Morality Inverted

inverted-moralityIt’s hard to break through the intellectual barriers that envelop the mind like a steel casket when the language of the moral tradition is mixed into the politics of personal identity. It causes all sorts of confusion because what used to be wrong sounds like it is right, and what used to be right sounds like it is wrong. Sin is righteousness and righteousness is sin.

Homosexual behavior is a sin. Even Gregory Pappas, the author of this present controversy agrees that this is Church teaching (albeit the Church is wrong). Pappas certainly isn’t reticent about his homosexual lifestyle so when he went back to his hometown parish, the rector, Fr. John Touloumes, met privately with him and instructed him to refrain from communion (there’s open speculation that Pappas “married” another man). According to Pappas, Touloumes told him that Metropolitan Savas Zembillas had issued a directive that the priests cannot give communion to unrepentant sinners.

Pappas, a skilled entrepreneur in public relations, didn’t take the news well and did what all PR flacks do: he went public. He posted his outrage on his Facebook page and two articles on his news blog (the Pappas Post, here and here). Like so many of his poorly catechized generation, he went after the priest.

This is all old news by now. What is disturbing are the likely repercussions.

Challenging the priest by calling in lay authorities (or the bishop) is a very common tactic, especially in the parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA) where many leaders think no differently about Church affairs than any unchurched secularist. This deep confusion about how to live as an Orthodox Christian is often fostered by the bishops themselves, who give the decided appearance of being more Greek than Orthodox.

The response to Pappas’ challenge was predictable. Instead of dealing with the substance of Pappas’ challenge, the Metropolitan of Pittsburgh side-stepped it, using pseudo-Solomonic clerverness to avoid making any resolute and instructive decision.

Savas’ Silence

Pappas’ screed enlisted many ideas and a chief one was that homosexual behavior should be normalized in the Church. This is a dangerous idea but Savas never addressed it. All things being equal, Savas’ reticence made it appear that Pappas’ PR blitz won the day — and it did, especially with the hierarchy, who now have to play by Pappas’ new paradigm. Certainly the more secularized among the GOA membership believe that Touloumes’ stand against homosexual behavior was trumped by Savas’ implicit confirmation that Pappas was wronged. Touloumes is the real sinner in the eyes of the poorly catechized. He was left holding the bag.

The blow-back has been strong. Like the Duck Dynasty uproar last December, the homosexual juggernaut may be pushed back on its heels. Because of the rarefied circles in which Pappas travels, he no doubt thought that once he had his way with the hierarchy, that would be the end of that. What he didn’t realize is that the Church is not Hollywood and resistance will arise, especially with the freedom of the internet. Moreover, the average Christian has seen what thirty years of feminism and homosexualization can do to a religious body.

Pappas initiated the fight when he came out of the traces with both guns blazing. He, and one suspects most other gay activists, did not expect to be challenged with such ferocity. They’ve been coddled for too long by the academic, journalistic, and political elite. Just because the Metropolitan caved doesn’t mean that the people are willing to roll over and play dead. And let’s be honest, the GOA hierarchy has long accommodated the elite, abrogating the authority of the Gospel for greetings in the marketplace.

The failure ultimately lies with Savas and by extension the entire Synod of the GOA. To be sure, Savas is not known for decisiveness; he does he does like making unpopular decisions. Given his liberal moral positions, he may not even believe that homosexual behavior is a sin. We don’t really know because he never really says. All we can glean from Pappas’ broadside and Zembillas’ acquiescence is that as long as somebody is enthusiastic about their ethnicity and has years of service to the Church, then the Eucharist becomes an entitlement.

Historical Confusion

Yet, who can really blame Pappas for his ignorance? For almost three decades the GOA has been served a confused stew of “Hellenism and Orthodoxy” where Hellenism resides alongside Orthodoxy as if both were parallel but distinct historical streams. This is a historical error of the first order (Hellenism was baptized into Orthodox Christianity by the Cappadocian Fathers thereby merging the two), that results in either term meaning anything a person wants them to mean.

Usually the terms boil down to the simplest expressions of ethnic identity (baklava, ouzo, and an occasional “Christos Anesti!” or two). This reduction is good for fundraising but it does violence to history and erodes Orthodox self-identity.

No reasonable person would dispute the great contributions of the Greeks to Western Civilization. The problem however is not the ethnic pride, but that the Orthodox faith is subsumed by it. That is what leads Pappas (as well as his supporters) to reason as he does:

I walked away from Fr John, shocked, stunned.

Shocked first at him — for even putting me in such an awkward position to “pre-warn” me that I should never approach the chalice in his church, but also shocked that when posed with such a “tough choice” he could not discern between right and wrong, between love and intolerance, between being spineless and having a conscience. I was immediately reminded of the Gospel that we hear on Holy Monday during Holy Week.

How do we explain the ignorance behind these reactions except that Pappas has no clue about why the moral teachings of the Church are what they are?

Filling a Vacuum

A bishop’s first commission is to rightly divide the word of Truth. When Savas abandoned the pulpit he gave it to Pappas who then sermonized about the real nature of Orthodox morality and Church order to the rest of us:

Yes, Fr John Touloumes was within the canonical order to deny me Holy Communion in his parish. Yes, according to Orthodox Christian canons, homosexuality is a sin. . .But so is seeing a Jewish doctor for treatment. And also, anyone who has masturbated or has had an involuntary nocturnal emission, or a woman who is menstruating is also breaking canon law by approaching the chalice.

And this is why this is a judgment issue, or more so a lack of judgment issue. Because “selective morality” subject to what we personally believe to be right or wrong, is wrong— especially in America in 2014. This is called prejudice and it is deep rooted inside a person.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cumin…!

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate…

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful…”

Needless to say these sentiments draw deep from the well of secularized culture and conflate the language of the moral tradition with the politics of personal identity. This imbroglio required clear language from a bishop of the Church but we heard precious little apart from the words of another bishop, Pappas’ “spiritual father,” who had already approved him taking communion.

Meanwhile the secularization and increasing homosexualization of the GOA continues unabated.

*Savaonarolla, a play on the name Savonarola, was the title of Metropolitan Savas’ first blog, a paean to Progressive optimism and other misguided sentiments. “Americans did a good thing yesterday [when they elected Barack Obama], an inspired thing. They didn’t voice their opinion, they shouted it. A new day has dawned, a day that the Lord has most emphatically made. Are you as delighted as I am? Send up thanks to the Lord our God!”


  1. help me understand. what did the bishop say?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Well, according to Pappas’ own words, he said that Savas issued no such directive and that Fr John went to him, with specified concerns about Mr Pappas.

  2. Michael Kinsey says

    Let the reader understand. This is the Truthful explanation of the abomination of desolation. I am the sole author. Many professing Christians left to wonder, what the A of D is.

    The very Will of Our Father, the Only Holy One is spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ in response to the 3 demonic temptations which confronted Him and also confront us. Obeyed, as the Christ DID, and the 3 spiritual relationships, man to man, man’s duo spiritual and physical nature, and God to man, which contain spiritual life are maintained in balance and harmony. This is the Way of Peace.

    This is the Vision given to the Church of Jesus Christ, so that the people do not perish. The great whore is the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, because,here mankind begins to serve itself, and not serve God alone. Serve yourself, and you enter into the great whore.The effect of the disobedience desolates the spiritual life in the spiritual relationship of man to his fellow man. In a word, wars for the goods of the earth.

    The wars cause men to live for bread alone, ignoring the Word of God in the fiercest of competitions. The effect of living for bread alone desolates the spiritual life in the relationship of man’s spiritual nature while in his body.

    The acceptance of dragon spiritual power, rejecting the Holy Spirit, tempts God, and desolates the spiritual life in the relationship of God to man. There is no spiritual life left in a man to desolate. This is abomination of desolation. The responses of the Christ are the remedy against spiritual desolation.

    The forgiveness of sin come via the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, but this cannot be sent to a fully desolated soul, the soul must have spiritual life.

    He who has (spiritual life) will be given more, even eternal life, a gift. He who has not, (abomination of desolation) even that which he has, physical existence will be taken away from him. The wages of sin is death.

    The unrivaled Holy Place is where the Holy Fire is received,If rev.13 vs 13 is received in it’s place, where it ought not to be, this is abomination of desolation stand in the Holy Place. The Holy aspect from the Only Holy One, Our Father of the kingdom of heaven in every little baby is cut off, but just for a time. The Christ is with us even to the end of the age.Those who receive the mark and worship of the beast cannot receive forgiveness of sin, because they have no spiritual life in any of the 3 spiritual relationships.

    When the mark, worship and taxes appear, Our Father will launch His Total War against this.No one will survive this except those authentically in the Body of the Christ
    This remember, a contrite and humble heart, God will not despise. The time of the mark nears, let the reader understand.

  3. I cannnot believe what the GOA is doing setting on their hands and defending the Faith. If the bishops can not stand for what is right I hope the priest, deacons, and the Church can. We almost look like every other church denomination in America, we flow with where the wind blows.

  4. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    You misspelled Savaonarolla in the title; otherwise I recommend conciseness, rather than let-it-all-hang-out-and-correct-it-later incontinence and logorrhea. I mean…!!!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Your Grace, the title was a play on “Savanarolla.” It’s a contraction of three different words: “Sava,” “rolling” and “over.” The original title was “Savas Caves” but then the Muse came upon me and I remembered that he had a blog named “Sava On a Rolla.”

      • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

        And here I thought you were dragging in a reference to this footnote of YOUR OWN:
        “*Savaonarolla, a play on the name Savonarola, was the title of Metropolitan Savas’ first blog,:

        So, George, YOUR title was not a play on the name of Metropolitan Savas’s first blog? Thanks for explaining that, I think. I think his title was cleverer.

        I didn’t see any resemblance between Metropolitan Sava and the Florentine rabble-rouser, the Sword of God, Girolamo Savonarola!!!!!

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        Truly an inspired title.

  5. Mr. Pappas did not need Fr. John to tell him not to approach the Chalice. Mr. Pappas should know that if he is a practicing sodomite, he cannot approach the Chalice until he repents, confesses, and struggles to end the behavior through ascesis. If I am an adulterer, I know that I cannot approach the Chalice until I repent, confess, accept my penance, and stop the behavior. If Fr. John (or any other Orthodox priest for that matter) knew that I was an adulterer, I would expect to be instructed (for the sake of my eternal soul) not to approach the Chalice. If I went in search a priest (or spiritual father) who would allow me to approach the Chalice in my sin… is unto my condemnation (1 Cor. 11:26-30).

    Metropolitan Savas (and the rest of the hierarchy) must come forth in unity with a concrete and definitive statement about this matter, so that the laity is not mired in confusion. Silence is not an option.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      There is an issue of confidentiality that would make Metropolitan Savas hesitate to make a public statement specifically on the Papas situation. As for a general statement, the ACOB did issue a statement in 2012 that reaffirmed the 2003 SCOBA statement, that made the point that “The Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions. Whereas marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10).” I cannot think of anything that can be added by Metropolitan Savas.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Right you are. However the issue is not the pastoral discretion of Savas but the fact that Mr Pappas’ understanding of his spiritual father’s advice trumps that of the diocesan bishop.

        Towit: we are led to believe by Mr Pappas that because his bishop has no problem with his sexual activities he should be able to go into any GOA parish in the US and receive Communion. This is why a directive is needed IMHO.

      • Michael Bauman says

        No he just needs to uphold the teachings and support the priests who do. No more rolling waffle carts.

  6. George, I don’t always agree with you but I believe you are right on target with this missive. Your insight into the GOA is profound and I believe accurate. I, as well as many others, hoped for substantive change during the tenure of AB Demetrios, but his leadership is a disappointment. I hope there is inspired, Christ-centered leadership waiting in the wings but I don’t think so. The GOA is more concerned about appeasing the wealthy, promoting the Greek American success story and projecting Hellenism. George, thanks for speaking truthfully and insightfully.

  7. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    When I spoke to Father John Touloumes recently, George, he said he was quite satisfied with the level of support he has received from Metropolitan Savas.

    The clergymen we should hear from live in Chicago.

  8. Chris Banescu says

    What a difference a few decades makes!

    We find it imperative to address you on an issue of crucial importance for the Christian life. An increasingly secularized world tends more and more to neglect the traditional biblical understanding of marriage and family. Misunderstanding freedom and proclaiming the progress of a humanity supposedly too mature, sophisticated and scientific to follow Christ’s Gospel, many have abandoned its moral demands. The consequences are plain for all to see: the family is disintegrating, legalized abortion is killing millions of unborn children, corrupt sexual behavior is rampant. The moral foundations of society are collapsing.

    These bishops showed no apathy, timidity, or confusion in speaking publicly on key moral issues. They were not silent or complacent in the face of danger. They denounced evil and challenged the growing corruption in the culture. They genuinely loved and cared not only for the welfare and salvation of their flocks, but of all men.

    The Christian ideal of marriage and family, manhood and womanhood, is incomparably more exalted, balanced and fulfilling than those broken, one-sided or totally erroneous ideologies of today’s world which reduce the meaning of human life to the satisfaction of sexual appetites, material security, or to other such limited functions and desires. In Christ man is revealed as son and friend of God. He is able to become a member of Christ in soul and body. In the Christian marriage, he is able to achieve an eternal, unique and total union in love.

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Many, many thanks to Mr. Chris Banescu for referencing one of the excellent encyclicals issued by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America in those days of yore, before the ecclesiastical execution of Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick.
      Not only does the Encyclical on Marriage bear reading, but also the Encyclical on Christian Unity and Ecumenism, the Encyclical on Confession and Communion, and the Encyclical on Spiritual Life, all bear reading and study.
      While we may be tempted to titter at someone who labels himself a modern St. John the Baptist (“Voice Crying in the Wilderness”) as we do at a “Monomakhos’ (“One Who Fights Alone”}, occasionally, willy-nilly, as it were, a burst of light is produced. One need not read all the “gilding of the lily” that Mr. Banescu produced around it to appreciate the excellence of the encyclical he cites. If any has pre-conceived notions of the worth of Mr. Banescu’s own productions, just read the indented material, then, if possible, get copies of these encyclicals fro the OCA Chancery or one of the three seminaries’ bookstores.
      Again, many, many thanks, Mister Banescu!
      I insist on also referring readers to the April 2, 2002, document adopted by the Holy Synod of the OCA on that date: “POLICIES, STANDARDS, AND PROCEDURES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA ON SEXUAL MISCONDUCT,’ It was produced in the days when (in the words of his detractors) “Father Bob controlled EVERYTHING.” Later on, such CONCILIAR products disappeared, although one junior hierarch, eschewing anything like a conciliar product of the Holy Synod, issued his own idiosyncratic and uninformed outburst on the chaplaincy which no one remembers but a noisy and energized claque of personal followers of his.

      Thanks again, Mister Banescu!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Chris, putting out something like this would be next-to-impossible in today’s climate. Maybe ROCOR, maybe the Antiochians. I dunno, what do you all think?

  9. Roman K. says

    Isn’t all of this a tragic indictment on the state of Orthodoxy in America. The Greeks “wink and nod”, the OCA does the same. Thank God that there are other Orthodox choices for faithful clergy and laity can find refuge.

  10. Ladder of Divine Ascent says

    Homosexual couples in Denmark have won the right to get married in any church they choose, even though nearly one third of the country’s priests have said they will refuse to carry out the ceremonies:

    The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.

    Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.

    “I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”

    Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      That is a sobering, if not unexpected, development in one of the “progressive” Scandinavian countries. However, the last sentence in your excerpt from the news item in the Telegraph is confusing and vague: to whom does “their” refer? Does the new Danish law mandate that the local bishop provide another church venue for the perverse “nuptials,” or that the bishop replace the dissenting pastor with one willing to conduct the rite?

      If such a law were enacted by the U.S. Congress or the Commonwealth of Virginia, I would, as I have already indicated to my parishioners, stand in the doorway to our little country church in Stafford and declare, “Over my dead body . . . but under my living soul!”

      • Daniel E Fall says

        If such a law were to be passed in the US, this liberal would be standing next to you when you made the declaration-at least in spirit if not locale.

        I can’t stand the idea that the government is related to a church, or that the government throws holy water on marriages of any kind. The theocracies in the Middle East are less than successful governments.

        Too bad so many conservatives can’t get past the concept/desire of the government blessing heterosexual marriage. When they tried affirming it in Minnesota (really just a get out the vote drive), the result was a resounding vote allowing gay marriage and the associated recognition by the state. The conservatives are really at the heart of the gay marriage movement and Minnesota is a real proof of that. You say we can’t-we say we can-nananabooboo. And, of course, they can, this is America, the land of the free. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out even the will of the majority can’t supercede the Bill of Rights or the Equal Protection Clause.

        I understand everyone finds my anti-state blessed marriages position absurd, but if the Church of Festivus wants to marry two gays-big whoop. And if the state isn’t allowed to recognize marriage and give it special protections-no one would care if the gays got married-except the die hard fundies who think the gay germs might get on them. And if government doesn’t allow marrieds special privileges-then there is nothing to gain except the personal promise. Marriage is really more for the intended purpose instead of a government contract. Someday, maybe in my lifetime, state recognized marriage will be on the chopping block as it should be and the state will no longer be able to sanction, allow, or grant marrieds different status than non-marrieds. That will be a good day. (Please don’t parse my words).

        As for the Pappas matter; it seems a little odd that a priest would state something to a parishioner if he doesn’t really know or understand the life of that parishioner through Confession. It sort of goes against what I understand as Orthodoxy. And MA won’t like my agreement with a twist, but like MA (mystery assumed) is really more about the sinner’s life than the country club. That said, I don’t know diddly about Pappas and what he has said or done publicly. If he has kissed a man publicly(ew!) or made statements in clear defiance of church doctrine, etc., then it might be fair for him to be told the church isn’t gonna tolerate such. If he hasn’t gone that far, then it seems a bit out of line for the priest to speak to him in that fashion.

        How many of you know what has been said between Pappas and his priest?

        When is the last time a fat man was told not to come to the Cup unless he lost ten pounds? Just sayin… I think the overfocus on homosexuality George insists on is really overblown. It is like taking the noise from 2% of society and suggesting the other 98% of society has now fallen into calamity because two lesbians want to have a relationship that fails to appreciate gender differences. (I find this to be a weak relationship). I think this should be called the Helga trap from now on. Yes, I will call it the Helga trap. Its where you look at 2% of the society and decide based on your own concepts of correctness that the other 98% are going down the drain. In this case; it is probably more like 2/10ths of a percent because the marriage rate among homosexuals is going to be low. So you look at 2/10ths of a percent of the society and decide calamity is around the corner for the actions they take getting married.

        In the words of my father-who is wise about such things. Who gives a hoot?

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

          RE: “If such a law were to be passed in the US, this liberal would be standing next to you when you made the declaration-at least in spirit if not locale.”

          I appreciate the pledge of solidarity, Dan. That nightmare scenario–perhaps not as far fetched as some might suppose–reminds me of Benjamin Franklin’s memorable quip during the debate in the Second Continental Congress in 1776 over the proposed Declaration of Independence: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. . .”

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          There is no “overfocus on homosexuality”.

          Did you ever hear of an adulterous man demanding that his priest and his congregation bless his relationship with his mistress or concubine? Has there ever been a movement within any Christian church to openly sanction such relationships?

          No. That’s the whole point.

          • Daniel E Fall says

            Actually Tim, you are quite wrong. The overfocus on homosexuality here is vivid, stark, and clear. I referenced George and his well-intentioned blog.

            You can’t just arbitrarily change it to any church or congregation. My reference was to George-don’t change the reference and think you can prove your point. I think your positive votes for what is really a preposterous reply proves the biases herein. And for that matter, as far I as care to understand, Pappas never asked the church to bless his relationship with another man, so you are off base again.

            And the only reason for referring to the Helga trap is to make a point about the past-perhaps it is rather mean spirited, however, reading aloud the churches doctrine on homosexuality during a random Liturgy was perhaps one of the most mean spirited things I’ve ever heard clerics asked to do, and don’t think it didn’t impact Jonah horribly-it did. Many of the clerics read it before or after Liturgies to empty rooms in order to meet the demands without shocking the 9 year olds….but I suppose I digress here.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              And is it “mean-spirited” for the priest to read those passages of Scripture which condemn adultery before a full congregation, well-knowing that there are men and women therein who are adulterous?

              And do those men and women suffer bruised feelings, and a sense of unfairness at the “overfocus” on that sin? Somehow, I doubt it.
              Do they insist that it not be reckoned as sin at all? Do they demand that an exception be made in their “special” case?
              Not likely.

              Are the children sent out when the 10 commandments are read? I think not.

              • Daniel E Fall says

                Look Tim. You don’t have to like it, but if you will kindly refer to the last time a Metropolitan or Bishop sent a letter requiring reading aloud to all churches about adultery or gluttony or any sin other than homosexuality; that would be helpful. Otherwise, quit making up shit.

                And you don’t have to enjoy the facts as I presented them, but the facts are quite simple. Many, many clergymen found such tactics to be less than beneficial. It wasn’t for the gays in the congregation. It was because everyone in the church would find it very odd. Well, except for the self-righteous fool patting himself on the back because he isn’t gay. La-ti-da…

                As for the 10 commandments, sure, kids would hear them. I’ll gladly concede to that argument. But that was never really my point at all.

                As for me, I have a wife and three boys. I don’t understand homosexuality..never have. Doesn’t seem right that I’d judge it too harshly..

                • And I know many many clergymen who were more than happy to read it to their congregation! It was well overdue and only necessary because many had fallen down in their responsibilities as priests to guide people away from sin. In certain parishes things had gotten out of hand with this because of the confusion in the culture and some in the Church had not addressed this at all which led to confusion in the parishes as what the teaching actually is. It was a tool of instruction and guidance. You can’t know unless you hear, that’s the JOB of the BISHOP! H-E-L-L-L-O!

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Mr. Fall, one reason for the disparity is because of the unique challenge that homosexuality presents in this time. Again: one does not find cohorts of organized gluttons, adulterers, angerists, etc. demanding that the Church ignore and even approve of their sins.

                  I can just see it an anger pride parade. “I’m angry, I’m proud and if you don’t like it I’ll smash your skull”

                  It is not the homosexuals per se that are the problem it is the effort to force the Church to declassify homosexuality as a sin and allow them to identify themselves wholly with their sin.

                  In such an atmosphere more specific teaching is necessary and appropriate.

                • Tim R. Mortiss says

                  “Sh&t”? Or Shinola?

                  There is a difference!

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Daniel writes, uncomprehendingly: “I have a wife and three boys. I don’t understand homosexuality..never have. Doesn’t seem right that I’d judge it too harshly.”

                  Yet he judges others very harshly for their understanding of homosexuality.

                  Really, Daniel, if you’re not gay, as you say you’re not, and you don’t really understand homosexuality, as you say you don’t, why then does the condemnation of homosexuality bother you so much? Does it bother you because someone close to you is gay and you can’t bear the thought of their condemnation?

              • I think perhaps the point is that the powers that be are attempting to normalize homosexuality as an alternative sexual identity in our society. This is not true of adultery. Given that our children are being forcibly exposed to such propaganda in schools, perhaps it is fitting that they should be exposed to Orthodox teaching in church. Of course, I’d rather they not have to be exposed, but that is the conundrum we face: ignore it and lose or divert attention to it and at least stay in the game.

            • Daniel, June 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm

              You obviously “don’t care to understand” very much. Expecting to come to the Cup after partaking in a marriage unrecognized by the church IS asking for a blessing on that action. An action that is a rather public nose-thumbing to the Church’s teaching.

              Then Pappas publicly whines and plays victim in every venue to which he has access, scandalizing the faithful and confusing the low information public. Explain, please, how that action helps the Church, spreads the Gospel, or brings anyone to salvation.

              I’ll start the sundial.

              • Dan Fall says

                I am referring to the unwise ‘pastoral’ letter mutually distributed by Bishops Moriak and Puffhausen. Such a letter is meaningless to a person who is not gay and doesn’t have a care in the world about homosexuality. It is an unnecessary action. In the words of my father, who is an 80 year old man. Why the hell would I need that letter or one about alcoholism?

                So, your sundial ends.

                Now, for the self righteous heterosexual…that letter was nothing more than an attaboy.

                So…oh really afraid to use your name, how much did you enjoy the attaboy?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Mr Fall, why is issuing a pastoral letter “unwise”?

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    George, Mr. Fall could answer that peculiar question himself. He never said issuing a pastoral letter is unwise, did he/ Didn’t he indicate that ONE pastoral letter was unwise? I realize that lese majeste is involved if the letter was signed by Metropolitan Jonah, but the focus of such a letter is not its topic, but its framers. In other words, as Dan says, I believe, it is not pastoral at all but self-advertising. It does nothing for any sheep, but points to the rectitude of its writers. Q.E.D.

                    • All pastoral letters are by definition patronizing.

                      And yet you pick out one to patronizingly condemn it in public for being patronizing.


                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Hi, Um! I’m not against old ladies, not even when they dither. You have begun a discussion about what is patronizing. i have never despite your crude allegation, condemned a letter for being patronizing. I find that your opening premise, ‘All pastoral letters are be definition patronizng” to be not only untrue, but patronizing.
                      Again, I called no letter patronizing. On the contrary, I might have HINTED one letter was childishly self-absorbed.
                      Now if someone who didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘ascetic’ would mock laity for daring to adopt what he considers to be part of the privileged accoutrements of the monastic CLASS, i’d call that “patronizing” ad absurdam!

                • I can’t see how issuing a letter reaffirming 2000 years of Christian teaching could be unwise simply because the sin addressed is not engaged in universally. That’s a reach, a reach by someone who would rather see another view prevail.

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    Misha. i agree with you. Now, who IS this person that termed a letter unwise “simply because the sin addressed is not engaged in universally?” And where did he or she state that?
                    Ever hear the expression, ‘Preaching to the choir?”

                    • “I am referring to the unwise ‘pastoral’ letter mutually distributed by Bishops Moriak and Puffhausen. Such a letter is meaningless to a person who is not gay and doesn’t have a care in the world about homosexuality. It is an unnecessary action. In the words of my father, who is an 80 year old man. Why the hell would I need that letter or one about alcoholism?”

                      I suppose, Vladyka, that “person” would be Dan Fall who wrote the above. It seems quite strange to criticize a pastoral letter because it condemns a sin which is not one committed by every recipient.

                      For example, it might be wise to send out a pastoral letter throughout Russia condemning excessive drinking, given the demographic data that documents the extent of the problem. Any given Orthodox Christian in Moscow or Petersburg may not share that particular problem but that is no criticism of the propriety of sending out the letter. As the forces of Western liberalism spare no expense and are hellbent on normalizing the acceptance of this filthy, sick and evil behavior (homosexual sodomy), a letter is a fairly timid response.

                      Directly challenging Dan is not “preaching to the choir”. Perhaps you should look up the meaning of the phrase. If it were only “the choir” here at Monomakhos, we would not have these entertaining exchanges between the nominally Orthodox and those who actual embrace the Tradition. If it were only “the choir” here in the Church in America, perhaps such a letter would not be needed, although it would probably not receive the criticism that it has.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Shall we suppose it to be wise, then, to write a letter that purports to be pastoral but is “fairly timid?”

                    • Hmmm,

                      Good question. I think the answer to that lies somewhere in the fate of Metropolitan Jonah. If relatively “timid” calls to repentance from him led to his defenestration, one might surmise that he was casting his pearls before swine from the very beginning and only came to realize it when it was too late.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says


                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Why, Misha! I didn’t realize how ignorant you are until you opined that M. Stankovich and I might pass “for expertise in American Orthodoxy!”
                      I’m not an expert in anything except my own thoughts, and frankly, why in the world would anyone want to be expert at American Orthodoxy?”
                      Try reading the scriptures and the Fathers to learn in what we should seek ‘expertise.’
                      “Expertise in American Orthodoxy!!” Horrible what has happened to values, no?

                    • Fear not, beloved Vladyka!,

                      Though you may be a poor reader, let not the weakness of thine eyes vex thee! What I actually wrote about “experts” was in quotation marks, thus indicating that I do not actually seriously believe that either you or Stankovich are experts regarding Orthodoxy, American or otherwise. So, no, at least on that point I am not ignorant but rather quite well informed.

                      “I’m sure it is safe to leave the matter to the ‘credentialed experts’ here at Monomakhos . . .”

                • Daniel,

                  Let’s take your assertion to its logical conclusion. The Church and its spiritual leaders should shut up about the sanctity of life because, after all, half the parish community is male and could not possibly get an abortion. And those kids, why, we just unscrew their little heads and pour all the true doctrine of the Church right in – no need for education there!

                  Given the societal pressures that seem to have plenty of sway on your worldview, it seems that our bishops could “rightly divide the truth” a bit more often. BTW, I believe that the Metropolitan spells his last name as Paffhausen. So, were you being passive/aggressive or just sloppy?

                  • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                    “really?” Thanks for pointing out the misspelling of Metropolitan Jonah’s family name. “Puffhausen” was, indeed, bad. But it was a little better than Drezhlo’s awful ‘Fatthausen,” no?
                    Neither Dan nor Barb seems to know that “Paff” in German means “Pop!, Bang!, or Plop!, rather than Puff!

                    • Monk James says

                      Met. Jonah’s surname was originally spelled ‘Pfaffhausen’ and it means ‘parsonages’ or ‘priest houses’.

                      Some of our correspondents seem to think that because they know something, they know everything, but this is a prideful delusion.

                      Honestly, people! There’s an awful lot of mean-spirited pettiness at work around here, and it ought to stop. Let’s just share the facts, the proven attestable facts, and lay off the jaded opinions.

                      Please, let’s address matters more serious than grammar and spelling, and let’s hope to be helpful in ways which will benefit us all and help us to ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’.

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Oh, Monk James!….. ‘Pfaff for a priest or “Pfarrer,” is, if anything WORSE than Paff. There are SO many German ways of expressing utter contempt for clergy, but “Pfaff” is surely one of the rudest and most common.
                      Pfarrhaus (plural Pfarrhausen) is the polite form of the contemptuous ‘Pfaffhausen.
                      Germans like to sometimes say ‘Pfaffen–Affen” (Priests-Apes).
                      I know most of your struggles are with Greek, but, really…

                      When you think of “Pfaff” for a Priester or Pfarrer, consider if you would refer to Father Alexander Schmeman as a “Popik” in Russian! It’s about the same thing.

                      Anybody know an expression for what Monk James did? It would be the direct opposite of “gilding the lily.’

                      PS The maraschino cherry atop the dollop of mayonnaise on a wedge of iceberg lettuce is this awkward “Some of our correspondents seem to think that because they know something, they know everything, but this is a prideful delusion.’ (Just substitute “Greek” for “something’ and “German” for “everything.”)

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      I got THROUGH!

    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

      Ladder of Divine Ascent, don’t twist things. No Orthodox Priest in Denmark who doesn’t want to is required by Danish law to marry anyone at all. The law applies only to the State (Lutheran) ‘Church of Denmark—to any Danish Lutheran Churches, but has no more application to an Orthodox than to a Roman Catholic Church.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        No worries, then! Keep moving, folks, nothing to see here! Except for Danish Lutherans, that is, who after all, are probably the majority of Christians in Denmark.

        They won’t come for me and mine……

        What will be interesting to see, though, is how many Danish Lutherans resist this diabolical decree. My hopes aren’t high. How I would love to be surprised.

        Among the lessons: don’t take tax money for your church, wherever it is, whatever the “history” is.

      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        There are Orthodox in Denmark? I didn’t know that. Color me surprised.

        I was sharing that news item without comment because I know that tolerance is a limited commodity, and that wherever sodomy is tolerated, then Christianity, or anything/anyone that doesn’t actively embrace sodomy as good and wholesome, must come under persecution. You appear to have correctly read my thinking, but from your perspective it is “twisting,” and you called me out for it. I suppose I am guilty by your standards . You got me.

        In my defence, I plead that I am the product a different era. In my America, in my generation, we are in process of raising children that have to deal with the likes of the below, head on:

        • Isa Almisry says

          “There are Orthodox in Denmark? I didn’t know that. Color me surprised.”
          Just in case you were being sarcastic, yes, there are Orthodox in Denmark, and not just the foreign born or ethnic-actual Danes too.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Ladder, the twisting was in not ;pointing out that in this case,, ‘The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages, ” “All Churches” applies to neither the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches, among other Churches not governed by the Danish State, unlike the State (Lutheran) Church which is so governed.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Yes, this is a relief. As to what happens to the believing Christians who happen to be Lutheran (while Denmark is not known as a modern stronghold of Christianity, I have no doubt that there are at the very least hundreds of thousands of devout Christians there)….oh well. The important thing is that the tiny number of Orthodox will not (yet) be inconvenienced by this legislation.

            We are going to see a lot of legislation like this, in a lot of places.

          • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

            Ladder, the twisting was in not ;pointing out that in this case,, ‘The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages, ” “All Churches” applies to neither the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches, among other Churches not governed by the Danish State, unlike the State (Lutheran) Church which is so governed.

            Pedantic distinction. If they’re making the state church bend the knee, it is highly probable to be only a matter of time before they go after everyone else as well. And the current option to decline to perform the ceremony will be taken away eventually, whether de jure or de facto. The priests refusing to perform the sodomite ceremonies will be increasingly isolated and demonized. For new would be clergy, acceptance and encouragement of Abomination will become a litmus test which must be passed. This won’t end until Bibles are edited, until orthodox opposition to sodomy/abortion/pedophilia/bestiality/ecumenism is aggressively ferreted out and excommunicated by the “church” and punished by the sate. Your objections come off as “See no evil, hear no evil, say no evil (about evil),” whereas I say, “For those who see, let them see. For those who hear, let them hear” and seeing and hearing, let them homeschool.



            The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Parker v. Hurley Monday, upholding the dismissal by federal district and appellate courts of the parental-rights lawsuit originating in Lexington.

            Parker v. Hurley concerned a parent’s right to exclude their children from discussions about homosexuality in elementary schools. It began in 2006 when two Lexington families objected to classroom materials that depicted same-sex marriages.

            “This is a very important victory for not only Lexington but also the United States,” said Lexington Superintendent Paul Ash. “This case made clear that teachers should not fear being dragged into court for choosing important educational materials.”

            With the nation’s highest court refusing to review the lawsuit, the case is effectively dead in federal court. The Parker and Wirthlin families may still bring the case to Massachusetts state court.

            “We’re very disappointed that the Supreme Court has turned their backs on this parental rights issue,” said David Parker, the most vocal plaintiff in the lawsuit. “This clearly has national significance with profound consequences, and they’re ignoring it. We will look into [pursuing it in state court]. We will have further meetings with our attorneys and discuss that option.”

            The Parkers and Wirthlins filed suit in 2006 after the Parkers’ son, Jacob, brought home a book as part of the diversity book bag from his Estabrook Elementary kindergarten class in 2005. The book, “Who’s in a Family,” showed various family types including a same-sex-headed household, as well as single parents and grandparents raising children. The Wirthlins’ son, Joey, who was then in first grade, was in class on a day that marriage was the topic. At the time, a book on a prince marrying another prince was read to the class, “King and King.”

            Parker said the judges who dismissed the suit at the district and appellate levels agreed that the intent on using the books in class was to change children’s minds about homosexuality. He said that with the Supreme Court decision, books will be used all over the country to do just that.

            “Books and lessons will come into [schools] to have children affirm it,” Parker said. “They will be coerced to affirm the correctness and the normalcy of homosexuality, homosexual conduct, and gay marriage.”

            • So the parent can’t have the final say over what they want their kids to be exposed to?

              Yep there it is. I ran into the beginning of this at my kids former school-this was before they passed SSM in my state. They had a “review” just for the parents of what they’d be teaching in the 5th grade sex ed -I was the only parent there. When I asked to see the films they were going to show, they said I couldn’t see them. . . . . “they must be on line or at a library for me to see?” Nope, they were not and they were not going to show them to me. The only good thing is I could sign a waiver to not have my kids in the class at all. It doesn’t sound like that is still an option in MA. I wonder about CA and MD now and all the other states that have now passed SSM? They don’t want the parent involved with the kids education, “they” want total control.They want to change society through our young.

              • Michael Bauman says

                colette, that has been the philosophy of the public education movement since at least Horace Mann. Totalitarians and statists the lot of them. We should not be surprised. They wrote explicitly of their intentions to de-Christianize children and make them “good citizens” of the state following the Prussian model.

                Many Catholic schools have capitulated by adopting common propaganda, er core standards.

                Home schooling, co-op schooling or truly independent schools are the only options and they cost $$$ and/or time. With the statist, anti-family economy under which we suffer, it requires a genuine sacrifice for parents to keep their children from the propaganda and raise them in the way they should go.

                The Antiochian Archdiocese has recognized the problem and is actively encouraging both homeschooling and the creation of Orthodox schools. That is a drastic and welcome change from when my late wife and I were homeschooling our son. Now, if actual resource support for such endeavors can be given in the form of scholarships for instance for families who cannot afford private education and teaching materials designed for use in a homeschool setting.

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Collette, in Washington State, same-sex marriage was made legal by the ordinary legislative process. Legal means legal. Therefore the public schools will be teaching it as something completely ordinary and matter-of-fact. The idea of a parental “opt-out” won’t even be part of the thinking at all, unlike as it has been with regard to sex education. The line is: it has nothing to do with sex education, as such.

                There is going to be no way around this at all, except to not have your children in public schools, or to specifically teach them that what they hear on this subject at school is wrong.

                This is where we are in this state, and this is where we will be everywhere soon enough. There is simply going to be no way to escape or ignore the issue in our family lives.

                We are in a new situation entirely for our history: a crystal-clear separation between the church and general social morality.

                For those of us who are old, we may be dismayed, but it is not too hard for us to take a stand. We have little to lose. But the pressures on our children and grandchildren are going to be very, very hard to withstand. The only institutional help they are going to have is from the Church. Our Church must not fail them.

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

                  Excellent post, Tim. I cannot imagine, however, how any faithful Orthodox Christian can dissent from, disapprove of, or vote “thumbs down” for your salient remarks.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Simple Father, their ideology is more important than their faith. Of course, they may not be Orthodox.

                • NYC OCA Alum says

                  Nailed it.

                • Daniel E Fall says

                  Personally, I think you have a very valid solution. If the school teaches homosexuality is okay; you can tell your children your own viewpoints or what you want or expect or demand from them. This is no different than meeting grade expectations. I tell my kids they must get better than C grades and if they get a D, they won’t be able to play in sports. The school doesn’t require kids to get A or B grades-it is my expectation.

                  I did not vote Tim’s comment and I’ve voted not more than 10 times ever, but I would suggest Tim’s response was a bit radical because I don’t think the statement there is a crystal clear separation between church and social morality is necessarily true. Society and church agree on many moral issues. In fact, the Catholic church forgave child molesters for the last 100 years when society was imprisoning them, so leap not so quickly on that high horse friends. Secular society was doing better than the church. And even within our own church, there was thievery. It was not until the authorities stepped in that things were made vividly clear for all to see. Throw some negative votes my way again-go ahead. I’m just calling them as I see em.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    Mr. Fall, you can be sure that we have ways of dealing with these things. There have been plenty of morally-questionable things in the schools for a long time, and in the society at large for many years, getting worse all the time.

                    Responsible parents have had to be very alert and very conscientious for a long,long time. It takes great discipline and effort, and is very hard for some. In our parents and grandparents’ times it was easier, because society “backed you up” on moral issues, for the most part. Those days are long gone, and the matter just gets worse.

                    We have 5 children now near middle age, and twelve grandchildren: 2 in college, 4 in high school, the others younger. We are all veterans at the process of armoring our children in this world.

                    My seven year old grandson came from school recently and asked his dad if it was true that two men could get married, so dealing with this in light of our faith has begun. And we will deal with it, with God’s help.

                    But I tell you, sir, I know that there are many, many men out there, like Mr. Pappas, who are laughing up their sleeves at the discomfiture men such as myself and my sons and sons-in-law feel at this situation. It accords with all of their hopes; and mockery is their stock in trade .

                    The words I have for such men and what they have wrought and are wreaking I could never begin to express here.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      On a happy note, we had the said whole crew over for Father’s Day today. We are very lucky in that all the kids and grandkids are close by. So, my bride and I, our children, our sons-in-law and daughter-in-law, and all 12 grandchildren. That’s 22 of us, from what started at age 19 with just the two of us. Plus one extra, a very nice young fellow who is perhaps a bona-fide suitor for a granddaughter (I’m not put fully in the pic yet!).

                      A great dinner. After the prayers (heterodox and orthodox alike together- the Orthodox are now up to two!), and the traditional toast “a la famiglia” by the grandchild next in the rotation; steak and salmon.

                      And a splendid sermon about Fathers from our priest this morning, to boot.

                      Doxa si, kyrie, doxa si!

                    • Tim,

                      Your post June 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm brought to mind the lessons from tonight’s Vespers:

                      Third lesson Jude 17 – 25
                      But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before the apostles of our lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there would be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…

                      Unusual New Testament lessons, from Jude 1 through 25 presented in three lessons. All seem to be relevant to the topic under discussion here.

                      As Glenn Reynolds would say, go read the whole thing.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  It seems to be in the nature of mankind for the elders to complain of the decline of civilization and morality, and for the elders to perceive that everything is going to hell compared to when they were young. I believe that such “insights” (or instinctive moans) are as old as writing, at least. Just saying.
                  In other words worrying about, or taking thought for the future is human, but not necessarily the content of the Gospel. A complicating factor is that everybody wants to be understood as being righteous.
                  Or we might better plan for Christ coming today.

                  • Of course, the elders may have opined that way before Rome fell, before Constantinople fell to the Turks, before . . . well, you get the picture.

                    Also, there have been times when society (under less democratic management than what we now enjoy) has become considerably more conservative. Doubt the elders were bitching much during those periods.

                    In point of fact, I’m sure the elders when complaining about American society since at least WWII were actually correct. Morality has declined remarkably since then, not that it was peachy keen at that point either.

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    While being on guard against this universal issue of old fogeyism is important, there is a difference these days. Now, when one remarks that public morality and culture have deteriorated, one can actually prove it. There is a record in film and recording that demonstrates it, whereas this had never before been the case in human history.

                    It would cost very little in time and money, really, to show with movies, magazines, books, and other media starting, say, in the 1930s that there has been a profound debasement in public culture, along with much else. Of course, a great many of us have lived through this. But now– we could prove it to those who haven’t!

                    It’s still a marvel, though, that one who has lived through all of these decades himself would say that it is not so…..

                    Hardly need to mention the most obvious of all- the sewer pipe in the form of the internet which is connected to all of our houses. Inflow pipe, that is…..

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      Why, Timor Mortis!! Jave you ever seen Russian big city periodicals from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? Are you not aware of a rather huge degeneration of public morality that only disappeared finally under strict puritanical Bolshevik Soviet regimes with their public and private morality? . Many thought the antics of the Esenin/Isadora Duncan crowd were evidence of the decline of public Orthodox morality. It was suspected by anti-monarchists that homosexuality, such as that of the poet Gumilev and St. Elizabeth’s notoriously homosexual husband Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich, not to mention Prince Yusupov which is described in Cpunt Witte’s memoirs and those of Grand Duke Alexander”s “Once a Grand Duke” and “Always a Grand Duke,’ a pre-revolutionary emigration, too, seemed to fly the flags of what many would call cultural and moral degeneracy and perversion. Lenin and Stalin did away with all that, being Arch-Puritans
                      CHRISTIAN culture of Western Europe under the Popes… think of the deMedicis and the Borgias…..Do you really think that ANYTHING that began in the U.S.A. in the nineteen thirties could hold a candle to the dissipation and degeneracy of earlier times in European civilization? If America was “moral’ in the 18th and 19th centuries it was very spotty and not consistent, too. The Wild West was wide open and so were bawdy houses. True, there always were islands of morality supported by factions of the Protestant mainline denominations. Some even came to America to escape Christian Europe and found new cults that behaved, like the Mormons. Don’t over dramatize our times. We are truly NOT that big a deal. Check out ‘Forever Amber’ for a historically (regarding morality) picture of England… London, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Berlin….sinks of open moral iniquity right up to the time of the invention of municipal police forces!

                    • The main difference between 20th and 21st century America as opposed to earlier periods is that the debasement of the culture has been devastating at the level of main street, not just the luminaries, and perhaps more importantly, that the definitions of moral and immoral are being changed in a way the deranges the sensibilities of all, redefining sin out of existence, or only to include moral intolerance.

                      The old foggeys are dead on correct these days or, to be more precise, insufficiently intolerant, in fact.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Well, I fancy myself as a student of history also, your Grace, but rather more to the point, we were married in 1967 at 19, had 3 kids by 22 and five by 28, and we raised them to adulthood during these “wonderful” times, and have watched our own children do the same, with a vigilance and discipline and determination that puts even my wife’s and mine into the shade, thanks be to God.

                      We’ve lived with it and combatted it and are doing so still. We know whereof we speak, and I doubt little that you do, too.

                      It’s nice to have these Panglossian reassurances, though!

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” thank you enormously for agreeing with what I said about the application of the Danish law by calling it, sourly, “pedantic distinction.’ That means the distinction is valid.
              You go on to predict a change in that law. Always possible, I suppose, but hardly fact.

      • Monk James says

        Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald (June 25, 2014 at 12:35 pm) says:

        ….. ‘Pfaff for a priest or “Pfarrer,” is, if anything WORSE than Paff. There are SO many German ways of expressing utter contempt for clergy, but “Pfaff” is surely one of the rudest and most common. SNIP


        Perhaps Bp Tikhon is mistaken, or maybe the well known german sewing-machine-manufacturing family (among other people) are unaware that pfaff has such negative connotations. Would they not have modified their names for the sake of propriety if the word were actually an embarrassing example of low speech?

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          Monk James. You asked, “Would they not have modified their names for the sake of propriety if the word were actually an embarrassing example of low speech?”
          Apparently not, but they are not here for us to interrogate. Neither have the Hohenzollerns ever changed their name, originally pejorative and mockingly so. I suppose if someone of low origins made good he might want to thumb his nose at those who had formerly mocked him and his surname out of triumphal spite….rubbing it in, as it were. .

          I think you’ve forgotten that this “thread” started when someone misspelled Metropolitan Jonah’s family name as ‘Puffhausen,’ and someone else thought this was rudely pejorative and mockingly so. I pointed ot that “Puff’ Is no less respectable than “Paff”. YOU thought you’d show off by informing us what the name originally was. ‘Pfaffhausen.’ I’ve demonstrated that your “revelation” simply was worse than either Puffhausen or Paffhausen. Quit reaching.
          Why do you suppose people buy and wear “windbreakers?

          • Monk James says

            I know nothing of ‘reaching’ and ‘windbreakers’ in the context of dialog. What would Bp Tikhon have me quit?!

            It’s always been my intention to write respectfully yet truthfully, avoiding confrontation when I can, but engaging it when I must. I ask everyone’s forgiveness for the times when I have failed in that and scandalized anybody.

            Even so, I think that there’s something seriously wrong with Bp Tikhon Fitzgerald in the area of his mental and spiritual health. That would be pointless, so I won’t again be responding to his remarks here or elsewhere.

            responding to him probably wouldn’t be useful unless and until he’s under proper direction. But ten — God bless him — he might then write no more public words to embarrass himself and The Church.

            May the Lord forgive him and me and all of us, and heal him and me and all of us, and help us all to represent The Faith accurately and lovingly in public forums.

            Lord, have mercy on us for we are weak. Cleanse us of our sins, and heal our souls, and teach us to do Your will, for You are God.

            • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

              We finally got somewhere with the monk: he turned to prayer and something like spirituality Thank God.

            • Monk James says

              Please forgive my typos — I’m still half blind.

            • Guy Westover says

              Monk James wrote in reference to Bishop Tikhon: “so I won’t again be responding to his remarks here or elsewhere.”

              Then proceeded to passive aggressively to do just the opposite while stating that to do so would be futile until the Bishop were “under proper direction” implying that a monastic superior would thus prevent him from writing “public words” which “embarrass himself and The (sic) Church.”

              I do not consider myself Vladyka Tikhon’s defender as his grace is quite capable of doing that himself when need be. Additionally, I think that as an octogenarian, Vladyka has earned the right to be opinionated and cantankerous.

              My real point is that the state of monastic life in the OCA, for the most part does not prevent nor limit “monastics” from any online activity it seems. One only need spend a couple hours one evening reading Orthodox blogs or browsing through Facebook to see first hand the plethora of monks, hieromonks, archimandrites (and even one schema-monk) wandering the internet offering words of wisdom, asked for or not, to anyone with a computer monitor.

              This is not to say that monastics should never touch a computer, but to imply that being a monk “under obedience” will prevent them from saying foolish things in online forums is absurd.

              • Monk James says

                Mr Westover seems to be unaware of several OCA monastics and clergymen of (at least) my acquaintance who obediently write nothing in Internet venues.

                May the Lord guide and protect the few of us who take this troublesome work upon ourselves, and all who read what we bother to write, and may He save us all.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Seems to YOU, Monk. Modestly confessing to taking this work upon ourselves….what next. That’s not passive aggressive, that’s passive self-congratulatory.

                • Guy Westover says

                  Monk James seems to have forgotten that monastics do not traditionally “take work upon themselves” but are rather assigned tasks under obedience for the good of their souls, the monastery and the Church. Which superior has blessed Monk James to take on this TROUBLESOME (and selfless?) work?

                  I think that part of the problem among many American bishops is the lack of authentic monastic experience prior to being elected to office. While I think that the requirement of having degree from an Orthodox Theological School is important, it is equally important that they experience authentic monastic life for a number of years as well.

                  If we are going to continue to insist that candidates for the episcopacy are “monastics” should it not be genuine monasticism?

                  Perhaps eliminating the bachelor caste of priests (neither married nor monastic) would also eliminate bishops compromised by the shadow of sodomy.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Mr Westover, while I agree with you critique of monasticism int the States and the Episcopate overall, I must spring to the defense of Monk James here as it would be unseemly for him to do so himself. He has explained previously the nature of his idiorhythmic state. Plainly, that he was being obedient to his superior. That that monastery dissolved is not his fault.

                    I mean no offense.

                    • Monk James says

                      Like some others of the laity, Guy Westover has opinions about how monks and nuns ought to live, opinions to which I’m not convinced that he’s entitled.

                      And, while I’m grateful for George Michalopulos’s kind and cordial words here, I must admit that the community for which I was tonsured in 1978 failed because of our sins.

                      Being first among sinners, the responsibility for that failure falls only on me now, since everyone else is gone. ‘I alone am left to tell the tale.’

                      May the Lord be merciful to my brothers of the Tikhvin Monastery, and even to me.

                      Please remember me and all our monastic men and women in your prayers.

                    • Guy Westover says

                      Mr. Michalopulos,

                      After taking a day to reflect on your comment before making a reply, I thought that perhaps I had been unfairly harsh to “Monk” James. I revisited this comment to admit my arrogance and ask forgiveness only to be greeted by the edifying words of the “monk”,

                      Guy Westover has opinions about how monks and nuns ought to live, opinions to which I’m not convinced that he’s entitled.

                      It is a sad state of affairs that when a monastery fails, the residents scatter a quatre vents rather than seek (or be assigned to) another monastery in which to continue their repentance.

                    • Monk James says

                      Guy Westover (July 7, 2014 at 3:48 pm) says:

                      After taking a day to reflect on your comment before making a reply, I thought that perhaps I had been unfairly harsh to “Monk” James. I revisited this comment to admit my arrogance and ask forgiveness only to be greeted by the edifying words of the “monk”,

                      Guy Westover has opinions about how monks and nuns ought to live, opinions to which I’m not convinced that he’s entitled.

                      It is a sad state of affairs that when a monastery fails, the residents scatter a quatre vents rather than seek (or be assigned to) another monastery in which to continue their repentance.

                      Why would anyone think that the men of my monastery were scattered to the four winds? Why would anyone feel that it better made his case to say so in French?!
                      Why would anyone assume that monks abandoned our community rather than died?

                      What is wrong with Guy Westover to make him think that he has any right to an opinion about me or any other nuns and monks and about how we strive to work out our salvation?

                      We monastics — through and with our hegoumens — are under obedience to the bishops of the eparchies in which our monasteries are located. And I — God bless me — have never been disobedient to my superiors.

                      If Mr Westover is moved to repentance, he’s always encouraged to do so and may the Lord bless him in that, whether as a monk or as a layman.

                      In the meantime, he really ought to lay off his opinions about me. since he seems to know nothing of my history and experience, or of monastic life altogether.

                      Or maybe he would go straight from layman to hegoumen?

                    • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                      George, you said, “I must spring to the defense of Monk James here as it would be unseemly for him to do so himself.” Unseemly or not he couldn’t WAIT to dwell on himself and defend himself!” Absolutely predictable.
                      Now, I admit that bishops are often vain and “over the top” in their arbitrary claim to authority. However, I’ve NEVER heard a Bishop say that anyone had no right to his own opinion. READ what “Monk James” wrote!

                      “Guy Westover has opinions about how monks and nuns ought to live, opinions to which I’m not convinced that he’s entitled.”


                      “What is wrong with Guy Westover to make him think that he has any right to an opinion about me or any other nuns and monks and about how we strive to work out our salvation?”

                      Guy Westover is entitled to his opinions.

                      Someone should remind ‘Monk James”, too, that he is a layman, ;and if he is elevated to the rank of hegoumen, he’d be a lay hegoumen. i feel that “Monk James” owes Guy Westover an apology, lest his monasticism be revealed as a sham.

              • Aaron Little says

                “opinionated and cantankerous” ????

                Try PROFANE.

                • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                  Aaron, thanks! I tried it and I LIKE it! Got any other good pejoratives for me? According to St. Peter such are unto my salvation!!! I”m sure you’ve heard of him and, among other things, his Epistles no?

                  I apologize for getting so deeply under your skin that the only contributions you’ve made here are about me and my failings. I hate to be so harsh, but I suggest first that you go get a bucket full of warm or tepid water, sit down in front of it, bend over from the waist until your cranium is immersed and then soak it for as long as you can. After that dry up , and go try to get a life, a life with our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ I assure you, He’s a much more worthy object of concentration than I am!!!! Ask Karen, or Monk James, or Diogenes, or Heracleides, etc. (They are legion.)(And all thumbs!)

              • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

                I apologize and admit that I forgot to thank Monk James for pointing out that Metropolitan Jonah”s family name, Paffhausen, was originally “Pfaffhausen.” I’m sure the whole family is likewise grateful for this scholarly revelation.

                Monk James has piously discontinued replying to my sorry postings.
                My eyesight’s bad, too; moreover I have depuytrens syndrome in my left hand which causes horrible typos tool I’m not bragging, mind you!

            • M. Stankovich says

              It strikes me that Monk James has arrogantly forgotten that he scorns the rank St. Chrysostom describes as

              “entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels….For transparent madness it is to despise so great a dignity, without which it is not possible to obtain either our own salvation, or the good things which have been promised to us. For if no one can enter into the kingdom of Heaven except he be regenerate through water and the Spirit, and he who does not eat the flesh of the Lord and drink His blood is excluded from eternal life, and if all these things are accomplished only by means of those holy hands

              simply because his “jimmies were rattled.” Obedience, wisdom, and prudence would suggest that a monk hold his tongue rather than dare speak in the reckless voice of temerity to a Bishop and embarrass himself and the Church. Too many Nathans, too few Davids.

  11. Gail Sheppard says

    This image of an upside down view of the future (did you do that, George, or did it come like that??? very cool) reminds me of another image of a snow globe that says: Mon plus grand luxe est de n’avoir à me justifier auprès de personne

    Everyone wants to justify themselves and it causes a disturbance both within them and around them.–karl-lagerfeld-snow-globe-13797.html

  12. Does anyone remember this sermon from the EP? Kind of answers the question don’t you think?

    In English

    In Greek

    • Michael Bauman says

      Yup. And he was not alone in his statement.

      Unfortunately any coffee time I might have with Mr. Pappas would be rather short. I would come prepared with the EP’s statement and find out his reaction. Likely to be an angry denunciation followed by a quick exit.

      There really is nothing to discuss. My late Metropolitan had it right: “We don’t discuss abominations.”

      I would pray that in any such meeting I would refrain from a reaction similar to St. Nicholas confronting Arius.

      He is calling on the Church to demolish herself to accomdate him. I, for one, won’t participate.

      • StephenD says

        I refuse to speak ill of the recently reposed Met.Phillip but I hope that the new Metropolitan of the AOANA will have an open and transparent audit of all of the books and ledgers and open and secret check books in Englewood, NJ. I still remember Palm Desert, California and the reaction of the ” Arabs” when Sara Hodges, who was either the bravest or stupidest person in the room, brought up an audit of the Archdiocesan financials.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Stephen D: We will know soon who our next Metropolitan is. Whether it is Archbishop Joseph, Bishop Basil or Bishop John it will be different, more synodal.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            Archbishop Joseph was elected, earlier today. Axios!

            The Patriarchate needs to circle its wagons to evaluate and counter the existential thread posed by the troubles in the Middle East. Thus, we should not be surprised if the Metropolitan-elect does not make his first priority to implement best practices in financial accountability.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Carl, how true also chief, I would arrogantly think, is establishing a working local synod so that all of the issues we face can be dealt with expeditiously in prayer and righteousness. As important as the decimation of the ancestral homeland of our Archdiocese is, that is nothing new unfortunately. It has happened before and we are quite likely to be the new home for many. Certainly as a member of the Holy Synod, he will have input but his first responsibility is to his flock here don’t you think?

              His brother bishops will do all they are able to assist and support the new Metropolitan. I know one thing though, Bishop Basil is breathing a huge sigh of relief right now (as are all of his children). Many more years to him also as the Bishop of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America.

              AXIOS to them both and all of their brother bishops here.

  13. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Misha in the original Pappas thread just posted the article in the Washington Post by Mr. Pappas, wherein he brings it to one of the highest secular press outlets in the nation. Because that thread is now very long, I’m posting it here:

    There you are. I think we’re going to find out something about our bishops (says this brand-new member of the GOA).

    • Chris Banescu says

      The bishops’ silence was not an option before. Continuing silence in the face of this latest escalation of the war against morality and the right teaching of the Orthodox Christian faith would be a travesty and an outright betrayal of the sacramental duties of these hierarchs. In the words of Elder Paisios:

      Today they’re trying to destroy faith, and for the edifice of faith to fall they quietly pull out one stone, then another. But we’re all responsible for the destruction; not just those who destroy but we who see how faith is being undermined and make no effort to strengthen it. As a result the seducers are emboldened to create even greater difficulties for us, and their rage against the Church and the monastic life increases.

      Today there are many who strive to corrupt everything: the family, the youth, the Church. In our day it’s a true witness to speak up for one’s people, for the state is waging war against divine law. It’s laws are directed against the Law of God.

      But we are responsible for not letting the enemies of the Church corrupt everything. Though I’ve heard even priests say: “Don’t get involved in that. It’s none of your business!” If they had reached such a non-striving condition through prayer I would kiss their feet. But no! They’re indifferent because they want to please everyone and live in comfort.

      Indifference is unacceptable even for laymen, and all the more so for the clergy. An honest, spiritual man doesn’t do anything with indifference. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully”, says the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 48:10). There’s a war on today, a holy war. I must be on the front lines.

  14. Tom Kanelos says

    It seems to me, if one loves the Church one does not use it as an avenue for a political or sociological agenda. If you do not agree with the teachings one is free to follow the parameters laid out by their spiritual father or to leave the Church. It seems to me that if I were in Mr. Pappas shoes I would receive Holy Communion from my spiritual father and not place other clergy in such positions. I do not know for certain, but to me this seems as though it is an effort to advance an agenda and in does so to the detriment of the Church.

    I dislike people creating division in the Church to advance their agenda and whether it is Mr. Pappas or OCL or some members of the parish in Milwaukee or Glenview or anyone else, it seems wrong to me.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      There’s a ringing declaration…..

      • Tom Kanelos says

        Mr. Mortiss, what seems to be the problem with my post? Is there not enough hate in it for this site? Is there not enough rumor and misinformation to fit in here? Have you folks gotten so used to posts which are filled with anger and condemnation that a simple criticism of Pappas’ actions isn’t good enough? Seriously, what is your problem with my comment? Or did I misunderstand when your wrote “There’s a ringing declaration…..”

        • George Michalopulos says

          Mr Kanelos, the only anger I can pick up is that directed to Mr Pappas because he went public with his slanders against the priest (and may have lied about the bishop). There is no anger directed at his sin (and it is a sin) but his hubris.

          • Tom Kanelos says

            You cannot be serious George. Your posts and many of the resulting comments (including mine sometimes) are indeed often filled with anger, rumor and misinformation.

            I too am angry with what Mr. Pappas has chosen to do. My comment was directed at Mr. Mortiss’ comment and the fact that there seems to be a lot of willingness here to trade in undocumented rumors (as you yourself admitted). Mr. Mortiss has responded and for me, it will end there.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I think you are right to criticize my wisecrack, sir. I apologize.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Get used to more such efforts. When it comes are you going to stand up for the truth or need unhappy with the conflict?

  15. Well…he has decided to wage “jihad” against the Holy Orthodox Church….how very sad. He hurls the tired old canard about “fundamentalism” within the Church. May God have mercy on his soul.

    Newsflash Gregory………It has nothing to do with fundamentalism….it has everything to do with the Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church.

    Our bishops must now stand for the Truth!

  16. Michael Kinsey says

    Let the little children come unto Him, for such as these are of the kingdom of heaven.. Is the Christ exaggerating? Where did entrance into the kingdom of heaven come from? The Christ is received by Baptism and the Holy Spirit by Chrismation, other wise why bother? All the little children created in the image and likeness of God have entered into the kingdom of heaven. You need only to look at thier joyous faces and listen to their laughter, and respond to their irresistible baby smiles. The fact that you can smile back in response is proof you have this Aspect of the kingdom of heaven within yourself. This humanity is given to all humanity, no exceptions. The Restrainer prevents the demonic from destroying this spiritual life in us all. When, as St Cyril of Jerusalem, mentions in his 15th Mystigological catalog. the Restrainer will be removed..
    The beast is built by living for bread alone, ignoring the Word of God, This is an apt description of our exceedingly corrupt economic system, which is built to enrich the elites only.

  17. Michael Kinsey says

    Unless ye become like little children , ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. Or look at a picture of St John Maxomovitch smiling..

  18. Tim R. Mortiss says
  19. Tim R. Mortiss says

    Archbishop Condileone of San Francisco shows once again he has what it takes:

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      I first heard of Archbishop Cordileone in an Ancient Faith radio interview a few months back. I was very impressed then.

      The more I consider this recent story, the more important I think it is. The mayor of San Francisco, the lieutenant governor, and a United States congresswoman are trying to tell this man what to do. Them, and a few dozen other Powers and Potentates. And he says no. For all of their vaunted “separation of church and state” rhetoric, here are some of the highest public officials of California telling a Catholic archbishop what to teach and where to teach it! This would have been beyond belief even 3 or 4 years ago.

      And he’s telling them, in effect, what Polycarp told the rulers of his world so long ago. God grant him strength, and may his example strengthen many, many others!

  20. Michael Bauman says

    One thing is clear: We all need to repent, turn back and embrace God and not the world. We need to invite others to join us. I think one of the objections (over blown) to the criticism of Mr. Pappas is folks feel that he is being locked out by those who refuse to go in.

    We are all called to live a life of chastity and repentance. The more we do that, the more folks like Mr. Pappas will see what they are missing.

    That means examining our own favorite passions (which the Church, perhaps, does not take much direct notice of) and offering them up to God for healing.