Puhalo rants again… on Transgenderism and Intersexuality

puhaloYours Truly has been following the career of Archbishop Lazar Puhalo somewhat over the last few years. Little is known about his life and what is known is rather curious. One of our more esteemed commentators has suggested that Puhalo is not his original surname, that he has in fact had two legal identities prior to his eccelesiatical career. What we do know is that there has been more than a little jurisdiction hopping and that some of these jurisdictions were vagante jurisdictions of dubious canonicity.

There is no doubt that he is a very intelligent, well-read man. His YouTube videos are well-produced and his opinions on many subjects deserve a listening to. Regardless, we can tell from the majority of his writings and postings that he leans very much to the Left theologically and culturally. A few years ago I ran across a Facebook posting of his in which he counseled a homosexual couple to start attending church in one of three OCA parishes on the west coast which were more “inclusive” and “accepting.” Rather than name the parishes and risk their exposure, he instructed them that they would find out soon enough the identities of these parishes. (This posting, like so many others, was taken down in order to deflect attention from Puhalo.)

The question to my mind is why he was brought into the OCA. Word on the street was that he was a protégé of Lefty Kishkovsky, who likewise brought in other bishops –or at least tried–in order to augment his own control over the Synod. Regardless, the damage that Puhalo does on his many videos is not inconsiderable. Even Syosset has begun to feel the heat and has asked him to pipe down. Perhaps there is some hope.

Thanks to Fr John Whiteford again for exposing yet again another questionable preacher (as he recently did when he took Franky Schaeffer to task for his latest buffooneries). As Thomas Jefferson said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

Source: Fr. John Whiteford’s News, Comments, & Reflections | Fr. John Whiteford

On his Facebook page, the retired vagante Archbishop, Lazar Puhalo, has decided to attack me and attribute to me things that I have not said, in order to cover up the things that he has in fact said.

In a youtube video, dated March 18, 2011, Puhalo expressed his views that it is perfectly acceptable for those who wish to identify themselves with the opposite sex to do so, or for them to actually have a sex change operation. It is very clear from his comments that he is not speaking about those born with ambiguous genitalia, or the intersex. He is speaking about those who believe that they are men trapped in female bodies, or women trapped in male bodies. He says that it is the brain that determines one’s sex, not their bodies.

This view is in complete opposition with the views expressed by the rest of the Church on this issue. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church issued a statement directly addressing this matter:

“Sometimes perverted human sexuality is manifested in the form of the painful feeling of one’s belonging to the opposite sex, resulting in an attempt to change one’s sex (transsexuality). One’s desire to refuse the sex that has been given him or her by the Creator can have pernicious consequences for one’s further development. «The change of sex» through hormonal impact and surgical operation has led in many cases not to the solution of psychological problems, but to their aggravation, causing a deep inner crisis. The Church cannot approve of such a «rebellion against the Creator» and recognise as valid the artificially changed sexual affiliation. If «a change of sex» happened in a person before his or her Baptism, he or she can be admitted to this Sacrament as any other sinner, but the Church will baptise him or her as belonging to his or her sex by birth. The ordination of such a person and his or her marriage in church are inadmissible.

Transsexuality should be distinguished from the wrong identification of the sex in one’s infancy as a result of doctors’ mistake caused by a pathological development of sexual characteristics. The surgical correction in this case is not a change of sex” (The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, section XII. Problems of bioethics, sub section 9).

I have quoted this passage repeatedly, when discussing this issue, including the second paragraph that makes the distinction between transgenderism, and those who are born with some sexual ambiguity.

The idea that someone might be born with such problems is not a new discovery. Christ Himself spoke of this in Matthew 19:12:

“For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

Puhalo is now suggesting that I have somehow attacked those born with these conditions, or that I deny that such people exist. Of course both claims are false, and I suspect he knows it… which he certainly would if he bothered to read what I have said on the subject. The Church does not object to surgical corrections of such conditions, when they can be corrected. And in fact it does not object to correcting a mistaken gender assignment with subsequent surgery. But this is just a red herring, because Puhalo does not wish to deal with the fact that what he actually has advocated is completely at odds with what the Church teaches.

I am glad that the OCA was able to bring Puhalo and his follows out of the bogus jurisdictions that he has at various times been affiliated with, and bring them back into the Orthodox Church. The OCA synod of Bishops should, however, take measures to ensure that this “retired Archbishop” not spout heresy, as he has regularly done on this and several other issues.

Update: On Puhalo’s Facebook page, he posted the following update:

“Let us make it abundantly clear: The doctrine of the Orthodox Church holds that sexual intercourse between people of the same gender is a sin. Moreover, the Orthodox Church will never accept, or even consider accepting, same sex marriages. This is unequivocally the doctrine of the Orthodox Church. This is not an excuse to persecute, bully or harm anyone, but it is clearly the doctrine of the Church.”

Now, that sounds good enough, as far as it goes. But you will notice he states what the Church teaches, but does not express his agreement with it. And when someone posted their complaint “To continue labelling as “sin” anything that we fail to understand and incorporate to our preconceptions is a grave insult to human dignity and intelligence.” Puhalo replied:”I have been forbidden by “higher ups” to express any truth about the nature of the issue, so I only express the official doctrine of the Church” (November 24 at 12:26am).

This is good news, in as much as it indicates that the Bishops of the OCA have begun to rein him in. However, it is clear that Puhalo intends to continue promoting his heretical views on human sexuality, with a wink and a nod when necessary.


  1. Lev may have been validly ordained a deacon but, as far as I know, that’s about it. I’m not sure where all he has been. He got into it with the late Fr. Seraphim Rose regarding Fr. Seraphim’s writings on the afterlife. Puhalo suggested that “soul sleep” was the state of the soul after death and that such souls do not have consciousness or the capacity for intervention.

    The synod of ROCOR pointed out that “soul sleep” is flat out heresy and contrary to scripture and proceeded to tamp down on such arguments. In short, Lev was a loose cannon long ago. I’m not sure why the OCA agreed to receive him as an “archbishop” or retired bishop (or whatever). In short, he’s a flake and not a reliable source of anything.

  2. Is Vladika Lazar connected? says
  3. Francis Frost says


    I was told by an OCA clergyman a number of years ago that a number of institutions and individuals of questionable provenance were taken into the OCA during Metropolitan Herman’s time as OCA primate because of their assets. Presumably the OCA would eventually own or inherit these properties.

    The retired Archbishop Puhalo has considerable property at his monastery in western Canada. The former Byzantine Catholic monastery in Florida was taken in for the same reason, despite the fact that a nun had been murdered there by a novice monk (poslushnik) and the novice then claimed sexual abuse by the monks as the reason for the crime. This group has since decamped for Ukraine. The sad fact is that the jurisdictional mess in America allows such ‘bishop shopping”.

    We need to remember that Puhalo is not a product of the OCA nor its seminaries. Puhalo was educated at Jordanville’s Holy Trinity seminary. During the 1970’s Deacon Lev Puhalo and Archimandrite Seraphim Rose engaged in a protracted and bitter debate over the “aerial toll house” teaching. Both were ordered to cease and desist by the ROCOR Holy Synod. Neither did. Puhalo was defrocked by ROCOR; but claimed to have joined another jurisdiction before the ROCOR action took effect. The rest is history.

    • Fr. John Whiteford says

      He claims to have joined the Free Serbs, which were not recognized by anyone as legitimate, and he went to them without a release, which is forbidden by the canons. He was then ordained a priest and consecrated a bishop in a series of bogus jurisdictions.

      • any OCA priests went to ROCOR over the calendar without a release? I heard there were a few. but were they been deposed or otherwise discipined?

        • Fr. John Whiteford says

          None went over that were deposed for other reasons.

        • parish history says

          When my NY Metropolia parish voted and made a decision to become ROCOR in 1970, it did so stating that they wished to retain their mission to Christianize Soviet Russia and thus remain Russian Orthodox, not American Orthodox. It was a time when many people from the new immigration (those from Soviet times) were still living in America with stateless status. At that time, also, the concept of dual citizenship was not possible as it is today for immigrants. Some people chose to retain stateless status and keep the possibility of returning to a non communist Russia alive. Services in the parish were broadcast to Russia, the Matushka went to Holy Trinity Monastery to take choir master (regent) lessons so that the choir could improve and after communism, both the priest and his matushka went to Russia and became monastics. But before that, he still was listed as an OCA priest and given his pension. For decades, people in the OCA and ROCOR could take communion at each others churches. When ROCOR and the Patriarchate normalized relations, then even the priests concelebrated at each others jurisdictions. However, neither Metropolia / OCA nor ROCOR members would take communion at a Patriarchal / MP church. However, we would go to their festivals and know their people. I personally never have taken communion in a Patriarchal church but might today. This kind of thing happened at a number of parishes.around the time of the Tomos of autocephally in the Metropolia / OCA

    • It is true that ROCOR’s synod said “enough with the public debate”. However, they took Fr. Seraphim’s side recognizing that his teaching was a reflection of a long line of Russian Orthodox theological works and based on statements of the Fathers. They were a bit less kind to Puhalo.

    • Francis,

      To claim that the OCA accepted Puhalo and the Florida Monks, who went to North Carolina and now are in Ukraine for their money is beneath you. The Florida-North Carolina-Ukraine monks NEVER incorporated their property under the OCA and when they left for Ukraine they left with their money. As for Puhalo, the OCA in the US, Syosset in particular can’t benefit because Puhalo’s property is a Canadian asset not a US one. Heck the Canadians can’t even transfer OCA assessment money out of Canada to Syosset.

      So whoever the OCA clergy who fed you this pile of bull is uninformed at best or worse a liar.

  4. Im obliged for the blog.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  5. Michael Kinsey says

    Bishop P. U. Halo’s support of the gay agenda really stinks. I applogize, but I am mischevious.

    • Michael Kinsey, your comment was unnecessary and needlessly obnoxious. Perhaps you would do better to keep such insults to yourself. They contribute nothing of value whatsoever.

  6. Fr. Oleksa on Father Alexander says

    [Fr. Oleksa’s essay was circulating privately and reached me a couple of days ago]


    13-12-2013 17:57
    ENGLISH VERSION: Archpriest Michael Oleksa. CONTEXTUAL AND PASTORAL. An Essay on the 30th Anniversary of the Repose of Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
    As I consider not the details but the broad framework within which our beloved teacher, Father Alexander Schmemann lived, taught, wrote and lectured, I realize that he shared, with all the ancient Holy Fathers of the ancient Church, an approach, a vision, an experience of God, of Christ, of the Christian Faith and the life of the Church that was essentially contextual and pastoral. I hope to explore briefly these two themes in this essay which I write today in his memory.
    Father Alexander is often misunderstood and even maligned today as an “innovator” or “modernist” as if he were trying to change and violate the spirit of the Orthodox Tradition according to his personal tastes or prejudices. But anyone who knew him also recognized how fundamentally “conservative” he was. While his academic and theological interests were essentially historical, he saw history as providing a wider context in which to understand and address contemporary issues. History, for Father Alexander, is the continuing story, the next chapter for which we are now responsible, while remaining faithful to all that has gone before. Precisely because of the depth of his historical understanding of the Church and her many struggles, he was able to draw on two thousand years of experience to highlight whatever was pastorally appropriate to the problems of 20th century America. He did not see the liturgical practices of any one era as determinative for all times and places but sought to understand the evolution of the liturgy over the centuries so as to apply what was best and most useful from this heritage to the pastoral concerns of today. His vision and criteria were absolutely pastoral, and one might add in North America, missiological as well.
    With his broad knowledge of Church history and the history of liturgy, Father Alexander sought to examine and highlight those practices, authentically Orthodox, from whatever time or place, from any epoch or ethnic tradition that might help better to convey the Orthodox Tradition, the spiritual treasures of the ancient Church, to modern North Americans, both “cradle” Orthodox and potential as well as actual converts. Applying this approach to the celebration of divine services, he recommended the extensive use of English, at a time when the vast majority of immigrant communities were still worshipping in their ancestral languages–rendering Orthodox worship unintelligible to any visitors or seekers who might attend a service. If the Church is in North America for all the people of this continent, Father Alexander would argue, then it must be accessible to them. This may not be true for many jurisdictions who define their mission as preserving an ancestral Faith in tact, in the same condition as they remember it in their homeland, somewhere else. But if the Orthodox Church in America remains true to its own history, as a mission to America for Americans (who were originally the indigenous tribes of Alaska) then it must translate and teach in the local language, continue an outreach to the local community, and focus on its situation, its needs, its heritage, its culture. This was the genius of the Alaskan missionary saints who learned the various languages, developed writing systems for them, produced translations and opened schools, training an indigenous clergy to lead the Church in the first half-century of its existence. The Church, as a mission, must adapt to the context into which it is sent.
    But this is exactly what the Church has done through the centuries. What else was the adaptation of the Greek language necessary in the first centuries of Christianity? Why else did the Church spend seven centuries, struggling to find language adequate to God, adequate to her message, re-defining and virtually re-inventing Greek terms, bending them to the meaning the Church required to articulate and explain the Gospel to a Greek-speaking intelligentsia? Every controversy that the Church entered, every heresy she confronted, arose from within the Greco-Roman classical worldview, a culture that radically separated the physical and spiritual worlds, making the incarnation of the Word of God “folly” to the Greeks. Christianity contradicted this basic axiomatic belief that the earthly, physical, material world was perishable and unimportant, while the heavenly, spiritual, intellectual world was eternal and of supreme value. Every heresy that arose during these centuries sought to “explain” Christ by minimizing either His humanity or His divinity and preserve the basic division between the Spiritual and Material realms. All Patristic theology, all the debates and intellectual struggles in which Christian thinkers engaged during the Age of the Councils, erupted in this cultural context, and the Fathers composed their theological response not as philosophical speculation, but precisely as a pastoral necessity within this context. The Fathers were pastoral and contextual.
    Liturgy adapted to the pastoral needs of each culture as well. One could write the history of the Orthodox Church precisely in these terms. “The Church,” Father Alexander used to say, “always changes to remain the Same.” Problems arose when later generations began approaching, understanding and explaining the writings and canons of the ancient church in an essentially fundamentalist way. In other words, the text dictates the solution to the problem: whatever is written must be true, and preserved in tact, forever. The difficulty with this approach is that it is fundamentally flawed. The Fathers never cited proof texts alone but were free to redefine and even invent new terms to meet the pastoral needs, which were always central to their thinking. Why worry about the difference between homoousios and homoiousios, one iota different? Because the very essence of “salvation” was at stake. But whose salvation? The salvation of Christians, the salvation of the world! The ancient church debated these issues for decades until, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Fathers could announce, as the Holy Apostles had done in the beginning, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” having arrived at a unanimous consensus on a particular issue. These arguments often lasted for years, with conflicting and contradictory conclusions, the discussions becoming rather heated and even violent at times. But when the Truth is finally articulated, it becomes self-evident. It requires no further discussion or “proof.” The Truth is what it is.
    There is no external, or rather no empirical criterion, no guarantor of truth, either in the person of an infallible Pope, nor in the letter of Scripture. We know the Truth when we encounter it. After this, we struggle to articulate it as best we can in human language. The Church never has sought to define it, but has only sought to draw some boundaries, some parameters around the Truth so as to exclude certain distortions or misconceptions about it. God cannot be defined or reduced to a philosophy or system. A God who could be so comprehended by human thought would not be God but an idol. Anyone who claims to have figured God out has fallen into grave and dangerous delusion. “Never assume a rational universe!” was one of Father Alexander’s memorable warnings.
    If our focus in North America is to be pastoral and contextual, we need to know what our context–21st century Western Civilization–is. Then we need to know thoroughly our Faith Tradition. And finally our “mission” is to apply the Orthodox Vision, to articulate it and celebrate it in a way that communicates the Eternal Truths of our Faith, to these people at this time and this place. Once we accept the pastoral imperative of our mission in this context, certain adjustments become reasonable and even necessary.
    For example, if we accept the pastoral and contextual criteria, how should we best celebrate the Divine Liturgy? Should the Royal Doors (as in modern Russian practice) remain shut? Should the mystical prayers that render the Anaphora intelligible be read silently? Should we insist on worshipping in unintelligible languages? Should we refrain from any lengthy or meaningful preaching? Should we discourage the Faithful from participating in the Holy Mysteries except perhaps a few times a year?
    Or should we rather allow the Royal Doors to remain open through all or most of the celebration? Should we read or chant the prayers aloud so that all may prayerfully participate? Should we use the language of the community in which we live? Should we explain our faith in thoughtful, well-articulated and challenging sermons? Should we encourage the Faithful to join in the celebration, singing, praying and participating in the Eucharistic banquet?
    Father Alexander encouraged the latter, not because he was trying to stir up trouble, not because he enjoyed being an “innovator” or because he was a “modernist,” but because he was essentially a pastor concerned for the salvation of the people of this continent, this society. He was a contextualist, which means he was essentially Traditional, in the best Orthodox sense of the word, and not a fundamentalist, focused on a fixed text (as the ultimate criterion) and an attitude alien to the authentic Orthodox Tradition, alien to the mind of the Fathers.
    His concerns extended to the language of translation. The original poetic masterpieces of Byzantine hymnography often do not translate well into modern English. The particular “genius” of the English language is its concision, its focus on expressing, in a minimum number of words, a concept with clarity and precision, while the medieval and ancient Greek texts may come across as clumsy, wordy and even unintelligible. Once again applying the missiological and pastoral criteria, “accurate” “word-for-word” translations often fall short of the goal.
    Returning to Elizabethan English in no way guarantees pastoral or missiological “success.” In fact, literal translations usually fail in this regard. To be open and accepting of all who attend, isn’t it time to make the language of our services more inclusive, rather than give the impression that men have any priority over women? Our latest translations return to an archaic use of the word man that is at least controversial if not insultng to women–and inaccurate. The original Greek pronouns were inclusive of both sexes and perhaps in centuries past, the world “man” could be interpreted to mean both men and women, But this is no longer true in modern English usage. Should not the Church take this into account. Context demands another approach to liturgical translations.
    Idealizing a particular usage or translation does not solve the problem. The most recent translations, published by the OCA and others, in fact represent a fundamentalist return to a word-for-word approach that abandons the grammatical and syntactical norms of 20th century English. Why omit the “let us ask of the Lord” endings to petitions in the Liturgy because the phrase is absent in a Greek or Russian original, when doing so makes no sense in English? Why shift the texts of the mystical prayers in the published texts, where they were placed for pastoral and missiological reasons in the earlier 1967 publication, to the middle of litanies, where they cannot logically be read? Why drop the words “and love” as the chalice is brought forth because the modern Russian text does not have it, (but the modern Greek text does)? Is there a foreign criterion to the “correct” usage, or are we free, within the context of our own culture, to determine what is appropriate and necessary for our pastoral and missiological needs, here, in this country. Can there be a foreign–from another time and place–“right” way of doing things, or are we not required, in the pastoral spirit of the ancient Fathers, to determine how best to address our needs in this country?
    Certainly a fundamentalist approach is simpler. We are relieved of any responsibility to think about or reflect upon what we are doing and why we are doing it. But in that case, the Church does not need human pastors and teachers. A computer can do the job! Or are we afraid to adjust to our context, afraid we might “get it wrong”? It seems to me, in the spirit of Father Schmemann that the only way to “get it wrong” is to forget where we are and why we are here. We have been, since the arrival of the Valaam mission in 1794, to bring the Truth to Americans in America, not to replicate or transplant an alien faith and nurture it in a foreign land.
    Father Alexander loved America. He was dismayed at the way some students rejected and condemned “the West,” knowing that you cannot teach, you cannot authentically bless, you cannot “save” what you do not love. Far from criticizing everything “Western” as in itself deficient, Father Alexander encouraged his students to appreciate and rejoice in whatever was good, wholesome, inspiring or beautiful in any culture, in any place, including the wonders of nearby Manhattan. If we are truly patristic and Traditional, we must be pastoral and contextual. That was Father Alexander’s vision, faithful to the Holy Fathers while rejecting any fundamentalist approach to the creative and challenging task before us: to bring Orthodoxy to North America, not by copying or idealizing any former expression of the Faith, but by drawing on all that is beautiful, true and indeed eternal in it, and applying that, courageously to the pastoral needs of North America today.
    Perhaps some of his students became archeologists rather than pastors, thinking that if some practice had been abandoned centuries before, it was now their duty to restore it. But the antiquity of a given practice was never Father Alexander’s concern or agenda. If he encouraged a return to certain usages, his perspective was always pastoral and missiological. In this he was fundamentally contextual and therefore traditional, following the pattern established by the ancient patristic tradition. He did not write theology as an exercise in philosophical speculation, but as a pastor seeking to make the Truth known and comprehensible to people living in a new century on a new continent.
    Let us now, on the thirtieth anniversary of his repose, renew our commitment to his vision, the Traditional vision of the Orthodox Church, according to the example of the Holy Fathers of the ancient Church, and in the context of this culture, this society, strive to articulate, proclaim and celebrate our Faith so that the Truth of Christ, the Truth of the Gospel, the Truth, the Reality, the Beauty and Glory of His Kingdom might be known, accepted and embraced by the people of this land, for their salvation and the salvation of the world. Let us not fear to revive some ancient practices if they meet the needs of our mission in this challenging situation, but let us not experiment needless and foolishly either, trying to introduce change where pastorally and/or missiologically, none can be justified. Father Alexander would have cautioned us all against such inappropriate and potentially divisive tactics!
    And let all of us who were blessed to know Father Alexander, on this anniversary of his falling-asleep, commend his soul, and ourselves and each other and all our life to Christ, our God.

    • Metropolitan Jonah on Father Alexander Schmemann says


      tell me if this sermon doesn’t work and then I will post the long way to get the sermon

      A lot of Father Alexander’s ideas are discussed here including how an American Church is encisioned.

      • What about Metropolitan Jonah’s sermon on the day commemorating Father Alexander Schmemann’s fallingasleep and Father Alexander’s contributions to Orthodoxy occasioned negative votes?

      • YES, please do put here the full open text of this dissertation on Fr. A. Schmemann.
        I cannot open or view this link which you have put here.
        And I have been struggling for many years, to reach a fuller & more complete
        picture of him, both his positive and his negative sides, [ from any perspectives]. etc.
        I want to know the real Schmemann, not the overly glorified version, nor the utterly demonized version either.
        Rd. Daniel

        • M. Stankovich says

          Rd. Daniel,

          Perhaps you need to read again that this is a “sermon.” It is a personal, warm, reminiscence by the Metropolitan, but nevertheless, it is an audio recording of a sermon. If you “have been struggling for many years, to reach a fuller & more complete picture of him,” you might read what has been translated from his journals and judge for yourself. He was quite introspective and quite frank in his writings.

        • Met. Jonah on Schmemann says

          Dear Reader Daniel,

          The sermon on Father Alexander is not in text form but is in an audio file. When you get to the page at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gz3tl8g2o89lngm/YN7bybAKHV/20131213%20Commemeration%20of%20Fr.%20%20Alexander%20Schmemann.m4a

          Then click on download

          Then a window will pop up asking whether you want to open the file or save it. It is not large, so you can save it and have it. It is 1.62 MG. Or you can just listen to it.

      • Dear, “Met. Jonah on Father Alexander Schmemann says”:

        Please give me this full open text. I cannot access this link of yours.
        Thanks, aqain…
        Rd. Daniel

    • Father Alexander Schmemann

      … One “YES” December 13, 2013

      “Jesus Christ…having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in the ordinances, created in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.” (paraphrase of part of last Sunday’s epistle, Ephesians 2:15)

      A brief thirty years have passed since the death of Fr Alexander Schmemann—a lifetime for a younger generation of intelligent church leaders and a mere moment for those who personally knew him. I am among those older people who can easily claim that Fr Alexander single-handedly and very personally shaped our theology, and therefore influenced a great part of our lives. In fact, his influence on my generation was so profound that we find ourselves struggling to incorporate his vision often troubled by a very different approach that occupies religion today. Fr Schmemann’s own published Journals testify to his personal struggle with the divergent visions of the Church.

      What largely marks Fr Alexander’s vast legacy of lectures, sermons, and essays was his caution against what he called reductions, that is, the tendency to obsess over isolated issues, and consequently to idolize them, to turn them into a cause and a source of division and conflict. To avoid such reductions, he constantly urged us not to be tempted to “solve” the Church’s deficiencies or to idealize some bygone time or era when things were perfect. Rather, he encouraged us to look deeper at the dimension of the Kingdom of God already permeating human life. The Church’s role is to bring us into a closer union with that experience of the Kingdom, but the Church as such is NOT a substitute for that experience, rather, She reveals that experience to us. Christ came to restore and bring God’s world to the Father, and not to establish a self-absorbed cult.
      Fr Alexander warned against religious activism, teaching instead a wholesome engagement with the world through mission. But this idea of mission was not the conventional notion we have today of multiplying converts in order to fill the pews. For him, this mission did not consist in theological controversies or religious activity, but the bringing of one’s own transfigured life into daily engagement with the neighbor, the one in front of me at this moment. The man who shares Fr Alexander’s day of death, Herman of Alaska, was a simple monk leading a secluded life in the wilderness, and yet his influence was so vast that he became America’s first recognized saint.

      Just as the Kingdom of God cannot be reduced to an easy definition, or to religious activism so too, the persons who are beloved by God, cannot be reduced to their functions or their virtues and vices. It is notable that while Fr Alexander could be the harshest critic of human behavior, he maintained the deepest respect for the individual person, always knowing that this particular person is the object of God’s love and salvation. We live in a time of constant anxiety and therefore of personal recrimination—we often need to blame someone for the way we feel. It is hard for us to understand that we are on our journey together, and that only by continuing together to offer our broken lives in the Eucharistic gathering, can we overcome the alienation we experience, and the hostility that marks our times even and especially within the Christian family.

      In the culture that formed Fr Alexander it was inconceivable for Orthodox people to be solely concerned with the development and future of their own Orthodoxy. While he was convinced of the fullness of Orthodox life and teaching, he understood that Orthodoxy, and its experience of that very Kingdom which he preached, was the source from which one reaches always outside oneself. That explains his engagement with others on the ecumenical stage. No doubt he would have continued to express some bitterness over many of the externals that define Orthodox today. I am thinking specifically about the interest in certain circles of the restoration of old country architecture, the fascination with forms of apparel and conduct, preoccupation with rubrics, and an assault on cultural norms and morality—all of which suggests the preservation of a romantic Orthodox “Age” to counter a perceived secularism. If the world is indeed gone secular, one has to wonder about the sudden and growing appeal of Pope Francis who preaches a very humane restoration of human relationships. Why is his spirituality so attractive to a younger generation that supposedly has no interest in the Church? Doesn’t one have to ask what digressions in religion drove that generation away in the first place?

      Just as we see the restoration beginning today with Pope Francis on a one to one personal basis, so too, for Fr Alexander, theological engagement and progress is only possible among individual persons willing to be actively engaged with one another, not on the level of polemics and ideas and conferences, but in dialogue and action rooted in love and in the joyful exuberance that Christ’s victory over death has come. For me, the most fascinating aspect of his personality was his ability to confront any deviation from truth directly in a good solid debate, without ever reducing his “opponent” to an object, or a hurdle to overcome, an enemy to conquer—but rather seeing that person as a beloved soul that he hoped both to learn from and to convince with truth and patience.

      My friend Deacon Peter Danilchik likes to describe how he had once asked Fr Schmemann whether he should confront another cleric whose actions he deplored. Fr Schmemann answered: “Of course, but only if you know that your motivation is borne out of love!” In Father’s published journals it is especially clear that such confrontations were the order of his professional life, not excluding the hallowed halls of his own beloved Seminary. No parish can claim that such conflicts are not present in their own daily lives—it is simply the human condition. But the antidotes are not far away, for this split—these conflicts—are first of all inside each of us. If I would but only see that my anger against a neighbor has first taken root by a division within myself; and that when I confront my own internal division, I can only then properly confront in love my neighbor. Here lies the essence of St.Paul’s words to the Ephesians in the heading above. The famous “dividing wall of hostility between the two” which Christ overcomes, is none other than the hostility working in my own soul, the war between the Old and New Adam within me.

      If we are to discover the particularity of Fr Alexander’s teaching today, it does not lie in some complex theological formulations, in some innovative theology that he developed. Rather, his gift is the real incarnation of Christian truth in his own person. When Veselin Kesich said at Fr Schmemann’s funeral that “he was a free man in Christ, a man filled with humor and stories”, he defined once and for all the “what” of Fr Schmemann. The “who” will always be an irreducible mystery, but his “what” is exactly this freedom and lightness of life. And for him this was the conviction that Christ has come and death is no more.

      I am personally convinced that is the reason that Father Alexander is not only NOT dead, but continues to grow and flourish in the Church’s consciousness day by day. I believe that his legacy is only now beginning to take root, that having lived a brief while “without” him, so to speak, the Church is beginning again to live with him. To me it seems ironic that this “free man in Christ”, who eschewed all forms of outward piety, who smoked Gitanes (which may have proved his physical demise) and loved a good beefsteak, is headed toward the road of sanctity, or more accurately perhaps, has by his honest and open life already shown us what a contemporary true and saintly human being looks like! He has shown us that we are all indeed potential “saints” bound by our desire to offer our broken and healed selves to the God who came, and is coming in this season of Advent light, to be one with us, and raise us to Himself!

      by Alexis Vinogradov 12.13.13

  7. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    The instance under discussion is, in my OPINION, a rank poseur. It is, however, my CONVICTION that he is a deposed Deacon, formerly a member of ROCOR, and my CONVICTION that his reception as a hierarch of the Orthodox Church by the Orthodox Church in America’s Holy Synod was an ERROR by that Synod, of which I was an active member at the time. I expressed these convictions and supported them with documentation and reportage before that Synod and have never wavered in them. I confess to having been unforgivably naive in trusting that my presentation of the facts of the man’s ecclesiastical and personal biography would be accepted by that Synod, so, in the process of obtaining a hearing of those facts, I promised Metropolitan Herman that if my presentation failed to cause the Holy Synod to reverse their controversial but not–yet-implemented by concelebration decision to receive him I would not go into schism. I regret and repent of that foolish promise and finally I retired from my see partially as a result of that error. I apologize for my part, then, in the accession of the deposed deacon into a quasi -respectability, which remains an anomaly in the history of the Church.
    Yes, George is correct that “Puhalo” is a family name that the ‘retired Archbishop” for unknown reasons found and adopted as an adult, and that he has used other family names from time to time. Lev (or Leo) was the Christian name he had assumed by the time he was received into ROCOR and monasticism, whereupon he was called, in monasticism, “Lazar” (Lazarus). Other previous family names of which he availed himself are Haler and Buehler. Ronald was a Christian name he bore before becoming Lev, or Leo. I believe he has fathered at least one infant, buried in the cemetery of his monastic property in Canada. Of his marital history or the name of the mother of his infant son I know nothing.
    The Holy Synod of the OCA was not noted for theological brilliance in my lifetime; however, most of its members were able to grasp the idea of the existence or non-existence of the Toll Houses and were proud of it. To appear to be taking a theological position through intellectual prowess may have tempted some of them to overlook the grossly uncanonical course of the man’s ecclesiastical career.
    He claimed (and claims) in writing that ROCOR’s Bishop Gregory of blessed memory attempted to force him to become a homosexual by assigning him to the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Massachuesetts, and he also claimed that he explained this to the First Hierarch of the then-schismatic jurisdiction of the “Free Serbs, Metropolitan Irenej (sp?) who, Puhalo writes, declared that ROCOR was a non-canonical jurisdiction and therefore its ecclesiastical actions vis-a-vis Puhalo were non-canonical and then ordained him (a deposed NON-DEACON) to the Priesthood. The man remained with the Free Serbs until they were regularized and received back into the Church of Serbia by the sainted Patriarch Pavle, whereafter he fled to the notorious Synod of Milan which created him a Bishop. (Years later, when his “documentation” was presented to the Holy Synod (during the incumbency of Metropolitan Theodosius) and not accepted by the Holy Synod, when the names of the three “hierarchs” of the Synod of Milan who consecrated him were read out loud, Archbishop Peter of blessed memory burst out with the cry; “Oh, I know them all. They are all homosexuals who were deposed when they were still deacons. Everybody in Europe knows them!” (I can’t help remarking on the irony, the ‘duhh”, of the man running to become a Bishop to the sort of people he CLAIMS to have avoided in leaving ROCOR!) . The Synod of Milan accepted the “Patriarch of Kiev” (or “Kiiv” or Kiiyyiiv or whatever) as their First Hierarch, whereupon our Puhalo was raised to the rank of Archbishop. (it might be pointed out that at least the man did not raise HIMSELF to be an Archbishop as some have been seen to do in our time.)
    I should point out that in a patent attempt to be seen to be doing ‘due diligence’ the OCA Holy Synod asked a faculty member of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary, a specialist in liturgy, to investigate the “canonicity” of the man’s petition to be received as a hierarch of the OCA, and this liturgical expert reported officially that his teaching on the Toll Houses was “not heretical.’ This ‘approval” by a member of the SVS faculty was accepted as a canonical “OK’ by the OCA luminaries. My private, curmudgeonly comment here is that the APPEARANCE of making an intellectually advanced theological decision was so tempting to not only the members of the Holy
    Synod but to the SVS consultant that it could not be resisted. Even today, that’s all most of the OCA establishment is willing to publicly address… the Toll Houses.
    Off-hand, I’d opine that the day will never come when an hierarch of ROCOR would ever concelebrate with the “retired Archbishop.’

    • Michael Kinsey says

      For the first time. I grudgingly give Bishop Fitzgerald a thumbs up, and thank him for his right thinking and clear history of the poser. False teachers abound, it is good that one of them should be clearly pointed out.

    • Thank you for this information, your Grace. There are some in my circle of acquaintances who seem to look to this man as some sort of authority, presumably due to the title he claims for himself.

      But notwithstanding the ‘authority’ – be it from the rank of bishop, archbishop, metropolitan, patriarch, or angel from heaven (with or without the ‘proper’ credentials), if any teach the sort of nonsense spewed by this man, let him be anathema.

  8. defrocked for denying Aerial toll booths? really

    • No, greggo, not really.

      ROCOR eventually said something to the effect that the toll houses were a valid theologoumenon (pious opinion) and not heretical. One can agree or disagree with that assessment. However, what Puhalo asserted during this little battle was the heresy of “soul sleep”, i.e., that at death souls pass into a sort of incommuticato state. We know this is false from scripture as well as the Fathers. Refusing to shut up and quit asserting heresy was the cause of his further difficulties.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      NOT “defrocked” for “denying Aerial toll booths. Period.

    • Fr. John Whiteford says

      Defrocked for serving while under suspension. Under suspension for disobedience.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Thank you, Father John. You’ve actually read the decree: others are fanatically attached to the idea that he was deposed on doctrinal, rather than canonical reasons.

    • Antonio Arganda says

      No, for asserting that a theologumenon be treated as dogma.
      at least Fr. Seraphim did not press his position, like Mr. Haler pressed his.

    • Michael Bauman says

      No, not really. He was defrocked because his denial of aerial toll houses went too far into the heretical understanding of senseless souls.

    • No, “defrocked” for failing to desist from public debate on the matter after he had been ordered to do so.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Basil et al….He was Suspended from serving for disobedience, but it was not until he served WHILE being suspended that he was DEPOSED, i.e., defrocked for doing so. You can’t DEFY a suspension no matter how lofty an opinion you have of your own ratiocination..

  9. Guy Westover says

    Okay, let me get this correct.
    Bishops that you like are accorded dignity and respect such as His Beatitude Jonah.
    Bishops that you do not like are not accorded dignity and respect of their office, like “Puhalo.” As opposed to Archbishop Lazar, or Vladyka Lazar??

    Just trying to get the rules and guidelines right.

    In a similar vein, I find it interesting hypocritical certain ROCOR clergy, like Priest John Whitford, now refer to certain ecclesiastical bodies as “schismatic vagantes” when just a few short years ago the ROCOR was not considered canonical, and regularly incardinated suspended and deposed OCA clergy.

    Rules of engagement based on canonical status and personal likes and dislikes.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Guy, if I read you correctly (and begging your forgiveness if I’m not), you’re missing some important distinctions. The primary one being that the timeline of Puhalo’s various ordinations is rather sketchy. To this day, I don’t know if a formal, verifiable record exists of anything other than his ordination to the diaconate in ROCOR and then his subsequent laicization from that same jurisdiction. You have to admit that everything beyond his career in ROCOR is opaque. Hence the OCA’s acceptance of him as an “archbishop” is extremely questionable.

      The same could not be said for His Beatitude or any other OCA bishop for that matter (even those with troubling arrest records and/or personal lives). This is not to say that I don’t think the OCA should not have accepted Puhalo and any of his clergy and property or whatever. The OCA was right to do so all things being equal.

      Compare for example the reception of Puhalo as an archbishop with the reception of Fr Peter Gilquist and the Evangelical Orthodox in the mid-80s. Fr Peter was a bishop in said body but he humbly took the title of priest at the request of His Eminence Philip. In his subsequent career in the Antiochian jurisdiction, he never questioned official Orthodox doctrine nor expounded on controversial topics nor created a cult of personality around himself.

      • anonymus per Scorilo says

        Fr Peter was a bishop in said body but he humbly took the title of priest at the request of His Eminence Philip

        There is a bit of a difference here: Fr. Peter was also married, as were all the other EOC bishops, so they would have been never been received as bishops in the Church.

        Also, not all of the EOC ex-bishops had Fr. Peter’s humility, do not forget the one from Ben Lomond, who was thereafter defrocked by the Antiochains, more or less for “expounding on controversial topics or creating a cult of personality around himself”

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Yes, Scorilo, there is a difference. Father Peter was “above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, married. . .” and it disqualified him as a bishop.

          Archbishop Lazar was never married and fathered two illegitimate children, one of whom was orphaned at a very young age and had to go live with relatives, while the aspiring Archbishop played “monastery” in a one room hut with his lifelong companion.

          Frankly, being “controversial” doesn’t seem to be a factor. Disobedience, on the other hand, is a deal breaker.

          Have a Blessed Feast of the Nativity everyone.

      • Special Gift for Father Alexander says

        George said

        Compare for example the reception of Puhalo as an archbishop with the reception of Fr Peter Gilquist and the Evangelical Orthodox in the mid-80s. Fr Peter was a bishop in said body but he humbly took the title of priest at the request of His Eminence Philip. In his subsequent career in the Antiochian jurisdiction, he never questioned official Orthodox doctrine nor expounded on controversial topics nor created a cult of personality around himself.

        There is no normal comparison between a Protestant schismatic who was a married bishop in his renounced religion with an Orthodox prelate being receeived into another Orthodox jurisdiction. Thus, there was no way for Father Peter to be received as a bishop as that would have been uncanonical. . A father of six, he wrote on raising Christian children with compassion. http://oca.org/in-memoriam/archpriest-peter-e.-gillquist

        Vladika Lazar was an Orthodox monastic cleric when receiced into the OCA. In fact, he was styled as Archbishop of Canada in the following document, so it is not strange that he was received into the OCA as a bishop


        Make sure to click on the plus button to enlarge the document

      • Pere LaChaise says

        … but there did and still does exist a personality cult around the defrocked Weldon Hardenbrook, who defied his own bishop on numerous occasions and took down many clergy with him in the purge of Ben Lomond Ss. Peter & Paul. Definitely a case of being hoisted by his own petard.

        • geo michalopulos says

          Hardenbrook has not cultivated the YouTube cult of personality to my knowledge. Plus he has no official position in any Orthodox jurisdiction. Puhalo, alas, does.

    • Guy,

      By and large ROCOR isolated itself because they asserted that certain other churches had gone too far in terms of ecumenism. They were still in communion with yet other conservative, canonical churches (for example, Jerusalem and Serbia). You may recall that there was no perception given by the ROC that ROCOR had been “uncanonical” at the time of the reunion. It was described as the reunification of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. Now, as to Puhalo and Met. Jonah, Puhalo was never consecrated a bishop by anyone who had the grace to do so. It is certainly not the case that the ROC has in any way denied that ROCOR possessed the grace to consecrate bishops. There were no reconsecrations.

      This was probably a lapse in judgment on the OCA’s part. I mean, they gave the man ecclesiastical refuge and respectability in exchange for getting his property, presumably after death. God only knows how long the old boy will keep on living and complicating life for them.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Guido, even a “schismatic vagante” can identify a ‘schismatic vagante,” ok? Let’s recall, as well, that all the ROCOR Bishops on the territory of the United States of America sat on the Greater Sobor of Bishops of the Metropolia in the 1930s and 1940s. It was only when, after WWII, that the ROCOR Bishops, members of the Greater Sobor of Bishops of the Metropolia left the Metropolia voluntarily after the popular vote at an AAC accepted the Spiritual Primacy of the Patriarch of Moscow and voted to commemorate him first during the Divine Services was accepted by the MINORITY of the Greater Sobor of Bishops, including Metropolitan Theophilus.
      Even so, after that break, in the 1950s and into the 1960s, the Church of Christ the Savior in Manhattan acknowledged and commemorated both Metropolltan Anastassy and Metropolitan Leonty—one month Anastassy would visit and serve; the next month Metropolitan Leonty would visit and serve. Bishop Kyril (Yonchev) was received WILLY-NILLY from ROCOR into the OCA, and clergy were mutually incardinated even without letters of dismissal by both ROCOR and OCA.

      Puhalo was ordained Deacon by a Bishop of ROCOR. He was deposed by the Holy Synod of ROCOR. Metropolitan Irinej of the “Free” Serbs declared that the deposition was invalid because ROCOR is “schismatic,” therefor invalid! How is it then that, by ordaining him to the Priesthood he accepted as canonical the ordination of Puhalo to the Diaconate?
      I find the man to be socially acceptable and even likeable accept for his vain advocacy of the outre and his historical and apparently everlasting jealousy of the sainted Seraphim (Rose). There are many Lutheran clergy and people whom I like and with whom I am good friends; nevertheless. I don’t consider Lutheran
      ‘Bishops” to be bishops at all. Same with “Archbishop Lazar.”
      As for the Toll Houses, ‘aerial” or not, I’ll continue to rely on established dogmatic authorities and commentators as, for example, Metropolitan Makarius of Moscow and Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, and I refuse to IDLY theorize about them.

      • I find the man to be socially acceptable and even likeable except for his vain advocacy of the outre and his historical and apparently everlasting jealousy of the sainted Seraphim (Rose).

        Your Grace, on rare occasions I’m a bit puzzled by your opposition to or advocacy of individual persons (e.g., Ab. Puhalo and Fr. RSK, respectively). Because you’re a rational and just man I take it for granted in these cases that you have significant knowledge I don’t. (Certainly I’ve learned by now to ascribe little or no weight to a single thing I hear here, unless it comes from you or a very few others.)

        I don’t agree with you on this point, though. I don’t experience his advocacy as vain in the least. He stands up for people who suffer horribly at the hands of “Christians,” particularly kids discarded by their own allegedly Christian parents. I don’t see what’s outre about these kids, or about advocacy of them.

        I admire the guy’s courage. It seems to me that he tries hard to make a rational case for the substance of the Orthodox Christian faith — which is quite the uphill struggle given the ignorant, irrational and bigoted who comprise the “Orthodox” mob so vividly represented on this blog, and elsewhere.

        Evidently his “status” is compromised by certain bureaucratic or perhaps canonical irregularities. But what isn’t these days? All of that means less and less to me the more I see. I’m mystified by the antipathy to this man. It’s sort of nauseating to me, symptomatic. I genuinely respect your opinion, so I’m curious why you regard him as a ‘rank poseur.’

    • Fr. John Whiteford says

      ROCOR was always in communion with the Serbian Patriarchate and the Jerusalem Patriarchate. It was also not officially declared to be schismatic by any local Church. It is true that ROCOR accepted many OCA clergy without a release, because we considered the OCA itself to be a schism from ROCOR, and so were under no obligation to request such a release. The OCA likewise received clergy from ROCOR without a release. The difference here is that Puhalo was deposed… not because he went to the OCA, but because he was suspended (for disobedience) and then dared to serve with the Free Serbs, while under suspension. Neither ROCOR nor the OCA received clergy who were suspended or deposed for reasons other than switching to the other jurisdiction.

    • Metropolitan Jonah IS a bishop, the defrocked deacon Puhalo IS NOT a bishop.

  10. Nick Katich says

    Bishop Tikhon: One slight correction to the statement that “The man remained with the Free Serbs until they were regularized and received back into the Church of Serbia by the sainted Patriarch Pavle, whereafter he fled to the notorious Synod of Milan which created him a Bishop.” I was a member of the Diocesan Council from 1985 to 1999 of the former Free Serbian Orthodox Church which later became the New Gracanica Metropolitinate after relations with the Serbian Patriarchate were normalized in 1992. During most of that time, I was the first vice-president of the Diocesan Council. Puhalo left sometime in 1988 or 1989 before relations were normalized with the Patriarchate. The circumstances of his leaving were several fold, one of which was the fact that several laity and clergy discovered his real identity although there were other issues. However, I will leave it at that.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Nick, I only meant to state the man’s MOTIVATION for leaving the Free Serbs. It was at the first inkling of a rapprochement that he left. You add some informative facts, but carefully avoid stating ANY action by Bishop or Diocesan Council to remove him. There’s a well-known logical fallacy called ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc.”

  11. Francis Frost says

    This last Friday we commemorated the 30th anniversary of the repose of Father Alexander Schmemmann. I recall reading in Fr. Schmemmann’s diary that sometime around 1980 the members of the OCA’s Holy Synod informed him that his services as an advisor to the Holy Synod were ‘no longer needed’. It seems to me that he OCA’s difficulties and it’s Time of Troubles can be dated to that fateful decision, which was followed by so many other really bad decisions, especially the association with clergy of dubious provenance.

    The recent decision of the bishops to insist on a clear and documented release before accepting foreign clergy or monastics (e.g the DC Nuns) should be seen as a positive development despite the controversy and the invective against that decision.

    • Mr. Frost,

      You are absolutely right. The back history to Fr. Alexander’s dismissal from the OCA Synod meetings was engineered by + Dimitri and his lackey, + Tikhon (retired). + Dimitri never got over that Fr. Alexander did not support him for Primate of the OCA over + Theodosius. + Dimitri & Fr. Alexander butted heads over many issues and + Dimitri decided to create his own “kingdom” in Dallas as the “Anti-Syosset.” Removing Fr. Alexander was the beginning to try and unravel the American Church which we are feeling the effects today. This is why + Jonah also had to be removed. He never really accepted the OCA vision or really believed in an American Church. Going under the MP was just unacceptable for Orthodoxy in America. Same with going under Istanbul or any other foreign bishop.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        “Al Jizzara” is ignorant of the fact that I was not elected to the episcopate until some YEARS after Fr. Alexander’s automatic presence and interference in the meetings of the Holy Synod was terminated by Metropolitan Theodosius (whom, ironically, Fr. Alexander had pushed to be made Metropolitan).
        Al Jizzara’s “back history” is imaginative fiction. I was still a Protodeacon when Metropolitan
        Theodosius ceased the automatic attendance of Fr. Alexander at Synod meetings. He was, after all, neither a hierarch nor a Constantine Pobedonostsev, Prokurator of the Synod, repressnting the Tsar!!!!
        it was my understanding that ALL the bishops had been shocked by Father Alexander’s invading the private, voting session of the Synod at the Montreal AAC to collar them and twist their arms individually to insure Theodosius’s election, despite the very large popular vote preference for Dmitri. Only someone who feared Archbishop Dmitri’s strong integrity and transparency could come up with “Al Jizzara’s” “anti-Syosset” fantasy in desperation.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you for this corrective, Your Grace. If I remember, about two years ago, somebody on this blog mentioned that Fr Alexander was visibly upset when the Synod elected Theodosius Metropolitan over Dmitri. Even if I am misremembering this response, your correction makes me wonder what else Al Jizzara (surely a Syosset shill) has misrepresented on this blog.

          • Your Grace,

            Al Jizzera is not only ignorant of OCA history as you so well point out but is also a dolt when it comes to trying to rewrite its current history. Fr Alexander’s dismissal from meetings of the Holy Synod were in large part the doing of then Bishop Pierre (later Archbishop Peter) of NY/NJ who galvanized the Synod’s objection to Fr. Alexander after an unseemly outburst against Metropolitan Theodosius at his last meeting as a “guest” of the Synod. You see, his “guest” status had become something that he felt was his right. Young Bishop Nathaniel also jumped at the chance to side against the SVS dean. Bishop Dmitri simply went along with the flow, as he often did because of his inability to deal with controversy. He was not a fighter. Bishop Herman, whose animosity towards all things SVS did not help Fr. Alexander either and he too was all too happy to be “rid of this meddlesome priest.”

            Another interesting note is that the same tactics that Fr. Alexander employed then, strong arming bishops, getting them one on one and trying to influence decisions are now trying to be copied, albeit with much ineptness by Fr. Kishkovsky, who by the way, never actually graduated from SVS failing to write his senior thesis. His recent attempts to wrangle an invite to meet a senior Archbishop of an important jurisdiction here in the US were rebuffed when he tried to do an “end around” the proper protocols. Wake up OCA, nobody wants to associate with you. And lest we forget the Kiev smack down that Kishovsky and Golitzen suffered at the hands of Patriarch Kirill when they tried to justify the Synod’s removal of +Jonah only to be told in direct terms that Moscow was not happy with they way +Jonah was treated, is another benchmark on the increasing isolation of the OCA here in America and with her only, and increasing more tepid, supporter in Russia.

            But Al Jizz. does reveal an interesting reality in today’s OCA, a complete lack of history and the current attempts by the Syosset neophytes to write their own history and the Synod ignoring its own rules by now attempting to consecrate a man who has no Orthodox theological education, a current priest in the DOW who is being pushed by +Benjamin, yet, Archimandrite Gerasim, who also had no Orthodox theological education and at the direction of then Metropolitan Jonah, sent him to SVS for one year. Discovering after that first year that he knew even less than he ever imagined about Orthodox theology, made the decision to stay for the full three years and graduated with High Honors. But, the Synod will not let him be considered while they ignore their own rules and make a former RC priest with a colorful background a bishop. A scandal in the making and one that will surely come home to roost if he is ever made one. People do know about his past.

            And you wonder why the OCA is in the mess it is in? Look no further than its leadership, or lack thereof. And they aren’t fooling anyone, sans Al Jizzera. Look at the total FLOP of an attempt to raise voluntary gifts from their members in the recent embarrassment of the Stewards of the Orthodox Church campaign touted by Fr. Jillions. Only, 100 people joined, they say 132 but they are counting the 32 who continued their support over the years. How much did they actually raise? Nobody in Syosset is saying are they? It’s pretty bad indeed when you consider that only a few short years ago, FOS had nearly 3000 members. You have to dig a bit on the OCA website archives to discover this but those numbers don’t lie.

            Can’t wait to read the sanitized minutes and the glowing accolades of the Lesser Synod meeting going on in Syosset by its Chancellor in his daily trip in the Twilight Zone blog! Should be very truthful. NOT.

            • James,

              If anyone is trying to re-write history it is you. I’m glad you show your true Synodal convert “Indiana List” colors continuing to grind your axe against the OCA and it’s personalities. It was + Dimitri who engineered Fr. Alexander’s dismissal – fools. As for the rest of your assertions, I won’t waste my time with your ignorance. Go resuscitate the Synod; good luck!

              • Once again Al, your ignorance of the facts is not made any better by repeating your own errors. You don’t know anything about +Dmitri, you don’t even know how to spell his name ;). So move along and good luck trying to make sense out of the senseless that is today’s OCA.



            • M. Stankovich says


              When all has been written regarding Fr. Alexander Schmemann, there will be no mistaking that he was simply a man like the rest of us. Yet, something in his simplicity, God transformed into what was magnificent for “the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men,” (1 Cor 1:25), simply because “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” (1 Cor. 1:27)

              I say, if to this day there is a wiser, more cogent, more extraordinary vision of our dilemma than Alexander Schmemann’s The Problems of Orthodoxy in America, The Canonical, The Liturgial, and The Spiritual, as well as a wiser, cogent, more extraordinary solution, then all who were “all too happy to be ‘rid of this meddlesome priest’ should repent in tears, because this is where their pride and fundamental lack of vision has brought us.

              And secondly, James, Alexander Schmemann would have pegged you for the unedifying, complaining, coward that you are in a minute flat. He would have asked, “How is it you demean Bishops and Priests from behind the ‘safety’ of the anonymous internet when you lack the fundamental courage to face the man when you have literally had the opportunity to do so?” You would have cowered before Alexander Schmemann, not because of his know “temperament” at injustice and his intolerance for foolishness, but simply because it was the truth. “And who are you?” he would have asked.

              Alexander Schmemann suffered in his heart for what he saw in America – read his journals – but he never lost hope. And thankfully, in 30-year tributes, Fr. Alexis Vinogradov has reminded us that his inspiration is hardly diminished, and how he always told us the Gospels begin and end in joy; and Fr. Michael Oleksa calls us again, not to fear the challenge posed by Florovsky, Schmeman, and Meyendorff, but

              Let us now, on the thirtieth anniversary of his repose, renew our commitment to his vision, the Traditional vision of the Orthodox Church, according to the example of the Holy Fathers of the ancient Church, and in the context of this culture, this society, strive to articulate, proclaim and celebrate our Faith so that the Truth of Christ, the Truth of the Gospel, the Truth, the Reality, the Beauty and Glory of His Kingdom might be known, accepted and embraced by the people of this land, for their salvation and the salvation of the world.

              You have nothing to offer, James. You are a reporter for a gossip magazine that revels in uncleaness and failure. As always, I am the first “thumbs-up” for you, James, because you deserve it.

              • Fr. Alexander was a great man, but just a man as you state. I knew much longer than you did yet you present yourself as THE expert on all things Fr. Alexander. I knew him in good times, exciting times for Orthodoxy here and bad times. So save your pontifications for someone else. They don’t carry much weight with me.

                And don’t think that just because you write under your own name that it gives you any more credibility, or me less, IMHO, but I will continue to accept your attacks because I write under an accepted format by the host of this blog. Not your rules here but attack away.

                Fr. Alexander and I had many a conversation about the Metropolia and then the OCA and he took it very hard when he was dismissed by the OCA partly because he had so little confidence in their collective abilities at the time. His frustration with them was finally used as the excuse to dismiss him. It was an arrogant move, the first of many that now are all too commonplace in the OCA. I can only surmise that if he were alive today he would not be pleased with the direction of the OCA that he gave his life and talents to establish. His vision lives on in parishes inside and outside the OCA. I am sure you can see glimpses of his frustrations in his diary, especially the unabridged one in Russian. He did not suffer fools easily and neither do I. On that point he and I totally agreed.

                Time will tell, and in some cases already has, if what I write from time to time is “gossip” as your characterize it or simply the raw truth presented in an “in your face” style. I don’t tell lies, that would be sinful but I also don’t turn a blind eye to the underbelly of things when the Truth is at stake and the future of the OCA is at stake and especially what Fr. Alexander envisioned.

                Your generation is now running the OCA and from what I can tell not doing a very good job of it with selective enforcement of their own rules and living in a dream world of self-delusion. Today’s Jillions posting is just another example. Lesser Synod at the Chancery

                Metropolitan Tikhon, Archbishop Nathaniel, Archbishop Benjamin and Bishop Michael continue their work today. The OCA’s officers are involved in most of the agenda too, although several closed sessions for the bishops alone are scheduled as well. As I’ve said in the past that it is a privilege to work so closely with His Beatitude and the bishops. Even on difficult matters, there is a good humored and friendly spirit that prevails. From time to time the work is quite intense and detailed as letters and documents are reviewed and re-drafted together or as questions come up that require some rethinking on policies and procedures. But this in itself reflects the conciliar, cooperative spirit (or sobornost) that should be normal in the work of the Church.

                Yes, all well and good, except the very men making these decisions have lost credibility here and abroad by their mean-spirited treatment of others. No one is waiting for the OCA any longer. Other jurisdictions are pressing forward without a thought to what the OCA thinks or does. That is a sad outcome from the recent years of OCA infighting and misdirection.

                You and I will continue to agree to disagree but I wish you a blessed Nativity fast and feast and I do keep you in my prayers.


            • James,

              Pay no attention to the garbage written in response to your comment re Fr. Alexander. He was indeed “All Too Human”. The neo-Patristics did a considerable amount to spread Orthodoxy in this country. It’s just that the version they spread was somewhat defective in its details and attitudes – very much intertwined with the “liturgical renewal movement” and the “back to basics” movement in the West, lacking an Orthodox mindset grounded not only in Tradition as an academic adventure, but Tradition as the life of the Spirit within the Church which did not abandon it after the first, or fourth centuries. Sometimes their medicine was worse than any perceived problem. Rule by secular, academic-centered scholars is no way to operate the Church; academia is just a floating crap game, a house built upon sand and the whims of cliques.

              • Rule by secular, academic-centered scholars is no way to operate the Church; academia is just a floating crap game, a house built upon sand and the whims of cliques.

                No way, indeed. Far better, one must suppose, that she should be ruled by dynastic gangs who behead, poison, impale or otherwise maim one another, murder their own children, or their parents, to make themselves worthy, presumably, to ascend to a throne where they might image God the Father in cosmic symphonia with Christ’s Church here on Earth. From Tiberius, Caligula and Nero, derives New Rome, then the Rurik dynasts and, by way of the brother of Anastasia, the beloved first wife of Ivan the Terrible, on to the Romanovs, with an anticlimactic apotheosis in the monstrous person of იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი.

                Sounds like a plan.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Mike, you’re committing the logical fallacy that all Progressives make and one that strikes at the heart of their philosophy. Of all people, Progressives believe that culture progresses, I suppose because they believe that human nature changes with the accretion of time. It doesn’t of course and maybe that’s a gratuitous slap at Progressives but there you are: what other criticism makes sense of people who transpose their own cultural values onto the past?

                  Consider that Winston Churchill said and wrote things about Jews that would get him drummed out of office today. We remember Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator, but had he lived he would have been known as the Great Ethnic Cleanser due to his desire to repatriate freed slaves to the Caribbean. Thomas Jefferson is regularly called the Apostle of Liberty but we know that he had a dim view of black people.

                  That Orthodoxy (and Catholicism and various Reformed churches) have been adjuncts of various despotic regimes means very little. Marxism was used to justify the worst brutality of all time. Likewise Darwinism which was the scientific engine of the Nazi regime (I know, Godwin’s Law alert!) I’ll leave aside Islam for the present because there is no formal separation of church and state within its cultural milieu, but what of Rabbinic Judaism, which is the driving force behind Zionist apartheid?

                  There is no reason why Orthodoxy could not survive or even thrive under a revived constitutional czarism in Russia or that any revival of the Romanov regime wouldn’t be broadly liberal (in the best sense of the word). We have imbibed too much of the Jacobin propaganda which equated monarchy with untrammeled evil and retrogression, yet Russia under the later Romanovs was a remarkably tolerant society. Economically, it was on par with most other Western nations. Someday soon, I’ll detail the economic statistics for all too see but right now Church beckons.

                  I pray that all have a blessed Nativity! (This will be my last posting till the day after Christmas.)

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              James, I believe that Archbishop Peter came to America as Archbishop Pierre, not as “Bishop Pierre.”
              You state that Archpriest Leonid Kishkovsky is trying to emulate ever-memorable Father
              Alexander Schmeman in “strong-arming” bishops. That’s not true. He’s smarter than most of them and able to outwit them in argument, that’s true. He’s got more upstairs than any of them, in my opinion. Archbishop Dmitri once complained of that to me, not angrily, but positively. Perhaps Father Leonid did not earn the M.Div. degree before graduation, but he did graduate from SVS and has a diploma to show for it. Several Priests have graduated from SVS over the years who had not completed the requirements for the M.Div degree when they did so.
              I believe you are making an error of haste and guesswork in claiming that the Holy Synod has rejected Archimandrite Gerasim as a viable candidate for the episcopacy and, worse, that they have preferred to elect Archpriest David Brum to the episcopacy in preference to Gerasim. Both men are excellent Priests and both men would make excellent, competent, and devout bishops, and both of them compare favorably with ALL the current members of the Holy Synod.
              I feel it to be shameful that you refer to a “colorful past.” Put up or shut up—you are bearing false witness. Archbishop Peter who had a doctorate in Canon Law from the Leningrad Academy considered Father Brum to be a PEER and rejoiced to have him on the Syosset administrative staff as a consultant. Father Brum was received in the Orthodox Church as a Priest by me, folllowing exactly the procedure that Archbishop Vladimir of San Francisco followed in receiving Father Alexis Tovt.: PENANCE and CONFESSION OF FAITH and COMMUNION. Vesting as an Orthodox Priest waa the SIGN of his reception, not the agent of it. Since being given the same “Bum’s rush” that was given to Protopresbyter Rodion Kondratick, but without even any allegations of wrong-doing, Father David accepted assignment to a historically “difficult’ parish in Phoenix Arizona where he has been the pious and beloved pastor since then. Ask any of the old-time Metropolia types in that parish about him and you might learn something. Father David is regularly elected to the Diocesan Council and much respected by the Presbytery of the Diocese of the West.
              Do not bear false witness. Oh, the only negative thing about Father David Brum’s past is the high rank he held in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno. If there were a HINT of anything untoward in his past, it would have been jumped on and published—if not by the Stokoe faction, then by some of the pea-brains at the time who actually SHUNNED him as Amish do, when he visited St. Tikhon’s after his reception into the OCA! Ever-MEMORABLE Father Anthony refused to speak to him and ostentatiously turned his back on him at every opportunity. Father David was held in high esteem by Archbishop Dmitri as well. Don’t write off the OCA yet: A couple additions to the Holy Synod such as Archimandrite Gerasim and Archpriest David would be more than auspicious. I have no reason not to believe that Metropolitan Jonah shares my opinion as well.

              • Your Grace,

                I thank you for your kind and gentle words of admonition. I take them seriously and I don’t post things here that are falsehoods. One the subject at hand, you and I will have to agree to disagree with our conclusions about the Archpriest you mention by name.

                I ask for your prayers and every blessing during the Season.


              • M. Stankovich says

                Vladyka Tikhon,

                One correction: Archbishop Peter (l’Hullier) was consecrated as the Russia Orthodox Bishop of Chersonese, France, in Leningrad (which included Met. Nikodiim (Rotov) & Met. Anthony (Bloom), in 1968. Oddly enough, in 1977, Bp. Peter was visiting SVS for several days and then Prof. John Erickson “entrusted” him to me for a “day in the life of a seminarian” gig, which included “live” demonstrations of his ability to chant the Great Litany in Church Slavonic as we stood on the front porch waiting for lunch… This was followed by Christmas & Pascha hand-written greeting cards from Paris until his arrival in 1979. On a brutally hot August evening where, summer yard-crew work done, we had moved a TV outside and were enjoying Yankee baseball, a huge cigar, and ice-cold beer, Prof. Erickson pulled up – saw a face “familiar” to the the Bishop, and asked if I would “occupy” him for an hour. The Bishop was happy to see me, I apologized for our appearance, he enjoyed a cold glass of beer, learned a bit of American baseball, the hour passed amicably, and he went to dinner. He was elevated as Archbishop in 1990. As had happened on several occasions when I would see him in church, he would ask me to “align the seam in the klobouk with my nose.” It was much easier with the addition of the Cross. I joke a bit, though a touch eccentric, he was a true scholar in the matter of Canon Law and a wonderful person.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Mr. Stankovich. I don’t want to compete with you in your name-dropping , however, perhaps it is my age that caused me to imagine I remember that there was consternation in the Holy Synod when Peter was received as an Archbishop during the period when Bishops in the OCA (unlike in Russia) had to serve as Bishop for twenty years before becoming Archbishop…I thought that he was even informally approached to see if he’d discreetly agree to GIVING UP his rank of Archbishop, and he refused. As you no doubt know, all RULING Bishops in the Church of Russia are Archbishop.
                  On the advice of late Professor Andrei Lossky who was my parishioner here in Los Angeles, and who remembered the Archbishop from the days when he was Rector of the Patriarchal All Saints Church in Paris and also teaching at the Parisian St. Denys Orthodox Institute, I greeted Archbishop Peter once with what the large Lossky family jocularly and familiarly called him: “Votre Pierrerie!” Or, “Your Petership!” He was delighted and moved. The Losskys all loved him when he was their parish priest especially because of his habit of sitting down to hear their children’s confessions, which did not intimidate them in going to confession as most other (standing ) priests did.
                  Oh, by the way “Chersonnese” is not in France at all. It is in near the Black Sea. The title of Chersonnese” (in the Crimea, I believe was, indeed, awarded to him at his consecration and assignment to France.
                  A couple of things irritated him no end: the obsessive use of the term “conciliar” in the OCA (he would shake his head and say, “I don’t think there even is such a word in Greek;;; perhaps synodikos? Who knows?” He also reacted immediately every time Bishop Seraphim would burst out in his signature high-pitched giggles. “A bishop does not do this!”he’d say He would also object when Bishop Gregory made any of his ‘canonical’ pronouncements.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  Vladyka Tikhon,

                  εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος!

                  “Name-dropping,” you say? There was a time, for centuries, actually, where Christians made it a practice to nourish, encourage, and support one another with anecdote and personal stories of Christian virtue and victory “in the world” which “receives us not.” (cf. Jn 1:11)

                  Mr. Michalopulos actually has a navigational button for “Bishops Behaving Badly,” as I presume few would click, for example, “Bishops Show Mercy.” I could share my experiences in the life of Blessed Bp. Basil (Rodzianko), but it always morphs into a shameful “technique” of elimination. As Mr. Mortiss has noted, Frs. Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Met. Kallistos (Ware), who brought so many to the faith by their writings and enthusiasm are “marginalized” by transparent poseurs who would intellectually wilt in their presence. And by simply expressing my gratitude for those who taught me, I am referred to as “Forrest Gump,” with the suggestion that I might be found “in the icon of the life of St. Herman.” There is a certain dismal regret that comes over me when this pervasive anonymous commentary arises – not that it is personal “insult” or personally offensive – but that the long-winded, literally, have nothing to offer. And now, even the sharing of anecdote and stories to encourage and nourish are self-aggrandizing.

                  The king is dead, Vladyka Tikhon, long live the king!

            • Disgusted With It says

              “Look at the total FLOP of an attempt to raise voluntary gifts…Only, 100 people joined, they say 132 but they are counting the 32 who continued their support over the years.”

              Only 100??? Out of how many thousands of OCA members? That’s sad and embarrassing, but it’s yet another example that proves the level of trust (or lack thereof) that people have for this administration. What a shame.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Al, Dmitri’s “kingdom” in Dallas is a Diocese. That it was semi-autonomous means that Dmitri at least took the idea of autocephaly of the OCA seriously. More than can be said for certain agents-in-place who have been working to bring the OCA under the orbit of Istanbul.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Mr. Michalopulos,

          I believe that should read: “More than can be said for certain agents-in-place and one agent unilatérale who have/had been working to bring the OCA under the orbit of Istanbul or Moscow respectively.” And to be fair, the former is conjecture, the latter is corroborated. History can be funny that way. Oh, and sincerely, I know on your part it is “heat of the moment,” but he was Archbishop, he was beloved, and he is of blessed memory. I mean no insult.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            I look on in wonderment at this entire discussion! Stupor, actually….

            My first serious readings in Orthodoxy some 30 or more years ago were Ware, Schmemann, and Meyendorf.

            Now the long knives have come out for Fr. Alexander, how about the others whom we poor Yank seekers have prized over the years?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Tim R, you have to understand that for some we Americans (and therefore those we prize) are just too uncouth and shallow to ever be actually Orthodox add that to the fact that the Church is a bit like a stone polisher in which the stones are tumbled together with other stones to make them smooth and pretty and you’ve got the kind of ongoing squabbles the Church seems to prefer.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              Tim, you left out the “rainbow” or “Orthodoxy for Dummies” series of books! As for “the long knives”, there have ALWAYS been some out of their sheaths for ‘Ware, Schmeman, and Meyendorff, etc.

          • geo michalopulos says

            Dr S, Metropolitan Jonah’s love and admiration for Moscow did not mean he didn’t believe in the autocephaly of the OCA, that he was an “agent unilaterale” as you state. If you don’t believe me, then you’ve forgotten the Lent 2009 speech in Dallas in which he boldly stated the OCA’s autocephaly and even told the EP to “back off,” that “if we wanted to be under the Pope, we’d go under the real one.”

            Those were fighting words and vexed Lefty Kishkovsky (the Phanar’s foremost collaborator) to no end. If anything, it accelerated the coup against him.

            True, His Beatitude did discuss on one occasion that the OCA should “re-imagine autocephaly” but if memory serves, that was done to grease the skids so that the OCA would be invited to the first Episcopal Assembly. In this, His Beatitude was successful. (Whether the EA will sputter out now that it’s been proven to be nothing but a stalking-horse for GOA supremacy is another story.)

            At the end of the day I stand by my conviction that Jonah’s defenestration was orchestrated by liberal ecumenists, gay activists, and East Coast liberals who quailed at the thought of the orthopraxia and traditionalism that Jonah represented.

            This conviction is solidified almost daily by events. Consider for example that Jonah was forbidden from retreating to his former monastery in Manton during his first internal exile. Why? Because we now know that in his absence, it became a place of pilgrimage for homosexual and/or transgendered couples. Consider as well the insistence by the Synod that he remand himself to St Luke’s Institute, a “hospital” in which the director (who was a priest) was forced to resign because of sexual peccadillos. Read as well the Chancellor’s recent laudations of certain priests who represent for him the beau ideals of an OCA that is completely on board with the sexual liberationism of increasingly neo-paganized America.

            There comes a time in which it becomes obvious that Jonah was railroaded and that the ones doing the railroading were not conservatives and/or traditionalists.

  12. Fr. John Whiteford says

    Update: Puhalo recently did a radio interview, along with Frank Schaeffer in which he again stated that he is forbidden by the Synod of the OCA to speak on “certain issues”. He also once again makes the false claim that there are those in the Orthodox Church who deny that there are people born with ambiguous genitalia, and other such nonsense. See https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/gender-variations-and#t=0:00

    • That was an excellent interview. Archbishop Lazar makes some excellent points. Thank you for posting the link, Fr. John.

      • Fr. John Whiteford says

        He makes a number of false assertions, for example, claiming that there are people in the Orthodox Church who deny that there are some who are born with ambiguous genitalia, or that there was ever a time when such people were ever burned at the stake by Orthodox Christians. As with much he says, he has no basis for such claims.

        • Fr. Whiteford, I’ve listened twice to this podcast, very carefully, and it’s perfectly obvious that you’re the one making false assertions here — not Ab. Puhalo. Please listen to it again, with more attention this time, and then be good enough to publicly retract these false accusations. Or I’ll expose your malicious and blatantly false misrepresentation of his words, using the timelined transcript I made of the relevant segments.

          It’s bad enough that you demonstrate bad faith to the “letter” of what he actually said. This is grossly dishonest. But it’s far worse to unjustly malign the humane and compassionate spirit in which he said it — a sensibility informed by charity, and by science and facts.

          Three or four of the priests who post on this list really ought to strongly consider getting honest jobs.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Of course he is informed, charitable and factual because you agree with him. AND you have no standing or business deciding anything about our priests even in the course of vain imaginings.

            • “Our priests.” One is crushed to be so summarily excluded from your sanctimonious club, Michael. I think you’re more than welcome to such priests, judging from the nature of what some of them post on this silly blog and on their own sites. The apallingly shallow pseudo-spirituality and petty moralizing on display here doesn’t much commend them — or most of you, their presumptive flock, either.

              On the basis of my experience with the Bronze Age-sensibility and basic irrationality and magical thinking so typical of far too many Orthodox, not to mention the very sorry state of every single Orthodox culture on the planet, I’ve decided to stick with Rome, thank you very much. We do have things to learn from Orthodoxy, it’s true. Many good things, but more than a few solemn warnings, too.

              • George Michalopulos says

                You’re committing the ultimate fallacy of progressivism, as C S Lewis understood it. Just because something is modern doesn’t make it necessarily better. I’d take the intellect and spirituality of any of the Church Fathers over imbecilities of Bishops John Spong, James Pike, and Jennifer Schiorri any day. The fact that you and I may know something of the helical nature of DNA whereas they didn’t means next to nothing.

                • George, by “Jennifer Schiorri”, I think you meant to refer to Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop (her official title) of the Episcopal Church?

          • M. Stankovich says

            Stop the press: “Mike Meyers attempts strong-arm “retraction” from Orthodox priest! Heracleides declares, “Arse, meet elbow.”

            Mr. Meyers,

            There is a concept in classical Freudian psychology referred to as “transference,”: we unconsciously “transfer” our unresolved “bidness,” if you will, to a perceptually safer, less threatening “object(s)” in order to resolve matters through the object(s) because we are unable to resolve them with their origin. Admirable. Three cheers, and then one more to Dr, Freud! Examine your “dance card,” Mr. Meyers. Do the math. Take care of this. As Hamlet said, “Your paintings I have heard well enough.” To be frank, Mr. Meyers (and Lord knows the restraint I exerted in not rolling with the “Don’t call me Frank”), I tire of your unwashed, unbleached, undried, unpressed laundry which you inappropriately hang in my face. Take care of it. Resolve it. It is boring the living hell out of me already.

            In a different vein, I know next to nothing of the man under question in this thread. I vaguely recall some paperback renditions in the old SVS bookstore back in the day when he was “Deacon Lev Puhalo.” Simple, instructive spirituality, as I recall. Secondly, a year or so ago, he left a comment on my blog – and since it was public I say nothing behind his back – explaining that someone very dear to him (perhaps someone will correct me if I am wrong), I believe a beloved nephew, who was homosexual and took his own life. As you note, Mr. Meyers, I was impressed with “the humane and compassionate spirit in which he said it — a sensibility informed by charity.” This was, clearly, an unexplained, heartbreaking event for him. Appreciating this, however, we do not, and we cannot allow personal anecdote to influence what you claim is “science and facts.” Let me say this to you emphatically: he is a poor scientist and would neither be teaching genetics nor the genetics or treatment of Sexual Developmental Disorders for me. You will pardon me, but he is, at best, a Google geneticist.

            Finally, Mr. Meyers, I would point out to you that Fr. John Whiteford has a day job, and it is an admirable job at that, on the frontline of child welfare in the State of Texas, which he does with a great amount of compassion. I would ask you to imagine Fr. John, with a large family of his own, attempting to put into perspective a world that disregards his personal values on a daily basis. Your comment contributed nothing to your point, was uncharitable, and uncalled for. I would humbly ask you to apologize to him.

            • I wrote quite a lengthy reply to this typically opaque effusion, but Providence decreed that it be lost, another victim of the many irritating bugs infesting Monomakhos programming. Probably just as well. I’ll confine myself to a couple of points.

              It’s true that V. Lazar isn’t a scientist, but so far as I know the good man has never claimed to be one. I doubt an intelligent and literate pastor must first hold an endowed chair at Oxford before legitimately invoking the findings of some pertinent field in a television interview. The rather global clericalist mentality you display here is tiresome.

              I hope I may be forgiven for wondering about your own grounds for claiming the mantle of scientist, Michael. God knows how much restraint I’ve exerted to refrain heretofore from pointing out the glaringly obvious: thou dost protest too much on this subject, incessantly, and I’m unable to locate so much as one peer-reviewed publication with your name on it. You present with nearly all the symptoms of what I like to call the ‘thin CV syndrome.’ (Since you continue to presume to “diagnose” me — ever a bit wide of the mark and, in this case, quite ridiculously, in full-blown, textbook projection mode . . . — I feel entitled at last to reciprocate, a bit more pointedly.)

              Fr. Whiteford is the one who owes an apology, day job or no. I fail to see what excuse his employment status affords for posting uncharitable, uncalled-for, quasi-libelous character assassination of a fellow pastor. Your unique take on discursive and narrative logic often escapes me.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Meyers,

                1) I suspect anyone would agree that your response to me is in a tone considerably more amenable to “discussion” than is generally found in your posts to Mr. Michalopulos, Frs. Jacobse and Webster, and now Fr. Whiteford – heretofore known as the “dance card.” Hmm. 2) Being a savant, repetitious activity makes a correlative impression on me based on previous learning. 3) I still ain’t exactly sure what’s hip. I say “do the math,” while you say, “you continue to presume to “diagnose” me.” Diogenese said, “There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.” I repeat, “Do the math.”

                Finally, Mr. Meyers there is a distinction between “projective defensiveness” – e.g. blaming others for hypocrisy when you are the hypocrite – and transference. The former is a pathological attempt to manage an affront that on some level is unconsciously acknowledged as true, while the latter is an unconscious attempt to heal. I don’t pull concepts from my derrière, and I choose my words cautiously and succinctly.

                As to my request in regard to Fr. John, you made the point. I took it to suggest that a “day job” would provide some appreciation for the dynamics of the “real world,” and informed you accordingly. If that was not your meaning and I have misinterpreted, my apologies. If it honestly was the intent of your comment, my humble request stands.

                • Kentigern Pavlos says

                  Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

                  Following our host’s request, I’ve moved this from the other thread, as it relates to Orthodox views of sex.

                  The Ringrose book is interesting, thanks , M. Stankovich, for the link to the Mystagogy post on it. What is interesting is that it articulates in current gender-theory terms how an Orthodox Christian view of sex (although she’s focused on Byzantine culture specifically) does not fit contemporary identity politics.

                  This seems a no-brainer, but is harder to articulate in public discourse than it looks, given how easy it is to be captured by our current culture, and how anachronistically that culture would try to force into its own categories Orthodox tradition.

                  For example, she writes:

                  “As Michel Foucault has so ably shown, we must not assume that other societies operate using our categories, no matter how obvious and basic they might appear to us…to make quick assumptions about the sexual nature of a society in a world that was very different from ours…. In Byzantine society, gender categories were determined in ways that remind one of some American Indian societies in the nineteenth century in which the primary determinants of gender were social roles and conventions dictating external appearances, physical mannerisms, facial expressions, and manner of dress. While their inability to procreate was part of the construct, their sexual preferences, although sometimes discussed discussed by innuendo, were not.”

                  She also describes how Byzantine culture expressed a “single-sex structure,” nonetheless related to two biological sexes, following from Genesis 1. In all this eunuch was a category that could include ascetics as well as the physically impaired (castration itself being condemned by the Church as a voluntary physical disfigurement, as she notes).

                  Today’s queer theory discourse interestingly is closer in some respects to the Byzantine culture that she describes than identity politics. The gap between those two contemporary approaches exposes a major fault line in Western secular approaches to sex and marriage today, which science has not bridged, but which traditional Christianity addresses. It’s hard to highlight that point, though, amid our current “culture wars,” in which traditional Orthodox anthropology seems a foreign language with few translations..

                  Please pray for me the sinner,


                  Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Mike, as a general rule, it’s best for preachers and other professionals to keep things as succinct as possible. Whenever somebody has to defend another person using mental gymnastics, exhorting the listener to “pay closer attention to the conjunctive clause in the fourth paragraph” all the while standing on one foot while holding your nose with one hand, etc., you’ve pretty much lost the argument.

            Puhalo has a long history of excusing sodomy. Even going so far as to tell gay couples which churches they would feel comfortable attending.

            That he is possessed of a brilliant mind and is a great intellect is to his credit. However he has used the title conferred upon him by Syosset to create a YouTube cult of personality in which he regularly undermines traditional Orthodox theology.

            • I realize that Fr. Whiteford’s egregious misrepresentation of V. Pulalo’s words might well elude your sledge hammer sensibility and its interpretive prowess. So you’d have to take my word that there’s nothing subtle about the offense represented by his travesties of their letter and spirit.

              You’re entirely unqualified to judge anyone’s theological or pastoral bona fides, Vanity Pundit. Incidentally, I would invite you and Fr. Whiteford to deploy the invective slurs “sodomy” and “sodomites” even more frequently than you do. Their admirable pithiness draws appropriate attention to where you’re coming from. (Nevertheless, isn’t it unseemly for a guy with your self-confessed track record of premarital fornication to be so comically sanctimonious, George? You and some of the other neo-czarophiles who hang at your blog appear to be taking a cue from the Right Rev. V. Putin’s riveting pulpit stylings of late. None of this is without a certain entertainment value.)

              • George Michalopulos says

                How exactly did Fr John “misrepresent” Puhalo’s words? And why are “sodomy” and “sodomites” slurs? They occur in the Bible.

                • They don’t ‘occur’ in any Greek or Hebrew MS of the Bible, i.e., the ones that count, the original texts. “Sodomy” doesn’t ‘occur’ in any translation either, that I know of anyway, though “sodomite” does ‘occur’ a couple of times in the Authorized Version, although nowhere in the NT, just the Old. Its meaning there is disputed but the word probably denoted male cult prostitutes. The instance in Job is much more interesting, though quite unclear, as I think most scholars would agree. The AV was the product of a committee convened by that royal poof James II. It’s compromised by some tendentious and inaccurate spin jobs, apparently jerry-rigged here and there for various political and sectarian reasons, as anyone who knew a thing about the subject (unlike you) could detail. I can’t be bothered to review all this for you, though. It’s wonderful prose, regardless. Arsenokoitai is the NT Greek word that so exercises and inspires you, evidently, though its precise meaning is much debated. Probably some sort of Pauline coinage, deriving from the text of Leviticus in the Septuagint. Probably meant something in the vicinity of “male-f***er.”

                  Whiteford wrote:

                  “He makes a number of false assertions, for example, claiming that there are people in the Orthodox Church who deny that there are some who are born with ambiguous genitalia, ”

                  He never said that. This is an inadequate paraphrase of what he did say, wherein no mention whatever about Orthodox Christians, as such, can be heard. Although there is a pithy little dig at modern-day Platonists and their logismoi deriving from Plato’s theory of ideas (or forms), the gist of which I’d agree with entirely:

                  4:38 — “. . . And our ultra-right wing extremists don’t of course recognize any of those [the at least 11 known clinical conditions {according to V. Lazar} that lead to intersex individuals] . Because they’re sort of thinking too much in Platonistic essentialism . . .”

                  The antecedent of “our” is not explicit here, nor is it implicit in the immediate context. I take it he’s referring to extreme Christian Rightists in general who, in multiple afflictions of ignorance, are literal-minded about aspects of “the tradition” and its allegedly eternal (and thus rather Platonic . . .) verity with respect to all matters moral and cosmological — though none of the Fathers knew a thing about most of these medical/biological facts, obviously. In any case, there’s nothing here about Orthodox Christians.

                  “…or that there was ever a time when such people were ever burned at the stake by Orthodox Christians.”

                  He never said that either. Listen to the interview yourself if you don’t believe me. The transcript of what he did say:

                  5:00 — “. . .Once upon a time you could burn people at the stake, innocent people, because of a gender variation or you can bully people into suicide by having this kind of willful ignorance. I’m a little bit limited in what I can talk about because I’ve been forbidden by Holy Synod to talk about certain issues and certain things, but intersex and transgender I want to speak about a little because there’s an almost sadistic cruelty in the way these people are treated by a lot of religious people.”

                  “You could burn” probably refers to Roman Catholic autos-da-fe. Again, he does not refer to Orthodox anything, either explicitly or implicitly. Nothing in the transcript ought to lead one to think so, aside possibly from a guilty conscience given to imagining things. We know a few burnings at the stake did take place in medieval Russia, but of course the RCC is the undisputed champ with respect to such pious zealotries and no one is likely to run off with their trophy any time soon.

                  The point is that the man never claimed either of these things about Orthodox Christians, per se. That’s all in Fr. Whiteford’s head.

                  “. . .As with much he says, he has no basis for such claims.”

                  I’m mildly curious just what he’s referring to here. In view of his sloppy reporting above, though, his credibility with me is quite low.

                  V. Lazar did have this to say, however, which I thought somewhat droll:

                  10:10 “…There are people who’d like to burn me at the stake for bringing it up, people in the Orthodox Church, as Frank mentioned {Frank Schaeffer, evidently another of Fr. W.’s betes noires}, most of them are silly converts from radical Protestant groups. They’ve brought this hypermoralism with them where they can’t face realities and facts . . .”

                  Here I take it he was being figurative and grimly humorous. I think it’s clear enough in context. I doubt he had Fr. Whiteford in mind, but who knows. I get little whiffs of Grand Inquisitor from the guy, myself.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Nobody was burned at the stake because of ambiguous genitalia. That’s a canard. People were burned at the stake (or hanged) for any number of crimes, including theft, debasing coinage, adultery, bigamy, witchcraft, heresy, rape, etc. To excuse the execution of male-on-male rapists because of the Freudian insistence that no sexuality can ever be “repressed” (and must be consummated at all costs) is yet another logical fallacy you commit.

                    That some homosexuals commit suicide is a terrible thing as suicide is a tragedy in and of itself. How many heterosexuals commit suicide because of unrequited or unrewarded love? Ever heard of Romeo and Juliet? I dare say that the vast majority of teen suicides (outside of medication-induced “downers”) is because of spurned heterosexual love. Does that mean that teenagers should have their sexual attentions rewarded so that no one dare commit suicide? Where do you draw the line? How about a husband or wife whose emotional needs are not met in a marriage? How many of these people are driven to adultery, fornication or porn-addiction?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      P.S. and Frank Shaeffer’s insistence that some of us would like to “burn him at the stake” is the ravings of a narcissist who thinks people even care about what he says anymore. He’s so outrageous that he refutes himself. Because the attention directed towards him is dwindling, I expect him to become even more outrageous. Some of us in the Orthoblogosphere believe his next stop is full-blown atheism. Another critic thinks that his next stop is militant Islam. We’ll see.

                    • P.S. and Frank Shaeffer’s insistence that some of us would like to “burn him at the stake” is the ravings of a narcissist who thinks people even care about what he says anymore. He’s so outrageous that he refutes himself.

                      Here you make clear that you didn’t trouble yourself to listen to the interview — even though you feel free to comment on its content nevertheless. FYI, Schaeffer said nothing about burning at the stake, that was V. Lazar. And he was kidding. Earlier, S. had said something about Right-wing Protestant converts to Orthodoxy bringing all their baggage with them into the Church. Lazar was just riffing on that comment here. All of this would be clear if you had listened to the interview. Though in your case maybe not.

                    • To excuse the execution of male-on-male rapists because of the Freudian insistence that no sexuality can ever be “repressed” (and must be consummated at all costs) is yet another logical fallacy you commit.

                      Against my better judgment, and mainly from morbid, clinical curiosity, I’d like to request some clarification of this bizarre and semi-literate non sequitur. What on earth are you raving about, and on what basis do you do so?

                    • P.S. and Frank Shaeffer’s insistence that some of us would like to “burn him at the stake” is the ravings of a narcissist who thinks people even care about what he says anymore. He’s so outrageous that he refutes himself. Because the attention directed towards him is dwindling, I expect him to become even more outrageous. Some of us in the Orthoblogosphere believe his next stop is full-blown atheism. Another critic thinks that his next stop is militant Islam. We’ll see.

                      It’s particularly risky, while grinding one’s axe, to ignorantly shoot from the hip, too. Don’t you think?

                      As already noted, F. Schaeffer uttered no such insistence, that was V. Lazar, being grimly facetious. It seems that raving and narcissism, outrageousness and self-refutation are more your speed, George. Attention directed your way is no doubt dwindling, too. Do you begin to get more of a grasp on the phenomenon of projection? You might want to meditate upon this.

                    • Archpriest John Morris says

                      If you check the historical record, you will learn that burning people at the stake was never the practice of the Orthodox Church. We never had an inquisition. There are only three incidents of someone who was burned at the stake in the Orthodox world. However their crime was not just teaching heresy, but also political. Basil the physician, the leader of the Bogomil heresy which rejected the authority of the state, in 1118. Two others were burned at the stake, Avvakum Petrov the leader of the Old Believers in 1682 and Quirinus Kuhlmann in 1689 but they were burned for rejecting the authority of the Tsar, not just for heresy.

                      Fr. John W. Morris

                    • To all the readers of Monomakhos,

                      I’m going to try harder to avoid personal invective and an overly “in-your-face” tone in future posts. It must be obvious that I’m often appalled by what I read here, but I agree with suggestions that my own ad hominem doesn’t help any. I’d like to apologize for any undue offensiveness.

                  • Peter, I recall your mentioning here that you’re at work on a translation of the Greek NT. Is that correct?

                    I’m not saying btw that Paul didn’t take a very dim view of same-sex activity, and of porneia in general, as sinful, and destructive to a person’s life in Christ and his or her spiritual development in charity. He clearly taught that, but it’s just not the point at issue here.

                    The point at issue is the Biblical grounds for the linkage often asserted in various human and folk traditions between Sodom, the wickedness of its people, and very dubious allegations that God viewed “homosexuality” as the core problem there that aroused His wrath and provoked His awful punishment. This linkage is rooted in human tradition, not in the Biblical text. I’m unaware of even one competent, peer-reviewed Biblical scholar who’d argue that there are Biblical grounds for such a reductive view. Can you name just one?

                    You asserted:

                    . . . as for Sodom and Gomorrah the NT is replete with references to this event being a punishment from God because of their unrepentent Homosexuality. This is not a Christian legend, but firmly rooted in over 5,000 years of Jewish thought and over 2,000 years of Christian thought and teaching. {Bold emphasis added. Ed.}

                    If the NT text is in fact “replete with references,” to Sodom’s punishment as being due to “their unrepentant homosexuality,” as you claim, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem at all pointing some of them out to me. Chapter and verse, please, so we can take a look. I’ll settle for just two.

                    Because you’re going to have such a hard time supporting your assertion with any evidence, I’ll give you a bit of help:

                    ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις, τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, πρόκεινται δεῖγμα πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι.

                    That’s the only one I know of that’s anywhere in the ballpark of buttressing your quite spectacular claim. We can look closely at its meaning, if you can find even one more. Good luck.

                  • Fr. John Whiteford says

                    Mike, no English words occur in the Greek NT or Hebrew OT. However, Arsenokoitai is not at all ambiguous. See: http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2011/07/bible-church-and-homosexuality.html

                    When Puhalo says “Our ultrightwing extremists…” in context, he is clearly speaking of those in the Orthodox Church. Given that he accused me of taking the very position he references here, there is no doubt what he meant.

                    And when exactly were hermaphrodites allowed by any Christians to be burned at the stake? Never. Cite the instances.

                  • Peter, I recall your mentioning here that you’re at work on a translation of the Greek NT. Is that correct?

                    To be clear: I’m not saying that Paul didn’t take a very dim view of same-sex activity, and of porneia in general, as sinful, and destructive to a person’s life in Christ and his or her spiritual development in charity. He clearly taught that, but it’s just not the point at issue here.

                    The point at issue is the Biblical grounds for the linkage often asserted in various human and folk traditions between Sodom, the wickedness of its people, and very dubious allegations that God viewed “homosexuality” as the core problem there that aroused His wrath and provoked His awful punishment. This linkage is a man-made cultural tradition, it is not supported in the Biblical text. I don’t know of of even one competent, peer-reviewed Biblical scholar who’d argue that there are Biblical grounds for such a reductive view. Can you name just one?

                    You asserted:

                    . . . as for Sodom and Gomorrah the NT is replete with references to this event being a punishment from God because of their unrepentent Homosexuality. This is not a Christian legend, but firmly rooted in over 5,000 years of Jewish thought and over 2,000 years of Christian thought and teaching. {Bold emphasis added. Ed.}

                    If the NT text is in fact “replete with references,” to Sodom’s punishment as being due to “their unrepentant homosexuality,” as you claim, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem at all pointing some of them out to me. Chapter and verse, please, so we can take a look. I’ll settle for just two.

                    Because you’re going to have a really hard time supporting your assertion with any evidence, I’ll give you a bit of help:

                    ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις, τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, πρόκεινται δεῖγμα πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι.

                    That’s the only one I know of that’s anywhere in the ballpark of supporting your spectacular claim. We can look closely at its meaning, if you can find even one more. Good luck.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Meyers,

                    I have been insistent on this site in noting that the Lord – at least in what is recorded – never spoke to the issue of homosexuality. Not once. What do we learn as to the Lord’s “opinion” of homosexuality by this silence? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And what will a “goose-chase” dearth of the words you believe important tell us? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Mr. Meyers, if you would presume to understand the Truth, start to think like the Orthodox.

                    Both Frs. Florovsky & Schmemann have made this point simple: without the Scripture, there is no Lord; without the Lord, there is no Tradition; without the Tradition, there is no Scripture. You get the idea. There was a living, dynamic Tradition before the written Scripture was accomplished; there was a living Scripture that prepared the way of the Lord, along with the law & the prophets. We have the inspired account of the words & teachings of Lord among us – teaching, preaching, healing, sacrificed, and resurrected from the dead – but we we also have the accounts of those contemporaries with him and after him. We have the inspired words and teachings of the Fathers, who joining with the Fathers before them, established the codex of the Orthodox Scripture and articulated the divine theology of the Church, many sacrificing their own lives in its defence.

                    So, Mr. Meyers, the suggestion that the Church was or is uncertain as to what St. Paul meant in 1 Cor. 2:6 – and I heard a “Scriptural scholar” from GLAAD on the news say these “fundamentalist sects have misinterpreted these words for centuries” – is ludicrous. For two millennium the Orthodox Church has clearly understood what transpired in the events at Sodom and Gomorrah, not as “various human and folk traditions,” but for the cosmic demonstration of destruction in which we observe all sin. This, Mr, Meyers, is “our” history and in the linearity of the road to our salvation. Our conscience “recalls” as it does all sin, if only because none of us falls in isolation and harms only ourselves; and conversely, only in the Church, and as the Church, will we be saved.

                    And finally, Mr. Meyers, in poorly attempting to impress upon you what Fr. Florovsky writes so beautifully and so eloquently regarding the the derived authority of the Church and his discussions of the phrase, “joining with the Fathers before us, is it actually possible you imagine yourself the first person to stumble upon such “startling” issues? Pal, Mr. Papoutsis is a warm, and kind man. Have a cup of that “chill-out” tea, or pregnancy tea, or whatever the hell it is next time. Use the resource, not eat it.

                  • Both Frs. Florovsky & Schmemann have made this point simple: without the Scripture, there is no Lord; without the Lord, there is no Tradition; without the Tradition, there is no Scripture. You get the idea.

                    From your telling (when I can come close to deciphering your uniquely opaque prose, anyway), no, not so much. I really don’t get “the idea.” Holy Tradition has been polluted by the lying pen and tongue of some of its scribes over the centuries — according to Christ before His coming, and according to those inspired by Him and His Holy Spirit, afterward, in the Church. Should these excerpts from Chrysostom’s psogoi be thought of as part of the Tradition to which you refer? They’re from cathedral orations delivered by the Father who Fr. Whiteford notes has always been considered by Orthodoxy to be the Exegete of exegetes, without whom no one can “. . . have an Orthodox thought in their heads”? When you helpfully suggest “. . . if you would presume to understand the Truth, start to think like the Orthodox,” is this the sort of “thinking” you have in mind?:

                    . . .While in their writings Hilary and Eusebius introduced the pagan world to this strange version of Jewish history, Chrysostom expressed similar theories with much greater violence from his pulpit at Antioch. In eight sermons which he delivered in 387 he speaks with a bitterness and lack of restraint unusual even in that place and century {PG Vol 97). If it were not for the exegetical background which has already been shown, it would be impossible to explain, let alone excuse, his tone. Christianity was no longer in any danger. He himself had not, like Athanasius, ever known any persecution from the Jews, and the period of trial under Julian had been very short. Even had they been a menace in old times, the rich and powerful Jewish community of Antioch was now hemmed in, like every other, by numerous imperial edicts issued under Christian inspiration. Moreover, Chrysostom was a man whose character excited the admiration of his contemporaries. If he was hated by politicians for his unswerving firmness, he was loved by the multitudes, and his commentaries on the gospels are still read and studied in the Orthodox Church because of their deep spiritual beauty.

                    Such was the man who in eight sermons covering more than a hundred pages of closely printed text, has left us the most complete monument of the public expression of the Christian attitude to the Jews in the century of the victory of the Church. In these discourses there is no sneer too mean, no gibe too bitter for him to fling at the Jewish people. No text is too remote to be able to be twisted to their confusion, no argument is too casuistical, no blasphemy too startling for him to employ; and, most astonishing of all, at the end he turns to the Christians, and in words full of sympathy and toleration he urges them not to be too hard on those who have erred in following Jewish practices or in visiting Jewish synagogues. Dealing with the Christians, no text which urges forgiveness is forgotten: dealing with the Jews only one verse of the New Testament is omitted: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

                    “They {“the Jews”} are become worse than the wild beasts, and for no reason at all, with their own hands they murder their own offspring {a strange trope to cite, given that Emperor Constantine had just murdered two of his own children, and his own wife, soon before this oration was delivered to the Christian citizens of Antioch. Ed.}, to worship the avenging devils who are the foes of our life” [Sermon I:6].

                    It seems almost as if his hearers in Antioch objected to so monstrous a statement, for in his sixth sermon he returns to the charge, and says that even if they no longer murder their own children, they have murdered the Christ, which is worse [Sermon VI:2, 3]. “The synagogues of the Jews are the homes of idolatry and devils, even though they have no images in them…” [Sermon I:3; based on Jer. vii:11]. “They are worse even than heathen circuses. [Sermon I:3. “The very idea of going from a church to a synagogue is blasphemous” [Sermon II:3]; “. . . and to attend the Jewish Passover is to insult Christ. To be with the Jews on the very day they murdered Jesus is to ensure that on the Day of Judgment He will say ‘ Depart from Me: for you have had intercourse with my murderers’ [Sermon III:5 and VI:8] . “Some say that the synagogue is hallowed by the fact that the Holy Books of the Law are to be found in it. One might just as well say that the temple of Dagon was hallowed by the Ark being in it, even though the Ark destroyed the idol to prove the opposite” [Sermon I:5, ref to I Sam V]. “It is truer to say that the fact that these Books are to be found in the synagogues makes them more detestable, for the Jews have simply introduced these Books, ‘ not to honour them, but to insult them, and to dishonour them’ [Sermon I:5 and VI:6]. “The Jews do not worship God but devils” [Sermon I:3, based on John 8:19], so that all their feasts are unclean [Sermon I:6]. God hates them, and indeed has always hated them. But since their murder of Jesus He allows them no time for repentance [Sermon VI:1]. It was of set purpose that He concentrated all their worship in Jerusalem that He might more easily destroy it [Sermon IV:6]. The Jewish pretence that their misfortunes are due to Rome are not worthy of attention. ‘ It was not by their own power that the Caesars did what they did to you: it was done by the wrath of God, and His absolute rejection of you’ [Sermon VI:3]. It is childish in the face of this absolute rejection to imagine that God will ever allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple or to return to Jerusalem. Their experience under Julian should convince them of that [Sermon V, passim. The whole sermon is an insulting sneer at their misfortunes and exile, and a gloating over the certainty of their damnation. Cf. the sermon ‘ That Christ is God: addressed to Jews and Pagans ‘ in the same volume]. When it is clear that God hates them, it is the duty of Christians to hate them too; and he begins his sixth sermon with a revolting analogy of a beast in the arena, who has tasted blood, and longs for it again. So he, Chrysostom, having once begun to denounce the Jews, cannot leave off [Sermon VI:1] for he who has no limits in his love of Christ must have no limits in his battle with those who hate Him [Sermon VII:1]. ‘ I hate the Jews ‘ he exclaims roundly, for they have the Law and they insult it’.

                    But when in the last sermon he comes to address those miserable sinners who had been frequenting Jewish celebrations his tone is unrecognizable. He insists that they must be dealt with gently, for the true attitude to a sinner is ‘whenever we hear any good of him, to tell it to all; but when we hear any evil or wicked thing, to keep it to ourselves, and do all in our power to change It [Sermon VIII:3]. It is evident that Chrysostom’s Jew was a theological necessity rather than a living person. If he looked different from the actual Jews living in Antioch it was part of the malice of the Jew, one of the snares of the devil, set to catch the unwary Christian. The comment of a Catholic theologian on these sermons is worth quoting [Murawski]: ‘ Das Gebot der Nächstensliebe wird man in diesen Reden nicht wiederfinden, und ebensowenig werden solche Reden fähig gewesen sein die Juden mit Sympathie für das Christentum zu erfüllen ‘. [ “One will not find the requirement to love one’s neighbour in these speeches, nor will such speeches have been able to fill the Jews with any sympathy for Christianity”.] –from James Parkes: “The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of Antisemitism,” (New York: JPS, 1934. Citations of Ab. John Chrysostom are from “Adversus Judeaus,” Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 98)

                    The more exposure I have to how some Orthodox “think,” the more alarmed I grow, frankly. Scapegoating and demonization of human beings by ideological category (“the Jews” “the Arabs” the “sodomites” the “Papists” the “West”) is not of God. Obviously. These bits of human tradition need an exorcism.

                  • [T]he Jewish people were driven by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil; they kicked about, they failed to accept the yoke of Christ, nor did they pull the plow of his teaching. Another prophet hinted at this when he said: “Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer.” … Although such beasts are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: “But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them.” (Luke 19:27)
                    Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 1

                    Before they committed the crime of crimes, before they killed their Master, before the cross, before the slaying of Christ, [Jewish sacrifices were] an abomination.
                    Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 1

                    The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession …
                    Saint John Chrysostom (349–ca. 407), Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 1

                    Nothing is more miserable than those people who never failed to attack their own salvation. When there was need to observe the Law, they trampled it under foot. … On this account Stephen said: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, you always resist the Holy Spirit”, not only by transgressing the Law but also by wishing to observe it at the wrong time.
                    Saint John Chrysostom (349–ca. 407), Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 1

                    You did slay Christ, you did lift violent hands against the Master, you did spill his precious blood. This is why you have no chance for atonement, excuse, or defense.
                    Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 6


                    [A]lthough the tradition of Chrysostom continued to cause unbridled vituperation for Jews and Judaism, climaxing in the violence of 1096 and beyond, the modulating Augustinian position became, more or less, the “official” policy of the papacy … [G]overnmental coercion became the instrument though which the Church made its scornful commentary on Judaism. Here is the decisive turn in the history of Christian anti-Judaism, a turn whose ultimate disfiguring consequence was enacted in the political antisemitism of Adolf Hitler.
                    Steven T. Katz, Ideology, State Power, and Mass Murder/Genocide, in Lessons and Legacies: The Meaning of the Holocaust in a Changing World (Northwestern University Press, 1999)

                    The diatribes of St Chrysostom against the Jews were rivalled only by Hitler.
                    Hyam Maccoby, Antisemitism And Modernity: Innovation And Continuity (Routledge 2006)


                    Just as maniacs, who never enjoy tranquility, so also he who is resentful and retains an enemy will never have the enjoyment of any peace; incessantly raging and daily increasing the tempest of his thoughts calling to mind his words and acts, and detesting the very name of him who has aggrieved him. Do you but mention his enemy, he becomes furious at once, and sustains much inward anguish; and should he chance to get only a bare sight of him, he fears and trembles, as if encountering the worst evils, Indeed, if he perceives any of his relations, if but his garment, or his dwelling, or street, he is tormented by the sight of them. For as in the case of those who are beloved, their faces, their garments, their sandals, their houses, or streets, excite us, the instant we behold them; so also should we observe a servant, or friend, or house, or street, or any thing else belonging to those We hate and hold our enemies, we are stung by all these things; and the strokes we endure from the sight of each one of them are frequent and continual. What is the need then of sustaining such a siege, such torment and such punishment? For if hell did not threaten the resentful, yet for the very torment resulting from the thing itself we ought to forgive the offences of those who have aggrieved us. But when deathless punishments remain behind, what can be more senseless than the man, who both here and there brings punishment upon himself, while he thinks to be revenged upon his enemy!
                    Homilies on the Statues, Homily XX

                    As it is not to be imagined that the fornicator and the blasphemer can partake of the sacred Table, so it is impossible that he who has an enemy, and bears malice, can enjoy the holy Communion.… I forewarn, and testify, and proclaim this with a voice that all may hear! ‘Let no one who hath an enemy draw near the sacred Table, or receive the Lord’s Body! Let no one who draws near have an enemy! Do you have an enemy? Draw not near! Do you wish to draw near? Be reconciled, and then draw near, and touch the Holy Thing!’
                    Homilies on the Statues, Homily XX

                    We are commanded to have only one enemy, the devil. With him never be reconciled! But with a brother, never be at enmity in thy heart.
                    Homilies on the Statues, Homily XX

                  • Fr. John Whiteford says

                    Mike, here is some context for St. John Chrysostom’s Homiies against Judiazing Christians:

                    For one thing, the proper title of the homilies is not “Against the Jews.

                    The translation by Paul Harkin states the following:

                    “Traditionally these homilies have been called Kata Ioudaion, which in Latin becomes Adversus Iudaeos, i.e., Against the Jews. This title misrepresents the contents of the Discourses, which clearly show that Chrysostom’s primary targets were members of his own congregation who continued to observe Jewish feasts and fasts.
                    Since the Discourses were delivered in a Christian church to a Christian congregation with few, if any, Jews actually present, I have not hesitated to add “Christians” to the title. That Chrysostom’s polemics are aimed at Judaizers is borne out also in titles found in earlier editions and in the manuscripts. All these points will be discussed in their proper place in the introduction.” p. x.

                    In footnote 47, on page xxxi, Harkin states:

                    “This [Adversus Iudaeos] is the Latin translation of the title given to the homilies in PG 48.843. The Benedictine editor, Montfaucon, gives a footnote (reprinted ibid.) which states that six MSS and [Henry] Savile [in his edition (1612) of Chrysostom] have at the head of this homily: “A discourse against the Jews; but it was delivered against those who were Judaizing and keeping the fasts with them [i.e., the Jews].” This note is not altogether accurate because Savile, for Hom. 27 of Vol. 6 (which is Disc. I among the Adversus Iudaeos in PG and in this translation), gives (p. 366) the title: “Chrysostom’s Discourse Against Those Who Are Judaizing and Observing Their Fasts.” In Vol. 8 (col. 798) Savile states that he has emended Hoeschel’s edition of this homily with the help of two Oxford MSS, one from the Corpus Christi College and the other from the New College; he must have gotten his title from any or all of these sources. Savile gives all eight of the homilies Adverus Iudaeos (Vol. 6.312-88) but in the order IV-VIII (wich are entitled Kata Ioudaion, i.e. Adversus Iudaeos), I (with the title given above), III and II (with the title affixed to them in our translation). Because of the titles in both some MSS and editions and because of the arguments which will be set forth in this introduction, we feel justified in calling this work Against Judaizing Christians rather than giving it the less irenic and somewhat misleading traditional title Against the Jews.

                    In “John Chrysostom and the Jews: Rhetoric and Reality in the Late 4th Century, by Robert L. Wilken (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1983), it makes a very compelling case that applying the modern label of Anti-Semitism onto St. John Chrysostom is anachronistic. He particularly focuses on the rhetorical genre that St. John employed, and points out that St. John was using the genre of psogos (or invective):

                    “The psogos was supposed to present unrelieved denigration of the subject. As one ancient teacher of rhetoric put it, the psogos is “only condemnation” and sets forth only the “bad things about someone” (Aphthonius Rhet. Graeci 2.40)…. In psogos, the rhetor used omission to hide the subject’s good traits or amplification to exaggerate his worsts features, and the cardinal rule was never to say anything positive about the subject. Even “when good things are done they are proclaimed in the worst light” (Aristides Rhet. Graeci 2.506). In an encomium, one passes over a man’s faults in order to praise him, and in a psogos, one passed over his virtues to defame him. Such principles are explicit in the handbooks of the rhetors, but an interesting passage from the church historian Socrates, writing in the mid fifth century, shows that the rules for invective were simply taken for granted by men and women of the late Roman world. In discussing Libanius’s [St. John’s Pagan instructor in Rhetoric] orations in praise of the emperor Julian [the Apostate], Socrates explains that Libanius magnifies and exaggerates Julians virtues
                    because he is an “outstanding sophist” (Hist. eccl. 3.23). The point is that one should not expect a fair presentation in a psagos, for that is not its purpose. The psogos is designed to attack someone, says Socrates, and is taught by the sophits in the schools as one of the rudiments of their skills…. Echoing the same rhetorical background, Augustine said that, in preparing an encomium on the emperor, he intended “that it should include a great many lies,” and that the audience would know “how far from the truth they were” (Conf. 6.6).” (p. 112).

                    Another important point of context that Wilkens highlights is the reign of Julian the Apostate, and the way he used the Jews (and was used by them) to undercut Christianity. Julian had even planned to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, primarily because he believed it would refute Christ’s prophesies about the destruction of the Temple. This happened when St. John was a young man, and so Christians at this time had no reason to believe that they had a firm position in society that could not be overturned in a short period of time. Thus polemics against the Jews were not the polemics of a group with a firm grip on power, but the polemics of a group that had reason to fear what the future might bring.

                    “The Roman Empire in the fourth century was not the world of Byzantium or medieval Europe. The institutions of traditional Hellenic culture and society were still very much alive in John Chrysostom’s day. The Jews were a vital and visible presence in Antioch and elsewhere in the Roman Empire, and they continued to be a formidable rival to the Christians. Judaizing Christians were widespread. Christianity was still in the process of establishing its place within the society and was undermined by internal strife and apathetic adherents. Without an appreciation of this setting, we cannot understand why John preached the homilies and why he responds to the Judaizers with such passion
                    and fervor. The medieval image of the Jew should not be imposed on antiquity.
                    Every act of historical understanding is an act of empathy. When I began to study John Chrysostom’s writings on the Jews, I was inclined to judge what he said in light of the unhappy history of Jewish-Christian relations and the sad events in Jewish history in modern times. As much as I feel a deep sense of moral responsibility for the attitudes and actions of Christians toward the Jews, I am no longer ready to project these later attitudes unto the events of the fourth century. No matter how outraged Christians feel over the Christian record of dealing with the Jews, we have no license to judge the distant past on the basis of our present perceptions of events of more recent times’ (pp. 162-163).

                    Wilken’s book is a key text to properly understanding these homilies.

                    It should also be pointed out that St. John Chrysostom were dealing with Jews who were extremely anti-Christian, and who blasphemed Christ.

                    Consider the following:

                    In the Shemoneh Esrei, we find the following prayer:

                    “And for the Slanderers let there be no hope; and may all the heretics perish in an instant; and may all the enemies of Your people be cut down speedily. May you
                    speedily uproot, smash and cast down the wanton sinners, destroy them, lower them, humble them, speedily in our days. Blessed are You, HASHEM, Who breaks enemies and humbles wanton sinners.” (Hebrew text on page 112, English on page 113, of The
                    Complete Artscroll Siddur (Nusach Sefard), trans. By Rabbi Nosson Sherman, published by Mesorah Publications, Ltd., Brooklyn, New York, 1985).

                    This same translation provides a commentary on the word “slanderer”, which reads:

                    “Chronologically, this is the nineteenth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei; it was instituted in Yavneh, during the tenure of Rbban Gamliel II as Nassi of Israel, some time after the destruction of the Second emple. The blessing was composed in response to the
                    threats of such heretical Jewish sects as the Sadducees, Boethusians, Essenes, and the early Christians. They tried to lead Jews astray through example and persuasion, and they used their political power to oppress observant Jews and to slander them to
                    the anti-Semitic Roman Government. In this atmosphere, Rabban Gamliel felt the need to compose a prayer against heretics and slanderers, and to incorporate it in the Shemoneh Esri so the populace would be aware of the danger” (Artscroll Siddur, pp.

                    Now, lest you dismiss this as the opinions of an isolated source, let’s look at another text on this same prayer:

                    “From time to time, as we all know, the survival of the Jewish people is threatened. Threats may arise from hostile forces without or from traitors within. Such threats are sometimes aimed to destroy us physically, and sometimes to undermine us spiritually.
                    In one place the Talmud indicates that this blessing, which was directed against heretical groups, was fixed at Yavneh under the leadership of Rabbi Gamliel the Elder during the second century c.e. (Berakhot 28b) and constituted the nineteenth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei. Eliezer levy, however, argues from sources elsewhere in the Talmud (Yer. Berakhot 2:4) that this blessing was one of the original eighteen prescribed by Ezra. The opening words of the blessing were then Al Haminim (“For the heretics, let there be no hope”), and it was directed against the hostile Samaritan sect. Later, when the Samaritan threat declined, the blessing fell into disuse. When a new threat of religious heresy arose with the Sadducees (Tzedukim), the blessing was revived with a new opening that mentioned the Sadducees: “For the Sadducees, let there be no hope” With the growth of new heretic sects (among them Jews who adopted Christian beliefs) who informed on fellow Jews to Roman authorities, this blessing assumed new urgency
                    and needed to be restated, this time at Yavneh, as the Talmud indeed relates” (Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, “To Pray as a Jew” (Basic Books, 1980) p. 92f).

                    You might also take a look at the following Rabbinical text which presents a slanderous life of Christ:


                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fr, thank you for this excellent discourse. I forgot that Chrysostom was speaking “against Judaizers” and not against Jews per se. Someday, a more complete essay discussing the relations between Jews and the Church during the first four centuries will need to be written. The more I delved, the more I was shocked that the Jews, far from being a passive population of shtetl dwellers in the Ukraine, were actually quite violent towards Christians (who, we should not forget were being violently persecuted by the Roman government at the same time).

                  • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                    Mike Myers says:

                    December 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm

                    To all the readers of Monomakhos,

                    I’m going to try harder to avoid personal invective and an overly “in-your-face” tone in future posts. It must be obvious that I’m often appalled by what I read here, but I agree with suggestions that my own ad hominem doesn’t help any. I’d like to apologize for any undue offensiveness.

                    Thank you, Mr. Myers: apology accepted.

                    • Fr. George Washburn says

                      Good comment, Mike.

                      In most cases of social interaction isn’t it true that the level of dialogue will tend to quickly descend to the level of the most “negative” participant? How much more so when none of the dialogue is face to face and we are missing the “in person” social cues of vocal inflection, facial expression, etc. that I have heard cited as making up 85% or more of good in-person communication.

                      Hard to resist the magnetizing effect of negativity for most of us, most of the time. You have my support for your resolution.


                      Fr. G

                    • geo michalopulos says

                      To all (Mike included): if I’ve offended anybody, I beg your forgiveness as well. Let’s start anew: there’s a lot of interesting things out there and some of the brightest minds in the Orthosphere with some of the best commentary have assembled themselves on this blog.

                      Let’s keep things lively and argumentative (in the best sense of the word). We are hashing out some interesting things and I for one, am learning a lot. Many thanks especially to Fr John Whiteford who discourses on the ancient Greek rhetorical concepts of encomium and psogos. Speaking for myself I like them both and they serve their purpose, but I would rather the argumentation remain within the boundaries of modern rules of debate. (Every now and then an enconiacal or psogotic rhetorical flourish is acceptable but let’s keep them to a minimum. And NO ad hominem attacks!)

                      Let’s keep it that way.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Ah! Psogos! That’s what goes on here at Monomahkos….I finally get it.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Meyers,

                    I would suggest that it is that your ignorance of what is meant by Tradition that prevents you from thinking like the Orthodox, & if my analogy was too “opaque”, then let’s start here with Fr. Florovsky:

                    Tradition in the early church was, first of all, a hermeneutical principle and method. Scripture could be rightly and fully comprehended only in the light and in the context of the living apostolic tradition, which was an integral factor of Christian existence. It was so not because tradition could add anything to what has been manifested in the Scripture, but because it provided that living context, the comprehensive perspective, in which alone the true intention and the total design of the Holy Writ, and especially of the divine revelation itself, could be adequately grasped and acknowledged. The Christian truth was, in the phrase of St. Irenaeus, a “well-grounded system,” a corpus veritatis, or a “harmonious melody.” And it was precisely this harmony that could be apprehended by faith alone. The apostolic tradition, as it was maintained and understood in the early church, was not a fixed core or complex of binding propositions, but rather an insight into the meaning and power of the revelatory events, of the revelation of the “God who acts” and has acted… Tradition alone allows the church to go beyond the “letter” to the very Word of Life.

                    Unlike the determination of which books were to constitute the Holy Scripture, and which writings of the Holy Fathers articulated and expressed the dimensions of the Faith, confirmed in which Councils determined to be Ecumenical, the Tradition was determined by no one, was voted upon by no one, was neither declared or proclaimed as such by no one. It was revealed to us in time as “an appeal to the mind of the Church, her phronema. It was a method to discover and ascertain the faith as it had been always held, from the very beginning: semper creditum. The permanence of Christian belief was the most conspicuous sign and token of its truth: no innovations.”

                    But further, Fr. Florovsky points out that the Church has always stressed the “permanence of the faith from the beginning,” and its unyielding continuity, “always the same.” But longevity is not necessarily sufficient, in and of itself, so secondly, the Church also appeals to the authority of the Holy Fathers: “Following the Divinely inspired teaching of the Holy Fathers and the Tradition of the Catholic Church.”

                    “Tradition” in the Church is not a continuity of human memory, or a permanence of rites and habits. It is a living tradition… “Following the Holy Fathers” . . . This is not a reference to some abstract tradition, in formulas and propositions. It is primarily an appeal to holy witnesses. Indeed, we appeal to the Apostles, and not just to an abstract “Apostolicity.” In the similar manner do we refer to the Fathers. The witness of the Fathers belongs, intrinsically and integrally, to the very structure of Orthodox belief. The Church is equally committed to the kerygma of the Apostles and to the dogma of the Fathers.

                    My point, Mr. Meyers? The Holy Tradition is beyond the “poison pen” and even, when they occur, the errant writings of the Saints, as the Mind of the Church, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:25).

                • The legend of Sodom and its wickedness began to be associated with “homosexuality” only after Philo’s influence redirected the scribal tradition in that direction, very dubiously. You can read for yourself what the Hebrew Prophets had to say about the “sin of Sodom” in the Holy Scriptures, although I do appreciate that their authority and that of Jesus Christ Himself seems to carry little weight with you ludicrous crackers.

                  The words are slurs because would-be gang rapists of celestial visitors to an infamously evil city are one thing, whereas gay human beings who love others of the same sex are something else entirely. Perhaps y’all might one day grasp the huge distinction here, one which I must tell you most reasonable, sentient humans have little problem perceiving. It is thuggish and vile to go on using this sort of language IMHO, and I myself regard use of the term “sodomite” to refer to gay citizens of the United States as defamatory and malicious hate speech, prima facie. I would be more tolerant with respect to use of the word “sodomy,” for the time being. Y’all are clearly much enamored with it, and tenderly devoted. Not to say unnaturally obsessed. So keep that toy if you must.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    For someone who is aghast at the use of slurs, you seem to throw the “cracker” word around a lot.

                    • When I use it, I do so figuratively, perhaps, thinking of those here who float blissfully about like oyster saltines on the soup of your silly rhetoric, getting intellectually soggy. But I shall receive your reprimand, George.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I would suggest to Mike M. that a term much accurate than “crackers” is (Yiddish) “Knakkers.” (the “k’ is pronounced throughout.)

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Point of clarification. I am translating the Septuagint. I have translated Matthew, Mark and 3 chapters in Luke in the NT, but thats about it. Currently I have translated the first 12 Chapters of 3 Kingdoms (1 Book of Kings).

                      In any event, I have studied and read the original languages since at least 1996 to the present. However, the way I understand the scriptures is through the understanding of the Church. Meaning: Her Liturgy, Her Prayers, The Fathers of the Church, Her Sacraments, etc. We Orthodox have a Canon of Faith (i.e. The Apostolic Teaching). All things, even the written revelation of God (Bible) is interpreted within this and by this lens.

                      You state that the more you delve into the Orthodox Faith the more you are disturbed. That disturbed me more, and should disturb you. Why? Because the more you delve into the Faith you find Christ, and when you find Christ, and get closer to Christ you love more, you stop hating and you quickly realize that you are just as wretched as anybody else and that you and everybody else are in desperate need of a Savior – i.e. Jesus Christ. Prayer, not hate, and living as much of a Christ-like life becomes the main focus of your life.

                      I pray more than hate and love more than shun. Let me ask you Mike, what have you done? Lets stop talking about abstracts and start talking about realities. When I and others donate their time to help the needy of our world do we first give them a litmus test? Are you an abortionist? Feminist? Homosexual? Well, if so then no food and/or medicine for you? No job for you, etc.

                      No, not at all. Loving all men, and helping all men does not mean accepting what they do. When we help a drug addict and love the drug addict, does this mean that we accept him using drugs? No, absolutely not. Why would it be any different for the man or woman trapped in the sin of Homosexuality? To me its no different. addiction is addiction is addiction. This is what I believe. “Your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more.” Forgiveness of sin NOT the acceptance of sin is the Gospel of Christ.

                      Can I do anything less than what my Lord would do? No. I bid you peace Mike, and will include you in my prayers. You should pray more, and I guarantee you once you get into a solid prayer life things that were confusing before become clear as day.


                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      If someone called me a “cracker”, it would not have the least effect on me, much less an offensive one.

                      I consider the idea of a racial slur against a white Englishman to be nuncupatory.

                    • You state that the more you delve into the Orthodox Faith the more you are disturbed. That disturbed me more, and should disturb you.

                      Peter, that’s nowhere close to what I said. I really do not appreciate this sort of thing. I wrote: “The more exposure I have to how some Orthodox “think,” the more alarmed I grow, frankly.” With all due respect, if you can’t see the huge difference between that and your travesty of my opinion, then I’m afraid I’ll have to cut short our dialogue after I’ve replied in some detail to a few of the other dubious claims you’ve posted. More than a bit of irony in the fact that you offer up a blatant demonstration of the very thing that alarms me (and many others), in the course of twisting the words with which I pointed to it. I hope this isn’t lost on too many of our readers.

                      In the Advent/Nativity spirit, I’ll hint only vaguely and in euphemism at the grave concern I feel about what a marked susceptibility to misreading, evinced here and elsewhere at times in your posts, may augur about fitness to interpret for a wider audience other, far weightier and more sacred words than my own very poor and sin-filled ones.

                      All good blessings to you and your loved ones in this Nativity season, Peter.

                    • I would suggest to Mike M. that a term much [more] accurate than “crackers” is (Yiddish) “Knakkers.” (the “k’ is pronounced throughout.)

                      Your Grace, looking into this online I discovered the following:

                      “The shocking recent slide in stock markets around the world could well leave many a private investor and Wall Street maven on the verge of turning into a knakker on a nun, “a knakker without the n” (but with the initial k).

                      A knakker is a “big shot,” the sort of person who does everything with knak, with enough pizzazz to make sure that no one pays attention to anybody else. And many a market insider displays a talent [for] knakn, the Rice Krispies of Yiddish verbs, which has meanings that range from “snap” to “crackle” to “pop your tongue.”

                      Remove the n, though, and knakn turns to kakn, the knakker becomes a kakker (rhymes with “sucker”): literally, someone who is sitting on the toilet, but more commonly used to mean someone whose every activity turns to dung, the sort of person whom Yiddish also calls a loy-yutslekh, “success-challenged,” because he can’t seem to bring anything to fruition. Kakker also puts the wind into the sails of the well-known alter kakker, best translated as an “old wind-breaker,” a dithering oldster who blunders about vi a forts in rosl, “like broken wind in brine.” The knakker on a nun, “the n-less knakker” is a sort of human typo, someone whose knack has turned to kack.

                      This article originally appeared in The Jewish Week. Below are some items for sale from eBay for those of you with an interest in Yiddish.”

                      In Dutch the word is much more straightforward, and means “gent,” “fellow” and “bloke.” Between your words I discern an allusion to the relevance hereabouts, at times, to the treble K motif and its connotations, however. With that allusion I’d certainly concur, alas.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Well, Mike, my sometimes sarcastic Yiddish-speaking friends only used the word in the sense of big-timer, smart-aleck, show-off, arriviste, and blowhard. I’ve lost contact with them all since before the Internet came into being and have done no research into their usages.
                      Perhaps I would have been better advised to proffer “knacker” (Irish) as an alternative to “cracker.” My serious study of Yiddish broke off when I broke up with Bernice Rasch my junior year at Wayne…It had come almost to standstill anyhow—-while it’s an interesting sort of Middle High German language it’s written phonetically in the (to me) AWFUL Hebrew alphabet!. I appreciated the reference to the Yiddish idiom you found about “wie a fortz in Rosl”. This is like the Russian “L’apnul kak v luzhu p’erdnul.” (“Blurted it out like breaking wind in a puddle.”) This would apply to saying” born in the tomb.’ My beloved father had a very colorful idiom. He would describe a nervous person as “running around like a F….. in a mitten trying to find the thumb-hole.”
                      A joyous Nativity celebration to all!

                  • Archpriest John Morris says

                    It is not just a legend that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality. It is also part of the Holy Tradition of the Church. It is also Biblical. Jude 1:7 “…just as Sodom and Gomor’rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire…”

                    • Fr. Morris, that’s a bad and clearly dishonest translation of Jude 1:7. Where did you get it? Do you read Koiné Greek?

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Mike stated:

                      You asserted:

                      . . . as for Sodom and Gomorrah the NT is replete with references to this event being a punishment from God because of their unrepentent Homosexuality. This is not a Christian legend, but firmly rooted in over 5,000 years of Jewish thought and over 2,000 years of Christian thought and teaching. {Bold emphasis added. Ed.}

                      If the NT text is in fact “replete with references,” to Sodom’s punishment as being due to “their unrepentant homosexuality,” as you claim, then I’m sure you’ll have no problem at all pointing some of them out to me. Chapter and verse, please, so we can take a look. I’ll settle for just two.

                      Because you’re going to have a really hard time supporting your assertion with any evidence, I’ll give you a bit of help:

                      ὡς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις, τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τούτοις ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας, πρόκεινται δεῖγμα πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι.

                      Actually I can and have had this debate many times. Father Morris list one of them Jude1:7 and its not a bad translation 1 Peter 2:7 is another. Jesus also referenced the destruction of Sodom which was because of their Homosexuality.

                      Finally, for us Orthodox its also how the Church has interpreted these passages. That is very clear that Sodom was destroyed because of Homosexuality. YOU will have an impossible time finding any Church Father or Orthodox Theologian, other than Lev Puhalo with hid checkered past, that would say otherwise. For Orthodox the scripture is clear no matter what Lev and Frankie say.


                    • I see it’s from the RSV. Enough said. Never mind.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I believe that LUST, heterosexual and homosexual, etc., is a sin of great magnitude. As for “unnatural”— decaffeinated coffee, refined sugar, dish and laundry detergent, as well as space travel are all unnatural. Nevertheless, I recognize that American-style Orthodox consider “lust in moderation” to be quite all right as well as CHURCH blessed divorces and GREED, although the last one is cited much more often in Holy Scripture than what we now call homosexuality (e.g., “Gayness” and masturbation).

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Ezekiel never read Jude, to be sure, no, not in Greek, Hebrew, English or even RSV, apparently. In his chapter sixteen he devotes much space to the horrible and shameful abominations of Jerusalem and says of Sodom’s sins: (beginning verse 49): “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
                      Looks like HE would define “sodomy” as GREED.

              • George Michalopulos says

                As for my “self-confessed track record” I will have to answer be the Lord. What you don’t seem to get (and what a lot of us traditionalist Orthodox do) is that all men are sinners and all have fallen short of the glory of God. For those of us like Dr Stankovich, Misha, Seraphim, and myself, we are only a generation or two (or three) removed from European village culture. Speaking for myself of peasant descent.

                You forget that the horse of sexuality has always been harnessed with the saddle of matrimony. Else confusion and destitution reined and from thence, interminable violence. The ultimate rite of passage throughout history for the average human has always been marriage. The communal blessing and attendance at a marriage ceremony (and often the near-observance of first coition) solidified the community and strengthened the marital bond. If nothing else, it made known to everybody that the newly-wed were “off-limits” –not a bad thing. Lonely because you didn’t get lucky? Go find your own wife.

                I dare say that Eastern or Southern European or Levantine village life was not too different than rural Americana. We knew that people were driven by sexual urges. We knew “what was what” and didn’t make a federal case out of those who were drawn to same-sex attraction. There was no animus towards “Mama’s boys” because we knew that for various and sundry reasons not everybody could get married. In Greece, if a girl didn’t have dowry she likely remained an Old Maid unless she was drop-dead beautiful. And no girl would look to a third or fourth son from a poor family. (The latter was especially acute in Ireland during the 19th century.)

                We didn’t go around preaching sermons against them or making their lives any more miserable than they were anywhere else. And we’re not doing it now. None of us who are committed Orthodox Christians or even nominal ones in the cultural sense give a rip about what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Our cultural memories are too long, we don’t want this fight and we don’t see ourselves as culture warriors. It is not because of us but because of people like you who choose to distort eternal cultural norms and force our Church to acquiesce to your new “knowledge” that we find ourselves in this imbroglio.

                As for Putin, he presides over a resurgent nation that has taken it on the chin for 70 years, in ways that you and I can scarcely imagine and is only now beginning to revive itself. The theomachist program of the Bolsheviks has not been eradicated and the alcoholism, drug abuse, and demographic decline will only be reversed by a religious revival. I don’t know whether Russia will succeed but the revival cannot take place with a weak man at the helm, one who is a puppet of Wall Street profiteers, the same ones who denuded Russia to the tune of $1 trillion during the Yeltsin era.

                • I’ll decline to quibble with your rhetoric much. This seems a relatively coherent and sensible post, for you. I do remain quite puzzled by the tender affection you Putinistas lavish on your hero, though. And the fact that you yourself feel free to insult the Russian people’s capacity for a more democratic, less venal and authoritarian mode of government is rather odd, too, given the great respect you profess for them and their patient endurance of tribulations (however self-inflicted they might have been). And you seem naive about the greed of the oligarchs who call the shots in the RF today, though I certainly don’t dissent from your shot at our banksters.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Regarding what kind of democracy the Russian people have a “capacity” for is arrogant nonsense. It’s the kind of nonsensical Wilsonianism that justifies sacrificing our blood and treasure on quixotic and futile quests to remake the world in our image. And that’s being kind. In reality, it’s a pose to increase the bottom line of American corporations and banks.

                    The Russians, the Arabs, the Chinese, and everybody else have their own histories, memories and cultural capacities. As such, they have their own way of engaging the world, including how much authority should be given to the headman and how much responsibility to the people. We cannot forget that in Orthodox Christian culture, a higher premium is put on the collective than on the individual. In America, it’s the other way around. Neither arrangement is wrong, neither is right; it’s just what it is and “it” is based on external circumstances, not ideology.

                    American republicanism (not “democracy”) arose out of the Northern European context of the Germanic (specifically Anglo-Saxon) freeman culture in which a king was little more than a tribal chief who was surrounded by jarls (earls) and directly answerable to the freeholders in things (or commitati) which met every so often. This was especially do-able in Britain because it was an island insulated from the vicissitudes of the Dark Ages on the Continent. Feudalism (which was extremely workable and efficient from a military point of view in Europe) wasn’t imposed on England until Duke William of Normandy wrested the crown from Harold II Godwinson in 1066.

                    • Well, George, forgive me for my sympathy with that increasing number of the Russians themselves who want a more democratic, less autocratic and venal, mode of government. It’s a popular tendency that’s been gathering steam there for two centuries. But we see that Vanity Pundit knows better than they do what’s best for them. As Mr. “Misha” put it, y’all have autocracy in your “spiritual DNA.” Trouble is that we in the West decidedly do not.

                      The Mr. “Misha” and Vanity Pundit, et al., vision of power and authority is a big problem, you see, because it’s a pagan, not Christian, ideal of government.

                      . . . And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. — Luke 22:24-26.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, the problem with your critique of modern Russia is good as far as it goes. My question is a simple one: where do we go for a government that is “less autocratic and venal,” “more democratic” and accountable? Look around you at the Leviathan state that was instituted by FDR and has only hypertrophied since. Look at some of our feckless Congressmen (such as Sens Graham, Lieberman, and McCain) who want to cede the war power unilaterally to the Executive. I don’t want to harp incessantly on gay marriage, but whichever state it came up for a vote it was always defeated by the people, only to be rammed down our throats by either executive action or judicial fiat. Like abortion which was foisted upon the country by Roe vs Wade, where are the voices of the people in this regard?

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      A couple of interesting posts, George.

                      While it is true that feudalism grew in England under the Normans, this was very close behind its development on the Continent.

                      But I surely agree that Britain’s insulation from invasion for a thousand years has an enormous amount to do with its development of stable political freedom, which it in turned bequeathed to North America.

                      Someone, I think perhaps Peter Hitchens, described Britain as a virgin in a continent of rape victims.

                      Besides the self-government, the greatest legacy of this is no ancient resentments, ethnic hatreds, endless bloody strife or interminable national animosities. Nor endlessly repeated self-immolation in warfare. As an English-descended American Protestant (the latter until just lately), I have never felt the slightest sense of historical grievance or persecution of any kind, or ever detected any at all in my family, back to my great-grandparents and beyond. Quite the opposite, in fact.

                      We certainly hear many echoes of it here! It’s a story for another time, but I’ll tell you, it is a very interesting experience to be going from the WASP “ascendancy” into a “subculture”!

                      One more word about “grievances”, historical or otherwise: it doesn’t matter that grievances are justified; indeed, “justified” grievances are the most poisonous of all, and the most necessary to be rid of.

                  • Mike,

                    “Mr. Misha” is amused that you dismiss the entire imperial Orthodox history as “pagan”. Priceless, you can’t make this stuff up!

                    • We can see clearly how the Russian copy of the New Roman theocracy steadily degenerated into an almost pure caesaropapism, and how the church there got more and more completely subjected to an unaccountable, merely human autocrat, who imposed its hierarchs and ultimately made himself her head, usurping the place of Christ. That’s paganism.

                      Isn’t it far more culpable now, after the coming of God’s Son and His Word? Evidently this is less clear to some. I’m eager to hear why you’d disagree, if in fact you would. I’m particularly interested in hearing just how the “ascendancy” of a იოსებ ბესარიონის ძე ჯუღაშვილი was anything but another step along this way in principle. I’m curious why we shouldn’t worry about something even worse to come down that road. I’ve asked before, I’ll ask again: What’s different now?

                    • “We can see clearly how the Russian copy of the New Roman theocracy steadily degenerated into an almost pure caesaropapism, and how the church there got more and more completely subjected to an unaccountable, merely human autocrat, who imposed its hierarchs and ultimately made himself her head, usurping the place of Christ. That’s paganism.”

                      No it’s not. First of all “we” don’t see any such thing. A Putin has much less power than a Russian or Byzantine emperor. As for “Caeseropapism”, depending on exactly what you mean, I may not be in the least critical of it. After all, wasn’t the tsar called “Tsar-Batyushka”? There is nothing whatsoever “pagan” about a human autocrat (like the Byzantine emperors or the Russian ones). The Great Synods, considered the “gold standard” of Orthodoxy, assumed that the calling of this type of “human autocrat” (i.e., the emperor) was the normal means of assembling such a holy council.

                      “caesaropapism, political system in which the head of the state is also the head of the church and supreme judge in religious matters. The term is most frequently associated with the late Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Most modern historians recognize that the legal Byzantine texts speak of interdependence between the imperial and ecclesiastical structures rather than of a unilateral dependence of the latter; historians believe also that there was nothing in the Byzantine understanding of the Christian faith that would recognize the emperor as either doctrinally infallible or invested with priestly powers.” – Britannica online, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/88250/caesaropapism

                      I would only add that even under Peter the Great, where the Church was relegated in its temporal status to a department of State, there was no conceit that the Tsar was the “head of the Church”(as was the case in the Church of England) nor that he had any power to proclaim doctrine or decide religious questions.

                      “Isn’t it far more culpable now, after the coming of God’s Son and His Word?”

                      And all of the above mentioned regarding the Eastern Roman Empire happened after and pursuant to the Incarnation. What you have written is animated by the Enlightenment assumption that representative government is somehow God ordained and that autocracy is contrary to the will of God. This is hopelessly at odds with the history and tradition of the Church. It is more fitting for Protestants to make such assertions, but only ones who tend to dismiss the history of the Church from the time of Ignatius of Antioch (or at least Constantine) to Luther.

                      As to Stalin (whose original name you translated into Georgian), what in the world does he have to do with Orthodox autocracy? It’s a rhetorical question. The answer is nothing. He persecuted the Church mercilessly until he realized that Russians were defecting to the Germans in search of religious freedom. You, like most people who haven’t really gotten past Western headlines and pseudo-history, are over your head when commenting on this subject.

                      “Further, in order that the one might be subject, and the other rule; (for equality is wont oftentimes to bring in strife;) he suffered it not to be a democracy, but a monarchy; and as in an army, this order one may see in every family. In the rank of monarch, for instance, there is the husband; but in the rank of lieutenant and general, the wife; and the children too are allotted a third station in command. Then after these a fourth order, that of the servant.” – Chrysostom, Homily XXXIV

                      “. . . for where there is equal authority there can never be peace; neither where a house is a democracy, nor where all are rulers; but the ruling power must of necessity be one. And this is universally the case with matters referring to the body, inasmuch as when men are spiritual, there will be peace..” Homily XX

                      “But we know of kings who in truth advance under the guidance of Wisdom to the rule that has no end-the poor in spirit, whose possession is the kingdom of heaven, as the Lord promises, Who is the Wisdom of the Gospel: and such also we recognize as the princes who bear rule over their passions, who are not enslaved by the dominion of sin, who inscribe the decree of equity upon their own life, as it were upon a tablet. Thus, too, that laudable despotism which changes, by the alliance of Wisdom, the democracy of the passions into the monarchy of reason, brings into bondage what were running unrestrained into mischievous liberty, I mean all carnal and earthly thoughts: for ‘the flesh lusteth against the Spirit,’ and rebels against the government of the soul. Of this land, then, such a monarch wins possession, whereof he was, according to the first creation, appointed as ruler by the Word.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomious, Book III

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I also think that the horror appended to Caesaropapism by some is misplaced. Read carefully Thomas Jefferson’s letter to The Danbury Baptist Association. In it he describes quite eloquently the permissive nature of the “wall of separation” between Church and State. He had every intention that the Church would guide and influence the state. This was exactly what is found in the Orthodox ideology of symphoneia between Church and State. In the early days of the Republic (and even during the Revolution), Congress regularly called for days of “humiliation and fasting” to be observed by all.

                • . . .What you don’t seem to get (and what a lot of us traditionalist Orthodox do) is that all men are sinners and all have fallen short of the glory of God. . . . You forget that the horse of sexuality has always been harnessed with the saddle of matrimony.

                  Curious why you say I don’t get this, or that I forget that. Evidence to support this in anything I’ve written? Please produce it.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    What language!!!!! “The horse of sexuality” and matrimony as a “saddle!” Since when do saddles harness ANYTHING? Harnesses harness and saddles saddle. It’s true that being married is sometimes called being in harness and some wives feel saddled by their husbands and vice versa, but being “harnessed with the saddle of matrimony.”..sheesh.

          • Fr. John Whiteford says

            I know he is lying when he says that there are Orthodox clergy who have suggested that there are no such things as people with ambiguous genitalia. He specifically named me as one of them on his facebook page, and that is simply a lie. I have never said or suggested any such thing, but have repeatedly stated just the opposite. That is an undeniable fact.

  13. Francis Frost says


    I apologize for my tardy reply to your recent post. I can only plead that a busy life precludes regular attention to your web-site. As our previous thread has been closed to comments, I will reply here.

    George, I am regularly amazed at the immensity of your ignorance. Or is it perhaps, dissimilitude?

    You George stated:

    You know, I’d be curious how many native Georgians actually feel about the devastation visited upon them by their puppet-masters who were in thrall to the Neocons. And how they actually feel about Russia. It seems to me that the Patriarch of Georgia has visited Moscow more than once in the recent past.

    My guess is that the people of Georgia have had it up to here with the way they were used by their previous president.

    Such a statement is simply absurd. Are you suggesting that political commentator or pundits flew the bombing sorties or led the ground troops which carried out atrocities in the occupied territories? Even you cannot be that abysmally stupid.

    Perhaps you are suggesting that Yeltsin and Putin were taking orders from said American commentators and pundits? If so, give evidence to support such an improbability.

    The undisputed fact is that military units of the Russian air and ground forces, accompanied by non-uniformed units made up of Chechens and other North Caucasian mercenaries, along with local Ossetian and Abkhaz irregulars carried out these attacks and atrocities. Neither the Russian government not its propagandists deny that fact. Even our resident Putinist, Misha, admits that fact. How then can you blame someone else for those crimes against humanity, those crimes against Christ, Himself.?

    George, sometimes you leave me simply amazed at your total incapacity for moral reasoning. Sometimes I can’t tell whether you are simply ignorant, delusional or just morally blind. Go figure.

    Since you are totally ignorant of the situation in Georgia, I will relate a few facts to give you a start. BTW there are numerous media outlets with English language web site where you can learn this for yourself.

    Try Rustavi2.ge, civil.ge, interpressnews.ge, among others.

    The former United Nationalist Movement party controlled the parliament until last October, when the lost control of the parliament to the Georgian Dream coalition of parties. Former President Saakashvili completed 2 terms as president and was constitutionally barred from running for another term. This October Giorgi Margvelashvili was elected president. however, constitutional changes enacted several years ago now grant greater authority to the Prime Minister. After the recent presidential election, Mr Ivanishvili resigned to resume his private life. The new Prime mMnister is the MP from the Georgian Dream coalition Irakli Garibashvili. Many look to the current Defense Minister, Irakli Alasania as likely and highly talented future leader of the country.

    As for prosecution for former government officials, it is true that a number have been arrested and indicted. Some remain in pre-trial detention without option for bail. Most notable of these is the former Minister of defense Bacho Akhalia who was charged with 7 counts of abuse of power and abuse of soldiers. Last week he was acquitted of all counts. He remains in detention on unrelated charges. Other trials to date have also resulted in acquittals. Representatives of the European union have warned the new government from pursuing “political revenge trials’ as un-constructive. Former President Saakashvili has been neither charged nor called for questioning.

    What is more, the new government has publicly committed to continuing the previous government’s policy vis a vis the “West”. They have committed to continuing the process for integration into both NATO and the European Union. They have publicly committed to pursuing every peaceful means for ending the illegal occupation of Georgian territory. If Mr. Putin thought that a change of government in Georgia might achieve his aims, he was wrong.

    You might be surprised to know that ‘native’ Georgians have a wide range of political opinions. After all there are literally dozens of political parties. The Georgian Dream is in fact a coalition of 6 major parties and several minor parties. Many of our friends are devoted supported of the UNM and Mr Saakashvili; but my wife can’t stand him. Even so the one thing that unites all Georgians is the absolute rejection of Russian hegemony, Russian occupation and Russian atrocities against innocent civilians.

    The Georgian people have the consolation of 5 millennia of history. They know that invaders and killers come and go; but their nation will endure and survive. They know that St Seraphim of Sarov warned the Russian Tsar. ” Georgia is the inheritance of the Most Holy Theotokos. Do not make war on Georgia, lest the Mother of God make war on us.. and Russia perish”.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, perhaps you misunderstand me. If so, let me be categorical: I never once approved the invasion of Georgia by the Russians. All I stated was that there are many in Georgia today to regret the primrose path that their neocon overlords enticed them on, assuring them that NATO would protect them should they provoke the Russian bear. Indeed, I would be surprised if it were otherwise. The neocon wing of the Republican Party sold the leaders of Georgia a bill of goods. That has been amply proven.

      I still stand by this. We here in the US have still left unresolved our wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. (Heck, I’m sputtering mad about the War of Northern Aggression.) The point is this: great nations like the US, Russia and China have always had “spheres of influence” and have threatened war or actually gone to war when other great powers intruded on them. Our nation had The Monroe Doctrine which was invoked many times, the most dangerous times was during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we demanded that one sovereign nation (Cuba) remove missiles given to it by another sovereign nation (USSR) from its territory. The Monroe Doctrine may have been self-serving and not moral standing on its own but I think we can all agree that JFK did the right thing.

      • You forgot to mention Korea. I was there in 1956-1957 when the Armistice ended. So, if the truth was told, we are back in a state of war with North Korea. They shoot at us, we shoot at them, and this called peace?

  14. Francis Frost says

    Misha wrote:

    I’m slightly amused by your concern for my soul, Francis. Yet I have no intention of repenting of any word I’ve written and will gladly stand before God to give account. You might concern yourself with your own soul. Time better spent.

    It is good that you ‘stand ready’ for you will have to “give account for every idle word you have spoken”, and that time will come sooner than you think. “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep” Luke 6:25

    Even so your publicly expressed approval for the Russian invasions is a matter of record. You wrote:

    So, Georgia got exactly what it deserved, though the loss of civilian life on all sides, including the Georgian, is regrettable. The Red Army went through them like sh*t through a goose and the only thing that temporarily saved Saakashvili was the airdrop of Condi Rice into Tblisi.
    Yep, the Russians used Chechens in their war against Georgia. All the better to leave a lasting impression so that the mistake is not repeated.

    May the Lord rebuke you!

    As for your comment:

    You don’t like Russia or the Russian Orthodox?, fine and dandy with me.

    That is double ignorant. I grew up in the Russian Orthodox Church, the Metropolia before it was the OCA. I first learned the Liturgy in Slavonic. My family spoke Russian at home, and we still do. In fact, when our St George Cathedral in Wichita held intermittent Slavonic Liturgies for the recent immigrants, I was the cantor they called as there a so few left who can even read, much less sing in Slavonic. In fact when the glorious host of this web site wanted to hold Slavonic services in Tulsa, it was me they called. Needeless to say that effort was stillborn.

    The actual Russians in this country, and the descendants of the actual Russian immigration to America know perfectly well the nature of totalitarian regimes. Our parents and loved ones fled from such, and we grew up hearing the harrowing stories of what they endured. It is only ignorant convert wannabe’s who applaud the Putinist imperialism and the suppression of freedom in Russia and its neighbors.

    You might agree with Putin’s lament that the demise of the Soviet Union was “the greatest geo-political disaster in history”; but we know better than that. You may applaud Putin’s attempts to resurrect that evil empire; but we know that the Russian people and their neighbors deserve something much better: real democracy, justice and a normal life.

    In a fitting coda to our discussion of the relative morality and degeneracy in the East and West, 49 Russian diplomats were indicted for Medicare fraud in New York a week ago:

    From the New York Times:

    The contours of the alleged insurance fraud seemed unusual enough: The participants, men and women, were accused of improperly seeking Medicaid benefits for pregnancies, births and postnatal care.

    That the defendants were Russian was, perhaps, not altogether unusual, given the number of recent prosecutions for similar insurance schemes perpetrated in New York by immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

    But these were no ordinary Russians. They were diplomats posted to New York City, and their wives, accused of fraudulently applying for Medicaid benefits over the past nine years. Prosecutors characterized the scheme as an audacious swindle of the federal health benefits program for the needy, orchestrated by officials in the Russian Consulate in New York and its mission to the United Nations.

    “Diplomacy should be about extending hands, not picking pockets in the host country,” said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office announced on Thursday that it had charged 49 past or present Russian diplomats and their spouses in the $1.5 million Medicaid fraud case.

    “The charges expose shameful and systemic corruption among Russian diplomats in New York,” Mr. Bharara said.

    A criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court said that in addition to the defendants, 11 of whom still live in the United States, dozens of other conspirators not named had received illegally obtained benefits.
    Mr. Bharara’s news briefing, unlike others in the past, was not followed by an appearance of the defendants in court. Mr. Bharara said his office had been advised that the defendants all had diplomatic immunity, so none had been arrested.

    Read the full story at:

    • Do try to stay on topic, Francis. We’ve all moved on.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Francis, as usual you bring up several salient points. I find myself however zeroing in one or two that fascinate me. You write for example that I will have to give account for “every idle word” on Judgment Day. Yes, I’m terrified of it. But won’t we all? Won’t the various bishops of the OCA also have to give account of idle words as well? We have proven beyond a reasonable doubt on this site that the Stinkbomb Letter that was published (and then retracted) against His Beatitude was full of idle words –at the very least.

  15. Daniel E Fall says

    This is the story of a blogger going to far to try and influence the Synod and undermine a priest by a proclamation that said wants control over his superiors. I doubt you have the nads or cajones or balls, for that matter, to publish my comment because of the call out.

    “The question to my mind is why he was brought into the OCA. Word on the street was that he was a protégé of Lefty Kishkovsky, who likewise brought in other bishops –or at least tried–in order to augment his own control over the Synod.”

    And for the record, I couldn’t care less about Kishkovsky’s spot on the bell spectrum.

    I’d say he has a legal case against you for defamation.

    • Sorry I doubted you George-you keep the mancard. Too bad priests wouldn’t bring a suit. I’ve spent enough time trying to offer perspective where it is useless here.

      But now I better understand everything.

      Too bad for the affected associations…I suppose they got their just place in history.

      Even churchgoing bishops can lose sight and be influenced badly.

      For that good you brought or bring-there is a price too high.

      Time for me to take my place in history and leave the echo chambers.

      Enough idle talk.

      Thanks for allowing me to have posted and get to a better understanding of the demise.

      I get it.


  16. “1980: Deacon Lev is ordered to cease lecturing in parishes on the subject of the toll houses by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. He was deposed by ROCOR for disobeying his bishop by continuing to preach his heresy of “soul sleep”, and “for having entered a jurisdiction not in communion with ROCOR” and went to the schismatic Free Serbian Church.” – Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottowa – Orthodoxwiki

    I can’t find an online copy of any ROCOR document listing the reason for his deposition. The link above I posted earlier contains a direction for him to cease preaching heresy, which he apparently ignored:

    “Deacon Lev Puhalo, paying no heed to the disclaimers, with yet greater persistence, and with a spirit of condemnation, wrongly accuses him of heresy. This controversy can cause great harm to the souls of the faithful.” – minutes of ROCOR synod meeting on the controversy

    “Among such ancient traditions is the tradition of the so-called toll-stations, which Deacon Lev Puhalo so determinedly dismisses, stating this doctrine, however, in an exaggerated manner. Actually, no one can dogmatically establish the existence of the toll-houses precisely in accordance with the form described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New, insofar as no direct indication thereto is to be found in the Scriptures. However, this tradition has been preserved, with varying details, from profound antiquity and contains nothing that is contrary to piety. It is cited in all texts of dogmatic theology. ”

    “To maintain that the soul, having been separated from the body, finds itself in some state of sleep, since without the body it cannot experience either blessedness or suffering, or hear, or speak, and that the demons also cannot even see it, is contrary to our Faith. The Church has never taught this.”

    “. . . Deacon Lev Puhalo is forbidden to lecture in the parishes until he signs a pledge satisfactory to the Synod to terminate his public statements on questions of internal disputes between Orthodox on subjects which may provoke confusion among the faithful.”

  17. constantly i used to read ѕmaller artiсles or rеviews that as well clear their motivе, and
    that is also happening with this рiece of writing ωhich I am reading now.

  18. cynthia curran says

    But these were no ordinary Russians. They were diplomats posted to New York City, and their wives, accused of fraudulently applying for Medicaid benefits over the past nine years. Prosecutors characterized the scheme as an audacious swindle of the federal health benefits program for the needy, orchestrated by officials in the Russian Consulate in New York and its mission to the United Nations.

    I heard about this the Russians are probably not the first country to pull this. And George being against the welfare state should take note of Russian politicians ripping off the US Taxpayer.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Cynthia, the way to eliminate such fraud is to not create avenues of wealth in the first place that will be used by people to criminally enrich themselves. I am under no illusions about the personal morality of people assigned to diplomatic missions here in the US. Just as I am equally cynical about the ease to which native Americans abuse “philanthropy” to enrich themselves.

  19. Michael Bauman says

    All of this is really moot, although it is somewhat connected: the very notion of humanity and our value is under increasing attack. I heard yet another story on the radio yesterday about robots replacing human workers, not just those who make things, but pharmacists, teachers, the whole scope of human craft and work. Our value is to be measured in what value-added services we give to the robots and machines. Not long after that, we will have to be modified and augmented by cybertronic implants to be worthwhile.

    The only reason for us to exist is that we are creatures of God, His stewards, made in His image. Once that is lost, as it pretty nearly is, human simply have no reason to exist once the machines competent to design and repair themselves. We might become a distant myth, as God has to us, in some digital memory somewhere, but that is all. The machines will do to us what we have done to God, but they will do it more completely and quickly.

    Unless we reclaim the intrinsic value of human beings just because we are human beings, we will pass from this earth unless our Lord saves us.

    Perhaps that is what Pope Francis sees?

  20. Nick Katich says

    Being one in the know, I can uncategorically state that I am unaware of Puhalo being ordained as a priest by Metropolitan Irinej. I believe that he (Puhalo) represented himself (Puhalo) as such (as a priest) to the “Free Serbian Orthodox Church”. I can also state that ROCOR never was out of communion with the Serbian Patriarchate which was ROCOR’s “mother”. I can further state, that the Free Serbian Orthodox Church, at the time, had no channels of communication to confirm or deny his status with either ROCOR or the Serbian Patriarchate. I can also uncategorically state that I have never seen Puhalo serve a Divine Liturgy at the New Gracanica Monastery or anywhere else. I can also uncategorically state that I never heard of anyone refer to him as other than as a “monah”, i.e. in Serbian, as a “monk”. That is what I know. During our discussions leading up to, and subsequent to, “reconciliation” with the Serbian Patriarchate, we discussed the canonical status of many priests and bishops. However, never did Puhalos name come up. Perhaps it was because he left and went to the Milan synod, or perhaps it was because he was never a cleric of the “Free Church”. Regardless, he was gone and off the radar screen. I was shocked when I found out that the OCA accepted him. I might add, without agreeing with him on his critique of Rose, I vehemently disagee with Rose on Toll Houses. Nevertheless, I am telling you from first hand knowledge his relationship with the Free Church.

    • I’m perplexed how it is possible for there to be a single thumb down — much less a dozen — to Nick’s comment. Confirmation biases may make the unambiguous facts inconvenient truths, but they are truths none the less.

      Nick was among the most prominent laymen attending to the temporal affairs of the “Free Serbian Orthodox Church.” He was a central player in the “reconciliation” with the Belgrade Patriarchate, literally and figuratively, “in the room.” What Puhalo did before his relationship with the FSOC, or after his separation from the FSOC, is perhaps beyond the scope of Nick’s personal knowledge. But, for what happened in the FSOC in those years, Nick’s testimony is unimpeachable.

      If you have demonstrable, provable facts to rebut Nick’s comments, please cite to them because I’m fairly certain that he — and others — would sure like to know them.

      • Its seems rather apparent lately that some disgruntled party who cares neither for this site nor most of its commentators is toying with the rating tally, rendering it essentially meaningless.

        • Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

          Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        You can’t worry about the “thumbs” buttons, or you’ll drive yourself nuts. You can make the most innocuous, uncontroversial comments, and draw negatives, probably just because of your moderate tone!

        I don’t go on many sites, so maybe this is why, but I’ve never seen these “up or down” buttons before, on any forum. They add nothing here, in my view.

      • Nick Katich says

        Thank you Alexander. As I said, I have no evidence that Puhalo was ordained by Metropolitan Irinej and, if he was, I would have know of it. And, I also never saw Puhalo serve a Diving Liturgy anywhere in the Free Serbian Church. In response to Bishop Tikhon’s question, Puhalo was forced to leave the monastery by command of the Metropolitan, but after consultation with several key priests and laity, including myself, all of whom were unanimous. No Diocesan Council decision was needed or necessary since that was a decison purely in the hands of the ruling bishop.. He left a couple of years before reconciliation talks with the Patriarchate were embarked upon. That had nothing to do with the reason why he left. What one of the other posters indicated is correct. The Free Serbian Church was not about to ordain as a bishop, at that time, a non-Serb. That was made clear to Puhalo. To what extent that upset him, who knows. However, we did learn that his claims to Serbian ancestry were questionable.

        • Puhalo seemed to spend considerable time over-working a mimeograph machine in Chiliwick, British Columbia “publishing” a periodical of some sort at the time of his disappearance from the FSOC.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Nick. Puhalo was ordained to the Priesthood by your Metropolitan Irinej, whether or not you knew of it.
      No one claimed or claims that the Puhalo was made a BISHOP in the “Free” Serbian Church.
      Puhalo has a signed certificate of ordination to the Priesthood from Metropolitan Irinej. I’m sure that Metropolitan Irinej must have put any canonical decision to which you refer in WRITING, no?
      By the way, any “UNcategorical” statement or affirmation (and you made many of them) is worthless. Thanks for letting us know you had been and are unaware of his ordination to the Priesthood by Metropolitan Irinej. As for when the man left the “Free” Serbs, I’m not sure how you can be confident that he did not leave upon hearing rumors of pending rapprochement.

  21. As Thomas Jefferson said, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

    “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” — Justice Louis Brandeis.

    Another case of your interesting tendency to post fictional pseudo-quotes which you then falsely allege originated with Thomas Jefferson.

    So many intriguing specimens of fallaciousness and general bogosity tp be found here. Kudos, y’all.

    • A small, perhaps pedantic point. But a few minutes of Google fact checking can cover a multitude of sins.
      I do get it that truth in general and facts aren’t important here. I’m just saying.

  22. Michael Woerl says

    I began receiving ROCOR periodicals around 1980; became a catechumen in1983, and was baptized in 1985. I remember the ‘controversy’ concerning the Toll Houses fairly well, as I received ‘Orthodox Word’ (which, of course, presented Fr Seraphim’s perspective, and, as I understand, the perspective of the Orthodox Church), ‘Orthodox Christian Witness,’ (which presented the
    Boston Monastery’s ‘perspective.’ I was told that Boston goaded Deacon Lev to continue his ‘stand for the truth’ on the Toll Houses-perhaps out of conviction, perhaps to eliminate rivals for control of the ‘convert wing’ of ROCOR-who knows?), and Deacon Lev’s periodical, the name of which escapes me. At the time, I was told Deacon Lev was defrocked because the Council of Bishops decreed that the ‘debate’ be put to and end. I was also told that ‘powers that be’ in Boston encouraged Deacon Lev to continue his ‘stand for the truth,’ and that Boston would ‘defend him’ in case of ‘trouble.’ Deacon Lev did not cease the polemics as ordered, Boston did not keep their ‘promise’ to defend him, and (I was told) he was defrocked for violating the order to ‘cease and desist.’ As far as I recall, Fr Seraphim did not violate that order.
    When I learned that ‘Deacon Lev’ was no longer in ROCOR, i wrote to him-then ‘Hieromonk Lazar’-and asked why he had left ROCOR. He replied that he had left ROCOR “to be with his fellow Serbs.” Not mentioning that he had been defrocked. I found out later there is doubt that he IS a Serb …
    I was later informed that he left the Free Serbs as due to their policy of never consecrating non-Serbs as Bishops. I do believe he left the Free Serbs before their reconciliation with the Serbian Patriarchate; he was consecrated as a Bishop by the “Orthodox Church of Portugal,” then connected with Greek Old Calendarists under-I think-Archbishop Auxentios of Athens; these may have had something to do with the ‘Milan Synod.’ He was “reconsecrated” as a Bishop by Filaret Denisenko’s “Kyiv Patriarchate” at some later date. In a “revised autobiography,” Mr Puhalo the defrocked deacon neglected to include his sojourn with the “Orthodox Church” of Portugal. Why advertise connections with Old Calendar “extremists”
    When a pedigree from a defrocked “Patriarch” will do the trick?
    Also, in his letter to me “explaining” his departure from ROCOR, he characterized Fr Seraphim Rose as “a Hindu.” For which he called me “a liar” in another forum … However, I remember the letter very well … The defrocked Deacon Mr Puhalo was a person who was no longer of any interest to me whatsoever, until he was accepted as a “Bishop” by the OCA. As a false Bishop “consecrated” (the second time!) by a schismatic (by anybody’s book) organization that threatens the unity of the Russian Church, I imagine Mr Puhalo’s “acceptance” played well in Moscow! The absence of any mention of the “Orthodox Church of Portugal” in his revised curriculum vitae only attests to a seeming and ongoing avoidance of ‘genuineness.’
    Lastly, anyone who accepts the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s theory that any Church “not in communion” with them is “schismatic” needs to reread their ‘ABC’s’

  23. Michael Woerl says

    I might add … I’m not aware of Mr Puhalo’s opinions on sexual matters … I’ve seen a few mentions of such, but had no interest in reading them. Be those ‘opinions,’ ‘predilections,’ ‘proclivities,’ whatever they might be-if the OCA can smilingly accept as a Bishop a person ordained under the authority of Philaret Denisenko … what else can possibly be said!?!? Perhaps, except-“Are you kidding me?”

  24. Дед Моро́з says

    The latest embarrassment from Syosset Central is the Nativity video message of Metropolitan Tikhon. The poor man has a lousy writer producing his message and then the music chosen to open the message is music for Theophany and not the Nativity!

    Honestly can it get any worse? I guess they are hoping that people won’t know any better since the chosen music is in Slavonic.

    Poor guy. You really hope that he won’t just continue to go along to get along and tighten up things if those in charge don’t care enough to get the liturgical music right, something that simple, you wonder if they can get the more important issues right.

    • FOOL! The Nativity and Theophany season are one in the same. In fact, Theophany, the appearance of God in the flesh was celebrated first and later the Nativity of Christ. The two became intrinsically connected. The only “poor guy” here is you who understand NOTHING regarding the Orthodox Church.

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        Hey, “Al Jizzara!” Where do you get off calling anyone a fool? That’s SO Al Green, not Jizzara! The Nativity and Theophany “seasons” are by no means one and the same. You are utterly mistaken in that. It is true that Christ’s Nativity was originally one of the appearances of Christ commemorated in the Feast of Theophany, and that it was created as a separate Feast (which it remains) by the Church of Rome which had arbitrarily designated December 25th as the date for its celebration. Eventually, the Eastern Churches (but not the Armenian Church) accepted the Roman custom, which we, of course, follow “religiously.” It is a liturgical ERROR, “Al,” to sing the Theophany troparion or dismissal hymn before the Eve of the Theophany, i.e., January 5th/18th.
        In English, we refer to “one AND the same,” not one “IN” the same. It is the troparion of the Nativity that is sung in the period between Nativity Feast and Theophany Feast, NOT the Theophany troparion.
        I, too, would say “poor man” about the Metropolitan in this case, giving him the benefit of the doubt and hinting that someone else, not he, is responsible for selecting the Baptism Troparion for the Nativity Message. The same person might have thought that one could not only imaginatively COMPARE the manger/cave to the tomb, but state that Christ was born in the tomb! What is that? Will he say on Theophany that Christ was baptized in a manger?

  25. Дед Моро́з says

    Al Jizzara,

    Duh! Like I didn’t know that? Of course the development of the two feasts started out as one. However what you fail to know is that it was a mistake and a blunder of poor communication and oversight by the folks who are getting paid over $100K. They didn’t bother to fix it because it was too late to redo the project and still get it online in time. Great planning and organizational skills on display.

    So, I won’t call you a fool, but it is clear that anything the OCA shovels out there is good enough for you. I am sure they are glad that mediocrity has its fans! 😉

  26. “Hard to resist the magnetizing effect of negativity for most of us, most of the time. You have my support for your resolution.”

    Thanks for your support, Father. I’d only remind you that “negativity” about specious reasoning, rhetorical fallacies, bigotry, sectarian prejudice, indifference to incontrovertible facts and enthrallment to all-too-human traditions dubiously hallowed by their mere antiquity is no vice, and that a loveless, narrow, merely conventional and even narcissistic “piety” is no virtue. To paraphrase Sen. Goldwater.

    All the best blessings of the Nativity to you and yours.

  27. http://www.ec-patr.org/docdisplay.php?lang=en&id=1838&tla=en

    This is moving . . .

    God bless you all.

  28. Thanks in support of sharing such a fastidious thinking, article is nice, thats why i have read it fully