Waiting for the Barbarians

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

–The barbarians are due today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

–Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

–Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
He’s even got a scroll to give him,
loaded with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

–Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

–Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going back home lost in thought?

–Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
And some of our men just in from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

–by C P Cavafy (translated by Edmund Keeley)

About GShep


  1. You mean my 30 day free trial of communism is over? What a strange dream. I dreamt that humans became scared of even their own immediate family. That neighbors were told to turn each other in if they witnessed an outdoor conversation. That all the Bishops closed down shop because the same government officials who were killing their Christian people in Syria said that they should. I also dreamt that Bill Gates was made Patriarch. Is it over now? Is it?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Mike, yesterday I saw on the news this surfer in Southern California being arrested by two policemen and being escorted off a beach. And the beach was empty. Surreal.

      • George and Gail, did you see that in North Carolina, the governor there deems elective abortion-on-demand services as “essential,” but counseling mothers on their non-abortion options peacefully, sanitizing as instructed, and obeying the 6-feet-apart rule, gets you arrested?  And this is a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) public charity.
        Our elitist, secular, atheistic leaders are using coronavirus to push blatant viewpoint discrimination — and many of our pathetic leaders are using coronavirus to accomplish a degree of social change that the Soviets could only have ever dreamed of. 

        Our MSM of course will never call these pathetic leaders out on the viewpoint discrimination, since the media is deep in the tank with them as collaborators.

        • Steven J. M. says

          To sum it all up, extraordinary powers over important freedoms, or the curtailment thereof, have just fallen into the hands of people whose ethic has nothing to do with freedom. The fox is guarding the henhouse  

        • Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster says

          Thank you, “FTS,” for that excellent post and the weblink. That event is more alarming than I would have anticipated during the present health crisis.

          If leftist pro-abortion government officials continue to shut down pro-life pregnancy counseling centers, then it is time for a new civil rights movement including non-violent protests and civil disobedience.

  2. Fr. David Hovik says

    George, I believe in the next month or so we are going to see “leaders” backpedaling as we have never witnessed in our lifetime. The rats will be scrambling off the sinking COVID-19 ship. They collapsed an entire economy over what?? People are going to want some answers and the answers they give will be phony because everyone will be trying to save face and/or save their bacon. The scary part is how quickly everyone (including churches) caved. frd+  

    • George Michalopulos says

      I believe you are correct, Fr David.

    • Nicholas Sandoukas says

      There will be a reckoning even for the Bishops.

      • But will we the laity actually hold the bishops to account? 
        This could go two ways as I see it:
        1) People flock back to church because they miss it and are ready to get back 
        2) They realize that they can now just watch liturgy from home and don’t actually need to be present. All the hosh posh we’ve been told was a lie.
        Given how modern American society is, I’ll let you take a wild guess as to which one I think it will be. If the Church is only there for us when the times are good, then we will seek other means to o fulfill our Sunday’s
        That is not to say that there will not be winners in all this. The majority of ROCOR parishes have remained open, and Serbian as well. I wouldn’t discount that there will be people who will join them since they were the ones that stayed opened when they were needed most. 
        Im not sure how parish transfers in the U.S works, but, given the number of people I know in the OCA Diocese of the South, I would not be at all surprised to see parishes transfer 

        • Anonymous in West says

          Have heard that a bishop (OCA DOW) has blessed over-the-phone confession by his clergy.  What’s the point of over-the-phone confession if you can’t receive Holy Communion in person?
          Has someone figured out how to do over-the-phone Holy Communion?  

          • They will probably find a way to do it by mail.  Maybe via Amazon or Etsy.  OCA bishop of the South has blessed celebration of two separate Paschas this year.  Once you give yourself the authority to throw out Traditions and canons, it’s hard to reel yourself back in.  And the new calendar has been at this “game” for 100 years now.  In fact 2020 is the anniversary year of the Encyclical of 1920 that got the ball rolling.

            • Christine Fevronia says

              How can there be two Paschas? Pascha is “a day without night”, unique and different than any other moment in our entire year. Would you please share what was instructed about celebrating it twice? Thank you.

              • The full text is is an email. The directive is not exactly 2 Paschas per se. It is one mutilated Pascha for those NOT under a shelter-in-place order, followed by the full Pascha services at a later date to be determined. Here are the 2 salient paragraphs:

                Parishes and Missions, where it is feasible and appropriate, may serve
                · One Presanctified and the Sunday Resurrectional Divine Liturgy
                · The Liturgy of Palm Sunday
                · The following recommended for Holy Week: One Bridegroom Service, Vesperal Liturgy of Holy
                Thursday, Vespers of Holy Friday, and Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday.
                · The Vesperal Liturgy for Holy Saturday may be served in the late afternoon.
                · The Liturgy for Pascha on Sunday morning (scheduled at your normal Sunday service time).

                These provisions will remain in place at least through April 30, 2020, unless otherwise updated. When the
                “all clear” has finally been signaled by all the civil jurisdictions, I will designate a common Sunday that all
                the parishes and missions of my dioceses will be directed to celebrate the Paschal Matins and Liturgy in
                full (viz. 2 Chronicles 30:1-4).

                • ‘When the “all clear” has finally been signal[l]ed
                  by all the civil jurisdictions…’
                  If Bill Gates et al have their way, there will be no finally.
                  There will just be rolling crises and lockdowns…

                  • Actually, now that I look at it more closely, the Archbishop is ordering 2 mutilated Paschas (for the laity).  One group does the up-to and shortly-after services.  And then, Lord knows how long until the secular authorities give the bishop their “blessing”, but at that time the he will order everyone (except monastics) to through the saint-of-the-day under the bus and do the middle part of Pascha. 
                    Here is an excellent talk on exactly what this Covid deal is telling us about the state of the Church from head to toe.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nxoCzOqjWU

                    • Christine Fevronia says

                      Well here is some happy news in this upside down world. The miracle of the Paschal Holy Fire is still on schedule for April 18, 2020 in Jerusalem’s Old City. This event has been ongoing since 867 AD and it appears the fear of a virus cannot and will not prevent the descent of Light on Pascha. Ten representatives of the world Orthodox Churches will be there as always, year in and year out, to receive the Holy Fire and take it to waiting dignitaries in planes at Ben Gurion Airport to distribute throughout the world. There won’t be any crowds there or apparently at any Orthodox Churches in America to receive the fire, but regardless — The Light of Christ illumineth all!

                      Ramadan starts April 24. Do you think the Muslim world will cancel or postpone the Hajj to Mecca?

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      Thank you Isidora for posting this.

              • Rdr. Daniel Kowalcheck says

                Archbishop Alexander’s directive is for public consumption on the DOS website:


                The Pascha instructions are near the end of the letter.

          • Mamma Mia says

            Confession and communion are not inextricably linked.  They are two separate sacraments.   Confession by phone is not something new.   Many priest’s wives have been doing this for years.   They confess on the phone, then are given permission by the confessor for their husband to do absolution (in person).   So much judgement heaped.   Time to re-read the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.   

            • Anonymous in West says

              Thank you for your input. It’s not judgment but rather incredulity. In my sort-of long-ish Orthodox life, I’ve never heard of an over the phone confession.  And I do come from a tradition where there is somewhat of a link between confession and holy communion – a certain frequency of holy confession is expected for active communicants, in my tradition. 

              Plus, there’s the story a priest told me once about a parishioner of his who said that they didn’t need to go to confession because they “did confession over the phone with an elder in Romania.”  He felt that situation was preposterous and told the parishioner that the elder in Romania should then give him holy communion over the phone, too.  
              Thus judgment, no. Incredulity, yes. 

              Plus, the directive that I read indicates that the OCA DOW bishop has blessed clergy to do both confession and absolution over the phone. This simply adds to the confusion and incredulity – how is that even done?  

              Perhaps a significant disconnect is that many of us don’t view this coronavirus as nearly as huge a deal as others do.  If one’s parish is not on one of the coasts and is not in the rust belt or New Orleans, chances are your location isn’t much affected. From that framework, these circumstances don’t seem to warrant no Holy Week or no in-person confession or communion. 

              Regardless, I’m sorry. No judgment made; simply incredulity. 

              • Mamma Mia says

                St. Porphyrios heard confessions over the phone.   It is well documented.
                Absolution over the phone “seals” the confession.   Otherwise it is an incomplete sacrament. 
                Yes, I can see how ones perspective on this might be colored if one lives in a less affected area.
                When one suffers, we all suffer…I Corinthians 12:2 . Perhaps it is time to stop being above all, and stand with brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the thick of this predicament…..instead of criticizing?

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  We’re in a global pandemic. Over 11,000 different people from all over the United States look at this blog every day. Why in the world would you assume your circumstances are any more difficult than theirs? Don’t you think the rest of the country is in “the thick of it,” too? And yet most of us are able to stand together without calling people names like you just did, i.e. “pagans who follow mute idols.”

                  • Mamma Mia says

                    Apologies, a typo. I left off a number – it is I Corinthians 12:26
                    “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

        • The ROCOR parishes in Illinois are not fully opened anymore, either.
          Not sure about the Serbians, though.

        • Thomas S. says

          ROCOR is semi-closing down now.  Hilarion’s address of 1 April scolded priests who disobey civil authorities.  We had planned to go to an out-of-state ROCOR parish for Paschal liturgy, as the priest had promised just ten days ago to do the service – now he has done a 180 and written the normal tropes about “obedience” to the bishops as well as some unnecessary tripe about how wrong “disobedient” priests are who would put their lives and the lives of their flocks at risk.  I am not sure what changed in ten days except that the growth of the virus was not nearly as fast as projected!  In the clergyman’s defence, he offers to travel to take confessions and allows parishioners to come to the liturgy for Communion, in an agreed upon block of time, so we must assume he is doing all he can with the restrictions placed upon him by his hierarchs.
          AFAIK, ROCOR operates in a few states where the restrictions are still less onerous, but even there there are sometimes weird procedures in place, sometimes blocking a portion of the members from attending.

    • GSV Death and Gravity says

      What on earth are you expecting? COVID-19 is a novel virus for which we currently have no vaccine. With no mitigation it looks to have a R0 of greater than 3 and quite possibly higher than 5. It can be spread by being in close proximity to a asymptomatic/presymptomatic person. The case fatality rate in the US has trended above 3%. It is going to take an immense societal effort over an extended period of time to keep it under some semblance of control.

      • GSV,
        You are a despicable fearmonger who rejects the writing on the wall even now in favor of political exploitation of a pseudo crisis.  George is too generous allowing you to play agent provocateur here.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I’ve got to agree with Misha on this.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Yeah, provocateurs can play a role but at the end of the day, there must be good faith in any debate. GSV, your lack of good faith is astounding.

            You’re out.

      • Rdr. Daniel Kowalcheck says

        By own government’s admission, they are listing all deaths with CV-19 as deaths from CV-19, which greatly inflates them. Moreover, they have no idea what the actual number of infected cases are. The virus has been in the US since December, so it could be far more widespread than we’re being lead to believe.

        So the numerator is way too high, and the denominator is way too low. The true rate is probably closer to that of the standard flu. So much for the fake 3% fatality rate.

        To make matters worse, the quarantine and social distancing measures will only keep the virus alive, creating the “second wave” we’re hearing about.

        Please watch this interview with a 35-year epidemiologist…


        • George Michalopulos says

          Rdr Daniel, that is exactly my point as well. Especially the part about social distancing. Whenever we do get out, many will be unable to withstand the virus, thus a dreaded “second wave”.

  3. Anonymous says

    As the leader of the party said, “I will smite the shepherd and scatter the sheep”, Patriarch Tikhon was arrested and isolated from the populace and the Church was given to the wolves.
    The divisions between jurisdictions and schisms seem of little meaning. For how many or the clergy willingly show signs of handing us over to worship at the Palace of  Culture and (Medical) Science? Any Temple, Chapel or Monastery, that has remained open to the public has shown holiness. And a few even now are in fact open without restriction, without fear, without distancing, with procession in the streets and with peace in men’s hearts. Yet most have shown themselves to be moreso a “living church”.
    May God, in his great mercy save us from betrayal. May he strengthen the clergy to truly lay their lives down for their flock as did Christ, so to die with him to this world. May he transform this trouble into blessings for His H0ly Church

  4. Jacob Lee says
  5. As a Greek Orthodox I cannot understand from when Aids first came on the scene all our Orthodox churches remained opened with Holy Communion gifted to the faithful. Why now have most of our Hierarchs and clergy closed our churches and stopped Holy Communion? What is so different now with Fauci, Brix , Gates and company on the medical panels from those years. The Russian Orthodox I’ve seen photos of  Holy Communion given with the spoon( forgot proper term) dipped in alcohol after each use. I guess that’s a way of getting around “With Fear and Faith Draw Near”. Yes, many have died from this virus but the projected numbers of a pandemic are just not there. More is being revealed each day. Our political and church leaders must be held accountable. I agree with all who have written above .  Blessings of the Holy Pascha Celebration to you. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Nor can I, Dionysia. For some reason, it was never an issue.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Perhaps for all its virulence at the beginning, it was not a disease that most were exposed to plus it is not nearly as communicable as the COVID virus. I am sure that it was also considered a disease that only “other people” got.

  6. Hi George this is unrelated to the post, but, do you think you could do a post on the Orthodox perspective on early Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals, etc., and when they acquired a soul? 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Menas, a man after my own heart! Maybe some day. (Several years ago, I submitted a manuscript which was critical of Darwinism. So far, no takers but boy, did I learn a lot!)

    • Menas, they were human beings just like us, only slightly different. Like pygmies.
      They had souls because they too were the sons of Adam, through Noah. There were no ‘pre-Adamite’ humanoids.

      • George Michalopulos says


        Sub-speciation can happen quite quickly thanks to genetic drift. Even structural differences between the races (such as the number of vertebrae) can happen thanks to geological isolation.

  7. Jay Dyer and the Norwegian Nous (Fr. Dcn Ananias) put out a good video that’s worth a watch on the current topic 

  8. Following up to my previous post, I am afraid that this may be the Orthodox version of Vatican 2. I don’t mean through liturgical changes, but, Vatican 2 did untold damage to Roman Catholicism because the thing that Catholics thought could not change indeed changed. This cause a lack of belief among the laity in the RCC. 
    I think this may be something that comes out in Orthodoxy after all this is over and the dust settles. People have lost trust and faith in the Church. I will say it again, if the Church is not there for us in our hour of need, why should we bother? 

    • Gail Sheppard says


      • George Michalopulos says

        That’s a worry of mine as well. Specifically, the intent behind any “reforms”. And how the Zeitgeist informs the intentions of the reformers.

        • Agreed both Gail and George, as someone who is a former Roman Catholic, I feel like I can see the writing on the walls and it’s being ignored 

    • Michael Bauman says

      Petros, well the reasons are endless. You are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. I have never been one with a sanguine view of the institutional church. Historically it has always been problematic: wayward, corrupt and existentially useless at times. So what? That is, as they say, life.

      However, the real life is in the person of Jesus Christ and the reality is that only through and in the Church (not just our particular parish or the availability of services, etc) is the fullness of the Incarnate Lord revealed.

      Jesus Christ really is fully God and fully man, born of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. He really did die on the Cross and was buried. The Resurrection is real whether any one of us gets to participate in a sacramental re-creation of it or not. We should not take these wonderful moments for granted, but neither should we expect them to always be there in accordance with our own will.

      We should indeed pray that their lack, for a time, pass from us, but humbly and meekly rest in the knowledge that “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it”

      The day of Resurrection will still be upon us soon. God is merciful. We still can fast, pray, give alms and repent. We can still celebrate together alone. I am looking at the Antiochian book of The Services of Great and Holy Week and Pascha. It is a beautiful book just to hold. Somehow, there is life in the book that most books do not have.

      I wonder what would happen if my wife and I actually prayed the prayers written in this beautiful book at their appointed times and all of us did from our respective hermitages? Would we go without a blessing?

      Just a thought.

      My mother was a pioneer of contemporary dance in this country. Among others she and her sister learned from, taught for and danced with Martha Graham (if you do not know who she is, shame). Ms. Graham, so I am told, said this to her dancers: “When you are performing there will be a time when you fall. The question is, will you fall and just fall, or will you fall and pick daisies?”

      • There is a test for those who wish to be train drivers in the UK (possibly elsewhere too, I don’t know). Anyway, the candidate stands in front of a computer screen with a button in each hand. Depending on what appears on screen, he pushes either the left button, or the right, or neither. It starts slow and easy – but gradually accelerates faster and faster until (sooner or later) the candidate loses control. Make no mistake, the candidate will lose control. The procedure is designed to make that happen.
        However, the test is not: ‘When does the candidate lose control?’
        The test is: ‘What does the candidate do when he loses control?’
        Does he step back, collect himself, and start again?
        Or does he collapse in a gibbering heap, of no use to anyone?
        That is the test: What will he do in adversity?
        Now, how many bishops (or anyone else) would pass such a test?

  9. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s more info re the surge in gun sales by liberals:


  10. George Michalopulos says

    Why we should NEVER rely on academics who are also bureaucrats:


    Give me a Dr Mehmet Oz –an actual doctor who actually practices medicine–any day of the week over some desk jockey like Anthony Fauci any day of the week.

    (And yeah, I know that he’s one of Oprah’s boys who’s got a TV show and all, but he actually practices cardiac surgery. Sometimes he finds the time to do both.)

    • Michael Bauman says

      Eric Hofer in his book, The True Believer, warned against putting intellectuals in power.  

      • There is a theory, begun by myself, that Eric Hoffer is B. Traven.
        Or B. Traven is Eric Hoffer.
        Or his brother.
        Or, perhaps, vice versa.

      • Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster says

        What a pleasant surprise to see the name of Eric Hoffer and his book on this blog!

        When I was a high school senior in 1969, I selected The True Believer for my primary source analysis in an Introduction to Philosophy (Part II)  course that I was privileged to take at a nearby Jesuit college. The professor (PhD from Fordham University’s philosophy program when FU was still a respectable academic institution) might have balked at that off-beat choice. The other 30 or so students were tackling other, more conventional modern philosophers such as Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Bertrand Russell. But Professor Joseph Papay trusted my judgment, since I had selected another unusual text in the first semester of that year-long course (ancient & medieval philosophy)–namely, the Analects of Confucius. 

        I credit Hoffer and his omnipresence as the “longshoreman philosopher” on TV talk shows– even the Johnny Carson late night show–with removing the socialist, intellectual elitist scales from my eyes by the time I graduated that year.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          I like seeing Hoffer’s name mentioned, too. My did gave me True Believer in high school in the mid-60s….

  11. Michael Bauman says

    Father, I read Hoffer at about the same time though without the intellectual rigor you did.  I may be wrong, but what has stayed with me is that it is dangerous when disembodied “beliefs” take over.  Of course, that is what we are seeing now in our ideological world.  It makes actual faith much more difficult. Ideology is a counterfeit faith.  As they say in economics: bad money drives out good.  

  12. Jake Robinson says

    Realizing I am wasting a certain amount of time and effort, the pseudo science being perpetrated in this blog is beyond the pale. One 35 y. o. epidemiologist, who I listened to before reading your blog , is not sufficient information to make a decision. We are stuck with our dear leader and his fear of not being re-elected. Thus, we are not getting the development of testing apparatus that can determine on one hand viral contact, infection and antibodies in the blood at such a level to indicate immunity or not being a carrier. Because the Federal government is not providing their funding and supply lines for this testing, we are driving blind. No one knows anything concrete neither a governor or anyone reading this post. There is insufficient data concerning the death counts since so far as until yesterday, states were not publicizing deaths in congregate living facilities. These are basically death houses for those living there. One hears one horror story after another. If the patient dies from complications of the corona virus, of course the death is going to be reported as a c-virus death. This is not new in medical procedure.

    Not knowing the true extent of the viral transmission, including those with minimum or no symptoms as they are carriers, the country cannot tell what the real impact of social distancing/stay-at-home-orders is. One cannot get a picture of how the virus travels, the movement of the virus so that communities unaffected now can stay unaffected. The generic procedure for stay-at-home orders is simply the best advice that epidemiologists have when riding blind. I hope no other person gets the virus, but that is too great a hope. I do hope, despite one’s position now, that one stays safe until the virus has traveled through all the states…if that is going to happen. Pray for more tests.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      When you say “we’re not getting development of testing apparatus to . . . ” are you talking about serology testing? The tests (there are several) exist my friend. The funding is there. That’s how researchers were able to test 3300 Californians for coronavirus antibodies in Santa Clara. Frankly, we’ve had some pretty good information disseminated on this blog.


    • Michael Bauman says

      Jake I might take your post more seriously except in the middle you make a wild, illogical statement that you do not support.  You have made a political statement that you attempted to disguise with pseudo-scientific jargon.