The Inversion Continues

harvey-milk-stampI was going to title this essay “Yet More Russian Corruption,” but I received an insight as I woke up this morning and was shaving. The word “Inversion” popped into my mind instead. Let me explain.

For months now, I’ve harbored the deep suspicion that the “free” United States of America and the “totalitarian” Russian Federation have switched sides –that an inversion (if you will) has taken place. It may not be complete, it may in fact reverse itself (if we repent). The open, incessant and almost-mandatory celebration of our genitals at every turn means however that we may be too far gone.

Case in point: Russia released a stamp honoring St Sergius of Radonezh, one of the most towering figures in Christianity. We on the other hand, released a stamp honoring Harvey Milk, a known sodomite and possible pederast.

Stamps may be symbolic gestures but what a country says about them speaks volumes about its underlying culture. Think of it this way: would the US put out a stamp of Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot? How about John Wayne Gacy or Al Capone? To even ask such a question is to answer it. The “evil” Russian Federation however chose to issue a stamp in honor of a major Christian saint. Does this not speak volumes about where our respective hearts are?

Source: Pravmir

September 17, 2014. A set of envelopes with a stamp dedicated to the 700th anniversary of St. Sergius’ birth (1314-1392) was released on September 16.

russian-stampThe official website of the Russian Post reports that this stamp represents a religious procession headed by the Venerable Sergius of Radonezh with the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra in the background and a flock of pigeons in the sky, which symbolize the followers and disciples of St. Sergius.

There are historical figures in the picture (from left to right): the Grand Prince Dmitry Donskoy, the legendary monk and warrior Alexander Peresvet, and also contemporary Orthodox Christians, who are carrying lighted candles.

These colorful envelope sets are available at the Moscow post office #101000 (Myasnitskaya st., 26 building) during the first three working days starting from the day of issue. There people will be able to mark the stamps with a special postmark.

The total number of the issued products is 85,000 copies.

A decorative cover has been prepared for release, which includes the envelope set and the envelopes with marked stamps of the first day (Sergiyev Posad in the Moscow region).

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Comments

  1. Timothy Wearing says

    Certainly a stamp of St. Sergius is preferable over Harvey Milk. However, externals are nice, but what is going on in the “heart” of Russia. Religion is the opiate of the people and Putin was wise to revive religion in Russia while he continues his Communist aggression and suppression of real freedom. I don’t see the U.S. committing the atrocities Putin is in subjugating his neighbors and murdering thousands of innocent people in the Ukraine. So, the real heart of the U.S. remains to be “FREEDOM IN ALL THINGS” and the heart of Russia remains “SUBJUGATION AND NO FREEDOM IN ALL THINGS.” Where would YOU rather live?

    • Will Harrington says

      While Putin is authoritarian and stateist, he is not communist. Indeed, it looks to me like the KGB concluded that communism was detrimental to Russia and may have encouraged its downfall. Religion is not the Opiate of the people. Nationalism is. That is what Putin is using and a populace that is at least as uneducated in what they claim to believe as our own can be easily manipulated by equating religion with nationalism. I also can not agree with the idea that the heart of the US is freedom in all things. Only in important things like what you do with, or put into your body. When it comes to things like freedom from unreasonable search or seizure, ,e have search warrants being announced as doors are broken down and property being confiscated by police forces before a conviction. When it comes to property rights, the Army Core of Engineers has claimed jurisdiction over deciding what can be done with peoples land by extending their charter to maintain navigable waterways to controlling the use of land where water that flows into navigable waterways originates, so if your land gets rained on, it is subject to the control of the federal government. Even our more liberally biased press has been complaining about the governments hostility towards a free press and, indeed, the government has taken action against reporters. This is far from a comprehensive list, but I do wonder how long people will think we live in the land of the free. Will we be like the proverbial frog in the pot that does not notice that it is being cooked to death? Will we still sing about the land of the free when we are no longer citizens, but rather subjects. But no, the US does not commit atrocities, our government simply lets veterans die rather than spend money on them and puts guns in the hands of some of the most violent drug cartels in the world. Notice, I am not saying Russia is the avatar of peace and and light, but I am saying we, the people of the United States have let our more perfect union begin a long slide into tyranny and darkness. We do have a beam in our own eye and apparently no willingness to remove it since there are nations like Russia around and at least we’re not as bad as them.

    • I see no communism whatsoever in the government of Russia. There is still a communist party there, but it is powerless. I see some authoritarianism, but not nearly as much as under any of the Orthodox Christian monarchs or emperors in history.

      As to “murder” in the Ukraine, the fascists and their facilitators in Kiev are doing a great job of that in the East, shelling churches, confiscating churches, creating hundreds of thousands of refugees . . . but that is about over. Winter cometh and reality setteth in.

      As to the heart of Russia, the Russians have seen the fruit of the Enlightenment fully expressed by Harvey Milk, at Auschwitz and in the Gulag. I think their rejection of Western liberal democracy and its core values is wise and beautiful. Edward has a serious point. It is almost surreal that I am planning on studying, teaching and eventually retiring in the former “evil empire”.

      The last shall be first, I suppose.

    • Antonio Arganda says
    • Antonio Arganda says

      Freedom? Really. You must not have been in the US recently. Democracy is dead, if it ever existed, in the US.

      The people will believe what the media tells them they believe.
      -George Orwell

  2. Russia honors St Sergius of Radonezh.

    America honors Harvey Milk.

    No more needs to be said.

  3. Timothy Wearing says

    Oh and let’s not forget, look at all the pictures and videos of ISIS and all terrorists. What gun are they all carrying? Well, it’s a Kalishnikov AK-47. Where are they made? In RUSSIA! Who exports them? RUSSIA. Who helps distribute them in the Middle East? IRAN! Well, well, well. All holy and wonderful Russia makes and exports the weapons of terrorism to terrorists. All hail Putin the Anti-Christ!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yes, they carry AK-47s, bought with US tax dollars. Make no mistake: just as Hamas was created by Israel (to dilute the influence of the PLO) so too is ISIS a creature of the US/Saudi alliance. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some Israeli involvement. Things were just a little too neat last month when world-wide condemnation of Israel for its actions in Gaza shifted all of a sudden when ISIS started slaughtering Christians in Iraq. Kinda makes you go “hmmmm.”

      • Tim R Mortiss says

        George, when you get beyond “hmmm” and can give us the evidence of the conspiracies you see everywhere, let us know the details…..

        • TIm,

          I might suggest that you explore this site a bit. You probably won’t believe everything you read there. Nor do I – to the same degree that I have leaned to distrust much of what our own U.S. media propagates as “fact.” . Nevertheless, it may broaden your horizons a bit.

  4. With a halo no less, George. Wouldn’t be permitted here. “Separation of Church and State.” If a nation turns away from the Source of Life, can there be an outcome other than death? In the day that ye eat . . . But the wages of sin is . . .

    Help us, have mercy upon us, and save us, by Thy grace.

    lxc

  5. Michael Kinsey says

    It matters not a whit, what lamb speaking, or symbolizing a people do, if their fathers, still deliver their son unto death, (abortion), son delivering up the father unto death,( euthanasia), and the country is still run by godless secular-humanist, who just fake their piety.. Only when these evils are fully replaced by an authentic Christian value system could this inversion take place. Repentance is hoped for, sincerely. There is ,indeed, real hope for some here and in Russia. But the appearance of a fully restored Holy Orthodox Russia is unlikely. Nor do I see any prophesy that predicts this. We are required to DO the Will of God, and obey the Vision. Do not tempt God, live by His Word and not bread alone, Love the Lord God and serve Him alone,. You cannot serve God and mammon( self service and God both.)

  6. As someone who grew up in the Cold War, I never would have thought a day would come when I could imagine the prospect of leaving America to go to Russia — in order to practice my religion in a non-hostile, even supportive, environment. In a functional autocracy, things can change quickly for the worse, but the trend for the last decade or so has been a clear one for Orthodox Christians, at any rate. It is still in the realm of the gedankenexperiment — but 30 years ago, even that would have been unthinkable.

    • Tim R Mortiss says

      I think that if a man of mature years and judgment believes that it would be good to leave this country and go to Russia to live, then that’s exactly what he should do.

      But I suppose we’re talking about “imagination”…

      I’ve been to Russia, and think it a very beautiful place in many ways, but to live there would, for me, be unimaginable.

      • I do not believe it would be good to move. I was very specific in what I said: it now imaginable that such an inversion could happen. In my youth it would have unimaginable. It should still be unimaginable, but it isn’t.

    • Abbouna Michel says

      One of my most treasured possessions is a Russian priest’s cross. Its last wearer, a hieromonk, was taken out to the Butovo firing range and executed. This was done by Putin’s Chekisti predecessors. All the revisionist attempts to disguise those hard realities run up against the brutal facts.

      Are there ethical issues in contemporary American society? Sure. Are some of the directions of our society profoundly ungodly? Yup.

      But, I can’t recall an incident of 20,000 people being taken out to the suburbs and shot. Probably just missed the morning paper’s deadline!

      Folks, let’s get a little perspective here.

      • “This was done by Putin’s Chekisti predecessors.”

        That is the root of your problem, I suppose. Complete ignorance of political-economic reality. Putin served in the KGB when that was the only show in town if one wanted to security/intelligence work. He worked in propaganda in East Germany. If you wanted to rise in society, you joined the Party – period.

        Later, he became head of the post-Soviet FSB, the successor intelligence agency to the KGB in the newly capitalist-oriented Russia. Yet some people are so abysmally ignorant of politics and economics that the move from socialism to capitalism simply does not register. Authoritarianism = Communism = KGB. But this is false. Whatever the Saudis or the Iranians or the people of Brunei are, they are not communists.

        Really it is pathetic for people to be so ignorant and presume to comment. Democracy is a type of opposite to authoritarianism. But this has nothing to do with the economic system. One can have a democratic socialism and an authoritarian capitalism (or authoritarian mixed market system, to be accurate; no one practices pure capitalism, really).

        People who despise Putin as a communist or as KGB really just despise Russia. Being neither a communist nor KGB anymore, the label is dishonest to begin with. But more than that, who else but people trained by the former government would be competent to do anything? Dismissing Putin is simply dismissing all Russians as incorrigible.

        • Abbouna Michel says

          I gave facts. Misha gives cant. If Putin=Russia, then we’re all in a world of hurt so bad no one can get us out. I couldn’t resist sending Misha’s comment to my former colleagues, several of whom are distinguished, well-published scholars in political science/international relations. Had to hold the phone away from my ear, they were laughing so hard!

          • Right, facts. The only fact you gave is that you have a cross. You impune Putin with the crimes of the Cheka. Why not Gorbachev or Yeltsin?

            Facts are what I cited above. If your “colleagues” laughed, they are not very good at what they do. Or perhaps they buy into the bs of Western culture which is as dishonest as it is morally bankrupt.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Abbouna Michel–Agree with you. I don’t give a fig if Putin is called KGB, thug, criminal, or would-be-Tsar; he is no good for Russia, the Church or the world. Only fanatical Russophiles fail to see this.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I do not think that all Russians are incorrigible. I think you may be, but not all. 😉

  7. In a society based on Christ, however nominally, the centerpiece of public art is often Christ and His saints. In a society based on the supposition nothing is wrong and all is to be tollerated, the centerpiece of public art can be a great diversity of things, whose perversion and wickedness have no bounds, all oppinions proposing standards being viewed as taboo, closed minded and hateful.

    • Tim R Mortiss says

      How about a society that had a majority of strongly-believing Christians– as did this country for generations– where the “centerpiece of public art” was neither Christ and his saints, nor “perversion and wickedness without bounds”?

      Is Russia a “society based on Christ”? Even “nominally”?

      • As I can see it, the idealogical foundations of America are in the enlightenment, not Christianity. I would reference Washington States “Temple of Justice”, Obelisks, Monuments built to look like pagan temples, pictures of George Washington inexplicably clad in flowing robes, and the general stavrophobia of our “Christian” society. Our Nartional Endowment For The Arts funds depictions of the Virgin in dung. There is also Jefferson’s blasphemous bible, references to “The Creator” and “Great Architect” rather than Christ or God In speeches and proclemations. The enlightenment and freemasonry are ideological attempts to artificially revive paganism, and unless we collectively repent of both of them we are doomed.

        • George Michalopulos says

          All true, but the “stavrophia” which you so aptly describe was part and parcel of the Reformation. No one ever said that our Founding Fathers were Orthodox Christians but they were –and the vast majority of the American population (slaves included)–were orthodox Christians.

          Again, as they understood the term “orthodox.”

          • Ashley Nevins says

            George, respectfully, you are mistaken. The Orthodox themselves see any Christian not of their faith system as heresy practicing apostasy or heterodox. Part heretic and part orthodox. As they understood the term ‘orthodox’ from an Orthodox we are Gods only true church viewpoint defines them as heresy practicing apostasy.

            The real issue here is simple and conceptual. If the Orthodox look east while in the west they will fail in the west. If the Orthodox focus on the past and not the future they will fail in America. Walk down a sidewalk with your head looking backwards over your shoulder and see if you don’t trip, run into something or go off course. The analogy fits and it does not get more real world practical than that.

            Looking east and focus on the past is not a future forward vision for your church in America.

            Here is another practical relevancy consideration. Why is the word ‘Russian’ or ‘Greek’ in your jurisdiction name brand titles? You are still in the east. If your minds are in the east while you exist in the west you will be irrelevant in western, rational and modernity America. Those words also send the message of ethnocentric exclusiveness that is not pluralistic inclusive like Jesus Christ is in the Gospels.

            Yes, the OCA is a name brand title change to an American Orthodoxy. However, it is still focused on the east, authoritarian hierarchical power and control and the exclusive claim of being Gods only true church. All such things close the system of the church. Placing all authority in a centralized top down authoritarian structure and system is the set up for corruption and that is the state of the OCA. Closed system rigidity based upon tradition cannot paradigm shift to relevancy.

            Tradition is not wrong unless it is turned into an idol and that is what Christ addressed in the Gospels. Tradition over God will stop a church DEAD in its tracks over time. Authoritarian institution over God will stop a church DEAD in its tracks over time. Ethnocentric over God will stop a church DEAD in its tracks over time. Systemic corruption over God will stop a church DEAD in its tracks over time. East over west in the west will stop your church DEAD over time. Past focus over future focus will stop your church DEAD in its tracks over time. These are practical real world realities. Unreality over reality will stop a church DEAD in tracks over time. The most serious is, DEAD church over the alive Jesus Christ will kill a church DEAD over time. It places dead irrelevancy over the relevancy of the living God as the relevancy of God.

            These are not easy thing for the Orthodox to hear or embrace and that is because of the idealism in the exclusive claim of being Gods only true church. Most of you are discovering what your church told you what it is and what it really is in the practical reality of the real world are two different things. The exclusive claim and the real world outcome of your church don’t match up and your posts reveal that you are all really wondering why without stating it. You are really asking yourselves, why are we corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying in America no matter what we try to do? The truth is about most of you is that shame, embarrassment, a sense of hopelessness, frustration, anger, discouragement and POWERLESSNESS is the true state of its morale. The church culture is depression as a result of the church being suppressed by authoritarian power and control that is corrupt and incompetent to by spiritual maturity to lead you out of the state your church is found in.

            Everything ends up going in circles. Did not the OCA hierarchy circle cycle back to the same? Why did it? If you get the reasons why it did wrong you will repeat the same mistake again. You looked to a man to change the OCA outcome and when it was a reform of structure and system and new rulers of that reform that would have been your success. You can disagree and keep going in circles. If practical real world realities are not inline with your thinking you can reject them to only fail again.

            The week Jonah was enthroned I on an Orthodox forum predicted he would last about 2 years. You see, my Christian passion is church growth and relevancy development by vision, strategy, plan and goals and what can kill them dead in a church. There is an objective way of standing outside of a church and see it practical real world as it really is if you understand church growth and relevancy development and what can kill it dead. The eastern church is many paradigm shifts left behind in understanding what church relevancy is in modernity. Modernity is not going to paradigm shift backwards to Orthodoxy. The ROC is not the hope of Orthodoxy in America. Spiritual maturity can see how corrupt the ROC really is. Period.

            The OCA was supposed to be Orthodoxy American. A real American Orthodox church. What happened? What do the symptoms point to as the cause of its failure. Who and what do they directly point too? Could it be the authoritarian rulers who rule from the top down through a centralized rule structure of power and control? Is conciliar a practical real world truth or a unrealistic idealism that lied to you and didn’t keep its promise? Is the Priesthood of the Laity Believer authority raised up or is it put down by the rulers and their rule structure and system?

            You mostly talk about symptoms of the problem being the problem cause and the symptoms are really pointing to a cause you all from what I can see deny and the cause is the top down authoritarian structure, the closed system, past and eastern focus and the exclusive alienating claim that isolates. It is far more than the ethnocentric many of you realize is a serious excluding problem. One recognition out of many equally serious problems is not going to provide you with the solution that will bring about your growth and relevancy in America.

            You now see the GOA implementing what I call Save the GOA Strategy. It is going to fail. Just like when Jonah said, I have the most profound respect for the bishops on stage with me, was a red flag to his future failure the +Gerasimos diocese church growth and relevancy strategy states that one of the core values of the strategy is INTEGRITY IN TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Really, do any of you really believe that ethical and moral standard will be upheld? Do you see the set up for failure by the strategy’s own words?

            This is a church growth and relevancy development question. In the +Gerasimos diocese strategy it states threats to the strategy. One of the threats it lists is the moral failure of OTHER churches. What is the problem with that stated potential threat? (Hint, what is the moral and ethical history of the GOA hierarchy?)

            Isn’t the answer to the test question obvious to anyone other than those who have bought into the strategy?

            I see many other set ups for failure in that strategy. The strategy does not recognize the systemic threats to it in the GOA that it does not address as threats.

            Prediction: That strategy fails within 5 years of the July 2014 Archdiocesan Council congress.

            By 2019 that strategy fails. It really does not reform the structure and system of rule and that is what is needed in all the jurisdictions or Orthodoxy in America remains irrelevant and dying a slow, ugly and painful church death in western, rational and modernity America.

            Do you know the real reason why Jonah failed in his position as metropolitan? It was found in his statement he made at his enthronement. Here is another church growth and relevancy development test question. What in that statement, I have the most profound respect for the bishops on stage with me, was the set up for his failure? The moment he said it I knew he was over and that the OCA would circle cycle back to the same. Why did I believe that and why did no one believe me at the time??? When I heard it I called Cappy Larson at Pokrov and guess what? She had independently of me come to the same conclusion. We were the only two who saw it. Oh, yes, we were too.

            The closed, isolated, segregating and exclusive Orthodox structure and system by its exclusive we alone are Gods only true church is SUBJECTIVE about itself. An authoritarian structure and closed system of rule is SUBJECTIVE and not OBJECTIVE about itself. The Orthodox can disagree by their subjectivity and continue to repeat the same subjective failures over and over again. This is objectively for you and not against you. Yet, it will taken by many as the opposite. This is what I know for as a rational objective fact, subjectivity loses to objectivity. Subjectivity is the end of Orthodoxy in America. Oh, it will continue to exist, but the question is, what will it exist as?

            My observation is that if an independent non ethnic jurisdiction like the OCA is in a state of failure no ethnic Orthodox jurisdiction is going to succeed in America. The church has failed both ways in America. The proof is the proof. Deny the proof and it only reflects subjective misplaced loyalty, unrealistic idealism, hope in failure that cannot correct itself and religious codependency that is in denial.

            Now the Antiochians who are evangelical Orthodox do have a chance in America, but with a new ruler metropolitan that has not proved himself yet the outcome is unknown. Time will tell and time has run out for the Orthodox in America.

            BTW, George, +Philip who you admire was no advocate for Elder Ephraim. What did he tell his jurisdiction in regards to him? You are an admirer of the elder, right? One of the systemic threats to the +Gerasimos diocese growth and relevancy development strategy not recognized is who??? If you say it is the systemically corrupt hierarchy you are right, but there is still someone else who is and who is it??? Is the leadership of the OCL who you also admire an admirer of this person? You believe the OCL solution of more centralized hierarchical power and control is the solution to the irrelevant dying state of the Orthodox in America?

            I find it interesting that the Antiochians state they are under the foreign rule of the Patriarch of Antioch and at the same time claim independent rule. Nothing double minded about that, right?

            There are so many contradictions and denial of the true cause of the Orthodox dying state in America no solution is going to be found. For instance, Michael Jaharis, the co-chairman of the GOA council is a contradiction himself when it comes to the hierarchy and elder. He is the poster child of the religious codependent GOA laity leadership. The GOA seems to think that cradle, Greek ethnicity, worldly success and money = spiritual maturity. He is nothing more than a prop of the Archbishop who is a prop of the EP of Astoria, NY corruption. In his 2012 state of the church speech he addressed the issue of the EP and Astoria, but not in his 2014 speech. Is that because the EP spoke to the congress by SKYPE? See the religious codependent religious political corruption enabling game being played by that spiritually immature man who is a hypocrite by inconsistency due to the religious political game he plays? He is a laity pawn being play in the religious political game of the hierarchy like all of the laity is.

            A few years back at one of those posh NY city hotel banquets the GOA archbishop said that the church had grown by a million in the previous ten years. Now a few years later the GOA hierarchy is being forced to admit the real state of the church is demographic implosion. It was dying when he made that grandiose spin statement. Grandiosity is the result of placing authority, power and control in a top down authoritarian structure that has an exclusive we alone are God right viewpoint of itself. The rulers become idol gods in such a structure and system and you really cannot hold them transparent and accountable. Circular without solution by the religious lying political game being played is that jurisdiction. Hypocrisy is a lie and if the church is lying, based in a lie, it will surely fail over time. Period.

            What, none of you saw the RELIGIOUS CODEPENDENCY in misplaced subjective loyalty to +Seraphim that the laity exposed about itself in Canada? Pictures of it were posted on the diocese website where you see them all standing with the now rule of law proved guilty metropolitan. Why was so little said about his conviction on Monomakhos? Was SHAME the reason? The shame based church is both shamed and shaming. Understanding what a shame based church is and taking steps to change that is important to the future any such church, you think? Was the reality of the situation with this metropolitan’s conviction just too difficult to face and discuss so that practical discussion could take place in how to stop this in the future? Or, have you all given up any hope for change and so why even address it?

            It gets better, claiming to be Gods only true church makes a comparison. What comparison does it make and what does the comparison expose by the state of the two largest jurisdictions? If you make the claim people are going to compare it to your church in freedom of religion options. Where there are no options of choice you can make the claim and not have that comparison problem. It works in a closed system but America is open system. America is rational and freedom of religion is rational and what is rational compares when their are freedom of religion options. When you say we are Gods only true church you are saying there are no other options in freedom of religion options. That is a contradiction in freedom of religion, get it?

            Claiming to be Gods only true church is stating that you are Gods objective standard of what a spiritually correct church is before God. Are the Orthodox living up to their own standard and not being hypocrites who have no moral or ethical ground to really stand on to judge those churches and Christians outside of them? Remember, you are in rational America that is based in freedom of religion that compares. You are not in the east now. You are in the west, remember? If your heads are in the east in the west you will fail in the west. That’s the practical real world reality of it and your church outcome proves it.

            It looks like to me that unless the Orthodox are in complete power and control exclusively by church/state that they fail in freedom of religion options that are compared. Unless you are the only option you fail. When you are the only option that means you can only compare yourselves to yourselves and that is the set up for subjective failure. That exposes what about your church in America? It is a thinking for yourself by rational objectivity answer to the question.

            Exclusivity is not a strength. It is your weakness causing your demise in America. Its a thinking for yourself objectively answer. Get the answer to the above last question asked wrong and your church will continue to fail in America. Get it right and make the necessary reforms and you have a chance of survival that could lead to REVIVAL.

            The Pope was recently criticized for making that exclusive claim of the RCC. Will the true Gods only true church please stand up and not both at the same time causing confusions? It would be amusing if a reporter following a meeting of the EP and the Pope were to ask them in front of the cameras which church is Gods only true church? Rational objectivity would find their subjective exclusive response amusing. It would ROCK the hierarchical Christian world. If the Pope were to be the first to respond the Orthodox would go wild with response to him. His only response to the question can be, the RCC is Gods only true church, and to the exclusion of the EOC in that.

            I do find the EO sarcasm hilarious when it states that the Protestants are the egg the RCC laid. Rational objectivity asks, who then laid the RCC egg? I am a rational Christian and so I compare.

            I recently heard an RCC priest state on Fox News that his church has placed the church institution over the Christian in its scandals. Does that sound top down hierarchical power and control corrupt familiar to the EO in America? You only have to look as far as the EP and Astoria, NY and the failure of the OCA hierarchy.

            I attend a good church of about 2000 members. It has gone through paradigm shifts to remain relevant and some of those shifts were not easy for it. It is one of four such churches of that size in my city of 200K. The Orthodox parish has been here for 60+ years and on a good Sunday about 100 of Gods only true Christians show up to the exclusive Gods only true church. What rational objective comparison can I draw from that? What would the comparison tell me? Orthodox, you cannot help but be compared in freedom of religion. Those four 2K+ churches are all within 5 miles of the parish. It did not take them 60 years to grow to this size. From my understanding Orthodoxy saw its real establishment in America about 100 years ago. It became established primarily by immigration, marriage and birth. How is that church growth and relevancy development strategy working out for you now in 2014? I am a rational Christian and so I compare. What does that comparison tell me about your church here?

            I have to hand it to the RCC in my area. The got a church right next to a huge processing cannery in a town about 5 miles from my city. That is relevancy. Do you understand why it is with the Hispanic population? Yes, location can matter. In my city they have a church about a mile away from the Orthodox parish and it has about 1500 showing up to church on Sunday. By no means is it primarily a Hispanic based church. I went to an event there a few years back and most of the faithful were wearing t shirts with JESUS written on them. They are not ashamed of the Gospel and they wear the Gospel. That RCC church is on the same street as a Protestant church, just a few blocks away, with over 2K. Is any of this familiar to the Orthodox in cities where you can find a parish?

            The automobile replaced the horse and wagon by paradigm shift. Get it? You are not immune to paradigm shift that leaves you behind. Get it? Jesus Christ is paradigm shift in the Gospels and by transformation. He never said that TRADITION is the Gospel, but He did have other things to say about tradition, did He not? He gave clear warnings about it from what I have read. Tradition turned into religious legalism stood in His way. He even told us what to watch out for in a religious rulers dress. He dressed like those regular folks around Him did. He did not top down meet them. He bottom up met them to raise them up in freedom in Christ OVER legalism in tradition. Legalism in tradition OVER Jesus Christ will kill a church dead over time. He did not come to us as any religious ruling class or caste difference and that was RELEVANCY. He came to us as Philippians 2:6-7 and the Orthodox simply do not. The exclusivity of the EOC is not the inclusive humility of Jesus Christ and that will kill a church dead over time. It will replace God with its prideful exclusive self as God and then go systemically corrupt and turn itself into a Christian cult and no one by the subtly of that idolatry will notice, but they will notice the consequences that are killing their church dead and by exclusive denial will not identify what the cause of the consequences is and the church will then go in circles with itself trying to solve the consequences it is experiencing by not applying the right solution to the right problem. Get the problem wrong and you will gets its solution wrong. That is rational Christianity speaking to you, can your exclusivity listen or does it really only listen to its exclusive self?

            You can paradigm shift and not compromise the Gospel. Tradition can become legalism that stops church relevancy and growth, right or wrong? Can the tradition of top down authoritarian hierarchical power and control stop church growth and relevancy development? Can an exclusive claim that closes the system of the church stop church growth and relevancy development? Can a church/state and foreign rule theology and mindset hold a church down and back in freedom of religion America? If you are being held down and back who and what is doing that? Is it the Christ of Philippians 2? Would Jesus hold you down and back if He was in rule? Who rules over the rulers of your jurisdictions and is it Jesus Christ? That last question is ultimate question to ask the dying in America EO. The answer says it all.

            I believe TRADITION and AUTHORITARIAN POWER AND CONTROL rule over Christ and your church in America. I don’t see Jesus in the Gospels coming to us like that, do you? Does this person who you believe is Christian heresy practicing apostasy have that judgement call wrong or am I being critical spirit judgmental? Am I sinning in the fashion I am telling you this? Paul was straight up with Peter in Galatians, was he not? Didn’t he choleric tell that sanguine he was putting the legalism of a penis tradition OVER Jesus Christ? He did not mince words and he took the risk of dividing the early church. Freedom in Christ causes division over legalism in tradition and that is Christ in the Gospels. Freedom in Christ OVER tradition is how the church is to operate and is what I get out of the Gospels, how about you? You might want to look at John 8:31-59 before you answer. It is a comparison of the system of freedom in Christ to the system of orthodox tradition. The rational objective Christ compared. The tradition then took up stones to kill Jesus.

            When tradition replaces Christ in a church that church goes irrelevancy dead. Tradition is not the problem, but placing it over God is the problem. It turns it into religious legalism that cannot paradigm shift to relevancy by and through God. That is Christ’s warning about tradition in the Gospels. Orthodox, is your jurisdiction placing tradition and authoritarian hierarchical rule power and control over God?

            The Gospels are a warning not to turn the church into what Christ confronted or there will be serious consequences. What He confronted was corrupt authoritarian power and control rule and legalism in tradition OVER God.

            Orthodox, if tradition and authoritarianism is your God you have a serious problem with Jesus Christ God. You do not have freedom in Christ and without it you cannot paradigm shift to relevancy. Basically, you will really only remain relevant to yourselves and that is not Jesus in the Gospels. He confronted their exclusive viewpoint of themselves and it was self idolatry in exclusivity that He confronted.

            Orthodox, if you deny the cause of the failure of your two largest jurisdictions you will never find solution to their failure. Symptoms point to cause. Symptoms are not the cause. Symptoms come from the cause. Christ in the Gospels is pointing directly to your issue that is causing you failure and it is what He confronted in the Gospels.

            Yes, I know, I will not be winning any Archon of the EP award for telling you this, but I am not really into such grandiosity and pompousness that does not suffer for Christ or pay the price of church growth and relevancy development competency. My layman ministry background is the development of relevant local church ministry that meets a wounded, broken and lost world where it really lives. Those ministries developed have literally touched the lives of thousands of people in crisis in my city. Jesus, freedom in Christ, is my role model over tradition and authoritarianism over Christ.

            God is now leading us, my wife and I, to develop a new ministry to people in a particular kind of crisis. What do you suppose it might be? It is something that has a shaming stigma attached to it and can bring great trauma to a family. It will be a ministry that reaches people with the healing grace and mercy in recovery through Jesus Christ. The Orthodox played a role in the development of this ministry to those traumatized.

            Thank you, JESUS, for turning our horror in trauma into the healing of others. Would the Orthodox agree with me? We are true Christians and not heresy that practices apostasy like the Orthodox have told us we are. Go be right, Orthodox, go be right.

            Orthodox, does your local parish have a multiplicity of Christ centered recovery and support ministries in it? If not, then why not? That is church relevancy to our society and generation in modernity as the modern church, get it? Like I said, you are several paradigm shifts left behind.

            You have placed tradition and authoritarianism over God and that is why your church is in a state of failure in America. If telling you that offends you then let the offenses of church corruption, irrelevancy and death not offend you. If pointing out the problem is a problem you got a problem.

            They then picked up stones to kill Jesus. That is the ultimate way of holding a church down and back. Do any of you feel that your jurisdiction is holding the church down and back? If so, have you identified the reason in the CAUSE for that? If so, who and/or what is stoning church growth and relevancy development to death?

      • Tim,

        Are you serious? Russian has been Christian for over 1000 years – long, long before America was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. Even during the Soviet period, about one third of the populace stubbornly remained Christian. There were almost 60,000 churches in Russia before the Revolution. Now it is about 80 percent and the churches are back up from about 7,000 functioning during Gorbachev’s reign to well over 30,000.

        “Is Russia a “society based on Christ”? Even “nominally”?”

        My God! Please read something of Russian literature in translation before further embarrassing yourself.

        • Tim R Mortiss says

          I am too vain to worry about embarrassing myself!

          I am dubious about claims about societies being “Christian”. The US was often called a Christian country in past times; maybe so, maybe not.

          In any event, my comment relates to Russia today, not Russia historically. Would you have called Russia of 50 years ago “a society based on Christ”? So, is the claim that today it is such a society a valid one?

          I am never embarrassed to ask questions, nor to admit ignorance (or pose rhetorical questions); but nor am I unduly naïve.

          I’ve read a fair amount of Russian literature, and Russian history, quite apart from Russian spiritual writings. I had the unforgettable experiences in the latter days of the Soviet regime of attending two divine liturgies in Russia, one in small church near the Cosmos hotel in Moscow, and the other at the church in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in [then] Leningrad.

          So I may be an ass, but not a complete one! I believe you made an unwarranted interpretation of my post…..

          I would gently float another point: England, the primary colonizer of North America, was Christian for a good many centuries before Russia was. Its history is America’s, as well. Check out the literature!

          • Yes, Tim, but have either England or the United States undergone an explosion of Church creation or an increase in church membership as has happened in Russia? Nope. I would not call the Russia of 50 years ago “Christian”, although there was, as I wrote, always a large contingent of Christians within it. Now, I would call it Christian. No one can measure the heart, and no doubt that Russia still has some bad habits learned from the communists (abortion, for example), yet it is moving decisively in the right direction and has come far. As to its authoritarianism, that does not make it one iota less Christian. In fact, democracy always and in every case erodes and eventually destroys the Christian basis of a culture, if history is any indication.

            • Tim R Mortiss says

              But the explosion in church growth in Russia is directly related to the lifting of active oppression with the fall of the Soviet state.

              Estimates of the number of churches in the US generally run around 350,000.

              As for “authoritarianism”, I don’t much care about it. Let Russians be Russians. What suits a Russian on that score won’t suit an Englishman or an American. Takes all kinds to make a world.

              • Well, duh!

                Yes, when the government considers your religion inimical to the state and shuts you down, that reduces your numbers. America has over twice the population of the Russian Federation. Moreover, America has a wide variety of churches. 60,000 was only Orthodox churches at a time when the population was a little more than half of the current American population. Moreover, the population of Russia is fairly concentrated in the westernmost regions.

                As to what suits Russians vs. Americans, it’s a canard. The things which ROCOR and the other Old Calendarists insist on were ubiquitous across Orthodox cultures before the 20th century. It’s not a question of American vs. Russian. It’s orthopraxis vs. heteropraxis.

        • Abbouna Michel says

          How much of the third that remained Christian during the Soviet era were in the gulag in places like Norilsk and Krasnoyarsk, being ministered to by folks like my spiritual father, of happy memory, I wonder?

          Still, it wasn’t all negative. The camps provided lots of jobs in what Misha euphemistically calls “security work,” which, to my ignorant eyes, looks a whole lot what the Allgemeine SS provided in places like Belsen and Oswiecim. But, I suppose, by Misha’s “logic,” that I despise Germany because I condemn Hitler and Himmler. The fun never ends on Monomakhos!

          • Ah, yes, we’ve hit the Nazi thing. Dead end.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Misha, so, even if a political ideology and/or some of its adherents use methods and philosophy that is fascist no one can point that out? Is everyone who wants to be a xenophobic, statist tyrant always shielded from criticism because they actually are like Hitler?

              Seems so to me.

              • Michael,

                I don’t think you know what a fascist is and I don’t think his “statism” is any more pernicious than that of Orthodox emperors in the past. “Statism” may be offensive to Tea Party types and libertarians, but that has nothing to do with Orthodoxy.

    • Ashley Nevins says

      Google: Martin Luther King Jr Stamp images.

      I like that stamp art that is not Harvey Milk.

      I also like Lincoln on the penny. He worked with Christians to free the slaves.

      Wasn’t there an American Indian women who helped Louis and Clark on a quarter?

      America is not Eastern Orthodox and so it is not going to be putting Orthodox saints on its stamps or money.

      Freedom of religion is most likely not going to put religious figures on its money, but there could be exceptions like with Martin.

      What about a Ruble with Putin one side and Krill on the other. Just a thought. How is that Ruble doing in international currency markets? Good thing the Greeks are using the Euro, right?

      Can that Russian saint stamp be used to mail someone in Crimea? Just wondering.

      So Russia is Christian moral and ethical by a stamp? Russia is somehow now what America is compared too by the Orthodox in America?

      Orthodox, you are in America, remember? You know, the missionary machine to a lost, wounded and broken world. Like in places like China.

      You are being Orthodox, eastern, foreign rule and ethnocentric biased again.

      Does Greece have any saints on its stamps? If they do will that be the next comparison to America?

      Grow where you are planted or die. That’s the real world reality for your church in AMERICA that is not Russia. It isn’t about Russia. Its about the state of your church in AMERICA.

      Look outside of yourselves to Russia by a saint stamp but don’t look outside of yourselves to America with evangelism and relevant church ministries that meet Americans where they really live?

      Those questions are fair and they go directly to relevancy. You do want your church to be relevant to Americans, right?

      • No, I would like America to see the “relevance” of Orthodoxy, not make Orthodoxy relevant to America. There is a huge difference.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I think both Misha and Ashley Nevins are correct. Like Misha, I also would like America to embrace Orthodoxy. However, our task is made immeasurably more difficult by folks who extol Holy Rus and Hellenism, and those who claim that, no matter where in the world they live, all Romanians, Serbians, Bulgarians, etc. belong to their “mother” church. In the case of Russia, we are talking about a country that was an implacable enemy and now is straining to once again become one. Worse, we are talking about a resurgence of church-state collaboration that may cause a bystander to worry about joining a church that is so closely allied with a government that is an adversary, if not an enemy.

          • “Yes, the OCA is a name brand title change to an American Orthodoxy.”

            “The week Jonah was enthroned I on an Orthodox forum predicted he would last about 2 years. You see, my Christian passion is church growth and relevancy development by vision, strategy, plan and goals and what can kill them dead in a church. There is an objective way of standing outside of a church and see it practical real world as it really is if you understand church growth and relevancy development and what can kill it dead. The eastern church is many paradigm shifts left behind in understanding what church relevancy is in modernity. Modernity is not going to paradigm shift backwards to Orthodoxy. The ROC is not the hope of Orthodoxy in America. Spiritual maturity can see how corrupt the ROC really is. Period.”

            Ashley seems to have had some bad experiences with the OCA as an interested bystander. That would be one of the sources of the rhetoric he/she employs. I suppose we should all be grateful that he has our best interests in his myopic little mind. If he (I will assume) believes the Orthodox Church here in America is dying, I understand where he got that impression. The OCA may well be dying, too early to tell. But that is ironic, isn’t it? The “American” jurisdiction of the Orthodox Church is currently not the largest jurisdiction and appears to be in decline.

            I will admit that growth here in the other jurisdictions is not what it could be. But growth is not achieved by telling people what they want to hear, making the OC into just another touchy feely branch of Americanism. Growth is not even a goal in and of itself. We are called to baptize all nations. However, we do not do this forcibly (usually) but share the faith with them. But we have an obligation not to corrupt the faith in order to achieve better “sales”. I believe Ashley in one of his posts use the term “brand” and that is telling. We are not selling anything. We are sharing the path to theosis with those whom God has given eyes to see and ears to hear. We do not control it all, especially the outcome of the evangelism, we just do what we are called to do. If a people and a culture are already too corrupt, we have precedence in the Life or Christ whose message simply did not resonate in certain regions.

            As to Russia, it is only defending itself against economic and strategic military aggression. It was promised that NATO had no intentions of expanding eastward after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We lied and reneged on that. Also, creating economic blocs excluding Russia on its doorstep is clearly an act of aggression. Russia is doing precisely the right thing.

            Once again, it is really entertaining to see Orthodox being uncomfortable with church-state collaboration in an Orthodox country. That is tantamount to a rejection of Orthodox history and canon law.

            • Isa Almisry says

              “Once again, it is really entertaining to see Orthodox being uncomfortable with church-state collaboration in an Orthodox country. That is tantamount to a rejection of Orthodox history and canon law.”
              Not at least its first three centuries. Hard for the Church to collaborate with a state that outlaws it.
              I’m a big fan of symphonia, but realize it is extraneous to Orthodoxy. Render unto Caesar and all that.

              • Why, Isa, I’m surprised at you. That quote has nothing whatsoever to do with separation of church and state. Btw, how do the canons direct an EC to be called? As to the first 3 centuries, hmmm, that bad old Constantine ruined it all!

                • Isa Almisry says

                  “Why, Isa, I’m surprised at you. That quote has nothing whatsoever to do with separation of church and state.”
                  St. John of Damascus (among others) disagree with you.

                  …Political good order is the concern of emperors, the ecclesiastical constitution that of pastors and teachers. This is a piratical attack, brothers. Saul tore the garment of Samuel, and what happened? God tore from him his kingdom and gave it to David the most meek…And now the blessed Germanus [the deposed iconophile EP], radiant in his life and his words, is flogged and sent into exile, and many other bishops and fathers, whose names we do not know. Is not this piracy? The Lord, when the scribes and Pharisees approached Him to tempt Him that they might ensnare Him in an argument, and asked Him, if “it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar,” replied to them, “Fetch me a nomisma.” And to those who brought it, he said, “Whose is the image?” and whey they replied, “Caesar’s,” he said, “Render therefore to Caesar’s the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” We submit to you, O Emperor, in the matters of this life, taxes, revenues, commercial dues, in which our concerns are entrusted to you. For the ecclesiastical constitution we have pastors who speak to us the word and represent the ecclesiastical ordinance. We do not remove the ancient boundaries, set in place by our Fathers, but we hold fast to the traditions, as we have received them. For if we begin to remove even a tiny part of the structure of the Church, in a short time the whole edifice will be destroyed.”

                  -On the Divine Images, first treatise.

                  “Btw, how do the canons direct an EC to be called?”
                  They don’t. Your point?

                  “As to the first 3 centuries, hmmm, that bad old Constantine ruined it all!”
                  Are you agreeing with the Protestants that he founded a new Church?
                  As for me, I’ll stick with the Orthodox idea that he merely legalized the old one.

                  • Isa,

                    Is English your first language? I would expected something different from a lawyer. Basically, you prove my point but somehow totally miss that fact.

                    “We submit to you, O Emperor, in the matters of this life, taxes, revenues, commercial dues, in which our concerns are entrusted to you. For the ecclesiastical constitution we have pastors who speak to us the word and represent the ecclesiastical ordinance.”

                    Precisely, that is symphonia, not separation of church and state. The concerns of the Church in administrative matters are entrusted to the Emperor. It retains authority regarding moral and theological matters. Thus the decrees of ecumenical councils, for example, were read directly into imperial law.

                    That is a far, far cry from separation of church and state which suggests that there is a wall of separation between the two and that the Church can have no say in state affairs and that the state cannot favor any religion over any other, or religion over non-religion.

                    Goodness! It’s like dealing with children.

  8. What American religious figure from bygone years should get a stamp? The Pilgrims and Puritans come to mind, but not a specific individual?

    As morally corrupt as it is in the U.S., I can’t imagine moving to another country expecting a better circumstance. After a few years of up-close living I suspect that I would notice moral corruption in my new country that I had failed to see from a distance.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Gail, didn’t Mother Teresa get a stamp or Desmond Tutu or Rev. Martin Luther King? How many Christians outside the also patriotic hero, St. Sergius, ever get a Russian stamp?

      • Ashley Nevins says

        I can’t believe it. I’m stunned. I actually for the first time agree with something +Tikhon says. Very good objective questions. Great objective balance in you thinking on this. I now believe that miracles do happen in the OCA. Sincerely, Praise the Lord!!! I hope such objectivity is infectious and systemically spreads throughout the OCA. It could turn the whole state of the OCA around and that would be another miracle! I must say, I love a great miracle and I just saw one.

    • There was a time, prior to Roe v. Wade, when our country respected the fact that every son or daughter of a human person can only be a human person, and that only a man and woman can exist in relationship as husband and wife. Atheistic materialism is spreading like a wild fire in The United States, as a multitude of persons deny the inherent personal and relational Dignity of the human person.

  9. Gail Sheppard says

    Society means people and people are distractions: wives, children, bosses, neighbors. . . I sometimes wonder if growing old or getting sick is God’s way of separating us (like the ascetics), giving us time to reorient ourselves. In both instances, distractions fade into the periphery. Inside, there is only room for two: you and Christ.

  10. Timothy Wearing says

    How can you people be so foolish? Russia is a facade. There is no Holy Russia. Look at what Putin and their govt does and practices. They are Communists with a false front. Look at the U.S. and Obama and what it projects. Real FREEDOM FOR ALL; care for the poor and sick; helping people around the world who suffer from oppression, sickness and death; etc. And you want to leave America because someone wants to have a stamp of Milk? Please GO!

    • Timothy, nothing of substance matters to the naïve and the willfully ignorant. If Russia puts a haloed saint on a stamp, ipso facto Russia is “Holy”!

    • Timothy,

      I suppose one could accuse you of the same facade type thinking as you appear to be a proponent of not only OCA exceptionalism but American? That would certainly explain most of what you have written here. Also it appears that when people don’t agree with you, you simply reject them and tell them to leave. Not exactly a good way to evangelize America. Maybe that explains how woeful the OCA has been in spreading the Gospel. The last time I checked St. Paul’s admonition was still in force – Gal. 3:28.

    • No one is saying we need to go. Right now, I wouldn’t consider it. It is the trends that are being noted in George’s original post and some of the comments.

      But before you praise the current President, ask yourself this: which party has voices advocating pulling tax-exempt non-profits from churches? Which party would be more likely to penalize a church for discrimation because women can’t be ordained or because a practicing homosexual is refused communion? Which is more likely to come up with hate speech laws that would put priests at risk when they preach on traditional morality?

      The opposing party has its own problems when it comes to encroaching on liberty, but at present it is not hostile to traditional Christianity.

  11. Michael Kinsey says

    It is obvious, utterly consistent, that there are 3 readers who always dislike authentic Christa-in like mindedness. This is reflected in the like dislike voting. Those who count the vote shoul always discount these 3 as a standard -3 votes that always reflect an anti-christian attitude.. God bless them, sincerely, as this heaps coals upon their heads. They are human and my love for humanity is extended to them.. Every body add 6 like . LOL.

  12. Lola J. Lee Beno says

    Meanwhile . . .

    http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/3765138.html

    Nice pictures, beautiful church. Must have been a good service.

    • Lola–A rough machine translation of the article that you cited:

      “September 27, 2014, the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill performed the rite of consecration of the temple of the great martyr Clement, Pope of Rome, and then served the Divine Liturgy in the newly consecrated church.

      His Holiness was joined by: Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations; His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah (Orthodox Church in America); Metropolitan Arseny of Istra, the first Vicar of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Moscow….”

      • That’s pretty much it except that they consistently use “Patriarch of Moscow and of All Rus'”, a somewhat broader title, depending on your semantics.

    • Timothy Wearing says

      Notice who’s there in the red vestments with + Kirill? What’s he doing there?

      • Does this upset you that +Jonah was in Moscow and was asked to serve with Pat. Kirill?

      • Timothy,

        I am passing this link along. Read it carefully. The Moscow Patriarchate has given up on defending the OCA. Maybe the appearance of Metropolitan Jonah in Moscow at the invitation of Met. Hilarion of the MP and his subsequent comments at this current meeting is a statement of the obvious to world Orthodoxy, that is, the OCA is no longer relevant here in America.

        • Roman,

          I’m not sure I would read too much into this. At most I think it is just another case in which the OCA’s asserted status is disregarded for the sake of comity as has been done on many, many previous occasions.

          What I found interesting was the statement regarding the upcoming-but-never-to-materialize pow-wow not being an Ecumenical Council. I’m glad there is some emerging honesty about this fact. What has been discussed would not constitute an EC since the number of bishops present would be limited to a fixed number per jurisdiction and each jurisdiction would get one vote. A true Great and Holy Synod would call bishops from around the globe, one bishop-one vote, the only possible restriction being perhaps a prohibition on the voting of titular bishops, those without any actual diocese.

          • Why is +Tikhon not invited to serve with the big kahuna ???

            • Isa Almisry says

              “Why is +Tikhon not invited to serve with the big kahuna ???”
              Because the Phanar is sending out the invitations. It will be interesting what it does about the Czech Lands and Slovakia.

          • Isa Almisry says

            “the only possible restriction being perhaps a prohibition on the voting of titular bishops, those without any actual diocese.”
            LOL. And we know that the Phanar won’t be agreeing to that.;)

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Roman K–If you are referring to the last paragraph of the linked article, it is not possible to conclude from it that the ROC has given up on the OCA. You are either exhibiting an anti-OCA animus, an illogical mind, or ignorance. Either way, get some help.

          • Mr Kraeff,

            You no not what you speak. The article is just the tip of a very deep and wide iceberg. If you really knew what was going on in back-channel discussions you would not make such hateful accusations. You should be ashamed of yourself, but I forgive you.

            • Isa Almisry says

              We weren’t aware we were in the presence of the omniscient fly buzzing on every wall.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Roman K–Are you contending that the ROC would risk losing not one but several arguments with Constantinople over Met. Jonah? Let’s suppose that Moscow takes back the tomos; I cannot imagine that she could justify that step except to say that it is invalidated because only Constantinople has the power to grant autocephalies. I think the odds of that happening are bigger than the odds of winning Powerball. Other grounds also come to mind: because Constantinople’s interpretation of Canon 28 is correct? The Patriarch of Constantinople is First Without Equals? Metropolitan Jonah’s resignation was not handled canonically? Pray tell us exactly which of the above are bandied about in the mysterious back-channel discussions. BTW your response, particularly your characterization of my earlier post as “hateful,” leads me to think the I was either correct or that you possess very delicate sensibilities.

              • Carl,

                In public, Moscow “supports” the OCA barely, these days, but off the record and de facto how it is taking full advantage of ROCOR not falling under the terms of the Tomos makes said Tomos an impotent reality.

                You are correct, if it weren’t for the current standoff between the EP and the MP, the OCA ship would have sailed already. But that standoff will not last forever and in the meantime the MP will use ROCOR to expand its base in America and continue to bypass the OCA while at the same time giving them just enough support to use them as a ploy with the EP.

                The OCA will go on for a time but it will never be a major player in American Orthodoxy like it was from the late 1980’s until the early 2000’s. It will hold on because it has locked up their parishes property “in trust” and those clergy who are in their pension plan. If you took those two keys away parishes would be leaving and clergy too. Just recently a parish in Eastern PA voted to leave the OCA but it will be difficult because they can’t take their property. Legally, the OCA is holding a better hand, but spiritually and morally, they are holding on to communities not because they wish to stay but because they can’t leave.

                As for your comments about +Jonah, not sure where those came from but again, since you brought it up, +Jonah is only still in the OCA because the OCA Synod won’t release him, not because the MP is not willing to take him. In that sense, he personifies the poverty of OCA charity.

                • Roman,

                  The parishes desiring to leave might benefit from the example of the moderate conservatives in the Episcopal Church who faced a similar dilemma. Many of them decided the property was not worth it and, in any case, would come up for sale again in the not to distant future. The clergy face a more bitter pill I suppose.

                  • Pdn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                    This weekend, at our annual bazaar, I met a woman from the Falls Church in Northern Virginia. This was a very large, historic church that voted overwhelmingly to leave the Episcopal Church and was then sued by the latter over the property. They lost the property but now count the loss as a great blessing. It freed them to found new parishes with a new and much stronger sense of community and purpose.

                    • Tim R Mortiss says

                      One thing I can say to the credit of the Presbyterians, is that when large-scale congregational defections began a few years ago with the denominational approval of “active” homosexual pastors, the national church (which owned the buildings), let the congregations go with their church buildings, with minimal cost and fuss.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      I do not know exactly what happened but isn’t it true that Father Webster and his church were allowed to join ROCOR by Metropolitan Tikhon without property disputes and complications?

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                  RE your comment, RomanK: “Just recently a parish in Eastern PA voted to leave the OCA but it will be difficult because they can’t take their property.”

                  I would appreciate your communicating with me offline about that situation. You may reach me via the means indicated on my parish website: http://www.sthermanorthodox.org/contact.html

              • All that Moscow would have to do to revoke its alleged grant of autocephaly to the Metropolia would be to state quite clearly:

                “The tomos granted by the MP during the Soviet enslavement of the Church of Russia in the Soviet Union did not reflect the careful consideration of Russian Orthodox bishops in synod free to act as the Holy Spirit might lead them, but rather reflected the way in which they were coerced to act under general duress of intimidation and infiltration of collaborators by the Soviet State. Therefore, after long and careful reflection as a free Church, we no longer recognize the tomos as being an indication of anything other than desire of the Soviet government at that time. Canonical releases of all clergy in the entity of the so called OCA will be provided to any other canonical Church under whose omophorion they choose to transfer.”

                • Isa Almisry says

                  “All that Moscow would have to do to revoke its alleged grant of autocephaly…”
                  LOL.
                  It would have to include a response to the Phanar’s “I told you so.”
                  It would also have to watch its back as the Phanar starts making references to its Ottoman enslavement and the ways it was “coerced to act under general duress of intimidation and infiltration of collaborators” by the Ottoman state, not only in its elevation of Moscow to a patriarchate and recognition of its autocephaly, but also in the translation of Ukraine back to Moscow. Estonia will lead the way that the Baltic States-forced back under Moscow during their Soviet enslavement-to go in following Finland towards the Phanar, backed by Poland and the Czech Lands and Slovakia (whose Tomoi of Autocephaly were also issued during “the Soviet enslavement”), the latter taking Moscow’s stronghold in the West Ukraine-the Zakarpattia oblast-back: after all, it was forced to give it up during “the Soviet enslavement.” It will be able to do that as finally the UAOC and UOCKP will be united with Phanar support (and the rest of the Greek Church, and others) and shielding it or annexing it, with the backing of the Phanar’s BFF the Vatican-who will come down with the full force of moral authority on the suppression of the UGCC during the “Soviet enslavement,” demanding that all properties be restored-with this admission of guilt on the part of the ROC you provide-when its clergy were forced under the omophorion of the ROC.

                  Which is why this ROCOR Donatist wet dream you describe will not happen. Ever.

                  Btw, the clock is ticking. There is a 30 year canon of limitations on disputed territories. That really passed already in 2010. At the latest the clock started running in 1992, when the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia had set up its exarchate in Russia. So seven years or so for this to even be theoretical

                  Moscow hasn’t alleged autocephaly. It granted it. Get over it.

                  • Hmmm . . . I think it alleged it and the rest of Orthodoxy rejected it. Then, it called it into question itself by receiving an entire autonomous province seated on OCA’s alleged territory. As to “canons of limitations”, I look forward to anyone other than cranks in the OCA acknowledging any such thing. You seem to be suffering from “Misha derangement syndrome”. Much of what is included in your responses at this point does not make much more sense than, “So’s your mother!”, yet is often less internally rational even than that statement.

                    And I really think the OCA has received more attention from me than it deserves, being a tiny little anomaly far removed in both spirit and geography from the centers of Orthodoxy.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Hmmm . . . I think it alleged it and the rest of Orthodoxy rejected it.”
                      As you amply prove, you think what you like.

                      I’ll go with that they say. And they granted it, and the majority of Orthodoxy accepted it, and only the Greek minority (your jurisdictional masters, according to your stated principles and their authority that you appeal to) voiced their rejection. They had voiced their rejection of the autocephaly of Holy Mother Russia, and didn’t get over it for a century and a half (if then).

                      “Then, it called it into question itself by receiving an entire autonomous province seated on OCA’s alleged territory.”
                      The Tomos itself exempts the reception of uncanonical and schismatic bodies.

                      The same Estonian born, bred, baptized, ordained, consecrated and speaking Patriarch who received that uncanonical and schismatic body also allowed the uncanonial presence of a schismatic Church in his homeland.

                      “As to “canons of limitations”, I look forward to anyone other than cranks in the OCA acknowledging any such thing. You seem to be suffering from “Misha derangement syndrome”. Much of what is included in your responses at this point does not make much more sense than, “So’s your mother!”, yet is often less internally rational even than that statement.”
                      Maybe if you joined us in North America in the 21st century you could see the world as it is, not as your cocoon would like to see it.

                      “being a tiny little anomaly far removed in both spirit and geography from the centers of Orthodoxy.”
                      LOL. Hilarious coming from the aggrandiser of a jurisdictionless anomaly which failed in the geographical center of the spirit of its Orthodoxy.

                      Oh, and btw, ““As to “canons of limitations”, I look forward to anyone other than cranks in the OCA acknowledging any such thing.”

                      according to the Church canons a duration of thirty years is sufficient to cause a church or a place to belong to that diocese which in the course of those years was in possession of it

                      St. John (Maximovich) of Shanghai and San Francisco, “History of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad”
                      I wasn’t aware that St. John was a crank in the OCA.

                    • I was unaware that St. John (Maximovitch) supported the Metropolia, or that he held the peculiar notion that they possessed anything but unconscionable arrogance, let alone canonical territory:

                      http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/roca_history.aspx

                      In fact, it appears that he held them to have left the Church of Russia altogether:

                      “Notwithstanding the departure from the Church Abroad — and, one may say, from the Russian Church altogether — of Metropolitans Evlogy and Platon with their followers, the Russian Orthdox Church Outside of Russia remains the free part of the Russian Church.”

                      Perhaps you have him confused with someone else.

                      Practically all of Orthodoxy, outside the OCA, has rejected OCA autocephaly, if not in word than most certainly in deed. If a Church can call the OCA autocephalous and then simply ignore that autocephaly for any purpose other than commemoration, then the alleged autocephaly simply does not exist. It is a lie. A crude lie that causes people like you to perform artful gymnastics in defense of the lie, but a lie nonetheless. America is open territory, period. Everyone behaves as if it is true, and it is.

                      As to the Greeks being the jurisdictional masters of ROCOR or the MP, that is curiously delusional. Neither gives the slightest legitimacy to the Phanar’s canon 28 interpretation, nor its wish to unite the American church under itself. That is more than I can say for some in the OCA (Kishkovsky, et al.?).

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “I was unaware that St. John (Maximovitch) supported the Metropolia, or that he held the peculiar notion that they possessed anything but unconscionable arrogance, let alone canonical territory:”
                      Do your ignore your own words

                      As to “canons of limitations”, I look forward to anyone other than cranks in the OCA acknowledging any such thing.

                      or St. John’s

                      according to the Church canons a duration of thirty years is sufficient to cause a church or a place to belong to that diocese which in the course of those years was in possession of it

                      ?

                      “In fact, it appears that he held them to have left the Church of Russia altogether”
                      That is what autocephaly is-leaving a Mother Church to become a Mother Church. This strange notion of leaving a Church and still claiming to be that Church might be throwing you.

                      “the Russian Orthdox Church Outside of Russia remains the free part of the Russian Church”
                      The Synod in Serbia without canonical release from Constantinople would liked to have thought that, but the Russia Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, besides North America and Western Europe, remained quite free of the KGB in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Japan at the time.

                      “Practically all of Orthodoxy, outside the OCA, has rejected OCA autocephaly”
                      No, only the Greek minority, <10%, at most.

                      "If a Church can call the OCA autocephalous and then simply ignore that autocephaly for any purpose other than commemoration, then the alleged autocephaly simply does not exist. It is a lie."
                      According to your Patriarch and Holy Synod (and Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Sacred Canons, which they are following), autocephaly consists of commemoration.
                      https://mospat.ru/en/2013/12/26/news96344/
                      So are they lying, or are you?

                      Speaking of lies
                      "America is open territory, period. Everyone behaves as if it is true, and it is."
                      The Ecumencial Patriarch commemorates the Patriarch of Moscow, and then simply ignores that autocephaly both in the past

                      there has proceeded the subjection of separate parts of the Russian Orthodox Church which have been torn away from Russia. Thus, on June 9, 1923, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted into his jurisdiction the Diocese of Finland as an autonomous Finnish Church; on August 23, 1923, the Estonian Church was made subject in the same way, on November 13, 1924, Patriarch Gregory VII recognized the autocephaly of the Polish Church under the supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate—that is, rather autonomy. In March, 1936, the Ecumenical Patriarch accepted Latvia into his jurisdiction. Not limiting himself to the acceptance into his jurisdiction of Churches in regions which had fallen away from the borders of Russia, Patriarch Photius accepted into his jurisdiction Metropolitan Eulogius in Western Europe together with the parishes subordinate to him, and on February 28, 1937, an Archbishop of the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch in America consecrated Bishop Theodore-Bogdan Shpilko for a Ukrainian Church in North America….Increasing without limit their desires to submit to themselves parts of Russia, the Patriarchs of Constantinople have even begun to declare the uncanonicity of the annexation of Kiev to the Moscow Patriarchate, and to declare that the previously existing southern Russian Metropolia of Kiev should be subject to the Throne of Constantinople. Such a point of view is not only clearly expressed in the Tomos of November 13, 1924, in connection with the separation of the Polish Church, but is also quite thoroughly promoted by the Patriarchs. Thus, the Vicar of Metropolitan Eulogius in Paris, who was consecrated with the permission of the Ecumenical Patriarch, has assumed the title of Chersonese; that is to say, Chersonese, which is now in the territory of Russia, is subject to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The next logical step for the Ecumenical Patriarchate would be to declare the whole of Russia as being under the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

                      http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/decline.aspx
                      and the present Finland, Estonia, Japan, etc-and of course the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad-the UOCC, the UOCUSA, the UOCWE, the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of Russian Tradition in Western Europe, etc. and of course that Bishop Basil affair.
                      The Patriarch of Romania commemorates the Patriarch of Moscow, and then simply ignores that autocephaly, having his Metropolis of Bessarabia not only on the alleged jurisdiction of Moscow’s Moldovan Orthodox Church, but its exarch setting up (and receiving) parishes in Ukraine, the Baltic States, and the Russian Federation itself, with jurisdiction over any and all Moldovans in the territories of the former Soviet Union.
                      (Of course, ROCOR didn’t respect the canonical territory of the Patriarch of Moscow either when communism fell. But its Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia Inside Russia Exarchate proved a debacle).
                      The Patriarch of Moscow noticed that the Ecumenical Patriarch commemorates the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, but

                      On 30 April 2004 Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople announced the breach of the eucharistic communion with Archbishop Christodoulos, Primate of the Church of Greece. This unprecedented decision came as a result of a lengthy dispute between the two Churches over control of dioceses in northern Greece…The Synod in Constantinople warned the three newly-elected Metropolitans that Eucharistic communion will be broken with them also if they assume their duties. The Synod went even further by threatening to abolish a 1928 agreement with Greece and the Church of Greece and take direct control of the disputed diocese. This effectively means that the very idea of autocephaly of the Church of Greece may eventually be put into question.

                      http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/19/2/64.aspx
                      I can unload all the dirty laundry, but I don’t think it necessary. Especially for a jurisdictionless jurisdiction which defines itself outside itself, and yet claims to be the Church it left. Now, THAT‘s some artful gymnastics in defense of the lie, but a lie nonetheless.

                      “As to the Greeks being the jurisdictional masters of ROCOR or the MP, that is curiously delusional.”
                      You have rejected the MP’s interpretation, and have refused to give your own-what is the status of the OCA-which leaves you with the Phanar’s canon 28. But you can’t cut the OCA down with that without cutting yourself off at the knees.

                    • “In Western Europe, beginning with the 18th century, churches were built at first at the Russian embassies, and then separately from them in those places which were visited by Russians in their trips abroad. All these churches were considered to be in the diocese of the Metropolitan of Petrograd; most recently they were directly dependent on his vicar, the Bishop of Kronstadt. None of the Eastern Patriarchs, whose authority has been highly respected by the Russian people, and likewise none of the other heads of the Orthodox Churches, ever protested against such a spreading of the Russian Church. If according to the Church canons a duration of thirty years is sufficient to cause a church or a place to belong to that diocese which in the course of those years was in possession of it, then all the more must one recognize as undisputed the right of the Russian Church to those places which have been cared for by her for many decades. One may say quite certainly that this question would never have been raised if the Russian Empire and with it the Russian Church had remained in its former power and glory, and if no misfortune had befallen them.”

                      Hmmm, Isa, it appears that in context there is no “canon of limitations” if other jurisdictions protest the expansion. And he never uses the phrase “canon of limitations” which is misleading at best. You will recall that I linked to the same article in a post above. It’s just that St. John did not mean what you might otherwise construe him to mean. That should be apparent to anyone familiar with the history. It would be interesting to look at the original context of the canon to which St. John referred.

                      So this would not help OCA at all inasmuch as everyone and his brother, other than those Churches enslaved to communism, not only protested but emphatically rejected the alleged autocephaly of the OCA.

                      “In fact, it appears that he held them to have left the Church of Russia altogether’
                      That is what autocephaly is-leaving a Mother Church to become a Mother Church. This strange notion of leaving a Church and still claiming to be that Church might be throwing you.”

                      St. John himself, to whom you appeal for authority, held precisely the same “strange notion”. Well, and again, St. John wrote before the alleged autocephaly of the OCA (he died in 1966), so he had in mind the Metropolia’s departure from the Church itself, not its claim to autocephaly.

                      “According to your Patriarch and Holy Synod (and Orthodox Ecclesiology and the Sacred Canons, which they are following), autocephaly consists of commemoration.
                      https://mospat.ru/en/2013/12/26/news96344/
                      So are they lying, or are you?”

                      Neither. But you are lying insofar as you assert that autocephaly consists only of commemoration.

                      “Speaking of lies
                      ‘America is open territory, period. Everyone behaves as if it is true, and it is.’
                      The Ecumencial Patriarch commemorates the Patriarch of Moscow, and then simply ignores that autocephaly both in the past . . .”

                      Whatever point you seem to be trying to make with this and what lies below it is an unintelligible non-sequitur. There is nothing to be derived from it other than an uninteresting history lesson.

                      “I can unload all the dirty laundry, but I don’t think it necessary. Especially for a jurisdictionless jurisdiction which defines itself outside itself, and yet claims to be the Church it left. Now, THAT‘s some artful gymnastics in defense of the lie, but a lie nonetheless.”

                      It is a “lie” that your new apparent favorite saint, St. John Maximovich, held dearly. I think you are confused. You assert St. John’s jurisdiction was uncanonical, were quite happy to commemorate him before the reunion and now, distort his meaning to support a jurisdiction whose legitimacy he rejected, then assert that he was a liar.

                      I’m happy to review every stitch of the “dirty laundry”. But it does not help the OCA one iota, nor does it call ROCOR’s current status into question since all acknowledge it as a part of the ROC. It seems that this “lie” is being told not just by ROCOR but by the same entity which granted the alleged autocephaly you assert for the OCA – yet you do not respect this autocephaly enough to acknowledge it by joining it.

                      The difference, of course, being that OCA’s purported autocephaly was granted by slaves under the complete control, within and without, of atheists, while ROCOR’s status has been affirmed in its entirety by the same patriarchate – now free to do as the Spirit guides it to do.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Misha wrote “I really think the OCA has received more attention from me than it deserves.”

                      I for one am grateful for your condescension. I know that those of us who are in “a tiny little anomaly far removed in both spirit and geography from the centers of Orthodoxy,” are grateful for any little attention we can get from our superiors. /s

                    • Carl,

                      I lay it on a little thick with Isa since he gets so excited about this silly nonsense. It’s just fun. Also, I want to feel out his best material. I’ve copied down everything that both he and I have written on it lately. I want to go back and run down all the leads. I make pretty good cases for my points right now but I’d like to have iron clad answers for everything that might come up and Isa has been generous enough to throw a lot of stuff, some good, some crap, at me. A useful fellow, that one.

                      I suspect that whether any of us like it, hate it, rejoice and dance, or rend our clothes and lament, the OCA will fade away in spurts. First, the small exodus that has already taken place and increased after the Met. Jonah affair. The movement of parishes, etc., since the early 1980’s has been mostly one way, from OCA to ROCOR. I’ve had long time OCA members remark to me that they thought it was the end or self destruction of their jurisdiction. I’ve never heard anything like that from any of the other jurisidictions at any time. Then, because of the proclivities of certain cliques within the OCA – the Kishkovskyites, the ROCORites and Muscovites, and finally the hard core, die hard autocephalites – I suspect that they cannot exist under the same roof indefinitely. This natural centrifugal force will also take its toll.

                      I know you were being sarcastic, but sometimes I do think that those in the OCA relish whatever attention they can get from the ROC, or even ROCOR. There is a continuing sense that they have to prove their legitimacy by obtaining perpetually repeated recognition from Moscow and from concelebration with ROCOR.

                      ROCOR does not share this type of pathology. As you recall, it was even a divisive question as to whether we should reunite with Moscow. Most did, some did not, but the question was never “Does this legitimize us?”. We did not doubt our legitimacy. Recall that, to the extent we were isolated, it was self imposed, largely beginning in the early 1960’s as a reaction to ecumenism. The question was, “Does this compromise us?”. In the end, most decided that since the Soviet Union was dead and communism ruled no more, it was natural to reunite the two parts of the ROC. Of course, the ROC had to have time to sort out its internal affairs to the extent it felt necessary. This too, I’m sure, formed part of the negotiations leading up to concelebration.

        • Isa Almisry says

          “The Moscow Patriarchate has given up on defending the OCA….a statement of the obvious to world Orthodoxy, that is, the OCA is no longer relevant here in America.”
          Where are you reading that into the link?

  13. Out of curiosity, has anybody read the book, “Hellenism Through the Ages” ? I am slowly wending my way through it. Lots to ponder. In chapter 12 the author describes the Sophists. His description of them sounds pretty close to what we are encountering today.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Hellenism Through the Ages

      Thank you for the recommendation, Lina.

      • Fr. Reardon, As one who is now looking back over a long life, I realize that my history lessons rarely touched on Greece, which now seems a huge oversight. Yes, I remember famous names bandied about, but I can’t remember studying what they wrote per se. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that Socrates believed in one God and was arrested, tried, and put to death because he did not believe the myths of the gods of the time. Having studied missiology, I chuckled as I read about God starting to prepare the Greeks for the coming of Jesus 500 years ahead of the event. Wow! Does he have patience.

        Enjoy!

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Patience and definitely doing things in a very interesting way. God rose to prominence a young Greek Macedonian by the name of Alexander that brought Greek culture to the middle and far east, and that although he was an alcoholic, sexual deviant, and murderer God used him to bring Greek learning and culture to that part of the world, specifically to the world of the ancient Hebrews. In the course of time the Jews forgot Hebrew and Aramaic, mostly, and learned Greek.

          This not only necessitated the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (i.e. The Septuagint), but through this effort the ground work was laid for the expression of Religious Hebrew concepts to a much wider Hellenistic audience, which led directly to the transmission and understanding of the Holy Gospel in Greek via the New Testament.

          All this from a drunkard, sexual deviant, and murderer, that fulfilled his quest for world domination, not because of his own vanity and thirst for glory, but so God the Father could set the stage for the coming of His son, the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords in a humble manger in Bethlehem many hundreds of years later.

          Now that’s patience.

          Peter A. Papoutsis

  14. This seems to be as good a place to ask this question: does anyone know why Metropolitan Jonah visited Moscow during the Elevation of the Cross feast? He concelebrated with Patriarch Kirill and other hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
    http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/3765086.html.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      I got a thumbs down just for asking a question?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Quite a few OCA-hating folks on this site, perhaps many who have gone to greener and “more spiritual” pastures? (appropriate smileys)

        • Isa Almisry says

          You noticed that too.

        • I actually see few if any “OCA haters” here. There is an OCA church close to where I live, I have friends there, am cordial with the priest (though he does supply me with some whoppers from the OCA playbook sometimes). I have even done work for them from time to time.

          I have nothing against the OCA.

          The only thing that I don’t like is the fictional pseudo-history that some in the OCA propagate to the detriment of the Church Abroad. They have been knowingly lying about their own history and that of the Church Abroad since before Schmemann’s heyday, he being one of the more serious offenders.

          I think what some people who see some rivalry or competition between ROCOR and the OCA don’t realize is that ROCOR really doesn’t care about such things. ROCOR is in no jeopardy of anything. It is the autonomous province of the ROC here in America, by Moscow’s account as well as its own and many other jurisdictions. It needs no recognition from anyone of any sort.

          The very vitality and continued existence of the OCA, on the other hand, depend entirely on its eventual recognition by other jurisdictions. Otherwise, it is stillborn. This seems to escape some OCA types since they tout their status, accuse others of sin for not joining it, and yet fail to see that it is precisely the endorsement of these others that it needs in order to actually become the autocephalous church it aspires to be.

          In other words, OCA triumphalism is like a circular firing squad. Responding to it does no harm to us; propagating it does considerable harm to the OCA.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            You remind me of that famous scene in the backseat of the car when Terry tells Charley: “I could’ve been a contender. I could’ve been somebody.” You were The Church of Russia at one time, now you are but a province of it, coexisting with your representational parishes and the daughter church of Moscow. Come to think of it, this situation may be a main reason why Constantinople is emboldened to emphasize its novel interpretation of Canon 28 and her even newer status as First Without Equals. What I mean is simply this: why should Constantinople not explore uncharted waters if Moscow is doing so?

            • Amazing. This, of course, is all in your minds. I’ve never heard anyone in ROCOR actually refer to the OCA except online or in passing, as in, “Oh, you know the X’s. the go to the OCA parish in Y city.” Rarely have I even heard them refer to the Greeks, though that was less flattering on occasion.

              But, of course, the OCA being so important, it must be the subject of attention.

              As to Moscow, I know both ethnic Russian and American ROCOR priests who were overjoyed to travel to Moscow to hear confessions at the reunion liturgy in 2007. Sounds like true envy!

              Dream on.

              “You were The Church of Russia at one time . . .” Thank you for admitting that important fact. And we still are part of it. Moreover, the MP was always part of the ROC. ROCOR always insisted on that and never suggested otherwise. But having set up shop on open territory here in America, and the ROC never having been officially condemned as graceless by ROCOR, what resulted from the reunion was exactly what all involved wanted.

              • Isa Almisry says

                “This, of course, is all in your minds. I’ve never heard anyone in ROCOR actually refer to the OCA except online or in passing, as in, “Oh, you know the X’s. the go to the OCA parish in Y city.” Rarely have I even heard them refer to the Greeks, though that was less flattering on occasion.”
                That’s odd, as a Greek I know who went to the ROCOR Cathedral in Chicago mentioned that the parishioners worshiped the Greeks.

                I’ve heard that a lot of the ROCOR propaganda against the OCA was done by Holy Transfiguration Monastery when they were still in league, and ROCOR lacked English speakers. That might be true, but there was also an element of emigrees (who admitted this to me several times) thinking that they were the Russian Church (and state) and would come back to rule once Communism fell.

                Well, Communism fell. The UGCC made good their claims on being forced by “Soviet enslavement” into the ROC, and on 30 March 1991 Card. Myroslav moved their headquarters back into the Soviet Union. The UAOC made good their claims on being prevented by the “Soviet enslavement” from setting up their “Kiev Patriarchate,” and it preceded the UGCC in moving its headquarters into the Soviet Union on November 6, 1990, when its Patriarch Mstyslav I (Filoret’s predecessor) returned from the US and was enthroned in Kiev.

                ROCOR never returned to the Russia it fled/abandoned. It didn’t recognize the catacombs churches when they came out, and instead set up an exarchate which proved a debacle. Then came the reunion, whose joy (and I rejoiced, as well as everyone else I knew in the OCA) was marred by the rise in ROCOR of a flair up of that old Holy Transfiguration propaganda. For some untold reason, we were told that this meant that the Tomos of OCA autocephaly was to be revoked and the OCA turned over to ROCOR. Well, it’s been seven years, and no such move has been in the making. Moscow hasn’t even turned over the Patriarchal Parishes in North America to ROCOR-instead having them commemorate the OCA primate-nor recalled its own bishops (e.g. Germany) where ROCOR serves.

                I’ve been told that the reunion talks emphasized that ROCOR would not have to recognize the OCA’s autocephaly. Given that non-autocephalous Churches have no say in recognizing autocephaly, if the OCA wasn’t so important, why was it the subject of such attention?

                • “I’ve been told that the reunion talks emphasized that ROCOR would not have to recognize the OCA’s autocephaly. Given that non-autocephalous Churches have no say in recognizing autocephaly, if the OCA wasn’t so important, why was it the subject of such attention?”

                  Really, OCA is not particularly important (certainly not important enough for you to join it) and will become less so in the future. If what you’ve been told is actually correct, the reason would be obvious – ROCOR: “If we’re going to reunite with you [i.e., the MP], we refuse to take part in the maskirovka of purportedly recognizing the “autocephaly” of the OCA on the one hand and, on the other, ignoring it totally for almost every practical consideration, including our presence (and yours) on American soil. We prefer to deal with it as everyone else does, as if it is what it is – an anomalous curiosity.”

                  Also, “autocephaly” apparently is an endlessly fluid concept in Orthodoxy, as you yourself pointed out regarding the relationship between the Phanar and the Church of Greece. So, regarding who “has say” in recognizing autocephaly, might I humbly assert that it’s a matter of whatever any little bird whispers in your ear. Behavior is really the only standard the matters in the end. And no one, not Russia, not ROCOR, not the Greeks, Antiochians or Serbs and not even the OCA itself behaves as if the OCA is autocephalous. Hasn’t happened, not gonna happen.

                  • Isa Almisry says

                    “Really, OCA is not particularly important (certainly not important enough for you to join it) ”
                    Just to take care of this distraction (born out of the desires of ad hominem), I’ve been in the OCA. I still pray for its Metropolitan daily. If it decided to apply akriva in full vigor, and insist that every Orthodox must attend its parishes in North America, I would not hesitate to do so-passing by the 5 Greek Churches, the ROCOR Cathedral, the Serbian Cathedral and another Serbian parish, the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral, a Bulgarian Patriarchal Church, the Albanian Church, an A.C.R.O.D. Church, the Belorussian Church, the Ukrainian Cathedral, the KP parish (does it count?) besides my Antiochian parish, to get there (btw, I’ve been to them all).
                    Once there, I could have my pick of any 13 OCA parishes (more, if I want to go further).
                    Of course, in that radius, all 52 Churches should be in the OCA (except the Romanian Cathedral-it has metochion status).
                    If you would exercise economia, and I could go to the OCA Bulgarian or Romanian Church (both of which I’ve been too as well) and it would still count, the trip would be shorter.

                    (Having to look at the ACOBUSA parish list to refresh my memory on the parishes, I just discovered that a Georgian Church is within distance. I shall have to go there at the earliest opportunity).

                    As for the protesting too much that that parrot is whispering in your ear…..”Hasn’t happened, not gonna happen.” You do know the penalty for false prophets, no? (consult Deuteronomy).

                    As for maskirovka, read the Statute of your Patriarchate.

                    • Oh, it’s much worse than I imagined. You were actually part of the OCA and left. You know, under the Tomos, that subjects you to their jurisdiction.

                      Still laughing, though never nervously.

                    • Just to take care of this distraction (born out of the desires of ad hominem), I’ve been in the OCA. I still pray for its Metropolitan daily. If it decided to apply akriva in full vigor, and insist that every Orthodox must attend its parishes in North America, I would not hesitate to do so

                      Nobody in N. America but Isa Almisry would care if the OCA did such a thing. The OCA would appear even more laughably inept and out of touch with reality than it already does.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Oh, it’s much worse than I imagined. You were actually part of the OCA and left. You know, under the Tomos, that subjects you to their jurisdiction.

                      Still laughing, though never nervously.”
                      Sorry, psychotic laughter.

                      I can’t take serious the opinions of a partisan of those who fought the Soviets bravely beyond the reach of the Communists, and passed judgement on those who fought the good fight in the belly of Bolshevik beast. Especially when at the time that free Russia came, they failed to go and make good their claims. Especially when the UGCC and UAOC could manage that.

                      Left? I’m still part of the OCA’s jurisdiction. The Tomos says so. At least as long as I’m in North America. Not sure on the specifics when I’m in the Middle East or Europe-where I attended the local parish. I don’t think in Russia I’m required to attend St. Katherine’s in Moscow.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Nobody in N. America but Isa Almisry would care if the OCA did such a thing. The OCA would appear even more laughably inept and out of touch with reality than it already does.”
                      As opposed to the Greek Ethnarch who hasn’t noticed that the Ottoman Empire has disappeared, or a Synod of Russian bishops who don’t know that the Czar has fallen, and Russia is free?
                      The Phanar on the World Stage, and ROCOR inside Russia. Now THAT’s been laughably inept and out of touch with reality.

                    • “Left? I’m still part of the OCA’s jurisdiction. The Tomos says so.”

                      True, but that’s because you, Isa, were once part of the OCA. Which is why I find your extreme partisanship in favor of it laughably hypocritical. Leaving the OCA to join the AOCNA is a rejection of the OCA’s autocephaly. Or does OCA’s autocephaly not extend throughout North America? Or is the AOCNA part of the OCA? Or does the Tomos explicitly exempt from OCA’s jurisdiction all who were not part of it at the time (or later joined)? I.e., is the alleged “autocephaly” non-geographical (like the OCA’s non-geographical, overlapping ethic dioceses, perhaps?).

                      All we know is that you are “under OCA’s jurisdiction” and yet choose the omophorion of a bishop who is not part of the OCA and who has a diocese on OCA’s alleged canoniical territory.

                    • OOM,

                      Actually, I wish they would apply akrivia “in full vigor”. It would clarify what everyone actually believes rather than the lies to which they pay lip service. On one side would be those who give up their jurisdiction in North America to the OCA, on the other side those who reject OCA’s autocephaly.

                      Yet, really, we have that now, don’t we? Just a thin veil of bs covers the reality of the situation.

                      By the way, “akrivia” is the canonical norm. Oikonomia is a temporary deviation for pastoral reasons which returns to akrivia after the need for it passes. This is in contradistinction to a grant of jurisdiction in a tomos.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Left? I’m still part of the OCA’s jurisdiction. The Tomos says so.”
                      True, but that’s because you, Isa, were once part of the OCA. Which is why I find your extreme partisanship in favor of it laughably hypocritical. Leaving the OCA to join the AOCNA is a rejection of the OCA’s autocephaly. Or does OCA’s autocephaly not extend throughout North America? Or is the AOCNA part of the OCA? Or does the Tomos explicitly exempt from OCA’s jurisdiction all who were not part of it at the time (or later joined)? I.e., is the alleged “autocephaly” non-geographical (like the OCA’s non-geographical, overlapping ethic dioceses, perhaps?).
                      All we know is that you are “under OCA’s jurisdiction” and yet choose the omophorion of a bishop who is not part of the OCA and who has a diocese on OCA’s alleged canoniical territory.

                      I have the pleasure to announce to you, Herr Ober-Prokurator, that your Spiritual Regulations have been abolished, and the canonical taxis and praxis of the Orthodox Church restored in their place. We have Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Catholicoi, Archbishops and Metropolitans in Holy Synods who make spiritual regulations for us. And under them my own personal situation is quite canonical, in accord with the Tomos without the slightest bit of hypocrisy. But, that is none of your business-which you have said, but yet go on anyways.

                      So you can file your findings, Herr Ober-Prokurator….where they will never see the light of day, and collect dust. Under “A.” For “ad hominem.”

                      I would suggest that you first correct you hypocrisy of adhering to the ACC-which states “Decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church extend to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia”-while dogmatically opposing decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, before worrying about others, particularly when you don’t know the personal details, and have failed to demonstrate a grasp of the broader general issues.

                      If the nearest-or only-Orthodox Church by you does not belong to the OCA, by all means, go there. There are a lot of such “if”s in real life. Fully in canonical-and non-hypocritical-accord with the Tomos.

                      Actually, I wish they would apply akrivia “in full vigor”. It would clarify what everyone actually believes rather than the lies to which they pay lip service. On one side would be those who give up their jurisdiction in North America to the OCA, on the other side those who reject OCA’s autocephaly.

                      And if the Patriarchate of Moscow stands by the Tomos it issued to the OCA in 1970-as it has since then, and since 1992 (when the Russia Orthodox Outside of Russia Inside Russia was free to operate, and failed miserably at it)-what will you do, Herr Ober-Prokurator? Go with the Orthodox? Place yourself in the jurisdiction of the Phanar over the “barbarian lands”? or retreat back into schism?

                      Btw, some-many? most?-of your Phanariot compatriots disagree with you:

                      By the way, “akrivia” is the canonical norm. Oikonomia is a temporary deviation for pastoral reasons which returns to akrivia after the need for it passes. This is in contradistinction to a grant of jurisdiction in a tomos.

                      They see autocephaly as an economia to avoid schism. Being under the Phanar is the “canonical norm.” It explains a lot of the nonsense that the Phanar writes in its tomoi granting jurisdiction-but I’m guessing that you haven’t read them either, and so don’t know about that also.

                      “Oikonomia is a temporary deviation for pastoral reasons which returns to akrivia after the need for it passes.” Then the days of ROCOR are numbered then.

                      Yet, really, we have that now, don’t we? Just a thin veil of bs covers the reality of the situation.

                      Like saying ROCOR always remained part of the Local Russian Orthodox Church, which identifies itself with the Patriarchate of Moscow?

                  • Isa Almisry says

                    “Amazing. This, of course, is all in your minds. I’ve never heard anyone in ROCOR actually refer to the OCA except online or in passing…Really, OCA is not particularly important”

                    Funny, according to something you just cited
                    http://remnantrocor.blogspot.com/2010/06/truth-about-oca-autocephaly.html
                    https://www.monomakhos.com/cracks-in-the-coalition/#comment-83213
                    the OCA barely gave a thought to ROCOR when it was getting its Tomos.
                    “Strangely enough, from the arguments of the Metropolia over the “autocephaly” one would not even suspect –apart from a few derogatory references in the Russian language press — that such a thing as the Russian Church Outside of Russia even exists

                    Also from the same cite, and even more amusing:A Clarification

                    By the Synod of Bishops of the
                    Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
                    Concerning the Question of
                    an Autocephalous American Orthodox Church*
                    June 6/19, 1969
                    ….Historically autocephaly has been acknowledged for separate Churches satisfying these demands without haste, after their attainment of a certain maturity that leaves no doubts as to their ability firmly to maintain Orthodoxy and independently govern themselves and develop. This acknowledgment should come first from the Mother Church which established the new Local Church and reared it.

                    http://remnantrocor.blogspot.com/2010/06/about-oca-autocephaly-question.html
                    Talk about denying nearly all the facts of history-which show that basically only Serbia’s autocephaly fits this description.

                    • Isa,

                      You’re babbling again. Does it really surprise you that a supposedly “mature Church” enslaved to communists and communicating Catholics would screw up an alleged grant of autocephaly to another allegedly “mature Church” which was not even the largest Orthodox jurisdiction in its homeland?

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      Does it surprise you that the babbling infantile propaganda for a Church outside its homeland and the largest Orthodox jurisdiction nowhere lacks authority and relevance, screws up the narrative of the facts of history, and is boring as well?

                      It does not surprise that when such a Church full of such allegations returns-or rather, recruits surrogates (unlike the UGCC and UAOC, whose leaders came in person to settle in the declining Soviet Union) to its homeland to try to push those allegations-as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia tried with this exarchate Inside Russia-it failed miserably.

                      God and one makes a majority.

                    • “God and one makes a majority.”

                      Spoken like a true Protestant.

                      As to ROCOR, it is an “integral part” (and always has been, incidentally) of the largest – by far – Orthodox church in the world. As to the OCA, well, ROCOR is still here, is expanding, and stands in no danger of passing away. There could be no truer testament to the failure of the OCA as an autrocephalous church.

                      But of course, Isa, you have no dog in this fight. being a member of an autocephalous church centered at Damascus (or Antioch?). Hmmmm, does Damascus claim this as its canonical territory?

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “God and one makes a majority.”

                      Spoken like a true Protestant.

                      I never knew that Pope St. Athanasius of Athanasius contra Muni fame was a Protestant. Here I always thought of him as a pillar of Orthodoxy among the saints and foremost among our Fathers.

                      You learn something (heretical) every day.

                      ROCOR used to be found of claiming itself the righteous remnant of the little flock, as it dwindled with inner schisms. Until it signed the ACC.

                      As to ROCOR, it is an “integral part” (and always has been, incidentally)

                      Yeah, that failed attempt to set up its Exarchate Inside Russia for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia was just an attempt at reintegration.

                      of the largest – by far – Orthodox church in the world

                      So is, so Moscow claims, Chișinău-and it’s bigger. A small twig on a mighty oak, and a not particularly important twig at that. Your point?

                      As to the OCA, well, ROCOR is still here, is expanding, and stands in no danger of passing away.

                      I don’t know-I did notice more men speaking Russian smoking in the parking lot last time I went to the ROCOR Cathedral. Don’t they read the Surgeon General Warning?
                      According to the Orthodox Census, everyone is growing except for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA and the Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church. I know a number of UOCUSA went to the KP-did some PPROC go to ROCOR?

                      There could be no truer testament to the failure of the OCA as an autrocephalous church.

                      The failed Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia Inside Russia provides the truest testament to ROCOR’s failure, which is why she submitted to Moscow in the ACC.
                      As for the OCA, that its Holy Synod has not managed to destroy it yet is the truest testimony to its autocephaly.

                      But of course, Isa, you have no dog in this fight. being a member of an autocephalous church centered at Damascus (or Antioch?).

                      LOL. You accept as your authority a group of bishops who abandoned their sees, and then petitioned to go under the omophorion of the EP without release from the PoM à la Bp. Basil Osborne (something Pat. St. Tikhon objected to the Phanar about), then left without leave from Constantinople to set themselves up in Serbia (something that EP Gregory IV objected to Pat. Dimitrije about) as another “Most Holy Governing Synod” to enslave the Church freed at the All Russia Sobor back to the Higher Monarchist Council in lieu of a Czar. Said MHGS Outside tries to assert its authority Inside Russia, and fails so spectacularly that it is forced to submit Outside Russia to the the Patriarchate it anathematized Inside Russia.
                      And with that “Spiritual Regulation,” Herr Ober-Prokurator, you claim the authority in personam-or rather, ad hominem-to judge membership…as someone who can’t get it correct on who joined whom in the ACC.
                      LOL.
                      Btw, the Patriarch of Antioch is the Metropolitan of Damascus, just as the original lineage of the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’ continues in the Patriarch of Moscow. Or are the UAOC, UOC-KP and UGCC correct, and the PoM and I wrong?

                      Hmmmm, does Damascus claim this as its canonical territory?

                      Antioch? Yes. In fact, the Church of Damascus predates the Church of Antioch, although the disciples were first called Christians there (see Acts).
                      It yielded its jurisdiction in the canonization of Bp. St. Raphael, the first bishop consecrated in the New World. To the OCA.

          • Isa Almisry says

            “I think what some people who see some rivalry or competition between ROCOR and the OCA don’t realize is that ROCOR really doesn’t care about such things.”
            LOL.

            • Misha wrote: “I think what some people who see some rivalry or competition between ROCOR and the OCA don’t realize is that ROCOR really doesn’t care about such things.”

              Isa wrote: “LOL.”

              I can only speak from my own experience in parish life. Because of my work, I’ve had to move a lot, and starting with my catechumenate, I have spent roughly 15 years in the OCA, 8 in ROCOR, 3 with the Serbs, and 2 in GOA — and none of this was in consecutive stretches. And I’ve always visited parishes of other jurisdictions and made friends there wherever I have lived. While my druthers in terms of liturgical style, praxis, and general atmosphere have always been ROCOR-ish, I have also always been an “ecumenically-minded” Orthodox Christian. I have tended to visit and make friendly acquaintances in other Orthodox parishes wherever I have lived.

              I am only one person and have been exposed to a sample of parishes that may not be representative, but I think I could have gone through those years as a parishioner in the ROCOR without knowing that the OCA even existed, to tell the truth.

              My time in the OCA? Not so much… as they say.

              Based on that experience, I don’t think Misha is particularly wrong about people in the ROCOR not giving the OCA much thought, whereas the reverse isn’t as true.

              This is largely a function of formative events and trends in the respective jurisdictions. ROCOR self-identity in the 1970’s and beyond grew increasingly to be centered around praxis rather than ecclesiastical politics (until reunification with the MP became a real possibility), while OCA self-identity at about the same time was suddenly and inescapably changed forever by the the unavoidably political Tomos.

              Those outside the two jurisdictions seem to have some vague notion that there has been a Russian intra-family spat on American soil that has no implications for them. The OCA’s autocephay? Irrelevant and not even on their radar.

              • Isa Almisry says

                There was another issue: I understand that ROCOR would commune with OCA parishioners (as with other Orthodox), but the reverse was not true.

                Much of my experience with ROCOR has been with people who barely acknowledge that they are not in Russia (my experience in Jerusalem and Egypt being the only exception). My 10 years in the OCA ROCOR (usually called “the Synodal Church”) would only come up in the same context that Greeks or other jurisdictions came up. The only time it came up in a different context was when they were busy denying the existence of the Patriarchate of Moscow. That was mostly, but unfortunately not all, before 2007.

                The Antiochians were very aware of the OCA’s autocephaly and its implications for them (there’s a veiled reference in our Charter), and knew ROCOR basically only as schismatics who could not concelebrate (unlike the OCA) and whose Churches we could not commune. That didn’t stop anyone from venerating St. John Maximovich.

                • “That didn’t stop anyone from venerating St. John Maximovich.”

                  Which is also abysmal hypocrisy – venerating an alleged schismatic.

                  Again, a silly joke.

                  • Isa Almisry says

                    ‘“That didn’t stop anyone from venerating St. John Maximovich.”

                    Which is also abysmal hypocrisy – venerating an alleged schismatic.”

                    Of course, not knowing history, you have to make it up.

                    Venerating alleged schismatics: you have never heard of St. John Chrysostom?

                    • Still a sick joke, Isa. You allege St. John was a liar and separated himself from the Church yet it was fine to venerate him. Fascinating pathology. H*ll, you wrote as if you didn’t even know when the man died.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      “Still a sick joke, Isa. You allege St. John was a liar and separated himself from the Church yet it was fine to venerate him. ”
                      Just stating the facts of history and of the Church view of them from eternity. Pope St. Cyril refused to include St. John in the diptychs of Alexandria, calling him “the new Judas.” Such was the stance of Constantinople itself. It was left to Antioch to take the lead.
                      As for St. John Maximovich
                      “H*ll, you wrote as if you didn’t even know when the man died.”
                      What relevance does the date of his repose bear on anything?

                      Patriarch St. Meletios was deposed from Antioch on suspicion of not only schism but heresy, and not in communion with the rest of the Church, and yet when the Church met in Ecumenical Council in 381, he was unanimously chosen to lead it (btw, the Vatican quote minds like to quote St. Chrysostom on Rome, but skip over the fact that he accepted ordination from St. Meletios, a man in schism against whom Old Rome supported its own candidate for the throne of St. Peter at Antioch. All the Vatican’s four lines of patriarchs of Antioch, however, claim episcopal lineage from St. Meletios, and not from Old Rome’s chose at the time, and St. Meletios is on the Vatican’s calendar of saints).

                      Have you ever heard of St. Nilus of Sora the Non-Processor? Met. St. Clement of Kiev and All Rus and his rival St. Nyfant of Novgorod (a rivalry which included the issue of autocephaly)?

                      St. John Maximovitch made a mistake. Except Our Lord, we all do.

                      But his quoting on the canon of limitations and the implications of the canon 28 mythology do not constitute lies-unless one accepts your characterization of them as the ravings of an OCA crackpot.

              • Edward,

                I’ve never actually personally heard a ROCOR priest or layman say anything about the tomos. I mean, it has never come up. I once heard a matushka lament momentarily about the calendar dichotomy. But that was not with any particular other group in mind.

                I think a lot of it has to do with the mentality within the different jurisdictions in America. For example, I have friends in GOARCH. If you were to pick up a copy of the Orthodox Observer, you would see precious little about anything other than the affairs of the Greek and Greek-American world. Perhaps a story about the AB. That’s about it.

                In ROCOR, the same is largely true. To the extent people in ROCOR think about the other jurisdictions in America – and that is very, very little – it is more usual for them to find common cause, for example, with the Serbs or with eastern Ukrainians. If there are devastating floods in Serbia, or some atrocity in Kosovo or Donetsk, you might hear it discussed in a ROCOR parish. It is not an exaggeration to state that OCA almost does not exist in the minds of the average ROCOR layman. Don’t get me wrong, evangelism is a serious priority. I know of entire parishes of converts in ROCOR, a monastery comprised almost entirely of Americans, etc. Also, I’ve met a number of converts in “ethnic” ROCOR parishes and at pilgrimages. It’s just that there is a subculture that operates in ethnic jurisdictions that is not really “pan-Orthodox” but instead centered first around the faith and, secondly, the ethnicity.

                I think the reason the OCA clergy and laity concern themselves with other jursidictions has to do with their alleged status as the American Orthodox Church. They feel that their pond is all of American Orthodoxy. Whether that’s good, bad or indifferent is none of my concern.

                • Isa Almisry says

                  ” It is not an exaggeration to state that OCA almost does not exist in the minds of the average ROCOR layman.”
                  Neither does North America.

                  • Is that supposed to have some rational meaning? I mean, there is an Eastern American Diocese of ROCOR and a Western American one. So, obviously, America exists in the minds of the average ROCOR layman here. It’s where they live.

                    As to OCA, one has to give a long explanation to even convey what they purport to be and why no one takes what they claim to be seriously. It’s easier just to say, “OCA, oh, that’s one of the Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Churches (the others being ACROD and the UOC in America) to which the Soviets granted independence in 1970.”

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                The OCA’s autocephay? Irrelevant and not even on their radar.

                True, very true. That’s why the Greeks are moving for domination here in America, and only a united ROCOR/ROC-MP has given the Greeks any challenge. As always its Moscow that checks the Greeks.

                I admire the OCA in many things, especially being a strong haven for Converts to the Orthodox Church, but outside of this its a Greek and Russian Orthodox chess match with all other Orthodox just looking on to see what Constantinople and Moscow will do next and then just picking sides. However, the OCA is still useful to Moscow even if Moscow has to keep up the fiction of the Tomos.

                Peter

                • Isa Almisry says

                  We saw that at the Robber council of Ravenna. When the Phanar brought its Estonian in tow, Moscow put a stop to future antics of that sort by telling the Phanar that Moscow was bringing the OCA to the next meeting.

                • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

                  Peter – Well stated. Thanks for providing such clarity on the matter – “…but outside of this its a Greek and Russian Orthodox chess match with all other Orthodox just looking on to see what Constantinople and Moscow will do next and then just picking sides.” (sarcasm on) And this in our morally bankrupt, socialist laden governance, murderous, thieving, arrogant United States of America (sarcasm off). Whatever does either Moscow or Constantinople see as so worth the trouble?

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    The U.S. Is an Empire. He who controls the U.S. has power, money and prestige. This is not lost on the EP, nor is it lost on Moscow that’s why its doing what it can to stop the Greeks so Russia can rise to its new position of power with the MP in tow. Empires run both ways.

                    This is the problem with all this. the EP and MP want power and the trappings that go along with it. However, is that what they are called to? Where is the humility and self-sacrifice? Nowhere, and the OCA in all these years has been a pawn in this wider power game.

                    Eventually this will end when the native born Orthodox will outnumber those with nostalgia for the old world, and then an American Orthodox Church will be born, but not now and not yet. In the meantime all Orthodox should dedicate themselves to a life of prayer, fasting, attending as many services as one can attend and reading and meditating upon the Holy Scriptures, especially in light of the teaching of the Holy Church Fathers.

                    Currently, I am almost done reading St. Gregory Palamas with John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent next on deck.

                    Peter

                    • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

                      Peter – I appreciate your response. I think the following is included in your statment – “Eventually this will end when the native born Orthodox will outnumber those with nostalgia for the old world, and then an American Orthodox Church will be born…” – “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching thme to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even tot he end of the age.” Amen. (St. Matthew 28:18-20) I would also add, the ministry we extend in the name of Christ “to the least of these my brethren.” My prayer for the Orthodox is the US is that we will be known as those who love God (“keep my commandments”), love each other (“see how they love each other”), preach the saving Gospel of our Lord a la St. Matthew 28 and extend themselves in manifesting the love of God in their individual and collective outreach to the “least of these my brethren.” Thank you Peter.

                    • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

                      Peter – Though I am loath to say “never,” but you provide the reason why I will never request admittance (not that they would have me) into those jurisdictions under Constantinople and or Moscow; such that if the OCA returns and or has the Tomos rescinded and reverts back to a diocese of the MP, I will be hard pressed to remain.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      Thank you as well Father. These are definitely interesting times we are living in.

                      Peter

                    • In the meantime all Orthodox should dedicate themselves to a life of prayer, fasting, attending as many services as one can attend and reading and meditating upon the Holy Scriptures, especially in light of the teaching of the Holy Church Fathers.

                      Unquestionably true. I think that the world of the Orthodox internet would be a more pleasant (and useful) place if everyone made a self-rule of not posting anything unless we have kept our prayer rule for the preceding 24 hours (at least).

                      On the other hand, I think it is wrong to dismiss the MP out of hand just because it has a good relationship with the government of Russia at present. God repeatedly uses secular rulers for the purposes of protecting and promoting His Church. Not all of them have been particularly holy and humble. In fact probably very few of them were.

                      I have no idea about humility or the lack thereof in either the EP or the MP — that is a matter of the heart.

                      What I look at is action.

                      The EP does nothing to evangelize or catechize the historical territory of his Patriarchate. Instead, it is like an ecclesiastical cuckoo bird, laying eggs in nests that others have built — seeking to claim authority over churches that it played no role in building or sustaining. When it entices a local church or part of a local church into its fold, it is usually at the expense of peace with other churches and often as a result of taking advantage of secular political discord.

                      By contrast, the MP is evangelizing, catechizing, teaching, building temples — all at a pace and with a level of spiritual clarity that I find simply amazing, given where that church was, a mere 25 years ago.

                      Maybe both are equally corrupt and cynical. But at least I can make a case that the MP is acting like a real church — for the EP, I can make no similar case whatsoever.

                      But all of these things are ultimately out of our control, and what we can control are our lives of prayer. I just worry that there are those who want unity so badly in America that they would be willing to bend the knee to the EP as Pope of the East in order to get it.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Edward, you have written quite possibly one of the most cogent description of the See of Constantinople to date. Keep up the good work.

                  • I think you know the answers (as your /sarcasm indicates). Constantinople needs money from other dioceses and parishioners around the world (especially America), since it has no real dioceses and no parishioners (and hence no money) of its own. And without money, you can’t go around playing Pope of the East.

                    And I don’t think I should have to explain why Russia (or any other church with sense) doesn’t want the EP to live out its pretentions of eastern popery, even if not all of those motivations are based in spiritual concerns. As one bishop said after he left Vatican I — we arrived as bishops, and we left as altar-boys. That was a political statement, but also one with profound spiritual implications.

                • Peter, I think you are spot on about the “chess match.” I have to say that from my perspective, Russia returned to life spiritually and ecclesiastically not a minute too soon (much to Constantinople’s chagrin).

                  It is rather amazing to me that there even is a chess match going on, since Moscow is actually a real patriarchate with real dioceses and real parishioners, whereas Constantinople is this strange vestigial structure that, I suppose, commemorates all of the great saints of the Church, but whose Patriarch, bishops, and clergy make zero effort to Christianize the populace of the territory God gave them to be responsible for.

                  Put differently, there is no catacomb church in Turkey, and until a Patriarch is imprisoned for starting one or figures out how to advance the cause of Christianity and make converts to Orthodox Christianity within the borders of Turkey itself despite official disapproval, I will have zero respect for Constantinople. When I see photos of the EP making an episcopal visit to a little mission somewhere in Turkey made up of former Muslims, I will be willing to view the EP as being on an equal footing (in reality, not in place of honor for the sake of politeness) with an average OCA junior diocesan bishop. He who cannot prove an ability to manage his own house should not presume to rule over someone else’s.

                  Yes, I know that the Russian Church bent and compromised under communist rule, but it managed to advance its cause even while under the yoke, and today has managed to achieve a position of the first rank in Russia. Large churches are being built to honor the martyrs who suffered and died under communism. And it is reconverting and re-catechizing the populace with a degree of alacrity and effectiveness that no one would ever have believed possible — even when the Berlin Wall was being torn down. It had no moral claim to a position of leadership 50 years ago, but it certainly does now.

                  There are numerous situations in which Greek leadership and dominance in a united American Church could be healthy — but none that Constantinople would ever allow.

                  • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                    I fear to this day that Moscow could still be compromised. It is the rot we cannot see that worries me. For now I simply take a wait and see approach with Moscow trusting more in ROCOR than the MP to eventually straighten things out.

                    Peter

                    • I think it is very reasonable to take a wait and see attitude, since, as you say, Moscow could be compromised in some way. We do, however, know that Constantinople is compromised in any number of directions.

                      Even if there are problems in Moscow, I stand by my view that they are a net positive for Orthodoxy if for no other reason than to check Constantinople’s political shenanigans. (And I think their positives go far beyond that.)

                      And of course you don’t have to work very hard to convince me that the ROCOR is very important, both here in America and in the quiet influences that it has on Moscow. For all of its flaws, there is no place I would rather be right now — not for political reasons, to which I only give occasional thought, but for the sake of my own spiritual life and health, which is constantly on my mind.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      I would agree to the extant that Moscow is a net positive because of its union with ROCOR. I trust ROCOR always have and always will. If Moscow didn’t unite with ROCOR I would have written off Moscow.

                      In fact, it’s this model I hope for in the Greek Church. The Greek Old Calendarists are the Greek version of ROCOR. If the Greek Church could reunite with them, which I would include the EP under thus umbrella, it would be a net positive for the GOAA and the EP.

                      We have a small taste of this with the Ephramite Monasteries in the GOAA and how they are making the modernists froth at the mouth. Just imagine if the whole OCGOC united with the GOAA/EP? It would be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off. All the modernists would lose their minds. “What you mean you actually want us to be Orthodox?” Answer: YES!!!

                      I bid you peace Edward. God bless you and your loved ones.

                      Peter

                  • Isa Almisry says

                    Put differently, there is no catacomb church in Turkey, and until a Patriarch is imprisoned for starting one or figures out how to advance the cause of Christianity and make converts to Orthodox Christianity within the borders of Turkey itself despite official disapproval, I will have zero respect for Constantinople.

                    I’m sure the Phanar is awake at night about your lack of respect.

                    Have you ventured out of the safety of the West ever, and paid a visit in the Turkish Republic-or anywhere where Christians move as walking targets-to check for the absence of the “catacomb church”? And if the catacomb clung to its Patriarchate and rejected your ROCOR-as the catacomb Church did in Russia?

                    You speak in absolutes. The facts on the ground say otherwise.

                    Grandiosity is something the Phanar and many attached to ROCOR share, not something that distinguishes them.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Isa, while I do agree with your characterization of the on-the-ground reality facing the See of Constantinople on its home turf, the fact remains that it hasn’t had an evangelical mindset for almost a millennium. The indictment against Istanbul (and Alexandria, Antioch, etc.) is not if or when it would evangelize but the concept is completely alien from its moral universe of options.

                      Again, I give Antioch more slack in that it least outside of its home turf it has empowered its ordinaries to cast a wide net.

                    • Isa — sarcasm, off-the-point insults hurled in the direction of ROCOR, and an inability to make clearly stated points. I’m starting to get used to this.

                      First, I will directly answer your questions. My questions are at the end of this post. No, I have never been to Turkey or any other Muslim country, so cannot say that I personally checked to see if the EP is leading a catacomb church. But I assume that you, as someone more knowledgeable, can tell me if he is. Your second question is unintelligible, but I will be happy to answer it if you wish to restate it more clearly.

                      Let me lay the groundwork for my questions. We can agree, I would think, that the EP has considerable stature in the religious sphere worldwide. After all, every time he appears in the news it is as the “spiritual leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.” He gathers considerable funds from his diaspora of Greeks. He constantly has meetings with and makes public appearances with heads of state and other dignitaries, and of course with the Pope and other heterodox religious leaders. In short, he collects a lot of political capital that he can and does spend.

                      We know that he spends that capital trying to preserve the EP’s property in Turkey. We know that he spends that capital trying to extend his claims over existing Orthodox Christians in Eastern Europe, North America, and indeed most of the inhabited world. I will even stipulate that he probably spends part of it, very gingerly, looking out for the well-being of existing Orthodox Christians in Muslim lands.

                      But the fundamental issue that led to the virtual extinction of Christianity in the territory for which he alone has unquestioned responsibility is not a failure to protect existing “hereditary” Orthodox Christians, it is rather the fact that historically, Islam has punished conversion to Christianity with death, and that as a result, Orthodox Christianity has been reduced to something akin to a genetic trait passed down in families, rather than the good news of Christ and his Church for all of mankind. This attitude leads to Orthodox leaders spending their time squabbling over how to divvy up an ever-shrinking pie — rather than realizing that they could actually bake new pies.

                      Yet, Turkey is officially a secular state and a member of NATO with, in theory, some limited degree of official religious freedom. I realize that as a non-Greek and non-Arab, it is probably above my pay-grade to read and comment on such things, but I did run across this:

                      http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://web.archive.org/web/20041214041028/http://www.beliefnet.com/story/139/story_13903_1.html&date=2011-09-18

                      If this UPI report is accurate, a fair number of Muslims do convert to Christianity in Turkey — they just become evangelical Protestants, not Orthodox. To make it more interesting, the final section of that report claims that most of these evangelical converts are the descendants of Orthodox Christians who converted to Islam in the early 20th century to escape persecution and death.

                      So here are my questions for you, Isa:

                      Is that true, and if so, why is that? Why would evangelicals be able to make converts in the EP’s back yard, while the worldwide leader of Orthodoxy can’t or won’t? Or does he, and it is just a well-kept secret?

                      How much of the EP’s considerable political capital is spent appealing for help regarding the fact that new converts to Orthodox Christianity in majority Muslim countries face persecution, whether official or unofficial? How much is spent trying to change that — to bring world opinion to bear on the fact that people in Muslim countries really don’t have the freedom to choose Christ?

                      Can you explain to me why I should have respect for an EP who will spend considerable political capital playing power games on other continents and in other Orthodox Churches’ backyards, and doing Lord knows what with the Pope, while spending none on bringing people who live in his own historical territory to the Christian faith?

                      And if you ever want to get around to it, you can answer my direct questions about the ROCOR and Donatism — if you like you can, for convenience, just restrict it to my questions about Metropolitan Philip vis a vis the ROCOR, since you are Antiochian.

                    • Isa Almisry says

                      Isa — sarcasm, off-the-point insults hurled in the direction of ROCOR, and an inability to make clearly stated points. I’m starting to get used to this.

                      No insults: just pointed statements clearly goring someone’s ox, or sacred cow.

                      Let me lay the groundwork for my questions. We can agree, I would think, that the EP has considerable stature in the religious sphere worldwide….In short, he collects a lot of political capital that he can and does spend.

                      HAH also squanders a lot of it.

                      But the fundamental issue that led to the virtual extinction of Christianity in the territory for which he alone has unquestioned responsibility is not a failure to protect existing “hereditary” Orthodox Christians, it is rather the fact that historically, Islam has punished conversion to Christianity with death, and that as a result, Orthodox Christianity has been reduced to something akin to a genetic trait passed down in families, rather than the good news of Christ and his Church for all of mankind.

                      And you think that this is limited to territory controlled by Muslims? Have you read Dostoevsky?

                      Returning to the story of the 1921 Karlovtzy Sobor, approximately one hundred persons attended, eighty-five of them voting delegates…Among the lay delegates, Count Volzhin, former chief procurator of the Holy Synod, was the most prominent. Among the laity were some who had not even been practicing Orthodox Christians before 1917 but had subsequently joined the church when it was the only fragment of the Old World left to them…Anthony sponsored the monarchists’ memberships in the sobor and guaranteed their voting rights….Ultimately, the existence of the Karlovtzy Sobor was more of a win for Soviet antireligious propaganda than a furtherance of the church’s agenda.

                      http://books.google.com/books?id=oj8gV2vzVtAC&pg=PA129&dq=%22Among+the+laity+were+some+who+had+not+even+been+practicing+Orthodox+Christians%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=T1BKVN22IoayyASI6ICgCg&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Among%20the%20laity%20were%20some%20who%20had%20not%20even%20been%20practicing%20Orthodox%20Christians%22&f=false
                      And God Created Lenin: Marxism Vs Religion in Russia, 1917-1929
                      By Paul Gabel
                      This much I have seen in ROCOR, the same rot-tolerated, because they’re Russians, and particularly Russians of the best families-which caused the collapse of Holy Mother Russia in the first place.
                      So no, it’s not just a Muslim dominated Orthodox problem.

                      …a fair number of Muslims do convert to Christianity in Turkey — they just become evangelical Protestants, not Orthodox. To make it more interesting, the final section of that report claims that most of these evangelical converts are the descendants of Orthodox Christians who converted to Islam in the early 20th century to escape persecution and death. Is that true, and if so, why is that? Why would evangelicals be able to make converts in the EP’s back yard, while the worldwide leader of Orthodoxy can’t or won’t? Or does he, and it is just a well-kept secret?

                      As Met. Philip of blessed memory pointed out, Orthodoxy is America’s best kept secret.
                      What is our excuse for that?
                      I once was at a service (I won’t give the details out to name names) where a Greek bishop in the US, normally known for his Hellenocentrism, was serving. He began alternating in English, but the choir stayed in Greek. So he did it in English louder, and finally they got the point and alternated too. Afterwards, in Greek-and I am convinced I was the only non-Greek there-and then summarized in English he lamented how our services are not known to many in this country, and that perhaps we are the blame for keeping them accessible only to ourselves, only in our language (i.e. not English) etc.

                      But as for the Turks

                      In Turkey, which is the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, there are very few Greek parishioners left. The Orthodox community has been supplemented to some degree by Russians who have taken up permanent residence there. However, there are also some Turks who have become Orthodox in the Patriarchate. Lately their numbers have grown. Orthodox literature is being printed for them in Turkish, and articles about the newly-converted are being published. Achmet and Nejla are two of the thousand or so Turks who have changed their faith; and unlike others, they do not hide this at all….We offer the text of this conversation to the readers of Pravoslavie.ru.
                      —The Turkish press explains the current numbers of Baptisms in their country as a ”return to their own roots” by Turkish citizens of Greek or Armenian extraction. Did your own nationalities play a decisive role in your conversion to Christianity?
                      Achmet: Ethnic origin has played a role in some cases, but not in ours. I myself was born in Cappadocia, and I have relatives who came from the Caucasus. As far as I know, I have no Christians in my family background. Joining the Orthodox Church was the result of my own personal choice….

                      http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/35079.htm
                      passing conversion off as a “return to roots” soothes Muslim sensibilities, and cools some of the hostility to the very idea of conversion.
                      Protestantism also has the allure of being Western, the “modernization” that Ataturkism/Kemalism obsesses itself over.

                      How much of the EP’s considerable political capital is spent appealing for help regarding the fact that new converts to Orthodox Christianity in majority Muslim countries face persecution, whether official or unofficial? How much is spent trying to change that — to bring world opinion to bear on the fact that people in Muslim countries really don’t have the freedom to choose Christ?

                      The Phanar doesn’t have that much capital, especially capital that could be spent in this area.

                      Can you explain to me why I should have respect for an EP who will spend considerable political capital playing power games on other continents and in other Orthodox Churches’ backyards, and doing Lord knows what with the Pope, while spending none on bringing people who live in his own historical territory to the Christian faith?

                      I don’t support HAH’s squandering of capital in overseas ventures, or the “sister churches” nonsense. That doesn’t prevent nor absolve me of acknowledging what HAH does in his own backyard and its power games. The cornering of the Turkish government at the European Court of Justice, for instance, was well played, and HAH came up with the strategy all by himself, over opposition. His strategy of reclaiming Churches (and using them) all across the Turkish Republic is also well thought out.
                      The debacle of 1922-which almost ended Orthodoxy in Anatolia-came by pursuing rash and suicidal posturing. Slow and steady wins the race, but tries the patience.

                      No, I have never been to Turkey or any other Muslim country, so cannot say that I personally checked to see if the EP is leading a catacomb church.

                      Much of it is out in the open.

                      And if you ever want to get around to it, you can answer my direct questions about the ROCOR and Donatism — if you like you can, for convenience, just restrict it to my questions about Metropolitan Philip vis a vis the ROCOR, since you are Antiochian.

                      Met. Philip of blessed memory has reposed, and so has nothing further to say on ROCOR, which AFAIK does not have a presence in Antioch’s jurisdiction, so the Donatist problem doesn’t come up. If you had questions on Met. Philip vis-à-vis ROCOR, I missed them. Whether I’m Antiochian, American, Russian or Martian has nothing to do with any of the answers.

                    • “Returning to the story of the 1921 Karlovtzy Sobor, approximately one hundred persons attended, eighty-five of them voting delegates…Among the lay delegates, Count Volzhin, former chief procurator of the Holy Synod, was the most prominent. Among the laity were some who had not even been practicing Orthodox Christians before 1917 but had subsequently joined the church when it was the only fragment of the Old World left to them…Anthony sponsored the monarchists’ memberships in the sobor and guaranteed their voting rights….Ultimately, the existence of the Karlovtzy Sobor was more of a win for Soviet antireligious propaganda than a furtherance of the church’s agenda.”

                      And this is supposed to reflect badly somehow on ROCOR? An unsubstantiated allegation that there were “some” who had not even been “practicing Orthodox” before 1917 – one would like to know the methodology used to make this little assessment. And then, this gets tied to those evil old monarchists (like St. John of Shanghai, for example).

                      ROCOR was preserving Russian Orthodox at the same time as the Soviet government was doing everything it could to undermine and destroy it. Yet guilt by association with the allegedly previously-less-than-pious and with monarchists is supposed to impune ROCOR? Trauma often effects conversion or renewed piety, and the monarchists were the good guys. But, of course, not for this author.

                      And the author, Paul Gabel?:

                      http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Gabel/e/B001K8CL4E

                      “In Inventing Jesus: The New Testament Narrative as Fiction I argue, with extensive research and fascinating stories, that the Jesus who Christians adore never walked the earth. (Neither did Peter or Paul.) The main arguments involve the lack of evidence for Jesus’s historical existence and the excessive diversity of the early faith, indicating no personality who served as an anchor for belief. The author of the Gospel of Mark is the most influential creative writer in world history.”

                      I would say you’ve hit a new low, Isa, but the Donatism accusation is pretty hard to top. I realize that at this point you’re just grasping at any straw within reach to slander ROCOR, however, I think you’re hurting your own credibility.

                      Sad.

              • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

                Edward – I truly appreciate your discipline to shape your comments and observations to what you have experienced. It is an example to emulate (I’m speaking sincerely, since sarcasm in response to many entries is the norm on this site-myself included). As such, I will speak of my experience of ROCOR. As a boy growing up in Goshen, IN, there was a ROCOR parish about 200 yards from the Ukrainian Orthodox parish in which I spent most of my childhood. It too was characterized by the same focus on ethnicity (Russian) as the Ukrainian parish; permitting “…provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof” as opposed to an arena which cultivated the virtues. In that predominantly anabaptist town, bars were closed on Sunday and restaurants could not serve alcohol. I remember many men on the church property on Sunday and not necessarily in the temple to pray. The liquor cabinet in each of the church halls was open on Sunday (as I stated before, if you speak about the positives of a culture, you must speak of the negative). The Orthodox community which attracts the converts in Goshen, IN was not even in existence during my childhood – St. Mary’s Orthodox Church (Antiochian). Fast forward to my first parish assignment as a priest in the diocese of Eastern PA, All Saints Orthodox Church, Olyphant, PA – to say the OCA did not concern the ROCOR parishes and vice versa would be an understatement. My experience with ROCOR during this time was mixed. I interacted with a ROCOR priest from the Mid-Valley who I thought was exceptional – gracious, considerate, humble; the other one, not so much. One played well with others and made many long for the day when ROCOR and OCA would be reunited in the Chalice; the other one… That’s enough for now.

                • Father, thanks for your kind words and for sharing your experience. I’ve been in dozens of Orthodox churches around the country, and have personally never been in a church with a bar, but I’ve talked to someone who, a few years ago, visited a Serbian parish where the bar seemed to be the real altar, so I don’t doubt the truth of what you say. I remember talking to a priest of Ukranian background who turned down an assignment to a nice-sized Ukrainian parish, telling them after the interview, “doesn’t sound like you want a priest, sounds like you want a bingo-caller,” choosing a harder path in a small OCA mission instead. I would hope that this sort of thing would become increasingly less common as the years go by.

                  I would also note that I have had the privilege of spending most (but not all) of my Orthodox life in the South and West, which may color my experiences. I had been Orthodox for a couple of years before I attended my first service that wasn’t entirely or almost entirely in English. I’ve had limited exposure to Orthodoxy in the Midwest and Northeast and Canada, but what experiences I have had indicate to me that it is somewhat different, with the ethnic aspect being considerably more prominent — in every jurisdiction. (And that includes parishes that worship in English, but are still ethnic social clubs.)

                  I may be wrong, but I suspect that visitors might feel more welcome in my current ROCOR parish out west that worships in Slavonic than they would at a lot of English-worshipping but largely ethnic parishes in PA or NJ — in any number of jurisdictions. Whether Irish or Italian or Ukrainian, those ethnic clubs have just had longer to marinate in their own juices out east, and there is less of a general regional cultural expectation of openness and friendliness, in my opinion. The experience of being around Greeks who are speaking Greek at one moment, and then in the next, switch to English with a southern drawl (and with southern outgoing friendliness) is an unforgettable one.

                  Regardless, I believe you that in the places you have been, the ROCOR tended to drive outside the white lines even when judged by normal eastern “ethnic Orthodox” standards.

                  I would also be interested to know if both of the ROCOR priests that you knew in PA back in the day are both still in the ROCOR. The most abrasive and intolerant ROCOR priests I had contact with (often converts) left the ROCOR after the reunification. They apparently were more attracted to the preceived isolationism of the ROCOR than they were to Christ.

                  In spite of our different senses of urgency (or lack thereof, in my case) about Orthodox unity in America, I suspect we would agree that in the long run, the future belongs to those parishes, dioceses, and jurisdictions where the spiritual life in Christ is truly treated as “the one thing needful,” regardless of their ethnic makeup or the language in which they worship.

                  • Tim R Mortiss says

                    An interesting exchange. On one of your points, it has always interested me, born and raised in the Pacific NW, how and why ethnic identities have persisted so much more strongly in the US East than out West, in many different contexts and arenas, for so many generations.

                  • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

                    Edward – Again, very well stated – “In spite of our different senses of urgency (or lack thereof, in my case) about Orthodox unity in America, I suspect we would agree that in the long run, the future belongs to those parishes, dioceses, and jurisdictions where the spiritual life in Christ is truly treated as “the one thing needful,” regardless of their ethnic makeup or the language in which they worship.” Thanks and peace.

                • “Edward – I truly appreciate your discipline to shape your comments and observations to what you have experienced. It is an example to emulate…”

                  Indeed. Edward’s voice here is both welcome and refreshing.

    • +JONAH was passing through Moscow, and Patriarch Kyrill invited him to concelebrate. It’s really as simple as that.

      • Here is a You Tube video of the same service in which +JONAH is seen several times. One of the most interesting scenes shows Patriarch +KYRILL inserting Holy Relics into several antimens. He was consecrating a new church that day. http://youtu.be/qTxocRYBNaU

  15. Steve Knowlton says

    A propos of Russia’s issues with the Ukraine, I stumbled on this extraordinary statement, circa 1968, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It is in volume 3 of the Gulag Archipelago. It expresses prophetic wisdom, as well as reasonable expectations about how Russia, as an Orthodox country, SHOULD be behaving, as opposed to merely publishing stamps about historical (and politicized) saints. Remember, this was written in 1968: imagine the risks he took with his countrymen and the State to write this.

    ***

    “Why are we so exasperated by Ukrainian nationalism, by the desire of our blood brothers to speak, educate their children, and write shop signs in their own language? Even Mikhail Bulgakov ( in The White Guard) let himself be misled on the subject. Given that we have not succeeded in fusing completely; that we are still different in some respects (and it is sufficient that they, the smaller nation, feel the difference); that however sad it may be, we have missed chance after chance, especially in the thirties and forties; that the problem became most acute not under the Tsar, but after the Tsar — why does their desire to secede annoy us so much? Can’t we part with the Odessa beaches? Or the fruit of Circassia?

    For me this is a painful subject, Russia and the Ukraine are united in my blood, my heart, my thoughts. But from friendly contact with Ukrainians in the camps over a long period I have learned how sore they feel. Our generation cannot avoid paying for the mistakes of generations before it.

    Nothing is easier than stamping your foot and shouting: “that’s mine!” It is immeasurably harder to proclaim, “You may live as you please.” We cannot, in the latter end of the twentieth century, live in the imaginary world in which our last, not very bright, Emperor came to grief. Surprising though it may be, the prophecy of our Vanguard Doctrine that nationalism would fade has not come true. In the age of the atom and of cybernetics, it has for some reason blossomed afresh. Like it or not, the time is a hand when we must pay out on all our promissory notes guaranteeing self-determination and independence — pay up of our own accord and not wait to be burned at the stake, downed in rivers, or beheaded. We must prove our greatness as a nation not by the vastness of our territory, not by the number of peoples under our tutelage, but by the grandeur of our actions. And by the depth of our tilth in the lands that remain when those who do not wish to live with us are gone.

    The Ukraine will be an extremely painful problem. But we must realize that the feelings of the whole people are now at a white heat. Since the two peoples have not succeeded over the centuries in living harmoniously, it is up to us to show sense. We must leave the decision to the Ukrainians themselves — let federalists and separatists try their persuasions. Not to give way would be foolhardy and cruel. And the gentler, the more tolerant, the more careful to explain ourselves we are now, the more hope there will be of restoring unity in the future.

    Let them live their own lives, let them see how it works. They will soon find that not all problems are solved by secession.

    The fact that the ratio between those who consider themselves Russian and those who consider themselves Ukrainian varies from province to province of the Ukraine will cause many complications. A plebiscite in each province, and afterward a helpful and considerate attitude to those who wish to move, may be necessary. Not all of the Ukraine in its present official Soviet borders is really Ukrainian. Some of the left-bank provinces undoubtedly will feel drawn to Russia.”

    ***

    • I have quoted the same article in other contexts. Notice what his remedy is though – a plebescite, perhaps from locality to locality or region to region. That is exactly what Russia is advocating (in the Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk) and what Ukraine has labelled as “unconstitutional”. And notice his last two lines. Moreover, no one is currently begrudging the Ukrainians the Ukrainian language (though it is not the mother tongue of very many of them). Kiev was begrudging the Russians their native language in the east.

      Food for thought, and an excellent passage from Solzhenitsyn.

      • Isa Almisry says

        “no one is currently begrudging the Ukrainians the Ukrainian language (though it is not the mother tongue of very many of them)”
        Actually, it is now the mother tongue of the vast majority of them.
        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/Ukraine_census_2001_Ukrainian.svg/620px-Ukraine_census_2001_Ukrainian.svg.png
        http://s17.postimg.org/m1lisd4nz/800px_Ukraine_Native_Languages_Census2001detailed.png

        • Nope, Isa,

          “In an October 2009 poll by FOM-Ukraine of 1,000 respondents, 52% stated they use Russian as their “Language of communication”; while 41% of the respondents state they use Ukrainian and 8% stated they use a mixture of both.[1]

          A March 2010 poll[2] by Research & Branding Group showed that 65% considered Ukrainian as their native language and 33% Russian. This poll also showed the standard of knowledge of the Russian language (free conversational language, writing and reading) in current Ukraine is higher (76%) than the standard of knowledge of the Ukrainian language (69%). More respondents preferred to speak Ukrainian (46%) than Russian (38%) with 16% preferring to speak both in equal manner.

          In a May 2012 poll by RATING 50% of respondents considered Ukrainian their native language, 29% Russian, 20% consider both Ukrainian and Russian their mother tongue and 1% considered a different language their native language.[3]” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ukraine

          The problem is the effect of nationalism on self reporting. You might perceive that the above numbers do not actually add up and the notion of speaking two languages as a mother tongue would be much, much rarer than is reported. Most Ukrainians in the west and east of the country are nationalistic about being Ukrainian and thus more likely to report Ukrainian as their “mother tongue” or one of their “mother tongues” regardless of what they spoke casually as children.

          If you want to get into an awkward moment with someone from Kiev or Odessa or in much of central Ukraine, ask them what their the language is, then ask them in which language they think.

          Moreover, now that they are free to assume Ukrainian as their birthright, they continue to begrudge Rusyns their own separate language.

          Ironic, no?

          • Admittedly though, this statement of mine was awkward and imprecise:

            “though it is not the mother tongue of very many of them”. I should have written “though for very many of them it is not their mother tongue”; i.e., most probably a majority.

          • In the above post with the stats, the phrase “Most Ukrainians in the west and east of the country are nationalistic about being Ukrainian” should read “Most Ukrainians in the west and central region of the country . . .”

          • Isa Almisry says

            “Nope, Isa, “In an October 2009 poll by FOM-Ukraine of 1,000 respondents, 52% stated they use Russian as their “Language of communication”….”
            But you did not say a word about “the language of communication.” You denied Ukrainians their mother tongue.

            The polls you cite do not seem to distinguish between Russians and Ukrainians, lumping them together as Ukrainian citizens. However, the 8,334,100 Russians making up the 17.3% of the total population (down from the all time high of 22.1% just before the fall of Communism) don’t count, as they would, I assUme, speak Russian (although if they spoke Ukrainian, I’d still consider them Russian-that “self-reporting” you refer to). Only 14.8% of Ukrainians report Russian as their mother tongue, 85.2% speaking Ukrainian as their mother tongue. Whether a linguist would so count it doesn’t matter much, when the Ukrainians throw their lot in with Ukrainian-as the great linguist Max Weineich said “A language is a dialect with an army and navy” (oddly enough, in Yiddish, his specialty, which had neither-the Zionists banned the use of Yiddish), and Ukraine now has both.

            “Moreover, now that they are free to assume Ukrainian as their birthright, they continue to begrudge Rusyns their own separate language. Ironic, no?”
            I never tire of pointing that out-especially with the Svoboda ilk.

            • The ethnic Russians living in Ukraine do count. In fact, you could make the case that all Russian speakers in Ukraine are ethnic Russians . . .

              I stand by what I wrote. But it’s nice to know we have a common loathing of Svoboda (and Pravy Sektor, I assume).

      • Steve Knowlton says

        A plebiscite would be acceptable if it were scheduled for WELL into the future. Give both sides 5 years to “try their persuasions” without intimidation by militias without insignia. What happened in the Crimea was not a legitimate plebiscite, it was an orchestrated, hurried, armed takeover.

        • Well, Steve, perhaps they should have consulted you as to the 5 year thing. That would certainly give the US and the EU time to bribe and intimidate lots of people. Alas, twas not to be. It was a legitimate referendum however as any number of international observers agreed.

          • Isa Almisry says

            “It was a legitimate referendum however as any number of international observers agreed.”
            Far more legitimate referendum than the Soviets held to annex Crimea to Ukraine. Oh, that’s right, they didn’ t have one.
            How legitimate were those referendums that Soviets had to annex Eastern Poland (and Northern Romania) and make it Western Ukraine, the homeland of the Svoboda ilk?

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Misha–Russia may be advocating plebiscites because it has successfully inserted its armed forces (on vacation, of course) into Crimea, Lugansk and Donetsk. Indeed, it has already won a great victory in Crimea, closely monitored by the peace-loving Russian armed forces.

        On a personal note, I cannot figure out if you are a Russophile or Russian who is carried away on flights of fancy–thus a useful idiot for Pution, or an agent. Either case you are 100% wrong and some of the blood of the victims of Russian aggression is on your hands.

  16. Francis Frost says

    “By their works shall you know them”
    Matthew 7:16

    While the Russian government carries out cosmetic acts of piety, their actual works are the works of darkness: the oppression of actual Orthodox Christians and the waging of fratricidal war against their neighbors.

    As Russian general Vasili Vasilyevich Krutov declared last spring; the fratricidal war against Ukraine has become a catastrophe for both nations. In Ukraine, civilian casualties are now over 3200 with nearly 1 million displaced refugees. In the occupied territories, the local population has been threatened with torture and death for any visible support to the Ukrainian government.

    Russia’s own young men are being killed and their deaths and burials are hidden so that Putin can maintain a “plausible deniability” of his invasion of Ukrainian territory. A country that refuses to honor its own war dead is not worthy to rule its own people ; much less its illegally occupied neighbors

    His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah, Archbishop of Nikozi and Tskhinvali, Georgian Patriarchate has been trapped in Akhalgori, an occupied territory of Georgia,since Bright Week due to “paperwork” problems. (He entered Akhalgori with the correct and required paperwork allowing entry/exit, then the rules changed.) In July, Russian KGB agents and So. Ossetian separatist authorities paid Meupe Isaiah a visit. Basically they said to him, “How much do you love Akhalgori? If you leave, you will never be able to return.” Meupe answered them that in that case, he will stay in Akhalgori until he dies. There is a deliberate and terrible campaign against the Georgian Patriarchate (and citizens of Georgia, Georgian culture and heritage) in the occupied territories of Abkhazia and So. Ossetia. The So. Ossetian authorities could issue the new paperwork, but won’t – not to this hierarch, nor to any of his priests, monks or nuns in Akhalgori. (Those same authorities did just issue the new exit/entry document to a citizen of Georgia, a pious laywoman.) Please lift up Meupe Isaiah in prayer and love!

    May hardened hearts be softened. Lord have mercy!

    Ukraine crisis: Forgotten death of Russian soldier

    By Steven Rosenberg
    BBC News, Moscow

    Konstantin Kuzmin died aged 29 after joining Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine
    Continue reading the main story
    Ukraine crisis

    A thousand miles from Moscow, on a wooden bench in the yard of her parents’ house, Oksana shares memories of her brother Konstantin.

    She shows me the medal he’d been awarded for military service in the North Caucasus; some of his army photos, too, including a portrait on a military pendant.

    “This is the image we’re going to use on his gravestone,” Oksana explains.

    Three weeks before Konstantin Kuzmin was killed, he was sitting in this yard enjoying a summer holiday.
    “He got a telephone call. He said it was from the commander of his army unit, who told him there was going to be an inspection and that everyone had to be back on base,” Oksana recalls.

    “He left on 23 July. Three days later my brother called to say he was on the move again. It sounded as if he was frightened of something. ‘I’m off to the south west! South-west Ukraine!’ he said. I thought, perhaps, he meant the border area … ” she added.

    “On 8 August we spoke again on the phone. But he was in a rush. He said to our parents ‘Mama, Papa, I love you. Hi to everyone! Kiss my daughter for me…’ Then, when he went to the border, or wherever it was he went, he told us not to call him. He would call us.”

    Oksana says she last saw her brother Konstantin in late July

    Konstantin was a “kontraktnik”, a professional soldier.

    In denial

    Where and how he was killed remains a mystery.

    Three weeks before Konstantin Kuzmin was killed, he was sitting in this yard enjoying a summer holiday.
    “He got a telephone call. He said it was from the commander of his army unit, who told him there was going to be an inspection and that everyone had to be back on base,” Oksana recalls.

    “He left on 23 July. Three days later my brother called to say he was on the move again. It sounded as if he was frightened of something. ‘I’m off to the south west! South-west Ukraine!’ he said. I thought, perhaps, he meant the border area … ” she added.

    “On 8 August we spoke again on the phone. But he was in a rush. He said to our parents ‘Mama, Papa, I love you. Hi to everyone! Kiss my daughter for me…’ Then, when he went to the border, or wherever it was he went, he told us not to call him. He would call us.”

    Oksana continued: “On 17 August the military commissar came to my parents and told them my brother had been killed.”

    “He said a shell fired from Ukrainian territory had landed on Konstantin’s vehicle. That’s all we knew, until the coffin arrived. The official said my brother had been killed in military exercises on the border with Ukraine,” she said.

    “Do you believe the words you are telling me?” Oksana asked the official.
    “No,” he replied.
    “So why are you saying this?” Oksana inquired.

    “They tell us that there is no war, that our soldiers are not involved,” says Oksana now. “So who is responsible for his death? It is the only question which tortures me.”

    Russia’s official position remains unchanged: there are no – and there never were any – Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

    Conclusion: there was no Russian invasion, no Russian incursion, no Kremlin-sponsored war.
    It is a position that paints Russia as innocent bystander in the conflict.

    Moscow does now concede that some Russian soldiers have taken up arms across the border, maintaining these individuals have taken time off from the army and are fighting in their holidays.

    Yet in recent weeks, there have been persistent reports of Russian servicemen being sent to fight in Ukraine; reports, too, of soldiers’ funerals across Russia.
    Knocked and beaten

    Steve Rosenberg reports: ”Someone clearly did not want our material broadcast”
    It is a hugely sensitive subject.

    That may explain what happened to our news team after the interview with Oksana.
    As we were leaving her village we were stopped by traffic police.
    Our car boot was checked, as were our identities.

    We drove on to Astrakhan, 40 miles away, for lunch.
    When we left the cafe and approached our vehicle, we were confronted and attacked by at least three aggressive individuals.

    Our cameraman was knocked to the ground and beaten.The attackers grabbed the BBC camera, smashed it on the road and took it away in their getaway car.

    We spent more than four hours at the police station being questioned by investigators.
    Buried and forgotten

    Konstantin’s family were told of his death when Russian military officials visited them on 17 August
    On the way to the airport we discovered that, while we had been at the police station, some of the recording equipment in the car had been tampered with.

    The hard drive of our main computer and several memory cards had been wiped clean.
    Fortunately we had uploaded the interview to London earlier in the day.

    But why would anyone set out to destroy our material and to silence the sister of a Russian soldier?
    Oksana is no terrorist, no political opponent of the Russian government.

    All she wants to know is the truth about Konstantin’s death – where exactly he died and how – and ensure that the army does not turn its back on her dead brother.

    “He loved Russia, he was so patriotic,” Oksana tells me.

    “I just don’t understand how they can forget a soldier like him. He was killed, he was buried and he was forgotten.”

    In reality dozens of Russian soldiers as well as non uniformed Chechens and cossacks have been fighting and dying in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has exchanged dozens of captured Russian soldiers for their own captives. Still the lies go on and on while innocents suffer and die.

    This is Orthodoxy? This is Christianity? Sick; it is just sick and depraved.

    Lord have mercy while there is still time.

    • Mr. Frost–You are 100% right about the heavy handed and voracious bear that has returned to plague the former Russian Empire. Unfortunately, there are some folks who cannot, or will themselves not to, see the truth. We must pray that somehow the Russian people will take Solzhenitsyn’s advice to heart (see Steve Knowlton’s post above) and strive to be true Orthodox Christians rather than patriotic Russian Orthodox.

      • Ashey Nevins says

        That will be difficult since top down hierarchical church power and control lines up closely to a state dictatorship in how it rules.

        I do not see Christ in the Gospels coming to us church/state authoritarian power and control rule. That was manufactured, fabricated and developed long after He left us.

        The church seems to take on the model of the culture it is in. In the east it is church/state and in the west the western rational modernity model is a Drucker like church model (ex: Saddleback church). The Protestant model is far more bottom up and open system inclusive than the exclusive top down authoritarian Orthodox model. Yet, does either model really reflect what Christ intended?

        Objectively, there are problems with both western freedom of religion Christianity and eastern authoritarian church/state religion Christianity.

        In the bigger picture which one, eastern or western Christianity, is taking the Great Commission forward with the most relevancy and effectiveness in the modernity world?

        The Orthodox need to realize something. The Orthodox are not going to roll back America freedom of religion, western rational modernity Christianity or the Protestant evangelical church. Top down Christianity is not going to roll back bottom up Christianity. Church/state religion is not going to roll back freedom of religion in America. Closed system exclusive Christianity is not going roll back open system inclusive Christianity. The east is not going to roll back the west.

        If you are anti west, rational and modernity that is America and how the majority of Christianity here thinks how can you ever expect to become relevant here? If you have your minds in the east and not the west you will not find relevancy in the west. If Putin and Krill can’t convince you, what will? If the most corrupt country in the EU, church/state Greece, can’t convince, what will? If the failure of the two largest EO jurisdictions in America can’t convince, what will? One jurisdiction is Russian based and the other is Greek based, get it?

        The Orthodox in America have a real relevancy dilemma on their hands and on many different levels. Freedom of religion open system inclusive Christianity in America is not exclusive closed system ethnic Orthodox church/state Christianity. America is not EO, never was and never will be. Freedom of religion will not allow a church/state theology in a monarchy to rule over it, period. Theocracy is not America. We simply are not going to allow foreign church rule to rule America like it does the Orthodox in America.

        Wishing or wanting America to embrace Orthodoxy is wishing and wanting America to in affect embrace church/state, foreign rule and top down religious authoritarianism. I would say America has enough problems and does not need the problem of becoming one with a systemically corrupt hierarchical authoritarian church.

        Yes, tell me how the Orthodox would not like Orthodoxy to be the STATE religion of America when it is that from where it came from.

        The Orthodox are 1% of the Christianity here and to believe that 1% is going to convert American Christianity into predominately Orthodoxy here is delusional. Have you ever heard of the Southern Baptists? Did you know that Saddleback church is SB? Do the combined Orthodox jurisdictions have the impact on Christianity in America that this one Saddleback church has, let alone the 18 million Southern Baptists?

        Wishing and wanting are idealism. However, idealism is not reality. A reality strategy that is a niche strategy is the strategy for the Orthodox in America but they really don’t know how to develop it. The OCA tried and it failed. The GOA today is trying to save itself from demographic implosion. I predict that save the GOA strategy will fail within 5 years. Where will the OCA be in 5 years? Where will Orthodoxy in America be in 5 years?

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          Frankly, I don’t know any clear thinking Orthodox who think that Americans will convert to Orthodoxy en-masse. Nor do I know any clear thinking Orthodox who think that Protestant Christianity will ever rise above its cultural limitations. (Protestantism does not have the depth needed to transcend the causes of the moral breakdown of the Christian West, which is to say that the causes of the crisis in Protestantism and the larger cultural crisis in the West are synonymous.)

          I think too that most clear thinking Orthodox are well aware of the problems in our Churches. It’s no secret and discussed here openly all the time. However, not being Roman the commitment to the Orthodox faith is deeper than allegiance to institutional structures, and not being Protestant the temptation to radical individualism is avoided.

          As for American freedom of religion, that requires a moral consensus exclusively Christian in character (only Christianity can tolerate liberty), but as the West becomes increasingly de-Christianized that freedom will disappear (the consensus is already fractured). As I posted elsewhere, a revolution will not be needed like we saw in Russia. Liberty will be handed over willingly, under the rubric of increased freedom.

          If America ever becomes Orthodox it will probably happen in this way: When the coming darkness has run its course and the cultural structures built to enforce the tyranny finally collapse of spiritual exhaustion, people will look for places of light for guidance on how to rebuild. Those places of light might be the small communities that will form around the monasteries in order to endure the coming tyranny.

          I don’t think your open systems theory will carry the day either.

          • Very well stated.

          • Tim R Mortiss says

            “…..Protestant Christianity will [n]ever rise above its cultural limitations. (Protestantism does not have the depth needed to transcend the causes of the moral breakdown of the Christian West, which is to say that the causes of the crisis in Protestantism and the larger cultural crisis in the West are synonymous.”

            You know, it’s hard to disagree. On the other hand, statements of this sort are wholly unprovable. God’s ways are not our ways, and Providence, though ever-present, is unknowable. The Holy Spirit bloweth where he listeth.

            I hope it will be otherwise than you predict.

          • Frankly, I don’t know any clear thinking Orthodox who think that Americans will convert to Orthodoxy en-masse.

            Orthodoxy is irrelevant to and hidden from 99% of Americans. Orthodoxy is not particularly well governed; blogs like this publicize the infighting and Byzantine politics at every opportunity. The Orthodox do not seem to be any holier than any run of the mill Protestant or Catholic; there are no “living saints” in American Orthodoxy, or if they exist, they are tucked away in monasteries.

            Who WOULD want to convert?

            • “Frankly, I don’t know any clear thinking Orthodox who think that Americans will convert to Orthodoxy en-masse.”

              “Who WOULD want to convert?”

              Well, I have faced this dilemma at times and have no good answer for it:

              I’m working in area X where there is no traditional Orthodox parish. Perhaps there is some modernist presence there and I attend their church for liturgy since, misguided as they may be, their mysteries still convey grace.

              I begin talking with someone who is a sincere seeker after God. They see a light in some of what I say and in some insights of Orthodoxy into this or that – perhaps morality, perhaps ecclesiology, more likely things regarding controlling the passions and “obtaining the Holy Spirit”.

              Yet there is a problem. If I suggest they attend my present parish, all they’re going to hear is feel good sermons or ones directed along modernist lines of compromising with the culture; they will eat baklava or kibbie and work at festivals. God is part of the scenery, but that’s about it. It’s nothing at all more than a form of Byzantine-rite Americanism.

              So what to do?

              I tend to be honest about the problem, since all churches have problems. I encourage them to read about Orthodoxy but warn them that what they get at the local temple is only Orthodoxy lite and that they will need to delve and, when it is possible, move on to a deeper appreciation elsewhere.

              This is the chief reason that Orthodoxy has not spread in this country. It treats the whole business as a business, a question of sales appeal. Many churches mimic the heterodox churches in their thinking and practice.

              Yet if you introduce “T Cola”, engineered to taste like Coke and Pepsi, you’re only going to dent their market share. You won’t really convert anyone to anything worth the trouble.

              If you treat the Church as the only Body of Christ on Earth and make a sharp distinction between what is inside the Church (i.e., Orthodoxy) and outside the Church (all other religious expressions of whatever variety – Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), then you have a shot at making the same impact as did the earlier Orthodox missionaries in countries that eventually embraced the faith.

              An Orthodoxy which is just one among many is not Orthodoxy at all and has no hope of saving anything or anyone.

        • Ashley,

          Those who frequent this site all know of your tragic circumstances in the loss of your son. We also know the patient and most-gracious attitude of forbearance George affords you by posting your musings. But, finally, you are not going to convince anyone because of your dislike of the Orthodox Church, by continuing to post here, in some sort of mission to turn us from our Faith.

          You have made your points here, again and again, and you keep saying the same thing no matter what you write.

          Please, give it a rest. Find peace where you can but stop with you attacks on Orthodoxy. We are not going to fold up our collective tents in North America. We are here to stay. If we grow, we grow because the Holy Spirit will give us growth. If we don’t, then we don’t but we will not ever disappear from these shores and your “insights” will not cause us to abandon the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

          If you write here as some sort of cathartic therapy it might be best to type what you need to type, but not hit the send button because no one here is your clergyman nor your therapist and our response is only pity for you in your pain.

          God bless and keep you and may you find peace, but stop thinking by being our self-appointed whipping boy that you are doing us or yourself any good. The Church has faced greater spokespersons for our demise and we have and will survive.

        • Johann Sebastian says

          What Mr. Nevins is suggesting is that in the megachurches, Americanism trumps Christianity.

          • Isa Almisry says

            And a 100 years from now, what will be left of a mega church? Given their history in the 1800s, not much if anything. Is there even an example of a mega church lasting a century?

        • Isa Almisry says

          “The Orthodox are 1% of the Christianity here and to believe that 1% is going to convert American Christianity into predominately Orthodoxy here is delusional.”
          It started in the Roman Empire when there was only one Disciple at the Cross and a bunch of women. And yet the Empire was converted in time.

    • Good to see you are back at it, Francis. Wouldn’t know you were healthy, wet nose and shiny coat, without a string of stuff like this. Keep up the good work!

  17. Communism and the reordering of man as merely an object of sexual desire/orientation, are both consistent with atheistic materialism. Man is not an end in himself, nor is man a means to an end; from The Beginning, man was created for communion with God, Who Willed us worthy of redemption.

  18. ROCORthodox says

    Forget government. Neither the Russian nor US government will be standing before the Judgement Seat for us. We have the Church, the Mysteries and each other to help us prepare for that day. God help us all!

  19. Antonio Arganda says

    I believe that Sheldon Wolin got it right in 2003 with the idea of “Inverted Totalitarianism” as the new face of the 21st Century United States.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      The totalitarianism won’t be inverted, the morality will be. Totalitarianism is structural. The rationale justifying it will be an inversion of Christian morality, a confusion that began with the appropriation of the Christian moral vocabulary by cultural Marxists (Progressives), or more precisely philosophical materialists, decades ago.

      Gay rights is a important component of this conceptual inversion because it posits a new anthropology. Once the anthropological shift is complete, there will be no moral/cultural barriers left to resist the structural shift. A revolution like we saw in Russia early in the last century will not be necessary because people will embrace the tyranny thinking it is freedom.

  20. Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

    Yet another demonstration of the vitality of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in the spiritual and intellectual life of Orthodoxy in this country, cynical claims to the contrary notwithstanding, is the Student Conference at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, titled, “The Brightest Luminary of the Russian Land: Life and Legacy of St Sergius of Radonezh.” According to the promotional page on the Seminary website, the program of this conference, which runs from Friday morning, October 9, through Saturday, October 10, “features a diverse array of papers from pastors, scholars, and theology students, addressing various aspects of St Sergius’ historical, ascetic, theological, and liturgical legacy.”

    Two of the scheduled panel presentations on Saturday will include two prolific contributors to this blog hosted by George M–namely, Prof. Alf Kentigern Siewers of Bucknell University and Michael Woerl (Independent Scholar). “Many years” to both Kentigern and Michael!

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Ditto. With those two men speaking there is no doubt there will be penetrating insight into the place of our Orthodox faith in modernity.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Well said, Fr.

        • Кентигерн Сиверс says

          Fathers, your blessing! Thank you both, and you George, for the undeservedly kind thoughts. But Michael’s paper was the illuminating one of the two, as were the many others. It was good to meet him and all those gathered at Holy Trinity Seminary, including especially Vladyka Jerome and Archimandrite Luke, the abbot. We are blessed in North America to have such a community, together with the monastery there. They deserve all of our support, regardless of our jurisdictions and likes and dislikes about aspects of American Orthodoxy. The discussions and scholarship on St. Sergius of Radonzeh were really edifying and inspiring, the services especially beautiful, and the fellowship enjoyable. I was struck by one thread of discussion there regarding St. Sergius’ legacy for Orthodoxy in America today by Fr. Luke, Michael, and others: How one man, chosen of God, yet not falling in his ascetic and hesychastic struggle, a servant-leader, left such a blessed spiritual iinfluence, including his ongoing intercession. With God’s grace and through his struggle, St. Sergius helped transform the household of society in what was becoming Russia, helping to shape an entire country. He did not leave the public square to founder in his asceticism, but by his prayers, example, and his community across generations, he helped to transfigure it. The city came to him in the forest, so to speak. His example shows the crucial need today for stepped-up support for Orthodox monasticism in America along with other mission work. The example of holiness and networks of community and ascetic struggle that monasticism in the spirit of St. Sergius inspires will be essential for American Orthodoxy to survive and convert the “secularist yoke” that we face today. St. Sergius of Radonezh, pray for us in America amid many troubling signs of the times.

    • With a name like Alf, how can you go wrong? Holy St. Alfred, pray to God for us! Vitality in the ROCOR, indeed…

      http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/athlifea.htm

    • Yet another demonstration of the vitality of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in the spiritual and intellectual life of Orthodoxy in this country, cynical claims to the contrary notwithstanding, is the Student Conference at Holy Trinity Seminary in Jordanville, NY, titled, “The Brightest Luminary of the Russian Land: Life and Legacy of St Sergius of Radonezh.”

      It is a demonstration of utter irrelevance, not vitality. Outside of those gathered at the seminary and a few geeky church-obsessive types, nobody paid any attention. And who could blame the vast majority of Orthodox (not to mention non-Orthodox) for ignoring the affair? The saint was a cloistered monastic of seven centuries past…

      • Isa Almisry says

        “The saint was a cloistered monastic of seven centuries past…”
        And yet millions still remember him.

  21. http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/74320.htm

    300 Russian soldiers baptized and church erected on military base.

  22. This is in response to Stankovich’s comment asking me to provide support for my assertions that Fr. Schmemann was hostile to both monasticism and ROCOR:

    “Misha,

    Since you are lost, let me offer you a beginning point. Since I know you never heard a word spoken by Archpriest Alexander Schmemann , why not provide support: actual, verifiable written support for your contention that he loathed both monasticism & ROCOR. He was my instructor & confessor and I am hardly intimidated by your surly, sarcastic dismissal. You would do well to actually read Fr. Alexander than the internet. Put up or shut up.”

    The thread containing the comment was (mercifully) cut off. At first, I couldn’t believe he was serious. Schmemann’s remarks contemptuous of monasticism and the way in which he would remake it are common knowledge. However, if anyone is interested, some of his anti-monastic remarks can be found here in a talk given by Sister Vassa at SVS (of all places!):

    http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/svs_liturgical_symposium/father_alexander_schmemann_and_monasticism

    As well as in this review of his Diaries (with citations), which has the best assessment of him I’ve ever read:

    http://www.rocorstudies.org/articles/2011/03/10/comparing-notes-the-diaries-dnevniki-of-fr-alexander-schmemann-and-russian-church-unity-in-the-diaspora/

    As for his hostility toward ROCOR, I can’t believe anyone is challenging that fact. However, for those who doubt it, here is Fr. Schmemann’s reply to The Sorrowful Epistle of Metropolitan Filaret of ROCOR, a letter addressed to the hierarchs of the Greek Church expressing alarm at ecumenism:

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/schmem_azkoul.aspx

    And here is a response to Schmemann’s defamations:

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/schmem_azkoul2.aspx

    And I tend to sympathize, if not totally agree with the views of Archbishop Chrysostomos expressed here:

    http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/commentsschmey.aspx

    I can provide quite a bit more for anyone who wishes to look at it. I have refrained from providing the direct quotes of Fr. Alexander from the articles in this post since I am merely defending the fact that there is a substantial basis for my earlier characterization. Not interested in debating this point ad nauseam as we have others.

    • Simple Peasant says

      Misha,
      Thank you for the excellent references. I’ve witnessed the same negative attitudes toward monasticism and OC Orthodoxy that are referred to in these links while I was briefly a member of an OCA parish. The people that held these attitudes spoke highly of Hopko, Meyendorff, and Schmemann.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Very much enjoyed the article by Archpriest Andrew Phillips.

      • Yes, Tim,

        He seems like he wants to be fair to Fr. Schmemann while at the same not glossing over his shortcomings, especially as they relate to the faith. My sense is that his assessment, though not objective, is probably the closest to a sugarless yet fair assessment of who Fr. Alexander was based on what he did and what he wrote, as well as how he related to others.

    • M. Stankovich says

      Misha,

      As I initially noted, you never heard a word he spoke nor had the opportunity to observe his actions and practices, which, in fact, spoke louder than words. And so, like what you offer, your “substantial basis for characterization” is from individuals who drew opinions of him by “inference,” some at great distance. And pardon me for saying it – as I know them personally – but you appear to have gone out of your way to select unreliable, even unstable sources.

      I find it odd that that Archpriest Andrew Phillips’ interpretation of the “theology” – or lack thereof – of Alexander Schmemann does not contain a single reference from his classic writings such as For the Life of the World, a book which has been translated into numerous languages and is often noted by converts as the beginning of their journey to Orthodoxy; or Of Water and the Spirit, a book for which he was so proud that he gave a copy directly from the box received from the publisher to those of us in his Liturgy of Initiation course. Have you even read his Introduction to Liturgical Theology – and I strongly suspect not – and what about it is “Parisian” or heretical, if you even know?

      Further, Archpriest Andrew provides no context for Fr. Alexander’s thoughts or words expressed in his diaries, and I have mentioned, I believe him to have been plagued with an dysthymic affect, and he was notorious for his impatience and frustration at the seeming indifference and timidity of the hierarchs of the OCA, so easily intimidated by those he saw as “forsaken to to secularism,” as he wrote in The Problems of Orthodoxy in America, which, ironically, would constitute my entire generation of first-born Americans. And in this case, it was precisely the Old Calendar, Church Slavonic, and the compartmentalization of “religion” as an element of their empty ethnicity that drove them away. They married elsewhere, they baptized elsewhere, and they were buried elsewhere. Yet Phillips makes no mention of how, like clockwork, every single year beginning with the Vigil of the Entrance of the Lord into Jerusalem, our little chapel was inundated with people from ROCOR – and the services, which always had some Slavonic when I arrived at SVS, and much more on the Feasts to accommodate the “needs” of the ROCOR attendees, surged to more than 60% during Holy Week and Pascha – forcing a “team” of non-singers to block their entry after the midnight procession until those who attend the SVS chapel as their parish had the opportunity to enter first.

      And for heaven’s sake where is the joy that characterized Alexander Schmemann the man, in his sermons, in his lectures, as a confessor, and as a teacher? Archpriest Andrew Phillips and the others you ignorantly plunder from the internet wouldn’t know – Phillips says he met him once in an awkward conversation – because they did not know him, and like you, seem to have drawn conclusions from the inference of others. He was a “renovationist” because he read aloud the “secret prayers” and never closed the Royal Doors except for the priest’s communion. Is this man serious? Are we all idiots? Should we burn the service books lest the faithful actually read the “secret prayers” and descriptions of what is happening behind the closed doors and be burned alive like those who dared touch the mountain Moses had ascended? Andrew Phillips took this comment of eliminating the second half of the hexapsalmos of Matins as a concessions to the Bishops who suggested removing them entirely. I published his entire letter defending removing nothing from our ordo of services except what a 19th century Russian liturgical commission indicated was logically redundant. There was no one more liturgically traditional than Alexander Schmemann, and I am sure Archpriest Andrew Phillips is well aware of the letter.

      In the end, Misha, you have no business speaking to this issue. All you are able to do is quote third-rate sources speaking about a man they actually did not know, and like you, had never taken the time to actually study. I am more than pleased that you have already promised not to pursue this further, as you have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

      • Stankovich,

        First, yes, I was born to late to have met Fr. Alexander as an adult. And that means nothing.

        Second, there are a number of quotes from Fr. Alexander included in the St. Vassa article, most of which support my point to a “t”.

        Third, I couldn’t possibly care less whether you think I should speak or write about this and will continue to do so to the extent I please. You have no authority whatsoever and should quit your pretentious posturing.

        • M. Stankovich says

          My “pretentious posturing” and authority is simply quoting your own words: ” Not interested in debating this point ad nauseam as we have others.” It would seem you care a great deal as to what I think or you would have ceased the nauseam. I have spent too much time around psychopaths and criminals to be intimidated by your silly attempts at sarcasm, and your childish joy at referring to me as “Stankovich.” It seems impossible to join any discussion in which you are participating where you are not belittling someone, attempting to intimidate, or simply being rude. I don’t get it. Perhaps you’ve not noticed, but it is “discussion-killing” behaviour. Go audition for Jeopardy if you need applause and points on the board.

  23. M. Stankovich says

    This is the quote of Fr. Fr. Alexander Schmemann regarding “liturgical renovationism” I mentioned above:

    The Russian Church herself, through the voice of her own Episcopate, found the liturgical situation in pre-revolutionary Russia extremely unsatisfactory and requiring substantial corrections and changes. To realize the scope of that dissatisfaction and the truly pastoral concern of the Russian Bishops, it suffices to read the Reports of the Diocesan Bishops Concerning the Question of Church Reform written in preparation for the Great Council of the Russian Church and published in 1906 by the Russian Holy Synod (Vol. I, 548 pp., Vol. II, 562 pp.). May I stress that these reports were written not by representatives of some academic group or tendency, but by conservative and pastorally oriented Bishops who clearly realized the growing nominalism and confusion stemming precisely from the “standard books” and a Typikon not revised since 1682.

    “Worship,” writes, for example, Bishop Seraphim of Polotsk, “is performed by clergy, and as to the people-even if they pray during services, their prayer remains private and not corporate for it usually has no link, external or internal, to what is going on in the church” (I, 176). Almost unanimously the Bishops who write on liturgical matters ask for a parish typikon distinct from the monastic one, since the obvious impossibility to comply with the latter results, according to Bishop Michael of Minsk, in “49,000 parishes celebrating irregular worship.” They ask for the shortening of services, “which have become incomprehensible and therefore boring,” for the revision of rubrics, and for new translations-from Church Slavonic into Russian. They see the need for certain changes in the Divine Liturgy itself. It is indeed the apostle of American Orthodoxy, the future Patriarch Tikhon then Bishop of North America, who suggests “abolishing certain litanies which are repeated much too often” and “the reading aloud of secret prayers” (I, 537), and he is seconded by several others: Evlogy of Warsaw (“one should without any question abolish litanies for catechumens,” II, 287), Constantine of Samara (I, 441) etc. “It is imperative,” writes Gregory of Astrach, “to revise the Typikon. This book. . not revised since 1682, has acquired in the eyes of the zealots the character of something eternal, dogmatic and unchangeable. . . . And precisely because of this it ceased to regulate worship. . . . It is essential to revise it in the light of the perfectly legitimate needs of the faithful so that it may again become operative and understandable. Such a revision is perfectly in continuity with the past practice of the Church in this area” (I, 324). Clearly the Russian Bishops see in the nominal, incomprehensible, and often defective worship the source of the people’s alienation from the Church, of the growing success of the sects, and of the progressive dechristianization of Russian society.

    The Russian Sobor of 1917-18, in preparation for which these reports were written was interrupted before it could deal with liturgical questions. It is permissible to think, however, that one of the reasons for the massive apostasy of the Russian people from the Church is to be found precisely in the state of worship so lucidly and pastorally diagnosed by the Russian Bishops long before the Revolution, And if today among certain Russians deeply wounded by the revolutionary collapse there exists the tendency to idealize-almost fanatically-the pre-revolutionary state of the Russian Church, including her liturgical life, there is no reason for us to make ours their emotional rejection of historical evidence, their blind pseudo-conservatism, and their plain ignorance. Applicable to them are the words written as early as 1864 by one of the pioneers of Russian liturgical scholarship, Archbishop Philaret of Chernigov:

    For such people the order of worship with which they are familiar is the original and unchanging order. Why? Because they wholly ignore the history of Church life and, obsessed with themselves, cherish only that which they know. History clearly shows that in liturgical matters the Church dealt with reasonable freedom: she adopted new forms when she saw that the old arrangements were not altogether useful and there was need for a change… Here, as in other matters, she neither accepted the rule of those who, according to apostolic institutions, are to be disciples and not teachers, nor did she allow herself to go into deep sleeping but paid great attention to the needs of the time and the demands of souls…

    We should rather remember and meditate upon the stormy history of the Russian Church which, for all her wonderful spiritual achievements and examples of unsurpassed holiness, seems to have been periodically plagued precisely with acute liturgical problems, or rather with the inability to solve them due to the absence of theological knowledge and historical perspective. This resulted only too often in the inability to discern between genuine Tradition and all kinds of customs and even deviations, between the essential and the historically contingent, the important and the accidental. We should remember, for example, the tragic case of St. Maximus the Greek who, invited in the sixteenth century to correct “abuses,” spent almost all his life in jail because he dared to question errors and defects in the “standard” texts of that time. Also there is the no less revealing case of the Archimandrite Dionisius who in 1618 was condemned by a council, beaten, tortured, and imprisoned for correcting the most obvious errors in the worship of his time. Finally there is the case of the Raskol itself, in which an amazing ignorance, an almost total lack of criteria on both sides, played such a truly fateful part.

    Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “A Letter to My Bishop,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, Vol. 17, 3, 1973, pp. 239-243.

    • Fr. Peter M. Dubinin says

      Thank you M. Stankovich and Misha – for me there was never a conflict between Fr. Schmemann and the ROCOR (excepting some of the bad experiences from my youth mentioned in a previous entry); especially the literature produced by ROCOR . Fr. Schmemann’s writing was instrumental in my return to the Orthodox Church; and yes, ‘For the Life of the World’ and ‘Of Water and the Spirit’ being among the most influential. These two works allowed me to break through the mental block of Evangelical pseudo-theology regarding Sacrament or rather, Holy Mysteries. As I read and reflected and allowed my previously constructed pseudo-theology to collapse, I came upon what was for me one of the most significant truths which brought me back to the Church. In my Evangelical experience I spoke a great deal about a ‘personal’ relationship with Jesus Christ; in embracing the Holy Mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood, I actually and really received Jesus into my very being. This may sound so incredibly simple and obvious, but for me it was truly an overwhelming discovery/rediscovery. As I continued in Orthodox development I was significantly encouraged, admonished, corrected especially by the writings of St. Theophan the Recluse; so much so that I remember and invoke St Theophan the Recluse at every Divine Liturgy I serve. My spiritual daughter painted a beautiful icon of St. Theophan for me recognizing the esteem with which I hold him. I continue to be nurtured by the writings of St. Ignatii (Brianchaninov), especially ‘The Arena.’ I whole heartedly believe a God-inspired monasticism is essential; as I read Church History I cannot help but realize in those places characterized as strong in the Faith display a healthy interaction between the monastery and the people often living in vicinity to the monastery. The very natural emphasis Metropolitan Jonah placed on the development of monasticism is what won me over in his support; maintaining a traditional expression as well as encouraging a monasticism manifested under episcopal supervision within the parish. This truly excited me as a priest. I’m sorry I never had opportunity to meet Fr. Schmemann. He died a number of years before I returned to the Church; even so, I was significantly impressed by what I saw and learned in his writings with a man who loved God, loved his Savior Jesus Christ, strove mightily to be attune to the grace and work of the Holy Spirit in the Chuurch.

  24. On the rebirth of Christianity in Russia – from the Catholic Herald. I was tempted to pass this by but it is well done, considering:

    http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/74587.htm