Church, Society & COVID: Lessons Learned?

It has now been fourteen months since the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19) broke out.  Its point of origin was quickly pinpointed to the city of Wuhan, China.

At first, the virus was thought to have arisen from the notorious wet markets of Wuhan where exotic animals were sold for human consumption. Bats sold at that market were considered to be the primary vector for the virus.

This hypothesis, however, did not withstand scrutiny. Instead, a biochemical lab located in the same location was pegged to be the genesis of the virus. There is credible evidence that the original bat virus was isolated there and then made more transmittable and virulent through a process called gain-of-function (GOF) research. 

For those who don’t know, GOF research is normally associated with the engineering of bio-weaponry.  

In 2014, several breaches of protocol at US government laboratories caused concerns over the ability of the U.S. government to ensure the safety of the research on specific pathogens.  “The situation has its roots in 2011 when the NSABB suppressed two studies involving H5N1 viruses that had been modified to allow airborne transmission from ferret to ferret. They worried that malign actors could replicate the work to deliberately cause an outbreak in human beings.”  At the urging of 200 or so scientists, a moratorium on GOF research was declared.

The NIH stated that the moratorium “will be effective until a robust and broad deliberative process is completed that results in the adoption of a new US Government gain-of-function research policy”.  The process was spearheaded by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) and led to the development of a new framework for assessing funding decisions for research involving pathogens with enhanced pandemic potential. The release of the framework by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of which NIH is part, signaled the end of the funding pause ruling the benefit justified the risk. 

On Dec 19, 2017, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that they would resume funding gain-of-function experiments involving influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus”.  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(18)30006-9/fulltext

The idea of GOF research leading to a possible leak was explosive and is still hotly contested.  In May of 2021, Dr Anthony Fauci was called to account before a Senate panel and asked specifically whether or not the United States funded the controversial research at the Wuhan lab.  Tellingly, he refused to answer in a coherent fashion.  If anything, Fauci continued to implicate himself with increasingly absurd and contradictory statements.   Indeed, he continues to do so even today.

All of the above is disconcerting.  Last year, many scientists and politicians were ridiculed for questioning the initial “wet-markets” hypothesis.  This is most unfortunate because in doing so, the relevant authorities were distracted from pursuing a legitimate path of inquiry.  In any event, if laws were broken or even if they were evaded, we should exhaust all investigative avenues to get to the bottom of it and if warranted, punish those who are responsible.  After all, the release of biological weapons is nothing less than a war crime. 

This bears repeating:  biological weapons are microorganisms (such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or other toxins) for which there is no beneficial purpose.   The only reason for weaponizing such microorganisms is to cause widespread disease and death.  Regardless of their stated intention, Bill Gates, Fauci, and others in the NIH (such as Francis Collins) were complicit in creating a pathogen that killed tens of millions of people.  They knew that the potential existed.  They were warned by their peers NOT to proceed and they went ahead and did it anyway.  They are war criminals.    

Secondly, the economies of the world suffered mightily. In many countries, the working and middle classes have been wiped out; lock-downs resulting from COVID caused a massive transfer of wealth upwards to the wealthiest 1 percent.  (It’s estimated that this number exceeds one trillion dollars.)  The present disparity in wealth is unparalleled in history.  In addition, unemployment skyrocketed and many countries have had to resort to deficit spending in order to prevent a complete societal breakdown. This, in turn, will result in massive hyperinflation down the road which will present its own set of problems. 

In addition, schoolchildren have been deprived of a year of education, thereby setting them back and depriving them of acquiring much-needed social skills. Finally, the medical consequences of lock-downs have been horrendous; these include depression, isolation, malnutrition, and suicides on an alarming scale.

These are the socioeconomic consequences of the creation and subsequent release of COVID-19 from (as now seems likely) the Wuhan Lab. They are serious in and of themselves, and should not be minimized. We Orthodox Christians, however, are equally concerned about the spiritual consequences of the pandemic as we can see that long-lasting damage has occurred as well.  Unfortunately, this is due to our hierarchy hastily acquiescing to the dictates of the secular authorities. 

For Orthodox Christians, this is most unfortunate and it is only with great reluctance that we are forced to place responsibility on our hierarchy for the present morass we find ourselves in.  In retrospect, it is not too egregious a statement to say that our religious worship has been significantly deformed; as has the relationship between Church and state.

In any event, the question boils down to this:  were the religious authorities justified in accepting the initial premises of the disease?

It is our contention that the answer is a resounding NO. The virulence and lethality of COVID now appear to have been massively overstated.  Indeed, even as early as April of 2020, questions about its severity began to arise. From the outset, it became clear that COVID affected various populations differently. Even though there was an obvious correlation between co-morbidities, specifically obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, and COVID’s virulence, modern sensibilities prevented many from remarking on the ethnic, racial, and geographical distribution of the virus.

Other problems arose which caused some to express concern that we weren’t getting the real story. The issue of masks was one of them. From the outset, we were given contradictory information about their efficacy.  Likewise, the idea of mandatory isolation prevented the acquiescence of herd immunity. Finally, it became obvious that mortality rates were exaggerated.

More questions arose when it became obvious that there were financial incentives in ascribing a COVID diagnosis to deaths that were not warranted.  Even Dr Deborah Birx admitted as much during one of the innumerable press conferences she held with Fauci and President Trump.  Among the questions raised by other researches was the disappearance of the mortality numbers due to the annual flu.  In the United States alone, some 60,000 people die each year from the common flu, a datum which has been overlooked for some reason or another.  

The damage which has been done to Christian worship has been widespread. As for Orthodox ecclesiology, it has raised uncomfortable questions.  For example,  why must we “register” for services?  (When has this ever been a requirement for public worship?)  Moreover, the placement of cameras in the naves of churches has a totalitarian feel about it.  Will these procedures allow the Federal government to track us?

No doubt there are others.

This is in the realm of worship. What of theology?  How is it possible that the Eucharist –which is the Body and Blood of Christ–can serve as a vector for the disease?  (Any disease, not just COVID?)  Is the prohibition on icon veneration an ipso facto return to iconoclasm?  Are masks a direct violation of the canons? And so on.  As for mandatory vaccination, will the Church aid and abet the state to help the latter enforce this policy?

Even more worrisome is where this will lead to in the future? The issue of masks (for example) can have horrendous long-term societal consequences, not the least of which is permanently segregating whole groups of people into “those who care” as opposed to “those who don’t care”.  This is already being commented upon in the social sphere.  Some on the Left have found another way for them to virtue signal, even going so far as to say that they will continue to wear masks even though they have been vaccinated.  In doing so, they assert this prerogative in order to distinguish themselves from those people (presumably conservatives) who do not.  According to the directives of some of our bishops, special sections are to be created in the naves of our churches for those who are maskless and are not vaccinated.

We have already heard the hyperbolic language being used in a few instances in which some bishops demanded that their priests abide by their strictures; to do anything less would result in them being accessories to murder (should a congregant die of COVID).

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The locking down of churches has broken the natural weekly rhythm of life for those who regularly attend services. The live-streaming of services has proved to be a poor substitute for many.  And the fact that this has been at the direction of bishops has made non-attendance normative. For the first time ever in the history of the Christian Church, ordinary laymen were ordered by their bishops to not attend church. To enforce this, priests were ordered to lock the doors in order to prevent anybody from attempting to attend services.  This is nothing less than scandalous.  

As a result, church attendance (and we must presume membership) has plummeted. This drop has affected all jurisdictions and dioceses. It is hard to see how the Orthodox Church as an institution can recover from such a year-long interruption in services.

No doubt, more unforeseen consequences lurk in the future. It has been reported by many that the Federal government has subsidized this behavior thanks to the PPP loans which were given out to businesses and churches in order to make up for the economic shortfall that resulted from the closing of churches. This has already prompted some laymen to ask uncomfortable questions, such as “why should I tithe?” or “why should I participate in annual fund-raising drives” since the state will pick up the slack?  For Roman Catholics, this will call into question the whole idea of “days of obligation”.

For Orthodox Christians, the pandemic has caused many of us to question the entire ethos of our Church. After all, the government said that only “essential” businesses and institutions could stay open during the pandemic. When we saw that the episcopate would not stand up to the government it made it clear to many of us that they too, agreed with the government. At least implicitly.

This bears repeating:  because of this hasty acquiescence to secular authorities, neither the Church nor its services were considered to be “essential”.

Contrast this with businesses that the state allowed to remain open, among them liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and abortuaries. These were deemed to be “essential”.   As of this writing; the various mandates have been lifted; whether the churches will be able to spring back to the status quo ante remains to be seen.  Indications from several sources do not look promising.

There are reasons for this.  One of them is that what the state gives with one hand, it can take away with another. Especially if the virus mutates and threatens another pandemic.  After all, the precedent has been set.  Even more troubling is the fact that the secular powers have seen how easily society –the Church included–caved to their dictates.

Long-term consequences are worrisome as well.  We are told for example that the various vaccines that have been rushed out into production (a problem in and of itself) are not “cures”.  They are not even “vaccines” in the normal sense of the word.  Instead, we are now being told that they are “preventatives” and that “they may reduce” the severity of the virus’s symptoms by “up to 95 percent”.  Therefore, even if one is vaccinated, he can still get the virus; in fact, we are told by some that those who are vaccinated can still spread the disease.  Because of all of these contingencies, we are now being told that we may have to have annual mandatory vaccinations.  And even if we are vaccinated, we may still be forced to wear masks.  Those who do not submit to these potential dictates will be forbidden from gathering in public places; not only in churches but in grocery stores as well.  

The future in other words looks bleak.  The question then is, how will the Church behave under such circumstances?  This is not merely a rhetorical question, aimed at those who question the entire COVID narrative.  For example, some bishops have asked those of us who questioned the premises of the entire COVID hysteria (in a somewhat accusatory fashion):  “which is more important rights or responsibilities?”  Be that as it may, already there is talk of mandatory vaccine “passports” should the virus mutate.  Not only will the unvaccinated not be able to travel, but they also will not be able to attend public venues or shop for groceries.  Or go to church.

For religious leaders, these possible strictures must be taken into account. They are too close for comfort on many levels; indeed, they mirror the anti-Christian regime that is prophesied in the Book of Revelation (Chapters 12 and 13, respectively).

The question before us is a simple one: will we learn from our mistakes and try as much as possible to never repeat the mistakes of the pandemic? Or are we going to conform yet again to the governmental structures that were placed on us should another outbreak occur?  Most worrisome of all:  will there be legal consequences should some of us continue to raise questions about the efficacy of these protocols?  Let us be blunt:  the previous protocols have resulted in a stunning lack of credibility for those who issued them.  It is absurd to think that questions such as these will not be raised again. 

It is our fervent hope that all Christian leaders think this through as there is every likelihood for another “pandemic” will be unleashed.  Are they going to submit as quickly as they did in 2020?  Especially now that we now know about Fauci, Gates, and others who have been funding illegal gain of function research?  Who knows what other foreign laboratories have been conducting such research? 

The pandemic has been a wake-up call, of this there can be no doubt.  As Christians, we must place our faith in God.  The Church, after all, has weathered many other such crises in the past.  It is our hope that, come what may, we can learn from the mistakes of the past year and not repeat them.  Otherwise, we may see a resurgence in a future Donatist controversy.

About GShep

Comments

  1. The place for Caesar in Church is on his knees,
    along with the rest of us.

  2. Church life was certainly upended for us all. And, I will always remember this point in my own life and how I felt during the pandemic spiritually. Though, as strange as it may sound, my parish of about 140 people didn’t lose any members, except for someone that moved out of the area. Our donations, though a bit down from what usually come in monthly, actually bounced back quite nicely. I hope that many other parishes experience this. I pray to God that all Orthodox parishes have a similar rebound.

  3. Jane Tzilvelis says

    Healthcare is a personal, individual Right. The hierarchy of the GOA did not find mandatory masks, vaccines, church closings, business closings, etc., to be blatant violations of our Natural rights and Biblical duties. The GOA hierarchy did not resist all attempts by government and their bureaucrats to mandate personal healthcare choices, not the least of which includes vaccinations. Government-mandated healthcare is by defintion tyrannical!

    The GOA is not preaching and teaching so as to apply the principles of God’s Word to everyday life—including our political life. The GOA coerced, intimidated their faithful to make the government’s laws higher than that of our Lord.

    The GOA hierarchy enjoys the perks, loans, and extras afforded to by the government. The GOA has a mighty conflict of interest. It’s up to us to return the GOA to Word of God and not Word of government. We must not settle for anything less.

    Thank you for a stupendous article!

    • Jacob Lee says

      Jane, Depending on your bishop and priest that is not true at all in Houston, Texas the GOA churches have been open and mask optional since May of last year. The Antiochian churches mandated masks temp checks yelled at my family for not social distancing from one another. There is more variety in the GOA then in other jurisdictions.

      • True. The GOA parish where I am was one of the strongholds to go to. It is my understanding that the same is true for the GOA monasteries. I get the impression that the terrible version of the GOA we all hear about is mostly in the N.E states.

        As a side note, the OCA in my state by-and-large never shut down except for a small time at the very beginning

        • Jane Tzilvelis says

          Were you required to wear a mask, social distance, or have a temperature gun placed near your forehead at your church?

          Did your church take any PPE loan money?

      • Jane Tzilvelis says

        Glad to hear that your church was free from veiled hypocrisy. Thank you for posting.

        Did your church take any PPE loan money?

  4. Seraphim says

    George,
    Thanks for this. I was saying the same thing months ago: the Church gave in so easily and our political leaders saw it. They will remember it the next time something happens. And next time it might not take something as big as covid.

    I hate to be a pessimist but I don’t hold out much hope that our bishops will learn from these mistakes… because they don’t think they made any mistakes! They think they were being loving shepherds of their flocks. And the priests and deacons and laymen who went along with it think they were being obedient.

    People like my wife and I who refused to go along with all this were made to feel like second class citizens, prideful, disobedient, etc. Even many of the laity who had issues would not stand up. They just put on their mask and went to church.

    Even if there is a certain “bounce back” in attendance, what will be the quality of those present? I think we’re in the time of the faithful remnant. I just wish we had at least a bishop or two here who we could rally around.

  5. Mom of Toddler says

    THANK YOU for this article!

    (It prompted me to look more into the Donatist heresy and found this page: http://www.earlychristianhistory.net/donatus.html . I thought this line stood out: “Of course, other (unaffected) parts of Christendom weighed in on the matter, and came down generally against the Donatists. Forgiveness had to be extended to everyone; although penance was required, and there was no guarantee that any penance would be easy.” According to this page, even the non-Donatists wanted acknowledgement/repentance regarding the betrayal of the faith, but were ready to extend forgiveness readily, unlike the Donatists, that never would.

    • Wow, there also seems to be very similar “Donatist” parallels to what’s happening in Ukraine. Very interesting.

      • Reverse Donatism. The fake Ukrainian church refuses to repent. Another similarity is that the Donatists had wandering bands of violent criminals that attacked Orthodox parishes, ‘Circumcellions.’

    • Is there a period in the history of the Church that’s similar to what we have been through with covid? (Arianism, Nestorianism, Novatianism). Not everyone capitulated thanks be to God, but, we did not fare very well with the American episcopate.

      I wonder if like past errors in Church history that a mass Mea Culpa will be required

      • I think iconoclasm comes closest, especially with the denial of icon veneration, etc., in some jurisdictions. Afterwards, the vast majority of the clergy who simply went along with the state-mandated heresy were quietly forgiven and received back into the Church.

  6. My Father had many expressions concerning life. One of which was, “You play the hand your are dealt.”
    Jesus said, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” I think that applies to Covid.
    If people got separated from God who moved?

    Who knows, maybe this was a test from God to see who would remain faithful? Maybe God wants to renew His Church. Maybe He doesn’t like what we are doing. One thing I do know is that He in not fond of whiners. And much of this essay was a long whine.
    Especially the part about the hierarchy. We are to work out our own salvation. If one door is closed try another. God is at the door. Waiting. Our salvation is not dependent upon the bishops. It is dependent upon our relationship with Jesus. And He can feed you anywhere and anyplace. After all He has been doing it for 2000 years under some very difficult circumstances. He can even get into prisons. Talk to Paul and Silas and Peter for starts. Your God is too small

    • George Michalopulos says

      Lina, I don’t dispute a word you say. However, let us be frank, many (most?) Christians are not as stalwart as the picture you present. I myself struggle mightily for that matter. Having said that, it is not wrong to point out where we as the people of God fell short. We Orthodox have too much obediolatreia and/or episcolatreia and shy from calling our shepherds to task. I even mentioned as much and we should be “reluctant” to do so. Having said that, we cannot engage in blind obedience and have stars in our eyes when it comes to our shepherds. That’s naive, foolish and ultimately, detrimental.

      My only mistake in this essay was not pointing out the fault of the laity.

      • George,

        Your article is well grounded and probably necessary. We were discussing forgiveness and repentance recently. Leaving God’s forgiveness aside for the moment, there are also times when we would be wise not to forgive absent repentance. That is the situation where the bad actor will likely repeat their harmful behavior.

        Contrary to popular belief, I do not believe our Lord was challenging common sense when He exhorted us to turn the other cheek, even unto seven times seventy. I’m trying to imagine Christ watching patiently as one man strikes another four hundred and ninety times and it just escapes me. This is one of those instances of hyperbole, like plucking out the eye that strays or lopping off the hand that steals. Hyperbole. Many of His “difficult” sayings are best understood in this manner.

        Back to cases, there will be more plandemics and possibly lockdowns even for other purported reasons (such as Climate Change). Holding the clergy to account for their mismanagement of this situation is essential in preventing it from recurring, possibly frequently. It all amounts to an unacceptable interference in the freedom of religion. If clerics do not take a stand in our country, founded on liberty, where should they take a stand?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Lina,

      I think George and I should rewrite our “about” page (if we even have one). Not everyone on the blog is Orthodox or even Christian. It’s good to hear from you and others like you. When people talk about the faith it makes my heart sing because I can see how many of you love the Church. When we’re being critical, however, we’re coming from the place that we want to protect the Church; not hurt it.

      Some are here because we talk about geopolitics. We see Orthodoxy and the political landscape as intertwined but many on the blog find this only mildly interesting, I would imagine. It’s what’s happening in the world that interests them.

      This (plan)dememic is an example. It impacts the Church in a huge way and we write about that. But because we share information about COVID, something that impacts the health of tens of millions of people, it’s also a place people come to get the truth. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this because we don’t advertise it, but we are close to a year AHEAD of what most people know, for which we thank our contributors because they’re a huge part of this. Brendan in particular.

      So it’s not people whining about the Church. It’s sharing information to protect the Church. Even if it were, David whined constantly about his enemies in Psalms, Moses whined about the Israelites, and the Israelites whined about everything else!

      Nowhere in the Teaching does it say that who is committing the sin matters; whether it’s the laity or the hierarchy. We are one Body and what one member does impacts the rest of us.

      So, when one sins (missing the mark), we are told to go to our brethren and speak to them directly. (We’ve done that.) If they hear us, it’s a victory for all because we love them. If they don’t, we go back with witnesses. On this blog, there are plenty of witnesses!

      “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17

      God would not consider it “remaining faithful” to go through the motions in the Church when our bishops are failing in their duties. They are shepherds, Lina. It is their job to protect the Church. We can’t just show up for services, with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears, while working on our own salvation. It doesn’t work that way.

      Being Orthodox is not an individual sport. We do everything in community. It’s Christ’s Church and no one gets to make up the rules as we go along. If you’re not going to keep to the traditions, you might as well not be in the Church because standing in the nave does not bring you any closer to God or salvation if what’s going on around you is un-Orthodox.

  7. Hilber Nelson says

    Excellent article, George. If our Metropolitan repeats the mask mandate, or caves again to closures, I will consider either decree a bow to woke science, and will not comply. Yes, there comes a time for obedience, and a time for moral courage against woke lies — even if they are coming from the lips of our shepherds. Like all crises, this pandemic has exposed the moral and political fault lines of Orthodox leadership in America. One can hope they will humbly confess, repent and put their houses in order. If they don’t, they lose credibility, followers stop following, start questioning and eventually stop listening. If they do, they regain the trust and confidence of their flocks.

  8. Father Andrew Harmon says

    Not all parishes went down in attendance, membership, etc. during the virus months. By not exaggerating the actually rather moderate directions from the Antiochian Archdiocese we, at St. Matthew’s in Cleveland area, were able to keep a rather normal parish life (except for no coffeetimes and potlucks). So we grew in numbers and especially got quite a few new catechumens during the virus months. I think the whole virus situation shook up lots of people, causing them to turn towards the Lord. We welcomed them with open arms and now have our highest attendance numbers ever, most catechumens ever—-thanks be to God. Thanks be to God!

    • Mom of Toddler says

      Attendance has also grown at the Antiochian parish we are now attending.

    • Christ is Risen, Fr. Andrew,

      I have heard this from other people as well, their parishes growing (sometimes by quite a bit). Seems like covid has been a double edged sword, for many people it has caused a crisis of faith, myself included, and for others it has drawn them to the Church. Thanks be to God for these people seeking out the Church and Lord Have Mercy for me and others who have been struggling with the opposite. I will say however that my faith in the Church has not faltered but my faith in the hierarchy

  9. Reader Seraphim Hanisch says

    Thank you for this very thorough and well-researched examination of the problem. It is very good to see all of this and I highly praise it!

    If I might suggest something, though, it misses on one extremely important piece of the puzzle: Who is the Church?

    In much of this we look askance at the hierarchy, and so have I. My news pieces in the Duran pound on the hierarchical lack of faith, indeed, disobedience to Christ over and over again and this is absolutely true. But I want to take it a little farther, to a place many of us will not like to read. However, I think this is necessary if we are to never let this happen again. It is a copy of a comment made in social media:
    —-
    You are correct, and I appreciate that you wrote your insight about all of this. I have noted the same thing:

    “Happy, happy, joy, joy, we are all to break our arms patting ourselves on the back, because we did the right thing by shutting down, masking, etc… and now it is okay because we are open as usual again so, let’s just put all that conflict behind us…”

    Nonsense.

    In fact the same exact problem exists now that the churches are open as it did when they were closed. The bishops have not repented of their lack of belief. A real change would have been expressed by, “We were wrong to follow the authorities from Day 1, and we are reopening and will STAY open no matter what anyone tells us in the future.”

    That has not happened. It may yet happen for some people, but I do not expect our current class of hierarchs to get this, which is really sad. Several of the bishops are people I know fairly well and am friends with. They are kind men and in their own ways they have been very helpful to me. This is why I see their capitulation as so tragic.

    However, we cannot just put the responsibility for this off on the clergy. To do that is to answer their ‘new Sergianism’ with our Clericalism, which is the notion that WE should NEVER THINK of holding our clergy accountable – after all, they are fallen men, just like us, and if anything, they need more help because they are under fire from the demons much more than many of us simply by virtue of their posts.

    We should have gone to secret services, house churches, extended prayers, canons, akathists, repentance, because this judgment was visited on all of us to show us the test of OUR faith, not just that of our clergy.

    Where do the clergy come from? Us. And the Christian community as a whole is very weak, and we had the chance to grow. Some of us took it and grew, others blamed the Church authorities as though they were somehow “victims” and left the Church, blaming HER for this problem. That is wrong, too.

    The Sergianism in play means that the next crisis that comes will be met by the church authorities doing the same thing. For example, expect a COVID rise in the fall or late summer (following the periodicity of the waves that the virus shows), and I bet we start seeing closings again and the same mandates as before because “trusting science” is now the religion of our people, not trusting God. The hierarchs will make their closure orders, and we will go along with it.

    Unless we change ourselves.

    God helping me, I hope to never again let my faith slide as it did during the early stages of this pandemic period. The Church is the People of Christ, and if we have to practice our faith in homes and caves and privately because our temples have locked doors, then, so be it.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Very well said, Seraphim.

      BTW, you guys at the Duran do remarkable work! I can’t go by a day without popping my head in and taking a listen. Keep it up!

    • Seraphim says

      Reader Seraphim,
      Thank you for that great post and I couldn’t agree more. All I can say is this is where some rubber met the road in the last year. Those of us who refused to silently go along with what was being done were essentially accused of being disobedient. Many believed, and still do, that as Orthodox, and not protestants, we must be in obedience to our bishops and it’s not for us to question them unless they are teaching blatant heresy. If we follow them and they are making mistakes, it is they who will be held accountable, not us. I felt this was a dangerous way of viewing things. It seems like it’s a tough balance to strike between protestantism and clericalism. Also between following canons and following the Orthodox ethos. I felt that even if I couldn’t point to a canon that was being violated, the response of most of our clergy was not in keeping with our ethos. I mean do we canonize Saints because “man, they really followed those canons good”?

      Early on, I heard a lot of griping about the situation but the moment I broached the subject of doing home prayer services, they backed off. They said they did not want to be separated from the sacraments, so they just went along with the restrictions, even though they disagree with them, and we were left alone. They even spread rumors we were trying to start our own mission. There were no priests around who would have done home liturgies. But thanks be to God, we found a normal parish about five hours away we were able to go to once during lent, and at Pascha. Now that the restrictions are lifted, we are going to a closer Church, simply so that our young children can get back into that environment regularly. Nevertheless, we will not be able to completely trust this parish. As you pointed out, what happens the next time?

      In the end, I’m grateful for this online community where I have found other like souls. The only drawback is distance. This is nice, we are all so spread out. I wish there was a way to foster real pockets of prayerfully fellowship so people like us weren’t so alone.

      • Similar situation with me. Im in the OCA. Going forward I will just go for prayer and sacraments. But I do not see how I can trust them to educate my children nor do I see why I would go to Bible studies or other events if I have such a difference in worldview. When I go to church at “coffee hour” a lot of what I hear is criticism of the “monastic influence” on the liturgy and criticism of ROCOR for being “too extreme.” In the meantime, I’ve benefited so much from listening to Fr. Savvas Agioreitis, Fr Peter Heers, and I’ve also been reading the sermons of Elder Ephraim of Arizona. What a saint and an encouragement!

        • Mom of Toddler says

          “But I do not see how I can trust them to educate my children nor do I see why I would go to Bible studies or other events if I have such a difference in worldview.” – This is exactly how I felt before the “pandemic” and I’m sure I would feel this way now if we tried to go (we aren’t). If my son had attended the upper elementary Sunday school, I probably would have attended also to make sure what he was hearing was Orthodox. To be honest, I’ll probably watch carefully at the church I’m going to now because my trust in having a similar worldview with other Orthodox people has been pretty broken. However, I will say that the sermon I heard at church last Sunday at my new parish was refreshing and great for all to hear.

        • Bryan G,
          Can I ask, what do they mean when they’re talking about “monastic influence on the Liturgy”?

          How can ROCOR be too extreme? Most of their parishes went along with the restrictions just like everyone else. The one we’re attending now did.

          Also, I’m curious.. as someone in the OCA, do you think it will end up going the way of GOA?

    • Peter T Howe says

      Excellent comment, IMHO.

      There’s always the saying amongst us Orthodox:

      “We get the Priest we deserve.”

      I assume that that saying may be extrapolated to include the Hierarchy, as well – to wit: “We get the Bishop we deserve.”

      Yes, the Clergy and the Hierarchy are elevated from the Laity.

      “We want a better Priest than the one we have!”

      “Why? Are we good enough to where we feel that we deserve such a good Priest?”

      The Orthodox Church is Hierarchical, yes; and the Scriptures mention the following [and I’m paraphrasing here, based upon what I have heard tell thereof in the past]: “Let Judgment start at the House of God, beginning with His Holy Ones” – i.e., in the Old Testament, “His Holy Ones”, in Israelite history, were His High Priests and Priests; in the current history of the Israel of God, the Holy Orthodox Church, it may be reasonable to assume that “His Holy Ones” are His Patriarchs, Metropolitans, Archbishops, Bishops, Protopresbyters, Archpriests, Priests, etc., down to the last member of the Laity prior to the onset of the Judgment in question.

      Now, COVID-19, In My Humble Opinion, may be seen as God’s Judgment [God willing, primarily so pedagogical in scope] that starts at the House of God, beginning with His Holy Ones; ostensibly according to rank and honor, as so noted in the current Diptychs of the Canonical Orthodox Church.

      Now, if this particular apparent Judgment of God of AD 2020 has started with the House of God as such, where has it ended? is it not with the world, with the “Outer Courts” of the Heavenly Tabernacle of the New Jerusalem, the City of God descending from the Heavens in the Book of Revelation, The Bride of the Christ, which Outer Courts thus are left unmeasured by the Angel of God at the command of the Son and Word of the Most High God, because those of the Outer Courts are those of the apostate nations of the earth?

      And if God’s Judgment of AD 2020, in a Global sense, may have happened to be pedagogical in scope; then how may the House of God thus have begun to learn from God’s Pedagogical Judgment of 2020, so that His Judgment arguably of 2021 [of the next, more lethal Pandemic, according at least to William Henry Gates III] may not end up being for the members of His House a Judgment that is no longer Pedagogical, but Condemnatory, in scope?

      I would posit here that it may well be incumbent upon us as the Orthodox Christian Laity to guard the Holy Orthodox Faith with our Confessional Protocol of Martyría therefor, and thus perhaps warrant our enduring a bit of pain and discomfort for those particularly of our Orthodox brethren – of the ranks of both Clergy and Laity – who may appear at present to be sitting on the fence between Zealously Martyric Loyalty to the Holy Orthodox Faith of Christ, and Apostasy.

      We as the Laity of Christ’s Holy Church may now have to stand up for the Faith of our Fathers with zeal, as those Laity of the Great City did once the Bishops of the Church returned to the Port of Constantinople from the Council of Florence-Ferrara, only to be greeted by the Orthodox Faithful Laity in a specific manner, which Laity subsequently proceeded to greet their Hierarchical representatives with great amounts of overripe tomatoes, as well as perhaps also eggplants, and not to mention volleys of verbal opprobrious abuse against their Orthodox Hierarchs, who had just sold the Holy Orthodox Faith down the Tiber River in a most egregious manner, this final act of betrayal being the last straw for the Orthodox Faithful Laity of Constantinople, who presumably had been simply praying faithfully for their Hierarchy up until that point.

      All of this to say simply that I don’t personally believe the final straw has been put upon the back of that Ship – not of the Desert, but of the Ark of the Church of Christ – at this point in time; at least, not yet.

      Please allow me to humbly suggest that we as Orthodox Laity ought now take this time to stand in the breach, as it were, and pray fervently for all of Orthodox Christian Brethren, whether Clergy or Laity; and be willing to suffer at the very least a little bit of pain for our Orthodox Brethren in this manner, out of love for the Lord Our God and for our neighbor.

      Yes: Judgment starts at the House of God, beginning with His Holy Ones; does not Genuine Repentance, by the same token, thus begin with the People, the Laos, of God, the Laity? If we genuinely pray for or our Clergy and Hierarchs who have been elevated to their High Office from amongst the ranks of us, the Laity of God’s Holy Church, might then we not then experience a lessening of God’s Judgment as Laity, who essentially may be last to be judged by God from His House, at the beginning of His Pedagogical Judgment of the entire inhabited earth?

      I believe that this is possible.

      If it were not possible, I logically might then need apostasize to Five-Point Calvinistic Heresy and forswear any further temptation to believe in the protestant-Arminian heretical notion of Free Will then, at this point.

      But I don’t think that this is the case.

      Anyway, this is mine own personal opinion on the arguable matter at hand; and I’m sticking to it, until I either be disabused of it logically, or else spanked for my obstreporous naughtiness therefor, and summarily sent to the corner without supper.

      • Antiochene Son says

        I think you’re right. That the pandemic has suddenly all but vanished, I also wonder if this was meant to be a profound warning. God help us if we have not learned our lesson.

        For all my criticism of our bishops, I do recall one of Metropolitan Joseph’s letters from last year. He said people are clamoring to return to “normal,” but if “normal” means returning to church with our sins and vices in tow, not taking to heart what we have lived through, then we will have gained nothing.

        It was profoundly wrong for some hierarchs to liken our absence from church to Elder Zosimas going into the desert for Lent (a feat only even suggestible to highly advanced monks), but the warning to change our ways was prophetic and sadly got lost in the pharisaical rule-making.

        Perhaps a new commemoration needs to be added to the church calendar, set for March 22, the first Sunday that parishes closed across the world. Treat the Great Pandemic as a memorial for repentance, like the Great Earthquake is still remembered over 1000 years later.

    • Seraphim says

      Reader Seraphim,
      Completely agree. I guess all I can say is what about those of us who lived in communities where no one else was willing to stand up? My wife and I tried to organize home prayer meetings, but no one was willing to join. One or two people even spread rumors we were trying to start our own mission. We ended up having to travel 5 hours away just to go to a normal parish. Now with the lifted restrictions we are attending a closer parish, more for the sake of our kids than anything. But we can’t really trust it. It’s like you said: what happens next time?

      The community I’ve found here on this blog has been helpful. It’s helped me see I’m not alone. But how far can that go if things get bad again? It’s hard to do this stuff alone.

  10. Ben David says

    George and Gail,
    I was wondering what your thoughts are of Ron Unz’s theory of Covid being an American bio attack made to disrupt the Chinese economy that backfired?
    https://www.unz.com/runz/american-pravda-george-orwells-virus-lab-leak/

    • This low-lethality virus could only disrupt economies
      through the relentless promotion of fear and lockdown
      and the deliberate suppression of safe and effective treatment and prophylaxis.
      Given such suppression in the West, it seems we are also intended victims.

      Furthermore, given that the spike protein seems to be an actual bioweapon,
      it looks like the long-term attack (if any) is intended to take down the West
      and anybody else that can be persuaded to drink this Kool-Aid.

      So the authors of any such attack would be enemies of all of us:
      the West as well as the Chinese, Russians, Africans, Indians etc.
      It is to the transhumanist oligarchs that we should be pointing the finger.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Regrettably, I am inclined to agree.

        Interestingly, if one accepts the precepts of Darwinism, there is NO way in hell that the coronavirus could be a natural microbe. The placing of the spikes alone mitigates against random mutations.

        • Seraphim says

          George,
          You touched on something there without realizing it: darwinism. That’s what it comes down to. We have people in power with no conscience, who feel it’s their perogative to do whatever they want to who. We’re continually shocked by evil but should we be? Isn’t this just the natural progression of this worldview?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Interesting. I need to read it more fully. Nothing would surprise me anymore.

  11. Keep COVID-19 restrictions during in-person
    worship, ecumenical guide suggests

    https://religionnews.com/2021/06/08/keep-covid-19-restrictions-during-in-person-worship-ecumenical-guide-suggests/

    A revised ecumenical guide includes a chart
    of ‘benchmarks for in-person gatherings,’
    distinguishing between worship in outdoor and indoor settings.

    ‘…while outdoor gatherings can be an hour or longer, indoor worship services should be 30 to 45 minutes, “depending on the rate of air exchange,” the guide recommends, noting that, while its recommendation for “maximum time indoors assumes at least 4 to 6 air exchanges per hour,” many buildings don’t come close. .. ‘

    The rate of air exchange…???

  12. George Michalopulos says
  13. No point vaccinating those who’ve had COVID-19…?

    There is no point in vaccinating those who have not had it,
    (unless the aim is to wreak havoc with the spike protein)
    for the ‘vaccine’ prevents neither infection nor transmission.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The thing is, this is a “plug and play” platform that they intend to use for many things down the road. They’re not going to care about who has had COVID or not. They are against natural immunity. They want 100% of us to get the “vaccine.”

  14. Pfizer aims to have COVID vaccine ready
    for children under 12 by September

    https://nypost.com/2021/06/08/pfizer-aims-to-have-covid-vaccine-ready-for-children-under-12-by-september/

    ‘ Pfizer is aiming to have its COVID-19 vaccine ready for children under 12 by September, the company announced Tuesday — as it begins its next stage of testing on that age group. …

    The company’s second phase of trials on children under 12 will include 4,500 participants who will receive a higher dose of the vaccine than those in phase 1.

    Children between 5 and 11 will receive a 10 microgram dose, while those aged 6 months to 5 will get 3 micrograms. … ‘

    Matt 8:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me,
    it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck,
    and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
    [KJV]

  15. US-linked Chinese military scientist filed patent
    for COVID vaccine just after contagion emerged

    https://nypost.com/2021/06/04/chinese-scientist-filed-covid-vaccine-patent-after-contagion-emerged-report/

    ‘ A Chinese Communist Party military scientist who got funding from the National Institutes of Health filed a patent for a COVID-19 vaccine in February last year — raising fears the shot was being studied even before the pandemic became public, according to a new report.

    Zhou Yusen, a decorated military scientist for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) who worked alongside the Wuhan Institute of Virology as well as US scientists, filed a patent on Feb. 24 2020, according to documents obtained by The Australian.

    The patent — lodged by the “Institute of Military Medicine, Academy of Military Sciences of the PLA” — was filed just five weeks after China admitted there was human-to-human transmission of the virus, and months before Zhou died under mysterious circumstances, the report noted. … ‘

    This does not tend to support the Ron Unz theory referred to above.

    • Gail Sheppard says
    • Ben David says

      I don’t see how this is evidence against Ron Unz. The virus was known by November 2019 and was public in December. Hence the name Covid19. As any lawyer knows, patens are filled quickly and can even be for things that don’t exist yet. When did Pfizer and Moderna file their patents?

      The question that keeps on burning inside is why would China shoot itself in the foot? Why release an economically crippling disease upon itself during an economic battle with the US? That makes no sense.

      Also, the next group besides Wuhan was Iran with a lot of their leadership getting the virus. World leaders only caught the virus later in 2020. Why was Iran so unlucky? I have heard squat being discussed about Iran. Just a lot of fear mongering about China from Democrats, Republicans, and the Media.

      I know nothing about the science, but I understand people in power wanting to preserve that power at any cost. Also we all know that politicians hate admitting when they are wrong. Msy God grant us the strength for repentance!

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Ben David,

        Please see what I wrote in September 2020. A lot of people took out patents on COVID before the leak. https://www.monomakhos.com/banking-on-covid-19/

        It appears the greatest number of applications were submitted in 2019, the year before the world was officially notified by the WHO and the Chinese communist government that the virus had jumped species and was inadvertently released by the Wuhan Lab.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Ben, the only reason I can wrap my head around regarding an intentional leak against the US primarily, was to upend Trump’s reelection. This happened not because Trump got fewer actual and electoral votes (he actually won more states, etc.) but because the “pandemic” enabled the Deep State to go to mail-in ballots, much earlier voting, etc.

        2020 was a ballot-harvester’s wet dream.

        China, because it is an authoritarian state and because Xi Jipeng is “President-for-life” can take whatever short-term hit is necessary. We can’t.

        • George,
          Don’t forget how murderous a communist regime can be. Just watch “One Child Nation” on Netflix to remind you – they force-ably aborted millions of children from noncompliant mothers up to 9 months pregnant, placed the bodies in yellow plastic bags and threw them in the local trash dump….all to comply with the one child policy. Simply unfathomable to anyone with even a basic understanding of the value of human life….but don’t forget other’s don’t have that view. The communists did similar actions in the former Soviet Union and in East Germany, in addition to the other countries. Let that sink in before you “wonder” what the Chinese could do…

      • I did not say it was evidence against it.
        I said it does not tend to support it.

  16. mRNA technology pioneer says Covid-19
    vaccinated people can shed spike protein,
    Twitter says delete this

    https://www.indiatoday.in/technology/news/story/mrna-technology-pioneer-says-covid-19-vaccinated-people-can-shed-spike-protein-twitter-says-delete-this-1809062-2021-05-31

    ‘ Luigi Warren tweeted that people vaccinated with mRNA-based vaccine can shed spike proteins.
    He added that this shedding is in minuscule amounts and hence cannot harm anyone.
    Twitter has suspended his account on accounts of the tweet violating Twitter Rules.

    For those unaware, Luigi Warren is the current President and CEO of Cellular Reprogramming, Inc, a biotechnology firm based in California. More importantly, Luigi is renowned for his work with Derrick Rossi, the co-founder of the famous biotechnology company Moderna.

    Back in 2010, Luigi and Derrick worked together to be the first to describe mRNA-based reprogramming in a pathbreaking paper in Cell Stem Cell, titled Highly efficient reprogramming to pluripotency and directed differentiation of human cells with synthetic modified mRNA. … ‘

    Facts? Facts? Don’t bother us with facts!
    The program must come first…

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I wonder if our bodies will pick it up? It’s still a protein made by synthetic material.

      • Err… I don’t think so.
        The mRNA instructions (the recipe) are synthetic.
        but the cells make the spike protein (cook the dish) from organic tissue.
        At least, so I understand…

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I hope it’s the cells and not the vaccine that makes the protein that drives the cells.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Speaking of facts, did you know, that:

      “Beginning in late winter 2020, we temporarily closed the doors of our gathering places for worship. But the Church was not closed. The Church is the body of Christ that includes saints throughout all time and space. We are “like living stones” being formed “into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) even
      when we cannot gather in-person”

      https://drive.google.com/file/d/106hHOgM_7u6xFIPw1ExbBRB_r7jb2_Yf/view

      It’s getting increasingly clear that some people only feel safe with masks, social distancing, breathing in/out so much air per square foot, etc. They are never going to give it up. They want it to be the new normal.

      • Sounds like the Church of Howard Hughes…

      • Gail,

        Yes, but . . .

        It is a little known fact that low point in the history of the ROC was not 7000 functional churches (temples) in 1988, but rather 500 functional churches during the resumption of persecution under Khrushchev after the Stalin war lull. That is less than one percent of the pre-USSR total.

        In Albania, the slate was wiped clean. No active churches, all clergy dead or imprisoned.

        So while it is true that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church, they may in fact prevail at a particular time and place.

        There is a dire need for a much more militant Christianity. Modern(ist) Christianity is a false construction disseminated after WWI and WWII on the dishonest premise that Christ was a pacifist and that true Christianity eschews violence across the board.

        Nothing could be further from the truth.

        We were sold a bill of goods by the mainline churches, the Ghandis and the MLK’s of the world. They got Christ and the Faith completely wrong with respect to the question of violence, so wrong that prior generations of Christians, especially from the middle ages (before man officially became the measure of all things), would not recognize modern Christianity.

        This must be undone if we are to survive and prosper as Christians because this masochistic faith is self defeating. It likely cannot prevail against Progressivism and certainly cannot prevail against Islam. If you take out of context statements like “Turn the other cheek.” and “Do not resist evil.” while ignoring Christ’s exhortation after the Mystical Supper for his disciples to arm themselves, the fact that He claimed to be the Yahweh of the Old Testament, or His promise to feed the flesh of His enemies to the birds of the air upon His Return, you will miss the essence of Christianity completely.

        Christ preached, indeed embodied, theosis – the Kingdom of Heaven. That was His Message. Not Kumbaya. He did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

        Christ’s message is preached in temples/churches. The Divine Liturgy is celebrated in churches. Now, if it comes to it, we can endure government persecution and operate out of house churches. But we should not invite that but rather fight to prevent it coming to that.

        • Ben David says

          Misha, I disagree. The seeds of victory is the blood of martyrs not military/political victory. The martyrs of Russia and Albania stand witness to their victory. A militant, political Christ (whether violent or non-violent) was the messiah of the Pharisees and Crusaders. God will judge and His enemies will scatter and we fight against the powers and principalities of demons. The fight is real but our battle is not against man made in the image of God. Laying down our lives and dying for our neighbors, our enemies is how I believe Christian victory takes place.

          • BD,

            You are entitled to your opinion. However, without Constantine, without Prince Vladimir, where would we be? St Basil stated that killing in warfare was not regarded by the Fathers as murder. That is a broad statement of Tradition. But it jibes perfectly with the more violent aspects of both the Old and New Testaments.

            You misquote. The phrase is, “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.” No doubt we fight against powers and principalities. Yet we do not despise or reject the material as if we were Gnostics. The fight is real and, alas, all too often our battle is against men made in the image of God who contort that image in rebellion against God. The Old Testament is full of such enemies. They are mentioned again in the Apocalypse of St. John and their fate is unenviable.

            The Churches of Russia and Albania were not victorious. They were completely helpless to battle the darkness that descended upon their lands and they were defeated. The gates of hell prevailed against them. Period.

            They exist today only because other Christians and other Orthodox fought. This was the spirit of the Church Abroad when it endorsed US involvement in Vietnam. And it was Reagan’s arms build up that bankrupted the Soviet Union and eventually caused its dissolution. If you want peace, prepare war.

            Pacifistic or non-violent Christianity is not worth believing in and is more akin to Marcionism than Orthodoxy. Actually, it is pathetic. To paraphrase Patton, no one ever won a war by dying for his cause. Wars are won by making the enemy die for his cause.

            Martyrdom is what happens when Christians do not have the power to fight. It is highly commendable. And, in fact, it is essential to the Christian witness wherever the forces arrayed against us make fighting futile. “Death, where is thy sting?” If we really mean that, and we do, then martyrdom should not be anything to dread but a straight ticket to paradise in witness to the truth of the Gospel.

            Yet when Christians had the opportunity to dominate, they did not eschew it. That would be foolish and pathetic. And in fact it constitutes a rejection of the entire Old Testament witness. Constantine was right to take up the banner of Christ and the subsequent Christianization of the empire and imposition, by force, of Christian morality was a very good thing. We are not Baptists.

            Moreover, absent a warlord mandating it, Russia might not be Orthodox today. Prince Vladimir did not merely exhort his subjects to embrace the Gospel. He ordered his people to go get baptized if they did not wish to become enemies of the state.

            The Kingdom of God is not of this world. Perfectionism is futile. The Kingdom of Heaven is theosis and does not depend on politics or warfare. Nonetheless, we live in the world and someone will dictate policy and if it is not us it will certainly be to our detriment. Thus for a confident, non-self-loathing person, the choice is very simple.

            • Antiochene Son says

              Well said, Misha.

              1300 years ago we had St. Boniface compelling the Germans to accept Christ, cutting down their sacred oaks and tearing down their temples. Being a descendent of theirs, I am glad he did. I don’t care if my pagan great-great-great-great grandparents were upset by it. I hope they believed in Christ and went to heaven.

              Today, due to Christian inaction, a neo-Gnostic concern only for the other world, and the abdication of our prophetic and evangelistic role, we are letting children be brainwashed into paganism and churches be turned into apartments and taverns, or mercifully torn down.

              Evangelism is being systematically reversed and we do nothing, except maybe focus on our own families. Sorry, that is not what Christ told us to do. Keeping your family Christian (or running away to Hungary) is burying your one talent in the ground, for which the servant was punished. Make disciples, make more talents, and in every age Christians have used every bit of power they had to do so.

              “You at least could have invested it with the bankers and gained interest.” Perhaps he would say, “You at least could have used your collective influence to maintain a shred of Christianity in your culture.”

          • That “sword” is the Word of God. What we need is indeed militancy: militant forgiveness; militant service to those in need, regardless of whether they are even our “enemies”, militant repentance; militant vigilance in non judgement; militant rejection of the spirit of mammon; militant commitment to prayer; militant commitment to the example of the saints, who willingly laid down their lives. What we can’t have is a rejection of everything core to the Orthodox Faith.

          • Antiochene Son says

            If it comes to laying down our lives, yes. But if Christians have political power to strengthen the Church we are obliged to use it.

            We are not dhimmis hiding out in a Jihadist hellscape. Our democracy may only be largely nominal at this point, but Christians still have collective power to act in the interest of the Church. To imply that is building the false kingdom of the Pharisees is not right.

            This fatalism smacks of Rod Dreher and I can’t stomach it personally.

  17. Ben David says

    I am sorry Gail. I did not read through your article until I had already posted. I am curious as to which month in 2019 that massive spike took place. I couldn’t find those details in the article unless I missed it. It is still very troubling to see all of those patent applications in 2019.

    For me this evidence would point to something planned as opposed to an accidental leak. Because American and western pharmaceutical companies would have the most to gain, for me this evidence supports Ron Unz’s theory. They knew that this virus would spread, but still mostly effect China and Iran (like SARS & MERS) with some blowback to the West. In their arrogance they thought that China and Iran would be desperate and that the West would be fine with our ‘advanced’ medical system. Instead China quickly handled it with their economy bouncing back. Our economy ‘bounced back’ (while destroying the competition of small, local businesses) by letting people die and pushing out a vaccine. We mostly ignored Covid in the US compared to other Western countries like Australia who recently shut down Melbourne (stopped people from going outside) because of 15 cases! I talk to friends and family abroad and with the exception of California we have not experienced a true lock down here. We must also remember our bishops just followed the same directions as our brethren abroad (and their superiors) had to follow. Hence they were more strict than the local US government. The OCA have only themselves to blame.

    Or COVID19 really is like the Spanish flu and started as a lab leak here. China like Spain was blamed for an American outbreak. Nothing would surprise me and we probably won’t know the truth for decades.

    Again a more detailed timeline of when these patents were issued is necessary to ascertain when the opportunism began for a virus that was known to be problematic at the end of 2019.

  18. There is nothing glorious at all about victimhood. A victim is just a victim. Sad, tragic and often pointless. What distinguished the saints, particularly the martyrs, was their witness to Christ, not their victimhood. Martyr means “witness”, not victim.

    Masochism and victimhood are not core to the Orthodox faith. There have been fatalistic cults of martyrdom from time to time, actively seeking out persecution and execution as a positive good. That is not the faith. The point is to witness the faith, though it may get you killed, not to somehow sanctify oneself through masochistic self abasement. That is a false religion.

    Only a warrior can choose to be non-violent. Everyone else is simply condemned to it.

    • Misha, excellent comment. Many who presume themselves to be martyrs are actually just victims, victims of their own ignorant presumption. The hallmark of false martyrdom is presumption and arrogant pride.

      On the other hand, the soldiers who die fighting in political battles are never considered true martyrs, no matter how righteous their cause may be.

      • “On the other hand, the soldiers who die fighting in political battles are never considered true martyrs, no matter how righteous their cause may be.”

        http://iconstudio.jordanville.org/st-alexander-peresvet-and-st-andrew-oslyabya/

        and:

        https://orthodoxwiki.org/Alexander_Schmorell

        • Myst, these are interesting examples you provide. Do you have anything that documents and classifies Saints Alexander Peresvet and Andrew Aslyabya as martyrs though? Monastics saints are often classified as “venerable”. The warrior saints Dimitry Donskoy and Alexander Nevsky were not martyrs (they both died natural deaths anyways) but are rather classified as “right believing”. Warrior saints that actually are martyrs typically were arrested because of their confession of Christ and were subsequently executed.

          Saint Alexander Schmorell was canonized by the Russian Church as a passion bearer, not as a full martyr.

          • One of the Byzantine Emperors (can’t remember which) wanted to declare all soldiers who died fighting against Islam as martyrs, but the church shut it down.

            Saint Alexander of Munich wasn’t really a combatant either, besides his Wehrmacht service. He was an activist.

      • https://www.serbianaart.com/artists/timotijevic-milos/31856-sveti-vmuc-milos-obilic-ikona-40×50-cm

        Occasionally they are. St. Milosh Obilich is considered by the Serbs to be a Great Martyr for assassinating an invading sultan. He was killed immediately afterwards.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          And what are passion barriers? Aren’t they martyrs, too? (Asking)

          • Gail,

            Which passion bearers? To wax Hal Linden, all martyrs are passion bearers, but not all passion bearers are martyrs. It depends on precisely why one was killed.

            There is a difference of opinion within the ROC between the MP and ROCOR regarding the status of the Royal Martyrs. The MP considers them passion bearers only; the ROCOR considers them martyrs as well.

            https://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicholas_II_of_Russia

            The distinction has to do with how one views monarchy. No one disputes that the Royal Family was quite devout and they died Christ-like deaths. However, the question is what was offensive to the Bolsheviks about the Romanovs? ROCOR asserts, rightly, that monarchy is intrinsic to the Orthodox faith. It is an anointed office. An anointed emperor holds a special place within Orthodoxy as the rightful, God endorsed monarch of his people. This is his Divine Right.

            Thus the execution of the Royal Martyrs was explicitly for their adherence to the Orthodox faith because for them, Nicholas in particular, being the anointed emperor, his life and rule was in fact his adherence to Orthodoxy. Thus, his life itself was a testament to the Gospel of Christ in that he was the Anointed’s anointed.

            The MP was reluctant to go that far because, frankly, the RF is a republic rather than a monarchy and there is insufficient agreement on the desirability of monarchy within Russian society.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I do see your point. At the end of the day, what does it matter who we say they are? They are such in the minds and hearts of believers but it is God who will give them the crown.

              • If I remember correctly, Passion Bearers was a peculiarly Russian development, used for people who died righteously, but not directly as martyrs for the faith. The first, I believe, were Saints Boris and Gleb.

  19. George Michalopulos says

    Those of us who are ronaskeptic are not alone in the wilderness. These nurses in Houston are protesting their lost jobs because they refused to take the “vaccine”:

    https://www.activistpost.com/2021/06/houston-methodist-nurses-rally-as-they-lose-their-jobs-for-refusing-co-vid-shots.html

  20. What are we to think about all of the bishops and patriarch who have received the vaccine? And those that have said it is ok to take it?

    • LonelyDn says

      Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

      • Antiochene Son says

        I could grant them this at first, but I have a hard time with it now that we know so much.

        The vaccine is causing myocarditis in young men and our bishops are posting their vaccine photos on social media. What happened to the mantra “if one person dies, the clergy are responsible”? Is Bartholomew responsible if an Orthodox person sees his photo and then dies from the vaccine?

        The bishop’s whole job as a shepherd is to know what he is doing. If he does not, he is anaxios.

        Repentance precedes forgiveness. When will the bishops repent for all this?

  21. I think it’s great that you bring this up, but I think what is going to happen is that the hierarchy is going to go on as if none of this happened and hope it gets memory holed, or pivot to something else. Historically hierarchy is great at persecuting saints (whether other hierarchs or laity), maybe they will find someone to pile on who stood up to them.

    • Antiochene Son says

      When they really mess up they’re sometimes good at making a show of repenting in front of coffins. The persecutors of St Nektarios and St John Maximovitch come to mind.

      But not during the person’s lifetime, when it matters most. And not before the person is glorified.

    • Seraphim says

      They could sure use a nice heresy to battle right now.

    • Mom of Toddler says

      Well, this would be very sad. For traditionally minded Orthodox who agree with Fr Savas Agorietes, participating in the communion innovations (at the very least) needs to be confessed and repented of. If this is all brushed under the rug, many people may never think to confess or think it was all just fine. Perhaps I am naive to think that more constant dialogue about it would awaken consciences. The communion innovations were not “small potatoes.”

      • Seraphim says

        Agreed. None of the changes were small potatoes. We’re Orthodox remember? Everything we do has purpose. Everything we do has spiritual meaning. We showed that the world has infiltrated us with its way of thinking. I’m not against taking medicine. But what does that have to do with the sacred space? We waited for treatments and vaccines? Did we do processions around our towns? Did we sprinkle our homes with holy water? Did we do uncion services? Did we cense our towns and homes to fumagate them from the demons? Or is this all just ancient superstition?

      • Agree with Toddler Mom and Seraphim. We are infested with the pandemic of secularism. Ultimately we are all responsible to some extent from the laity all the way up the hierarchy.

      • Fr Savvas is wonderful.

  22. If you want a real hoot, read the homily from Archbishop Elpidophoros from his liturgy at the Episcopal “church”

    • I’ll add that based off of this homily, there seems to be no sign of repentance for the situation in Ukraine, or, on the idea of “first without equals” on the part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Come November when the Church of Russia meets to decide what to do about Patriarch Bartholomew, unless something drastic happens, the Russian Church will formally excommunicate and anathematize Pat. Bartholomew and the Church of Constantinople. Which IMHO is long overdue due to the errors that Pat. Bartholomew has spread, not just Ukraine.

      This is very sad and will only further divide the Church, even if it is necessary.

      At that point I would imagine the Moscow Patriarchate will start to set up parallel parishes in Turkey (which they have already said they will do), and possibly Africa. How this plays out in America I am not sure, but, maybe a Greek vicariate within ROCOR will happen.

  23. Christine Fevronia says

    You piqued my interest, and lo and behold, it was far worse than a hoot. https://www.archons.org/-/elpidophoros-homily-bartholomew

    • I wasn’t planning to read this, however since you added the link (thank you Christine!) I am so thankful I did! George and Gail – I know you are busy so I apologize for this request – but please make a separate post with this “homily” so others don’t miss this. Thank you!!!

      • George and Gail – I know you are busy so I apologize for this request – but please make a separate post with this “homily” so others don’t miss this.

        I second this.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Give me and La Gailina a little of time to peruse it.

        • George Michalopulos says

          OK, I read it. Like everything else that comes out of the Patriarchate which just lost St Sophia to Moslem worship (not once, but twice), it’s cringeworthy.

          The best thing I could say about it was that its self-serving. Frankly, I’m not sure it requires a reasoned response. It’s very possible that when it comes to the GOA, their grandiose plans, and their pageantry (such as it is). there’s less here than meets the eye.

          On the other hand, I don’t want to disappoint our readers. Therefore the publisher and I will discuss it further to see if it merits one.

          *Sigh*

        • George Michalopulos says

          In the meantime, can anybody please tell us which Orthodox bishops attended?

      • Wow, what nauseating platitudes from Abp E. As if we’d expect anything else?

        What exactly does the Orthodox faith have in common anymore with the ECUSA? More or less nothing.

        Abp E states: “Thus, I can proudly and joyfully declare that such beauty of soul, heart and mind are to be found nowhere more manifest than in the sacred and most revered person of His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew….. He is a living Apostle of love, peace and reconciliation….. He has encouraged dialogue, when others would shut their hearts as well as their lips.”

        I’d be curious to hear Metropolitan Onuphry’s take on this. But yes, he probably wouldn’t have one, but — in the spirit of St Herman of Alaska and of St John of Shanghai and S.F. — is simply praying for Abp E and Patriarch B and for their entire flock, as the Church of C’ple persecutes the saintly hierarch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

        The closer that Abp E tries to pull toward and “honor” the ECUSA, the more he will make the GOAA as irrelevant as the ECUSA, and the GOAA is pretty irrelevant already. He just doesn’t get it that modern American Orthodox Christians want *authenticity* above all else. We’re so done with nauseating platitudes.

    • The obsequious sycophancy is an embarrassment to Greek Orthodoxy in the West. I suppose it’s a cultural thing. They have no idea how weak and pitiful it sounds.

      They will be happy under Rome . . . up until Rome tests their obedience, at which point they may realize that they have become just another curious gaggle of Uniates.

  24. We all know that Big Pharma and the DNC were primary beneficiaries of the Covid Fiasco. Big Pharma gets to profit from the vaccine, having suppressed already existing treatments like hydroxychloroquine. The DNC created a climate of fear and tanked the economy prior to the 2020 election to defeat Trump.

    That much is clear.

    And it is also clear that liberals throughout the country have exploited the crisis to assert totalitarian control in areas where they are in power. Never let a crisis go to waste.

    Yet there is an aspect of this which seems to be eluding coverage. Faced with an inexplicable political event (and that’s what we’ll consider it for a moment), we are schooled to ask, “Cui bono?”, “Who benefits?” For it seems to be that the Chinese government has been covering up the origin of Covid, attempting to label it the bat flu and suggesting it arose from wet markets. What seems increasingly likely is that the Kungflu was a product of bioweapons research by the PLA which was either accidentally or purposefully released, then covered up.

    Now we know that such an accidental release is possible and that appears likely in absence of a motive for positing a purposeful release. It didn’t come directly from bats. It’s too sophisticated for that. This thing was engineered and we know the place that was capable of engineering it was at ground zero of the spread and funded indirectly by our own NIH. So it was engineered as a bioweapon and got out somehow. Many are assuming accidentally. But who benefits from a purposeful release?

    The Red October/Neutron Bomb Hypothesis:

    What if the CCP/PLA were seeking to develop a First Strike bioweapon (much like the Soviet missile sub in Clancy’s Red October) that would eradicate a population yet leave the infrastructure intact? I say First Strike because this would be the equivalent of a launch of nuclear weapons against which no timely defense were possible. And I say Neutron Bomb because the effect of the weapon would be to depopulate without destroying infrastructure.

    How would you test such a weapon? Well, you would want to know how successful the spread would be without actually killing large masses of populations. The rate of spread and the effects of possible vaccines or treatments developed in the interim would be of paramount interest. You have to be able to calculate the likely damage and how quickly it would devastate in order to develop guidelines for its utilization.

    Is this not what just happened?

    China screwed around with protein spikes and transmissability, the delivery system, and needed to test its efficacy. The actual bioweapon would not be the bat flu weaponized but some much more deadly virus weaponized for rapid transmission. They were merely testing the transmissability “delivery system” with this experiment, not the actual warhead. The bat flu was a dud warhead used just to limit damage from what was not supposed to be an actual attack but merely a test.

    And a threat.

    Now the CCP knows its capabilities and so do we.

    Just a hypothesis . . .

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It’s not who benefits. It’s what benefits. Globalists. It’s entirely possible that both the NIH and the CCP colluded on the release. The virus was leaked just prior to when the first trials of the vaccines were due to begin. It was fortunate they could jump right into human trials and avoid the 7 to 10 years it normally takes to get a vaccine to market.

      • Gail,

        That much is certain. The release was certainly exploited by Big Pharma and may well have been done by agreement. And I would not put that sole motive past them. However, it appears the PLA was involved in this to some degree. Whether the main point was to release it and benefit from the vaccine or to gain knowledge about how the human engineered transmission worked, both objectives were accomplished. It’s a question of which was the “back end”, the added benefit.

        What if they were to weaponize MERS or some even deadlier virus? They probably learned much of value from this trial run, if this is what it was. They got to see how quickly it spread through populations on several continents, even with precautions being taken. They also got to see how quickly and effectively vaccines could be developed and deployed.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Misha, I’m fascinated by your hypothesis. On a side note, I’d like to explain how in another instance Big Pharma benefited: they are indemnified from lawsuits should the vaccines go all caterwampus on the population.

          • George,

            Oh yeah. They’d have to be to roll it out without human trials. That’s potentially tremendous liability and something else that no one’s talking about.

            You know, George, the Covid lockdowns were a soft power replay of Stalin’s war against the kulaks (small land holders). A huge cross section of small and medium sized business is gone. I see it every day in my city. Lotsa prime property for rent. But that’s a strike at the people who could afford to resist a totalitarian takeover.

            I was listening to Artur Pawlowski, the Polish pastor who threw out the Calgary police from his church and later was arrested. He understands what is happening. Chinese dissidents who lived through the Cultural Revolution understand what is happening as well. They’re increasingly vocal about it.

            The Red October hypothesis answers certain questions which may be otherwise puzzling. From my common sense seat in the upper South, it appeared as though the press blew Covid completely out of proportion, the president more or less had to go along, not knowing what would come next, and the whole country descended into a completely unnecessary panic attack. Very early on, the data indicated that Covid was not nearly as deadly as it was initially claimed; moreover, those who watched the CDC change the rules regarding what qualified as a Covid death understood that that number has been wildly inflated. So it’s a terror hoax at one level, engineered to bring down an economy and a president and to enable totalitarian control wherever Dems were completely in power.

            Naomi Wolfe of all people has remarked that going to Portland or NY is like visiting a police state, whereas other parts of the country are normal. The other thing you have to realize is that you’re dealing with the Keystone Kops here. Their eyes are always bigger than their stomachs and they’re so lazy that they leave a trail that a child could follow because they believe the fix is in so deep that they’ll never be effectively challenged.

            My hypothesis explains what the motivation would be if it has been done intentionally. It also explains, to some extent, the reaction of the authorities. If you were in government at a high level and realized that the Chinese were testing a delivery system which they could fit with a much more deadly virus, you would want to see how effectively you could combat it were it uber-deadly. Thus this is a trial run, so to speak, of what might happen in the event they weaponized, say, Ebola. Masks, shutdown, vaccines, suspension of civil liberties, etc. Completely overkill for this thing, but if you realized that someone was testing you, you’d want to play along so as to know how well you could manage.

            That may be what this whole shebang is about. It answers most all of the questions. Chinese bioweapon trial, hype it to accomplish hit to economy/Trump/small-mid-business, assert totalitarian control where you can, treat it as deadly since you think China could launch a real attack, evidenced by this one.

            Must be nerve racking to be a Democrat at high levels these days. The Dems did not anticipate anywhere near this level of resistance. They counted on Trump being taken down by the virus/economy/steal and that the Republican party would fall in line like Cheney and McConnell. When Trump wouldn’t play along with the steal, they concocted the half-baked Capitol Riot false flag as an excuse to treat Trumpistas like domestic terrorists.

            Some of them understand the depth of the sh*t they are now in. But it’s all a rolling crap game to the Carville types anyway, held together by rubber bands and bubble gum. They truly believe there will be no accountability.’

            And on that narrow point, they may be right. However, this thing can’t succeed. The states, especially the southern states, are becoming more federalist each day and asserting their own sovereign power. Half the country is literally locked and loaded and has been since Nov. 4th. They won’t be able to do it because of federalism and because they can’t shut down conservative media.

            Their own people won’t let them kill the filibuster. They won’t be able to pack the court. They won’t pass HR1 into law, it’s DOA. The DOJ won’t be able to legally stop the state audits. The midterms will be a disaster for the Dems. They will lose both houses of Congress. Trump or DeSantis will be elected in 2024, and a Republican Party purged of RINO”s will make sure that totalitarians never again get this close to seizing power.

      • Please real about the Georgia Guidestones. The first “commandment” is for the elite to limit the population of the earth to 500 million. This goes beyond nations, which is why it was funded internationally.

        • Even the Chinese have no interest in drastically shrinking populations. They thought they did at one point, but no more. Shrinking tax base. If you eradicate large populations you eradicate the economy and the source of wealth. Only eugenics/Gaia kooks want that nonsense.

          • I wonder, are the Chinese getting vaccinated?
            With the spike protein?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I wish we had what they had. The CCP was throwing their population a huge picnic 4 months into it.

              We’re into the 18th month and still vaccinating everyone we can grab, including children. So where is that second wave were warned about?

              Lots of questions.

              How long does an emergency use authorization last anyway? When you have a cure rate of 99.97%, do we need to continuing poisoning people with an unknown that hasn’t worked out for a lot of people, (if anyone, as the people who have been vaccinated are still getting COVID)?

              The Beijing-based biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is behind the CoronaVac and it’s an inactivated vaccine. It works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response.

              You know. . . Like real vaccines. – Question is, how were they able to manufacture it so quickly and distribute so many doses? Maybe they had it ready months before they released the virus they teamed up with the United States to create.

              https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-55212787

              Maybe we’re going to keep COVID alive to pass legislation like the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (S. 937) to facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, specifically committed against Asians.

              It’s a bill designed to ensure hate crimes get the attention they deserve. Crimes like racial slurs, spitting, etc. often go unreported, as was the case Khalid Jabara. Khalid Jabara was shot and killed in 2016 by a neighbor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who had called Jabara and his family “dirty Arabs,” “dirty Lebanese” and “Mooslems.” Though the neighbor was convicted of a first-degree hate crime murder, the Tulsa Police Department failed to report the hate part of the crime to the FBI.

              What this has to do with COVID, I don’t know, but everyone signed it.

              • If China is not injecting the spike protein
                (and said spike protein turns out to be as deadly as feared),
                then China has won the war due to the suicide of the West.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  Pretty much what they said they could do and they gave us plenty of rope. But things are changing.

            • Y’all, vaccines like the Sinovac-Coronavac are using the spike protein:
              https://www.thelancet.com/article/S1473-3099(20)30843-4/fulltext

              Vaccine projects around the world were able to start clinical trials by mid-2020 because they all had ‘foreknowledge’ of Covid-19. Not from some grand conspiracy, but because previous work on SARS vaccines involving spike protein ended up being relevant to Covid-19!
              https://www.nature.com/articles/nrmicro2090

              China started giving Sinovac-Coronavac to high-risk groups on an emergency basis last year after Phase I/II, they didn’t wait for Phase III. But China only recently began vaccinating at mass scale, it took them time to ramp up.
              https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01545-3

              Folks, if you are worried about spike protein running around in places like your lungs, then you really, really don’t want Covid-19. For the vaccines, locality of spike protein post-injection and the amount that ends up more widely distributed in the body as a result of vaccination is something that was studied, i.e. see page 46 and 47:
              https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/assessment-report/comirnaty-epar-public-assessment-report_en.pdf

              • Gail Sheppard says

                I applaud your research (so many people just don’t put in the work) but re-read your first article from the Lancet. China used what’s known as an “inactivated vaccine” which means a weakened version of the live virus.

                COVID-19 is part of the coronavirus family. Coronavirus is known to be responsible for 20% of the common cold! They’ve been working on a vaccine since the 1950s! – The mRNA technology failed to get off the ground in the past because the animals they used died when confronted with the virus in their environment.

                China is vaccinating 20M people a day. They account for 60% of all doses given globally.

                • Yes Sinovac-Coronavac is a inactivated-virus vector design, but that does not change the fact that it uses spike protein to elicit an immune response. Per the lancet article, one of the manufacturing complexities is making sure the deactivation process still results in enough spike protein to reach target antigen levels.

                  Regardless of the vector design being used, spike protein is the common target of the current Covid-19 vaccines. There are a lot of vector designs:
                  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2798-3

                  Can you provide some citations for the mRNA study that resulted in animal deaths? I’ve seen some confusion and conflation on this subject. I’m aware of two commonly referenced studies that noted organ damage in animal testing of early SARS vaccine candidates from the 2000s:
                  https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2004/12/sars-vaccine-linked-liver-damage-ferret-study
                  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335060/

                  But neither of these studies involved mRNA vaccines. And yes, the animals died, because they were killed and dissected for study. I find it a bit telling that rather than point to problems in animal testing for the actual mRNA vaccines, I see persistent false claims on the Internet that neither underwent any animal testing at all.

                  Do not be surprised if, when all is said and done, the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) prove to have the best effectiveness while being the safest and cause the fewest adverse effects compared to the inactivated-virus vaccines (Sinovac-Coronavac), replication-incompetent adenovirus vaccines (AZ, JNJ, Sputnik), or the recombinant protein vaccines (Novavax). All of these are vaccines, there is no split between real vaccines and “vaccines”.

              • “Vaccine projects around the world were able to start clinical trials by mid-2020 because they all had ‘foreknowledge’ of Covid-19. Not from some grand conspiracy, but because previous work on SARS vaccines involving spike protein ended up being relevant to Covid-19!”

                A healthy immune system is better able to deal with Covid-19 than any ‘vaccine’, due to previous experience of corona viruses being relevant to Covid-19.

                “Folks, if you are worried about spike protein running around in places like your lungs, then you really, really don’t want Covid-19…”

                Spike proteins attached to virions in the upper respiratory tract are easier dealt with by the natural immune system than billions of spike proteins produced by coded instructions for the same injected into the arm – going from there into the blood, brain, spleen, liver, ovaries, bone marrow, testes etc.

                PS: Ivermectin binds to the spike protein.

                Here is a link to a fascinating and informative podcast (02:25) in which Pierre Kory and Bret Weinstein make the case that ivermectin can end this pandemic and that the EUA for the vaccines cannot be justified if the rules of EUA issue are to be enforced:
                https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/covid-ivermectin-crime-century-darkhorse-podcast-pierre/id1471581521?i=1000523859023

        • I remember that when I read about this very peculiar monument, it seemed to me that people thought it was more like a guide for humans living in a post-apocalyptic future regarding how to rebuild civilization. Which is pretty cool. Given the Cold War context at the time – not such a far fetched idea. I don’t think it serves as some message to present day elites (a lot of things about the monument don’t make much sense then, e.g. the listing of dimensions, basic astronomic coordinates, use of major world languages and ancient ones, etc). It’s more like the golden record placed on the Voyager spacecraft, IMHO.

          To tie in the Orthodox angle, I’m curious what people on the blog think is the 30,000 ft, “Orthodox Church Position on Population Control”. I mean this, in the sense beyond the general opposition to abortion/infanticide, extramarital sex, and the emphasis we have on chastity even in marriage. I’ve just learned that the Catholic Church has in fact staked out some positions on this earlier, in regards to the Philippines and India it seems (after some quick Google searches), where at some point governments became very concerned that overpopulation risked derailing development plans and leading to constant poverty and violence. They (the Catholics) found a way to square the command to be fruitful and multiply and take over the earth with the real problems those countries were facing due to overpopulation, and ended up even running some family planning centers. Perhaps because no modern Orthodox-majority country ever faced real pressures from overpopulation (the opposite seems to be the problem more often), there doesn’t seem to be anything out there stating the Church’s position. Personally, I’m not too far off from the authors of that monument in Georgia that wanted to cap it at 500 million, in that I’d like there to be a “manageable” population on the planet – enough not to worry that my descendants won’t be able to enjoy the same wilderness that I did, and that our activities won’t lead to the disappearance of entire species. I don’t think God intended for us to eradicate entire lines when he commanded us to have “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” I understand that the fear over any population control plan is in large part due to concern over the types of methods that will be deployed and the levels of repression that go with it. Don’t really want to get into that discussion. I’m asking more – what is the position when it is a clear problem that everyone agrees with – like in the Philippines or India as mentioned above? Sorry for the off-the-wall question, but this really got me curious, since I don’t think I’ve ever seen this addressed in Orthodox literature.

          • “Personally, I’m not too far off from the authors of that monument in Georgia that wanted to cap it at 500 million, in that I’d like there to be a ‘manageable’ population on the planet – enough not to worry that my descendants won’t be able to enjoy the same wilderness that I did, and that our activities won’t lead to the disappearance of entire species.”

            Your descendants would never be allowed out to enjoy that wilderness, because they might run off, settle in it, and have children without government sanction. Unless they were Post-human, a new transhuman species, that wouldn’t even be capable of reproducing sexually anymore, since all the “people” needed would be grown in the cloning vats. Nightmare fuel either way.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              I always thought it was intended to be a “thoughts to ponder” sort of thing. I never dreamed someone would take it seriously. Who can decide what’s optimal? Optimal for what or for whom or even when. When is it optimal to have X number of people roaming the planet?

              This is what happens when people don’t believe in God. Someone gets the idea that it is incumbent upon them to save the planet from some imminent peril, which often fails to happen. Here they are, busily restructuring the population and a big meteor crashes down making the whole point moot.

              • Well Gail, I’m curious now. If you believe in Divine Providence to the absolute, does it mean you never have to take any type of remedial action whatsoever? Something about that seems off to me. To Myst’s point, I don’t think there’s any place left in the developed world where you can settle in the wilderness anyway.

                During the reign of Augustus (i.e. the time of the events of the New Testament), global population is said to have stood at 200M people. As we approach a global population of 8 billion now, it means the burden on the Earth that we impose as a species has increased by 40 times at the least. Add to that all the furnaces, machines, and other implements of industry that we’ve invented and now employ that didn’t exist before, and the total effect is surely much more than 40x. Can one say, that at this point we have truly “filled the Earth” and now we have total dominion over every little critter? I think so! What happens next?

                In terms of your question regarding optimization – for what, for whom, and when…. I think the answers are (1) for preserving this planet’s beauty and bounty (2) for our kids (3) and now. Because what if the asteroid doesn’t hit us tomorrow, and we actually DO have to deal with the consequences of messing up this place we live in.

                I understand that in many parts of the world the problem seems to be correcting itself. That is, populations are already falling in much of Europe, and in the developed parts of Asia. America is continuing to grow, but only due to immigration. This, in itself, could be a form of Divine Providence, removing the need for us to act. An argument in your favor, Gail, in other words. But many other parts of the world have populations that continue to explode, like Nigeria, Indonesia, Egypt, Bangladesh, and so on. Some of these countries have vibrant and growing Orthodox Christian communities (product of Russian missionaries for the most part). As they develop and take their rightful place in the world, the people of these countries will want the same things we have today: cars, air conditioning, refrigeration, air travel, etc. I’m worried, quite selfishly, that this will all lead to changes that will impact the things I mentioned in my previous post. What is the position of the Church on this issue is what I’m asking?

                Is it still the default “be fruitful and multiply”, no holds barred, stance?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  According to Saint Seraphim of Sarov, the purpose of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit. “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”

                • Dan, there’s plenty of space for everyone. I read somewhere that the entire population of the world could fit into Texas, with a couple of acres of property.

                  The location of resources is the issue.

              • “This is what happens when people don’t believe in God. Someone gets the idea that it is incumbent upon them to save the planet from some imminent peril, which often fails to happen.”

                Gail, you described more than 95% of the modern secular West’s leadership class/cultural “elite,” right here in this sentence. Which is why many of them can’t tolerate anyone who lives to love Christ and experience the Divine Mystery in the created world.

                Just like for the Bolsheviks, we get in the way of the secular atheist’s vision of “progress,” as they define it. It’s happening right now via “cancel culture” and “Woke-ism.”

                Just today, our U.S. military installation’s DEI (that’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for you Luddites!) group sent out three PDFs to all military and civilians on our installation. Maybe I’ll send them to you and George to peruse, if you’re interested. The first one is a PDF called “Culture Change Needed for LGBTQ Employees to Feel at Home at Work.”

                Maybe that will mean I need to remove the small icons of Christ and His Mother from my office in order for these self-proclaimed eternal victims to not feel threatened by Christ’s and His Mother’s love?

                Ugh. Thank the Lord I’m done in a few weeks.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  . . . They also focus on the minutia. It’s kind of like skipping to the least important thing on a list so it can be checked off. If something at the bottom of a list is checked off, they feel they’ve accomplished something important even though what’s at the bottom may benefit only a small fraction of the population who doesn’t really need it or want it. The powers-that-be don’t ask. They intuit.

                  Life has gone from I think, therefore I am to it just feels right.

                • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

                  FTS, I would appreciate your forwarding those DEI pdfs to me also:

                  chaplain.webster@gmail.com

                  RE: “Thank the Lord I’m done in a few weeks.”

                  Are you entering retirement or transitioning to a new career or job?

                  Full disclosure: In view of the increasingly toxic command climate in the U.S. armed forces, I would not volunteer today to serve in uniform. That decision almost breaks my Army heart, because each day of those 25 years was worthwhile and memorable, for which I am forever grateful to our merciful and loving God the Holy Trinity.

                  • Your blessing, Father.

                    I would agree. Service in the military is no longer an honorable profession for a Christian man. I got out of the army years ago when I saw the moral corruption becoming more all-encompassing and haven’t regretted it.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Amen.

                      And God bless those who have remained. I’ve got to believe their mere presence is being used by God to turn hearts around. It must be incredibly difficult under the circumstances.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    I feel your pain, Fr. The United States Army is a storied military establishment. The same cannot be said of it now.

                    And we are all worse off for it.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  P.S. Would appreciate you sending them to us, FTS, so we can disseminate them. 🙂

            • George Michalopulos says

              Myst, what you say about “sexual reproduction” becoming moot reminds me of the Woody Allen film Bananas in which the cryogenically preserved Allen wakes up 300 years in the future and they have something called an “orgasmatron”.

              The Church is right: the old fashioned way is best.

  25. Anonymous II says

    This is a pure propaganda piece, and yet admitting they want to inject babies who don’t/can’t die from COVID reads like something from a science fiction horror magazine:

    Pfizer has begun vaccine trials for kids ages SIX MONTHS THROUGH 11 YEARS OLD.

    UW Health Pediatrician and immunization expert Dr. James Conway is optimistic about the news.

    “We did a really good job at social distancing and protecting kids BUT now as society is opening and schools are opening, what we are seeing is the burden of the disease is starting to be in those younger age groups because the older age groups are largely immunized now,” Dr. Conway said.

    However even the vaccine is authorized, some parents like Andrea Sheridan of Minneapolis are still hesitant to vaccinate their young kids.

    “I think that we will probably wait a little bit before we vaccinate our children. My husband and I are vaccinated already but we are a little hesitant with the kids just because it is so new and they haven’t done a lot of research yet about how it affects children,” Sheridan said.

    Dr. Conway says the vaccine trial is not as rushed as it may seem.

    “I think what we have seen is really new efficiency, and this is going to be the new normal for vaccines,” he said. “This is carefully done, this is very thoughtful and we have got a great system to make sure we balance the things we need to balance but most importantly to make sure we can get out of this pandemic.”

    As for long term effects of the vaccine, Dr. Conway says it would be realized before the trial ends.

    “There has never been any kind of a side effect from a vaccine that showed up any time more than a couple of months after a vaccine was given,” he said.

    In a press briefing on Wednesday, Chippewa County Public Health Director Angela Weideman encouraged parents to trust the science and ask questions to their children’s’ doctors when it comes time to making a decision whether to get the vaccine.

    “When the FDA is looking at trials they really do pay close attention, make sure they have a good sample size and make sure they are not seeing a large reaction before it is approved,” she said.

    If the trial continues as planned, Pfizer hopes to seek Emergency Use Authorization for the vaccine in kids ages 5 to 11 in September or October and soon after for kids ages 6 months to 5. In the trial, younger kids will get a lower dose of the vaccine than those 12 and older.

    Pfizer’s vaccine is currently the only one available to people ages 12 to 18. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can only be administered to people ages 18 and older.

    Health experts say kids should continue to practice basic COVID-19 safety precautions until they can get vaccinated. That includes wearing a mask and social distancing.

    See: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/covid-19-vaccine-trials-begin-for-kids-6-months-to-11-years-old/ar-AAKSHj1

  26. Just a dad says

    Thoughts to consider from a monastic who was a Marxist in his youth and has a unique perspective. I had a chance to spend some time with him recently when I stayed at the monastery for a couple of days and it only deepened my respect for him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKjD7WBIWk4

  27. George Michalopulos says

    Well, well, well… it looks like the few remaining sane Liberals are starting to get on board the Trump Train (at least as far as the Lab-Leak hypothesis is concerned):

    https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2021/06/15/abc-one-scientist-who-signed-lancet-letter-dismissing-lab-leak-theory-now-thinks-lab-leak-is-more-likely-several-now-uncertain/

  28. George Michalopulos says
    • Gail Sheppard says

      I don’t get why when we said this, we were called “conspiracy theorists” and dismissed, and yet when they say it, 18 months later, is one big “aha” moment. I wonder when it will catch up with them that those vaccines are deadly. Bet they won’t be laughing about it on late-night TV.

  29. https://notthebee.com/article/another-canadian-pastor-has-been-arrested-for-violating-worship-restrictions-being-hauled-off-in-front-of-his-family-while-his-church-meets-underground?fbclid=IwAR2X_JXLHDNxRHGwA2vEBcjiEq9hVVK9enlQdJyyIvVbXZS_zBgBzeDwmrI

    Unbelievable. This is a protestant pastor leading a catacomb church just north of us. And most of our clergy dared not go against the government for a second and are still taking their cues from the CDC. Forgive me, brothers, but who are the real Christians here? We’re cowards.

  30. https://spzh.news/en/news/80564-byty-ekumenistom–znachit-byty-khristianinom–ijerarkh-fanara-v-ssha

    Anaxios to Archbishop Elpidophoros

    Metropolitan Tikhon was there as well, I believe

    Can we please start a petition to have Archbishop Elpidophoros deposed and have it sent to the canonical bishops? This will only get worse if it’s not met with swift force

    • Gail Sheppard says

      This landed up in “trash” for some reason. If you intended for it to be there, please forgive me for pulling it out. So many legitimate comments are being routed there. If you truly want to delete a comment, please erase the actual comment before hitting the delete key.

      I went ahead and posted this, Petros, because the frustration you’re expressing is what others are thinking. We’re all baffled.

      Unfortunately, they don’t care what we think. They truly see us as sheep who will follow them anywhere and that is so not the case.

      • Hi Gail, yes this was meant to be posted, thanks for pulling it out of the trash!

        I believe they don’t care, well some of them might, about what we think, but, I still think it’s important we are heard…even if they don’t listen.

  31. Antiochene Son says

    https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#nationwide-blood-donor-seroprevalence

    So it turns out that as of March 21, 2021, a full 49% of the US population had COVID antibodies. This was at a time when only about 13% of the population had been vaccinated. That means that as much as 36% of Americans had recovered from COVID at a time when only about 10% of the population had been confirmed infected.

    Bottom line, natural immunity is the biggest factor in herd immunity, and at least 2/3 of cases were totally asymptomatic.

    This shows that letting the virus burn through the healthy population would have been the best strategy. The sick and elderly could have been quarantined, but the rest of the population should have carried on with their lives as normal. We could have reached herd immunity more quickly and with much less disruption.

    I’d like to say I hope they learned their lesson, but if they didn’t know this the whole time, they certainly knew it by April or May 2020. I’ll grant them leeway for the uncertainty factor, but everything that has happened since last May has been an exercise in absolute power-drunkenness.

    It’s sad our hierarchs placed blind trust in these people.

  32. “Debunking Myths”

    Myth: The COVID-19 vaccines were developed using fetal tissue.
    Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine uses cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any stage of design, development or production.

    Debunking Myth strategy #!
    If the truth might not produce the desired result, you can always parse it with a lie.

    Myth: There have not been enough tests involving people with underlying conditions.
    Patients who are immunocompromised were not included in the initial studies, but we know that patients with underlying conditions are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease. The CDC recommends that these individuals may still receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless there is a contraindication (such as an allergy to prior vaccines).

    Debunking Myth Strategy #2
    What you don’t know, you can always make up. “The CDC recommends”…based on…huh?

    Myth: The side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine will be severe, much worse than having the virus.
    We have safety data from nearly 40,000 individuals. The most common reactions were injection site reactions (84.1 percent), fatigue (62.9 percent), headache (55.1 percent), muscle pain (38.3 percent), chills (31.9 percent), joint pain (23.6 percent) and fever (14.2 percent). These are short-lived and similar to what we see with the influenza or shingles vaccines. Severe reactions were very rare (<5 percent). Remember, these side effects mean that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and creating antibodies against COVID-19.

    Debunking Myth Strategy #3
    Characterize less than 5 % as “rare.” These new tires only fail and cause serious injury in less than 5 % of all installations. You can be sure therefore that they are safe.

    Remember: these side effects mean that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and creating antibodies against COVID-19.

    And yet…

    https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safety-communications/antibody-testing-not-currently-recommended-assess-immunity-after-covid-19-vaccination-fda-safety

    Debunking Myth strategy #4
    Trust but do not verify.

    https://www.uab.edu/news/youcanuse/item/11771-debunking-the-myths-about-the-covid-19-vaccine

  33. Nate Trost says

    Very typical Monomakhos chutzpah to put out a COVID-19 ‘lessons learned’ that is rather lacking in self-reflection on Monomakhos itself. March 2020 seems both an eternity ago, and like it was yesterday. But it was less than a year and a half ago that this site began to weigh in on the emerging COVID-19 situation[1]. A common refrain was referring to the level concern over the developing pandemic as ‘hysteria’.

    And then, of course, over 500,000 Americans died during the next twelve months. A yet to be tallied number, which could reach into the millions, now suffer long-term or permanent health complications from contracting COVID-19[2].

    Preliminary death statistics[3] from 2020 pound yet another nail in a long list of nails into the coffin of “it’s just like the flu”. Total deaths rocketed up 15.9%. The cause of this was COVID-19, which debuted as the third leading cause of death for 2020. And, it must be emphasized, it did so without ‘cannibalizing’ from other major causes of death. They remained relatively constant, or even had slight gains from 2019.

    These deaths happened despite public health mitigation efforts unlike anything in the living memory of anyone on this site. American is a big place, and the nature of the protocols and the public adherence to them varied wildly. But in the aggregate it was unprecedented. One of the side effects was less contagious things like the actual flu had their transmission rates in the 2020-2021 season obliterated. To the point one of the H3N2 clades might actually have gone extinct[4].

    We do have official guidance now that we didn’t in the early days. It took some time for airborne transmission[5] to be recognized as the primary concern. Likewise, while asymptomatic transmission turned out to not be a significant concern, presymptomatic transmission is a different story[6].

    Given those factors, what will no doubt be an unpopular opinion in these parts:
    1. It wasn’t hysteria
    2. The bishops following public health guidance were correct and the rebellious laity were wrong
    3. The people beating their breasts about forgiveness and repentance are correct, just not in the way they think

    This is probably long enough, but a cursory shout out to: no, there have never been magic bullet treatment cures[7] and people saying there is a possibility that something happened is not in and of itself evidence that the thing actually happened[8].

    [1] https://www.monomakhos.com/is-corona-an-equal-opportunity-pandemic/
    [2] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/15/health/covid-19-patients.html
    [3] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2778234
    [4] https://www.statnews.com/2021/06/02/pandemic-upside-flu-virus-became-less-diverse-simplifying-task-of-making-flu-shots/
    [5] https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/sars-cov-2-transmission.html
    [6] https://www.cdc.gov/eid/article/27/4/20-4576_article
    [7] https://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2021/03/17/the-problem-with-covid-19-clinical-trials
    [8] https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/06/15/lab-leak-theory-doesnt-hold-up-covid-china/

    • Christine Fevronia says

      Nate, check out the comprehensive data and facts found in this article, then get back to us: https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/did-you-know-little-known-facts-about-covid-19-death-rates-pcr-tests

    • “…over 500,000 Americans died during the next twelve months.”

      And how many of those who died were told by their doctors there was no treatment and were sent home when first presenting with symptoms and told to wait until they were were turning blue before they could get into hospital where they were put on ventilators which killed them?
      Lots!

      And how many died after being treated with antivirals, Vitamins C and D3, zinc, Quercetin, Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine etc by courageous doctors like Zev Zelenko, Peter McCullough and Simone Gold?
      Very few!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Excellent point! As a health professional, it is my opinion that withholding promising therapies because they are inexpensive in favor of more costly ones (that might not be available yet) is unconscionable.

        That’s turning Hippocrates’ oath (“first, do no harm”) upside down.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Yes, it was hysteria. Calling people murderers if they didn’t follow the serial liar Fauci’s arbitrary rules is hysterical.

    • Even if Covid was an actual plague – it wasn’t, and your insistence that it was shows a complete lack of discernment on your part – the complete upheaval of society and Church life was still not warranted.

      The masks don’t work, 6 foot distancing doesn’t work. These are known facts, and have been known since before the “pandemic” started. Enforcing any kind of quarantine measures on the healthy is absurd in any case, and especially in church. Closing churches is unconscionable.

      The proper Orthodox practice is to go to church even if you will die. Likewise kissing icons, etc. This is what martyrs and other saints have been doing for 2,000 years. Modernists hate to hear that because they don’t actually believe the Faith, and think that this world is all there is.

  34. I tend to believe Li Meng Yan on this one:

    https://rumble.com/vjbvw9-live-now-patriot-news-outlet-morning-news-edition-8am-9am-est-722021.html

    Her assertion is that the PLA had been working on finding the right animal virus to weaponize against humans and that they created the Covid virus and tested it in Wuhan using their own people as guinea pigs. They thought they could contain it but when it spread, they decided to just let the big dog run, contain it in country as best they could, and see how widely it spread in the world.

    This makes sense if what they were really testing was the delivery system rather than the lethality. Covid is a piss poor bioweapon on its own and had very little effect except as a superfluous strain of the flu picking off the most vulnerable in our society. A greater effect was generated by the panic induced by the MSM and the government. But that’s collateral. As a weapon, Covid is fairly ineffectual.

    However, the delivery system within the virus that makes it contagious to humans and enables it to spread easily and rapidly – that was quite successful. And if you were going to test a delivery system, rather than use it in an act of war, you’d want minimal casualties in the test if the objective were to test its transmissability. It is the difference between Los Alamos and Hiroshima. Los Alamos showed us what a nuclear weapon could do in war. Hiroshima was the actual use of a nuclear weapon as warfare.

    A perfect analogy would be to launch a full nuclear strike on a country with dud warheads, just to make sure they’d land in the right place in the even of a real attack.

    There is an old Persian story about a smuggler who passed through the border inspection repeatedly with just a donkey carrying bales of hay. The inspectors kept searching the bales and never found any contraband that would have required paying tax. The smuggler got visibly richer judging by his garments, but for years the guards never found any contraband. Finally, after everyone had retired, one guard saw the smuggler in the crowd and asked him what he had been smuggling that evaded the inspections.

    The smuggler replied, “donkeys”.

    Given all the circumstances and the witness of Li Meng Yan, we can assume that the Chinese were testing the spiked protein delivery system of the Covid virus rather than the underlying virus itself. And I’m sure they are laughing at our confusion.

    Yet, it should be a sobering warning. They are saying they could weaponize Ebola if they wanted to. Of course, so could we.

    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/deadly-pathogen-research-controversy/

    It may be best to look at this as a new age in warfare. The Nuclear Age began in 1945 with Los Alamos and the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This lasted throughout the Cold War and up to the present day.

    The KungFlu may have been China’s entry into the Bioweapon Club just like its explosion of a nuclear device in 1964 signaled its entry into the Nuclear Club. That would fit the present geopolitical reality. China has been concerned about the US under Trump and its “anti-China” policies. This would be an excellent “shot across the bow” to alert the US that China is willing to get down in the mud and wrestle if necessary.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I thought this, too, but after the hearings yesterday about Fauci’s involvement (who wasn’t there), it’s clear he was doing the gain-of-function stuff and he hid it from the White House and the American people. The question is why. Why was he spearheading a bioweapon of China’s? And though it’s probably true, “as a bioweapon, Covid is fairly ineffectual,” the media convinced us otherwise which Fauci was also spearheading. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3F2ZJGipiE

      [Editor Note: Added another must see short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hClM0bWspjY%5D

      According to the defectors (there are now 2), Fauci was working with/for China, as was Gates, many of the researchers in the NIH who were investigated by the DOJ, and several insiders in the CDC and FDA.

      Fauci was the point man for launching a concerted effort to throw the world into chaos. Why? My guess is he was paid to do this on behalf of the global reset. What other explanation could there be?

      Fauci, et al, are serial killers on a magnitude we’ve never seen before. True psychopaths. I’m am not optimistic that they can be trusted with the “vaccine.” It probably is the TRUE bioweapon.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        P.S. The defectors also said that Fauci, et al, have worked on several bioweapon programs for China.