and dangerous: the impact of ideology and narrative on culture, cultural philosophy, and natural law as more significant than the Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers, and our Holy Tradition. And only in this sandbox of myopia is it more important to be reading Russel Kirk, Theodore Dalrymple, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky than Met. Anthony (Bloom), Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Fr. Georges Florovsky. That thread is a schooling in why same-sex marriage is the law of this land.

      You will not mention me, Mr. Pappas, in the same breath with anyone you accuse of causing harm, because I have demanded to be corrected if I have written anything that is contrary to the Holy Scripture, the Holy Fathers, or our Holy Tradition, and no one has done so in five years. No one. Not once. And it has been a truly memorable week, having been referred to as a “clown” with no opportunity to respond, and excommunicated – not once, but twice – by little men with bruised egos. But worse, do not dare mention my name among those cowards who did nothing in this battle leading to the SCOTUS, but now anonymously bitch & complain and want someone’s head. You will always be around and you will always sicken me. My heart breaks with this overwhelming tragedy of the fundamental lack of faith that should move mountains. And you don’t feel at all responsible, John Pappas? Not even a little?

      • Monk James says

        This strikes me as disingenuous in the extreme.

        Isn’t Michael Stankovich a member of ‘We Are Their Legacy’ by his own admission here and elsewhere?

        Isn’t Pdn Eric Wheeler a member of the same group? And Fr Robert Arida and Fr Alexis Vinogradov and Fr John Jillions?

        And isn’t ‘We Are Their (whose?!) Legacy’ intent on ‘normalizing’ homosexuality in orthodox Christianity?

        There are many Christians struggling with this temptation whose origins are unclear, but it helps neither them nor the rest of us to propose that homosexual activity is not sinful.

        On its face, homosexuality (being attracted and/or aroused by people of the same sex) is no more a moral question than is heterosexuality (being attracted and/or aroused by people of the opposite sex).

        But how we handle those attractions — temptations, if you will — is indeed a moral question, and that must be dealt with honestly, maturely and christianly.

        Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.

        • M. Stankovich says

          As I recall the history:

          Dear Fr. James and Dr. Stankovich:

          There is a long prehistory to Monk James’ banishing from, and then restoration to, life on the Orthodox Forum (recitation of which would bore us all to tears), but one consistent aspect of his posting is his use of the “drive-by-shooting” method. He will make some, often extreme, claim; then be asked for proof … but never give it, and then wander off on some other quest after things have cooled off.

          His latest “drive-by” was an accusation that one bishop was homosexual, and had caused the coming consecration of another homosexual. When challenged about this and directed to apologize, no solid, concrete, verifiable proof was offered — just insinuation of a ‘where-there’s-smoke-…’ nature — and no apology.

          We have all had enough of this. The monk James is banished from the Forum, and any redress must be sought privately.

          Banished from the forum, he said? For making these identical claims and “when challenged about this and directed to apologize, no solid, concrete, verifiable proof was offered — just insinuation of a ‘where-there’s-smoke-…’ nature — and no apology,” so you were banished from the forum? And you find me “disingenuous in the extreme,” despite having been banished from the Orthodox Forum for your lack of integrity? Now, am I confused, “Father” James, or do you persist only because the threshold for truth has fallen so low here that no one is actually troubled by your unsubstantiated stories?

          Bait somewhere else, Tartuffe, numero deux. You are the second one to excommunicate me this week. Lick your plate. Isn’t that satisfaction enough?

          • Monk James says

            Non sequitur.

            The moral failures of some of the bishops are well known, better known than many of them seem to realize. Not mentioning them by name is one way for me to avoid nuisance law suits. Although the truth is an absolute defense against charges of libel, it’s still a pain in the neck to have to go through all that legal stuff. It’s too bad that Fr Michael Regan indulged Michael Stankovich’s petulance because I chose to ignore his petty windiness here and there

            It would be better for Michael Stankovich to stay on topic, truthfully acknowledge the raison d’etre of ‘We Are Their Legacy’ and accurately clarify his role in their agenda.

            It’s not for nothing that Fr John Jillions removed his name from their masthead when it began to look like he’d become the OCA’s Chancellor. His ideological complicity remains intact; he’s just flying under the radar now — mostly — except when he gets into rabbit warrens of ‘sexual minorities’ and other diversions, as he wrote on his blog a while back.

            At the point where Michael Stankovich honestly admits to his own agenda and that of ‘We are Their Legacy’, my impression that his earlier words were ‘disingenuous in the extreme’ might make better sense to him.

            BTW: I have no authority to ‘excommunicate’ anybody, nor have I ever done anything which could possibly be so interpreted, not even in jest. Perhaps that’s the second non sequitur here.

            • i want to live in a county where the sexual minority isn’t the majority !

              • Daniel E Fall says

                I’d avoid Atlantic City and San Francisco. Otherwise any other county in the US should work, but its a guess. They don’t allow nits in preschool.

            • Heracleides says

              “Baiting Are We” ???

              Hardly, Stankovich; Fr. James painted a true portrait of the homosexual agenda you and your fellow queer-legacy pals attempt to peddle.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Apparently it is my fishing skills that prevail, having pulled in two Tartuffes and now a foul-mouthed bass. You, of all people, Hercules, should be grateful I haven’t taken you to /b/ and doxed you to Pastebin. You are brave snipering 80 year old men, but on the day I come calling, you’ll need more than Tor. For some someone who’s entire 5-year agenda has been mockery, il-will, and projects from Photoshop for Dummies, you have little room to point fingers. Now slither off. I’ll come for when I’m ready.

                • Heracleides says

                  Speaking of Photoshop – in your case I’ll simply let the 100% untouched photograph from your happily defunct queer-Legacy website speak for itself.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    No brother, you remember this queer-legacy face. To /b/ or not to /b/, that is the question…

                  • Is there supposed to be something to look at in your link, Heracleides? I’ve been reading Stankovich for quite a while now, and he and I have had our share of dust-ups on things we don’t agree on. Among other things, I suspect that we would neve vote for the same political candidates — and I have a dim view of the fruits of what he views as the glory days of SVS.

                    But during my entire time reading him, he has consistently upheld Church teaching on homosexuality — I have yet to see any evidence that he has ever advocated changing Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual actions. Perhaps such evidence is out there, but I would need to see it, or if it has disappeared into the ether, then perhaps you could describe in detail exactly what Stankovich wrote that advocated changing Church teaching on morals. Because he certainly isn’t saying anything like that now.

                    • Edward,

                      You are a voice of sanity. Many here do not agree with Michael Stankovich and/or with his manner of expression. I often count myself among them. But that is no excuse for calumny. He has, perhaps, made comments that some readers find confusing, but he has never denied or even hinted at advocating for the denial of Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Gentlemen, while I certainly appreciate the sentiment of your words, the larger issue here is how we address, first, differences in opinion, and secondly, distinguishing personal differences in opinion from opinion that is both sinful and destructive. It should be no surprise to anyone that the Church has always dealt with sinful & destructive opinions and behaviours in one specific manner: face-to-face, frankly, directly, specifically, and in detail. And where best exemplified but 2 Samuel 12, the confrontation of King David, the Greatest of Kings and the Beloved of Lord, and the Prophet Nathan. In his lust, David had purposely sent a man to front of the battle, knowing he would be killed, so that he could have his wife. Nathan was sent to to the King to tell a very detailed “story” of cruel injustice, to the point, we are are told:

                      David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

                      Only to be told by the Prophet that the “story” was a “vehicle”:

                      Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? (2 Sam. 12:5-9)

                      And who would better know this story than monk James, who has offered us his translation of Psalm 50, the broken King’s plea for forgiveness from the merciful God? Is there anyone who would dispute that if you would make accusation, you would not do so frankly, directly, specifically, and in detail?

                      On the other hand, Dn. Mitchell has made charges that, at least on face value, appear to be specific:

                      You have argued that SSA is “ontological” and must therefore be accepted by one and all as a “reality” of one’s being, for which one is not responsible and which therefore needs no cure.You have furthermore stressed a biological basis of SSA; insisted that there is no “scientific evidence” that SSA is the result of one’s postnatal environment; dismissed the testimony of those who have overcome SSA as mere “anecdote”; railed against those offering therapy to overcome SSA, calling them “charlatans”; objected to the use of the word sodomy; railed against Orthodox Christians for publicly condemning sodomy; and condemned those who would deny Holy Communion to others openly living in sodomy.

                      I am unaware of Dn. Mitchell’s education or his line of work – someone stated he is a “newsman” – but as a writer, he should appreciate how meticulously I choose my words and how scrupulously I maintain my citations; in others words, he should be able to quote me, bible and verse. But he does not. I have made statements in the last two days alone that are antithetical to his claims about my beliefs and opinions, and he knows it. Answering each of these fabrications would be as ridiculous as “disproving” monk James’ claim that I need to be “forthright” about an agenda I do not have!

                      Finally, I am astonished that no one appears to be troubled that both these men felt comfortable dragging the Holy Eucharist into this superfluous, pointless discussion, ” lest you eat and drink your own damnation.” Holy Cow! Luther was satisfied nailing stuff to the door. These boys don’t play. How about those San Diego Padres, vanquishers of darkness?

              • Daniel E Fall says

                Now we know why anonymity suits you.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Monk James–Isn’t it true that when one makes serious charges against the clergy, particularly bishops, the accuser must back up his charges. Isn’t it also true that refusing to give substance to such charges, condemns the accuser? My last question to you is this: Have you no shame?

              • Monk James says

                Carl Kraeff is unaware that I made my charges TO THE BISHOPS. I named names in private but not in public, and if (unlikely as it seems to be) they are brought to a spiritual court, I am prepared.

                At one point, a pre-trial structure was set up, but was scuttled because some of the very bishops at issue had more clout than Met. Jonah.

                I am ashamed only of my sins, not of working to clear out the thieves from the temple, to hold to account men who behave as functional atheists and hypocritically steal people’s tithes and offerings while pretending to steer them on the path to salvation.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  I apologize for my unfounded accusation. You did take it up in channels before you brought it out in public. Please forgive me.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Well after speaking with two members of the Holy Synod this morning, you may add them along with Mr. Kraeff to the list of the “unaware” of your claim, including the knowledge of a “pre-trial structure” and scuttling. Their reaction was – what is that meat? – Oh, “baloney.” And “bogus.” “He is known to fabricate.” “How convenient that he made his charges in private and named names. Who can dispute him?” “It’s good to know he remains prepared should the need arise.” “Met. Herman apparently released him to the air, when he belongs in a monastery. That’s where monks belong.”

                  You are definitely on a roll today, and am I mistaken, or is that actually the Wu Tang’s Enter the 36th Chamber I hear in the background? It is raining pith this week.

                  • Monk James says

                    Although the Chancellor tells me that I’m ‘well known’ at OCA Central, I must insist that (contrary to this post) I am NOT ‘known to fabricate’ — not even by the Holy Synod. I am, however, known to be ignored and marginalized for my habit of speaking uncomfortable truths.

                    In the present matter, I have the correspondence to back up my earlier statement, but I’ll continue to keep those documents confidential. Michael Stankovich can think what he wants about that, but he’ll not see those papers if I can help it.

                    My guess is that at least one of the bishops whom Michael Stankovich consulted is one against whom I brought charges. So, as far as their responses to him can be believed, perhaps we should keep in mind the proverb: ‘Consider the source.’

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Yeah, as I gaze around this room at people drunk and vaguely suicidal, – thinking “Why drunk & vaguely suicidal at 6:45 pm?” – I can only imagine your anxiety at keeping me from those confidential papers. Know Your Meme.

                      The French have two expressions that sum this all up nicely:

                      Á mauvais ouvrier point de bons outils.

                      A poor artist blames his tools.


                      Ne ressemble plus à un honnête homme qu’un menteur

                      No one looks more like an honest man than a liar.

                      You are the truly first person I have ever heard claim a “habit of speaking uncomfortable truths” and making accusations that are “confidential,” even to your accused, of whom I am one! You’ve had your fun. Who in their right mind would believe you?

                      “Somthin’ in the ‘hood went ‘click, click'” Unmistakeable. Wu Tang.

                  • Monk James says

                    M. Stankovich (July 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm) says:

                    Well after speaking with two members of the Holy Synod this morning, you may add them along with Mr. Kraeff to the list of the “unaware” of your claim, including the knowledge of a “pre-trial structure” and scuttling. Their reaction was – what is that meat? – Oh, “baloney.” And “bogus.” “He is known to fabricate.” “How convenient that he made his charges in private and named names. Who can dispute him?” “It’s good to know he remains prepared should the need arise.” “Met. Herman apparently released him to the air, when he belongs in a monastery. That’s where monks belong.”

                    In my earlier response to this palaver, I neglected to mention that all of Met. Herman’s wrongful actions against me were nullified in 2008, and that I was then returned to my status as a solitary monk under direct obedience to the First Hierarch of the OCA, where I remain.

                    FWIW, monks belong where their superiors send them. That might or might not be a cenobitic community, since there are other ways of monastic life.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      This is good to know. So if I were to contact the First Hierarch of the OCA, under whom you are under direct obedience, he would be willing to support your claim that that you presented direct evidence to THE BISHOPS of misconduct, and there was a “pre-trial structure” in place, only to be “scuttled?” He would support that we need to “consider the source” of my comments – that his brother bishops are liars – rather than you? Know Your Meme.

                  • Carl Kraeff says

                    “Explicitly” vs “implicitly”: I was trying to say in a gentle way that the Holy Bible ranks homosexual activity as a sin and that to depart from that reality is to depart from the Christian faith.

                    Regarding women and priesthood, I believe I have paraphrased Metropolitan Kallistos without doing too much damage to his thought. I believe that the late Metropolitan Bloom also entertained similar thoughts. However, I do not understand why this issue is an open one on theological basis. There simply is not a precedent in the entire history of the Church and I fail to see how we can seriously discuss it without doing violence to Holy Tradition and the New Testament.

  3. Greekcatholic Uniate says

    Here is a statement on the Supreme Court ruling from the Western Diocese of the OCA’s website.


    • Mom of Toddler says

      Interesting statement about how cohabitation is a more serious problem…does this mean a more serious problem in the Church, as in the quantity of people doing this, or a more serious problem overall? I would think that same sex marriage against the natural order, and writing this into law, is actually a much bigger deal. This memo does not seem to convey someone who is upset about the Supreme Court decision…am I mistaken here? This note does not contain many “I” statements from writer itself, but references the Church’s stance and does not make it clear what his actual stance is..If St. John Chyrsostom was writing this memo today wouldn’t it contain statements like “My dear sheep, I am so sorry for the ruling today and how this will affect us, but let us stay strong in the faith and know that our redemption is near.” Though I have barely seen the movie, many people reference the Braveheart speech when William Wallace motivates the soldiers…At least the Saints are with us to mystically give us the Braveheart speech

    • Thomas Barker says

      Greekcatholic Uniate:

      Archbishop Benjamin’s statement is a good example of the cunning divagation employed by sinister clergy and politicians. Put simply, they say “Yes, there’s an issue, but look over here at this instead.”

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        Thomas Barker says, “divagation.”

        And Pat Reardon says, “Thank you for a word I should have known.”

      • Carl Kraeff says

        No “divagation” here. If one takes the approach that sin is falling short, all sins prevent us from becoming what we were created to become and thus homosexual sins are very similar to heterosexual ones in that regard. Apparently you want our hierarchs parrot the same talking points, preferably those that you approve. I have read all of the statements by our bishops that have been made to date and like their similarities and diversities.

        Given the fact that CDC’s latest estimate that 3% of the general population is gay, I completely agree with Archbishop Benjamin’s statement “Christian marriage is challenged in many ways in our times. Same sex marriages represent only one such challenge. The common practice of cohabitation, even among those who consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians, is another, and perhaps even more serious, symptom of the denigration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.” Not only is that a serious problem but it is a scandal, a scandal far worse than the handful of homosexuals in the Church.

        Let’s look at the divergences/divagations.

        Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia wrote “Given the recent decision of the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex unions, as well as other similar moral issues related to human sexuality, our Church has not and will not change its theological and pastoral position.”

        Archbishop Michael of New York wrote “The Lord went even further to declare that people who look at others to lust after them in their hearts have “committed adultery” (cf. Matthew 5:27-30).”

        Bishop David of Alaska wrote “I will say that most arguments against same sex marriage are not strong arguments. Can we deny that those couples do not feel love? Can we say they will make bad parents, or downgrade a community by their presence? The evidence says otherwise.”

        Metropolitan Tikhon wrote “As the Orthodox Church in America, it is our responsibility to care for those who are in need, help those who are victims of prejudice, racism or persecution of any kind, and to provide for those who are sick, destitute, homeless or imprisoned.”

        Encyclical Letter of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America on Marriage included this abomination : “Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.”

        Another abomination from the OCA Holy Synod (1992): “While condemning those who forbid marriage as an unholy institution, along with those who defile marriage through unchastity (1 Timothy 4:3, Hebrews 13:4), the apostles commend as “the will of God” that Christians, as examples for all human beings, “abstain from unchastity [porneia] and know how to marry “in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God.” They insist that “whoever disregards this [teaching] disregards not man but God, who gives His Holy Spirit” to those who believe (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).”

        This one from SCOBA (2003): “Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10). This being said, however, we must stress that persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.
        And the evidence goes on.”

        There are only a few statements that do not contain a divation or two and thus satisfy the Thomas Barkers of the world.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Carl, you are confused. The issue is not homosexuality but the redefinition of marriage and the possible (nay, probable) intrusion of that mindset on the Church as a whole.

          Having said that, I am shocked about what Bishop David wrote (if indeed he wrote that).

          • Carl Kraeff says

            George–I am glad to be reminded of the real issue here. Since all of the bishops have condemned same-sex marriage, there is nothing to discuss but to move on. I will not waste my time with refuting false “divagation” charges any more.

            As for Bishop David, he was merely making a point against one particular argument. The rest of his pastoral letter is in line with every other hierarchical pronouncement:

            “As many of you know by now on Friday, June 26th the Supreme Court of our country issued a 5-4 decision to overturn all bans of same-sex marriage by states and affirmed this union as being a constitutional right. In effect the court has ruled, in finality as all decisions of the Supreme Court are, that same-sex marriage can be legally performed by all states in our country.

            This does not change the situation for us as Orthodox Christians. We will still uphold the Biblical Standard that Marriage is between one man and one woman, the Supreme Court’s decision does not change that basic truth.

            As your bishop, I will give no blessing for any marriage outside of the traditional marriage of one man and one woman. Even though same-sex marriage is “legal,” there will be no same sex marriages in our parishes. I would encourage you all to re-read the 2013 Statement from the Episcopal Assembly of Bishops on Marriage.”

            • Well stated.

            • There is much to discuss Carl, that’s how people work things out. But you are right in that the Bishops of this country have spoken about this issue and that is of great comfort for many of us who saw this coming and saw it in the Churches. We can now say, we do not accept this as our Bishops have stated-recently! But we only have step one completed, now we need to work out how to address the situation, the practical implications as you’ve pointed out-there seems to be contradicting ways of addressing it.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Carl, the trouble with Bishop David Mahaffey’s circumlocutions is that while he upholds the teachings of the Church, he paints a far-from-accurate picture of just how functional homosexual relationships are. They are not. Contrary to the picture painted on Modern Family (a show I love to watch btw), the cute gay couple are not emblematic of reality. That show, while entertaining, is not data.

              My concern is that Mahaffey’s “yes, but…” approach leads inevitably, “…then, why not?” Consider the damage done to the Orthodox Church’s pro-life stance when then-Metropolitan Bartholomew said that “generally speaking the Orthodox Church is pro-life.”

              I’m sorry, but a ten-year-old could drive a polemical Hummer through that opening even without driving lessons.

              In another post, you accused me of being “knee-jerk,” the implication being that I’m a bigot. I can assure you sir, that I neither hate homosexuals, nor would bar them entry from my church or the Church in general. As someone who firmly believes –and proclaim every Sunday before taking Communion–that “I am the chief of sinners” I can do no other.

              Is my tone mocking at times? Only of liberalism and I am of course horrified about the bacchanalian nature of our society, but I am not hate-filled towards anybody. Satirical yes; critical, definitely; hateful, no.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                George– You said “My concern is that Mahaffey’s “yes, but…” approach leads inevitably, “…then, why not?” Nothing new here. You have done it so often that I was emboldened to call it a knee-jerk reaction. I apologize for my choice of words as this “knee-jerk reaction” generally applies to liberals and not to conservatives like you and me. That said, let me ask you if you are aware of communications theory? I ask that because you seem to over-emphasize your end of communications with seemingly no care at all about the recipient of your writings.

                I have no doubt that you think you do not hate homosexuals and that your general approach should not lead one to unjustly accuse you of such. However, have you ever thought that your criticism, as it is expressed through your own impressive range of rhetorical devices, may be misunderstood? Have you ever thought that you may have caused a homosexual struggling with his sinful desires and conduct to be afraid to come to you, your parish, the OCA, or even the Orthodox Church? That is what folks, like Stankovich have been struggling to say as long as I can remember and yet he has not been able to change your reactions (knee-jerk or not). Yet, the Scriptures remain:

                The Parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke, Chapter 10.

                25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

                26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

                27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

                28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

                29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

                30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

                36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

                37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

                Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    • I read the statement on the OCA’s DOW website: Well said! My hat is off to Archbishop Benjamin for that concise statement.

      • Mark E. Fisus says

        Oh for Pete’s sake, Archbishop Benjamin’s statement supports Church teaching. The OCA is not the caricature people on this site make it out to be. Even if Archbishop Benjamin had written exactly as you wished, somebody more paranoid than you would find something to complain about. An Orthodox bishop will support Church teaching, and he will be pastoral about it.

        Wagging your finger at hierarchs is not a good road to start on. That leads to schism and that would be counterproductive.

        • Sorry Mark, I’ve seen a priest use that exact argument to encourage SSM in a parish and certainly seen it used outside the parish to push the this “new” agenda. What this kind of talk does, is it makes people accept sin as normal in the parish and the children grow up seeing the sin accepted and no longer understand why it’s a sin. Then of course we have what happened in the Episcopalian Church, which has shrunk to less than half it’s size and has no babies in it, so it will all but disappear in the next generation.

          It is NOT the Gospel but an imitation of it. It misleads . . . .

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Colette–Are you arguing that if a bishop condemns cohabitation at the same as he condemns same-sex marriage, and by implication, homosexual sex, he “makes people accept sin as normal”?

            • No. He is not addressing the issue. Instead he is saying “look over there”! Address the sin our culture is dealing with thoroughly. Then he can go into how we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.

              This is a tactic he is using. . . . I’m surprised you’ve not caught on by now . . . .

              • Using heterosexual fornication to excuse, self-justify, or soften criticisms of homosexual acts has been around for as long as I remember. I certainly understand the impulse of bishops to pro-actively address arguments/objections that opponents have already fired their way or that will be fired at them (“what about fornicators”, and “aren’t you just doing what racists do with regard to blacks?”)

                I personally think it is a misdirected impulse, but I would be careful about labelling it as a “tactic” — which implies that the individual bishop has an agenda of undermining Church teaching. If that is what is meant, it is a serious charge and should be made with great care.

                I agree that these kinds of statements are not the place to get down into the weeds of anticipating counterarguments or trying to seem “fair.” A simple, clear statement of how Church teaching applies to the specific matter at hand is best — saying both a positive statement of what the Church upholds as normative and ideal, and a negative statement of what the Church says not to do. More comprehensive and detailed statements and responses to critics, if needed, should be worked through meticulously by the bishops as a group, with the help of priests and laity who have devoted time to thinking about the issue and who have some level of expertise.

                • Carl Kraeff says

                  I agree and that is why I like Archbishop Melchisedek’s statement the best. The money paragraph was:

                  “The Church, following the direct teaching of Jesus Christ, ” …He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6)”, allows for no other form of marriage. Thus anyone who contracts or who has, in the past, contracted such a relationship and does not repent of that relationship, in addition to those who live together in a conjugal relationship without being married are not to be communed.”

                • Edward, I agree with you for the most part, but I say this 1) because it was a tactic of another priest who was pushing such an agenda and 2) because I’ve heard too many personal accounts of said bishop that lead me to believe he is in the same camp. It would be a wonderful thing if he could show me otherwise. . . .

                  • If Archbishop Benjamin is your bishop and you have concerns about where he stands, it is your duty to contact him in writing and ask whatever questions you think need to be asked. At a minimum, you need to write your dean or the chancellor. And ask for an answer.

                    If he is not your bishop but you are in the OCA, it is your duty to write your own bishop — who is in the Holy Synod with him — and express your specific concerns and ask for an answer.

                    If you aren’t in the OCA, but are in a jurisdiction that participates in the ACOB with +Benjamin, you can either write your bishop with your concerns — or decide to mind your own business and be glad you’re not in the OCA. When he was my bishop, I never had any reason to believe that +Benjamin did anything but uphold all of the teachings of the Church — dogmatic and moral alike. He was a good pastor who has never been anything but good to me and mine, and I have yet to hear anything credible that would change my assessment that he is a good bishop.

                    But if you have credible information otherwise, in my opinion it is your duty to act as I outlined above. I remember once, many years ago, I said something to a priest I respected to the effect that I didn’t feel like I should challenge a member of the clergy on a matter of church belief or practice. His reply to me was that matters of the faith are precisely what the faithful should challenge clergy about, if there is a question. He said it was the duty of laity to do this — using proper means and with respect, of course.

                    • There is much about Bishop Benjamin on public record and on this site-you can go back and look at it for yourself -it has been documented here for the last 4 years. All I know about him is from here and personal testimonies from people who have had to deal with him.
                      As far as following protocols of the OCA in trying to deal with issues-I’ve acted dude- I’ve acted- you have no idea . . . . I have written and spoken in exasperation to the OCA authorities and eventually gave up.
                      I left the OCA with my family a couple years ago and have not looked back. The OCA is not in a good place right now and there (apparently) is a lot you’ve missed,
                      I suggest you do a little research . . .

                    • Sorry, collette, I don’t buy it. There is nothing about Abp. Benjamin “on public record,” unless you want to call unsubstantiated internet rumors “public record.” Anonymous posts on Monomakhos are not “documentation.” That doesn’t mean that what is being said isn’t true, but it isn’t documentation. If there are official internal OCA records about him, they are not public record. There was an accusatory letter floating around on the internet that had no actual signature affixed to it, but the supposed author has, I understand, disavowed it. There were quite a few fishy things about that letter, too. Didn’t pass my personal “sniff test” for authenticity.

                      It is entirely possible that I have missed some of the rumor-mongering about Abp. Benjamin — and if so, I am happy to be out of the loop. Since I am in the ROCOR now, it is none of my business, so I have no intention of doing “research.” I would note that both in my time in the Anglican world before becoming Orthodox and in my 25+ years after becoming Orthodox, there was nothing so common as people whispering accusations about their bishops and even priests. Before I even became Orthodox, I decided to have a “put up or shut up” attitude about such rumors. I have a hard time thinking of a single OCA bishop — active or retired, about whom I haven’t heard or read something nasty, at one time or another. Some are probably true, some almost certainly aren’t. The only solution is: “put up or shut up.”

                      I had a fair number of personal dealings with Bp. Benjamin when I was in the OCA DOW, and I never knew him to be anything but orthodox in his doctrinal and moral teaching, pastoral in his dealings with priests and parishes, practical and straight-forward when it came to administrative and financial matters, and no-nonsense about dealing with trouble-makers.

                      I am glad to no longer be in the OCA, but that has more to do with my never having been comfortable in the OCA as an overall jurisdiction in the first place, and not because I had any doubts about Abp. Benjamin. Recent events have confirmed that while it may all turn out OK in the long run, the OCA on a national level is not my comfort zone.

                      I believe that you have been told things. I believe you that they were serious and credible enough to you that you that you beat your head against a wall with your concerns. Been there, done that. Moving on is the best solution. I don’t disagree with you that the OCA is a very unhealthy place. It just doesn’t line up with my personal experience that Abp. Benjamin is a part of the unhealthiness, and certainly am not going to stand by and let unsubstantiated rumors on a public forum about what he supposedly believes about gay marriage go unchallenged. If someone is willing to go on record, saying “on such and such a date, so and so said X and Y — and I told this to the Holy Synod and I was ignored” — then that changes the whole dynamic.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Edward, would Vincent Peterson’s mug shot from his (extreme) DUI arrest convince you? I doubt it, but I can provide them if necessary (or you could ask your pal Lee Roy Fitzgerald for copies as he was the one who supplied the images for use in a lampoon of the drunkard).

                    • http://orthodoxwiki.org/Benjamin_(Peterson)_of_San_Francisco

                      public record-After he was arrested he should have stepped down.

                    • And a DUI proves exactly what about the original accusation you made?

                      In addition, you’ll have to fill me in, as I am not up on OCA canon law — are clergy with drinking problems required to step down from their positions after something like a DUI?

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      (yawn) What he should have down was what the Holy Synod told him to do: go to a rehabilitation program and remain sober. I personally have heard him say, publicly & privately, that God was merciful in granting him sobriety, and if he had been asked to “step down,” he would have done so immediately. And the palpable “glee” in the post of the “skat fly” Hercules, lover of all things putrid and filthy, pretty much guarantees a long and healthy memory for the “lampoon of the drunkard.”

                      Is that actually you who wrote, “I left the OCA with my family a couple years ago and have not looked back,” colette? You might want to reconsider the melodrama, or your sense of direction.

                    • That’s all part of the accusation I made, I was vague so I don’t know why you think that doesn’t apply?? I said he has a public record and he does.
                      But look, the OCA just made a Bishop step down because of inappropriate texts. you think a DUI is not as bad as that?!!

                      The reason Bishops should step down for such things is because they are to be unimpeachable. A Bishop should not have anything in the way of his ability to lead the Church.

                      Also the OCA should not have double standards or play favorites.

                      But I digress, how +Benjamin handled the transvestite/gay couple in his church (Heard about here) and the transvestite at the monastery- woman dressed up as a man and another couple -put together with his response to the Supreme Court decision lead me to believe he is not all together on board with how the Church deals with sin. I am not saying he is trying to undermine or change Church teaching, but I think he personally doesn’t like it much and so would rather talk about some other sin.

                      And Michael, you have no room to talk about other people’s melodrama. . . .

                    • Heracleides says

                      Of course, Herr Stankovich, you ever so conveniently leave out the fact that the drunkard, Vincent Peterson (a.k.a. OCA “Bishop” Benjamin), was AWOL from the “rehabilitation program” facility where he was supposedly undergoing treatment for his alcohol addiction when he was arrested and jailed for his (extreme) DUI accident. Ah, those pesky facts. Back to you spinmeister.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald says

                      I see that Heracleides Pompikos is at it agai. At the time of (then) Bishop Benjamin’s drunk friving arrest and jailing, I, not the Holy Synod, directed that he go to an institution back East with a good reputation for helping alcoholics, including some other Orthodox clergy. This was NEVER concealed from the Church–the Faithful, the dioceses. It was MY decision not to initiate anything like disciplinary proceedings. His arrest and the events leading up to it were shameful indeedkk, and Bishop Benjamin has ALWAYS admitted that. Hreent to the clinic and completed their course of treatment. I repeat, this was NEVER kept secret. A couple years later, I addressed an open letter to the clergy and Faithful discussing my own problems with clinical depression and how I and a nonn-analyst psychiatrist had been dealing with it. I believed that it was important in BOTH cases, his and my own that the details should be public and publicized because I believe that he was never the only member of the church at any level who was troubled by alcoholism or clinical depression and a variety of handicaps that could be treated without shame. By the way, Heracleides Pompikos’s addiction to SHAMING OTHERSA is a pathology as much in need of help as alcoholism or drug addiction.
                      I repeat, Bisop Benjamin went willingly and OPENLY to a professional rehabilitation center to “dry out,” and was NEVER disciplined in any canonical sense. I can’t remember te name of that place of treatment: was it not “St.Luke’s?”
                      If only an alcoholic Archbishop and an Archimandrite who was his creation had been ENABLED to seek help, then maybe the one might not haven been subjected to a lonely death in a motel parking lot and the other not been deposed from the Priesthood.!
                      I am an Orthodox convert and Bishop Heracleides Pompikos. It was as 2nd Lieutenant Lee R. (Roy) H. (Howard) Fitzgerald that I was received into the Church and given the name “Stephen” by then Chaplain (Captain)Peter Zolnerowich at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas in September 1960. I had previously been a soldier in the U.S. Army, from 1954-1957. I am not ashamed of my names or service to our country, Heracleides Pompikos. So if repeating them here, rather than referring to me as WHAT I AM (a Bishop) makes you feel more worthwhile as person, please, continue to do so! But know that those names give ME nothing but pleasure!

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald says

                      Bishop Benjamin COMPLETED his course of treatment and did not go AWOL from it, even though Heracleides Pompikos claimed it’s a fact that M. Stankovich left out. Here is Heracleides pompikos’s False Witness:
                      “Of course, Herr Stankovich, you ever so conveniently leave out the fact that the drunkard, Vincent Peterson (a.k.a. OCA “Bishop” Benjamin), was AWOL from the “rehabilitation program” facility where he was supposedly undergoing treatment for his alcohol addiction when he was arrested and jailed for his (extreme) DUI accident. Ah, those pesky facts. Back to you spinmeister.”

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Bishop Benjamin COMPLETED treatment and did not “go AWOL”. That is false witness by Heracleides Pompikos.
                      I would like to add that I PUBLICLY reported on the event the arrest and the treatment in a public letter to the diocese at the time. It was NEVER and is not now kept as a secret FROM ANYONE. I think Heracleides Pompikos should apologize to Mr Stankowich.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Hercules, all I “conveniently” left out was that I was so disgusted with him that I confronted him to his face about his drinking, told him very directly that unless he went to a rehab, I wanted no contact with him. I joined the Antiochian parish in La Jolla, never heard about his DUI or rehab until years after, etc. etc. You could tell me anything. Apparently your heart thrives on the sorrow and failings of other men. Mine does not.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Silly “bishop”, I said Vincent Peterson was AWOL at the time of his arrest – NOT that he did not eventually return and complete his ‘program.’ I am starting to see a trend with you, Lee Roy; you really need to pay closer attention to what you read before deciding to embarrass yourself by commenting.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  I agree. But it’s nonetheless true that while adultery has justly remained without partisans or defenders, fornication has quite lost its sting, not just in the larger society, but in Christian circles as well, the Orthodox not excepted, of course.

                  We’re all familiar enough with this, to say the least. At 67, I’m old enough to remember when it was taboo (though enthusiastically engaged in), and “living together” was shocking– truly. This all of course began to fade beginning in the 70s, and the rest is history. We all know couples who cohabit, including nice old widowed folks. Are we shocked?

                  You tell me. But, of course, this is why we find ourselves in the present situation; it’s just a straight-line development; inevitable.

                  So it can be said to be a fair observation.

                  • You are absolutely correct that fornication has lost its sting as far as social censure goes, and it is absolutely a fair observation that the casual acceptance of premarital sex has had a significant impact on the moral lives of Orthodox Christians — one could argue that based on sheer volume, and based on how it affects subsequent marriages, that it has a greater effect on the church than does homosexuality (which I think was Abp. Benjamin’s point). I personally think that such observations are best addressed in a separate setting and not discussed in the context of homosexuality — but Abp. Benjamin presumably knows his flock, and he is the one given the charism to teach and preach, so I say that with great trepidation and with a sense of deference to him. Perhaps I am missing your point, however.

                    One thing is certain — this debate is going to push Orthodox Christians to dig deep and examine a lot of things in their own lives. We are going to be forced to return to actively teaching and upholding a much stricter set of moral standards — those of us with “natural marriages” in the Orthodox Church aren’t always the best role models.

                    If we wink at heterosexual fornication amongst our young people, if adults are getting easy no-fault divorces and no-questions-asked 2nd and 3rd marriages in the church, if those without church weddings are being communed with no expectation of rectifying the situation, if Orthodox couples are intentionally remaining childless without good reason, if we treat our marriages only as romantic and companionable outlets for sexual urges… if we do those things and more, rather than looking deeply into what it really means to have a fertile Christian marriage, our young people — in today’s climate — aren’t going to have much reason to listen to what we have to say about homosexuality.

                    People (including me) talk about catacombs and persecution, and I don’t deny that this is very much a possibility, and may happen sooner than we would like. But we have challenges in front of us right this very moment — ones that will disturb our comfort and complacency very much. But we fail to meet them, we can forget being strong enough to survive the catacombs.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      I agree with all of your points, in the main, except that many will indeed be strong enough.

                      Here’s something I’ve always wondered about: sometime in the first half of the 19th Century, there was a strong shift in public morality in the sexual sphere from the laxity of the 18th Century and the subsequent Regency era, to what became popularly known eventually as Victorianism.

                      The shift was fairly dramatic, to the point that one reads accounts of younger adults being embarrassed about the “earthy” ways of their elders.

                      So this can happen. The situation is now more extreme, to be sure.

                      I wonder what the factors were. The Great Awakening and the Second Great Awakening must have played their part.

                      But people can become much more “conservative” in their sexual mores than their parents…..

                      Indeed, one sees many particular examples of this not infrequently nowadays.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                There is no “instead,” unless you read another statement than the one posted on his diocesan website. English is my second language and I sometimes struggle with regional idioms, but I did score 99 percentile on my GRE and I have taken courses in logic. I can confidently say that there is no “instead” in the following statement:

                “To the Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Diocese of the West:

                This morning we received the news that the Supreme Court of the United States asserted the right for persons of the same sex to be married throughout the country. Their decision, however, in no way alters the teaching of the Orthodox Church on the subject of Christian marriage. And, while our doors are open to everyone who seeks the Kingdom of God, our understanding about human persons and the family remains unchanged. There is no blessing for such unions in the Orthodox Church.

                I would draw your attention to the Synodal Affirmation on the Mystery of Marriage of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America on the subject of marriage and human sexuality for further reading. This document was issued exactly two years today (June 26, 2013). READ DOCUMENT

                In addition, all the faithful are encouraged to re-read the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA 2013 Statement On Marriage. READ DOCUMENT

                Christian marriage is challenged in many ways in our times. Same sex marriages represent only one such challenge. The common practice of cohabitation, even among those who consider themselves to be Orthodox Christians, is another, and perhaps even more serious, symptom of the denigration of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

                As we struggle to uphold and preserve what we have received from the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church, let us also show compassion to all our neighbors, not forgetting our calling to make Christ and His love manifest in this place and at this time.

                Archbishop of San Francisco”

                Y’all are wearing some dark glasses with lots of flaws. If I were uncharitable, I would say that you are purposefully misrepresenting what the OCA bishops have said to justify your homophobic, unChristian impulses and your schisms, past, present or future.

  4. Heracleides says

    Let’s not forget the daft OCA “Bishop” who states he will not march in support of natural marriage because it is simply (!) a sacrament/mystery.

  5. And the OCA wonders why it is losing members? These pictures are worth a million words. They say it all. Sadly, it is not if the OCA will fall but when. Let’s see, declining membership (just look at the OCA report on the multiple revisions to the proportional giving if you don’t believe me), rather inept leadership, seminaries on the brink of closing (look carefully at the financials, neither seminary is doing well), and a strong pro-gay hierarchy and priesthood — nope, it doesn’t look good.

    Kinda reminds me of a few bible verses (Revelation 22:18-22)

    I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.…

    It seems to me that the OCA’s rewriting of biblical history with their pro-homosexual agenda is exactly what St. John is admonishing us not to do.

    And should certain naysayers complain and say something like Eric Wheeler is just one person in the OCA, let me remind them of the family connections. Protodeacon Wheeler attends services at the chancery with the Metropolitan and Chancellor. I believe that he is also related to the chancellor if memory serves me correctly. He isn’t just some Joe Citizen.

    Well, OCA, it’s been nice knowing you.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      There is a rather interesting exchange between Fr. Deacon Eric and Fr. John Whiteford on Yahoo Orthodox Forum. It appears that the real argument is on how to make sure that homosexual Orthodox are treated in our churches. If we start from the premise that the Church is like a hospital, it is understandable that some will argue that we should not treat homosexuals as lepers but to welcome them as any other sinner. I will note that I agree with both them but am more comfortable with Fr. John, who wrote the following:

      “My rhetoric on this issue has been on the question of whether homosexual activity is sinful, and it has been no harsher than what St. Paul has to say about it. And unlike St. Paul, I have never banned anyone from having anything to do with the Church because they were living in a sexually immoral relationship… though I have imposed relatively brief penances on people (both homosexual and heterosexual). So if a homosexual was looking for someone squishy on whether homosexual acts were sinful, I would not be the priest to come to. But if he was looking for someone who would treat him the same way I would treat anyone else struggling with a sexual sin, I would be.”

      On the other side of the coin, the knee jerk reaction of many folks on this blog, to include our esteemed host, indicates to me that many folks are not quite ready to trust in the Lord and His Church. I urge them to follow Fr. John’s example, tone down the rhetoric, quit making hurtful and schismatic statements, and embrace our homosexual brothers and sisters so that they too may fully participate in the Body, just like any other sinner does.

      • Strange, really you are just now figuring this out . . . .. We should never treat anyone as a leper, but you will not help sinners by prolonging their sin or not addressing their sin. I totally agree with Fr. John’s quote.

        Also however, you must think of your whole Church and what you need to do to teach the faith and not loose the faith. . . .

        • Carl Kraeff says

          The trouble here is that there are too many cooks stirring the same pot. In fact, most folks here are not even cooks; although everybody is responsible for guarding the faith as members of the Royal Priesthood, few of us are called to be pastors or arch-pastors. It seems to me that we can talk about the faith without going overboard. Our faith includes trusting in the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that some (many?) folks here do not have that trust and go overboard, some radically so. I am not going to give examples, but there are a number of posters here who come across as homophobic and hateful of specific priests, bishops and jurisdictions.

          As you must be aware, I have signed the Manhattan Declaration, not because of its stance against abortion and same-sex marriage (with which I have always agreed) but because its promise to engage in implacable civil disobedience if the government forces us to protect our precious faith. There is no need for us to fight among each other when we should be united against the spirit of the times.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Carl, like you, I too signed The Manhattan Declaration. You know who else signed it (in fact was one of the first signatories?), Metropolitan Jonah.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              He did that one thing right.

            • Patrick Henry Reardon says

              You know who else signed it (in fact was one of the first signatories?), Metropolitan Jonah.

              And Bishop Basil of Wichita.

              Among the usual correspondents on this blog site, the original signers included Father Alexander Webster, Father Hans Jacobse, and myself.

              • M. Stankovich says

                And as I recall the story as told by Fr. Hans on his site, Chuck Colson – as in the heterodox Christian Right, Chuck Colson – phoned him at the last minute to get some Orthodox first-signers, and he scrambled to do so. This was not an issue of great moral “compulsion” or stridency, but by special invitation only, drawn from the Orthodox “Right” guestbook, as if the Dramatis Personæ did not make this quite obvious. The larger question, however, is the one of “utility.”

                Allow me to properly set this up for Mr. Helga to feel compelled to jump in – Met. Jonah; benign, dead horse document – but without casting a single pejorative as to the content of this “Declaration,” it is a truly forgettable, “Who cares?” affair that the Orthodox were lapdogged into joining for no other purpose or benefit than… well, there ultimately was no historical benefit or purpose. One question: was Met. Hillarion of ROCOR asked to sign? Dead horse affair. And now to be waving a dead horse – apart from the obvious offensive odor – claiming some correlation with Stephen Crane is at once amusing as it is pitiful. Apparently it is necessary to issue my annual challenge: quietly stand up during coffee after liturgy Sunday and ask for a show of hands of those who have heard of the “Manhattan Declaration.” Hopefully we won’t be doing this again next year.

                • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                  The link between the Manhattan Declaration and its Orthodox signers came partly through Touchstone.

                  The two major authors of the Declaration were Chuck Colson and Robby George at Princeton.

                  Robby George, a Senior Editor of Touchstone, brought the document to the attention of Jim Kushiner, the Editor-in-Chief of Touchstone and a parishioner of mine. We both signed immediately, and our names were published with the original document in The New York Times.

                  Jim Kuhiner asked me to secure the signature of Bishop Basil, who requested a day to study the document. He signed it on the next day, so his signature also appeared on the original publication in The New York Times.

                  Metropolitan Jonah’s signature was secured by Father Chad Hatfiield, of St. Vladimir’s, who is a former seminary student of mine.

                  None of the original Orthodox signers, as far as I know, were aware of Manhattan Declaration until a week or so before its release.

                  The reason for this is simple: Colson and George, the two founders of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, composed the document and then solicited signers from the Evangelical and Catholic communities.

                  Not until late in the process did they think the Orthodox might want a voice in the matter.

                  Colson and George contacted various friends among the Orthodox, including Fathers Webster and Jacobse, along with Jim Kushiner and me, the only two Orthodox Christians on the staff at Touchstone.

                  Absolutely every detail of the Manhattan Declaration has proved to be prophetic of what has transpired in the ensuing years. Its witness has been amply justified by the events.

                  The alleged ignorance of American Orthodox Christians with respect to the Manhattan Declaration testifies mainly to the perceived irrelevance of the Orthodox Church in this county. It is hardly something to boast of.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  I was contacted by the Colson organization to publicize the signing and encourage Orthodox support for like minded individuals, which I gladly did and would do so again in a heartbeat.

                  The sarcastic jibe (“heterodox Christian Right”) displays ignorance. Colson was a friend of the Orthodox and drew from and contributed to the Orthodox faith. Colson read “Father Arseny” and was so moved by the testimony that Prison Fellowship poured thousands of copies into American prisons. It brought many to Christ. In fact, after Communism fell, the Russian Orthodox Church turned to Prison Fellowship to teach them how to do prison ministry.

                  More gratitude is in order. Not everyone who believes differently is an enemy, worthy only of contempt. That kind of small-mindedness blinds the eyes to the work of God which is always generous and expansive. Again, after Communism fell, the Lutherans gave the Russian Orthodox Church free run of their printing presses. That’s how Orthodox literature was printed by a Church that had no presses or money at the time. Do we sneer at them too?

                  The Manhattan Declaration brought together strong Christian thinkers and, as Fr. Reardon said, proved prophetic in its warnings. Fr. Reardon is also correct when he says that the Orthodox Church is perceived as irrelevant in many quarters. Some Orthodox see that as a badge of honor when in fact it indicts our parochial arrogance and contributes to the precipitous, and probably irreversible, decline of several of our jurisdictions.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    As I noted at the time, Fr. Hans, the Lord Himself graciously bestowed on us prophecy in abundance, and if you recall His word in the Holy Week of His Passion:

                    From now on I call you not servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you. (Jn. 15:15)

                    Having made us His friends, for us He laid down His life. And unless I am wildly mistake, it was the heterodox that invited us to their “Declaration,” and not the reverse. And while Mr. Colson was a reader of Fr. Arseny, it did not move his heart. This is a statement about him, and undoubtedly an indictment of the strength of our faith as well. I hope the evening has set on this pointless, forgettable event.

                  • Robby George has one set of Orthodox grandparents and is both very aware of and respectful of Orthodoxy, too. He apparently asked at least one Orthodox Christian to join the amicus curiae scholars on his brief to the Supreme Court in Obergefell
                    Meanwhile a new trend among some American Orthodox is taking a communist era prayer in the Jordanville Prayer book and penciling in America instead of Russia for daily prayer.
                    “O Lord Jesus Christ our God, forgive our iniquities. Through the intercessions of Thy most pure Mother, save the suffering American people from the yoke of the godless authority. Amen.”

                  • Strathclyde says

                    Robby George has one set of Orthodox grandparents and is both very aware of and respectful of Orthodoxy, too. He apparently asked at least one Orthodox Christian to join the amicus curiae scholars on his brief to the Supreme Court in Obergefell.

                    Meanwhile a new trend among American Orthodox is taking a communist era prayer in the Jordanville Prayer book and penciling in Americans instead of Russians for daily prayer.

                    “O Lord Jesus Christ our God, forgive our iniquities. Through the intercessions of Thy most pure Mother, save the suffering American people from the yoke of the godless authority. Amen.”

                  • Chris Banescu says

                    Thank you Fr. Hans, for bringing additional wisdom and important truths to this discussion.

                  • I will continue to beat my own half-dead horse. The question is the extent to which secular political alliances and allegiances, rather than Christian conviction, drive people’s emotions and actions. I do not question the validity of the points Stankovich makes. But I would flip them on their collective head:

                    I suspect that what he perhaps finds repulsive in the “heterodox Christian right” is not the “heterodox” part (Schmemann and Meyendorff never minded hanging out with those) — but rather the “Right” part. Having established that someone is on the “Right,” in my experience, a man of the left no longer need give benefit of the doubt regarding the extent to which the other person’s Orthodox Christian convictions motivate him. One can simply say — “oh, that’s just a wingnut thing.”

                    On my more pessimistic days, I wonder whether our politically left-leaning friends on this site might reflexively spit on an icon of the Theotokos if it had the misfortune of being held by, say, Ted Cruz. I don’t wonder at all whether many of Metropolitan Jonah’s friends and enemies would be standing in neatly interchanged positions today had he, say, been clearly enthusiastic about the Obama administration and unilaterally decided to sign a Declaration favoring single payer health care rather than one opposing gay marriage. He still would have been a disastrous administrator, but he would have had a different set of supporters and a different set of people calling for his head, I am sad to say. The irony is that I think it is a matter of complete happenstance and accident that it went the one way rather than the other.

                    As to who was asked to sign, Mr. Stankovich of all people should know that some people simply know other people, and feel comfortable asking for their support. I have been asked to help out with things just because the person looking for support knew me personally — and because they knew me and my beliefs well enough (and that I knew them well enough) to know I would immediately sign the petition, write the letter, make the phone call, or write the check, without giving them the 3rd degree. Not because I was the best or the only person to ask. There is nothing unusual about the fact that some Orthodox leaders were approached to sign a document while others either weren’t asked or were unable to respond in the time period the organizers needed.

                    • Daniel E Fall says

                      The clear problem Edward is the lines are not clear along political boundaries. That is being politically conservative or liberal does not make you a Christian. You know it to be true. Just for fun, ‘trust your feelings’. Interestingly enough, one of the AACs touched the issue of healthcare. It did not resolve the rich and smart and sometimes hard working or people aptly named get care-to hell with the rest. What we got was a rebuke it seemed.

                      The reality is the church is best a sanctuary from political debate. Arguments and spears will fly…fine.

                      America is a free country. You don’t need to spend limited efforts and energies in a culture war while you gloss over the misdeeds of priests.

                      Life is short-believing you will sway a culture hell bent on boy on boy sex by marching is a waste of mine. Call it smelly-move on. That really bugs them more.

                      The church is for whom? The sinner or the culture?

                      I don’t think you are beating a half dead horse, but a completely dead horse.

                      Here comes some cherry picked Scripture.

                      Sum up Christ in a paragraph. He did not say march for marriage in my summary.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      Not everyone is aware that you are an renowned penguin breeder & trainer, but it occasionally renders your thinking a bit “concrete” (i.e. symmetrically like an ice block)! When I refer to “Christian Right” I was not referring to “Christian conservatives” or Christian who are “conservative” – both of which by traditional standards we, as Orthodox, would seem to qualify – but in this modern climate is certainly an open question. I was referring to a group I thought was clearly identifiable by the moniker, “Christian Right,” and notably represented by Dobson, Rove, and the like. These are “religious” who are as comfortable in the pew as they are calculating and manipulating the media and the political process (such that restoring a “moral society by legislation” will affect a moral change in humanity), and uncomfortable with the notion of the reality of the martyrdom the Lord foretold, founded in the narrow path of obedience and repentance in the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. But apparently, we are satisfied that they just “like” us.

                      I would suggest to you, Edward, that the Christian Right’s grave error – and that of Frs. Hans, Patrick, and Peter Dubinin, and Mr. Banescu – is to presume that we benefited from our participation with them, rather than it was they who benefited from having us, the final harbinger of the Truth entrusted to us by the Master, join them. This, in my estimation, speaks loudly to the insignificance of the document, in that our presence was not sufficient to make it remarkable. Yet, the signers who have commented here seemed to be expressing a “humble gratitude” for even having been asked to lend our credence to the this heterodox composition!

                      Sure, Edward, I know all about “you ask who know, blah, blah, blah.” but where are the signatures of your ROCOR bishops? “Time constraints” prevented them, you imagine? Exactly how do get those penguins to ride those little bikes?

                    • Sorry guys. If you truly believe that left-leaning political tastes don’t drive selective indignation about the “Christian Right” at least as much as do religious convictions, knock yourselves out. I’m just calling it like I see it — which of course means I may be wrong.

                    • ReaderEmanuel says

                      M. Stankovich:
                      Kudos on that post!
                      You said, ” I was referring to a group I thought was clearly identifiable by the moniker, “Christian Right,” and notably represented by Dobson, Rove, and the like. These are “religious” who are as comfortable in the pew as they are calculating and manipulating the media and the political process (such that restoring a “moral society by legislation” will affect a moral change in humanity), and uncomfortable with the notion of the reality of the martyrdom the Lord foretold, founded in the narrow path of obedience and repentance in the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. But apparently, we are satisfied that they just “like” us.

                      I would suggest to you, Edward, that the Christian Right’s grave error – and that of Frs. Hans, Patrick, and Peter Dubinin, and Mr. Banescu – is to presume that we benefited from our participation with them, rather than it was they who benefited from having us, the final harbinger of the Truth entrusted to us by the Master, join them. This, in my estimation, speaks loudly to the insignificance of the document, in that our presence was not sufficient to make it remarkable. Yet, the signers who have commented here seemed to be expressing a “humble gratitude” for even having been asked to lend our credence to the this heterodox composition!”

                      For once, I actually agree with you.

                      The main problem I see with the so-called “religious right” is that they have resorted to political means to put forth their agenda because they have largely failed in the pulpit. I’ve been saying for a long time that they are doing it backwards. If they really want to change America, they have to do it at the grass roots level. Preach and teach genuine (by that I mean Orthodox) Christianity, and not the sham Christianity that most of them teach, such as the “prosperity gospel”, etc. etc. and the politics will take care of itself, because the people will then DEMAND change from their political leaders, or force them out. Why do you think we keep getting the same visionless, unaccountable, deaf-eared politicians on both sides of the aisle elected over and over again? It’s because of people who keep falling for sham politics, sham religion, and sham promises that go hand in hand with them. What good has the Religious Right done in a political system where the two political parties increasingly can’t be told apart from each other? Expecting political leaders to change laws by pressure from a religious group is like trying to get a leopard to change its spots, and all the petitions in the world will do no good whatsoever. A moral society cannot be achieved by legislation, as you point out; it has to be done by instilling values and morals at the individual level FIRST. And that is where we as a church have failed, IMHO, because we have let our youth be influenced too much by society instead of instilling Orthodox principles into them to counteract what is being taught to them by the secular state.

                      The insignificance of documents like this reminds me of a group that has also proved its insignificance in much the same way, and that is the Tea Party, a group I once sympathized with. It’s a leaderless bunch who likes to complain about how things are going to hell, but then they support politicians who renege on their promises just like all the rest of them. Their influence has proven infinitesimal to say the least, and they are trying to achieve their goals in a backwards, top-down fashion just like the Religious Right. If they REALLY wanted to effect change, they should split from the GOP altogether, and truly become a political party with their own platform and candidates and LEADERS, which they do not have. You have to effect change from the bottom up, then, as I said, the politics will take care of itself.

                      Bravo on what I think may be the post of the week.

                  • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                    Let’s not forget who visited Billy Graham last November- Metropolitan Hilarion.

                  • Strathclyde says

                    Robby George has Orthodox grandparents on one side, and a deep respect for and awareness of Orthodoxy. He apparently invited at least one Orthodox Christian to be a signer on his amicus curiae brief on Obergefell. But related to the Manhattan Declaration’s prophetic call for civil disobedience, a current trend among Orthodox Christians is to take the old communist-era prayer in the Jordanville Prayer Book and adapt it in this way to daily prayers:

                    O Lord Jesus Christ our God, forgive our iniquities. Through the intercessions of Thy most pure Mother, save the suffering American people from the yoke of the godless authority. Amen

                  • Priest Jacobse:

                    Again, after Communism fell, the Lutherans gave the Russian Orthodox Church free run of their printing presses. That’s how Orthodox literature was printed by a Church that had no presses or money at the time. Do we sneer at them too?

                    Monomakhos sneers at them.

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      On behalf on myself and… OK, just on behalf of myself, I would like to award you the honour of the “B” to be placed before the first letter of your moniker, honoris causa, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. Congratulations.

                    • Thomas Barker says

                      “Monomakhos sneers at them.”

                      Can anyone behold the fourth Gorgon, Askola, without an involuntary grimace? One can only speculate how many Monomakhos readers looked too long and perished by turning to stone.

                    • Clever, but sadly for you, I actually followed the link and read the post. What did George say that constitutes “sneering?” The comment about Finnish vodka? Bring out the smelling salts, I’m feeling a touch of the vapors at having been exposed to such cruel sneering. (Even that, if it were to have risen to the level of sneering, was not directed at the Lutherans, but rather at certain folks in OCA leadership).

                      The message of that post, as far as I can tell, was that the Orthodox seemed to have done something wrong, not that the Lutheran’s had. The Lutheran bishop wasn’t breaking her church’s discipline.

                      You’ll have to try again if you want to explain how there was any “sneering” going on.

                • Rather than ask for a show of hands of those who have heard of the Manhattan Declaration or its signers during coffee hour (Frankly, who cares?), I would prefer to challenge my brethren to render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caeser but under no circumstances render to Caesar that which belongs to God alone.

                  If the heterodox believe and act on the very words of my Lord, may they be blessed in their obedience. But it none of my business what they do, or what any others may do. What matters is what I do.

          • I see almost no homophobic persons on this blog, just really concerned people who love others and don’t want them to be led astray and love their faith and are angry that there are those from within who ARE leading the faith astray. Being “angry” does not mean “hate”.

      • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Unfortunately, complaints about “hurtful and schismatic statements” tend naturally, and are often intended, to silence every expression of disapproval of the sin in question. The mere mention of “sodomy” brings complaints. If we are to err always on the side of not offending people, the wicked will decide what we may say, even in church.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          It seems to me that the point can be made without insulting our bishops, priests, and jurisdictions. It is possible to express concern about a few priests, deacons, or bishops without condemning the entire jurisdiction. It is possible to express that concern while retaining respect for the office. Finally, it is imperative that we do so without driving away those who need help. I cited the parable of the Samaritan in my reply to George. Let me cite another, equally valid, passage from Luke, Chapter 17:

          17 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. 2 It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. 3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.

      • I have never known an Orthodox priest, and frankly have trouble imagining one, who would not be welcoming of someone genuinely willing to struggle to remain chaste in spite of temptations to commit any given sin. The argument that our churches are somehow guilty of driving such people away is a red herring. I don’t think it happens.

        Now a priest who does his job is going to offend some who want to continue in their pet sins in comfort, without having them identified as sinful in sermons and teaching, and treated as sinful in confession. I have many sins that I struggle with. If a priest talks frankly and sternly about one of them in a sermon (let’s say it’s one, even, that others know I struggle against), it would not anger me or turn me away from the church. It would probably motivate me to struggle harder.

        Did Wheeler describe how his “yes, yes, yes” and “supportive” posts make it more likely that self-identified homosexuals will come to the Orthodox Church so they can better struggle against all of their sinful passions, including the desire to gratify sexual desires for those they could never be married to in the Church?

        I really fail to see how promoting a sin in the secular world somehow helps people struggle against that sin in the Church. I think that those who argue that it makes the struggle harder (and indeed encourages people not to struggle at all) have by far the stronger argument. It is reasonable to remain apolitical and agnostic toward secular politics — but an apolitical agnosticism does not culminate in “yes, yes, yes!” response to this SCOTUS decision. I repeat — those like Wheeler are doing exactly what they falsely accuse “right wingers” of doing. They are being driven by their higher allegiance to MSNBC-style politically liberal talking points, not the Gospel.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I endorse and concur with Edward’s post. In addition, I agree with it. Accordingly, I have chosen to click on the “like” button to express approbation.

          Pretty much sums it up.

        • Chris Banescu says

          Edward, I second Tim’s comments. Your summary is spot on.

        • Daniel E Fall says

          What you fail to see Edward is my genuine disinterest in gay marriage is not promotion.

          People so often wish their issues were yea or nay when in fact there are many other options.

          The like/dislike button, for example, has no in betweens.

          • Dan, my point was a simple one: I fail to see how the legalization and societal approval of gay marriage does anything to encourage those tempted by same sex attraction to strive for celibacy. Quite the opposite, it sends the message that there is no reason to do so — those desires are to be celebrated rather than seen to be the unfortunate result of the fall.

            There were those saying that an opposition to gay marriage would drive people tempted by SSA away from the help that they need in church. I simply stated that I had never known an Orthodox priest who wouldn’t be extremely supportive and accepting of someone with that struggle. And I furthermore stated that legalizing and approving gay marriage would be at least as likely to discourage homosexuals from seeking help in the church, since it sends the message that acting on SSA is not only to be accepted, but approved of and celebrated.

            • Daniel E Fall says

              Well, I can’t argue with that.

              My cousin is a lesbian. She has no desire to become Orthodox or switch to men.

              I see no reason to spend energy on her choices or argue against her getting married.

              The church can be a refuge for those that seek her, or it can be a place for self righteous horn blowing.

              What do you suppose a march for marriage means to her?

              It means nothing to me.

              If they marched for Motherhood; it would hit both targets. Instead the targets are the sinners.

              It is a misplaced effort(s).

      • The problem is that those who struggle with same-sex attraction make their passion into their identity. “I am gay,” they say. And to many, this is a good thing. This is a product of the “coming out” process, which is nothing less than the methodical deadening of the gay person’s God-given conscience.

        If a gay person is offended, it is his own fault, because he has made his passion into his personhood. He has to separate the two. Condemning homosexual practice and an SSA person are wholly different things, and in my experience, the only way is to create a negative association with the passion.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          True indeed. Were my passions my “identity”, I’d be a sorry spectacle indeed.

          One thing never really discussed here (or anyplace else I know about, for that matter) is the amazing amount of rubbish in circulation in our society about what actually goes on in the real world with respect to sexual and related matters, and accordingly people either fall hook, line, and sinker for this “identity” and “born-this-way” stuff that is the current (secular) orthodoxy (along with a host of other sexual and “gender” orthodoxies); or, if they don’t, they keep their mouths shut, for obvious (perhaps) reasons.

          Many people are amazingly naïve, even in this sex-saturated society. They have lived perhaps a long time without ever stumbling through what used to be delicately known as the demimonde, or encountering its dwellers (or visitors). Their naivete’ gives them no basis to contradict the prevailing nonsense, or no basis to do so. Those who have, and know better, aren’t talking; or, if they do, they lie.

          Or so I understand from various hearsay accounts…..

        • M. Stankovich says


          I have spoken with many homosexual individuals as patients over the years – significantly more men than women – and early on, in attempting to “understand” them, I would follow a line of questioning similar to what you are suggesting: they had assumed this aspect of themselves – their “passion,” as you say – as their identity. More often than not, my presumption was challenged: “I did not “work” or “grow” into this. I have felt this for as long as I can remember.” “I always knew something was different.” In fact, I have heard this “challenge” across every diverse racial & socio-cultural group you can imagine. Likewise, it is borne out in the research literature as well: some homosexuals discover their sexual orientation from an early age, and it is characteristic of a certain high-risk group known to be influenced by biogenetic & epigenetic factors. To say that identification is essential to their identity is completely different than saying it is their identity. It is nonsense to say that something so atypical, so anomalistic, so strange & and divergent in the context of their environment and value system, and capable of provoking such intense emotions as shame guilt, and fear are simply “passions” arising in children, and developmentally assuming itself into the personality. Where is the precedent for such a theory in human psychology, psychiatry, or child development?

          I have attempted to understand this myself by the analogy of proprio­cep­tion, which is the unconscious identification of my own “person” in space (e.g. when the police tell me close my eyes and touch my finger to the tip of my nose, I should be reasonably able to accomplish this). Even in a dark room, I “sense” the position of my hand in front of my face because my brain has made an association. All of these associations are essential aspects my identification – the ownership of my “person” in space – but they are not my identity. How I make these determinations of neurology and sexual orientation can be read here.

          My point is that yours is a gross over-simplification of what for many is a very complex process of opening the door to salvation. I have said many times, Blessed is our God Who has delivered individuals from this podvig in whatever means He has provided. But as there is no one explanation, there is no one answer. Better we being to simply instill hope and bring those who struggle to the Church.

          • As some on this site will recall me saying in the past, I have struggled with this passion myself and I know of what I speak. I think we are talking past each other a bit.

            The passion itself may be inborne, but that does not make it part of one’s identity as a human being. Unless you believe it’s a deliberate creation of God, which is at odds with many things we believe as Christians.

            While it’s true that most all will say they have “always felt this way,” sexual feelings of a disorderly bent do not constitute an element of one’s fundamental personhood. While they may have these feelings, the vast majority recognize them as alien and wrong. The embrace of them must be learned and does not come naturally.

            My point is that a gay person chooses to make homosexuality into their identity. It does not have to be that way though. I think of myself in that category, as I can criticize the passion in myself without unhealthy mental effects, or criticize it in others without condemning them as people. But those who hold tightly to their urges cannot do this.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Mr. Kraeff,

        Fr. John’s comment was, in fact, addressed to me, not Pdn. Eric Wheeler. I said to him that, while I believe I know him well enough to expect that in person he would be a very compassionate and pastoral man, based on his written rhetoric (in this case, “taking a leak on the Tradition of the Church”), if I were a gay man struggling with this issue and read his angry posts, he would be the last person I would approach. I believe this supports your point that, practically speaking, little is to be gained from insult & humiliation – e.g. emphasizing “sodomy” as a confrontation – that is being falsely clothed as “frankness.” By rights, Jesus could have referred to the adulterous woman as “slut” or “whore” if his intention was to be “frank” and punitive, but instead, he simply said γύναι, “woman.” (Jn. 8:10) I would suggest that both the soul and the ego immediately and intuitively discern the correction made in love from the correction made in arrogance and hatred.

        • Monk James says

          This strikes me as disingenuous in the extreme.

          Michael Stankovich, here and elsewhere, has called me and other people almost unrepeatable names.

          He might better take his own advice, or at least follow the good example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Ah, brother, and sometimes one may mistake “name calling” for “stating the the obvious.” One should never regret studying Greek philosophy with the Jesuits. Surely you will recall: What is reality? The hypocrite, or the idea of the hypocrite? Know Your Meme.

  6. Todd Lewis says

    Well, well, well; another opportunity to attack Syosset, the OCA, Wheeler et al. Fools! Your continued right-wing agenda is ad nauseam. Do you people really think that homosexuality is something new in the church? Do you think that no homosexuals are receiving the Eucharist in the Moscow/ROCOR churches? How about the Greeks or Antiochians? Fools! So you continue your right-wing, self-righteous, crazed attacks; DURAKS!

    • What exactly is “right-wing” about criticizing OCA higher-ups when they undermine the faith and morals they are supposed to be upholding? I would, rather, point out that it is you who gives yourself away by calling traditional views “right wing.” I feel confident hat your spleen-venting is being driven by your own personal secular political urges rather than anything having to do with Orthodox Christianity. (Not to mention that anyone with a little knowledge of Christian teaching would stop and think twice before calling a fellow Chistian a “fool.”)

      Some of us who are concerned about these matters are politically conservative, some are moderate, others are apolitical, some are politically liberal in many ways. By engaging in secular political name-calling, as far as I am concerned, there is little credibility to anything else you say.

      • ReaderEmanuel says

        Calling traditional views “right wing” is like the old trick of the tablecloth and the glassware. When someone yanks the tablecloth, the glassware remains. We’re the glassware and the rest of society is the tablecloth. We didn’t move, our values and beliefs didn’t change. The rest of society did. What was traditional is now considered “right-wing” and a bunch of other less printable words.

    • Thomas Barker says

      “…and that whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the Gehenna of Fire.” Matthew 5:22

      Todd, please reconsider your position.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      Pretty much…

      • Paul Stasi says

        Mr. Fall wrote in another thread:

        If someone comes into your place of business wearing a Miley Cyrus twerking outfit, why must you serve them?

        The beauty of the first amendment is any business owner can say I’d rather not.

        Of course the owner can say it Mr. Fall, but when it comes down to doing it?

        My apologies for addressing the issue here. I feel it is relevant to the whole issue of SS marriage and the fear that many have been writing about (losing tax exempt status and the like).

        Laws vary from State to State, but a general rule of thumb concerning coercion: It involves trying to prevent individuals from doing or participating in what is otherwise considered lawful activity, or conversely, to force individuals to participate in unlawful activity. It is assumed that an element of blackmail is involved (defined loosely as threats to one’s safety, the safety of family members, mental/emotional abuse, threats to personal relationships etc.).

        So my questions on the matter are the following: To what extent will states go? To what extent will they infringe on the moral conscience of individuals and churches in order to protect the rights of a “protected minority?”

        Churches have a right, but to what extent are they protected under the law from spurious/vindictive law suits?

        I welcome the thoughts of anyone out there that is a lawyer.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          RE: To what extent will states go?

          “In New Jersey, the Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association refused to allow a lesbian couple to hold a ceremony at its boardwalk pavilion in 2007. The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights ruled in 2012 that the association, WHICH GETS A TAX EXEMPTION, must cease and desist violating the law but did not impose a fine or other penalty. The association stopped renting out the pavilion for marriages, an attorney who represented the association during the legal battle told PolitiFact.

          New Jersey can impose a fine of up to $10,000 for a first offense.

          A provision of the law states that anyone violating an order as a result of a legal challenge could face up to a year in jail or a fine.”


    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Todd inquires, “Do you people really think that homosexuality is something new in the church?”

      This is not a discussion about sexual perversion.

      We are discussing the State’s attempt to restructure the created order.

      • Joseph Lipp says

        So if the State is attempting to restructure the created order, and therefore you refuse to sign marriage certificates for the said State … then perhaps it would be better for married couples to legally divorce themselves, and then only recognize their marriage before the church.

        A movement of Orthodox Christians legally divorcing their spouse in protest of the State’s encroachment on marriage!

    • Uh no. The Church has always said it was a sin and has always worked with people who struggled with it. But they never used the word homosexual because, of course that is a new invented word. No one in the Church identified themselves as a homosexual, they saw it as an act they did and that is how the church has always treated it.
      Now, people don’t seem to know that and they think they are born that way and therefore it’s not a sin and they want rights in the Church. The confusion comes from the social climate which the Church must address because now people are not seeing it as a sin, but as a right and want to change how the Church has operated for the last 2000 years. . . .
      So Mr. Todd, is it, you need to get with the program. You either love the Church and her ways and live them and protect them or you get swallowed up in the “almost truths”.

    • George Osborne says

      Er….what is someone who says “Raca” in danger of??????

    • Rymlianin says

      Bы ocyждаeтecь cвoими слoвaми. Paзмышяетe!

  7. Fr. Herman Schick says

    Isn’t Paul D. Garrett the author of “St. Innocent: Apostle to America”, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press in 1979?

  8. Jim of Olym says

    I have not heard anything in my parish except the ukase of Archbishop Benjamin, and the statement from the bishops in the US. I think their pronouncements are sufficient. Nothing from the ambon from Wheeler or ++Tikhon or any others. and no, we don’t do unOrthodox weddings or anything else in our parish, unto ages of ages.
    Rdr. James Morgan
    Holy resurrection orthodox church, Tacoma WA

    PS: Not even any discussion at coffee hour after Liturgy. Go figgure!

  9. Mark E. Fisus says

    Why should we let one man, Pdn. Eric Wheeler, color our view of a whole jurisdiction?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I’ll tell you why: because he’s emblematic of the centralizing rot that has tainted the OCA as a whole. The very idea that an autocephalous church should be so centric is an oxymoron for one thing. For another it gives the old world patriarchates much-needed ammunition in their tired polemic that (1) because it is so centered, we are no different than the GOA, Serbs, Antioch, etc, and (2) Wheeler’s sophomoric humor are unbecoming of an ordained cleric. (The fact that they were published openly only makes it more so.)

      In other words, stunts such as these add fuel to the fire that “America is not mature enough to have an autocephalous church.”

      • George, I would like to echo your sentiments and elaborate further. Someone earlier said something about no references to Protodeacon Wheeler etal. at his church last week. Someone mentioned that their church clergy isn’t performing “gay weddings.” Someone mentioned that those who oppose “gay marriage” are right wing nuts. Sorry folks, here’s the truth.

        Protodeacon Eric Wheeler is the brother-in-law of Fr. Jillions. Do you really think that they go to church in about an 800 square foot room and never speak to each other? And let us not forget that the Metropolitan also serves there. If you have ever been to Syosset you will know that there is usually some fellowship after church. Protodeacon Wheeler is also the former, former Treasurer for the OCA. Do you really think he has no influence? It is no different than when Fr. Garklavs was chancellor and frequently chatted with Fr. Arida and Inga Leonova. It’s kind of hard to believe that these conversations didn’t have some effect. How about the other gay priest who serves in Syosset on a regular basis?

        As to the comment from the individual that doesn’t think his clergy will ever perform a “gay marriage” let’s ask Fr. Alexei Vinogradov. Why? Because he was suspended several years ago for performing part of an Orthodox marriage ceremony with a female protestant minister. And do you really think that a Fr. Arida will never break ranks and perform such a ceremony one day just to prove a point?

        This is not a right wing conspiracy and it is not a witch hunt for the OCA. Yes, there are homosexuals in all jurisdictions and gay clergy, but it is the OCA alone that consistently stands at the forefront of continuing to undermine Orthodoxy in America with their pro-homosexual agenda. It is as if the OCA is bound and determined to make the OCA OCGay.

      • Mikail02 says

        “America is not mature enough to have an autocephalous church.”


      • Mark E. Fisus says

        What does “centralizing rot” have to do with the OCA’s position on homosexual marriage?

        Why would old world hierarchs care what one American deacon says? At worst they might question why his bishop doesn’t rein him in.

        America is, in fact, not mature enough to have an autocephalous church. The focus right now should instead be on administrative unity.

      • Todd Lewis says

        George: How ridiculous your posts have become. Don’t you know that in most of the old world patriarchates, homosexuals are accepted as the norm? At the Phanar, there are so many celibate monk-types swishing around who are clearly ultra-effeminate it’s sickening. Go to the MP hdqrts and see all the celibate monk-types swishing around there. Next, Damascus where they try and hide it a little more. Next, go to Jerusalem and meet with that nest of homos. Clearly George, you have no real sense of world Orthodoxy nor do you realize that the OCA is the most open and forthright of all autocephalous churches in the world. And certainly, not entwined with open homosexuals as “Bart’s Hotel,” “Kirill’s Funistery” and the other foreign havens for effeminates!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Mr Lewis, I have never been to Russia, have you? Or to the Phanar? I have, back in 2000. I never saw any effeminate men there. (Not to say that there weren’t, it’s just that nobody there struck me as being particularly swishy.) This is not to say that some have of the clergy in the GOA aren’t that way (we know differently).

          Even if every Old World chancery was riddled with homosexuals, this doesn’t make what the Supreme Court did, correct. We aren’t talking about homosexuality here, per se, but the redefinition of marriage, something that even many homosexuals are against. (Let’s be honest, do you honestly think that the famous homosexuals throughout history –think Socrates, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, even Gore Vidal) would have championed the cause of marriage qua marriage? That is to say actual, lifelong monogamy? Even deviants like de Sade and Hugh Hefner chortled at that concept.

          Let us get to brass tacks: do I know or suspect that there are closeted homosexuals in the various chanceries, both in the Old World as well as the New? Of course there are! I dare say there always have been. Nevertheless, there was never any desire among these men to redefine the fundamental construct of all human civilization.

          That is what is the issue.

  10. i predict the cool monk-priest from the OCA’s 2nd Street cathedral (NYC) will be giving his “blessing” for gay marriages.. and +Michael won’t be able to stop him… because that monk-priest will use the gay loving media against him… and sue ..We know now. Marc Mollard is spineless and Wheeler knows too much. Period.

    • That is where laisizing and excommunication step in .. . Let’s see what our Assembly of Bishops do, or maybe each jurisdiction independently.

  11. and for baptisms .. will the new world force the church to have two godfathers instead of a godfather and a godmother??

  12. As I reflect on the centuries in which the Ecumenical Councils occurred and the faithful who attended them, I find myself being reminded that I need to be binocular in my vision/action.

    On the one hand I need an eye to the present. I need to take a stand, have a voice, make a difference when and where I can, holding fast with love.

    On the other hand I need an eye that is focused on the more global reality. Good will (has) overcome evil. What is true (the way things really are) will persevere and that which is false (not really the ways things are) will wither and come to an end.

    The eyes of my heart are meant to be used in a binocular manner so each can be used to fully effect. I need to keep both eyes open to purification and proper use so I may seek and serve Christ Jesus in all.

  13. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    As I reflect on the centuries in which the Ecumenical Councils occurred and the faithful who attended them, who concerned themselves with how to rightly respond to the world around them and/or the circumstances they were facing within the Body of Christ, I find myself being reminded that I need to be binocular in my vision/action.

    On the one hand I need an eye to the present (relatively local). I need to take a stand, have a voice, make a difference when and where I can, holding fast with love.

    On the other hand I need an eye that is focused on the eternal now (more global) reality. Good will (has) overcome evil. What is true the way things really are) will persevere and that which is false (not really the way things are) will wither and come to an end.

    See, for example, much of Isaiah 40.

    The eyes of my heart, therefore, are meant to be used in a binocular manner so each can be used to full effect – the glory of God. I need to keep both eyes open to purification and proper use so I may seek and serve Christ Jesus in all

  14. Father Edward Pehanich says

    Thank you George for sharing this sad news with us. I am a graduate of St. Vladimir’s and despite not being in the OCA I always respected their vision of a single, pan-Orthodox Church for America. I count many friends and acquaintances in the OCA including some of those mentioned in your latest post. I can only say I am so sad to read their comments and to observe what has happened in the OCA the past few years.

    Homosexuals were not “made” by God that way…they are in need of the healing power of Christ, and our love and acceptance, but not approval. I have counseled many of them…the lesbian who was abused by the men in her family and then turns to women needs healing and not approval. The gay man who was sexually abused as a child and is now seeking acceptance from other men through sex needs healing and not approval. The gay man who never quite identified with his own masculinity and grew up feeling “less than” and tries to find fulfillment in this through sexual relationships with other men needs the healing power of Christ and not approval.

    Father Edward Pehanich

  15. You’re fooling yourselves if you think only enfemminate men are gay. There are plenty of very masculine men who are gay. You wouldn’t know they were just by looking at them.

    Again I have to ask the question I’ve asked many many times here:

    What exactly, precisely, concretely, are you guys in the OCA doing to solve this problem with the OCA? Have any of you directly confronted Fr Dn Eric Wheeler? Or for that matter, anyone else such as Inga or Fr Robert? Or are you just coming here and using this blog as an echo chamber?

    What, pray tell, are you actually doing about this?

    Please give a list of very concrete actions that you have/will be taking, thank you!

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      “You’re fooling yourselves if you think only effeminate men are gay.” But the poster didn’t say that.

    • Tim Murphy says

      Dear Annoyed; You are assuming there is a problem when the only people saying there is are a few here. Where did Fr. Arida push for homosexuals in the church? Wheeler applauds the govt decision for equal rights; is the govt wrong to give equal rights to all people as our Constitution states? So, what is it you feel needs to be done? Are you certain there are problems or could it just be the wackos here? How about we go on a witch hunt in ROCOR and hang the offenders? Same in the Greeks and Antiochians.

  16. As if there isn’t enough to complain about in the OCA, I just read Fr. Jillion’s daily missive and was rather flabbergasted to read the following:

    “Biggest challenge? There’s nothing really new, it’s stuff we’re dealing with perennially, like the funding question. Frankly, the “Christian stewardship” model, the “Protestant tithing” type of approach is unrealistic with the parishes we have. ”

    The “Protestant tithing” approach is unrealistic? First off, Mr. Biblical Scholar, the “tithing” thing isn’t protestant, it’s biblical. What in the heck did you learn in seminary? Oh, I don’t know try, Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:26, Deuteronomy 14:24, or 2 Chronicles 31:5. Or perhaps Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

    Fr. Jillion’s Chancellor’s Diary is an excellent read today, because if you read between the lines, you will see a church that is falling apart. Clearly, even with the Chancellor, there is a tremendous lack of faith, so much so that there isn’t even trust that God will bless their endeavors. To dismiss trust that God would actually bless their offerings is plain stupid.

    God blesses truth and honesty, not obfuscation and sophistry. If what people are doing is honest and forthright, it really should be able to stand up to the scrutiny of social media. Let me quote just another example from Fr. Jillion’s remarks today: “Unfortunately, some of the dioceses have unrealistically low assessments for their own diocesan needs, so no wonder they complain that they are paying too high a percentage to the central church. But if you’re only collecting $35 for the diocese what do you expect?”

    A bit prior to this remark, Fr. Jillion’s states that he wishes there was more collegiality among colleagues, that “you can be with them without being judged.” However, what I think he failed to see in his own writing is that there is, indeed, a strong overtone of nastiness when he writes, “what do you expect?” This is just plain insulting. As he even says himself, you have parishes where the average age is over 60 and most likely on fixed incomes. Whose fault is that? Seriously, the implication is that the 60 year old is the problem, not the fat and hungry administration that is trying to gobble up their resources. The arrogance of the statement is astounding.

    If there was true humility, the OCA would stop trying to manage two seminaries, a mansion in Syosset, NY and a bloated administration. Hint: combine the seminaries into one, sell the rotting mansion in NY, move the administration to St. Tikhon’s and cut the staff.

    I should be clear as well that it isn’t clear who is speaking in Fr. Jillion’s remarks. These could be his remarks or other chancellors judging by the title. Either way, the comments speak volumes about the nastiness and internal conflict within the OCA. The title of the AAC this year is “How to expand the mission.” The title should have been “How to heal ourselves.” There isn’t going to be any expansion of mission with this type of antipathy and nastiness. God is not going to bless a church that doesn’t know humility, trust, and faithfulness.

    To quote Fr. Jillions one last time, “What do you expect?”

    • Tim Murphy says

      Nick: It’s clear you have no understanding of the issues. The budget of the OCA is very low. The house in Syosset was a donation and it only requires maintenance. There is no bloated administration and St. Tikhon’s is financially hanging on by a shoe-string. Expecting a 10% tithe from people is unrealistic and doesn’t work. The Greeks have uber bucks and so do the Antiochians. The OCA operates modestly as directed since the financial scandal under Kondratick. You are right about one thing; there is no need for two seminaries. St. Tikhon’s needs to change its model to be like the Antiochian Village. A monastery; retirement village for clergy; a retreat/convention center; an Orthodox camp; etc.

      • Heracleides says

        Given the direction of the OCA, St. Tikhon’s would likely make a great venue for an annual “We Are Their Queer Legacy” seminar with breakout sessions led by Mrs. & Mrs. Stokoe-Brown, Herr Stankovich, Inga Leonova, Arida, ProtoDemon Wheeler, and… well, the list is endless.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Fr Jillions introduces those remarks by saying “Here are more views from diocesan chancellors on the challenges facing the Orthodox Church in America as we go to Atlanta for the 18th All-American Council, July 20-24. Diverse thoughts on mission, proportional giving, funding the central church, collegiality and civility, ethnic dioceses, clergy and parish health, and the vision of being Orthodox in North America.” Where did you get the idea that these diverse thoughts may be partly his own?

    • Francis Frost says

      Nick wrote:

      As if there isn’t enough to complain about in the OCA, I just read Fr. Jillion’s daily missive and was rather flabbergasted to read the following:

      “Biggest challenge? There’s nothing really new, it’s stuff we’re dealing with perennially, like the funding question. Frankly, the “Christian stewardship” model, the “Protestant tithing” type of approach is unrealistic with the parishes we have. ”

      The “Protestant tithing” approach is unrealistic? First off, Mr. Biblical Scholar, the “tithing” thing isn’t protestant, it’s biblical. What in the heck did you learn in seminary? Oh, I don’t know try, Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:26, Deuteronomy 14:24, or 2 Chronicles 31:5. Or perhaps Malachi 3:10 “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

      Unfortunately, Nick is misinformed as to the teaching of the scriptures and our Church. The Old Testament “tithe” is no more incumbent upon Orthodox Christians than the Jewish laws of ritual purity, kashruth and the seventh day Sabbath.

      The Apostle Paul tells us:

      For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.

      ” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— Galatian 3:10-13

      If Nick wants to observe, or more likely, impose on others the observance of the old Testment Jewish commandments, then he must agree to observe all 614 of them. The Judaizing tendency is a recurring problem for Christians; but it must be resisted in order to preserve the truth of the Gospel.

      The Holy Apostles in the first synod, as described in the 15th chapter of the Acts, imposed only 4 laws on the Christian people, and tithing is not one of them!

      During this council St James, the brother of the Lord declared:

      Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. Acts 15:20

      The Council of the Apostles concurred and issued this epistle to the faithful:

      For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell.” Acts 15:28

      It seems that Nick wants to “improve” on the apostolic teaching. This is not permitted.

      Instead the Holy Apostle Paul teaches us :

      “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; II Corinthian 9:7

      We all do well to support the church according our abilities. We cannot, however, invent commandments in order to do so.

      It is well to adhere to the teaching of the church. However, all too often, some zealots for “tradition” invent traditions and then upbraid others for not following suite.

      As to the greater discussion, we might do well to remember that as the Holy Apostles forbade “sexual immorality”, they also forbade violence, the shedding of blood.

      These sins are not unrelated. You cannot condemn abortion and homosexuality, if you condone and even cheer on the perpetrators of violence against innocent civilians. To do so is rank hypocrisy.

      To ignore the plight of the now millions of victims of ethnic cleansing and outright genocide in occupied Ukraine and Gerogia, is to repeat the sin of Cain, who said “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9

      When our resident tribe of moral pundits gets serious about addressing the plight of the 1 million refugees in Ukraine. the 3000,000 displaced persons in Georgia and the tens of thousands of Orthodox Christians massacred in their own homes and villages, the desecration of Orthodox Holy Places,; then ands only then will their “morality” count for something.

      Until then …

      The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. “Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand”.. Genesis 4:10

      So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Isaiah 1:15

      • George Michalopulos says

        Dear-to-Christ Francis, thank you for inspiring me to write a post regarding the proper level of giving to the Church. For now, I will apologize in that I have misunderstood your phronema. It seems to me that you believe that Russia should be governed by Christian principles. Clearly, you feel that under Putin, it does not. Am I to understand that you feel this way? A simple yes or no would suffice.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        The talk of tithing and Old Testament law concerning tithing, and the implications of that, are a distraction.

        What the churches need are well organized, well run, formal stewardship programs that heighten the awareness of the need to give, and to undertake pledging. This isn’t Protestant; it’s just that Protestants have always done it. It’s plain good sense, that recalls the people to their responsibility to give– money.

        Our church council instituted such a program last year, very well done indeed, which within a year led to sufficient giving to pay all annual operating expenses, leaving all Festival earnings free for capital purposes. One year!

        • George Michalopulos says

          Tim, you are right: all criticism of tithing as an “OT construct” is merely misdirection on the part of some ethnic Orthodox as a way of keeping things decrepit.

          I will leave it to another column to explicate why these people want to keep things on the chintzy side. In the meantime, I’d be interested in the thoughts of my readers on this subject.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Here are some thoughts.

            1. Inertia. Doing things the same way as one’s parent’s did.

            2. Ignorance. Not having a good grounding in the Holy Scriptures or the Fathers.

            3. Alienation. Not really feeling part of the Church and thus not loving Her.

          • George, I have attended or been closely familiar with quite a few “ethnic” Orthodox churches over my several decades in the Church. I have seen a few temples that could have used improvement, but I have seen at least 5 or 6 churches (Antiochian, Greek, Russian, Serbian) that undertook massive building and renovation projects, both of their temples and their facilities for having gatherings. The bulk of the money was raised by private donations.

            Far from being interested in “keeping things decrepit,” the ethnic parishioners seemed to be very happy with having beautiful temples and were proud of them. I have seen them dig deep and give generously for building and renovation projects. That doesn’t mean all is well, however. The leftover “WASP” part of me still has trouble with the fact that far too many “ethnic” Orthodox Christians seem to be “challenged” when it comes to grasping basic concepts of stewardship when it comes to keeping the lights on: decent salary and benefits for the priest, paying the utilities, doing basic building maintenance, buying communion wine and other liturgical supplies, educational materials for children’s activities, etc.

            I’ve heard all of the reasons — the Byzantine emperor and the tsar used to pay for everything, yada, yada… Peasant mentality, blah, blah… whatever. I really don’t care why it is, and I refuse to believe that the same people who can figure out how to use smart phones, run businesses, and buy homes are somehow genetically incapable of grasping basic math. (Whereas my father, with his 8th grade education was able to tithe — a full 10% of his gross income every year for his 60 year working life was able to grasp it — and become wealthy in spite of, or because of it — just because he had northern European genetics? Seriously?)

            How insulting is that? But it is very annoying. In general, when I attended a Greek parish, I wasn’t close to being the wealthiest parishioner — in Russian/Serbian parishes, I probably have been at or near the top. But in both situations, I have been an anomaly as someone who gives regularly and substantially, in proportion to my means.

            I personally think that the whole “tithing” thing is a bit of a distraction, since for most people, that is a huge step to take. I would guess that in most parishes, if everyone gave, say, 2% of their post-tax incomes every month, Orthodox parishes would be so awash in money that they wouldn’t know what hit them. The key is learning a sense of responsibility and common-sense realization that if you want a church you have to pay for it. If that makes them more (gasp) “Anglo Saxon,” well then bully for the Anglos, I say…

            One final thought. I was talking to a priest not long ago whose parish was headed toward insolvency. I told him that people will respond to a straight-forward explanation, but emphasized that it cannot come from the priest, and certainly not only from the priest, since he is perceived as having a vested interest by the cynical. It needs to be a respected parish council member who lays out the numbers of what it takes to “keep the lights” on, and who emphasizes that real donations (not a few bucks in the collection basket or buying some candles) need to come in regularly. (The appeal apparently worked.) I tend to give quarterly for ease of bookkeeping for me and the church, but weekly or monthly is probably better for most people.

            One of the reasons that Orthodoxy fails to grow in America is because of poor funding. That poor funding comes from a general failure to understand the sheer power of a large number of people giving modest amounts of money regularly. Ask any political candidate whether they would rather have 10 people give a maximum allowed donation of, say, $3000, or whether they would rather have 3000 people each give $10. You’ll get the same answer from all of them — they will choose the latter, every time, because there is a good chance that those small donors will give those small amounts again and again. Their contributions will, over time, swamp the “big donors.” It is simple math, and Orthodox laymen need to take the lead in instilling it in the faithful.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              And they will go on, in time, to be bigger donors; many of them.

              All well said.

            • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

              Edward: I’m beginning to feel you a more kindred spirit. True story – as a priest on my first parish, I believed it was well past time to instruct, teach, coach the people in Christian stewardship; after all, as Orthodox we bring gifts and the fruit of our labor into the temple, before the altar to be blessed and distributed – grapes, fruit, fragrant herbage, candles, water…… So why not help the people to understand that is what must be done with the fruit of our labor in the US; bring a portion of our earnings into the temple to be blessed of God. So, on Wednesday evening during one Great Lenten season, after the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and a Lenten meal I taught the people. I encouraged them not to think in terms of 10% at first, but rather to look at one’s income and make a prayerful commitment to give 1/2 of 1% without fail each week for six months. Then, relook your commitment and up your giving to 1%, etc. To encourage the people even more, I instructed them to figure their portion on after tax, net amount earnings. O, and the priest, making less than $19K a year was leading from the front and returning 10% of his earnings to the parish. There was movement in the right direction on the part of the faithful; more than a few were taking the instruction to heart. I encouraged the people to do away with giving the priest ‘treby’; if they felt the priest wasn’t making enough, then put money in the plate and vote the priest a more livable wage at the annual parish meeting. I would not accept ‘treby’ for Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals; after all, these are Sacraments & sacramental which are what I do as a priest. I could not bring myself to ‘charge’ for these most precious Holy Mysteries. Many of the people just didn’t know what to make of it all; but all for naught. In one fell swoop, the bishop during a visit to a monthly parish council meeting, when asked his thoughts on proportional giving, very clearly stated that the Church will never survive under a proportional giving paradigm. Realizing I could be no more than a lame duck priest, I saw the occasion an opportunity to pursue chaplaincy in the Army. Now, 19 years later my only regret is not having entered the chaplaincy a younger man.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Fr, you’ve given me more ammunition for my upcoming editorial on tithing. What saddens me (but doesn’t surprise me) is your former bishop’s teaching upholding the old, decrepit ways. I’ve always suspected that there were more than a few bishops out their who like the way things are in this sad regard. Now you’ve given me proof that my suspicions were correct.

                I’m sorry, may the Lord forgive me for saying this, but he was not doing the Lord’s work. It is possible that he led many astray in your former parish.

              • Father, we have always been kindred spirits — we love Christ and his Church. This whole thing reminds me of one of my favorite Vladyka Dimitri stories. The story is that he was meeting Met. Philip of blessed memory outside a hotel for the first time. +Philip was dressed in his Roman collar and suit, +Dimitri was dressed in his full episcopal street garb — cassock, headcovering, staff, etc. +Philip says, a bit embarrassed, in his Lebanese accent “Dimitri! We are in America now!” +Dimitri replies, with a bit of drollness, reportedly in the soft Texan accent he could authentically put on when he wanted to, “Your Beatitude, I’ve always been in America.”

                My point? There are many things that “ethnic” Orthodox should unapologetically teach Americans. And there are things that Americans (including those with last names like Dubinin or that end in -ich or -poulos) should unapologetically teach the “ethnics” — and how to go about having a financially solvent and thriving parish where the priest is paid a reasonable living wage is one of those things. Being American is nothing to be ashamed of. Call me “Protestant” if you like, I’ve never known a priest, no matter how ethnic, who didn’t want more such “Protestants” in his parish.

                There is nothing Orthodox about making a priest scrap for Treby to make ends meet. I’ve never not given a priest a generous gift for blessing my house or serving a Moleben (unless he refuses it and asks that it be given to the parish), but God help me if I ever presume to count that as part of my giving to the Church.

          • Michalopulos:

            Tim, you are right: all criticism of tithing as an “OT construct” is merely misdirection on the part of some ethnic Orthodox as a way of keeping things decrepit.

            The thoroughly modern idea of tithing is not an OT construct. It is a PROTESTANT construct.

            • Actually, it is not Protestant, it is a bit socialist/communist, and in this context, that is how it should be. It is essentially a voluntary progressive income tax, since most larger donors who give a set proportion of their income to the church inevitably give additional larger sums for capital projects as well. The dues system loved by traditional “ethnic” churches is a sharply regressive system, and smells of “pay to play” every bit as much as Treby does.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Historically, it is true that the Protestants resurrected tithing and, in their ignorance of the Fathers, based their arguments mainly on the Old Testament. Keeping in mind that the 10% tithing was the amount that Jews gave to the Temple (all of their “tithing” were estimated to total over 50%), it is humbling to realize that St John Chrysostom chided Christians for not tithing. I suspect that the reason why giving money to the church is such a hard thing for ethnic Orthodox to grasp is the historic reliance of the Church on the state. A corollary may be that, since the Church was an arm of the state, those who are wrong by the state would resent both.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                “Ignorance of the Fathers” on the part of the Reformers can be greatly exaggerated, by the way.

                Tithing as such is characteristic of many Evangelical protestant churches, but not of the old “mainline” churches. I was a Presbyterian most of my life, including serving as an ordained elder on the Session of my church in the 1980s (the Session being the ruling board in Presby churches), and holding other church offices. There was never any emphasis on “tithing” among Presbyterians and the other large mainline bodies, including Episcopalians and Methodists and many others.

                What was emphasized, strongly, was stewardship, in the form of pledging money contributions, living up to your pledges, and re-examination of your giving every year. This was regarded seriously. We paid our pastors well, we maintained our church well, we ran many programs, and everybody understood the economics of operating a church, above and beyond outreach and charitable activities.

              • Edward is wrong that it is not Protestant and modern. He is right though when he suggests that it is socialist or communitarian at its best. Churches where the governance and therefore spending are more democratically generated will be more open to tithing. This is why the many Protestant churches have been succesful with it, while in general the more hierarchical churches are not able to implement it. Churches with autocratic leaders (priests) in effective control – regretably, too many Orthodox churches fit into this category – will resist tithing. In my own case I would never dream of tithing to a church where the decision making was not essentially democratic and unresponsive to the desires of the laity Father Dubinin had it backwards. He should have asked his parish first how they wanted to spend money; then he could have taught them how to reach that goal – if his hierarch had not undermined him.

                • OOM, the only thing I understood in this garbled post is that you want to disagree with me. It seems that you are unable to do so in this instance without making vague self-contradictions. I finish your post unable to determine what you advocate in terms of church funding (or church governance) other than “tithing is bad.” There is no sin in being clear.

                  I frankly don’t care how parishes fund themselves — its their own business. As for me, I will do what I can to make sure clergy are taken proper care and that the bills get paid of at any parish I am associated with. I’ve never sat down to calculate a percentage when I give, but neither have I ever felt compelled, as do you, to criticize those who do.

                  I notice, btw, that you love criticizing “tithing,” but pointedly avoided my last point. Do you think pay-to-play is really morally superior to encouraging the faithful to give some small portion of their income to the church?

                  • Edward:

                    I finish your post unable to determine what you advocate in terms of church funding (or church governance) other than “tithing is bad.”

                    Edward, don’t put absurd simplistic words in my mouth. Reread my post and maybe it will sink in that the notion of tithing or proportional giving only makes sense when the laity feels empowered to have a say in how the money is used. Tithing as generally understood means contributing much more than is necessary for the basics – the bills and the priest’s salary. Who suggested otherwise ? NOT I.

                    • OOM, if a desire not to blindly overfund a parish — or a desire not to blindly fund anything without accountability — is your point, then I must say I agree with you. What I have in mind are parishes with faithful priests who aren’t being paid a living wage and aren’t being provided with health insurance, because there is no culture of regular giving by parishioners. Whether one calls that giving “tithing” or proportional giving or stewardship, I don’t care. Just don’t make a priest scrap for Treby to buy groceries.

                      I think we are on the same wavelength. I personally, when faced with parish councils who were spendthrift, have on a couple of occasions withheld as much as a year’s giving, holding it until the next parish council elections brought in leaders who understood that you actually have to follow a budget, save for a rainy day, and not blow through the parish’s savings on pet projects. I then gave the entire amount in a lump sum, and let the incoming president that I had withheld that money until someone sensible like him or her was in charge. Why? Because when a parish gets into financial trouble, the first thing they look to do is to cut the priest’s salary and benefits. Why should he and his family pay for the fact that someone on the parish council wants to spend money the parish doesn’t have on silly projects?

                      Likewise, you may recall that I took a lot of flak on this forum for suggesting to disgruntled OCA members that if they don’t like how the OCA chancery is spending their money, they should stop giving them any. I perhaps used an unfortunate phrase when I called it “starving the beast.” Be that as it may, there is no advocacy of blind “tithing” coming from me.

                      I am sorry that I misunderstood you.

                • Fr. Peter Dubinin says

                  OOM – The principle at the heart of what I taught was not raising money in order to spend it. The people already had the mechanism and process in place to declare how the money should be spent; it was called the annual budget. We had a budget committee in place to draft a budget for the following year which was presented to the parish council. The parish council ultimately presented the budget to the people at the annual meeting. The principle I needed to drive home was that of worship. If Holy Scripture teaches anything about worship, offering to God is at the center. The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof; everything we are belongs to and is from God – minus sin; St. Paul to the Romans, I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service…., chapter 12, vv. 1ff. As those created by God, we make an offering to God of that with which He blessed us. The matter of percentages is only a tool to help determine what our offering could look like or amount to; and a way to help us determine what sacrificial offering looks like. Our Lord indicates to us that the amount, though large, not given from a humble heart filled with gratitude is a lesser offering (e.g., the widows mite; the ointment used to anoint the feet of our Lord in preparation for His death and burial rather than sold and proceeds given to the poor…). Bottom line up front – as Orthodox Christians we make offering to God from that which He gives; how much and of what type is ultimately between the believer and God. I never once as a parish priest examined the giving record of anyone member or otherwise who gave to the church. I trusted the auditors to assure me all was in order and focused my energy on the work of the Gospel.

                  • Father Peter:

                    The principle at the heart of what I taught was not raising money in order to spend it. The people already had the mechanism and process in place ….

                    The ONLY reason to raise money is to spend it. Scripture quotes and warm fuzzy feelings about giving to God notwithstanding. I am well aware of the annual parish council meeting. In many parishes the budget is a DONE DEAL by the time it Is presented at the meeting. In many parishes the priest and the same small group of people make all the fiscal decisions year after year with little to no input from anyone outside the charmed circle. All I’m saying is that in those types of parishes, tithing will never catch on.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    It’s a common, and good, practice for the pastor not to know the specifics of individual giving. But the stewardship committee needs to know.

                    As with everything in life, if we are accountable, we do our best. We contribute not only out of our hearts (OOM’s “warm fuzzy”). Most of us won’t contribute as much as we should unless we know that men and women who are our friends and peers, with the committee responsibility, are aware of our giving.

  17. I am wondering, with all seriousness, what the next item is on the agenda of those who have advocated for societal acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriages?

    I am not, by that question, inviting sarcastic suggestions. It is a serious question. I really wonder.

  18. the Homosexual “married” couple will NEVER be happy (gay) why? because they will never be able to produce a baby between themselves…. right now they need someone to blame for their ways..
    like to know why Muslims in the USA are not being asked about their thoughts on this subject by our media.

    • Mark E. Fisus says

      Let’s not use secular reasoning. A homosexual couple will not find true happiness not because they can’t have natural children (which don’t always bring happiness even to straight couples), but because they are violating the divine order. They obey their lust and disobey our God.

  19. After looking at the OCA’s numbers for a few minutes, I thought I’d put them in a spreadsheet to see what was really going on. In case anyone cares, here are the stats from 2011 to 2015:

    Washington declined by 19.89%
    South increased by 4.93%
    EPA declined by 12.26%
    New England increased by 2.76%
    WPA declined by 10.36%
    NY/NY declined by 11.28%
    Midwest declined by 2.98%
    West increased by 1.71%

    Total OCA census (dues paying diocese) in 2011 21,238
    Total OCA census (dues paying diocese) in 2015 20,116
    Decline 1, 122
    Decline % 5.28%

    There were only three diocese that showed any growth, the South, New England and the West (and frankly the West probably needs to be qualified because if it had been based on their 2014 cense their diocese would have declined).

    To put this in perspective, had the OCA grown each diocese by 5% per year, their census would have grown by 4,576 people. And had each of these new members paid the allotted $90 per head, the OCA administration would have had an additional $411,840 to spend.

    The problem is not with the faithful 20,000 plus members, the problem is that the OCA administration is too bloated for the size of the church. The second and probably more fundamental problem is that the bishops and priests in the OCA clearly don’t have a clue how to grow parishes.

  20. “”You’re fooling yourselves if you think only effeminate men are gay.” But the poster didn’t say that.”

    No, but he is implying that if a guy is effeminate, he is gay. That also, is not true either.

    But this is a tangent. I see that there are no answers to my question!

  21. Thomas Barker says

    Carl Kraeff said,

    “One [sic] the one side are a small number of homosexuals and on the other a vast army of heteros. Assuming that half of both groups engage in sexual sins, which group sins more? Which group is a bigger threat to Holy Matrimony?” [Happy Fourth thread]

    Mr. Kraeff,

    The above are interesting questions, especially in light of what you have posted on your Facebook page. I refer to the article from politico.com which discusses the Gottman study, published in the Journal of Homosexuality. In part it states that “… recent research suggests that same-sex marriages aren’t just equal to straight marriages: in important regards they are superior.” Here is another quote. “In this study, the gay and straight couples brought up the same sort of problems, but gay couples were, by a statistically significant margin, less defensive during fights and more likely to use shared humor to soften the tension of the conversation.” The article concludes with an assertion “That isn’t gay couples’ only advantage.”

    Reference: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/gay-marriages-better-than-straight-marriages-119465.html

    I ask you, Mr Kraeff, did you post this because it is consonant with your belief that gay marriages are in many ways healthier than hetero marriages? That’s the interesting question. So what’s the interesting answer?

    • M. Stankovich says

      Mr. Barker,

      I strongly suspect that you did not fully investigate the content of the article in question – an application of (if you follow all the study links) very generalized male-female relationship criteria – to gay couples. In that same-sex marriage is neither marriage nor an “approximation phenomenon” of any numeric accumulation or endurance to make it of any statistical interest or value for comparison, it is a “parlour trick.” This would constitute my interesting answer.

      My interesting question to you is of what value you – and others – find in “scouring” posts for the sentence, or word, or reference, or whatever that appears to indict? Fr. Hans posted a short interview of Fr. Victor Patopov on his site, and I highly recommend it as a sober, non-reactive, and sane observation of the times, summarized: Brothers and sisters, here is the reality, we must resolve to be the Church. Nevertheless, when he was questioned as to whether the Orthodox in America were united in their rejection of the SCOTUS decision, he said:

      So far they are virtually united, but already in some Orthodox jurisdictions priests are beginning to take positions. For example, a priest of the Orthodox Church in America in Boston is talking about the possibility of accepting same-sex couples.

      As I remarked on Fr. Hans’ site, I do not intend to argue the veracity of this statement, but in that Priest Robert Arida is giving cause for anyone to say the Orthodox are “virtually united,” it is judgment upon all of us. Is this arrogance, elitism, spitefulness, or pridefulness? I have no idea. And unfortunately, we have allowed this identical lack of responsibility in Met. Jonah and referred to it as “piety,” “monastic sensibility,” and “leadership.” Whatever the case may be, in my opinion it is willful and divisive. But until a moral authority intervenes, we will be “virtually united” in a “Church that is one.”

      My point, Mr. Barker? I don’t see the need to go looking for divisions where they do not actually exist. Do you honestly believe in all your readings of Mr. Kraeff that it is “consonant with [his] belief that gay marriages are in many ways healthier than hetero marriages?” So what’s the interesting answer?

      • Thomas Barker says

        Dr. Stankovich,

        The scientific merits of the article in politico.com did not interest me as much as Carl Kraeff’s reason for posting the link. My motivation for “scouring” posts outside of monomakhos.com? A person often poses as something he is not. Multiple sources provide a deeper understanding of a person’s real stance. As to your question of what I “honestly believe” about Mr. Kraeff’s position? Without more input from Mr. Kraeff, I have no idea. He has told us “I did score 99 percentile on my GRE,” so no doubt he is able to interpret my question and respond with vigor. Good day to you.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Thomas Barker writes “I ask you, Mr Kraeff, did you post this because it is consonant with your belief that gay marriages are in many ways healthier than hetero marriages? That’s the interesting question. So what’s the interesting answer?”

      My answer is not that interesting. Perhaps I should preface it by saying that in your case I have not one hand tied behind my back but both of them.

      First, a question if you don’t mind. What evidence do you have that I have a “belief that gay marriages are in many ways healthier than hetero marriages”? In case you are tempted to research the answer, you are not going to find it on Internet sites that I frequent, such as Facebook, Yahoo Orthodox Forum, Orthodox Christianity Net, or here on Monomakhos. However, if you go to my page and click on “Carl”you can scroll down and see that I had posted at least ten articles opposing same-sex marriage, normalization of homosexual activity, or the recent SCOTUS decision before the article that you cited. If you go on beyond it, you wil notice that I have been consistent, loud and clear in my stance.

      Now, to answer your question, I posted that article, along with two or three others, to show that what I had feared was coming to pass. In my view the fight has never been about equal rights but for the acceptance of homosexual activity as not a sin, in controvention of Christian belief.

      Finally, let me help you think a bit better by pointing out that the brain in most humans is gray matter and up in the cranium, not brown and down in….

      • Thomas Barker says

        Mr. Kraeff,

        I am disappointed that you felt the need to reference feces in your reply. There can be no meaningful exchange of thoughts between us. I wish you the best.


        • Carl Kraeff says

          I am glad you learned something. My best wishes to you as well.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Thomas Barker,

          My comment to you was not intended to be “shade” or to criticize you, and I apologize to you for giving that impression. I was simply attempting to say that it is inevitable that emerging studies will show that – pursuant to “measurement” of superfluous characteristic in this fallen world – same-sex relationships will appear “healthy,” and that, after my reading of Mr. Kraeff over the years, I could not imagine he was supportive of same-sex marriage. As I expected, his response supported my contention, and I join your disappointment in his offensive conclusion. But, Mr. Barker, I suggest a feet-up listening of the Stevie Ray Vaughn classic, “I Ain’t Gonna’ Give Up on Love,” with an ice-cold 40 oz. (in a bag, if possible), followed by “Reconsider, Baby” for the purpose of analogy (and I’m sure you’ll figure out the purpose of the 40 oz.). A wise man can dialog with anyone, if he sets the terms. And a good day to you as well, my friend!

          • Thomas Barker says

            M. Stankovich,

            No apology is needed and no offense was taken. If I was a bit curt it was only to save my main response for Mr. Kraeff, who had not commented at that time. Did I find a crack in the carapace? I am certain. But this is neither the time nor the place for warring against personal facades. By the way, when I saw the “40 oz. (in a bag, if possible)” above, it did make me chuckle – thank you for that. Addio, amico mio.

      • Aaron Little says

        “Finally, let me help you think a bit better by pointing out that the brain in most humans is gray matter and up in the cranium, not brown and down in….”

        Just the type of scatology I’d expect from a self-professed preacher’s priest’s brat.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Dear Aaron–I do not know what you are driving at. If you mean that I pulled my punches and was not explicit enough, you would be correct. However, from the reaction of most folks here, even that little bit of invective on my part was greatly disliked. Part of that decidedly negative vote may be attributable to positions that I have taken in the past, and I have no doubt that some have also disliked my last sentence. That said, I have a feeling that you are trying to criticize that post in a clever fashion, by using qualifiers such as “type of” scatology, “self-professed” and “brat.” Congratulations on trying to be a wit.

  22. Michael Kinsey 1380805 says

    Things are stand up authentic Christianity. The sermon given this Sunday at Annunciation in Milwaukee, Oregon, with most ,if not all our clerics , backing Fr. Tate’s leadership, was quite what the faithful want. Clear ,plainly stated with an abundance of ,why this plague is so soul destroying. I felt genuine happiness, joy, as we fear not, ,as the Christ has Overcome the World.

  23. Horace Harley says

    You folks here are so hung up on homosexuality. From just reading here, one would think the entire Orthodox church is just full of these people and the OCA is the worst. Yet, I notice that most of the posters here are converts who must have come to Orthodoxy running away from something. Maybe homosexual episodes? Like ex-smokers who can’t tolerate those who smoke. In any event, this site hardly lends itself to the truth found in Orthodox churches, but a certain hand-full distorting the truth and spreading disinformation. Welcome to the “Russian Forum.”

  24. Christopher says

    How/why is he still allowed to be a Deacon in the Orthodox Church?

    • Mark E. Fisus says

      Going from bishop to priest to deacon to layman, the strictness about public statements probably decreases.

      The bishops have to pick their battles. It was appropriate for Met. Tikhon to respond to the controversy started by Fr. Arida, an ordained celebrant of the Eucharist. But an upstart deacon? Engaging him would only give him a larger platform. He’s a friggin pipsqueak.

      • Christopher says

        I should apologize.

        I should not have questioned his office, nor the office of his overseeing Bishop.

        Forgive me.

      • Christopher (the first) says

        Looks like we have another Christopher…

        It was appropriate for Met. Tikhon to respond to the controversy started by Fr. Arida

        His response was no response at all, other than to back Fr. Arida. He also obfuscated (to put it nicely):

        “…In reference to the specific topic of homosexuality, which is presumed by many of the respondents to Fr. Robert’s article to be the primary issue of discussion,…”

        Duh! Does Met. Tikhon really think his readers to be so dense. OF COURSE homosexuality (in particular homosexual “partnerships”) is the topic of Fr. Roberts subversion of the Tradition. Shame on Met. Tikhon for supporting and aiding (through his own obfuscation) Fr. Robert in said subversion. The rest of his “response” is a rambling, imprecise call to “respond” to the culture, to the “questions the youth are asking”. In some other context it might have been appropriate – but as a “response” to an subversive essay meant to question the foundation of the Tradition it was, well, subversive itself. He hides behind his the claim that he is not “the thought police”.

        He is obviously a “double minded” leader. I am also a double minded man, but then I am not a bishop and I don’t openly support subversive priests like Fr. Robert Arida. The NA episcopacy/clergy is a club, they protect their own (except when their own dare to question their incompetency – such as Met. Jonah). They are willing to sacrifice the plain Truth of the Gospel to support their own confused and deluded members. In a way, it is quite an honorable thing to do. Who would not die for their true friend, and carry a little of their sin? The problem is that “the flock” whom they are supposed to lead are then lost in instances such as this. Fr. Robert misleads and abuses his flock to this day.

        Shame on Met. Tikhon, shame on him…

        • Horace Harley says

          Christopher: I’ve been through all of Fr. Arida’s writings and no where can I find his advocacy for homosexuality, homosexual marriages or anything that you state or that people here state. Please post EXACTLY what Fr. Arida wrote and where I can find his horrible, anti-Orthodox writings. I haven’t found them and I’m sure Met. Tikhon hasn’t found them, but people here seem to think they exist. WHERE? I think this is a public crucifixion by a few who have their own agenda and lack real factual info.

          • TreytheVirginian says


            Of course Father Robert Arida would not say this. He is conducting himself as a skillful politician!

            This brings up the question of how Satan works his deceptions.

            Judas believed that his views were morally superior to Christ’s, even though he was a thief! To the absurd length of asserting that oil used to anoint Christ could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. So was Judas concerned about the poor? On the surface it sounded like he was to those present, and it sounded like a good argument he gave.

            It is indeed the modern argument of “helping the poor” under many guises.

            One of the time-tested tactics in warfare and politics is to sow confusion and to divide, and this principle is mirrored in the spiritual warfare against the Church that we see throughout the Holy Scriptures.

            The serpent was more subtle than all the other creatures. He did not come out and say “I am opposed to the teachings of God, because I am his enemy.”

            God gave a clear commandment, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Satan merely raised the question, did God really mean that? Eve, is your understanding of what God said correct? Then Satan asserted that their spiritual development and happiness were being held back by being so strict and simple in their understanding.

          • TreytheVirginian says


            Arida has lifted his language from the Episcopalian revolutionists in the 1990’s, on the need to “listen to the Spirit” in order to reconsider the Holy Tradition, and from the 1933 Humanist Manifesto.

            He challenges the Teachings of Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers fully and completely, that they are changeable, and need to be changed for the modern era, and are not Universal, that is, Catholic.

            He asserts the following in his manifesto, “Expanding the Mission.”

            Arida complains that the synodal statements and those of many priests on the new sexual morality are similar to what he calls “Christian fundamentalists.”

            Arida asserts, absurdly, that those who confirm the Traditional understanding the “biblical, patristic and liturgical pillars of our tradition” are actually “toppling” them, and those who want to question them through “dialog, nuance and change” are actually upholding them.

            Arida’s guides for this “re-evalutation” are to be “sophisticated and refined theological scholarship, science and technology…”

            Arida asserts that the Church needs to “stem this polarity of ideas” in favor of those who want to challenge the Tradition in the “realm of re-examination and re-evaluation,” including by critics “outside of the Church.”

            So what are the critics of the Church advocating?

            Arida claims that the result will be the “faithful and the wider public to accept its decrees, exhortations and admonitions” of the Church even though the “wider public” when the Church was in its glory refused these very things and persecuted it!

            For comparison to Arida’s manifesto, this statement is taken from the introduction to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933:

            Today man’s larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age.

            I think Arida’s manifesto would be better entitled not “Expanding the Mission,” but “The Need to Redefine the Orthodox Tradition to Further the Aims of the Humanist Manifesto.”

            Section II of Arida’s Manifesto:


            If “how to expand the Church’s mission” is to be perceived as more than the development of commissions and programs to bolster membership and revenue and if the Church is to have a credible presence in our culture, offering it more than a condemning word couched in the language of love, then it is necessary for the Church to expand its mind and heart. The task is formidable for it demands a reassessment of how to speak and act in a culture that, while infused with religious pluralism, continues to turn a critical eye towards Christianity. By no means is the Orthodox Church in America spared this public scrutiny. In spite of our small numbers, our Church has assumed a noticeable posture in the public square that varies little from that of Christian fundamentalists. Consequently the biblical, patristic and liturgical pillars of our tradition are being toppled by a hermeneutic that precludes dialog, nuance and change.

            Should this closed hermeneutic –‐ which has made its way to seminary classrooms, parish ambos and synodal proclamations –‐ continue to spread, the Church will steadily lose its ability to listen and respond to the questions of the day. If the Church is to stem the polarity of ideas and opinions growing within itself and if it is to be the presence of Christ in society then it can no longer allow its mission to be impeded by fear and ignorance. Within and outside of the Church, questions are being raised relative to issues that were once considered, from a theological and pastoral perspective, outside the realm of re–‐examination and re–‐evaluation.

            No longer can the Church expect its faithful and the wider public to accept its decrees, exhortations and admonitions that often ignore sophisticated and refined theological scholarship, science and technology. If the Church is to “expand its mission” it can no longer turn away from, ignore or condemn questions and issues that are a priori presumed to contradict or challenge its living tradition. Among the most controversial of these issues are those related to human sexuality, the configuration of the family, the beginning and ending of human life, and care for the environment. If the Church is to “expand its mission” then, in and through the Holy Spirit, it must be able to expand the understanding of itself and of the world it lives in.

      • “Engaging him would only give him a larger platform.”

        He shouldn’t be engaged, just slapped down privately.

  25. Edward,

    You are a voice of sanity. Many here do not agree with Michael Stankovich and/or with his manner of expression. I often count myself among them. But that is no excuse for calumny. He has, perhaps, made comments that some readers find confusing, but he has never denied or even hinted at advocating for the denial of Church teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior.

    • TreytheVirginian says


      It is not good to sow confusion in the Church.

      ‘If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?’

      ‘God is not of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the holy ones….’

      ‘Did the word of God come originally from you? If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord….’

      These are the words of the Apostle Paul to the Church in Corinth, which as in our day, was taking moral liberties, particularly of a sexual nature, and being casuistic about it, even in the name of Christ!

      To be confusing about moral matters, especially on such a fundamental question of the moral teachings of Christ and the Created Order, in effect weakens the Church and the moral clarity and ability its members to resist temptation.

      It is absurd to think that the teaching of Christ that for a man to look upon a woman with the desire of lust is sinful, but for a woman lust after another woman is not, with the rationalization that they have not consummated the desire.

      This novel teaching disregards Christ’s command to “cleanse the inside of the cup.”

      The position that the desire in itself is not sinful contradicts the observation of the Apostle Paul:

      “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

      In this case it is sinful to not be simple, as the Holy Scriptures command us to not be “double-minded” like the Serpent.

      • Rdr Thomas says

        A lightning bolt of clarity. Thank you sir.

      • Trey,

        I agree with both of your comments above without qualification. You may recall my reflection on the works of Fr. Arida.

        However, the subject of my comment was Michael Stankovich and the accusations leveled against him. I would be among the first to say that the substance of his communications is sometimes difficult to discern, his tone often unnecessarily abrasive, and his attitude (at least as it comes through in writing) condescending – not unlike some (and thankfully they are few) others here, who express an obedience to the moral tradition with which I concur, but who do so in a manner that is simply unbecoming. There is no truth without love, nor is there love without truth, for both are in Christ without contradiction. There is a distinct difference between standing firmly for truth in love and attacking one’s neighbor . Your comments above reflect the former, and it is greatly appreciated. I truly wish we would all communicate – and even correct one another – as clearly, respectfully, and without rancor as you have.

        I won’t comment on the merits of Dr. Stankovich’s many comments here over time. That wasn’t the purpose of my comment in his defence. But I would like to share this excerpt from a comment of his on another forum about an interview with Archpriest Victor Potapov, a priest who clearly intends to hold firmly to the Tradition.

        This is as sober, non-reactionary, and realistic of an Orthodox assessment as I have read to date…It was very sad to read, “So far they are virtually united, but already in some Orthodox jurisdictions priests are beginning to take positions. For example, a priest of the Orthodox Church in America in Boston is talking about the possibility of accepting same-sex couples.” [here he is quoting Archpriest Victor] I won’t bother arguing the veracity of his statement, but shame on Priest Robert Arida for not clarifying his position one way or another.

        One may agree or disagree with the stands he takes or with his manner of expression, but “Queer Legacy” is way over the top. I can no more sit silently in the face of such calumny than I can when those faithful to the Tradition are accused of hatred and homophobia.

  26. Just Ask'n says

    Because the good Protodeacon Wheeler and his esteemed brother-in-law, Chancellor John Jillions, continue to promote the greatness of the OCA, especially now since they have rid it of all things corrupt, I thought would let those of you who don’t have much of an OCA history to gain a wee bit of perspective.

    This was the OCA announcement about the AAC next week and its Youth participants (which I assume also includes FOCA youth)


    Now take a look back to 2002.

    But things are better now. Everything is going to be all right.

  27. Just Ask'n says
  28. Carl Kraeff says

    Here is a rant from a former Orthodox and my response to a poster who had suggested that all opinions ate valid.


    “All opinions are not equally valid except in the technical sense that all opinions on this subject are covered by the First Amendment. Their appropriateness or worth are different matters. That said, here is my opinion.

    1. The Orthodox Christian Church is the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” of the Nicene Creed. She is apostolic not only because of apostolic succession that has held true through the ages in each one of the 15 autocephalous local Christian churches, the Orthodox Christian Church is also apostolic because She holds fast to the teachings and praxis of the Apostolic Church. That includes subjects such as same-sex marriage, abortion, women priests/bishops–all current fads that have no origin in the life of the Church until very recently.

    2. Churches that deviate from the teachings and praxis of the Apostolic Church take a huge risk in separating themselves from the Body of Christ. For all practical purposes, there is now a widening gulf between self-professed Christian Churches that are anthropocentric and those who try to remain true to the historic Church. I pray that that the former will soon come to their senses.

    3. Thee is a difference between developing new teachings that are not expressly contradicted by Holy Tradition, particularly the Holy Scriptures, and teachings that may not. An example of the latter may be ordained women priests/bishops; some theologians believe that the issue is not settled on theological bases, even though there is no evidence of such ordinations at any time in the history of the Church. Homosexual activity and same-ex marriage, on the other hand, are explicitly not supported in the Holy Scriptures and Holy Tradition, to say the least. Those who argue otherwise are simply wrong and, if they push the issue as an accepted Church practice or dogma, are heretical. May the Lord show them the error of their ways.”

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Why “explicitly wrong,”, rather than IMPLICITLY wrong? The remarks about female clergy being debatable among “some theologians” is EXACTLY what got the non-Orthodox faith communities in their present pickle.