What You Mean “We” White Man?

There’s an old joke about the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Once, they were surrounded by hostile Apaches and the Lone Ranger said, “Look, Tonto, we’re surrounded!” To which Tonto replied: “What you mean ‘we’ white man?”

If you’re wondering why I’m resorting to jocularity, I will direct you to the latest news release from the Orthodox Church in America: https://www.oca.org/news/his-beatitude-metropolitan-tikhon-meets-with-his-eminence-metropolitan-joseph

As you can tell from this story, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, the Primate of the OCA, met with His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, the primate of the Antiochian jurisdiction, at the latter’s headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey.

The occasion was a fraternal get-together in which they issued a joint statement, decrying the “polarization” of this country. I for one, cannot fault them. The country is hyper-polarized indeed. And this is not a good thing, not by any stretch of the imagination. Ordinarily, when two primates get together to issue a “joint statement”, the words are anodyne and/or purposely vague. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case, at least as far as we can tell from the final paragraph:

“We bemoan the political polarization within this country and within the Orthodox Church, and call all to remember that we are created, each of us without exception, in the image and likeness of God. We strongly condemn extremism and fundamentalism, whether in the Church or society, and call to repentance those who would perpetrate acts of violence or hatred against any of our brothers and sisters in our communities or in society.”

I know of no one who would disagree with the last sentence: it goes without saying that any and all “acts of violence or hatred” are to be categorically condemned. That being said, there have been thousands of such violent acts this past year; the overwhelming majority of them perpetrated by the Left. And to my knowledge, none occurred in the spiritual sphere.

Hence my humorous question, who exactly are “we”? More specifically, who are the “extremists” and “fundamentalists”? Moreover, in which “communities” are these acts of violence being perpetrated? (Given the context of this joint statement, we are forced to presume that said “communities” means our churches, parish halls, and monasteries.)

Is it possible that the two primates were talking about the recent bout of fisticuffs between two archimandrites in the office of Archbishop Elpidophoros?

To my knowledge, there have never been any such actions in any of our ecclesial institutions at all. If the two primates would like to point us to any such regrettable acts, it is incumbent upon them to name the times, dates, and locations of any such incidents. We here at Monomakhos will gladly publish them. And join their eminences in condemning them.

Let us put our cards on the table: the game is given away earlier when they write that they also condemn “extremism and fundamentalism”. I simply don’t know what to make of that, except to say that they have probably consulted the Fordhamite Catechism for their talking points.

Otherwise, let us ask (in all sincerity) who exactly are these “extremists” and “fundamentalists” who are perpetrating acts of violence against “our brothers and sisters in our communities”? Can they name them? And what exactly constitutes “extremism” or “fundamentalism”? If I didn’t know any better this sounds like the typical “late-to-the-party” tin-eared desire of institutional Orthodoxy to mimic the secular Zeitgeist. (We saw a ridiculous example of that several months ago in which an OCA priest marched in a Black Lesbian Marxist rally.) The well-known desire to chase after the applause of political dignitaries has long been an embarrassment to many Orthodox laymen. The unfortunate criticisms of Metropolitans Tikhon and Joseph directed to certain nebulous personages will not change this assessment.

Merely asking questions of our leaders-in-Christ as to why they were so quick to follow the draconian measures of the State, measures which were issued in an atmosphere of hysteria, does not qualify the use of pejoratives. Far from it. These were valid questions then, they are just as valid today. After all, we still don’t know the scope or virulence of COVID-19. We do know, however, that many of the “experts” (especially Dr. Fauci) have been on every side of this issue from the first day.

Is it too much to ask our primates to get better advice before they make such bold assertions? For what it’s worth, the leftist Fordhamite/Chryssavgis axis of Orthodox/secular dialogue is long past its expiration date. We are in fact seeing its collapse wherever it is proclaimed. Indeed, the champion of this liberal view of Orthodoxy has seen almost every one of his endeavors implode from the moment of his ascension to the patriarchal throne in Istanbul. This, by the way, is no different than the implosion of leftist/globalist politics that we are seeing in the secular sphere.

Nor should we be surprised. I can’t remember who said it (and it is a paraphrase) but in any event, it’s very accurate: “If the Church marries the age, then it will be widowed quite soon.”

Terms like fundamentalist and extremist are vacuous. They have a surplus of meaning and, as such, are useless. Lest we forget, the term christianos was a pejorative when it was first hurled at the followers of Jesus. Our ancestors endured its sting and then proudly, defiantly even, picked it up and pinned it on their chests, even as they were going into the arena.


  1. How can one claim to be a Christian if one does not become a fundamentalist? There are basic tenants of the faith (fundamentals) that one must follow. “If you love Me, follow My Commandments.” Again, we should be extreme in our love for Christ and our neighbor.
    We cannot let the culture hijack our language. We are Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Baptists, and Catholics before they hijacked those names. We are, or should be extremists and fundamentalists too.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Although I agree with your sentiments, Father, “fundamentalist” can be interpreted to mean one who believes in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture, period. Nothing else.

      Orthodoxy is so much bigger than that. We embrace Tradition, which includes the Holy Scriptures. Scripture is but a part of the greater whole.

      We are “traditionalists.”

  2. Dean Inge: “Whoever marries the spirit of this age
    will find himself a widower in the next.”

    Fulton J Sheen: “The Church knows too that to marry the present age
    and its spirit is to become a widow in the next.”


  3. LonelyDn says

    Extremists? First person comes to mind is “that horrible bishop” and those enabling him, or like him.

    • Speaking of, he has in his great generousness permitted us Westerners to start venerating icons in the normal fashion again, as of this past Sunday. Of course we are still mandated to wear masks so people are not kissing with their lips mostly, but rubbing their dusty face-rag on the surface of the icon. Nonetheless, I suppose this is in theory at least an improvement in conditions.

      Books are permitted again, so long as they are sanitized (??? do people actually put bleach on printed materials? otherwise how so?) and Forgiveness Vespers is authorized, but not any physical exchanging of peace and forgiveness. That’s naughty. Stay in your corner. Presanctified liturgy is allowed and if you’re very good, you might get to go to Holy Week INSIDE YOUR CHURCH this year. “We’ll see” I suppose.

      We are also permitted to have coffee hours again, but only so long as they are held outdoors. Since the forecast for OCA Diocese of the West outposts in places such as Bozeman, MT this week remain chilly, with lows dipping into the teens and 20s, I suppose that could be rather an adventure.

  4. This makes me sad as it is clear that at best the Church has managers rather than leaders. Their correspondence reads like a mid level corporate memo. Quite frankly – I’m exhausted. I’m not in these Bishops shoes but it is clear that they are squandering one of the greatest growth opportunities for Christ’s Church in history. The absurd background noise in every – yes EVERY – aspect of society is just begging for someone to stand up and simply stand for the fundamental truths of our faith. In the land of the blind our religious leaders are not even interested in being the one eyed man – let alone bravely standing for Christ’s Church which we know sees all. They are so far from what we read in the Prologue everyday it is disgusting.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I think most of us feel this way. Such a disappointment.

      • George Michalopulos says

        I can’t disagree with any of the above comments. I will say this though: that the Peter Principle is at work here. Yes, many of our bishops (thankfully, not all) are mediocrities but that’s because the level of the laity is not much higher if we really think about it.

        There’s an old Russian saying, “People get the priest they deserve”.

        Speaking for myself, I can’t tell you how many wasted man-hours I spent on parish councils trying to see how much bigger we could make the annual food festival.

      • Everyone should be flooding the inboxes of the Antiochian Archdiocese, or whatever jurisdiction they belong to and let them know how they feel. This is what I have done.

        Will they care? Probably not. But, they will at least know how the laity feel and I’m sure they will start caring when the coffers dry up.

    • For the Metropolitans to state “We bemoan the political polarization within this country and within the Orthodox Church” is really to say nothing. Who does not bemoan the polarization?

      What they failed to do was discuss the nature and the substance of the polarization in society which is reflected in the Church. On one side of the divide, there are those who support abortion on demand, the LGBTQ agenda including the promotion of gay marriage and transgenderism, critical race/gender/feminist theory, social justice, socialism/marxism, cancel culture, safe spaces, gun control etc … On the other side are those that would oppose all of the above. Have the Metropolitans nothing to say, speaking the truth in love, about the things that divide our society and Church?

      And as to the terms “fundamentalist” and “extremist,” they no doubt contemplated the definitions found in the Fordhamite Dictionary which categorizes these words as synonyms and defines them to mean anyone who opposes the ideas expressed in the pages of Public Orthodoxy.

    • Chris Banescu says

      The Church needs courageous and passionate battle-hardened colonels and generals who speak the truth clearly and directly, who walk the talk, and fearlessly lead the people toward Christ, truth, righteousness, and salvation.

      Instead, we often encounter lukewarm and cowardly career bureaucrats who prefer to maintain the aquarium (some even draining it) rather than be fishers of men and warriors for Christ.

      Fr. John Whiteford’s phrase “mealy-mouthed Orthodoxy” fits perfectly.

      • As a former Baptist pastor coming into Orthodoxy (the One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic Church!), I am doing my level best, day in, day out, to stay the course. My 27 year old son is a catechumen as well. To say that he is disappointed would be an understatement. (He has refused to wear a mask from the get go, at greater personal cost with each passing day.)

        In any event, there is no reason to bewail our fate in this world. Scripture and the testimony of the Fathers is plain and clear. Suffering. Persecution. Unless the Bishops and other Church leaders repent, their fate is clear. The Lord will vomit then out!

        Perhaps it would be wise to move on from all this gripping and complaining and begin preparing for what is obviously coming.

        If this is how the majority of Church leaders respond to obvious (obvious!) lies, what will they do when the Antichrist arrives? If they encourage you to mask and get the vaccine now, what will they do when the mark is instituted?

        I suggest the Faithful get sober and realistic in our expectation of receiving any kind of help from Church leaders, going forward. There is no help form them, with singular exceptions. At least that has been my personal experience so far, as well as my observation- for whatever that may be worth.

        Our help is from the Lord!

        Peace of Christ,


        • George Michalopulos says

          Very wise words, Jeff.

          Together with what we can expect in the political sphere, it’s best to know –right now–that we’re on our own. Expect nothing from any potentate (spiritual or temporal). That way, if you do receive a beneficence, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

          In the meantime, go as local as you possibly can. In the temporal sphere, that means things like barter, stocking up on supplies, etc. In the spiritual sphere, this may mean setting up house churches.

          • George,
            I largely agree with what Jeff as well. But in reference to your house church comment: I’ve considered that too. But on a practical level, how can we have house churches without priests? We can do prayer services, but we need the Mysteries. How do we deal with that? Also, what if there are no Orthodox in our area willing to join with us?

            • Seraphim,

              I’m going to say this bluntly but please understand that I mean it in a most sincere way.

              You thinking is wrong. Every home’s icon corner is in essence a chapel. Services without a priest are actually the norm in Church history. What do I mean by that? Hours, Matins, Vespers, Akathists, Compline, etc… are prayed by laypersons and monastics in their home/cell chapel. These are not “prayer services” and somehow lesser. To the extent that we can do them is an important part of our life in Christ. Only a clericalist would think otherwise.

              For the Mysteries these may become infrequent but if you cannot attend a Divine Liturgy on a regular basis due to persecution or distance you can arrange to recieve the “reserved sacrement” from a sympathetic priest and still serve the Typika on Sundays and Feasts. Even Holy Week and Pascha can largely be done without a priest.

              Fr. John Whiteford has pages devoted to the order of servicea without a priest. You can also purchase the Horologion from Holy Trinity Monastery as the basis. St. Tikhon’s unfortunately let theirs go out of print.

              • Gail Sheppard says

                A personal icon corner is for prayers. There are some services that can be performed without a priest that are essentially reading prayers so this can be done virtually anywhere.

                But liturgy must be done in communion. The Eucharist is the principal sacrament and can only be celebrated liturgically in synaxis. It cannot be done in front of a flat-screen TV.

                • Gail,

                  I really appreciate what you and George do, thankyou for your hard work and sacrifice. Please accept this blunt response which is meant with love and sincerity.

                  Your thinking is wrong. You need to think of the prayers and services in a broader context and part of our life in Christ. The monasteries are our model (there is only one Typikon it’s a question of degree not a monastic vs parish). The Monastic Saints show us how we should pray and many lived in the wilderness keeping the cycle of services and coming to the Church to recieve sometimes weekley and sometime less frequently.

                  The idea that our home chapels are just for private prayers and that reading a service without a priest is a kind of clericalism holdover. I run into priests who roll their eyes at best and are fearful at worst becauase they either don’t understand or are fearful of loosing people and so many have a Roman catholic type of ethos. I have noticed this particularly in the Antiochian Archdiocese and OCA parishes unconnected to a monastery.

                  The eucharist is absolutely central but if all we are doing is going to Church on Sunday then we are missing out tremendously and I would go so far as to say spiritually stunted. This also means we are not prepared to roll with the punches of persecution.

                  If the CCP virus has taught anything it’s that we need to be part of the Church both inside and outside the Church building. We need to pattern our lives more like the early Christians, increase our prayers, turn off the stupid TV, stop watching movies which have no benefit, serve services in our homes: Akathiats, Vespers, Matins, etc.. read the scriptures and lives of saints at meals. In short make our homes the “little Church” they are supposed to be.

                  The time to start is NOW! It is later than you think!

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    You can say pretty much whatever you want here, Dan, especially when you do it as respectfully as you did.

                    I really can’t argue with anything you’ve said, except I don’t see our home chapels as insignificant. If I made it sound that way, forgive me. I’m just frustrated with the fact that there is no reason we should not be in Church and Church is important.

                    It used to be said, “Wheresoever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be, even as where Jesus may be, there is the universal [katholike] Church.” Not sure we can say that anymore.

                    • Here is my bishop, “Vladyka Irénée will not be travelling until it is safe to do so. Please check this schedule for updates.”

                      Has the Church as hospital-for-souls turned into the Church as morgue-for-souls? Seriously,-what else does this signal?

                      The Bishop will not be traveling until it is safe to do so. Wow! Imagine Jesus, saying, ‘Peter, James, John… we have to lay low until this pandemic blows over. Should be a couple of years from now. In the meanwhile, we need to wear masks, social distance, and get the jab so we can get our passport to travel when the thing blows over.’

                      Totally ludicrous!

                      (I have been discovering that this is probably not a good time to be a catechumen.)


                    • George Michalopulos says

                      It’s undoubtable that we are going through a crisis. However, we must remember what that word means in Greek: a judgment. I’m convinced that once we get to the other side of this, the Church will have not only survived, but will thrive.

                    • EliasYoung says

                      There are good bishops and… poor bishops. It is the hierarchical Office of the bishop which strengthens the Church. Rome went the way of radical individuality (the fallen principle of “oneness”) back in the day. We are each sinful & broken. As there are some Orthodox laity who strive to draw nearer to God in the context of the Body of XC, so are there also some Orthodox bishops who strive to be sincere icons of Christ. The office of bishop helps to strengthen the Church. But bishops also need (are almost required) to be accountable to their brother bishops. Orthodoxy is not a follower of Rome which initiated the principle of “oneness”… a principle begun by Lucifer when he broke a way from God and heaven, then sought to become God. Big mistake.

                    • You tempt me to make a snarky comment, Gail, tongue in cheek though it would be. Something to do with it “not being safe to travel.”

                  • Pat Reardon says

                    For whatever comfort it might provide, Dan, I agree with everything you have said on this matter, and I regret that you’ve gotten so much push-back.

                    The daily worship that takes place in our homes—at our icon corners—is the prayer of the Church. Dan, I appreciate the fact that you actually spelled this out in detail, listing the canonical hours, etc.

                    What you have written on this blog comes right out of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (c. 210), who describes how Christians are to pray in their homes (and elsewhere) at the same daily Canonical Hours inherited from the piety of Judaism. Father Whiteford is firmly on point here.

                    It is a pity that Orthodox Christians nowadays refer to this daily scheduled worship as “monastic”; there is nothing monastic about it. (The only canonical hour actually invented by monks is the First Hour, or Prime. )

                    Now, regarding Ignatius of Antioch: when that venerable father writes of a “bishop,” he is referring to the chief pastor of a local (usually urban) church. Ignatius knows nothing of what we call a “diocese,” and he would be bewildered that a “metropolitan” would have total authority over hundreds of local congregations covering vast continents.

                    Ignatius would be distressed to find his meaning distorted out of his historical context.

                    Nor do I think we have to guess what the great Bishop of
                    Antioch would say to the Church’s current acquiescence in the interference of civil governments in the details of Her own worship.

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      I’d like to quibble with the word “push back.” We are not at all disagreeing with Dan. The fact that we should be able to go to Church does not in any way detract from the reality that this window may be closing and we have to consider other options. What Dan is saying is 100% true.

                      We’ve got enough problems without creating more. No one is giving any pushback to Dan or anyone else.

                    • Fr. Pat, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on our response to the restrictive measures on the parish level by parishioners themselves. Opinions differ, for instance, on masks: necessary evil or blasphemous. And given obvious failures in clergy response to this whole thing, is it fitting to, at least temporarily stay home and pray from there until restrictions are lifted, or do believe people should just grin and bear it for the sake of receiving the Mysteries?

                    • Dear Father Pat,

                      I too am seeking counsel from you with respect to how to respond appropriately to the ‘pandemic’ measures that have been imported wholesale into the Church.

                      I have a background in health and am in agreement with the hundreds of medical professionals and expert who have put their professional opinion online, saying basically that State measures to deal with the situation are not warranted from a medical/scientific perspective- and may even be causing more damage to health than if they had not been implemented. All this information is readily available online.

                      So, when I go to Church, wearing masks, social distancing, and now the ‘vaccine’ violates my conscience, for I know that these measures are lies. Nevertheless, my priest has even gone so far as to attempt to forcibly put a mask onto my son to comply with the Bishop’s orders. It was a difficult situation.

                      My 27 year old son and I are both catechumens, and are entering the Church at some personal cost. I was a Baptist pastor, and have given up a job to enter the Church, not knowing what comes next, but trusting in the Lord’s provision.

                      I would really appreciate it if you have any thoughts on any of this. Thank you.

                      In Christ,


                • One of the absolute worst things about this year was the normalization of what I have taken to calling “curbside communion.” I have a piece about it on my substack, if I may be so bold as to offer that for consideration. I feel strongly that this phenomenon has damaged our parish communities in ways we will be feeling for at least a decade to come. The idea that you can watch everyone else pray on TV, roll up at the end, pick up your “meal” at the front door (nearly “contact free”) and then roll back out without any fellowship at all is actually quite ghastly.

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Please do! We love when our readers send us their submissions!

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I second that!

                      Monomakhos is a labor of love, but Gail and I can’t do it all alone.
                      As such, we always welcome thoughtful, insightful contributions.

            • We can’t separate from the ecclesiastical hierarchy, no matter how bad they get, as there’s no way to participate in the mysteries. A successful ‘house church’ plan would be one operating in tandem with the usual parishes and monasteries, like in the Soviet Union. The Church would resemble an iceberg, with a few ‘public’ churches, but lots of small communities in houses, barns, forests, you name it, being served by very discreet regular clergy, or secret priests.

              • George Michalopulos says

                The Lord will not leave us destitute. Faithful bishops and priests will arise. In the meantime, the typika service can be a wonderful means of non-priestly fellowship/worship.

              • Stop thinking of it as a plan or a scheme. Think of it as a more robust life in Christ.

                Try this: light your lampada and chant Vespers on Wednesday evenings. You will start to sew what I mean.

                • My family and I already have a robust home prayer life, thank you.

                  My issue is with someone saying that priestless services are the ‘norm.’ Sorry, but we’re not priestless old believers.

                  • Michael Bauman says

                    Basil, you are correct. We cannot “create our own Church”. To even entertain the idea is a step toward apostasy.

                  • No actually priestless services are the norm. The Divine Liturgy can only be served by a priest. It’s not an either or proposition. It is many priests who would say otherwise but they would be wrong and they do so out of ignorance or fear.

                    Comparing it to Old Belivers is also wrong. Doing services at home is not separating youself from the Church unless you actively and intentionally do so.

                    If you are dismayed by the spinelessness of our bishops and priests then it is due to a form of clericalism. New Marty Daniel of Moscow replied to a question about bad priests “…even a rusty wire conducts electricity…” which is a good analogy because we are not Donatists.

                    • The Church, from the beginning, has been realized primarily in the Eucharistic synaxis. It’s what the Apostles did and it’s what we’ve done since then. That might sound a little bit Zizioulian, but I’m willing to stand by that. The Apostles didn’t travel around baptizing people and handing out typikons, they ordained men to the priesthood and left them to minister to the community, specifically through serving the Mysteries. Salvation is offered through participation in the Eucharist.

                      Of course there’s nothing wrong with reading the services at home and a solid liturgical life at home is the foundation for a good Christian life, but as routine as these are, they are not the norm. The family is a little church, but it is not The Church.

                      The purpose of the Church is deification. Deification comes through participation in the Eucharist and the other Mysteries, not through the daily offices. House churches are just that, house churches. The Eucharistic liturgy is the Kingdom. Christians are called to that Kingdom, which is why services with the bishop or priest presiding as an icon of Christ are the norm.

        • Athanasia says

          Wisdom. Let us attend!
          Thank you Jeff. As a former Baptist, I couldn’t agree more.

      • OCA took the link down to the joint statement. It creeps back into the dark like a roach.

        • I actually laughed out loud.

          • Michael Bauman says

            I am Orthodox for two reasons: Jesus called me to Himself and when 18 years later when I first set foot in an Orthodox Church, He welcomed me home.

            Lately, despite the seeming chaos, destruction and despair, He has been showing me His abundant mercy. I can plainly see that His mercy springs from an inexhaustable well.


            God may give us another such as Fr. Nicola (why he is not an official saint is beyond me). He literally gave his earthly life to make sure the Orthodox in western Nebraska, eastern Colorado and Kansas (including Wichita where I live) during the 1918 flu epidemic. He served the Holy Mysteries to Arabs, Russians and even the Greeks.

            So let us remember our Lord’s admonition: “Fear not, I have overcome the world.”

            P.S. Please pray for my son-in-law Shawn and his wife and children. My wife has to make an appointment to see her grand daughters but can only be with them outside. But, they are not geeting the jab

        • George Michalopulos says

          Good. I’d like to say that we —all of us here, y’all included–were responsible for Syosset coming to their senses but there were other Orthodox bloggers as well who must get credit as well. (Byzantine, Texas for example.)

        • The link to the joint statement is still there. It’s just not the “latest feature.” Look under March 5, 2021 for the link.


        • From the latest featured article…

          I have been most impressed and moved by the degree of dedication,
          perseverance, and pastoral initiative taken by our bishops, our clergy, our
          monastics, and our faithful. In the past month, I have been receiving a steady
          stream of letters of concern from various quarters urging me to take any number
          of actions: to abandon my fear of the civil authorities, to stop preventing people
          from taking communion, to take a stronger political stand against the pandemic
          restrictions, to overcome my fear of the virus by not wearing a mask myself or by
          not forcing parishioners to wear them, to stop abusing my priests through onerous
          directives that demand an unhealthy kind of obedience. While everyone is free to
          have an opinion, and while I do not exclude the possibility of all of these issues
          arising within the life of the Church, I generally find these opinions to be
          completely out of touch with the reality that I have experienced over the past year.
          If anything, I have seen an increase in pastoral ministry, in evangelical outreach,
          in care for the sick, in recognition of the reality of death, in dealing with depression and loneliness. The external expression of our worship may have been slightly altered in terms of glory and attendance, but I am convinced of the internal growth and spiritual development of our clergy and faithful, growing even in the midst of the struggles.


          • Gail Sheppard says

            Am I reading this right? He’s impressed and moved by our many positive attributes and activities but our opinions are completely out of touch with reality. Huh???

            They must teach asteism in seminary.

            If attending Church is merely the external expression of our worship, then why bother with it? We can just let go of the external trappings and do good works. I know a lot of people who think this way. They’re called humanists.

            [The humanistic approach emphasizes the personal worth of the individual, the centrality of human values, and the creative, active nature of human beings. The approach is optimistic and focuses on the noble human capacity to overcome hardship, pain and despair.]

            I keep hearing the lyrics of You’re Out of Time in my head.

            • Why does Met. Tikhon sound so much alike in tone and phrasing to “that horrible bishop”? Perhaps naively I hadn’t thought that this aggressive condescending tone was common among the hierarchs. I thought it was an unfortunate affectation of one man perhaps dealing with some career burnout issues and an unusually tiresome state governor.

              Do they all secretly look down on us with a sneer? What a terrible thought.

              Well I’m glad our Metropolitan is having fun and thinks all is well. He seems to think we’re just a bunch of whiners and complainers trying to harass him for no reason. But what I see down here on the ground is a lot of people in terrible, terrible pain and it is getting worse every day. There are people who feel quite literally shut out of liturgy due to the capacity limits and the fact that you have to not only show up early but throw elbows to get a space actually indoors, in the nave and not watching on a monitor somewhere. Or because they cannot tolerate standing in a warm room wearing a mask for 3 hours. (Clergy who are demanding this of people should try it first. They usually don’t have to “mask up” for long at all because of the exemption for speakers.) People who have been out of work or locked down and isolated a long time are losing hope. Kids who haven’t had catechism in over a year are shrugging off the whole thing and drifting away. The latest missive from our local Archbishop may have actually worsened morale rather than improved it, the “lightening” of the restrictions was so insignificant- face bump icons with a mask on and have coffee hour 6 feet apart outside. People are fed up and I am worried some are about to walk away in despair because they were told that Orthodoxy is a stronghold against fear and despondency and here are these guys saying “don’t hug your brothers and sisters, that’s DANGEROUS, don’t breathe fresh air during liturgy, you’re a biohazard and it’s uncaring to force your uncleanness on others, and you could get excommunicated if we catch you doing it too many times.”

              Well, I’m glad they’re enjoying this I guess.

          • How does denial of the Mysteries ‘deal with depression’?
            How is closing churches (communities) ‘dealing with…loneliness’?
            The corporate doublespeak is breathtaking…

          • Where are the Godly bishops and priest to be found today? Imagine the witness if all the Orthodox faithful in America had with a united voice rebelled against the rules which impede our true worship.
            When you receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ into your mouth, is only your mouth sanctified? Only your cells which directly touch the Holy Gifts? Isn’t every cell of your body sanctified? So how could what is on the spoon not be sanctifed / remain sanctified each time it is dipped in the chalice.
            I refuse to be led by such bishops of little faith. And I take their name-calling such as “fundamentalist” as a compliment.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Holy Communion is being distributed and received in the same manner as always in my Antiochian parish. The instruction had always been to allow the priest to place the Body and Blood into our mouths rather than “eating” it off the spoon. That has simply been reiterated.

          • I have been tempted to write to our hierarchs many times and I am glad to see others have already done so. Each time I stopped myself because at the end of the day our hierarchs believe they are making the right decision. They should be able to see the truth of the plandemic but are not acting accordingly. No amount of arguments and letters will work. Maybe in person discussion would get through to them but I don’t know. This is in God’s hands.

            We need to pray for them but when they issue directives that are in line with the Church we need to follow them no matter how uncomfortable. However when they issue directives that are contrary to the Church we cannot follow them even if it means to suffer and be doubly persecuted. The problem is to discern the difference and this cannot be taken lightly or else we become rebels ourselves.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Excellent point. At the end of the day, we are the ones who will be judged with respect to the degree to which we have been successful following the teachings of the Church.

              I’m trying to get over my frustration and disappointment so I can get to the point where I can focus on more edifying things. I am not there yet, unfortunately. If I have scandalized any of you, please forgive me.

              • Gail, I never comment, but I had to say thank you for this little piece of internal personal struggle you shared here. I too am struggling to get past my frustration and disappointment with our (OCA) church and the entire hierarchy of our churches across this country (because I just can’t live the lies of masks and distancing and all the rest of it). I want to accept that I may never go back to my church, but I love our priest and I love our people, so that is such a heart-breaking possibility. Every time I think I am past it and I just need to resign myself to start “doing it all” at home, the whole absurdity of it all just spits into my face anew, making me newly frustrated, disappointed, and disgusted. This is particularly because my husband would be happy to wear twelve masks and stay twelve feet away for the next twelve years if that’s the message that comes from the civil authorities and the spiritual authorities. I am the flake/rebel/idiot/whatever in this marriage even though I have been clear about why I can’t go to church this way. When I start to feel as though I am the only salmon swimming upstream, I am renewed when I come here and read through this website as I find a cloud of witnesses who are faithful to truth and also to Truth. Thanks for your honest and personal transparency. It is both comforting and edifying.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  God will provide a way. We just have to be patient.

                • Petra, take heart that along with Gail you are not remotely alone. I feel the same way and from the priests that I have talked to throughout this, many, many faithful have been scandalized.

              • Petra,

                I love and appreciate your honest comment.

                What’s helped me not go crazy over the past 12 months is remembering and understanding that everyone brings to the table a different threshold as far as what makes them feel “safe” in society these days.

                Some feel safe with no mask. Some don’t feel safe till they’ve had a vaccine. Some don’t feel safe until 3 rounds of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Some may never feel safe in society again.

                There’s no logic or rhyme or reason as to why people feel how they do, and just like one can’t be “reasoned” into loving Christ, one can’t be “reasoned” into or out of their self-perceived level of safety.

                It is infuriating that those in policy/authority positions seem to agree that the “safest” approach is to make policy on the assumption that helping those who feel the most unsafe to feel more comfortable is the best public policy approach. It’s not, in my opinion.

                This approach is typically a losing battle, but very few who are good and comfortable at making hard decisions run things anymore in the secular West.

                Just like it’s way harder to work with a “transgender” teen through all of their emotional problems to help them see God, to learn to love Him, and to see that the sex He gave him/her at birth has meaning – well, it’s just way easier to let the “transgendered” teen be a prisoner of his/her own desires. It’s easier, though it’s definitely not more loving.

                It’s not more loving to accommodate mass fear than it is to help people learn that they don’t have to live in fear – but yes, this approach is far easier. Can anyone imagine Churchill trying to tell Londoners that they didn’t have to learn to deal with their own fear during the WW2 bombings?

                Our policy makers and leaders try to take the easy way out, which ends up being worse for everyone in the end.

                A blessed week of the Cross. Hang in there!

  5. As an extremist and a fundamentalist, I am triggered by this.

    But seriously, who ‘bemoans’ in 2021?

    • George Michalopulos says

      “Triggered”! I love it!

      Now I wonder if society and the Church will bend to your will, since you’re obviously one of the “weaker brethren” whom we must always twist ourselves into pretzels to accommodate.

  6. “Fundamentalist” is such an overdetermined word, such a lazy secularist term of abuse, it jars the ear to hear it coming from clergy at all, let alone leaders in the Orthodox Church. I’ve heard it tossed around so much and so meaninglessly since the late 80s I barely know what it means anymore. In the strictest sense it refers to a sect of Baptists, but I know they don’t mean that. In the loosest sense it means “anyone I think is too uptight and religious” and I hope that’s not what they mean. In the 90s it always referred to those kids who not only were against Darwinism but thought dino bones were faked as part of a demonic conspiracy- they disbelieved not only evolution but the existence of any extinct animals that weren’t mentioned by name in the bible. The girls couldn’t wear makeup or jewelry, whereas the plain old evangelical girls and strict Catholics could wear both and even go out for dance team with those short skirt uniforms. They were the kids who would get into passionate arguments with conservative Lutheran or Presbyterian boys of the more nerdy bent, about theology. Their parents wouldn’t let them listen to Jars of Clay because the guitars were too risque or something.

    No, they’re probably not talking about those kids, either.

    They’re definitely talking with disdain about members of their own flock, without having enough respect to even call the black sheep out by name to let us know that we’re in trouble. We’re uncool and embarrassing, “Hyperdox Hermans” who don’t have the kind of sophisticated San Francisco politics they would prefer and who take this whole religion thing maybe a bit too seriously.

    That’s the uneasy feeling I get, at least.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Kseniya, thank you for this eloquent riposte. As a dear friend (who is also a priest) told me several years ago, “fundamentalists” had a “surplus of meaning”. In other words, it was meaningless; basically a rhetorical way of moving the goalposts.

      • On the other hand, I was taught that if you don’t know the fundamentals of the doctrine of the Church, you are building on sand.

    • When bishops accuse some of their flock of being fundamentalists, it seems they vaguely define the term as “faithful who don’t listen to me.”

      Honestly though, can anyone imagine St John of San Francisco, St Herman of Alaska, St Nectarios of Pentapolis, the current Met. Onuphriy in Ukraine – can anyone imagine any of these Saints or saintly bishops deriding faithful Christian Orthodox – who are fervent in their love for Christ and who are faithful members of the canonical Church – as “fundamentalist”?

      Of course not. Usually saintly bishops challenge faithful to have Christ be more at the center of their lives. Saintly bishops don’t deride Christians for taking their faith “too seriously.”

      Yet that’s what the Fordhamites and their apologists do – they complain that traditional Orthodox take our faith too seriously. Which is why we ignore and reject the Fordhamites.

      • A few years ago someone asked me which parish I go to and when I answered he kind of smirked and said “oh, do you actually like it there? It’s pretty hyperdox.” I asked what he meant by that. These apparently are the defining traits of “hyperdoxy” according to this young man, who was very involved in the local Orthodox “scene” at the time and aspired to be involved in “leadership”:

        1. Confession is offered without exception every single week.

        2. Most of the women wear headscarves and- he acted like he found this utterly appalling- so do most of the younger girls. Even worse, the general attire is very modest, long skirts and so forth, which he found to be “peasant LARPing.”

        3. People “do a lot of bowing and prostrations.”

        4. The liturgies are “long,” that is to say everything is done properly and there are plenty of kontakia etc for the saints of the day.

        5. There are weekday liturgies as often as the clergy can offer them, and there are people who will actually show up to them even if they begin at 6:45 am.

        6. People hold the priests in high regard and look to them for advice on various life issues.

        Oh and “there are a lot of converts.” (This guy was, of course, also a convert, but not one of THOSE I guess.)

        So basically his objection was that my parish is ORTHODOX. And he found that awkward and embarrassing. My impression was that he wants Orthodoxy to be an aesthetically pleasing enhancement but not to interfere with the rest of his carefully cultivated and curated lifestyle and persona. Giving yourself up to something entirely wouldn’t look smart and witty, so it just would not do. He seemed to find it painful to even be associated with the kind of earnest rubes who could do such a thing. I don’t know what became of him but unfortunately it seems equally likely that he could have given up and fallen away from the faith like the rich young man in the parable, or that he could have ascended higher into the the world of Orthodox “leadership” and be getting ready to work for a bishop. I don’t like this sinking feeling that so many of our leaders look down on us for being small and humble like we’re supposed to be.

        • I’d rather be Hypderdox than Hipsterdox.

          Orthodoxy is not ironic.

        • Yet there are parishes who fulfill all seven of your criteria, and still they are not actually canonically Orthodox. For example, I remember visiting Christ the Savior Brotherhood parishes back in the 1990’s, and although they had no canonical bishop, nevertheless, your criteria perfectly describes them. They were essentially protestant-orthodox. However if you asked them, they would always tell you that they were “Pravoslavnie” and ironically demonstrate this by their own “piety”.

          Most of the members of the Christ the Savior Brotherhood eventually became Orthodox. Yet protestant-orthodox groups still exist today as with the Russian Old Believers, the Greek Old Calendarists, and ROCOR-A and ROCOR-V. Rest assured, one will find those groups fulfill all seven of your criteria as well.

          • I’m not sure what your point is. Obviously my church has a canonical bishop. As far as I know, CSB no longer exists. I know some people who formerly were members of the group who are now “normal Orthodox” and no different than former Presbyterians, Catholics, etc who are now Orthodox. People get oddly snobby about this stuff. Canonical is canonical, I don’t care where you came from, you’re here now.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              A lot of good people came from CBS. It’s kind of a moot point. They’re Orthodox now.

              Surprisingly, I think there are some CBS people still out there.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Steve, one thing CSB never was, was Protestant. When received into the canonical Church almost all went Old Calendar. There was a period of time when they went through a penance before being received but all of that was over 20 years ago. Several of their parishes the priest who was originally CSB is now “Emeritus” with a new priest assigned by their Bishop.

            They made some bad decisions on their approach to the Church. But, hey, the Antiochian priest who Baptized me later went Byzantine Catholic, then stole the BC mission funds, abandoned his family and ran off to San Francisco. And that is the least of it. The rest I let God judge.

            While I was never in Christ the Savior Brotherhood, I know, love and respect many of those who were. Gail is right– good folk.

            Your less than accurate description of them shows you do not know them.

            God will reveal the Truth but I would go into battle with any of them.

            • I have met a number of former CSB clergy and laity, and they are absolutely wonderful Orthodox Christians.

          • George Michalopulos says

            Steve, while I cannot dispute your assessment, the fact remains that the vast majority of them are Orthodox now. That’s all that matters.

            At any rate, their marks of piety (as then practiced) should not be used as a cudgel against canonical Orthodox now who observe the same levels of piety. It’s a hallmark of the “Hipsterdox” (love that term!) to confuse the issue by disparaging those who are now called “extremists” or “fundamentalists” by the Fordhamites.

        • Heh. Sounds like he wants “Orthodoxy with Liberal Protestant Characteristics”. :p

    • Pat Reardon says

      They’re definitely talking with disdain about members of their own flock,

      One gets that impression.

  7. “We strongly condemn extremism and fundamentalism, whether in the Church or society, and call to repentance those who would perpetrate acts of violence or hatred against any of our brothers and sisters in our communities or in society.”

    In totalitarian USA, if you’re not reading one of the few remaining “far right” sources; then you can imagine yourselves heroes for putting out statements that amount to “Kill Whitey,” and “Burn, Loot, and Murder more!” Everyone knows what groups are being targeted, and which are being empowered/supported, in such general statements.

    ANTIFA Sets Fire to Portland Public School Headquarters and Torches Vehicles in A Series Of Malicious Terrorist Attacks (March 7th, 2021):


    Meanwhile, FBI Director Chris Wray refuses to designate ANTIFA as a domestic terrorist organization, or merely acknowledge its existence. Trump Supporters are being hunted, de-platformed, put on lists, and violently attacked and murdered for their views. ANTIFA burns, loots, and destroys with no repercussions.

    BLM Protesters Threaten Little Girls and Small Children Outside Cheerleading Competition in Louisville (March 7th, 2021):


    This was allowed by local police.

    Gateway Pundit reader Richard said his daughter and her family attended the cheerleading competition. They were caught in abuse as they entered the facility. She told her father, “We had to walk straight through this. They shoved [assaulted] Dave (fiance’), and threatened they would kill my children.”

  8. Just when you thought the bishops couldn’t be more out of touch…

  9. Austin Martin says

    I unapologetically describe myself as a fundamentalist. I am in the OCA, and his Eminence is welcome to excommunicate me for my belief in a literal Genesis and my agreement with what John Chrysostom said about the Jews.

    I strongly agree with what you said about the vacuousness of language. If Dr Seuss is a racist, then everyone is a racist, and they will use this as a sword against us. You will notice that nearly everything our hierarchs put out in a pan-Orthodox context is vague and secularist. Perhaps Chrysostom should be

    ‘Fundentalism” actually has a historic definition. There were five fundamentals. I think our heirarchs are confusing this with the likes of Westboro Baptist.

    In fairness, ethnic Orthodox clergy are unable to understand protestantism. I’ve never read anything that was accurate from them. This isn’t a fault — just a reality. It’s like trying to explain how credit and insurance works to me. I can follow along with it, but I will never really internalize it.

    So our hierachs aren’t necessarily trying to be secular, and I really like what Met Joseph said about the gays. Supposedly Met Tikhon get rid of all the gay bureaucrats from Syosett. They probably just misunderstand these nuanced terms within protestantism.

    • Pat Reardon says

      ‘Fundentalism” actually has a historic definition. There were five fundamentals. I think our heirarchs are confusing this with the likes of Westboro Baptist.

      If memory serves, the application of “fundamentalist” to certain Orthodox Christians became common about thirty-plus years ago, when Metropolitan PHILIP used the word to describe clegy with long hair and unruly beards who wore their cassocks in the grocery store.

      Subject to correction on the point, I think that unusual application of the term began with the recently mourned Father John Morris, whose views the Metropolitan appeared to favor.

      As an alumnus of Southern Baptist Seminary, I knew what “fundmentalist” really meant, of course, and I thought the term sounded rather wierd in the Orthodox Church

      • ” describe clegy with long hair and unruly beards who wore their cassocks in the grocery store.”

        Sounds like village priests back in Greece and Cyprus.

      • Austin Martin says

        Did Father John Morris die recently? I met him once.

        What did he believe that was unusual

        • Pat Reardon says


          “Unusual” describes Father John’s use of the expression “fundamentalist” to speak of certain Orthodox Christians.

          I believe that Metropolitan PHILIP, who was almost certainly unfamiliar with the Fundamentalist Movement of a century ago, borrowed that expression and its strange usage from Father John.

          This comment implies no criticism of either man.

  10. I stopped listening to anything that came from the OCA hierarchs after the shameful missive written by the the legal team in the beginning of April 2020.

    Sorry, you guys just aren’t serious. I’ll stick with the scriptures and the lives of the saints and the texts of the services. Much more edifying and hopeful.

    Oh, and Fr. Peter Heers is right and you know it.

  11. “Fundamentalism” is a loan word from Protestantism. Cosmopolitan Orthodox use it to refer to those who believe and practice much in the same way as a believer 100, 200, or a thousand years ago would have. They see themselves as more enlightened.

    There are two kinds in the Church. One judges the modern world by Sacred Tradition. The other presumes to judge Sacred Tradition by the standards of the modern world.

    It’s apples and oranges. Two distinct and incompatible faiths. There are gradations of conservatism/liberalism within modernism, but though some may seem or willfully choose to be somewhat conservative, nonetheless they presume to set themselves over Tradition, which is the fount of all problems.

    The better way is to accept the authority of the Holy Spirit working in the Church: Sacred Tradition. Usurping the Spirit leads to nowhere we want to go.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      And yet, here we are.

      I get the feeling they’re practicing Holy Tradition and not living it. If they lived it they would correct themselves when they were being unkind.

      They would be more inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. They would try harder to understand. They would put a greater emphasis on meeting our needs than meeting their own. They would fight for us rather than fight against us. – Most importantly, they WOULD LOVE US, which clearly they don’t.

      So much for meeting us where we are. Have they lost all touch with what it means to be a servant?.

      Now they’re finding fault with those who take the Church and her Traditions too seriously. I’m beginning to wonder if we have anything in common at all.

    • Misha….”Cosmopolitan Orthodox use it to refer to those who believe and practice much in the same way as a believer 100, 200, or a thousand years ago would have.”

      …..or 10 years ago…..

    • Misha, thank you for your point about “two kinds in The Church.” It’s one of those simple, yet profound points that really clears it up. Thanks!

  12. You’re giving them both way too much credit. Like Queen Elizabeth, each heads, basically, a dysfunctional family. A few well wordsmithed sentences can’t hide the lapses of the past and present.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Dysfunctional? Probably.

      So what? Princess Sparkle is a piece of work and her hen-pecked hubby is a disappointment. I’m glad they’re imploding under the Grand Oprahfication that is presently engulfing society.

      • When she becomes Empress (sorry: President),
        she could make him Secretary for Defense.
        After all, he does have actual military experience – in Afghanistan, forsooth!

  13. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Our priest recently announced that Forgiveness Vespers this Sunday will be streaming.

    • Gail Sheppard says


    • Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster says

      RE: “Our priest recently announced that Forgiveness Vespers this Sunday will be streaming.”

      One thing for certain: it will not be myrrh-streaming.

      • Ronda Wintheiser says

        I can’t even fathom how you do that. I have tried to visualize it. Does everyone stand up in front of their computer monitor and do prostrations in front of… ?

        Shudder. I just can’t.

        My daughter, Carissa, who is 28 now and lives with me to help me care for her older sister who has autism, is a cradle Orthodox person. I am not.

        She has a large group of Orthodox friends in our parish, and even though my initial reaction to this announcement was revulsion, I thought perhaps *she* might want to participate because she has so many friends. So I asked her, hesitantly, a little worried at what she might say. Carissa, would you like to participate?

        Her reaction was instantaneous. Absolutely not, she said. I’ll ask my friends to forgive me when I see them.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I’m with you, Ronda. When Jesus said, “Come and see,” He was not talking about watching TV. Being present, in communion, is essential to the practice of liturgy.

          • Catacombs church. Hold services elsewhere, or, in middle of the night, or, worship anyway. Resist, like our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe under the other communist yoke. Christ is in our midst!

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Or visit the monasteries. Just because our bishops no longer attend Church doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

              • True.

                I heard from a very reliable source (don’t want to “out” them on here without permission) of someone affiliated with an Ephraim monastery that the monasteries are not planning on leaving GOARCH until Patriarch Bartholomew officially joins Rome.

                Since you are “in the know” Gail, was wondering if you have heard something similar.

                • Gail Sheppard says

                  I haven’t heard anything, but that would make sense.

                  • Yea, that’s what I was thinking. Maybe what doesn’t seem prudent to me is actually more prudent for the monks/monasteries. The person I speak of is of a much, much higher spiritual magnitude than I am so I will leave it up to them.

                    As a side note, this is a good video done by Luke from Orthodoxy First with Fr. John Whiteford on the situation in Ukraine, especially the questions being asked at the end:


                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      Oh, good. Thanks Petros!

                    • I just listened to a considerable amount of the Fr. John Whiteford interview and must say I’m encouraged, particularly that he believes that Antioch will side with the believers when it all plays out.

                • They just keep kicking the can down the road. We’ve been hearing rumors for years about their leaving the GOARCH, but ‘inside sources’ always keep telling us that there’s a new red line.

                  • You should watch the video just above that I posted, Fr. John Whiteford actually goes into pretty good detail of how he thinks this is all going to play out come November when Pat. Bartholomew goes to Ukraine and Russia holds the synod to determine if they will depose him. Essentially it boils down to Russia excommunicating/anathematizing Bartholomew, the possibility of setting up Russian parishes in Turkey and the possibility of that happening on a global scale. Eventually (and very soon) people in GOARCH are going to have to decide if being Greek or being Orthodox is more important. Given that at this point the non-Greek laity in GOARCH outnumber the ethnic Greeks (or it wouldn’t surprise me if it was close), I would imagine a large portion will leave

        • George Michalopulos says

          Fortunately, our parish is having none of this nonsense. Prostrations will be a part but we’re foregoing the triple kiss/embrace. I can live with that.

          Regarding the streaming of service, I see one silver lining: the televisual broadcasting (while in no way a substitute for fellowship) can bring the experience of the liturgies of the Church to wider, non-Orthodox audience.

          Again, in no ways a substitute but not completely devoid of grace.

          • Gail Sheppard says

            RE: “. . .an bring the experience of the liturgies of the Church to a wider, non-Orthodox audience.”

            I would replace the word “experience” with “beauty.”

        • If people didn’t see the problem with “streaming” before, the moment when people bow down before a “neon god” so to borrow from Simon and Garfunkel ought to bring it home for them.

        • Michael Bauman says

          There is also this: my wife was talking to a friend last night and the friend was saying that the pew where she usually was during Liturgy was thinning out because her husband and several pew mates had died. Merry invited her to be with us. Our friend said, no she had to stay where she was because they always prayed together during Liturgy.

          I also find that the folks in my parish who seem most afraid are the ones with the most to loose monetarily. Not the really wealthy or those toward the other end but the middle bunch

          • “she had to stay where she was because they always prayed together during Liturgy”

            This is beautiful. Real friendship.

    • John Gordy says


    • Rhonda,

      To be fair, did your priest mean “streaming” as in a live-streaming of the service involving real people present (and welcome at real service? Or did he mean that participation is limited to a sort of Zoom meeting?

      If it is the former, it is not so bad, and he may have wanted people to be aware that they would be seen via the internet. If it is the latter, I personally would likely decline, as there are some people whose forgiveness I need to sincerely ask personally, and such a forum is no place for that.

  14. I’ve been really frustrated and angry at most of the clergy over the last year. I’ve almost let it consume me. Which isn’t good. So I’m trying to give our bishops a little more grace. But it is hard. I don’t want to read into their motives, what they meant by certain words. But that’s part of the problem: I don’t know what they mean.

    I just talked to a priest the other day in the AOC and he speaks very highly of Metropolitan Joseph. But he said Metropolitan Joseph doesn’t understand American politics. I can see that. Which makes me ask how far should we go into politics? We can’t avoid it completely but the relationship between Church and state has always been a messy one.

    Ultimately I guess our hierarchs can put out all the statements they want by I feel it’s not enough. Not in this time. We need them on the ground. Visiting parishes. Serving liturgy bravely. Basically everything Fr. Pat said in his letter a few weeks ago.

    But I think George hit it before. What about us? What is the quality of our spiritual life and witness? Again, we need to unite in prayer for our clergy. Maybe we’ll yet see some things turn around.

  15. Pat Teague says

    My hope and prayer is that the Metropolitans meant exactly what they said, and meant it disambiguously. If so, their joint statement is full of wisdom.

    “They concluded the meeting exchanging prayers for each other and their churches at the outset of the Lenten journey to Pascha.

    “After their meeting, they released the following statement:

    “We have come through a year that has seen unprecedented challenges facing our communities and, indeed, society as a whole. The pandemic, growing political polarization, civil unrest, the rise of extremism, and economic anxiety have all contributed to test us within the Orthodox Church. While some of what has tested us is new, other things are as old as human history. In response to all of them, there is only one response, remaining firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, who alone is our Savior, and loving one another as he has loved us (cf., Jn 13:34).

    “We thank the faithful of our churches for their labors, their patience, their steadfastness, and their love during all that has transpired throughout this most difficult time. We also join together and mourn those whom we have lost in our churches, because of the pandemic. May their memory be eternal!

    “We bemoan the political polarization within this country and within the Orthodox Church, and call all to remember that we are created, each of us without exception, in the image and likeness of God. We strongly condemn extremism and fundamentalism, whether in the Church or society, and call to repentance those who would perpetrate acts of violence or hatred against any of our brothers and sisters in our communities or in society.​”

    Love and Prayers,

  16. Thanks for this article, it is excellent observation.
    This meek and phony Bishop who is unbelievably first in one Church proves what people are already talking that OCA did not deserve to become autocephalous church. Biggest problem is that it does not have monastics background and also spring for new priests and deacons. That is the most important aspect.
    Problem is then now in US that you also have another significant Church, Greek Orthodox church in 🙂 America that is not fully autocephalous as it is the extended arm of Phanar and new neopope for whom this is most important object of influence.
    So it is hard for the orthodoxly in US, but maybe it is just as things are to be, people here are attached to science, theology, earth law so that what it is. Small flock will be and we know this is our future.

  17. I’m sure the bishops here meant people who “challenge” their authority by actually expecting the bishops to fulfill their duty. That angers me because this world at this time needs the clear witness of the Church. Yes, each of us is called to do so, but only a few of us are in actual positions where the expectation of leadership. It’s what was so galling about Michelle Obama’s hashtag campaign for the kidnapped Nigerian girls – for many, raising online awareness was pretty much all that could be done, whereas for her – she sat in a place of power and influence and had a photographer send a picture of her with a sad face over social media.

    That being said, I’m seeing a very disturbing trend in “online Orthodoxy”. It isn’t everywhere, generally forums with young men in their 20s, “interested” in Orthodoxy along with young Russians, etc, who may be practicing English. In any case, these forums are wildly anti-Semetic, to the point where it’s fairly common for Nazi propaganda to get posted. These are not MAGA people, or people who hung out on Orthodoxy forums when I was getting interested in Orthodoxy. No, they’re not speaking for anyone officially, but they are getting more and more prominent in people just looking into Orthodoxy, and it would be nice if the bishops actually might take notice of this and start encouraging people away from that.

  18. Austin Martin says


    Here are the five fundamentals as defined by the 1910 Presbyterian General Assembly. Which of these are our hierarchs condemning?

    Inerrancy of scripture, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the miracles being literal.

    The concept was that all of these were being attacked by liberal theologians, and these were the fundamentals of the faith that needed to be defended.

    Penal substitutionary atonement doesn’t quite fit into Orthodoxy, but the underlying idea that man is fallen and needs a Savior is definitely foundational.

    Certainly they are not actually condemning this list. Our hierarchs are using terms in the wrong way. But that’s not really an excuse. If you’re a teacher, then you have an obligation to communicate clearly.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Austin, what you say about penal substitutionary atonement “not quite fitting” is not really the teuth: it does not fit at all. The Incarnation, becoming fully human means that nothing is substituted as He is also fully God. He suffers as man, not in place of man. His Resurrection is also full thus “trampling down death by death”

      His mercy allows all of us to be raised because He was/is fully man.

      Just as it allows us to enter fully into His mercy by going through our sins (our tomb) because He bestows life.

      The other four are critical but only take on their fullness in the reality of the full Incarnation. Otherwise it is just sympathetic magic.

      As good as the 5 principles are, they do not have the proper cornerstone and so it falls.

      My brother who is a priest clued me into the genuine pastoral concerns they are considering in his jurisdiction (Bulgarian).

      It made me rethink my haste while still wanting to press forward.

      • “Austin, what you say about penal substitutionary atonement ‘not quite fitting’ is not really the truth: it does not fit at all. The Incarnation, becoming fully human means that nothing is substituted as He is also fully God. He suffers as man, not in place of man.”

        Even if you ignore all the Western Fathers, including the very Greek St. Irenaeus (disciple of St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Theologian), how do you reconcile that with quotes from top tier Eastern Fathers, that you’ll find in the link provided below?


        Orthodoxy that has had substitutionary atonement removed, or undermined, sounds like this:


        • Both are mistaken.

          The problem is with “penal”, and even then only in a very particular sense. God the Father did not torture God the Son to death so that His own sense of justice could be satisfied and therefore He could then relent and forgive our sins. That’s a corruption of the Gospel.

          God the Father cursed Man to death for breaking faith with Him, the ancestral sin. The curse of death extended to all the progeny of Adam, but the actual guilt of the sin did not. So we have both an inclination to good and to evil, the inclination to evil being largely a reaction of our own to the prospect of death.

          But, of course, this was not satisfying to God. His justice was already satisfied. The wages of sin are death. But He intended something else for us and Mankind was confuting this intention by sin. God intended theosis for Mankind. But Man could not achieve that in this life or the next because of the curse of death and his continuing propensity to sin. The door to heaven was closed.

          Christ became Man to deify Mankind. Christ was crucified by evil men, not God the Father. He freely offered Himself as a ransom for Mankind. It is in this sense that we talk about paying a penalty. But it is more accurate to say that the Father allowed (or gave) His Son to be crucified to save us. How did He save us in this way?

          Christ was absolutely innocent and without sin. The Father would never punish Him as such. Christ offered Himself as a gift from the Father out of Their love for Mankind. The conquest of death was accomplished by the fact that for God’s complete justice to manifest itself, a completely innocent Man could not be held in death. This was an impossibility within Divine Law. It is the very unjust punishment of the Just which, ultimately, is not allowed. What is incomplete in this life must be made manifest in the next, or God is rendered unjust. “Shall not the Judge of all the world do what is right?”

          The Crucifixion of the God man was “the thing that cannot happen, that nonetheless happened” and the inevitable result of it was His Resurrection. In passing through death, which could not hold Him, into the next life (that of Resurrected Man, in all his glory), Christ opened the door to heaven for us and conquered death. We no longer look forward to an indefinite stay in Hades. With Christ, we may attain some degree of theosis in this life and full theosis in the next where we may be resurrected with Him and live forever.

          “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” is a Western construct. There is some truth in it to be sure, at least the substitutionary atonement part of it. If Western Christians were capable of Orthodox illumination, they would realize that they have a term for theosis in their tool kit. It is “atonement”: At one – ment; i.e., union with God. But you will notice that theosis has a much brighter and more positive connotation in Orthodoxy than atonement has in Western Christianity. Theosis is life but in the West atonement is reflexively associated with death.

          The difference is in how you view God the Father. Did He give His only Son over to be tried and executed by evil men as a ransom, or did He execute His only Son for the sins of others to satisfy His bloodlust? The question answers itself. When you reach a crossroads where one path leads to a righteous God and the other path leads to God acting manifestly unjust, choose the former.

          The Lover of Mankind, or Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God?

          One should bear in mind the original reason for God’s curse of death upon mankind. Had He not done so, men would have been able to make a hell out of the earth that had no end until God saw fit to destroy it. And in fact, He did destroy it once in the days of Noah because of the rampant evil.

        • Rather than attempt to argue which only tends toward misunderstanding or too easily devolves into a struggle over who is “right” (Note: It’s not about being “right.”), I would suggest we immerse ourselves in the many hymns of the season we are entering.

          The prayer of the Church is the most reliable interpreter of the meaning of both the Scriptures and the Fathers. Moreover praying/singing the hymns of the Church with the Church, as opposed to merely reading them, facilitates an understanding of the mystery of our salvation in a way that our rational intellectual capacities alone cannot.

          • Music can (to some extent) express Mystery.
            Logic cannot.

            Music and Prayer go further still.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Then there is this: “You must understand why it is that the Word of the Father, so great and so high, has been made manifest in bodily form . He has not assumed a body as proper to His own nature, far from it, for as the Word He is without body. He has been manifested in a human body for this reason only, out of the love and goodness of His Father, for the salvation of us men. We will begin, then, with the Creation of the world and with God its Maker, for the first fact you must grasp is this: the renewal of creation has been wrought by the Self-same Word Who made it in the beginning. There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation; for the One Father has employed the same Agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word Who made it in the beginning.” St. Athanasius.

          The PSA I am taking about is the most likely one in the context of the 5 Fundamentals which is the Calvinist variety that requires the “total depravity of man”–a pernicious doctrine that, among other things, denies the Orthodox understanding of synergy and the belief that “God became man so that man might become God.”

          Indirectly that also contradicts the Incarnation itself–“fully God and fully man”. There can be no “substitution” except the Lord bears the burden of the Cross with us in a fully human body and soul.
          We still bear the Cross which even the Incarnate One accepted assistance with from Simon of Cyrene.

          My argument is not with the word “penal” I just wonder who is substituted for whom if the Incarnation is as St. Athanasius describes so eloquently.

          • Michael,

            Yeah, I’d rather use the Church’s language and leave it at that rather than PSA. Substitutionary, if taken literally, really doesn’t make strict sense either. That again goes to the agency problem.

            God’s justice was being served before Christ became man. The problem was that no one was gaining eternal life. But Christ wasn’t exactly substituted for us but rather was the only One who could lead mankind, as the God-man, into paradise.

            I like to be careful to leave room to account for all the language Scripture and the Fathers use but PSA is not our way of understanding salvation.

            • Gail Sheppard says

              Exactly. And because He was fully God, when He died he was able to “undo” death so that we might be saved. In that sense, he died for our sins so that we might live.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Misha, what you say I agree with. Penal and atone come from the same root but have diverged in more modern languages.

              The problematic word is “substitutionary”.

            • There’s a priest in the OCA who has just written a book on this subject. It’s called An Existential Soteriology and it looks like an interesting middle ground between the two extremes. I might buy a copy and read it for Lent.

        • “Orthodoxy that has had substitutionary atonement removed, or undermined, sounds like this


          teaches us leads us and then he accepts
          death and it’s not the death let’s save
          this this whole thing about an Isaiah
          that by His stripes are we healed you
          know does that mean that by whipping him
          and making him suffer that God somehow
          is justice was justified what does it
          mean that because he did that we found
          because now I need all men to myself
          people don’t pay attention to boring
          stories though the the pearl in English
          literature is Romeo and Juliet if they
          didn’t die in that awkward manner it’d
          be a boring story right if Jesus didn’t
          die horrific death who woulda paid
          attention now while I draw all men to
          myself salvation didn’t occur on the
          cross it occurred on the third day

          You remove salvation from the cross, and make it into a publicity stunt, then I don’t see a theology different from that of a blasphemous popular song, which has lyrics like “I dont think you trust in my self righteous suicide.”

          Yeah, I know about the difference between an inherited fallen nature vs. inheriting Adam’s literal guilt, and how that spills over into free will vs predestination, synergy, etc. Also, criminal court vs civil court.

          • No, Myst.

            Christianity that has the wrath of God removed from it sounds like that. An Episcopal priest could have given a similar explanation, identical in spirit.

            Lack of PSA is not that priest’s problem. Notice he always avoids God as wrathful or judgmental. That is modernism. God in His righteous wrath condemned Adam and his progeny to death after they ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The priest wants to say we brought death into the world, not God. I hate it when modernist priests contradict the Bible in this way. It is arrogant presumption. Ultimately, it is a strain of Marcionism. In truth, they simply reject the God of the Old Testament.

            But the evangelical PSA version isn’t any better. They say the Father’s righteous wrath was redirected toward the Son, a cosmic whipping boy of sorts. Actually, to be consistent, Christ would have to remain in hell if PSA were accurate. If our deaths paid the full price for our sins, everyone would go to heaven. But God condemns the wicked to punishment in the afterlife as well.

            But satisfaction of wrath isn’t the real point – that much the priest got right. Christ conquered death by death. He was resurrected into what man was intended to be – supernatural, or as St. Paul wrote, a “spiritual body”; sinless, imperishable and capable of defying gravity and dematerializing at will.

            Also, contrary to the priest, Christ’s death was not a publicity stunt. It was a judgment upon the world of men. The curse of death could only be broken by one who was completely innocent. Breaking through, He became the first fruits of the dead, a precursor of our ultimate resurrection in the eschaton, leading the way.

  19. Seems as if God is shaking up His Church. Perhaps we ought to listen.

  20. Elias Young says

    fundamental, adj. and n.
    Brit. Hear pronunciation/ˌfʌndəˈmɛntl/,
    U.S. Hear pronunciation/ˌfəndəˈmɛn(t)l/
    Forms: late Middle English–1600s foundamental, late Middle English– fundamental…
    Frequency (in current use): Show frequency band information
    Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin fundamentalis.
    Etymology: < post-classical Latin fundamentalis…
    A. adj.
    1.Thesaurus »
    a. Serving as a basis or foundation; (hence) forming an essential or indispensable part of a system, institution, etc. Also with to or (occasionally) †of.

    I could find no references to the word "fundamental", that might indicate that it was a dirty or obscene word. We each & all need a foundation – preferably a solid one. I think it was St. Paul who address the importance of the fundamentals. Though he also added this:

    "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit." Hebrews 6

    • Gail Sheppard says

      The word, itself, is not the issue. It was the way it was used pejoratively.

      As servants of God, accountable to God, for shepherding His sheep, they just couldn’t help themselves, could they? They had to take a swipe at those entrusted to their care. Bad sheep! Stupid sheep! Backward sheep! Follow us for we know better.

      Does that sound like Christ’s voice to anyone?

      • George Michalopulos says

        No, Gail, it does not.

        Really, they’ve got to stay as far away from the Fordhamite/Dialogue axis as possible.

      • Blaming sheep for acting like sheep is futile.
        It’s when shepherds act like sheep that there is a real problem.

        • The real problem for many clerics, deep down, is that they trust the MSM as normative. They watch the constant stream of propaganda and twisted reality coming from the legacy media and assume that view is somehow substantial and authoritative rather than the method elites use to control the masses.

          They trust it and it shapes their worldview.

          • They should have their televisions chopped off.

          • I am convinced that you are correct in this, Misha.

            In an otherwise perfectly good ‘epistle’ to his flock one bishop wrote…

            We live in such a condemning, judgmental world, where cancel culture lives in both realms of the political spectrum… [emphasis added].

            Now I am fully aware (and do not in any way deny) that there are an extreme few Orthodox who lean to right of the political spectrum who can be judgmental, and he is right to address it. But to say that “cancel culture” lives in both realms…” (i.e., to equate the two) is indicative of of an unfortunate, extreme, and (in my opinion) dangerous naivety that certainly seems to be the result of trusting only traditional sources of information. One would have to in order to make that assertion with any degree sincerity. And I do not in any way doubt his sincerity.

  21. UK’s Incoming Digital ID is Announced
    on Official Govt Website!


    ‘ In case anyone is still disbelieving that the pandemic is a Trojan Horse for the implementation of mass digital identification (think: Certificate Of Vaccine ID 19), just peruse what the British Government has posted on their official website: see here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-uk-digital-identity-and-attributes-trust-framework/the-uk-digital-identity-and-attributes-trust-framework

    A plain reading of the official document at the gov.uk website is proof the COVID19 fake pandemic is the impetus for the implementation of mass digital identification.

    The cunning part is that you, Joe UK Citizen, were asked for your feedback before the measures were implemented, but you didn’t object, so the government will go ahead and impose 1984 George Orwell tyranny due to your implied acquiescence.

    How do we know you didn’t object? Well, you didn’t reply to the consultation document, did you? And don’t whine that the deadline for the survey was YESTERDAY.

    Didn’t you see the wide media notices on it? Or the hard-to-miss
    announcements in your local and national press? You didn’t?

    Well, that may be because there weren’t any. Nothing. The mainstream media is all in with the government on this. The press is controlled because it shills for the globalist billionaire class that want you peons locked down and compliant. Everything about your life, your interests, your resources, your proclivities, aspirations, fears, failings, etc will be centrally stored and accessible by the elite who will have the means to shut you down, coerce, threaten or blackmail you. It serves the elite, not the people.

    This is an-encompassing omniscient deep dive into your very being and your privacy will no longer exist once every aspect of your life is digitally taken from you.

    You have no recourse at the ballot box over this. The sham that is modern western democracy was abjectly exposed as a failure in the US Presidential Election fiasco of November 2020. ‘

    As one comment notes: ‘the publicity for the survey resembles …
    the locked filing cabinet in the basement of the Council Offices
    as described in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

  22. Gus Langis says

    Did these bishops condemn dumbocracy as well? The way the Church Fathers have? Or is the altar of democracy with it’s ever focus on niche voting blocks and divide and conquer tactics off limits?
    And who are these brothers and sisters of ours being referenced? Is it hollywood? Is it the members of the myriad of neverending protest groups? Is it the fordhamites? Are they members of the Church or generically inhabitants of America???

  23. Pat Reardon says

    Seraphim inquires, “Fr. Pat, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on our response to the restrictive measures on the parish level by parishioners themselves. Opinions differ, for instance, on masks: necessary evil or blasphemous. And given obvious failures in clergy response to this whole thing, is it fitting to, at least temporarily stay home and pray from there until restrictions are lifted, or do believe people should just grin and bear it for the sake of receiving the Mysteries?”

    It’s a mixed bag. Right now, my successor here at All Saints effectively has THREE congregations.

    First, most of the parish simply comes to church on Sundays (and regular Vespers), where they meet no restrictions of any kind. For these folks, we also have the normal coffee hour, weekly Sunday school, regular choir practice, SOYO gatherings, and so on. None of this group has fallen sick.

    Second, there are the VVN (“very, very nervous”), a small group who attend church on Saturday mornings, wearing their masks, maintaining social distancing, waving to one another from a distance, nodding to the cross, throwing kisses to the icons, and so forth. Two in this group have come down with the virus.

    Third, there is the group who think it is too dangerous to come to church at all, so we haven’t seen them for a whole year. It is among these folks that we have had three virus cases.

    When, later this year, a modicum of sanity returns to the country, and our bishops sound an “all clear,” Father Andrew has to put the congregation back together again.

    And it will be a larger congregation because new folks have been joining all along.

    At All Saints, on the other hand, there have been no “obvious failures in clergy response.”

    • Thanks for the response Fr. I was by no means trying to lump you in with the clergy I’ve been disappointed in. Quite the contrary. That’s why I was all the more curious to hear your thoughts. At my church, our priest, God bless him, seems to have bought wholesale into this stuff so it’s been a rough year. My wife and I decided to remain home for the time being. It’s not what we want but we felt we had to take a stand. So it’s brought up this issue of to what degree can we actually survive without the Mysteries? I think this whole thing has really brought the question of what really constitutes Orthodox ecclesiology to the forefront and it doesn’t seem to be an easy question to answer.

  24. Rumours Woke Radical Green Royal
    Meghan Markle will Run for US President


    ‘ Before you dismiss this idea as too ridiculous to imagine, consider that a year ago many of us would have said the same thing about Joe Biden. Meghan Markle could be the perfect liberal candidate; claims to care about climate change, flies in a private jet, popular with liberals, breathtakingly entitled, a major thorn in the side of the British Royal Family, except for the tame royal who married her, and Oprah and the Hollywood set absolutely love her. … ‘

    Who knows? She could follow the Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte route.
    Three years as President, then run a plebiscite on a Monarchy…
    The Empress Meghan the Magnificent sounds just fine.
    But don’t upset the Prussians (sorry – Chinese).

  25. Anonymous II says

    Any reports of parishes being spied on regarding COVID protocols?

    • I know of at least one monastery that was subject to intense surveillance in the weeks before and after Holy Week last year. My information came from one of the monks living there, who found himself being used as a ‘lookout’ during some services. He wasn’t exactly sure who was spying on them, though.

    • Yes

  26. Dr Vernon Coleman (An Old Man in Chair):
    Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction –
    and Could Wipe out the Human Race


    [22 min video]

    Bad Mood Rising…

    [PS: I am not being flippant!]

    • It appears the poor fellow forgot to take his meds most days.

      • I actually meant to write Bad Moon Rising
        (thereby evoking There’s trouble on the way).
        I only noticed the error when it was too late to correct it… 🙁

  27. The Fat Emperor Podcast: Ivor Cummins on:
    The Origin of the Species – and of our Viral Issue!


    ‘ The New York Times, WSJ and all of the media have mused about the origins
    of this virus – well here we explain the actual science and data,
    and what IT actually tells us ‘

    [57:30 video]

    The data tell us the virus is almost certainly from a lab

  28. General Hospital Metaxas, Piraeus:
    “1/3 of the positives in covid-19 are vaccinated with a second dose”


    ‘ This nightmarish finding and revelation of the president of the employees at the general hospital Metaxa (oncological diseases) in Piraeus, comes to act as an adjunct to the sad finding that the increase in vaccines is accompanied by an increase in cases.

    Regarding the complaints that some of the nursing staff refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, he said that 11 of the cases are vaccinated (doctors and nursing staff) with the second dose.

    This confirms those who claim that it is a lie that coronavirus immunity is achieved even from the first dose at a rate that even reaches 95% as claimed by vaccine companies.

    This statement verifies what we have mentioned several times in pronews.gr , that there is already a country that has vaccinated about 70% of the population and yet the citizens have never taken their lives back.

    The reason for Israel which, although it has vaccinated about 70% of its population and yet continues to report many cases, even more than Greece.

    Let us emphasize here that the real percentage is more than 70%, as the Jews are about 7.5 million citizens, the remaining 1.5 million are Arabs in areas that are generally excluded and controlled in terms of population movement. … ‘

    There we have it.
    1) Get the vaccine to escape getting sick with COVID-19.
    2) Get sick with COVID-19.