The Archbishop, the President and the Wall

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to first start by issuing an apology of sorts to our many commentators.

As you know, Commentator X will often respond to Commentator Y and before Yours Truly hits the “reply” button, he’ll jump in and make a statement. In so doing, it sometimes appears that I am defending Commentator Y. Now this is rude as Commentator Y should have the opportunity to first answer any assertion directed at himself (or herself).

Please understand, I don’t mean to be rude but because of my chaotic work schedule (without any official breaks), I feel forced to take advantage of any opening available to me and bore right in as time is a most precious commodity to me. Also, when I do have time to consider a reply, I sometimes get logorrheatic and answer a specific question going off on tangents. Basically it boils down to this: the original comment often raises many questions and elicits many arguments. I usually find the first one fascinating and deserving of an immediate response and, throwing all caution to the winds, feel the need to jump right in. So please forgive me.

There are three reasons for my haste: first, during long drives to and from work I get to thinking about things in a grand narrative sort of way and second, I feel the need to go ahead and be logorrheatic against that day wherein I will have no time to answer. Third, I sometimes think, “Why the heck not? Might as well get something out there to chew on.”

Some of course may think that I am overly censorious and/or play favorites. I assure you, that everyone here who has posted a comment has felt the censorious Monomakhian lash at one time or another. Likewise, I have protected everyone here at one time or another from another poster’s criticisms. And I mean everyone.

That’s not only because of legal reasons but because of Christian charity. More than a few of you have come to me through the back door and asked me to remove an injudicious comment at one time or another. To the best of my knowledge, I have respected those wishes. Although it can get tiresome (and truth be told, I often don’t see the need for it), I try to accede to your self-censorship. It’s the Christian thing to do.

Anyway, I pray that you all forgive me; I hope that you enjoy this blog as much as I do. I feel that I’ve come to know and love each and every one of you and I hope that the feeling is mutual. Let’s pray for one another as we continue to try and uphold the fast.

Also, if anybody wants to respond by video format, I welcome you to do so. Unlike me, keep it short (5 minutes or less).

As for my thoughts on recent cultural, religious and political events, please see the video below. Beneath that, there is an essay by Mark Tapscott, providing a different take on President Trump’s signing of the horrible Omnibus Bill (which I completely oppose).

P.S. I have been working on Part II of my essay on Christian governance which I plan on publishing next week. This has been necessitated by recent events which lead me to believe the American experiment in constitutional republicanism is probably not long for this world. If anything, the signing of the Omnibus Spending Bill yesterday will accelerate the decline. If nothing else, the Republican Party has proven itself to be unable to rise to the task of fiscal governance. As the Democrat Party is likewise unable to show fiscal restraint, I can see the imminent collapse of our nation as an intact polity.


  1. Antiochene Son says

    We ought to borrow a page from the Confederate States constitution:

    Every law, or resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title. (Art. I, Sec. 9-20)

    These “omnibus” bills ought to be illegal. If Schumer wants a tunnel, let him introduce a bill to build a tunnel.

    Did anyone hear about the CLOUD Act, which was attached to the omnibus as a rider? Of course not; nobody read it. It enhances data sharing between US intelligence and other countries. As Rand Paul noted, it would enable to Feds to circumvent the 4th Amendment by farming out warrentless wiretapping and hacking ops to other countries.

    So, let’s say the FBI suspects someone of a crime, but can’t get a warrant to spy on him. (Or, they just don’t want to be bothered with taking the time.) Well, they can just ask James Bond at MI6 to hack him (which does not violate the 4th amendment) and send them the data.

    Likewise, if there is some British person doing naughty things (like hoarding butter knives or dressing his cat up like Mussolini), but for some reason are barred from gathering the evidence, the US can hack his social media accounts and send everything over to Scotland Yard.

    People who are using VPNs to mask their identity or circumvent draconian laws in their own countries, likewise are at risk.

    This was signed by our president, along with a thousand other bad ideas. I only hope the ACLU stops hunting for Russian trolls long enough to take it to court.

    Sure, he shouldn’t have been placed in the situation, but I thought he had enough backbone to stand up to the swamp. I don’t think he would lose military support by making a big show out of his veto and laying out the reasons why. But he is in real danger of losing his MAGA coalition, which got him in office by razor thin margins to begin with.

    There’s a lot of time until November, and he has pulled himself out of worse gaffes, but this was a huge and unnecessary self-inflicted wound.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Isn’t it ironic? According to the Dems Trump=Hitler. And look at what enormous power they just gave him?

      I’m starting to not believe in freewill anymore. At least as far as collectives are concerned.

      • Constaninos says

        With your kind indulgence, I would like to make some comments. There’s an article on CNN about one of the members of the illegal caravans attempting to enter the US. This person is trying to claim refugee status because he is a transgender woman, and faces persecution in his native Honduras. Why come to the US? No one forced this potential illegal alien to undergo transgender surgery.
        I’m changing my mind about the border wall. We need to keep illegal aliens out of our country, and send all the illegal aliens back to their own countries. To borrow an expression from Mr. Stankovich that he enunciated in a completely different context ( I don’t mean to suggest that Mr. Stankovich does or doesn’t support my position or viewpoint), these illegal aliens want to come into our house, put their feet on our coffee tables, raid our refrigerators, sleep in our beds, stink up our houses, and be paid by us for the intrusion. If a person is an illegal alien, they don’t belong in our country.

        • Constaninos says

          Lest there be any misunderstanding, I partially paraphrased one of Mr. Stankovich’s posts because I liked his expression. In no way do I want to insinuate that Mr. Stankovich supports my position as he is perfectly capable of expressing himself in his own inimitable way. I have absolutely no idea how he feels about illegal immigration. He may agree with me, or he may object vociferously. He may also find my position to be hypocritical. I honestly don’t know, however I welcome criticism.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Yeah, I’m not sure transgenders meet the criteria of “refugees of special humanitarian concern to the U.S.”

          The United States is going through an identity crisis. We don’t seem to know who we are, anymore. Great passion, not logic, rule the day. People think if they believe something strongly enough, it will become a reality. Just like in Peter Pan. To save Tinkerbell, all we had to do is “believe in fairies and clap our hands!” They flood the streets with this sort of magical thinking, believing they can change policy by just showing up! It bugs me when they compare themselves to those who protested in the 60s. Protesters in my day faced extreme consequences. It wasn’t the carnival atmosphere you see today with people yukking it up in an array of bizarre costumes. People DIED at Kent State and during the Civil Rights movement!!!

          • Constaninos says

            Hi Gail,
            If you don’t mind, I would like to use your post as a launching point for a little diatribe of mine. You use the word magical thinking. Is there anyone more infected with magical thinking than James Comey? He brags about his integrity; now that’s magical thinking. This man has wrought untold damage on our country. He is a liar, leaker, hypocrite, and phony of the first order. I sincerely hope his book tour forever shatters the myth that he is a person of high moral character and integrity. President Trump said he was a showboat. That’s to put it mildly. As Joe DiGenova said, ” he’s the dirtiest cop in America.” This man needs to be investigated, indicted, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison for his criminal acts against our country.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Costa, I totally agree with you on this issue. “Magical thinking” has gripped our entire political class.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Whether the rumors of elite politicians being directly involved in occult practices are true or not, magical thinking is part of the occult. It can lead people into it be the result of occult practices.

              Also part of the “name it and claim it” approach to Christianity.

              Occult practice is all about power. Gaining it and using it. It will always be where such people gather.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Antiochene Son, I agree with every word you say.

      However, I just saw the signing ceremony on YouTube. The President’s body language betrays him: it’s clear to me that the Deep State got to him and forced him by some method of signing this monstrosity. He was clearly under duress. Perhaps his family and/or business empire was threatened. Or worse still, more mass-shootings were threatened upon the body politic.

      I’d like to think that the ACLU would file suit to stop parts of the bill which circumvent the Fourth Amendment but it’s always been my contention that the ACLU, like the ADL and the $PLC are nothing but Marxist shills who use the American system to undermine it. I’m now convinced of this.

      We are headed into a post-Constitutional reality. This started with the creation of the Military-Industrial Complex right after WWII ended. It accelerated with the events of 9/11.

      • Antiochene Son says

        The President’s body language betrays him: it’s clear to me that the Deep State got to him and forced him by some method of signing this monstrosity. He was clearly under duress. Perhaps his family and/or business empire was threatened. Or worse still, more mass-shootings were threatened upon the body politic.

        Oh sure, I have no doubt he was under duress. But when a high-profile person is threatened, everyone knows that the best course is to make it public, and shout it from the rooftops. Worst case scenario, nothing happens and it makes you look like a conspiracy theorist.

        I really think he ought to have come out with guns blazing.

        Joyous feast, everyone. Having the feast fall on a Sunday was a blessed reprieve in the midst of the Fast.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I’m not talking about thr porn star. If anything, it’ll make him more popular. I’m talking something far worse –and not to him

  2. Billy Jack Sunday says

    George and everybody

    Please list the top 10 most visited/influential Orthodox Christian related web sites (in order of opinion of whoever contributer) – minus Monomakhos


  3. Constaninos says

    Personally, I find it totally offensive every Sunday when the church prays for the US armed forces, and that God would grant them victory over their enemies. It’s an uninspired, stupid prayer that is only fit for warmongers. Why not just not pray for the Military Industrial Complex?
    Speaking of warmongers, Trump has appointed the odious chicken hawk John Bolton as his national security adviser. Early this morning, a former Israeli Defense Minister was complaining in the Jerusalem Post that Bolton was urging Israel to attack Iran. How dare he??!! Israel wants Iran attacked, but she wants the goyim to do her dirty work. That’s one of the reasons we have to break the nefarious Zionist influence in America. As you know, the UN Human Rights Council just passed five resolutions against the racist, apartheid state. We have real Zionist shills in our UN ambassador and phony, sleazy, incompetent President.
    As I have enunciated, we must end all lobbying of the US government and its politicians. No lobby should be able to give one dime to any politician’s campaign. There needs to be strict reform and monitoring of US political campaigns. We also need more viable political parties besides the Republicans and Democrats. We were left with two hellacious choices for President this year. This country needs CHANGE!!
    Oh, one other thing, as I was rereading my post, I was struck by the fact that my writing is very interesting. In fact, in my humble opinion, they really are must reading. You people are very fortunate to have me post from time to time. That is not to say that I don’t have a plethora of faults, I do. And no one knows that better than me. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Costa, I too am decidedly unimpressed with Bolton. The only thing he has going for him is that he’s a strong American nationalist. McMaster was a Deep State agent with ties to Soros’ front groups.

      As for praying for the armed forces, I can see why you might have some queasiness with it but every word of our liturgies are placed there by the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of things that baffle me about the Church but should I get to Heaven, I won’t bother Him with questions that I didn’t understand while in the mortal coil.

      Look at it this way: if a nation didn’t have a strong defense, then it could be overrun by barbarians who would then pillage, murder and rape with abandon. Kinda like what we got now with our open borders idiocy I grant you but still, you get the point.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Costa, a slight revision: I just read today that Bolton is a supporter of the Kurds. This raises my estimation of him slightly.

        Now I realize that as an America-firster, I shouldn’t give a tinker’s damn about out overseas entanglements and wish us to “come home” but in the grand scheme of things, the Kurds are definitely the good guys in a very bad neighborhood. Long story short: if the Palestinians deserve a homeland, then you can bet your bottom dollar that the Kurds do as well. More so, in fact. Being Indo-European (like the Iranians), they could actually make a go of statehood.

        • anonymus per Scorilo says

          in the grand scheme of things, the Kurds are definitely the good guys in a very bad neighborhood.

          Tell that to the victims of the Armenian Genocide … a very large part were robbed, raped and killed by local Kurds as they were driven by the Turkish army.

          I think there is a tendency of the human brain to idealize party X or Y or Z in a given conflict as the good guys and the other parties as the bad guys. It is somehow makes our brains less conflicted, allows us to have stronger opinions, and thus be overall more comfortable. But it does not mean it is correct.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Nobody in that part of the world wears a white hat. Yes, the Kurds were part of the Turkish army but so were other minorities. In fact, the architects of the Armenian genocide were themselves not of Turkish origin but minorities themselves.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      What’s that? Are some churches here in America praying publicly that God would give the US ARMED FORCES “victory over their enemies?” Is that something Grecian? Is it in print?

      • anonymus per Scorilo says

        The anaphora of the Liturgy of St. Basil, in the unabridged version which is edited out in many English translation, but which exists in the Liturgikon published by the Romanian Patriarchate (I am pretty sure the Greeks and Slavonic versions are similar):

        Pomeneşte, Doamne, pe cârmuitorii, pe care i-ai rânduit să stăpânească pe pământ; încununează-i pe dânşii cu arma adevărului, cu arma bunăvoinţei; veghează asupra capului lor în ziua de război, întăreşte braţul lor, înalţă dreapta lor, întăreşte stăpânirea lor, supunându-le lor toate neamurile străine, care voiesc războaie; dăruieşte lor adâncă şi statornică pace.

        which would be directly translated as:
        Remember, Lord, the rulers whom You have set to rule on the earth; crown them with the weapon of truth, with the weapon of goodwill; defend them in the day of war, strengthen their arm, raise their right hand, strengthen their rule, granting them dominion over all the foreign nations which want war; Grant them profound and lasting peace.

        Some of this is cut out in politically-correct translations:
        “Remember, Lord, this country and all those in public service whom you have allowed to govern on earth. Grant them profound and lasting peace. “

      • Constaninos says

        I love your sarcasm and wit, especially when it’s directed toward me.

      • Billy Jack Sunday says

        “Is it in print?”


        “These words are not in any Sunday Divine Liturgy . . .”

        Yes – it is in print and in the Divine Liturgy

        “To blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.”

        • Joseph Lipper says

          Billy Jack Sunday, you gotta love this translation:

          Daughter of Babylon! You devastator!

          How blessed will be the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.

          How blessed will be the one who seizes your young children and pulverizes them against the cliff!

          Psalm 137:8-9, International Standard Version

        • Bob’s your uncle, yoo’re roight! It is thayah in the Book of Montycommon Prayah immediately following the Saint Benny Hill litany for the aachbishop and his… eh…shall we say…intentions.

        • Billy Jack Sunday says


          Let us give tanks to the Lord

      • Gail Sheppard says

        If the EP can bless the tanks against the Kurds, I suspect we can pray for anything we want.

        Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (Antiochian):

        PRIEST: For the President of the United States and all civil authorities, and for our Armed Forces everywhere, let us pray to the Lord.

        CHOIR: Lord, have mercy.

        PRIEST: That he will aid them and grant them victory over every enemy and adversary, let us pray to the Lord.

    • “…and that God would grant them victory over their enemies.”


      These words are not in any Sunday Divine Liturgy Great Litany I’ve ever heard (and I’ve hear many versions in many traditions). There are prayers for the “armed forces everywhere,” just as there are prayers for for the president (or king/queen as the case may be) and all civil authorities. These prayers are not political in nature and endorse nothing evil.

      Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      It can hardly be said that Paul understood these prayers to be any sort of endorsement of war or the political ambitions of the rulers of his time. Neither do we view them as such in our own time. We do not pray for war or even ‘victory’ as such. We pray “for the peace from above and for the salvation of our souls,” including the souls of those who serve in government and the military.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Brian, those words appear, in pararethesis, in the Liturgy in the red Antiochean Service Book and were included in most Liturgies in the first 15 years of my life in the Church.

        Somewhere along the line they were not said anymore.

        In evaluating those words however they do appear in a less marshall way in some hymns to Christ about His enemies. Also, who and what are enemies? Certainly many other things besides the opposing soldiers. Not least of which are the demons who surely are thick in every battle. And, do we want our soldiers to loose?

        • Thank you, Michael. This is the first I’ve ever heard it, and I am by no means a new convert. I have heard it in other prayers outside the context of the Divine Liturgy, and these struck me as being a holdover from the Old countries and the days when monarchs were Orthodox and civil defenders of the Church. In any case, I’ve always understood these prayers in the context of Saint Paul’s instruction to Timothy.

          And no, not being a pacifist since that not in accordance with our faith which recognizes (while also mourning) the tragic realities of this world, I would not prefer that our armed forces lose battles, although I do think we should all greatly prefer Saint Basil’s prayer that in His mercy He “quench the raging of the heathen” (many of whom can now be found within, as well as without, the borders of our land).

          I remember being in an OCA parish immediately after 9-11 for a prayer service. It was my first and, God willing, only time of being exposed to the Church’s prayer for times of invasion and war. Although I cannot recall the exact words, I distinctly remember them having a thoroughly penitential tone – a confession that God had allowed us to be subjected to war because we had forgotten Him and thereby proven ourselves unworthy of His protection, as well as a prayer for His mercy. If victory was mentioned at all, it was for the sake of restoring peace and not beating the drums of war ‘in prayer’ that we might vanquish our enemies.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Brian, the manner in which we face war is becoming more and important don’t you think? Can we trust our rulers to be righteous in war? Not going to get to many affirmatives on that question I would say. But there is an underlying attitude with which we approach warfare that also needs to be addressed. We are not prepared by our culture to properly understand “enemy”. After all, where all “choices” are equal morally, spiritually and culturally (except Jesus Christ) how can there possibly be any enemies?

            The hangover from Viet Nam is still quite real (the first war fought with embedded media on TV).

            Then there is the technology aspect. With drones and ‘smart’ bombs even the blowing up of women and children can seem like a video game (and aren’t those fun?). Not to mention the nuclear option.

            Is there any legitimate reason for a country headed by a transient group of power mongers to go to war? Is there such a thing as a ‘nation’ any more?

            Right now we are still fighting WWI which became not the “War to End All Wars” but the war that began over one hundred years of continuous warfare thanks to the stupid and draconian peace that followed. The Wilsonian Doctrine of making the world safe for democracy continues to create havoc and loose the ideological dogs of war around the world in the name of freedom.

            She turns out to be as bloodthirsty as Kali, if not more so. We fight not for land or power but for markets and resources. We fight for no human reason. We declare war on everyone all the time: poverty, social justice, drugs, international law each cause creating situations in which the least powerful bear the most burden in terms of death, destruction and mayhem. It is worse than pagan. It is destruction for the sake of destruction. The dragon of “Thou Shalt” must be annihilated and the herd that serve it subjugated at all cost.

            The nuance approach of the Church speaks to men who are sane. I fear we no longer are. Any of us.

            • Michael,

              Although I cannot help but agree with your thoughts here, the older I get the more I realize that I am largely powerless, and that is probably as it should be. His strength being made perfect in weakness and all that. Governments will do whatever governments choose to do – if God allows it. This is not to say that I do not vote. As citizen of a Republic, I believe it is my duty to exercise whatever degree of authority God grants, however insignificant it may be in the scheme of things. Nor is this to say that I am fatalistic. It is just that I have come (somewhat painfully and reluctantly) to the recognition that God alone rules in the affairs of men, and He does or allows what He will for purposes that are mostly incomprehensible to me.

              The ungodliness that prevails everywhere seems to be His way of bringing all of us to “the end of ourselves”, as it were. Sometimes we do, indeed, come to the end of ourselves as nations and peoples, repent, and are granted reprieve. But the overall trajectory of this world expressed in all of prophecy is that things will get progressively worse in every way – and not, I believe, merely because our political leaders make bad policy decisions, but primarily because this world has rejected the only Life there is in favor of its own devices.

              “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

              I ponder that those for whom Paul commanded Timothy to have us pray “that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and dignity” included men like Claudius and Nero, whose subjects’ views on war or governance had even less influence than our own. As such, it seems that we can hope for little more from government than that it maintains order, however unjust, so that the citizenry isn’t subject to anarchy. Although it may be unpopular among some who comment here, it is for this reason that calling for any sort of revolution (from the left, the right, or the center politically speaking) strikes me as unwise, short-sighted, and ultimately destructive to the good of the Church regardless of the motives involved. As much as a part of me would like to see the evil structures of our government collapse, I also cannot help but be extremely grateful to God that we in this country are not subjected to the far worse evils that come of revolution and the overthrow of existing authorities, evil though they may be.

              The most good we can do is pray and give thanks, for apart from God’s grace there is only disintegration and death, good or bad governments notwithstanding. I firmly believe (and the Saints testify) that the only thing that keeps utter chaos, disintegration, and death at bay is the prayer of God’s people “for the peace from above…for the peace of the whole world,” etc. and God’s gracious response. This knowledge keeps my participation in our prayer from becoming mindless routine.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Brian, yup. No argument at all but there are still times, I think, where evil takes physical form and we are called to stop it physically. We over step the boundaries of that to our sorrow and the misery of others, but it is still there.

                This country will collapse as all countries do. The question is when.

                • Michael,

                  “…but there are still times, I think, where evil takes physical form and we are called to stop it physically.”

                  Oh yes. Up to and including killing if there is no other way. We delude ourselves if we deny this. Those who say it is sin are correct, but they are simply lying to themselves, making themselves ‘feel’ righteous, if they do not realize that the blood of those who are killed by the policemen and soldiers who protect them is not on their own hands as well.

                  The problem lies in the tendency either to presume that we are clean from sin because we have not been called to do it ourselves or to see the good (freedom, safety, school children being saved from a shooter, etc.) that comes of what should rightly be understood as tragic and glorifying it as good in itself.

                  • None of us escapes murder, even mass murder, don’t lie to yourselves. Hypothetical:

                    If the United States became a kingdom, and no matter how righteous, and godly a king I was. I would be forced to kill thousands, right off the bat. Perhaps even millions, as time rolled on. If I wanted to preserve my kingdom.

                    Otherwise my armies, family, and beloved court would be destroyed instead. A new kingdom would arise, most likely not godly, but humanistic, as before, to appeal to the carnal masses, a evil kingdom would rise in my failure as king.

                    So what is a good king to do, to keep a evil king from taking his kingdom?

                    The sad truth is, I would have to kill my enemies within my kingdom first, before even focusing on enemies outside my walls. Sound familiar?

                    The Tsar a hundred odd years ago did not have the vision, wits, or stomach for such reality. The lines were much more simple, and clearer then, now there are no lines at all.

                    What is a good king? Is that even a possibility?

                    Men and kings have even tried to distort what God is. First they destroy the old vision, truth, and kingdom, then create and preserve new kingdoms. Such as the Great Schism, then Islam, Church of England, Protestants, Jehovah Witnesses(failed), Mormons(still trying), etc.

                    All I know for humanity is all things come full circle, what we craved yesteryear, becomes obsolete the next, what we crave next was obsolete a century ago. We recycle our kingdoms, vision of governments, with only death to follow. Learning nothing from history except how to kill and convert the masses better than the generation before. So many lines crossed, so much exposed, what is left?

                    The only option left, for man, is the Nuclear option, but even then, would that bring our Lord’s, return? What will it take?

                    Humanity is ripe, for the picking again, but for what, and for whom?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Dino, I hear what you’re saying but hasn’t our Congress and executive killed thousands over the years to preserve their own power?

                    • Unless I misunderstand Dino, George, that was his point. No one escapes it

                  • George, absolutely, that’s my point. No matter what side we are on, the killing will never end. Everyone has blood on their hands. The blood of Christ can only wash it way after we die, or He comes. Until then there is no hope for us, just a waiting game, with consequences. We can only hope we fly the right flag in our journey. If that is even possible!

        • Antiochene Son says

          You are correct. From the “Nassar Five Pounder”:

          For our divinely protected Kings of true worship, all of their palaces, and their armies, let us pray to the Lord.

          For their help in war, and for the subjugation of every enemy and adversary beneath their feet, let us pray to the Lord.

          I wonder about this translation a bit. I suspect “palaces” ought to refer to the Royal House, as in the Royal family.

    • Where do parishes say that? I’ve attended services at most English-speaking jurisdictions and I’ve never heard a prayer for victory over enemies. I mean, sure, that would be a literal translation of the original, but we do not live in an Orthodox monarchy.

      Well, except for that bastardized Antiochian translation of the doxasticon of the 2nd stasis of the Holy Friday Lamentations, “O eternal God, Word co-unoriginate, and Spirit: Magnify the might of America, blessing us with peace and freedom evermore.” Ironic that a jurisdiction based out of Syria would continue to sanction that translation. Even more ironic is that Canadians, led by PM Justin “If you kill your enemies, they win” Trudeau, are directed to insert “Canada.”)

      The prevailing tradition in democracies is to change references to the monarchy to refer to either all Orthodox Christians, or to the hierarchs (and to the head of state only in the Litany of Peace and Great Entrance). For instance, while the troparion of the Cross originally prayed for the Emperor’s victory over the barbarians, it now prays for the Orthodox people’s victory over [spiritual] enemies.

      • Who to blame says

        Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross:

        The troparion of the feast which was, one might say, the “national anthem” sung on all public occasions in the Christian Empires of Byzantium and Russia, originally petitioned God to save the people, to grant victory in war and to preserve the empire “by the virtue of the Cross.” Today the troparion, and all the hymns of the day, are “spiritualized” as the “adversaries” become the spiritually wicked and sinful including the devil and his armies, and “Orthodox Christians” replace the names of ruling officials of the Empire.

        O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries; and by the virtue of Thy Cross, preserve Thy habitation (Troparion).

        As Thou was mercifully crucified for our sake, grant mercy to those who are called by Thy name; make all Orthodox Christians glad by Thy power, granting them victories over their adversaries, by bestowing on them the invincible trophy, Thy weapon of peace (Kontakion).

    • Will Harrington says

      just one question. How can Israel be a racist state when what you have are semites working against other semites? Could it be that some words truly have lost all their meaning and are only being used for their emotional effect? This sort of stereotypical phrasing does not make for interesting writing.

  4. Alitheia1875 says

    First, the armed forces don’t have a critical need for money. The US spends as much on its armed forces as the countries that have the next five largest armed forces combined. Also, it is interesting to note that Bolton’s super pac gave about $800,000 to Cambridge Analytica (make of that what you will).

    • George Michalopulos says

      Alitheia, you’re making the case for me. Ike warned us about this fifty years ago. We have never been larger, more powerful and more wealthy. Hence, I worry that the Lord will bring us down. It’s happened so many times before.

    • anonymus per Scorilo says

      The US spends as much on its armed forces as the countries that have the next five largest armed forces combined.

      Thank God for that !
      Otherwise comrade Gorbachev would still be running the Soviet Union and Ceausescu’s son (or grandson) would make one envy Kim Jong-un.

      • George Michalopulos says

        ApS, it’s time for us to come home. Russia isn’t in the warpath. Even in their wildest dreams they only want at most the eastern half of the Ukraine, and maybe the Baltic states.

        • anonymus per Scorilo says

          Russia isn’t in the warpath.

          Indeed. But if 300 years of history are any indication, there is a reasonable probability that this may not a long-lasting situation.

          Solzhenitsyn urged his fellow Russians to “renounce all mad fantasies of foreign conquest and begin the peaceful long, long long period of recuperation.” And I agree, this process has begun. But unfortunately it is a long and painful process, and relapses are possible. So people are cautious and keeping their powder dry.

          • George Michalopulos says

            ApS, it ain’t gonna happen if the West keeps provoking them. As I said in an earlier video, “don’t poke at the bear”.

            You know, we’ve provoked people before. According to former president Herbert Hoover, who traveled the world as a goodwill ambassador in his post-presidency, he accumulated a lot of proof that bad actors in the State Dept (who we now know were Stalinist stooges) did whatever they could to maneuver America into war against Japan. One of FDR’s closest aides, Harry Dexter White even went so far as to hide intel from his boss which showed that elements within Japan were willing to sue for peace regarding Manchuria.

            • anonymus per Scorilo says

              Indeed, but a lot of the poking is also done by those who control the bear:
              The method is obvious: do/say something outrageous (radium, Novichok, MH17), which provokes knee-jerk reactions from the western chancelleries (media attacks, embargos, diplomat expelling), which turns on the “we are being attacked, unite behind the leader” circuits in the brain of the bear, which results in elections at 76%

              And the western chancelleries are stuffed by people who would have failed their Russian Studies 101 and who blindly play into this game.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Of course. It’s reflexive, knee-jerk “diplomacy” based on studied ignorance and a rabid hatred towards Orthodox culture.

                • Deep Steak says

                  ah yes that time honored aspect of orthodox culture known as

                  looks at notes

                  exposing a populated city to the most lethal nerve agent ever developed

                  • anonymus per Scorilo says

                    DS, this was calculated to scare the brits senseless, so that they have the most irrational response possible, so that this creates the biggest back-clash in Russia.

                    Again, during the good old cold war times, when the guys in charge of responding to Russian provocations were competent and had a bit of culture and a proper education, the reaction would have been much more cool headed (think Cuban missile crisis). But the people who are in charge of “Russian affairs” nowadays probably went through high school watching 6 hours of TV per day, got a bachelor’s degree in sociology or international studies or other soft majors, and never read a page of Dostoevsky. As George said, studied ignorance. So hard to expect anything better.

                    But I do not think it is hatred of Orthodox culture; this culture is unfortunately too weak and too inconsequential (even in Orthodox countries) for those guys to even pay attention to. It is more likely just pure good old hatred of the Russians.

        • Constaninos says

          Russia is not on the warpath, but can we say the same about the US? As Patrick Buchanan wrote in his latest article,” President Trump has assembled a war cabinet.” Ron Paul has said on that President Trump has just signed a war budget with yet more military spending.
          I marvel at the stupidity of many Orthodox posters on this forum. Some genius asked how Israel can be a racist state. Duh?? How can you have an intelligent conversation with someone like that? Another genius said thank God that the US spends more on “defense” than the next seven combined. Do these people really know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
          To all the neocon jibber jabbers on this forum: You love incessant wars; well, that’s what you’re going to get and more. I hope all you neocon, chicken hawk, warmongers get drafted when the draft is reinstated. I can imagine all you chicken hawks will be coming down with bad cases of bone spurs. You jerks love wars as long as it’s other people doing the fighting and dying.
          George, let me ask you a question. Were you in favor of the invasion of Iraq in 2003? I was completely and totally against it. I can remember saying at the time that Bush was a warmonger with a hard on for Iraq. Why am I right so often? Because I think and have good old fashioned common sense. Something in short supply on this forum.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Costa, I don’t disagree with you at all. I for one, never believed that Russia was on the warpath. We however have been since the institution of the NWO in 1991.

            I won’t fall into the trap of accusing Israel of being a “racist state” since that term has lost all meaning (and anyway, if one is a Darwinist, one is by definition of racist), however I can agree with both Jimmy Carter and John Kerry that Israel is an “apartheid state”. Or at least looks something like that.

            So what’s the difference? Israel qua Israel as a “Jewish state” is an “ethnostate”. That’s not a moral opprobrium but what is to be expected. Nations are by definitions extended clan/tribal groups that share a common ethnicity. Because of this common kinship, they share a common culture and religion and live within broadly defined borders. If a nation is not completely homogeneous then it always has a dominant ethnic group whose culture and/or religion is the paradigm for that nation.

            That’s unexceptional and that’s why I don’t buy into the multiculti nonsense that’s peddled by the globalist-left. And hence, that’s why I cut Israel some slack. My beef comes into play here: it’s time for America to “come home” (pace Pat Buchanan). Short of that, we can sell these “furiners” all the weapons they want and they can fight it out.

          • anonymus per Scorilo says

            It is very easy to repeat swallowed propaganda (Israel is racist, military spending is bad) and insult all those who do not agree with it. It takes a bit more effort to realize that things do not fit very easily into black-and-white patterns, and that misplaced idealism can give birth to monsters. Since traveling back in time is not possible, and traveling to North Korea is complicated, the best cure against such idealism I can find is an excerpt from Solzhenitsyn’s commencement address at Harvard:

            The most cruel mistake occurred with the failure to understand the Vietnam War…. Members of the U.S. antiwar movement wound up being involved in the betrayal of Far Eastern nations, in a genocide and in the suffering today imposed on 30 million people there. Do those convinced pacifists hear the moans coming from there? Do they understand their responsibility today? Or do they prefer not to hear?…


            • Constaninos says

              Would you kindly tell me about your service in the US armed forces? Undoubtedly, you have served on the front lines in combat. You sound like a Marine to me. No, actually you sound like a chicken hawk.Your stunning lack of knowledge is exceeded only by your arrogance. Now, take your phallic symbol/gun along with your Second Amendment and blow it out your rear end.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Constaninos, that is the reaction of a pacifist? A true pacifist it would seem to me would be one who takes no aggression or responds aggressively to any provocation because either 1. He does not believe in or can bring himself to act in anger or self-defense and/or 2. It is God’s job, not his, to deal with evil. Humans getting involved only magnifies the evil and does nothing to enhance goodness.

                One can get quite deterministic about God’s work here if one chooses but that is not necessary.

                It is correct to some degree as the only real response to Allahu Akbar is Christ is Risen. But given the tenor of your response here it seems unlikely that you are a real pacifist. One could possibly come to the conclusion that you just don’t want anyone else to be an aggressor so you can be. But that is uncharitable and likely untrue.

                To be a real pacifist requires a degree of commitment to and knowledge of the goodness of God that most do not possess. Certainly I do not. At least not yet. But my wife is a life member of the NRA, a former champion black powder musket shooter who has taught hunter safety and the proper use of guns. Someday soon we are going to take concealed carry courses, even though in Kansas they are not required anymore. I have to learn to shoot and take care of the gun. If I can in good conscience accept the off duty police officer that guards our worship (and I can) why should I not carry too. Won’t carry into the temple though.

                • Constaninos says

                  Mr. Bauman,
                  I believe in nonviolent love toward friends and enemies. Regarding my post, when the poster accused me of swallowed propaganda, I knew it was not possible to engage in an intelligent conversation with someone that stupid and ignorant so I wrongly chose to speak to him in terms that he could understand. I should have ignored his ridiculous post. Thank you for the reminder.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Constaninos, non-violence is not the same as pacifism. Non-violence is still coercive and focused on getting one’s way. Besides anger is violence.

                    We all swallow propaganda every day just as a fish swallows water. It is impossible not to be misled. So the martyr/pacifist/Christian way is to say when accused, “You are right, forgive me. Let us find the truth together.”

                    Anger is always a screen to cover fear and shame.

                    What made you afraid, what shamed you?

                    I say this as a recovering angerholic BTW.

                    • Constaninos says

                      Dear Michael Bauman,
                      I don’t know that I was really angry. I mean I didn’t curse, raise my voice or smash my computer. I have been in a bad mood this week from illness and other headaches. If I’m angry, it’s probably because I’m an old man , and am beginning to realize time is very short for me.

                    • MB, thank you for your testimony of faith in Jesus. Please read 1 Corinthians 2:2 .”For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” No mention of Toll Houses. Amazing all those people who believed in Jesus through the preaching of the apostles without any mention of Toll Houses. I wonder why Jesus forgot to mention them.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      In Gesthemane, did not Jesus state that “the devil has nothing in me”?

  5. Francis Frost says

    George writes:

    “Russia is not on the warpath”

    George, once again, your posting is a confabulation of disinformation and wishful thinking. The Russian government has been carrying out a continuous program of belligerent aggression for the entire past 25 years. The Russian government has invaded invaded the Republic of Georgia 3 times: in 1991, 1992 – 1993 and again in 2008. These invasions have been marked by the deliberate targeting of civilian populations and the native Orthodox churches. Russia has also invaded and occupied the territories of Moldova and Ukraine. Russian operatives carried out the assassination of Aleksandr Litvinenko by transporting radioactive Polonium on British Airways commercial air flights and carrying it throughout central London. The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal was accomplished by carrying the most toxic Novichok nerve agents through the English countryside, with several hundred British subjects exposed to that banned chemical warfare agent. Both actions are deliberate acts of war.

    The Russian government has engaged in cyber attacks not only on American and European political processes; the Russian military cyber warfare command has also targeted critical civilian infrastructure including power plants, the electrical grid and and water purification plants.

    In Syria, the Russian air force has engaged in indiscriminate carpet bombing, leveling entire cities and villages; just as Putin did in the re-conquest of Chechnya in 2000, when 100,000 of Russia’s own citizens were buried in the rubble of their own homes. Putin’s protege, Bashar al Asad has gassed civilian populations with banned chemical weapons, resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. Death by Sarin gas is so awful as to make the ISIS beheadings look merciful in comparison.

    The fact that professed Orthodox Christians act as propagandists for the once and always evil empire is reprehensible and vile. Putin is no defender of the Russian population, Kemerovo proves that. Putin remains what he always was, a low life thug.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    Constaninos, if you are an old man and time is short, we are in the same boat I think. Still, I spent too much time bitching, moaning, complaining and trying to get my way. In my dotage God has seen fit to give me more friends and family than I have ever had before mostly through the gift of my incredible, God Loving wife.

    Still, whenever He sees fit, I will not be too unhappy to go. All the more reason to repent not only for my own sake but for the sake of those I love whom He has give me. Besides, while I may not have actually done something that someone else accuses me of, I am at the very least capable of doing it and even worse.

    This is the day the Lord has made, Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

  7. Francis Frost says

    Further evidcnce of Putin’s incompetence: From the BBC.

    BTW: Volokalamsk is the titular see of the hapless Metr. Hilarion Alfeyev.

    Russia state of emergency as toxic dump fumes hit town near Moscow

    Russian officials say a state of emergency will be declared in the town of Volokolamsk, north-west of Moscow, where thousands have protested over toxic fumes from a landfill site.
    Hydrogen sulphide in the town’s air was at least 10 times above the permitted level on Thursday, although locals said it was far worse than that.
    There are plans to evacuate mothers with infants to health facilities.
    On 21 March, 57 children who had nausea and headaches were taken to hospital.
    District leader Andrei Vikharev told an angry crowd on Thursday that “we are launching the state of emergency procedure”.
    The mayor, Pyotr Lazarev, said mothers with infants would be offered evacuation to health facilities, and later other children and invalids could also be evacuated.
    He said residents would “get individual protection materials” – which he did not specify – and “the plan is to install ultraviolet lamps in schools”. UV radiation can break down hydrogen sulphide and also boost the body’s vitamin D production.
    The organisers of Thursday’s protest outside the town hall said about 6,000 people attended. The town, 129km (80 miles) from Moscow, has about 23,000
    The waste dump at Yadrovo is several kilometres outside the town and the authorities have rejected local demands to close it.
    One activist, Artyom Lyubimov, told Russian Vedomosti news that he doubted whether a state of emergency would really take effect.
    “Our MPs were in favour of it, but Vikharev and the emergencies ministry were against,” he said.
    He said the priority was to evacuate residents from housing blocks nearest to Yadrovo.
    The activists posted video of their demonstration on VKontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. Their VK group is called “Green” Volokolamsk.

    While down south :

    Pollution devastating industrial Russian city
    From a smouldering open pit coalmine to a trash heap the size of the Sochi Olympic Park, millions of Russian residents in Central Russia’s Chelyabinsk region are living amidst jaw-dropping amounts of pollution.
    During WWII, this formerly closed city began producing weapons-grade plutonium and saw an overall spike in industrial production.
    But today, despite three major Soviet Era accidents and waterways still poisoned by nuclear waste, the population remains.
    Though statistics are unclear, doctors report that cancer is on a dramatic rise and nose and lung infections are common for all.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Brian, …and we should honor those who willingly put themselves in that situation. I will remember forever the conversation I had with my son years ago as he was looking at joining the military. He told me he realized that he was putting his own soul at risi but he was willing to do that to protect others.

    Sin and death are linked.

    • Michael,

      Yes. Courage, selflessness, sacrifice, and love are worthy of honor. These virtues are the only redeeming aspect to the tragedy of it all. Even those who are/were drafted (those who do not choose it) and serve(d) honorably are worthy of honor. And all of them are in great need of our prayers, including veterans. Few of us (thank God!) have any idea of the burden borne by the souls of those who have killed their fellow man.

  9. Michael Bauman says

    johnkal, Lots of things not mentioned in Scripture that are taught. The processes are thin in Scripture. We are told to fast, but not how to fast. We are told to repent, but not how to repent, etc. The Toll House teaching is helpful to some, over done by others and ignored by most. It’s critics do more to keep it alive and kicking than it’s proponents.

    It has been a part of my salvation. Not an essential part but not inconsequential either. It opened my heart to the seriousness of repentance.

    Repentance leaves no hold in me for the evil one. Without repentance my soul has these Velcro attachments for sin.

    Take that for what it is worth.

    • MB, are you suggesting or assuming that apostolic preaching, as well as the preaching of the Lord Himself, included teaching about toll houses? Obviously, not everything is mentioned in scripture, but the essentials are and the accretions are to assist us in understanding the essentials. Repentance is serious and one cannot claim to be a Christian without it.

      • Constaninos says

        How can there be tollhouses when it says in First Corinthians that we are going to judge angels? We judge them; they don’t judge us. This toll house nonsense has no place in Orthodox Christianity whether it is metaphorical or otherwise. It completely nullifies the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. I posit that if anyone believes in toll house fairy tales, they don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

        • Every so often this subject of Toll Houses comes up. Conversations about the subject usually take place in the context of categories of physical reality. It is asked, “Are they real?” Some answer, “Yes, it is part of our Tradition.” Others answer, “No, it is a sort of ‘Orthodox’ mythology.”

          It is not unlike the questions, “Are the fires of hell real? Or, “Are the streets of heaven really paved in gold?”

          I would strongly encourage anyone, regardless of his view, to take the time to read this excellent essay by a truly faithful and Traditional Orthodox Christian. It may not end the debate entirely, but it should at least bring some mutual understanding by placing the subject in a realm of categories proper to its discussion. It certainly did so for me.

          • Constaninos says

            Hi Brian,
            I read the article. Unfortunately, Orthodox Christian Info is a site I avoid, as I do the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, and the Russian Orthodox Church. To me, it is a different kind of Orthodoxy, an Orthodoxy that creates deep discomfort within me. Personally, I believe Greek Orthodoxy is superior to the Russian Orthodox. I don’t like Russia, Putin or Russian culture.

            • Anonymous says

              Constaninos, the guy that runs the website is from the GOARCH and has never been a member of any Slavic jurisdiction, to my knowledge.

              He is, however, evidently free from the ridiculous ethnic bias that you have just demonstrated. The light of Christ shines on all, not just the Hellenes. You’ve just dismissed a Church that produced MILLIONS of martyrs during the Bolshevik repressions, because you don’t like “Russia, Putin or Russian culture.” The Russian Orthodox presence in North America has produced a number of saints, has the Greek Orthodox presence? What a joke.

              “I read your article, but I’m only going to address the fact that I don’t like Russians and Greeks are better.”

              A few days you told us that you were smart and write really well. For your sake, I hope it your tongue was placed firmly in cheek.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Thank you Anon for coming to my defense. While I was a member of the GOA for the first 40 years of my life, I am now in a Slavic-derived jurisdiction (the OCA) so I guess technically, you’re right on that point as well.

                It’s your later points that troubles me the most. Specifically that the Slavic churches under the Warsaw Pact were scenes of horrific martyrdom (beginning with St John Kuchorov and the Imperial family); and that the GOA has as of yet to produce any type of Christian witness –martyric or otherwise.

                • Constaninos says

                  He was not coming to your defense at all. He was referring to another web site that has nothing to do with you. I was trying to say I was at home with Greek culture.

            • Constaninos,

              I would ask only that you remember what you read. Some things are helpful at some stages in our lives and not so helpful at others. The same is true of what we are prepared to hear – or not hear – at a given time in our life. I know this has been true of my own life. As such, I find it helpful to “file things away” and bear them in mind rather than reject them out of hand, even if I am inclined to reject them at the present time.

              What I would also ask is that you ponder what you have read in the context of your participation in the Bridegroom Matins of this holy week.

              It is perfectly clear to anyone that purely earthly images are applied to a spiritual subject so that the image, being impressed in the memory, might awaken a man’s soul. “Behold the Bridegroom cometh at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching.”

              • Constaninos says

                I thank you for your advice because I know it comes from a good heart. Let me ask you honestly: why should I remember a dream someone named Theodora(or whatever) had when he came up with “toll houses?”

                • Constaninos,

                  It isn’t the dream I would ask you to remember. It is the approach to our understanding of these things that Father Michael Pomazansky talked about in his essay that I think should be remembered. The Church presents us with all sorts of images that are “real” in a certain sense but are still not to be understood as “literal” (in the everyday sense of our use of the word). I know for myself that some images impact me deeply while others do not. Perhaps it is a matter of personal temperament or life experience. I suspect this is why the Church presents us with so many varieties of images to call us to repentance.

                  I note that Fr. Michael made no attempt to tell us that the toll-houses are “real” in the sense that some understand (mistakenly, I think) their reality. As such, he didn’t bother to delve into any explanation of how they might work. He merely pointed to the usefulness of the image in terms of the seriousness of our need for awakening our souls, as well as the fact that imagery of this sort is (for good reason) part of our liturgical tradition.

                  As an aside concerning your discomfort with Russian spirituality as it relates to this topic, a couple of thoughts:

                  Almost every Saint quoted in the essay (including the Righteous Theodora herself) was Greek.

                  Although I personally have no opinion on the Ephraimite monasteries, it is they (the ‘Greekest’ of the Greek Orthodox) who seem to emphasize toll houses more than anyone else. Whether this is because they really think they are ‘literal’ or not I cannot say. But the fact that they seem to be emphasizing the urgent and immediate need for serious repentance and fear of God should probably not be lost on any of us.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Constanions, Orthodoxy should create discomfort in you. That is the biggest problem with the Greeks–no discomfort.

              Podvig (love that word) is a real thing in our separation from Christ.

              My wife doesn’t get it because she has the heart of a child in regard to Jesus. Still, the adult in her struggles as the rest of us do to face and acknowledge our sins, our shame and our fear. Sometimes that is really uncomfortable.

              Let me ask you Constaninos, in your parish is the sacrament of confession readily available?

              For all the Antiochean ‘worldliness’, confession is done almost every Saturday and by appointment mid-week in my parish. Entry to the Bridal Chamber always available and I ignore it almost as often.

              • Constaninos says

                No, Mr. Bauman,
                It is not readily available. We have no midweek services except during Holy Week, and have Vespers one Saturday per month. How can we be separated from Christ when the Holy Spirit dwells within us? “I am persuaded that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” Honestly, ninety nine percent of my sins are committed right here on this forum.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Constantinos, you are indeed a fortunate man if such a high proportion of your sins are here in the public eye. Mine are done mostly at home, in the selfishness of my actions toward those closest to me, in thinking too highly of myself and refusing to look into the abyss of my own heart. “I behold the Bridal Chamber, but have no wedding garment to worthily enter.”

                  Please forgive me especially if I lead you into sin here.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    BTW, we have quite a few people in our parish and have an assistant priest, but our Dean does almost all of the confessions even during Lent. Of course, not all come. Even Saturday there were only a handful of us. That is the sorrow. I should be there far more often.

              • Real Christianity creates discomfort. One can not take up the cross and follow Jesus with out a sense of discomfort. Repentance requires a sense of self-awareness and discomfort. However, one can be wealthy and educated and be close to the kingdom. The discomfort comes from our sin and separation from God. As St Augustine stated, “my heart is restless Lord until it rests in you.”

                Much of what is promoted in todays world as Evangelical Christianity is devoid of the message of the cross. Sin and repentance are replaced by coercing God into giving us what we want when we want it through positive thinking. Suffering for the sake of the kingdom, which has redemptive value, is ignored.

                I was gifted a book by Joel Olsten, which I read and found it to be nothing more than positive thinking. We want something–think positively about it–and God is required to grant our wish. He gives us the desires of our hearts.

                Unfortunately, this thinking does not lead to repentance which is essential to entry into the Kingdom. May God grant us repentance so that we can be found worthy of his Kingdom. Heaven is not going to be populated by nice people but rather by forgiven sinners.

              • Constaninos says

                Mr. Bauman,
                I meant discomfort in a creepy sort of way.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Creepy. Heresy makes me feel creepy. My own sins make me feel creepy when I am trying to ignore them. GREEK Orthodox make me feel creepy, my mother-in-law really makes me feel creepy. ARAB Orthodox make me feel creepy, especially the sitti contingent. RUSSIAN Orthodox do not seem to have that effect on me but that is probably because I have a certain morose side to my personality that finds commonality there. Some of us are only happy when we are sad. You do not seem be that way.
                  My wife is trying to cure me. She, after all fits her name, Merry.

                  Still not exactly a precise term.

          • I respectfully ask everyone not to demean the spirituality of our Greek Orthodox brethren. Both nominalism and great holiness can be found in all jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Brian, you are correct. I should not have limited my comment to Greeks alone. I myself am too comfortable in my own righteousness.

          • Constaninos says

            I read an article in the Jerusalem Post this morning written by Abe Foxman about the sewers of antisemitism being unleashed by President Trump’s supposed embrace of Neo Nazis. In his scurrilous screed, he bemoans the fact that political correctness is not as strong as it once was. He also calls himself a holocaust survivor.
            Mr. Foxman, you are not a holocaust survivor. Your parents were, but not you. You were not sent to any ghetto or concentration camp. You immigrated to America in 1950 with your parents. You never came into any contact whatsoever with any Nazis.
            Antisemitism is all but non existent in the US. Instead of criticising the most philo semitic country in world history, get your rear end over to Saudi Arabia where you can experience real antisemitism- not the fake kind in which you and your ilk dare suggest that criticism of Israel or support for the Palestinians is somehow “antisemitic.” Oh, I get it; antisemitism is whatever you say it is. Nonsense!!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Demons accuse, they don’t judge (only Christ can judge) and if you accept that they roam about freely, as Scripture tells us, isn’t it naive to assume they’ll somehow disappear during our passing?

          During the Feast of the Dormition, why does the Church teach us that the Theotokos was “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom if there were no process from which she would need to be spared?

          It is better to be prepared and be pleasantly surprised than to dismiss it out-of-hand and be caught unaware.

          • Again, if Toll Houses exist, and I don’t believe they do, why were they not mentioned in the preaching of Jesus or the apostles. Jesus’ central message was repentance the Kingdom is at hand. The apostles preached Jesus as the Messiah calling people to repentance and baptism–no mention of Toll Houses. Either the apostles and Jesus were forgetful or Toll Houses are at best incidental but probably fictional. Don’t mislead people! The thief on the cross was told that he would dine with the Father that evening not after going through Toll Houses. “Be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Also St Paul writing to the Galatians, ” Evidently some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be under a divine curse! 9As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you embraced, let him be under a divine curse!…

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Johnkal, demons are a fixture in Scripture. Jesus talked about them. He prayed to the Father to protect us from them. Prayers mentioning the aerial accusers can be found in Liturgical texts and official Orthodox books like The Great Book of Needs. The mention of toll houses can be found in the hymnology of the Church, and in stories of the lives of some saints, for example, the Life of Saint Anthony the Great, written by Saint Athanasius the Great, the life of Saint Basil the New, and Saint Theodora, in the homilies of St. Cyril of Alexandria in the Discourses of Abba Isaiah, the Philokalia, the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and the Dogmatics of the Orthodox Church by Justin Popović. Other church hymns say that the souls have to “pass through the rulers of darkness standing in the air.”

              A number of contemporary Church figures support the teaching on toll-houses. Recent saints, including Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov and Saint Theophan the Recluse, insisted not only on the truthfulness of but also on the necessity of this teaching in the spiritual life of a Christian. The most detailed account of the aerial toll-houses is found in the hagiography of Saint Basil the New, found in the Lives of Saints.

              Encouraging the Body to “curse” those who do not share your understanding of these things means “cursing” the Saints and Holy Fathers. Does this seem reasonable to you?

              There are 20 “toll houses,” i.e. opportunities for accusation. See if you recognize any of them as the subject of Jesus’ teaching:

              Remembering evil

              • No question that demons are real. Again, why no record of the preaching of toll houses by Jesus or any of the apostles– seems strange to me. Maybe they just forgot.

                • Gail, the curse is not from me but from St Paul.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    I hear you, Johnkal. (So glad you are capitalizing your name. I’m am always so uncomfortable addressing you using a small “J!”)

                    There are many things Jesus didn’t talk about like when the world would end. There are also things He shared only with the Apostles. That’s why the Church tells us not to rely solely on Scripture but to hold to the teachings of the Church.

                    If I am confronted with demons after death, at least I’ll know who they are and what they’re doing. My answers will all be the same: “I do not answer to you so I offer no excuse. I believe in the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and He is merciful.”

                    May you and yours have a blessed, Pascha, Johnkal.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I think you may be on to something Gail. A wise GOA priest once told me that what he intends to do on Judgment Day is throw himself at the feet of Lord and plead guilty to everything, begging for His mercy.

                  • Constaninos says

                    Father Steven Salaris has written about the tollhouse heresy. Essentially, he says it makes a blasphemous mockery of the salvific death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I wholeheartedly concur with his erudite assessment.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Still, there will be a judgment. I understand the potential reality of the toll houses. I also know that they are raised to a doctrinal level where they do not belong by both the radical proponents and the hardcore opponents. The idea of the Tollhouses in and of themselves is not a heresy. Neither can they be anything more than a pious belief that can be of assistance to people in approaching our salvation, or not. Do we really want to divide over such a thing?

                      Something happens in those forty days after our repose. It is likely that we are faced with our sins in some way shape or form, is it not? Scripture certainly makes it pretty plain that we are.

                      Personally, I have always liked the C.S Lewis version in the Chronicles of Narnia. We see Jesus Christ face to face. We either thank God and walk into the light from glory to glory or we look away and go into darkness. Except for the dwarfs.

                      But that, Scripturally, is not really a good description. 1 Cor 3:15 is much more descriptive of what we are likely to face. Trial by fire–the all consuming love of God.

                      How much of that can we endure? Shoot, I find it tough to look at my wife face to face at times because of her love for me. She looks at me, glowing and utterly vulnerable, open and accepting and about all I can see are my sins against her. I want to hide my face from her. What would I do face to face with Jesus Christ?

                      That might be worse than any demonic suggestion or interference. Might my shame overwhelm me? In fact, it might be what the Toll Houses are describing might it not?

                      Have you ever wondered what it was like for the demoniac from whom Jesus cast out legions of demons? What did he experience as that occurred? Even compelled by the Word of God, did those evil critters go silently?

                      Might not God’s ineffable love bring out all of the darkness of our soul without excuse or justification? Might that induce the demons who rule those sins to chatter and accuse trying to draw us down into the pit of fire made for the evil one and his angels away from God’s fire of love toward nothingness?

                      Might not the prayers of the saints and our guardian angel and our brothers and sisters in Christ still here help keep them at bay?

                      Might we not find somewhere in the recesses of our souls a little light and that light anchored in who we really are, small and insignificant as it is, endure all of that and pass on and be resurrected?

                      Sure thing is that in Orthodox understanding there is no ‘golden ticket’.

                      I suspect that contrary to the old song, the salvation train ends up carrying a lot of gamblers and other sinners who have the humility to repent and face their shame.

                      Of course universalism does not hold in light of the Scripture but neither does Calvinism. We are sinners, but we are not in the hands of an angry God. Our God wills all to come to Him and be saved. The Cross draws all men to Him. It seems some will fail the test, but I hope it is far fewer than what many believe or seems logical to us. Do we know for certain the fate of the other thief crucified next to Jesus? St. Dismus we know, but what of the other man? Do we dare speak to the silence of the Gospel with certainty and condemn him?

                      Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, closer than hands and feet. What demons lurk in the dark forests of my life to lure me from the narrow way?

                      All of the ones that Gail lists and many permutations and combinations impossible to quantify. Legion. The sins of others are small and insignificant.

                      Yet, Christ is Risen, trampling down death by death.

                      Fr. Stephen Freeman says often that Christ did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live.

                      If Tollhouses are thought of as moral hurdles of the after life they are simply weird and quite unhelpful. But like all things involving God and man, they are both here and yet to come, now and not now. Life or death? The readiness is all.

                      Let us be wise virgins, or at least wise and store up for ourselves treasure in heaven by repentance; forgiveness; the merciful giving of alms to those we meet and ask of us; giving glory to God in prayer and in celebration of the Sacraments; in the reading of Scripture and the lives of the Saints and the Apostolic teaching of the Holy Fathers; in veneration of icons; in song and in word. “Open Thou my lips O Lord and my mouth will declare thy praise.”

                      I endeavor to take offense at no man knowing that I am or could be far worse than they and I must repent of any sin I see. I work to hold on to the peace that God has given me. I fail often but the effort alone has brought much good fruit to my life.

                      Blessed Pascha to all.

                      Hristos a înviat
                      Kristusaq ungwektaq!
                      Kristuussaaq unguirtuq!

                    • Constantinos,

                      “Actually, no one can dogmatically establish the existence of the toll-houses precisely in accordance with the form described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New, insofar as no direct indication thereto is to be found in the Scriptures. However, this tradition has been preserved, with varying details, from profound antiquity and contains nothing that is contrary to piety. It is cited in all texts of dogmatic theology. The unorthodox explanation of Deacon Lev Puhalo, that the soul, separated from the body can neither see nor hear, that it cannot be subjected to the “particular judgment” of God without the body, and his very understanding of the toll-stations as mere bargaining between the angels and the demons indicates the hastiness of his judgments. Archimandrite Justin (Popovich), the most recent author in the field of dogmatic theology, writes of the toll-stations in the same spirit as they are described in the dream (of Gregory recounted in the life) of Basil the New. Archpriest Malinovsky, the author of a dogmatic theology text valued highly by Metropolitan Anthony, writes on the question: ‘How is the particular judgment conducted? What are the forms and manners of its implementation? The Scriptures do not speak of this. A trial has two aspects: the investigation of the innocence or guilt of the one being tried and the pronouncement of the sentence over him. But when the trial is conducted by the by the Omniscient God, for Whom the mortal state and worthiness of a man are ever apparent, the first aspect of the trial must be understood exclusively in the bringing of the soul to an awareness of its mortal state. For man’s individual awareness is revealed by means of his conscience, that incorruptible judge established by God Himself within the soul. It is exactly in this way that one cannot accept the pronouncement of the sentence by the Almighty Being only in the sense of the announcing of the Judge’s decision to the soul; the word of God is also the activity of His will, and for this reason the decision of the Almighty Judge is also the blessing of a soul or the refusal to permit its entry into the Kingdom of eternal life. Doubtless, the justice of God’s judgment which determines its fate will be clearly acknowledged by the soul itself which is judged by its own conscience’ (Archpriest N. Malinovsky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Sergiev Posad, 1909, Vol. IV, pp. 448-450). Malinovsky mentions that even the ancient teachers, citing the account of the toll-stations, saw it only a ‘weak depiction of the heavenly things’ (ibid., pp. 453-454). However, in the prayer of the Church there is considerable mention of the toll-station” – Extract from the Minutes of the Session of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside or Russia, On 19 November/2 December, 1980 –

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Constaninos, “Tollhouse heresy”. That is a broad charge that is too much IMO.

                      I do not know any of the proponents who claim it is necessary for salvation to believe in literal tollhouses. I could be wrong but I have never seen it that way.

                      Raising the tollhouse paradigm to the level of heresy gives it too much importance.

                      All it really says is that the demons can interfere with us if we allow it. The prayers of the saints can help. But judgement is real and we best be prepared.

                      Repentance is the key.

                      Yes there are those that make them too literal and the process IMO too transactional but such things are always a danger when describing the unseen.

                      Chill, brother.

                • “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” – Ephesians 6:12


                  What is actually interesting, given that they are widely referenced by the Fathers and sung about in the Ochtoechos, is that anyone still believes that they are not part of Orthodox teaching. The hymnody of the Church is a source of Sacred Tradition:

                  “When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body’s limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God.” Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers

                  “Pilot my wretched soul, pure Virgin, and have compassion on it, as it slides under a multitude of offences into the deep of destruction; and at the fearful hour of death snatch me from the accusing demons and from every punishment.” Ode 6, Tone 1 Midnight Office for Sunday

                  In both the Greek and Slavonic Euchologion, in the canon for the departure of the soul by St. Andrew , we find in Ode 7:

                  “All holy angels of the Almighty God, have mercy upon me and save me from all the evil toll-houses.”

                  Likewise, in the Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul in The Great Book of Needs are the following references to the struggle of a soul passing through the toll-houses:

                  “Count me worthy to pass, unhindered, by the persecutor, the prince of the air, the tyrant, him that stands guard in the dread pathways, and the false accusation of these, as I depart from earth.” (Ode 4, p. 77).

                  “Do thou count me worthy to escape the hordes of bodiless barbarians, and rise through the aerial depths and enter into Heaven…” (Ode 8, p. 81).

                  “[W]hen I come to die, do thou banish far from me the commander of the bitter toll-gatherers and ruler of the earth…” (Ode 8, p. 81).

                  “In the hour, O Virgin, of my end keep me from the hands of the demons, and from the judgment, and trials, and terrible torture, and the bitter toll-houses, and the evil Prince, O Mother of God, and eternal condemnation (Octoechos, Tone 4, Friday, 8th Ode)

                  “When my soul desires to separate its bodily ties and depart from life, do Thou appear to me, O Mistress, and destroy the councils of the bodiless enemies, crush their jaws of those who seek to devour me:
                  that I may without hindrance pass the princes of darkness, standing in the air, O Bride of God, “(Tone 2, Sat. Ode 9, Tr. 16)

                  In the canon to the Lord Jesus and All-Holy Mother of God, which is sung at the separation of the soul from the body of every right believer:

                  “Vouschafe me to pass from the earth unhindered by the Aerial Prince, the violent one, torturer, keeper of the terrible ways and vain word-extortionist “(Ode 4, tr. 4).

                  “Vouschafe me to flee from the barbarian bodiless hosts, to pass the aerial depths and to arise to the heavens, so that I may forever glorify Thee, O Mother of God “(Ode. 8, tr. 2).

                  Canon to the Guardian Angel:

                  “All my life I have spent much time in vain, now I approach the end: I pray thee, my keeper, be a protector to me and an undefeated champion,
                  when I will pass the toll-houses of the ferocious keeper of the world”(Ode. 9, tr. 3)

                  Prayer after the fourth Kathisma of the Psalter:

                  “O Lord, grant me tears of compunction … that with them I will pray to Thee to be cleansed before my end of every sin: a fearsome and stern place I must pass, having separated from my body, and a
                  multitude of dark and inhumane demons will meet me (Psalt. Prayer after the 4th Kath.).

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Exactly, Misha. The Church teaches this. Do we get to dismiss it because we don’t like it?

                    I don’t think so.

                    • Again, why were toll houses not communicated in the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles. Why did Jesus not mention them to the thief on the cross. Because they don’t exist or at best are insignificant. What Jesus did on the cross is sufficient for our salvation. That is why He proclaimed “it is finished.”Not even the creed mentions them. Of course, not everything is mentioned in Scripture but the essence of the faith is present.

                      Misha, am I to understand that you ascribe equal importance to selected liturgical texts as you do to the scriptures?

                    • Penal Substitutionary Atonement finds its uncomfortable place in Orthodoxy with those who go on about justification by grace through faith as the Protestants do. Christ directly contradicted this. He has already told us that He will come again to judge the living and the dead and has given us the criteria:

                      Matthew 25:31-45:

                      “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.”

                      Theosis enables us to rise to the occasion.

                      Matthew 7:21:
                      “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

                  • Constaninos says

                    Mr. Bauman,
                    Not to change the subject, but is Shohei Ohtani unbelievable or what? Wasn’t that funny when his teammates ignored him after he hit his first homerun?

  10. anonymous per Scorilo said to George:

    “But I do not think it is hatred of Orthodox culture; this culture is unfortunately too weak and too inconsequential (even in Orthodox countries) for those guys to even pay attention to. It is more likely just pure good old hatred of the Russians.”

    I wonder if it can be a bit of both, and more i.e. hatred of Orthodox culture, Russians and mankind in general. For instance, my understanding of Orthodoxy has it that the devil and his demons work consciously behind the scenes (our thoughts etc., and perhaps people in bodies) to bring their unconscious dupes (anyone of us, including politicians) to ruin. Assuming this is right, I think it’s fair to say that while the message anti-Russian politicians get is “those damned Russians”, it’s actually coming from others who know it’s because of “those pesky Christians”, “those potential pesky Christians”, “those inveterate capitalists/nationalists/atheists” etc.

    It’s for reasons like this that I have no problem seeing a general conspiracy taking place against humans. Granted, a good deal of information on this serves only secular or pseudo-spiritual agendas, but if the idea as a whole is placed in an Orthodox Christian context, then it’s among the most important information that I have.

    As such, I could probably now go one step further and say that it does actually boil down to only a hatred of Orthodox Christianity in that the mischief caused in all affairs, which of course includes America v Russia, is nothing other than that which seeks to hamper the Faith, the faithful, the would-be faithful and the (now) never-could-be faithful, thanks to the latter’s becoming so entrenched in distraction and the widespread influence this has in the world.

    I’m certainly not suggesting that an all-Orthodox world wouldn’t be capable of distracting itself, in it’s own special way, but I don’t mind saying that things are made much more difficult by all the rest.

    But it’s not all bad – of course. For behind those wily conspirators of ours is He Who is even ‘craftier’.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    He is doing well. No doubt. It is nice to see the Angels recover from the Josh Hamilton/Pujols over pays and the Royals sweeping them out of the post season in 2014. Let’s hear it for the rally monkey

  12. Constaantinos says

    I have two words- James Comey! Jimmy Boy, what were you thinking? (shaking my head and rolling my eyes)

    • George Michalopulos says

      I know, right?

      Personally, I think he was caught between a rock and hard place. The rank-and-file FBI wanted him to clasp Hillary in irons while the Deep State elite leaned on him to give her a pass.

      • Constaantinos says

        He thought Hillary was going to win, and wanted to insure that he remained as the head of the FBI. He is a disgrace and a traitor to the US.