The Arrogance of the Elites

Monomakhos received this and I decided to publish it. The author asks to remain anonymous. It’s strong in places but the author says some things that need to be said.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Fr. Ted Bobosh casts another stone at +Jonah (Fr. Hopko was the first) in what the Stokovites hope will become the dominant narrative once the AAC has ended. Bobosh, known for confusing rhetorical sophistry with wisdom (“I don’t conceive of homosexuality as a sin because I don’t think heterosexuality is a virtue”), waxes reflective once again:

The Metropolitan acknowledged that the past three years have been an administrative disaster. From where I sit on the Metropolitan Council, on the MC’s Ethics Committee and on the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee his words are certainly an accurate assessment of what has happened under his administration. He did own up to being the source of the problem but also blamed his critics for creating a difficult atmosphere – for me the truth is that much of that poisoned atmosphere was created by himself.

Expect to hear more of it.

+Jonah’s agreement to undergo yet another round of psychological testing was a tactical error. Anyone undergoing three years of relentless assault is expected to make some mistakes and +Jonah, a fair-minded and generous man, made this one in accord with his conviction and habit. He should refuse.

That +Jonah is unstable is the only narrative they’ve got. It started with Stokoe’s hammering just days before the attempted coup at Sante Fe and hasn’t let up since. You would think that Bobosh, as Chairman of the Metropolitan Council Ethics Committee, would have called an investigation into Stokoe’s and his fellow conspirator’s plottings. Instead, Bobosh sat on his hands.

Paint the sane man as crazy, and the crazy man begin to look sane. It’s an old trick that the Soviets perfected and Bobosh and others learned it well. These men, who fancy themselves as Inheritors of the Legacy, are more like the Soviet overlords who killed the people that they want us to think that they are. But then the Soviets believed that they would inherit the earth too.

They rose under the impotent leadership of +Theodosios. They praised the election of +Jonah at first but saw that +Jonah was no +Theodosios and quickly turned on him. Stokoe was their cover. They took every mistake and shortcoming of +Jonah and exaggerated it, hoping that the next stone would cause him to fall. Unfortunately, +Jonah’s well meaning attempt at compromise gives them more opportunity. Bobosh wasted no time exploiting it.

They don’t comprehend that they inspire no one. They may drive out +Jonah but there is no one who can take his place. They prefer another compromised Metropolitan, preferably a man neutered by moral turpitude like +Theodosios because a compromised man can be controlled. But they won’t win the hearts and minds of the people, at least the ones that matter. It’s too late for that.

Their actions have weakened the OCA. Their pie will shrink and they will start to fight among themselves. They will devour each other. It’s inevitable. Who will sacrifice for them? No one.

+ + + + + + + + + +

Fr. Ted Bobosh

Viewing the AAC from Where I Sit

Podcasts and some reports from the OCA’s  16th All American Council are now available online.  You can also read about the AAC and some developments at other webpages.

Thanks to the technology of podcasts you can hear what various speakers said and don’t have to rely on the filters of reporters.  So in this blog I don’t intend to simply report what was said, but admittedly I’m running what was said through the filter of what I heard and how I understood what was being said.  That is also the nature of blogging.

Metropolitan Jonah’s opening speech mentioned some of the very difficult problems created by his administration through the past three years, as well described some of the ongoing work of the church, and offered a few goals for the future.  The fact that his speech is available online both in written form and as a pod cast is important because there have been at times notable gaps in the past between what he said and  what he did or said later.  Technology is allowing for some accountability.

The Metropolitan acknowledged that the past three years have been an administrative disaster.  From where I sit on the Metropolitan Council, on the MC’s Ethics Committee and on the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee his words are certainly an accurate assessment of what has happened under his administration.   He did own up to being the source of the problem but also blamed his critics for creating a difficult atmosphere – for me the truth is that much of that poisoned atmosphere was created by himself. He came into office at a moment in the OCA’s history with high expectations that we would be able to put behind us all our past problems, scandals and failures.  There was an overwhelming sense at his election that now finally the OCA would move into its manifest destiny to be the Church in America.  All of that good will and hope was quickly evaporated among those who had to work most closely with him.

Everyone in leadership manages to offend some, disappoint others, and make enemies of some.  One learns that this is a reality in the world of the Fall.  We can have all the intention in the world of doing out best and assuming this will please everyone, but as the old adage says, “you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time”, but if you decide your goal is to please everyone so that they will like you, you have set yourself up for failure and for the ruination of the organization you lead.

The Metropolitan acknowledged there had been a complete breakdown in trust and raised a serious question as to whether at this point that breakdown could in fact be reversed or repaired.  As a step to see whether or not repair and restoration of trust in him as a leader is possible, he mentioned entering into a program of evaluation for clergy beginning November 14.   A lot rides on his willingness to co-operate with this program of evaluation because it will certainly be a test (and not the first one either) of his real acknowledgement that he is responsible for many of the problems which now exist in the OCA’s administration.

For me, again from where I sit, much of what happens next in the OCA is riding on the Metropolitan’s own willingness to cooperate with the process and the willingness of the Synod to not only hold him accountable but upon their willingness to deal with what is learned especially if some of the evaluation provides ambiguous results.  Then the members of the Synod are going to have to deal directly with issues that the Metropolitan and they have been either wrestling with, dancing around or hoping to avoid.

The Metropolitan outlined some of his priorities for the future which are both notable and noble and you can read them in his speech.   Giving speeches as he himself has oft said is something he likes to do, and has often earned him lauds from his listeners.  However, as he also acknowledged his years as bishop have been an administrative disaster, and so there is a huge gap between his articulated vision and the reality he works to create.

I will comment on one detail of his vision for the OCA, you can read his speech or listen to it and make your own judgments about what he says (and how that matches with what he actually accomplishes).  Funding is a perennial discussion in OCA administration and a triennial discussion at AACs!  Various ideas have been proffered through time, some merely name change dressings to the core issue that the central church believes if it had more money it would accomplish more things.  Whatever the truth in that logic, in the midst of his appeal to the funding issue, the Metropolitan advocated moving away from whatever current system we are following to a tithing system of giving to support the church.  Now I have been committed to tithing all of my adult life as a Christian, so I’m a practicing believer in tithing.  But when the Metropolitan says in his pitch for tithing that we must “conform ourselves to Christ through obedience to the Gospel and commitment to living according to the teachings of the Apostles and of the Holy Fathers”, I can’t help but wonder how many quotes could he come up with from Apostolic and Patristic writers in which they actually make tithing the norm for Christians.   Even the Apostolic Council in Acts 15 does not set tithing as a requirement for Christians.

But that issue may be nitpicking when compared to the very serious issues the Metropolitan raised related to his administrative failures and the complete breakdown in trust between himself, the chancery staff, the Metropolitan Council and the Synod of Bishops.

Following the Metropolitan’s report several bishops offered “responses” which weren’t so much directed at the Metropolitan’s speech but actually allowed them to reflect on their life in the church.  Personally I thought their comments were worth listening to because in my mind for the first time ever we heard our bishops in the AAC share anecdotes and thoughts related to their own sojourn as Christians and members of the OCA.   There was something warm and alive in their sharing their thoughts.  Certainly they all expressed a desire for the Metropolitan to fully and faithfully deal with the issues which have crippled his ability to lead and have damaged his relationship with other church leaders both in and out of the OCA.  And there was at least “veiled” acknowledgement that there are some serious problems waiting to be tackled and resolved.

The bishops did take a few shots at the Internet as contributing to making solutions to the internal problems of the OCA difficult.   The Internet however has not created the real problems that exist with the personalities involved.  Leadership has to lead despite the circumstances in which they are in.  The Internet is simply part of the daily lives of Americans.  It can be used for both good and evil.  Certainly there are professionals who can help willing and receptive leaders learn how to navigate through the information/Internet Age.  Leaders can lead even with the Internet attracting and creating attention to itself.  Rather than bemoaning the technology of communications which is now part of the landscape and infrastructure of daily life, we can learn how to deal with it.  Certainly most early Christians viewed the Roman Empire as the greatest threat to their existence and felt there was no possible connection between Rome and Jerusalem.  Yet the Church overcame that Empire and used that Empire for evangelism.  The Internet is not a greater threat to us than the Roman Empire.  We cannot escape the Internet and certainly we will learn even more about its risks, but we can also bring our use of it under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.


  1. Geo Michalpulos says

    It’s not going to be pretty to see them devour themselves. The punishment however will be condign.

    • Con·dign /kənˈdīn/. Adjective: (of punishment or retribution) Appropriate to the crime or wrongdoing; fitting and deserved.

      Learned an additional something new today. Thanks!

      • Me too. About the new word.

        In the old days there were lion’s dens. And God delivered. Never underestimate the power of God

  2. Rod Dreher says

    Thanks for publishing this, George. It speaks to why I’m so down about all this, especially Jonah’s speech. These people are Machiavellians. They only see weakness, and pounce. None of us have ever said, or pretended, that Jonah was without administrative fault. This is something that could be worked on, and worked through, in a normal environment. But this isn’t a normal environment. It’s a lion’s den. That Jonah agreed to go to St. Luke’s for “evaluation” was an enormous mistake. He is admitting that they might have a point that he’s crazy.

    It would take an extraordinary man to stand up to this kind of beatdown. Jonah is an extraordinary man, but he’s not extraordinary in the way the moment and the circumstances require.

    But yes, you’re right George: they’re going to devour themselves. And that meal is going to poison them all.

    • Rod Dreher says:
      November 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      That Jonah agreed to go to St. Luke’s for “evaluation” was an enormous mistake. He is admitting that they might have a point that he’s crazy.

      What if our Metropolitan comes out of such an “evaluation” with “flying colors” as he did before (and as I think he would again)?
      That would then put to rest the charge that he is “gravely troubled” and “point the finger” at those who really are. What would his adversaries do then?
      Has anyone else noticed the similarity between the “Old Guard’s” arrogance and tenacity in holding on to absolute control over the OCA to that of the recent Kadafy regime?

      • He already went through one evaluation.

        Remember, you are not dealing with fair-minded people. Their goal is to remove him, and they only way they can do that is declare he is crazy. Nothing else will work — no crimes, no sex, no greed, nothing.

        Understand that his enemies really are enemies.

        • When everyone in the OCA recognizes the real problem for everyone is our concept of enemies; we will all be free of the mindless chatter. None of you, nor Fr. Bobosh, nor Mark Stokoe, nor the Metropolitan even know what an enemy really is…myself included. An enemy isn’t someone with a different opinion.

          An enemy wants you dead.

          I’m sure a few will twist this to suggest some think so, but deep down we all know none of us want someone with a different view dead. If you do, let me suggest taking such deep seated hatred and vitriole not to public forums, but Confession.

          My additional advice is don’t bother going to Liturgy if you can’t genuinely pray for those you have convinced yourself to be your enemies or the Liturgy is blasphemed.

          The biggest problem Metropolitan Jonah has had is this concept of enemies. I suggest he has never had a real enemy his entire life.

          Americans love competition; it isn’t always best, other times it can have fair results.

          As for the Metropolitan, my opinion is that some professional development would help him as much as any evaluation. Getting away from bad advice wouldn’t hurt him either.

          While I post on, let me be clear, I hope the Metropolitan comes out seeing a WE, not a me v them.

          • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

            Where do you get your extremely narrow definition of enemy? It’s not standard English. An enemy is simply “one who is hostile to or opposes the purposes or interests of another.” (American Heritage Dictionary) Etymologically, an enemy is simply someone who is not a friend (Latin, in+amicus).

            It’s also not a matter of Orthodox faith. We commanded to pray for our enemies and do good to them; we are not commanded to have none. On the contrary, as Christians, we are expected to have enemies, because this world hates Christ.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              I admire you as a Renaissance man: Not only you are an accomplished scholar and theologian, but also an arbiter of linguistics. I also thank you for enlightening a poor military man who had used the word in that narrow sense.

          • Daniel,

            You are correct. His Beatitude does not have an enemy in his heart. He has worked passed being ego-centric and seeing the world as black and white, winners and losers. For this spiritual discernment, he has suffered because of those who considered him a threat. He sees no one as a threat. No one. His example in Seattle was testimony of that fact.

            I agree with you, getting His Beatitude a “Day Planner” or a good executive secretary, which Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak should be allowed to be, someone who respects the office of the Metropolitan, would be most helpful. But the staff in Syosset should work with him. He is the one on the top of the organizational chart for Syosset. I hope they can see, post-Seattle that WE, the Church are not interested in ousting Jonah.

            Getting away from bad advice is an assumption that he took bad advice or that he did not take good advice. I think one of the barbs against His Beatitude is that he did not take advice, at all, meaning he didn’t do what people wanted him to do, meet their expectations of him. This they concluded was therefore a sign of his indecision or weakness, or some mental flaw. However, it very well may mean that he did not take advice because he did not think it spiritually appropriate. His Beatitude has a different way of processing and it is not based on winners and losers but on what is spiritually best. That has a much different timeline than assigning blame or outflanking the other. He does not operate that way, which is totally atypical of the history of the OCA.

            You are correct. As long as the OCA lives based on winners and losers, it will continue to eat itself up. Jonah is the leader given to us by God because he was not a Seraphim or a Job or a Benjamin, all with ties to the past. He was and still is someone who stands outside that previous history of the OCA. He has accepted his part of that history, I wish others would have, but it did not change what he thought was spiritually best.

            So let’s recognize that the new vision for the OCA is in the person of our Metropolitan who can lead the OCA in a new direction; away from the past. I hope that the Synod, MC, and Syosset staff can get on board. Why? Because it is what is spiritually best for the OCA.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Amen, Amos.

              Daniel: Oh, stop mincing around. There are immoral people who would like Metropolitan Jonah completely gone. Gone off the face of the earth would be fine with them. He is in their faces and he is doing it in a Christ-like way. He does not hate them, but the more he reacts like a true monk would, the more they hate him with a vindictive, unscrupulous hatred even enemies in real war don’t always have. He wants to clean house, for crying out loud, of course they hate him with a deadly hatred! Their base motives are: sex, money, power. “Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…. ” Once these three have been raging long enough, there will be coverup. There are people who want to destroy Met Jonah out of fear of exposure. You don’t think so? What planet are you from? Their strategy is to play a bit nicer than they did with all the other “kings” they toppled, but the motive is still the same: Kill the enemy. There are no niceties here. With no scruples, they are indeed dangerous. Good lives can be destroyed by people who look good outwardly but inwardly it is all about self. My conviction that these things are true about what has happened in the OCA is based on what I’ve seen, read, and experienced. Don’t sugar-coat hatred. If you support Mark Stokoe and his ilk, you support those who are relentless in their efforts to bring Metropolitan Jonah down. You support the acceptance of homosexuality – active homosexuals who are not married participating in the Sacraments – in the Orthodox Church. If you support this, you logically have to support active homosexuals getting married in the Church, in the entire, worldwide Church. If you support Stokoe, you support bishops who are or were actively homosexual. You support a web site that spits in the face of goodness and spins webs of deceit. You support lies, people who have lied, priests and bishops who have lied. You who are so superior, who look down your noses, who think you are so smart, go ahead, here’s my chin. Take your best shot.

              Metropolitan Jonah mentioned in his AAC speech (transcript here) the need for a person to be found who will head up the SMPAC, and that it will be especially important in the next couple of months. I like that.

              Here is the excerpt:

              The issue of clergy sexual misconduct has occupied the time and energy of the Holy Synod as well as the members of the SMPAC. The Holy Synod is committed to developing better ways to respond to sexual misconduct allegations both pastorally and legally and is currently in dialogue with the SMPAC to address the specific issues of revising the Policies, Standards and Procedures and to search for a person or persons to fill position of Coordinator of the Office of Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations. Filling this Office needs to be a top priority for the next couple of months.

              There was quite a meaty pause after that…

              I like that, a lot. GO, METROPOLITAN JONAH!

              Rah, rah, ree, kick ’em in the knee! Rah rah rass, kick ’em in the other knee!

    • That Jonah agreed to go to St. Luke’s for “evaluation” was an enormous mistake. He is admitting that they might have a point that he’s crazy.

      Or it could say he knows he has nothing to fear from a fair evaluation.

      On the other hand, Rod, what you wrote about St. Luke’s is disturbing, and I suppose we have to look into whether or not the evaluation really will be fair. Here’s a whole slew of licensed mental health professionals in the DC area who can do psychological testing and evaluation. They could choose any one of them.

      • Here is some food for thought on St. Lukes. Its from 2005 so hopefully they have changed their ways somewhat:
        EDIT: (First link is somewhat disturbing re: the “evaluation” process, skip and read the second link if you like)

        • Eeeeew!

          Excuse me, I think I’m going to be sick after reading about that disgusting arousal thing. They had better not be sending Metropolitan Jonah to that place.

          Here’s a WaPo article linked from one of those blog posts, detailing more problems with it.

          • Sorry, i put a disclaimer on the first link now.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            It would be even more disgusting (or painful depending on your POV) if the device were used for aversion therapy!

            • True, Carl, but the mental image makes me want to crack open my skull and pour bleach on my exposed brain.

              I hope to God this is not part of a routine evaluation except for people suspected of having sexual pathology. If it is part of routine evaluation, God help our poor Metropolitan. Sexual pathology is not on the list of high crimes and misdemeanors he’s accused of, so such an element of his evaluation would serve no scientific or medical purpose.

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                I’m with you, there. Pass the bleach bottle.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                My theory is that +Jonah has narcissistic tendencies, probably because most folks in leadership positions have a touch (or more) of it. Also, probably because I may be afflicted a bit by that as well. Look, we are all very complex people and the most important thing in this whole mess for me (as you well know) is for leaders to follow the process and not to act capriciously, to concentrate on their primary functions, be disciplined and keep their word. I think that most folks with narcissistic tendencies can do that, although it would be impossible if one is found to be clinically narcissist. We will probably never know the results of the evaluation but the facts of the case are encouraging: The Holy Synod gave +Jonah another chance, he accepted responsibility and agreed to comply with the HS, and he announced to the whole world. Great second chance for him, the Synod and all of us. I pray that it does not become another Santa Fe fiasco.

                • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

                  Narcissistic? Nonsense.

                • Lola J. Lee Beno says


                  +Jonah is the least narcissistic person I’ve ever met. I’m usually good at reading people in person, and he just doesn’t give off that kind of vibe. In fact, I’ve found him the most approachable bishop I’ve ever seen around my parish. Why, it was such a shock when he spent a good amount of his time at my parish bazaar the 1st year he was the Metropolitan, I think. Never, ever happened before.

                • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                  Carl Says, “My theory is that +Jonah has narcissistic tendencies.”

                  Orthodox theology regards theorizing about the state of someone else’s soul—especially when the theory is proclaimed—as a very serious sin.

                • Kraeff, you are a weasel. You accuse +Jonah of narcissism and then try to soften the charge by saying “…I may be afflicted a bit by that as well.” Your self-effacement is self-serving and tries to manipulate the reader into accepting your odorous suggestion.

                  I don’t think you can help yourself. You may not even see it.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  I’m thinking not so much. I’m also thinking that unqualified diagnosis generally incorrect, at best, and always unhelpful.

                • David Yentzen says

                  Mr Kraeff,
                  ” My theory is that +Jonah has narcissistic tendencies, probably because most folks in leadership positions have a touch (or more) of it.”

                  Really, I’d be very interested if you think St. John the Wonderworker or St Herman of Alaska or St. Anthony the Great or St. Nicholas of Myra or, and especially, our Panagia are narcissistic…….surely one of them is according to the applied logic of your quote…….thanks, I’ll stand a ways away from you.
                  Comparisons drawn from a purely leadership perspective. Brother pull the log out of your own eye before you go fishing for the splinter in another’s eye.

                • Carl, as usual, you display a jaw-dropping failure to acquire the facts, and you have obviously never even met Metropolitan Jonah.

                • o Hamartolos says

                  This is the same sort of thing Fr. Hopko tried to pull with his “gravely troubled” speech. Thanks for referencing the DSM, Mr. Stankovich. People often say things they are so sure of without having the least shred of qualifications. Narcissism? Sheesh, Carl. I would avoid commenting, too, if I had made a blunder that horrendous.

                • Well Carl, since you’re afffected a little by it yourself, perhaps YOU should check yourself into St Luke’s as well.

        • Rod Dreher says

          From one of those posts Elijah put up:

          Payne notes that, according to one patient, at St. Luke doctrinally “rigid” priests who pray “compulsively” are kept longer than others with more severe problems

          I’ll bet you my monthly tithe that the Metropolitan will be found by the experts at St. Luke’s to be “rigid.” His orthodox Orthodoxy will be taken as a sign of pathology, and used by the Synod as a reason to overthrow him. We can’t have a Metropolitan whose “gravely troubled” status has been certified by experts, can we?

          Do you think the staff at this gay-friendly treatment center are going to look kindly upon a bishop who has spoken out against same-sex marriage?

          This is a trap, I fear. And Jonah walked right into it.

          • its not a trap until Admiral Ackbar says its a trap.

          • All the research presented here should be given to +Jonah. He can still refuse. Word has to get to him. We also need to know who suggested this facility.

          • M. Stankovich says

            Mr. Dreher,

            I cannot imagine what compels you to make such a statement, as you are obviously unqualified to do so.

            You have laid a worse trap in suggesting that qualified healthcare professionals – and apparently of some renown – are incapable of approaching Met. Jonah as objective clinicians guided by an evidence-base and combined clinical experience, and therefore their conclusion(s) should be questioned. Would you presume to question the integrity of a Cardiologist, attending to your loved one having chest pains in the ER, because they were wearing a “The Pope is Dope!” button? Please…

            I am not questioning your motivation, and it is obvious you are concerned. But the waters are so easily stirred.

            • George Michalopulos says

              MS, please, he has already gone evaluation. It was a slam-dunkaroo. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, should have to subject themselves to the rigors of the least scientific of medical disciplines, especially when there is no cause.

              I’m not a lawyer but I had to take some law in order to get licenced in my profession. I know what fraud is. Insurance companies take a dim view of it.

              • Carl Kraeff says

                Thank you George for your post: “the least scientific of medical disciplines, especially when there is no cause.” Apparently, this discipline is so unscientific that so many folks here are qualified to make diagnoses based on earlier DSMs, such as homosexuality, or chemical addiction. Or, to rule out “sexual dysfunction.” Or, to see deep into one’s sould and describe him/her as …(take your pick) But, don’t you know that “theorizing about the state of someone else’s soul—especially when the theory is proclaimed—as a very serious sin”? I am thinking of other examples: “not fair-minded,” “perfectly of sound mind,” “….showed paranoia,” or may be the worst of all, because it purports to be benign “Try to imagine what the revelations of, oh, i don’t know, the hypothetical secret sins and vices of Metropolitan Theodosius or Metropolitan Herman or Archbishop Job of blessed memory or Archbishop Nathaniel or Archbishop Seraphim or Archbishop Kiril of blessed memory or Archimandrite Zacchaeus or Vladimir Berezansky…”

                But, how can it be that +Jonah has anything wrong with him from the pespective of “”the least scientific of medical disciplines”? Absolutely ludicrous and horribly sinful! Especially when compared to his fellow bishops, who have all kinds of problems.

            • David Yentzen says

              You are darn skippy I’d question a cardiologist attending to my wife. Have you ever had a cardiologist recommend statins to reduce your risk of heart disease? Ask him to produce double blind independently funded studies that demonstrate that reduction……he won’t because he can’t so keep taking that liver poison . Have you ever heard of Dr. Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist, and his criticism of modern psychiatry?
              My point is that maybe we all place too much importance into the hands of our “experts” instead of listening to common sense and our own mind.

              • Brian McDonald says

                Dr. Thomas Szasz has some interesting views on the dangers of psychiatrists replacing priests as the “controllers” of society in his MYTH OF MENTAL ILLNESS, but as one who worked with mentally ill people for several years, I can assure you it isn’t a myth in any sense of the word. Dr. Szasz would not be the first or most credible witness I’d want to call in making my case against modern psychiatry.

                • Yes, I think our energy is not best spent trying to overturn psychiatry, but to find a reputable institution that could give the Metropolitan a fair evaluation.

                • David Yentzen says

                  Mr McDonald,
                  I agree with you….Dr Szasz does tend to throw the baby out with the bath water. I purposefully chose an extreme example in order to drive a point. I can think of several cognitive school talk therapists( psychologists) that do an excellent job with mental disorders.
                  The commonalities between modern cognitive therapy and the psychology of the Church Fathers are amazing. If +Jonah submits himself to modern pyschiatry then perhaps the other bishops of the OCA should submit themselves to the psychology of the Church Fathers.

                  • Brian McDonald says

                    I have a very positive view of cognitive therapy and you may be interested in (or I’ll bet are already aware of) a book by a former Athonite Monk, Fr. Alexios Trader: Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy: A Meeting of Minds.

                    It’s yours for a cool $100 bucks or so—a normal price for a book of an academic publisher alas–and, as I recall, the price so embarrassed the good father that he suggested people could buy it for their church libraries so it could be shared around without hitting anybody too hard in the wallet. I haven’t read it but your post reminds me I need to get after our church librarian to buy this book!

                    We’re veering off topic a bit here, I suppose, but at least in a positive direction!

                    • Alf Kentigern Siewers says

                      Fr. Alexis Trader’s book is, in my unworthy opinion, very good. Even deeper from a theological standpoint are Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachas’ writings on Orthodoxy psychology.

                      But this is not American media pop psychology in the tradition of Dr. Phil, nor is it related to online diagnosis of the Metropolitan by his critics. The same poster here who touts his own professional credentials and offers an opinion on the Metropolitan’s mental state has also called those with whom he disagrees on isssues of church governance (on which he has been critical of the Metropolitan) “ravenous wolves” and “schismatics.” He lectures others here on libel and a lack of Christian restraint. But then he offers that the Metropolitan is narcissistic. Can personal bias and proclivities affect supposedly objective psychological views?

                      Current scandal in the field of psychology has reopened discussion regarding the nature of research that bases its claims to be an objective science. From the opening lines of a New York Times article two days ago: “Experts say the case exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has only recently earned a fragile respectability.”

                      Those with an Orthodox experience and sense of psychology on the level of both Metropolitan Hierotheos and Fr. Alexis (and I think the combined theological and practical emphases of the two are important to take together from an Orthodox standpoint) would not be making public diagnoses online of hierarchs. And their insights can not be expected to prefigure the norm at the Catholic clergy-treatment center in this case. Traditional Catholicism often had an antipathy toward Orthodox hesychastic monasticism typified in the Catholic stereotype of the latter as “navel-gazing” (a stereotype echoed for historical reaosns among some in the OCA!). More ecumenicalist post-Vatican II Catholicism, while sometimes more open, can tend (based on experience from my own extended family) to regard traditional Orthodox monastic attitudes as “too rigid.” Those kinds of cultural norms embedded in clerical attitudes can be hard to convert to objective science; the sense in which scientific paradigms reflect cultural models has been well-established since Thomas Kuhn’s writings.

                      On a broader level of discussion, the Czech phenomenologist Erazim Kohak identified what he calls the secular worldview of psychoanalysis (which he extends to a broader sense of psychological viewpoints) as a modern force for impersonalizing the human person. (Kohak was a refugee from communism for many years in the U.S., now back in the Czech Republic, and a revered philosopher who writes as a liturgically minded Christian from an Eastern European mix of backgrounds in The Embers and the Stars.)

                      While Kohak specifically begins with Freudian psychoanalysis he extends this to the use of broader sense of psychology not as a specific healing technique but in secular culture as an underlying worldview or philosophy, referencing abuses of psychology under communism. In that sense he writes of how it can reduce the human person to the role of passive patient by not enabling the living of life as personhood at what he calls “the intersection of time and eternity.”

                      The tradition of Orthodox psychology is much richer than either the secular philosophy that Kohak describes or Catholic psychology. So why put the first hierarch of the autocephalous American Orthodox Church (and thus in a sense the Church itself) through this trial due to a political or managerial tussle? The current situation in the OCA shows the humility of the Metropolitan in taking up this podvig, but also in Orthodox terms the lack of discernment of his opponents.

                    • Alf, you bring up some excellent points. The fact that modern psychoanalysis is deeply flawed from a scientific point of view is becoming more apparent with the uncovering of several scandals over the past years. Examples would include “Sybil,” the young woman who supposedly had 16 different personalities. This book was one of the banes of my jr high school experience (the others were anything by Rod McKuen), in that 14 yr old girls were seen walking around the halls reading these books as if enraptured.

                      We now know that this case was a hoax.

                      Other examples include the “repressed memory” phenomenon in which children and even adults were encouraged to “remember” scenes of sexual abuse. Good people like the McMartins in Massuchessets –who owned a day-care facility–were imprisoned for years based on nothing but wishful thinking.

                      One could also look at how much of what Freud believed has been discredited. Worse, his concept of “wish-fulfillment” was based on case studies in which he knew that the studies directed the exact opposite of what he was proposing. Things like this have real-world consequences. Think of how many women who had been sexually assaulted were trashed on witness stands throughout the years because some “expert” was called in to say that they were engaging in “wish-fulfillment.”

                      Anyway, back to my point. I would direct those who are more interested in this to a book called Eternal Day, by Seth Farber. Farber is an Othodox Christian who was raised as a secular Jew. He’ very much a disciple of Dr Thomas Szazs. His critique as I understand it is that most psyochoanalysis is not sympathetic to ordinary norms of Christian self-understanding. Not just Orthodox Christians but even Protestants who take their faith seriously and try to lead pious lives.

                      This is not to say that there is no scientific basis to psychology but that the Freudian aspect of it is quite problematic.

                    • Brian McDonald says

                      This is a reply to Alf Siewers’ post.

                      I was so put off by the poor translation of the one book of Met. Vlachas’s that I attempted to read, that it may have adversely affected my appreciation of him. In light of your post, I will give him another read.

                      I just read with interest the link to the article you posted. I wonder if Mr. Stankovich—whose precise and intelligent posts I always read attentively—would like to respond with thoughts on this link, and, more importantly, to the question of whether there’s a problem with sending Metropolitan Jonah to a Catholic facility. I don’t know and don’t care what my urologist’s religion is, but I might care very much about my psychologist’s since the psyche and emotions are very much intertwined with the spirit. Since I became Orthodox twenty years ago, its been drummed into my head over and over again—often in the writings of those St. Vladimir giants whose influences are clearly seen in some of Mr. Stankovich’s posts—that the Orthodox phronema was distinctly different than “the West’s.” My own experience of the Church tends to bear that out. Doesn’t that mean—especially since social, religious, and other frameworks must surely enter into some psychological diagnoses in a way they don’t for a diagnosis for cancer—that any diagnostic and treatment center ought to be one with a strong Orthodox presence (if there is one)?

                      Btw, given that Mr. Stankovich’s posts don’t meet with universal approval here, I want to make it clear that my question is genuine and not rhetorical. I agree with about 75% of what he says in his posts on other subjects than the Metropolitan. When it comes to Jonah, I’m so confused, with both defenders and critics including people known personally to me to be generally upright and trustworthy, that I don’t know what to think!

                      At any rate, Mr. Stankovich, if you catch this post, I’m just asking for your opinion on the two particular issues I raised—especially the second.

                • M. Stankovich says

                  I believe I have thoroughly detailed my understanding of medical science, and I would recommend you take a few moments to read my comments.

                  I have said many times previously, I strive for the discipline to unilaterally distinguish between my personal opinion and what clinical data – and I feel compelled to repeat, when applied appropriately – suggests to be true, as best as we are able to determine. Therefore, I believe it incumbent on me to describe to you what I do not know, equally with describing what I know. I will not consciously misrepresent opinion as “truth,” and I attempt to be scrupulous. Having said this, it would seem apparent that I am very troubled by “opinion” posited as “fact,” generalization of any kind posited as “fact.”

                  Fr. Alexander Schmemann spoke in class, on a Friday morning, regarding the psychic “numbness” derived of spiritual emptiness: “Go to Grand Central Station any morning, pick the man who appears the most “together” and “adjusted,” follow him throughout his whole day, and see him at the end of the day on the psychiatrist’s couch, looking for “meaning.” On Sunday, which happened to be the 3rd Sunday of Great Lent commemoration of the Cross, he continued the thought in stating that the Cross “placed unavoidably here in front of us, is not a ‘symbol,’ but is that which gives meaning and definition,” a confrontation. And he concluded by saying: “We all are forced to make a choice, and that choice is the Cross or the couch, for there are no other options.” I was powerfully impacted, for years, by these words.

                  Only later was I presented with another interpretation – not in “opposition” to Cross – but emphasizing the “compatibility” of the Cross and the couch. And when I spoke with Fr. Alexander, he admitted he did not know the “details” of the couch, beyond a general discussion of Freud. Worse, I listened over the years as my classmates and schoolmates used this analogy of the “Cross and the couch” as an implication that the consequences of our fallen nature – mental illness, for example – was necessarily an insufficiency or inadequacy in choosing the Cross. I can only imagine the number of individuals, and the depth of guilt and shame, who wrongfully believed their “problem” was a lack of faith alone.

                  Mr. McDonald, specifically to your question regarding the “geography” of the mind of the Church (it’s a joke!), my personal thought is that I would always be better off concerning myself with where I unquestionably know the Holy Spirit dwells – with all of its implications for my life and salvation – than to presume where He is not. I accept the words of the Fathers, “The Holy Spirit goes where He wishes.” Secondly, with personal knowledge of the education, training, and competency of everyone to whom I would make a referral (and it is rare that I would know their faith or religious affiliation), I trust that “Whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you,” (Jn. 16:23), will come at the hand of the most competent.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    Many psychiatrists do not “do” analysis, as in Freudian, etc., psychoanalysis, any more unless specifically requested to do so. Many Americans know of psychiatry only what they see in movies and on tv. I’m surprised at the limited knowledge of “the couch” that the Fr. Alexander known by Stankovich knew. The Father Alexander I knew knew a lot more than Freud and sometimes referred students to this or that friend who was a psychiatrist. I know of two that were thus sent during my one year sojourn there.
                    It’s interesting that the Ukrainian Bishop Vsevolod, was unique not only for having graduated from Yeshiva U., but was also a licensed Psychiatrist (Adlerian).
                    I remember taking a fresh graduate of the Air Force Academy being posted in the Air Forces Office of Special Investigations (OSI), to meet the Pentagon psychiatrist, Dr. Irma Bache. She asked the usual questions of him and then, caught him off balance with this: “I see you’ve taken some psychology courses!” He looked puzzled. I was puzzled. She explained ” I noticed that your fingernails are bitten to the quick, in my experience a sign of overdosing on introspection caused by having taking some psychology “electives” or other…

                  • Brian McDonald says

                    Mr. Stankovich:

                    Your discussion on “couch vs. cross” seems to assume that I had made some comment putting the faith at odds with psychology. But of course I made no such claim, and am perfectly aware of how a distorted understanding of the faith can damage human beings. Apparently the link to which you refer me will answer the questions I actually did ask, the most important of which had to do with the possible relation of one’s religious commitment to the nature of the therapy offered. I’ll proceed to read that link. Oh, and by the way I don’t actually presume to know in advance where the Holy Spirit does and does not dwell in case I inadvertently gave that impression.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. McDonald,

                      I did not mean to imply “you” had any opinion in this regard, and I apologize if it appeared as such. My assumption was specific to Fr. Schmemann – on whose direct discussion with me I rely – and individuals that I actually heard employ his argument.

                      As to your second point, I spoke only to my own opinion, which is a continuous contemplation of Matt. 16:20, “He ordered his disciples to tell no one that he is the Christ,” and St. Chrysostom’s commentary that, because they could not understand and were “in perplexity,” He rather “enlarges His discourse, that He may open their mind, and they may understand what it can be that He speaks of.” By this I mean that I do not openly introduce myself to be a “believer,” a Christian, or an Orthodox Christian – though I would not “hide” is I were asked. While I take a “spiritual history” of every patient – and while I know it is a “protective factor” in mental health – I do not segregate it from the bio-psycho-social-spiritual person in front of me. I do not pray with patients, place the Scripture in “plain-view,” but when I had an actual “office,” I placed a small icon of the Good Samaritan, inconspicuously, in my line of vision.

                      As a clinician, I attempt to convey the impression that I am honest, moral, consistent, and trustworthy. If – by chance – a patient draws this conclusion, I am satisfied, period; and knowing it is not about me, but “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) In the vast majority of cases, the reality is that I have no idea as to what they think, and probably for the better. And as testament to my own tenuous, weak faith, when I can even remember to do so, I place a small prayer rope in my right pocket with my keys, so that even when I’m being a loud-mouth jerk and “thrust” my hands into my pockets for emphasis, I am forced to touch the “holy,” and hopefully, by sheer inadvertence, reminded. If you say, “this is no different than training a dog not to bark with a “shock” collar,” you would be right, and effect has a better result with the dog.

                      So, Mr. McDonald, I believe there is an essential spiritual commitment to the nature of the therapy offered, but my original point was to emphasize that I have not seen colleagues who I perceive as “honest, moral, consistent, and trustworthy” in the performance of their work – be they Christian, Jew, or Muslim – any less “effective” at provoking and/or promoting “healing.” Is this gift they exercise “of the Holy Spirit?” Many will apparently claim, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out demons? and in your name done many wonderful works? (Matt. 7:23), only to be ultimately exposed, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matt 7:24) I quote the Fathers, “The Holy Spirit goes where He wishes,” to promote a thoughtful pause.

            • Jane Rachel says

              Rod Dreher is right. The Western mental professionals are incapable of grokking Orthodox hesychasm. You are all the experts and will come in to correct clueless me with your long words and expertly written paragraphs. I am not able to use the right words, but I know what I’m talking about here, based on experience, not learning. Freudian thinking is the Western base in Psychology. Platonic form keeps the professionals comfortably happy with their preset diagnosis boxes, with titles like “narcissistic,” instead of “hesychastic.” The two are opposites, yet Western psychology cannot – absolutely cannot – comprehend Eastern Mysticism. Anything outside the box messes with their brain. Cannot compute. Must put man in box.

              Jungian psychology is more open to spiritual emergence.

              Metropolitan Jonah, pardon me if I don’t address Your Beatitude correctly. But I know a couple things. You are under way too much stress and trauma from these relentless attacks. Do take care of your actual, physical brain, which is, after all, not much more than zapped tofu. Eat protein, get enough sleep (valerian root or even generic benadryl helps with sleeping), exercise, breathe, take fish oil or a similar supplement that helps your brain, look at beauty in nature, stay connected to the earth. If you’re having a hard time, time is the best healer. Just keep swimming…. And most of all, don’t let the turkeys get you down. You are better than they are.

              • Jane Rachel says

                This is what they see: A man in a long black cassock with a long beard and a strange looking hat sitting quietly by himself, holding a long black rope with knots in it, eyes closed, lips moving. They can’t hear what he is saying: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…”

                For them, the kingdom of heaven is within, all right. Within his pocketbook.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                JR, you are completely right in your diagnosis of Western psychiatry. And I totally get the “grok” part. It’s a good word, from a great writer and thinker. As for HB, he’s a cool cat. I’d take up fishing and/or golf. Chess is always a good distraction. As is going to a target range and shooting off a few rounds.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Heinlein. I relax with logic problems, cryptic crosswords, cryptograms, and conundrums (conundri?). Jigsaw puzzles with friends and family. Reciting Robert Frost poems whilst walking in the north woods. Hiking up to Hawk Ridge in Duluth, Minnesota in November. Yelling in my car alone also used to help, but I don’t need to any more.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    Probably conundra. I recently read of someone characterized as so obtuse that when he heard “Sinai” he thought someone was speaking of the plural of sinus.I used to like contract bridge a lot more than jigsaw puzzles, although it was noisier.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      When you wrote “noisier” I thought you wrote “nosier,” which works well with “sinus.” As an aside, I like, “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx (ducking…)

            • Michael Bauman says

              Mr. Stankovich, once again your delusional faith in objectivity of clinical professionals rears its ugly head. All of the sciences have been infected with political idelogy to one degree or another simply out of the desire for government money to fund their pet projects. IMO psychology has the worst infection swaying in the wind with every secular cause of the moment.

              Frankly, the only human being who can evaluate Met. Jonah is his spiritual father. Unless the mental health professionals are observing, selecting and evaluating within the context of traditional Chrisitan faith and praxis, they will be wrong. The further they are from that context, the more wrong they will be.

              Personally, I have yet to meet a mental health professional who is not themselves ‘gravely troubled’.

          • We need to first confirm that St. Luke’s is the place, then publicise this information about it to show sending him there is not a good idea. We should also try to come up with some alternate, above-board institutions that could provide something along the lines of what the Synod is demanding, in the interest of providing Metropolitan Jonah with yet more proof that he is perfectly healthy.

            For obvious reasons, this is not a battle Metropolitan Jonah could fight alone, since Stokoe and Bishop Benjamin will simply howl that he’s being disobedient.

            • Rod Dreher says

              I don’t object to psychotherapy as a treatment or a profession. I object to the St. Luke’s Institute, based on its sorry record in the Catholic sex abuse scandal, and based on the testimony of some Catholics familiar with its treatment philosophy, who indicate that the people who run that place pathologize religious orthodoxy.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Mr. Dreher,

                This is the reasoning to which I object. If you would make emphatic statements in a public forum, you would be wise to do so using accurate information. Look around you: “rumor” leads to conjecture, which then leaps to “truth,” which if disputed leads to “conspiracy.” And should this “truth” be unmistakedly refuted, there is never retraction & apology, just silence.

                If you are objecting on account of a “sorry record on child abuse,” I am suggesting you are particularly shortsighted. Based on the single criterion of re-offense, everyone has a “sorry record,” and as near as I am able to conclude from the literature, no one has yet to find a “treatment” modality as effective as prison to prevent predatory child sex offenders. This is an unfair measurement of a program’s effectiveness.

                “Testimony” is a complex factor in program evaluation because it is totally subjective. Would it allay your concerns if I told you that Catholic families, 4-1, reported the program as completely unbiased & non-judgmental of religiously “zealous” patients. How about 10-1? How about 100-1? I hope you are saying “no” because I have given you no useful information.

                To my knowledge, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America has asked to consult with no one posting on this website regarding the appropriateness of any decisions made regarding this matter. And until they do, I cannot imagine what is served by this form of reasoning and discussion.

                • M. Stankovich says:
                  November 5, 2011 at 5:51 pm

                  Look around you: “rumor” leads to conjecture, which then leaps to “truth,” which if disputed leads to “conspiracy.” And should this “truth” be unmistakedly refuted, there is never retraction & apology, just silence.

                  Yup, that is the exact process that got us to the point where a great spiritual leader is being evaluated for craziness!

              • Exactly, Rod. Orthodox piety has always had its critics among the spiritually sightless, especially hesychasm, as I believe Ken Miller noted earlier today.

                I am reminded of how Stokoe demeaned Metropolitan Jonah for “staring into space” during tense parts of meetings, when it was rather obvious that the Metropolitan was praying at those moments.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Rod, don’t despair. This might turn out all right.

                I’ve been thinking this through. You know, I know, and any right thinking person knows that the charge that a person is unstable is used to discredit stable people. It’s a tactic of desperation, certainly heinous and vile, but most important it’s a lie. And like all lies, its power rests only in its capacity to deceive — in whether or not people choose to believe it.

                But we know +Jonah is not unstable. We know that by listening to the coherence and depth of his thinking, the response his teachings receive among audiences not tainted by the internal struggle of the OCA, and most important the results of his first test.

                This last point is critical. He was evaluated as stable and healthy by some top notch evaluators and contrary to some of the opinions expressed on this blog, some of these men know what they are doing.

                So what is the real fear? I think it is that the lie will not be proven to be the lie that it is, and thus maintains the destructive currency it had in the past. Furthermore, the people who don’t fight fair, who do not have the best interests of the Church in mind when they level this charge, will be able to continue walking in the destructive swath that they’ve cut.

                If +Jonah comes through this intact (and I believe he will), then the lie is exposed for what it is — a lie. Exposure renders the lie powerless, like throwing water on the Wicked Witch of the West. Evil has no ontological reality. Evil enters the world when men put their hand in service to a lie. When the lie is exposed for what it is, evil is defeated and the important work of restoring what has been torn down begins.

                Furthermore, good men oppressed by the systemic dysfunction that grew around the lie may find the freedom to be creative in ways heretofore impossible. You might see good priests take leadership in ways not available to them today.

                Something else will happen too (the perpetrators of the lie don’t comprehend this yet): real instability will be seen for what it is and real problems can finally be dealt with.

                I’m not in the OCA and I really don’t know much about the internal workings although reading Monomakhos opens a window into it. Nevertheless, I recognize injustice when I see it and the treatment of +Jonah is unjust. Initially it upset me as much is it has you because like you, I listen to the man and I hear things said that I know the American society is waiting to hear. His speech at Acton proved it. Around 600 people, all Catholics and Protestants gave the man a standing ovation because they had never heard the Christian faith explained with such coherence and depth. They left that talk stronger Christians. Quite honestly, it made me proud. He represented Orthodox Christianity very well. See more here.

                +Jonah is fighting in the way he knows how, as a monastic. I’m more of a street-fighter and would probably would have refused the order outright. He has more experience with the deep psychology and stirrings and movements of the soul than I do and just may see some things that I don’t.

                Time will tell if I am right. But the reason I have confidence is because the man’s thinking is never jumbled, at least in areas where his leadership is critical. It’s solid and reflects a considerable amount of concrete experience. There’s probably some truth that he lacks administration skills, but I can count on one hand the priests I know who are really good at that kind of thing.

                I see +Jonah’s faults primarily due to inexperience. Maybe if he had a longer tenure in a parish he would have learned earlier that some people are just bad people. St. Paul had this problem too and the solution in his day was to remove them. Hearing this offends our sensibilities and no one really has the authority to remove anyone anymore (although I know Antiochian bishops who told recalcitrant parishioners to get with the program or leave). My hunch is that the last three years has taught him that no matter how much charity and patience you show some people, they change only when the Lord puts a hammer to their head, and sometimes not even then. Until that happens, they will continue to bring discord into the Church.

                And like every new hierarch, he has learned that his private musings when publicly spoken are amplified ten-fold. Bp. Gerasimos (GOA) experienced this kind of unpleasant reaction when he made the comment about “Desperate Housewives.” Other hierarchs have made the same mistake.

                The upshot: keep in mind that the lie has power only to the extent that people believe it or fear it (are afraid that others might believe it). It just might be however, that +Jonah may vanquish the lie and thus lift an oppressive tactic of control that probably afflicts almost all leaders in the OCA including priests. This is not something I know for certain since I don’t really know OCA culture. But it’s not rocket science either.

                One final thing, whether St. Luke’s is is credible or not I have no way of knowing. But +Jonah has no addictions, compulsions, history of abuse, etc. so he won’t be entering treatment. There’s a world of difference between an evaluation and treatment so some of the stuff we are reading here (if true) probably wouldn’t apply anyway. If he comes out clean, watch for his detractors to double down, but by that time their disingenuousness will be clear enough for all to see.

                • Jesse Cone says

                  Great comment Father Hans,

                  You say:

                  When +Jonah finishes with this humiliation, this inexcusable humbling, the lie will die and good men oppressed by the systemic dysfunction that grew around the lie may find the freedom to be creative in ways heretofore impossible. You might see good priests take leadership in ways not available to them today.

                  Can you expand on what you mean when you talk about good men having the freedom to be creative and take more leadership?

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    A great untapped resource I believe are the priests. Most of them entered the priesthood because they discerned some kind of calling. I say “some kind” because the calling does not take a distinct shape until a priest has a few years, maybe even five, under his belt. He has to define his vocation within the office, and like everybody else, it means there’s a lot of on the job training.

                    But the priesthood is a vocation, not an identity. What I men by this is that men who are not challenged by their work look elsewhere for fulfillment. We are are hardwired that way. When a man cannot accomplish his work as a priest, then usually one of two things happen: he either drifts off in a different direction, or he collapses his vocation into his self-identity.

                    These are dysfunctions of course, but they arise when a man is limited from self-improvement, self-expression, expansive thinking, and so forth. A lot of priests are frustrated, often because they are hammered by small minded people who see any expansive thinking or risk taking as anathema.

                    Ever notice that the parishes that grow and have active ministries are new ones for the most part? That’s because they are not bound by generational pathology, and often attract the kind of people who really want to work. Put a visionary priest (one not broken by the dysfunctional pathology around him) in charge of a parish like that and I guarantee you it will grow.

                    Of course you need bishops who share the vision. Frankly, I think Met. Jonah does, even though I am not in the OCA. I think Met. Philip does too.A priest is always accountable to his bishop, but when you have a bishop who comprehends what our Orthodox faith has to offer to America, then you will find a good number of his priests working to that end.

                    Just look at what Fr. John Peck is doing with “Journey to Orthodoxy” or what Fr. Patrick Reardon does with his weekly missive “Pastoral Ponderings” (a bible study delivered right to your inbox every week). It isn’t limited to priests either. Look what John Maddex has done with Ancient Faith Radio. Creative work like this is tremendously important and encouraging, in my opinion.

                    Many priests have areas they want to develop that are tied into their ministry but not bound to the four walls of the Church. A friend of mine in the GOA, Fr. Rick Andrews, is a volunteer police chaplain. The job fits him perfectly. Think of the work he is accomplishing outside his parish. And it makes him a better priest.

                • Counterpoint says

                  What could God do in and with the OCA, indeed Orthodoxy itself, if there were more Bishops willing to be humble in the manner of Metropolitan Jonah? Perhaps we finally have a Bishop on these shores that the demons might actually fear.

                • Fr. Hans, I have been a critic of Metropolitan Jonah’s poor choices. and lets be honest he has made some poor choices that have disappointed me (the twisting of forgiveness is hard for me to forget) but the reality is that what Metropolitan Jonah offers Orthodox Christians in America is far greater and more healthy than the poison coming out of Syosett.

                  Your observations are correct Father Hans in many ways. I love pope culture references and if I were to use a current one to describe where the Metropolitan now finds himself I would use this scene which is in my mind of the great movie endings of all time:


                  • That movie ending is rather apropos, although I would say there’s a difference in that His Beatitude represents the truth (rather than the concealment of it), and his acceptance of persecution is only in furtherance of that Truth.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Metropolitan Jonah has been consistently demonstrating a deep spiritual stillness, and the way he has spoken in his speeches recently, the tone of his voice and the love that comes through, has been a great witness to me personally. Despite the rage around him, he’s calm.

                • What probability would you put on the idea that a place led by RC clergy accountable in the end to the Vatican will find the leader of an autocephalous Orthodox church not in need of ongoing treatment? 0.001% ? That’s probably too high.

                  • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                    You didn’t include your evaluation of “the leader of an autocephalous Orthodox Church.” Does that mean that you have determined this monastic Hierarch to be healthy?
                    And the Vatican’s most feared opposition is Roman Catholic.

                    • Well that’s because I can’t really find basis to have an evaluation as you put it. All I’ve been given to know has fallen well within the realm of non-doctrinal policy disagreements (e.g. where should the HQ be) and just basic getting along with one another. I haven’t been given to read anything along the lines of anyone hurt, money bamboozled, throwing the creed in the trash, anyone knowingly left unprotected from avoidable harm, being drunk or ‘high’ on drugs. What objective thing is it he did? In the case you mention the fellow was drunk. Can’t get more plain than that. Nothing of the sort are the people given to know about the church’s leader in this case.

                      Why are two bishops setting forth their case and dropping him off at the Vatican’s facility– and be entitled to a copy of the Vatican facility’s report? Do the other bishops share their medical reports with him? With each other? What did he do to earn this prize?

                      I’ve heard about ‘unfitness’ and ‘administrative mistakes’. Well administration is what chancellors are for.

                      I really can’t believe it’s me writing this. I’ve never met the man and my history certainly isn’t one for blindly following someone on the basis they obtained church title. I just can’t find reference to any incident beyond, more or less, they just don’t like the fellow, so they’re having him declared banannas — and getting a copy of the report. Why? On the basis of the Vatican staff report what are they going to do? Retire him on Rome’s say so? Retain him?

                      The one thing President Nixon got correct is that ‘people need to know whether their President is a crook’ as he said on national TV. The OCA’s leader is being ‘accompanied and dropped off at’ a place known for treating, or not treating, grave matters. Why?

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Coin,

                    Using your logic, the only “objective” evaluator would be the Metropolitan himself, as it categorically eliminates everyone else. Your question does not speak to the laws of statistical “probability,” but to the course, and sarcastic word “probably”; which lays a groundwork for pre-fact “distrust” and post-fact “dismissal.” In nowise do I question your and Mr. Dreher’s sincerity or genuine concern, but you both would employ a faulty logic that attempts to dismiss, outright, with no more than, as Fr. Johannes has aptly described, fear “that others might believe it.”

                    I was employed by a hospital that proudly proclaimed its foundation and affiliation with an order of Roman Catholic nuns; a large Cross atop, pictures of the Pope & NY’s Cardinal in the lobby, statues and Crosses throughout, and a Cross in every patient’s room. I was not asked to “align” or pledge “accountability” with any religious body, nor was I ever questioned as to my own beliefs or affiliations. It was made clear to me, however, that they expected nothing less than a scrupulous adherence to moral, ethical, and practice principles, required by law, and by the codes of ethics prescribed by each professional discipline. What does this tell you about the hospital or me. Nothing. For your purposes – apparently attempting to establish credibility and “objectivity” – you apply subjective “answers” to objective questions. As “pedigree” dog breeders discovered, by attempting to minimize heritable disease by limiting the “gene pool,” the effect was exactly the opposite.

                    I see absolutely no point to this continuing argument that needlessly “stirs the waters.” Leave it the angel.

                    • David Yentzen says

                      Dear Mr Stankovich,
                      While I respect your opinion, its just that….. your opinion. Your appeal to authority argument is rather transparent. All clearly thought out and expressed opinions are equally welcomed. And I quote, “Secondly, we believe in the free­dom of expres­sion that is afforded by this coun­try; and this is to say as a mat­ter of the phi­los­o­phy of law, and on prin­ci­ple. We do not fear ques­tions, dis­cus­sion, the “con­sid­er­a­tion” of con­tent dif­fer­ent or in oppo­si­tion to our own, or even what some might con­sider “con­tro­ver­sial.” Sound familiar? Let me cut to the points:
                      1. Why is an Orthodox bishop being sent to a RC organization to be evaluated. I thought he already had a through psych eval. Even so, why not ask a qualified psychologist who is an Orthodox christian evaluate + Jonah…surely there are some.
                      2. + Jonah is not….not unstable. This is an old trick, call the sane insane…..this is character assignation.
                      3. +Jonah is a deeply spiritual leader…..American Orthodoxy needs more deeply spiritual leaders. This is most certainly why he is being set upon. Sure he probably lacks administrator skills….so do I!
                      4. What would St Luke’s evaluation have to say about St. Xenia or St John the Wonderworker….I think I know.
                      5. How about, out of brotherly love, the rest of the OCA bishops submit to the same evaluation? I’d interested in their assessment.

                    • Mr Stankovich, I agree with you here. I am troubled however by the whole concept of priest “rehabilitation centers.” The best thing for all Orthodox priests would be a yearly sabbatical in a monastery and regular (ideally monthly) confession to their bishops.

                      My problem with rehab centers is that these are palliatives. It’s much better to weed out those young men with psychological problems in the first place, to never let them go to seminary and thus be priest-candidates. And no, I don’t just mean those who are homosexual, but mama’s boys in general as well as the man-boys that modern America turns out these days. The 25 year olds who play fantasy football and video games with other grown men their age.

                      I think a good barometer would be giving preference to veterans of the armed services. Being around live ordnance usually concentrates the mind wonderfully. Someone further upstream said that we have a problem because there’s a coterie of young men in the seminary who know they’re on the episcopal track because they aren’t interested in marriage in the first place and they quickly realize that they don’t have to be on the top of their theological game. Basically C and D students.

                      We saw this played out in the OCA, which had an intellectual elite made up of married presbyters like Schmemann, Meyendorff, and Hopko. They gave the OCA the moral authority that was lacking from the likes of Theodosius and Herman.

                      Consider the difference in the GOA between the older crop of bishops like +Maximos of Pittsburgh and +Isaiah of Denver. Both of these men have a trove of theological writings and speeches which show an intellectual depth that is altogether lacking among the more recently ordained ones. And +Isaiah was a Marine as well. All this bespeaks a maturity which is altogether lacking from the newer ones who I feel saw the way the game was played early on and tailored their educational attainments accordingly.

                      (Exceptions of course exist, among the newer ones Lambrianides is very well-educated. [I honestly can’t think of any others, if there are please correct me.]Although I eviscerated his speech which he gave two years ago, I very much respect his erudition and educational attainments.)

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Yentzen,

                      I believe there is a fundamental difference between my agreeing with your statement, “All clearly thought out and expressed opinions are equally welcomed” – the alternative being censorship (which I might add, is at the sole prerogative and graciousness of Mr. Michalopulos) – as opposed to my assertion that that not all “clearly thought out and expressed opinions are equally” helpful. Yes, the words are familiar because I wrote them, and, for what it’s worth, all of this is my opinion, one opinion among many.

                      I feel capable to speak only your first question, “Why is an Orthodox bishop being sent to a RC organization to be evaluated?” and suggest it is an “unhelpful” question. The better question, in my opinion, is why did Met. Jonah agree to “being sent to a RC organization to be evaluated?” His answer: “I have chosen to do this out love for you, the people of the Church, and for my brother bishops.”

                      What point to continually stirring the waters?

                    • David Yentzen says

                      Mr M. S.,
                      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Indeed, you have pointed to the most important question of “why”. I suspect that Met. agreed to such an arrangement based on “washing the feet” principle—-it may be his attempt at attaining the kind of leadership that our Lord, himself, instituted.
                      I think that any admin. inexperienced man inheriting an organization such as he did would find himself misstepping on occasion. I could easily live with this style of leadership being coupled with strong spirituality.
                      Not to continue to stir the waters but, excuse me, where can we find and encourage more spiritually strong men to lead this young and inexperienced American Church…..missteps and all?

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      M S. is quite right in his views on the use of an RC facility.
                      I sent Bishop Benjamin to an RC facility because there are NO Orthodox faciities with a national reputation and the respect of a wide range of “experts in the field.” For example, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), when I first met him, supported himself and his parish be being in charge of a substance abuse clinic run by the Presbyterian for teenagers. When we learned that Fr. Tosi was in the process of bailing Bishop Benjamin out of the drunk tank, I consulted with Protopresbyter Rodion S. Kondratick who recommended a well-known rehab center for alcholics on the East coast, run by Catholics, at which Metropolltan Theodosius and Matushka Kucynda had received evaluation and appropriate therapies. When I got back with Bshop Nikolai and told him of it, he said, “The place is one of the top two or three in the country.”
                      Now, it’s true, there are clergy in the OCA that flaunt psychological credentials galore, but you wouldn’t want them near anyone you held dear. They are the type who make a diagnosis by observing someone on tv or hearing anecdotes from acquaintances and friends. One of those did a long-distance psychological evaluation of Bishop Nikolai for Archbishop Job et al and determined he was a classical example of narcissistic disorder. That diagnosis, based solely on anecdotal behavior was widely bruited (but mainly on Mrs. Steve Brown’s blog) as a “professional analysis proving the issues facing Alaska.” Since then we’ve often heard, “And don’t forget Father A’s professional (sic) diagnosis!” No, no, give me a NON-Orthodox treatment/evalutation center wherever the welfare of an American Orthodox bishop is concerned: the Orthodox in America are too much like a dangerous small town. Did I miss something or did George lump Protopresbyter Hopko with intellectuals, i.e., Frs. Schmeman and Meyendorff. What an idea! Please!

                    • MS: And my kids went in their early years to schools run by well educated RC nuns. But this isn’t about education or treating a painful knee, is it? The one thing the RCC is the worst at is clergy sexual misconduct. Not one institution in the USA with a worse reputation. And this place is lead by clergy accountable as such overseas, not doctors only. So, there’s a serious qualitative difference. Johns Hopkins is right there in Baltimore. Nearly the best in every single field there is. Not good enough, though, eh?

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Mr. Coin,

                      I presume you are speaking to me (MS)?

                      You are attempting to, again, “answer” objective questions with subjective answers. It seems to me Mr. Banescu has offered his opinion in regard to services provided by Johns Hopkins that might be of interest to you.

                      What I said is no one has, to the best of my knowledge, proffered a philosophy or course of treatment that is more effective at preventing repeat acts of predatory child sexual abuse than jail – and I have actually taken the time to read Johns Hopkins’ treatment philosophy. What does Mr. Banescu’s or my opinion say as to the overall “effectiveness” of any services received at Johns Hopkins? Nothing. Your application of this criterion is inappropriate and unhelpful.

                      I have received no call for my consultation – and a venture out on a limb here – and I suspect neither have you. Powerlessness, while uncomfortable, is as stressful as we choose to make it.

                    • Stankovich, why are you dodging my question? Why do you have a gay icon on your website?

    • Gee, Rod. I thought you were above this type of journalism. I am not just disappointed, but as an Orthodox Christian, I am disillusioned.

      I’ve been reading your work for years. When I heard a rumour that you were “Anonymous” at, I couldn’t believe it. I thought you were above such pettiness as publishing in such mean-spirited tones. Perhaps I was wrong.

      I guess I shouldn’t be so naive… my bad. But at the end of the day, there is little here that points me to Christ or that brings beauty to His Bride. And that deeply saddens me…it’s like so much of the world in which we all live, where ugliness and pettiness, in the form of the ad hominem is somehow elevated and heralded as “educated’ and “sophisticated”. Talk about elite…y’all sound like Fox News! 🙂

      How often have men and women better than you and I, the Saints, simply walked away from that which they found troublesome or unsavoury …or something that stood in the way of their theosis? in the way of our Lord, like a lamb before the shearers, they’ve simply kept silent?

      There is a lesson in all of this: consider the integrity of the source. I doubt I would cut-and-paste an entire piece of yours, Rod, including copyritten images, wholesale, into another blog; was permission to do so arranged beforehand? Yet when I consider a man who writes under “anonymous” to do an end-run around a work contract…does that lack integrity?

      • Laura sounds like a sore loser from the now defunct OCANews.

      • Laura,

        Rod can defend himself, but I would like to address your problem with with OCAT.

        As a participant of I have taken my contributions (if they may be called that) to the internet discussion incredibly seriously. More than anything else I have desired to keep the “one thing needful” as primary in my life. I have prayed and sought God’s will in every major decision the website faced. Not everything we wrote has been published, and not everything we know has come to light.

        That’s one of the reasons that I confided in Bp. Mark (Maymon) on Forgiveness Sunday and told him he was welcome to approach me if he thought I was falling into error of any kind.

        I understand many of the reasons that people don’t like the site, and many of the reasons that people have a problem with the decision we made to stand up against obvious maliciousness and slander. We may not have done things well, but we are called to stand up for the Truth.

        Many people I respect disagree with me, and I think many of the reasons are solid. However, I’m very confused by yours. I would also ask you if you are really acquainted with the site and the circumstances. Yes the site involved and perpetuated conflict. That does not make it wrong.

        Walking past ugliness and conflict is not always a holy thing to do. I am not offended if you disagree with me, or if there is something I did I need to be called to repent of; but I do not think “conflict” is such a thing.

      • Also, Laura advises:

        How often have men and women better than you and I, the Saints, simply walked away from that which they found troublesome or unsavoury …or something that stood in the way of their theosis? in the way of our Lord, like a lamb before the shearers, they’ve simply kept silent?

        Sorry Laura, but the saints whose example we here must follow in this “battle” with false christiany are the likes of Athanasius, Basil the Great,

        • Heracleides says

          Add to that list St. Nicholas. A saint who did not walk away but rather kicked Arius’ heretical butt.

      • Laura sounds like a sore loser from the now defunct OCANews.

        This sounds like theAd hominem, the all-too-common attack du jour by those who have little useful to say. You do not know me; who or what I read, nor who my Confessor is. You make a false assumption. I forgive you…and I will pray for you.

        Sorry Laura, but the saints whose example we here must follow in this “battle” with false christiany are the likes of Athanasius, Basil the Great,

        You also presume to judge the hearts and the salvation of others. Isn’t this cautioned against in Scripture? I should be careful about who you declare is a heretic. The heresy of Arianism became rather obvious to those Bishops in Council who, with the power of the Holy Spirit, could make that determination for The Church. This…blog…is hardly that, now, is it? Or am I missing something?

        Thank you, Jesse Cone, for your considered response. It is muchly appreciated. I do not shy away from “conflict” when it is considered and done in a spirit of brotherly love (even the rarely-given brotherly punch, ;P ). Today, in light of the information coming out of State College, PA, I ask myself “what would I do?” if confronted by such evil acts perpetuated on another…child or adult. So I apply my thoughts to the situation confronting us in The Church and look for some sort of guiding principle: if we cannot walk away, because we truly believe there is evil knocking on our door, and evil acts are being perpetuated against us, then our actions must be made in integrity and above reproach. We must act diligently, truthfully, and in courage. If I may quote:

        “I think the Penn State/Paterno/Sandusky story is so important in part because it is so universal. It causes us to reflect on the meaning of loyalty, and the meaning of courage. Loyalty is only a virtue depending on the object of one’s loyalty. A mafioso is loyal, but his is a criminal loyalty. The difficulty comes when one is asked to be loyal to a worthy cause or institution that is perpetuating or harboring evil.” (

        Or, as Edmund Burke once said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

        Consider, then, that the Good Men who exist on this side of the Table, are matched by Good Men who also exist on the Other Side of the Table. There is a belief in “The Cause”, if you will, equal on both sides. For, unless heresy is openly accused and proven (something you, PdnNJ cannot do alone), we are all Brothers in Christ and we all commune at the Same Table…

  3. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    As part of a subordinate clause, Father Bobosh admits: “I sit on the Metropolitan Council, on the MC’s Ethics Committee and on the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee.”

    This is helpful. I was wondering whom to blame.

    • I agree…these people involved put all blame on the Metropolitan but they are themselves causing turmoil. I am just a lay parishioner and even I know A LOT of details about the cases being investigated by the Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee because Bobosh, et al, can’t keep their mouths shut.

      I’d say to put all new people in those positions and then see if the “problems” persist. But that won’t happen because certain people must have power in the OCA and certain bishops seem to always make that happen. Pathetic.

  4. M. Stankovich says

    The Metropolitan has made a statement. In my estimation, it was honest and forthright; I have no reason to believe or suspect it was intended to to serve as “placation,” or diversion, or manipulation; and accepting his words as true, I do not need “interpretation.” At this point, then, I feel compelled to accept that Divine Grace always “heals that which is wanting,” and always “completes that which is incomplete.” The wonderfully assuring nature of this gift of “Concecration” is that it is neither dependent upon, nor is affected by any monotonous, ponderous, and incessant discussion of anything, but is marvelously reduced to six words: Therefore, let us pray for him.”

  5. Stokoe is reporting that the $50 assessment passed. However I am getting mixed signals that an amendment passed leaving the $105 in place for 2012 then it goes to proportional giving. Anyone have solid from the floor confirmation one way or another?

    • Heracleides says

      Stokoe has corrected his initial posting. It appears that Matovic had it right the first time around.

  6. Anyone to call the Met. narcissitic doesn’t understand how he works. Of all verbiage I could possibly think of to describe the Met., that ain’t it.

    The Met. is like a managing partner of a law firm; he’s stuck with administration, human resource nightmares (i.e., Syosset) etc., when all he wants to do is practice law.

    Tough analogy; don’t ‘ya think?

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says


      • George Michalopulos says

        The worst possible thing we could do his HB is make him a pencil-pusher. he’s got vision. I remember how they criticized Reagan for being “hands-off.” Reagan had the big picture. You get administrators to handle the paperwork. That’s how it works in a healthy organization.

    • That’s a very apt analogy, Madam. From reading his biography, I can now appreciate the irony of him choosing to become a monk rather than an executive so he could serve the church, and then being elected CEO of the church. 😉

    • Jane Rachel says

      Oh no, I’ve been duped! I believe you! (I’ve been told not to believe what people state as truth without lawyers think is evidence.) I had been waiting for you, Madam, to comment on this stupid assertion that Metropolitan Jonah is narcissistic. You go, Madam!

    • Jim of Olym says

      Madam, I think you’ve got it right. I can’t claim to ‘know’ Metr.Jonah, but I’ve encountered him from time to time: when he was a layman running the first late vocations program in the DOW, and fleetingly, when he was serving missions in central Callfornia, and lastly when he was running the monastery in pt. Reyes several years ago. I don’t think I’ve ever met a less narcissistic person. Unless the white hat has changed him 180.

      jim of Olym

  7. Yup, here we go again sending some one for psychological evaluation because they are a bad “administrator”.
    Sheesh, why not send all of the OCA’s really competent “administrators” for evaluation for not being great spiritual leaders

    • Remnant, what do you think this is, a Church? Next thing you’ll be talking about more icons in our churches and stuff. Get real, man!

      • DC Indexman says

        George M. Is there anyway you can investigate more of what is behind this “treatment” and evaluation for HB. I just read the comment boxes under M. Stokoe’s piece on HB going for treatment. All of Stokoe’s followers seem to believe HB is addicted to drugs or alcohol. How they could trump up this nonsense — it needs to be stopped! Won’t these Stokovites ever quit?

        • Lola J. Lee Beno says

          Now, that is absolutely ridiculous. I agree, someone needs to get to the bottom of this “treatment and evaluation” process.

  8. Michael and Carl,

    The Metropolitan, as George stated, has already gone through a complete psych workup with a professional clinician. Someone who the Metropolitan had no prior relationship. The doctor’s evaluation was done by all common standards in that field of medicine. And the results, the Metropolitan is not gravely troubled. He has no addictive behavior. He is not depressed, not bipolar, not a drunk nor an abuser of controlled substances. He was and is in a highly stressful work environment, but even under those circumstances he does not display any abnormal psychological behavior. Period. From the profession clinician.

    Why is it so difficult to see that because Benjamin ran rough shot over the Synod and threw out, yes, threw out those results because Jonah didn’t go to the drunk and druggie farm that Benjamin insisted and Benjamin in a shameless display of disharmony in the Synod and his Metropolitan embarked on a childish campaign to discredit Jonah with those infantile DOW resolutions, his personal agenda that became church policy.

    You just don’t get it. However, maybe if the entire Synod, as a sign of solidarity with Jonah all checked into the same facility, and as brothers in Christ went through the same work up and evaluation program, whatever that may be and what is best from them personally and as a group, and maybe if they refuse, especially Benjamin, maybe, just maybe then you can begin to see that what has been going on since Stokoe unleashed his cabal to throw Jonah out, and Hopko, right on cue, threw in his “gravely troubled” sans Holy Spirit at Pittsburgh babble, maybe you can see that what is being said here, because you won’t get Stokoe to post anything that he can’t use to make his point, maybe, just maybe you can see that Jonah has been the victim, and still is on the edge of being thrown out as part of another high tech lynching in the OCA, as part of a cover to keep the dark lives of Benjamin and Nathaniel from closer inspection and the old guard ways in power.

    The OCA is killing itself with this crap and if the bishops and the MC who have been at the center of this the last three years can’t admit their part, why should Jonah take all the blame?

    But, he has done the noble thing. He has done it in the past. He is not an alley fighter like Benjamin, Nathaniel and Melchesedek. He is a monastic who has struggled to kill his ego, unlike Benjamin and Nathaniel, in particular. This is the new face of the OCA that the old guard, including a dysfunctional Hopko, are not willing to accept.

    The OCA now is mind driven not heart driven and until the OCA heart informs the mind again it will continue to be on the track to insignificant oblivion.

    Will the Bishops step up and really lead by example, like Jonah, or will they return to their dens of casting stones? Will they co-suffer with their brother Jonah or will they in another example of self-righteous chest pounding simply wimp out and continue to point fingers? I fear they will continue to do the ignoble and not the noble, continue to display an arrogance of the elite and not self-emptying love.

    I hope they prove me wrong for the sake of Orthodoxy in this land. I really do because if they can’t or won’t, they will continue to be an ever diminishing figure in the rear view mirror of the rest of us Orthodox of all jurisdictions moving forward.

  9. M. Stankovich says


    Here is what I “got”: the Metropolitan openly, and before the Council of the Church, accepted full responsibility for the administrative and fraternal issues that are undeniably present. “Yes, but…” No. Before the Council of the Church, he accepted full responsibility, and then continuing, pledged to proceed with whatever was necessary to resolve the issues for the sake of the Church. “But he already…” No. Before the Council of the Church, and having acknowledged the crises and accepting responsibility, he reported that he would seek professional help. All of this has been dutifully recorded and is part of the record and history of the OCA. To “parse” or “decode” the Metropolitan’s words is to suggest he was simply dishonest, disingenuous (relying on the theory that he was “forced” to make statements he did not believe), intimidated (relying on the theory that he was in a “lion’s den” and could not adequately defend himself), or in a patristical sense, “magnanimus” (e.g. St. Tikhon of Zadonsk is said to have asked forgiveness of a man who slapped him, arguing that he should have realized his words would “compel” the man to strike him). While we might argue that magnanimity is what we should expect, in the context of the crisis at hand, not accepting the Metropolitan at his word portends disaster.

    I would suggest that you consider the “theory” of conspiracy – as many scholars have done – as a necessarily self-perpetuating, self-sustaining phenomenon. Following an initial “assumption,” reached rightly or wrongly, challenges to the initial presumption are either clarifying or “debunking.” The problem is that, as an historical process observed by research, the “vetting” of challenges to the original presumption, as a process, looses is “sharpness,” its ability to objectively scrutinize information. Like it or not, the research indicates that the “presumption” of conspiracy – and consider the drama when a true conspiracy is revealed – far out-weighs reality. PLEASE, I am not asking for your evidence of a “high-tech lynching.” That has been posted to this website in abundance. My point is simple: the Metropolitan has spoken to the assembled Council of the Church, and I respect him enough to accept his word.

    As someone who is actually qualified to speak to the matter of mental health “evaluation,” the majority of the discussion I read here is misguided, woefully inaccurate. and professionally demeaning. An evaluation is a structured process of “discovery,” which I described previously on the AOI site: “an extraordinarily complex interaction of my knowledge-base, training, experience, character, opionion, faith, virtue, sobriety, and sinfulness, and you.” What is role of “external information” (i.e. what a clinician is told by a referring party)? If you were to call me to refer your father because he is “narcissistic,” while I might “note” it, I certainly will not “presuppose” it for purposes of my evaluation. It’s that simple. Every neophyte quickly learns the consequence of accepting “one side” of the story. I am not unique and am confident that what I describe is characteristic of the field as a whole. And I must admit, in my darkest moments of consternation, the thought crosses my mind that Metropolitan Jonah is safer in the hands of my colleagues, than his own.

    • OCA DOM parishioner says

      M. Stankovich, I respect what you say about your profession and colleagues, and I can certainly appreciate the cogency of that final thought! I hope what appear to be some dubious machinations on the part of some of the OCA hierarchy and administration to possibly discredit and further undermine MJ’s leadership by insisting he undergo another evaluation will, as others have suggested, only serve to properly silence and discredit his detractors.

      I was very encouraged by my own Priest’s assessment yesterday to our parish of the doings at the AAC. He didn’t even dignify the spurious accusation of our Metropolitan’s alleged “emotional instability” with a response (to be fair, I’m not even sure this was explicitly subject to discussion there). He made it very clear he sees the criticism of and response to MJ’s alleged administrative failures as hugely overblown in their relevance. He made it equally clear that he believes MJ has the Scriptural and spiritual qualifications to be a Bishop and that this is what the OCA really needs in its Metropolitan. Furthermore, he is in many important ways a member of the “establishment” of the OCA (in background and education), but it seems clear to me he is not cut of the same spiritually-compromised cloth as some in the OCA seem to be again proving themselves to be. I thank God for Him and for all those like Him who labor faithfully for the Lord on behalf of the welfare of their flocks in these trying circumstances in the OCA.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        “Spiritually-compromised cloth”? Did you have to so insult and judge those who are not of the same mind as your priest? Don’t you feel strange in following this self-righteous and condemnatory attack with pious words? How in the world are we going to get over these trying times if we demonize those who are of a different mind?

        • Jane Rachel says

          A physician, an engineer, and an attorney were discussing who among them belonged to the oldest of the three professions represented. The physician said, “Remember, on the sixth day God took a rib from Adam and fashioned Eve, making him the first surgeon. Therefore, medicine is the oldest profession.”

          The engineer replied, “But, before that, God created the heavens and earth from chaos and confusion, and thus he was the first engineer. Therefore, engineering is an older profession than medicine.”

          Then, the lawyer spoke up. “Yes,” he said, “But who do you think created all of the chaos and confusion?”

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Right. It’s not really a conspiracy in the sense that the joint action is public and those cooperating in it are readily identified. One thinks of conspirators as being secretive: conspiracies likewise secret. It’s more like a broad daylight commando attack.

  10. Michael,

    I do accept him at his word. I always have done so. And I accept his word now. What I don’t accept nor trust is the double-dealing of Bishop Benjamin who’s record speaks for itself. He is in no wise competent to call Jonah’s kettle so black when his own kettle is blacker. It get’s done to motive and I do not trust the motives of Benjamin and Nathaniel.

    Time will tell.

    • Ken Miller says

      +Jonah is not being persecuted in spite of the fact that his spiritual development far exceeds that of his detractors, but because of it. It makes them look bad. When +Jonah responds to their vicious insults and attacks with simplicity, humility, and paying back evil with good, it drives them absolutely insane. It is so foreign to them that they come up with outlandish theories of psychological problems or narcissism or substance abuse problems. The only kind of righteousness that his detractors know is formal outward righteousness, the kind that hides all kind of jealousies, conceits, pride, arrogance, ego, and ambition inside and tries to look good on the outside. This is the kind of righteousness that Christ said “do not even the heathen do this”, and “you have whitewashed your supulchres.” +Jonah, on the other hand, has spent many years of labor in following the Orthodox spiritual disciplines to achieve inner purity, and it allows him to follow the difficult sayings of Christ, to always see his own failings as greater than those of others, to love his enemies, to offer the other cheek when someone strikes him, and to repay evil with good.

      +Jonah is in excellent company. St John Chrysostom was banished twice for proclaiming the full orthodox faith even when it exposed the sin of those in power. St Gregory Palamas was ousted for periods because the Barlaamists could not stand the idea that there is such a thing as a righteous inner purity that allows one to commune with and participate in the Divine. That sounds eerily similar to today. I think we are dealing with neo-Barlaamism. Now I’m sure all the Bishops who hate Jonah would say they agree with Theosis and Deification, and they would describe it in cold, analytical, and theoretical terms. The only problem is that is not Orthodoxy. True Orthodoxy abhors a disparity between theory and practice. True Orthodoxy must be practiced and experienced, not just understood with a 20th century logical American mind. All of the holy fathers that teach how to achieve theosis are clear that theosis only comes as the culmination of a holy life, both in terms of external righteousness and even more importantly, internal righteousness. +Jonah has actually labored to follow the orthodox spiritual disciplines to clean the inside of his cup, while his detractors try to keep the illusion of having cleaned the outside of their cup while harboring all kinds of hate, jealousy, strife, and arrogance.

      • Ken, I think you hit the nail on the head. One of the thing about the Lavender Mafia and the other critics of +Jonah is that they are the first to proclaim this principle or that dictum in order to justify their “concerns.”
        Even if we accepted their arguments at face value, this would still not hide the fact that the only defense they have is legalism.

        Make no mistake, Benjamin, Bobosh, Jillions, and Wheeler are completely lacking in love for +Jonah. Likewise Melchizedek displayed this same adherence to principle when he tried to go after the nuns. (And these women nursed him back to health in Greece!)

        Where is the love in all this? Not in legalism. The Lord Himself said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” We need principles and ethics, but when they are used to trump the highest principle, that of love, then those who do so are nothing but whited sepulchres.

  11. cynthia curran says

    I agree with you George on Freud, he tired to use Greek Myths too much to explain things. I always felt sorry for Oedipus since he didn’t know the men he killed was his father and the woman he murdered was his mother. I thought the myth was unfair and he blinded himself as punishment for sins he didn’t know he committed in the first place.

  12. cynthia curran says

    I mean the woman he married, you are right she killed herself. Boy what a big goof.