Please God, No!

OK, so I was driving home from work the other day. And what did I espy? Well for one thing, this church marquee.

It’s signs like this when you know that we’re probably in the last days. I mean, really? Quoting a comic book character? Who doesn’t exist? And not only that but totally ripping it out of context?

For those who haven’t seen The Black Panther, the story of King T’Challa (the eponymous Black Panther) of the mysterious African kingdom of Wakanda, follows a Trumpian arc. Which is really astonishing given that it was supposed to be a rebuke to the nationalist vision being championed by the President and breaking out all over the world. I won’t go into details at this point and instead save it up for a future essay (plus I don’t want to give any accidental spoilers).

Anyway, the broader point as far as this marquee is concerned is that it should be clear by now that the Protestant –specifically Lutheran experiment (as this was a Lutheran church)–movement is now a spent force. Even here in the Buckle of the Bible Belt.

For me personally, it’s somewhat embarrassing. Not because I’m a Protestant (I’m not) but because I have much love for all my Christian brethren. I really do. We couldn’t have started the annual March for Life here in T-Town were it not for a devout Lutheran pastor and a Catholic monsignor (both now retired).

Through a roundabout way we became fast friends and enjoyed many pleasurable lunches together, hoisting more than a few beers in the process. Their love and admiration for the Orthodox faith and my pastor caused good things to happen, on both the general level as well as the personal level. I believe the faith of all was strengthened, not only in God but in the general goodness of people.

This marquee is a rebuke to all that. It’s a grasping at straws, a desperate attempt to be relevant which is so obvious that even a reasonably intelligent high-schooler can see it. And there’s no reason for it. The Gospel stands on its own merits. The grace of God that flows out of it is palpable. You don’t have to make reference to transient, pop culture schtick in order to get the message across. Frankly, it’s embarrassing.

Oh well. I suppose in some way this is God’s way of showing us that the world is not for us. The Church and the world are really an oil-and-water mixture. Whenever we appropriate each others’ constructs we inevitably fail. I suppose that that’s the lesson in this.

Now this is not to say that we can’t co-exist. That we can’t be the leaven or the salt. We can and we should. But we should never operate under the illusion that, left to its own devices, the world wants us. And we should not act like a spurned lover trying to win its affection. At the end of the day, I suppose that this desperation (like all the rainbow flags) is what leads once venerable churches to act out in this fashion.

As such, there’s a lesson there for the Orthodox churches here in America. If anything, we need to be more Orthodox, not less. We’re not here to engage the culture but to transform it.

So let’s get to it.

About GShep

Comments

  1. Catholic BamaMama says

    You live in T-Town? Roll Tide!

  2. Michael Bauman says

    George, what marquee? Not one showing. What does it say?

  3. Will Harrington says

    So, what did the sign say?

  4. Billy Jack Sunday says

    Oddly enough

    The Orthodox priest who suggested that I might end up in a Lutheran church so I can essentially be with my own kind, pretty much said a similar thing to this marquee sign – while conducting a church tour during a festival.

    For some reason he felt it would be positive to compare us with Roman Catholicism

  5. Bishop Anaxios says

    The sign outside my cathedral reads:

    I gotta fever

    And the only prescription

    Is more cowbell

  6. Gail Sheppard says

    “More connects us than separates us.” King T’Challa

    King T’Challa is a fantasy figure from the comic strip (later a movie) called the Black Panthers. You see this sort of signage everywhere, e.g. t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc.

    Does repackaging truth through fantasy become “milk” for the masses? (1 Corinthians 3:2)

    • George Michalopulos says

      I see your point, Gail. I mean, if a marquee can quote Shakespeare then it can quote a comic book. Anyway, it didn’t stay up for long. I had a feeling it wouldn’t and then next day it was gone. I imagine that I wasn’t the only one poking fun at it. I dunno. It’s possible.

    • If we are talking about crabs in a cage I would prefer to have less “that connects us.”
      I changed television services recently and got a free movie on the house. I checked out Bladerunner 2049 it was what I thought a good new sci-fi movie ought be. Strange theme replicants pro-creating but it’s a movie.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    George, God’s grace, mercy, love and life connect us. Sin divides us.

    The context in which this factual statement is understood makes all the difference but by itself it is factually correct and unremarkable. Why the angst?

    I was expecting something like: God is gay and you should be too.

    • George Michalopulos says

      That’s next. No, seriously Mike, The Black Panther is a mega-hit, of that there is no doubt. But would this same church quote something from Dirty Harry or Patton? Why not something from The Alamo or 300?

      I think not.

      What we have here is a desperate attempt to be “with it”, which to me was rather obvious.

      WHAT FOLLOWS IS A SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ IF YOU PLAN ON SEEING THE BLACK PANTHER!

      Now, re Bishop Tikhon, I don’t dispute the sentiment but as someone who has seen the movie, one knows that this is totally out of context. SPOILER ALERT: even though T’Challa says it, he still doesn’t open up his mysterious kingdom to the refugees. He instead opts to endow an embassy/research facility in Oakland to help the underprivileged there rather than take any of them into his kingdom.

    • Antiochene Son says

      No that would be on the marquee outside a Jesuit church.

    • Ha I sat through about 6 yrs ago a sermon at Holy Cross Greek Cathedral New York on the film Avatar,which as i had just flown from UK to NY I had watched twice in flight.
      At least the organ stopped playing during sermon so very grateful. Why do greek Americans endure this Orthodox musical vandalism and kitsch.? Westerners do it so so much better with Bach and Poulenc but yes, to illustration Truth by current Culture stuff not wrong in itself BUT WE ALL KNOW WHEN IT IS PATHETIC GETTING DOWN WITH THE KIDS!

  8. Catholic BamaMama says

    The message seems very apt (and true) to me, no matter what its provenance. Of course, if you are wedded to what von Balthasar called “the anti mentality,” you might not see it that way. 😉

    • Constaninos says

      Catholic BamaMama,
      It’s good to have a Catholic on board for a different perspective. I wonder how many posters know who Hans Ur Von Balthasar was without looking it up.

  9. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    It said “More connects us than separates us.” George objects to that because it’s a quote from a fictional black character in the movie, “The Black Panther.” What do we call George’s complaint in traditional, orthodox logic?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Your Grace, traditional, Orthodox logic would tell us that as Christians, we are called to be Holy and set apart . . . the exact opposite of being more connected.

      The problem with the marquee is that it’s based on secular wisdom.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Gail, “holy and set apart” by our love for others. Of course, if you’re against calling ALL men brothers as being “secular wisdom”, and, therefore, not acceptable to Orthodox Christianity, I’d disagree with such pontificating.

        • Your Grace,

          With respect, cannot holy and set apart by our love for others also include keeping the limits of Orthodoxy? After all, what good can come from dismantling the ‘vehicle’ that makes this holy and set apart love for others possible?

          To do away with it, as ecumenists would have us do, is basically nothing other than thinking we’re already at that level of love. This is human humanism, for sure, which isn’t Christian humanism, and it makes no difference if it uses the name of Christ.

          As we know, the Orthodox Church – the hospital for souls – wasn’t just formed on a whim. This makes it deep, mysterious and complete and I struggle to see how dissolving it anyway could do much good.

          Are there not limits for fallen man seeking righteousness? Is fallen man not forced now into thinking, doing and saying this, but not that? Then it follows that there will be borders around his religion of righteousness as well.

          This, of course, is not to say that we should hate other denominations etc. In fact, the exact opposite is true. But before this is anywhere near possible – especially to the extent that’s possible in God – we’d do well to respect the necessary borders of our Church.

          Even so, one ecumenist Orthodox bishop once wrote that keeping these borders in place, and at the expense of union with the other churches, was nothing more than the convenience of not having to go into foreign territory. I disagree with this however along the lines that ecumenism is nothing more than the convenience of combining relatively superficial similarities for the sake of superficial love. Surely this Orthodox call to divine love is not a small or easy one, and so surely it is less convenient to disagree vigorously with others and yet love them all the same. But ecumenism robs us of this calling. After all, is there anything in Orthodoxy which absolutely denies having enemies? I think not, given only to seeing the command to love them. I note the command to make Christians of all nations, yet it would be a mistake to take this idea too far – especially when it’s also questioned whether anyone at all will believe when Christ returns. Clearly then a world of Christians is the ideal, but the realisation of it is hardly very likely. And although we don’t settle for second best, we don’t compromise the religion in our efforts.

          In short, ecumenism is guilty of thinking we love our neighbour when we don’t even really love God. This, of course, was condemned by Jesus. Better then, I think, to keep together that which makes real love for God possible, before any pronouncements of love for all others.

          Or is it that love for others must come first, like some Orthodox teach? Personally I don’t see how when: 1. the first commandment is to love God wholly. 2. love, without God, Who is love and Who comes first, is impossible. The Church and all its limits makes this possible.

          Finally, allow me to share this with you, which is relevant to fallen man on earth and not glorified man in heaven:

          A rock is a rock
          There is no problem in this
          And if there is, then there shouldn’t be
          So that if that rock should begin to merge
          With another rock
          Or some flower
          Or some tree
          Then this is not integration
          But disintegration

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      George responded to my March 28, 2018 post at 8:51 pm by by placing AHEAD OF IT a post at 10:16 pm the same day, in other words, gave himself top, prophylactic billing! A compliment, I conclude, pompously and undignifiedly, a la “Anonymous’s” incisive character analysis!

  10. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Protestant church marquees (those that have them) have this sort of stuff all the time, and have for decades. Various “grabbers”; some times on point, some times not.

    Surely we’ve all seen these many times.

    Maybe ours should have one: “Not Just for Greeks”.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      One time I drove by a marquee in front of an Assembly of God that said:

      “Text and Drive if you want to meet Jesus”.

      Being an impressionable person, I made a snap decision to meet Jesus, so I pulled out my cellphone and started texting while driving past the Assembly of God. The next thing I know…

  11. Alitheia1875 says

    Another nail in the coffin of the ecumenkcal movement.

  12. “More connects us than separates us” vs “the many similar aspects we share are often the most banal”

    By all means, let the protestants and RCs etc do what they do, but dear God let our dealings with them be kept to the cafe or bar. How good the days of old were when the RCs, in particular, had the self-respect to stand alone and call everyone heretics, compared to what it’s become in these times.

    Even a (good) first year psych student knows that promiscuity is born of problems, while chastity is a mark of integrity, and then we see these supposed churches of all time running round like stupid girls, hoping to be flattered by the attention.

    This is what globalism/multiculturalism fails to discern – the integrity or the chastity available in being a REAL individual, and all that that implies. Doubtless, moderns never stop talking about individualism, but this is just the doublespeak of Orwell, whereby weakness becomes strength and being like everyone we weren’t created to be is called individuality. Such self hatred. So reminiscent of satan’s hatred for mankind.

    Those who are truly peaceful are at peace, and peace disturbs nothing. But where is the non-interference in globalism, multiculturalism and ecumenism?

    Yes, there’s a lot in common between the Christian denominations, just as there is between my Christian bride and another’s, but that doesn’t mean going to bed with the other’s amounts to being faithful to mine.

  13. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” – Matthew 10:34-37

    No, T’Challa. Christ is the Criterion.

    • Catholic BamaMama says

      Yes, Christ is the criterion. The same Christ who so earnestly prayed “that all may be one, even as Thou, Father, and I are one.”

      When He spoke about bringing a sword and division, He was talking about non-Christian vs Christian. Not about Christian vs Christian!

      Is His anguished prayer for Christian unity not in your Bible?

      • “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
        -John 17:20-23

        His prayer was granted. The Orthodox Church has been one since the day of Pentecost. The prayer refers to the Church, not the reconciliation of heretics, though that too is desirable.

      • Michael Bauman says

        CBM, The high priestly prayer that is John 17 is that all be united with Him through the teaching of the Apostles…and that is the rub is it not. The sword cuts into my own heart to separate the evil from the good. It cuts through the Church to separate heresy from the truth. The Church is one. She does not have to become one.

        That being so, we Christians cannot be united when our beliefs are so at odds can we? What is the Apostolic teaching?

        The RC formula is “repent and acknowledge the Pope as head of the Church and true successor of the Apostles”. The Orthodox is more complicated: Acknowledge Jesus Christ as head of the Church, the Apostles as His teachers and the successors to the Apostles (the bishops) as rightly dividing the word of truth– for where the bishop is, there is the Church. Sorry, we are not one, nor are we likely to be in this world.

        Not only our simple human sinfulness separates us but a greater willfulness and lust of power keeps us apart. A willfulness and lust that partakes much more of the Nietzchean vision than of the Christian truth of the Cross and Resurrection.

        The Protestants are simply out of all consideration on the subject of oneness and unity. Like molecules in a super heated state, they may be recognized as of a certain element, but there is no cohesion and they do not demonstrate the properties of the element.

        The Ecumenical delusion is to accept everything equally as reflective of God/god/the universe no matter how bizarre and so we are already one–with or without Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Church. That, too, is off the table in any serious discussion of Christian unity because it is not Christian.

        The office of the Papacy as defined by the RCC is a really big divider. Whether one accepts the Papal claims or not, there is a great division because of them that goes beyond simple separation between good and evil, truth and un-truth. Even a cursory examination of history will show that.

        If you really accept the Papal claims, you should acknowledge the reality that the rest of us are schismatics at best and therefore not one at all. As recently as Pope Benedict, this essential RC understanding was affirmed BTW. In no way shape or form are we one. Have the courage of your belief. I have always taken the Papal claims seriously. That is why I could never be Roman Catholic. I am partial to the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs as a response against Pope Pius IX’s Epistle to the Easterners, issued in January, 1848.

        If you do not want to acknowledge the consequences of the Papal claims, do you really accept them? If you long for Christian unity, is such unity only achieved by acceptance of the Papal authority as defined by the RCC? If you deny the Papal claims, does anything else within the RCC hold?

        If you do not want to answer these questions, do you really believe as a RC?

        The choice is clear: Submit to the Pope as the one real arbiter of Apostolic truth and be one; or submit to the One, Holy (wholly), Catholic and Apostolic Church (Orthodox), repent and be received into the preexistent unity of Christ and the Holy Trinity and be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

        It is an Incarnational, sacramental and existential unity that shows forth the glory of God in all things within and across time. This is the faith that establishes the universe after all.

        Clearly my bias is showing, but that is as it should be. Jesus Christ led me to the Orthodox Church. After He called me forth, I spent 40 years a stiff-necked man in the desert looking for the promised land on my own terms. He kept me from poison wells, starvation, the temptation of idols and fiery serpents. Much had to die within me.

        Finally, I was able to listen and He led me home. It is here that I both seek and find the unity that He proclaims in His High Priestly prayer. The longer I am in and grow into that unity, the more it humbles me to realize how unworthy I am of such a gift, such love. {I behold the Bridal Chamber, richly adorned for my Savior, but I have no wedding garment to worthily enter. Make radiant the garment of my soul, oh Giver of Light, and save me.}

        The ravages of time, sin, heresy, apostasy and ignorance notwithstanding there is no other choice. To speak of unity without delineating the real choice is disingenuous.

        Still, despite the bias of my own experience and learning, I can appreciate those RCs who fully stand by the doctrine of their church, especially those who have gone deeply into the spiritual reality of the RC tradition. Just don’t go wishy-washy on me. I hate Kumbaya. Lukewarm gets vomited out does it not?

        Christ is Risen!

  14. Gail Sheppard says

    Catholic BamaMama,

    Christ’s anguished prayer had context. He was praying for those who believe in Him through the message communicated by His disciples. The message is important and it includes doctrine.

    It’s heresies, not Christians, that we reject.

  15. This explains why I have seen so many Lutheran ministers coming into the Orthodox Church. In fact, why I see so many Baptist, Evangelical, and Lutheran pastors coming in. They seem to find us here in Costa Mesa.

  16. Christ is Risen!
    Yesterday I was speaking with a priest about ecumenism – something he strongly believes in, and something I’m strongly against. The basis for his faith comes from bishop Hilarion Alfayev and his use of the Fathers to support his cause. I can say a few words on this below, plus more.

    Didn’t the Fathers fight fiercely against heresy? Obviously they did, and more than that, they did it against those who who not only proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ, but also shared the same moral values. Clearly, then, the Orthodox Church (or should I say Christianity proper) is so much more than the name of Christ and morality. Indeed, St Maximos the Confessor, a specialist on the importance of Christian subtleties, showed this as well as anyone as he stood virtually alone against those whose differences to the Faith were no greater than Christianity in the West today. How on earth could the bishop’s use of various lines from certain Fathers to contradict this legacy? – especially when those same Fathers, such as St Basil the Great, can just as easily be used to deny this modern heresy?

    Nevertheless, I’ve done some more reading and whatnot on the current state of play, and while it’s somewhat gratifying to see the likes of the bishop explicitly downplay the aim of ‘super-church’, there still remains at least one glaring problem: in his own words, the bishop admits to the dialogue and cooperation between the denominations as being strategic, which is to say, in a world where traditional values are steeply in decline, which then makes it possible for certain forces to think up and implement anti-Christian policy, this rallying of ‘traditional moralists’ will stem the flow.

    Since when, however, was the Orthodox Church ever about using others for its own so called advantage? Or in other words, how could the spirit of the Orthodox Church allow it to not declare both its superiority and the need for others to return, while at the same time ‘benefit’ from what the others can still offer it? At root, this is surely the timid spirit of what’s animating the ecumenical ‘strategy’.

    I understand that things don’t appear this way on the surface, but then this is beside the point. What matters here is that Orthodoxy has demonstrably maintained the saving grace of the Christian Faith and has done so partly by seeing heresy for what it is – which, until more recently, was widely considered to be Roman Catholicism etc. What strength, nobility and belief existed in all that time, compared to now when the Church is being trumpeted (even if indirectly) as only ‘one among many’, in which case it no longer thinks it guards the pearl of great price, but manoeuvres to let others help save its hide. What profit it a Church if it gains the whole world, but loses its saving grace in the process? For we can make no mistake: whether ‘super-church’ eventuates or not, seeing others as more or less equals will have its price. Or are we unaware of how we become like those with whom we associate? Or is it that they’ll become like us? Fat chance – especially when we’re already becoming more like them by the day. But there I go again with my divisive ‘us against them’ rhetoric; no matter that it’s just the delineation of truth and falsehood.

    But then we’re still faced with the facts, as the bishop points out, of escalating immorality, anti-christianity and persecution – nothing that is easy for us to witness. What he doesn’t address, however, is how bringing this into the Church (through ecumenism) fixes these problems in a meaningful way. By all means, let Orthodox meet formally with others, but let it be with a lion’s heart, which unashamedly declares that Orthodoxy is The Way. THIS is the service to and love of humanity that Orthodoxy was undeniably built upon, and that ecumenism only pretends to; everything else being in imitation of the world.

    Being weak myself, I can see how ‘harsh’ all this must seem, but then again it’s at least possible to see (no thanks to me) what Adam would have been before the fall. So, while I applaud the bishop for his vigorous and well intentioned efforts for the Church etc., I’d balance that out with all that’s been said before now.

    Moreover, while anti-Christianity doesn’t necessarily discriminate between Orthodox and others, neither does it leave alone anyone else. To say, then, that it’s only a Christian’s problem, which has nothing to do with, say, Hindus or atheists, is to over-simplify the problem, making it that much easier to arrive at simple solutions. Far from suggesting that this ecumenism should now accommodate itself to the whims of even those who don’t identify with anything remotely Christian, it seems to me that the best thing the Church could do is rekindle the stubborn faith of our Fathers; for how that light shone brightly, and all the more against all the odds; bringing hope where apparently none existed; bringing love as though never before.

    But then what? No-one today will see it? Or if things remain basically as they have been (i.e. not ecumenical) religious hatred will go on unchecked? To the first of these, I would say that it should come as no surprise that a dark time like now would descend on humanity, and that this was all but unavoidable. And if Christ’s warning that barely a soul would believe by the very end wasn’t enough, then we could point also to a plethora of Orthodox eschatological works, all respectable, which only confirm His concerns. A reaction like ecumenism against the coming disaster, which amounts to dimming the light for the ‘benefit’ of eyes now adjusted to the dark, is therefore difficult to make excuses for.

    And to the second (i.e. to the one about religious hatred going unchecked) I’d start out by making note of how some of the most peaceful places on the planet are our cemeteries. But is this condoning the various levels of nastiness that come with factionalism? In fact, it’s not the case at all; not when it’s grounded in maintaining the essence of truth at all costs, as opposed to striving for false peace with the same mind. And if all of this is placed in context of the reality of life in a fallen world, we can only agree that we must accept the good with the bad, seeing that the Kingdom of Heaven is to be found elsewhere; something Orthodox Christianity has always made clear enough.

    No to the ecumenism of the bishop and his closest friends! And at the same time, may God have mercy on us all, whether we’re Orthodox, Roman Catholic, protestant, agnostic or whatever.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Stephan,

      I definitely understand where you’re coming from. The Orthodox Church is not “one of many,” as you said, and frankly, we can only help others to the degree that we hold to the teachings of the Church. We are of no use to the outside world if we become a watered down version of who we are.

      • Gail, Michael B, Stefan!

        Not sorry to change the subject, but what a most joyous week! Bright week! Take a deep breath, enjoy it, take it all in. Try and remove the weight of the world off your shoulders. If only for one week. Even if one was to die, this would be the week to do it.

        Rejoice! Christ Is Risen! Truly He is Risen! We have not one worry in the world as such!

        Next to come, this great, and most Bright week, The Life Giving Spring! How great is it to be alive, and the opportunity to repent, and be forgiven of our sins! Even taking Communion is guilt free, this week. Rejoice my friends! Christ is Risen!

        Jesus said unto him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.”(John 20:29)

        • Billy Jack Sunday says

          Hi Dino

          Sincere inquiries

          Could you elaborate please about the potential benefit of specifically dying during this week, please?

          Also, could you explain what “guilt free” means if one receives communion during this week?

          Thanks

          • Billy,
            It is so spiritually appropriate, but not surprising you inquire.(Considering our past grievances) You see this week, Bright Week, at least in my Greek upbringing, going all the back to family roots in Smyrna, all grudges are forgiven, and patience the rule.

            Pascha Sunday day is actually celebrated all week. To die during Pascha Day/week(Bright Week) is considered a blessing for the repentant Orthodox Christian, similar to the blessing and the forgiveness of sins, of the Penitent Thief on the cross. We believe, because it is such a special week, we pass on to Heaven a little better, a bit more easy, if possible judgement passed even more lightly, and the guilt/shame we should feel at the judgement seat of Christ less severe.

            In regards to your second question. As you know, this week is fast free. So point is, the rest of the year, how often, when we do fast on Wednesday, and Friday, or all or part of Lent, we do so grudgingly, and not in the the proper spirit that we should. This week we need not worry about that before communion. Yes it’s a bit petty, but I always feel a bit guilty, receiving communion, except on Bright Week. Don’t know if others feel that way, maybe it’s just me.

            Sad truth is after this week, many of the efforts we made during Lent, to be better Orthodox Christians, are forgotten, and we fall back to our sinful ways, until next year. It’s like Christmas day in America, every one so kind, forgiving, and giving, and then the next day back to being jerks.

            We are all lucking to have each other on this forum/blog, to support one another, even when we don’t realize it, you have help me Billy,in my walk with Christ during Lent, and now during Bright Week. So thanks, but most importantly, my brother, Christ is Risen!

            • Billy Jack Sunday says

              Alithos Anesti, Dino

              Thanks for the information/perspective

              There are some things/ understandings I’ve gained only by / specifically by listening to my Greek godfather and his family [for instance, the significance of the doors being left open on the iconostasis and beliefs related to it]. So, by extension, I asked you precisely because you are Greek and also know some things because of it (as well as being a knowledgeable person overall). I appreciate that.

              For some reason, I had the thought earlier this week – that every day is an opportunity to make things right. Kinda like the movie, Groundhogs Day

              Except every day isnt a repeat of the same calendar day. But everyday is still a chance to make things right

              However, you have been saying that Bright Week is like a week of reliving the day of Pascha. So, in a sense, it’s more specifically a repetative spiritual Groundhogs Day for a whole week!

              We need to tell Bill Murray about this!

              No more grudges

              That is definitely a good tradition

          • Michael Bauman says

            BJS, cannot answer you question but I can say that I often go up to receive the Body and Blood with the expectation in the back of my mind that the priest will see me as I am so turn me away.

            On Pascha and during Bright Week that thought does not occur to me.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Dino, you are correct. It is “great is it to be alive” with the “opportunity to repent, and be forgiven of our sins!

          • Gail this is a very special time, we have been granted Life no matter what this world does to us, we will live forever in God”s Glory.

            Let the world groan and moan! I don’t care! Nothing should trouble us. This week belongs to our Lord and our God, and to us who have faith and love in Jesus Christ. Christ is Risen!

        • Michael Bauman says

          Dino, I am full of joy. Really. More than ever in my life. I ask though prayers for my niece and her fisnce, Jorge Luque. He has a really difficult nasal cancer. Gofundme/JorgeLuqueCancer.
          He has had to put his studies for the priesthood on hold and their marriage.

          They do need a lot of money.

          I am.full of joy nonetheless as Christ is Risen and death has been spoiled and God’s Providence is at work.

          I thank Him for each and everyone of you and know His mercy and abundance.

          • Michael B,
            Thank you for the blessing and opportunity to pray, and donate to your family in need, especially today. The day of The Life-Giving Font of The Mother of God. I will do both.

            If I may add, my uncle’s mother in-law passed away this morning. Her name is/was Katherine. Please pray for her, and her daughter Stavroula, who is taking her mother’s death very hard.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Dino, thank you. One thing I have learned about death over the years is that within it is the opportunity to experience the Ressurection.

              It can be quite remarkable. But only if you face death as death. That is why we weep and wail when our people pass.

              My heart goes out to Stavroula. ‘Blessed are they that morn for they shall be comforted’.

              A case in point when my late wife reposed a woman of the Church whom I did not know well but who had lost her husband a few years prior came up to me one Sunday and took my hands and told me how important it was to keep coming to church. Then she lowered the veil of her grief and shared hers with me -speaking no words. It was a moment I shall never forget.

              The grief never goes entirely away even in the presence of the Ressurection, but it is transformed.

              Memory eternal for Katherine who is. In a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose where all sickness, pain and sorrow have fled away.

              Here is yet another place where we preach the full Gospel and no other Christians do.

              Glory to God.

              • Michael,

                My apologies for intruding on a serious conversation, but in reading this line you wrote…

                “…we preach the full Gospel and no other Christians do.”

                …the words “full Gospel” conjured up images of Pentecostals and my travels through the city of Gary (my mind is prone to weird streams of consciousness) and all the churches – large and small, traditional buildings and run-down old storefronts – that one sees on almost block of every street in that city. I’ve often thought it would be fun to put together a photo album of all of them and their names. If you put them all together it would read something like…

                True Apostolic Holiness Full-Gospel Hope “God’s got your Back” Faith Methodist Episcopal Universal World Ministry True Pentecostal Mount Zion Bethel Deliverance Outreach Evangelistic Baptist Solid Rock Temple Abyssinian Crossroads Galilee Gethsemane Bethany Mt Moriah New Friendship Shiloh Peace Pilgrim Sweet Home Progressive Abundant Life Cornerstone First Tabernacle Missionary All Nations Wonder Working Agape Embassies of Christ Kingdom Household Of Israel Miracles World International Outreach New Beginnings Pure Gospel Spirit of God Fellowship “Yes, Lord” Abundant Life Bethlehem Healing Love Feast New Covenant Beacon Light “Where the Word is the Word” Church of God in Christ

                The Reverend Cloephus, Pastor

                Of the (I believe) six Orthodox Churches that were once in that city, all have moved and one of those later closed down. It is a disturbin’ sound.

              • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

                Christ is Risen!
                Michael, you expressed it perfectly. I believe Fr. Alexander Schmemann in describing Holy Saturday and Our Lord’s descent into Hades said precisely these words, “Grief is not replaced by joy, it is transformed into joy.” Fr. Alexander lamented the fact that often in parishes, Good Friday services are well attended, but people would forget about Holy Saturday, and come back only for the Paschal services. My experience with the Russian and Ukrainian churches is that you get a full house on Holy Saturday, but many come to have their Paschal foods blessed, something I did not experience while serving the Serbian church.

            • V. Rev. Andrei Alexiev says

              Χριστός Ανέστη!
              Dino,
              My heart goes out to Stavroula and Katherine will be in my unworthy prayers.

    • Monk James says

      Christ is risen, rylt risen!

      It would be helpful if ‘Stephan’ could succinctly define what he means by ‘ecumenism’.

      Far too often, we argue with each other because we understand the same word(s) differently.

      It’s always been a wonder to me, at least, that ‘sergianism’ as understood by opponents of the Moscow Patriarchate, was never held as a theory by the Russian Orthodox Church — not even by Patriarch Sergius Stragorodskiy himself.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        Monk James

        His name is ‘Stefan’

        Unless it’s pronounced by a particular dog (named Tuna, I think)

        Then, it is ‘Phteven’

        We all know what he means

        I agree

        Ecumenicism phtinks, Phteven

  17. Michael Bauman says

    Stefan, if we do not recognize heresy and declare the truth we will have lost our savior.

  18. Michael Bauman says

    Stefan, as I noted here https://www.monomakhos.com/please-god-no/#comment-120990

    Ecumenism is based on a false premise of unity. It ignores the differences and assumes a unity that is not there. It proceeds by ‘reason’ rather than faith. Reason can be used to justify the most absurd things if one starts with an incorrect premise.

    In this age of egalitarianism actual differences and a real hierarchy of truth cannot be allowed. It assumes also that there is no real God, who really incarnated as Jesus Christ, suffered and was buried, descended into Hades then was raised from the dead on the third day; revealed the truth to the Apostles then ascended into Heaven.

    Ecumenism accepts none of that. God is no more than a theological concept. Not a person least of all. The concept can be useful in creating and maintaining certain values and morals but is not really good for much else.

    • Constaninos says

      Mr. Bauman,
      Thank you for the opportunity for me to jump in here. I think you may want to have a conversation with the Holy Spirit. For you see, it all boils down to whether you believe the Charismatic Renewal is from God or not. As a former board member of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship, I emphatically believe that the Charismatic Renewal is from God. I’ve seen miracles, healings, and many other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Remember, no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

  19. Gail and Michael

    Given the way things are, it can be tempting to sympathise wholly with the resistance churches – i.e. the true Russian, Greek and Serbian etc. Among other things, however, I see their constant infighting as a troubling, despite the fact that valid excuses could be made for them, if we tried (more of which will come below).

    But I haven’t gone down that route (yet). Taking, as it’s turned out, the middle path, I’ve concluded that the aforementioned churches perhaps jumped a moment too soon. This implies that although world Orthodoxy is now certainly living on the edge, it still delivers what it’s supposed to, making everything acceptable enough. After all, the Church can’t be so fragile as to have completely capitulated at the time the the true churches say it did, and neither do the current problems in the Church (as far as I can see) represent the fullness of what is meant by the prophesied great apostasy – there being a fair way to go before things get that bad. This, for me, is not to say, of course, that what’s currently happening in world Orthodoxy isn’t an advanced step toward a really big schism, and neither is it meant to cast a definite shadow over the effectiveness of the true churches.

    One thing for me seems quite possible, however: when, what I presume will be the majority of Orthodox Christians formally (or formally enough) go over to some syncretistic mode of worship, those of us who disagree will be more than grateful to the true churches and their ability to read the signs of the times. For instance, could it not be said for them that despite the countless schisms, they were nothing more than the expected ‘teething problems’, not to mention massive temptations, that were bound to happen to men on an important mission, caught on a moment’s notice, in the midst of a deeply anti-Christian climate?

    For mine, I can see some merit in all that, and at the same time I’m pleased to be able to say that at last inspection I learned that the true churches are slowly coming together to form a cohesive or working Synod. By the Will and the promise of God, this cohesion must eventually become more certain, in which case all of the initial trials will have passed and the Orthodox Church will have survived, in wait of the remaining bishops, priests and laymen.

    If any of this makes sense, then it could be said that the true churches haven’t jumped too soon at all, but rather served the need to get things in order, well ahead of time, in preparation for what will be the great apostasy, good and proper. In that regard, we would now have at least two lots of Orthodox, obviously on the same side (consciously or not), working either to support the true churches directly or rejecting ecumenism etc. in world Orthodoxy.

    Whatever the case, I for one haven’t written off the true churches, but will be watching their progress with interest – seeing also if theirs anything I can do

  20. Dino, James Monk and Michael:

    Dino, I take your point, but I guess what I’m doing here is running off the premise that there’s no rest for the wicked.

    James Monk, in addition to what Michael said not far above, ecumenism seems to be the organised cooperation between all denominations, on an all too equal footing, starting with formal councils and ending with humanitarian aid. The push for ‘super-church’, concelebration and inter-communion may or may not be a formal part of it. Regardless, ‘super-church’, concelebration, inter-communion and/or worse seems to be the innevitable conclusion for those who don’t respect real and important boundaries.

    Michael and everybody else, further to the idea of factionalism that arose in one of my posts above, I’d like to add a note about one of its benefits.

    In no way known are we taught to have no enemies. At most, we’re told to love them and pray for them. In this, we’re called to a very high love, which far surpasses that of the pagans, who only love and pray for their friends. And yet ecumenism robs us of the ability to win this crown. Instead of making us work through a possible hatred for Roman Catholics etc., it hands us (especially those of us born more recently, or to be born in the future) an accepting attitude on a platter. Thus, while we may not really hate heretics (which, by the way, is far from the worst thing) neither do we really love them – our acceptance of them being only a product of our more or less secular conditioning, rather than our Orthodox understanding and choice; and all of this says nothing about our subtle contempt for them by not wanting to convert them to the Church.

    This example is quite similar in principal to that which condemns communism for its forced re-distribution of materials. Rather than allow people the opportunity to choose to share their things out of a love for God and neighbour, it regulates this ‘alms giving’ out of fear of reprisal from the state.

    Certainly, the monks from Esphigmenou monastery (and anyone who sympathises with them) can see the connection between these two things.

    • Monk James says

      Stefan (April 11, 2018 at 10:46 pm ) says (among other things)

      ‘James Monk, in addition to what Michael said not far above, ecumenism seems to be the organised cooperation between all denominations, on an all too equal footing, starting with formal councils and ending with humanitarian aid. The push for ‘super-church’, concelebration and inter-communion may or may not be a formal part of it.
      Regardless, ‘super-church’, concelebration, inter-communion and/or worse seems to be the innevitable conclusion for those who don’t respect real and important boundaries.’
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      As far as I know, not a single one of the orthodox churches thinks this way, although there are a few individuals hither and yon whose ecclesiology is a bit out of focus. As such, this explanation of ‘ecumenism’ is no more helpful than that offered by Michael Bauman.

      This leaves me wondering why this is even considered an issue, but I will say that Orthodoxy is in no way compromised by our collaboration with heterodox Christians and nonchristians altogether in humanitarian good deeds. Witness our participation in pro-life efforts, marches, demonstrations, etc.

      We do not practice intercommunion with heterodox Christians, except in situations where people and clergy are being willfully disobedient. We must respond to them as misguided individuals and not break eucharistic communion with entire orthodox churches.

      BTW: I am a monk and have been for over forty years. That is not my surname.

      • Constaninos says

        Monk James,
        This is a very deep, eloquent post by you. Let’s remember the Catholic Church in America started the pro life movement here in the US ten years before the protestants got involved.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        Monk is not his last name

        Monk James has lived in a monaphtery, Phteven

    • With regard to what I said above about factionalism, I’d like to retract all of it. Upon reflection, I doubt I know what I’m really talking about. My apologies to all for going too far

  21. Michael,

    Regarding your explanation on what ecumenism is, I believe you’re quite right.

    It was God alone who created something out of nothing, and through our religion – i.e. through our Tradition, worship, philosophy, psychology, art and culture – we pay respect to His glory. But as for that which denies the religion, including ecumenism, it too seeks to make something out of nothing, while lacking the credentials to do it.

    This, then, is the aping of God, and the first ape of God was the devil. For this reason, whether it’s the devil himself or just those who are proud of their non, anti or pseudo-religious achievements, success only comes in the way of reducing something to nothing. This is why everything, including Orthodoxy, is decaying.

    Based on everything but that which is truly creative and sustaining (God), life has become a rat race to the bottom. It matters not that many of the vehicles employed in this descent speak openly about love and peace; all that’s important is that God turns nothing into something, while everything divorced of Him is laid to waste.

    To be sure, this WCC/ecumenism is a man-made institution; but as we know, those who build the house, without the Lord, build in vain. While this ultimately means that it will fail, failure today unfortunately means that it will succeed – i.e. it will become more and more popular – such being the extent of humanity’s irreligiosity.

    But then again it’s not as though many people don’t see it – clearly they do! – and so taking a leaf out of Dino’s book, let me be among those during Bright Week to not only give praise and thanks to the Risen Christ, but also pay my respects to what I’m tempted to say is the bona fide miracle of people who believe in these times

    • Michael Bauman says

      Stefan, really good points especially the trying to make something out of nothing and that nothing becoming more popular.

      I do not think that we have yet gotten to the point where real belief is yet a miracle though. Jesus is still revealing Himself to folks who ask in humility. That is an incredible gift that lasts a lifetime even if relatively untended. If tended at all the gift grows and flowers into deeper repentance.

      Fewer people are asking I will grant you.

      Having lived through an organization that actively taught heresy of nearly every type (Arianism, Nestorianism, adoptionism, etc.) before being led to the Orthodox Church I have seen the damage heresy does. I also know that most people who teach and believe in heresy are not heretics. They are simply ignorant of the truth as I was. Many when given the chance will repent.

      The real sadness is that they are not given the chance when we hide our light under a bushel. I have decided that I am no longer going to be bashful in proclaiming the truth. If that offends people, well, they need to be offended.

  22. Gail Sheppard says

    Stefan, please forgive me for misspelling your name!

    When you said, “. . . the true churches are slowly coming together to form a cohesive or working Synod,” are you referring to the Bishops’ Council who met last December on the 100th anniversary of Patriarch Tikhon’s enthronement? I was struck by the fact that most (if not all) the bishops were there except the Ecumenical Patriarch who, of course, is a major proponent of the ecumenical movement. Not only was he NOT there, around the same time, he stopped appearing with Pope Francis. Perhaps they prevailed upon him to cut those ties (at least publicly). – They may very well be circling the wagons in preparation for the great apostasy. I certainly hope so.

  23. Gail Sheppard says

    Stefan, please forgive me for misspelling your name! If my comments appear twice, please forgive me for that as well!

    When you said, “I learned that the true churches are slowly coming together to form a cohesive or working Synod,” were you referring to the Bishops’ Council that met last December on the 100th anniversary of the Revival of the Patriarchal Office of the Russian Orthodox Church? It struck me as odd at the time that most (if not all) the bishops were there except the Ecumenical Patriarch who, of course, is a strong proponent of the ecumenical movement. Around the same time, he stopped appearing publicly and issuing joint statements with Pope Francis. Perhaps his brother bishops prevailed upon him to stop going down that path. – They may very well be circling the wagons in preparation for the “great apostasy.” I hope so.

  24. Gail, no worries!

    As for the evidence pointing to cohesion among the resistance churches, I can’t remember what the actual event was, and neither can I find the web page I got it from, unfortunately.

    But as for the Bishops’ Council you mentioned above, could I please ask you to clarify something for me?

    Regarding the Ecumenical Patriarch’s absence, are we saying that this speaks well of him because it coincided with him no longer appearing with the Pope (indicating that he’s come to his senses and may now be a stalwart for anti-ecumenical activity)? Or are we saying that, being the arch-ecumenist, regardless of him no longer appearing with the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch’s absence indicates that Russia etc. are distancing themselves more from ecumenism?

    I think the reason for my confusion comes from an awareness now that we might not all be on the same page when it comes to what I meant by true or resistance churches, and also my own particular take on all mainstream Orthodox churches, including the Moscow Patriarchate.

    For clarity then: my understanding of a true or resistance church comes, firstly, from what they call themselves and includes groups like the Greek Old Calendarists and the arm of ROCOR that isn’t in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. Further, although the Moscow Patriarchate, like all mainstream jurisdictions, are still bastions for traditional Orthodoxy, there is nevertheless that side of them which is involved with the WCC/ecumenism. I’m thinking now especially of bishop Hilarian Alfeyev. If I’m not mistaken, the only churches this can’t be said about are the Georgian and Bulgarian.

    To say just a bit more, then: world Orthodoxy (i.e. more or less all mainstream Orthodox churches) are increasingly divided between traditionalists and moderns – the former not wanting anything to do with ecumenism, and therefore automatically edging closer to groups like the Greek Old Calendarists, while the moderns continue to erode the tradition by not leaving ecumenism alone. I believe this divide will eventuate in a definite split, whereby the moderns will make up the majority/mainstream, while the traditionalists will find themselves being called heretics or schismastics. However, seeing as this label will mean nothing coming from actual heretics, the traditionalists and Old Calendarists etc. will have very much in common, perhaps (or even hopefully) allowing for cooperation.

    What the Old Calendarists etc. perhaps have going against them at the moment is that world Orthodoxy, despite its real problems, is the Church and makes the rules. For this reason, I tend to give a bit to both sides – i.e. world Orthodoxy and the Old Calendarists etc. However, if and when world Orthodoxy gives even more of itself over to the secular world, then things begin to change, leading one to conclude that the Old Calendarists etc. were right all along.

    A way this could all be avoided is if the Moscow Patriarchate etc. decided to follow the example of Bulgaria and Georgia and leave the WCC/ecumenism behind. Does the example you gave of the Bishops’ Council and the Ecumenical Patriarch’s absence therefrom fit in with any of this, or were you coming at it from a different angle?

    • Regarding what I’ve said here about resistance churches etc. I must plead ignorance and ask anyone who’s read it to take it with a grain of salt. I need to learn more in this area. My apologies

      • Stefan,

        If you do want to learn more, might I suggest Against False Union by Alexander Kalomiros. It is an informed read. I like the title, too (not Against Union, but Against FALSE union).

        Allow me to say that, based upon what you have written here, your heart (at least) seems to be in the right place. I’m not sure I’d be very concerned with the politics of it all (Resistance Churches, etc.), although your observations are interesting to think about. How it all works out remains to be seen. Trying to predict it is likely an exercise in futility. Personally, I think our Lord gave us the signs of those times and nothing more.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Stefan,

      With regard to your first question, the absence of the Ecumenical Patriarch at this meeting was kind of a surprise. He most certainly was invited. It does not speak well of him that he chose not to attend. https://www.agensir.it/quotidiano/2017/12/6/patriarchate-of-moscow-100-years-after-the-restoration-celebrations-with-six-patriarchs-and-delegations-from-all-over-the-orthodox-world/

      I doubt the EP has come to his senses about the pope or become a stalwart for anti-ecumenical activity. My guess is that he is getting pressure from his brother bishops to cease and desist talking about the unification with Rome. He may be called “the first among equals,” but in reality, he is just one of many and cannot make these decisions without the support of his brother bishops which he does not have.

      As for the Russian Church, they have always stood for tradition and have had a stabilizing influence on the canonical Church. The Russian Church saved us from the disastrous consequences of Crete by not agreeing to go forward without Bulgaria, Georgia and Antioch. Russia is seeking to unite and further solidify the canonical Church, not distance herself from it.

      I think you may be talking about the various factions *outside* the canonical Church. Although it is my hope that the “resistance” makes it back in, they haven’t yet, and until they do, they are not part of it.

      As for ROCOR, they signed the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate on 17 May 2007. ROCOR is now in communion with all of mainstream Orthodoxy by virtue of its incorporation into the Moscow Patriarchate.

      In terms of ecumenicalism, it exists in the canonical Church, as well. Occasionally, there are concerns. For example, a group of OCA laymen (academics) met in Amsterdam a year or so ago to discuss sexuality and Orthodoxy. Though nothing came of it, it is concerning that they would try or think it was necessary. The Church has long dealt with the issue of sexuality and it’s always dealt with it the same way, i.e. sex is to be confined to marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman. Having sex outside marriage is a sin and requires repentance. This is not specific to the LGBT population, as the same rules apply to heterosexuals. http://www.aoiusa.org/st-vladimirs-seminary-reacts-to-amsterdam-conference-bishops-remain-silent/

      Hope this helps.

  25. Gail Sheppard says

    On another note: Homeland Security To Compile A Database Of Journalists, Bloggers And Influencers (That’s us, right??? We’re influencers. . . LOL) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homeland-security-searchable-database_us_5ac7f41de4b07a3485e4bb1d