The Slaughter of the Innocents

Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn

It seems to me that the trauma of Newtown hasn’t abated. It was exceedingly horrid. Mark Steyn has written a perceptive essay on this, conflating it with the horror perpetrated on Bethlehem by King Herod the Great. Steyn is probably the greatest wordsmith writing today.

Mark Steyn: Vain search for meaning in massacre

Source: Orange County Register

“Lullay, Thou little tiny Child
By by, lully, lullay…”

The 16th-century Coventry Carol, a mother’s lament for her lost son, is the only song of the season about the other children of Christmas – the first-born of Bethlehem, slaughtered on Herod’s orders after the Magi brought him the not-so-glad tidings that an infant of that city would grow up to be King of the Jews. As Matthew tells it, even in a story of miraculous birth, in the midst of life is death. The Massacre of the Innocents loomed large over the Christian imagination: in Rubens’ two renderings, he fills the canvas with spear-wielding killers, wailing mothers and dead babies, a snapshot, one assumes, of the vaster, bloodier body count beyond the frame. Then a century ago the Catholic Encyclopedia started digging into the numbers. The estimated population of Bethlehem at that time was around a thousand, which would put the toll of first-born sons under the age of 2 murdered by King Herod at approximately 20 – or about the same number of dead children as one school shooting on a December morning in Connecticut. “Every man a king,” promised Huey Long. And, if it doesn’t quite work out like that, well, every man his own Herod.

Had my child been among the dead of Dec. 14, I don’t know that I would ever again trust the contours of the world. The years go by, and you’re sitting in a coffee shop with a neighbor, and out of the corner of your eye a guy walks in who looks a little goofy and is maybe muttering to himself: Is he just a harmless oddball – or the prelude to horror? The bedrock of life has been shattered, and ever after you’re walking on a wobbling carpet with nothing underneath. For a parent to bury a child offends against the natural order – at least in an age that has conquered childhood mortality. For a parent to bury a child at Christmas taints the day forever, and mocks its meaning.

For those untouched by death this Christmas, someone else’s bewildering, shattering turn of fate ought to occasion a little modesty and circumspection. Instead, even by its usual execrable standards, the public discourse post-Newtown has been stupid and contemptible. The Left now seizes on every atrocity as a cudgel to beat whatever happens to be the Right’s current hottest brand: Tucson, Arizona, was something to do with Sarah Palin’s use of metaphor and other common literary devices – or “toxic rhetoric,” as Paul Krugman put it; Aurora, Colorado, was something to do with the Tea Party, according to Brian Ross of ABC News. Since the humiliations of November, the Right no longer has any hot brands, so this time round the biens pensants have fallen back on “gun culture.” Dimwit hacks bandy terms like “assault weapon,” “assault rifle,” “semi-automatic” and “automatic weapon” in endlessly interchangeable but ever more terrifying accumulations of high-tech state-of-the-art killing power. As the comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted, “When the 2nd Amendment was written the most lethal gun available was the musket.”

Actually, the semiautomatic is a 19th century technology, first produced in 1885. That’s just under half-a-century after the death of Madison, the Second Amendment’s author, and rather nearer to the Founding Fathers’ time than our own. And the founders were under fewer illusions about the fragility of society than Hollywood funnymen: on July 25, 1764, four Lenape Indians walked into a one-room schoolhouse in colonial Pennsylvania and killed Enoch Brown and ten of his pupils. One child survived, scalped and demented to the end of his days.

Nor am I persuaded by the Right’s emphasis on pre-emptive mental-health care. It’s true that, if your first reaction on hearing breaking news of this kind is to assume the perpetrator is a male dweeb in his early twenties with poor socialization skills, you’re unlikely to be wrong. But, in a society with ever fewer behavioral norms, who’s to say what’s odd? On 9/11, the agent at the check-in desk reckoned Mohammed Atta and his chums were a bit strange but banished the thought as shameful and discriminatory. In a politically correct world, vigilance is a fool’s errand. The US Airways cabin crew who got the “flying imams” bounced from a Minneapolis plane for flamboyantly, intimidatingly wacky behavior (praying loudly, fanning out to occupy all the exit rows, asking for seatbelt extenders they didn’t need) wound up in sensitivity-training hell. If a lesbian thinks dragging your wife around in a head-to-toe body-bag is kinda weird, she’s being “Islamophobic.” If a Muslim thinks taking breast hormones and amputating your penis is a little off, he’s “transphobic.” These very terms make the point that, in our society, finding somebody else odd is itself a form of mental illness. In an unmoored age, what’s not odd? Once upon a time, TV viewers from distant states descending on a Connecticut town to attend multiple funerals of children they don’t know might have struck some of us as, at best, unseemly and, at worst, deeply creepy – a Feast of the Holy Innocents, so to speak.

OK, what about restricting it to wishing murderous ill upon someone? In her own response to the Sandy Hook slaughter, the novelist Joyce Carol Oates tweeted that hopes for gun control would be greatly advanced “if sizable numbers of NRA members become gun-victims.” Who’s to know when violent fantasies on social media prefigure a loner getting ready to mow down the kindergarten or just a critically acclaimed liberal novelist amusing her friends before the PEN Awards cocktail party? As it is, in American schools, mental-health referral for “oppositional defiance disorder” and the like is a bureaucratic coding racket designed to access federal gravy. Absent widely accepted cultural enforcers, any legislative reforms would quickly decay into just another capricious boondoggle.

It would not be imprudent to expect that an ever-broker America, with more divorce, fewer fathers, the abolition of almost all social restraints and a revoltingly desensitized culture, will produce more young men who fall through the cracks. But, in the face of murder as extraordinarily wicked as that of Newtown, we should know enough to pause before reaching for our usual tired tropes. So I will save my own personal theories, no doubt as ignorant and irrelevant as everybody else’s, until after Christmas – except to note that the media’s stampede for meaning in massacre this past week overlooks the obvious: that the central meaning of these acts is that they are without meaning. Herod and the Pennsylvania Indians murdered children in pursuit of crude political goals; the infanticidal maniac of Sandy Hook was merely conscripting grade-school extras for a hollow act of public suicide. Like most mass shootings, his was an exercise in hyper-narcissism – 19th century technology in the service of a very contemporary sensibility.

Meanwhile, the atheists have put up a new poster in Times Square: Underneath a picture of Santa, “Keep the Merry”; underneath a picture of Christ, “Dump the Myth.” But in our time even Christians have dumped a lot of the myth while keeping the merry: Jesus, lambs, shepherds, yes; the slaughtered innocents of Bethlehem, kind of a downer. If the Christmas story is a myth, it’s a perfectly constructed one, rooting the Savior’s divinity in the miracle of His birth but unblinkered, in Matthew’s account of Herod’s response, about man’s darker impulses:

“Then woe is me

Poor Child, for Thee

And ever mourn and may

For Thy parting

Nor say nor sing

By by, lully, lullay.”



  1. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    Thank you for making this available, George.

  2. cynthia curran says

    As I stated before Herod had killed some of his sons and his favorite wife. Herod was a foreigner on the Jewish throne and got there with Roman Support, Mark Antony and Octavian Augustus. He actually built baths, fortications and the temple, but in old age became very distrusting including even his sons, so the slaughter of the innocence is not hard to believe because Herod was familar with Jewish ideas about the Messiah.

    • George Michalopulos says

      For all his sins, Herod was indeed a great builder. As for his ethnicity, he was an Edomite I believe but the native Jews tolerated him because his grandfather had converted to Yahwism.

  3. Michael James Kinsey says

    The authors omits mentioning the slaughter of the innocent 50,000,000 souls lost in abortion. This is a tradgey of the murder of innocents no less worthy of life than those beautiful children who were slaughtered in Newton. Many who decry the Newton slaughter, applaud the slaughter of the 50,000,000. The mental gymnastics required to do this has always escaped me. While I share the author’s grief and do not reproach him on any point, I cannot omit the other children in my considerations. What shall I liken this generation, we have piped and they do not dance, we have wept and they do not mourn. Keep the Myth, and turn the merry to mourning..Your sorrow will be turned to JOY.

    • AHardDaysNight says

      Amen, Michael.
      The Sandy Hook Elementary School killings is unspeakably horrible, and our President represented the feeling of all citizens of good will in his press conference, empathizing as a parent and holding back tears.
      Human words cannot express our depth of sadness for those who have lost loved ones, and for the tender lives of those who were so callously killed. It was appropriately a time of national mourning.

      However, our appropriate horror and grief over this tragedy is inconsistent. Every day, three-thousand-three-hundred of the most vulnerable innocent children are slaughtered far more brutally than those at Sandy Hook.

      Our national denial of that reality is so great that we are shocked and horrified –appropriately– at the senseless murder of 28 innocent people in one heinous act, yet we turn a blind eye to 3,300 every day.

      Mother Teresa, of blessed memory, explained, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. For if a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”

      Bishop-elect Fr David Mahaffey noted, “There is no such thing as a cultural or societal vacuum. If there is the absence of good, there will be the presence of evil. The sad truth is that a society that thinks so little of life as to murder the preborn does not have the moral cultivation to hold up life in any other stage of its existence either.”

      If we as a nation were morally sane, and if we as Christians actually believe God’s Word and the Church’s teaching, then the same horror and grief we all feel today would be multiplied by one hundred and twenty (3,300), and then multiplied by 365 (daily murdered). Only then we would have an inkling of God’s grief over abortion. That is the reality of abortion.

      The Pope released a statement Friday, which was not intended to be related to the Connecticut tragedy, but which in fact is very related to it. “Peacemakers are those who love, defend and promote life in its fullness… Serious harm to justice and peace” comes from denying the principle of the sanctity of innocent human life (and the promotion of the “natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman”). “Those who insufficiently value human life and, in consequence, support abortion, perhaps do not realize that they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace. The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenseless and innocent human being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace. Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the preborn? Every offense against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment.”

      Metropolitan Gerasimos of the Greek Archdiocese responded to the Sandy Hook tragedy with a compassionate letter:
      “Today our country witnessed a horrific tragedy in the shooting deaths of 20 children and eight adults… A distressed young man brought weapons into the school, killing both students and adults, creating an atmosphere of terror within the entire community. There are not adequate words to offer consolation to those affected by this tragedy. Young lives, full of potential, were unnecessarily taken from their families. Parents who sent their children to school are now overwhelmed with anger and grief. We offer, first and foremost, our sincere condolences to all those who have been affected by this tragedy. We also must remember in our prayers the families of all the victims, seeking God’s comfort and mercy upon them. It is important to also take comfort knowing that, even though these lives were taken in such a violent way, they are in the peaceful and loving embrace of our Lord. The Christmas spirit should not be diminished by this senseless crime. Rather, it should serve as a reminder to us that each day is a gift from God, and we must be thankful for every moment we share together. Please offer your personal prayers for the people of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all who are suffering, and also take a few extra moments with your own family, offering an embrace and a caring word to those you love. May God grant eternal rest to their souls, and bring peace and comfort to the hearts of the community.”

      Metropolitan Gerasimos is absolutely right, and all our hearts go out to those in the depths of sorrow today. But to this appropriate grief, let us also add:
      “Today our country witnessed a horrific tragedy in the brutal murder of three-thousand-three- hundred children in abortuaries throughout the United States, legally. Confused and misguided young women brought themselves in order to kill their own most vulnerable babies, creating a culture of death within the entire nation. There are not adequate words to offer consolation to those seduced by this tragedy. Young lives, full of potential, were unnecessarily taken from their families. Parents who only later realize what they have done will be overwhelmed with anger and grief. We offer sincere condolences to all those who have been lied to. We also must remember in our prayers the families of all the victims, seeking God’s comfort and mercy upon them. It is important to also take comfort knowing that, even though these lives were taken in such a violent way, they are in the peaceful and loving embrace of our Lord. The Christmas spirit should not be diminished by this senseless, daily crime. Rather, it should serve as a reminder to us that each innocent human life is a gift from God, and worthy of protection. Please offer your personal prayers for the people of our nation, and also take a few extra moments with your own family and friends to speak the truth that abortion is our modern holocaust, and has destroyed our country. May God grant eternal rest to their souls, and bring true peace to our nation.”

      Only when we come out of our denial and accept God’s Word as true, can we see reality Only then can we share the truth in love to save souls.

      Indeed, to use Mark Steyn’s words:
      Because our children are among the dead by abortion, I will never again trust the contours of the world… The bedrock of life has been shattered, and ever after you’re walking on a wobbling carpet with nothing underneath. For a mother to kill her own child offends against the natural order…
      For those untouched by abortion this Christmas, someone else’s anguish ought to occasion a little circumspection…

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        How true, and how sad. We have allowed this hatred for life that started with the abomination of Abortion and has culminated with all the recent school and movie theater shootings and a purely evil individual burning down his neighborhood and intentionally killing firemen just coming to do their job. He did this because he stated that this is what he was good at doing – killing people.

        The Judgement of God is truly upon us.


      • Ladder of Divine Ascent says

        “The Pope released a statement Friday”

        I care not for anything he says, unless he ex cathedra declares that the doctrine of ex cathedra infallibility is false and proceeds to say that “We have been in schism and heresy for 950 years and I am personally seeking to convert to Orthodoxy (as a layman, since there should be attempt to revive the Patriarchy of Rome).”

  4. The Orthodox Christian Network was granted exclusive media coverage of probably the largest gathering of Orthodox Christian leaders at the White House in American history.

    The gathering was coordinated by the International Orthodox Christian Charity (IOCC), which worked with the White House to share just how government and faith groups can work together for the betterment of the faithful. The White House Conference on Orthodox Christian Engagment began early in the morning at 8:30am at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and was attended by His Eminence Nicolae, the Archepiscopal Liason from the Assembly of Bishops, His Grace Bishop Sebastian, representing Archbishop Demetrios, and the newly ordained Bishop Gregory of Nyssa, along with Executive Directors of all the agencies of the Assembly, board members of IOCC, Relief First Responders of IOCC from around the country, and other Orthodox leaders.

    The Orthodox Christian community plays a critical role in the social outreach, disaster response, and community development in this country. The White House Office of Public Engagement and Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships sought to share partnership opportunities offered by the federal government to support these sacred efforts. Participants were urged to visit the White House website ( to engage themselves and the faithful entrusted to their care in making a difference in our country for the better.

    Click below to listen in on presentations from the event.

    1. His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae, Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops offers opening comments.

    2. Mickey Homesy, Chairman of the Board of IOCC, the organizing agency of the White House conference, shares his appreciation for the conference, the blessings of God, the presence of so many Orthodox Leaders, Executive Directors of Assembly Agencies, Clergy and Laity.

    3. Opening Remarks from Joshua Dubois, Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    4. Panel 1: Federal Agencies Work with Congregations and Organizations

    Paula Lincoln, Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Terry Monrad, Department of Homeland Security- FEMA

    Ben Seigel, Department of Labor
    Eugene Schneeberg, Department of Justice
    Respondent: Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans, Penelope House, Mobile, AL

    Several of the speakers are heard relating how faith-based organizations can work with federal government offices to improve their outreach. Very moving words were offered specifically by Eugene Schneeberg, who spoke to us about President Obama’s special program encouraging better fatherhood and role models for young children and urged the conference participants to “speak truth to those in power to make differences in people’s lives.” Those who attended the conference posed questions to the panel of speakers. The response was offered by Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans, who is responsible for an incredible outreach program in Mobile, AL.

    5. Panel 2: Federal Agencies Work with Congregations and Organizations
    Norah Deluhery, Department of Agriculture
    Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Department of Education
    Lisa Carr, Department of Health and Human Services
    Respondent: Anne Glynn-Mackoul, St. Vladimir’s Seminary, NY

    Several of the speakers from the second panel shared their work and how those in the field can partner with them to grow the outreach and effectiveness of on-going ministries. The respondent, Anne Glynn-Mackoul, asked whether government agencies are engaging with Seminarians across the country to further and enhance their ministries in the future.

    6. Anne Filipic, White House Office of Public Engagement, offers closing remarks on behalf of the President of the United States and urges all to work with each other and the government to make our life in America better for all.

    Special note of thanks was offered to Max Finberg, Department of Agriculture, who worked for over six months with members of IOCC.

    • Michael Bauman says

      What a waste of time and money.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says

        How so?


        • Michael Bauman says

          It is a diminution of everything we are. Photo-opps with people who hate everything we stand for. The messiah Obama the greater than Alexander and we are his satraps

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            We have an opportunity to work in concert with the federal government to get out the message of the Gospel. That’s what I see. Also if these people truly hated us and wanted to diminish us they would not be giving us an avenue such as this. So please forgive me if I disagree with your assessment.


            • Michael Bauman says

              Sucking up with vipers is not sharing the gospel

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Even vipers need the Gospel,


                • Fr. George Washburn says

                  I would like to ask Mr. Bauman if he believes that some of the emperors, kings and sultans of the past with whom Orthodox leaders have **always** had to do were what he terms “vipers,” or treated as such, by the Orthodox Christians leaders of the past, and how said Orthodox leaders might have better done their jobs with the benefit of his snake handling advice.


                  Fr. George

                • Peter A. Papoutsis! What about tapeworms? What would YOU answer if a child asked you if tapeworms were loaded up in the Ark?

              • Michael Bauman says

                True, but playing photo-opp games is not preaching the gospel. Pope John-Paul II condemning the support of abortion by the Clinton administration and the Democratic Party with Bill Clinton on the dias is preaching the Gospel.

    • Basil Larsen says

      Whenever I hear the pc term “faith groups” uttered, I cringe. I am not a member of a “faith group”, never have been. I am joined to the mystical body of the God-man. The difference is not insignificant.

    • Brian Jackson says

      I was a bit surprised not to see any mention of Senator Paul Sarbanes, the honorary pro-abortion chair of IOCC’s recent fundraising shindig.

      • M. Stankovich says

        From what I have read, their “defense” of utilizing Sen. Sarbanes is that the IOCC does not presume to enter into the relationship between a [demonstrated pro-abortion supporting skilled fundraiser with Senator before his Greek last name] “penitent” and his spiritual father, thus his moral holdings are irrelevant. On the one hand, this is most certainly an “elevated” form of Orthodox PR, and on the other it magnifies the shamelessness. They were prepared for you, Dr. Jackson. Can you imagine!

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          I agree MS. It’s good PR for us Orthodox.


        • Priest Seraphim Holland says

          I have compiled a document which shows the deep hypocrisy of the IOCC, and of course, the Greek Orthodox Church, here and abroad, using their own words., You will smell the Political Correctness, which no courageous christian should tolerate. See :



          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            Dear Father Holland:

            I really do not know where to begin. the IOCC provides a great service and yet you attach this organization because of Former Senator Sarbanes? I do not agree with Senator Sarbanes’ position, but what do you want the IOCC to do? What do you want the Church to do? Should Senator Sarbanes be kept out? Only perfect people apply?

            Look I disagree with Sarbanes on this issue, but many politicians Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant have taken a position that they are personally opposed to Abortion, but that politically they are for it because we live in a multicultural, multireligious society. Good or bad that’s what we have.

            Do I think that Senator Sarbanes needs to re-evaluate his position on this issue? Yes! But that is between him and his priest, and not for us to judge the man. He is providing a service to his Church. A service that could lead him into a deeper relationship with Christ and God. Would you deny him that?

            So with all due respect to you and the kind lady that wrote the letter if we start excluding people who are sons and daughters of our Church, even if not further along their path of salvation, then who shall we have?

            The IOCC has a great witness in regards to the Gospel of Christ. How many sinners are in the IOCC? I know – ALL OF THEM! How many on this board disagree with one another, yet staying well-within the Orthodox Christian Faith, most if not all.

            Sarbanes is NOT a Priest, and he is NOT a saint. He is your typical politician that really has no real connection between the vote he casts and the outcome that vote causes. Is this an excuse? No, its just reality.

            So I say pray for Senator Sarbanes that he draws closer to his faith, take his donation and use it for the IOCC effort and greater Glory of God, and even his clout, but to disparage an entire organization because some of its members don’t pass the Orthodox smell test, well, that’s too much for me.

            If Sarbanes was an out and out Millitant Atheist or even highly antogonistic against the Orthodox Church, then I would want him removed, and maybe he should be removed, but the IOCC is still a good organization that deserves our support.

            Do we really need to be on witchhunts? Do we really need inquisitions to test the purity of people’s faith. If so I dare say that many even on this board wouldn’t pass that test.

            That’s what I think, I could be wrong and welcome the criticism.


            • I sense that Peter has completely missed Fr. Seraphim’s point. It is true that the IOCC has done excellent work among people in need. The great wrong was to honor publicly a man who openly espouses murder. Sadly, this choice typifies what too often has been a Greek American penchant for holding “Greekness” higher than Orthodoxy. For example, some years back, there was outpouring of support for a politician because he was Greek-American, although the excuse also was used that he was an Orthodox Christian. (Fact was that he had excommunicated himself by marrying a non-Christian woman.) For another example, if the events still are performed, as they were for many years, every year we endure “Oxi Day” celebrations that, in their fervor, outshine our commemoration of the Holy Theotokos, whose feast (Annunciation) falls on March 25th. Accordingly, I’m going to side with Fr. Seraphim on this one, owing to the “usual and customary” choices too frequently made by the American Greek community. Another individual easily, and properly, could have been selected to honor.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Antonia I am not disagreeing with you necessarily, but I do not want people withholding funds from the IOCC because of the IOCC’s choices. Do not expect perfection, do not even expect intelligent decisions, but DO expect for the IOCC to provide the services that they claim to provide and DO provide and to be held accountable for their financial choices. I can dislike their choice to honor a man that I disagree with, and even voice my displeasure, but I will not withhold funds because of that choice. Too much good is done by the IOCC for me to do that. My focus is on preserving the IOCC not Sarbanes.

                IF and I caution IF the good father is calling for a boycott because of their decision to honor Sarbanes I cannot support a boycott. That is my main point.


                PS I can and do celebrate BOTH “Oxi” day and the Feast of the Annunciation. One is cultural and the other religious there is no either or as to be there never was nor is a conflict between the two in my life and in the lives of many Greek Orthodox Christians. Orthodoxy is obviously more important than my culture, but I still like my culture and if there is no conflict I can observe both.

          • Brian Jackson says

            Fr. Seraphim, Bless!

            And thank you for compiling this. I wrote some time ago to Mr. Triantafilou and His Eminence Archbishop Nicolae and received no response. My wife and I had made IOCC a regular recipient of our donations annually, and when a development officer named Nick Kasemeotes contacted us to introduce himself and thank us for our support, I took the opportunity to sorrowfully express my growing conviction that IOCC would likely not remain on our list of organizations to support, and why. His response was swift and encouraging, and he told me he expected I would hear from Billy Brown, Development Director, about my concern. I never heard from Mr. Brown, and I eventually informed Mr. Kasemeotes of this. Mr. Kasemeotes then forwarded that second message to Mr. Brown, cc’ing me, in September of 2012. Since then, only silence. My general impression is that not only does IOCC value the connection to Mr. Sarbanes more than the Church’s stance on the life of the unborn, but that the members of the board perhaps don’t really see abortion as a compelling moral issue at all.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      StephenD informs us, “The Orthodox Christian Network was granted exclusive media coverage of probably the largest gathering of Orthodox Christian leaders at the White House in American history.”

      And this explains why no one will ever know about it.

      If it were covered by Ancient Faith Radio, everyone would know about it.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Amen. Plus, it wasn’t at the White House but at the Executive Office Building.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Which is right next door to the White House, soooooo?


          • George Michalopulos says

            Peter, it’s our typical Orthodox inferiority complex kicking in, trying to make something out of something less. It’s no different than all those years in which The Orthodox Observer continued to put out that bogus figure of “1.5 million Orthodox in America.” It’s cheesy and makes us look petty. It would have been better from the get-go to report the facts as they were, that’s all.

            Little white lies like this are like the drip-drip-drip of water over a rock. Eventually the rock erodes. In the case of Ortho-triumphalist journalism, it continues to erode the people’s trust.

            • Peter A. Papoutsis says

              I do not necessarily disagree with you but I say take the opportunity and work it for the Glory of God. So it’s still good and even good from a pr point of view.


            • Johann Sebastian says

              George Michalopulos says, “that bogus figure of “1.5 million Orthodox in America.””

              I thought the figure was closer to six million. Another estimate placed the true number closer to a quarter million.

              Do we really know what the actual number is? How would an accurate census be obtained?

              I don’t participate in the Mysteries, but I did submit a membership application to a local OCA parish recently, along with the requisite dues. Perhaps the application will be rejected because I don’t approach the Chalice, but I will still give the dues as an offering. Although I’ve been trying to make an effort lately to attend church regularly, my record isn’t particularly impressive. Does this make me uncountable as one of the “Orthodox in America”?

              Still yet, I have relatives who are longtime active dues-paying members of a parish and wouldn’t miss a Sunday Liturgy like they wouldn’t miss their supper. I want to say that they do receive the Mysteries, but I can’t remember with certainty. The point here is that some of them are actually unbelievers and their attachment to the Church (along with their detestation of innovation) is purely cultural. Because they are active in the Church, surely they are counted as being among the “Orthodox in America.”

              And what of the unchurched Orthodox? Many of them have never undergone an adequate catechesis or set foot inside a church for decades, but despite the nominality of their affiliation, they would never consider changing their faith, even upon pain of death. Can we consider these people to be part of the “Orthodox in America”? They certainly consider themselves to be.

              And there is a subset of this last grouping–those who may attend the services of another denomination for whatever reason–convenience, primarily, with all the connotations associated with that word. These people will not consider themselves Protestants or Catholics, and will still expect to have their children baptized in the elaborate Orthodox temple that’s 200 miles away (but not in the storefront mission down the road in town), be married in similar fashion, and receive all the attendant rites and prayers associated with life’s “big events.” Are these people Orthodox? They, too, would say so.

              There are some Uniates who aren’t particularly aware of who is commemorated in their recension of the Liturgy. They see the icons, smell the incense, cross themselves from right to left, and see the three-barred crosses and onion domes atop their temples. To them, they are Orthodox and always have been. They make no distinction between “us” and “them” and, like us, maintain that Rome is in heresy despite being in communion with them. They are “official” members of another denomination yet they can’t or don’t want to see the difference.

              There also seems to be some conflation of the Oriental Orthodox with us Eastern Orthodox. As much as I see we share in common and as much as I respect the antiquity of their rites, they remain, from our point of view, among the heterodox.

              The matter of how many Orthodox there are in America is a complicated one. If you limit it to those who are: 1.) Believing, 2.) practicing, 3.) regularly attending and, 4.) dues-paying, the number will be very small.

              If the same were applied to other denominations, I think we might find their membership numbers are also overinflated to one degree or another.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Short answer: 500,000+ Orthodox Christians. 350,000 GOA, 85,000 OCA, 70,000 AOA and further on down the line.

    • Any mention at all of the divine work of
      Focus North America, Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve
      ( ???
      If not, why not???

  5. Let'sDiscuss, Comments Please says
  6. Parish Life for January says

    In the Saint John the Baptist Parish Life for January, 2013, the Christmas sermon is by an OCA Bishop:

    Christ is Born!

    The main message of Christmas is in one single word. In one single name. The name of Jesus. Just as the main message of Pascha is in the other name of our Savior: Christ. Messiah.

    And the main message itself is in the words of the angel to Joseph, that He will be called Jesus! Savior! Because He will save His people from their sins. Not to save the people from others. Not to save the people from anything from outside. Not just only to forgive sins. Not just only to save us from the consequences of and punishment for sins. But to save us from sin itself!

    That is why God is born today in this world. Because this world is in a tragic situation because of our sin, and modern science confirms this, both in our own nature, and in the nature around us, and in the entire universe.
    A tiny, invisible creature enters into the cells of people, and it is doomed to death. And it is linked with sin. Clearly. Or the nuclear energy of the atom is released by our sins and devastates everything. And we learn now from modern science that all stars, and the sun, and everything in the universe is under that threat, and constantly there are such explosions in the world.

    That is the meaning of salvation through the star of Bethlehem, showing us the other world – the world created without sin. And the star of Bethlehem is not only a symbol, but something which still is from the lost Paradise.

    +Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)

    PARISH LIFE, A Monthly Publication of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. John the Baptist
    Washington, DC. A Parish Founded in 1949 by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco
    January 2013

    Also, in this publication are mentioned two talks by Metropolitan Jonah, only two because of other commitments by the Metropolitan:

    Thu 10 Talk by Metropolitan Jonah in the Parish Library – 7:30 PM.


    Fri 25 Talk by Metropolitan Jonah in the church – 7:30 PM.

  7. Peter A. Papoutsis says


    Peter A. Papoutsis