Russia’s Resurgence: Orthodoxy and the Family

It’s been a tumultuous week for Yours Truly; it started out in the valley but ended up on a peak. A very high one indeed. And the view from the mountain top is grand indeed! And for this I thank the Lord, He is good beyond measure.

Anyway, the news regarding the resurgence of Orthodoxy (which one of my correspondents told me I was mispronouncing –I’ll try to remember from now on) in Russia continues apace. Below you will find a mini-documentary describing some of the wonderful things going on.

Below that video, you will find another one about the newly-built Church of the 21 Martyrs in Egypt, which was built with the support of President El-Sisi. (Courtesy of Byzantine, Texas)

Glory to God for all things!



  1. Here’s where the rubber meets the road:

    And here’s where it gets complicated:

    You will notice in the story on the “slapping law”, as its called, that only extreme incidences and situations are reported. Not how it affects, if at all, the daily life of normal Russians. None of the instances reported in BBC are situations where the husband used some restrained violence in some extreme situation (you would think that would be the case given that it is called the “slapping law” and injuries that would require a hospital visit are not exempted).

    The whole Western campaign on this is relentlessly, ruthlessly dishonest. The West is gynephobic, terrified of offending feminists. It’s tragic and its killing us demographically here and in Europe.

    But, all things must pass. To rule is to have the right to coerce, if need be.

    Here’s a more balanced, yet still over-dramatized, treatment:

    And more on the rapid self-destruction of the Roman confession:

    • Deep Steak says

      ho ho ho, the guy who wakes up every morning mad he wasn’t born a saudi religious policeman is upset the western media has the gall to point out giving your wife a black eye isn’t a criminal offense in holy rus

      right to coerce eh

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        What does a Russian guy tell a woman with two black eyes?


        He told her twice already

        • Willy Der Wentzel says

          That’s right. Keep the coals of bigotry afire. It’s no longer safe to joke about Blacks, Jews, or Gays, but Russians and Greeks are fair game.

  2. Thanks for the video links George! I really enjoyed them. I pray to God that Orthodoxy, and strong Christian values will truly spread to the majority of the common folk of Russia, not just anomalies like clergy with 18 kids and a mansion. I admit it was a heavenly site, but far from reality for most Russian families.

    Imagine Russia, after 80 years of Communism and corruption become a Great Witness to the rest of Europe, and the world! The only downfall is Satan, and his demons will be working overtime to see It destroyed again. Evil agents of the world will no doubt attack. I pray Russians have learned from their bloody, and tortured past.

    There has to be a special place in Heaven for that Russian woman who has taken in all those orphans. What a beautiful woman! God Bless her! Also touched witnessing the joy of the Martyrs relatives, now that a church has been built honoring them. Nothing heals like The Grace of God.

  3. Polly Polonium says

    You are so full of Polonium! Most of the board at GOA refers to you as “That Nut” while anyone who wants to teach about Orthodoxy at any major university needs to first be accepted to publish at Public Orthodoxy.

  4. Polly Polonium says

    And, most major universities block your site as a Russian bot

    • M. Stankovich says

      Uh, waitress, Polly, as you leave the bottle – whiskey for all my friends! (Pardon me, that was Mickey Rourke in Barfly) – perhaps you would be so kind as to name 5 major universities that block the site? WAT? OK, for the sake of expediency, how about 3 verifiable major university? Something tells me you are a Norwegian brown rat, but I’ll wait & see…

  5. Sean Richardson says

    Recently I had the chance to speak with a couple Americans, who have deep roots in Russian Orthodoxy, who have spent long periods of time in Russia in recent years, up to 6-9 months at a time. When asked about the state of Orthodoxy in Russia they chuckled and suggested that it’s not nearly as optimistic as has been romanticized by American Orthodox. One item they noted was: If every church in Moscow was filled to capacity on any given Sunday, only 10% of the population, or less, would be able to attend. Yes, it looks as if the churches are filled, and many of them are, but it doesn’t take into account the people who do not attend, and who, after years of Soviet indoctrination, often have little or no Christian faith. Another item they noted was in some rural areas there are still long geographical gaps between functioning churches.

    Has there been a resurgence? Absolutely! Has the population of Russia completely embraced Orthodoxy or even Christianity? Not even close. So, while celebrating the positive steps that have been taken, let’s keep things in perspective and not fall into mythology or romanticism.

    • You can’t sell a Russian religion in America. You need to sell AMERICAN Orthodoxy. Moscow Pat is chaplain to Putin. They are selling propaganda about how great, powerful, and wonderful all things are. How come everyone’s trying to leave for California? I don’t want to hear about Russia or Greece. They had the religion for millennia and have corrupted it. Time for a fully American Orthodox Church.

      • Sean Richardson says

        Spiro, I agree 100% that there must develop an American Orthodoxy. As a convert to Orthodoxy, to be honest, I’m tired of going into churches and hearing foreign languages and music, even in all-English churches which there are precious few of, that is still in minor keys and melodies that are painful to my American ears.

        I had hope that the Evangelical Orthodox Church would bring Orthodoxy to America. I’ve attended services in Goleta and Ben Lommond, and I’ve been recently disappointed. They’ve become an adopted child of the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Middle East, and they’ve forgotten their roots. Very sad indeed.

        • Antiochene Son says

          Why is everything all about you? This entire post is complaining about why this and that doesn’t suit your tastes.

          The church is what it is. If change happens, it happens very, very slowly. You’re not entitled to have it your way; go be Protestant if you want to have your personal tastes catered to.

          If anything, the church ought to form the culture, not vice-versa. That’s how it usually happened in history.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says


            Or you can go live in Syria or Russia

            • George Michalopulos says

              That’s not really fair, BJ. Speaking for myself, I fell so in love with Ruthenian plainchant (thanks to my first visit to St Seraphim’s in Dallas for their consecration back on April 20, 2000) that I could never go back to what I was raised in in the GOA. Which itself was not Byzantine plainchant but Americanized four-part harmonies that were more operatic than prayerful.

              However, that’s on me. I don’t judge your own experiences.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says


                Well, I think it’s more fair than to say don’t touch the cultural issue – otherwise go be Protestant.

                Actually, I’ve been to a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic church many times

                It’s weird to me that the only place where I felt could actually sing the divine liturgy from the heart was there. The plainchant can easily be belted out (words fail me, but thats the best I can describe – no disrespect intended), which I found much easier for the soul to connect with God and reminded me of very robust heart-felt worship one may experience in a revival meeting. We must be able to do this. Many Protestants groups do this well. But – to do similar is not to copy them. It’s to return to these more indigenous chants that belong to our history long before Protestants ever existed

                I have to say, I like it a lot

                I also didn’t feel a lot of cultural barriers like I do in Orthodox Church. I’m not sure why.

                But, my faith is Orthodox, not Catholic, so I didnt become Byzantine Catholic.

                Michael Bauman asked what an American Orthodox Church would look like

                I like to think of that plainchant, with the cross you’ve posted, and a welcoming attitude for all – all under one American Orthodox juristiction

                We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just assemble the pieces of the mission correctly

                IMO – as long as we have different ethnic juristictions and be dependent on foreign bishops, this can not happen. It’s a cart before the horse thing along with needless baggage. We should be suprised our building looks wunky having the multiple different juristictional foundations we have

                The right foundation of one United American church

                I would think it important to leave most preexisting parishes alone, other than name change and English requirement as not to destroy preexisting communities.

                I would then like to see an ambitious start (God willing) of new mission parishes with a new American model plan. All new parishes do so going forward. This is allowing for both arguments – helping the American Orthodox time to mature while also being faithful to mission and purpose

                In time, the cultural issues would subside and become mostly invisible

                I’m shooting from the hip here, so I’m not at all thinking I’m presenting any type of cohesive plan. I am just trying to say the development of such a plan is really not out of reach

                Then again, what do I know?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Billy Jack, please see the essay I posted last night regarding the Byzantine Catholic tradition. I agree with you and I can see that you and I are kindred spirits.

                  P.S. I believe you asked me if you could post a video response on this blog. Of course. That option is open to everybody by the way.

                  • Johann Sebastian says

                    The “Byzantine Catholic” tradition is Orthodoxy.

                    We Ruthenians did not choose to be under Rome. We were forced.

                    In many ways, Unia in Orthodox areas of the former Polish-Lithuanian and Austro-Hungarian Empires mirrors the Soviet infiltration of the Russian Church during the mid 20th century.

                    Every mainstream analysis of the history of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church fixates on how “their” church properties were confiscated and “given” to the Russian Orthodox Church by Stalin–admittedly by questionable and detestable methods. But almost no one explores the early history: that the UGCC basically represents a branch of what was to become the ROC that was hijacked by Poland and Austria on behalf of the Vatican. The Inquisition about which no one cares to inquire.

                    • Jason Parkirk says

                      Marco Polo grew up a Croat Frangocrat in Constantinople and when he was expelled, met not with the emperor of China but witht he Magog occupier Kublai Khan with whome he nogotiated the Sineurabia Code to partition Greece and Russia between Mongols and Latins

                • Helen Terry says

                  Billy Jack, research I’ve come across points to high levels of self-healing when people sing in choruses with others, and especially church choirs. Made me want to revisit finding a church to do that, or at least a city choir to join.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Helen, even though I haven’t come across the same research there is no doubt in my mind that what you say is true. Combine that with incense and iconography and you’ve got an explosive worship situation.

                • One big American jurisdiction is the dream of modernists in the jurisdictions which are waning – unless you mean Moscow withdrawing their recognition of the OCAs autonomy, and the remaining jurisdictions merging into one American jurisdiction under Moscow – if that’s what you mean, then you’re an intelligent man, BJ.

                  • Joseph Lipper says

                    The OCA is autocephalous as per Moscow.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      In other words, Joseph, you are head of the house because I say so?

                    • Joseph Lipper says

                      Michael Bauman, shouldn’t you consult with your wife first?

                    • Bishop Anaxios says

                      Joseph Lipper

                      It is not permissible for a woman to teach or have authority over a man in church.

                      Therefore, women should be silent in church


                      Every home should be a monastery

                      The monastery is at the heart of the church

                      Therefore, women should not be permitted to speak in the home, but are to remain silent there as well.

                  • Billy Jack Sunday says


                    I’ve thought of that before because I did come to a concluding agreement that the North American mission was established first by the Russians, not Greeks

                    Reversing the process to pre-derailment seems logical

                    However, we are past that point of no return (IMO, for many reasons) – so I rejected the idea

                    A united Russian church in America is simply not the answer either.

                    That would concern me more than the current state of things

                    That being said, I am also concerned with the modernists trying to unite everyone for the goal of flipping things to unia – instead of allowing true autocephalousy

            • Antiochene Son says

              It’s fine to imagine what the American Orthodox experience might be like someday in the future, but we have to deal with the reality we are living now.

              At the very least, none of the patriarchates that are under Islamic captivity are going to bless any attempt to declare independence, and so it’s not going to happen. And why should they? The fact is that money is needed to run the Church, and the West is the only certain source for that aid. Certainly Metropolitan Joseph has made that fairly clear during his time thus far.

              I don’t think that is bad, either. St. Paul says those who do not support their families are worse than unbelievers; how much more so for our suffering mother churches that are comprised of confessors and martyrs? What son would tell his mother to “piss off” when her life was in danger? What child would say his own independence was more important than obedience and faithfulness to his elders? Does scripture not tell us to remember those who first preached the good news to us?

              We must be a church of the Great Commission, but your experience with a particular style of Slavic plainchant may not in any way speak to someone else. I know plenty of WASP converts who immediately fell in love with Byzantine chant. (I also know non-Orthodox people who cannot tolerate incense; do we get rid of that, too?)

              The church has diversity, it always has. Here in the West it is expressed far more than in any native Orthodox country, and there is a place for everyone. But if a particular style of chant is too great a hurdle for someone who is otherwise drawn to the Orthodox faith, I have to wonder how committed they will be to the much harder things, like prayer and fasting and living a decent life.

              All that said, I do appreciate the story of your experience and I do hope that you are able to join yourself deeply to the worship in the parish you are in. Forgive my harsh language if it caused offense.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Sean, you are pained by minor keys? Really? Wow. You need to learn more about music I’d say. Each of the keys has a different resonance and penetrates different parts of the human soul. How are we to express sorrow, longing, the repentant attitude, the approach to the Cross?

          There are no real roots in the United States, we specialize in uprooting, changing to fit the times and keeping current none of which are compatible with the Orthodox faith. Maybe, what the former AEOC parishes have found is real authentic roots that match that feed their souls and water their hearts. Deeper roots in the dry and barren wasteland or Protestantism, secularism and moderinsm .

          Frankly I love minor keys and always have because, guess what, not everything about life is upbeat.

          I will ask you the same questions I asked Spiro:

          Why have a religion at all? What is AMERICAN Orthodoxy? How does it differ from Russian Orthodoxy? How is Holy Tradition transmitted within it in a more faithful manner? Why should we sell it? How should we sell it? How would selling it have a positive effect on anyone’s salvation?

          I would really like to engage with someone on the nature, purpose, faithfulness and viability of American Orthodoxy. So far no real articulation of what it even is or would be other than not Russian, Greek or Arab.

          I gave some real alternatives that are worth looking at. Frankly, I am pretty deaf to the whining about Greeks, Arabs and Russians without some real thought on the matter.

          Without that there is no basis in the Orthodox faith. We are a heretic nation.

          • Helen Terry says

            Michael, ditto to your comment on minor keys. Music in minor keys, aka Phrygian mode stops me cold and gives me goose bumps with happiness…the more the merrier for my delving into the services.

        • Linda Albert, says

          Sean, the reason most Orthodox church music sounds “strange” to you is that it is based on a pentatonic music scale with five intervals to an octave instead of seven as in most western music, especially western music composed since the Baroque era. The pentatonic scale is older and found mostly now in folk music. In America it survives in blue-grass and shape-note hymns. Both musical forms had their roots in the traditional Scots-Irish and old English folk ballads that came with the poorer immigrants that settled in the Appalachian mountains. You can hear an example of the in the movie Cold Mountain in the church singing and the fiddle music. Being of Scots descent and Southern roots I immediately felt completely at home with Orthodox church music.


      • George Michalopulos says

        Spiro, why exactly is it wrong for Patriarch Kirill to be “chaplain” to Putin? Just because you or I may not agree with Putin’s policies doesn’t mean that they are wrong for Russia.

        As an America-firster, I don’t presume to shove our values down anybody else’s throats. Neither did any of our Founding Fathers for that matter. Think of all the grief that we have caused other nations (i.e. Iraq, Libya, etc.) because we’ve been operating under the delusion that all people everywhere are the same.

        This is what I aks my liberal acquaintances: “should we go to war to force people to convert to Christianity?” They respond with either anger or are aghast at the very question. So then I interject: “then why should we forcibly convert them to Democracy?”

        If it’s wrong to bomb villages in the name of Jesus, isn’t it even more wrong to bomb them in the name of Jefferson?

  6. Michael Bauman says

    Spiro, Why have a religion at all? What is AMERICAN Othodoxy? How does it differ from Russian Othodoxy? How is Holy Tradition transmitted within it in a more faithful manner? Why should we sell it? How should we sell it? How would selling it have a positive effect on anyone’s salvation?

    I would really like to engage with someone on the nature, purpose, faithfulness and viability of American Orthodoxy. So far no real articulation of what it even is or would be other than not Russian, Greek or Arab.

    Personally my suspicion is that without something more substantial we would likely have a Lord of the Flies outcome.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Interesting insight, Michael. I for one find much to love in traditionalist expressions of Orthodoxy. Especially what I’ve seen in Russia.

      Is it perfect? Is it all sweetness and honey? Of course not. Nothing this side of heaven is. But golly gee, look at what we have here in America! Is it any better? Seriously, does anybody think that what we have here in America –of whatever denomination–is better? Speaking for myself it’s a bloody mess.

      I will of course entertain any opposing viewpoints.

      • Antiochene Son says

        America is too young and fickle to be the basis for anything. Let’s stick with what’s time-tested before running around crying, “Muh ‘Merica!!!”

        Wanting to stay relevant, chasing the wind, is not something we ought to borrow from Protestants. It doesn’t work. Witness how the only part of the Roman church that has a future is the traditionalist, Latin speaking portion. No capitulation.

        If you want the church to die, place “cultural relevance” on a pedestal.

        • George Michalopulos says

          AS, exactly! For those of us who are Orthodox here in America, let’s take the beam out of our own eye before we complain about the splinter in Russia’s.

          And this goes double for Evangelicals and Charismatics as well.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says


            Russian church is awesome indeed – for Russians living in Russia

            You guys are totally underestimating the importance of this issue and making ignorant blanket statements that reflect snobbish counter culture rebellion right up there with goth kids and smug hipsters

            Going to any Orthodox parish in the United States feels like going to a medieval fair

            Some of y’all just love wearing those tights. The rest of us are tired of dressing up like Robin Hood and eating mutton and pretend it’s totally normal just to get along and not cause a problem – and at the same time realizing that a medieval fair is fun for a while not the most effective cultural medium to communicate (or live out – IMO) the gospel in America – and therefore is yet another counterproductuve needless barrier

            • Antiochene Son says

              Do you think the Orthodox Church was Russian when Sts. Cyril and Methodius planted it? Do you think the chant was like anything the Russians knew? No.

              Do you think the Germans felt their culture was being respected when St. Boniface was burning down their oak tree groves? No.

              The problems you describe are between your ears, I’m afraid.

            • Getting with the times is antithetical to the teachings of the Church Fathers, BJ.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says


                That’s a good point. It’s is not consistent with Patristics – but it’s also not what I am saying.

                I do not advocate attempts for the church to “get with the times” as it were

                I’ve seen that attempted first hand and indeed it is disastrous

                I’ve also witnessed needless attachment to, or the recreation of, cultural specific non essentials, while not allowing for an “incarnation” – if you will – of the Gospel in America

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          It’s not the Greek in the GOA that causes me pause now and then. It’s the Greece!

          Last festival, three of my younger grandkids were in the dance groups. They had a great time and did well. Before each performance, the announcer welcomed the audience on behalf of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church– just fine. Followed by “and on behalf of the [city] Greek Community”. About half the dancers now are quite non-Greek.

          Anyway, it’s interesting.

    • I have been Orthodox for seven years and experience American Orthodoxy in both my parish and in the monastery which is my home away from home.

      My parish is Antiochian — Holy Cross in Linthicum, Maryland. It is 75% convert, we’ve had endless baptisms, chrismations, and weddings, with only one funeral in seven years. Our cradle Orthodox run the gamut from Greek, Russian, Romanian, and Georgian to Ethiopian and Egyptian. Our liturgy is all in English, but we love to throw in bits of Greek, Russian, sometimes Spanish — and occasionally we have a chant in Aleut in honor of our native Alaskans!

      My monastery home away from home is OCA, the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA. A number of the nuns are converts, and they provide hospitality to a continuous stream of Orthodox visitors from around the country and world. The liturgy is all in English with a bit of Greek, Russian, or Romanian occasionally thrown in. It is a beautiful and holy place.

      The way I see it, it is one Orthodoxy. We are grateful to all those who have gone before us in the faith, and our only task is to hold to it, treasure it, and transmit is as they did. We are American Orthodox.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Dear MrsDK, whatever it is y’all are doing, keep doing it!

        • Michael Bauman says

          MrsDK, by incorporate I mean that the Church brings them into Herself and they are transformed, transmuted and completed by the Holy Spirit.

      • Michael Bauman says

        MrsDK, you are right. What you have is an American approach to the Church. I do not think that is what Spiro and others who raise the cry of an AMERICAN Orthodox Church mean however. But I do not know. That is why I asked the questions.

        If he does not reply then I suspect that all he really wants is to get rid of the Greeks, Russians and Arabs and do what?

        To go another step further, in my research and contemplation over the last 30 years since be received into the Church two areas stand out to me that would distinguish an truly American Orthodox Church: 1. We would incorporate consciously and specifically the Native American experience much as the Russian missionaries did. The Native American experience and rituals fit quite well with our sacraments. It would actually give we Orthodox roots to this land; 2. We would incorporate the slave experience into the life of the Church. Fr. Moses Berry and the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black has begun to do that, but we need to learn from them and work more diligently to do that. That too would bring the tragedy of slavery into the Church in a way that offers real healing and not ideological politics.

        There are other areas that would distinguish an American Orthodox Church but these: the Pan-Orthodox approach your parish follows plus the two avenues I hold dear are quite viable and would lead to a real maturity. The “Throw the bums out” approach is stupid and will cause harm and do no real good.

        I would love to hear other ideas as well. Tradition does not mean ridged.

        • Liturgy has essentially two parts. That which is fixed and that which varies from day to day. How that could be Americanized is beyond me.

          I would venture to guess that the music is the part that most people have difficulty with. Those of us who have been raised on western hymnolgy seem to have a difficult adjustment to eastern music. Our ears and emotions are not attuned to that style.

          The other aspect which I have noticed is that there is very little participation by the people in the pew besides listening. Either the choir does it all or the cantors.
          And the cantors love to get carried away with their music making it difficult to even try to participate.

          I have wondered if this stems from a time when few people knew how to read so they were just expected to listen.

          • Liturgy is meant to be participatory. If I understand correctly, the word liturgy means the work of the people. Being a passive bystander has become the norm in the churches I have attended. Even the creed, which begins with “I believe” is often not recited by the congregation. Thus, it seems to me that most congregations have become audiences. We need to find ways to engage the laity. Obviously, language is a significant part of the problem , especially in the GOA and ROCOR. Most choirs in the GOA sing in Greek using English phonetics because the choir members can’t read Greek. This practice clearly demonstrates the foolishness of using Greek in the liturgy.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Agreed. Congregational singing is a must.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says

                I agree as well

                My GOA priest is obviously frustrated by the congregation’ s habit of not participating in the liturgy by singing

                I tried to softly drift that the music is nearly impossible to sing (for the congregation), but it was too hard to talk about and the conversation moved on quickly.

                I noted several times of him exhorting during service that the chants should flow between the priest and the congregation like a dialog.

                He was specifically calling out the congregation each time because he always had competent and experienced Greek cantors to back him up on the Byzantine chants, including my godfather.

                I can never find the melody. I end up sounding too low like Eore with double lung pneumonia or too falsetto high like a drag version of “I’m Called Little Buttercup.”

            • Michael Bauman says

              Participation does not mean doing what the ordained or tonsured leaders are doing it means entering into the spirit of what is going on in thanksgiving.

              • Michael Bauman says

                As anyone who has ever been on stage can tell you audiences are not passive or separate they are part of the play.

                • So am I an audience or a worshipper. The meaning of the word liturgy is the work of the people. When the congregation is relegated to listening only this is the lowest type of participation, as far as I am concerned. I can watch a basketball game, but that is not the same as playing basketball. I can watch a play, but that is not the same as being an actor. I can watch someone eat, but that is not the same as eating.

                  I am not speaking about doing the work of the priest. The liturgy book we use definitely assigns work to PEOPLE. Yet the two cantors seem to forget that we exist. Yet I hear in comments here, that we can listen to other people sing the responses and that counts. I believe that God wants to hear from each of us.

                  The basic question is, What is worship? How do we worship? Is worship only listening? Or is it participating in a more vocal manner. When do we sing God’s praises, or do we only listen to others sing God’s praises.

                  Is listening to two paid cantors canting the service, worship?

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    You’re not just a listener, Lina. Your presence is actually required. I think 3 people have to be present to even do the Liturgy.

                  • Amen.

                  • Antiochene Son says

                    That depends if you are worshiping or not.

                    When the priest says a prayer, are you also praying? Or must you say every prayer in unison with him in order to pray?

                    I don’t believe we even need to hear the prayer in order to pray. I personally don’t agree with priests who insist on saying the silent prayers aloud (especially those that are about the priest and his own unworthiness), because again, his role is to say certain words. Mine is to join my prayer to his, and to have a prayerful heart, and to work out the sin in my soul, which is more important and more difficult than participating in a sing along.

                    “Liturgy” has connotations of construction work, especially building bridges. Is every worker on a construction site doing the same job? Is every worker a foreman? (Is every body part a mouth?)

                    The laity fulfill their role simply by being present, since no eucharist can be confected without them. That’s not unimportant.

                    And what does it matter if the cantors are paid? Thank God your parish cares enough about quality worship to do that. We pay iconographers. In the past, choir members WERE paid, and housing was provided for the canonarch/choir director. It was seen as important, equal to the iconography and architecture and every other part of worship.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      AS, just being there means you are part of the worship. Even if one is bored, hurting, half asleep and cannot understand the language, worship is going on. I have walked into Orthodox Temples where the number of humans was quite small and the place felt full.

                      Now, it is better, if there, to be more aware and open to what is going on but that is not required. The most important act is to give glory and thanksgiving to God. Any attempt at that in our darkness is a great effort I think.

                  • Monk James says

                    Lina (March 15, 2018 at 5:42 pm) says:

                    ‘The meaning of the word liturgy is the work of the people.’
                    Although ‘Lina’ raises several important points in her post here, and I share her concerns, I’d like to address just this one misunderstanding.

                    The Greek word leitourgia does NOT mean the ‘work of the people’, even though the Greek words for ‘people’ and ‘work’ are in its etymology.

                    Instead, the word means a ‘public action’. In ancient Rome and later in Constantinople, public officials would arrange celebrations including athletic contests, parades, concerts, etc. to mark occasions such as the emperor’s birthday or the return of a victorious general. These triumphal celebrations — especially the parades — were called ‘liturgies’

                    By extension, the word began to describe the Divine Liturgy (the eucharistic liturgy, not the other services). Perhaps this is a reference to the second half of the Cherubic Hymn in which we sing of ‘receiving the King of All, escorted by invisible ranks of angels in full armor’, as we accompany the Holy Gifts with torches and banners.

                    This procession at the Great Entrance seems to have been intentionally modeled on imperial processions, and the connection would not have been lost on any Roman or Neoroman.

                    • Fr. Philip (Speranza) says

                      Dear Father,

                      I’m afraid that your lexicon and mine do not agree. According to mine (Liddell and Scott, 1921), leitourgia means “a public work/work for the public good done at private expense,” e.g., serving in the army but supplying one’s own equipment, food, &c. out of one’s own pocket, or serving in public office unsalaried.

                      Given that the Cross and Resurrection are the ultimate work done for the public good at the private expense of the Lord’s own life, what better word could there be to describe our eucharistic celebration of the central acts of our salvation?

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      Thank you, Monk James. I remembered that the neo-folk etymology of liturgy as “the work of the people” was not accurate, but I couldn’t remember why. Very helpful!

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Now, now, now. There are problems here.

                      In the Ancient Greek, the word leitourgia evolved in meaning from any public service conducted by a private citizen “at their own expense” – perhaps what we would term “charitable” – and there was even a special term, leitourgia metoikon [λειτουργίαι μετοίκων], for such an act conducted on an annual basis. Leitourgia later evolved to almost exclusively refer to voluntary military service, be it as a soldier or an officer, until the time of Aristotle.

                      Aristotle’s Politics was the first time a reference was made of a public service attributable to the gods [αἱ πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς λειτουργίας], paralleled in an instruction in the Septuagint version of the Book of Numbers 8:25, “And from fifty years old [the Levites] shall cease from the ministry [τῆς λειτουργίας] and shall not work any longer.” This is a dramatic shift in that, while may translations of the Septuagint (as well as the KJV) translate tis leitourgias [τῆς λειτουργίας] as “ministry,” the Levites were “Priests!” (cf. (ref. to Zacharias, husband of Elizabeth) And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministry [λειτουργία] were accomplished, he departed to his own house.” (Lk, 1:23:, 2Cor. 9:12, Phil. 2:30, Heb, 9:21). And this would consistently follow that the term leitourgia was no longer understood as a “public service performed by private citizens,” but was literally redeemed by the one High Priest who “sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry [τῆς λειτουργίας]. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:21) And, “by extension,” the prayer of the priest immediately before making the Great Entrance says, “For You [O Christ, our God], are He Who offers [προσφέρων] and is offered [προσφερόμενος], Who accepts [προσδεχόμενος] and is distributed [διαδιδόμενος]…” This is the perfect leitourgia offered by the perfect Priest.

                      So, this begs your Joe Cocker moment: “What would you do if I sang out of tune?” The answer would be, while the Psalmist commands, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise!” (Ps. 97:4) he does not grant a license to disrupt. Humble yourself and listen to the words of St. Paul” “Let all things be done decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:40) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor. 14:33).”

                    • Monk James says

                      I can’t find any difference between Fr Philip Speranza’s definitions of leitourgia and mine, although I appreciate his observation that these public activities were generally performed at the personal expense of the Roman aediles.

                      The office of aedilis was one of the lower ranks of the Roman cursus honorum (‘course of honors’), which eventually led politically ambitious wealthy men to the ranks of the senate, the consulate, and other high offices in both the Roman republic and later in the Empire.

                      Since the aediles were responsible for all sorts of public works such as the maintenance of the city’s temples, paving and repair of streets, sewage and the occasional public celebrations which included athletic games, providing food for the people who attended these events and — especially — honorific parades, paying for all of these out of their own pockets, only independently wealthy men advanced to he rank of aedilis, thereby ingratiating themselves with the people whose votes they hoped to garner when they ran for higher office

                      As the ancient Roman saying goes, they bought the electorate’s loyalty with panis et circenses (‘bread and circuses’).

                      Fr Philip theologizes this with a comparison to the Lord, infinitely rich, Who gave us such immense blessings, and I thank him for reminding us of that.

                      Still, history and etymology being what they are, and as objective as they can be, I stand by my previous post

            • johnkal,

              Liturgy does indeed mean work of the people, which is why we should, for the most part, not be sitting during its service. Pews have no place, other than around the periphery of the nave for the elderly or infirm, in an Orthodox church.

              The work of the laity in the liturgy is to cross, bow and and join in the “Lord, have mercies”. It is true that the choir’s function is to lead the singing, and if one has a sense of pitch and knows the music, one should by all means join in singing with the choir.

              However, if one does not have a sense of pitch or one does not know the music, one should not join in. The key word is not participation but glorification. Everything we do in the liturgy should give glory to the Lord. Bad music, disharmony, wandering, dissonance . . . these do not give glory to God but detract from it.

              It is like putting up stick figure icons drawn by the children in the nave for veneration. Modernists love the idea but it is a rather unconscionable disgrace.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says


                These are absolutely ridiculous statements of yours

                Do you really think that God is offended by the person who sings with all their heart, expressing love and devoted worship, yet does not sound “good” by our standards?

                For that matter, I know a priest who sounds like a tone deaf voice cracking teenager going through puberty every time he chants.

                What? He can only sing in the altar only as a priest because he’s not a part of the lay congregation??

                You guys are totally missing the heart and soul of this discussion and maybe are detached a bit from humanity in an unhealthy way

                Everybody sing


              • Misha, I think it was Theophan the Recluse who said God does not concerned to the beauty of the music but rather the disposition of the heart. Not an exact quote but close. If I had the time I would look up the quote from the Philokalia. John of Kronstandt made many similar statements.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  The disposition of the heart is all-important in my opinion.

                • What precisely is the value of dissonance – dissonance which spoils harmony every bit as much as feces smeared demean an icon?

                  By all means participate. But if you are tone deaf or do not know the melody, do so very quietly, mouthing the words or vocalizing in a very hushed tone.

                  It is not about us. It is about God. Anthropocentrism is always a bad place to start. Certainly God loves and receives all that is offered from the heart. Nonetheless, why willfully introduce cacophony? Ego? Pride?

                  How about humility?

                  Learn the music or just tag along with minimal interference.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    So if a believer is off-key, it is the same as smearing feces on an icon? You really are off your rocker.

                    But there’s a simple solution if one’s wife sings off-key…..hit her.

                    • Billy Jack Sunday says


                      Hahaha – awesome!

                      “Hey, where’s your wife?”

                      “She’s at home resting.”

                      “Oh, is she okay?”

                      “Eh, yeah . . . She’ll be fine.”

                      “What’s wrong?”

                      “She had a medical emergency last Sunday during the Trisagion.”

                      “Oh, no!! Heart attack? Stroke?”

                      “Upset ridge hand followed by a spinning backfist.”

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Misha, the difference is the intent. There is no actual dissonance in joy and there can be a great dissonance in a perfectly harmonious song offered for public praise or out of the law of perfection.

                    Reminds me of the Native American tradition that anything offered to God should have imperfection in it as an acknowledgement that only God is perfect. His strength made perfect in our weakness, etc., etc., etc.

                    My late wife as a master at crochet and any one who had one of her prayer ropes was truly blessed as our priest said at her funeral. The knots on her ropes were each the same size and distance apart, impeccably executed technique. But what set her ropes apart is that they shone with the light of the devotion and prayers she did as she made them.

                    Precision alone does not communicate. If there is a choice between honest joy and dead precision as there often is, I will take the honest joy anytime. Only the greatest of artists achieve both.

              • Anonymous says

                I was always taught by scholars of liturgy that the word comes from ‘work FOR/ON BEHALF OF the people,’ which really changes the dynamic of it.

          • Antiochene Son says

            A very strict adherence to the church canons would mean that “only the ordained cantors may sing.” The modern conception of “participation” as meaning that everyone sings everything has not been a mainstream facet of the Orthodox experience in over 1500 years. (There are places where congregational singing has been practiced for a long time, but has not been the mainstream practice of the Church.) Note that this is historically true both for East and West.

            I’m not sure why it’s so common for folks to imply that active, prayerful listening is either not participation at all, or it’s a lower form of participation. In my view, ideal church music is lofty and raises the consciousness to prayerful contemplation. The point is to manifest our spiritual entrance into the heavenly worship, not to feel good by being able to sing along easily. Simple music that is easily sung by anyone walking in, again in my opinion, does not have that effect, and seems base. It’s like fine iconography versus paint-by-numbers.

            That does not mean I go to church seeking a concert. The key is prayerful and active listening, so that our prayers are added to the heavenly song that we hear being raised up to God.

            Having easily-sung-along-to music is inevitably going to cause people to drag the popular culture into the worship, which is precisely what we don’t want. (It is logical—if the goal is to sing along, people are best able to sing along with a musical style with which they are familiar. So, the Divine Liturgy of Justin Bieber?) That opens everything up to debate and fighting. Let’s also not forget, when talking about the Protestant hymnology that people are allegedly familiar with, that by this time, traditional Protestant worship will be as alien as Orthodox worship to a large portion of the population anyway.

            It is much better to simply accept what the church has given us and pass it on, unchanged, to the next generation. That is our task. We are only the present caretakers of the liturgy; we are not its makers and we are not its focus. It is axiomatic, and we can either accept it or reject it.

            • Then the canons are wrong or at best anachronistic. To assume that church music has not changed or that liturgy has not changed is foolishness.

              • Antiochene Son says

                No, congregations have changed, demanding absolute egalitarianism in worship function.

                At the Presanctified last night, at my parish it was chanted by the chanters half in Arabic (which I don’t speak) and half in English. It was beautiful, and I felt as worshipful as I have in a long time. I was spiritually transported to another place, truly. Some congregation members were even singing along with the complex Byzantine chant, which has predictable patterns when you take the time to learn it.

                In fact, the times when that spiritual feeling was broken were when the choir (ostensibly to lead the people in singing) took over from the chanters and had no idea what they were doing.

                YMMV, but I don’t see the virtue in democratizing our worship. It’s not how it developed and it’s not how it’s supposed to be.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Choirs –particularly if they use polyphonic hymnody and/or operatic arrangements–can be a buzzkill.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  I sing a few of the things I can. Some phrases of the Psalms, O Joyful Light, the responses, of course, and a few other things.

                  I’m getting to like Byzantine chant better than I once did. Russian church singing I’ve always liked a lot.

                  I miss Protestant hymn-singing now much less than at first. There is some great stuff, and also a lot of sentimental glop. But at funerals and such I happily join in the old hymns.

              • johnkal,

                Worship is adoration and veneration. We do this by crossing ourselves, bowing from the waist, and prostrating ourselves. There are many, many opportunities to worship in the liturgy. Every mention of the Trinity, all the Lord have mercies, and any number of other places require us to be active and do something in response.

                That is worship.

                Music is also worship and should be offered by those capable of doing so in keeping with the nature of the service which is giving thanksgiving and glory to God, not half-baked “my best is good enough” attempts at “participation”.

                “And we went into the Greek lands, and we were led into a place where they serve their God, and we did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth; and do not know how to tell about this. All we know is that God lives there with people and their service is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty since each person, if he eats something sweet, will not take something bitter afterwards; so we cannot remain any more in paganism.” – report of Prince Vladimir’s emissaries regarding Orthodox service in Hagia Sophia, 10th century

                • One must worship in a language they understand. St Paul said it is better to speak 5 words in a known language than 10,000 words in an unknown language. I often wonder wonder about the so called conversion of Vladimir. Did he embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ or just think that the service was beautiful? St Paul states that faith comes from hearing of the word of God not witnessing a beautiful service.

                  • Anonymous says

                    I think you mean SAINT Vladimir, johnkal. Almost every comment you make on this site reeks of a lack of serious Orthodox phronema.

                    Saint Vladimir’s life was completely changed by his conversion, as was that of his kingdom. This is why he is called Equal-to-the-Apostles. Go and read the life of this saint and find out.

                    God Himself is present at the divine liturgy; that’s enough to cause someone to convert. You’re just taking bits of Scripture and absolutizing them outside of the Church’s life, history, and tradition. Read the life of Saint Ahmed the Calligrapher – he saw Christ in the altar and converted from Islam, later to be martyred for the faith. He probably didn’t understand ecclesiastical Greek, so maybe we should doubt his conversion too.

                    • George Michalopulos says


                      You know, the older I get the more pissed off I get by reductionism and academic understanding of salvation history. Yeah, I get it, Vladimir of Kiev was a Viking. A true bad-ass mother-@#$*r with a lot of blood on his hands. Know what? So was King David. And Solomon. And the four ancestresses of Jesus listed in Matthew’s geneaology were loose women.

                      Folks, we’re broken. We need to concentrate on our own sins and not worry about what the Prods might say because Constantine the Great convened a Council and that offends their quietist piety. Nothing wrong with altruism mind you but ain’t nobody getting into heaven by their lights. If a pastor stubs his toe and says “Gosh Darnit” he’s a sinner.

                      I especially get vexed whenever I see an Orthodox Christian (particularly in the more liberal jurisdictions like the Fordham Fellows) get all worked up because there’s too much colluding going on between Church and State in Russia or wherever. For all those liberal Christians who believe in a separation of Church and State had the courage of their convictions, they would petition the governments of the world to repudiate the tax exemptions of all religions –their own included.

                      Somehow, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

                    • Antiochene Son says

                      George says:

                      For all those liberal Christians who believe in a separation of Church and State had the courage of their convictions, they would petition the governments of the world to repudiate the tax exemptions of all religions –their own included.

                      It’s funny how leftists celebrate the church-state relationship when it suits their needs. Whenever Pope Francis says something stupid, for example, Nancy Pelosi is quick to trumpet the wisdom of the Holy Father and invoke his name in support of her demonic agenda.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Did he.embrace the Gospel or just think the service was beautiful? What is the difference?

                    Your attitude jonkal is one who does not embrace the Incarnation. Not really. You do know that we Orthodox value the Scripture more than any Protestant. If we attended the services as we should we would be bathing in it.

                • Billy Jack Sunday says


                  First this quote of Prince Vladimir is used to justify lack of evangelism (just have awesome liturgical services and people will convert eventually)

                  Now it’s used to ban stinky vocalists from singing to God in worship

                  Is this really what the Antiochian and Russian clergy teach – Misha and Antiochian Son?

                  I know, I know. To think otherwise is soooo Protestant

                  • Antiochene Son says

                    I certainly would not approve of not doing intentional evangelism (although I don’t think some of the projects our hierarchy are pushing, like “Becoming Truly Human,” are by any means the answer).

                    just have awesome liturgical services and people will convert eventually

                    My parish does not engage in what you might call “intentional evangelism.” We don’t knock on doors, we don’t strategically invite the community to things. We do focus on having good liturgy (although I don’t agree with every choice that’s made), and what can I say, my parish is bursting at the seams, and it’s over 50% converts.

                    Now, it could (and should) be said that my city, and every city, should not have one or two Orthodox parishes, rather 10 or 20. But we have to start where we are and keep going. In another time and place, you could convert the mayor and half the city would come along; that’s not America.

                    We are playing the long game. Don’t just focus on the next two or five years, but the next 50 and 100, even 500 and 1000.

            • Billy Jack Sunday says

              Congregant: “But, Father . . . I want to sing!”

              “No, no – stop that!!”

              Penance for using Justin Bieber in a straw man argument includes legos and rubber chickens

              • Antiochene Son says

                No, the correct response would be: ask the choir director if you can join, and show your enthusiasm by learning to sing well and attending practice.

                Take away the music issue and change it to iconography. “But Father… I want to paint icons!”

                Again: “Okay. Ask an iconographer to teach you, and practice a lot.”

                Not: “Yes! We have some blank space on this wall. Get to it!”

          • Michael Bauman says

            Lina, I was raised on western Christmas carols and the Methodist hymnal. There are a number of songs there that I love. Chanters do get carried away sometimes. When they do, I find a note that fits and just sing that note until they get done with their riff. But from the moment I heard the Divine Liturgy I was hooked.

            I have never been shy about singing. I pick up melody lines easily. I just sing because I love it.

            I will always remember 9/11. I was driving around most of that day singing Lord God of Hosts. Minor key and a profound supplication.

            If you want to sing, sing. The Scripture tells us to make a joyful noise before the Lord. Congregational singing is probably and American thing.

            • I was trying to state what might make an Orthodox service seem American. In my parish almost everything is sung in an old Greek that no one understands.
              The members of the choir have little idea what they are singing. They know the words but not the meaning.

              Seems as if the Greeks have their music, the Russians their music, the Antiochians their music and etc. American liturgical music has mainly been a hodgepodge of European music because we are basically a hodgepodge of nationalities. Then we started to write our own in the last 30 to 40 years. some of it is good, some not so good.

              But at some point in time immigration is not going to fill the churches and most people who church shop will want something that has a little familiarity, like Services in English and music that is a bit familiar.

              Quite frankly when I started attending services in Greek, I had a difficult time of it. Until one day I told God that if He wanted me in that place He would have to change my taste in music. And He did. I confess that I still love the Russian music better. And a choir instead of cantors.

              I suppose the big question to ask is if the Orthodox Church is a missionary Church or a chaplaincy church for immigrants only. I served as a missionary. I learned their language. I sang their hymns.

              How do you make disciples if you can’t meet people at least half way? I would have been useless if I expected everyone to learn English, because that was my language and my culture.

              • Lina, AMEN.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Lina, every Orthodox service I have ever attended has been in English. Even when we had a functioning Greek parish in my town. Also the Vespers I attended in a Serbisn parish. At my parish Arabic is used some. It is a language made for chanting.

                I would guess you are in a large urban area somewhere.

                Man the coasts are killin’ us.

              • Russian Orthodox music is much easier to follow and assimilate for Western ears than Greek, Byzantine music. That is certainly true. I chanted in a Greek church for about 6 years and learned from both Syrian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox chanters.

                I love Byzantine, but it is very different from Western music. Peter the Great westernized Russian Orthodox music so it is much, much more familiar to Western ears.

                • Antiochene Son says

                  Every parish should follow it’s own Church’s music tradition, but my personal tastes are that the Russian Obikhod and Kievan chant styles can become quite boring, and do not have the same animated quality of Byzantine chant.

                  Skilled chanters or choir can use the melody to enhance the text (going down low when speaking of the earth, and high when speaking of heaven, and modulating to chromatic when speaking of sin, etc). Many church hymns were written according to fixed melodies, and in the original Greek virtually everything has written music; certain things are lost when those original melodies are lost.

                  That said, good Znamenny chant, which is making a comeback, is gorgeous.

    • Billy Jack Sunday says


      The culture of an American Orthodox church would be mostly invisible to an American, but noticeable to someone outside American culture

      Just as a Chinese man sits down at dinner. He does not think to himself, “Oh, boy – Chinese food!” but rather, “Oh, boy – food!”

      • Michael Bauman says

        Yes but it may not be “real” Chinese food–not quite, BJS. In any case we are not really there yet are we? Yet more and more it seems to be becoming that way for me. But perhaps we are moving in that direction and it will always include elements of the original ethnic roots but truly assimilated?

        Yet, given the nature of American culture it will, for the foreseeable future, be at odds with the greater culture in ways that will be uncomfortable to many. Those elements need not be “ethnic” but they will exist. We ought to make those uncomfortable elements more visible such as the call to repentance, the Cross and the ascetic necessity to achieve union with our Lord which includes (OMG) obedience. Those will always be uncomfortable don’t you think?

        Personally, the music ought always to be uncomfortable as well given the degraded music that is so prevalent these days.

      • Michael Bauman says

        BJS, you obviously don’t know that Jesus ate only one kind of tabouli.

  7. jimofolym says

    “Every sperm is sacred, every sperm is good,
    Not a sperm is wasted, in your neighborhood…”
    Not every family is blessed with 18+ children.
    Largest family in our parish has five. Are they not blessed?
    Cudos to the nice priest who has a swimming pool for the kids
    in the basement.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Still no replies to any of my questions. So, I have to think it is just hot air and whining about AMERICAN Orthodoxy–no real point or substance.

    Linda’s mention of shape note singing reminds me that that is another authentically American music that can be incorporated into the Church here. Chanting already has a certain Jazz feel to it. We also have a rich heritage, especially in the Afro-American communities of a cappela singing.

    Now, to be fair the self-conscious anachronistic orientation to the old countries has to be modified and eliminated, but there is no reason at all that the ethnic heritage has to be eradicated. As MrsDK suggested–a Pan ethnic Orthodox approach is certainly viable.

    BJS, you need to get out more.

    The Central Indiana Clergy Council of which my brother is a member routinely sponsors exchanges between parishes both educational, social and in worship as they serve in each other’s altars: Antiochian; OCA, Patriarchal Bulgarian, Serbian and GOA .

    When visiting my brother I have worshiped in his parish (Patriarchal Bulgarian); a Serbian Church and an Antiochian parish. The GOA parish there recently divided (in a good way) with some moving to a new parish north of Indy while many choose to remain the in downtown parish. An old friend of mine (very un-Greek) transferred to the GOA to be the priest in the downtown parish. They wanted him because they had become familiar with him during the exchanges and he was immediately available.

    If I can come up with five or six really positive movements and possibilities just off the top of my head, I wonder what else is going on out there of which I am totally ignorant.

    Let’s stop the whining and complaining and look for answers to what an authentic expression of the Orthodox Tradition in the US would look like. In the process let us not forget that, as with many in my home parish, there are Orthodox in this country who can quite literally trance the Christian faith of their family back to Apostolic times. We must be prepared to receive that faith in humility and love. That is not always evident in the complaints, even my own, about the ethnic expressions.

  9. Billy Jack Sunday says

    You know

    In all the years of studying, planning, implementing, practicing, encouraging

    I would have never thought to purposely encourage others not to sing in worship

    I’m rather taken back by all this

    If we’ve created music too complicated for the common singer, what does that say about other complications we’ve made?

    Have we made it nearly impossible for people to come to the faith – with all of our hurdles of waxing eloquent?

    Sure, we’ve got history. Sure, we’ve got excellence to uphold to a degree. I have no problem there

    I dont advocate a cheap faith or Protestant this or that

    But Jesus Christ came for all. Not just the talented and academically astute or those inclined or at least not troubled by complicated non-essential traditions.

    What have we done if people cant even sing?

    Yes, everybody needs to be able to sing. It is worship between each creature and the Creator, as well as joining together all of creation to worship God.

    When you sing the scriptures, you will remember them better than merely wording them

    Your heart will change, just like praying the Jesus prayer

    Everybody should pray the Jesus prayer. Everybody should have the opportunity to sing corporately the scriptures to the best of their ability – no matter what that ability is

    I must say. I’m discouraged by this mostly Antiochian report.

    • BJS, agreed. These “super? Orthodox have a very narrow view of the faith and what ever doesn’t fit into their paradigm is Protestant. Quoting scripture is Protestant and it seems that singing in church is Protestant. Don’t be discouraged by these modern day Pharisees.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says



        Pretty soon believing in Jesus will be too Protestant

        What, you wear shoes in church? How Protestant!

        Trying so hard to be authentic and not look Protestant only reveals that you are formerly Protestant

        Sticking feathers up your butt doesnt make you a chicken

        • George Michalopulos says

          Billy Jack, I appreciate your sense of humor greatly but please, let’s dial it back. We have a rich faith and let’s not mock the piety of those who wish to keep it that way. I live in the Buckle of the Bible Belt and I’ve experienced the mega-church Jump for Jesus thing. Personally, I’d rather have a matushka who wears a babushka corralling her kids in church rather than a Kardashian lookalike leading “praise”.

          • Billy Jack Sunday says


            Your painting a word picture I am not, and that’s rather insulting and inflammatory. Nothing I said suggested I am a person who desires any of that either, and I’m tired of your comments adding a degree of provocative innuendo to the conversation others simply aren’t stating.

            Your statement was also an implied character attack, based off of nothing I’ve ever come close to stating.

            That’s rather rich considering the recent article and admonishment you posted

            My original point and picture was Ruthenian BYZANTINE Catholic chant MODEL with the whole congregation singing. It’s an authentic tradition within our tradition as well. NOT any type of Protestant model.

            Then, OTHERS called it Protestant and started to go off of accusatory tangents, acting as if it’s piety to discourage others from singing or that Orthodoxy is in its purest form when only the professional or well talented singers do the chanting. They are the ones who took things to a different idea, and started to draw all sorts of mental pictures I was not

            It’s true I made a statement concerning a Protestant revival meeting, but it was not intended to invoke anything more than an expression of robust heart felt singing, not an actual model of worship. It was because words failed to be able to describe what I was saying. If I were to say, “Listen to the reading of the Gospel as intently as a prisoner listens to his attorney” I would expect you to leave the word picture there. Not draw out a whole court room proceeding and start a new religion

            It’s like the ransom theory. Bp. Kallistos Ware says it’s a good word picture to describe Jesus giving His life, or ransoming it, on our behalf. The picture, however, breaks apart if one starts to speculate to whom the ransom would be paid to. Most likely it may cause problems/heresy at that point. So you have to take a word picture only as far as the speaker intends to, and not attempt elaborate on your own further. You will distort, if not totally miss the point of the original idea.

            It was others who infused this Protestant minded accusatory nonsense

            You guys who think I am advocating Protestant style worship – are your ears painted on?

            What I am advocating, is making the music more singable, so as to allow participation as well as lessening distractions

            • Billy Jack Sunday says


              I’m not from the Bible Belt

              More like America’s spiritual Compton

              On top of that, it’s been years since I’ve knowingly met another Orthodox Christian in daily life

              And I’ve only met a few in my entire life time

              • Gail Sheppard says

                As an aside, this is why it’s best to shy away from compliments, particularly in the beginning. The people who blindly love you today will blindly hate you tomorrow and often for the same reason.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Forgive me Billy Jack. I was reacting to a fear of where your critique will lead to.

              To all: can I make it plain what I believe about liturgy?

              It’s this: (1) the chants should be as harmonious and simple as possible. (2) as many as people as possible should participate in as many of the responses as possible.

              On the other hand, if there are certain large parishes in a major city where there is an accomplished choir and it is more prayerful for you as an individual worshiper to attend that parish and remain silent for the most part, then by all means, go to that parish and worship there.

              The reality of course is that outside of Russia and other Orthodox countries, one will not find such a plethora of liturgical experiences within one city. Thus it is wrong to force the professional model of hymnody down the throats of an American group in most locales as there is no such plethora in existence.

              In any case, all pews in all American churches should be set afire on a yet-to-be-determined Sunday of Orthodoxy.

              • Billy Jack Sunday says

                No problem George

                Although maybe a contradiction to some of your fans

                I’m willing to commend you then sourly critique you at a moment’s notice

                Don’t blame me for keeping you on your toes. That’s your boss that doesn’t give you breaks

    • Michael Bauman says

      BJS,. At the very least sing the Lord have Mercies. Many many places to sing that do not require skill.

      The continued use on non-English languages in a dominate way is an abomination.

      • Michael B, then your believe that the Ephraim monasteries are practicing an abomination? That is the only logical conclusion based on your statement about language in the Church.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Monastics can do whatever they want in obedience to their bishops. I was referring to parishes composed of non-monastics. Unless there is a particular need for an ethnic parish somewhere but even there English should be introduced and gradually come to dominate.

          Unfortunately, the Church has not yet come to love this land and it’s people. Will not be any change until we do. We float on top like Lilly pads. To many in the Church, Americans are unworthy of salvation. Good only for money.
          Harsh and overstated but the Church has yet to put down roots here.

          • Michael B, I see clearly now, what is an abomination in the local parish is not an abomination in a monastery.

            • Michael Bauman says


              There is a fundamental difference between non-monastic parishes and monasteries. I was not even thinking of monasteries when I made my comment. So your question is irrelevant.

              • Of course there is a difference, but an abomination is an abomination whether in a monastic community, in the local parish or on the street.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Point taken JK. However I live by the dictum “by their fruits ye shall know them”.

                  On a not infrequent basis, I am bombarded by emails from GOA parishioners (both cradle and convert) who ask for my advice (unworthy as it is) about what other jurisdiction to jump to. These increase in frequency around the time of the annual food festival when the tumult coefficient rises exponentially.

                  This may explain why the Athonite monasteries –Greek language and all–are gaining in attendance, even in the middle of the week.

                  • I have a friend who recently returned from St Anthony’s monastery in AZ. He spoke to a monk about difficulties he was having. The monk proceeded to tell my friend about Toll Houses, as if to scare my friend into change.My friend should have been told about Jesus not Toll Houses. We need to be telling the world about Jesus. It is in Him and only Him that we can experience salvation and new life. Read the Book of Acts–there is power in the Name of Jesus.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      johnkal, I have been thinking about your post since I read it. I cannot pass over it. The question is which Jesus?

                      Even saying “The Jesus of the Gospels” is insufficient because then one has to ask, what Gospel?

                      Do you mean Jesus Alone? That is a Protestant doctrine and clearly heretical. It is always combined with Faith Alone and the Bible Alone. Those three alones, leave you alone far from the Truth, far from the Jesus Christ they say they proclaim.

                      How am I to know the ‘real’ Jesus? Whom do I proclaim? What do I proclaim in each circumstance? How do I make the proclamation?

                      The Toll Houses mean nothing without Jesus and His Church. Repentance and communion with Jesus is at the heart of the Toll House teaching. Guarding one’s heart against temptations and confession of sin to Jesus Christ is essential to any meaningful understanding of the Toll House analogy. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Such repentance is not a one time thing. It is constant because the adversary never sleeps and our hearts are deeply soiled by sin and death. Because of that sin we are drawn toward nothingness.

                      Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, attendance on the Sacraments, mercy and forgiveness, the intercession of the saints, not trusting in oneself but trusting in, who?, Jesus is what understanding the Toll Houses is all about.

                      Like it or not the Orthodox faith is not reductionist. Simply telling someone “Its all about Jesus” does nothing. He is present in the totality of the Church, in each person we meet in the Church. In each action we take in the Church. In each thing we fail to do in the Church. In the presence of the saints and the angelic host. In what way can he be separated?

                      When we are received into the Church we, or our God Parents, proclaim three times, “I unite myself to Christ.” That is a deep mystery, hidden in our hearts under a lot of rubbish. gradually revealed as we live a life of repentance.

                      It also means each bit of our lives is now interconnected with Him and with everyone else who makes that proclamation in the past, now, or to come.

                      The Toll Houses properly taught and properly understood is simply a way of explaining the hunt through the rubbish both now and in the life to come (until the Parousia) and that we are not alone.

                      Whether or not the Toll Houses have an existential reality in a concrete way is not the point or should not be. Something happens in the forty days after our physical death. Otherwise we would not pray for forty days. Our devotion is deeply ingrained in the revelation of God to His people. The Hebrew practice of sitting Shiva is a precursor. A time to morn, reflect, repent and to pray for a good disposition of the soul of the departed that they be “in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose where all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away.” It does not happen to us, the ones left behind, alone. It is not “just about Jesus”.

                      For whatever reason, the Toll House teaching is an important part of the spiritual discipline of the Ephraim Monasteries. That is well known. If someone does not want to have spiritual guidance in that context or objects to Greek, don’t go.

                      Jesus Christ graciously introduced Himself to me on a hill in northern Illinois fifty years ago because I asked Him to. I know who He is. I can say any number of things about Him from that moment and from subsequent moments in the intervening years including the fact that He did not really show up again until the day some 20 years later that I walked into an Orthodox Church and He walked down the isle with the priest during the Great Entrance. I know His Resurrection because He raised me from the dead along with my late wife on Pascha a few weeks after her repose.

                      But I cannot reduce my life since then to “just about Jesus” that would be a grave wrong even though in a certain sense it would be true. I allowed Him into my life at that moment and He took over despite my kicking and screaming, my sinfulness, etc, etc. etc.

                      He led me through the wilderness and out of many dark paths, rescued me as I was drowning an uncountable number of times, he led me into the presence of many wonderful people. It is a richness I do not deserve and often ignore.

                      My encounter with the teachings of Fr. Seraphim Rose including the Toll Houses were/are a part of that richness. Indeed they are part of my salvation history as are you.

                      The thing about Jesus is that He shows up in the most unexpected places.

        • Constaninos says

          That’s anything but a logical conclusion, rather, it’s putting words in someone’s mouth. This is the problem I have with some posters on this forum- the lack of logic and sound thinking. I suggest the book The Introduction To Logic by Irving Copi. Your statement proves only one thing to me: you are not a member of MENSA.(I am, by the way)
          p.s. I didn’t get rich by being stupid. I’m wealthy because I’m smart, relentless, have a brutal work ethic, and have been very, very lucky. In fact, most of all – just very lucky. Also, by having a lousy marriage. My marriage was so bad I never wanted to go home. Rather than go home to misery, I spent all my time working.

          • Costa, you must be really smart or at least think that you are. Far be it from me to put a comma where you put a period.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Constaninos, not entirely illogical considering the blanket nature of my statement. That is why I specified more what my assumptions were.

            I am not wealthy and have an absolutely wonderful marriage. While it would be nice to have the wealth, if the trade off is a stinky life elsewhere, not a trade I would make. My wife is top person in the world I want to be with. But I suspect if we delved further in the to premises of the statement a different conclusion would emerge.

            There is a wonderful little one act play by e.e.cummings called Santa Claus which was important to me in defining the attitude I could not accept in most of the ‘successful’ people I knew, especially my father.


            Wow, had not thought of that play in years. Thanks.

    • Antiochene Son says

      I can only share my own opinion, but I believe it is the most logically consistent view. I know that, at this time and place, I am probably in the minority. But I see no basis—in church history or in contemporary practice outside of WASP countries—for the Protestant-style participatory absolutism that you are talking about. In fact, I see it discouraged in most cases, if not absolutely prohibited in some.

      I don’t accept the premise that worship = singing, and not singing = not worshiping, and not being able to sing = not being able to worship. No one has even tried to show why this should be the case, aside from arguing from personal feelings and a bad definition of “liturgy”.

      And really, if one accepts this premise of participation = democratization, one sets up a logical progression that leads right up to radical egalitarianism and even women’s ordination. If everybody can do everything, why not this or that?

      Everyone has their place, according to their role. The hands should be hands. The mouths should be mouths. The heads should be heads. The eyes should be eyes. Equality of being does not mean equality of task or of role.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says


        Comgregational singing leads to women’s ordination the same way men in the kitchen leads to Jeffrey Dahmer cannibalism

        • Gail Sheppard says

          BJS, I think what our Antiochian Son is saying is that all inventions in an attempt to be more inclusive are not dissimilar to the push to ordain women, Jeffrey Dahmer notwithstanding.

    • Amen.

  10. Inspiring story of American Orthodox convert priest who emigrated with his entire family to Russia on principle:

  11. Gail Sheppard says

    This is an interesting article about an American priest who moved his wife and 8 kids to Russia because of Russia’s emphasis on family.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Gail. “” is government-supported, like “Russkymir” and others such agencies. Please note that there is no information given relative to that Priest’s status. Who ordained him? What Bishop gave him a canonical release to what Bishop of the Russian Church? Where did he serve in America? If he was not already in a Moscow Patriarchal Church here in America, what do his former American parishioners have to say about him? Are he and his wife perhaps home-schooling sectarians? Do YOU know any of these relevant details?
      One might also ask him how he feels about moving American kids to another country with legal abortion and the highest H.I.V./AIDS rate in the world?

      • George Michalopulos says

        Your Grace, I’ll let Gail speak for herself, I only want to address your first point: that these outlets are “govt sponsored”. I’m sure they are.

        How is that any different than what we have here in the US where we’ve gone from 50+ media/news organizations in the 90s to 6 mega-conglomerates today, all of which have a cia operative assigned to them?

        The situation is so incestuous that Jeff bezos got a $600 million contract with the cia.

        Doesn’t it strike all of us a little odd that ever since then we’ve had all the major news outlets assure us that whatever the state dept said about X was true?

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          George asks how Russian government-sponsored agencies targetting the American public opinion are different from American government-sponsored media targetting American public opinion. They are Russian, that’s how.

          • George Michalopulos says

            So my point stands, Your Grace? That all engage in propaganda? If so, how is ours morally any better than Russia’s? As our propaganda has gotten us into several wars-of-choice since 1991.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              That was not your point, George. All countries and all churches and businesses, etc., “engage in” propaganda. Why you want to keep implying that I deny that tells me something about you, not the sometimes successful efforts of Russia in influencing American public opinion through means including, but not confined to, propaganda. As an aside to your irrelevant “point,” you might have indicated if you considered all propaganda morally equivalent. Might a Jesuit not likewise object to the actions of the Jesuit Order and the Office for the Propaganda of the Faith being considered “any worse than” the actions of OCMC?

              • George Michalopulos says

                Because Your Grace, the majority of Americans are not aware that our govt is engaged in propaganda. Mainly because it’s far slicker than anything we see out of most countries. Although I will admit the RT is very polished in its production values.

                I just want all Russophobes to come to the same conclusion regarding American Corporate Media, that it most certainly is a contrivance designed to facilitate American foreign policy regarding Russia. If at the end of the day they still desire to provoke the RF then at least they are doing so with full knowledge of all the facts.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  George! Do you really BELIEVE “the majority of Americans are not aware that our govt is engaged in propaganda?” On what basis? The majority of Americans never heard of the Voice of America? Radio Free Europe?Who are these “Russophobes” to whom you refer? I consider myself (as my ministry has surely demonstrated) a Russophile. It is BECAUSE I am a Russophile that I detest the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin and am appalled by his whitewashing (blessed by the current Patriarch) of the Soviet past and its leaders! Of course, Putin, like Castro, Mao, Hitler, as believed by his disciples there and here, “has done so much for our homeland.” Did America “provoke the RF” by the “Anschluss” on Crimea? Is Facebook not part of “American Corporate Media?” [I do, however, deny that Monomakhos is an unwitting tool of Putinist anti-Western propaganda!]

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Your Grace, that’s a fair question. To answer it as honestly as I can, I do very much believe that the majority of Americans are unaware of the propaganda being spewed to them, especially regarding Russia. I’m repeatedly astonished that people continue to believe the most outlandish things about Russia and her people. And pretty much any other nation that crosses our path.

                    Case in point: during the late 90s/early 00s, Chris Matthews regularly had Iraqi dissidents on Hardball, who peddled the most egregious nonsense. One was a fugitive nuclear scientist who told us all about Saddam’s nuclear program. I mean, why shouldn’t I have believed it all? After all, this was Chris Matthews, a liberal democrat. Then when Bush 43 invaded and when things went sour in 04 it was all a big “never mind”.

                    I wish it weren’t so. Truly.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Your Grace, often “propaganda” is what the other country/person does.

                    I speak the truth, you provide factual information, they spread propaganda.

                    There is a certain type of patriotism that refuses to recognize what our own country does as propaganda no matter how egregious it is.

                    These days there is little, if any, dissemination of “news” that is not rooted in ideological persuasion (regardless of the ideology of the entity doing the dissemination) rather than communicating factual information. It is all fake. So it becomes “pick your poison”.

                    From Christopher Fry’s “The Lady’s Not for Burning” /strong>

                    Are you going to be so serious about such a mean allowance of breath as life is?
                    We’ll suppose ourselves to be caddis-flies
                    Who live one day.
                    Do we waste the evening
                    Commiserating with each other about
                    The unhygienic condition of our worm-cases?
                    For God’s sake, shall we laugh?
                    For what reason?
                    For the reason of laughter, since laughter is surely
                    The surest touch of genius in creation.
                    Would you ever have thought of it, I ask you,
                    If you had been making man, stuffing him full Of such hopping greeds and passions that he has
                    To blow himself to pieces as often as he Conveniently can manage it—would it also
                    Have occurred to you to make him burst himself
                    With such a phenomenon as cachinnation? That same laughter, madam, is an irrelevancy
                    Which almost amounts to revelation.

                    IMO the best way to deal with propaganda of any kind from any source is to laugh at it. Not sarcastically, but a good belly laugh filled with joy for the mercy of our Lord and self-recognition. “…Since laughter is surely the surest touch of genius in Creation.”

                    A good part of the destructiveness of modern politics is that we no longer laugh at each other or ourselves, in fact we are pretty much forbidden to laugh. Thus only cruel sarcasm, scatological references and vulgar sex stories fill the void as “humor”.

                    One thing that I notice from our three monks here in Wichita is that while they are sober minded people, they each have a great sense of humor and joy that tends to permeate all that they do.

                    Demons hate laughter, good laughter, almost as much as they do the Cross, especially when we laugh at ourselves in honest recognition of our own follies.

      • Anonymous says

        Vladyka, just to ease any suspicions you might have of this priest:

        He was in the Antiochian Archdiocese:

        And this is from a former parishioner and Godson of his (posted on the odious Orthodoxy in Dialogue Facebook page after they tried another one of their character assassinations):

        Fr. Joseph is my Godfather. While we don’t agree on everything, he and Matushka Amy are kind, generous people who have helped out many, both spiritually and materially. While I don’t doubt that his perspective is on the opposite ends of the spectrum from most OIDers, and I have topics on which I disagree with him, much of what is written above is either taken out of context, half-correct or even outright wrong.

        I’m just curious if any of you who are condemning Fr. Joseph have actually spoken with him. If you have, then naturally you have a much greater basis for any claims about his positions. If not, I would encourage you to reach out to him and speak with him personally. I know for a fact that he would be open to such conversations in good will.

        I visited him in Russia for Pascha this past year. I went with him and two of his sons to Mt. Athos, so I definitely got to know him quite well. The man I know is nothing like the man you are describing.

        I’m happy to address anyone who made claims above denigrating his character to provide some counter to the points made, if there is any interest. Since I don’t know everything about him, I won’t be able to address everything of course. But there are some points where I can provide a different perspective, if nothing else.

        By the way, how is homeschooling sectarian? Of all the children in my parish, those that are homeschooled are the most intelligent, wholesome, well-rounded, and friendly – with very unsectarian parents, it should be pointed out.

        Just a note about the above-mentioned Orthodoxy in Dialogue post about this priest and family man: they are comparing him to a Nazi on their Facebook group, as well as other disparaging comments, just for wanting what’s best for his family and their spiritual lives. They are truly contemptible – and to post these things during Great Lent, of all times. Lord have mercy.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          One, “Anonymous” won’t divulge his identity to help the subject Priest. Two, “Anonymous” doesn’t let us know WHO here is condemning this Priest (“I’m just curious if any of you who are condemning Fr. Joseph have actually spoken with him.”) Finally, “they are comparing him to a Nazi on their Facebook group, as well as other disparaging comments, just for wanting what’s best for his family and their spiritual lives.” “JUST FOR?” Shouldn’t a Priest put what’s best for his parishioners first, not himself and his family? Just asking.


          • Anonymous says

            Your Grace,

            Did you even read my post properly? I never said anyone here was condemning him – I posted a quote from someone who knows, made in a Facebook group that IS condemning him.

            Please read posts properly before coming in with your smarmy comments, please.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              “Anonymous!” I believe I read your post properly. I still don’t know who HERE i.e., in your post, is condemning that clergyman. If you, “Anonymous,” don’t consider your post, with its quotation, to be HERE, I feel you may be a more incapable READER than I!

              • Gail Sheppard says

                The thing is, Your Grace, just because you end a sentence with a question mark doesn’t mean you’re asking a question. You knew and made sure WE knew, there was controversy surrounding this priest and you did it HERE. You condemn him to further scrutiny. At least own it. It shouldn’t surprise you that someone would come to his defense or that same someone would choose to remain anonymous.

      • I recently corresponded with Fr. Alexander Webster regarding his writings on the Trojan Horses of pseudo-Orthodoxy. One thing I suggested to him bears repeating here: We should face the fact that we are not dealing with theists on the other side of the traditionalist/ecumenist argument. We are dealing with atheists who wrap their political views in religious nomenclature gutted of its original significance. That is the point of the move toward the Anglican Branch Theory and Protestant Baptismal Theology.

        It is simply a rejection of the notion that actual God of the Testaments exists in reality and an affirmation of Progressive Liberal ideology repackaged in Christian terminology. We are fighting dishonest materialists, to put a fine point to it.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          I LOVED Fr Webster’s “fine point” (“We are fighting dishonest materialists, to put a fine point to it.) Looks like a very broad-brush condemnation to me! Does this seminary dean, I wonder, also consider dishonest materialists worse than honest materialists like the old Marxist-Leninists?

          • Anonymous says

            Your Grace,

            The fine point is Misha’s, not Fr. Alexander’s. Have another look.

            You’re making yourself look very undignified and pompous.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Your Grace, I believe you are mistaken. It was Misha who said this, not Fr Alexander. a cleric whom I believe to have the utmost intellectual integrity.

  12. Gail Sheppard says

    Your Grace, there actually IS a status listed in the article. It says: “Formerly a Protestant pastor, Joseph and his family converted to Orthodoxy several years ago. Eventually he became a priest in the Orthodox Church. In 2017, Fr. Joseph moved to Russia with his wife Amy and their 8 children, and they settled in Rostov-the-Great.” Presumably, he is the man who served at Christ the King Orthodox Mission in Omaha, Illinois and was featured on Ancient Faith Ministries in 2016. I believe Bishop John (Abdalah) of Worcester and New England ordained him. I did look that up, but I have no idea what kind of priest he is now. He may be a retired priest, for all I know.

    I also don’t know if he sought or received a canonical release. That’s way above my “paygrade” and they don’t publish that sort of thing on the Archdiocese website. If I had suspected there was anything wrong with him or with who published the article, I would not have posted it.

    No, I did not reach out to hear from his former American parishioners. Frankly, it would never occur to me to do that. Again, if I had known there was anything wrong, I would not have posted the article.

    Not sure who is being called out here. If it’s me, so noted. If it’s him, I would ask that you give him a pass, as he couldn’t possibly have known I was going to post an article about him or that he would be under such scrutiny. It was not my intent to bring shame to him or to his family. May God forgive me.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Gail, for what it’s worth, I don’t see how you brought shame upon him or his family. If anything, they seem like stand-up people. For me, like the Grandpa Dobri story, it was a feel-good piece.

      Also, please forgive me for jumping in and addressing His Grace’s assertion regarding RT and other Russian news outlets as being funded by the Russian govt. It’s only recently come to common knowledge that our own govt is in bed with Big Media and I couldn’t let that assertion pass without a (hopefully respectful) counter-argument.

      Your Grace, please forgive me as well. I meant no disrespect but only wanted to point out the fact that our own hands are not clean in the propaganda dept.

      To all: I recently heard about a GOA priest who was likewise up and moving his family to Russia. As it was told to me, he mentioned in his homily something about homosexuality and some 16-year-old girl got up and roundly chastised him because reasons. It was then that something snapped in him and he thought to himself that it was time’s up for America so he and his family headed for Russia.

      Again to all: when we went to Russia in July 2016, right before the election, when my son and I were on the train going from Moscow to Nizhni-Novgorod, I had the opportunity to look out from my window and see thousands of square miles of verdant, flatland that was uninhabited. Mind you, I had come to the realization based on certain factors that Trump was going to win. But on the off-chance that the Deep State would somehow deny him the victory, I thought to myself “what if?” Maybe tens of thousands of Americans and disaffected Western Europeans could easily “colonize” all this empty land, first as independent farms or communes, then as villages and towns.

      “What would it take?” I asked myself. First to acquire Russian citizenship. Then petitioning the Russian govt and making deals along these lines: giving preferences to Orthodox Christians and/or allowing Western Protestants/Catholics to allow their children to be educated in Orthodox schools. If Orthodox, to ask the patriarchate to allow for the formation of parishes in which both Church Slavonic and English were used. In other words, to allow the new immigrants two to three generations to acclimate themselves and their posterity to Russia and its folk-ways.

      Anyway, sorry for the early morning ramble. A little too much caffeine.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        George I agree that Gale did not expose or shame that Priest who abandoned his American flock.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Gail, I thought you’d want to know if that Priest had a canonical release from his bishop and WHY he abandoned his American PARISHIONERS. Who was his Bishop? Where is his former parish? How many times, if ever, was he reassigned and why. If you read that article to which you provided the link you didn’t think it odd that none of these details were provided—-it looks like he moved to Russia for selfish reasons? Was a Russian parish IN NEED OF HIM? I recognize that you and others here obviously think such “details” are insignificant alongside the possibility of giving the USA a black eye….

  13. Michael Bauman says

    Joseph, Should I consult with my wife? Good question. I listen to my wife, I communicate with my wife, I get irritated with my wife and she with me, on mutual matters where I do not have a clear view of things, I ask for her input, then I make the decision. All of that is possible because I love her and she loves me. I am head of my household because that is the natural order of things and my wife acknowledges that and longs for it and works to be obedient to that because she loves God. Her obedience strengthens me to actually be the head. This despite the fact that two former husbands had beaten her and cheated on her plus being sexually abused as a young girl. Her love of God and trust in Him is utterly amazing. Standing in Liturgy on Sunday mornings she is as a blazing candle aflame with light, radiant and transformed. If I were to consult with my wife I am sure our Lord’s promise that He will be there where two or three are gathered in His name will hold true and the truth will be discerned. Here prayers are efficacious. I am unwarrantedly blessed above most men. So, Joseph, do not make light of what you do not know.

    Although the OCA and ROC have an analog of marriage all of what I describe is missing from the decision to make the OCA self-governing. No love, no natural order, no obedience.

    It just seems strange to me that instead of saying the Russian Church acknowledged the independence and formally released the OCA, you said the OCA is independent because Russia said so. There is a cognitive dissonance in that for me. Where is the love and the actual independence or any actual authority?

    It is much like the joke my wife tells of two young boys talking after school: Johnny says, “My mom says my dad is head of the home, and what my mama says goes.”

    The way you put it, Russia is still the head regardless of the appearances.

    • Joseph Lipper says

      Michael Bauman,

      Please forgive me, I didn’t mean to actually refer to your wife. My intention was to ask a rhetorical question based on your analogy of the powerful Michael Bauman granting head of house status to the lowly Joseph Lipper.

      Who has the primacy to grant autocephaly? After the fall of Rome, the Ecumenical Patriarch would be understood to have this primacy. However, Moscow has since challenged and questioned the primacy of the Ecumenical Patriarch, asserting her own primacy as “Third Rome” by granting autocephaly to the Metropolia (OCA).

      Personally, I believe Moscow should have first consulted and deferred to the Ecumenical Patriarch in matters of autocephaly. Unfortunately now it is a source of contention between them. This contention means the OCA is stuck in the middle and won’t get the same respect normative of an autocephalous church.

      That’s fine. As long as the OCA is not seeking to be respected, then this keeps her humble, and that’s not a bad thing at all. The OCA just has to be willing to accept “autocephaly as per Moscow”, which basically means very limited respect. However, I believe the OCA still functions practically as a head, as an autocephalous self-governing church, elects own bishops and primate, consecrates Holy Chrism, etc.

      But if it’s respect that people want, then those people should probably join ROCOR.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Actually, an Ecumenical Council can proclaim autocephaly. Also a mother church can as well. Antioch granted Georgia autocephaly in the 8th century (I believe it was). Nobody said anything about it then, not even the EP.

        • Bishop Anaxios says

          Only the Pope of Rome can grant autocephalousy

        • Joseph Lipper says

          George, yes, that’s an interesting point about Georgian autocephaly. I believe it was actually granted to them in the 5th century by Antioch, and not long after the Council of Chalcedon.

          Even at that time, there was a ruffling of feathers over ecclesiastical primacy, and this was a key element of the Chalcedonian schism. The Patriarch of Constantinople was the new kid on the block and yet claimed primacy over both Antioch and Alexandria. This was a crucial element of contention for the non-Chalcedonians.

          Interestingly enough, the EP only recently recognized Georgian autocephaly in 1990, about 1500 years later.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        I have to disagree with the idea of autocephalousy only possible by being granted by the Ecumenical Patriarch

        That’s like saying Chuck Norris’ tears cure cancer.
        The problem is – Chuck Norris never cries

  14. Michael Bauman says

    One question at least concerns whether the Russian Church that granted Independence was actually the Russian Church or just a branch of the KGB.

    Of course people who want to can find multitudes of such questions concerning ‘validity’.

    Truth is no body much wants a truly autocephelous Church in the New World, even those who think they do.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Michael, I see your broader point re autocephaly in America. I would caution you however from casting too many aspersions on the ROC during the Soviet era. What could be said about that church could be said about Constantinople, and even more so now under Erdogan. Or the Syrian church under Assad.

      It’s a path we don’t want to go down on; an averted eye would be advisable.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Our comfortableness allows the type of whining that was running through here last week. When I asked for specific information on what constituted an American Orthodox Church—-silence. Then more whining about the ethnic overlords.

        Right now the structure is so entrenched in people’s imaginations that no one can see a way out even if one is genuinely wanted. Part of the problem is that as dysfunctional as we are, there is always the possibility of it getting worse if change is made. It is hardly a ringing endorsement that the OCA has to import her bishops from other jurisdictions.

        If the GOA really does self-destruct then maybe the rest of us can get together and forge something new. The Antiocheans and Russians have a natural, organic affinity. St. Raphael, pray for us.

        O, and BJS, many parishes will continue to dress in less than modern modes and that is a really good thing. We are not a modern church.

        • Billy Jack Sunday says


          Billy and Ruth Graham were from RURAL hill country of North Carolina

          They upheld the highest standards of modesty, and did not in any way shape or form look like they just got off the Mayflower

          They dressed normal

          You guys are confusing innovation vs integration

          Study the Orthodox Celtic Church – before it was “Frankenstined” and erased from Western Europe. That’s where we lost

          The Celtic Cross is a lasting symbol of a once integrated Orthodox Church into the Celtic world

          Everything since then has been a Christian Chinese fire drill in the West

          It’s fine if you are from the city and go to a rodeo. It’s even cool if you wear a Stetson and boots

          Do not, however, show up as the RHINESTONE COWBOY to try and fit it or in an attempt to make the rodeo more authentically Western, dude!

          One becomes an unintended parody that way

          Quite honestly, if there is no dedication to the right structure regardless of challenges, I can paint a picture of what an American Church would look like (as I have already done a bit) and go on and on

          But I will face endless strawman arguments like I already have as well as people demanding “more cowbell.”

          I’ve been around just about everywhere. I know no one is listening out there

          No one cares

          • Michael Bauman says

            Scarves on heads, long loose fitting dresses, no high heels. Simple shirts, ties and suits for men basic shoes. No eleborate hair dos for either sex. No pews. Simple stuff. No displays.

            Of course we will still get the occasional spiked haired goth or sandel wearing, Hawaiian shirt loving God called person walk through the doors as well.

          • Michael Bauman says

            It ain’t about the clothes.

            • Billy Jack Sunday says



              So I will no longer discuss this issue with you or anyone anyway. I’m tired of you guys twisting the issue

              Don’t reference me any further on this issue. Take it up with Bob The Advocate if you got a problem

          • Joseph Lipper says

            When it comes to dress, I think we have to be very careful. If we are truly being missionary, then we have to be open to people coming in all types of dress. Oftentimes people identify so much with their clothing, that if you criticize what they’re wearing, they will take it as a personal criticism against themselves.

            The main thing is modesty, modest dress and behavior. If someone is dressed immodestly, or behaving immodestly, and it’s not our job to tell them, then it’s best to just look away and forget about it.

            People dress immodestly all the time outside of Church, and we don’t think twice about it. Why should we be shocked then when people also show up to Church dressed immodestly?

  15. Michael Bauman says

    Of course George it is a criticism I have often heard nonetheless. My real point is that if we had a united “American” Church we would loose all of our scapegoats. We could no longer blame the Greeks, the Russians, the Syrians, OCA depending on the day. We would have to take responsibility for our own sins.

    We will only get out of our parent’s basement when we start taking that responsibility. Stopped blaming all our short comings on someone else and become the Church.

    We are really comfortable as it is nice and lukewarm.

    • Bishop Anaxios says

      Michael Bauman

      A group of us bishops recently got together and determined the solution to America’s Orthodox juristictional dilemma:

      The creation of more juristictions

      America is E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many – One

      We figured we must not be “One” in America yet because we are currently not “Many” enough

  16. Michael Bauman says

    No doubt we will get smaller. There is likely to be a defacto “Living Church” here in the U.S. Some tough decisions will have to be made. Pray for our bishops.

  17. Patty Pollonium says