The Future: An Open Letter to the Episcopal Assembly

It’s time to take stock. This is where we are.

The coup to oust +Jonah failed. And like all clandestine conspiracies it left a lot of collateral damage. People have been hurt. Some who were considering Orthodoxy as a refuge from the moral chaos in their own denominations are left wondering if Orthodoxy is any better. Others no doubt have left. The list of casualties is not complete and more may fall.

Internal civil wars are unseemly affairs and leave scars that take a long time to heal. My initial conclusion was that the damage would be confined only to the OCA. I don’t think so anymore. I believe that the self-destruction that the Stokovites has wrought will have deleterious effects in the other Orthodox jurisdictions in time (if they haven’t already). At any rate, seeds of the destruction of American Orthodoxy may have been sown by these unfortunate actions.

Why do I say this? The one gift that the OCA had to offer the ethnic jurisdictions was its autocephaly. It meant that we could take care of our own problems, elect our own bishops, and, if need be, remove them should the need arise. We are not encumbered by overseas potentates who would act only on their terms and interests.

We are loosing this freedom and may have already lost it. The real “dream of the OCA,” is close to shambles. The Stokovites, and this includes Bishops Benjamin, Melchizedek, and the malcontents at Syosset have made us the laughing-stock of American Orthodoxy. In one fell swoop they have justified the derision of the Old World and eviscerated the moral case for the other jurisdictions to join us. They have delegitimized the raison d’etre of our Church; the vision of a local, territorial, and accountable American Orthodox Church.

Make no mistake: if the Stokovite vision of the OCA prevails, then we run the very real risk of governing ourselves by shibboleths instead of canons and mindless pieties instead of doctrine. Take, for example, the deformed concept of conciliarity where the Primate becomes sock-puppet of the Holy Synod, which is in turn is bound to a Metropolitan Council led by laymen of questionable character. That’s not a prescription for success but mediocrity and ultimately failure. The Metropolitan Council was too weak to challenge corruption for almost a quarter of a century. Today it fears to challenge a major instigator of mistrust who sits in their ranks.

Why must the efforts to reduce the office of Metropolitan to bureaucratic functionary be resisted? Because in the end the office of every bishop will become superfluous and every bishop demeaned. A bishop must remain free to act according to the dictates of his conscience, one that is shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ in the awareness that both the protecting of the integrity of the gospel and the proper teaching of it rests on his shoulders first. That is the principle responsibility of a bishop and he must be free to exercise it.

That’s why the attack on +Jonah is morally reprehensible. The man has done nothing to warrant removal except that he offended the sensibilities of a vocal minority who think they know better how the Church should be run. If bishops are not free to speak out on issues they deem important, then the prophetic ministry of the Church is rendered mute. At that point the Church will devolve into little more than an exotic version of the Episcopalian Church with none of the wealth but all of the corruption. We will conform to the world, not to Christ.

So far we Orthodox have been given a pass because of our immigrant background. It was all our ancestors could do to build houses of worship and parish halls. Life was hard and that they were as successful as they were in implanting the faith in America is a monumental achievement and testament to their faithfulness. It is different for us. We don’t have an excuse. Our responsibility is as needful as theirs but is directed not to our survival alone but also the salvation of others. I am convinced without a shred of doubt that the survival of Orthodoxy in America depends on bringing the Gospel to this great land. If we don’t take the bushel off the lamp, we will die and so may this country. It’s time to use our gifts to preach the Word and to bring America back to its former Christian self. Without doing so, then Orthodoxy will wither.

I am not overstating the case. The OCA is retrenching much like the GOA has done in the last fifteen years following the removal of +Iakovos. Most jurisdictions are not growing and many are in decline. Why is this do you think? Is it because Americans don’t like ethnic food-festivals or smells and bells? Not really. We are not growing because no jurisdiction can grow unless it can give a good reason for being part of America. No, I am not talking about the “gorgeous mosaic” or other peans to diversity newspeak. Oh sure, we’ll attract some people attracted by the exotic feel of Orthodoxy or the comprehensiveness of its dogmatic, liturgical and aesthetic structures. But this won’t mean much in the end. It won’t reveal the Christ that many Americans long for in deeper measure and meaning.

Autocephaly means nothing if we don’t intend to live and preach the Gospel. The deeper apprehension of the Gospel that is found in Orthodoxy and the promise that one can appropriate it in greater measure and thus live in Christ more fully is what draws many people into our faith. This truth however, has to be lived and actualized, and people must see it in our leaders first. +Jonah understands this. He also understands that the call to preach the Gospel has nothing to do with diversity, exotic forms, even aesthetic comprehensiveness. Instead, it has everything to do with speaking to the moral confusion in culture and clearing that ground so that the Gospel can be heard. Why do you think he was received with such gratitude by the Episcopalians? Why do we want to diminish that moral clarity among our own people?

The attacks on +Jonah are morally reprehensible because they are rightly perceived by those considering the Orthodox faith as an attack on his message. The attack by the Stokovites display a complete lack of Christian charity not only toward +Jonah, but toward those who see +Jonah as a beacon of moral clarity and thus the Orthodox Church as a place where they may find refuge and safety. That +Jonah’s detractors don’t perceive this speaks to the darkness that bad actions foster in the actor. Their witness is not Christian. A distraught Christian could be forgiven on Judgment Day for shaking the dust of the OCA off his shoes. The Orthodox who displayed this atrocious behavior will not be so easily forgiven.

Therefore, I ask the men gathered at this week’s Episcopal Assembly to admonish those bishops of the OCA who have embraced the Stokovite ideology and the destructive thinking it represents. Public or privately it does not matter. Besides displaying a lack of Christian charity towards their primate, they have conspired to remove him or, failing in that, to marginalize him.

Make no mistake: this is not about conciliarity versus primacy. We all believe in conciliarity and primacy. However the antagonists of +Jonah mock their own intentions and betray the trust that true conciliarity requires when they give out information from their gatherings to laymen who are known agitators. Ask yourself this: would any of you feel comfortable discussing church matters in the presence of men who have an open pipeline to the agitators? Why do we even envision a united American Holy Synod? It’s not possible under these circumstances and it will destroy any jurisdiction that participates in these kind of machinations.

We are tired of insider manipulations. We are tired of those who thwart the preaching of the Gospel because of moral compromises in their personal lives. We are tired of the promise of Orthodoxy in America never being actualized in any appreciable sense by some of our leaders who, if they really understood their calling, would show us the way to be Orthodox in America.

Therefore we ask the Episcopal Assembly to censure those bishops in the OCA which have acted in such a manner. If you don’t, a new and dangerous precedent will be created; a well that in due time will poison everyone who drinks from it. It will erode from the inside the vision of a an independent Orthodox Church that can indeed bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to America.


  1. Carl Kraeff says

    You sir are a schismatic. I cannot believe that you have come to such a disgraceful point in your life that you would wreck the Church you voluntarily joined and now presume to lecture. Where is the George of old? What kind of prelest is this to act as if he has as much or more charisma than even bishops?

    I am leaving this site for good for you have poisoned it with a deadly virus. I will pray that you come to your senses.

    • I’m afraid I have to agree. No more comments necessary from me except to say, George’s tact is not the answer to the problems of the OCA, neither is this site, the OCAnews site or the OCAtruth site. The internet brings out the worst in people for the most part, and I see no difference here. Ugliness abounds on all of these sites and what one accuses the other of doing, the accuser is also guilty. I am done.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        You did good George. Too bad you are correct on every single point.


    • John Panos says


      If you must leave, do so, but everything in this letter is accurate, and the inability of bishops to do it has left it to the rest of the Body of Christ – the laity.

      Like George.

      Name-calling and threatening to quit is not reason, nor reasonable. It’s childish. George is no more a schismatic than Patriarch Kirill is.

    • William Harrington says

      To quote Inigo Montoya “I do not think this word means what you think it means”. There was no suggestion of desiring schism.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says


      I think George actually expressed the current problem rather well and advanced a reasonable proposal with respect to its solution.

      • Jane Rachel says

        Father Patrick, it’s always good to hear from you, and we need your input. Thanks.

      • It is disturbingly similar to Godwin’s Law when someone states that a parishioner from a ROCOR or OCA church is “schismatic.” From this point forward, let this occurrence be known as Michalopulos’ Law of Schismatic Analogies. ;^ )

    • I pray you come to your senses, too.

      Apparently you don’t think it’s ironic that you’re accusing George, who only wants to preserve the Orthodox Church–as it has existed for 2000 years–of being a schismatic. All George wants is for the Bishops to stand up for Christ’s original church–you know, the one without the ‘living’ Bible, the influence of Marx, the sliding scale of morality, and the actively homosexual priests.

      The people who compose the leadership of the church are never perfect, but it’s generally acknowledged that they are chosen from among those who try a little harder to attain it. That’s part of their role as leader. If this ideal of leadership is no longer of value, then we might as well be Unitarians.

      For all intents and purposes, the ‘church’ you’re defending is in active–active–schism; yet, you seem to find it perfectly reasonable to insist that George and the rest of us accept it on your terms– in full acceptance of all its misguided activities– without complaint and without resistance. How self-centered you are. How misguided. And how arrogant.

      I pray you come to your senses, too.

      There are those who say that God will sort this all out, and that we are wrong to involve ourselves in the matter. But I say to you: how do you think God works His will in this world? Through us. Through human action. Whether we like it or not, we must all take an active part in helping the church right itself. It is taking on water, and it needs our help to keep it afloat.

  2. Shaking my head in disbelief on how far from the truth your speculations, conspiracy theories, and insinuations regarding the Holy Synod of the OCA have strayed. The unjustified and malicious manner in which you portray their actions and motivations regarding the inner working of the Synod and the OCA administrative bodies is diametrically opposed to how so many other reputable, honorable, and trustworthy priests, bishops, and Orthodox members of the OCA leadership have witnessed to and documented what has really happened.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Chris, as long as the persons within the Synod of the OCA continue to feed information to OCAN, they will always be viewed as compromised. Whether morally or ethically, means nothing. And as long as its purveyor continues to administrate AND blog (read: try to destroy his enemies) at the same time then the MC will be compromised itself.

      Let me ask a rhetorical question, would anybody reading these comments feel free having a heart-to-heart with the bishops in question? The seal of confidentiality has been broken thanks to the leaked e-mails, leaking, and obeisance that some bishops pay to Stokoe.

      Conciliarity is impossible under these conditions. Hence, the possibility of a true, pan-American synod forming is cannot form under these conditions. It’s really that simple.

      As to why certain bishops feel that they have to get their directives from Stokoe, even to the point of conspiring to injure an innocent man, that’s for God to judge.

  3. Ignatius says

    And considering that the first three posts on this topic come from sock puppets for Stokoe, who feel on some level that they must counter viewpoints to Mrs Stokoe-Brown?………… you have worn out your welcome. You can shake your heads in disbelief only because what you now believe is what you have bought into from Stokoe. How sad and how miserable. The OCA would do better without you, but then again, who would have you?

    • “cheryl” did not appear to be a sock puppet for anyone. My heart goes out to her.

      When churches are torn apart, everyone suffers including good people and innocent people.

      The difficulty of facing this kind of disorder in a church is that you must be strong in resisting evil and injustice without hesitation or equivocation; but at the same time you must be charitable to everyone, especially those who disagree with you. It is almost asking to much of a human. But you can have compassion realizing that when chaos reigns, confusion makes it impossible for people to know what to do. It is stressful. At some point, we all have to seek refuge away from the stress.

      I do not know anything about the EA, so I cannot comment on individual reactions to this post. I can tell you that the internet, and internet debate is is NOT the cause of your troubles within the OCA right now. That’s a red herring. The internet can make things happen a little faster, it puts everything out in the open for the world to see, and because you see things online before they materialize in your local context it may seem like a cause and effect relationship, but all these things including overt nastiness and a lack of charity are slow trains that you will have to face. The internet is just the canary in the coal mine here.

      • Dear “um” – this all would be so bleak but that my merciful Lord and Savior is in His heavens…His will be done – come and see, even though we struggle, the fullness of the is wonderful to behold and His mercy endureth forever!

        Now I really am done 🙂

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Cheryl, I treasure your opinions as you appear to be a Christian who acts and speaks in good faith. I am sorry if anything I said offended you. I meant none.

        • Thanks, Cheryl, I’m keeping an open mind still 🙂

          I don’t hold struggles against anyone who has them, and certainly would not against a church facing such a malicious attack from a self-interested activist group.

          As one of my biggest concerns though, I will need to see evidence that your church has the strength to protect church members from the gay rights movement. This battle is not over, but if your church cannot protect and honor someone as visible as Jonah, how can you possibly protect and honor someone in my family at an insignificant parish tucked away in some invisible part of the country?

          I’d be genuinely happy to have Jonah as a role model and teacher for my children. But a church that elevates Mark Stokoe over Jonah does not have Christ as its true head. I don’t mind Mark Stokoe being in a church with me, but there needs to be a governance structure in place that can prevent him from hurting the church and people in it. Within a safe environment, I could relate to Mark Stokoe as a brother. But if he is allowed to spitefully take down other members of his church who have done no wrong, then I cannot commit to that kind of organization. I’ve seen too much of this already, and I’ve finally decided that the Jesus of the New Testament would not lend his support to any church that tolerates gay activism. It is an absolute boundary for me going forward. So I’m keeping an open mind, and will remember the invitation. Thanks!

          • I used to think the Orthodox Church was a safe environment, ’cause, y’know, “the Orthodox Church does not change.” After a dozen years, I know better. There are absolute boundaries in the Orthodox Church, but I am no longer convinced that this is one of them. Keep an open mind, if you like, but keep your eyes and ears open, too. I wish I had.

          • My goodness, tears leapt to my eyes when I read what you wrote here. I am an Orthodox convert who was attracted to Orthodoxy for the same reason. Not entirely as a haven from the storms battering the other churches, but that was what first got my attention about Orthodoxy. I was so worn out from all the compromises that I lost trust in my old church, and was desperate for a solid rock. I believe Orthodoxy is true, so I’m not going anywhere, but I hope potential converts will not assume that just because Orthodoxy says one thing, that the actual experience they’ll have in Orthodox parish life, about homosexuality or anything else, will conform to the theory.

            I don’t completely know what I think about Metropolitan Jonah, but he did look like an inspired choice after the disaster that came before. But I do know, Um, that you are right to say that a church that can cast a man like Jonah aside while leaving a man like Stokoe in place, and not only leaveing him there but treating him like a hero, is not a church that can be trusted. Unfortunately it is my church. LIke you, I draw a “line in the sand” around homosexuality, not because I think it is such a more horrible sin than others, but because it’s obvious how destructive in all kinds of ways it becomes once it is tolerated and accepted, especially in the clergy. Without a doubt I would feel the same way if sexually active unmarried heterosexual couples were being treated as if there was no sin there.

            Like you Um, I have no problem going to church with homosexuals. We are all sinners. I hope nobody would hold my obvious sins against me, and stay out of church because I am there. On the other hand, I hope that I don’t expect my priest and my church to tell me my sins aren’t really sins, or aren’t serious enough to keep me away from the Communion cup. I want true repentance, I want true salvation. I don’t want “I’m okay, you’re okay.” This whole Stokoe vs. Jonah disaster has made me wake up and see how in my parish we are “turning a blind eye” to a gay situation. I imagine I will probably have to leave my parish, because I am losing faith in the leadership of our pastor, who doesn’t want conflict. My fear and my sorrow is that I no longer believe that there is any parish to go where the priest and the community will hold the line on Orthodox sexual morality, gay or straight. My children are getting to be old enough where they will ask us these questions. I need my pastor and my church to back me up when I explain to them what the Faith teaches. I don’t believe anymore that I can count on that.

            Who can? Orthodoxy is the truth. I believe that. But if you are thinking about converting, come in with your eyes wide open.

            • Dear ETH:

              Orthodoxy is like everything else in life: subject to contemporary conditions. Converting in order to find respite from moral relativism, in a sense, is like moving to the suburbs to avoid urban conflict and finding that the conflict has moved with you.

              This does not in any sense undermine the validity of the church. Orthodoxy is the true Christianity. I don’t care what I have to deal with to preserve it; it is the real thing.

  4. Alf Kentigern Siewers says

    Thanks for your deep insights into the ecclesiological stakes involved. I don’t think this comes from bad intent on the part of the bishops or conscious adoption of what you call “Stokoevite ideology,” but from lack of attentiveness and discernment. The effects are deleterious and real, though. I think we’re safer accusing ourselves of prelest constantly than others with whom we disagree; the term gets tossed around too much as a kind of cudgel. But I think the shameful treatment of our Metropolitan, increasingly recognized as such by many in other jurisdictions now, clearly violates the checks and balances envisioned in Apostolic Canon 35 and in the OCA Statute re the Metropolitan’s pastoral prerogatives, and we see and continue to see in tacit or overt support for machinations against the Metropolitan by non-hierarchs violation of Canon 18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. All this rapidly stains all in our jurisdiction.

    • Thanks [George] for your deep insights into the ecclesiological stakes involved… I think the shameful treatment of our Metropolitan, increasingly recognized as such by many in other jurisdictions now, clearly violates the checks and balances envisioned in Apostolic Canon 35 and in the OCA Statute re the Metropolitan’s pastoral prerogatives,

      Professor Siewers, would you elaborate on and clarify this bold charge, please? I’m sure that many of us would be grateful and edified if you could provide a list of concrete specifics to flesh out your charge. I take it that the “shameful treatment” you refer to above was meted out by some on the Holy Synod. Is that correct? That certainly seems to be your implication, especially as you tender a separate assertion of blame, this time with respect to non-hierarchs, in the independent clause that immediately followed:

      …and we see and continue to see in tacit or overt support for machinations against the Metropolitan by non-hierarchs violation of Canon 18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. All this rapidly stains all in our jurisdiction.

      Are these the Canons and statutes you mean?:

      Canon 35. Let not a bishop dare to ordain beyond his own limits, in cities and places not subject to him. But if he be convicted of doing so, without the consent of those persons who have authority over such cities and places, let him be deposed, and those also whom he has ordained.

      (Canon 15 of the 1st Council; Canon 2 of the 2nd Council; Canon 8 of the 3rd Council; Canon 5 of the 4th Council; Canon 17 of the 6th Council; Canon 13 of the Council of Ancyra; Canons 13 and 22 of the Council of Antioch; Canons 3 and 15 of the Council of Sardica; Canons 59 and 65 of the Council of Carthage).

      {The relevance of that one eludes me}

      IV Ecumenical Council — Canon 18. The crime of conspiracy or banding together is utterly prohibited even by the secular law, and much more ought it to be forbidden in the Church of God. Therefore, if any, whether clergymen or monks, should be detected in conspiring or banding together, or hatching plots against their bishops or fellow-clergy, they shall by all means be deposed from their own rank.

      (Canons 3 and 26 of the 6th Council; Canon 8 of Council of Neocesaria; Canon 27 of St. Basil the Great). (Leviticus 21:14; 1 Corinthians 6:16). The family life of a presbyter needs to serve as an example for his flock (1 Timothy 3:2-8; Titus 1:6-9).

      The Statute of the OCA
      Article II — The Holy Synod

      Section 1 Definition and Authority

      The Holy Synod is the supreme canonical authority in the Church.

      Section 2 Membership

      The Holy Synod includes, as voting members, all the diocesan bishops of the Church. The Metropolitan is ex officio Chairman of the Synod. In case of his absence, a Chairman shall be elected by the diocesan bishops present.

      • Dear Professor Siewers,

        Presumably, your charge of “shameful treatment,” seen in the light of the Supreme Authority of the Holy Synod (Article II) and the principle of checks and balances that you noted, is in respect to violations of the spirit or letter of the Duty bolded below. Is this correct? Can you clarify precisely who your charge of “shameful treatment” pertains to and how these statutes that you cite are relevant to the specifics (which we await) of your charge? I and no doubt others are sincerely interested in your clarifications. Thank you.

        ARTICLE IV

        Section 1 The Metropolitan

        Among the bishops of the Church, the Metropolitan enjoys primacy, being the first among equals. He is the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, and is the diocesan bishop of one of the dioceses of the Church and bears the title, “Metropolitan of All-America and Canada.” He supervises the internal and external welfare of the Church and represents it in its relations with other Orthodox Churches, religious organizations, and secular authorities. The Metropolitan’s name is mentioned during liturgical services by the other bishops of the Church. The Metropolitan mentions the names of the other heads of autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

        Section 2 Duties

        The Metropolitan:
        Consecrates and distributes the Holy Chrism;
        Provides the diocesan bishops with the Holy Relics necessary for the consecration of Church altars and Holy Antimensia;
        Convenes the All-American Council, presides over it, and promulgates its decisions;
        Convenes and presides over the meetings of the Holy Synod and of the Metropolitan Council;
        Issues pastoral letters addressed to the bishops, clergy, and laity of the Church;
        Reports to the Council concerning the life of the Church;
        Initiates action to fill vacancies in the office of diocesan bishop;
        Gives advice to his brother bishops, and in cases of necessity, submits their cases to the Holy Synod;
        Has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons;
        Receives petitions for admission of clergy from other Orthodox Churches.

        • a.seminarian says

          Dear Mike,

          I have witnessed on two occasions shameful treatment of the Metropolitan. While they are not of the magnitude that others may speak of, I will say that they where all the same quite shameful to any human being, even the lowest of our brethren.

          Occasion 1. A member of the chancery staff was on campus one day, maybe he was there to teach a class or something, and he quite openly was joking and laughing about metropolitan jonah’s weight.

          Shameful in my book. I try to teach my children not to make fun of others. If my children can get it can’t an archpriest of the church.

          Occasion 2. I was at the chancery a few saturday’s ago with my fellow seminarians for Divine Liturgy and a BBQ hosted by the Metropolitan. As the Metropolitan was speaking to us about our service to the church a member of the chancery staff consistently interrupted the metropolitan and showed no deference to his bishop in any way. It was almost as if the Metropolitan being their was an imposition on the chancery staff. Some of us seminarians got a first hand look at the lack of respect the chancery staff seems to have for +Jonah. And when this staff member wasn’t busy interrupting he was gaffing and making faces at every point the Metropolitan made. It was a very sad display indeed.

          Shameful in my book. Again, I was taught, and I try to teach my children that it is just rude to interrupt other people. I try to teach them patience to wait there turn. If my children can get it can’t an archpriest of the church.

          Mike: Shameful enough? or is all permissible with honor and integrity not meaning anything anymore?

        • a.seminarian says

          Dear Mike,

          I have witnessed on two occasions shameful treatment of the Metropolitan. While they are not of the magnitude that others may speak of, I will say that they where all the same quite shameful to any human being, even the lowest of our brethren.

          Occasion 1. A member of the chancery staff was on campus one day, maybe he was there to teach a class or something, and he quite openly was joking and laughing about metropolitan jonah’s weight.

          Shameful in my book. How about yours?

          Occasion 2. I was at the chancery a few saturday’s ago with my fellow seminarians for Divine Liturgy and a BBQ hosted by the Metropolitan. As the Metropolitan was speaking to us about our service to the church a member of the chancery staff consistently interrupted the metropolitan and showed no deference to his bishop in any way. It was almost as if the Metropolitan being their was an imposition on the chancery staff. Some of us seminarians got a first hand look at the lack of respect the chancery staff seems to have for +Jonah. And when this staff member wasn’t busy interrupting he was gaffing and making faces at every point the Metropolitan made. It was a very sad display indeed.

          Shameful in my book. How about yours?

          Mike: Shameful enough? or is all permissible with honor and integrity not meaning anything anymore?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Seminarian, I’m sure that some would justify this behavior based on Apostolic Canon 34.

      • A. Seminarian says

        Dear Mike,

        I have witnessed on two occasions shameful treatment of the Metropolitan. While they are not of the magnitude that others may speak of, I will say that they where all the same quite shameful to any human being, even the lowest of our brethren.

        Occasion 1. A member of the chancery staff was on campus one day, maybe he was there to teach a class or something, and he quite openly was joking and laughing about metropolitan jonah’s weight.

        Shameful in my book. I try to teach my children not to make fun of others. If my children can get it can’t an archpriest of the church.

        Occasion 2. I was at the chancery a few saturday’s ago with my fellow seminarians for Divine Liturgy and a BBQ hosted by the Metropolitan. As the Metropolitan was speaking to us about our service to the church a member of the chancery staff consistently interrupted the metropolitan and showed no deference to his bishop in any way. It was almost as if the Metropolitan being their was an imposition on the chancery staff. Some of us seminarians got a first hand look at the lack of respect the chancery staff seems to have for +Jonah. And when this staff member wasn’t busy interrupting he was gaffing and making faces at every point the Metropolitan made. It was a very sad display indeed.

        Shameful in my book. Again, I was taught, and I try to teach my children that it is just rude to interrupt other people. I try to teach them patience to wait there turn. If my children can get it can’t an archpriest of the church.

        Mike: Shameful enough? or is all permissible with honor and integrity not meaning anything anymore?

        • Seraphimista says

          Not surprising. The Stokoe-Synod-Syosset gang has reduced the Metropolitan to a figure of fun. They all know that they have nothing to fear from him anymore. The abuse will continue until he resigns. This is the new OCA, y’all.

          God, on the other hand, is not mocked. When judgment finally comes on the OCA for what its leaders have done, it’s going to be ugly, but it’s going to be just.

        • Thank you, Seminarian, for telling us about this. The behavior you witnessed is too uncouth to even be labeled childish, for even children can be taught not to mock someone for their weight, or to interrupt while someone else is talking.

          Did the seminary faculty or the other seminarians react at all to what they witnessed?

  5. another anon says

    Regardless of the early comments in this thread, you have correctly diagnosed the problems in American Orthodoxy. Coming from the Antiochians, I truly believed that the OCA was the best hope for Orthodoxy in this country, but the insularity of the so-called leaders in the OCA makes this impossible, and especially hard for converts (generally treated as outsiders). has contributed to this situation, but Mark Stokoe and his allies will NEVER retreat or admit any wrongdoing. The only option I feel that I have is to keep my head down, and look at history, realizing that the Faith has faced terrible problems in the past. All this manuevering and intrigue seems paltry compared to those brave persons who lived in the Soviet Union and faced incredible darkness during the worst of those years. But to ignore the damage that Stokoe and his allies have inflicted on the OCA is to ignore reality.

  6. Alf Kentigern Siewers says

    Christ is Risen!
    Apostolic Canon 34 is sometimes numbered 35, but here is the text from the online translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers as 34 (sorry for not using that more common number):
    “The bishops of every country ought to know who is the chief among them, and to esteem him as their head, and not to do any great thing without his consent; but every one to manage only the affairs that belong to his own parish, and the places subject to it. But let him not do anything without the consent of all; for it is by this means there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified by Christ, in the Holy Spirit.”
    Canon 18 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council from the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation reads: “…if any, whether clergymen or monks, should be detected in conspiring or banding together, or hatching plots against their bishops or fellow-clergy, they shall by all means be deposed from their own rank.”
    The OCA Statute Article IV, Section 2, reads. “The Metropolitan has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance., and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons.”
    By contrast, Resolution 3 passed by the Holy Synod reads, “The Metropolitan, as the Chairman of the Synod, shall seek and receive prior agreement of the Lesser Synod for all programs and initatives related to the external and internal affairs of the Church.”
    In my view (and what do I know? not much) part of what has gotten out of balance in relation to Canon 34 is conflict between two extremes, moving from one to another: The extreme of the Metropolitan being able to act without unanimity among the Holy Synod, and vice versa that of the members of the Synod being able to act without esteeming the Metropolitan, asking his approval for large projects, and focusing on their local areas. Thus for example we have an Interim Chancellor now for several months, with strengthened powers, coordinating jurisdictional matters but still a sitting diocesan bishop.
    The most shameful treatment of the Metropolitan in my view has been in the way that our Church has not stepped forward to stop activities of a Metropolitan Council member writing disrespectfully about our Primate and publishing private communications in order undermine the Metropolitan. Few institutions, churches or otherwise, would let an official continue to do that with their chief official. In encouraging or tacitly approving this situation, our clergy and hierarchs arguably undermine respect for all authority in our Church unfortunately, including their own, among the laity.
    For example, exacerbating factions online by reporting from private communications what the Metropolitan said about another official in public does nothing to resolve issues through conciliarity. And when the editor of OCANews emailed Metropolitan Council members regarding sidelining the Metropolitan, did any or all of them report this to the Metropolitan?
    I don’t ascribe any bad intent, and I don’t think there was any. But ironically we seem to have conspiring emerge under the intent of hunting down alleged conspiracies by the Metropolitan that seem red herrings, all of which leads to private emails of a priest (including personal messages from spiritual children) being accessed and then made available to a Metropolitan Council member to be publicized. On the alleged conspiracies of the Metropolitan as red herrings, I’m with Crito’s recent comments on the OCATruth site.
    Meanwhile maybe it’s time for all of us (starting with me) to take a leave of absence and get a spiritual psychological evaluation :), not only to show solidarity with our Metropolitan but also to refocus on our life together as a Church family.
    Please forgive me if I have scandlized and please pray for me, an unworthy sinner.

    • Chris Plourde says


      You get this right:

      The most shameful treatment of the Metropolitan in my view has been in the way that our Church has not stepped forward to stop activities of a Metropolitan Council member writing disrespectfully about our Primate and publishing private communications in order undermine the Metropolitan.

      I’ve added emphasis for this reason: “A Metropolitan Council Member” is vastly different from “The Holy Synod” at whose pleasure the Metropolitan Council serves. To put that another way, there can be a Synod of the OCA without a Metropolitan Council, but there is no Metropolitan Council without the Synod.

      George, very much like Stokoe, believes the MC is far more powerful than it is, as events have demonstrated. If there’s a problem here it is that the Synod has not taken the MC nearly as seriously as the laity has taken it, and therefore has not reacted to Mr. Stokoe’s provocation as dramatically as the laity has.

      • How can the Synod NOT understand how the entire world must view Stokoe’s unrelenting attacks on the metropolitan of his church?

        Why don’t they at least say something publicly like: “Mr. Stokoe, we are powerless to remove you from the MC, but please stop beating up on our homeboy Jonah for no reason. Thanks so much, please don’t hurt us (sheepish grin). Thanks so much.”

        • Chris Plourde says


          The “entire world” is careless of Stokoe’s antics, because the “entire world” sees them as irrelevant. The Synod knows them to be irrelevant, and were it to issue a comment on every irrelevant lay blogger out there it could spend whole meetings distracted with the issuing such statements. That’s how the sideshow works, you see, by creating distraction and then demanding that everyone pay attention to the distraction.

          Better to stay focused on Christ and to act from the Peace of Christ than to get sucked into the drama of provocateurs.

          • Chris,
            MS is not just a lay blogger he is on the MC and his “blog” represents the OCA News. It is up to them to address his attacks on the Metropolitan and they should have done so long ago.

            • Chris Plourde says

              Mark Stokoe does not represent “the OCA News” with his site, to the contrary it was created quite specifically as a lay blog. You need not take my word for this. If you go to and click on the link that says “OCA News” you are taken to this page:

              That is not Stokoe’s site, which is found elsewhere and which disclaims itself like this:

     is the
              website of “Orthodox
              Christians for
              Accountability”, and is
              not affiliated with the
              Orthodox Church in
              America (OCA).

              • Alf Kentigern Siewers says

                Consider Fr. Hopko’s endorsement of the blog at the beginning of Great Lent, which has been echoed by other priests (even in encouraging people to read the leaked emails published there): “I also ask you to trust, honor and support Mark Stokoe’s continued efforts through OCANews to report, question, criticize and comment on the words and deeds of our Orthodox Church leaders for the sake of securing their best possible conduct of their God-given duties.” The blog has taken on the status of semi-official bridge between church officials (through the blogging Metropolitan Council member endorsed by leading personages in the Church) and the laity as the Fourth Order of the Church, a kind of strange focusing and official representation of that Fourth Order, which I don’t think has ever occurred before in Orthodox history (in older days there would be mobs, often of monastics, on the streets of Constantinopole protesting injustices by ecclesiastical leaders). In effect, the blog is given a semi-official watchdog status that is implicitly endorsed by the editor being on the Metropolitan Council, where he would most likely not be if not for his blogging. It has gained this status in part by its connections through the Theodosian-Herman reform effort with many leading lights of the OCA, with whom it played a role in a change of regime. But it is also true that one generation’s reform effort is the next’s oppression, and other kinds of dissidence today are targeted by this blog officially licensed dissidence, as it apparently works with officials such as the bishop who reportedly obtained the emails from a priest’s personal account. The poster Harry Coin asked good questions on the Orthodox Forum list today: “Those who serve on the Metropolitan Council of the OCA have considerable ability [to] enact changes and influence decisions on a great number [of things], of course this is by intention and design. What is the procedure should a non-clergy council member generate a credible appearance of impropriety available to the public? Is there any choice or action a non-clergy council member might take that would result in non voluntary removal from the council? Is there perhaps a term of service which might expire then have someone else take the position?” [I added words in brackets where there seemed by to be a lacuna-by-typo, of which I usually am guilty] In any case, no organization with regards for its continued health would allow an official to so harshly condemn and undermine its chief official (and his office) publicly as has occurred in this case. And others have taken notice, judging by a non-Orthodox friend’s unsolicited exchange with me recently on the treatment of Metropolitan Jonah.

                • Chris Plourde says

                  All true, Alf. But keeping our eyes on the ball, even the esteemed Fr. Hopko is not now and has never been a member of the Synod. And the Synod has seen fit in the past and present to ignore even the solicited advice of some of the OCA’s most esteemed members.

                  And my point would be precisely and only this: despite all the suspicions and conspiracy theories, Mark Stokoe does not speak for the Synod, and the Synod is not beholden to Stokoe.

                  colette asserted that Stokoe was the official voice of the OCA. This is demonstrably incorrect, and asserting incorrect things to be true is how we find ourselves distracted into digging deeper holes from which we will eventually have to climb.

                • People assume it does (speak for the OCA officially) and so it does for to too many.

                  • Alf Kentigern Siewers says

                    Good points, Chris. But following up on Colette’s point, the Holy Synod, many years to them, also operates in contexts and constituencies and networks, of which the MC likely will be increasingly be important (as seen in the Bishops sitting wih the MC in Chicago). For senior married priests (not to mention laity) the MC is except for Chancery positions I guess the highest jurisdiction-wide outlet for leadership, and so long as the Metropolitanate is perceived as being weakened vis-a-vis the other two bodies, there probably will be a continued push for the MC to be a more important junior partner to the Holy Synod. That’s not bad in itself, although the MC is a bit canonically ambiguous–a bit like an adaptation of the old civil council of the Russian Church instituted by Peter the Great. (That’s where the analogies between the role of OCANews as a kind of cyber-Ober-Prokurer emerge, however inexact and somewhat humorously meant but still half-seriously; the Russian Church had a strong monastic tradition to balance all that though.) Meanwhile for us the continued presence of the active OCANews editor on the MC shapes the impression that there is implicit endorsement by the Holy Synod for a particular influential blog’s activities, one really negative toward the Metropolitan on an ongoing and public basis while publishing private emails etc.

      • I don’t think the MC does “serve at the Synod’s pleasure”. I think this is a misunderstanding of both the de jure and de facto relationship.

        I think the MC exists to assist the metropolitan in his role as “head” (canon 34) of the national church. This is the only system that would be consistent with canon 34, and even the name of the MC is consistent with this interpretation — It is the “Metropolitan” Council.

        The Synod has no direct role in national church governance (canon 34), but only an indirect role through the advice/consent/consideration each individual bishop offers to the head bishop. The Synod also has no authority over the metropolitan (at least you will not find it in canon 34, the canon that mandates the position of a head bishop to deal with nationwide church matters).

        Now this is the way things should be, just based on church law. Secular law is a different matter entirely and works against honest efforts to live according to OCA canon and statute in this case. It would be interesting to hear the facts from someone who knows, but I’m gonna guess that the MC is actually the legal Board of Trustees for the OCA. I suspect the Synod has no such legal standing and no means for removing individual members of the MC. I’m also going to guess that as a result of this reality, the only entities with the authority to remove a member of the MC would be the MC itself (and possibly a U.S. or state governmental entity in the event of a serious breach of federal or state law).

        I’m increasingly convinced that there are grave misunderstandings of your church’s de jure polity by many smart people who are members of your church, including not a few bishops.I’m more than happy to be corrected about any of this by anyone who knows more than I do. My only goal is clarity, and I would love to see you guys achieve that. I’ve written a good deal about canon 34 the last few days. If you want to read more, check out the very last comments I posted under the post titled “Jonah in His Own Words. AXIOS!”

  7. Chris Plourde says

    George: The Synod of the OCA has not made +Jonah its sock puppet or its rubber-stamp. Likewise the Synod of the OCA rejected the notion that its role is to be a rubber-stamp for whoever happens to be Metropolitan, which is understandable given the scandals that occurred during the years when the Synod did exactly that.

    You claim that the great promise of autocephaly is that the American Church can work out its problems without foreign interference, but as soon as the Church starts to do exactly that you’re leading the call for foreign interference and a chiding of OCA Bishops by those who are outside of the OCA and subject to foreign interference.

    That’s simply a way of saying you fear Mark Stokoe more than you trust Christ. To me that’s the real problem on display in this post.

    Ignatius: The day Chris Banescu is anyone’s sock puppet is the day hell freezes over. Like George, his opinions are strong and his own. The fact that you disagree with him, and Carl, and cheryl, doesn’t make them any more sock puppets, it makes them people with whom you disagree. I think it unhelpful in the extreme to suggest that these are actually Mark Stokoe logging in under different names, as Rod Dreher did at OCATruth and here.

    • Do you not see the disorder caused by Mark Stokoe’s attacks on Jonah?

      Have you ever faced the gay rights movement in any organization that you have been a part of?

      • Um knows what he’s talking about. I identified the pattern in my former church, but only after it was far too late to do anything about. It operates first by taking advantage of the inability or the unwillingness of most people to recognize the thing in front of them. Gay advocates can make enormous gains at the elite level if they are willing to take advantage of the desire most people in the pews, and in the pulpit, to avoid having to face unpleasantness.

        Then, depending on the circumstances, they carry their fight forward under a different flag. They’re not arguing for the normalization of homosexuality per se, but rather for uncontroversial abstractions, like love, respect, tolerance, et cetera. In the case of public schools, for example, the campaign proceeds as an anti-bullying initiative. In churches, this may express itself as a desire for “dialogue.” If they can get most people to forget, or to ignore, that the moral status of homosexuality is clear from Scripture and long-settled in the Tradition of the Church, and to accept that it’s a matter for discussion and debate, they’ve won half the battle. The goal is to make homosexuality a matter upon which good Christians can disagree. They can operate with that modus vivendi for a while, then, when they sense the moment is right to consolidate power, they will start talking about how it’s a matter of plain justice that the Church formally accept homosexuality in holy orders, and elsewhere — and, in turn, suppress as immoral and hateful any opposition. The Gramscian “march through the institutions” is then complete.

        I saw this dynamic in my former church. I see it in my workplace. I have spoken to Orthodox Christian academics who acknowledge that their careers have been in peril at certain times because it was known that they held to Church teaching about homosexuality. My tentative conclusion is that people like me, who have observed this process working its way through the OCA, are thought paranoid by many good and decent fellow Orthodox Christians who have no previous experience with it. We who have direct experience with how this works can only look at each other and shake our heads in mutual understanding. That Mark Stokoe has proved himself capable of stopping at nothing to get what he wants is no surprise. Expect more of the same. For him, it is undoubtedly a matter of justice, and even Good vs. Evil. To pull one’s punches is to compromise with Evil. Anything that gets one power is therefore justified, and justifiable.

        Contrariwise, it is not true that this is only about homosexuality. I see this error made among some Orthodox in the faction with whom I identify (which is to say, with many of the readers of this fine blog). It has been clear to me for some time that Metropolitan Jonah has significantly set back his own cause through amateurish political blundering. I wish His Beatitude was as innocent as a lamb in all this, but I do not believe the record can support that conclusion. He has a reputation for being deeply averse to conflict, an instinct that has not served him well, I am told by friends who are closer to these matters than am I. We will learn more about the contents of the SMPAC report in due course, but I anticipate it will reveal that the Metropolitan was far too lenient on some nasty characters. Ironically, the record already indicates that he has gone easy on predatory gay priests. In a case that has emerged this year, in these controversies — the Miami archdeacon who left his bishop-lover to “marry” a man in San Francisco, then repented and returned to Florida — we must not forget that Metropolitan Jonah, as locum tenens of the Diocese of the South, allowed that archdeacon to be restored to the altar.

        I don’t believe for one second that His Beatitude is gay, or sympathetic to homosexuality. I do fear, however, that he is extremely naive about the corruption that attends homosexuality within the culture of the priesthood. This is a grave fault of his, and one that has done much to cost him his opportunity to lead the OCA. In the long term, I believe it will have cost the OCA its existence. Time will tell.

        I have gone on too long in this space; forgive me. I wish to leave you with a couple of thoughts. Please understand that I do not contend that this is “all” about homosexuality. It is about autocephaly, control, church order, modernity, and several other things. I do not believe that most, or even any, of the bishops see this crisis in terms of the fate of homosexuality’s moral status within the OCA. However, I think it is quite naive to fail to discern a pattern here, owing to the fact that Mark Stokoe, a gay man living in a partnership, openly communing within his parish, is the primary force behind the anti-Jonah campaign. Stokoe has been very careful (admirably careful, from a Machiavellian point of view) never to make the moral status of homosexuality part of his campaign. To do so would have been suicidal to his cause. It is key to his long-term interest to divert attention from his immoral situation, and how it has been accepted within his own church community. He is “piggybacking,” you might say, his personal agenda onto the cause of church reform. In my analysis, Stokoe understood early in +Jonah’s tenure that this metropolitan and his vision was the chief obstacle to how he would like to see the OCA evolve, not only with respect to homosexuality, but also on many fronts. Stokoe, to his credit, was right. He identified opportunities among the Synod and the MC, as well as weaknesses in H.B.’s character and style, and attacked on every front. He has been almost wholly successful. I do believe the victory will prove Pyrrhic; the OCA the Stokoe-ites have conquered will, I fear, wither away to nothing. But conquer it they have. I see no reason to deceive ourselves about what has been done here.

        George and others have said, rightly, for months that Stokoe et alia seek the Episcopalianization of the OCA. This blog’s readers and observers of OCA online polemics this spring have seen this sentiment express itself in various comments about how “Team Jonah” and its partisans are closet “Tea Party” Orthodox — as if defending basic Orthodox moral teaching were a matter of party politics. If these people can make the Orthodox in the pews think in terms of secular American political categories, they will be well on the path to victory. As, in fact, they are. Orthodoxy doesn’t conform to the politics of this nation. It stands against the Republican worship of economic individualism, and it stands against the Democratic worship of moral individualism. I hope it always will! The deeper I conform my own conscience to Orthodox Christianity, the more divorced I feel from either political party. From my point of view, however, the faction that is winning, and may indeed have won, the OCA is the faction that intends to render Orthodoxy’s moral witness to American culture on sexual morality neutral. It seeks to accommodate itself to respectable blue-state bourgeois norms. +Jonah, however bumbling and ineffective, was an obstacle to that. Not anymore, he isn’t.

        Watch closely now what happens to Stokoe on the Metropolitan Council. If he is allowed to hold his position, despite his well-known moral status, that will send a signal that open, active homosexuality is no impediment to service at the senior level of the OCA. It will tell us everything we need to know about where the OCA is going. For many of us, it will tell us where we ourselves must therefore go, if there is a place to go at all. ROCOR’s moment may be arriving soon.

        Forgive me, a sinner, if I have offended. But this is how I see it. I welcome the correction of George’s readers.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Filsosof, thank you for your wonderful insights.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Look at the GOA and its great openly bisexual Huffington benefactor out in California. He poses with Greek Orthodox priests who say nothing because he gives them money. Then look at Mat. Isaiah’s treatment when he “dared” speak the truth in regards to homosexuality. There is something very wrong with this picture.


            • Jane Rachel says

              Look at the GOA and its great openly bisexual Huffington benefactor out in California.

              Do I have to?

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                sorry to say jane you are looking at the same thing in the OCA right now.

        • Jane Rachel says

          He has a reputation for being deeply averse to conflict,

          Yes, this is what I’ve sensed. The Metropolitan often states that the problems of the past two decades in the OCA are over and the OCA has passed through them. That’s not true. They aren’t over, because there has been no closure, no admittance of wrong, no revealing of the truth where it can wisely be revealed, no discipline, no calling to account, no admittance of guilt, no acknowledgement that documents have been tampered with, no answering of questions. No removal of Mark Stokoe from the MC. No untwisting to make the crooked way straight again.

          We can’t sweep these wrongs under the carpet and pretend they aren’t there. There has been no repentance that we who have been wronged can see. The Holy Synod has asked forgiveness as a whole group, the bishops have said, “forgive me” in their sermons. That’s not enough. Those who have done wrong, and I don’t mean small wrongs, have not been called to account. Those who have been wronged, and I mean their lives devastated, need to have things put right. Be wise, leaders, but remove the big lumps out from under the carpet.

          At the 15th All-American Council, this question was asked of Bishop Nikon:

          Will the Holy Synod admit the full extend of sinfulness and examine the consequences of what has occurred and ask forgiveness for it? –

          Bp. Nikon answered:

          I was taken aback by how at every meeting there was desire to forgive, but why someone doesn’t come forward and ask for forgiveness? No one can be forced to ask for forgiveness. Members of the Synod in preparation for the AAC have asked forgiveness repeatedly from the church and from their dioceses. Forgiveness is for the sin of offending the Divine Love, and we have all fallen short.

          (Emphasis added.)

          Forgiving without coming forward to ask for forgiveness is classic human behavior: “I forgive you, brother…” he says out loud, and to himself he says “…but I’m not about to admit I’m guilty of wrongdoing.”

          This has affected the whole Church. We are all hurt. If my bishop asks forgiveness in one of his widely distributed sermon, and I know that guy was, say, a practicing homosexual or falsely accusing the innocent for his own gain, or a hypocrite, then what good is his asking, or my forgiving? I know I can’t trust my bishop or my priest who supports him, or my complacent and naive parish family. The hurt stays. I go elsewhere, I see the same thing. I leave.

          • Jane Rachel says

            I want to be extremely careful what I write when I’m not sure of something, but I get busy and read too fast, and make mistakes. If Metropolitan Jonah is not “deeply averse to conflict” in the sense that he avoids it when it needs to be dealt with, then I apologize.

            Certainly the speech +Jonah made to the bishops was fierce and to the point. In each situation he’s been accused of mishandling, I’ll bet there’s another side to the story. I’ll bet there are parts left out, where he was more concerned with the individual’s repentance, healing and restoration than with condemning him.

            I can’t find a way to put it into words. Does anyone have any idea how painful it is to be a victim of public opinion?

            • In each situation he’s been accused of mishandling, I’ll bet there’s another side to the story. I’ll bet there are parts left out, where he was more concerned with the individual’s repentance, healing and restoration than with condemning him.

              I’d also bet that that’s likely the case. For instance, it’s pretty ridiculous for people to expect him to have come to the job and then immediately have Archbishop Seraphim suspended, etc. The whole rest of the Synod wasn’t all that concerned about Archbishop Seraphim for the two decades prior. I hardly think it’s appropriate to blame the new guy for something that had been going on for that long.

              However, I really hope Metropolitan Jonah was not trying to use monastic retreats as some kind of panacea for sexual sins. The example of the monk Andrew in the Diocese of the South showed an excellent way to deal with a recovering pedophile that allows him to work out his salvation without placing anyone in danger. But I think it was right that the civil authorities were involved first and had him serve a prison sentence for the horrible things he did. This made sure his past would never be hidden, and that the DOS could make sure area clergy were notified about his presence. The DOS did not *call* the civil authorities in his case since the abuse happened before Monk Andrew converted, and to my knowledge they were blindsided by the accusations, but I think that calling the authorities is something that absolutely must be done when an OCA diocese or institution becomes aware of an instance of sexual abuse.

              Civil liability is also a serious concern, because the OCA could be absolutely wiped out by one successful lawsuit.

        • From my point of view, however, the faction that is winning, and may indeed have won, the OCA is the faction that intends to render Orthodoxy’s moral witness to American culture on sexual morality neutral. It seeks to accommodate itself to respectable blue-state bourgeois norms. +Jonah, however bumbling and ineffective, was an obstacle to that. Not anymore, he isn’t.

          I agree for the most part, except I would stop well short of calling Metropolitan Jonah bumbling and/or ineffective. Now that we have a better idea of what he has been dealing with in Syosset, I find his forbearance to be more inspiring than ever.

          I would also say that as long as Metropolitan Jonah remains Metropolitan – whatever limitations they may try to shove down his throat – there will remain an OCA worth fighting for. When this first came out, I questioned Stokoe’s articles and motivations without anyone else’s help, but I was unsure what I as a mere laywoman (as Metropolitan Herman was so fond of reminding us) could really do about it. Well, I think there is genuine value in exposing the canonical irregularities in what’s going on right now, and showing the rest of the Synod and administration that Metropolitan Jonah is very much loved and wanted.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Helga, thank you for crystallizing these sentiments. As I’ve come to believe, several factors are in play that we still don’t know the full extent of. Perhaps the least deserved canard is that +Jonah is “bumbling” and “ineffective” and “made mistakes.” I think once we find out the extent of the total decrepitude of the Toxic Culture in Syosset, we may have to reassess what we have said about HB’s supposed “ineffectiveness.”

            From what I’ve gathered at the EA, it seems that HB has been treated very well by the bishops from the other jurisdictions. I know that the Stokovite bishops (Mel esp) made a huge gaffe last month. It seems that the Stokovite’s stock has fallen significantly while +Jonah’s has increased appreciably at least within cross-jurisdictional circles. This cannot mean nothing and should frustrate the plans of the Stokovites in subtle ways which may become apparent in time.

            That’s one reason why I believe the failure to oust +Jonah will be viewed historically as a strategic blunder of the first magnitude by the Stokovites. In fact, I’ll make this prediction: even if they completely control the AAC and ramrod through their resolutions, then one of three things will happen within fairly short order:

            1. the uncanonical nature of some of these resolutions will render them immediately null and void,

            2. Moscow will unrecognize the changes through several subterfuges,

            3. the brazenness of the Stokovites will make it all but impossible for the EA to invite the OCA to its meeting in 2012 since the requirement for membership in the EA is canonicity.

        • If he is allowed to hold his position, despite his well-known moral status, that will send a signal that open, active homosexuality is no impediment to service at the senior level of the OCA.

          What’s your evidence for this charge against Stokoe? I hear this all the time here, but every single time I ask the accuser this simple, absolutely pertinent question, I hear crickets. Why is that?

          • Jesse Cone says

            Because it has been clearly stated several times over, he has not denied it, and it has been well-known for years.

            • What “has been clearly stated”? What is “well known”? What has he not denied? What evidence do you have that he is not living a chaste life in accord with the Church’s teachings about sexual discipline and ascesis? What reason do y’all have to slander him so obsessively? What grounds do you have for this sick and twisted certainty that he is not working out his own redemption through prayer, alms and fasting, seeking catharsis and mortification of the sinful passions, just like any other faithful Orthodox Christian seeking perfection in Christ? What is your evidence? Who do you people think you are?

              • Jane Rachel says

                Mike, if you haven’t read the evidence, then you don’t know. “Who do you people think you are?” “We people” have only just come together to discuss what’s happening on this blog, and yet, we all knew, or know about Mark. We’re not bad people or gossips, and we don’t like it, but then again, we didn’t do it. Just follow the links Jesse provided. We’ve been over it countless times. Almost none of us have met each other. I’ve met a few people who post here in my OCA wanderings, but the people I’ve met don’t know who I am because I don’t post under my real name, and for good reason. By the way, several of my close friends and relatives are gay. But they don’t serve on the Metropolitan Council and they don’t run Etc.

                • a layman from Ohio says


                  Have you ever met Mark? My priest has. Back a couple of months ago I was telling him about some of the things that he had been posting on his blog (and this is before the whole thing became public knowledge about his open homosexuality). He said “I think I’ve met that guy before. Is he . . . (he did not say the word gay because we were in the parish hall and prickly ears might prick up)?” I did not know at that time so I told him frankly “I don’t know.” Now, mind you, my priest is the most irenic, friendly, evangelical, Orthodox priest that I have ever met. In fact you could say that sometimes he is like Met. Jonah, in that he’s a little soft on people, but it was clear to him from spending 1 minute saying hello and shaking his hand.

          • Seraphimista says

            Because people who have been following this blog and this controversy for months now don’t want to have to go back and do Stokoe 101 for you. As OCAT established through public records, Stokoe and his partner Steve Brown share a house together, and are considered by Stokoe’s family to be married (according to a paid newspaper obituary for Stokoe’s mother, which listed Brown as one of her sons-in-law). Lots of OCA insiders have known for many years about Stokoe’s homosexuality, and his partnership with Mr. Brown. He’s never made any attempt to hide it as far as I can tell, nor has he made an issue of it. He apparently considers it unrelated to his activism in the OCA. Others disagree.

            Stokoe’s homosexuality doesn’t make Jonah a saint and a genius, but it does put the Stokoe-led campaign against Jonah, who unlike previous Metropolitans has been up-front in his opposition to “gay rights,” in a certain light. My opinion is that some bishops and others are secretly pro-gay, but most just don’t want to have to deal with the issue, and were made nervous by Jonah forcing them to.

            • Spare me your petty presumption. The bottom line: you know nothing about Stokoe’s sex life. Nada. Your ignorant, condescending crap is offensive and ridiculous.

              Jonah opposes “gay rights,” does he? What does that mean, exactly? What rights does he oppose? Does that opposition entail, for example, holy indignation about secular campaigns against bullying and worse of confused little kids in school? And when you say bishops are “secretly ‘pro-gay,'” do you mean perhaps that they are soft on regarding these afflicted sinners as “sodomites” who should all be gathered together in a pyre — one quite possibly sparked by targeted biological warfare about 30 years ago? Or what?

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Yes, Mike, by all means. Let’s go back to the bad old days of Eisenhower’s Amerika when people were watching Liberace on TV and Noel Coward at the theater. Things were so bad for homosexuals back then, weren’t they.

                Spare us your pious platitudes about how bad things were for homosexuals in the old days and your reading our minds about how we yearn for them.

      • A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

        Take note that the “Gay Movement” abhors the image of a strong patriarchal figure.

      • Chris Plourde says


        I see much disorder. I see some arising from Stokoe. I see some arising from OCAN. I see some arising from Fr. Fester’s ill-conceived exchanges with Rod Dreher. I see some arising from OCAT. I see some arising here.

        What I don’t see is how matching disorder with disorder brings about order.

        I’ve watched ActUp up close and in person (which is probably more than most people here can say) and I’ve seen the anger and bitterness that drives such movements. And I’ve watched as people responded in a multitude of ways to those provocations, from attempting to appease the angry mob to meeting their anger with equally fierce anger. And what I experienced was that ceding the field to those of either extreme made matters worse for everyone.

        I wish I had Fr Hans’ post from several months ago at my fingertips, because he laid out in a clear and unequivocal way how a person of discernment responds appropriately to these things.

        Discernment is what’s lacking here, but I see fear and bitterness in abundance.

        What I read in George’s post above is not a plea for good order in the Church, but rather an effort to destroy the OCA before Stokoe does. That’s as much a form of capitulation as the ECUSA’s wholehearted embrace of a moral code that is unrecognizable to the Apostles.

        • (1) Regarding George’s post:

          Do you not trust Orthodox bishops outside the OCA? I’m not sure I understand. Correction, I know that I do not understand 🙂 , so would appreciate your insights on this.

          (2) Regarding disorder:

          Disorder is arising because a huge injustice is being left to continue unabated, it has certainly not been righted and may not be possible to set right at this late stage. You are morally and ethically wrong to blame the victims here.

          Fester and Dreher were not in national church office. Neither of them conspired to remove a bishop from office. Nevertheless, they were disciplined swiftly (Fester) or sidelined from the debate (Dreher) for errors that they made. In a real sense you could say justice was done with them. In the case of Dreher, it is the laity and Dreher himself who have chosen to limit his voice going forward. Correct? What more needs to be resolved with them, in your humble opinion?

          I can’t think of a thing. If any real harm to the church was done by their actions (and that is certainly debatable), then it has been limited to the absolute minimum and addressed as best it can be by the church. If the church was so functional with respect to all injustices, you guys would be doing great. I really mean that.

          Now, as to this website, you are not as passive and charitable in your observations as you would like to believe. Stokoe and several others in high positions of church leadership have conspired against a sitting bishop, to have the bishop ousted and to permanently harm his ministry by any means necessary. Not only has the church refused to address this injustice, but the injustice continues unabated, not even slowed down by the shame that should have come with exposure of their malicious intentions and actions. You cannot blame people on this website for being outraged at this injustice. You are blaming the victim here and that is something you do intentionally, so you bear responsibility for that. You are an active enabler of Stokoe’s continued malicious acts, because you deny them and work against what should be the unanimous will of the church to have good order and justice restored within your common life as soon as possible.

          When you blame the victim here, you are wrong ethically and morally. In fact, you are doubly wrong because you have failed to address the original injustice as you are able (with love) and now you are creating a new injustice by condemning those who reach out in an earnest attempt to do what you yourself are failing to do. Do I condemn your soul? No. Keep striving for honesty and clarity, and most of all love, and I have no beef with you. But just like you attempt to call out errors on here when you see them, I have to call you out right now.

          • Chris Plourde says


            Two good questions, and I’ll attempt to be brief in answering them.

            I trust each Orthodox jurisdiction’s bishops within their jurisdiction and their see. I trust each Orthodox jurisdiction’s bishops when they are guests in other jurisdiction’s parishes and gatherings. But the good order of the Church is damaged when Bishops willy-nilly violate the boundaries of other jurisdictions and sees, or when they fail to act as guests when invited into other jurisdictions and gatherings.

            If the bishops of the non-OCA jurisdictions did as George is asking, they would be essentially calling the OCA heretical. There is nothing remotely heretical in any action taken by the OCA, and what’s more George seems to feel that the OCA should be declared heretical for the actions it did not take. That, it seems to me, is inciting the Church to great disorder.

            Which brings me to disorder. This cuts directly to the difference between the Orthodox and non-Orthdoox understanding of sin.

            In the western world sin is seen as a matter of crime, and “penance” as a matter of punishment. In Orthodoxy sin is understood as damage to a relationship, and repentance as returning to proper relationship. And so in the west sin can be mitigated by circumstances, while in Orthodoxy sin remains sin. In the west some sins are judged more grievously than others, in Orthodoxy sin is sin. In the west it is impossible to sin involuntarily and in ignorance, in Orthodoxy we repent from everything that damages our relationship with God, even if we didn’t “mean it.”

            And so the problem with disorder in the Church is being disorderly, no matter the plausible excuse for that disorder. This is not “blaming the victim,” as no-one is being let off the hook for their actions, but rather hewing closely to the Orthodox understanding of sin.

        • Martin Pendergrass says

          In some ways this reminds me of the following, written during other difficult times in the OCA:

          Where There is love, let me sow hatred.
          Where There is faith, doubt.
          Where There is hope, despair.
          Where There is light, darkness.
          Where There is joy, sadness.
          Where There is unity, let me sow division.
          May God help us!

          “Assisi’s Anthisis”
          +Job (Osacky)
          From “Address of His Eminence Archbishop Job to the 45th Assembly of the Diocese of the Midwest”

    • Ian James says

      That’s simply a way of saying you fear Mark Stokoe more than you trust Christ. To me that’s the real problem on display in this post.

      Thanks for the counsel Chris. Looks like your advice is keep quiet about Stokoe’s assaults on +Jonah because that exhibits real faith in Christ.

      I can’t speak for George but didn’t he say something about platitudes substituting for clear thinking?

  8. Chris Plourde says

    Something I wrote on another thread:

    I am really rather calm about what the Synod has actually done because I don’t see in their actions anything that leads away from God. On the other hand, the sideshow seems determined to take us all as far as possible from God, and that so many good people wish to partake in that is disheartening.

    One last note: Orthodoxy has remained true to Christ by refusing to get caught up in the sideshow of any age, while heresy has often arrived as an angel of light determined to save us from what we fear in the sideshow. Today is no exception.

    This post of George’s demonstrates precisely what I wrote about in the other thread.

    • Chris, how do you define the sideshow?

      • Chris Plourde says

        Simple, Um. Whatever takes our focus off Christ. And we know our focus is off Christ when we find our Lents ruined (as many here attested) and when we find our attention consumed with those who are not Christ.

        • In the shortness of these replies, you are likely to miss the sincerity that I intend, especially with regards to my gratitude for the continued conversation. I am indeed grateful. I also do believe that you are a better Christian than I am. I don’t know that, of course, but if I had to guess, that would be my guess. With that in mind:

          I’m not sure ruining Lent and paying attention to other people is how Christ would define taking your focus off Christ.

          Jesus himself said:

          ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me…. whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25)

          You don’t see this as relevant?

          • Chris Plourde says

            Um, I am possibly the most pathetic of Christians. I can’t get through an hour, much less a day, without falling short. I’m Orthodox because I’m such a weakling.

            Matthew 25 is indeed the touchstone, and I see it as wholly relevant. What makes Matthew 25 relevant is that we are to find Christ even in the least of our brethren.

            It’s not about being nice to people we don’t like or people who “hate me and make temptation for me,” it’s about finding Christ in everyone. It is when we fail to find Christ in the least of our brethren that we fail the test of Matthew 25.

            And so the sideshow is anything that distracts us from Christ.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              Chris, with all due respect, I have never once seen Christ in Mark Stoke’s comments or his entire website, just vitriol and outright hatred for a man that nobody to date has been unable to tell me what he did wrong.

              For an individual to engage in a one-man crusade, and to have the power that he does tells me it has less to do with Christ and more to doe with Mark Stoke’s ego. I have seen ego at play and I have seen true Christ-like virtue at play. Mark is the former (ego) not the latter. Sorry buddy I just don’t see it.


              • Chris Plourde says


                Go back to what I actually wrote:

                from message 61:

                I see much disorder. I see some arising from Stokoe. I see some arising from OCAN. I see some arising from Fr. Fester’s ill-conceived exchanges with Rod Dreher. I see some arising from OCAT. I see some arising here.

                So what do you think you’re responding to?

        • Well, yes, my Lent was ruined in the sense that I was distracted and worried during services, thinking about what was going on.

          However, I consider the time I have spent lifting Metropolitan Jonah out of the ditch and binding up his wounds, instead of passing by on the other side on my way to Presanctified Liturgy, to be time well spent.

    • Well Chris,

      As there have always been sideshows when the church has been at a crisis point-why do you deny this one?

      • Chris Plourde says

        No denial, colette, just the observation that people are getting sucked into what is not healthy for them or the Church.

        George’s post here is an example of that, calling for non-OCA Bishops to chide OCA Bishops for things that the OCA Bishops did not do….it’s crazy.

        • Not crazy: “Whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” Right?

          Maintaining good order is their job as bishops, and addressing injustice is part of their sacred vocation. Is it not?

          • Chris Plourde says

            How is it according to Matthew 25 to criticize someone for an error they did not commit?

            • Alf Kentigern Siewers says

              Matthew 25 indicates that by not doing something we are condemned. Like not doing an intervention for someone in trouble. In not doing something in this case, within the ecclesiastical organization, there is also, unintentionally, a new horizon of potential career opportunities for various folks from hierarchs to clergy to laity, due to a perceived vacuum in one part of the jurisdictional church structure. Thus they (as we all in other similar non-ecclesiastical situations) easily can move from being innocent bystanders to something worse. But I am guilty of much worse in the ways of sins of omission (and commission!), including writing about this now when I could be helping someone in some way or at least be in prayer, and I agree with you that all of this is unhealthy, Lord have mercy.

              • Chris Plourde says


                My simple point: The failure to do wrong is not something for which people should be criticized.

                The Synod did not depose the Metropolitan. The Synod did not act in violation of the Canons. The Synod did not embrace heresy.

                We need to keep our eyes on those fundamental truths, each and every one of which leads me, at least, to open my mouth in praise of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

                • But they have failed to protect the metropolitan and his ministry from vicious, unfair, and dishonest attacks by people in leadership positions within the church. This is very clear, an unavoidable truth at this point.

                  • Demonstrate this “unavoidable truth.” Make a list of these “vicious, unfair and dishonest attacks.” I realize this represents a nearly sacrosanct mantra among George’s Dittoheads, but I’m not Hindu and I don’t roll that way. Vain repetition seems unhelpful. It’s a basic tactic in propaganda campaigns and mere demagoguery.

                    I want to see the beef, Um. Itemize the evidence supporting your charge.

                    • I appreciate your concerns, Mike, but I think these things really have been discussed in depth already.

                      My humble suggestion is that you read more and write less for the next week. See if you can read through everything on the page and all the comments posted here during the last two months.

                      Then let me know what your thoughts are on this topic.

                      If you like, we could work on the definitive answer to your question. You could collect the data and send me a first draft, and I’ll edit it and we can present the final product for public comment. How does that sound?

                      In the meantime, I am going to have to take at least a week long sabbatical from any posts that require in depth researched responses on my part.

                    • Yup. You need to talk less and listen more Mikey.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Mike, resorting to slanders against people who don’t agree with you or slavishly follow Kommissar Stokoe doesn’t help your arguments any. As for calling people “dittoheads,” I find that those on the Left who resort to such contumely do so because they really don’t know what they’re talking about.

                      If you will allow me to dilate on this last tangent: I’m definately a fan of Rush Limbaugh, so are millions of other people. Not because they’re “brain-numbed robots” but people of conservative (i.e. classically liberal) temperament who love and are entertained by the lively conversation found on talk radio.

                      I fervently believe that the hatred directed towards Talk Radio is to some extent inversely proportional to the massive unpopularity of modern liberalism. As to the unpopularity of the secular/liberals, one only needs to look at all their attempts at creating an alternative media. All have failed. Miserably.

                      Your own attempts at trying to take down my criticisms of Stokoe have for the most part failed miserably as well as has the mental gymnastics you have to engage in to justify +Jonah-hatred.

                    • My take on news sources:

                      For the record, I detest Rush Limbaugh’s show, because I earnestly believe he has done tremendous harm to political discourse in this country. Limbaugh himself considers his show to be entertainment and not news or truly beneficial public commentary, but many people don’t see the distinction and rely on him for all their political information. I find his 3 hour long daily monologues to be an unhelpful format for political discourse regardless of the political bent. It is not an efficient way to get information or understand the issues, and it is detrimental to the development of transferable cognitive and rhetorical skills. I think contemporary liberals much prefer to hear genuine dialogue between multiple voices, based on the principle (Proverbs 27:17) that one mind sharpens another when it comes to such complex and abstract subject matter. I honestly do believe that I am seeing the negative cognitive consequences of having listened to the monologue format for hours on end in older people in this country. And though this was not the case in decades past, I do believe that there is a deep anti-intellectual streak and an underdevelopment of great minds and great discourse among at least Republicans in this country if not in fact all self-identified conservatives. There is a decreased ability to empathize and to engage in discussion about complex matters with those who hold differing opinions on virtually any subject matter. So it is not just a political problem but a habit of mind problem that ends up affecting all aspects of a person’s life, including family dynamics. Unfortunately, older people are most susceptible to these weaknesses and are also the ones who tend to have more time to listen to the show religiously. Some find the rhetorical style soothing, because if you tune out the words, the polemical style is reminiscent of the kinds of sermons one would have heard on the radio in younger years. If we didn’t live in a democracy, this wouldn’t matter as much as it does; but of course we do live in a democracy, and so we each have a responsibility to nurture the mind and be prepared to exercise our right to vote and our right to free speech for the benefit of all.

                      There are few sources of news and information on the radio as beneficial as NPR. Many NPR stations across the country do have a political bent, but there is still enough journalistic integrity and idealism on the news shows that they provide a genuine public service far greater than what Limbaugh provides. When they do have a discussion of political issues, they include multiple voices; so even if you don’t agree with the voices, you can at least develop some transferable cognitive and rhetorical abilities by listening to the discussion format. Unfortunately, there is no alternative source like this on the radio.

                      10-15 years ago when the mainstream media was dominated by a liberal bias and there were no alternative information sources with a balanced approach much less a conservative bias, Fox News came onto the cable market and provide a welcomed alternative to the likes of CNN, which had a rather off-putting, self-righteous liberal bent. In a very real sense, Fox News provided some fairness and balance at that time, when one took the cable news industry as a whole into account. But the quality of the political discourse in this country has plummeted since then, in part due to the increasing partisanship and stridency of Fox News and the decision of MSNBC to establish itself as the liberal Fox (and in part due to competition from talk radio and internet sources); Fox News and MSNBC have now established themselves as so intentionally biased as to be of minimal value to any person of goodwill. Ironically, CNN, originally one of the most liberally biased news sources out there (the raison d’etre for Fox News), has decided to differentiate itself from these two stations by providing some quality journalism and a much more rigorous and balanced approach to political discussion (although still with some of the fluff that PBS doesn’t have). If you want old fashioned news on cable today, your only real options are CNN and PBS.

                      I honestly do believe that listening to Limbaugh extensively, without input from a more rigorous source of news and political discussion, is spiritually damaging. There are several people I know who could do no single thing more beneficial to their lives, for themselves, their families, their churches, and their country, than to turn Limbaugh off and never listen to him again.

                      I also think that our country suffers from the lack of a viable “town square” or intellectual commons, the lack of a common national discourse that we can all build on in our local conversations. The 3 broadcast TV stations used to provide this with their evening news shows, but there is nothing like that in our country today. If Limbaugh, Fox News, or MSNBC serves as your intellectual commons for local political dialogue, then we all suffer as a nation; and if we do not all share (at least in part) the same intellectual commons, then we all suffer as a nation. I don’t know the long term solution, but I think we have to start by deblurring news and entertainment as much as possible. I think it is really important to the future of our civilization. So I encourage everyone I can to do the right thing for their country and turn Limbaugh off totally, turn Fox News and MSNBC off mostly, and put some honest effort into the search for a more useful source of real news to include in their daily intellectual diet.

                      That’s my honest take, for what it is worth.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      In response toum’s post# 89:

                      Although I agree with your assessment of Limbaugh I also believe its unfait to single him out as opposed to other Talk Radio shows hosts on the Left. The book “Toxic Talk” by Bill Press attempts to make the case that ONLY toxic talk comes from the Political Right. However, just recently, Ed “Big Daddy” Schultz called Laura Ingram a “Right-Wing Slut.” He apoligized for it, but Ed’s talk was “Toxic” Mr. Press’s book came out BEFORE Ed’s meltdown.

                      Then we have Norman Goldman who is just a vitriolic and toxic as Rush or Sean Hannity. A constant stream of “Republicons” and “Bozos'” and “Morons on the Right” just oze from their lips. The same can be said for Stephanie Miller and Rachel Maddow. yet we are told by the Political left that their is NO TOXIC Parity between the two. NOT TRUE.

                      Both sides are partisans, both sides do NOT engage in intellectual discussion or philosophical though as this type of thinking is not sutted to a talk radio format.

                      The charge that you make against “Older” people listening to Fox news is THE SAME EXACT CHARGE that can be made against Young people listening to MSNBC.

                      News needed to be, to some extent, unbiased. Why? Because if its not it polirizes and created false uninformed impressions in people’s minds.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Um, are you sure about NPR? I had to listen to that drivel once at a job I had because that’s what was the boss was listening to. It was worse than being waterboarded. It’s biases even back then (1988-89) were so apparent that a twelve year old could spot them.

                      The major beef that most Conservatives have against the MSM is not that it’s liberal/anti-American but that they are reflexively so. This is an important distinction.

                      Let me give you a case in point: there is no more regressive culture in the world today than political Islam. We’re talking misogyny, homosexual-loathing, anti-Judaistic at a culture’s worse. Got the Nazis beat by miles. Yet the MSM never once criticizes any of the tenets of Islam, even an iota.

                      Got to the BBC’s website and hit the search engine about Mohammed’s night journey to Mecca. It is standard Islamic boilerplate. No qualifiers, no “it is believed…”, etc. Just straight-up doctrine. Then go to what it says about the Resurrection. Nothing but qualilfiers. Over at MSNCB they’d throw in a gratuitous comment about the bombing of abortion clinics.

                      Since the time of Walter Cronkite, the anti-American/Christian bias has been par for the course for the MSM, hence the massive popularity of Right-wing talk radio.

                    • Give NPR another chance. Remember the primary purpose of a news program is to give you information, and 80-90% of what you hear will be good information. Programming will vary with the local station (shows devoted to “stories of gay kids coming out” seem to be more common in the southwest for some reason — but you can just change the channel if you find a fluff program like that). The national news programs are first rate, and many of the feature programs are quite good. Each show on NPR is independently syndicated, so it is not a monolith. But a good number of shows allow listeners to call and participate in conversations, both individual shows and local stations are responsive to listener feedback, and most have an audience that is very balanced in terms of political ideology/affiliation.

                      Most local stations and shows really do have democratic ideals. If you don’t like something you hear, call in or write and let them know. It is the closest thing we have to a town square right now.

                      If someone has a habit of listening to a lot of Limbaugh, I would recommend trying to give equal time to NPR for a month. If you listen to one for 30 minutes or an hour, then listen to the other for the same amount of time. Then re-evaluate at the end of that period. If a month is too oppressive, try for a week at least. It takes a period of time to adjust mentally from the entertaining monologue to the informative dialogue. I’ve observed several people go through this transformation. After a while, they begin to find the mental stimulation refreshing and find themselves reflexively coming back for more, even if they still tune in to Limbaugh for a little mind candy now and then.

                    • Um, been doing what you suggested over at Got some very bad news for you thus far. Reread that 13 Feb. “conspiracy e-mail” to All again, the one so infamous here. Was very disturbed, and not the way y’all are, either. Again, everything depends so much on the solidity and accuracy of the data. I’m beginning to be reminded of a poem by Blake. . .

                      Understand that I have been reading that site, as well as this crew and of course,, 02varv, and some others, for the past month — meaning almost everything, at all of them, plus back stuff. I was hardly a blank slate about this.

                  • Preemptive disclaimer: I’m not being willfully blind, I hope. I just think this kind of rhetoric, absent clearly presented evidence, is at best counterproductive hyperbole and at worst actionable libel.

                    • You keep thinking your the judge Mikey.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      As opposed to the wreckage committed by Stokoe? Our Church’s very autocephaly is now a joke thanks to him. It’s only a matter of time before the other churches break communion with us if things keep going the way they are.

                    • Um, that was a stellar take on contemporary American mass media, if you ask me. You and I are very much on the same page here. And naturally, right on cue, our illustrious host trots out — in a rather uncharacteristically stately saunter — one of America’s other bêtes noires of corrupt and corrupting infotainment. So predictably.

                      One of the many deeply disturbing things about Coulter is how she can get away with utterances that no man could ever let slip without suffering immediate exclusion, with extreme prejudice, even from our horrifying public square — even on “conservative” media, at least thus far. Although I anticipate worse —far worse —to come. She’s like the anti-Noam Chomsky that way. When live, her logorrhea schtick makes it next to impossible to get a rational, evidence-based, genuinely decent word in edgewise, so as to challenge her vertigo-inducing spin or confront her on her brazen lies. Very similar MO in many ways to that verbal thug Bill O’Reilly, synergistic, in the parallel faux-feminine mode. I’d go so far as to claim that this may even be scientifically researchable —a new field, though: male-female synergy in spiritual anthropology, with a sidetrip into a harder science analogue of physics. Optics, “illuminated” by the paraelectromagnetic spectrum of darkness.

                      Political porn. Filthy stuff, and almost no ethic of accountability with these people. They despise the most elementary integrity that would constrain any decent human being. In print, AC must be a lot more circumspect, even in our multifactorially corrupt media culture. This piece is one of her more level-headed efforts in that direction. I almost doubt she actually wrote it. I went to the source and found no link to the census report she glossed, which is typical, of course. I want to read it for myself, but no can do without effort. She no doubt takes for granted that her audience couldn’t be bothered. The print stuff occasionally suffices to paint a transient nail polish of very-low-common-denominator “respectability” on her gory claws.

                      Once, however, at the height of the “conservative,” War on Terra, “Mission Accomplished” euphoria, her filter fell off bigtime. Interestingly, this occurred in a very short print interview, a hybrid of the two usually separate media formats she frequents. Her exposure of herself was a sort of centerfold in “Time” magazine, published right after the propaganda run-up to and then invasion of Iraq, in a particularly heinous mode. I don’t think I had looked at “Time” for decades at that point, that I saw it at all was sort of a fluke. Someone had drawn my attention to the piece. This is a clinical specimen of political pornography about which I have no further comment, except to make the obvious follow-up. We knew he had weapons, of course, since we have the receipts. The only adult issue is what did he do with them. Well, it looks like they were destroyed. That’s what the evidence appears to suggest. But to these people, evidence is the scorned fetish of “cultural elitists.”

                      This thing is a sort of Rohrschach blot to me. I have a strong hunch that I won’t be waiting long for more psychological data to come my way . . .

                      George, where to begin with you?. . . How about with classical liberalism — deeply anti-Christian. The spirit at work in it: lawlessness, arguably, an essential hostility to the Gospel of Christ and a gradual throwing off of all restraints. At least, that’s been a major outcome of this ideology. And it is an ideology, George; I thought you didn’t like those much? When are certain Americans going to face the chasm between lawlessness and liberty? They are not the same thing. The first guarantees the extirpation of the latter. Lawlessness is of the essence of Antichrist, the ideology of the energeia of Sin. Elementary, my dear Watson. Prove me wrong.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, assertions are not arguments. For example, how is classical liberalism (aka Burkean conservatism) “anti-Christian”? Even if for the sake of argument you could trot out some deficiency in this system of thought (and there are deficiciencies in everything), how is Anglo-American jurisprudence, devotion to rule-of-law, privacy rights, freedom of speech/conscience, etc. anti-Christian? Compared to what? Marxism? Latin-American militarism? Bonapartism?

                      As for your challenge, I can’t prove you wrong. To do that, I would have to disbelieve in freewill. I would also have to accept premises which you posit that do not apply to me. In other words, I very much believe that license and liberty are two different things. They are as different as rape and normal marital relations.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Chris, the synod in many ways did far worse: they showed a complete lack of love towards our Metropolitan and allowed sick people to condemn him unceasingly. One or two of them have even disclosed private conversations to laymen of questionable character. One (Bp Mark) destroyed the livelihood of a priest, throwing him and his wife out onto the street while he himself continues to draw severance pay. They are presently trying to force some nuns out onto the street as well.

                  In other words, they have violated the Law of Love. What else is there? What can make up for this? Nothing. Hospitals and orphanages would not counterbalance these abominations. The most fundamental Christian witness was trampled underfoot. The bishops who did this should not even partake of Holy Communion less they drink condemnation unto themselves.

                  • Chris Plourde says


                    There have been more than enough violations of the Law of Love to go around.

                    +Jonah is recorded in the MC minutes as saying something similar to what I’ve been saying for a while: The war of words on the internet is doing damage and should be stopped by all participants.

                    It’s an exercise of our free will to focus on the light instead of the darkness, to affirm the Truth rather than attempting to condemn each lie one-by-one, and to always remember our own failings and that every one of us is unworthy of communion and entirely dependent upon the mercy of God as we consider the unworthiness of others.

                    It seems to me that +Jonah understands this and is trying to properly pastor this unruly American Church, clergy and laity alike, and that many of those who ignore him are, ironically, those who claim to be supporting him even as they do what he’s pointedly refused to do himself and what he’s explicitly stated should not be done.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Very well said, Chris. I applaud your insights and you acknowledgment that the only principal involved in this imbroglio who has been been innocent is in fact, His Beatitude.

                      To all: for the record, I do not speak for, nor have the ear of His Beatitude. He has no control nor has ever tried to exercise any influence upon this website. I am a lone gunslinger and speak only for myself. That I happen to believe that +Jonah is on the side of the angels in this is based purely on my observation of the facts. Where I make a mistake I will acknoweldge it.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Chris, we are ONE church. Its the right thing to do.


  9. Andrew Colias son of John Colias son of Vasilios Colias (formerly known as Displaced Lemming) says

    Dear Mr. Michalopulos and all commentators on this blog,

    I am forswearing further participation in this splenetic debate because it has revealed to me that the political partisans of the Orthodox Church in America are often persons with whose words my soul is sickened. It is to my shame and dismay that I realize I would not and could not safely share a parish with many of you. Nor do I find pleasure in belonging to the same jurisdiction as many of you, much less the same diocese as some of you. I shall leave you all with these final observations despite that it is plain to me that none care one whit what I think.

    Mr. Michalopulos, please reform your writing. You are too rude, too dismissive, and frankly a poor writer.

    OCA Truth, maybe I’m naive, which is rather likely, but it seems to me that your implied interpretation of events as the devious work of a homosexual cabal is more than a little paranoid. And incredible.

    Commentators on this blog, please be kinder to one another. Christ is the good shepherd who would give all to save a single sheep. Your words have almost driven me from the Church. How many others lose faith because of this struggle? Take greater care henceforth when you write. Words can kill.

    Finally, all you Orthodox out there, I love you, every one of you. But I cannot say that I like you.


    Andrew Colias son of John Colias son of Vasilios Colias (formerly known as Displaced Lemming)

    P.S. Now you know my name and you still don’t know who I am because names are just more words.

    • I take comfort, at least, in the fact that this entire web-log is just shouting in an echo chamber and doesn’t reflect the real world. I hope you can, too. There’s much more to the world than the people shouting on web-logs. Much more.

      • I will freely admit to being a self-righteous shrieking banshee with no social life.

        But I can’t imagine what kind of person would just randomly drop into a discussion to wag the finger at everybody for discussing an issue of mutual interest.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      You’re sounding awful judgmental here Grandson of Lemming. Didn’t you get the memo that we’re all supposed to be “tolerant” of each other? Not to judge people and all that?

    • Oh Displaced Lemming/Andrew son of Andrew,

      I really took a lot from your posts, but totally understand if you need to leave. The entire affair is wearing, but will not take my love of Christ or fellow-man from me.

      God be with you.

    • Andrew Colias wants readers of this blog to know that a lot of them make him so sick he couldn’t stand to be in the same parish as them, and can barely stand to be in the same diocese/jurisdiction as them. He wants George to know that he thinks George is a bad writer. He wants OCATruthers to know that he thinks they are paranoids. But then he writes…

      “Commentators on this blog, please be kinder to one another. Christ is the good shepherd who would give all to save a single sheep. Your words have almost driven me from the Church. How many others lose faith because of this struggle? Take greater care henceforth when you write. Words can kill.”

      I’m sorry, but this is crazy … but crazy in a very Orthodox way. It’s funny to see how often a commenter on an Orthodox blog will start out by saying something like, “Christ is risen!”, then proceed to rip the heart out of their opponent. Or they’ll rip the heart out of their opponent, then write something like, “Forgive me, an unworthy sinner.” This must be the Orthodox version of what Southerners are rumored to say in a hypocritical attempt to take the venom out of their poisonous insults — “bless her heart.”

      Andrew Colias, bless his heart, sure does seem screwed-up and in pain. Welcome to the club, Mister C., but please have enough self-awareness to understand that it’s not very credible to trash people with harsh words and then tell them to be careful not to trash people with harsh words.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      “your implied interpretation of events as the devious work of a homosexual cabal is more than a little paranoid. And incredible. . . . Commentators on this blog, please be kinder to one another.”

      Well, all right, I suppose, if the ascription of paranoia is an expression of enhanced kindness.

      I hope I may benefit from this kindness, since I suspect there really is “a homosexual cabal” in this opposition to the Metropolitan.

    • Nicole Troon says

      Dear Andrew,

      I value you highly as a person and know you as one. I can’t help but wonder if any of the persons commenting in reply to your courageous and forthright post would speak to you in person, after knowing you awhile, exactly as they have here. The medium may be a great deal of the problem, Andrew, compounded by the anonymity of some. In real conversation we don’t give one-liners and we can know the good intent and sensitivity of the other and can see their expressions and know their life challenges, strengths, weaknesses. And of course so much hurt gets traded back and forth that we all become reactive easily without such helpful reminders of the image of Christ in one another. I am glad you are doing what is best for you in this debate. I am saddened that some do not realize the kind of person who has been alienated and hurt by these exchanges. It is a real loss to the discussion. May you find healing and greater faith from your decision. God transforms everything into good and may He do that quickly for thee.

      I am glad to talk anytime on any topic if you ever wish. Perhaps on a porch?

      Love in Christ,

    • Seraphimista says

      For you who don’t attend St. Seraphim’s parish, please be aware that Andrew is a college student. His youth partially accounts for his rashness and stridency.

    • Aw, get over yourself.

  10. Ivan Vasiliev says

    I am surprised to read Carl Kraef’s rather over the top response to George’s “letter”. This is a blog site and the “letter” contains some of the hyperbole one would expect. However, the content seems to be right on. I think we need to use terms like “schismatic” more carefully. I don’t see George arguing for the creation of a church out of communion with the OCA, though I can see the OCA moving itself in that direction ( or perhaps, better, off the diptychs) vis a vis mainline Orthodoxy if it doesn’t back off a bit from its antics over the Metropolitan.
    What we have here is an example of a small, historically dysfunctional, family in crisis. It is an embarrassing distraction from the mission of Orthodoxy on this continent. In spite of the constant affirmations of “autocephaly” the OCA makes for itself and demands from others (and actually gets from Moscow), we are far more like a small child throwing a tantrum in a sandbox than an adult trying to cope with a serious moral and spiritual crisis. I’d say it is time to grow up, but the fact is, we really are a small child in the world of Orthodoxy and you can’t expect a small child to be an adult. It’s time for someone to take us by the hand and get us out of the sandbox. My suggestion is that our spiritual Mother, the Orthodox Church of Russia, does exactly that and the sooner the better. We are beginning to attract attention to ourselves and that isn’t acceptable. Children throwing tantrums in restaurants, stores, and playgrounds are removed by thoughtful parents. There is no subtlety intended in this hint. MP–wake up!

  11. Pox on All Houses says

    Yeah – puttin’ some hate on the homos is a fine positive rallying cry from a bunch of Calvinist Dominionist converts who are already of spotty reliability on actually sticking around in parishes. Bigger, better, nastier culture wars is an awesome doctrine to build on.

    Turning the agenda and some leadership roles over to them has wrought predictable results. It shrinks down the numbers to a more screechy core of pious pharisees, an open goal that I’ve heard from any number of hardnosed clerics and the psychopaths who fund them.

    Its worked so well for the Roman Catholic Church, given the church attendance shrinkage among literate demographics over the past 30 years. Mainline Protestantism is pretty much moribund, their congregations smaller and disinterested – most of those dropped out entirely while the nuttier among them are now going to the sheep-stealing megachurches in the South and West.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Pox, no one here is “putting on hate” on the gays. I’m not. I want all struggling sinners such as myself to come to the Lord. You can’t do that though if you don’t think you’re a sinner.

      And as for your example of the RCC, you inadvertently make my point. It is the fact that at least 25% of RCC priests in America are homosexual that the pederest scandal erupted. As to why it got so pervasive in Catholicism I posited the concept of the Dumping Ground. If you or anybody has a better idea, I’m game.

      I merely pointed that we Orthodox had our own version of the Dumping Ground. That’s how we got will-o-the-wisps like Theodosius to be elected primate when he was hands-down defeated by a real man (+Dmitri). That’s how Kondratick could rule with an iron fist as Chancellor for so long, because he had a weak metropoliltan and enough compromised bishops to do his bidding. And Stokoe even admitted that this is how he maintains control over the central administration.

      Recipe for success? We’re still paying for this mess. But like the beaten wife who all she knows is the drunken rages of her abusive husband because she doesn’t deserve anything better, I guess we’ll justify our actions by saying to the cops “I just fell down the stairs.”

      • Pox on All Houses says

        George, you run an honest blog, I’ll grant you that, and it is appreciated.

        A couple of things, and then its time for me to earn my shekels today.

        1. I’ll repeat to the heavens my feeling that Stokoe is an odious personality who is harming as opposed to helping the OCA situation.

        2. Characters like Stokoe don’t arise in a vacuum – divisive acts, recklessly considered political involvement and culture war proclamations feed a Stokoe a power beyond the normal. Sure, any organization is going to have some fecal flingers, but usually, those are contained groups. What you have here is beyond that – you’ve got weird self-serving alliances popping up, the self-aggrandizing power seeking moves of Maymon in collaborating with Stokoe (and I’m pretty certain that Maymon does not share Stokoe’s personal agenda) and a crisis in leadership that will not resolve itself. Quite frankly, I am going to blame the culture war focus on the part of converts who simply wanted to graft the liturgy of Orthodoxy onto the usual Southern/Western garbage dump of ‘Murkan exceptionalism. Given the recent racial history of the localities from which most recent Fundamentalist/Evangelical converts, I’d have thought that a lot of humility and soul searching regarding the actions and cowardice by the beloved parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents would have been in order – instead, what they’ve worked hard at creating is a shrinking Southern Baptist Convention with pretty robes, chants and smells. Worse, allowing folks of that mindset leadership positions and quick ordinations and elevations was, as always, like handing a 16 year old boy keys to a Jaguar and a 12 pack of beer.

        3. I bring up the RCC for this reason – even before the news of the scandals broke, parishes were closing all over in heavily Catholic cities. As somebody with a substantial amount of Catholic education and a large number of Catholic friends, the complaint I was hearing was that the priests had no real knowledge of or connection with the daily realities of ordinary life, and were talking past them – whether it be the old codger who wanted o prattle on about the evils of this or that, or the young guy crusading about social justice, there was simply no real reason to come and hear the same things repeated over and over that did not bear on real life. Combine that with outmigration, the diminishment in vocations due to the increase in overall economic activity and the huge increase in parochial school budgets due to fewer clerical teachers, and the numbers fell – hard. The scandals helped seal the deal faster, but the trajectory was already writ in stone.

        4. What it all gets down to is this – culture warring slaughters the notion of community. You want to preserve the OCA? Bring it back to that – go to the hings you hold in common as opposed to the things you hate.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Pox, thank you for your honest response. I will think on them before commenting if you don’t mind. I appreciate very much the fact that you are acting in good faith. That’s all I’ve ever asked about people in this situation.

          Just so I can clear the record: I and other +Jonah supporters have not viewed this as all black or white. We’ve taken HB to task for some of his actions or inactions. He himself has admitted his mistakes.

          I actually think that a new equilibrium has been established over the past few weeks and considering how well HB was treated by the other bishops at the EA, I think the OCA may have turned a corner.

          Still, I’ll get back to you when I’ve given your arguments due consideration.

      • Are you kidding me? says

        It is the fact that at least 25% of RCC priests in America are homosexual that the pederest scandal erupted.

        I suppose you have PROOF for this alleged “fact”? But proof doesn’t seem to be this blog’s strong suit.

        Oh, and BTW: At least we publish our studies, e.g., the John Jay Study. While SMPAC has yet to see the light of day. Mmmm, love that superior OCA transparency.

        BTW, we Catholics had a record number of adult converts at Easter Vigil this year. So much for our shrinking numbers. Heck, we have parishes that are bigger than the entire OCA.

        Moreover, our church closings are mainly confined to the northeast and parts of the midwest. Here in the South, we cannot build new churches fast enough.

        Just setting the record straight.

        At least OCAN doesn’t go in for gratuitous Catholic-bashing…..

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          RUKM: This issue on this blog is not about the numbers of converts to Catholicism. You are trying to argue from a lateral move that does not address the issue at hand.

          If the RCs are growing, good for them! As I’ve said many times, I have a great love for the Roman Church and am a great admirer of the present Pontiff.

          Having said that, my sentiments and your answer are completely beside the point. My concern is the present decrepitude within certain factions the American Orthodox episcopate, clerical circles, and lay leadership.

          I can assure that based on the last 16 years (i.e. post-Ligonier), the Toxic Culture has done much to debase and debilitate American Orthodoxy. The GOA did it with the ouster of +Iakovos, the AOCNA did it with the debacle of Palm Desert, and the Stokovites are doing it in the OCA with the attempted lynching of +Jonah.

          I can assure you that Orthodox numbers were not as robust this past Easter as you say they were in the RCC. If however you think that having an active and blatant homosexual clergy is the antitode to our present crisis, then I must ask you why ECUSA is dwindling?

      • Joseph Clarke says

        While I’m under no illusions that facts will change the minds of convinced homophobes, I feel it necessary to speak up on two points of apparent confusion:

        1. The implication that homosexuality had some causal role in the RCC’s sexual abuse scandal is woefully misinformed. Indeed, for whatever it’s worth, the recent comprehensive study conducted by John Jay College found that abuse actually decreased during the periods when more gays were in the Catholic priesthood. Please see the reporting in the New York Times and the Washington Post.

        2. Mark Stokoe has never, to my knowledge, taken a public position defending homosexuality, gay rights, DADT repeal, etc. If anybody can find a single statement he’s made on any social/moral issue, for that matter, I invite you to post it. The fact is that he has resolutely avoided turning his website into a forum for culture war advocacy on either side. Any suggestion that he has a “gay agenda” therefore comes across as a combination of extreme paranoia and ad hominem opportunism.

        • Ian James says

          Second, the researchers found no statistical evidence that gay priests were more likely than straight priests to abuse minors — a finding that undermines a favorite talking point of many conservative Catholics. The disproportionate number of adolescent male victims was about opportunity, not preference or pathology, the report states.

          Hmm. Adolescent males are the largest group of victims, yet they are equally abused by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike. Is that the conclusion? If so, it hardly exonerates the homosexual priests. Instead is implies all Catholic priests are potentially equal opportunity abusers. Not sure if this was the reporters intention but on the other hand maybe it was.

          I’d wait for objective analysi and rely less on news reports before I started pointing the homophobe finger if I were you.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Joseph, would you please define what you mean by the term homophobic? For example, does your understanding of the word include any and all statements that homoerotic behavior is a sin and that sexual attraction to members of the same gender is a sinful temptation? Does it include being oblivious to the fact that there is homosexual agenda, the goal of which is to have society accept homoerotic behavior as completely normal and to punish anyone who does not accept that normality?

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Joseph, first, I reject your neologism of “”homophobe.” It is a word without meaning. If you mean “gay-basher” then I assure I am not. I for one have no problem with men of homosexual tendancies serving in the priesthood. The Roman Church on the other hand has permanently closed their priesthood to all men of such inclination.

          Some may think that this is a case of closing the barn door once the horse has left. Perhaps it is. Instead of reading The New York Times, I would suggest instead that you read Michael S Rose’s excellent book Goodbye, Good Men, in which he gives chapter and verse on the homosexualization of the Roman priesthood in America during the immediate post-Vatican II period.

    • Now you are claiming that Stokoe is a “Calvinist Dominionist”?

      Never thought of it that way, but there is some internal consistency to the claim, at least as I understand your definition.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        No, I’m not. I’m saying that Stokoe is a reprehensible clown whose existence wouldn’t even be on the radar were it not for the deterioration of the spirit of community brought about by culture warriors. Guys like him need discord to thrive, kind of like a vampire needs blood. My hurried missive above didn’t convey everything I wanted it to, but that happens at times.

        • you are right with your discription of MS

        • So you think Stokoe’s tale of “sound and fury, signifying nothing” will do no harm to your church if left unchecked?

          You do know that Stokoe’s objective is not simply to get more readers for his blog, right? You do understand what his objective is, right?

          Don’t you think it is disingenuous to criticize those in your church who want to prevent him from accomplishing that?

          Why can’t your bishops just remove him (and anyone else who has conspired against the metropolitan) from church government and restore order in the church. Then you could all go back to your quiet lives, couldn’t you?

          • Pox on All Houses says

            I said it elsewhere, and I’ll repeat it here. Socially and politically, the past 10 years have seen me go so far left that compared to me, Obama is a rabid right winger. When it comes to me and religious dogma, compared to me, Unitarians are fanatics.

            In light of all that, given what Stokoe has done, were I a Bishop, I’d see to it that Stokoe were barred from even stepping foot onto OCA property. Priests would be directed to inform him that any attendance at any liturgy would be trespassing, and I would hold them to it, as this is even stronger than excommunication. What he’s done goes beyond mere advocacy for certain positions (some of which I might even find myself agreeing with), but in doing that, he’s attacked the core leadership functions of the institution, thereby damaging it in ways that cannot be undone. In other words, I don’t have to like what the OCA hierarchy is focusing on in order to see the (I think) even greater harm brought about by Stokoe’s core meddling.

            • Anonymous says


              Sounds like a move out of +Phillip’s playbook. So I wonder if one of +Jonah’s “rookie” blunders was not to use +Phillip’s complaints to have Stokoe silenced. I would bet he is regretting that one too.

              • Silencing Stokoe at Metropolitan Philip’s request would have allowed another bishop to interfere in the OCA administration, creating a nasty precedent. Also, remember that +Philip was using the Antiochian seminarians at SVS and STS as hostages, threatening to uproot their lives and educations if +Jonah didn’t do what he said. He’d already done this to the entering first-years, and was threatening to do the same to the second- and third-years.

                Stokoe’s tactic, of course, was to remind them that if he were no longer on the MC, so too would he no longer be bound by the rules of executive session, and be free to leak like a sieve whatever anyone told him. Also, what he was posting about Metropolitan Philip was not made up out of whole cloth. The problem with silencing Stokoe is that it’s always going to look like the silencer did it to cover up some “truth” that Stokoe was sitting on, whether said “truth” is real or lies. In this case, there were, and remain, legitimate concerns about Metropolitan Philip’s actions with regard to the bishops.

                What would you do if you were Metropolitan Jonah, trapped as he was between two bullies?

                I think he made the best decision he could under the circumstances, which was to not be bullied into removing Stokoe. This may appear that +Jonah was letting the Antiochian seminarians swing in the breeze, but in reality I think it protected them more than anything, because right on cue, the faculty of SVS went and paid homage to Lord Philip on behalf of the hostaged seminarians, which kept him from being able to follow through on his threat. The failure of the threat also meant that +Philip could not use them in a similar way in the future.

                So no seminarians were harmed, and +Philip was denied leverage against the OCA. Stokoe remaining on the Metropolitan Council turned out to be a much heavier price than they realized at the time, I’m sure, but I think the best choice was made.

                (I’m not trying to insult Holy Cross in all this, but I think it definitely qualifies as a hostile and harmful action to force SVS/STS seminarians to move there in the middle of their degree programs. One of the first-years who was forced to move had already moved to Crestwood and had a wife giving birth at the time +Philip forced him to withdraw and move to Brookline.)

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Helga, thanks for reminding us of that extreme unpleasantness. Like Stokoe back then, I took +Philip to task for his bullying tactics. I think they were completely unbecoming a primate. I’ll even go further and state that what he did to Bp Mark was unjustified, my present complaints about Mark notwithstanding.

                • These threats that Stokoe has publicly admitted to using in private. Could any of these be prosecuted in court as blackmail cases at this point?

    • Michael Bauman says

      Pox, ….and your solution is to simply accept everything without protest? Might work if we really emphasized the traditional spiritual practices of the Church in the midst of it, but my experience is that most folks who protest against the criticism of the cultrure don’t want any part of the deep, demanding, rigor of genuine Orthodox practice either.

      I hope you are not one of those.

      • Pox on All Houses says

        Think of it like this – in the “old country”, you went to your village church. Some edifices were poor and simple, some were grand. Those in the city pretty much stuck to their parish church out of a matter of convenience due to travel time. Demographically, the populace was of one faith structure, and your priest interacted with the families in the congregation, and all the families were known factors to the other families.

        What do you think happened with gay people then? Sure, there would be a few pariahs due to their belonging to inconsequential families, but would the “bachelor uncle” of a liked, wealthy or powerful family be the object of scolding, scorn and ridicule? Would the pregnant and unmarried daughter of the boyar be the subject of denunciation from the priests and bishops?

        For that matter, in the open and plural societies of North America and Western Europe, how many families with gay sons or pregnant unweds will happily and willingly stay in a congregation in which beloved family members are insulted from the lectern in front of the Royal Doors?

        Do you really want those people excluded from your supposed community of faith? Because a culture wars focus is what will bring about that exclusion.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Pox, I was serious. A focus on traditional Orthodox spiritual practice (which includes a preaching of the Gospel on sexual, financial, etc. immorality) would allow us not to focus on the legal/political aspects of the culture wars. However, we would be involved even more deeply in the fight with the hedonistic nihilism that is forming our wider culture and impinging on the Church–not less. The involvement might not take the ‘political’ form, but we would be involved. Chrisitan life is a battle. We are involved in it whether we want to be or not. The Church is not on some island free from the sins and temptations of the wider world. In fact, those temptations and resulting sins can be intesified inside the Church. The fact that Jesus became fully man in the Incarnation and still is fully man guarantees this.

          You’re speculative presentism (with a cloak of historicity) is fallacious: I don’t care a whit how folks dealt the the issues in the past if the manner of delaing was not in concord with the practice and the teaching of the Church. Among other things your analysis assumes (wrongly) that a Calvinistic legalism is the only way to deal with sin in the Church. Sin in an integral part of who we are as fallen human beings and what the grace of God heals in us so that we can become more human. That is the Orthdox approach (when done correctly). Ignoring persistent unrepentance no matter what the form the apathy takes is wrong; damaging both to the community and the persons in the community. The Bible says to leave homosexuals and those of like sins (Romans 1) alone (outside the Body). I’d love to do that, but when they are actively seeking to destroy the fabric of the Church and set up a false idol? Sorry. Can’t ignore that.

          • Pox on All Houses says

            Your view is a monastic one. While that is fine in the context of some of the pietistic writings (say, of St Isaac the Syrian or some of the Desert Fathers, but even then only in times of active repression), I can’t subscribe to the generalized malaise and misery which your view would require that Orthodox Christians in the sphere of the laity should adhere to. This is particularly so in the open, plural and economically mobile societies of Europe, North America, Australia, Southern Africa or emerging economies in Central America and the southern reaches of South America.

            I’d also go as far as to say that the moanin’ and groanin’ about hedonistic nihilism is overblown as well – if anything, the current openness in society has helped to tamp down the wretched pharisaic excesses previously enjoyed by men of great spiritual and temporal authority, many of whom used their public piety as a bludgeon to gain more for themselves while engaging in the very conduct they decried.

            If anything, the current level of openness have made the hypocrisy impossible.

            As to your interpretation, most of the laity of the more ethnic patriarchates operating in North America would reject that view – and if that becomes the dominant view in the OCA (I submit that it isn’t, not even at this juncture), you’ll find yourself struggling to maintain enough membership to maintain your physical plants.

            Now that I’m done spouting off dim (and possibly mischaracterized) recollections of sources I’ve not read for over a decade, I’ll turn the floor back over to other commenters, lest somebody gain the mistaken belief that I’m a deep thinker or something.

            • A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

              Excuse me, you consider the Fathers of the Church pietistic??? You attempt to relegate monasticism to some peripheral marginality? Monasticism is at the core of Orthodox daily practice and spirituality as are the writings of St. Isaac the Syrian and the rest of the Desert Fathers.

              • In 96
                A. Arganda (Rymliani
                “Monasticism is at the core of Orthodox daily practice and spirituality”
                The great Orthodox theologian of the last century, Paul Evdokimov, proposed Orthodox lay spirituality as “interiorized monasticism.”

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I have to agree with A. Arganda. She is absolutely correct. A return to a more traditional form of Orthodoxy is actually on the rise among the young Orthodox across jurisdictional lines. The malasie you espouse is NOT the norm for Orthodox, and we need to, and are, re-evangelizing ouselves. Now, if we could get our act together in America we could re-evangelize America.

          • Chris Plourde says


            I think you’ve put this exactly right:

            A focus on traditional Orthodox spiritual practice (which includes a preaching of the Gospel on sexual, financial, etc. immorality) would allow us not to focus on the legal/political aspects of the culture wars. However, we would be involved even more deeply in the fight with the hedonistic nihilism that is forming our wider culture and impinging on the Church–not less.

            Spiritual illness will never be cured by even the most godly lawyers or politicians. The most lawyers and politicians can do is to sanction the symptoms of spiritual illness, and even then they get into pointless debate cycles because they ignore the root of the problems.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              Spiritual illness will never be cured by even the most godly lawyers or politicians. The most lawyers and politicians can do is to sanction the symptoms of spiritual illness, and even then they get into pointless debate cycles because they ignore the root of the problems.

              Well, yes, but…

              There has to be a clear and unequivocal defense of the moral tradition in the public square, and this defense has to be done by religious leaders. Why? Because religion is the ground of culture. Culture is vivified by religion. The deepest precepts about human interaction, value, meaning and so forth are necessarily religious in character. Culture carries them forward, but these precepts have a grounding deeper than the culture itself.

              Politics, debate, etc. draw from the culture, and while it is true that politics follows culture, it is not true that decisions politicians and other leaders make have no bearing on the direction culture will take. It’s true that that politicians cannot cure the sickness of the soul. It is not true that they are powerless to impede the ramifications, and thus the spread within the culture, of that sickness. That’s why we have laws against rape, molestation, thievery, and so forth.

              The great cultural questions (which are primarily anthropological in character) have two dimensions: 1) the personal, and 2) the ideological. Different considerations apply to each. To the first we must exercise what we could call (considering this audience) the pastoral considerations. The second is more dicey because this approach has already incorporated anthropological assumptions about the questions that a Christian simply cannot accept. It often goes against the moral tradition. Abortion/euthanasia or gay rights are obvious examples.

              The complaint against Met. Jonah then, is a complaint that has to be addressed not only to him, but every other Orthodox leader (we will overlook the non-Orthodox leaders for the moment) who has addressed these grave cultural questions in unequivocal and very public terms. You can find reams of just such statements on my blog. Just today I posted something from Archpriest Andrew Phillips of England who warns that National Health System in England is fostering euthanasia (see: A Russian Orthodox Priest Speaks Out Against Britain’s Culture of Death). He doesn’t mince his words:

              After 1945 we were to be provided by the Welfare State with care ‘from the cradle to the grave’. Instead, it rather looks as though, with legalised abortion on demand and creeping euthanasia, we are being provided with death from the cradle to the grave.


              The Western culture of death is the culture of suicide. Does the Western – and Westernised – world want to live or want to die? I know where I stand.

              This kind of frank talk really gets under the skin of the liberal Orthodox. They want everyone to remain as silent as they are. Yet their silence is in fact acquiescence to the moral intimidation of the cultural ideologue. It causes more confusion and thus more suffering as the sickness of the soul that we both see as needing remedy spreads even further into the culture.

              Like George said above, Met. Jonah understands this. So do Pat. Kyrill, Met. Hilarion, Bp. Isaiah (GOA), and scores of others. They hear the complaints about engaging the culture wars and the implicit demand that they should remain quiet, but they ignore it because, well, they know better. I am sure though, that on a pastoral level, their words to a person struggling with the sin they speak about in public are different.

              So while your assessment that “Spiritual illness will never be cured by even the most godly lawyers or politicians” is true to a point, it does not really address why religious leaders need to speak to the larger culture. Even the cultural despisers know the power of religion in culture. That’s why they pour so much money into the religious institutions that carry forward their message (usually liberal Christians since they have a terminal unwillingness to label sin as sin). Just this week George Soros donated money to the National Council of Churches (are you listening GOA and OCA bishops?).

              I clarify these ideas further in my article: Orthodox Leadership in a Brave New World.

              • The second is more dicey because this approach has already incorporated anthropological assumptions about the questions that a Christian simply cannot accept. It often goes against the moral tradition. Abortion/euthanasia or gay rights are obvious examples.

                Please attend in particular to the bolded remarks, Father, in their context. What exactly are you saying? Are you asserting that a Christian “simply cannot accept” “gay rights,” because to do so would countenance an alien “ideology” rife with dubious anthropological assumptions? What does “gay rights” mean, to you? Please explain yourself.

                Do you equate accepting “gay rights” (whatever that may mean) with accepting the cold-blooded killing of a developing fetus, or euthanasia? Would you also oppose the “rights” of the crippled, the developmentally disabled, the physically or mentally (or rationally. . .) diseased — or, for that matter, those of the hypocritical?

                Your words are very abstract indeed, Father.

                Would you assert, on the identical basis (the Orthodox tradition and the anthropology and cosmology derived from it), that Christians simply cannot accept the teaching of modern integrated biology and modern cosmology? That we have to go all the way with the Fathers, most of whom explicitly taught that Creation occurred over 6 calendar days, about 6000 years ago? If not, why not?

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  Your comments are all over the map Mike. There’s no coherence here. Try to craft some specific questions so I can provide specific answers.

                • In 99
                  Mike says:

                  “…Fathers, most of whom explicitly taught that Creation occurred over 6 calendar days, about 6000 years ago”

                  I don’t think that that is correct because the Fathers were not “Fundamentalist,” solely believing in a literalist interpretation of scripture. The ones I’ve read wrote that there are many levels of understanding of holy scripture with comprehension depending on the purity of one’s nous. Many of the “Alexandrian School” even favored a symbolic interpretation of it. However, they knew what “one day is like one thousand in the eyes of the Lord” meant and inplied.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Mike, Nikos is completely right about this. Some of the Fathers were what we would call today Young Earth Creationists but many had far more nuanced views of creation.

                    Besides, to use this as a cudgel against them for their beliefs about other things is illogical. All of the Fathers accepted the “scientific” theories of biogenesis as propounded by Aristotle and other pagan scientists. Same with the now-dubious medical and anatomical theories of Galen and Hippocrates.

                    • Once again, George, as so often, you read what simply isn’t there. I venerate the Fathers. I asked Fr. J. a specific question, citing a specific problem in what has come down to us from the patristic patrimony, with no intention whatsoever of using the lack of knowledge, in their day, of the science relevant to this matter as a “cudgel against” the Fathers. You dishonor me to say so.

                      I’m guessing that I’m far more intimately aware than you are of the beautifully nuanced views of many of the Fathers on this and other questions. Much of their thought is utterly sublime, and magnificent. But they were still human, and therefore subject at times to error or imprecision, in particular when they trespassed onto the domain of premature scientific speculation. Obviously.

                      You merely make my point. No Patristic consensus in the Fathers with respect to interpreting the two Creation accounts, except of course in the broadest dogmatic terms. Their writings are rich in fascinating and thought-provoking theologoumena, here as elsewhere. This is just a fact.

                    • George, I suppose you have the right to censor me, as you’ve done with a couple of hard-hitting observations that you, and/or Fr. J., chose not to permit a hearing on your list.

                      One of them, to Nikos, was a bit snarky, it’s true, but I meant every word of it. Still do.

                      The one addressed to Fr. Reardon seems to have hit more than one set of nerves. But I’m not particularly surprised about that. I meant every word of it, too. For the record.

                      The one addressed to Fr. Jacobse, in response to that wherein he had trumpeted his good deeds (which are indeed most admirable and which I’m certain are blessed by God and clearly demonstrate his righteous obedience, in this respect, to His Son, in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, and I rejoice in it) — something we could all do, I suppose — was strong and harsh. But I’ve explained myself to you both, privately. I hope and pray that I was heard.

                      Anyway, I’ll try to restrain my ire and my powerful propensity to go for the jugular when I get a whiff of hypocrisy. I’ve always been like that, and I’m too old to change now.
                      I suppose I could refine my zeal in this respect. I’m far from being without sin and hypocrisy myself. It goes without saying that I’m an expert in this subject: when I blame myself publicly as the chief of sinners, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. This is a true witness.

                      Please pray for me, the sinner.

              • Pox on All Houses says

                Pardon me if I remain unimpressed, Pere. Your reasoning skills are uninspired, and appear to spring from the same murky well that spawned the so-called thoughts of Chesterton and Huxley.

                Said simply, you create the tautology of what you personally deem yucky or gross, and then utter your proclamation that the all-powerful almighty hates it, all while impugning the motives and integrity of anyone who disagrees with you.

                It fits that you’ve apparently published things to Horowitz’ yellow sheet, as I’m struggling to find info on the last time you’ve had the responsibility of a parish and it appears that you instead while away your days babbling to right wingers on the internet.

                Perhaps you could advise as to you current parish status and income sources? Also, if you could explain why it appears that you were released to Antioch by the Greeks? Thanks in advance.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  I’ve been writing for years Pox. I’ve been published all over, St. Paul Pioneer Press, International Herald Tribune, Breakpoint, Front Page, Discovery Institute, Town Hall, and other places, and republished even more. Just Google my name. Many of my essays are listed here. My most recent was a book review for the Acton Institute (Constantine and the Great Transformation).

                  I am a moral and cultural conservative.

                  Here’s my current parish: St. Peter Orthodox Mission.

                  Why was I “released”? I requested it. I’m not one of those priests willing to uproot their family on short notice. Met. Phillip agrees as it turns out. Turnover in the Antiochian Archdiocese is a lot less than in the GOA.

                  Income sources? It’s not really any of your business but I am resourceful. Apart from my parish, I’m now what people call a tent-maker priest. I supplement my income with other work, including web design, writing, editing, and so forth. Some of the newer website designs you see of Orthodox parishes are through Logos Web Services which I run with Fr. John Peck. We designed such sites as Journey to Orthodoxy, Preacher’s Institute, numerous church sites, and so forth. (Contact me if you need a website. Our prices our good.)

                  Occasionally I do some public speaking. Not too long ago I debated an atheist at the University of Maryland. That raised considerable ire in the atheist ranks as the videos viraled through it.

                  Those are the answers to your questions. Now to your conclusion:

                  Said simply, you create the tautology of what you personally deem yucky or gross, and then utter your proclamation that the all-powerful almighty hates it, all while impugning the motives and integrity of anyone who disagrees with you.

                  Lay out your reasoning Pox. All you have given us is sentiment, the wag of a disapproving finger. That’s not good enough.

                  • I think it’s time to stop feeding Mike. Let him go to his greener pastures if he so desires.

                    • Correct. Men with Mike’s proclivities feed on rage. You cannot have a meaningful exchange with him, because it all comes down to him yelling, “YOU’RE A BI-I-I-GOT!” The mistake lots of people make is assuming that Mike’s side will be happy with tolerance. They demand full acceptance, and they won’t stop until they’ve stamped out everything that denies it to them. Yet still, deep in their hearts, they’ll know they’re wrong — and that will enrage them even more.

                    • lexcaritas says

                      Truer words were never spoken re our angry brother Mark, than by Helga, Esse and Joseph. It’s time to take action, George: his screeds do not add glory to the website, where many of us are trying to distinguish fact from fiction and discern together a way to beautify and edify Christ’s Church.

                      One cannot reason with a person whose anger is so deep and asks for forgiveness while continuing to spew venom and ire-driven, mocking questions.

                      On the other hand, I do want the thank Fr. Patrick Reardon and Fr. Hans Jacobse for their comments–espcecially Fr. Hans’ in direct reply. He makes such an important point to Chris, I think that a different response may be called for in pastoral circumstances that vis-a-vis the culture and its gate-keepers.


                    • I think it’s time to stop feeding Mike. Let him go to his greener pastures if he so desires.

                      Helga, those would be Lavender Fields, not greener pastures….. I reckon.

                    • I still say greener pastures, because there’s so much manure available. 🙂

                    • …..because there’s so much manure available. 🙂

                      You’ve got me there…. Lavender loves alkaline soil and very little manure. So, I guess, greener pastures it is…. 🙂

                • Pox: It sounds to me like you need to take a long break from here. I advice taking a long walk outside in nature, in the woods or somewhere like that.
                  (All the while practicing the Jesus Prayer if you are so inclined.)

                  • remembering all the while:
                    “First remove the beam from your own eye, ….”

                • Patrick Henry Reardon says

                  Pox inquires of Father Hans Jacobse:

                  “Perhaps you could advise as to you current parish status and income sources? Also, if you could explain why it appears that you were released to Antioch by the Greeks?”

                  This string of arrogant, unwarranted questions is all the more ironic, inasmuch as it emanates from anonymous source.

                  George, I have no idea who this Pox character is, but he adds no luster to the quality of the blog site.

                  • Fr. Pat:
                    I’m wondering if it should be “ditto” for Mike also (see #120 above).

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Pox, I’m sorry, but your personal insults to Fr Hans is completely uncalled for. If anybody wants to take me on (and even call me names), I’ll accept it in the spirit of free and open debate. But I cannot allow one of my correspondents to be so abused. I won’t even allow anybody to malign you.

                      Until further notice, I’m requesting that you take some time off.

              • Chris Plourde says

                Fr. Hans,

                I believe that you and I are on the same page here.

                There has to be a clear and unequivocal defense of the moral tradition in the public square, and this defense has to be done by religious leaders.

                Not only by religious leaders, but also by the faithful.

                The question is “how” and to me the answer must be determined by what is most effective in witnessing to Christ.

                My experience is that 40 years of “pro-life” political action has resulted in effectively rendering Christ a tool of far-right ideologues. He’s great for drumming up votes in critical .election years, otherwise ignored in practice and even defied outright. I am dubious about doing the same thing for another 40 years on a broader range of moral issues and hoping for a less corrupting outcome.

                And I think it’s worth giving weight to what we Christians no longer do. Our charitable presence today is a shadow of what it once was. We no longer provide shelters for orphans, unmarried mothers, the mentally ill, the homeless, or the elderly. Parochial schools are now merely “private schools,” and our hospitals are now for-profit mega corporations, “Christian” in name only.

                In short, I think witnessing to the broader culture cannot be only a matter of social criticism, but must include positive action. We need to be as strongly for good behavior, and clear about why we are for that good behavior, as we are against bad behavior and clear why we are against bad behavior. It is not enough to merely tell the culture how wrong it is and why. We must also witness to the right, and why it is right.

                As a conservative, I do not seek accommodation with secular culture, with which we will always be in conflict. But I do think we have to do better than we’re currently doing, and to witness to Christ on our own terms rather than accept the terms of debate laid down by the secular culture.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  Not only by religious leaders, but also by the faithful.

                  Actually Chris, leaders first. The public culture is so toxic and the moral confusion so deep in places, that only leaders can bring clarity to the mess. If Pat. Kyrill or Met. Hilarion speak clearly on issues, we know they speak for the moral tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church. This has more authority and thus more cultural import than, say, a professor speaking on the same issue in the same way.

                  This is even more important given the moral collapse of other religious institutions such as the Episcopal Church and others where bishops and other leaders subvert the tradition.

                  My experience is that 40 years of “pro-life” political action has resulted in effectively rendering Christ a tool of far-right ideologues.

                  I don’t mean this personally, but this always strikes me as a cop out. If the “right” has captured the issue, it is only because the “left” has given it to them. My read is that this reasoning is used more to avoid the discomfort of holding unpopular positions than it does about teaching the moral tradition. The left used to draw from the moral consensus derived from that tradition but no more. Now the left is almost exclusively statist. As far as I can tell, the only honest and coherent writer in that older tradition of the left is Nat Henthoff. But even he is marginalized by his peers.

                  And I think it’s worth giving weight to what we Christians no longer do.

                  This really isn’t true either. Catholic Charities has a significant presence. The resettlement of the victims of Katrina was an exclusively Christian effort (we Orthodox contributed to that). All the clinics and agencies helping pregnant women who want to avoid abortions are Christian. Many of the private food banks are Christian enterprises. Moral conservatives contribute quite a bit to the social welfare (see: Conservatives More Liberal Givers). The Orthodox are entering the arena as well with FOCUS North America and IOCC.

                  Could we do more? Should we do more? Absolutely. But the picture you paint strikes me as rather bleak.

                  It is not enough to merely tell people how wrong they are and why. We must also witness to the right, and why it is right.

                  Teaching the moral tradition is not merely telling people “how wrong they are and why.” That’s a caricature. Affirming the teaching of the moral tradition is a crucial and necessary step in the restoration of culture, a point that Met. Hilarion (on the Orthodox side) or, say, Robert P. George (on the Catholic side) make over and over again. Look at this recent speech by Met. Hilarion “Met. Hilarion: An Alliance of Faith (Orthodox – Catholic Cooperation)“.

                  Closer to home, another excellent example is Met. Jonah. Listen to the speech he gave to the Episcopalians:

                  Start listening at time mark 29:00. Source: Anglican TV.

                  My impression is that many people are uncomfortable with the truncated defense of the tradition from some Protestant Evangelicals. It’s not always the most sophisticated or elegant presentation. Often is heavily legalistic. However, my approach is affirm the good wherever you find it, and expand it if you can. That’s what Met. Hilarion did when he spoke in Texas recently. See: Met. Hilarion Speaks at Highland Park Presbyterian, Dallas TX: No One Has Ever Seen God.

                  Listen here:


                  I really see much of this as doing the work of an evangelist. I do not believe that we should abandon a public defense of the moral tradition just because others have defended it poorly.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    I think we’re on the same page, and you work to convince yourself we’re not. I’m not whoever it is, from your reactions, you seem to think I am. I am conservative, but not a right winger. I am no more liberal than +Jonah, whose talks I love whether posted here or at Ancient Faith Radio or elsewhere.

                    And so when you respond to me as you have here, as if I were some liberal accommodationist, I find myself struggling between the impulse to try to explain myself further, the impulse to assume that you’re one of those priests who don’t actually listen, and the impulse to kick the dust from my shoes and say “my life is too short.”

                    Rather, therefore, than respond point-by-point let’s just listen to +Jonah:

                    From the opening of his talk:

                    There’s no truth if there is not love…

                    And about 27:45 in:

                    One of the things that is very important for us, is that we must eliminate from within ourselves any shred of immorality.

                    We have to denounce immorality without judging. If we stand from a position of self-righteousness and judge our neighbor for their immorality we only heap coals of condemnation upon ourselves because we are all hypocrites.

                    And the more we can come to that, the more we will be able to speak the truth in love.

                    But we have to denounce this immorality not in a condemning way, not in a judging way, but by telling people that by their actions they are killing and harming themselves…”

                    If you read my posts in light of this speech by +Jonah you’d be pointing out how similar we are instead of saying “this always strikes me as a cop out.”

                    As for Catholic Charities, not only are they a shadow of what they were 30 years ago but now they’re also hampered by cutbacks so that money can flow to victims funds. If the picture of the state of Christian charity that I paint is bleak, the reality is even bleaker.

          • The Bible says to leave homosexuals and those of like sins (Romans 1) alone (outside the Body). I’d love to do that…

            Does it really? Please demonstrate your claim that Romans, or any other NT pericope, says to leave “homosexuals” alone and outside the Body, Michael. Chapters and verses. Then we can take a close, high-resolution look at these texts as well as at your foolish, grossly uncharitable and unOrthodox assertion.

            What was your denomination before you “converted?” I’m wondering who appointed you the gatekeeper of the Holy Orthodox Church, and the authority on who God wants to exclude from the redemption won by Christ. Who do you people think you are?

            • Jesse Cone says

              Mike, I would be very interested to hear your opinion of what the Scriptures and Fathers say about homosexuality. I am open to hearing what you consider to be the Orthodox Church teaching on this topic.

              Chapter and verse, if you don’t mind.

              • Answer my question, bozo. Nice try at changing the subject, though.

                I’ll repeat it: What evidence do you have about Stokoe’s sex life? I say you’re bluffing and you got nothing. None of you does. Many of you are little more than cheap and nasty bigots. People like you repel decent seekers from Christ’s Church. You are dogs in the manger. Period. You disgust me.

                I’ve written at great length on this list in the general vicinity of what you ask. You can easily review my remarks. My opinion is that disordered passion is the root of the rampant corruption of this horrifically demented world, and it’s threatening to destroy God’s good Creation and all flesh. Those disordered passions, and their resulting corruption, take many, many forms. Carnal lustfulness and its acting out in porneia severely damage the nous and psyche. That definitely includes homoerotic carnal lustfulness and acting out, which can quite easily degenerate into a deeply disfiguring personality disorder and gross sinfulness that excludes from the Kingdom of God. But so too can heterosexual porneia and adultery, both of which, however, particularly the latter, can lead to far more destructive social consequences than homoerotic porneia. IMHO. Not to mention the spiritual forms that each of these takes. Does that answer your question?

                Now, answer mine. I won’t hold my breath.

                • I’ll repeat it: What evidence do you have about Stokoe’s sex life?

                  What is it you’re expecting? Must we buy the house next door, and then stop by one day and ask the gentlemen if we could borrow a used condom?

                  Nobody here has the wherewithal to bug their phone lines, put hidden cameras in their house, and steal their email. (I wouldn’t risk using the Bishop Mark defense.) But there’s a mountain of publicly available information that says they cohabitate in a marital relationship, and we have the right to demand a resolution to the situation.

                  • In 89
                    Helga says:

                    “publicly available information”

                    i.e., circumstantial evidence.

                    • Circumstantial does not imply that the evidence is invalid or untrustworthy. There is very little in the way of direct evidence in this matter, because there’s hardly any possibility that any direct evidence could be obtained legally or ethically. Can you live with a burden of proof lower than Saudi Arabia’s?

                    • In 99
                      Helga says:

                      “Circumstantial does not imply that the evidence is invalid or untrustworthy”

                      I agree, just as circumstantial evidence is permissable in a court of law.

                    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                      its only circumstantial until they make it onto

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Peter, the fact that you’re a lawyer means that you think about these cases from a lawyer’s perspective, and I appreciate it. You wrote:

                      its only circumstantial until they make it onto

                      It makes me queasy to think about it.

                      One particular case used to condemn +Jonah is the Michael Rymer case. I was suspicious of what I was reading about that case online because it didn’t make sense.

                      Metropolitan Jonah stated his position clearly regarding Michael Rymer in an interview found here where +Jonah says:

                      With a crime in the church, the church leader’s responsibility is that such a priest would be immediately removed from his role, and his case would be turned over to the civil authorities.

                      Michael Rymer paid his price canonically — he was defrocked. But people like Michael Rymer and others need the opportunity to repent. They need to be in a place of safety and of relative anonymity so that they can work out their repentance. If they don’t, they’re going to be tempted to commit crimes again. But forgiveness doesn’t mean they’re going to be returned to a position of authority in the church — it means that they can be seen an accepted as human beings, rather than as some kind of monster.

                      Wise and strongly worded.

                      Melanie Jula Sakoda, criticizing Metropolitan Jonah, stated here:

                      “In fact, this has been a concern of mine since the metropolitan, while still the abbot of the Manton monastery, wrote to the GOA archbishop asking him to rescind the deposition of Michael Rymer, who was deposed after admitting to a sexual relationship with young Greek man with a mental disability. …

                      The mishandling of cases of sexual abuse and misconduct exposes the OCA to legal liability, liability that it can ill afford. In addition, the recycling of abusive priests may in the future open hierarchs and others who enforce such unChristian and unwise policies to criminal prosecution for child endangerment.

                      Although she makes a connection between the Rymer case and “child endangerment,” the plaintiff in the Rymer case was not a child. He was an adult (I think he was older than a “young man” by the way.) His mental disability was schizophrenia.

                      The sentence fragment supposedly “proving” +Jonah was going to “recycle an abusive priest” is taken from the Rymer-Gerasimos Deposition, found here. Here is the last paragraph, including at the end the final, unfinished sentence fragment:

                      Q. Now, Father Rymer was defrocked by the Greek Orthodox Church; isn’t that correct?
                      A: Yes.
                      Q. And in this letter the Monastery of San Francisco is requesting the Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Church to assist so that – and I read
                      from the next to last paragraph — so that Father Rymer, quote, might retain priestly faculties to

                      …”to”… to what? What is the reason for the monastery requesting that he “retain priestly faculties”? Would +Jonah allow this man to “retain priestly faculties” in order to “recycle” a “abusive priest”? That does NOT make sense. And as Judge Judy says, “If it doesn’t make sense, it isn’t true.”

                      “To” what? … maybe it was in order to continue his disability stipend, as Rymer requested? He also asked that when he die (he has AIDS), he be buried as a priest. Link to Rymer’s Spiritual Court Minutes here. We don’t know. But which makes more sense? Would +Jonah “recycle” Mr. Rymer and put him back at the altar given his history? What is going on?

                      Reading these documents in the Rymer case, and thinking about them without bias tends to soften the negative, judgmental spin against the man, the Metropolitan, and the monastery. It also tends to make one even more incensed about the half- twisted- and un-truths that are constantly being presented as truth.

                      Will any of this crookedness be made straight?

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Jane Rachel, thanks for bringing out some of the facts here. Although I follow Pokrov and have applauded them for being a watchdog, I’m not so sure that they get every fact about every story correct. In this instance, there was much ambiguity.

                      In the final analysis, what is it that watchdogs (such as myself) want? Do we want a zero-tolerance policy? That was easier in previous times when homosexuals were actually sentenced to prison (think Oscar Wilde). I’m not sure that the ladies of Pokrov have even thought out the implications of their “avenging angel” stance.

                      If however we want to remove active homosexuals from the ranks of the clergy/episcopate, then it is vital that we have a place for them to go to work out their repentance. If they were pederasts, then they can work out their repentance in prison, but like this Rymer character, a monastery where the is a strict rule of obedience would be the right place.

                    • This is only speculation, but my guess would be that the sentence would end with “to serve within the monastery”.

                      In other words, the monastery may have hoped to get Rymer un-defrocked just so that he could help serve services for the community. Then-Abbot Jonah traveled a lot for speaking engagements and supporting the monastery, so another hieromonk probably would have been a blessing. They could have gotten any of the monks ordained, of course, but Rymer is someone with years of liturgical service experience under his belt.

                      Again, I have no secret knowledge of the situation, this is just my best guess based on what I know of Metropolitan Jonah and St. John’s Monastery.

                • A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

                  Cheap and nasty bigots? Friends of mine who are former Episcopalians told me that that’s what they were called by the pro-gay activists in that Church, before they left to join the Orthodox Church.

                • Uh-oh, somebody’s got a guilty conscience, and is desperate to justify his own desires, and quite possibly his own behavior. The first person to play the Bigot Card in these debates always loses.

                  • ROFL

                    Hey, you teachers and shepherds of these “sheep.” Good job! And good luck!

                • In 88
                  Mike says:

                  Answer my question, bozo. … Many of you are little more than cheap and nasty bigots. People like you repel decent seekers from Christ’s Church. You are dogs in the manger. Period. You disgust me.

                  I don’t think that language, attitude, or anger like that will attract any decent seekers to Christ’s Church either.

                • “Bozo?”

                  I’ll take a very un-Orthodox stance here and say you’re just an arrogant and hostile jerk.


                  • Why drag dear Bozo into this. He is a fine clown, an excellent role model for kids, and a fixture in American culture. I don’t think anyone should stoop to such a level in our discourse to defame our dear Bozo. Heck, what did Bozo ever do that was so bad? Shame, shame, shame.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Mike, anger with one’s brother and apathy in the face of sinfulness are also examples of what you point out.

                  Please forgive me for the offense I have given you.

                  • In the face of what sinfulness exactly, Michael?

                    The anger with one’s brother around here is white hot and expressed continuously by almost all y’all. Isn’t that sinfulness? I think you and others here might profit from taking a closer look at the real cause of all this white hot anger. Jesus warned y’all about anger without cause, did he not (Matthew 5:22)? So a yellow light is warranted. The incensive faculty y’all indulge so luxuriantly had better get more properly focused, or the health of your souls is at risk. I’m trying very hard to focus mine properly, but I ask your forgiveness for my failures here, too. Let’s all recall who the Enemy really is.

                    Some of y’all need to learn how to make the most elementary distinctions. Mark Stokoe’s 1) evidence-based critique of Met. Jonah (which reflects a general dissatisfaction, and disappointment, with the primate on many fronts, widely shared with lotsa informed Orthodox, powerfully grounded and rational) and 2) Stokoe’s alleged unchastity,* are completely separate issues.

                    Y’all have no solid evidence re: 2, either with respect to his unchastity or the implicit allegations of a lack of repentance and Orthodox ascesis. Next to nothing of substance besides innuendo, logismoi and the comfy bigotries of a gamey pack mentality and its mimetic contagion. So maybe you’d be well-advised to focus on real, substantive things for a change, such as matters of fact, solid evidence (i.e., actions, inactions, statements, testimony of other closely involved players, official reports etc.) and competent reasoning, interpretations and judgments based on them, relevant to 1. But doing that would constitute a serious problem for y’all — I get that. For a number of reasons . . .

                    *Stokoe’s cybertactics and journalistic standards are issues distinct from your prurient and bigoted suspicions about his unchastity. Overall, IMHO and that of many other people, Stokoe has performed praiseworthy service for many years as the pioneer of an OCA lay fourth estate, in a country whose press is indifferent or even oblivious to the tiny OCA — a situation quite unlike the cases in Greece and Russia and their respective churches. That has a legitimate place in an open society, as long as the focus stays as much as possible on conscientiously striving for the elusive ideal of reporting objective facts: text of statements in context, solid, accurately reported details about actions & inactions, the substance of officially sanctioned reports, testimony from closely involved players, etc.

                    Another distinction to bear in mind is the difference between contingent traditions of men and Holy Tradition. Some of you appear to want to hide behind irrelevant and outmoded interpretations of canons. Canons that have come down to us from churchmen compromised by unholy and undue fear of the autocrats of a caesaropapist and imperial age. Continuing to move in the direction of a cringing kowtowing before unaccountable authoritarians and their arbitrary, unilateral words and deeds could very well abort the infant, not to say infantile, OCA in this country. Is that what you want? If so, keep it up.

                    • In 139
                      Mike says:

                      “irrelevant and outmoded interpretations of canons. Canons that have come down to us from churchmen compromised by unholy and undue fear of the autocrats of a caesaropapist and imperial age.”

                      Does anyone else in the Orthodox Church with relevant authority share that belief with you? If so, may I ask whom? Because unless you can back up that statement with authoritative sources, I personally don’t think you understand correctly the true nature and purpose of our Canons.

                    • A Remnant says

                      Mike says:
                      May 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm

                      Some of y’all need to learn how to make the most elementary distinctions. Mark Stokoe’s 1) evidence-based critique of Met. Jonah (which reflects a general dissatisfaction, and disappointment, with the primate on many fronts, widely shared with lotsa informed Orthodox, powerfully grounded and rational)

                      Well that is a huge leap there. If you read is “indictment” of the Metropolitan, it is based on weaving whole cloth out of innuendo and speculation. Like his authoritative quotes on the SMPAC report, followed by the denial of having a copy, the opinions of Bishops in meetings which he did not attend, etc, etc. Evidence, let’s see it.

                      The only evidence that is real is the Metropolitan’s bad decision in inviting Bishop Mark to the OCA.

                • Jesse Cone says

                  Mike says

                  Answer my question, bozo. Nice try at changing the subject, though.

                  I’m sorry, I don’t believe I was changing the subject. I didn’t want to expound at length on Scriptural and Patristic exegesis ad nauseum when I thought it would be more charitable and profitable to yield the floor to you. Since you keep telling “us” we are out of place to deal with such issues, I thought listening might be in order. I meant no offense, I just want to understand where you are coming from.

                  I’ll repeat it: What evidence do you have about Stokoe’s sex life?

                  You’ve seen what we’ve all seen now. I wonder if it was less or more than what St. Paul had to go on before he laid into the Corinthians about their sexual behavior. Regardless, I doubt if he the kind of evidence you are demanding.

                  You don’t seem to be disturbed by what disturbs us. I would really really like to not be disturbed by this too, so I’m trying to understand where you are coming from.

                  The first question I have for you is, is it permissible for an active and unrepentant homosexual to be in a senior leadership position? What about someone who is currently cohabitating with someone who was/ is their partner? What about people who consider themselves married though they were never legally or religiously married?

                  Note that only the first question pertains specifically to homosexuality, and none of them need to specifically reference Mr. Stokoe.

                  If there is a credible rumor about sexual corruption among Church leadership, do you think the Church leadership should address the issue? Do you think it would be appropriate for the Church to investigate such allegations? (I wonder what the SMPAC report advises on this…) It would be helpful if, as I have suggested here and on OCAT, the HS and MC would come out and make changes or statements to address the concerns listed here: after all what would be the harm if our concerns “foundered on reality”?

                  My opinion is that disordered passion is the root of the rampant corruption of this horrifically demented world, and it’s threatening to destroy God’s good Creation and all flesh…. Does that answer your question?

                  Well, that’s hardly chapter and verse now is it? I’m familiar with that line of thinking and I’m generally convinced of its truth. What I’m not convinced of is what it brings to this conversation.

                  I don’t have any intention of pretending that a profitable conversation is likely to happen here, though I think the topic may certainly warrant one.

                  • You’ve seen what we’ve all seen now.

                    Yeah, I’ve seen it. Not impressed. To me, someone who evidently gets out a whole lot more than y’all, no real evidence of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

                    I wonder if it was less or more than what St. Paul had to go on before he laid into the Corinthians about their sexual behavior. Regardless, I doubt if he the kind of evidence you are demanding.

                    Ya mean this, which someone here actually cited, and in almost exactly the same way and with similar intent?:

                    “It is reported commonly [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.” 1 Corinthians 5:1.

                    That? If so, are you serious?

                    You don’t seem to be disturbed by what disturbs us. I would really really like to not be disturbed by this too, so I’m trying to understand where you are coming from.

                    No, I’m not. Are you sure that you really, really would like not to be disturbed? One hears about this ad nauseam, here and on your list, so your claim is frankly sorta hard for me to believe.

                    The first question I have for you is, is it permissible for an active and unrepentant homosexual to be in a senior leadership position?

                    No, that would be improper in the Holy Orthodox Church, of course.

                    Having said that, however, I would remind y’all:

                    The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

                    What about someone who is currently cohabitating with someone who was/ is their partner?

                    Senior leadership? Genuinely chaste and celibate? Since you’re asking me, I would say yes, absolutely. But I do appreciate how much y’all suffer paroxysms of indignation at the very thought of it. Being yourselves so very holy and pious and all.

                    The verb “cohabiting” is a tendentious and loaded term, especially these days. Often seeming rather scurrilous and prurient in its intent. I’m struck by the malice and cruelty risked by you good people, when you would gang up on and deprive good friends of their right in a free society to share a quite possibly chaste life together. Monks live together, too, don’t they? Maybe Mark doesn’t really require the formally monastic straitjacket. Some of you, on the other hand . . .

                    You from a reformed background, Jesse? Got some Calvinist tendencies?

                    What about people who consider themselves married though they were never legally or religiously married?

                    Here you wander off into la-la land, Mr. wannabe Thought Policeman. I’d only note that any meaningful definition of marriage among serious adults is either civil or sacramental, and documented.

                    Note that only the first question pertains specifically to homosexuality, and none of them need to specifically reference Mr. Stokoe.

                    Yes, I note that. You’re very broad-minded and just.

                    If there is a credible rumor about sexual corruption among Church leadership, do you think the Church leadership should address the issue?

                    “Credible rumor” being the operative words here. A very slippery slope, that one. Sexual corruption is a serious matter in Church leadership, of course. As is tolerating it — some types even more than others.

                    Do you think it would be appropriate for the Church to investigate such allegations? (I wonder what the SMPAC report advises on this…)

                    Take that issue up with your Primate, fanboy:

                    “As Metropolitan, I definitively reject this report, and seeking the support of the Holy Synod, demand its retraction and consign it to permanent confidentiality.”

                    I refrain from comment.

                    It would be helpful if, as I have suggested here and on OCAT, the HS and MC would come out and make changes or statements to address the concerns listed here: after all what would be the harm if our concerns “foundered on reality”?

                    Ditto re: the SMPAC, fanboy. Ditto in spades.

                    My opinion is that disordered passion is the root of the rampant corruption of this horrifically demented world, and it’s threatening to destroy God’s good Creation and all flesh…. Does that answer your question?

                    Well, that’s hardly chapter and verse now is it?

                    Y’all ask a lot. I do have a life, and limited time. But you’re welcome anyway.

                    I’m familiar with that line of thinking and I’m generally convinced of its truth.

                    Glad to hear it. You do well to be so.

                    What I’m not convinced of is what it brings to this conversation.

                    Yeah, I get that a lot from “conservative Christians.” And I can’t tell you how much it fascinates me. Speaks volumes about the “conservative” “mind.”

                    • Mike,
                      Because this issue is of particular import in our culture, has impacted so many other churches, because Mark S. has the position in the church that he does and has been asked directly about the allegations of him being a practicing homosexual and not made a statement to the church, he allows and invites such speculating. In such leadership roles one is not only accountable for what one actually practices but for the appearance of evil. Mark S has control over what people are accusing him of, he has deliberately not stopped it, so it must be ok with him. So, why are you so mad about it?

                    • Colette,

                      Because this issue is of particular import in our culture, has impacted so many other churches, because Mark S. has the position in the church that he does and has been asked directly about the allegations of him being a practicing homosexual and not made a statement to the church, he allows and invites such speculating. In such leadership roles one is not only accountable for what one actually practices but for the appearance of evil. Mark S has control over what people are accusing him of, he has deliberately not stopped it, so it must be ok with him. So, why are you so mad about it? [Emphasis added]

                      My anger appears to be almost entirely misunderstood here. That’s partly because I haven’t done much beyond hinting at the breadth and depth and height of it. Trust me on this: you are greatly deceived if you think I represent something marginal, or even a minority (at least among Christians). And the anger you perceive, while very real, ain’t due to what some of you are suggesting. Missing the mark by a mile, there.

                      The particular aspect you’re asking about (the referent of it, above, the breathless scandal mongering here) is just the tip of the iceberg for us, just one extremely wearying symptom of a much more extensive syndrome that I — that we— seem to encounter constantly in discussions with members of that subset of nominally Orthodox Americans who regard themselves as Christian conservatives and who appear to line up in their views almost point by point with the self-righteous, bottomlessly hypocritical, pseudo-apocalyptic American “Christian” right. This fundamental divergence began to crystallize dramatically in Bush’s first term, especially in the three and a half years from 9/11/01 through March 2003, reaching a crisis before the 2004 election that carried forward to Pascha 2005. It sometimes seems as though y’all and we are spiritually no longer in real communion. On so many levels.

                      One reason is that you clearly want to make things way too easy for yourselves. Christian salvation is a rigorous, life-long process; it’s a bloody war to the finish that’s interior, mainly. Do you really understand that? We have to wonder. You seem so smug about your condition, so sure, seemingly, that you’re OK and “they” aren’t. That smugness is the essence of delusion and a recipe for shipwreck.

                      I don’t have exact figures, obviously, but it’s evident that the nominally Orthodox subset I’m talking about is composed mostly of relatively recent converts — often from Protestant denominations or from no solid background of early formation in the Faith at all. Not exclusively, of course, but I’m guessing about 2/3 or more.

                      What we’re angry about is that y’all and we seem to have different weights and measures, different values and different priorities in crucial, defining questions of mercy and justice and judgment. We are not on the same page, at all, on too many matters. And furthermore — and this is the clincher — we understand you all too well whereas you do not understand us.

                      My most serious problem with Jonah is my fear that he may be one of you, or willing to pander to you, at any rate, for the sake of temporal power. Because of the mixed signals he seems to send, I haven’t made up my mind yet, personally. I see a lot to like and trust in him; I definitely recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd sometimes. But sometimes I hear something alien, too. He’s clearly conflicted, and this is worrisome.

                      By “you”, I don’t mean you personally, Collete. A rhetorical “you,” that alien spiritual entity of darkness that masquerades as light, falsely. Each of us has to wrestle with it and with the principalities and powers as we follow Him more and more closely into the Kingdom of His Father. If we’re being faithful to bearing the cross of Christ in radical obedience to Him, we can’t escape that. Especially here in the eye of the storm.

                      But if we don’t walk according to the Uncreated Light that shines from Him through our ever-transforming nous in a continually purified heart, each of us is at risk of getting lost in the wilderness. The terrible danger is to confuse the wilderness with the green pastures. I sense that confusion here. A flock is not the same thing as a pack.

                      And you “teachers” and “pastors” who don’t know the difference yourselves, or worse, do know it and yet … Well, God help you, is all I can say.

                    • My intended meaning was lost in one sentence. I meant, and thought I had revised to read, this:

                      “A rhetorical “you,” those nominal believers whose walk is according to that alien spiritual entity of darkness that masquerades as light, falsely.”

                      3rd paragraph from the end. It was too late to fix this by the time I realized my paste hadn’t pasted.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, there is nothing at all wrong about taking a position even if it is echoed in the so-called Christian Right. The fact that certain Orthodox pietists have been reduced to creating a hated charicature about patriotic Christians and their concerns is nothing but a straw-man argumentation.

                      I would take the concerns of these pietists more seriously if they were as exercized about the idiotic Christian Left and its self-reduction to being a sock-puppet for the Marxist professoriate.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Hi Mike,

                      Sorry, I have this slow computer connection out here in the countryside, and I’ve been hit or miss on the blogging lately.

                      I’m “Jane Rachel” and I sometimes post on behalf of “Jacob” who is the intelligent guy I share popcorn with when we watch tv. So when I posted that comment to you, I didn’t see that “Jacob” was still in the name bin for posting comments, and inadvertently posted under his “name” instead of mine. I’m the one who wrote that I heard you, when I read your post just below this one, where you say,

                      “What we’re angry about is that y’all and we seem to have different weights and measures, different values and different priorities in crucial, defining questions of mercy and justice and judgment. We are not on the same page, at all, on too many matters. And furthermore — and this is the clincher — we understand you all too well whereas you do not understand us.”

                      This is the paragraph I understood. I mean, I know what you are saying in your entire comment. But reading your post over again, I am not really with you. Don’t lump me in with anybody. It’s hard for you, I know, but you will be okay. It’s hard for a lot of us.

                      Do you deliberately manipulate truth. or lie, deceive, cheat, steal, destroy lives, use people, use religious words, write like a chameleon by changing the colors of your words or actions according to the environment? Do you “work” people? Do you say one thing and mean another, speak out of both sides of your mouth, follow the popular leader? No? Okay, then, you can be my friend. Yes? Oh, then I don’t want to be yours. It’s pretty simple. People are all over the board in the LIFE game. You never know.

            • New King James says

              Gonna bully the poor guy, eh? I’m for better exegetical analysis whenever Scripture and the New Testament is quoted, but please, bullying the guy? Give me a break. You give all us folks from the north a bad name. We are not all bad mannered or ill tempered. The warning in Romans was pretty profound. God’s judgment is righteous, BUT beware the hypocrisy of your own sin. This is backed up by the Fathers, I might suggest reading Cyprian’s Epistles (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 5 if you’re looking, is a very good online source). It might be helpful if we all just shut up, then take a deep breath, and enjoy the Memorial Day weekend coming up.

              • Jane Rachel, the post was addressed to everyone and noone. Including myself. Forget it.

                All those bad things you mentioned that exclude someone from being your friend: do you know who I think of when I read that? The guy probably 90% of you voted for twice. I’m wondering if you were one of them. He fits your bill infinitely more than Mark Stokoe does. Or whatever or whoever it is you’re SO angry about. Much of the anger here seems so petty and childish to me. So out of proportion to what seems to many of us to really deserve ire. Mark Stokoe’s not the devil, and Met. Jonah is not your saviour. The cult of personality y’all are trying so hard to believe in and defend will fail you. Guaranteed. Goodbye.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Mike, Bush was one of the people floating around in my head when I wrote it, along with Mark Stokoe, and a whole lot of religious leaders. *I* was also floating around in my head, hoping I could escape those words. You were only there not because I think you are that way, I don’t know, but I was hoping you aren’t. Like I said, Mike, I know and understand what you are saying, and agree, but I’m not with you in the sense that I don’t deal with that anger the same way you do. I’m not on the same life raft you are on. You may use truths like logs in the life raft you’ve crafted, but the straps that hold the logs are in danger of coming undone. Then, the truth floats away and you are left gasping and drowning. Again, like you, I speak generally.

                  When my life was shattered I had a life raft. It was the strong upbringing I had. Using my father’s integrity, strong will, and anger at injustice, and my mother’s compassion, intelligence and inner strength as the straps to hold it together, I made it to the shore. I had to to pick up the pieces and start over by myself, with help of a host of angels in the form of gay people, atheists, agnostics, non believers, lifetime friends, true blue people, and my sister, who happens to be a Christian.

                  If you (whoever is reading this) have knowledge or experience of specific religious leaders who are living two lives, one outwardly pious and the other inwardly and possibly criminally corrupt, you should take that knowledge to some people you trust. It may not do any good, but it might. It does help your innards, too, to bring that hurt to the light. I am always reminded of “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” by Oscar Wilde. It’s a great book and a great movie!

            • In 89
              Mike says:

              “Please demonstrate your claim that Romans, or any other NT pericope, says to leave “homosexuals” alone and outside the Body, Michael. Chapters and verses. Then we can take a close, high-resolution look at these texts…”

              Should we start with?:

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Careful here Niko. People struggle with this, and a struggle is not the same thing as giving oneself over to the lust or willfully cultivating it in ever deeper measure. Remember that in 1 Corinthians St. Paul mentions homosexuality as then says “and such were some of you…”

                There is no doubt that homosexual behavior is prohibited in the moral tradition (the point I think you are making). But you can’t put every homosexual into the Romans 1 description because some people struggle against it.

                • We do not call a thief a thief until he steals, no matter his internal temptations. We do not call a man an adulterer until he commits the act, no matter his internal struggles. Likewise, a man or woman is not a homosexual until he or she commits the act, no matter the internal struggles. Even one act repented of and never repeated does not make one a homosexual. We, as Christians, must think differently from the world, which has decided that a person is homosexual because they have temptations or some form of same sex attraction.

                  Paul said, “and such WERE some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified…” meaning that they are these things no more. They no longer walk in their former sins. Are the temptations gone? Not likely, but as one becomes sanctified through daily prayer and service, these temptations will diminish.

                  Those who struggle against it are not homosexuals, they are Christians battling a particular temptation.

                • Thank you Fr. Hans.
                  The only reason that I mentioned it is because I think it is a passage from St. Paul that no one, or at lest very few, in this day and age wants to deal with, openly at least, as you just did.
                  But as for myself, I’m just an “inquirer,” asking a question that I thought may be apropos and for my own enlightment.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Fr, I for one am not doing that. I am explictly talking about those who willfully persist in their sin which, IMAO, includes those who refuse to recognize homosexuality as sinful and/or wish it to be normalized. Those that are struggling are struggling as we all do with besetting sins.

                  BTW, to your earlier caution that addressed the remarks of Fr. Stephen Freeman lost in the verbocity==you are correct, to collapse the struggle with sin into a communal stuggle is wrong. Fr. Stephen does not do that when the whole of what he writes it taken into account. I was bringing it up, as I believe he does, to address the unrighteous idea that all will be right with the OCA if we just get rid of ……….(fill in the blank). The latest victim of that mentality is Met. Jonah.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Romans 1.

              • Ivan Vasiliev says

                I think that Michael Bauman makes perfect sense here; the struggle with homosexuality–or any other sin–is always personal. And one may fall many times and still get up, by the grace of God.
                The great danger is that we begin to transform personal sin into a communal struggle. In so doing we have gone more than half way to meet our antagonists. They really do want to interpret sexual deviations in the context of communities, psychologies, “civil-rights” issues, genetics, etc. We have to avoid this. For us, the struggle against sin is a war fought within each person. For some it will be a struggle against homosexual desires–and for some of those it will be a heartrending struggle that involves many falls.
                The only communal aspect of this issue comes when a person or group of persons attempts to remove this struggle from the context of sin–essentially to stop the struggle altogether–by labeling it as “normal”. It is only that particular aspect of the sexuality issue that we need to address. Otherwise, there is a great danger of descending into a witch-hunt mentality where the community (actually, the “pack”) may safely hunt down and destroy others. This, very great sin of the Pharisee, allows the perpetrators to defer having to look at themselves and to feel good about pointing towards others.
                If there are some in the Church who are trying to “normalize” homosexuality, then their wrong teaching needs to be exposed. If there are some in leadership who are publicly leading sinful lifestyles, then it is fair to question them–having carefully excised the plank in one’s own eye, first, of course.
                We are treading onto very thin ice, here, and we should be very much afraid of falling through it ourselves. This is by no means meant to say that we ought to compromise our Church’s teachings, but we must be very wary of where we are going.

  12. I’m getting the feeling that the anti-+Jonah bloggers are trying out a new mantra to push: anyone opposing them are now to be proclaimed as “schismatics.”

    • Traditionalists in the Episcopal Church get this all the time too …

      even though the Presiding Bishop signed a joint declaration with all the Anglican primates of the world that consecrating a “gay bishop” would “tear the fabric of our Communion to its deepest level” shortly before he returned to the US and did precisely that. The meeting and the statement were specifically intended to put a stop to this act. The Presiding Bishop didn’t have to sign. He did sign because he agreed with the statement. Ironically even he did not consider himself a schismatic. Go figure.

  13. A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

    When you attend a Russian patriarchal parish and you’re turned away from the chalice, you can consider yourself a schismatic. Or a GOA or AOC for that matter.

  14. Mark Stokoe was elected to the MC at the 2008 AAC. That means his three-year term ends this fall. I’ve not the time to look at the OCA Statute right now, but can people serve consecutive terms? If so, I pray to God that the AAC has the sense to *not* reelect him!

    • Well Marie, if the the AAC doesn’t “de-select” him this fall, then we will know just how deep and wide spread the problem and corruption really is.

    • He was elected in October 2008, so if his term is three years, it would expire after the September meeting and before the AAC.

      Those elected at AACs are elected by the whole council, and can serve three or six year terms, depending on which open slot they are elected to. However, Stokoe was elected from the Diocese of the Midwest, not the AAC, so God knows how long his term is. At any rate, anyone on the Metropolitan Council can be elected for one additional term only. If diocesan representatives have six-year terms and he gets reelected down the road, we could potentially be stuck with Stokoe for nine more years! Think of poor Metropolitan Jonah having to deal with him for that long.

      Our best bet is to lobby the Metropolitan Council to remove him from the council. They removed Alice Woog in 2008 for refusing to testify before the SIC.

      • Helga, thanks for correcting my memory. For some reason I thought MS was elected by the AAC, not the Diocese. In any case, I was told MS’ term was up this September. For those of us in the Midwest Diocese (as I am), I would hope concerned folks would write to Bishop Matthias about your concern and ask him to please consider removing MS from the MC. I know I did.

  15. Janet Kirby says

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

    Read more:'Evil_will_prevail_when_good_men_do_nothing'#ixzz1NcC2nXjZ

  16. If Met.Jonah is so opposed to homosexuality that he signed the Manhattan Declaration…why did he celebrate and allow pictures to be taken of him celebrating with Isidore Brittain who was deposed from the OCA…fled to the SOC …for you recent converts..Isidore was Bp.Nickolai’s lover in Alaska..the famous person in the Sidebottom case.”..Vladka beats me!”

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Stephen, you might ask this question of Bp Benjamin, who as locum tenens of Alaska, cleared the way for this priest to serve with +Jonah at the altar. After all, one of the big bones of contention among the Stokovites is that each diocesan bishop is the supreme authority within his respective diocese (a contention that I am in total agreement with).

      When you find out, let us know please.

      • I thought Fr. Isidore was penanced and his suspension was lifted, hence the two bishops were able to celebrate with him.

        • Ignatius says


          As usual, you are correct. Isidore’s suspension was lifted. Benjamin accepted him into his diocese and he is to only serve at that one altar. Bishops, the last time I checked, are still within their authority to make such pastoral decisions, as was Dmitri in lifting the suspension of Burke, but still not allowing him to serve, and Jonah who then permitted Burke to serve only at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Miami. One can debate how wise or prudent these moves are, but how ironic that Isidore, Burke and Stokoe can still have a place in the OCA, not to mention Maymon, but Fester is persona non grata!

          Let good-will and mercy prevail and God be the judge.

          • 158
            Ignatius says:

            “how ironic that Isidore, Burke and Stokoe can still have a place in the OCA, not to mention Maymon, but Fester is persona non grata!”

            I wondering if the Lesser Synod is standing in the way of +Jonah reinstating Fr. Fester who is much less guilty of wrongdoing than Fr. Garklavs.

            That leads me to think that in any attempt to reestablish credibility, the leadership of the OCA is going to have to stop “playing favorites.”

            • It’s interesting that you bring up Fr. Garklavs, because something’s been bothering me about him since Metropolitan Jonah’s Santa Fe speech was released.

              Metropolitan Jonah said that Fr. Garklavs had been giving him trouble for a year and a half. Fr. Garklavs had been chancellor for about three and a half years, since July 2007, while Metropolitan Jonah, at the time that speech was scheduled to be delivered, had been Metropolitan for two years and three months. That timeline places their falling-out sometime in Summer 2009. I went through the news and found that there was a meeting regarding sexual misconduct policy in August 2009.

              I can’t imagine what could have set Fr. Garklavs off about this, if it even had anything to do with it, but it’s something to ponder, I guess. I do see to my relief that Metropolitan Jonah does appear to appreciate the seriousness of sexual misconduct, though.

              • Helga,

                Metropolitan Jonah established, blessed, and started on the path to work, the Sexual Misconduct Committee – he realizes the seriousness of sexual misconduct. (Incidentally, the SMC greatly overstepped their original charter by their actions, but that’s another story.)

                However, this SMC apparently proved to be a path for Garklavs to forge a plan for the removal of +Jonah permanently. The plan was to take a piece of gossip flying around and then expand the story with innuendo and with malice, (yes, malice!) regardless of the innocence of the persons being targeted and slandered, with +Jonah being the actual target. When an opportunity came by, Garklavs, seizing it, intentionally advised the SM Committee NOT to further investigate allegations, but to use them to oust +Jonah. (This was confirmed in the emails Garklavs sent to committee members.) Messages sent to Synod Bishops, without +Jonah’s knowledge, detailing the plan for the Metropolitan’s removal, were the final straw leading to the action of +Jonah traveling unscheduled from Dallas to New York and demanding a resignation from Garklavs. Faced with the evidence, the Synod had no option but to also demand the resignation from Garklavs, (however, +Mel has found a way to circumvent this Metropolitan and Synod action – snarky!).

                +Jonah’s requesting a resignation from Garklavs followed the unprecedented rude behavior and backbiting words +Jonah had been ignoring – in the firm belief that the ‘brother clergyman’ would stop this aberrant behavior – starting from the moment +Jonah announced his contemplation of moving Syosset to Washington, DC. Garklavs did not want to move, and made this abundantly known from the first proposal of such a move. Yes – it is as simple as that…Garklavs did not want to move, and he wanted to tell the Metropolitan what to do or not do. He was thus fired for insubordination and malfeasance. That Garklavs then, “received a standing ovation” by the Metropolitan Council is revolting – OCA, are you not ashamed?

                (By the way, OCA, – ALL that is going on now – is what happens when you bypass Canons and set your institution on a course of adhering preferentially to your own self-written statutes and articles. If this is what you think Orthodox Autocephaly means, think again.)

                • Anon, thank you for writing this. Just so you know, I did not mean to accuse Metropolitan Jonah of anything untoward, only that I was a bit unsettled by Rod Dreher’s report on what he read in the SMPAC memo: that Metropolitan Jonah had treated sexual abuse like other sexual sins. From what you said, you too have seen +Jonah’s naivete, when you said he hoped Fr. Garklavs would straighten out. However, I saw from reading that old article that sexual misconduct has indeed been a priority for him, and that he does understand its gravity, and I was relieved by that. I’m sorry my poor writing was misleading in that respect. I am so sorry that the Sexual Misconduct committee has been used to stab him in the back.

                  Please understand that I love Metropolitan Jonah very much, and would love to have the opportunity to give him a standing ovation myself. (Fr. Garklavs gets a Bronx cheer from me.)

                  With that said, you’ve written a number of things here that appeal to an insider’s knowledge. Are you an OCA employee or a member of the administration, or have you recently been either one? If so, I have to ask you to please come forward with what you know. If you have any corroborating or more specific information to give us that can be released without compromising anyone’s ethics, it would be really helpful.

                  • Seraphimista says

                    First, PRAISE GOD that, according to Bishop Nikon’s message to the SSOC parish council, Bishop Mark has been removed as temporary administrator of the Diocese of the South, and as rector of St. Seraphim’s Cathedral!

                    Second, it is significant that His Beatitude has had copies of Father Garklavs’ e-mails, which he acquired legally (Garklavs’ e-mails from his OCA account belong to the OCA, not him personally), showing Garklavs’ conspiracy against him, but has not made them public. Meanwhile, Bishop Mark acquired Father Fester’s e-mails in a way that is 99 percent likely to be illegal (Fester’s e-mails were sent from his private gmail account, not from a DOS computer, and existed not on the DOS computer hard drive but in the cloud; besides, Fester was not a DOS employee when Mark accessed his e-mails), and sent them straight to Mark Stokoe.

                    Fester is destroyed. Jonah is barely hanging on. Garklavs has all but returned in glory. Mark, though suffering a setback in the DOS, has not been censured or suffered anything else for his crime. Stokoe basically runs the church. All those people who had nothing to do with any of this church political battle, but who wrote to Father Fester seeking spiritual counsel, now have to live with the devastating spiritual effect of this betrayal, and the Synod’s refusal to take it seriously. I personally know of one of Father Joe’s spiritual children who was not involved in the gang fight but who has been unable to go to church since what Mark did broke. I have been told that this person feels “spiritually raped” by this invasion of privacy.

                    The Synod doesn’t care. Bishop Mark and Stokoe gave them what they wanted, the head of Fester and the future of Jonah, and that’s all they care about. The ends justify the means.

                    Well, at least we can rejoice that Mark is not going to be around to inflict himself on SSOC, at least for the time being.

                    • Seraphimista,

                      Glory to God that Bishop Nikon and the Synod listened. I hope Metropolitan Jonah will be able to find something for Bishop Mark to do where he can work out his salvation.

                      This gives me an enormous amount of hope. It will be next to impossible for Stokoe to spin the removal of Bishop Mark as some kind of +Jonah-fueled revenge, although I bet he will try.

                      There’s another thing that’s been stirring around in my head, which is the communique from the Assembly of Bishops. In the midst of everything the Church is dealing with at the moment, I thought it was a rather bizarre document, with its revelation of their sudden fervent concern about internet safety and security. However, it has occurred to me that perhaps the theft of Fr. Fester’s email, and the recent turn of OCANews, have made bigger waves than we know about at the moment. As you said, the publication of those emails on Stokoe’s blog raises serious moral, ethical, pastoral, and legal questions. Heck, Stokoe’s blog, as well as his MC position, raise those kinds of questions as well. It’s possible that our bishops, not just the OCA Synod, but perhaps even American bishops in general, are rising to the occasion for once, rather than their usual closing of the barn door after the horses have escaped.

                      I would strongly encourage your friend to write a letter to the Holy Synod telling them of the impact the leak has had. If nothing else it may be cathartic for him. It will also make it the deadly spiritual impact of the email theft that much clearer for them to see.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Seraphimista, the picture is not nearly as bleak as you paint it. To be sure, it is not pleasant for Fr Joe at present but let us remember that he was not defrocked as was Kondratick. Nor was +Jonah removed.

                      This business with Bp Mark is another setback for the Stokovites.

                      Is it all peechy-keen for the OCA trads? No, there is still a tough slog ahead but the correlation of forces appear to be moving in the right direction. I’ll go so far as to predict that things may be significantly different by the time the AAC rolls around.

              • Helga, it was much earlier in 2009 than that.

              • Jane Rachel says

                Well, I just looked back and read articles from around Feb. 2009. I have no way of putting two and two together. But there are stories that were flying around. Anon wrote;

                However, this SMC apparently proved to be a path for Garklavs to forge a plan for the removal of +Jonah permanently. The plan was to take a piece of gossip flying around and then expand the story with innuendo and with malice, (yes, malice!) regardless of the innocence of the persons being targeted and slandered, with +Jonah being the actual target. When an opportunity came by, Garklavs, seizing it, intentionally advised the SM Committee NOT to further investigate allegations, but to use them to oust +Jonah.

                I don’t know what the “piece of gossip” was, but after re=reading the whole story about Fr. Isidore (read it here, but beware, you will feel slimed ), but this time with clear glasses on, I’m shaking my head that it happened again, and again, and again. No wonder Metropolitan Jonah was angry. I don’t even know what happened with these people, and I’m angry. I’ve been around drunks before. If I were “investigating” the allegations, I would not base them on what an alcoholic says or does one night when he is drunk. Drunks throw themselves on people, they grope, they slobber, they say slurry things that don’t make sense. And most of all, they hide their drinking from others like masters. They manipulate, they are great at what they do, which is to keep drinking and using drugs. How many times have those of us who have been around the block once or twice, not been able to get a drunk into treatment? You can’t make it happen, the person has to get to the bottom and get help. Do you realize that other web site destroyed lives by spinning that story and in the process got up on his high horse and made himself judge, jury and executioner? Fr. Isidore went to Hazelton in Minnesota, probably, Stokoe criticizes the staff at one of the finest treatment centers in the country. Who do you trust, Hazelton staff or Mark Stokoe’s spin? Talk about “madness”! The comments he allowed on that site were some of the most disgusting I’ve ever unfortunately laid eyes on. Who made up those stories and slandered and lied in those anonymous comments? Why did Mark post them? I know there is so much more about that story. I know the whole thing was manipulated from the get go. I know it’s a crime to do that to people.

                I have to go have strawberry shortcake with the neighbors.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Jane Rachel, I’ve come to the conclusion that we are only begiinning to find out the truth. All we’ve been exposed to on OCAN is what Steven Colbert calls “truthiness.”

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Thanks, George. The strawberry shortcake turned out to be a nice bottle of wine and sitting around the campfire with good friends, having a normal conversation. I’ve calmed down a bit.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  Stephen, I just read your ridiculous, slanderous, statement. Stop it.

                  Also, I am glad I stayed up late enough to find Fr. Isidore Brittain’s letter. I remembered that he had written a letter and I remember how people threw stones at him. How low can people go? He said just about the same thing I said in my previous comment, and I hadn’t even read the letter.

                  Stop gossiping, stop believing all the lies. Open your eyes if you haven’t started opening them already. Read this letter for yourself. Boy, I tell you sometimes, I just can’t stand it.


                • Jane Rachel says

                  Correction. It’s “Hazelden,” not “Hazelton.” Hazelden Treatment Center. “We Don’t Just Treat Addiction, We Restore and Transform Lives.”

                  I’m grateful Fr. Isidore got help. I hope he’s doing well. If you read this, Fr. Isidore, and if you are still following the program, I would like to say, congratulations on your sobriety!

                  • I don’t really know much about the whole Sidebottom thing, but you’re right, I do feel slimed. All I remembered was that Mr. Sidebottom didn’t ask for any money in his lawsuit, only for the OCA to institute better protections against sexual misconduct.

                    Whether Bishop Nikolai ever did anything to Fr. Isidore or not, they both should have been suspended until their respective allegations were resolved. The sexual misconduct policy is not just about preventing molestation, following it helps protect the OCA from liability for failing to act on allegations as well as from being accused of persecuting innocent people.

                    I don’t know anything about Fr. Isidore’s alcohol treatment, but I’m glad he’s doing better now.

                    I don’t know what they were trying to say about St. Herman’s, because the dean there at the time was Fr. Chad Hatfield. As far as I know, he was really good to that school and helped them a lot.

                    However, all this reminded me of a few things. One, Fr. Garklavs was the person they sent to investigate the allegations against Bishop Nikolai. Two, in 2009, Metropolitan Jonah went to Alaska. In fact, he went to Kwethluk with Fr. Michael Oleksa, and celebrated a Panikhida for Blessed Olga. Fr. Michael reported there was a miraculous light in the church during that service. And Fr. Michael was one of the people who spoke out in favor of Stokoe.

                    This whole thing gives me a massive headache.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Helga, I am starting to put two and two together. I believe Fr. Innocent’s statement, is evidence that Paul Sidebottom was lying or stretching and Stokoe used it to slash, burn and destroy in his usual way. Sweetly.

                      Fr. Innocent, who was there, wrote:

                      Father Isidore was intoxicated the night in question. I saw no occurrence of any behavior on the part of Father Isidore that even suggested sexual harassment or “inappropriate touching.”
                      But even if you don’t believe me, then consider this: Archpriest Alexei Karlgut, the OCA investigator assured Bishop NIKOLAI as far back as November 2, 2007, that none of the allegations made against Father Isidore were substantiated and that Farther Isidore could return to service immediately.

                      Although the Office of The Diocese of Alaska has released these findings, the findings of the OCA investigator have not been released to the public by the OCA, despite repeated appeals by Bishop NIKOLAI. The failure of the OCA office to exonerate a fellow priest who has been accused and investigated and cleared by that office seems to lack any sense of mercy. This is tragic, if not worse, inasmuch as a great deal of the discontent in our diocese is a result of the assumption that Father Isidore is guilty of sexual misconduct and/or that there is a cover-up led by Bishop NIKOLAI. Nothing could be further from the truth!

                      What about Fr. Garklavs? Speak out, people. Please, if you know, speak out. We can speak the truth here, and if enough truth is spoken to contradict the lies, enough evidence will build, and then maybe we can demand that fair and just action against these liars and life-destroyers be taken. God is not happy about it. This is absolutely unbelievable.

  17. Bishop Mark has been removed as Administrator of the Diocese of the South!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      I wonder how MS is going to spin this one. I imagine he has some ‘splainin’ to do to Bp Mark. “It wasn’t supposed to happen like this! Honest!”

      • SunnyFly says

        I am afraid, the reality is – his removal doesn’t mean anything.
        Nothing is really changed.

        Bp Mark is still getting the same salary from DOS (no changes here).
        Bp Mark is still actively traveling and campaigning for himself at the expense of DOS (strange isn’t it? But no changes here).
        Bp Mark will be listed as a candidate for the bishop position (no changes here).

        So, ask yourself what difference does this removal make?

        You think the battle is over?
        Thing twice.

        PS. Still it’s a victory!!! (a small one)

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          According to our by-laws, no bishop can campaign for himself, especially if he’s already on our DOS payroll. Huge conflict of interest.

          The problem is now the Synod’s. Clearly his continued placement in the DOS is untenable, so where to put him (i.e. how to pay his salary)? I suppose he could be made chancellor somewhere (even in the South) but this would defeat the purpose which to increase the Stokovite faction by one more vote on the Synod..

          • Well, if he’s not going to run away, he needs to learn OCA liturgics, and he needs someone (or several someones) to look out for him. Has he ever been tonsured a monk?

            His biography doesn’t give me a good idea as to what his skill set might be; the OCA pilfered it from the Antiochians and didn’t bother updating it. 🙂

          • SunnyFly says

            Bp Mark still has a big chance to become a bishop of DOS. There is a legal way to do that. All he needs to do is to participate in the election – he does not need to win at all.

            If there is no clear winner, then Synod has all the rights to assign a bishop for DOS.
            I am wondering who would it be?

            Bp. Mark knows that and that’s why he is actively campaigning.

            • You’re right. What do you think would be the best way to counteract that?

              After this, I seriously doubt Bishop Mark would ever get the majority vote for the nomination. I would love to see Stokoe try to spin the Synod’s election of the minority candidate, when that has worked oh so well in the past.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Helga, one way would be to not nominate him at all. Right now the well has been so thoroughly poisoned that even if he were the only nominee, the people would not accept him. Rumblings from the deaneries are that he can’t be trusted. None of the deans could take him into their confidence now that we know that he’s joined at the hip with Stokoe.

                The Synod is in an untenable position. If they vote him in, they ensure the destruction of the DoS. They’d have to deal with Mark later rather than sooner and they run the very real risk of things getting worse in the meantime. His reputation by then would be so blackened that an episcopal career would be over once and for all.

                My suggestion? Hit the Reset Button. Start over. Send Mark as an auxiliary somewhere else where he can get a fresh start. Lance the boil immediately rather than let it continue. The only way to do that is send him to another diocese. Right now.

                This is so much more humane, logical, and practical that I’ll bet a $100 that it won’t happen.

                • Mark from the DOS says

                  The Yahoo! Group Othodox Forum is apoplectic over this. They are blaming: (a) +Jonah, Fr. Fester, St. Serpahims, Rod Dreher, and Jesse. There is not the slightest consideration of the possibility that the problems are real or that the issues with the e-mails played any part in this.

                  They all seem to be waiting for Stokoe to tell them what to think . . . pathetic.

                  • LOL!

                    Do they seriously have no idea that Bishop Mark might have brought this on himself through his own actions?! So many Stokovites made fun of us for supposedly accusing the entire Synod and Metropolitan Council of being in on a conspiracy (which we weren’t and never did), instead of assuming it was all +Jonah’s fault.

                  • Who’s in on this supposed conspiracy against Bishop Mark?

                    Metropolitan Jonah, who took in Bishop Mark after the humiliations and ill-treatment from his former metropolitan became too much, giving him a good job and his own home to live in?

                    St. Seraphim’s Cathedral, who welcomed Bishop Mark with open arms, and rejected him only after it became apparent that he was pastorally and liturgically impaired?

                    Fr. Joseph Fester, who also welcomed Bishop Mark, and only moved against him out of concern for the Dallas community, putting his own position and reputation on the line?

                    • Mark from the DOS says

                      This is the most ridiculous part of the Stokoe-supporter spin. I have heard with my own ears +Jonah praise Bishop Mark. Everyone was excited to have him in the South. I can’t think of a single person who had anything bad to say about Bishop Mark’s arrival. What happened afterwards was no part of any conspiracy. It was, sadly, something that resulted from actions and poor decisions. I’ll await the spin, but this was the decision of +Nikon. Hope he doesn’t find himself on Stokoe’s enemies list.

                • A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

                  Lance the boil? Why , when its growing so beautifully? Send him to another diocese and admit defeat? Never!

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    They can admit it now or admit it later. Makes no difference to me (although it will to the DoS, which will continue to wither).

                    The problem with later is that it’s always worse and there’s more damage. If they move Mark to Miami, then it will be the same as moving a pile from one side of the room to the other. You’re still dealing with an intractable problem that’s not going to go away on its own.

                    If they move Mark as “Chancellor” but not diocesan bishop to Miami, what are the repurcussions? The drumbeat that the DoS is being split into two will increase. I got no personal problem with this as I fervently believe that we need more bishops, not fewer. However from what I keep hearing, people in the Eastern Deaneries of the DoS don’t want to split off from Dallas for the foreseeable future.

                    Anyway, right now Bp Mark is in limbo. He had to clear out his personal effects from Dallas so that means that that door is permanently closed to him. We really need to pray for him that he seeks repentance because right now it doesn’t appear that he thinks he did anything wrong.

                    BTW, this is what I mean by collateral damage. MS/Syosset Soviet had no idea that their egregious and reprehensible actions would result in the destruction of so many people, some of them their own allies.

                    Sad, isn’t it?

                • I agree that it’s unlikely that the DOS would accept Bishop Mark as their bishop at this point.

                  My personal concern at this point is getting him out of the DOS and off its payroll. My hope is that he can be rehabilitated with some time to cool off and get his head together. I don’t think Metropolitan Jonah could have foreseen this, but it was probably a mistake to throw him into an OCA parish so quickly.

                  Maybe one of the seminaries could take him in for awhile, not as a student, just as a guest. He could learn OCA liturgics with a lot of people around to help him learn, read in the library, maybe do some writing or translation work if he does that sort of thing. I’m not sure how to handle room/board/health insurance, but maybe there’s something that can be done about that between the Diocese of Washington and Syosset. Maybe with that (and some counseling), the nicer side of Bishop Mark would come out again, and some opportunity in the Church would present itself for him.

                  Also, there’s a retreat center in South Carolina run by Fr. John Breck, that specializes in helping clergy and church workers. If Bishop Mark has to stay in the Diocese of the South, maybe that could be of help to him.

                  However, I would not want Bishop Mark to take any position of authority or trust without a full and sincere personal apology to the entire OCA, along with Fr. Fester and all his correspondents, for his involvement with OCANews and violating Fr. Fester’s privacy.

              • just tired of it all says

                Those of you in the eastern part of the Diocese of the South, get ready. The price that St. Seraphim’s cathedral will pay for being the canary in the coal mine is that +Mark will move over to the Miami Cathedral, perhaps as chancellor, or with a chancellor named from the eastern deans, probably appointed in exchange for his silence on the topic of +Mark and his behavior.

                Deans of DOS, a warning. +Mark looked OK at SSOC for a while. There were small things, all that could be written off as cultural differences between jurisdictions, or maybe just as stress. But while these things were piling up, +Mark was busy getting rid of the priest that was here for 15 years in order to place his faithful companion, brought from the AOC, in the priest’s job. He spent a number of weeks/months monitoring all of Fr. Fester’s emails, sending those damaging to +Jonah to Mark Stokoe for publication, when they could do the most damage. He says he was defending himself from a conspiracy. Go read the +Nicolai letters and ask yourself what those letters had to do with +Mark. Meanwhile anyone in the parish (or clergy?) who may have emailed something personal to Fr. Joseph is wondering when or where they might see it on the Internet.

                Do you want to be under obedience to such a man?

                Of course he is going to be on his best behavior, especially after the wreckage left here in Dallas. It would be unreasonable to expect that you would be as stirred up in the eastern part of the diocese as we are in the Dallas area. We have had a close look, you are seeing the staged performance.

                Look at the number of parishes trashed under his watch in Toledo. Dallas was yet another repeat of the same. Ask yourself, who is the common denominator?

                It is clear that, whatever the character defects, the Synod wants to put this Bishop in the DOS. And once that happens, we are stuck with him till death do us part. Based upon the three months of chaos experienced at St. Seraphim, the laity here do not want this in any way shape or form. And as punishment for speaking out, the episcopal presence will be moved to Miami.

                It is imperative that we have alternatives to +Mark on our ballot, and if possible, exclude +Mark from the nominations altogether. We will have to work at this, as the Synod is using statutes and Canons to support their own agenda.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Helga, like a true Alinskyite, MS would amend his principles of conciliarity and lay involvment if and when the DoS selects candidates other than BpMark for its episcopal slate.

                The hypocrisy will be so blatant if out of candidates A, B, or C, the synod “elects” Mark. But would it be blatant enough for the Stokovites? Nah, the ends justify the means.

                Regardless, if Mark is the selectee, disaster awaits.

  18. Ignatius says

    Here is the text of the Questions and Answers posed to Bishop Nikon about the situation in the DOS.

    Here are the questions posed by the parish council officers. Below is Bishop Nikon’s response via email on the evening of May 27. 2011.

    Will you please send us a brief statement outlining the current state of the governance of both the Cathedral of St. Seraphim and of the Diocese of the South?

    Are you still serving as our locum tenens?

    Is Bishop Mark the administrator of the DOS?

    What is Fr. John’s status?

    To whom should we look for direction among the clergy/episcopate? The Parish Council stands ready to assist in whatever is needed. What role would you like the parish council to play? Through the transition? Long term?

    Response from Bishop Nikon:

    Yes I am still the locum tenens.

    Bishop Mark is not the administrator of the diocese, although he may continue to visit some parishes as he still is a possible candidate and this procedure has been in practice in several diocese for a number of years, holding different titles as guests. For example, I was listed as Bishop of Baltimore while taking care of the Albanian Archdiocese and the Diocese of New England prior to my election, two individuals were guests of the diocese of Alaska and one still is and both are possible candidates for election in Alaska, Bishop Matthais was a guest visiting parishes in the diocese of the mid-west prior to his election so it is not an unusual practice and in the long run has proved most beneficial.

    Bishop Mark for the time being will be listed among the clergy as simply the Bishop of Baltimore but not as rector of the Cathedral. Fr. John is acting rector for the time being since he is there and we are looking for a permanent rector of the cathedral. By we I mean my brother hierarchs and ascertain who is or will be available in the near future.

    Bishop Mark’s name should already have been removed from the cathedral listing.

    I will be meeting with the deans this week and from my experience in other diocese, when there is a pastoral or parochial issue that the pastor feels is beyond his competence, he refers the matter to the dean, if the dean feels that it is necessary to move to a higher level, he refers the matter to the chancellor (whom I hope to appoint this week) if the chancellor feels the matter needs to be directed to a hierarchal (sic) authority, it is referred to me or whomever is the locum tenens or ruling bishop of a diocese.

    I hope this answers the immediate questions. As you state, there are a number of things in motion and we do not want to make hasty decisions when it comes to the good order of the Church and the good order of the cathedral.

    With my Blessings,

    Well, now for some comments on this response by Bishop Nikon. How amazing that Bishop Nikon still holds out hope that Bishop Mark could be a possible candidate for the DOS? Based on what? His stellar record while at St Seraphim Cathedral and his handling of pastoral issues such as that of Fr Anderson and Fr Fester? Are we to accept his arbitrary treatment of Fr Anderson and his immoral and unethical treatment of Fr Fester? A bishop is first to be a shepherd to his clergy. In that, this man failed miserably.

    And if he is still considered a possible candidate, one can ask, by whom? The Synod? If one is looking for a vetting process for Bishop Mark, one can conclude that his real-time vetting has shown him to be unfit for service in the DOS and I would add the OCA.

    Bishop Mark now has no standing in the DOS. None. He is the Bishop of Baltimore, an Auxiliary to Metropolitan Jonah. Who’s guest is he? Is he the guest of Bishop Nikon the Locum Tenens of the DOS? Is Bishop Nikon paying for his travel as a guest? How long will he be a “guest?” In the case of Bishop Matthias, he traveled in the Midwest as one of several who were vetted as candidates. And, Bishop Mathias did a great deal of travel AFTER he was made Bishop-elect in the Midwest. This Bishop Mark is only a candidate in his own mind and that of Bishop Nikon who continues to push him on the DOS. His continued travel in the DOS serves no good purpose for the South.

    How can Bishop Mark be “simply listed as the Bishop of Baltimore”? Such a title has no standing in the DOS now that he has been removed as the Temporary Administrator and Acting Rector of SSOC. He should not be listed in anyway as a cleric with any standing in the DOS. He does not belong to the DOS in any way, shape or manner.

    It should be noted also that Bishop Nikon is wrong when he states that Fr John Anderson will be the “Acting Rector” of SSOC. A priest can’t be the Rector of a Cathedral, only a bishop can. Thus Bishop Nikon is the Acting Rector of St Seraphim Fr John could be listed as the “Acting Dean” of the Cathedral.

    Let us hope that this communique from Bishop Nikon is not just a “patch job” so that Bishop Mark can be given the title of Acting or Interim Chancellor of the DOS. If he messed up so badly with his previous titles and responsibilities, what makes anyone think he will do any better with another title, like Chancellor? Unless, of course, the more cynical in our midst would conclude that this is Bishop Mark’s way of still pulling down a paycheck? But, I am sure that never crossed Bishop Nikon or Bishop Mark’s mind!!

    Metropolitan Jonah, do the right thing. Recall Bishop Mark to his See in Baltimore. Let him sit there in that one parish (Sorry folks at St. Andrew’s) as their guest. Bishop Mark has long since worn out his welcome in the South and one can only hope that the DOS Deans meeting in South Carolina on Memorial Day will make this point loud and clear to Bishop Nikon and Bishop Mark so that the South can really begin to vet serious candidates who will appreciate this Diocese and not try and use it for their own devices.

    Congratulations to the faithful at St Seraphim Cathedral and to the deans of the Diocese of the South who stood up against a man who was a bad choice from the get-go and one who manifested his lack of moral integrity.

    • Tiresias says

      Christ is risen and with four days to Ascension, let all indeed thank God and rejoice for +Nikon’s action.

      As for a proper place for +Mark, consider whether retirement to a monastery without Internet access for a temporary (but extended) period of repentance, contrition, fasting and prayer is not in some sense necessary for the good of his soul. One who came upon and took private emails and disseminated them for publication should count it all grace that he has not forfeited the privilege to serve as a bishop or even as a priest.

      There is no fault, brethren, in one’s chancing upon the treasure trove; but the good, kind, loving and righteous man and priest would have taken the matter to Fr. Fester in private (and perhaps ++Jonah and, one could imagine circumstances under which he might have been justified in giving them to the entire Synod), but one who would be an imitator of Christ and a pastor and who would strive to be a saint, would never, under any circumstances, have released them to a man with an agenda whom he new would broadcast them far and wide and spin them for his own (n part malicious) purpose.

      While +Mark continues to serve as clergy without public repentance and while Mr. Stokoe and his other known collaborators remain with impunity on the Metropolitan Council, the OCA is in grave jeopardy of losing its claim to be fully catholic and Orthodox for it will not reseemble Christ and His Body, which is to be spotless and without blemish. God is not mocked and the fate of Israel stands testimony.

      Read not these words and words of anger, but of love for all involved.


      • I’m wondering if any members of the HS, MC and Soysset Adm. will ever feel that they can in the future trust Bishop+Mark with confidential business or personal information or correspondence.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Niko, although your point is logical and you speak from practicality, in reality, it’s a little late in the day for that. I think that what Mark’s done is par for the course as far as the higher reaches of the OCA is concerned.

          This is not what I meant by The Toxic Culture when I first coined that term, but it is a way how the Toxic Culture manifests itself in Syosset.

          My guess is that they don’t really trust each other anyway so even if they know that Person A leaks to Stokoe it’s not that big of a deal since they all do it. Sad.

  19. Today the DoS deans meet with Nikon and Mark (not without loud protestations from DoS deans) about the future of the South. Folks here are saying that Fr John Chudik of Bradenton, FL has taken Bishop Mark in and he will live there for the next several months. Why does he have to stay in the South?

    Like always, the Synod will be the last to figure out that Bishop Mark shot himself in the foot when he acted in a totally unethical, immoral and unChristian way. His actions have left deep wounds in the hearts of many good people. The Cathedral in Miami wants no part of him either and if the Synod thinks that they can take away all his titles but the DoS still has to support him, that will be the final straw.

    Bishop Nikon, listen to the DoS deans. Mark is not welcome here any longer. We don’t want our tithes going to Dallas to pay for this man. If he stays and the DoS still pays him, our tithes will stop until he is off the payroll. Are we paying him because someone still thinks he is a candidate for the South? Not a chance. Besides, it is totally improper to maintain a candidate. He has visited enough parishes in the South and met enough people for us to know that he is not worth considering any longer.

    Bishop Mark has no role to fill here in the South. He should not even be listed on the South website. He is not a cleric of the DoS. He was only in the South because he was the Administrator appointed by Jonah. He was removed from that position by the current Locum Tenens. He is a bishop under Jonah in the Archdiocese of Washington. That is where he belongs.

    • O Hamartolos says

      If you are speaking as a member of the Miami Cathedral, then I welcome your comments. If not, i am reticent to hope.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Florida, I agree with your sentiments exactly. However because I am trying to have an objective view as possible, can you direct correspondents from Florida to this website so that I can get a fuller picture (as I am located west of the Mississippi)?

    • “He is a bishop under Jonah in the Archdiocese of Washington. That is where he belongs.”

      OHH no thank you!

  20. Jacob says and I (Jane Rachel) typed it out because I think it’s good:

    To achieve his ends, Stokoe operates this way: ‘We will first create the perception, then take steps according to the created perception to make it appear to be real, even though it has nothing to do with actuality.’ Stokoe is a firm believer that perception is everything. There is a huge schizophrenic difference between perception and actuality. And all such behavior needs to be exorcised from the leadership of the OCA. What’s going on is spiritual, psychological and intellectual misconduct. That kind of conduct is evil, and it needs to be purged. There may be hope yet. Stokoe says, “I will control.” That doesn’t come from Orthodoxy, or the Bible, it comes from the lust for power. We are not called to that. They make Jesus look like some sort of Dancing Fool in comparison! People need to talk, to speak out. It only took two percent of the entire student population in the United States to effect all the changes in sixties in this country. The revolution may not have to be by popular edict, but even two percent can have an enormous effect.

  21. Chris Plourde says


    I agree that we need to speak differently to “the culture and its gate-keepers” than we speak in pastoral circumstances. I also think we need to keep in mind that those who need pastoral care are listening when we speak to our culture.

    My criticism of the “culture war” is not that it goes too far, but that it does not go far enough. The culture war is a war between competing errors, the error of Protestantism and the error of neo-paganism. Orthodoxy stands outside of that competition, and can offer a witness to the fulness of Truth.

    In its particulars the culture war represents a tossing of the baby with the bathwater on the one hand, and an attempt to hold onto both on the other. The error of the liberal secular culture in rejecting the very notion of sin, preferring to pathologise and minimize wrongdoing, is a reaction to the error of the Protestant religious culture that views sin as a matter of crime and punishment. Orthodoxy does not mitigate sin with conditions and circumstances, but neither does it proclaim us to be sinners in the hands of an angry God.

    Orthodoxy can transcend the pointless culture war exercise of battling over whose victim is worse and which victimizer is more to be despised because Orthodoxy understands these things from an entirely different framework. It is the Orthodox understanding of reality that we need to proclaim clearly and consistently, a framework which is not that of western Christianity.

    To me the time is ripe for an Orthodox witness to our American culture that is losing its way, which is why I really appreciate Metropolitan +Jonah and his approach to these things.

    • It’s funny. I’m sitting next to someone who is reading Crime and Punishment right now — certainly not a Western or Protestant novel, but loved as much by atheists in the West as by theists in the East. Of course things were different 150 years ago.

      I’m beginning to believe there is not really one truly Orthodox approach to anything, though I think the ideals you have just expressed are good.

      Even if the Synod eventually takes the muzzle out of Jonah’s mouth and the shackles off his feet, the harm they have done will endure for a long time. Part of what gave Jonah’s voice authority was the sense that he spoke for a wise, ancient, unchanging, unified religion (with a legitimate claim to be The Church). The Synod has made clear that he does not speak for the bishops of the American church, and that many of the myths about Orthodoxy are “just myths”. The Synod has done real lasting damage to the authority of any Orthodox voice in the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

      Real harm to the culture, and real harm to individual souls. I don’t see any way around it. The hubbub among lay people is no big deal to folks outside the family (in fact it is a sign of strength to allow for open dialogue, I believe), but the bishops are supposed to be pretty fully converted at this stage in their lives. A religion that doesn’t have fully converted senior leaders is hard to take seriously as a moral authority. Who knows who these guys speak for and whether they might change their minds tomorrow. If they can’t even agree with their elected leader, you have to take everything they say and do with a grain of salt.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Um, there are many things that bother me about the present crisis. It’s hard to know where to begin. However I believe you have elucidated the ultimate harm, that the bishops have done lasting harm to the belief that Orthodoxy represented a long tradition of unified moral concensus.

      • Chris Plourde says

        Um, I simply don’t see where you get this:

        The Synod has made clear that he does not speak for the bishops of the American church, and that many of the myths about Orthodoxy are “just myths”.

        I challenge you to quote the statement or cite the action of the Synod that supports this comment.

        • They have gagged him. Maybe someone else has time to quote you chapter and verse, but you know what they have done. You don’t gag someone who speaks for you.

          • Chris Plourde says

            +Jonah is not gagged and therefore has not been gagged. Your assertion is belied by reality.

            I am not surprised that you cannot support your claim with a single fact or even a quote out-of-context, as there are no facts or quote to support you. I am surprised that you evidence such clear distain for the facts and those of us who read your posts.

            I will pray for you, but can no longer take you any more respectfully as either a seeker or a critic than you take us, which is to say not at all.

            • Before I go for good, I want to thank you Chris, for your wisdom and good sense, Fr. Yusuf, ditto, mainly, Fr. John, and a few others here — most of whom have already left. I hope Jonah (Paffhausen) listens to his better angels and is reconciled truly with the Holy Synod and they with him, and that together they find a way to lead your church to sanity and peace in Christ. I wish all of you the best, quite sincerely, in spite of my harsh and sometimes bitter words.

              I’ll ask you one thing, for what it’s worth coming from me, a guy whose take many of you so clearly despise: consider how men and women who view themselves as gay but are also seeking Christ might think and feel if they were to stumble upon this list.

              They’re human, too, you know. Christ died for them. Many of them find it very difficult to understand that — because of people just like so many of you here. That’s something that should make you weep. You have a lot to learn about love.

              • Chris,

                Mike, who is not a member of your church says:

                I hope Jonah (Paffhausen) listens to his better angels and is reconciled truly with the Holy Synod

                Where do you think he got the idea that Jonah needs to “listen to his better angels” and needs to be “reconciled truly with the Holy Synod”?

                You owe me an honest response in exchange for the time and effort I am about to invest in a response to you. And just to be clear and to save us all time, “I have no idea” would be a dishonest response.

                • Where do you imagine I got the idea, Um? You’re presumptuous.

                  This interesting remark illustrates a commonly occurring flaw in your discourse: too often, it appears to be based much less on facts than on philodoxy, projections and gross presumptions, advanced via fallacious reasoning and clothed in mere rhetoric. In this case, right from scratch, you’re trying to base an exchange on two falsehoods: 1) the premise, which you repeat like a broken record, that Jonah is more or less “right” and “the” Holy Synod is more or less “wrong,” and 2) a product of pure imagination, logismoi: that you have divined my sources for knowing, with near certainty, that 1) is delusional and mistaken.

                  I’m not a member of the OCA. I’m a prospective member. Or was: first the AOCNA and now the OCA have pretty much been ticked off my list. The latter not least because of this place and the low level of the very unimpressive discourse here. With a few exceptions, of course. One jurisdiction seems compromised by a bizarre personality/anti-personality cult, while the other appears to be subjugated under the feet of an unjust Oriental despot. To me, such conditions scream: RUN! It’s really that simple.

                  Tell me, Um: which brothers don’t require an ever more extensive and ever deepening mutual reconciliation and mutual forgiveness, more or less continually? And who among us doesn’t need to listen more and more closely to their “better angels,” and to the Holy Spirit?

                  One more thing, a friendly suggestion: don’t mutilate other people’s comments. It makes you seem rather dishonest:

                  I hope Jonah (Paffhausen) listens to his better angels and is reconciled truly with the Holy Synod and they with him, and that together they find a way to lead your church to sanity and peace in Christ.

                  • Mike,

                    I make no assumptions about where you get your information. It might be helpful to Chris and me and others if you would take the time to explain.

                    My earlier point was that “The Synod has made clear that [Jonah] does not speak for the bishops of the American church.”

                    If even you, as an admitted outsider, can see this, then it is kind of silly that I need to explain this to an insider, don’t you agree?

                    For what it is worth, I agree with your assessment. So that makes two admitted outsiders who see things this way. Actually everyone I’ve talked to about this matter in “real life” sees it this way, this includes at least one atheist, two Catholics, and a Protestant that I can think of right off the top of my head. Chris does not see things this way. Hence the need for this conversation about where we are getting this idea from.

                    • Um, I’m not sure how you get from what I wrote to your assumption on its basis that I agreed with what you did. Run the mechanism of that trip by me?

                      I’m an outsider to the OCA only in the most formal sense of the word. I’m not an outsider to the Orthodox phronema, I hope.

                      I second Chris’s question about the evidence for your claim that Met. Jonah has been muzzled by the Holy Synod. I also agree with him that this assertion:

                      The Synod has made clear that [Jonah] does not speak for the bishops of the American church.

                      goes way beyond the evidence — at least any I’ve seen or heard. Why do you say that? I’m not claiming you’re wrong, necessarily. But show me the beef.

                    • I apologize for flying off the handle there. I misunderstood you.

                  • Mike,

                    To address your more general criticisms:

                    (1) You have not previously engaged me in conversation about any fact or argument that I have put forward. Your blanket condemnation of my “style” is therefore not beneficial. Take the time to discuss specifics or spare me the condemnation.

                    (2) I do not need to quote you extensively on this blog, as your original statement is present for all the world to see — and in context, I might add. If I ever did use your statement dishonestly, then that would also be on the record for all the world to see. I’m not worried as I have not used your statements dishonestly. If you should choose to clarify, your clarification will also be part of the record. This seems like a pretty fair system, doesn’t it?

                    Here is what I do presume: The problem that you have with me is that you do not like my objectives. This is a very different matter from finding fault with my arguments.

                    • Before I reply to your confessed presumption, I have to confront a serious disagreement that’s obstructing our discussion. You do seem to me to be positing, inadequately examined (IMHO)

                      the premise, which you repeat like a broken record, that Jonah is more or less “right” and “the” Holy Synod is more or less “wrong”

                      Aren’t you? I read much of what you write here, and that’s certainly a common theme in it. And I utterly disagree that you could possibly have enough data to justify such a conclusion. It strikes me as a case of hubris almost on George’s level. Which is saying a lot.

                      1) I have in fact engaged you with respect to flawed argument before. I can recall at least three occasions. I don’t have time to revisit old posts, but going forward, if I see examples of what I complained about I’ll be sure to let you know, if I’m in the discussion, as I was here. And I wasn’t condemning your “style.” The problem I’ve noted isn’t aesthetic.

                      2) I insist that you not truncate my sentences like that. I’m telling you again that I regard it as an abuse. I disagree with your claim that it wasn’t dishonest use, in its potential effect. I don’t claim to know what was going on in your head. Anyway, I try hard not to do that to others and I expect the same respect. Anyone is welcome to call me on it if I’m guilty of it. It’s elementary ethics in discussion.

                      There’s enough lame paraphrasing and eisegesis and far worse around here as it is. Profound dishonesty is rampant here. Please don’t let it corrupt your own discourse.

                    • Every time you get a challenge you don’t like your emotional temperature rises and you start to screech. “Holy anger” I think you call it. It has the same feel as the Drehzlo site.

                    • Mike,

                      I will also be vulnerable here and admit that I have not expected an honest discussion from you, so you are probably right to feel these low expectations from me. To the extent that you are motivated by honesty and goodwill, I apologize for my low expectations. If your intentions really are pure, then just stick with me (and others) long enough to thresh out some of these misunderstandings. Thanks.

                      OK, let me answer your concrete question to the best of my ability, since you do genuinely want to know:

                      I would say that you have correctly characterized my conclusion (not my premise) with respect to one critical issue at least. This issue is the harm that is being done by Mark Stokoe and those who have conspired with him to use false pretenses to oust Jonah. If the Holy Synod would take bold action to bring justice with regards to this crisis (the way they have with Fester, for example), then I would find myself saying that both Jonah and the Holy Synod are correct. In this hypothetical scenario, I could even grow to respect, trust, and love the Synod, as I currently respect Jonah, and am starting to trust and love him. Personally I don’t think it is wrong to be a fan of a leader or to love a leader. All else being equal, I think that is the way things should be, don’t you?

                      But instead of this rosy scenario, the Synod has made the situation worse by not taking bold action to address the injustice, they have not even spoken out to let people know that they really understand how grave this injustice is and how disruptive it is to the church. And at the same time, they have taken actions to punish or discipline Jonah without explaining why. I certainly do think there is a time and a place for discipline in the church. But they have to be aware of the impressions they are creating, and they seem to be ok with the impressions they are creating. In no way was Jonah doing anything that would permanently harm the church or commit it to an irrevocable course of action. No one has suggested a problem of this magnitude. So there is time for the Synod to continue working with Jonah in good faith. The Mark Stokoe et al. problem on the other hand is an urgent and continuing problem that if left uncorrected could very well lead to irrevocable harm to a metropolitan’s ministry, to the removal of a good bishop from office, to the loss of good relations with other Orthodox jurisdictions, and many other problems as grave or more grave than this. It has already lead to tremendous disorder. I have gone from knowing nothing about the Synod to wondering about their trustworthiness, and finally to being quite certain there is at least a core group within the Synod that is at the very least compromised by Stokoe and perhaps compromised in other ways as well.

                      Having lived through the destruction of the Episcopal Church at the hands of the gay rights movement, I did suspect the hand of a gay cabal in the current crisis even before I came online to try to find out more information. This was based on reading the Washington Post article that seemed to bother so many in the Synod. I did not know about ocanews, ocatruth, monomakhos, or really much of anything about the OCA. I did know that Jonah stepped forward to offer support to the small ‘o’ orthodox Christians who were being hammered by the gay rights activists in the Episcopal Church. So I knew that he read that situation well, and I personally felt like he communicated love in his support. So I had a natural inclination to both like Jonah and see the hand of a gay cabal at work in the current OCA crisis. Everything that I have discovered since then has confirmed these initial biases. I respect Jonah more the more facts I learn about him. I also like him more. I am absolutely certain at this point that a gay cabal is one of the key factors in the current crisis (though as others have pointed out, probably not the only important factor or faction). But the Synod I had no initial biases toward. Initially I was very hopeful that they would exhibit wise, effective leadership with respect to the clear injustice of Stokoe’s attacks. I kept hoping, because I wanted to believe that this was a strong church, perhaps even the capital ‘c’ Church in the U.S. in some real way that I had not experienced yet. I’m still trying to stay open to that possibility, but my mind is made up with regards to the Synod. The Synod has failed, it has failed horribly, and the most charitable explanation I can come up with is that they are compromised in some way (perhaps that they are being blackmailed by Stokoe). I can certainly think of less charitable explanations as well.

                      Do I think Jonah is incapable of error? No, not at all, and I really do mean that. I could come up with some ways to criticize him. But in the current situation, I think it would be wrong to speak ill of a good man who has been so horribly wronged, who still has powerful enemies who lust after his blood. If the Synod could restore good order in the church, right the injustices that are obvious to even an outsider like me, and make the church a safe place for people of good will again, then we might be able to indulge in a little friendly game of “which flaw of the metropolitan do you like best.”

                      How’s that for a concrete answer to your concrete question?

                      Regarding hubris: I am guilty as charged with regard to some issues. Though I’m also quite insecure with regard to others. When I believe I am correct, I strive for honesty, and I do strive for love too, just not the kind of love that doesn’t make a difference. You know the principle of “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (it’s a Pauline principle), well I strive for that as I am able. I make some mistakes along the way, but I am right often enough that it can lead to a confidence that can border on arrogance at times. All these things I am willing to admit, but I try to even put my own arrogance out of my mind when I’m communicating. I really do try to think about what is most likely to be beneficial in the long run. The long run for me is pretty long too, like this generation and into the next. I suppose that leads to at least the appearance of conversational inappropriateness at times. At the end of the day, I just do the best I can and try not to let fears of any kind stop me from doing what I can in my own little way.

                      I’ve learned a lot from participating on this blog. Some about Orthodoxy, some about the OCA specifically. This has been good for me as I’m in a phase of trying to figure out my next step. There seem to be more Greek Orthodox parishes wherever I land than OCA parishes, but the OCA is a legitimate presence nationwide. My thoughts and feelings toward Orthodoxy are genuinely very mixed at the moment. Doctrinally, I appreciated that Orthodoxy does not have some of the Catholic “heresies” that I cannot make myself believe, and there are some other advantages as well. But I’m also disappointed by some things, and it is good to be aware of these issues as well.

                      I’m not sure how regularly I will be posting on here going forward, but I hope you know I appreciate the conversation and will try to honor your requests as I am able in my limited mental capacity and given my limited time.

                    • Thanks for this, Um. But you still haven’t really answered my question.

                      This issue is the harm that is being done by Mark Stokoe and those who have conspired with him to use false pretenses to oust Jonah.

                      This is a very grave charge against MS et al. If it were true, then you and I and others here would have no disagreement about the existence of grave injustice to Metropolitan Jonah. I’m not persuaded that it’s true. I want to see the beef.

                      I stipulate that MS and others certainly appear to want to oust Jonah. Why, I do not know, and neither does anyone here, I’d bet — in spite of the contagious delusions and suspicions vented mimetically here about various motives du jour. I want to see your solid, concrete evidence for thinking that their effort is based on the use of “false pretenses.” That characterization in itself is quite vague and lacking in resolution. The (perhaps merely apparent, to me) lack of discovery here so far of solid, more or less objective evidence is the core of our disagreement, as far as I am concerned. I want to see such evidence. How could I make myself any clearer? Make a list of facts, please. Sans editorializing or your interpretations.

                    • I will also be vulnerable here and admit that I have not expected an honest discussion from you, so you are probably right to feel these low expectations from me. To the extent that you are motivated by honesty and goodwill, I apologize for my low expectations.

                      Why? Please document where you think or feel or intuit or whatever that I have been dishonest with you. Is the fact that you have not expected an honest discussion from me based on any evidence I’ve provided, or is that merely another presumption of yours? I’m sincerely interested in a careful answer to this question. I loathe my own dishonesty more than anyone else’s. I want to get back to work on rooting it out mercilessly. So please don’t pull any punches with me. Hold up that mirror. I’d regard it as profound philadelphia on your part. That goes for anyone else here, too.

                    • Oh Mike please. It isn’t Um’s job to persuade you. This is a discussion forum, not a courtroom. Sure, we know the charge is grave, or at least we know you think it is. But we don’t think Stokoe is a journalist, just a blogger. It’s really not as grave as you think it is.

                      I loathe my own dishonesty more than anyone else’s.

                      What self-reverential nonsense. In order to garner the praise for loathing your own dishonesty above all others, you first have to be dishonest! How could you praise yourself otherwise?

                    • Mike,

                      Someone really needs to put together a FAQ page with the best responses to these admittedly very good questions. Several have responded to this question already, but I don’t think there is one definitive collection of all the best evidence presented in its clearest form with appropriate citations, etc. Folks that don’t have time to read the now thousands of comments on these blogs are obviously going to be left out of the loop.

                      I think the (at least two) leaked emails between Stokoe and other members of the MC provide the strongest evidence that they were just fishing around for a “hook” to remove Jonah and not actually trying to resolve a legitimate complaint through appropriate channels. The authenticity of these emails is not in dispute. These issues have been discussed ad infinitum here on this blog. A somewhat more orderly presentation is available on … though I don’t think anyone has hit a home run on the answer to your question just yet (maybe a triple with 3 runs driven in). You’ll have to put some of the evidence together for yourself.

                      Personally I’d like to see someone do this, and if I could be paid for my time, I’d be happy to do it myself. But since I’m not paid for my time, do have other legitimate responsibilities, etc., I’m going to have to step back from the temptation to make the case for you again right now.

                      I’d like to see a very clear list of all the individuals who can be documented to have either actively conspired with Stokoe against Jonah or who failed to report such plans and actions to appropriate authorities. I’d like to see the evidence all in one place and presented in an orderly way. Because until justice is done with respect to each of these leaders, the OCA cannot find peace. It’s not about being vindictive, it is about finding a way to be functional as an organization. In a secular government, what you’d probably do is appoint a committee with fact finding powers to investigate and spell out their findings for everyone. But there are a lot of facts already out there, and the Synod knows what we know, so they are not blameless in ignoring the mess.

                      Hopefully others can step in and provide you with a more concrete answer to your question. In the meantime, some good information is provided on

            • Chris,

              You kill me with your kindness. But if your intent is to rattle my cage, there is not much that can do that anymore. I suffered serious depression for years in the wake of gay rights activists splitting first my parish, then my diocese, and finally my national church. I’ve come through that and more, and so there is not much that surprises me anymore. I do feel for you and other members of your church right now, but your accusations and judgments against me personally are groundless and not the solution to your problems. I’ve seen it all with respect to gay activism, and relentless sophistry is among the favored tools in the gay rights tool box. It is exhausting, and I cannot be expected to correct every twisted argument personally. A functional church would not need me to do that. Nevertheless, I will attempt to respond to your specific demand above when I have time.

              • My answer is awaiting moderation, I assume because of the links I included. The webmaster should feel free to delete this comment after approving my other comment. Thanks.

              • Oh Mike please. It isn’t Um’s job to persuade you. This is a discussion forum, not a courtroom. Sure, we know the charge is grave, or at least we know you think it is. But we don’t think Stokoe is a journalist, just a blogger. It’s really not as grave as you think it is.

                I loathe my own dishonesty more than anyone else’s.

                What self-reverential nonsense. In order to garner the praise for loathing your own dishonesty above all others, you first have to be dishonest! How could you praise yourself otherwise?

                Olga, dear, your debut is most inauspicious. I tell you this in charity. I trust you can redeem it, however. Here’s some help:

                Evidently, you’re (pl., respecting, until further notice, your implicit claim to be a spokeswoman for y’all) unaware that to charge a very prominent member of one of Christ’s churches, as Um has done, with participating in a conspiracy to take down his Primate using “false pretenses” is to level a grave charge, first of all. It’s somewhat immaterial, therefore, whether you (pl., to be painfully explicit and to respect the dignity of the office to which you have been appointed, apparently) or anyone else regard him as a blogger, a journalist or an oyster. The objective fact that he’s a member of the MC is material and relevant to the gravity of Um’s charge. Unlike whatever it was that you’re on about. Obviously.

                I’m wondering about the antecedent you intended your use of “it” to stand for. Is this as unclear to you as it is to me? Recall that in English grammar and syntax, pronouns refer to something. Maybe you’d care enough to clarify what that was? I’m a little slow, so you may have to hold my hand here.

                Another thing you may recall is that when an apostrophe s (‘s) follows a noun, that is a clue that it is in the possessive (genitive) case. I realize you know this, of course. Just a brotherly reminder.

                Armed with this reminder, spokeswoman, maybe you’d like to reconsider your published intrerpretation of

                I loathe my own dishonesty more than anyone else’s.

                I hope I’ve helped you see why the nature of the dishonesty you’re charging me with is less than vividly clear. Try again? Take better aim, this time.

                • Miss the point, Mike? It’s not about the grave charge. It’s about you setting yourself up as judge in the Monomakhos courtroom. No thanks.

                  • Oh, OK, Olga. Yes, I guess I did, and to be perfectly honest I miss it still. Your posts are just too subtle for me. But never mind; as I warned you, I’m a little slow. Thanks for your patience with me, anyway!

                    In my defense, I guess I’d just say that I thought I was only trying to clarify the details in the discovery process that prosecuting attorney Um had set in motion with respect to the defendant. I don’t think I started this, really. And I sure didn’t mean to trespass on y’all’s turf by playing the judge: that definitely seems more in y’all’s skillset than in mine. Nevertheless, I’m confident that you’re generous enough to forgive me for being so uppity, dear. Thanks in advance for that, too.


                    A old, mutual friend of ours (1st person plural possessive pronoun, meaning “yours [yours, individually, and y’all’s, too] and also mine” — to be excruciatingly explicit for you, dear) wrote something à propos a long time ago. I offer it clothed in its original Koiné, mostly because I sense and fear that you in particular might find it a rather dark saying. (I’m sure that you, too, revere everything St. Paul wrote as Holy Scripture. And I reckon it’s a very good thing that you do, just as I do.):

                    …οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἀκαταστασίας ὁ θεὸς ἀλλὰ εἰρήνης. Ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων, αἱ γυναῖκες ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις σιγάτωσαν, οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτρέπεται αὐταῖς λαλεῖν: ἀλλὰ ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει. εἰ δέ τι μαθεῖν θέλουσιν, ἐν οἴκῳ τοὺς ἰδίους ἄνδρας ἐπερωτάτωσαν, αἰσχρὸν γάρ ἐστιν γυναικὶ λαλεῖν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ. ἢ ἀφ’ ὑμῶν ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐξῆλθεν, ἢ εἰς ὑμᾶς μόνους κατήντησεν; Εἴ τις δοκεῖ προφήτης εἶναι ἢ πνευματικός, ἐπιγινωσκέτω ἃ γράφω ὑμῖν ὅτι κυρίου ἐστὶν ἐντολή: εἰ δέ τις ἀγνοεῖ, ἀγνοεῖται. ὥστε, ἀδελφοί [μου], ζηλοῦτε τὸ προφητεύειν, καὶ τὸ λαλεῖν μὴ κωλύετε γλώσσαις: πάντα δὲ εὐσχημόνως καὶ κατὰ τάξιν γινέσθω.

                    Olga, ain’t St. Paul swell! Always providing us with such good advice. The older I get, the more profoundly I revere his practical good sense as well as his sublime wisdom.


                    So . . . how’s the weather out in your neck of the woods? Here in southern California it’s been very fine. My tomatoes are coming along like gangbusters already. Last year, cool and cloudy until halfway through July, near the coast here. That happens some years, but not this one! Fingers crossed!

                    • Many words Mikey! You’re so smart too! Thanks for sharing!

                    • Ivan Vasiliev says

                      Mike, you have a brilliant mind but there is an unkindness in your quote to Olga. Should she be silent just because she is a woman? Is contentiousness/confusion a feminine sin only? Then how do we explain the plethora of male voices in these debates? Furthermore, at least as far as I know, the Holy Synod contains no female voices. If there is confusion and contention it is most surely not to be blamed on women. I’m not quite sure why you chose this quote (other than the first line) at all. If all the contestants in our current troubles had been speaking in tongues (the main context of I Corinthians 14) we would have been the better off.

                    • Ivan, Mike likes to think he is the smartest man in the room.

                    • Many words Mikey! You’re so smart too! Thanks for sharing!

                      LORD POLONIUS
                      This business is well ended.
                      My liege, and madam, to expostulate
                      What majesty should be, what duty is,
                      Why day is day, night night, and time is time,
                      Were nothing but to waste night, day and time.
                      Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
                      And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
                      I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
                      Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
                      What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?
                      But let that go.

                      Dear Olga, you’ve shown us that brevity can be the “soul” of witlessness, too. Brava!

                      So don’t think me ungrateful for your contribution. It just goes to show that everyone has something to share. Nevertheless, I trust you can do better than this. And therefore, as your good friend, I strongly advise you in the meantime to say no more. You’re just diggin’ it deeper, dear.

                  • Ivan, maybe there are cases where harshness is the only sensible tactical option at hand for acting with genuine kindness. Even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. Sometimes, the tender harshness of the just can be kind. This place desperately needs a sort of “bad cop” to enforce the laws against the most egregious outpourings of noetic corruption. I’m used to the role, these days, and I can play it well. I’d much prefer to be the diffident and gently exhorting “good cop.”

                    My indirect suggestion to her was that she might consider silence until she had something worth saying. Her first two contributions consisted of close to 100% irrational noise and next to no signal: inversion of the facts in the case at issue between me and Um, gross misrepresentation of my words, evident incompetence in reading basic English, arrogant presumption, hollow and ungrounded pretentiousness, a certain slithering shifting of her ground, diversionary impertinences, evident resentment at genuine merit, etc. I could easily analyze even more base corruption out of it, but you get the idea.

                    I think you, maybe more than anyone here, could discern, as I do, that her two posts are a clinically fascinating display of just how much babble can be densely packed into the semblance of a few words. I’m rather astonished and impressed by her skill. And how does her third post top it off?: brazen shamelessness. No surprise to me. One knows the type. Because I respect your opinion immensely, I gotta ask: when confronted with poshlost at this level, what is there to be gentle with? What’s the point? It’s utterly beneath her dignity to behave like that. I give her the credit that she knows it, and I insist that I did my sister a service, in tough love.

                    Contention and confusion are two different things. I’m surprised that you, of all the contributors here, appear to conflate them. I’ll respond in detail to the rest of your post when I have time. For what it’s worth, and with no flattery intended, you’re near the top of my list of reasons to remain here.

                    • Ivan Vasiliev says


                      I’ll take flattery wherever I can get it!

                      While the term, ἀκαταστασίας, clearly means, “confusion”, or, “instability”, I stretched things to bring in “contention” (Wycliffe used “dissension” in his translation). My whole point really is that much of the contention that appears on these pages seems to be the result of confusion over things we basically agree on. I recently experienced this in a series of exchanges with Fr. Hans (and others).

                      In reading your exchanges with Olga I was left wondering whether either of you had any fundamental disagreement on issues as opposed to style (I may have missed something earlier).

                      Of course, the quote from I Corinthians 14 was ambiguous enough to make me wonder whether you thought women, in general, ought to remain silent in matters of the Church.

                      And, yes, you might both be a bit kinder to one another. Do you know each other personally? (Incidentally, I’ve always wondered whether Polonius was quite the fool he was taken for, or whether he simply used to many words to make a point).

            • Chris,

              I just spent over 3 hours compiling a detailed response to your original request. I was almost finished when I lost it all because I accidentally clicked on one of my own links, thereby navigating away from the blog and losing my text. I’m disappointed, but you should probably feel relieved. Unfortunately, I do not have more time to invest in your church right now. So I will wish you the best and offer you this brief abstract of my response.

              The Holy Synod (link here) resolved that the metropolitan “shall seek and receive prior agreement of the Lesser Synod for all programs and initiatives relating to the external and internal affairs of the Church”. This places more severe restrictions on the initiative of the metropolitan than on any other bishop, priest, or lay person in the church. It also directly contradicts OCA statute Article IV, Section 2i (link here), which states that the metropolitan “has the right of pastoral initiative and guidance, and when necessary the right of pastoral intervention, in all matters concerning the life of the Church within the framework of the holy canons.”

              Ask yourself:
              Were the lay members of the Diocesan Council of the DOW or Bishop Benjamin so constrained when they initiated this resolution and others like it (link here)? Would the Interim Chancellor or any other member of the Holy Synod be so constrained even now? Would any member of your church at all, anyone other than the metropolitan, be so constrained? The answer is clearly no. Both the reality and the appearance of reality are incontrovertible.

              Contrary to what the Diocesan Council of the DOW and the Holy Synod claim (see links above), the metropolitan is not even the official chair of the Holy Synod. He is merely the ex officio chair, Article 2, Section 2 (link here). The Holy Synod has worked hard through the 4 Resolutions passed in the minutes linked above to subjugate the metropolitan to its own authority. At the same time, the Holy Synod has raised itself up as the supreme authority in all church governance matters between meetings of the AAC, not just in judicial matters (as its authority is defined in the OCA statute, Article 2, Section 1, link here).

              So beyond the issue of binding and gagging your metropolitan, your church is now in clear violation of canon 34. This canon requires the bishops of a national church to identify their “head” and to do nothing outside the bounds of their own diocese without his consent (see the thread following “Jonah in His Own Words. AXIOS!” for extensive discussion — link here — scroll all the way to the bottom for my 3 main comments at the end).

              • Lola J. Lee Beno says

                Um . . . do please continue to post. I’ve learned so much from you, and it’s good to see your perspective as I consider issues that you’ve raised.

                • Thanks, Lola. I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to participate in this blog. So thanks again to George and to all here.

                  My problem is simply one of time, and other limited abilities, not limited interest. I do wish I had time to re-write my longer response to Chris (above), but I just don’t have the time right now.

                  If the OCA does grow into the church it is capable of being, in retrospect this current crisis will look like necessary growing pains. As I’ve said before, I don’t hold the struggles against the church necessarily. So much depends on the outcome.

              • Chris Plourde says

                I was reading with mild interest until i read this:

                This places more severe restrictions on the initiative of the metropolitan than on any other bishop, priest, or lay person in the church.

                You write this as if it were a bad thing. Consider that Orthodoxy does not have a Bishop John Shelby Spong precisely because of this kind of restriction.

                There is an ocean of difference between gagging someone and seeking unity with him.

                • At least we agree on the facts then.

                  So how do we make similar “wise and holy and loving” provisions for Bishop Benjamin, the Diocesan Council of the DOW, Mark Stokoe, etc., etc.?

                  • Um, could you educate the ignorant regarding

                    Bishop John Shelby Spong

                    Not slogging through any mud, but an overview?

                    • John Shelby Spong is the retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church Diocese of Newark (based in Newark, New Jersey). He is a liberal Christian theologian, religion commentator and author. He calls for a fundamental rethinking of Christian belief, away from theism and from traditional doctrines.

                      From Wikipedia.

                    • The Wikipedia article does cover most of the high points.

                      He was bishop from 1979-2000.

                      In recent years he has come out as a “post-theistic Christian,” before that he published a book on “The Sins of Scripture,” and before that he denied basically every Christian belief that has ever been defined: the virgin birth, the divinity of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and on and on. He held many of these beliefs while still a sitting bishop, but he became increasingly brazen after retirement.

                      He was a proponent of all kinds of innovations in the church, like female and gay ordination. It is hard to say how influential he really was, as his diocese (the Diocese of Newark) has lost so many people and parishes that it has virtually ceased to exist. His books have been very popular with cultural elites of various sorts. He wins the odd award here and there for being a “humanitarian” or “theologian,” but mostly from non-Christian organizations. I do not personally know a single Episcopalian, no matter how liberal, who is proud of his association with the Episcopal Church. And like a convicted murderer it is common to use all three names when referring to him. But he is the poster boy both inside and outside the church for what went wrong in the Episcopal Church at the end of the 20th century.

                      Although Spong never openly ordained any gay or lesbian priests, his assistant bishop Walter Righter did ordain at least one gay deacon that everyone knew about. In 1996, Righter was tried in church court for this and found not guilty. The court was stacked in his favor by the liberal Presiding Bishop Edmund Browning, and its decision rested on its judgment that the church had no “core” doctrines about sexual morality. This was a ridiculous ruling, but it accelerated the pace of change in the church.

                      The other poster boy of heretical bishops in the Episcopal Church, often named in the same breath as Spong, was James Pike of the Episcopal Diocese of California (San Francisco). He was active in the 60s, did all kinds of fruity hippie-ish things, and was also a feminist and queer rights advocate. Pike was censured for his heresies by the bishops, while Spong never was.

                • There were plenty of mechanisms for disciplining Spong, and for correcting the disorder he brought to the church.

                  All kinds of arguments were put forward for not doing anything: for example, it wasn’t charitable, it would increase disorder in the church, we would see political cartoons in the New York Times about burning bishops at the stake, just generally bad publicity for the church, and on and on and on.

                  I pointed out to many in the church that the General Convention had the power to at least make a public statement repudiating his heresies without harming him or his family by cutting off his pension rights (as some feared would happen if he lost his case before a church court). The House of Bishops also could have done something of this sort.

                  They didn’t need to appoint a committee of three bishops to babysit Spong to deal with him appropriately. But even the well-meaning lacked the guts to engage publicly with Spong.

                  Why doesn’t the Synod just say publicly what it disagrees with Jonah about. Problem solved. Right? That’s what mature leaders would do.

                  • If there were a mature reason for the dissenters of +Jonah to bring forward, I’m sure they could do it, however they have not been able to articulate anything mature nor reasonable, so they have hidden behind their mantra: “it’s confidential”. Projecting his own problem, one Bishop accused +Jonah of being an alcoholic. (He is not.) Another detractor Bishop, who is in his See un-canonically, accused +Jonah of not being conciliar…this clatter was honed by others (Stokoe et al) who, for their own reasons – richly enumerated within this blogosphere – picked up the gauntlets and flailed away.

                    I consider there are two main problems.

                    One underlying problem is in the OCA Articles that Frs. Meyendorff and Schmemann wrote, which, I have noticed, some of the contributors to this blog are beginning to suspect, are contrary to Canon Law. They are. I am told that Fr. Meyendorff admitted and regretted this prior to his repose. The Fathers wanted to securely keep the evil that was then prevalent in Russia out of the OCA forever, so they devised this extraordinary Metropolitan Council with enough authority to choke a horse…and now it is doing just that. They looked to Democracy as the savior of the future Church, but lost in this process the hierarchal nature requisite in true Orthodox Christianity. Hierarchy is not just an antiquated notion – Christ is the Head of the Church, and heaven is not democratic. I am not a theologian, and do not adequately defend my position, so I beg forgiveness for its vague nature, but the underlying position is probably apparent to readers of my drivel. People like Fr. Hopko, especially some newly baptized, want a more Congregationalist nature to the future of the Orthodox Church, and cry for change – let it become more like the Protestants – (more organs, more chairs, more jazz bands?). Folks: Vatican II slaughtered the Catholic Church in America, throwing out the baby with the bathwater…is this really what you want? Well, I, for one, don’t.

                    Another major problem is with our beloved and Charismatic Metropolitan: he is not confrontational – not at all. He deals with any confrontation by shutting down completely, without any retort at all. Forgetting that no answer is the answer ‘NO’, +Jonah rolls over and watches as his precious initiatives are slaughtered by bullies with self-aggrandizing agendas, (right now by those who really just want to wear his white hat). +Jonah wrote and delivered that speech in New Mexico, and then did nothing to follow through with it. Right now the causalities and battle scarred are all around, and the carnage is not over, yet still he won’t stop the hemorrhaging – he just can’t…it’s not in his nature. First +Hilarion and then +Demetrios pulled aside the two rogue Bishops, in separate incidents, and threatened them with terminal abandonment if they continued their attacks, so they backed down. This is the only reason the major assaults have stopped, and why +Jonah is now able to travel to the funeral of his dear friend at the monastery he started in California.

                    I personally believe that if there is to be an OCA in the future it needs +Jonah, and, obviously, so do the Russians, and by extension, the Greeks. The Russians saved the OCA by defending autocephaly again, and now they are expecting +Jonah to keep it. They know full well that +Bartholomew thought he would just walk in and walk over the OCA, and with Herman he was poised to do just that – then came the full disclosure, and then came +Jonah. A new game plan was required, and he came up with it: Divide and Conquer. It’s now up to the people in the OCA to shore up their battle weary leaders, man up to the tasks of revising the Articles to become Canonical, limit the unbelievably audacious power of the Metropolitan Council, and provide the support their leader, Metropolitan JONAH, needs to lead as he can, warts and all – or else learn Phanarion Greek.

                    How do I think we get out of this mess? I believe, by Obedience, and by getting rid of our egos.

                    It’s not easy to be obedient, and many – probably most – misunderstand what this entails but, kids, we won’t get to heaven without becoming obedient! This is not following the whims of some Byzantine looking potentate blindly, nor is it, in any way, becoming a robotic slave. There is intelligent responsibility for all involved in ‘obedience’. Starting with obedience to the Word of God, we all need to jettison our egos, and get down on our knees to pray for guidance. We all know that God listens and answers, so before you hit that ‘Enter’ button, get down on your knees and ask for direction. Back out of your psychological heads and get into your spiritual hearts. Help bandage some of the wounded, and assist the casualties here if you can. Help +Jonah get through confrontations by your actual involvement, without unnecessary sniping and criticism. I pray constantly that the OCA will survive this onslaught, and I beg you to forgive me for my poorly enumerated intentions.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Anon, I believe your reply, and especially the third-to-last paragraph brilliantly encapsulates what’s at stake here.

                      Let me develop it further: in my post from two months ago (The Dumping Ground) I asked the question “who benefits?” I postulated that there was a gay cabal (“Lavender Mafia”) at work in the inner recesses of the OCA. As is well-known this problem exists within the GOA as well (probably worse).

                      Who benefits? How best to destroy the OCA than from within? How best to do this except by having agents-in-place who are working with the Phanar?

                      Admittedly, this is speculation but it makes sense.

                      Consider: Remember the story that broke before the meeting of the HS in Santa Fe broke up? It’s story line was that +Jonah had resigned. It was clearly leaked by somebody who doesn’t like +Jonah. Benjamin? Stokoe? Garklavs? All are men of questionable moral character (Garklavs is not sexually questionable but definately an insubordinate back-stabber).

                      So what was the game-plan? Remove +Jonah, give the white hat to Benjamin, and in return for reimagining autocephaly, he gets a seat on the executive committee of the EA. As to the OCA’s autocephaly, it
                      would clearly wither under the moral leadership of a man like Benjamin. The Stokovites never saw that but it was as clear as day to the EP. In “defending” their autocephaly by removing +Jonah, they didn’t know that they were playing into the hands of the Phanar. All that mattered was that +Jonah and his traditionalist views be removed post-haste.

                    • Anon, quite the solid and sensible post. If only we could have more such “drivel” here, as you so humbly put it. If your presentation of the case is close to the truth and your facts are accurate, then who wouldn’t be more or less on Jonah’s side and rooting for him? But we need facts to make up our minds: solid, trustworthy and verifiable intelligence. A sane and compelling case in embryo for the Metropolitan, such as this one, is the kind that genuine friends make. With friends like George, on the other hand . . .

                      The two “rogue” bishops pulled aside were Benjamin and Melchisedek?

                      Thanks so much for this. Do you happen to know where we could get up to speed on the facts about the nuns in DC? Background, details, context, different points of view on it? I doubt I have heard anything close to the full story. I know better than to bother asking for sources, with various perspectives on it, in the round, from our George. This story is very disturbing.

                      A few apparent problems with your analysis, however, off the top of my head. I need to think about this carefully and get back to you:

                      “It’s confidential” could in fact be a very good answer, obviously, and not a mantra at all. Surely you’ve taken this possibility into due account? One is skeptical, of course, I’m just sayin’.

                      Whether or not he is conciliar is a legitimate question to me. Many mixed marks on that score, evidently.

                      Your first main problem entails many complex and vexing issues I don’t have time to engage you on now, unfortunately. I hope I can come back to this, and that you would care to dialogue on it. If so I’d be very grateful to you.

                      The Santa Fe speech comes off as somewhat paranoid in places and highly confrontational: I think this is obvious if only as an observation about the appearances. At points there are sounds of an axe being ground and honed. Also, a man who can give tough speeches but is timid one on one is going to face problems presiding in America. I get that he was coached into taking this stance, more or less — and that that may have been good advice. Or not. The execution was stiff and seemed forced, in any case, at least to me, seeing the words in print.

                      Still, this diffident meekness is for sure one of his charming and lovable qualities. It may cover a multitude of others’ spins. He will have to learn to speak up though, at times, at least in a full-throated defense of other victims besides himself. No shortage of those these days, many of whom are highly hazardous to champion on the Right. But that, if done sincerely, would win the game for him, I’d suggest. Neither left nor right, but Center. That’s where the Holy Spirit is, isn’t He? That’s The Zone, or so I think anyway, for what little it’s worth.

                      The full disclosure you mention, re: Herman —whom can we thank for that in large part, or for the climate at least in which it could occur? . . . Am I missing something here?

                      Your coda contains words everyone needs to hear and heed. You are a breath of fresh air for me, sir.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Mike, you would do well to leave the issue of the nuns alone. These are sweet ladies who live a life of prayer and are at peace with everybody they meet (unlike a certain bishop I could mention). They have done nothing to you or anybody else. For them to be turned out on the street is nothing short of despicable. You don’t have to be a conservative or (gasp!) a +Jonah-supporter to see that.

                      Even the Apostle of Accountability and Transparency hasn’t so far been able to manuf come up with with anything to tar them with.

                    • Arguments appear wasted on you, George. But when I have the time later today or tomorrow I’ll make one anyway. Not like I’d be the first to do it.

                      Mike, you would do well to leave the issue of the nuns alone.

                      Excuse me?

                      These are sweet ladies who live a life of prayer and are at peace with everybody they meet (unlike a certain bishop I could mention). They have done nothing to you or anybody else.

                      Hallucinate much, George? You amaze me.

                      For them to be turned out on the street is nothing short of despicable. You don’t have to be a conservative or (gasp!) a +Jonah-supporter to see that.

                      Clinically speaking, I’m not uninterested in why you’d dare to make such unclean aspersions against me. I’m here wondering: is this just George imagining things again, projecting or something, or merely the dimbulb result of his taking offense at the fact that I would dare to ask for sources of circumspect, solid information about this matter other than Hisself — sources I could trust, IOW. Sources unlike you, George, a guy with next to nada credibility remaining in these eyes.

                      For now, I’m going to leave the unconscionable innuendo crawling out from these deeply offensive remarks without further comment. I’ll just say that it’s rare, in my circles anyway, to encounter this degree of nearly incredible arrogance and hubris. You dishonor me, sir. I expect an apology from you immediately.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Mike, there you go again! Hallucinations? Because I’m not scared of nuns? Who’s projecting now? Were your knuckles rapped back in Catholic school by a nun?

                      You beclown yourself. I’ve had many worthy opponents in the past. You’re definitely not one of them.

                      Otherwise, you will get no apology from me because in this exchange, I’ve never hurled personal invective against you. If you are offended because I’ve taken down your assertions, then you should reexamine them.

                    • Mike, there you go again! Hallucinations? Because I’m not scared of nuns?


                      Who’s projecting now? Were your knuckles rapped back in Catholic school by a nun?

                      You beclown yourself. I’ve had many worthy opponents in the past. You’re definately not one of them.

                      You need help, George. Seriously.

                    • Mikey, you are not to speculate about the nuns. Absolutely not. Do not mention them again.

                    • Olga, can you read? What’s your glitch, anyway? Looks like George has infected you with his own confusion, too, so here’s some more good advice: don’t follow his lead on stuff. He appears to be descended from the Cretans. That sort of mimesis cannot profit you much at all, dear. Trust me on this.

                      I merely asked someone who I had reason to think I might be able to trust for some sources of solid info about the nun’s plight, which saddens and disturbs me. What has that to do with speculating? Grow up, dear. It’s getting late. I can do without your spooky babushka advice, honest.

                      George, please beg my stalker to desist. Or I may have to call the cops.

                    • Mike,

                      I don’t think there is any good source of info on the nuns. Partial comments here and there would indicate that one cannot tell the full story without revealing intimate biographical details of a particular hierarch who is no Jonah fan but who has so far handled himself with enough decorum (at least in public) as to not merit public humiliation.

                      Obviously some member of the Synod did not like them. That’s all we the general public really know, and those who know more aren’t talking.

                      My advice still stands: more reading, less writing for a week. And keep your sense of humor. Olga has been refining hers to a high art form. At some point you will have to enjoy a good belly laugh or surrender unconditionally.

                      To be fair, George will have to give you at least a time-out for the Cretan insult. Hopefully he’ll let you back eventually. If he does, make the most of you rest, and we’ll look forward to continuing our conversations later.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Um, no offense was taken. I’m Messenian on my father’s side and Imbrian on my mothers.

                    • Anon, having some serious second thoughts about some of your anonymous words, here. Got some more questions for you:

                      First +Hilarion and then +Demetrios pulled aside the two rogue Bishops, in separate incidents, and threatened them with terminal abandonment if they continued their attacks, so they backed down. This is the only reason the major assaults have stopped, and why +Jonah is now able to travel to the funeral of his dear friend at the monastery he started in California.

                      Your language, on a second reading, is a bit invidious or tendentious here and there, first of all, not to mention judgmental: “rogue Bishops,” z.B. Were you yourself present, by any chance, on both occasions? Or is this hearsay? Thanks in advance for clearing that up for us.

                      And if you were present in the flesh on both occasions, did you clearly hear these words you claim were spoken to the two “rogue bishops” with your own ears? I must confess this seems more than a bit unlikely to me, but perhaps you can clear it up. Is it possible that this, too, is just more hearsay?

                      If it is, there’s the obvious question as to the credibility of your source, and the closely related one whether he or she was likely to have been in a position to hear this putative “threat with terminal abandonment.” High decibels? Words clearly discernable? I’m having trouble picturing this. The whole scenario seems just a bit infra dig to me, bwdik. Thanks again in advance for clearing up these important questions that tiresome evidence-based types like me would immediately want to know.

                    • My focus turns to you. En garde, bozo!

                      You beclown yourself. I’ve had many worthy opponents in the past. You’re definately [sic] not one of them.

                    • Obviously some member of the Synod did not like them. That’s all we the general public really know, and those who know more aren’t talking.

                      “Obviously” here is a classic case of the weasel usage. This story is more complex than that, surely. So this is not particularly helpful. I want facts, not disinfo. And because George is fast developing a very bad reputation, his word is just not good enough. Quite the opposite.

                      My advice still stands: more reading, less writing for a week. And keep your sense of humor.

                      I suggest you need to do more reading, too, Um. Rereading, with your own blinders and colored glasses off. You have a tendency, from time to time, to shift into something uncomfortably close to a know-it-all, pseudo-omniscient mode. Very seldom warranted, that, among us mortals.

                      Olga has been refining hers to a high art form.

                      Spare me. Nothing from her but insolent noise.

                      At some point you will have to enjoy a good belly laugh or surrender unconditionally.

                      Infantile poshlost.

                      To be fair, George will have to give you at least a time-out for the Cretan insult.

                      I beg your pardon? Surely you’ve heard of the Greek isle of Crete. I understood he was descended from Cretans. Am I misinformed? What’s this about an insult, eh? Not following you there, buddy.

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Olga, when people start hurling invective against people they don’t know (in this case the nuns and yourself) then you know we’re well on our way to winning the rhetorical battle.

                      Throw in assertions and other gratuitous swipes and it’s pretty much over.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Anon, your assessment is spot-on. The two bishops were indeed as you named them. Clearly men without honor.

                    I’d like to second your assessment of Vatican II. What a disaster for the Roman Church. In my opinion, much of the damage that has befallen the West came about because of the self-inflicted wound that Catholicism imposed on itself. Just on aesthetic levels alone, the loss of beauty was most hurtful. The vacuum created was replaced by barbarism.

                    • Olga, when people start hurling invective against people they don’t know (in this case the nuns and yourself) then you know we’re well on our way to winning the rhetorical battle.

                      Forget about spooky Olga, who’s merely ridiculous. You’re **lying** above: I hurled no invective against the nuns. Where do you get this vile crap? Reread what I wrote. No grounds for this whatsoever! Your interpretation is just pure projection on your part, or the result of some weird and rather ominous hallucination.

                      To falsely accuse someone like this is 100% diabolical slandering, George, and that sort of behavior is just evil. It is utterly condemnable and inexcusable. You owe me an abject apology, buddy. I hope this is unconscious on your part and not intentional. I think it’s even likely that you don’t know what you’re doing. But you are doing it. You are doing it.

                      I’ve watched here in horrified amazement as you’ve twisted other people’s words wickedly. You’ve done it to me dozens of times, you did it to Nick, I’ve seen you do it to others as well. This is a very serious symptom of spiritual disorder that you need to beg God, on your knees, to heal. Seriously. You need help. That isn’t just rhetoric. I tell you this with love and concern.

                      I blamed myself in the previous post mainly because I should have pointed this out to you clearly and explicitly in every single case I saw. That was sinfully remiss of me, and I ask you to forgive me for not doing so. But I’m telling you now in no uncertain terms that you are showing many signs of being in very serious spiritual jeopardy, George. I will pray for you. Over, and out.

                    • Mikey, I told you, you are not to use the nuns for the your own speculations. You are not even allowed to leverage them against George. Stop it now.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Um, the more we delve into the arcana of this entire imbroglio, the more convinced I am of the intrinsic awfulness of the perpetrators. They won’t rest until we become an Eastern Rite ECUSA.

                • This place, or my participation in it, or both, have robbed me of my joy and peace. I beg your forgiveness for my offenses, and ask that you would please excuse me from your insular little world. I’m not happy in it and I probably just don’t belong here, period. As many of you have made clear to me. You’re right, I’ve decided.

                  One thing for certain is I’m definitely not liking who I’m turning into here. I’m sure it’s largely my fault, so I mainly blame myself. I’ll say goodbye to you good people.

                  I hope and pray that God blesses you with all good things, in Christ.


                  • Heracleides says

                    ABIATR… er, Mike – I’m sure you’ll be back once you think of yet another new moniker.

                  • Take care, Mike. Hope you find real joy and peace.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    That’s very gracious of you Mike. Please forgive me for any offenses I may have made as well. For what it’s worth, I welcome and all critics. I hope you come back. In Christ, George, the Chief of Sinners

                • Olga, silence! You need to mind your own business. Not another word.

                  What is wrong with some of you people? Some of you are deeply delusional. You seem to be right at home in distortion, lies, slander, thinking the worst, hallucinations and hubris.

                  George used the nuns as “leverage against me.” To use your sloppy language. He began by projecting his own malice into a phantasy about me, some unclearn image that arose in his own nous, a delusion about my meaning that arose as a result of logismoi, imaginations in his owm mind, that he neglected to guard against. He went with them, and then publicly used my purely neutral words to slander me, culpably twisting them, misreading them maliciously and wickedly, to lie about me. He was hallucinating and imagining almost all of this. You are following his lead. You do so perhaps because you have this propensity yourself. This is a very serious illness, if so. It needs spiritual treatment.

                  Those with evil eyes will not see God; they cannot see Him. Don’t say you have not been warned. Seek to get your eyes fixed. Pray for healing. We all need to have our hearts purified and our nous illuminated. Including me. But these symptoms displayed here are serious ones.

                  • Mikey, no. You are not to use the nuns for your own speculations. You are not to leverage them against George. You must stop this now. Do not become defensive about my reprimand. Not one more word about them.

                    • Your “reprimand” is founded on a delusion. You’re way out of line. Your words are unclean.

                      George is issuing wild accusations and apparent slanders and very, very grave distortions about many, many people atop the OCA hierarchy, chancery and MC. He’s behaving in cyberspace like a possessed lunatic. This is either very irresponsible performance art or very disturbing symptoms of incipient madness. He’s behaving like a madman. Do you want to participate in that shameful, contemptible activity? I am asking for facts so I can evaluate, for myself, what’s really happening. I don’t trust George, it’s that simple. So this is not speculation, dear, but just the opposite.

                      I’m warning you and anyone else who is capable of hearing my warning: you are playing with fire here. This kind of activity is spiritual arson. It’s shocking.

                      One last time: I’m not the one “speculating” about the nuns or “using them for my own speculations.” George is doing that. This is clear to any sane human being. Read his posts! I have asked for solid, reliable, accurate information to evaluate the basis for all of these wild accusations, from the day I got here. It is a symptom of derangement and confusion to be unable to see the clear difference between speculation and fact seeking. Your stupid accusation is malicious and unfounded. I just want to know the truth about what’s happening.

                    • Mikey, stop it. You are not six years old. I do not want to hear that George did it first. You are not to use the nuns for your speculations.

                    • Olga, dear one, your language becomes interesting to me, perhaps even instructive! After all! How odd, Großmutter, that you would choose to clothe your errant badgering first in judicial terminology, and now in a weirdly inappropriate financial lingo, while engaging in your own speculations about me. How odd, and how interesting! I grow intrigued with you, бабушка. Which language would you prefer our discourse to take place in? I may defer to your wishes here, dear one. You seem somewhat uncomfortable in English.

                      Что является вашим родным языком, бабушка?
                      Есть английский ваш второй язык?

                      Was ist Ihre Muttersprache, Großmutter?
                      Ist Englisch Ihre zweite Sprache?

                      Muuten, Olga, rakas ystävä, olen huolissani erittäin paljon köyhiä, pyhä nunnia. I
                      älä tee julkisen näytön siitä, kuitenkin, toisin kuin monet. He käyttävät köyhiä,
                      pyhä nunnia, ei minua isoäiti. Yritä ymmärtää minua paremmin rakas.

                      Förresten, Olga, käraste jag är bekymrad väldigt mycket om de fattiga, heliga nunnor. Jag
                      gör inte en offentlig visning av det dock, till skillnad från många. De använder de fattiga,
                      heliga nunnor, inte jag mormor. Ni måste förstå mig bättre kära.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Mike (aka. Anonymous Because It’s All the Rage)… still in tantrum mode I see. I thought you said you were leaving? For the life of me, I don’t know why George doesn’t permanently ban you for your immature histronics. He’s a better (and much more patient) man than I.

                    • Mike,

                      Why don’t you call or write to the bishops of the OCA and report back with their responses.

    • Ivan Vasiliev says

      Accolades to Chris Plourde for his wise remarks! We have GOT to move away from this “liberal”/”conservative” dichotomy. Its as bad as playing “Catholic” when we talk to Protestants and “Protestant” when we talk to Roman Catholics. We are NEITHER “liberal” or “conservative” just as we are neither Roman Catholic or Protestant. Orthodoxy is a whole other way–sanity in the midst of insanity–when we are true to our calling.
      The tragedy of the current “culture wars” in the Church is that it is just another chapter in the, rightly called, “western diaspora”. We are borrowing terminologies that not only don’t fit us, but actually cause serious deception in our presentation to the world (and among our own faithful).
      If nothing else, this latest (and perhaps last) chapter in the OCA book of humiliations ought to teach us something about avoiding stupid logos (i.e. “left/right”, “liberal/conservative”, etc.). The correct dichotomies are “true/false”, “Orthodox/herterodox”. And we should use those (correct) dichotomies with extreme caution and only after much prayer and fasting. I suppose, though, that the internet would go dead as a result. I know I, for one, would probably have to stop posting!

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        So what is this “third way”?

        And no, the correct dichotomies are not “true/false” or “Orthodox/heterodox.” The proper way to formulate this is truth/lie, and truth/lie is never a dichotomy. It is life or death. And since death has no substance or quantity and exists only as the absence of life, it can have no standing as an opposite. “Dichotomy” is a category that does not apply here.

        As for Orthodox/heterodox, this denies the missionary imperative to affirm the good and true and strengthen and expand it whenever possible. It disallows the baptism of culture by negating the instruction that must take place before the baptism can occur. We don’t neglect the person who has only a partial understanding. Instead we strengthen and expand what he already has. That’s why we can stand with Protestants, Catholics, Jews, anyone who still has the awareness of the truth (and thus authority) of the moral tradition and the necessity of our fidelity to it.

        If this makes me a “Christian Conservative” I’ll wear that (ostensible) defamation with honor.

        • Very lofty, abstract language, padre, for someone evidently so “with the program” on a war based on lies. Like most wars. Since you bring up lies, and life or death. Get real.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            If my objection to “A Plea for Peace” is what’s getting under your skin, I still stand by it. I think Orthodox moral reasoning was co-opted by moral equivalency in the piece . If US forays in the Mid-East are on your mind, read what I just wrote this morning (and have been writing for years, including US involvement in the war against Serbia):

            Americans need to examine if their involvement with NATO in the Middle East is contributing to the persecution of Christians there. Liberal and neo-conservative foreign policy is identical. Both operate under the assumption that when secular dictators are removed, democracy will emerge in its place. We have not seen that happening. Instead we see Christians persecuted and displaced.

            That’s all I will say on this. My hunch is you will take shots at me no matter what I say.

            You should read the first post again though, a bit slower this time. It’s not as “lofty and abstract” as you think. Lots of stuff there.

            • Father, by now, you owe me so many apologies for so many gross injustices to me and the clear meaning of my words, that I wouldn’t know where to begin untangling the knot you tied. I forgive you, though, even if you’ve squandered your credibility with me. I’m used to this crap by now.

              Did you support the US invasion of Iraq in 2003? Yes, or no?

              • Hmmmmm…. bishops have lots to say about Bush and Iraq but very little to say about Obama and Libya…. this tells you all you need to know

            • You may stand by it, but their rebuttal was devastating, nevertheless. I’m more than a little surprised to hear you say this. My own sense of mercy prevents me from having a real fierce go at it myself. And on the subject of mercy: George has no idea what I’ve spared him. So far. His comical smugness is almost cute. If he only knew. . .

              Anyway, I agree of course that our loathsome foreign policy and our abominable wars have had devastating effects on Christian communities overseas, and hardly just in Iraq — although that is to be sure a particularly horrific recent case. And hardly just in the Middle East. Just about everywhere we go, interestingly enough. A loathsome foreign policy and abominable wars perpetrated in my name and funded by my taxes. Don’t even get me started on this subject. I would only point out that even non-Christians are human beings created in the image of God, with the potential to grow into His likeness. A minor point, evidently, to some. But yeah, wars and mind-boggling injustices and big lies and bottomless greed and phony pieties are all on my mind.

              Here, though, I note how people, many of whom I just know were more or less fine with all that when Big Daddy LBJ or Tricky Dick or Ronnie or GHWB or Dubya did it, are now enraged! and crying out to the heavens! because a man in their church lives with another guy while daring! to criticize their current Big Daddy, this time the one in a white hat. On one level, this is grimly funny. On another, I just wanna puke. But hey, that’s just me.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Mike, just curious, how did you feel about WWII or the War Between the States?

                • What a big question, George. Don’t have a sound bite handy on that one, sorry.

                  But you have more of a knack for the pithy nugget than I do. So you first? Especially interested in your learned opinion of that first war. If you’d care to humor me I’m all ears.

                • Maybe you suspect I’m dodging your big question, since I was so opinionated about the wars from LBJ on: The wars you ask about were none of my business in a very concrete way. I wasn’t breathing then, so they weren’t fought in my name, and I wasn’t forced to pay for them.

                  These days, it’s mainly China and Japan who pay for our wars, of course. Which, when you think about it, is passing strange.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Thank you for the link, Mike, if you’re still here. YES.

        • Chris Plourde says

          Fr. Hans,

          Christ is Risen!

          In response to your question So what is this “third way”?, I consider the question mis-framed.

          I’d ask “What is the Orthodox way?” And framing it like this has me considering what makes Orthodoxy so experientially different from every non-Orthdoox confession.

          The answer I offer is this: Orthodoxy never assumes.

          Orthodoxy never assumes the basics of the faith, but rather proclaims them clearly and concisely at every opportunity. Orthodoxy has not drifted away from the foundations of the faith and gotten itself lost in human constructions because it never thinks itself so knowing and wise that it need not revisit the basics every single day in multiple ways, from the moment we arise to the moment we lie down again.

          So back to the basics: The liar has always proclaimed the same lie: “You will not die.” The truth in the mouth of +Jonah arising from the Orthodox basics is not “You’re immoral!” but “You’re killing and harming yourselves.” This is not mere semantics, it is the difference between making a judgement and expressing love and concern.

          And we do it like this because Orthodoxy never assumes that any of us are worthy. We know and constantly proclaim that the sole reason we can celebrate the Divine Mysteries is that God is in every sense and moment merciful. And because we constantly focus on God’s ineffable mercy we don’t hesitate to confess our unworthiness in terms both general and specific.

          This is what separates Orthodoxy from the rest of the world, Christian and non-Christian alike. Our witness is not based upon supposed moral superiority, but rather of the unending mercy of God. As +Jonah proclaimed “If we stand from a position of self-righteousness and judge our neighbor for their immorality we only heap coals of condemnation upon ourselves because we are all hypocrites.”

          And so to me the way out of the potentially endless and fruitless culture war is by doing what Orthodoxy does best and constantly reiterating the basics of both our faith and ourselves. We can and must always be clear as to what leads to death and what does not. We can and must be clear that we are all in this together, not me versus you in some pointless “war,” but me pulling for you, hoping for you, desiring only life for you no matter your situation or orientation. That must always be the context of our public witness as it is of our pastoral witness, that we do not seek the defeat of those who are in error but rather desire their salvation from death.

          Orthodox witness and moral clarity arises within a fundamentally different context than even those with whom we agree on conclusions, and while we can affirm their conclusions we should never assume that our context is shared, understood or accepted. And so the Orthodox way is to always start by putting ourselves and our witness in Orthodox context and proclaiming our fundamentally different understanding of the world, of God and of ourselves.

          Otherwise we’re doing something un-Orthodox: Assuming.

          • Ivan Vasiliev says

            Exactly my point. I should have used more words to make it. I was clearly “assuming” too much! Thank you again, Chris, for putting this in context.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            And so the Orthodox way is to always start by putting ourselves and our witness in Orthodox context and proclaiming our fundamentally different understanding of the world, of God and of ourselves.

            Well, ok, but how? What does this mean practically?

            The Orthodox leaders and thinkers who have ventured into these debates, from Met. Hilarion to Tristam Englehardt are very clear about the moral illegitimacy and thus personal and cultural dangers of the dehumanizing trends coursing through our society. They range from granting homosexuality moral parity with heterosexuality to refusing to grant personhood to the unborn, aged and infirm — all positions held by the “religious right’ although offered with considerable depth and insight.

            You see this among Catholic, Protestant, and even Jewish thinkers as well. For example, the “right” has brilliant thinkers like Robert P. George who writes from a Catholic natural law perspective, and the “left” has Peter Singer, a man whose utilitarianism verges on outright nihilism. The lines between them are drawn very sharply (both teach at Princeton), and not because the “right” is vocal against the “left”, but because their ideas are irreconcilable (they draw from different wells) and portend very different societies in the end.

            Meaning no disrespect to you Chris, but I find your explanation to be so abstract that it is almost incomprehensible. I see nothing concrete in it, nothing that can touch and direct people where they actually live.

            I know that to some Orthodox stepping into these muddy waters is distasteful. They don’t want to be tarred with the charge they are conservative and fear the backlash. I get that although I think it has more to do with aesthetics than substance. You end up taking some hits. I don’t agree however, that the “Orthodox way” precludes engagement with these issues in a way that lets us avoid this tarring. Every defender and explicator of the moral tradition ends up taking the hits.

            I think what you might be trying to get across is that Orthodox anthropology has a more developed rationale for the explication and defense of the human person than other religious traditions. If so, I would agree (so would Leon Kass, BTW). But don’t be fooled. If the Orthodox ever become prominent enough to where, say, the mainstream alcolytes of Peter Singer noticed the arguments for example, there would be no sudden return to what is right and true. It doesn’t work that way. The hits would keep on coming, only harder. That’s the world we live in.

            • Ivan Vasiliev says

              Orthodoxy never assumes the basics of the faith, but rather proclaims them clearly and concisely at every opportunity. Orthodoxy has not drifted away from the foundations of the faith and gotten itself lost in human constructions because it never thinks itself so knowing and wise that it need not revisit the basics every single day in multiple ways, from the moment we arise to the moment we lie down again.

              Perhaps it is just a matter of how we process things on a personal level, but the quote above seems to be saying much of what you are saying, Father. If Orthodoxy “never assumes the basics of the faith, but rather proclaims them clearly and concisely at every opportunity”, is it not always engaging both the person and the culture? I cannot speak for Chris’s intentions but I can certainly speak for my own interpretation of what seems to be a very clear point.

              We can assume nothing about those who hear us; we must be ever clear and engaging. My fear is that by making blanket statements we allow ourselves to be labelled inappropriately by folks who are using an entirely different spiritual lexicon (mostly by a media that has no real spiritual comprehension in the first place). Unless we were to entirely abandon the Orthodox Tradition, I don’t see how we could ever end up in Singer’s camp–or how anyone could possibly think that we were in his camp. Utilitarianism, like almost all of the post-enlightenment ideologies that emerged in the west, is utterly alien to Orthodoxy (likewise, Marxism, liberalism, conservatism, and all the other “isms” by which so many identify themselves today). All of those “isms” are a falling away from the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is Christ and which is the pillar and ground of the Orthodox Church. At best some of these “isms” may contain elements of truth, but, ultimately they are perversions.

              If we don’t learn how to engage this world from our own Tradition we will simply be relegated to just another ideology. The real struggle is learning how to appropriate the philosophical language of today in the same way we managed to appropriate the philosophical language of the 4th century to re-define the debate in the context of the Christian revelation. So far, we don’t seem to be doing so well.

            • Chris Plourde says

              What does this mean practically?

              As a practical matter it means refusing the first lie, which is that these are problems of “modern culture.” They are not. They are as old as the fall, as well documented as human history. Infanticide has been with us forever, as has lust. Abortion is technologically novel, and homosexual marriage is legally novel, but their roots are as old as humanity.

              It means witnessing from the basics, that sin is sin because it leads away from God and to harm and death, not because it violates some cultural norm. It means witnessing to God’s ineffable mercy in all places and times, even in the depths of personal hell in which many people find themselves as the consider abortion or struggle with sexual impulses.

              It means we make our witness clear because we affirm we are just like those whose actions and rationalizing we criticize. We are every bit as sinful, every bit as fallen, every bit as in need of God’s mercy. We offer compassion, not pity, but also do not take false shelter in the lie of minimizing or excusing sin.

              It means grounding our criticism in revelation, not a “natural law” that relies upon the intellect of men (any more than we fight Arianism by approving of the filioque) but rather upon the person of Christ and what it means to be merciful, chaste and holy. Rather than condemning modern culture, we aim to recall it to itself. Rather than seeking its overthrow we seek its sanctification.

              I am under no illusions that somehow those who seek wrong will come to their senses merely because we offer them our clear Orthodox witness, but I do believe that those who have so far found the western witness of legalisms and rationalisms to be unconvincing and even angering haven’t met the person of Christ in that witness, nor experienced the mercy of God in that testimony.

              Just as no person would say of our Divine Liturgy that it is “…so abstract that it is almost incomprehensible…” or that in it is “….nothing that can touch and direct people where they actually live….” so when a person encounters Christ in our witness they should find Him as clear and beautiful and compelling as the Liturgy, and as different from what they were expecting from long experience with the western confessions.


              My criticism of the immigrant Church is that it hesitated to witness to America about anything beyond ethnic identity. My concern for the evangelical Church is that it will conform itself to the structure and language of a fruitless debate it did nothing to shape. America needs us to reshape the debate on Orthodox terms if anyone is going to move beyond the politics of victimization and recrimination that has dominated the last 40 years.

              • Chris,

                I actually agree with almost everything you have said (again, admittedly, as an outsider). I would say I agree emphatically but for three notes of caution:

                (1) Western forms of Christianity share your belief in the authority of the scriptural witnesses to God’s revelation. Some forms of Western Christianity share even more than that with you. In witnessing to the culture, you disparage Western forms of Christianity at great risk to your own effectiveness.

                (2) Similarly all peoples share some sense of the authority of “natural law” with you, and so you disparage it at great risk to your own effectiveness.

                (3) Laws and legal awareness can be helpful in bringing order to society and bringing disorder to light (as St. Paul argues), so you disparage these tools at great risk to your own effectiveness.

                But in general, I would agree with you that Western culture is hungry for a new kind of witness. If the Orthodox churches could just overcome the chaos in their polity, people would be flocking to a more Eastern kind of witness.

                • Chris Plourde says

                  Western Christianity slowly and inexorably replaced a focus on God with a focus on man. It redefined the sacraments, it came to view “Lord have mercy” as a referendum on itself rather than a statement of the essence of God, it turned its altars to face itself. It accused hesychasts of navel gazing even as it raised “folk music” to the epitome of sacredness and focused so completely on itself that the Trinity became its MacGuffin. (

                  The “natural law” is based on what is “natural” in a fallen world. Christ transcends and redeems the “natural” world, we retreat only because we trust our intellect more than we trust God.

                  I disparage no law, but rather put law in proper context. Law exists to set and enforce boundaries. Period. Law does not exist to inspire us or to illuminate eternal truth or to inform our hearts. Those who turn to law for healing, “closure” or truth are deeply misled.

                  I don’t ask Orthodoxy to overcome its inherent chaos. The most heretical of sects and totalitarian of regimes values order and hate chaos. We need only to witness to the truth we have experienced, not pretend that we’re other than we actually are.

                  • The Roman Catholic Church is still the largest Christian religion in the world, and it is far and away the largest cult in Western Christianity. It is pretty dogmatic about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic, as are many in other Western cults. I assume this is the Sacrament you were referring to.

                    You’d have to be gnostic to believe that “Lord have mercy” is purely a statement about the essence of God. You’d have to assign the words some secret meaning that only the initiated can understand. In the non-secret world, you are free to read layers of meanings into a statement, but you aren’t free to deny the plain meaning as one of the layers.

                    While many in the Catholic Church would agree with your criticism of altar placement choices, I personally don’t think God lives in the wall of a building any more than He lives in His Body, probably less actually. Perhaps you don’t believe that God lives in you?

                    Do you find the placement of relics in the altar equally degrading to God’s otherness? Maybe you should get rid of those icons staring back at you, to help you focus better? Or maybe you should just start thinking of God as real and stop being so petty. You really think Jesus would consider this a communion breaking issue? If not, then repent and move on.

                    The Roman cult is no longer skeptical of Hesychasts (Why not consider the temporary misunderstanding to be a consequence of being truly Chaotic Christian and not heretical?), and frankly most Protestants wouldn’t know a Hesychast if they met one in a desert, so stop holding a grudge just to nurse your pride.

                    I’m not going to lie and say that Catholic folk music is uplifting. It is a travesty. But this is a failure of implementation, rather than of policy, as the Vatican II Council (and the Vatican consistently since then) has called for a return to Gregorian chant (which is part of Orthodox tradition as well). But some Catholic churches do have good music, you’d be hard pressed to criticize the music at a Anglican Evensong (check one out on BBC’s website some time if you like), and there is always a place for folk music in the broad scope of life. But then I’ve heard some pretty lousy singing in some Orthodox parishes too. On balance though, I’d say this is by far the strongest argument you have put forward for the evidence of heterodoxy leading to a general decline in culture. Maybe you should just stick with this one from now on.

                    If St. Paul’s teachings mean anything at all to you, you might check out Romans 1:18-20:

                    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

                    This is what Thomas Aquinas and most in the English speaking world consider natural law or general revelation, and it is interesting that Paul connects rejection of this general revelation with sexual immorality in Romans 1:26-27:

                    Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

                    Personally I see these consequences as a result of systemic sin on a societal level, and the guilt as not primarily individual in nature. The breakdown of families and lack of appropriate love and nurture of children is the kind of thing that leads children to have all kinds of struggles as adults, and so I don’t judge any individual for their sexual orientation; but these are developments that clearly break the heart of the God of the Bible.

                    Later St. Paul explains the purpose of the law, including in Romans 3:20:

                    Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

                    And in Romans 5:13,20

                    To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not taken into account when there is no law…. The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

                    And in Romans 7:7:

                    What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.

                    And again Paul says in Galatians 3:24:

                    So the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

                    Should I could go on to make a case for the importance of order in the church, make a doctoral dissertation out of it, or should I leave some work for the theologians and pastors of the real Church? Perhaps Paul’s admonition that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33) will suffice while we wait for them to get busy. In light of this verse, is it possible St. Paul’s God is simply a different God from the God of the Orthodox Church?

                    Maybe you can at least start to work toward Christ’s desire as expressed in John 17:20-23 within the Orthodox Churches, since working together with other believers outside Orthodoxy seems to be beyond your vision currently:

                    My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

                    Am I frustrated with you? Yes! Yes, I am. Sorry … but I figure it is best to be honest. I know you are strong enough to take it. I know you have done the same for me and likely will again some day …

                    “so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

                  • Chris,

                    . . .I don’t ask Orthodoxy to overcome its inherent chaos. The most heretical of sects and totalitarian of regimes value[] order and hate chaos.

                    I was wondering if that first sentence was quite what you mean to say: “inherent chaos”? In Holy Orthodoxy? How about real and/or apparent disorderliness, or maybe rowdiness, instead of “chaos”? That’s a fairly loaded word.

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      To an outsider what we experience as orderly disorder can appear as chaos, and Um used that term in the post to which I was responding which is why I used it. Sometimes clarity is better achieved by inexactitude.

                      Apparently this was not one of those times. 😉

                      Sorry for any confusion.

                    • I prefer disorderly order to orderly disorder, just as I vastly prefer joyful sorrow to sorrowful joy. Actually, I think I’d maintain that orderly disorder and chaos are brothers. 🙂

                      But I have a feeling, anyway, that I know what you mean. Orthodox Church polities are pretty messy, no doubt about that, Um. Nothing new about it either.

                      But Um’s question was a caution:

                      …Perhaps Paul’s admonition that “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33) will suffice while we wait for them to get busy. In light of this verse, is it possible St. Paul’s God is simply a different God from the God of the Orthodox Church?

                      Let’s hope not. Most of us do still see through a glass darkly, but you’d think by now, after nearly 2000 years, there might be less groping around in practical theopolitical darkness. Hard to blame believers who ask questions like Um’s. Maybe the disastrous consequences of the Great Schism in 1054 inevitably lead to such questions, and maybe the fault isn’t all Rome’s.

                      Maybe Roman Christianity’s undoubted tendency toward an emphasis on Jesus Christ’s humanity balances an Eastern tendency to emphasize the Son of God’s Resurrection and His Divinity. Rome certainly has the politeia/oikoumene down pat; partly as a result? The East excels in theologia, and in nepsis with respect to holy phronema. Maybe we’d make a good team after all. So long as we both choose the Same Coach. John deferred to Peter, allowing him to win the race into the Empty Tomb. Or maybe . . .

                      “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”

                      Kyrie eleison.

                      Joh 20:1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

                      Joh 20:2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!”

                      Joh 20:3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb.

                      Joh 20:4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

                      Joh 20:5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in.

                      Joh 20:6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there,

                      Joh 20:7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.

                      Joh 20:8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—

                      Joh 20:9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.

                      Joh 20:10 Then they went home.

                      Joh 20:11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.

                      Joh 20:12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.

                      Joh 20:13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put Him.”

                      Joh 20:14 She turned to leave and saw Someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize Him.

                      Joh 20:15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought He was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if You have taken Him away, tell me where You have put Him, and I will go and get Him.”

                      Joh 20:16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to Him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

                      Joh 20:17 “Don’t cling to Me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find My brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.'”

                      Joh 20:18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them His message.

                      Peter and John raced to the tomb of Jesus. While John won, he was too modest to boast of being first. Instead he chose the name, the disciple Jesus loved. But nonetheless he won. Why did John not go into the tomb when he got there? Why was Peter the second one there but the first one into the tomb? It seems that John did not dare to go in on his own. The Arabic version reads, “he dared not go in”

                      Maybe he was fearful of going into such a place alone. It seems John out ran Peter but Peter “out dared” John. Which is it for you? Are you likely to be quick to do things but less sure in carrying out the things that require courage. Or slow to start but develop the courage in the process?

                      There was something about the way the grave clothes were lying that made John believe. They were undisturbed it seems. It was not like someone came and unwrapped the grave clothes and took his body. The clothes it seems were lying in a pristine state but his body gone from within. Wow how did that happen? It seems it was unique enough to convince John and he believed. This same John who is keen to convince us to believe!

                      Mary doesn’t think of the position of the grave clothes and the implications. All she can think is that the body is not there. Where is it? She is so tied up in her anguish that she mistakes Jesus (who clearly had the marks of crucifixion as we will see) for the gardener. Jesus tells her not to touch him for He has not ascended and been glorified. Inference, don’t touch the sacrifice before it has ascended to the Father. Note the message that Jesus gave her to tell the disciples and then note what Thomas says in response.

                    • This exegesis on John 21 came from here.

                      Not sure I like the last paragraph though, especially

                      Inference, don’t touch the sacrifice before it has ascended to the Father.

                      Such presumptuous talk about “the sacrifice” and “it” are barbaric and indelicate, to put it mildly. But it was written by an American, so what can you expect.

                    • I approve of enthusiastic argumentation when it is warranted, and in limited quantities even when it isn’t, as I’m sure you can tell by now. I think this is healthy for any community, and at least some good arguments need to made public for the good of all.

                      But what is happening right now in the OCA is the destruction of persons and of ministries. This is a very different thing, and much more severe than the “disorder” St. Paul was addressing in the context of the quote above, which had to do with people prophesying out of turn and without translators.

                      Taking a step back to view the global situation: The separation between East and West really is a scandal, and I’m more and more certain this does come with real world consequences (as Mike suggests above). The bishop of Rome was not just any old bishop who happened to stray from the fold. He wasn’t even just any old primate. He was a patriarch, one of five key leaders in the church at the time. And not only that, he was recognized even in the East as first among these — and as far as I know, the East did not immediately step in to replace the bishop of Rome in the West, or to accomplish daring missionary feats in his territory, which also says something to a dispassionate observer. Even 1,000 years on, this is a matter of utmost urgency for anyone who takes Christ’s prayer in John 17 seriously . At the very least, the Orthodox could try to get their house(s) in order, so that they can offer Rome a stable conversational partner. The validity of “branch theory” aside, Christ’s prayer applies to all who believe in him. So I continue to maintain that a viable governance model is critical in any organization that claims to be the Church.

                    • Um, my comment about the Church of Rome requires a major qualification. I wrote it rather late. I’d radically redo it if I could. Very flawed post.

                      It goes without saying that what I speculated about would first mean their (some faithful within Western Christianity) conversion to Holy Orthodoxy. I’m convinced that it is more or less unknown to most of them. Is that your sense, too? I assume that most are Western Christians largely just by default, and this includes many among the Roman Catholic religious and among the ordained in the diocesan and religious priesthoods. I don’t know how the subjects of Orthodox history, theology and ecclesiology are broached in Roman Catholic seminaries. But it’s an interesting question to me. I’d like to know more about their seminary reading lists or textbooks dealing with the subjects.

                  • I didn’t read all of this argument, but this caught my eye . . . the theme of turning in the west. We see it also in sacred art. The ushering in of the renaissance saw the turning of the image. Instead of facing forward as it had done previously and continued on in the East, we see the profile (Giotto) and then the backs of figures–the turning away of the saints– cutting out the viewer as participant in the image all together. They became observers, rather than participants.


                    M>Western Christianity slowly and inexorably replaced a focus on God with a focus on man. It redefined the sacraments, it came to view “Lord have mercy” as a referendum on itself rather than a statement of the essence of God, it turned its altars to face itself

          • Chris, AMEN, AMEN, AMEN to every one of your posts on this thread. Thank you for saying it so well.

            • Um,

              I hesitate to side with anyone on this list because to some here that would only taint them by association with me. Chris doesn’t need me to defend him. Still, I’m stunned once again by yet another blatant misreading, utterly rampant on this blog. He did not write that Kyrie eleison is “purely a statement about the essence of God.”

              The word mercy in English is the translation of the Greek word eleos. This word has the same ultimate root as the old Greek word for oil, or more precisely, olive oil; a substance which was used extensively as a soothing agent for bruises and minor wounds. The oil was poured onto the wound and gently massaged in, thus soothing, comforting and making whole the injured part. The Hebrew word which is also translated as eleos and mercy is hesed, and means steadfast love. The Greek words for ‘Lord, have mercy,’ are ‘Kyrie, eleison’ that is to say, ‘Lord, soothe me, comfort me, take away my pain, show me your steadfast love.’ Thus mercy does not refer so much to justice or acquittal, a very Western interpretation, but to the infinite loving-kindness of God, and his compassion for his suffering children! It is in this sense that we pray ‘Lord, have mercy,’ with great frequency throughout the Divine Liturgy.”

              The “plain meaning” of words is very seldom as plain as many unlettered people imagine. There are many levels of literacy, not to mention of purification of the heart and illumination of the nous. Isn’t competence in Greek (and Hebrew, IMHO) and solid knowledge of the cultures out of which the Tenach and in which the NT were written an elementary prerequisite for anyone who’d presume to teach the Scriptures and expound the Holy Tradition? Literacy is necessary but insufficient. It is an instrument. The West appears to be behind in the race, for reasons similar to why Martha was behind Mary. Or to why Peter was behind John (until the latter was permitted to “win” a particular competition. . .)?

              — *Fr. Anthony Coniaris (GOA)

              • Of course, I meant:

                Or to why Peter was behind John (until the former was permitted by John to “win” a particular competition. . .)?

                • But the phrase is: “Lord have mercy!” Not the perfectly valid alternative: “Lord you are merciful!”

                  So let’s not make this grounds for condemnation of others and for further division between East and West.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Chris, what you state is unarguable. We should never be legalists. But the Church in its finer moments never hesitated to speak out when the prophetic spirit demanded it. None of the Prophets of the Old Testament were perfect men, most were deeply flawed. Hosea was married to a whore, Isaiah tramped through the streets of Jerusalem naked, Jonah was ungrateful for the repentance of the Ninevites, Moses protected his brother even though he led the Israelites into idolatry, etc.

            Where was I? The point is that if we continue to remain silent then we acquiesce in the greater sin. I just can’t see how spiritual it is to working on our own spirituality while others suffer. I realize that’s a fine line because I despise busy-bodies but our silence too often has resulted in the debasement of our Church. In reading about the Church in Russia after the Petrine “reforms” or the Church of Greece today, I can’t hold back my revulsion for this chaste Virgin being used by the secular elites in such a way.

            You may say, “yes, but in America we have freedom of religion and anyway, the Church is not statte-supported.” That’s true, but the Church can still be an adjunct to the State and its depredations.

            • Chris Plourde says

              I don’t ask anyone to be silent, George. Read again:

              America needs us to reshape the debate on Orthodox terms if anyone is going to move beyond the politics of victimization and recrimination that has dominated the last 40 years.

              Orthodoxy should not conform to America, but leaven it. Any mook can tell you that the person who sets the rules wins the game, and thus Orthodoxy needs to engage the culture from our own traditions and rules.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Chris, we have long since lost the opportunity to be any part of the debate. Statism is so far down the road that only the self-control of regulators prevents the imposition of a greater and greater tryanny. We are at the point where we are a people ruled by fiat or oligarich laws with the illusion of freedom. At this point, IMAO, we have three choices:

                1. Armed resistence (a joke of course)
                2. Acquiesence
                3. Prophetic witnesses up to and including incarceration.

                Three clear examples just this week.

                1. A judge ruled that a gay softball league could exclude non-gay players (a couple of bi-sexuals sued because they were excluded from playing)
                2. A judge ruled that students participating in graduation exercises could not invoke God (any god) in any manner or even use any words or phrases that might indicate the desire to pray (such as the word pray, prayer, amen, bow our heads, or give thanks to God in any manner in public speech, etc., etc.) because one student claimed such activities made him anxious.
                3. On a more personal note, my wife’s family own’s and operates a winery that also markets elderberry juice concentrate (juice and all juice) for its healthful benefits (already virtually a crime in and of itself.) This week the FDA and the state department of agriculture accompanied by armed U.S. Marshalls took over the business, confiscated all elderberry juice products and the yet to be processed juice on hand for what tthe FDA considers to a label violation. They were cited for some violations several years ago and aceeded to every demand the FDA made at that time: paid a fine, had their labels and advertising approved . They have been operating under those specific guidelines since. All of the claims they make are true, scientifically founded and reasonable, but that doesn’t matter. There are many other similar products on the market that make much more agreessive claims. However, the FDA is now classifying elderberry juice as a “new drug” requiring FDA approval so all of the rules have changed. They were given no chance to change with the rules or comply with them in any manner (which they would have done). Even if the FDA is overturned in courts, the business will likely be forced into bankruptcy and shut down, over 20 people will loose their livelyhoods (including my wife) and the work of their hands for almost 20 years. A work that harms no one and enhances the lives of many. The wines they produce are have won more international competition awards than any other wine produced in the United States (mostly non-grape wines). Right now, they can’t even continue to vint their wines because all of the raw material is locked up with the elderberry juice and they are forbidden to touch it (even though there is no question of the compliance of the wine making).

                There is no longer any justice under the law, we are all subject to the law (or whatever the regulators decide by fiat what the law is).

                Neither the Republican or Democrat parties have any real interest in changing the system, only making it ‘more efficient’.

                • Geo Michalopulos says

                  Michael, I know exactly what you mean. The American Welfare State is directly as well as indirectly responsible for our loss of our freedoms. The problem with liberals is that they always seem to think that as long as we have access to “literature” then we’re free. The oligarchs don’t give a rip if we have access to free speech as long as they control our wealth, which is what the income tax does.

                  It’s no different than the Federal Reserve which controls the currency. Our Congress ultimately has no power.

              • Geo Michalopulos says

                Chris, the horse has done left the barn: we’ve already conformed to America. What do you think the Stokovite vision of an all-powerful Metropolitan Council is, or a Primate that must vet each and every word with the Lesser Synod? What do you think about the rabid anti-monastic bias of the Stokovites and other secularist-minded Orthodox? Or the hatred directed towards +Jonah because he signed the MD? Etc (I’ll leave aside the question of organs and pews.)

        • Ivan Vasiliev says

          You completely misunderstood my point, Father. Utterly and completely misunderstood it. I’m rather surprised. I would be the last person on earth to deny that we have a mission to the heterodox, and, as I stated quite carefully, that particular term must be applied with caution. I don’t consider Roman Catholics “heterodox” (as in heretical); I do consider those who deny the resurrection of Christ, the virginity of the Theotokos, etc. to be heterodox.
          As for the dichotomy, “life/death”, it seems quite scriptural to me, since God Himself stated that there are two ways before us, the way of life and the way of death and that we should choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19).
          Of course, we could debate the etymology of the word, “dichotomy”, and arrive at your rather extended conclusion. I was using the term in the generally accepted sense.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Ivan, I’m not so sure I misunderstood your point. There’s a world of difference between the construct true vs. false and truth vs. lie. One is verbal, the other existential, meaning that the latter is known and exercised only through moral choice and effort.

            The life vs death “dichotomy” then, is actualized (experienced) only in the context of truth vs lie, not true vs. false. The nous is enlightened only in the the concrete struggle against sin, not merely through the contemplation of that concrete struggle. (Contemplation is still beneficial and necessary of course.) This is confirmed by the scripture you cited (Deut. 30:19) and why it instructs us to choose life.

            As for the term “heterodox”, I think your qualifiers confirm my point that the term is muddy. In most people’s minds it sets up an opposition (it would not need qualifiers otherwise) that, as I argued upstream, dampens and may even preclude the missionary imperative. The term may serve a worthwhile polemical function, but that’s not the context we are discussing here.

            Please don’t take this personally. I don’t mean it that way. I am only trying to draw clearer distinctions.

            • Ivan Vasiliev says

              Father, I deliberately chose “true vs false” instead of “truth vs lie” because the first simply states a condition while the second implies moral choice. There is a great deal of falsehood in our society which is not intentional and a great many people buy into those falsehoods without buying into the spirit of the lie. Are they often misled by intentional liars and deceivers? Of course! But care must be taken that we don’t approach them as if they themselves are enemies of truth. Likewise, Orthodox is opposed to heterodox in the sense of
              “right thinking/believing” vs “other thinking/believing”. Our discussions here are very much within the Orthodox community and those terms shouldn’t be avoided. I will admit, though, that using “heterodox” and heresy/heretical as absolute equivalents is problematic. And, again, I urged extreme caution in their application.

              I don’t think we are disagreeing about content here but have somewhat different ideas about presentation.

              • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                Well, maybe there’s the difference. I still believe in the inherent power of language to penetrate the fog of moral relativism. I just rely almost elusively on discernment to do it. Every encounter is personal, and the substance and direction of that encounter always includes the Holy Spirit as a silent partner. Our job is not only to be aware of the Holy Spirit, but also recognize its voice when it prompts.

                It happened again just yesterday (it happens a lot actually). I ran into a Catholic couple where the husband (75 years old, raised as a devout Catholic) was scandalized by the child abuse cases to the point where even the concrete particulars of the Gospel were swept into that blazing furnace of doubt that scandal stokes. It started when the son of a friend of the man killed himself at 19 years old after being abused.

                We talked about God a little bit. We talked more about the loss of his best friend in the last year and how hard is to reconcile loss when the soul is full of pain. That’s how it’s done.

                The man is in deep internal anguish about how to embrace the God that he has such difficulty finding because he has been scandalized. He sees that without the reconciliation, the loss of his friend offers him only despair. He also knows how deep that despair can reach. Two people he knew committed suicide because of it. (All this came out in the conversation.)

                Only when you can penetrate those depths with someone, even partially (and partial is all we can really do because only Christ is the healer), does real work get done.

                If theology informs such an encounter (and it can), then it has value. But the power doesn’t lie in the theological proposition alone. It lies in the charismatic dimension of the encounter, in recognizing that God, through His Spirit, guides the encounter that theology, if properly formed, can inform.

                That’s what I mean when I say things must be concrete. Theology must draw from the spoken Word of God (Holy Scripture), in order to properly inform the words that we speak in order to have any salvific effect — any truth — in those who hear us, especially those who God brings to us to hear the Word of Truth.

                • Ivan Vasiiev says


                  If the faithful are scandalized to the point of losing their faith, then the problem is deeply theological and very, very, concrete. We have given them idols in the form of priests and bishops and they have confused them with God.

                  I know many devout Catholics who have been deeply wounded by the scandals but who have kept their faith precisely because they never confused the clergy with the God they worship or the sins of the “institution” with the reality of the Church.

                  In spite of some serious issues around Church order (primacy, etc.), Orthodox and Roman Catholics share a common understanding of the Church as the Body of Christ–a mystical reality. It is incumbent on us all in the presence of any kind of scandal to reiterate this point time and time again. I recall reading in Sergei Fudel’s wonderful little book, “Light in the Darkness”, about how an apostate priest took his robes off at the end of a liturgy and declared himself an atheist in the presence of the people he had just communed. They were, of course, stunned and hurt, but when one yound man spoke up to remind them that there had always been Judases they regained their composure.

                  To lose one’s faith because of the Judases of the world indicates that one didn’t really have a whole lot of faith to begin with. People who say they are going to abandon Christ because of those Judases need to be reminded that the betrayer died and went to perdition while the Betrayed One died and in so doing destroyed the power of death.

                  The conflict your friend faces between loss of faith in idols and abandoning his departed friend to oblivion is one we are all called to deal with. If God’s goodness is dependent of the goodness of any particular class of people, then we are utterly lost. Some might be willing to abandon their faith due to disappointment in their leaders, but how many of us will abandon our loved ones to the abyss? Better to throw away the black cassocked idols and cleave to the God who saves. And I say this as one who believes deeply in the God-given hierarchal model of our Church.

                  • Seen It Happen says

                    To lose one’s faith because of the Judases of the world indicates that one didn’t really have a whole lot of faith to begin with.

                    Ivan, that is a cruel and thoughtless remark, one you would never make if you knew people like the man of whom Father Hans speaks. I do know a family who lost a son to suicide, in circumstances very much like what Father describes. All of them left the Catholic Church once it came out that the diocese had known all about the priest who molested their son, but assigned him to their parish anyway. This was a very strong Catholic family, but thank God most of them found homes in various Protestant churches. The thought that you could accuse these people of not really having a whole lot of faith to begin with really turns my stomach. I usually like what you have to say, and can only imagine that in this case, you have little or no acquaintance with the actual spiritual damage that priests abusing children can wreak on faithful families and individuals. Please dig more deeply into this before you say such things!

                    • Ivan Vasiliev says

                      I do understand what you are saying. The unfortunate problem with these blogs is that we make comments directed at a specific situation which can seem generalized to all. I was responding to Fr Hans’ remark about a man (not evidently one who was abused, himself) who lost his faith due to the scandals. The case of the particular family you speak of touches me personally. That evil exists in the Church, though, does not make it of the Church and going to a different church doesn’t address that. Look how many people have come to Orthodoxy to escape what they perceived to be a Roman Catholic perversion only to find that it exists here, too (and among the Protestants, too). If the Church is the Body of Christ and if the saving mysteries/sacraments are in it, (especially the life giving Body and Blood of our Lord) then we have to find ways to redirect folks back to that reality and away from the falseness and perversion of the Judases and Pilates among us.

                      In the particular case about which you are speaking that would require an unfathomably great pastor.

                      Please remember that one of my main points is that every conversation about these things must be in some sense “personal”. In making general statements (as we all do in blogs) we take the risk of hurting precisely the people we would want to avoid hurting at all costs. I have no solution other than to be silent (good advice all around, I suspect).

                      As I mention in my latest response to Father Hans, I can speak from the midst of suffering abuse/neglect/betrayal. It was Christ who saved me through His Church. Having been betrayed by men before, I fully expect to be betrayed again. If I were looking for the Church of the Pure (meaning persons, not her Lord), I would indeed give in to despair. And if I were giving advice to people what Church to go to in order avoid sexual predators, I would be at a loss. Sexual predation is a human sin and it is practiced most by those who acquire power. No “church” is safe from them, neither is any office, political party, etc., etc.

                      I feel heartsick about your friends–the more so even because they seem to have gone elsewhere in the hope of escaping the sickness that murdered their child. The terrible fact is that it may be waiting for them where they have arrived. If nothing else, we have learned this in the recent scandal among us. Where will those who fled the RC scandal to come to the OCA (GOA, etc) go now that they have discovered it here? The only place to go is to Christ, Who makes Himself directly available to us through His own flesh and blood.

                      Yet again, generic advice….but from one who has also suffered the humiliation of abuse and found nowhere else to go.

                  • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                    You see Ivan, your concepts can’t really reach the man’s pain or ameliorate his despair. If I told him what you just told me it would 1) if he trusted me drive him into even deeper despair (“you don’t have enough faith”); or 2) come across as irrelevant blather because it was the same things that those who betrayed the young man used to say. See the problem?

                    The priest who abused the boy is not a Judas. He is the Roman soldier who stuck a spear into the side of Christ, the same soldier who broke the legs of the other convicts so that they would suffocate faster (crucifixion kills by suffocation). That’s what the act of abuse amounted to, or at least set in motion. The Judas is the authority who betrayed the boy to the abuser.

                    Here’s what you don’t understand about being scandalized. It is not that the person scandalized has left Christ. It is that the crime committed is so egregious that it rips away all certainties in the deepest reaches of the soul in ways that make it very, very, difficult to find Christ again. That’s why Christ says that it would be better that a millstone were put around the neck of the offender and he be cast into the sea. (He never said that about Judas.) That kind of trauma, even second hand as in the case of the man I was talking to yesterday, takes a very long time to heal, if it heals at all.

                    Reframing this very real and concrete dilemma in the terminology of idols, the mystical body of Christ, and all the other all-encompassing conceptions we are so fond of (and well versed about) is really an attempt to reconcile ourselves to the crime in order to avoid becoming scandalized ourselves. It doesn’t speak to the concrete reality at all because it cannot bring any healing to it. And that’s my point. If it can’t, then it doesn’t have any real value.

                    • It is not that the person scandalized has left Christ. It is that the crime committed is so egregious that it rips away all certainties in the deepest reaches of the soul in ways that make it very, very, difficult to find Christ again.

                      It’s that Christ has left the person. When we’ve been hurt within the faith we loved more than anything, we can’t heal within our faith and have to leave. We have been so deeply hurt by those we trusted that having faith presents a danger to us, a threat to our survival. If we believe again, we will be hurt again. It is better not to believe, and let God have mercy if He exists. The terrible dilemma in this is that we still believe, and yet, we can’t. We aren’t safe there. Those we trusted with our lives not only deserted us, but in effect killed us, so complete was the betrayal. Unless you’ve been through it you can’t understand it.

                    • Ivan Vasiliev says

                      Some of us who suffered abuse and neglect ourselves would beg to differ, Father. Our idols had to die for us to accept Christ. And yes, the pain of being betrayed was excruciating.

                      I would also beg to differ with regard to the issue of faith. Jesus commented frequently on shallowness of faith (sometimes of his own disciples). The antidote to despair is faith and when a person of faith declares that he has lost his faith due to the sins of others he needs to be redirected to the True Source of Salvation–Christ, Who is always with us no matter what we suffer.

                      The answer to those who ask, “Where is God in all this?” is simply, “Right here with you–in the midst of your suffering. Have faith in Him. Believe in Him. Trust in Him. Though you may be abandoned by all else, He will never abandon you.”

                      I would differ with you about the abuser being like the Roman soldier, too. Someone who abuses a defenseless person under their care/authority is a Judas (no matter how sick he/she may be) because that person has betrayed the trust placed in him/her by the one they have victimized. Those who cover up are like Pilate, who washed his hands and denied responsibility for what could not have happened without his conspiring.

                      The bottom line is that when someone tells you they have lost their faith due to a scandal, they need to be (yes, gently, patiently, lovingly) directed back to the Only One who can heal. Otherwise, we leave them alone in the dark.

                      I’ve heard enough excuses for people who will abandon the Church (the Body of Christ) and go off to some fly by night operation run by yet another idol-preacher because it makes them feel better, or, abandon faith altogether for the utter emptiness and desolation of the Christ-less world. I’ve been there myself and I know what it is like. And I know many, many people of faith who have not run away even though their hearts have been broken by the awful scandals around them.

                      Sorry, but I think you are wrong. People who are wavering need to be brought back by strong medicine given by compassionate but persistent pastors. It is not enough to say, “I feel your pain”, or, “I understand why you feel you must go elsewhere” (you have not said the latter, Father, but others have in the course of this latest nightmare).

                      However, we have moved from initial very generalized comments about dichotomies (rightly or wrongly made) to pastoral theology. My only remaining point is that one should assume nothing (as Chris said so well) about those to whom and about whom we speak. We all need the clear teaching of the Church and her medicine (the life-giving sacraments/mysteries) and each of us needs it given personally, not generically. Blanket statements about any particular group are always dangerous and some of the pain that has been expressed on these pages indicates that. In the end, though, the only damning sin is the despair that leads one to abandon all hope–that alone can keep one from Salvation. That was the ultimate sin of Judas. He not only betrayed but he despaired. One wonders if his despair/disillusionment/hopelessness actually preceded his betrayal. It would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    Ivan, you’ve given us much to think about. Perhaps we should seriously think about how we think about our bishops so we don’t create needless idols. And this would include how they are addressed, how they comport themselves, how they dress, etc.

                    Having said that, the faith of most people is not as robust as your’s seems to be (and I myself make no claims about my own faith). Thank you for your insights here. It certainly sharpens and elevates the debate.

  22. A. Arganda (Rymlianin) says

    What makes you think that they cannot ram †Mark down the DOS’s throat. They already did it in Alaska once. One of † Nikolai’s predecessors was forced upon an unwilling diocese. Parishioners are not important to these people. The important thing is accomplishing their will ; parishioners be hanged!

    • George Michalopulos says

      Of course they can try to ram him down our throats. Anything is possible. Unfortunately the radioactivity that is presently in play in the OCA makes certaiin prospects more difficult to accomplish than what obtained in the past, when things were far more quiescent. As for the Alaskans, they need to get off the stick and start nominating people. That’s going to cost money, to fly candidates in, house them and feed them. But they gotta step up to the plate.

  23. This is to # 161-there was no reply botton . . ..

    My dear Mike,

    You said, My anger appears to be almost entirely misunderstood here.
    It might be. It appears you have placed everyone on this blog in a little box, for which we do not fit. Then you proceed to lash at the mouth in the most unloving way. It is difficult even with your many many insulting words to know what exactly you are saying. Perhaps if you really cared about God’s creation-including people on this blog- you could tone it down, minimise your words and work on real issues in the Church, not be an issue in the Church.

    I — that we— seem to encounter constantly in discussions with members of that subset of nominally Orthodox Americans who regard themselves as Christian conservatives and who appear to line up in their views almost point by point with the self-righteous, bottomlessly hypocritical, pseudo-apocalyptic American “Christian” right. This fundamental divergence began to crystallize dramatically in Bush’s first term, especially in the three and a half years from 9/11/01 through March 2003, reaching a crisis before the 2004 election that carried forward to Pascha 2005. It sometimes seems as though y’all and we are spiritually no longer in real communion. On so many levels.

    I am non-partisan. I am not nominal, never voted for Bush, not a right winger-have some understanding of Christ in common with them though- not too worried about what “they” believe, not interested in spereateing any one people group out and calling them names. I am concerned in what Christ wanted us to be, I am concerned with the world in which my children are growing up in, I am concerned for the OCA taking a wrong turn and frankly, I’m concerned about you.
    It sometimes seems as though y’all and we are spiritually no longer in real communion. On so many levels.

    You have no business saying such a thing.

    You seem so smug about your condition
    How the heck would you know? Do you know me. A blog misses most of the person. You think because I wrote you a pharagraph you know me? How presumptuoous. To your next rediculous point, I’m guessing I’ve been Orthodox longer than you’ve been alive. Or close to it.

    What we’re angry about is that y’all and we seem to have different weights and measures

    You mean what you are angry about-I know too many cradles who feel the same way I do.

    This really is not about cradles vs. converts. It is however, about how one understands the Gospel. And you and I may be on different pages, but I would never say you are not welcome in the Church.

    And furthermore — and this is the clincher — we understand you all too well whereas you do not understand us.

    Oh sweety, you don’t understand me at all . . . .

  24. to #161 continued

    My most serious problem with Jonah is my fear that he may be one of you, or willing to pander to you, at any rate, for the sake of temporal power

    LOL what the heck is that supposed to mean? What you don’t understand is where +Jonah can take this Church and you won’t understand it because you don’t understand the culture you live in or the people around you. You seem to have 2 boxes to put everyone in. . . . Please.

    By “you”, I don’t mean you personally, Collete. A rhetorical “you,” that alien spiritual entity of darkness that masquerades as light, falsely.

    You mean me personally just as you mean anyone else here . . . . So I will address you personally. things are clear that way. . . And with that I have gone through your reply to me. But you didn’t answer me:

    In such leadership roles one is not only accountable for what one actually practices but for the appearance of I’ll change this to–sin. Mark S has control over what people are accusing him of, he has deliberately not stopped it, so it must be ok with him. So, why are you so mad about it?

    Why are you so mad if people want transparency and accountability from Mark? You make this about bigotry, it is not.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nor, collete, is it about ‘converts’ either as you point out. I’m always a bit bemused when the “Its the convert’s fault” hue and cry comes up.

      First I believe that converts come under the “What God has cleansed, call thou not unclean” dirction to Peter in his vision in Joppa, but heck I’m so dumb and uneducated, I guess I could be wrong. Further, I do believer God has also said: “Behold, I make all things new”. A long time friend of mine whose family has been in the Church for countless generations often makes the statement that to be Orthodox, one has to be a convert.

      When the question is asked, as it frequently is, …what demnomination did you come from? I find a harmony with the Aparteid practice of recording each piece of racial ancestry to determin how human you were. Is someone more or less Orthodox once received into the Church by Christmation or Baptism if the person were previously a Latter Day Saints, a Rastafarian, a Hindu, a Roman Catholic, an Episcopelian of recent vintage, from the Assemblies of God, a Baptist? One either loves the truth, unites oneself to Christ, or they do not. One either worships the created thing or one does not (each person is capable of both at any given moment).

      Confusing political ideology with the teachings of the Church is wrong but it cuts both ways. I’ve encountered just as many folks who vote hard core democrat because of such false identification (including Orthodox bishops who particiapted in the hagiographic campaign for our President), as those who vote republican.

      The ‘its the converts’ garbage is just another example of the scapegoat mentality that Stokoe rides and promotes. Gee, if we just got rid of everybody but me, wow, the Church would be great!!!! Opps, I’d need to find at least one more person since it takes two or more gathered in His name. Anyone want to voluteer. We could set up the really great, genuine, first rate pure and acceptable Orthodox Church of whereever designed to accelerate the noetic purity of each one of us to a range that Mr. Mike might even find acceptable –however the minute I disagee with any statement you might choose to make –your are out! Maybe we should look for the Queen of Heats to be our next fearless leader?

    • I should have asked George last night to replace the carelessly unrevised sentence in my my original post with the one in my correction. If he could do that now, I’d appreciate it.

      That might have preempted some of the misunderstanding that derived from your assuming, understandably, that I was directing my admittedly general and somewhat schematic comments to you personally. I wasn’t.

      Your question was: Why am I so angry with the nearly unanimous righteous indignation here about Mark Stokoe’s (allegedly, I insist) “sinful lifestyle,” when he himself (IYO, and that of others here) appeared indifferent to it and did little or nothing to quell it, “deliberately.” That question of yours was just a launch pad for me, as it were, into a much bigger and longer story — and perhaps more than a few fireworks as well. I haven’t even begun to tell that long story, nor will I have the time to tell it for awhile. I may or may not choose to begin to tell it here. Haven’t made up my mind about that. But I’ll respond to your reply when I have time.

      As to that last bit, yet again, now sporting a new and improved, kindler, gentler revision… I feel I’ve answered the question, over and over again and in many ways during the past few weeks here. It’s sorta comical, to me, that you would ask yet again, which kinda tempts me to provide a full blast response. But I’ll continue to refrain from doing that, for now. For now, I offer a humble little paraphrase to chew on: There are more things in heaven and earth, y’all, than are dreamt of in your philodoxy.

      Pace, Bard of Avon.

      Swear by my sword
      Never to speak of this that you have heard.

      [Beneath] Swear by his sword.

      Well said, old mole, canst work i’ th’ earth so fast?
      A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

      O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

      And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
      There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
      Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

      Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 159–167

      Oh, and one more thing, Colette: Are you at all interested in Transparency and Accountability with respect to the SMPAC, or are you content with the “red meat” thrown here? Think about that, and then get back to me?

      • Mike,

        You may feel you’ve answered that question, just as others here feel they’ve answered your questions. Interesting isn’t it? Entire groups of people not able to communicate with one another . . . . This is one reason why we can’t be too hard on each other. It takes years if ever for someone to really understand another. . . .

        Don’t worry about your unrevised sentence, I get your point.

        Tell me, have you talked to anyone about your story? Do you need to, is there someone you trust to do so?

        What do you want to say about the SMPAC report?

        • My basic story is one known to probably hundreds of millions at least. My own perspective is just part of a much bigger story.

          Answer my question first?

          • Mike, I heard you when I read that long post you wrote, which I can’t find right now. I’m not even sure it’s on this page. I read what you wrote, I hear you, I heard you. If we were talking face to face, we would find a lot of common ground. My anger, you may or may not have noticed, is directed towards deceit from whensoever it may come. I really heard what you said. So, thanks. I guess that’s what I wanted to say. And if you are angry, I am SO angry. I’ve got a story, too.

            • Anger at lies is the holy kind, Jacob. I agree 100% with you on that. It’s dangerous, though. I’m with St. Paul: “…Yeah, what revenge!” But always, always: via love. Love is the best revenge. Paradoxically enough. Thus, the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who together with the Father and the Holy Spirit is blessed for the ages of ages. Amen.

            • Jacob, I’m curious which long post you mean. Give me the gist of it, please?

          • Am I interested in Transparency and accountability? The answer is yes.

            • But confined to Mark Stokoe, though, is that correct? The guy in the “black hat”?

              • With all our leaders-including MS. He has been accused of breaking one of the requirements for being on the MC, he needs to answer those accusations, as does everyone else accused. Is there something you want to say, I’ve answered your question. If you are not ready to say I ask you again, do you have someone you trust to talk to? If not, I am available to talk to you in private.

                • Colette, thank you for your concern. That’s very kind of you. I’m not really sure what you’re asking me about, though. If it’s the SMPAC report, I want to see it, like most everyone else. I cannot imagine joining the OCA while this is hanging in limbo over its head.

                  Of course, I understand completely that Met. Jonah may have reason to think and feel — perhaps very good reason — that the contents in the short form of the report, at least, were framed and presented in such a way as to make him look bad, unjustly. Therefore, to be fair to Jonah, I certainly think that, while this report cannot be swept under the rug (that would be terribly destructive to morale in the OCA, in the current climate, and would effectively torpedo the credibility of the hierarchy) he must be give more than ample opportunity to thoroughly study and digest the long version, respond to and rebut it. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he were to have been set up to come off badly in this, since in such cases there must always be a scapegoat, if possible. Such is fallen human nature, in grave situations like this, if there’s much fire behind all the smoke. It’s very difficult for me to understand how a man who’d been on the Patricarchal throne for just over two years at the time it was sprung could possibly be held responsible for anything that happened prior, obviously, or justly castigated overmuch for perceived inactions since. So I’m sort of on his side so far in this matter. My gut is that something is way off here. I have to say, though, that the apparent fact Fr. Garklav got hearty applause in Chicago, relative to the Primate, speaks volumes. This is obviously a most ominous sign. One way or another.

                  My personal story is not suited to this list or its denizens. Thanks for asking, though.

  25. George, refusing to post my reply to Michael B. is just unadorned silencing. I strongly recommend you change your mind about your censorship in this case, or I’ll be highly disturbed. You guys imagine you’re the only show in town, or something?

    One after another, lately, thoughtful, rational, evidence-based and serious persons have turned their backs on you. You sure you want me to do it, too?

  26. Mark from the DOS says

    I don’t really know where to put this, but reading Stokoe’s latest spin prompts me to comment:

    In true Spinmaester fashion, Stokoe reports that Bishop Mark requested to be relieved of his duties as Administrator of the Diocese of the South so that he could tour the Diocese to “give him time and opportunity to meet with clergy and laity in parishes throughout the Diocese, before a special election is held.” Let’s overlook the undisputed fact that as Administrator, Bishop Mark already had an extensive travel schedule planned throughout the Diocese. This was planned when he was Administrator and certainly did not need his removal from the position to accomplish. Stokoe simply chose not to mention this.

    Let’s look at the other undisputed facts Stokoe chose to exclude from his report:

    1. Bishop Nikon received numerous e-mails requesting that he look into the situation at the Cathedral.

    2. Bishop Nikon traveled on short notice and held an open town hall meeting with the parishioners at St. Seraphim’s. He also received input from at least some Deans.

    3. Following the meeting, Bishop Nikon communicated to the parish council that Bishop Mark was no longer the administrator. He also made no mention of this being done at Bishop Mark’s request.

    4. The priest that Bishop Mark suspended was named Acting Rector of the Cathedral.

    5. Fr. David Moretti, Bishop Mark’s hierarchical assistant, is no longer in the Diocese.

    Stokoe writes his “news report” to give the clear impression that Bishop Mark decided he wanted to travel the Diocese in preparation for the Special Election, period. Not a single other fact – and these are facts, not opinions – surrounding this “request” sees the light of day.

    Thank you again, Mr. Stokoe, for your openness and transparency. I think we all see things clearly now.

    • 3. Following the meeting, Bishop Nikon communicated to the parish council that Bishop Mark was no longer the administrator. He also made no mention of this being done at Bishop Mark’s request.

      To be fair, it was said in the DOS news release that it was done by Bishop Mark’s request when the Synod met in Chicago; Stokoe didn’t make that up. But that smacks of a face-saving measure of some kind, and your original point still stands.

      Does anybody have any word on what Fr. David Moretti is going to do? AFAIK, he was totally innocent.

      • Ian James says

        Nice catch Helga. Strange that Stokoe reports on something that did not occur and was not mentioned.

        Notice too how he ignores his contribution to +Mark’s fall from grace? What’s needed is an expose on Stokoke’s relationship with +Mark, and how much Stokoe drove it. The stolen emails might be just the tip of the iceberg.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mark/DOS, Stokoe’s reporting at this point reminds me of the question asked of Mrs Lincoln: “Other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?”

    • Also, remember that Fr Garklavs’ resignation “was accepted” by the Synod. There’s more to the story than this. Obviously face-saving and obviously Mark Stokoe is keeping key parts of the story off OCA News.

  27. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Now that we are (or at least some of us) are delving into pastoral theology and the care of victims of abuse, I will share a story–not about my own abuse (not at the hands of a priest) but about the case of a member of my extended family who is married to a priest (yes, Orthodox, not OCA).
    The man (it is still very difficult for me to think of him as “Father”) betrayed her by having an affair with another man! He was then diagnosed with a mental disorder. We all begged her to leave him, the nuns at a convent she was in contact with advised her to leave, but she stayed. She cried every day for five years.

    I’m not sure how much his bishop knew about the details, (though, in fairness, he did write to the authorities about his “condition”), but I do know that after a couple years suspension he was permitted to serve again. His case did not involve minors and, at least to all appearances, their marriage is very much healed (I cannot personally comprehend how). His Presvytera/Matushka/Proetessa/Pani/Khouriya tells us that the healing is real and he certainly seems humbled from the rather arrogant cassocked idol he once was (forgive the bitterness in tone from one who actually does believe in the hierarchical model of the church).

    I am close to this woman and I asked her how she managed to stay faithful to God (I can’t go there with how she stayed with her husband). She told me the only thing that got her through was the sacraments and the icons and that she was furious with rage at God even so. She says it wasn’t logical; she hated God and trusted in Him at the same time, and whenever she thought of leaving the Church she just got angrier and refused to go! She would not let “that. *##!*” force her out (sometimes it seemed that she was referring to her husband, but sometimes it seemed like she was referring to God!). She did some very poor theology, but she said she thought of the suffering of Christ and His mother and that she thought of the psalms a lot, but mostly she just cried and cried and kept going to Church and receiving communion, going to confession (not, of course, to her husband) and singing in the choir.

    There is NO way of making sense out of all this. But I can relate to it because I had to do something similar when I came back to Christ after some very sick abuse by an authority figure in my own life. In the midst of all the talk about homosexuality and the clergy, I feel myself being torn apart–emotionally, but not spiritually. I know that those men have no power over me anymore. And who knows, some of them may repent (as my dear “cousin’s” husband seems to have). I have very profoundly mixed feelings about such a person ever serving again (and cannot at all accept the idea of someone who has in anyway abused minors or adults under his pastoral care), but I cannot afford to “go there”.

    All of this is to set straight some conclusions people (with good reason, but wrongly) draw when they read posts on this or any other blog site. For many of us these things are deeply personal. I have found, as has the woman I mentioned, that there is no alternative to the Church (not to be confused with the cassocked villains who pose as priests and bishops but who commit monstrous sins). For me, the Church really is the Body of Christ and, even if the devil infiltrates our ranks, he cannot rob us of the Body and Blood of the Savior. I am always left with the words Peter asked when Jesus saw many of His followers leave because of His words about “eating the flesh and drinking the blood” of the Son of Man: “Lord, where would we go?”

    Whenever I hear an RC or Episcopalian talking about joining our Orthodox Church because of the scandals in their churches I warn them not too! We have the same sins among us, and so does EVERYONE else. Come to Orthodoxy because it is true, not because the people—especially the clergy–are any purer. I admire the Catholic who remains true to Catholicism because he/she believes it is the “true faith” far more than those who abandon it because of bad men. Would I prefer that all become Orthodox? Of course, because I believe this IS the “true faith”…. but it is as much infiltrated by evil as anywhere else. We just have to be sure that we never permit anyone to say that an evil is really good, or to justify an evildoer’s actions as somehow permissible. But we must keep holding the line that Christ really is in our midst and that He will never abandon us and we can never allow the Judases and Pilates out there to steal that faith, that fundamental reality, from us.

    That’s all I have to say on this subject, but I wanted to be clear that I am not talking about abstractions when I keep insisting that the only antidote to despair is faith—bought at a bloody and brutally painful price for a whole lot of us out here! Sorry to rant on about this…. but I am troubled by some of the remarks I’ve gotten for some of the things I wrote earlier. I’m sure this will come as something of a “disruption” to the flow of the rest of the conversation! Prostite menya!

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Ivan, what a profound testimony. God bless you. You are a sterling witness to fidelity even in the face of abuse.

  28. A Visitor says

    Someone earlier asked about the “DC Nuns”. Today was their last day at St. Nicholas Cathedral where Met. Jonah announced that they will be coming under the Omophorion of Met. Hilarion (ROCOR). Speaking with their abbess after the service, she indicated they are moving into temporary housing until they find something more permanent and can plan a future strategy. So it appears they will be in the DC area and attending the ROCOR cathedral services there in the short term. Met. Jonah stressed that by the example of his recent concelebration with Met. Hilarion and Archbishop Justinian (MP) in New York, that the nuns are still part of the family, as are the three Russian derived branches of Orthodoxy found in OCA, ROCOR, and MP that have demonstrated that they are in unity and intercommunion with one another, although they do not share the same administratons (I’m badly paraphrasing the Metropolitan’s words, but that was his general thrust.). I wish we all had more facts. For the life of me I cannot what political or jurisdictional dispute has served to drive these kind sisters away. They are lovely people, and were an asset to both St. Nick, and the OCA.

    Met. Jonah also announced that he will be attending to the funeral of a friend of his and will be away next week in CA at his former monastery with the blessing of Bishop Benjamin. So I think this lays to rest the idea that the Metropolitan is unwelcome outside his own diocese.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Visitor, laus Deo! I’m so happy for the nuns. Although their departure is our loss, at least they won’t be persecuted by Syosset anymore.

      I pray that they will build their monastery in DC after all.

      • I’m happy for the nuns, but sad for Metropolitan Jonah, both for having his dream of a DC monastery deferred, and for the loss of his friend. Although the circumstances are sad, I hope he has a nice time visiting at St. John’s.

        But I just have to ask one question: if the nuns can be in ROCOR, then what reason was there for not letting them join the OCA?

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        So am I. I’m sad we won’t be able to see them at our parish, but I’m glad that they will be local. At least I won’t have to drive for 4 hours to go to the nearest women’s monastery.

    • Dear Visitor,
      Correction: Not, “next week in CA at his former monastery with the blessing of Bishop Benjamin”, but rather, with an invitation from +Benjamin…there is a difference. Since the friend was close to both His Beatitude and his family, and is being buried in Manton, there was no other, (highly visible) option for +B but to issue the invite. +JONAH is still banned and shackled by the Synod Bishops, who expect – and are rooting for – him to step down from his position as Metropolitan at any moment. Make no mistake about this, the Metropolitan IS unwelcome outside his own diocese.
      Dear Helga,
      “if the nuns can be in ROCOR, then what reason was there for not letting them join the OCA?” Great question…ask your Bishop…ask them all for that matter. They need to be accountable to you for this sham and travesty. Also, for the record, the nuns were already in the OCA…they were transferred from the OCA to ROCAR, as His Beatitude put it, “for their protection.”

      • Anon, in your view, what does “for their protection” mean? Can you elaborate on this, please? I don’t expect you to read the Metropolitan’s mind, of course, we simply wonder how others are interpreting these words, and also whether you’d care to share your own interpretation of what he meant.

        Is there any truth to the 1) claim that they had been thrown out on the street or to the 2) claim, made by many, including at least one here, that there was an imminent possibility of such a thing happening, and that this was the Holy Synod’s fault?

        Can you confirm where these poor nuns were before coming to the DC area and under whose Omophorion, before the hospitality here? And finally, can you point us to a source(s) of solid, accurate and reliable information about this scandalous situation? Ideally more than one, so we can view this from various perspectives, to help us get the full picture, so as to minimize the static and potential pollution that might be introduced into our understanding from various private, self-aggrandizing or partisan agendas? This is a very disturbing mise-en-scène thus far. Thanks for any help.

        • Mikey, must I say it again? You are not to use the nuns for you own speculations. Stop it now.

      • Dear Helga,
        “if the nuns can be in ROCOR, then what reason was there for not letting them join the OCA?” Great question…ask your Bishop…ask them all for that matter. They need to be accountable to you for this sham and travesty. Also, for the record, the nuns were already in the OCA…they were transferred from the OCA to ROCAR, as His Beatitude put it, “for their protection.”

        Anon, I would like very much to take up the issue with my bishop, but it’s going to be a while before I can do that without my emotions getting ahead of me.

        In the meantime, though, can I ask what it is that everyone keeps alluding to about Bishop Melchisedek, that is the key to his problem with Metropolitan Jonah and the DC nuns? It gets frustrating to have some people “in the know” and others not, especially when one of those not in the know is me! All I’ve heard is that there was some kind of disagreement between Bp. Melchisedek and the nuns’ spiritual father.

        If there’s one thing Metropolitan Jonah was right about in that Santa Fe draft speech, it’s that his enemies will never stop with him. The minute they get him shuffled off to a monastery somewhere, someone else will be the next scapegoat. Look what they did to these nuns just because they were associated with him.

        I fear that Metropolitan Jonah might give up and resign, and go off to some monastery quietly, in hopes that this would keep everybody else safe – but it won’t. As long as Metropolitan Jonah is here, he is drawing their fire, and there’s only so much they can do to him. If he goes, they will just pick another innocent target, and keep going until everyone in the OCA who doesn’t think like they do has been burned or blasted away, and everything that’s left has been chopped and formed onto their Procrustean bed. Well, I think Metropolitan Jonah has the chops to not only withstand this, but to turn the tables on them.

        I know the OCA could fall apart or die, and the Gospel would still be preached, and Christ’s promise to preserve His Church would still be kept. However, my earnest hope is that this is part of the OCA’s growing pains, and that it will emerge healthier and less encumbered by dead wood, with Metropolitan Jonah wearing the white hat for many more years.

        • The allegation is that while in Greece as a monk, Melchizidek participated in some sort of plot against his Elder, who was also the nuns’ Elder (Mel was their chaplain). I don’t know the details, but it supposedly ended badly for Mel, and the nuns are said to know some things that could be very damaging to him, including information that might call the validity of his consecration as bishop into question. This is the rumor … I have no reason to believe or to disbelieve any of it, but it is very strange that he has made getting rid of those nuns such a priority.

          • Thanks, Sergius. Like you, I have no way of knowing whether any of that has any basis in fact, but it’s nice to know what the rumor actually is.

            I would hope that the Diocese of Western PA would have investigated this during the vetting process, but it wouldn’t really surprise me if they didn’t.

  29. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Well, George, it is always fascinating to come back after the weekend and read the exchanges between bloggers.
    Mike did mention something about the meekness of the Metropolitan’s responses (I’d have to do too much work to track down the precise entry) which gave me one of those “aha!” moments. All I could think of was St. Paul and the Corinthians.

    “For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— lest I seem to terrify you by letters. “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.” (2 Corinthians 10:8-11, NKJV)

    It seems that St. Paul, in person, appeared meek and was not well spoken, in terms of forcefulness. His presence seems not to have intimidated his adversaries. It was the word of truth, which he spoke and wrote, that finally overcame them (though it seems to have taken a couple of generations, at least, in Corinth. The Letters of Clement confirm that!).

    What does this tell us? I think, that the “opposition” His Beatitude is facing right now is as complex as what St. Paul faced in Corinth. Some (perhaps much) is simply a matter of resentment on the part of the local powers, but some (I hope not nearly as much) is theological/ecclessiological/moral. The first group can be politically very dangerous and disruptive, but the second is deadly. His Beatitude needs all the help he can get to somehow manage to break the alliance between the two. I suspect that some of those who oppose Jonah out of resentment (the would be “white hats” and their allies in the nachal’stvo) are not terribly comfortable with the infiltration of the deeply questionable moral tendencies of some of their allies. Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. Perhaps His Beatitude has mastered the second part of the commandment and is in need of help from those who have some expertise in the first.

    I’m not entirely sure I like the direction in which this takes me….. but I couldn’t help but wonder about these images from the Holy Scriptures in relationship with the crisis we are now facing

    • Chris Plourde says

      I think you’re onto something, which is the complexity of the situation. To me the biggest problem is conflation, an attempt to take different things and weave one overarching narrative.

      So let’s consider what is going on with the OCA:

      First, we have an institution that is responding to a scandal. In such a mode the first move is always to change the leadership, but the second move is always to change the structure so that such a scandal cannot recur. The OCA is now at that second step. We can debate the wisdom of the steps being taken, but they need to be understood in the context of the earlier scandal.

      Then we have a young Bishop made Metropolitan quite quickly, who had conflicts with the staff he inherited, who perhaps relied upon advisers more than he should have, and who neglected the first rule of management: No Surprises. All these are errors of inexperience, all of them are correctable.

      Next we have a small lay “Accountability” group, some of whom are on the Metropolitan Council. I would offer to you that this group all by itself provides the complexity you reference in Corinth, and that it has multiple agendas and politics that need to be kept separate from the first two more important items. I will offer two observations, however. First, the majority of the MC is not beholden to this group and second, that there are members of that group whose issue with Jonah has nothing to do with Manhattan or +Jonah’s statements on homosexuality and everything to do with his forgiving approach to those who were players in the earlier scandal.

      Finally we have Mark Stokoe’s smarmy e-mail, which generated its own cottage industry of bloggers and started a blog war that viewed everything above through the sphincter of that e-mail.

      Amid all this stands the real +Jonah and the real Synod. The real +Jonah seeks to reassert the authority of Bishops in the Church, the function of which includes making public statements, and attend to the pastoral care of all his flock. As part of the latter he’s called for the blog wars to cease. The real Synod has been asserting its own authority in governance of the Church, but has been silent with regards to the blog wars.

      When it comes to +Jonah, I think those who see “conflict avoidance” in him don’t get him He backs away from no conflict, but he strives to find the most pastoral approach even in conflict. That’s what propelled him to Metropolitan, that’s what the OCA most needs. In short, he practices the “discernment” that Fr. Hans does. Not much wrong with that…

      • A Remnant says

        You have articulated several of the themes in the complexity of the current situation. In each of the “themes” there are entanglements, and contributing factors that cross the boundaries of each theme and increase the complexity.

        I would suggest a different answer to one of your statements. While agreeing with your premise as to the context, the conclusion demonstrates the shortsightedness of everyone involved.

        First, we have an institution that is responding to a scandal. In such a mode the first move is always to change the leadership, but the second move is always to change the structure so that such a scandal cannot recur. The OCA is now at that second step. We can debate the wisdom of the steps being taken, but they need to be understood in the context of the earlier scandal.

        Making changes while looking in the rear-view mirror is often more damaging than not making a change. The hardest organizational temptation to resist is the rush to change structure, rules, authorities or roles to address or limit abuse based on a past transgression. Instead of charging into the “blame and change” mode organizationally the church should prayerfully consider what the true lessons from the transgressions are. Lessons learned in these circumstances often are not the publicly held view, nor are they necessarily the sole responsibility of the person scapegoated for the transgression.

        Problems are usually of two general natures; first a system or organizational architecture unfit for the current use or environment. Or they represent a catastrophic failure of the organization’s adherence to existing morals, guidelines, policies and practices, which can only happen in a laissez-faire environment.

        If the Church is gong to make systemic changes, the changes should be based on helping and supporting success in the mission of the church, today and in the future. Looking at the changes made in the past and the blunt method of implementing the current changes, suggests all of them are an overreaction and in the long run is not a viable operating model.

        Sorry, got a little long winded here, but thanks again for your articulation of the issues.

        • Chris Plourde says


          I laughed out loud when I read this:

          Making changes while looking in the rear-view mirror is often more damaging than not making a change.

          That is about as Orthodox a position as any person could ever take! 😉 Reminded me of the joke about how many Orthodox it takes to change a light bulb…. “Change?”

          But the point is correct. “Reform” often leads to unintended consequences that are worse than the original problem. And yet all humanity loves a “reformer” no matter how wrong-headed s/he is.

          I am happy with one thing, though, and that is the clarity that the Synod can no longer defer to the Chancellor and Metropolitan and abdicate responsibility for the whole Church. That was the “laissez-faire” attitude of the Synod during the eras of Theodosius and Herman’s, and it hasn’t served the Church well at all.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Indeed. One of the unintended consequences of this imbroglio is that the Synod has tried to arrogate unto themselves full leadership of the OCA, equal and perphaps over the Metropolitan. What they don’t realize is that this is putting them on a collision course with Syossett and the MC.

            • Chris Plourde says

              Actually, I think they know it puts them on a collision course with those in the MC who think of themselves as the leadership of the Church.

              +Jonah’s speech from 2009 really gives a clear framework for understanding what happened this year.

              • George Michalopulos says

                You’re probably right. I think +Jonah’s been on a collision course with the
                Syosset bunch from the get-go.

              • Chris, Read the Articles of the OCA – you may be amazed to find that the MC does, in fact, have the powers to be considered the leadership of the church – along with the Chancellor – and this in opposition to the Canons of Orthodoxy. There is work to be done at the ACC!!! (Not that I believe this will or can be accomplished this year, as those in power do not relinquish it easily, and the tendency I have seen to bait and switch will put any such effort off track rather easily and quickly.)

                • Ian James says

                  That’s why when you have such serious ethics violations like the stealing and publishing of private emails by leadership on the MC, the perpetrator still stays in leadership.

                  When I read the minutes of the the last MC meeting I noticed they went into executive session three or four times. Stokoe was in on those sessions. This is the same Stokoe who published the confidential correspondence of a priest, and a confidential speech of a hierarch. Why is he even allowed in those meetings? Why has there been no ethics violation complaint lodged against him?

                  Can’t the MC police their own?

                • Chris Plourde says

                  I know. I thought +Jonah’s speech put things in proper historical and ecclesial perspective.

                  There’s a Buddhist line that goes something like this:

                  A man came to a great expanse of water, and so built himself a raft and crossed the water. When he got to the other side he decided the raft was so useful that he carried it with him…but what good was the raft when he came to the mountain?

                  To me that’s where the OCA is. The statutes are not the Canons of the Church, nor are they the doctrines of the Church. Therefore, once they have served their purpose it’s fair to revisit and change them to meet the current needs of the Church.

                  But we are Orthodox. Change? Not something any of us takes lightly.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Chris, you’re definately onto something here. I know this is going to shock some people, but I’ve never believed any conflict (this one included) is merely black-or-white. I fully believe that the Syosset Set feels that +Jonah has made missteps which they must seek to correct (but in doing so, are actively undermining him). It’s a cultural thing very often. Most ethnic Orthodox in America have a very dim view of monasticism and react with derision when they meet a real monk or nun.

        As for the lay accountabilists you mention, a lot of their contempt for +Jonah is an extension of what they believe about the priesthood in general. As I’ve written, it’s not fair but it’s the perception of several generations of ethnic American Orthodox. Of course with the influx of well-educated, erudite converts into the priesthood, all of whom view the priesthood as an honorable profession (which it is) this perception should have changed, but it hasn’t among the ethnic base of the ethnic jurisdictions. In fact, the fact that the American Orthodox priesthood has been overtaken by converts has caught us Cradles flat-footed.

        • Chris Plourde says

          My 2c is that most “cradle” Orthodox want to be more American than their parents, which is what gives rise to a more “American” way of viewing monks, nuns and priests…with disdain. American culture is, after all, Protestant in its very nature and foundation.

          So I’m slower than you are to blame the “dumping ground” for priests, monks or nuns, and more inclined to see this as an generational infiltration of Protestant values. Not that I haven’t seen those “dumped” individuals, mind you, but that the attitude of which you write is larger than can be explained by them.

        • Hey George, it’s hard to keep track of all the revelations and other minutiae involved in this at this point, but I was wondering if you’ve read this speech given by Metropolitan Jonah to the Metropolitan Council in February, 2009. I haven’t read the whole thing yet, but from Stokoe’s reaction, this is really interesting.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Helga, it’s a good speech. In retrospect, I didn’t know how to read between the lines of OCAN back then.

          • Chris Plourde says

            It would appear that the actions of the Synod this year are in concert with the vision of +Jonah in 2009.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Chris, that’s assuming that they were acting in love and not anger or spitefulness. “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

              • Chris Plourde says

                Always assume the best of people. If they disappoint, then they disappoint, but better to expect the best than to create a self-fulfilling negative.

                Decades ago a wise priest taught me this: If we can put an Orthodox understanding on something we must, no matter what. And if we find that we simply cannot find an Orthodox understanding, we should ask what the person intends rather than to assume the worst. And only if we learn that the intent is un-Orthodox should we offer correction, and that in Love.

                That advice has served me well in life as well as spiritually.

                • That is real wisdom.

                • Don’t confuse personal relationships with governance.

                  It is fine to assume the best in personal relationships, but in governance it is wiser and more loving to prevent the worst.

                  Any good government protects the vulnerable and promotes justice. But individuals are free to turn the other cheek.

                • Heracleides says

                  So… let me get this straight. At the upcoming AAC you will be asking Bp. Benjamin and Mrs. Stokoe-Brown what their intentions in their failed putsch were? And then no doubt you’ll offer some appropriate touchy-feelie correction… perhaps you’ll even go so far as too spank the duo with big fluffy (lavender) pillows? (To bad you weren’t around to guide St. Nicholas when he walloped the heretic Arius.)

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Heracleides, as viscerally pleasing as the walloping of Arius is, let us not forget that St. Nicholas was ejected from the Council and defrocked for his actions. Only the intervention of the Theotokos restored him to his priesthood. He still was not allowed back into the Council.

                    Notice the speed with which he was punished for actions that were clearly wrong. Notice the equally speedy obedience and trust in God in restoring him.

                    To me that is the real story. It is easy to get mad and hit someone. Difficult to apply discipline and still be open to hearing God.

                    • Heracleides says

                      A) The Council was obviously wrong in its reaction because
                      B) the Theotokos found it necessary to intervene on behalf of St. Nicholas.
                      C) To me the real story is that St. Nicholas had the courage of a genuine Overseer to do what actually needed doing.
                      D) All of the OCA Lavender Mafia, and Bp. Benjamin & Mrs. Stokoe-Brown in particular, need a good ass-whooping ala St. Nicholas style at the AAC this fall.

                      (Note: No doubt the Council would have tossed Christ out on his ear as well for his actions in cleansing the Temple.)

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      Heracldeides, as much as I’d like to agree with Michael and others about being meek and all, I think the time is coming soon for a real St Nick Moment. The institutional idiocy that is reinforced by a Toxic Culture of Deep Institutional Mediocrity is incapable of getting its administrative head screwed on straight. It’s rather pathetic. It’d be laughable if real human beings weren’t being hurt.

                    • DC Indexman says

                      So George M. can I switch subjects here and ask are you ready to predict scenarios or at least foreshadow what will take place at the OCA All American Council coming up in just a few months?

                    • Geo Michalopulos says

                      DC, barring divine intervention and a general repentance, I expect nothing good. The complete and utter lack of love and civility that abounds in the higher reaches of the OCA (HB excepted) is nothing short of appalling. Therefore anything short of bloodletting and flying furniture would be a viewed as a success.

                    • Heracleides says

                      It’s rather pathetic. It’d be laughable if real human beings weren’t being hurt.

                      Couldn’t agree more George. If my God-children (nieces) hadn’t been brought into the faith through this joke of a jurisdiction I’d simply scrape the slime off my feet and walk away. While there are doubtless many fine priests (I have met one) and at least one fine bishop in the OCA, the spinelessness of the majority of the clergy and depravity (sexual, moral, ethical & otherwise) of many in the episcopate more than drown out their witness.

                      I mean, really – an alcoholic, porn-addicted ‘bishop’ covetous of a silly white hat; a thieving, back-stabbing ‘bishop’ seeking to curry favor (i.e. secure the DOS) by his criminal actions; a vindictive grudge-bearing ‘bishop’ preying on nuns of all people; and then to top it off a clique of lay misfits led by a ‘married’ homosexual subverting the MC and wrecking havoc on the Church at large. This is not the God-less environment to which I want my God-children exposed, not by a long shot. Which is why I think I’ll be introducing them to the local ROCOR parish when they come to visit this summer.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Heracleides, I really feel your pain. However I thank God that while the OCA was mired in its mediocrity, we here in the South were spared, at least for a season. For us here in the South, the OCA really meant something and we were able to glorify God without having to worry about endless scandal.

                      If it’s any consolation, the Resistance to the recent scandals began here, with our Deans and people standing up almost to a man against the machinations of the Stokovites. Pray for us as we find a good man to be an honorable and traditionalist bishop, one in the manner of +Jonah.

                      The only hope for the OCA is more bishops like +Jonah and a serious redefinition of the Metropolitan Council.

                    • Chris Plourde says


                      I had dinner tonight with a friend of mine who was visiting from Atlanta. Her experience of the DOS seems quite at odds with what you would like us to believe is the case. She was discussing with us the problem of clerical immaturity and of diocesan neglect that has created some very difficult situations for her and her family down there.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Chris, I never stated that the DoS was perfect or that its priests and bishop were for that matter. Nor its people. I’m in the DoS and even if everybody else in it were saints, my very presence mars it considerably.

                      Having said that, the DoS has several things going against it right now. For one thing, we haven’t had a diocesan bishop in 2+ years. +Jonah was an admirable and capable locum tenens and we wish he had been +Dmitri’s permanent successor but it was not to be. Presently, +Nikon is doing an admirable job but he has two other dioceses to care for.

                      Second, the DoS is a vast geographic expanse, encompassing all the states of the Confederacy and three others besides. That’s fourteen states. It should be divided into three dioceses and until fairly recently was divided into three deaneries. Only recently was it expanded to six deaneries and there’s talk of a seventh. These are clearly growing pains but they’re not pleasant when they’re happening.

                      Third, I don’t see things stabilizing until we do elect a new bishop, and then it’ll take him 6 months at least to get his sea-legs. In the meantime, spiritual immaturity (where it exists) will probably not get any better.

                • Jane Rachel says

                  “Offering correction … in love,” contrary to public opinion, does not necessarily mean “and above all, be nice.” Not if they don’t deserve it. Like, say the high-ranking Orthodox guy that was spending hundreds of hours looking at young boys without clothes on, on his computer. That’s sick, it’s wrong, immoral and a crime (I am NOT talking about that one high-ranking Orthodox guy we read about in that one letter, those allegations which we can’t prove, but about the *other* guy I know about.) A lot of people have tried every way from Sunday to follow the niceties. It doesn’t work. The corruption is too entrenched. Best be silent. Silence is, after all, golden.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Jane Rachel, I must agree. We don’t need “nice” men leading us by “Nicene” men.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      George, I do not believe that the men of the First Council were ‘meek’ in the sense that they did not act in a strong and forthright way. They clearly did. What St. Nicholas did in physically attacking Arius deserved the punishment he received. There was no wishy-washy ‘suspension’ ; no long, drawn out, hand-wringing.

                      But they also had the humility to realize that such actions are still the actions of men. It is not that they were ‘wrong’ as Heracleides says, they were just incomplete.

                      Arius was still condemned. St. Nicholas was restored to the episcopate (though not the Council) and the work continues.

                  • Heracleides, I’m sorry to say, I agree with George. If those sinning don’t repent and confess their sins, they must continue to spiral into the abyss of their actions, adding sin to sin. There’s no other way out. God grant that they awake before ‘too-late-time’ when they face the Judge of everyone – after all, the first word we received from Christ was, “Repent.” As for me, may I stop judging them, and I pray my misplaced anger will subside. (I don’t believe anger is wrong if it is applied carefully: not against people, but against sin, and the demons pricking people to sin.)

                    P.S. The nuns are safely in ROCAR now…I’m just surprised to see how many people do see and understand a bit of what actually happened to them, and why.

                  • Chris Plourde says

                    No-one said anything about being “nice.”

                    Proclaiming the Gospel is rarely “nice,” but it is always in Love. Trafficing in gossip, rumor and innuendo is never nice, but one looks in vain for any semblance of love in it.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Maybe you didn’t say “nice” but a lot of people do think that we need to be nice, and keep quiet. I believe that being nice to those who have done so much wrong has only made it worse for them. Niceness, i.e., silence and willful ignorance, has only dropped the morality level in certain people even lower. I can’t go there, Chris, into what you are implying. I would have given anything to see change in the actions of the people who have done so much damage and destroyed so many lives. i would never write what I do here if I wasn’t convinced based on what I’ve read, and seen with my own eyes, and also sensed long before I read the same things online.

                      I’m sure there were many who looked for “any semblance of love” when the Lord Jesus was swinging that whip around in the temple.

                      We know within ourselves what we have done and whether we have done right or wrong. When people speak truth in love to try to effect change, it’s not gossip. Gossip is also a form of predation. So is deciding that people who are saying what is true, when it must be said, are gossiping.

                      Let me ask you or anyone else something straight out (not that I expect a real answer. All my straight out questions seem to get little response): Have you read what Monk James, Bishop Tikhon, Bishop Nikolai, Father Joseph and others have written about the others (even now I don’t want to mention names, it’s all available for public reading)? I do not see how anyone with a clear and astute mind can disregard everything they say, no matter how badly they have been discredited. I don’t agree that these men are evil and I don’t believe that they are lying. If you go back and read what they’ve said and the way they’ve said it, you must in fairness consider it. You can’t throw it out no matter how much you don’t like them for who they are or what you think they’ve done. We’ve read all about them, now we discredit them and therefore discredit everything they say. So who is being two-sided (this is not directed at you personally)? I know for certain that documents and testimony have been altered, not by these men, but by the others. What we need is a place where we can read and compare statements and documents available online over the past five years. When I have time, I’ll try to put something together, but it might be a while. Anyone else who is interested, let me know.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      I’ll say this as well. I don’t want the sins made public or gone over again and again without results. Wanting that is worse than gossip. What I want, is for those men to be removed from their places of leadership, and given a chance to pull themselves together before God, before it’s too late. If I see that happening, I will turn cartwheels with joy and hope to goodness people stop talking about it. I also want to see vindication where there has been injustice. Even if we don’t know all the facts, who cares? What I hate, is when good leaders are condemned and deeply immoral leaders continue to lead.

                    • Heracleides says

                      Jane – many excellent points above. To me, one of the most significant and yet almost entirely overlooked & unaddressed outcome of the last Synod/MC meeting was the dictate (er… ‘strong recommendation’) of the MC that the sexual misconduct investigation of Bp. Benjamin by Fr. Gregory Jensen be terminated. Score Team Lavender.

                      [ “…the Metropolitan Council resolved to recommend strongly to the Synod the cessation of any activity of Priest Gregory Jensen in matters pertaining to sexual misconduct…” Source: ]

                    • Chris Plourde says

                      At baptism we spit on the devil and then turn our backs on him, and from that moment our ongoing Orthodox battle is to maintain our focus on Christ.

                      It sounds so simple, but in fact the witness of the Fathers is that this is an undertaking that requires us to put to death all within us that distracts us, and to relentlessly (or doggedly, in my case) struggle to re-orient ourselves. There’s nothing remotely “nice” about living an Orthodox Christian life, about continually having to acknowledge and repent of my own shortcomings.

                      I am more easily distracted than nearly anyone, and have read all the missives from various and diverse sources, and find them troubling in many ways. It is when I am troubled in this way that I recognize that my focus has been shifted, and that by turning my attention I gave up the Peace of Christ.

                      There is no external condition or situation that leads to living an Orthodox Christian life, but only our individual and communal constant battle to stay oriented to Christ. The Church has survived multiple attempts to corrupt her with heresy, multiple attempts to kill her with mass martyrdom, and multiple attempts to destroy her with slow erosion, and she still stands because the efforts of Orthodox Christians to remain focused on our Triune God in the midst of such turmoil were successful.

                      Lord have mercy….

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Yes, Lord have mercy.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Heracleides, it was criminal what they did to Fr Gregory Jensen. But hoping that this will prevent the truth from coming out about Bp Benjamin is fruitless. Just like now that the nuns are safe from Bp Melchizedek, this bishop’s antics will eventually see the light of day.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      Well, if the leaders who are called to lead will do it right, and if what you are saying is true – that those who have earned it will be called on the carpet for their misdeeds – things might be looking less bleak.

  30. This was to Ums post above, but there was to reply button . . . .

    And not only that, he was recognized even in the East as first among these — and as far as I know, the East did not immediately step in to replace the bishop of Rome in the West, or to accomplish daring missionary feats in his territory, which also says something to a dispassionate observer.

    We still have not appointed a bishop to take the place of the Roman Patriarch. The Catholic church has not been so generous to us. We have left that door open.

  31. Geo Michalopulos says: The complete and utter lack of love and civility that abounds in the higher reaches of the OCA (HB excepted) is nothing short of appalling. (link, no reply button)

    “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)