The Face of Evil: Stan the Tran Gets Called Out

Tsar Nicholas and Family Click to enlarge

Tsar Nicholas and Family

Click to enlarge

Far be it from me to troll Voices from Russia for newsworthy information. Its stupidity is exceeded only by the studiously cultivated ignorance of its purveyor compounded by its hatred for all things American. I can’t tell you how many times well-meaning people have alerted me about this, that or the other thing asserted by Stan the eX-Man, whether about me or others. I’m told that I should comment. I can’t do it. It’s evil and vile. His self-identification as a “Christian” is problematic at best.

Regardless, I simply don’t care. The majority of his information is so heavily biased that even when it’s factual, it’s immaterial. It’s rather like the critiques put out by the Nation of Islam regarding the slave trade. It may all be more or less true but I can’t shake that whole Mother Wheel circling the sky which is so central to their theology. (That and the idea that whites were originally bred on the island of Patmos 6,000 years ago to be slaves but we broke out of our cages and took over the world.) So it is with Stan: neat graphics about MIGs and Kalahnikovs, interesting statistics about borscht consumption — but Lenin and Stalin as good men doing the Lord’s will? Please.

Not this time. This time he went over the edge. And I’m going to call him out on it.

I was informed that in his never-ending quest to exonerate Lenin and the entire Bolshevik enterprise, he flat-out lied. He recently wrote that neither Vladimir Lenin nor Yakov Sverdlov had ordered the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family on that horrible night ninety-five years ago in Ekatarinburg. More, he compounds his lie by going on to insist that they were completely unaware of that atrocity. He then states that those who push this “narrative” are nothing but paid puppets of the United States spewing disinformatzia. All of this of course — every letter, every syllable, every punctuation mark even — is a lie. More, it is evil, vile, and nothing short of demonic. If nothing else, it gives us a peek (shudder) into his malformed soul.

As such, I break my embargo on commenting on his bile in order to set the record straight about the glorious Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and about the fundamental evil of the Bolsheviks.

According to actual historians who have studied the primary documents and the actual writings of highly-placed Bolsheviks (like Lev Bronstein aka “Trotsky”) who were actually close to the event, Lenin and Sverdlov not only knew about the executions of Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children and four attendants, but actually ordered them in the first place. In Edvard Radzinsky’s authoritative book, The Last Tsar, he recounts the words of Lenin’s bodyguard Alexei Akimov, who personally delivered Lenin’s explicit directions demanding the Imperial Family’s execution to the telegraph office. The telegram was signed by none other than Yakov Sverdlov, the president of the Soviet Union. Radzinsky wasn’t simply reciting an old man’s reminiscences: Akimov had saved the original telegraph tape and showed it to him (Radzinsky, The Last Tsar, Doubleday, 1992, pp 327, 344-346).

Trotsky himself revealed that both Lenin and Sverdlov had initiated this act. Why? Because contrary to popular mythology, the Tsar was much beloved by the overwhelming majority of the population, so much so that militarily speaking, things were touch-and-go between the Reds who had just taken over Moscow and a few other cities, and the Whites, who controlled much of the countryside. Trotsky had urged a public, non necessarily unfair trial for Nicholas in the manner of Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France, hoping that by doing so, the Soviets could delegitimize him and the entire concept of autocracy. Lenin on the other hand was more cold-blooded. Here are his own words as recounted in his diary:

My next visit to Moscow took place after the fall of Ekaterinburg. Speaking with Sverdlov, I asked in passing, “Oh yes, and where is the Tsar?”

“Finished,” he replied. “He has been shot.”

“And where is his family?”

“The family along with him.”

“All of them? I asked, apparently with a trace of surprise.

“All of them,” replied Sverdlov. “What about it?” He was waiting to see my reaction. I made no reply.

“And who made the decision?” I asked.

“We decided it here. Ilyich [Lenin] believed that we houldn’t leave the Whites a live banner to rally around, especially under the present difficult circumstances.”

I asked no further questions and considered the matter closed.

(Taken from “Trotsky’s Diary in Exile,” quoted in Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution (New York, Knopf, 1990; pp 770, 787).

As for Bolshevism itself, and Drezhlo’s unhinged, leftist view of life under the Tsars, he gets it completely wrong on almost every particular. Although the Great War did much to devastate the economy, Russia was far from the economic hell-hole that liberals have long maintained. Ever since the time of his grandfather, Alexander II, Russia had begun a modernization course that was essentially no different than any other Western country. Turbulence certainly existed (as evidenced by popular uprisings or “pogroms” against the Jewish minority and labor unrest) but these were no different than what existed in the West. In the United States for instance, violence by labor movements was quite common, and wholesale violence against the Plains Indians was considered necessary to pacify them. The liberation of the serfs by Alexander was not without dislocation –neither was the emancipation of the slaves in America–but most economic indices were headed in the right direction.

More to the point, Tsar Nicholas was blessed to have gifted ministers such as Pyotr Stolypin, who as Prime Minister, saw Russia’s GDP explode. Russia’s per capita income rivaled that of most Western European countries. Moreover, during the reign of the last two emperors, Russians enjoyed those freedoms which Westerners have long taken for granted, including peaceable assembly, religion and worship, the right to bear arms, and trial by jury. Nicholas allowed a legislature to convene probably with the full realization that he or his successor would have been reduced to constitutional monarch in time. Though inept as a sovereign, he was peaceful and never sought war. It was the Empire of Japan which attacked the Russian fleet at Port Arthur in 1904 (shades of Pearl Harbor) and he had to be dragged into war against Germany in 1914. If Russia had been left to its devices, his great-grandson would be sitting on his throne today and Russia as a country would probably be as unremarkable as Great Britain.

Lenin on the other hand had nothing but contempt for the Russian people. He was himself a thorough-going internationalist of mostly Kalmuck/Chuvash ancestry on his father’s side, and Volga German and Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side. During his exile in Switzerland, he viewed with alarm any positive developments taking place in Russia. The Great War elated his spirits if for no other reason than he felt that it was only by means of an unpopular war that Communism would be able to gain a foothold. And even then he and other malcontents had to be secretly inserted into Russia by the Germans in order to demoralize the people further. He cared nothing about his Russian homeland and viewed its people mainly as a vehicle for the schemes of his anti-Christian, globalist paymasters.

More could be said, and in time will be, but for now we wish to set the record straight. Lenin, and all that he represented was nothing but a demonic enterprise which cause untold and unnecessary suffering for millions of innocent people and a most horrible persecution for the Church of Christ.

About GShep


  1. Amen, George! I wouldn’t get too put out by the Drezhlo-sphere. Drezhlo is a pitiable creature. We should all pray for him/her/it. The amount of self-delusion and hatred in that heart must be a hard burden to bear.

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      Unfortunately the opinions of the Drezhlo-sphere are shared by the majority of the people who participate in the sacramental life of the Orthodox Church in the former-communist countries. Most of the older church-going people have been rather thoroughly brain-washed during communism, and have positive opinions of Lenin, Stalin, Tito, Ceausescu, etc in some fuzzy irrational parts of the brain, while in the same time praying to the holy martyred royal family and being fervent believers. Trying to exorcise the pro-communist opinions of the babushkas by rational arguments can give very strong adverse reactions – the communists have unfortunately done a very good job 🙁

      • Perhaps they have a high opinion of authoritarian government rather than its particular shade when it comes to the left-right economic spectrum. Very few seem to want a return to repressive, militant atheism. The price of bread stayed constant for decades under Stalin. Also, he is fondly remembered as defender of the country against the Germans and those who cause trouble to the south. That he was a monster is sometimes overlooked in favor of the fact he was a strong leader who would “know how to deal with” the Chechens, etc. Notice they venerate the Royal Martyrs as well. Sounds like a strong-leader complex to me. Maybe not a bad thing. Drezhlo is very far over the top. I don’t think the majority of Orthodox in Russia would agree with his/her/its take on politics.

      • Pray for Him says

        Consider that once Stanley was married with a nice wife and having a normal life. She died a while ago. We should pray for him

  2. Lest we forget, and Stan does so, the Communists were never in the majority in Russia, not to its dying day and certainly not when the Reds killed the Tsar and his family.

    As far as Stan is concerned, let the dead burying the dead. His fantastical view of Soviet Russia is but a sad effort to pass over the crimes of his heroes. Sober thinking people can only and sadly laugh at his take on history. His take on history reminds me of those who are currently trying to rewrite the history of the OCA. God knows the truth and He will not be mocked.

  3. Fr. George Washburn says

    Another furious charge, the spear strikes straight and true at the heart of ….a ludicrous, lonely windmill that was spinning on its own axis, seemingly generating nothing really helpful or damaging as it whirled. But good lancemanship, or good practice lancemanship, I suppose.

    • Will Harrington says

      ” a ludicrous, lonely windmill that was spinning on its own axis, seemingly generating nothing really helpful or damaging as it whirled”

      This has been said at one time or another about all the totalitarian movements of the twentieth centuryw untilw of course, they grew.

      • Fr George Washburn says

        Will, in the image i was trying to convey “Stan”/Stan’s blog were the windmill against which George seemed to be tilting, not Soviet communism.

        • Will Harrington says

          I realized that and believe my point still stands. These old evils return in part because no one takes their advocates seriously until it is to late.

  4. the last description of Lenin sounds somewhat similar to a person in power in this country.

  5. says

    Anti-Christian paymasters appear to have even more money to toss around. The trillions in un-payable debt is easy to come up with in a fiat currency. The rich want obedient slaves while being honored and respected for enslaving everybody. This really is impossible, as a little child learning to like being slapped in the face by a bratty one .I don’t believe this has ever happened, nor will most learn to like being slaves. When this conflict really heats up, I expect it will be the time of trouble, when Michael stands up, The 10 kings will be rebels

    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

      That is a very judgmental statement about the rich. It is not a sin to be a success at business, nor is it evil. Those who have successful businesses provide employment for others. Nor is it a sin to be born into a family that has been successful at business. One can be rich and a success at business without exploiting one’s employees. That is one of the major flaws with Marxism. Without capitalists there would be no jobs for the proletariat. Someone has to build the factory, equip it, organize the delivery of raw materials and sell the finished goods.

  6. Light reveals the truth says

    This reminds me of a response to an email honoring a wonderfully brave Polish woman who successfully smuggled out babies of Jewish women from Nazi death camps by secreting them under loose packing material in the back of her truck after making legitimate deliveries, always taking her dogs along so that their barking at the security posts covered any infant noises. While her heroism moved me, and surely almost everyone else on the recipient list, to tears, the paranoid schizophrenic friend who was included among the recipients replied to all of us, “Not ONE Jew died in concentration camps. EVER!” I think one could understand Stan’s insistent re-writing of Russian history as coming from a similarly diseased mind (and hope that in the world to come there might be healing). Meanwhile, isn’t he marching to such a ludicrous drummer as to be embarrassingly off course and attracting very few who want to fall into line behind him?

  7. Tim R. Mortiss says

    The internet is a tower of Babel. It’s hard enough to exercise any good discernment as to what has value and what is spurious.

    One of the negative things is that anybody can set up a site, call it anything, and draw attention to their madness or mendacity, which would otherwise never see the light of day.

    Response, of any kind, is what such people want. It should be denied to them.

    • It’s extremely ironic that you mention that on this site, of all places.

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        Interesting comment. I came upon this site 3 or 4 months ago, right in the middle of a 170-post thread that was totally wild. Can’t remember the exact subject (Met. Jonah figured in), but everybody was firing cannonades, including the retired bishop. I recall starting to read the whole thing, being interested, then being completely appalled, and by the end having learned a few things and discounted many others.

        Over all, since then, I’ve found that I remain interested in George’s site because the discussion is free, many viewpoints are put forth passionately, and at the end, one learns things of value. I am by profession an adversarial advocate, so I am not put off by the heat.

        I don’t imply madness or mendacity to the people here at all, not that I haven’t seen a crackpot idea or two. This is totally different than the site under discussion.

        • Tim,

          I am reminded of a priest’s story I heard about 11 years ago. This is an OCA priest who is a convert from the Evangelical Orthodox Church. He is a former Methodist minister. He was remarking about the first national or regional convention of church leaders he attended (I don’t recall whether it was a general clergy-laity or a sobor or whatever). Anyway, the participants were fighting like cats and dogs over money and pensions and finances in general, as well as some other things. At some point, another priest apologized to him for the spectacle that was unfolding, hoping that it would not drive him off.

          He replied, “No, it’s actually refreshing. Fight all you want. We fought in my old church too. The difference is you’re not fighting over the Trinity, or women’s ordination . . .”

  8. I lived for a while in another country that had been run by a ruthless dictator. I met some people that were still so scared that they couldn’t talk about the atrocities they had lived through. I met others who praised the man because the streets were clean, the schools were well run and etc. The government took care of all — as long as you kept your mouth shut.

  9. M. Stankovich says

    Massie, Robert K. The Romanovs: The Final Chapter Ballantine Books, The Random House Publishing Group: New York, NY. 1995.

    Section I: THE BONES

    Chapter 2. Approved By Moscow

    From the beginning, the annihilation of the Romanovs—their execution and the disappearance of their bodies—had been approved by Moscow. As late as June 1918, the Bolshevik leadership had been uncertain what to do with the Imperial family. The Ural Soviet, in actual possession of the prisoners in Ekaterinburg, was vehemently in favor of execution. Leon Trotsky, the mercurial Red commissar for war, wanted a public trial of the former tsar in Moscow to be broadcast by radio throughout the country with himself as prosecutor. Lenin, always pragmatic, preferred to keep the family in hand as pawns in the game he was playing with Germany. In April, Soviet Russia had signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with Imperial Germany, achieving peace by handing over one third of European Russia and all of the western Ukraine to German occupation. Millions of Russians were dismayed by this decision, which they considered a betrayal. For a while, Lenin hoped that Nicholas could be persuaded to sign or at least to endorse the treaty, thereby partially legitimizing the document and diminishing the furor. Another complication was that the Empress Alexandra was a German princess and the Kaiser Wilhelme first cousin. Now that Russia was out of the war, the new German ambassador in Moscow, Count Wilhelm Mirbach, had made clear his government’s concern for the safety of Alexandra and her four daughters. Lenin had no wish to antagonize the Germans—particularly at this moment.

    On July 6, the Bolsheviks suffered another blow. In Moscow, two Left Social Revolutionaries, passionately opposed to the Brest Litovsk Treaty, assassinated the German ambassador. Lenin and Sverdlov feared that German troops would enter the capital. In the midst of this confusion, talk of a show trial for Nicholas, of persuading him to sign a treaty, of using his family as bargaining chips, appeared senseless, irrelevant. The Romanovs themselves began to seem superfluous, almost an encumbrance. Sverdlov described this situation to his friend Filipp Goloschekin, a member of the Ural Regional Soviet, who happened to be staying that week in Sverdlov’s house in Moscow. On July 12, Goloschekin returned to Ekaterinburg and told his comrades of the Ural Soviet that the government had no further use for the Romanovs and was leaving to them the timing and manner of the family’s disposition. The Ural Soviet immediately voted to execute the entire family. Yurovsky, the commandant at the Ipatiev House, was ordered to shoot all the prisoners and to destroy the evidence of what had happened.

    In the days immediately following the executions, Moscow tightly controlled the release of all information about the event in Ekaterinburg. At nine o’clock on the night of July 17, the Kremlin received a coded telegram from the Ural Regional Soviet saying, “Tell Sverdlov that the whole family has suffered the same fate as the head. Officially the family will perish during the evacuation.” Sverdlov, expecting this message, telegraphed in reply: “Today [July 18] I will report your decision to Presidium of Central Executive Committee. There is no doubt it will be approved. Notice about the execution must follow from the central authorities. Refrain from publication until its receipt.” Sverdlov, whose title was Chairman of the Central Executive Committee, informed the Presidium and, unsurprisingly, obtained its approval.

    The pretense that Moscow did not know until after the event was continued that evening, when Sverdlov arrived late at a meeting of the Soviet of People’s Commissars. Lenin was presiding over discussion of a public health project. Sverdlov entered, took a chair behind Lenin, leaned forward, and whispered into his ear. Interrupting the commissar for people’s health, Lenin said, “Comrade Sverdlov asks the floor to make an announcement.”
    “We have received information,” Sverdlov announced in a calm, matter-of-fact voice, “that in Ekaterinburg, by decision of the Ural Regional Soviet, Nicholas has been shot. Alexandra Feodorovna and her children are in reliable hands. Nicholas wanted to escape. The Czechs were getting close. The Presidium of the Executive Committee has given its approval.” When Sverdlov finished, the hall was silent. After a pause, Lenin said, “We shall now proceed to read the project, article by article.”

    Robert K. Massie is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Nicholas and Alexandra: An Intimate Account of the Last of the Romanovs and the Fall of Imperial Russia, 1967; Peter the Great: His Life and World (Pulitzer Prize) 1981; Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, 2011; The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, 1995; The Romanov Family Album, 1982; and The Last Diary of Tsaritsa Alexandra, 1997.

  10. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I will reread Anna Akhmatova’s “Requiem” tonight to remind myself of the millions of mothers and wives who stood outside the prison walls over the course of the decades awaiting news of the fate of their loved ones. Ilyich and Dzhugashvili were the destroyers of whole nations, one of which was Russia.

    I think it is incredibly sad that BM Drezhlo is caught up in this fantasy about a potential Communist/Socialist connection with the monarchy. The closest thing to that was the proto-facist Union of the Russian People (The Black Hundreds) which had a very strong populist aspect–sort of like the National Socialists in Germany.

    Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that the sort of “Socialism”/Communism that BM Drezhlo dreams of is virtually indistinguishable from the fascism he/she so decries. At any rate, the blood of millions bears witness to the foolishness of those dreams. We should pity this poor person more than anything.

  11. I am a transsexual woman and an Orthodox Christian. Your mockery of this individual’s transsexualism, using it to discredit her further, is lamentable and does not speak well for you. Of course, you succeed with the majority of your readers.

    Nevertheless, you discredit yourself with fair minded readers and especially with me. Should I remain in this church if prominent members despise me?

    Clare “the Tran”

    • George Michalopulos says

      First of all Clare, I don’t know you so I can neither “despise” you nor not “despise” you. Second as to whether our “mockery” on this site of Stanley-Barbara speaks ill of us should give us pause to consider our own charity. I accept this pause. However, know this: that that individual has brought estimable mockery on his own head with his vituperative judgments of others which often includes the use of four-letter words.

      It is one thing to mock, deride, or judge another human being based on one’s own sense of superiority, it is quite another to cross the street when one sees a madman approaching. Nor is it unchristian to comment on the madman’s sanity.

      • Nate Trost says

        In other words, inexcusable behavior on the part of another excuses your inexcusable and indefensible behavior. Okayyyyyyyyy. You don’t get to put your mockery in quotes. It isn’t “mockery”, it is mockery. You have gone beyond mocking the words or actions of your target, to mocking their person. When you cross that line, you should feel ashamed. That you do not, ultimately results in you making a mockery out of your own site.

        Furthermore, you being confronted on your behavior causing personal offense results not in an apology, but in an entrenched defense of your inexcusable behavior.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I guess it depends on whose ox is being gored doesn’t it? The Left really hates it when those of us on the Right return mockery based on reality against their own anti-Christian version.

    • Clare, who is your bishop?

      • Helga, I belong to a ROCOR parish. My bishop is Bishop George of Mayfield.

        • Thank you, Clare. What parish do you attend?

          • And assist you in the inquisition you obviously intend to pursue?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Now you’re being judgmental towards Helga. She’s a fine person. Nobody on this site (or any real Conservative/Traditionalists that I know of) is interested in the sexual jihad that seems to consume the libertine terrorists that want to turn the OCA into an Eastern-rite ECUSA.

              • So . . . what? She wanted to send me flowers? Bring me a casserole?

                • George Michalopulos says

                  I dunno, you might be surprised. Perhaps she’s in ROCOR and lives in the same area. Who know? I’m fairly confident that she is not interested in organizing an inquisition.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Michalopulos,

                The fact of the matter is this: the source of your supposed “outrage” was BM Drezhlo’s published opinion regarding the circumstance of the martyrdom of the Holy Family – Venerable New Martyrs pray to God for us! The fact that the author of this claim is, by surgery, transgendered, has no bearing whatsoever on the potential veracity of her claim, and in fact, it is easily refuted without any reference beyond her name.

                It seems to me that “any real Conservative/Traditionalists” would have exercised the prudence of common restraint to “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 140:3)

            • NO ONE expects the Spanish Inquisition! That means if you’re expecting it, it isn’t going to happen.

              Seriously, for someone who objects to being judged, you sure know how to dish it out.

    • Claire “the Tran”,

      I assume you are a biological male who has some psychosis that compels them to identify as female and that somewhere, somehow, you were baptized and chrismated into the Orthodox Church, probably as an infant.

      Now, it is impossible for me to believe that your Orthodoxy is any deeper than your ethnicity or some shallow spirituality if you choose to self-identify as “transsexual”. There are men who suffer from perverse desires and delusions regarding their sexuality. This in and of itself is not a sin or willful disobedience to Church teaching. Acting on these evil, psychotic impulses is sinful, however – – a sin of the magnitude which forecloses the possibility of eternal life. If we can’t take St. Paul’s word for that, then we are deluding ourselves if we call ourselves “Christians”.

      If someone is willing to keep their perverse inclinations to themselves and to their therapist, shrink and/or confessor, that is all fine and well. If they occasionally slip, well that is sinful as well but humans are not perfect and it happens. But if someone embraces their perversion as being just fine, natural and blessed – – well, that is sin against the Holy Spirit and repentance is the only way back to God’s grace.

      So, may God bless you and lead you back to the Way.

      • You make quite a number of assumptions, sir.

        I am a convert to Orthodoxy. Transsexualism is not a psychosis; do the research. And I do not “identify” as a transsexual. I simply am a transsexual woman (male to female) who identified myself as such to explain how offensive and frankly boorish this blog post was.

        As for the rest of your comments, they might have given you a deep sense of satisfaction, but they are predicated on ignorance and, I suspect, motivated by animus. I have a spiritual father and his name is not Misha.

        Good day to you.

        • Let Barbara-Marie speak for Barbara-Marie says

          Dear Clare,

          May God protect you and bless you, a convert. I absolutely agree with you that no one but yourself can second guess your journey or presume to know your heart. One thing you should probably be made aware of is that the person concerned with in this particular dialogue has a very poor and insulting view of converts, and describes them in the pejorative as Konvertsi. She also has a poor opinion of several Orthodox jurisdictions including the OCA and the ROCOR, both of which get mocked on a regular basis on her webpage where she regularly makes fun of beloved individuals of these jurisdictions in extensive ad hominum attacks, calling them such names as Miss Kitty, Fathausen, and so on and so forth, objectifying those whom she dislikes. I find it somewhat understandable if she herself were to be objectified as an it, as it seems objectification is a hallmark theme in her own writings. She has some real issues and does not even allow commentary on her blogs. She has a sweet and nostalgic side towards animals and music and even her own religion, which is a version of Orthodoxy not quite fitting any particular jurisdiction excepting she has a love for the Carpathorussian Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Church, for Archbishop Melchizedek of the OCA and especially for the present Russian Patriarch Kyrill to whom she assigns, without much evidence, a love of communism and the attitude that communism is compatible with Orthodoxy. May her love broaden and her acceptance of converts evolve.

          I personally wish her and you well, and that both of you continue to attend Orthodox churches. You’re in the right place.

          Barbara-Marie’s own gender story has been quite up front and accessible to the public, so go to the following online forum of the Church of the Blind Chihuahua to let Barbara-Marie speak for herself, :

          It is important to read all the messages in the above Forum which form a kind of a thread. In short, Barbara-Marie underwent hormone replacement therapies from 1999 and claims success in appearing as a female. Her male to female surgery went well in 2004 but she has had less success with her therapists. But let her speak for herself. As she herself says, her own situation is “nuanced”. I, for one, look forward to you sharing your own story, and would not presume to guess it.

          We are all sinners and fall short. God made us all in our diversity and we all have struggles. Let Him judge. Should we not pray for the potential of everyone to attain theosis?

      • One further point.

        In your first comment, you derisively referred to a human being as “it.” And you presume to sermonize to me?

        • Clare,

          If biological gender has no concrete meaning for you, why should any failure on my part to ascribe it to someone be of concern to you? It is a psychosis but I’m sure is no longer recognized as such by the APA since they surrendered to PC impulses. A person who cannot accept their own biological identity is sick.

          It gives me no righteous satisfaction to tell you the truth. I was sure you would reject it even before I wrote it. I just felt a duty to tell you. What you do with the truth is between you and God. My conscience is clear on the matter.

          One more thing, you get on someone else’s site and throw a bomb at the host and expect . . . what? Can you not tolerate a diversity of opinion? You seem to have anticipated that George’s readers would agree with him. So you knew full well what you were putting yourself in for. Well, you succeeded, you got it. Congratulations.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Misha, et. al. I have been struggling with what to say about all this. First I find it an extrodinarily uncharitable thread from inception and George it would have been better had you not posted it.

            Second there is no need to savage Clare. The truth is not true if is filled with revulsion.

            Let none of us rejoice in our own sexuality. The temptations to fall are immense, continuous and often followed. Are any really worse than another. Don’t they all lead to perdition?

            Repentance is the key, the only key but the seduction of death can seem quite real.

            As with suicide, the evil one mimics the person’s own voice so it seems as if the suggestion is wholly internal and it is always there, whispering:

            You’ll be happy if you just do …all the pain will go away.

            It is a false promise. That is the truth. Pandering to our own sexuality never leads to salvation, no matter how normal we think ours happens to be. We are all disordered.

            Clare has a particularly difficult road because the effects of succumbing to the temptation as he did will always be visible. The mutilation of our own souls not so much. We can more easily hide our sins from others, but God knows our heart.

            He also faces the hurdle of recognizing the sin, its real source and that could be crushing when it comes.

            The Church is full of all types of sinners and all of our sins will be revealed.

            Clare may very well turn out to be the least of these and enter the Kingdom before any of us. Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is for all of us but we can only apply it to ourselves.

            I pray that we all heed Christ’s words. Clare, may God lead you in the path of righteousness and may your love for Him allow Him to overcome your sin. Forgive me, a sinner.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Michael, your charity and humility are much to be admired and adopted (most of all by me). MIsha’s preeminent critique however is that Clare (and the thousands of other transsexuals) were never told the truth about their own sexuality in the first place.

              The first clause of the Hypocratic Oath is “First, do no harm.” It goes on from there. Truth, as can best be discerned by the medical practicioner and based on the best evidence at hand, has to be of paramount concern from the outset, otherwise we are dealing in quackery. While I admit that some of the first premises of years past (such as most sickness arising from the four “humours” being out of balance with each other) has done needed to be rectified, Hippocrates’ reliance on the humoral theory of medicine was still a gigantic step up from “the evil spirits did it” school of medicine. (And anyway, we’ve never quite gotten completely away from the humoral theory as bloodletting is still accepted for certain conditions.)

              As regarding homosexuality, et al, I can’t pretend to know what the underlying scientific explanation for it is, or whether it is truly a sickness (as Freud believed) but I do know that up until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association fervently believed that it was a psychological disorder. More to the point, it was only because of brown-shirted thuggery that it was removed from the DSM at that time.

              This of course brings us to our present quandary. Has any potential transsexual been informed about the etiology of their psychosis? Or have they –like abortive mothers–been fed a bill of goods in order to have a (quite possibly) unnecessary medical procedure performed on them? A procedure which I might add, makes money for the practicioner?

              • Michael Bauman says

                George, exactly why great charity toward those who have unknowingly accepted the lie, indeed had it almost forced upon them, is required. Lord knows I believed many lies about myself and God before coming to the Church that led me into some really dark places. No one should be told they are not good enough for the Church. None of us are.

                The key is the willingness to repent. All of us have a disordered sexuality and we all need repentance. For some it is more obvious. Pride/shame in one’s sin is greater than the sin itself for that blocks the movement toward repentance. Just as pride in one’s virtue. That is a false cloak we put on to avoid looking at the way we have mutilated our own souls. No doubt Clare’s state is the result of sin, but whose? If he is not being led to repentance by his spiritual father, his spiritual father will face the greater condemnation. However I’m not at all sure what such repentance would look like.

                Clare’s dilemma ought to make us all more humble as few are free of similar dilemmas.

            • Michael,

              Two things in the background militate in favor of a “more energetic remedy”.

              First, there is the awful reality of what Stan is and represents. Much of the tone of this thread is no doubt due to that.

              Second, and perhaps more importantly, we have the lessons of history to assimilate. The fact is that where homosexuality is not persecuted to one degree or another – – by force confined to the closet – – it becomes normalized in society. Essentially, all decent societies condemn and repress it. It may not seem like the most loving approach, but it appears to be the only effective one. Thus, being very forthcoming and even harsh about the stakes and realities is prudent. Sometimes the truth needs to be harsh to be effective and to actually even be the truth. Sometimes sugarcoating merely signals to the other side that the Orthodox are softening on the issue and in time can be rolled. Better to convey a clear and stark condemnation of the behavior as an abomination and those who engage in it as choosing death over life.

              Now, repentance is always possible and forgiveness is always available. But we have to get there first. The Lord wishes to condemn no one but rather wants all to be saved. But each individual has a say in the matter. Of course Clare is in the right place. He just has the wrong attitude. In time the right attitude may develop. It will not, however, if he is coddled in his perversion. If he were cursed with an unnatural attraction to small children we would not be having this conversation. Morally, there is not much difference.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Misha, without knowing the person this is what I see in general: the satanic voice starts a whisper campaign that is quite a bit different for homosexuality, pedophlia, and the feeling that one is in the wrong body. I’ve never seen anything that suggests a sexual component to so called transgenderism.

                It is a more fundamental confusion than lust. It is a denial of self. It is sinful beyond doubt and there should be no question about that. Stan is a different case than Clare.

                Both have been lied to, both seem to have accepted the lie. That is the tragedy. The Church needs to counter the lie with the truth. We have so far failed to do that even for marriage and normal sex. We no longer have the ability to have any effect on the larger culture. We have to fight a rearguard action to protect those in the Church. We are not doing that well in many places.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          So, Clare, who’s mistake is it that you are a transexual? God’s? What, He made you male and then He changed His mind?

          • George Michalopulos says

            Deacon, your sense of irony is palpable. Not meaning any disrespect to Clare personally, I think he has done us a singular service in highlighting what we are up against. We should be “tolerant,” “inclusive,” and “non-judgmental” at all times. We are to credit the Lord for being infallible regarding sexuality (since He “cannot make mistakes”). Yet we have people who for whatever etiology believe God in fact did make a mistake and that the resources of society and medicine must be used to rectify said mistakes. I wonder how the writer of The Orthodox Observer opinion puff-piece could even enlighten us as to a way forward.

            I fear we are stuck in an existential loop not unlike one of M C Escher’s sketchings. One from which thanks to the corruption and/or timidity of our episcopate, we cannot break free from. Maybe that’s the real meaning of Romans 1: to be in such a place religiously that we have been reduced by our disordered animal passions to worship the creation rather than the Creator. But here’s the irony: sodomy ultimately destroys creation, doesn’t it?

            • Nate Trost says

              For a moment I thought I had accidentally clicked through to a Christian Scientist blog.

              It seems there is a double-standard: persons born with all manner of physical and mental complications that struggle with them do so because they are born into a fallen world, not that God made a mistake. But if you struggle with gender identification, you weren’t born into a fallen world, you just think God made a mistake (you pervert).

              Not meaning any disrespect to Clare personally, I think he has done us a singular service

              By referring to Clare as he, you actually do mean to disrespect her personally. It’s just that you think you have the right, duty or even obligation to do so. Fair enough. I’m going to tolerate you doing so, but I’m also going to judge you for it, and my conscience does not allow me to let it pass unremarked.

              • “I’m going to tolerate you doing so, but I’m also going to judge you for it, and my conscience does not allow me to let it pass unremarked.”

                That’s funny, as if you had any power not to “tolerate” it, it not being your blog.

        • Guy Westover says

          While most might cast judgement on you, anyone with a genuine understanding of this fallen world into which we are born can understand for what it is. I have a background in mental health and have worked with several individuals struggling with their gender identity and their faith. There are even a couple Orthodox clergy that are understanding and compassionate to the struggle as well. I have been blessed to work cooperatively with three of them.
          I lost someone close to me many years ago who could not handle the vitriol of fellow Christians.
          I am sure you have developed a thick skin over the years. But please accept my best wishes and prayers.
          I attend a ROCOR parish as well.

          Guy Westover
          Viera FL

          • Thank you so much, Guy. I will pray an akathist today for your loved one.

            Your response and those of several other kind people here have truly helped me to feel at home in this Church, which is indeed the true Church. I firmly hold to the teaching of Bishop Hierotheos Vlachos in his wonderful books that the Church is a hospital. I am here for the cure of the nous. May the Holy Trinity give you and the other kind people here a special blessing this weekend, and bless everyone else here with the grace they need.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Dear Clare, we would all love for you to not only feel at home but also be at home in the Church, but none of us can be at home in the Church without repenting of our sins. Whatever you might feel, if you were born male and still pretend to be female, you are not a part of the Body.

              • Shame on you.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  As of now, I’m stopping all further agitation on transsexualism on this thread. This thread is about the evil of Bolshevism and my thoroughgoing disgust that a self-described Orthodox woman glorifies the murderers of the God-pleasing Tsar-martyr Nicholas and his family. Clare, you will be given ample opportunity in the future to comment on the validity of transsexualism. For now, I ask that all constrain themselves to the topic at hand.

                  • Fr George Washburn says

                    That’s just the problem, George.

                    Once your feelings about Stan’s bad position on the Romanov family’ deaths has been expressed, what is left to talk about? The position you dislike is hardly believed by anyone and has little or no serious historical or scholarly support that I have ever seen. Advocacy of such an anomalous position by the likes of Stan’s site, with no evidentiary support whatsoever that I noted and no scholarly credentials for that author to make such judgments can’t possibly lead to an intelligent or enlightening discussion, can it?

                    Are we looking for an opportunity for self-congratulation? A sparring session with a straw man? Spleen-venting practice on both sides, an act which I would venture to say is not the part of our “game” that we need to work on here?

                    Not far between the lines in your editorial kickoff to this thread was the tacit admission that you shouldn’t be doing it. You were right.

                    The ideal spiritual approach of Orthodoxy has a great deal to do with silence, while the American political punditry model likes to make as much noise as possible about as many things as possible. You may have been doing more of the latter than you realize.


                    Fr. George

                    • Fr. George,

                      If the clergy had been doing their job these last few decades, we wouldn’t be seeing results like we did in the PAOI survey of Orthodox attitudes, less people would be confused on issues of sexuality and morality in general and the Church in America would be in much better shape. George was just challenging the dregs of neglect. God bless him.


                    • Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says

                      I have to agree with Fr. George Washburn on this one, Geo. I believe St. Seraphim once said something to the effect of (I’m paraphrasing here): “Very often we need to repent for our words, but seldom do we need to repent for our silence.”

                      I’ve been rediscovering the paradox that the Gospels demonstrate over & over again, that there are two ways to influence someone or something: 1) externally via opposition with force & control or 2) internally via humility, love, prayer & patience. Christ often & ultimately practiced the latter, which is the inner leaven that truly changes hearts rather than wins arguments.

                      Just 2 cents from a struggling sinner.

                    • Fr George Washburn says

                      Well Misha, I think you and George should confer and get your stories straight. George told us in his most recent post that his editorial was about the Russian royal family and he doesn’t want to allow any more mortar fire on the sex change issue. Now you have just told us that George’s emission was for the purpose of redressing the failures in moral education by N American priests in recent decades, as demonstrated by Mr. Krindatch’s PAOI survey.

                      Name me ONE reader of this site, pseudonymous or otherwise, whom you believe to have been a) so benighted and gullible as to have been convinced of some gross falsehood by the “Stan” stuff on the royal family and b) so wishy washy as to have been turned straight around by George’s trumpet blast. You can’t.

                      Hence George’s original harumphing can be seen for what it actually was: making himself look like a serious commentator on the issues (serious commentators don’t get into rassling matches with the likes of “Voices”) when he was really just grabbing a cheap opportunity to light up a constituency that I don’t think needed energizing, let alone George’s choice of “corrective invective” about the martyrs of communism.


                      Fr. George

                    • Trudge at SmartVote says

                      The comments that Orthodoxy teaches “silence” I think is due to the influence of the error of pietism on modern Orthodox thought, and is accepted as a primary virtue because it covers over many of our vices and fits in with the moral Laissez-faire of modernism.

                      A summary below of the appearance of the concept of silence through the Scriptures:

                      Silence is characteristic of the dead.

                      Silence is what the wicked are reduced to by the clear reasoning of the just.

                      Silence characterizes sickness of soul in the face of injustice.

                      Silence is positive in the face of one greater than oneself, when God speaks or when something ultimate and heavenly is about to be revealed.

                      Silence is positive as a wise and knowing choice in the face of peril, awaiting for a more advantageous time.

                      Silence is positive in the face of the unknown waiting time of greater understanding (Mary pondered these things in her heart).

                      Speaking must be backed up with substance and action.

                      The created universe itself is not silent, but proclaims the glory of God and is in painful travail until the Sons of Righteousness are to be revealed.

                      In short, in the justice of God, the righteous are to be the speakers in order to silence the wicked so that they may repent and learn.

                      For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. 1 Peter 2:15

                      St. Maximos the Confessor was martyred, having his tongue cut out under the authority of the Bishop of Constantinople, for not keeping silent in defending the Nicene Creed.

                      Maximus’ refusal to accept Monothelitism caused him to be brought to the imperial capital of Constantinople to be tried as a heretic in 658. In Constantinople, the Monothelite position had gained the favor of both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

                      In 662, Maximus was placed on trial and convicted of heresy. Following the trial Maximus was tortured, having his tongue cut out, so he could no longer speak his rebellion and his right hand cut off, so that he could no longer write letters. Maximus was then exiled to the Lazica or Colchis region of modern-day Georgia and was cast in the fortress of Schemarum, perhaps Muris-Tsikhe near the modern town of Tsageri. He died soon thereafter, on 13 August 662. The events of the trials of Maximus were recorded by Anastasius Bibliothecarius.


                    • Yes, Trudge,

                      The thing to bear in mind is that some clerics know that there is no way to officially change Orthodox teaching on the subject, so, the next best thing is to use silence to ignore it and create a de facto climate of acceptance.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      Fr George W. speculated: “Hence George’s original harumphing can be seen for what it actually was: making himself look like a serious commentator on the issues (serious commentators don’t get into rassling matches with the likes of “Voices”) when he was really just grabbing a cheap opportunity to light up a constituency that I don’t think needed energizing…”

                      I agree with Fr George that “serious commentators don’t get into rassling matches with the likes of “Voices”” However, in this instance I think he/she’s subject posting was the straw that broke the camel’s back. IOW, George was not engaging in any sort of wrestling with the he/she but simply expressed his well-justified disgust with this pitiful person. As others have pointed out, he’she needs our prayers more than anything else, but at times it is very difficult not to yield to temptation and blast away.

                    • “Now you have just told us that George’s emission was for the purpose of redressing the failures in moral education by N American priests in recent decades, as demonstrated by Mr. Krindatch’s PAOI survey. ”

                      It is a shame when clergy begin to suffer from hallucinations and paranoia. The dregs of neglect I was referring to was the fact that the clergy has simply not taught the faith or held the faithful accountable to eucharistic discipline. Were that the case, the Stan’s of the world could not pass themselves off as Orthodox and write silly commentaries about the death of the Romanovs as if said perps (Stan, et al.) somehow represented Russian Orthodoxy.

                      I do not speak for George, have never met him, and have not questioned his motives for writing what he did. Your comment seems to imply that somehow he wrote what he wrote knowing that it would result in a hissy from another he-she. I had no idea George was so prophetic but it is a great tribute to his clairvoyance that you credit him with this foreknowledge.

                      “. . . when he was really just grabbing a cheap opportunity to light up a constituency that I don’t think needed energizing”

                      And that’s just the problem, isn’t it, Fr. George? You don’t think that some subsection of Orthodoxy opposed to the normalization of homosexuality “needs energizing”. That’s really the point of your comments, to make George regret taking a position with which you disagree regarding a teaching of the Church you’d just as soon ignore.

                    • Fr George Washburn says

                      Well Trudge has given a number of generalizations and proof texts from scripture and martyrology and his supposition as to some poor reasons for keeping silence. If I were giving him a final exam in scripture on this subject, it would consist of a two-part essay question along the following lines:

                      Please compare and contrast your previous generalizations about the Bible’s teaching on silence with the following scriptures you failed to cite: Proverbs 10:19, Ecclesiastes 3:7, and James 3:1-12.

                      For full credit please also detail why, in a public discussion of the teachings of the Bible, you cannot use your true name, paying special attention to explaining the bad things that would happen if the powers that be in your Orthodox jurisdiction were to find out that you were actually engaged in a serious discussion of the scriptures.

                    • Trudge at SmartVote says

                      Father George,

                      I am married to a professor, so I assure you I am graded strictly every day!

                      Proof-texting is no vice for a Christian, it is a virtue, and is a noble activity according to the Scriptures (the Berean Church was commended for it), and you rightly proof-texted me back. In fact, proof-texting was used by the Apostles, Fathers and the Son of Man himself. Indeed, in the sorry collapse of the episcopalians “proof-texting” was the accusation used to put off the traditionalists who wanted to use the Scriptures to evaluate the strange new doctrines of the apostates.

                      The principles in the Scriptures you cited I believe I captured in my summary as positive cases of silence, however, silence in the scriptures is largely negative, especially in the face of evil, as you can see for yourself through the link.

                      The entire chapter of Proverbs 10 you pointed out is good stuff for us moderns to hear as it cuts through the web of confusion heard by some in this thread and the entire modern anti-Christ enterprise, and would be especially good for every priest and bishop to study as a mirror on their own souls. And the Scriptures are properly used first as a mirror on ourselves. I strive for this as my aim as I labor for the salvation of my own soul. Then the primary activity of the righteous is to instruct, not to be silent.

                      The labor of the righteous leads to life,
                      The wages of the wicked to sin.

                      He who keeps instruction is in the way of life,
                      But he who refuses correction goes astray.

                      Whoever hides hatred has lying lips,
                      And whoever spreads slander is a fool.

                      In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
                      But he who restrains his lips is wise.

                      The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
                      The heart of the wicked is worth little.

                      The lips of the righteous feed many,
                      But fools die for lack of wisdom.

                      To do evil is like sport to a fool,
                      But a man of understanding has wisdom.

                      I wonder if you have spent some time with the OCA encyclical “On Preaching.” What do you think of it?

                      As a priest of the most high God, do you instruct your parishioners to not take your word as the end-all, but to search the Scriptures diligently since we are all prone to error and self-delusion? That would be noble. Even the great Chrysostom urged his parishioners to not rely on his words alone. And in the passage of James you cited, teachers will be judged more strictly than a nobody parishioner like me and most contributors on this site.

                      In the exceeding wickedness of our generation, I often wonder how much our priests and bishops meditate on the judgement they will face in the light in these words:

                      Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

                      “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24)

                      Do we not see that the wicked servant can only be a deacon, priest or bishop who does not fulfill his responsibility? If I were a priest or bishop in this wicked generation, with such rampant apostasy and disrespect for the will of God, having allowed the House of God to be broken into with no resistance, I would be trembling at these words.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                I am saddened to see a deacon interpose himself between a lay person and his priest in such direct fashion.

            • Fr Mark Hodges says

              Mother Maria Skobtsova: “It would be a great lie to tell searching souls: ‘Go to church, because there you will find peace.’ The opposite is true. The Church tells those who are at peace and asleep: ‘Go to church, because there you will feel real anguish for your sins, for your perdition, for the world’s sins and perdition. There you will feel an unappeasable hunger for Christ’s truth. There, instead of becoming lukewarm, you will be set on fire; instead of pacified, you will become alarmed; instead of learning the wisdom of this world you will become fools for Christ.’”

              In this sinful and adulterous generation, when sickness is called health and madness is called sanity, transsexuals should be welcomed in the Church with open arms, loved, served, and humbly (privately) called to repentance. There is a difference, however, between accepting the person unconditionally, which Christ does, and accepting sin, which Christ never does –and it is particularly cruel for the sane to enable such fundamental confusion.

              If anyone who has gender issues –no matter what they’ve done to themselves, or what someone else has done to them– comes to the Church admitting their struggle, they can be directly and immediately helped. But if on the other hand someone comes to the Church, rejecting the Church’s teaching on such issues (whether it be transsexualism, or sodomy, or anything: abortion, or euthanasia, or other religions as equal to Christianity), and if that person asserts his/her condition as healthy, then, we still genuinely welcome, love, and serve him/her, but communion is impossible. We come to the Church on Her terms, not our own.

              This is true for anyone whose lifestyle rejects the teaching of the Church. No one should be allowed, by an immoral lifestyle (such as public fornication, by living together unwed), to confuse the faithful –especially children and the weak in faith. So, there will be tension, if people come to Church sincerely seeking the truth, and if the Church is doing Her divinely-appointed job. If the Holy Spirit is present, we are all convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). As St Maria says, if we are living in sin, we will and we should feel convicted in Church. This is not a rejection of the person, and our parishioners need to be taught how to love all men without tolerating sin.

              A major problem comes, as Fr Hans Jacobse and others have pointed out, when people literally identify themselves directly by their sin, i.e., “I AM a homosexual,” or, rather, identify themselves as sin, i.e., “I AM homosexual.” If someone equates themselves with their sin, they themselves put up a barrier to accepting genuine love. To do so sincerely is a severe and difficult psychosis to heal. (The same is true of a man who says “I am a woman,” no matter what has been done to him surgically.) The person says, in effect, “The only way I will receive love is if my sin is affirmed as natural and blessed as good.” To affirm sodomy as natural or bless gender confusion as good would be, of course, moral apostacy on the part of an Orthodox Christian. And again, it would be the opposite of love, as it is particularly cruel for the sane to enable such fundamental confusion. It should be noted that this is a barrier put up by the homosexual, and not by those seeking to welcome, love, and serve him/her. In such cases, all the faithful can do is affirm the value of the person, made in God’s image and beloved by Christ, as best we can, even though our love is not received. Sometimes, by prayer and God’s mercy, we can break through hostility by sincerely seeking to be a true friend. There are many examples of lives changed by congregants who simply went out of their way to care about the gender-confused person, in effect, “overcoming evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

              Bottom line: if we as the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church are to be true to our calling, our services, our sermons, our interaction must call each other on to repentance and renewal, not complacency. As St Maria says, Church is not a place for us to feel good about ourselves. Here, we are to be set on fire, both in zeal and love for God, and in conviction of our sins and hatred for all evil and distortions of love. This also means that we could be evaluated by the “fire” of zeal we produce, or, tragically, don’t produce, in our members. If drunkards, thieves, adulterers, liars, blasphemers, gossips, gluttons, the greedy, fornicators, sexual perverts, the rebellious and the gender-confused don’t feel convicted, then we’re not doing our job. If we’re just putting on services and our people are comfortably lukewarm, we have failed Christ.


              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                Yes. And we know that if the church “accepts” some kinds of sins, then it will duly have to accept “our” sins also. And we know that that would be fatal to us, as well.

              • Trudge at SmartVote says

                Agreed Father Mark.

                I have often wondered what the parish experience was like for the ordinary Russian leading up to the Revolution. A priest once told me, “Well, they didn’t believe Christianity at that time like we do.” So what was being preached? (And excellent quote from St. Maria Skobtsova, of the French Resistance, who took the place of a Jewish woman in the gas chamber at Ravensbruck.)

                For example, how did Russian preaching address the notorious Russian alcoholism?

                And what can we say about our time?

                The transsexual controversy can only have arisen because of the absence of the Gospel in the pulpit.

                If the Gospel was being preached forcefully and with care this poor person would not be attending services yet be in confusion.

                Pastoral care has its beginning in the pulpit where the words of the Son of Man and his disciples are broadcast for the benefit of the soul, for its health and to guard it from the perils of its time.

                I see many young and old laying about, chatting or inert in the services and during the sermon in distraction or boredom, unmoved because there is no balm or warning from the specifics of the moral vision of the Gospel when the moment of the sermon arrives, such that there is no light shined on our condition to arouse the soul from its slumbers, self-will and vices. I often leave desperate to reacquaint myself with the Truths of the Scriptures and Fathers.

                As part of this spiritual generation, we all have a share in this spiritual poverty and will be judged for it.

                The OCA encyclical “On Preaching” recognizes this impoverishment and provides remedies for it.

                Contrast this state of affairs with the vigor of Chrysostom on the priestly duty from “On the Priesthood”:

                It is not the management of corn and barley, oxen or sheep, that is now under our consideration, nor any such like matters, but the very Body of Jesus. For the Church of Christ, according to St. Paul, is Christ’s Body, and he who is entrusted with its care ought to train it up to a state of healthiness, and beauty unspeakable, and to look everywhere, lest any spot or wrinkle, or other like blemish should mar its vigor and comeliness. For what is this but to make it appear worthy, so far as human power can, of the incorruptible and ever-blessed Head which is set over it? If they who are ambitious of reaching an athletic condition of body need the help of physicians and trainers, and exact diet, and constant exercise, and a thousand other rules, how shall they to whose lot falls the care of the Church, which has its conflict not against flesh and blood, but against powers unseen, be able to keep it sound and healthy, unless they far surpass ordinary human virtue, and are versed in all healing proper for the soul?

              • There is a real problem with your approach. To suggest rejecting the churches teachings would prevent you from Communion is far too black and white.

                What does the church say about gluttony? Does the fat man come to church rejecting the teaching? Or does he live a lie? Or is he just a sinner unable to cope with his lust for food?

                There is not much difference between a lustful passion for food or a lustful passion for an opposing gender, although probably many here will disagree as the typical response is there seem to be relative grades of sin. Supporting gender confused folks and gays might prevent suicide-doesn’t mean rejects church either. I have never seen where all these land on the sin scale. As for abortion, which you include, accepting societies laws is also not rejection of church. If a woman had an abortion-it too would be a sin by the church. The typical idea is there are some folks who are pro-abortion…probably not practising Orthodox and actually very few.

                I read the essay and all the posts. I like the substantive portions of George’s piece, but struggled with his reasons and undertones, overtones, references to Tran, etc. I cannot engage the content on Drezlo’s site. It is not leftist I assure you. I suggest a few of you reread Fr Washburn’s posts as I founnd them to be closest to what I understand to be the Orthodox faith.

                I do so humbly and apologize for arriving late before giving an opinion.

                I did like the objective parts of your essay George. As a liberal, I have zero love for Communism-that’ll bother some of you cuz you might like to lump us together… But it ain’t so.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Mr. Fall, the issue is not sin or even acceptance of the Church’s teachings as it is repentance. Those who are gluttonous must repent and fast; those who are sexually active outside marriage must repent and fast until they are married. Those who refuse to repent and partake of the Eucharist anyway eat and drink damnation to themselves.

                  However, if one does not agree with the teaching of the Church, what are they doing there anyway?

                  Note; My priest has publically said that those who support “a woman’s right to choose” should not approach the cup. Those who have not prepared themselves through fasting and repentance, should not approach the cup. Except for those under a specific penance, I don’t believe he keeps count.

                • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                  A fat man is not necessarily a glutton. He may have a slow metabolism or other problems. It is not as simple as you make it. I have hypoglycemia and have a hard time trying to diet. So be more careful before you attack people with weight problems.
                  A person who is struggling with sexual or any other sin should be treated with love and in a pastoral way. However, someone who argues that their sin is not a sin must be required to repent before they receive Holy Communion. That applies to any sin, not just sexual sins. The problem today is that there is no anger or resentment rights or movement.
                  The gays have done a magnificent job of bludgeoning society into accepting them. However, the Church cannot change its teachings to conform to the values of our secular society. What the psychology establishment does not consider a mental problem, is still a spiritual problem if it violates the moral teachings of the Holy Scriptures.

                  • Daniel E Fall says

                    Good priest, “It is not as simple as you make it” was essentially my entire point. I didn’t attack anyone with a weight issue; it was merely an example of a situation where it isn’t cut and dried to suggest a fat man is rejecting the churches teachings on gluttony. And you and I share the hypoglycemia…only difference is I’m very active so I’m not fat, but short me sugars and I get the shakes..

                    As for Bauman’s priest suggesting those who support a woman’s right to choose not taking Communion; why would he say such a thing? I would never support my wife seeking an abortion, but I cannot parlay my religious views onto third parties. I don’t support, I accept societies rules. So, what happens when priests make these sorts of ultimatums is they are easily adjusted by wordsmithing; which is all he really did as well. Supporting abortion by what? Voting for a politician? The real problem with abortion is never addressed by either of the polar positions. Facts are that these girls don’t want to be mothers….motherhood is not desirable to them. And motherhood needs more promotion than abortion needs condemnation or promotion, but neither NOW, nor the “Pro-Life” movement promotes motherhood. Ain’t enough money in it..sorry to say. The church can promote motherhood and this is what the priest in your note ought to focus on versus his statements. Anyhow, I hate to degrade the conversation into the abortion subject, but accepting societal rules is a long way from supporting them, and if voting for Obama means I’m supporting abortion-count me out of that country club you are in..There is a lot more than a single subject to consider when you vote.

                    Anyhow, I don’t know what to think of someone like Clare. They have rejected their given name. To me, rejecting the name given to you by your parent; someone who bore and loved you is pretty twisted. To suggest I’m not Lisa, I’m now Mike is really hard for me to comprehend. It seems disrespectful and thoughtless to your Mother (aforementioned). If you are confused or feel you are a man trapped in a woman’s body-it certainly seems like a brain issue. Perhaps one of true chemical imbalance.. For this reason, I think there is a certain place for someone like Clare in the church. Clare needs more spiritual comfort and guidance than me. I find my spiritual needs very low at this point in my life, but I digress. To keep someone like Clare from the church because they believe it is okay for them to be a transgender person seems wrong.

                    One thing I do know. I don’t want to know about Stan or Clare’s identity issues anymore than I want to know if two women in the church are lesbians. I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care- it is for the priest, not me. I know this bothers many posters here-sticking by it. If Stan or ‘Clare’s sexual identity becomes a highlight in the church-the priest must make that end.

                    just my thoughts, thanks for sharing yours…Dan

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      But gluttony is a sin. Being fat is not. It does not follow that all fat people are gluttons. In the industrialized West, the poor tend to be far more overweight than the rich. Part of the reason is because of bad dietary choices, a sedentary lifestyle, higher incidences of diabetes, etc.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Mr. Fall, you say:

                      but I cannot parlay my religious views onto third parties.

                      That is such a regurgitation of asinine secular stupidity. Wake up!
                      Clear your head of the cobwebs! Rouse yourself from the apathy, open your heart to actually give a damn.

                      What else are priests supposed to do, just let anybody believe anything, practice anything and approach the cup while eating and drinking damnation to themselves? My priest does it because: 1. He actually believes and knows what the Church teaches; and 2. he cares for his people and for their salvation. What a concept! A priest who believes and cares. Wow, go figure a priest who actually calls his flock to repentance and grace. Why would he do that? Golly gee, Batman, I really can’t figure that out.

                      It is the crux of what separates those who understand and know Jesus Christ as the Truth and those who simply accept some teachings (maybe) until it is not convenient or comfortable to do so. That is the difference between those who have a traditional faith and those who are essentially secular.

                      Of course we parlay our religious views onto third parties. Everybody does it all the time. That is what the homosexual jihadists are doing for Pete’s sake. That is what those who support abortion are doing. That is why they are winning, they are better “evangelists” . They actually believe what they teach and are willing to move heaven and earth to get people to believe it (or at least accept it). Oh, but that just sooooooooooo uncouth isn’t it?

                      Is murder really a ‘religious’ view in any case? The issue even goes beyond murder however. The issue is the value of human life in general; the value of women as mother’s and men as father’s and children as the hope and continuance of our race (and by their prayers) the forgiveness of our sins. Would you let someone who supports the Nazi extermination approach the cup, or is that “parlaying your religious views” We are a barbarous society far beyond anything Hitler dreamed of. We have consumed the nihilist delusion.

                      May the Lord forgive us and hasten His return.

                    • Daniel E Fall says

                      I can’t force my religious views on others Michael anymore than a Muslim can force their view that wiping their respective derierre with the wrong hand is sin (among others) on me. Now, it just so happens that I am left handed, so I, fortunately, if Muslims ever takeover this country and camera the bathrooms, will be okay. But the rest of you right handers out there will really need to get in line…or hands will be missing I suppose.

                      I strongly doubt your priest has spoken with many women who have had abortions. Most of them had or have no desire to be mothers and would find a way to get it done either via organized crime or self abuse. I’m not suggesting this makes the practice of clinical abortion wise…I am just stating fact, and, no, facts don’t make it any less ugly.

                      Your priest is probably a good fellow, but I actually find the notion that he believes people support abortion shallow and perverse-of course I am making some assumptions about what he means, but I can only gather he means voting for a Democrat. I suppose then he also suggests supporting an increase in federal minimum wage would restrict you from Communion as well?. Those horrible Kennedys, how dare they make it possible for impoverished folks to earn a living working or even afford the children they bear! Seriously Michael, the concept/statement/rule is kind of off…unless I’m mistaken about what he meant.

                      have the last word

                  • Tim R. Mortiss says

                    The real practical spiritual problem is that society and the church (speaking very broadly) now accept sexual sins, which a generation or two ago they did not. In particular, premarital sexual relations. I.e., sexual relations between those who plan to get married, and in fact do get married.

                    My ma told me once long ago (she’d be 88 now if she were still alive), “we all got married early because we wanted to go to bed with our boyfriends”.

                    Now, that’s a vanished world…..

                    On the other hand, my grandad

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      The comment editor doesn’t seem to be working…..

                      To continue, my granddad (born in 1895) said that he was a “love child” (i.e., born in lest than nine months from the wedding day). Not all that uncommon in those days, he said.

                      The other arrangement that draws no social opprobrium in the churches (speaking broadly again) in the cohabitation of seniors, widows and widowers who do not want to lose benefits.

                      Those things have been the slippery slope…..

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      It is true that sexual immorality has always existed. During American colonial times, most women were pregnant when they got married. However, despite this fact, there was a consensus that although it happened, it was still morally wrong. Now we have lost that consensus. That is the difference. Younger people do not know how radically our society has changed in the last 40 years. What is now considered normal, was once considered immoral. What was once considered moral is now considered abnormal, that is waiting until marriage to have sex.

                    • Monomakhos Technical Support Department says

                      The comment editor is an old piece of coding that worked well until the recent WordPress upgrade (this site is built on the WordPress CMS). It was inevitable that it would fail sooner or later since the original author does not maintain it.

                      We’ll hunt around and see if a replacement is available.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Yes, of course it has always existed, but public attitudes have radically shifted; this is my point.

                      I’m a first-wave baby boomer, born in 1948, high school class of ‘ 66, at U of Cal/Berkeley in 1966-7 and have personally witnessed all of these changes.

                      Even having seen it, the changes are so great that it’s hard to believe. Nobody lived together outside of marriage before the late 60s early 70s and even then it was extremely controversial. “Shacking up” it was called, I remember well. The most libertine movie stars serially divorced and remarried rather than “shacking up”. Now, respectable oldsters do it all the time; quite apart from the young.

                      The real point is that it no longer produces any shock or scandal as it once did, even if it is nominally disapproved by churches. Even where the disapproval is much more than “nominal”, the social shock is just…gone.

                      This is precisely the problem we face, of course, with, inevitably, other sexual sins. Can we return to that state of “shock” of old? If not, there will continue to be serious problems. We all know how tall an order this is, though.

                    • Daniel E Fall says

                      Alright already, I’ve had quite enough of the talk of returning to the old days regarding sexual attitudes.

                      My mother was molested by a card playing neighbor 60 years ago and her mother told her, “shh, we don’t speak of such things”, and he continued to play cards with them-Mom always ran away when he visited after that.

                      My grandfather beat his children-a return to that would be great? My uncles threatened him with death if he ever beat my Mom, so he never hit her, but absent the threat, perhaps the old style methods would have been present.

                      I’m sorry, things weren’t necessarily better when people waited to get married. The advent and acceptance of divorce along with women working is a much bigger driver of behavior than sexual immorality. People today are a lot more worried about finding a good fit.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Fr Fall, I’m sorry your mother was molested as a child. I’m sorry that people are starving in Darfur.

                      I am fully aware that sexual sin did not begin in 1965 and that molestation, rape, fornication, sodomy, and adultery have been practiced since the dawn of time. To celebrate our current licentiousness as a type of openness as opposed to previous hypocrisy is, frankly, demonic.

      • M. Stankovich says


        I have met with exactly two patients in the course of my work who suffered from gender dysphoria and were seeking a qualified clinician to meet CA’s requirements for “transitioning.” Obviously, this was not a task for which I was even vaguely qualified, nor ethically suited. I met twice with each individual, explained my position, and made the appropriate referral. I can say to you that I rarely meet individuals who are so openly conflicted, and so openly troubled and in emotional pain. I have noted on this site several times that we seem to have no pastoral sense, no plan of “dialog” – and I recall the “outrage” at the report that Archbishop Benjamin had met with two transgendered women, and I said at the time, “If not with a Bishop, then with whom?” – and a “philosophy” for those who would repent post-surgery.

        When I read your comment to Clare (you did not even spell her name correctly), I was so shocked as to imagine yours was parody or an attempt at humorous “engagement,” until it finally struck me you were serious. And now I ask, what in heaven’s name could you be possibly be thinking to address anyone in such a pretentious, condescending, and judgmental manner?

        I suspect you need to examine your shallow spirituality. And apologize to Clare: “Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Heb. 13:1-3)

        • Dr. Stankovich,

          I am happy to apologize to Clare for misspelling her name. That was an oversight or negligence on my part, not an intentional slight. But I should be more careful. Mea culpa.

          As to the rest, someone who is transsexual may never have heard the truth about their situation. Certainly wouldn’t expect it from you. Being as how eternal life is on the line, I laid it out clearly. I also asked God to bless him/her and to lead him/her back to the Way. That is the loving thing to do, not enabling. No apologies for that are necessary or appropriate. If the seed ever takes root, it may save his/her soul.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Misha, still your tone was a bit excessive, IMO. However I would suggest a step to reduce the confusion is to recognize that no matter what I do to my body, I can never be a woman. That is why Clare is a he. I don’t say that in mockery or irony or hate, just a recognition of the truth.

            Were I to meet him, I’d greet him as I would any other man.

            • Archpriest John W. Morris says

              That is correct. You can mutilate a body, but you cannot change the chromosomes that actually determine one’s sex. Nor can any amount of surgery enable a man to become pregnant and bear a child. Psychologists should concentrate on trying to help so called transgendered people accept themselves as they really are and drop the pretense that a man can be made into a woman or a woman into a man.

          • M. Stankovich says


            Obviously, I must defer to your ability to discern “the truth about their situation” from several postings on the internet. Holy Cow! It frequently takes me hours of intimate discussion and consideration. Secondly, I am more than impressed with your qualification to, first, diagnose psychosis (again, from afar), and apparently not being satisfied with the canonical definition, creating your own! Bravo! Marvelous, indeed! And hey, Mischa, trust me! There is no one who believes in telling the truth more than me: “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15)

            But I would ask you to re-read your message of “truth” to Clare, and compare it to the stark confrontation of Jesus and the young rich man: “Then, Jesus beholding him loved him [ἠγάπησεν αὐτὸν], and said unto him, One thing you lack: go your way, sell whatsoever you have, and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” (Mark 10:21) What is so surprisingly different in this account is the mention, “beholding him loved him.” Jesus literally knew the content of his heart, his lack of commitment, and his lack of faith. And the Scripture continues, “he went away grieved.” Jesus could have “negotiated” with him – “Give your possessions away piecemeal, but stay and learn” – but he did not. And ultimately, I conclude it was for this man salvation. But what would be your guess as to whether he felt welcome to return?

            This is exactly what is intended by the principle of “economy.” Read St. Chrysostom, St. John of Khronstadt, Archbishops Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Archbishop Anthony (Bloom), Archbishop Averky of Jordanville, and Fr. Thomas Hopko, all teachers of “pastors,” summarized by ArchBp. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) in “times far removed from the Time of Grace.” What did he mean? Economy is to accept for dialog the one who approaches, repentant or not, as they are. Where is the Lord found? Among the sinners:

            The Christ of the Eastern tradition is precisely the humiliated Christ, yet glorified exactly by his humiliation, by condescendence of his compassionate love. This emphasis on an existential compassion in the Eastern tradition sometimes seems exaggerated to Western observers— almost morbid. But it is just an implication of the basic feeling that the church is in the world rather as a hospital for the sick than as a hostel for the perfect. This feeling had always a very immediate impact on the whole social thinking in the East. The main emphasis was on a direct service to the poor and the needy, and not on elaborate schemes for an ideal society.

            Fr. Georges Florovsky, Christianity & Culture: The Social Problem in the Eastern Orthodox Church p. 13

            With next to no information – and despite being told the name of her bishop and that she has a spiritual father – you inserted yourself into a judgmental role she did not deserve. I stand by my recommendation that you apologize.

            • Well, thank you for your recommendation, Dr. Stankovitch. I’ll take it under advisement and get back to you.

        • Michael Bauman says

          BTW my spell checker changes Clare to Claire. I have to manually over ride. Easy to miss.

          • spellchick says

            use the spellchecker from here on the Monomachos which does not turn Clare into Clair

  12. Nate Trost says

    Oh, the blood it boils, deep breaths. The only way I can calmly respond to a statement like this:

    Now, it is impossible for me to believe that your Orthodoxy is any deeper than your ethnicity or some shallow spirituality if you choose to self-identify as “transsexual”

    Is to say, who am I going to bet on perhaps forgoing the possibility of eternal life: Clare, who has undergone existential crisis beyond anything you can possibly comprehend and probably has a far, far greater understanding of the need for grace then you will ever attain in your “spiritual life”, or you? Hint: After that post I’d lay better odds on her making it with a resurrected body matching up with the gender she identifies with than you making it at all, period. And really, your conflation of the issue of gender identity with that of “same-sex attraction” is just disgusting.

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Well, this is the problem, isn’t it?

      Just where do you get that resurrected gender-identified body stuff, exactly? Seriously, what is the source of it?

      After all, we can’t just make this stuff up, can we? Your “blood boils”…is that to be our authority?

      “Existential crisis”? Say no more!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Tim, I think your answer highlights the fundamental nihilism at the root of sodomy and its modern ideological iteration which is the plasticity of gender. We see for instance how Tolerance cannot tolerate “intolerance” for one thing. That reminds me of the quote by Evelyn Waugh: “We are distracted from distraction by Distraction.”

      • Nate Trost says

        If, according to religious principle, the created ideal for a human person is either male or female, then are you seriously going to suggest to me that a person born for instance, in a hermaphrodite state would be resurrected as such? Surely not! What we do not like to admit, is that in the world we live in, fetal development can have complications both in physical and neurological development to a range of degree of severity. This has consequences. Considering the suicide rates of individuals struggling with gender identity issues that don’t transition, I think existential crisis is more than appropriate.

        modern ideological iteration which is the plasticity of gender.

        Irony: You bemoan a cultural blending of gender concepts while casually tossing out slurs at a tiny subset of people that really concretely believe in distinct actualization of male and female.

        We see for instance how Tolerance cannot tolerate “intolerance” for one thing.

        No matter how much you dislike or disagree with the man, you would never have titled your Bloomberg Essay “Mike the (rhyming Jewish slur): Do I as Say Not As I Do Edition”. Yet here we have “Stan the Tran” and I repeat, when confronted on this by a person who was personally insulted and hurt, you didn’t apologize but dug in. I’m not going to throw around PC terms, I’m just going to call your behavior indistinguishable from that of a giant rectal orifice.

        The blood boils because what Misha’s comment edited down and condensed ultimately reduces to is:

        “How dare you, don’t you dare think you actually belong to the same religion as me you hell-bound psychotic pervert.”

    • Seraphim98 says

      Disgusting to some perhaps, but accurate nonetheless. If you are born a boy and are sexually attracted to the same, the additional matter of feeling all girly inside is irrelevant, that just makes you flaming. Unless you are a genetically messed up at a very deep level (hermaphroditism, extra x or y chromosomes, etc.) then you are in modern parlance homosexual (you like your same sex romantically). Surgery to look more girly and a round of hormones is just mutilation and drugs, and what you are is not the sex you wanted to be, what you are is a eunuch who acts girly and wears female clothing.

      Granted this presents unique pastoral challenges for the repentant eunuch and his priest, but those can be worked out with the Bishop’s help (assuming a good Bishop of course).

  13. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

    9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    St. Paul and the Holy Spirit often make the blood boil of those who are offended by the truth.

  14. Fr George Washburn says

    This thread is an example of what you get when you start with an editorial that seeks to score a few cheap points on a hot button issue.

  15. Boiling blood, perversion, enabling and self delusion are all very fascinating; however, can’t we get back to Massie and Akhmatova? That was much more edifying. Perversion is best dealt with in confession and pastoral counseling and with ones therapist.

    I read Akhmatova last year and was truly impressed with her feelings regarding her experience of persecution. Stan is pretty far to the left and has the same problem facing the reality of communism that most on the left do – – its unspeakably evil operation in the world.

    “Holodomor” is Ukrainian for “death by starvation”, where the Bolsheviks created an artificial famine that killed millions in the Ukraine and which Western liberals denied ever took place. Recall Stalin’s purges (millions killed) and Krushchev’s persecution of the Church (he was worse in some ways than Stalin, at one point he had the Church reduced to only 500 active parishes; there were 7000 when the Soviet Union collapsed, down from almost 60,000 before the Revolution).

    Even Lenin who seems to enjoy a bit of a better reputation among contemporary Russians (perhaps due to the NEP, which only dictated that the “commanding heights” of production be socialized) admitted in his own writings that he was personally responsible for the execution of at least 200,000 people. During the entire reign of Nicholas II, just under 5000 were executed, mostly in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1905.

    Stan’s moral sense of politics and history is what is truly revolting, his personal issues aside.

  16. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Why is it that discussions like this always end up revealing more of the inner disposition of our own souls than the rightness or wrongness of a particular “condition”? I suppose there is little doubt that a transexual/gender change operation is not good by the standards of our faith. But how bad or sinful it is in comparison to the self-righteousness and meanness of spirit that has been shown by some here will be determined by One only.

    It might have been better just to have left this one alone and let BM do his/her thing. After all, most readers (and many of us flock to see what she/he has to say–either for entertainment or for “news”) know the editorial slant coming out of Voices from Russia. On the other hand, the exposition of some of our own ugliness here really isn’t very enlightening. If the topic is simply the wrong headedness of trying to combine Communism with the Monarchy, then a good social, political, and religious argument may be had. If it is to engage in personal attacks on an unfortunate person and others who may turn up in his or her defense (or to speak of their own suffering) then it is not a good thing at all.

  17. All are Called says

    Metropolitan Jonah
    Spiritual Studies #8

  18. Metropolitan Jonah a week ago talks about his trip to England and an inter-jurisdictional program he would like to copy in this hemisphere. The program is held on the areaup the steps and before entering the church of St. John the Baptist and there are a lot of normal summer sounds as background sound

    • Thanks for bringing these talks to my attention. Metropolitan Jonah has many wise and illuminating things to say. I started with Part I and am half through Part 2. I’ll watch the whole series. It’s a little slow for the first few minutes, but stick with it.

      • I’ve been looking at them and listening to them( since some are on tape turned into MP3 files). This is not your normal parish enquirers class 101. These seem to be fore people who have been Orthodox a good while. I wonder how they would be for a catechumen, for example, for they are deep, like you say. For the present series you are supposed to read the newer Metropolitan Hilarion book. Let me see if I can find a link.

        He also has mentioned Margaret Barker, who I had never heard of before. You can read about her here

        I think iI will either email the Metropolitan and ask what of her’s we should consider reading or wait to explore her corpus after the Orthodoxy as a Spiritual Discipline aka Orthodoxy 101 series is over, if it is ever over. What I like about the videos that Luke Wales has been making is that you can hear the discussions and interaction and go over parts a couple times easily.

        I am not suggesting that Amazon is the best place to buy this book. Use one of the seminary bookstores. TGhe one at Holy Trinity Monastery in Herkimer NY is great and the staff very helpful.

  19. The remarks of clergy above do bring to mind a relevant point. Sometimes a tension develops between the clergy and laity on the question of whether someone who chooses to live an unrepentantly sinful lifestyle should be welcomed and on what terms.

    Two things I’ve encountered are the cases where a layperson who has a family member who is openly gay doesn’t understand why they are denied communion. The other situation is when the clergy wish to treat an openly evil lifestyle “pastorally” and admit the person to communion anyway.

    The first situation is the less concerning. Often it is a situation where both the layperson and their relative are “ethnic Orthodox” (Greek, Russian, etc.) and the tension can be managed by the priest and his bishop. Usually there’s not any widespread rebellion but a small hit to stewardship may result.

    Unfortunately, the other situation, where the clergy are not concerned about the integrity of the Orthodox witness of the parish or the Church as a whole, but are instead concerned with revenues (to put it bluntly) requires the laity to step in and “intervene”. They may need to draw the line with the person or “vote with their feet”. Clergy have a conflict of interest of sorts on this issue. Bigger flock, more money in the coffers.

    • M. Stankovich says


      The remarks of the clergy should point out to you – in a rather dramatic fashion – that what you seem incapable of grasping here is that Clare specifically indicated the name of her bishop and that she has a spiritual father who is not you. End of story.

      The Patristic Fathers seemed quite satisfied with the instruction of St. Paul:

      I am a minister [διάκονος] according to the economy [οἰκονομίαν] of God which is given to me for you [εἰς ὑμᾶς] to complete the word of God (Col. 1:25).

      What is meant here? The Fathers speak of the intimate relationship between a confessor & spiritual father, literally, in the analogy of marriage. And you would refer to this as “a conflict of interest?” If you find yourself “frustrated” or exasperated by a lack of “action” or chastizement, or the raucous “intervention” to which you apparently demand, I say do not focus on the those St. Chrysostom indicates as anointed as “higher than the angels and archangels themselves,” and who will answer to God for their pastoral ministry, but examine your arrogance & pride as the source.

      You imposed yourself into a relationship where you are clearly an intruder and without standing. Shall we all email you a transcript of our confessions for your inspection, in case our compromised “pastors” might have missed something? Your “position” seems to evolve from the odd, to the creepy, to the patently offensive with each new “muse.” I believe you’ve made your point, and let’s hope the Tigers can hold on to first place…

      • “You imposed yourself into a relationship where you are clearly an intruder and without standing.”

        Clare lit into George for criticizing another he-she. I don’t need “standing” to comment. But I will, as before, take your recommendations under advisement and get back with you.

        Thank you so much for your input, Dr. Stankovitch.

      • Guy Westover says

        Dr S,
        Excellent points.
        (Am I agreeing with you? Hmmm. Note to self. Check hell for ice water.)

        You know some of these clergy need to keep check on the liberal bishops like His Grace George of Mayfield (that’s sarcasm for those who have trouble recognizing it.) Showing too much compassion will only open the flood gates for all the wretched sinners. Next thing we know we will be surrounded by sinners. (and liberals who love them!) Liberals and sinners and (fill in the blank) OH MY!

        • I’m quite happy if all manner of sinners make their way to church. I just hope they get to hear the truth when they get there and are expected to mend their ways rather than mock Christ and consume the Gifts to their condemnation.

      • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

        You imposed yourself into a relationship where you are clearly an intruder and without standing.

        Here we have yet another example of how completely irrational Michael Stankovich can be when the subject is sodomy. Clare interjects himself into a public forum, brags about his transsexuality, shames others for their disapproval, and effectively claims the support and approval of his priest if not also his bishop, yet Stankovich accuses Misha of interposing himself between Clare and his confessor.

        This one ranks right up there with Stankovich’s repeated insistence that same-sex attraction and same-sex sex are “mutually exclusive,” an absurdity he has still never admitted.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you Deacon, for pointing out the obvious.

          If I may, do we now see how insidious the sodomy movement is? All I did was write an essay proving that Lenin ordered the execution of the Tsar and that pre-Bolshevik Russia was not the economic hell-hole that liberal fantasists have long told us it was in order to justify its brutality. And what happens? a provocateur who calls himself a transsexual hijacks the entire thread and makes it entirely about himself.

          Narcissism? A pretty darn good imitation of it, wouldn’t you say?

          • Guy Westover says

            All I did was write an essay proving that Lenin ordered the execution of the Tsar and that pre-Bolshevik Russia was not the economic hell-hole that liberal fantasists have long told us it was in order to justify its brutality.

            Mr. Michalopulos,

            The title of you post is inflammatory. The first paragraph in your post is inflammatory. Using words and phrases like “Stan the tran” “ex-man” are words that incite hate. As I wrote to you privately, your article would have more merit had you played Detective Joe Friday and stuck to “just the facts.”

            But alas, perhaps this is how a blogger keeps the ratings up? Then that would make you and BMD more alike than either of you would ever admit.

            May God have mercy on us all!

            Guy Westover
            Viera FL

            • Guy,

              I’m not sure that “hate” is the right word. Besides, it’s become utterly cliche to talk about “hate speech”. No one really pays much attention anymore except those who claim to see it everywhere.

              What seems a bit more accurate to me is that George’s methods of referring to Drezhlo were poking fun at Drezhlo’s proclivities and projected self-image as if to say, “Are we really supposed to take anything he/she/it says seriously?”. “Hate” is less apt a description than “ridicule”.

              To me, this is fair game. Profoundly screwed up on one facet of life, possibly/probably screwed up in others. I mean, I’m sure that a gay advocate who experiences homosexual attraction is more likely to see, for example, the biblical attitude toward homosexuality as a “liberal Christian” would since that gives them the leeway they need to be both “Christian” and a practicing homosexual.

              Does this inspire Drezhlo’s attitude regarding the Soviet Union and the royal family’s murder? Who can say? Drezhlo definitely has a soft spot for Marxist-Leninism. He also realizes how near and dear the Romanov’s are to many Russians, especially pious ones. His sympathies toward the left and vicious hatred of the right would be in line with his “orientation”. I can see how exonerating Lenin for the murder of the Romanov’s fits into his politics which dovetail nicely with his perversion. I don’t think there is a direct connection though.

              But really, do you need some type of license or permit to make fun of perverts? If he liked sheep and the headline was that Drezhlo thinks that Lenin wasn’t so “baa-aa-aa-aa-aad” would we be having this same little discussion? Doubtful. So far, bestiality is neither a constitutional right nor elicits liberal sympathy, but give it time.

        • M. Stankovich says

          The subject is not sodomy, Deacon Cafone. It is about a woman who “if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk. 15:9) Likewise, It is about the shepherd who fearlessly leaves the ninety-nine to search for single sheep who is lost, and “when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Lk. 15:6) And it is also about a father who believed his most beloved younger son was dead or lost forever, and upon discovering his son’s alive & returned cries out in the joy only a father can know, “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.” (Lk. 15:32)

          Thankfully, you are so transparently self-righteous that no one of good-will would mistake you for a pastor.

          • George Michalopulos says

            All well and good Dr S except for the fact that this essay had nothing to do with transsexualism and everything to do with who was responsible for the murder of the glorious Tsar-martyr. Plus, I think it’s tedious for you to talk about the spiritual mentor relationship involved here as the person who wrote this clearly doesn’t feel he did anything wrong. My guess is that those who have jumped into the fray to criticize Dn Mitchell pretty much feel the same way as well.

            At this point, I’m going to shut down further discussion on this tangent. I would like everyone to please be aware that only those comments which are germane to the murder of Nicholas, the Bolshevik regime, and Stan’s overall idiocy in this regard will be honored. Thank you.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Come on, Mr. Michalopulos. man up! It was you who introduced the whole issue to begin with: “Stan the Tran Gets Called Out,” “asserted by Stan the eX-Man,” which induced an observation from Mischa in the very first observation of the thread! Mr. Trost challenged you here and I challenged you here for introducing this issue which had no bearing whatsoever as to the issue of the New Martyrs of Russia. You would now blame others for your error? Sleep now in the fire. And I suggest you carefully weigh the albatross of Deacon Mitchell before stretching out your neck…

              • geo michalopulos says

                I’ll concede the point that I “started” it in someway by using the locution Stan the Tran. But that’s as far as it went. If Stan were a troubadour, a bull-fighter, or an interior decorator and they were the sum total of his self-identity, I’d have probably used those words to call him out as well.

                Once I used those words, no other mention was made of them. None. I delved right into the substance of his scatological ideology and I eviscerated them with the truth. Clare chose to reinsert sodomy/transexualism into the debate, not me.

                As for Dn Mitchell, the OCA could use a few more “albatrosses” like him in its ranks. Instead, we are increasing left with empty suits (and fewer bishops).

                As for “sleeping on the fire,” if the Good Lord chooses to have me do so, I pray for the strength to endure.

                I will thank Clare though since, after a fashion, he has single-handedly shown us the extent that narcissism has penetrated our culture. How the “political became the personal,” in that an essay on the murder of the Tsar became a forum for transsexualism. Is this not madness?

                • Archpriest Andrei Alexiev says

                  Dr.Stankovich ignores the fact(and please correct me or censure me if I am mistaken) that the deacon denied Holy Communion to a woman or was it two women who openly advertised the fact that they were joined together in the SACREMENT of marriage.So unless the deacon posted a false wedding announcement,we are led to the conclusion that the women’s spiritual father a.)recognised the “sacrement” performed on these two women in some non-Orthodox church or b.)he or some cleric actually performed some sort of ceremony on the women in question.
                  You do not like a deacon turning someone away from the Chalice?Do not give him the authority to distribute the Holy Mysteries then.It’s really that simple.A spiritual father who blesses people living in a sinful relationship to commune is not being the good shepherd,I do not care how many Masters or Doctorates in Theology he may have.Fr.John Morris is right,we did not ask for this fight,but it has reached us.

                  I myself had issues over giving the Holy Mysteries to someone,but it had nothing to do with a same-sex marriage.A young Orthodox man married a Hindu woman in a civil ceremony.He made no attempt even to try to convert her to Christianity,let alone Orthodoxy.I couldn’t commune him per order of my ROCOR bishop.You know which OCA bishop agreed with me?The late Archbishop Job,in a phone conversation summer of 2008,told me I had every right to guard the chalice.That”s why I will defend his memory,despite what shortcomings he may have had.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Fr. Andrei,

                    εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος!

                    I have never met you, but from simply reading your responses, I have great respect for you. I have no intention of revisiting this issue of which you mention, and you may trust that I have purposely “ignored” nothing in formulating my comment to Deacon Mitchell.

                    I would simply note to you, that in the pastoral situation you described in your own parish, not only did you discuss the matter with your own bishop, to whom you serve in obedience, but you likewise discussed it openly with a second bishop, whose advice you valued. This, in my opinion, is what a wise pastor does pursuant to the instruction 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)

                    Secondly, I cannot imagine that, if seeing that man in the communion line, you would not do something, as a pastor, to prevent a “scene” or a scandal from developing, or simply allowing this man to be embarrassed before the congregation (e.g. sending someone to tell him, “Fr. asks you not to come to communion now, but would like to speak with you and your wife immediately after the liturgy is concluded”).

                    And finally, God forbid, if the bishop to whom you serve in obedience directly instructed you to communion this man “and we will deal with this later, as it is my responsibility as your bishop,” you would have acted in obedience or outright recused yourself: “I cannot do this do against my conscience.” But instead say nothing in opposition or be disobedient in defiance of the bishop’s order. I cannot accept you are such a man. Pastors are men of conscience. And this is why I respect you.

                    • Doesn’t the Church have enough busybodies telling bishops, priests, and deacons what to do?

                    • Any good priest knows how to turn a person away from the chalice gracefully without making a scene. This goes on all time. This is a weak argument on Stankovich part. With Dn. Mitchel it was gracefully done as witnessed by persons in line right behind the woman.

                      Thank you Archpriest Alexiev for your response here and upholding the faith.

                      I also want to add that because these women’s marriages were known and they were in “good standing in the Church”- ie they were taking communion– many people were led astray and believed that SSM was accepted by the Church as “a good thing”.
                      So you damn the sinners by your thinking Stank and lead astray many many more . . . .

                  • Thomas Jones says

                    I doubt whether any Orthodox Church recognized or conducted any marriage blessing between two homosexuals. A deacon serves at the will of the priest and the priest serves at the will of his bishop. A deacon can’t carte blanche decide who he will or will not commune. Holy Communion is never given to a non-Orthodox; knowingly. Although the Antiochians commune Copts, Melkites, etc. Homosexuals who have announced their union and parade around in an Orthodox community doing so, become a problematic issue for the priest. The Church cannot accept this behavior as normal & usual. Communing such a couple is a mockery of Christ. Yet, even Judas sat and ate with Jesus & His other disciples before betraying Him.

                    • The deacon serves under the bishop, he does not serve under the priest.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      Mr. Jones
                      You have been misinformed. Atiochians do not commune non Orthodox. Copts are only communed if they make a profession of the Orthodox Faith and become Orthodox, as provided in Canon 95 of the Council of Trullo. Melkites are required to convert to Orthodoxy. About 20 years ago a woman came to see my Church. She told that she wanted to attend the Liturgy and take Communion. I asked her if she was Orthodox and she told me that she was a Melkite. I told her that I could not give her Holy Communion. She launched into a tirade about how intolerant the Orthodox are and said, “I told Metropolitan Philip the same thing last week in Boston when he refused to give me Communion.” About 10 or 15 years ago, the Melkites unilaterally declared themselves in Communion with us claiming to be Orthodox in Communion with Rome. The Holy Synod of Antioch held an emergency meeting and informed the Melkites that they were not in Communion with us and that since they are under Rome any restoration of Communion would have to be part of a restoration of Communion of Rome with the whole Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Philip sent a letter to be read from the Altar and printed in the Sunday bulletin explaining to the people that non Orthodox including Melkites cannot take Communion in the Orthodox Church and that Orthodox Christians may not take Communion outside of the Orthodox Church. If I do not know someone who approaches the Chalice, I always ask them if they are Orthodox and tell those who are not that they cannot take Communion. Sometimes people argue with me, but they are the ones making the scene not me. A few weeks ago, I was at the counter at a drug store. The man before me turned to me and began to berate me in front of everyone telling me that I am not Christ like, because I refused him Communion several years ago because he is not Orthodox. We have a statement in every pew stating that only Orthodox Christians in good standing who have prepared by prayer, recent Confession and fasting may receive Holy Communion. If I had a deacon serving with me and he gave Communion, I certainly would expect him to refuse Communion to non Orthodox or those flaunting their immoral life style.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      You presume too much here. Speaking as someone who is in the health profession myself, I always feel better when I err on the side of caution. If in doubt, it’s best withhold services. Moreover, your analogy about Judas communing with Jesus is accurate as far as it goes, but what exactly is your point?

                    • Heracleides says

                      Priest Morris: “You have been misinformed. Atiochians do not commune non Orthodox. Copts are only communed if they make a profession of the Orthodox Faith and become Orthodox, as provided in Canon 95 of the Council of Trullo.”

                      Nonsense – I know of (and have witnessed with my own eyes on multiple occasions) at least one Antiochian parish in the western US where Coptic and Syrian Oriental Orthodox are openly communed with the priest’s full knowledge and consent.

                    • To all,

                      Some Antiochian priests do allow communion of Catholics. Here’ s the story:

                      In the Middle East, apparently due to shared trauma, it is not uncommon for Arab Greek-Catholics and Greek Orthodox to commune. I have met couples from over there who don’t understand why our Greek priest won’t commune either the husband or the wife because it’s a mixed Orthodox-Catholic marriage and the Catholic spouse cannot receive. In their homeland, either would be allowed to commune in either an Orthodox or Greek Catholic church. Our priest asked a local Arab Antiochian priest about this and he says he just finally gave in and allowed it because he simply couldn’t make them understand. Our priest is firm on this though.

                      So it goes on.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      To Heracleides

                      How do you know for sure that they did not make an Orthodox Profession of Faith and Confession? Canon 95 of Trullo only requires that Oriental Orthodox make a Profession of Faith and Confession. They do not have to be Chrismated or Baptized like other converts.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Priest Morris: “How do you know for sure that they did not make an Orthodox Profession of Faith and Confession? “

                      I know because Fr. X, priest of the parish, told me they had not converted to “Eastern Orthodoxy” but remained Coptic and/or Syrian “Oriental Orthodox” – he further stated that if any Ethiopian Oriental Orthodox should decide to attend divine liturgy at St. X, he would commune them as well. Now, said priest did not trumpet this practice from the solea, but he certainly was not shy in discussing the practice in other settings (our conversation pertaining to this practice took place during coffee hour with several other parishioners present).

                      Now, you will most likely claim that this is simply the behavior of a ‘lone-wolf’ priest gone off the Englewood/Damascus reservation but I have heard of similar practice at far to many other Antiochian parishes in North America (and elsewhere for that matter – including the middle-east) to buy into that fig-leaf of an excuse. The communing of Oriental Orthodox does happen at some Antiochian parishes; those who pretend otherwise are simply naïve at best or willfully bind at worst.

                    • Archpriest John W. Morris says

                      I am quite sure that there are priests in every jurisdiction that do not follow the rules as strictly as they should. There was a time, not that long ago, when most Orthodox Bishops in America including Greek and OCA told their clergy to treat Oriental Orthodox who did not have a Church of their own as Orthodox as an act of economy. During Communism, even Moscow Communed Roman Catholics who did not have a nearby Roman Catholic Church. Now that there are more Oriental Orthodox here, we have become stricter. I have heard Metropolitan Philip lecture his clergy more than once that we are forbidden to Commune non Orthodox.

          • Wrong analogy Stankovich!

            In the current parable, the sheep calls himself a donkey and does NOT want to be rescued by the Lord. As a matter of fact the “donkey” forsakes the truth and abandons the moral laws and teaching of God and curses those who tell him he really is a sheep and not a donkey. This sheep voluntarily chooses not to be found and persists in his delusion that he’s a donkey and demands that God and all the other sheep accept him as a donkey.

            • M. Stankovich says

              In the case of human infirmities, it is not easy in the first place for a man to discern them, for no man “knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him.” (1 Cor. 2:11) How then can any one apply the remedy for the disease of which he does not know the character, often indeed being unable to understand it even should he happen to sicken with it himself? And even when it becomes manifest, it causes him yet more trouble: for it is not possible to doctor all men with the same authority with which the shepherd treats his sheep. For in this case also it is necessary to bind and to restrain from food, and to use cautery or the knife: but the reception of the treatment depends on the will of the patient, not of him who applies the remedy. For this also was perceived by that wonderful man (St. Paul) when he said to the Corinthians— “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” (2 Cor. 1:24) For Christians above all men are not permitted forcibly to correct the failings of those who sin. Secular judges indeed, when they have captured malefactors under the law, show their authority to be great, and prevent them even against their will from following their own devices: but in our case the wrong-doer must be made better, not by force, but by persuasion. For neither has authority of this kind for the restraint of sinners been given us by law, nor, if it had been given, should we have any field for the exercise of our power, inasmuch as God rewards those who abstain from evil by their own choice, not of necessity. Consequently much skill is required that our patients may be induced to submit willingly to the treatment prescribed by the physicians, and not only this, but that they may be grateful also for the cure. For if any one when he is bound becomes restive (which it is in his power to be), he makes the mischief worse; and if he should pay no heed to the words which cut like steel, he inflicts another wound by means of this contempt, and the intention to heal only becomes the occasion of a worse disorder. For it is not possible for any one to cure a man by compulsion against his will.

              What then is one to do? For if you deal too gently with him who needs a severe application of the knife, and do not strike deep into one who requires such treatment, you remove one part of the sore but leave the other: and if on the other hand you make the requisite incision unsparingly, the patient, driven to desperation by his sufferings, will often fling everything away at once, both the remedy and the bandage, and throw himself down headlong, “breaking the yoke and bursting the band.” I could tell of many who have run into extreme evils because the due penalty of their sins was exacted. For we ought not, in applying punishment, merely to proportion it to the scale of the offense, but rather to keep in view the disposition of the sinner, lest while wishing to mend what is torn, you make the rent worse, and in your zealous endeavors to restore what is fallen, you make the ruin greater. For weak and careless characters, addicted for the most part to the pleasures of the world, and having occasion to be proud on account of birth and position, may yet, if gently and gradually brought to repent of their errors, be delivered, partially at least, if not perfectly, from the evils by which they are possessed: but if any one were to inflict the discipline all at once, he would deprive them of this slight chance of amendment. For when once the soul has been forced to put off shame it lapses into a callous condition, and neither yields to kindly words nor bends to threats, nor is susceptible of gratitude, but becomes far worse than that city which the prophet reproached, saying, “you had the face of a harlot, refusing to be ashamed before all men.” (Jer. 3:3) Therefore the pastor has need of much discretion, and of a myriad eyes to observe on every side the habit of the soul. For as many are uplifted to pride, and then sink into despair of their salvation, from inability to endure severe remedies, so are there some, who from paying no penalty equivalent to their sins, fall into negligence, and become far worse, and are impelled to greater sins. It behooves the priest therefore to leave none of these things unexamined, but, after a thorough inquiry into all of them, to apply such remedies as he has appositely to each case, lest his zeal prove to be in vain. And not in this matter only, but also in the work of knitting together the severed members of the Church, one can see that he has much to do.

              St. Chrysostom, On the Priesthood, Book II, 3

              Quite obviously, friend Centurian, neither you, nor Deacon Mitchell, nor Misha, are pastors responsible to God for such critical and magnanimous decisions. I, on the other hand, am not stupid enough to even dare impose myself. My thought: the word & Tradition of the Fathers is clear and unequivocal. Shut up.

              • George Michalopulos says

                But you haveinterposed yourself Dr. You have condemned a clergyman for doing his job. More your considerable intellect has been used to further confuse innocent people by muddying the waters further. The issue now (or at least in some peoples’ minds) is, was the Deacon wrong for withholding the Chalice, no is it wrong to commune sodomites who have openly declared their sin?

                • This is what is so dangerous with people like Stankovich. He continues to support an argument that the Orthodox do not support-even his own Jurisdiction has made a statement on it, but he cloaks it in others words-out of context. And then he confuses what the deacon did and what the role of the deacon is –he was not even there and yet feels he knows the truth of it. He was not there to see the young and old alike confuse the issue. And because of a certain priest’s belief the situation was made explosive, when it could have been easily handled. People who hold to Stankovich’s thinking do not help those who are struggling with this particular sin, rather they embed them more into the societies current and most likely temporary belief that this sin is who and what they are. They are not helping people turn to Christ to help transform themselves, rather they accept this identity and are confirmed in helplessness. I’ve read many an article at this point that denies the term “homosexuality”. The Article I posted in part earlier goes into this.
                  There is another way, it has been tried and true, but not all accept it. That’s where choice comes in. Do you believe in the transformation of the heart and mind Stankovich? Because really what I see in your words is that you are struggling with disbelief. It makes you elusive and unclear and perhaps nastier than necessary . . . ..

                  • M. Stankovich says


                    The last time this issue of the DC cathedral arose, I specifically stated I had made my point and I would not comment again. True to my word, I have not, and I will not raise this issue again. My recent response to Dn. Mitchell were regarding charity, mercy, accepting people as they present themselves, and leaving pastoral decisions to pastors. Period.

                    As to your further point, if there is some compelling reason you or anyone feels “narcotized” or driven against their will or intention to accept my commentary or observations as true beyond or contrary to their better judgement – such as I am an internet Rasputin – then you or anyone else needs to forthright and specific. I have said from my first posting here and everywhere: if I am in error scientifically or in contradiction to the Orthodox Faith, correct me. How, exactly, could I be more transparent or more clear?

                    On the other hand, I am a trained and qualified researcher and scientist, purposely cautious, purposely skeptical, as well as a seminary graduate, joining with the opinion of those who taught me, and those who taught them. You come across a random article on the internet – the link for which is broken – the excerpt of which I read and find patently ridiculous – “homosexuality” is a contrivance; and patently obvious that I would find it ridiculous. So what would you have me do? Argue with you? Rail at you & accuse you of purposely “baiting” me? Purposely insulting my intelligence? My choice? Say nothing and let anyone in good faith decide for themselves. What do you propose?

                    As to your final point, I, again, repeat myself for I cannot imagine how many times: can homosexuals “change,” meaning “re-orient” themselves and successfully live their lives as functional heterosexuals? I have no idea. From the outset I have said thanks be to God for each and every person who has been delivered by whatever means they have been delivered. Likewise, I believe the research is clear that a sub-set with a strong genetic & epigenetic influence deserve specific pastoral care. Beyond that I have no idea, and I would add, neither does anyone else.

                    The majority – the vast majority – of the claims you make of my “false teachings” are simply a matter of not reading what I have actually written. You accuse me of positions I neither hold nor believe.

                    • Michael S.,
                      I will refer to the Cathedral and the Dn’s involvement there for as long as you allude to it. You don’t want to read me on it-don’t talk about it, don’t allude to it and try to change the story while you are at it. My comment was indeed referring to your former comments and current alluding all in one. Clearly I was not the only one who went there . . .
                      Your second and 3rd paragraphs contradict themselves. You want me to be forthright and specific in how you go against Orthodox teachings and yet you yourself are not giving forthright and specific argument to my recent posting on “Homosexuality”, other than to say you find it “patently ridiculous”. . . some argument . . . . You said you didn’t read the whole of it-well I posted the whole thing, so now you no excuse.
                      Your last point-You don’t know how many times a person can change? Well I hope only once! I know many people who have changed and married or who have decided to be celibate/monastic. We have more than one choice in life-Thank God! However as far as research being clear-I’d say it’s far from it. We have only just begun. Scientists don’t agree -the twin research is case in point for genetics research!

                      As for your last paragraph-you tell me-what am I accusing you of believing?

                    • M. Stankovich says


                      It seems impossible to impress on you the discipline involved in pursuing any form of research, particularly medical science. There are certain issues in psychiatry, one for example, “prodromal” parents of children with schizophrenia – sharing every aspect of the disorder (genetic loading, blunt affect, concrete thinking, etc.) except psychosis – that fascinate me. Do you know how many scientific articles are generated each year regarding this topic? Hundreds, often thousands; too many to actually read, and probably too many are not even pertinent to me. All come with abstracts, so I can quickly scan for what “seems” to be what I’m looking for. I have mentioned here many times, Occam’s Razor as a means of cutting to the chase, a medical differential diagnosis, allowing for all the possibilities, yet focusing on the probabilities. This is the discipline and the art. I read the article you posted from beginning to end – and I’ve read plenty in the same vein – and I find the argument ridiculous. Would I dismiss what I know of the latest science based on the his assertion the “label” homosexual arrived late to world vocabular? That’s ridiculous.

                      Secondly, I reiterate Fr. Hopko as to what the Fathers would change if they had access to genetic and biomedical information we have availble now: “Nothing.” Why? Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote to a biologist in a debate of evolution: “Of course we now know infinitely more about science than the Holy Fathers. They were terribly mistaken about many things scientific [and I could specifically refer you to St. John of Damascus, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and St. Maximus the Confessor who spoke of the classic Greek anthropology of their time].” But importantly, he emphasizes that “we do not look to the Holy Fathers to learn about science; we look to them to learn true theology.”

                      All of this being said, I have maintained that I present nothing that is in contradiction to the theology of the Church. In fact, science that contradicts the theology and Tradition of the Church would necessarily be gravely wrong, as science in nothing more than insight, articulation, and revelation of the creation and of its Creator, and into the disaster that is our fallen nature and our broken world. And please don’t accuse me of being dogmatic in that I have never said the research is “clear,” “settled,” “undeniable,” or even “undeniable.” At best, the evidence is “moderate,” meaning it is above the threshold of “more likely than not,” and certainly cannot be ignored.

                      As to your last point, any research into “stigmatizing” human states are an epidemiological disaster to measure with any certainty. My series discusses the problems and the history of “re-orientation therapies.” I know several people who live in “re-orientated” lives, but they are clear that it is not heterosexuality as you or I experience it. I know many more individuals – mainly clergy – who live in chastity. As far as I am concerned, we have no “pastoral plan,” and if this blog is reflective of anything, even in repentance, persons with same-sex attraction seem barely tolerated. Fr. Schmemann wrote in his journal:

                      “I think what matters most is the sense of a dead end, of insatiable thirst which cannot be transformed into life. At the end, there is not only a wall but a mirror. In the fallen world, everything strictly sexual is ugly, distorted, base. In a ‘normal’ human being, there is at least the possibility of transforming the ugliness and thus eliminating it. For homosexuals, this possibility, this promise, this appeal, this door—do not exist.”

                      I was having lunch with my brother recently, discussing the SCOTUS decisions, and he looked at me at one point and said, “You are telling me that the Church is actually telling an 18-year old gay kid you must live alone and celibate for the rest of your life?” He’s not one for church…

                    • Stankovish-this is to your entry August 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm- no repy button ..

                      You state” Would I dismiss what I know of the latest science based on the his assertion the “label” homosexual arrived late to world vocabular? That’s ridiculous.

                      Just so you know, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the earliest usage here-
                      “1892 C. G. Chaddock tr. R. von Krafft-Ebing Psychopathia Sexualis iii. 255 He had been free from homo-sexual inclinations.”
                      Not just his assertion . . .

              • “Quite obviously, friend Centurian, neither you, nor Deacon Mitchell, nor Misha, are pastors responsible to God for such critical and magnanimous decisions. I, on the other hand, am not stupid enough to even dare impose myself.”

                Not impose yourself? Are you serious? Your contempt for Deacon Mitchell is as thick as sludge.

                Men who are neither bishop, priest, or deacon often think they know best how to be one.

                • M. Stankovich says


                  Perhaps you have taken notice that this is the internet? The normal social & behavioural “filters” and restraints that would ordinarily (read that as “in real life”) prevent every id-provoked urge that enters one’s flow of thought from ever seeing the light of day (read that as “wisdom, prudence, restraint, maturity,” even “fear of negative consequence”) are missing because this is the internet. Get it? I don’t have contempt for Deacon Mitchell; I’ve never met the man. But his behaviour is contemptible.

              • Stankovitch,

                I am not ashamed of the Gospel. Part of the Gospel is that homosexual sexual activity and cross-gender identification is an abomination and prohibited by Scripture. We can have that discussion if you wish but I have no doubts about St. Paul’s words.

                Now, if you are ashamed of these words, fine. Hold your peace. But if “Clare”‘s bishop has been doing his duty, he has already heard this. So I’m not saying anything that should be offensive. If not, he needs to hear it because it is the truth and his soul is in danger if he disregards it. It is not possible for a practicing homosexual to be in good stead with the Church, nor an abortionist, nor an adulterer, etc. Repentance is necessary.

                You might keep in mind the old Sicilian saying, “Don’t demand what you can’t take”. If you want to shut yourself up that’s fine. No one else is going to pay attention when you tell them to do so. It just makes you look impotent.

                • M. Stankovich says


                  This is my final word on the matter: as someone who ministers to some of the most loathsome individuals that humanity manages to generate – in prisons and among the persistently mentally ill, homeless and on the streets – I can tell you because of mental illness, chemical dependency, and histories of abuse that cry out to heaven, they fall into circumstances that are beyond imagination. Yet some manage to return, and in that return are forced to face the consequence of their actions. And some turn to the Church as the only place they have ever heard of compassion. They literally do not know how to repent, but having lived as rejected and loathed, their sense of judgment is acute. And I offer you Gustave Flaubert’s The Legend of Saint-Julian the Hospitaller.

                  • Perfect, Stankovitch! I’ll marry “Clare” and go directly to heaven (where all crusading Hospitaller’s go, I suppose). Wait, that would be a ticket to hell, wouldn’t it?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Well said, Centurion.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Michalopulos,

                I have made no comment regarding this “situation” with Deacon Mitchell, only responding to his comment that I am “irrational” for suggesting that a pastoral relationship is beyond the scrutiny and qualification of mediocre “theologians” and, by Scripture and Tradition, the responsibility of those anointed by God to manage them:

                I am a minister [διάκονος] according to the economy [οἰκονομίαν] of God which is given to me for you [εἰς ὑμᾶς] to complete the word of God (Col. 1:25).

                You may post anything you wish regarding anyone and any matter you choose; categorically interpreting, scrutinizing, parsing, commenting, voting, drawing conclusions, and ultimately judging as you will, but the one thing you will not be held accountable for in the eyes of God is your pastoral decision, made in the interest of the salvation of the individual before you, and in the the best interest of the Church. And that was my point. And so St. Chrysostom concludes regarding the pastor

                For I fear lest if I took the flock in hand when it was in good condition and well nourished, and then wasted it through my unskilfulness, I should provoke against myself the God who so loved the flock as to give Himself up for their salvation and ransom.

                You have have a briefcase of outrage, a thousand “castigations” and a thousand “solutions,” Mr. Michalopulos, but you answer for none of them. You initiated this by your childish, irrelevant reference to a transgender and would bring down the stars from heaven not to accept responsibility. This not about sodomy, homosexuality, “defending the Eucharist,” and certainly not about me. It is about your inability to admit your responsibility.

                • George Michalopulos says

                  Well, maybe I misunderstood. You certainly put out a lot of pretty words describing what Dn Mitchell did in awful terms. I think what he did was peachy. If he was wrong then he needs to be brought up in spiritual court and if guilty, defrocked.

                  • DC Indexman says

                    George M.

                    You need to put this episode about Deacon Mitchell out to pasture. To keep on retelling and retelling a two year old story is pointless now. If this story was one for the history books it might be worth continuing to debate. But this is not a story that will be in the history books.

                    Listen, Deacon Mitchell has left the Cathedral now, and moved on into a new life at a ROCOR Cathedral. The priests at that Cathedral you keep talking about have changed. The Bishop has changed, and there has been a significant turnover at that Cathedral with many new adherents coming in. Many people there would not know this story ever took place now.
                    That Cathedral has moved on and has a new focus for its life in Orthodoxy.

                    You may recall the fictional character, Miss Havisham, in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations (1861). This women goes from a quaint, secure life to one where she was hurt, cheated, and jilted in marriage by a swindler (I believe this behavior — hurting and cheating somebody so bad — would also be considered a very big sin in Christian Orthodoxy one worthy of significant repentance). So hurt is she that she stops all the clocks in the house, leaves all the wedding presents, food, and cake on the table in her house and essentially stops all time, wanting to only remember that disastrous day in her life when she was jilted. She does this for many, many years. She then tries to turn an adopted daughter into the same twisted person she became. Only at the end, after so many years of misery does she offer to repent to Pip, the story’s protagonist.

                    St. Nicholas Cathedral did not fall into the trap that Miss Havisham fell into, but it looks like you and your group did. Who is better off?

                    • Dear DC Index man,

                      I am hearing just the opposite of what you are writing here from persons still going to St. Nick’s . . . namely that it is still bleeding persons. . . . .
                      I have heard it is being re-peopled to some extent with new Russians and Georgians and that they know nothing of what happened there, but that things are still unsettled.
                      Is it true that Fr. Denis B. is being marginalised?

                    • DC Indexman, you accuse George and all of us of a Miss Havisham-like inability to move on from the pains and afflictions, in particular of obsessing over a two-year-old incident in which he turned away someone from the chalice because she had excommunicated herself.

                      I think the first person to bring that up was Fr. Andrei Alexiev, and only because it was on topic. Fr. Andrei was pointing out that Deacon Patrick has walked the walk on the issue of sexuality and protecting the self-excommunicated from partaking unto their damnation. And this, only because a transsexual provocateur brought up the topic of sexual moral issues due to a few of George’s remarks about, surprise, another transsexual provocateur.

                      As for St. Nicholas Cathedral having a bit of a priest change-over, it looks like they traded a few pawns to save the queen, as it were.

                      You say Deacon Patrick has moved on from St. Nicholas, and they have a new bishop now, too. But you have glossed over the fact that both Deacon Patrick and Metropolitan Jonah were forced out of St. Nicholas.

                      You may be right that Deacon Patrick has moved on with his life. Metropolitan Jonah, on the other hand, cannot move on, which is why his situation and well-being have been ongoing concerns for those who care about him.

                      If you seriously think none of this has afflicted St. Nicholas Cathedral, you couldn’t be more wrong.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  God bless you Michael with all His grace and mercy.

  20. Carl Kraeff says

    One of her/his heroes has been Archpriest Chaplin, Patriarch Kirill’s political mouthpiece. Here is an interesting tidbit:

    Moscow Patriarchate defended Snowden’s successful request for asylum

    Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Chairman of the Synodal Department of Church-Social Relations, has urged Moscow’s authorities to protect freedom from “electronic concentration camp”

    mauro pianta

    The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its support to Russia’s decision to accept fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker, Edward Snowden’s request for asylum. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, Chairman of the Synodal Department of Church-Social Relations, told Russian news agency Interfax that Moscow “could quite possibly be urged to protect real freedom, from the global ideological dictatorship, from the electronic concentration camp,” he said.

    Chaplin stated he supported Moscow’s intention to accept the former CIA agent’s request for asylum. Snowden, whom Washington accuses of espionage, has been stranded at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, without any valid travel documents, for more than 40 days. The former NSA contractor was granted temporary political asylum for a year and has left Sheremetyevo airport for a safer place which is to remain secret. “It is positive that Russia shows independence in this case, as well as in many others, regardless of serious pressure. Russia’s image as a country supporting true ideals of freedom depends on how Russia will act in this situation,” Chaplin said.

    According to the archpriest, Snowden reminded the world of something the Christian Orthodox Church has been saying for a long time, that is, that “the prospect of the global totalitarian electronic regime to appear becomes real.”

    “First, people are hooked up on convenient communication means with authorities, business and each other, then people find themselves bound to certain services and as a result economic and political owners of these services get huge and awful power over people, they can not but be tempted to use this power to control an individual and such control could be much more strict than all totalitarian systems known in the 20th century,” Chaplin said.

    There are no ideal political systems, the archpriest admitted. “Any political system establishes the power of few [people] over many [people] and if in the 20th century the roughest forms of such power worked though brutal enforcement, now they work through soft power, through total information gathering and through ‘mild’ imposing on a person first via slogans, then via laws of strict ideological sets – such as declaring the western political system as the only possible one, marginalizing the religion, criticizing market fundamentalism, left political ides etc.”

    In these circumstances, Russia “could quite possibly be urged to protect real freedom, freedom from global ideological dictatorship, from electronic concentration camp,” he said. Could Putin’s Russia be a freedom haven?”

    • George Michalopulos says

      Axios Fr Vsevolod!

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I think that your disappointment (which I share) with the depths to which our country has descended is clouding your judgment. It is almost as if you are drowning and are reaching out the first floating object that you see. However, the floating object here is the good Father, who is a poisonous serpent. Take care my friend that you are not bitten.

  21. cynthia curran says

    As for Bolshevism itself, and Drezhlo’s unhinged, leftist view of life under the Tsars, he gets it completely wrong on almost every particular. Although the Great War did much to devastate the economy, Russia was far from the economic hell-hole that liberals have long maintained. Ever since the time of his grandfather, Alexander II, Russia had begun a modernization course that was essentially no different than any other Western country. Turbulence certainly existed (as evidenced by popular uprisings or “pogroms” against the Jewish minority and labor unrest) but these were no different than what existed in the West. In the United States for instance, violence by labor movements was quite common, and wholesale violence against the Plains Indians was considered necessary to pacify them. The liberation of the serfs by Alexander was not without dislocation –neither was the emancipation of the slaves in America–but most economic indices were headed in the right direction.
    This is true for the time period Russian was around the same economic development as most of Eastern Europe and some Western European countries were behind at the turn of the last century and they are the same ones having problems today. Russia is going to take our astronauts to space.

  22. cynthia curran says

    As such, I break my embargo on commenting on his bile in order to set the record straight about the glorious Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and about the fundamental evil of the Bolsheviks.
    Its just bad history.

  23. Fr George Washburn says

    Since our friend Trudge’s August 6 reply appears on my screen with no reply button I’ll comment here. Thank you, Trudge, for the gracious tone and content.

    If I understand the Orthodox approach to scripture (my undergrad major 45 years ago was Bible) proof-texting is regarded as a vice, at least as seen in most practitioners. While I agree with you that the eroders of tradition have sometimes used the prooftexter label pejoratively to demean or circumvent biblical teachings, it would be shallowly reactive to avoid their errors by committing the opposite one – and rubber-stamping the practice of proof texting as strongly as you do.

    It is serious *reference to scripture* in light of the Tradition of the Church that is the virtue for Orthodox. Such *reference to scripture* uses the concordance or Bible Gateway to dig things up, but then asks the saints, the Fathers, the spiritual writers …and where possible living bishops ….how it shakes out in this situation or that.

    When we do that in the context of this thread, I believe we can hear St. Paul saying “I take on evil all day, every day, but not swinging with wild punches to little effect (“one who beats the air” KJV). I saw George’s editorial to begin this thread as “beating the air,” not because the moral teachings of Tradition are wrong, but rather because engaging Stan about it, and doing so in an insulting way, was not the way to dignify or convince Stan or anyone else of the truth. Yes, sometimes one smites a scoffer so that the simple learn prudence, but this public bashing just didn’t strike me as promising, and I believe much of the dialogue has confirmed my guess.

    And back to the grading issue. You ignored the full credit part of the question, Trudge. You recently quoted to us extensively of the courage of St. Maximos under torture. May I politely ask you again why you, then, cannot put your true name to a discussion of the most important order? What dire consequences will accrue to you, a layperson married to another layperson, or other good people from the minimal degree of Maximal courage of signing your true name to a discussion of how to use the scriptures?

    I repeat that while there are some situations where anonymity is necessary, but it has been taken to extremes here and has become the norm, and a largely negative one, I believe. All the experience of our civilization tells us, I believe, that truth and grace and justice and wise decision-making is almost always more likely to result when witnesses and advocates are known and accountable by their true names for what they say.


    Fr. George

  24. What was the “Red Terror”? Lenin was afraid that Czar Nicholas II could become the rallying point for anticommunist forces, which were gathering strength in the summer of 1918, particularly since there was a rebellion of the Czech, ex-Czech prisoners of war who came out against the Bolsheviks although Nicholas showed no interest in politics at all. Inevitably he and his whole family were executed in he most brutal way, gangsterish way. Him, his wife, their five children, their doctor, their servants were all massacred. Then their bodies were cut up and burned and then what remained was buried in a shaft, which was only discovered a few years ago. Then in August of 1918 a revolutionary who felt that Lenin had betrayed the Russians, took two shots at him –wounded him, almost fatally, whereupon Lenin and his henchmen agreed to carry out Red Terror. This was a terrible thing.

  25. Fr George Washburn says

    Once again no reply button for Misha’s August 5, 4:32 pm message in which he states that I would rather have people ignore the teachings of the church on homosexuality.

    Wrong. I have never even thought that, let alone taught that or wanted it to happen. It is a measure of the inadequacies of this particular kind of forum, and/or some of the people who weigh in, that any failure to loudly leap to the barricades whenever some guy blows a trumpet is seen as evidence of treason.

    The lighting up of constituencies to which I thought I was referring with sufficient clarity for Misha to understand was the sort of thing one sees or hears on the political talk shows – Limbaugh, Maher, left, right, take your pick – just before switching channels or hitting the mute button. I notice it early in the show, when the host is obviously seeking to generate controversy and energize callers to participate. He tosses out something from current events, but well-spun and calculated to get the troops revved up. I was only making the point that the editorial remarks with which this thread began reminded me of that sort of thing.

    Sober discourse, sharp repartee and strong argument are needed on these issues where Tradition stands against a strong tidal flow in society. In my opinion talk show tactics only detract.

    And no, I do not intend to have any dialogue with the anonymous Misha or prolong this discussion from my side. Apologies to any who feel I have already worn out my welcome on this one!


    Fr. George

    • George Michalopulos says

      So what is your alternative Father? Would you engage this lively debate on another forum? One preferably where the correspondents do not use pseudonyms? I would as well. Unfortunately, the cowardice and moral bankruptcy of our jurisdictions (and some of the Episcopate) does not allow us this luxury, does it? Where is there another open forum on the Blogosphere where priests can sign their names, speak openly about the ills that have befallen the Church, and not fear the wrath of their bishops or the well-connected laymen who control the purse-strings? Or are you castigating this site by being Simon-pure and saying that you’d engage this debate but Monomakhos is too confrontational/controversial/uneven/etc?

      Outside of the OCA’s recent encyclical on DOMA, the other jurisdictions have been strangely silent. As for the Episcopal Assembly, the less said, the better.

      • Trudge at SmartVote says


        The Antiochians have just posted their resolution from Houston on the Supreme Court (non) decisions on same-sex marriage:

        However, as Father John Morris claimed that this was a bold action, I would say it would be bold if energetically publicized like the shepherds of the Church did in the past when Christianity was in its strength. That is, if it went beyond a document that had to be searched for on a website with little visibility, but was issued as a press release to the AP, and was encycled for reading before the parishes, and through other modern means of publishing. If this is not the case, it will be the shot fired off in the closet that nobody will notice.

        • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

          Thanks, Trudge, for posting the weblink to the recent resolution of the AOCNA on the U.S. Supreme Court’s dreadful decision (U.S. v. Windsor) invalidating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I commend the Antiochians for taking on the Court and reaffirming Orthodox moral tradition on the issue.

          Alas, the text as it currently appears online requires considerable editing for spelling, grammar, and rhetorical flow.

          Further, the resolution does speak firmly and unequivocally to the Orthodox faithful, pledging to preserve the Orthodox marital tradition within our church communities whatever other agencies in American society might attempt to foist upon this nation. That models a spirit of resistance for the rest of us Orthodox in America as well.

          However, the AOCNA resolution, like the recent proclamation on U.S. v. Windsor by the OCA Synod of Bishops, does not address directly–or in any discernible way–the principalities and powers in the public square who are responsible for the latest assault on the venerable institution of marriage, much less summon the faithful to prophetic witness and action in that arena.

          • 1st Year Anniversary says

            Dear Father Webster,

            I know how you personally feel on these issues. A “don’t ask; don’t tell” philosophy in the Church we don’t want to migrate to an official policy that goes “Go ahead and tell; it doesn’t really matter anyway.”

            I always thought that we belonged to church communities and that any community could have its own gentle ways of indicating censure but when it comes to our Primatial cathedral, I guess it’s ok to have a gay head of a church organization and to warmly welcome “partners”. I am not going to blame present clergy for a situation that has existed through four Metropolitans, all of which looked the other way even if it looks like it might get me a couple brownie points on the Monomachos with the neocons and this even though I’m as much a hypocrtical sinner as the other guys. Although, I do speak up regularly. Easy to say as the inconsequential non leader kind of person.

            It’s a little past the first year anniversary for me personally hearing about a gay couple taking communion at St. Nicholas. No one lay person has been brave enough to name them. This is so much hedging of bets, and there are some who even condemn Metropolitan Jonah for treading lightly on these issues.

            A year later and all the clergy are hedging their bets before directly confronting this issue. And I don’t know how long this has been going on at the cathedral because I’m not trusted enough to be one of the in-the-know parishioners. For all I know, I’ve been in a communion line behind these ladies for a decade. If ALL of our clergy, bishops, archbishops and metropolitans included, have been silent on this issue, why are we still condemning only a few? Why are we condemning anyone at all? If clergy have been culpable in breaking canon law on this issue, then why are these clergy remaining undefrocked as well as unremarked by fellow clergy? I notice that Metropolitan Tikhon has been brave enough to have an Archimandrite defrocked for concelebrating with the Uniates. So why is there nothing official said, by any clergy over two administrations, on communing hand holding cohabitors until they have publicly left off their sin?

            And why, after years, aren’t we conservative Christians trusting one another? Have we really become a group of people whose motto is “I’m know I’m a Christian, but I’m wary about you”?
            Where’s our community?

            • 1st year Ann.,
              If clergy have been culpable in breaking canon law on this issue, then why are these clergy remaining undefrocked as well as unremarked by fellow clergy?

              This is my question.

              As for these women being named by laity or clergy that wouldn’t be fruitful. Especially if they have been misled by clergy. Our sins should be private and if things go public by the person themselves even, it’s up to the priests to control the situation and then to teach to the congregation what the Orthodox actually believe and practice on the matter. But if the priests don’t believe what Orthodoxy teaches or practice . . . . Well then you have St. Nicholas. This leads to distrust and breakdown in the community. Real shame. Honesty, teaching– no one needs to be pointed at, but the sin needs to be addressed.

              • Anniversay says

                Dear Colette,

                You say:

                As for these women being named by laity or clergy that wouldn’t be fruitful.

                They need not be made public by name, but putting a gay face on ministries or allowing, as has been asserted here, hand holding up the communion line, should not be enabled.

                Especially if they have been misled by clergy. Our sins should be private and if things go public by the person themselves even, it’s up to the priests to control the situation and then to teach to the congregation what the Orthodox actually believe and practice on the matter.

                Perhaps we do not have enough clear and short sermons like Metropolitan Jonah used to give on the sanctity of marriage and the nature of relationships before marriage?

                But if the priests don’t believe what Orthodoxy teaches or practice . . . .

                That is very hard to judge, if we should judge it at all.

                Well then you have St. Nicholas [Cathedral]. This leads to distrust and breakdown in the community. Real shame. Honesty, teaching– no one needs to be pointed at, but the sin needs to be addressed.

                The Saint Nicholas cathedral community breaking down is a many metropolitan historic process. But back to one of my major points and that is how a strong community is not enabled by silence. Nor is it strengthened by treating its members as suspicious elements. And our clergy should be speaking. And our bishops must be brave, even before protopriests, priests, and deacons. And when they are brave, that should be a reason for rejoicing in them doing their God-given duty, not a rationale for finding them failing in mediocrity and silence and therefore uncongenial, waiting on each others’ permissions to make a first step in defending Orthodoxy.

                • Dear Anniversary,

                  I think we are in agreement. I wasn’t so much arguing with you-just clarifying. The suspicion is terrible, I agree. But this I don’t agree with;

                  “That is very hard to judge, if we should judge it at all.”

                  Have a conversation with the priest in question- I did, he was very clear-hence my opinions. If you don’t ask and investigate, then you shouldn’t judge. But you should know your faith well enough and care enough to know whether or not you and your family are being led astray . . . .
                  We are not called to judge where someone will end up– that is not our job and I don’t do that, but we are called to be wise and make decisions-constantly.

                  “do not judge by appearance, but judge with righteous judgement” John 7:24.

        • Archpriest John W. Morris says

          The problem is that we Orthodox are very poor at public relations. If the Pope sneezes, it makes the front page of most American news papers, even here in the South. A few weeks ago the rebels in Syria tried to assassinate the Patriarch of Antioch in Damascus, but did anyone outside of Orthodox circles know about it? How much has the American press covered the kidnapping of Metropolitan Paul the Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo or Bishop John, the Syriac Bishop of Aleppo. A resolution passed by our Archdiocesan Convention is usually ignored by the press. Joel Osteen, the head of one parish, a large one, but still one parish, unaffiliated with any major denomination is all over the press, although no one would consider him a serious theologian. How often does the press interview an Orthodox official about anything?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Why should they? We have no worldly power and we aren’t quite strange enough to be mocked because our strangeness is centuries old devotion. All the more reason we need to live as Christians and teach our children to live as Christians.

          • Trudge at SmartVote says

            Father John,

            I think we modern Orthodox make excuses for ourselves. “We are not good at these newfangled public relations things.” Public relations is nothing more than effective communication, with age-old principles at work. St. Paul and the Christ himself are examples of powerful practitioners of effective communications, because their communication came out of their substance, and St. Paul made specific reference to principles of good communication, and the Epistle of James also comes to mind. We don’t even do good “public relations” with those in our own jurisdictions.

            And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28)

            We are not good at public relations because at core we are not good at Christianity. We do not produce disciples of the commandments of the Son of Man. Too much in modern Orthodoxy, “Orthodoxy” is limited to carrying out the services correctly and having Orthodox opinions, at least with some effort for the clergy to have the correct opinions. The ordinary Orthodox can have whatever opinion he or she wants, as long as they are quiet about it.

            A handful of people planted the seed of Christianity when no one cared about it, and it grew in a short while to the point that people were complaining that Christians were “turning the world upside down.” They were willing to risk themselves and make trouble for the authorities, religious and temporal, because they had salt and light within them. Now there are something on the order of 3 million Orthodox in the U.S, 200 million worldwide. If we show the world that we are hypocrites and powerless, why do they care to find out about hypocrites that have incense?

            • Trudge at SmartVote says

              Here is a parable that is an amplification of the original for reflection on the specifics of our generation….

              A property owner put one of his employees in charge of his large estate and his industries along with funds to support and grow it, instructing him to care for it as he had cared for it, and went away to a far country for an unknown time.

              But before the owner was gone for very long, problems arose.

              The chief employee became tired of his responsibilities since they required a solid day’s work and sometimes even more. Also, some of the employees were troublesome and took skill to manage, and he kept them on meager rations because of the expense and effort it took to prepare food.

              Gradually the chief began to spend more and some time seeking his own interests and pleasures. Many of the employees became idle and bored, with nothing to do and left seeking other employment.

              When word got around that the master had gone, some sought to take advantage. Dangers arose as brigands camped just outside the estate captured employees and carried them off to other owners. Outsiders spread slander about the master and through other means brain-washed the employees and other citizens into believing that the master and his industries were evil.

              The chief employee heard reports about these evils and could even see the brigands through the enormous windows, but instead of taking action he ignored the other employees’ complaints, ridiculing them, and drew the curtains shut so as to not be bothered by this unfortunate turn of events. The clutch of employees, though they remained on the estate, learned to keep quiet, going through the motions of what had been done before and instead focused the rest of their time and energies on their personal concerns and raising their families.

              As the chief got older and the employees dwindled to just a handful, he at last began to take an interest in the many precious articles inside the fabulous but darkened compound, articles of gold and silver and precious jewels. The chief resolved to care for these and keep them in mint condition for when the master returned. He took great satisfaction in keeping up the precious articles, and as the years passed the chief began to dream of the return of his master and how happy he would be to find their preservation.

              But the master did not return, and old and full of years, the chief employee passed on and was gathered to his fathers.

              Then a new generation arose that did not know the master and turned the estate into an amusement park. They carried on some semblance of the industries of the estate but in mock form. The new chief employee, one of the brain-washed, took the precious articles and spray-painted them in garish colors for use in the amusements, with dancing women, effeminate and lawless men, and various revelries.

              Finally, the day arrived and the master returned and called on his chief employee, even from the dead.

              “Why are you returning now to awaken me from the silence of the grave?” the chief groused.

              The master spoke, “Now is the day of judgment, which you yourself had expected, where each is rewarded for what he has done with his life, either for good or for evil. Now let us go and see what has become of the portion I gave to you to manage for me.”

              When they came and saw all that had become of the estate and its new form as an amusement park, the chief employee fell at the feet of the master.

              “This was not my doing. If you had only seen the precious articles as I had kept them, just as they had been when you left.”

              The master replied, “You did not follow the charge I had given you to manage my House as I had managed it. My House is not only a physical thing, and not merely precious articles. But my House and all that is in it and the souls that people it, is a Kingdom and a reputation, for the good of my servants and all who would find excellent labor and rest in my House.”

              “Now go foolish servant to your reward with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    • Monomakhos Technical Support Department says

      Reply buttons stop after ten descending levels of responses (1, 1.1, 1.1.2,. 1.1.3 … 1.1.10). Threaded comments require very complex coding. Offering more would slow the site to iceberg speed.

      Move up to the closest comment with a reply button and answer there.

      The main comment and subsequent response threads are color coded. Use the colored columns on the left for navigation.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Or better yet, close the comments after a certain time. It does kinda get pointless (and the conversation has usually gone off the rails) after 500 comments. If people want to keep commenting on a certain subject, write up an article for George (I’m sure he will be more than glad to host correspondents here) and continue the comments there.

  26. Interesting article-

    Do Homosexuals Exist? Or, Where Do

    We Go From Here?

    “. . . . .How is it that Christian (and Jewish, for that matter, and not to mention Greek)

    moral reflection flourished for millennia until the latter 19th century without the

    categories heterosexual and homosexual?  It is because these categories are

    foreign to a biblical and natural understanding of man.  They offer very little to us

    and shed no light on human nature, its operations, inclinations, and acts.  They

    merely describe an undeniable fact that there are persons who are physically

    attracted to members of their own or the other sex.  They imply something very

    unwholesome—namely, that sexual identity is simply a result of an individual

    inclination.  The origins of the one inclination or the other are then a matter of

    discussion, and they can be congenital, hereditary, acquired, chosen, imposed,

    changed, and so on.  This is what underlies the current use of the word gender in

    place of sex.  In any case, sexual identity as heterosexual or homosexual is not

    something given in nature: It is not simply sex, the fact of being male or female,

    but something to be determined in the individual.  This dichotomy imprisons

    those who characterize themselves as one or the other in a personal identity not

    rooted in nature, but in affective preference.  Thus, all the affective inclinations

    of persons who are heterosexual or homosexual can be treated as unstable,

    suspect, and subjective. . . . . .”

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      Link doesn’t work – document no longer exists. Is it available somewhere else?

      • ok- here is the whole thing

        Do Homosexuals Exist? Or, Where Do We Go From Here?

        by Fr. Hugh Barbour • August 1, 2013
        In March of this year over a million Frenchmen demonstrated on the streets of Paris against the legal institutionalization of gay marriage. As far as the media were concerned, this event was practically confidential. It is hard to imagine a similar scene taking place in the United States, but if it did, it would be met with the same willful rejection by the rulers of this world who simply treat as nonexistent anything that opposes the social program they impose on the willing masses, unless perhaps it might be useful as another source of potential terrorists.
        The practically universal triumph of the juridical recognition of gay marriage in the countries of the world that used to be Christendom requires those of us who accept the morality of the Bible to reassess the matter of homosexuality. This reassessment must be radical and practical. Things have come to such a pass that unless we are content to concede, we must utterly reform our notions and our customs. There is no other way to move forward.
        I propose a number of reforms, both of our ideas and our practice, which will enable us to confront the problem of homosexual identity. First, the overcoming of the unhelpful dichotomy of heterosexual and homosexual. Second, the promotion of committed friendship as an essential aspect of Christian moral life. Third, a revision and broadening of the aesthetic of the human body in the light of the classical tradition. For the most part I will be speaking in terms of male relationships, but everything I say can apply, mutatis mutandis, to women as well.
        Do homosexuals exist? And if so, why? The answer to these questions is not self-evident. In order to understand this, let’s take a look at a question deeply connected with the first: Does God exist? And how do we know? Saint Paul put it this way in the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans:
        Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.
        Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man . . . Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
        For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient.
        Here is the logic of the Apostle’s ardent assertions: The denial of God is the denial of His creation whereby we know He exists. Human beings are the crown of His visible creation, as they are made in His image. “God made man in his image, . . . male and female created he them.” Thus the denial of God by man leads to “a reprobate sense”—namely, the denial of male and female. So the QED: If God is denied, then human nature as male and female is denied. And so, as the famous paraphrase of Dostoyevsky goes, “everything is permitted.”
        For too long, for more than a century, Christians and others who accept the view of human nature found in the Bible have accepted characterizations of that nature that flow, not from the acceptance of man as male and female created in the image and likeness of God, but from that “reprobate sense” that treats as real, existing, and normative things that are vain, foolish lies flowing from the rejection of the truth of God.
        How is it that Christian (and Jewish, for that matter, and not to mention Greek) moral reflection flourished for millennia until the latter 19th century without the categories heterosexual and homosexual? It is because these categories are foreign to a biblical and natural understanding of man. They offer very little to us and shed no light on human nature, its operations, inclinations, and acts. They merely describe an undeniable fact that there are persons who are physically attracted to members of their own or the other sex. They imply something very unwholesome—namely, that sexual identity is simply a result of an individual inclination. The origins of the one inclination or the other are then a matter of discussion, and they can be congenital, hereditary, acquired, chosen, imposed, changed, and so on. This is what underlies the current use of the word gender in place of sex. In any case, sexual identity as heterosexual or homosexual is not something given in nature: It is not simply sex, the fact of being male or female, but something to be determined in the individual. This dichotomy imprisons those who characterize themselves as one or the other in a personal identity not rooted in nature, but in affective preference. Thus, all the affective inclinations of persons who are heterosexual or homosexual can be treated as unstable, suspect, and subjective.
        Christian moral teaching traditionally evaluated acts and the dispositions that lead to them: virtues and vices and their expression in deeds. In the case of homosexuality, however, there has been a change in style, and not for the better. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church all the sins against all the virtues of the moral life are dealt with in this traditional way, but when the sin of sexual relations with one’s own sex is treated, there is a change in tone:
        2357. Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
        2358. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.
        What about men and women who perform these acts, but who do not experience “an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction to persons of the same sex”? They seem not to be included, and the number of those who have done these things is also “not negligible.” What about those who have this attraction, but do not act on it, and even marry a person of the opposite sex and raise families? Are these homosexuals? They, too, are a “not negligible” number—indeed, perhaps the majority of such persons in history. Traditional moral theology evaluated acts, and did not generalize so unsatisfyingly about the tendencies that lead to these acts. That was left to the casuistry of occasions of sin, and to spiritual direction. If the sin is theft, then is the standard of evaluation kleptomania? If drunkenness, alcoholism? If sloth, clinical depression? Even we, the orthodox, have given in to the custom of treating sexual inclinations as identities. Pastorally, we are meant to preach the freedom whereby Christ has made us free. In treating the sin of sodomy as a prima facie proof of an identity, are we not, in the guise of compassion and sensitivity, helping bind the sinner to his sinful inclination, and so laying on him a burden that is too great to bear without perhaps moving a finger to lift it?
        The permanent label homosexual leads also to a dramatization of the temptation in those who undergo it, a dramatization that encourages self-pity or self-justification, victimhood, and a sense of helplessness and perpetual pathos, and worse, entitlement. It also allows the “heterosexual” to pretend that his own unruly urges are not contrary to nature, and so not so bad after all.
        The 19th century did see some attempts to see things differently. In his study Uranisme et unisexualité the Catholic convert thinker Marc-André Raffalovich finds 18 different types of behavior in relation to what he calls unisexuality—hardly a stable identity. He severely disapproves of any unnatural acts, but describes some forms of same-sex affect that could be described as noble and virtuous. And he knew his subject, having held a literary and artistic salon frequented by Oscar Wilde, whose social and moral demise he trenchantly describes. Such studies may be edgy, but they bear examination. Let me add, following a lead from St. Thomas Aquinas in his analysis of lust, that it may well be that the phenomenon of “homosexuality” as it is said to exist may consist not so much in an attraction to one’s own sex as an insensibility or aversion to the other, the vice of lust by defect, not excess.
        “I grieve for thee, my brother Jonathan: exceeding beautiful, and amiable to me above the love of women. As the mother loveth her only son, so did I love thee.”
        David’s lament from the first chapter of 2 Samuel, here given in its expanded classical Vulgate form, is the biblical locus par excellence for the power and dignity of friendship. In our present culture these words rouse suspicion, on account of the sexualization of same-sex affect just described. Aelred of Rielvaux’s On Spiritual Friendship, with its passionate asceticism, is taken as an example of proto-“gay” spirituality. The contemporary student reading Tennyson’s In Memoriam is practically required to ask whether they were “gay.” C.S. Lewis, in his discussion of the love of friendship in The Four Loves, deals, and not entirely adequately, with this modern suspicion of friendship between men. He was more irritated than pensive, and so doesn’t take the question further than simply to dismiss it. Discussions surrounding the beatification of John Henry Newman were obsessed with his friendship with Ambrose St John, whom he described as his “life, after God.” The swine have really turned on those whose pearls were cast before them.
        The great Russian Orthodox thinker and martyr of Stalinism Pavel Florensky, who was pointed out as a model of Christian thought and conversion by both John Paul II in his Fides et ratio and Benedict XVI in his last public audience before his abdication, expounded a theology of friendship that bears careful study and attention at the present juncture. In his The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, not an easy work by any means, Father Pavel extols friendship as the great and overarching ideal of Christian life in words that are as moving as they are cogent and meticulously researched. He dares to hearken back to the old Slavic Christian rites of adelphopoiesis, practiced in Byzantium, old Russia, and the Balkans among both Catholic Croats and Serbs. (For the reader who has learned of this from John Boswell’s silly 1994 book Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, it must be noted that Boswell’s interpretation of the practice as not involving chastity has been thoroughly debunked, and that by gay authors themselves.) David and Jonathan, and the military martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, were taken as the patrons of a rite, officiated by a priest, that joined two men in a permanent bond of brotherhood. This bond included family ties, so that the offspring of these men were not permitted to intermarry, nor could they marry each other’s sisters, as though they were related by blood, and their extended families could not engage in blood feuds against each other. These bonds could involve adoptions and arrangements of inheritance and property. Without the slightest doubt these unions were chaste, but they did involve an extension of the notion of family, built upon marriage between men and women, to include the committed love of two friends. Friendship and chastity are closely related, and precisely because they do not exclude a deep love and devotion that can reach beyond “the love of women,” without being at all sodomitical.
        The need for this kind of friendship is acknowledged in a corny kind of way by the whole Wild at Heart movement (from the 2001 book by John Eldredge), but the problem underlying that movement is the unnecessary, but understandable, reluctance of Protestant culture to see celibacy as the Christian ideal. This alone frees the heart to find a higher basis for a relationship than physical attraction or even procreation. Married couples who live their relationship deeply discover this, although the natural difference, not to say the mutual inequality, of man and woman under different aspects makes this at times difficult to realize. Friends may not be celibate by vocation, but they partake of the gift of celibacy. As Saint Augustine put it in the fourth book of his Confessions, “This is what is loved in our friends, and so loved that a man’s conscience is guilty if he does not love the one who loves him back, or does not love back the one who loves him, seeking nothing from his body beyond the signs of a good will.”
        For Augustine the indicia benevolentiae are words, earnest and holy conversation and mutual pursuit of the true, the good, and the beautiful. It’s fine to go fishing, to play at sports, but these are not the sources of intimacy that bind true friends together. That must be found in God, in Whose image a man is made. After all, Augustine asserts in his Literal Commentary on Genesis, if Adam had only needed a friend, God would have created another man. God was Adam’s friend, and the Man Who is the Son of God is the One Who said, “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” The apostolic ideal was not coeducation, the consequences of which in the genesis of same sex-attraction as an identity are all around us, but that’s another article.
        Is it time to offer that ancient alternative bond again, for the Church to offer the blessing of true committed friendships between members of the same sex, forming her sons and daughters in the austere but natural requirements of chastity for the sake of the kingdom? The Lord Himself said that His mother and brethren are those who hear the word of God and keep it. He is our friend, in His Body, His Blood, His Soul, and His Godhead; He is also our Spouse and our Father, and our Son and our Brother. Each of the relationships built upon natural procreation by man and woman is an aspect of a Love that transcends them all, and so is described by David in his threnody as brotherhood, espousal, and parenthood.
        Although my account may be simply anecdotal in force, I think it is true to say that the aesthetic ideal of beauty in our European culture has been predominantly feminine for some time. Even the word beautiful is rarely used to describe a man. One of my aunts used to describe a very manly cousin of mine as “so pretty, he could be a girl.”
        It was not always so. Perhaps the troubadours and the Romantics had something to do with a shift from the classical ideal of beauty, which was predominantly, although obviously not exclusively, masculine. Saint Augustine tells us that the fact that men have beards which they do not need, and nipples which serve no function, shows forth God’s intention in making a man’s body simply to be beautiful, with a form without function. He says this without blushing, because it would never occur to a man of late antiquity that recognizing another man’s beauty was a sign of inversion. It would be taken that way now, and so we are the poorer for it. Women are relatively free in our culture to notice and comment on one another’s beauty, and that is all for the good. It implies that their appreciative love has not been sexualized, but this state of affairs may change if the militant lesbians have their way. The fact is that the sight of a friend, handsome or not, the sound of his voice, his gait, his external appearance, his physical presence, and his touch has to be a consolation and a joy to his fellow. Of course this is not an occasion of unnatural lust, but a recognition of the unavoidably bodily nature of man. The inability to admire the appearance of another in a way that is chaste but appreciative only serves to push friendship between men into the shadows caused by the awful dichotomy deplored here, the suspicion that has nothing to do with being a man or woman at all. I do not know how we might overcome this cultural predisposition, but it is good to be aware of it. In this we can practice the freedom brought us by “the fairest of the sons of men.”
        Father Hugh is prior of St. Michael’s Abbey in Trabuco Canyon, California.

  27. Fr Washburn…kudos. Your wisdom is precious.

    Agitating or settling mud?

  28. You do not like a deacon turning someone away from the Chalice?Do not give him the authority to distribute the Holy Mysteries then.It’s really that simple.A spiritual father who blesses people living in a sinful relationship to commune is not being the good shepherd,I do not care how many Masters or Doctorates in Theology he may have.Fr.John Morris is right,we did not ask for this fight,but it has reached us.

    The good Father Andrei makes the salient point, a point that Dr. Stankovich rejects. In fact SINCE the Deacon was blessed to distribute the Gifts he becomes the guardian of those Gifts. No amount of liberal gymnastics on his part can overcome this simple fact.

    When one adds to this the openly defiant actions of clergy on the St.Nicholas Cathedral staff who themselves imposed their own liberal theology giving consent for these two women who by their actions excommunicated themselves from reception of the Holy Gifts, all he was doing was reminding them of their decision and defending them from further condemnation (not mine, not his, but the Church’s).

    The Deacon has a conscience about what the Church teaches. He was willing to be consistent with what the Church teaches and the implementation of those teachings in praxis. As Collete rightly points out, the inaction and consent of Fr. Denis Bradley and the continuing practice of communing these women by Fr. Kohno at SNC led to confusion and still leads to confusion.

    That the Church had more clergy with the cañons to do the right thing the deacon who not have had to do what he was morally bound to do. Sadly, SNC continues to be a wishy-washy lukewarm place.

    • Daniel E Fall says

      DOMA was poorly crafted legislation based on a false premise that two people I will never meet that get married will cause me or my family some sort of undue harm. It could not stand…not even a conservative court. I honestly cannot believe it held as long as it did. And I am no advocate for gay marriage…also not against.

      Someone sarcastically suggest Deacon Mitchell be defrocked….this is silliness.

      From my perspective, Deacon Mitchell decided to recognize gay marriage. Just like DOMA did.

      The Orthodox Church does not recognize gay marriage. This is really important.

      I don’t see how the Deacon is guarding the gifts by recognizing gay marriage outside the church. The Deacon clearly erred by recognizing gay marriage in an Orthodox Church. He also erred because he is not privy to the Confessions. While he and I probably both wisely doubt earnest Confessions of two married women; it is not our place, his nor mine. And guarding the gifts against what? Spiritual dishonesty from assumptions about the Confessional? Please James…do you think Christ would support such assumptions, otherwise known as guesses?

      His error was a slight and happened within what I consider to be an extremely challenging and probably poorly defined environment. I don’t think the women helped the situation with their choices. Their secular decisions did not need illumination in the church.

      The Orthodox Church really should simply not recognize gay marriage and leave it at that. It you want to battle against it, you recognize it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Well, Bill Clinton championed DOMA. And anyway, how can you be sure that two people whom you’ll “never meet” can affect your own family? There are tens of thousands of single mothers out there whom you or I will never meet. Don’t they affect society? Of course they do. Our jails and prisons are full, our welfare rolls clogged, and a growing percentage of our young people are uneducable and unemployable. I stopped wearing rose-colored glasses sometime after Hurricane Katrina.

        As for DOMA’s poor craftsmanship, the same could be said of Roe v Wade. Even liberals like Larry Tribe thought that it was poorly written. Much legislation falls apart at some point. We have laws against killing, yet we don’t condemn men to the electric chair because they justifiably killed somebody breaking and entering into their home. Speeding in a residential area is wrong but if a man is trying to get his wife to the hospital because she’s in labor the police take that into consideration. There’s a difference between a malum in se and a malum prohibitum.

        But let’s go further: why can’t polygamists now marry? Would that be a bad thing? I seriously doubt you or I or our respective families will know any polygamists –at least at first. I however will make a judgment and state that I don’t want to live in a nation in which polygamy exists. At all. Why? Because polygynous societies are inherently more violent than monogamous ones.

        • Daniel E Fall says

          Well your case on polygamy is well made. There are probably sound medical reasons why polygamy is not wise, though(hemophilia, interbreeding, etc), as well as your statement which I assume is truthful. I don’t know if a married gay couple would do any harm and I’m hard pressed to see how. The idea they would add to welfare to me seems pretty unlikely..and sort of irrelevant, not germane, etc.

          The one serious question I have, though, is how any Protestant can remain in their faith when the government drives the theology.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Mr. Fall, in case you don’t realize it everything we do, or don’t do, effects everybody. The is no such thing as an autonomous individual just as there is no such thing as a depersonalized amphous mass of “humanity”

        In case you haven’t heard the Church is called to be a prophetic witness to the world and the Fathers have long realized that included forming the laws that govern us based on revealed Christian truth. The Code of Justinian, which you may have heard of, became a fundamental part of our laws originally because of our adoption of much of English common law.

        There is simply no precedent in history with which I am familiar that rejects religious precepts as the foundation of law. Only the nihilistic/secularism of our modern barbarous states that exalts the elite over the herd and worships power presumes such is possible.

        • Daniel E Fall says

          This has nothing to do with my point.

          If religious precepts are the only basis and foundation of laws; consider for a moment then Muslim nations. They are far from harmonious and offer their own barbarism.

    • If I may comment on the concept of “guarding the Chalice.”

      It should be remembered that regardless of whose responsibility it is (bishop, priest, deacon), what is being guarded is not only the integrity of the Church, but also the souls of those who would otherwise partake unworthily and thereby bring condemnation upon themselves. Whatever office they may hold, shepherds who carelessly ignore blatant, obstinate, unrepentant sin demonstrate a callous lack of concern for the salvation of those they commune.

      “O Lord, now as I approach Holy Communion, may I not be burned by partaking unworthily. For you are fire and burn the unworthy, I pray cleanse me of all sin…
      Stand in fear, 0 soul, as you look upon the deifying Blood for it is fire and burns the unworthy. May the divine Body sanctify and nourish me. May it deify my soul and wondrously feed my mind.”

      The same Mysteries that are healing, nourishing, enlightening, and deifying for the contrite of heart are deadly for those who steadfastly refuse the love of God.

      Whosever responsibility it is to “guard the Chalice,” there is far more at stake than preserving the moral teaching of the Church.

      • M. Stankovich says

        I would add to what Brian states that the Fathers are consistent in citing the authority of St. Paul:

        Whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be [ἔσται] guilty [ἔνοχος] of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine [δοκιμαζέτω] himself [ἑαυτόν], and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgement [κρίμα] to himself [ἑαυτῷ], not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)

        I have purposely emphasized the Greek text to reflect St. Paul’s emphasis that one examines oneself, never mentioning the “blatant,” the “obstinate,” or the “unrepentant,” relying on the integrity of the individual.

        Obviously, in the post-Nicean period, with the dramatic growth of the Church, the management of “descernment” and repentance changed as well, but the intention and focus did not, as evidenced by the comment of St Chrysostom:

        And how can one speak of the distress which bishops undergo, whenever it is necessary to cut some one off from the full communion of the Church? Would indeed that the evil went no further than distress! But in fact the mischief is not trifling. For there is a fear lest the man, if he has been punished beyond what he deserves, should experience that which was spoken of by the blessed Paul and “be swallowed up by overmuch sorrow.” (2 Cor 2:7) The nicest accuracy, therefore, is required in this matter also, lest what is intended to be profitable should become to him an occasion of greater damage. For whatever sins he may commit after such a method of treatment, the wrath caused by each of them must be shared by the physician who so unskillfully applied his knife to the wound. What severe punishment, then, must be expected by one who has not only to render an account of the offenses which he himself has separately committed, but also incurs extreme danger on account of the sins committed by others? For if we shudder at undergoing judgment for our own misdeeds, believing that we shall not be able to escape the fire of the other world, what must one expect to suffer who has to answer for so many others? To prove the truth of this, listen to the blessed Paul, or rather not to him, but to Christ speaking in him, when he says: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit, for they watch for your souls as they that shall give account.” (Heb 13:17) Can the dread of this threat be slight? It is impossible to say: but these considerations are sufficient to convince even the most incredulous and obdurate that I did not make this escape under the influence of pride or vainglory, but merely out of fear for my own safety, and consideration of the gravity of the office.

        On the Priesthood, Book III, 17.

        So I am fascinated by the championing of this “duty” and “responsibility” to not commune the “unworthy” as upholding the integrity of the Church and “protecting” the Eucharist. I have no idea what this concept means – as if to say the “integrity” of the Fashioner is in need of the “defense” of His “fashioned – and not a mammoth projection of grandiosity. Secondly, I cannot identify a single Eastern Father who speaks to such a duty or responsibility to “guard the Chalice” for any reason other than the sort of pastoral decision that led St. Chrysostom to flee, rather than to be ordained! And even he says not a a single word regarding this matter. I find a single “systematic” examination – and it is weak, at best – by Met. Hilarion (Alfeyev) of the Eucharistic theology of St. Symeon the New Theologian, and the direct parallel of St. Gregory of Nyssa, that “presupposes that the Holy Spirit should be ‘manifested’ in the one who has partaken of it. If this manifestation does not follow the sacrament, it was received without profit: the water remained water and the bread remained bread.” It seems reasonable to ask, who, then, is “demeaned” and judged but the partaker? I have never heard of such a concept in the Orthodox Tradition, and I am not surprised to find that no one rushes forward to defend this notion with any Orthodox source. I strongly suspect it is nowhere to be found.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Dr S, the second sentence of your last paragraph is facile. You really have “no idea” what “protecting the Eucharist” entails? I know you’re not a priest but did SVS not provide any education in that regard? I for one know many priests who graduated from SVS and from what I’ve seen, they know darn well how to “protect the Eucharist.”

      • Daniel E Fall says

        It cannot be the duty of a Deacon to the degree in which he did it. He is not privy to Confessions. He could probably not Commune a non-Orthodox person, but that would mean he’d need to know they weren’t Orthodox as well.

        But how far does he take the guarding of the chalice? Should then he also not Commune a women if she is using an IUD and he has heard about it during the coffee clutch? That has been called abortion here before, but is practiced by many, many women-Orthodox women, too. It is a fair question I think.

        I think it is important the coffee clutch is not the basis for Communion. It seems this time it was….

        • George Michalopulos says

          That’s not the issue. If we don’t want deacon’s playing Communion Cop don’t give them the Chalice. Really though, what is going on here is straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel.

          • Archpriest John W. Morris says

            If a person takes Communion knowing that they are under penance they have committed a terrible sin. If a person who has committed a sin that they know would prevent them from taking Communion without Confession they have also committed a terrible sin. If someone comes up to Communion who is unknown to the Priest or Deacon, he should ask them if they are Orthodox and try as diplomatically as possible to tell them that only Orthodox may receive Holy Communion. We have a statement in every pew book rack welcoming visitors and informing them that only Orthodox can receive Communion in the Orthodox Church. However, occasionally some stubborn person comes up anyway. Once a man came up clad in a clerical collar. I obviously asked him if he were Orthodox. He was some kind of continuing Anglican and argued with me that it is Christ’s Sacrament and that I have no right to refuse him. Obviously I refused to give him Communion. I once had a woman visit for a funeral for an aunt. She was an Episcopalian and wanted to take Communion. I tried politely to tell her that I could not give her Communion. She came back for the 40 day Memorial and told me that she spoke with the Episcopal Bishop of wherever she lived and he told her that I had no right to deny her Communion. I told her that Episcopal Bishops have no authority over my Church or who receives Communion in an Orthodox Church. If a person who is not Orthodox claims to be Orthodox to take Communion in the Orthodox Church, they have committed a terrible sin.

  29. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    In that I am a proud graduate of SVS and never heard the instruction “protect the Eucharist” elucidated (though I did venture to Manhattan to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Perhaps in honouring this anniversary of the passing of Fr. Georges Florovsky, you might take the lead in his call for a ” new patristic synthesis, that is, one must return to patristic thought for a point of departure,” and explain it.

    Just in case you were not listening Holy Week, I am always impressed at the “competence” of the Lord to deal with His enemies:

    Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in his apparel, traveling in the greatness of his strength?

    “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”

    Why are you red in your apparel, and your garments like him that treads in the winefat?

    “I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled on my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.”

    And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my fury, it upheld me.

    “And I will tread down the people in my anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.” (Isa. 63:1)

    Brian used the phrase “protect the Eucharist” as guarding the integrity of the Church and “preserving the moral teaching of the Church.” I am asking “where” is this moral teaching of the Church? While I grant this all has the emotion of Bastille Day (“Allons enfants de la Patrie, Le jour de gloire est arrivé!”), in its extreme, it is the same emotion that justifies murdering physicians who perform abortions, imagining God is “impotent” to impute justice on His own.

    I was once in the situation where my parish priest, a schoolmate, with permission called me asking for the name of a therapist to refer a member of the parish for help – the bête noir of a being an SVS grad and not a priest. He also informed me that he had told this person they were not to come to communion until they had seen a therapist. The person refused the referral and came with their family, as usual, to the chalice. The priest turned the person away. There was a big blow-up in the parish hall following the liturgy with the family, parishioners & the priest. Outside, they ganged up on me – the protagonist never making eye-contact – and I explained why a priest would and should do what he did: in the interest of the salvation of the person before him, for whom he was responsible. Their relationship was not ours to examine, and they should go home and discuss it as a family. This priest acted as a true pastor – not a cowboy – and while knowing his decision would result in personal acrimony, pursuant to the Tradition of the Fathers, he did not “protect the Eucharist,” he protected the soul of his spiritual child.

    • Michael S.,

      Several things come to mind when it comes to communing those in open sin (and mind you, these thoughts are not necessarily directly related to the appropriateness of the Deacon’s decision or his responsibility for doing what he did).

      “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles…Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? … Do you not judge those who are inside? … Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person.”

      “So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

      “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust.”

      Words similar to this command of St. Paul’s to Timothy are spoken by the bishop upon a priest’s consecration as he places the Lamb in the priest’s hands. It would seem that these words carry a two-fold meaning. Guard the Body of Christ (the people entrusted to your care) by guarding the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) that constitutes the Body of Christ (the Church). The two trusts, as I’m sure you would agree, are inseparable.

      By the way, I never used the words ““protect the Eucharist.” I did say that there is far more at stake than “preserving the moral teaching of the Church.” This is not to imply that the moral teaching of the Church is less at stake or that it is somehow separate from the communion of the Church. It is all inseperable; it is all one indivisible unity of faith and praxis. Again, being a good student of SVOTS, I think you would agree.

      • M. Stankovich says


        1) You can’t imagine how long I stared at SVOTS before I figured it out. Madonna mia!

        2) My comments have nothing to do with any person.

        I am objecting to the dichotomy that suggests their is something to be “championed” in the story that St. Nicholas slapped Arius, while St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, having been himself slapped, fell to his knees begging forgiveness for “inciting” the man who struck him. Frankly, I believe both are apocryphal.

        When it comes to communing those in open sin, who among us does not? It strikes me as fairly obvious that the circumstances>/i> of our coming to communion rely upon the relationship with our confessor. And it exactly here that I fail to grasp the conflict: if we trust that our God is a Just Judge and a Merciful God, and that according to St. Paul – as I have noted twice – God Himself has set apart in the Church those responsible for our spiritual care and guidance, who are ultimately answerable to God Himself for the decisions they make as to our salvation, who are we to intrude in this relationship? I believe that this is a moral teaching of the Church, and that this a precious relationship established and sanctioned by God Himself. For those who complain, “the priest isn’t doing his job,” I say you have no trust in the Just Judge who does not need your arrogant assistance.

        I would suggest to you that the Scriptural quotations you offer certainly speak to defending the integrity of the Church – and in some cases referred to specific individuals who were the source of the conflict – these refer to transgression against the community, a community of a size which openly confessed their sins to one another. I would suggest you search for St. Chrysostom’s short Homily Against Publishing the Errors of the Brethren for clarification.

        There is no question that it is clear that there are times when someone must be separated from the Eucharist and the saving Grace of the Church in the interest of the their salvation and in the best interest of the Church. In this much we most certainly agree. Nevertheless, this such a grave action reserved for the gravest of situations, by the wisest of pastors with no alternative:

        What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy. For the scripture said to Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore has he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens. (Rom 9:14-18)

        I continue to contend that the Church and the Eucharist need no “protection,” and it is concept foreign to our Tradition.

        • You know Stankovich, you probably are not going to understand what Brian is saying because you are not raising children. If you were you’d probably not be saying half the stuff you say here. sadly those insights are not given to you . . .

          • George M.

            I don’t think your cancel reply button is working-I deleted this as I didn’t want to go into explaining where I was going with it . . .

      • Archpriest John W. Morris says

        Whenever a new priest is ordained. After the consecration, I do not remember exactly when, the Bishop takes the consecrated lamb puts it on a diskos and gives it to the newly ordained Priest telling him something like “take this and protect it, for you will be held accountable for it at the Last Judgment.” He then goes and stands behind the Holy Table until time for the fraction in preparation for Holy Communion.

    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD says

      Let’s put the issue of “protecting” the Eucharist to rest once and for all, Dr. S.

      I submit that every man who has been ordained as an Orthodox priest knows the truth of the matter. Perhaps as a layman, notwithstanding your SVOTS education and degree, you are unaware that the ordaining bishop, as he places the Holy Body of Christ into the hands of the newly ordained priest for the first time, instructs the priest in no uncertain terms regarding the awesome significance of his new obligation concerning the Holy Mysteries.

      For example, below are excerpts from two easily accessible official Orthodox websites.

      First, from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

      After the consecration of the Eucharist, the bishop places the body of Christ into the new priest’s hands with the following admonition:

      Bishop: Receive this Divine Trust, and guard it until the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at which time He will demand It from you.

      Second, from the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America:

      Following the consecration of the Holy Gifts, the Bishop will call the new Priest to the front of the Altar and hand him the consecrated Lamb saying:

      Receive thou this pledge, and preserve it whole and unharmed until thy last breath, because thou shalt be held to an accounting therefore in the Second and Awesome Coming of our Great Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ.

      The new Priest takes consecrated Lamb and kisses the Bishop’s right hand. He then walks to the back of the Altar and holds the Lamb, facing West, until the Bishop calls him back to the front. The new priest will bring the Lamb back to the Bishop immediately before, Attend. Holy things are for the Holy.

      • Troublesome Brooke says

        Fr. Alexander, I also went to SVS, and witnessed many ordinations to the priesthood at Three Hierarchs Chapel. Every one included a prayer similar to the one you cited.

        My time at SVS was one of the happiest parts of my life, but I am embarrassed for the way Michael Stankovich has treated his education there.

      • M. Stankovich says

        Fr. Alexander,

        εὐλόγειte ὁ κύριος!

        I purposely did not raise this issue because it does not necessarily answer the question at hand, but raises more questions: what pledge or ? or what Divine Trust? Is it a sacerdotal “Golden Glove” of sorts, “most times preventing the communing of those in open sin?” or “Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more? “(Mat. 25:20) Are were referring to simply to the “Eucharist,” as placed in his hand, or to the Eschaton in which it is received, and to which this new priest, “acting in the place of the Master,” will lead his ministry?

        I have been reading since this issue was raised and I have found no direct answer, but it seems to me there are some suggestions by extrapolation in reverse. First, there is St. Chrysostom’s comment from On the Priesthood that I have posted above that speaks to the soul-wrenching decision of the pastor – likened to a surgeon cutting out diseased, infected tissue – excommunicating someone in the interest of their salvation. His agony is palpable. And it seems to call to mind the circumstance of the apostles who were unable to cast out the demon on their own: “And he said to them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mk. 9:29) The responsibility for the gravity, the responsibility for error, and the outcome are answerable to God Himself. Likewise, I am fascinated by Fr. Florovsky’s commentary on St Chrysostom himself:

        Christ came, as Chrysostom used to remind, precisely to heal the will of man. God always acts in such a way as not to destroy our own freedom. God Himself acts by calls and exhortations, not by compulsion. He shows the right way, calls and invites, and warns against the dangers of wickedness, but does not constrain. Christian pastors must act accordingly. By temperament, Chrysostom was rather a maximalist, sharp and rigoristic, but he was always against compulsion, even in the struggle with heretics. Christians are forbidden, he used to insist, to apply violence even for good aims: “Our warfare does not make the living dead, but rather makes the dead to live, because it is conducted in the spirit of meekness and humility. I persecute by word, not by acts. I persecute heresy, not heretics. It is mine more to be persecuted, than to persecute. So Christ was victorious as a Crucified, and not as a crucifier.” The strength of Christianity was for him in humility and toleration, not in power. One had to be strict about oneself, and meek to the others.

        Collected Works, Vol. IV, Aspects of Church History, “St. John Chrysostom: The Prophet of Charity,” pp. 79-80.

        “To heal the will of man.” Imagine! St. Chrysostom also notes, “if you investigate the history of generals who have enjoyed the highest reputation from the earliest ages, you will find that most of their triumphs were achieved by stratagem, and that such are more highly commended than those who conquer in open fight.” (op cit., Book I, 8) But you knew that.

        Finally, in saying that the Eucharist needs no protection, Fr. John Meyendorff writes that the Church, “places the pas­toral “man­age­ment” (oikonomia) entrusted to the Church in the con­text of God’s plan for the sal­va­tion of humankind,” evidencing it by St. Basil the Great, that if there is conflict in oikonomia, “one should again refer to cus­tom and fol­low the Fathers who have man­aged [the Church].” And Fr. John ends with a quotation from Patri­arch Nicholas Mys­tikos (901−907, 912–925) all of this is “an imi­ta­tion of God’s love for man” and not sim­ply an “excep­tion to the rule.” (Byzan­tine The­ol­ogy: His­tor­i­cal Trends and Doc­tri­nal Themes). I find no precedent in our Tradition and I have yet to see an outcome that has not been addressed with love pastoral strategy “as the Master would have done Himself,” not end in disaster.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        I fail to see how “protect” turns into “deny.” I always thought that the oath was to protect from physical desecration by pagans and Muslim Turks (my Bulgarian background shows here). Again, there is not one word in those oaths that says a priest must deny communion to a person to protect the Body and the Blood; I had thought that the idea was to protect the recipient from condemnation. Stankovich is right; we do not need to protect the Lord or His Body. BTW, is there anything remotely similar in a deacon’s oath?