Who’s Bashing Whom?

This is a great read. The fact that this was printed on a Russian website speaks volumes about the level of “free speech” here in America. Now that I think about it, that may be one reason why the Russophobe liberals in American Orthodoxy are so worked up about the supposed “corruption” in the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Six Ways Homosexual Activists Manipulate Public Opinion

Source: Православие.Ru | Brian Clowes

Anyone who is concerned about the influence of the homosexual agenda on reshaping traditional values must become intimately familiar with the major tactics that homophiles commonly employ in order to anticipate them and respond in charity and truth. Homophile strategists are very adept at manipulating public opinion with an arsenal of six tactics that are based upon deceptions and half-truths:

  • Exploit the “victim” status;
  • Use the sympathetic media;
  • Confuse and neutralize the churches;
  • Slander and stereotype Christians;
  • Bait and switch (hide their true nature); and
  • Intimidation.

One reason these tactics have worked so well is that homophile activists have succeeded in marketing a harmless and friendly image of their movement. They have lulled people into thinking that the wider society will not be adversely affected by their radical social agenda. Homosexual strategists have, in many cases, toned down their extreme rhetoric and have cloaked their agenda in soothing language. Over time, however, many have begun to think of themselves and others as “homophobes” or “haters” if they oppose any aspect of the homosexual rights agenda—or, incredibly, even if they question it in their own minds.

Generals and attorneys often wish that their opponents would write a book. Interestingly, leaders of the “homosexual rights” movement did exactly that. Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen clearly laid out this agenda in the marching orders of the movement, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90s.[1]This volume is an absolute treasure chest of information for those pro-family stalwarts who are actively engaged against the homosexual rights agenda.

By far the most popular homophile tactic is the claim to victim status, which is a very powerful, almost paralyzing, weapon that gives them a distinct advantage in the public square. Kirk and Madsen summarize the potent effectiveness of the victim status:

In any campaign to win over the public, gays must be portrayed as victims in need of protection so that straights will be inclined by reflex to adopt the role of protector. … The purpose of victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable; that is, to jam with shame the self-righteous pride that would ordinarily accompany and reward their antigay belligerence, and to lay groundwork for the process of conversion by helping straights identify with gays and sympathize with their underdog status. … the public should be persuaded that gays are victims of circumstance, that they no more chose their sexual orientation than they did, say, their height, skin color, talents, or limitations. … gays should be portrayed as victims of prejudice.

Does this sound familiar? It does if one pays attention to any mainstream media coverage of these controversial issues as they play out in law and society. But the victim status requires a story to back it up. Thus, perhaps the most common lament of the garden-variety homophile revolves around the alleged “tidal wave of anti-gay” hate crimes.

An analysis of FBI statistics on hate crimes committed against homosexuals during the time period 2000-2008 shows that the probability of any individual homosexual being the victim of a hate crime during his or her entire life span is slightly more than one percent.[2] Interestingly, “gays” are more likely to commit hate crimes against “straights” than “straights” are to commit hate crimes against “gays.” According to the FBI, there are 3.98 hate crimes committed by each million heterosexuals annually against homosexuals, and there are 4.44 hate crimes committed by each million homosexuals annually against heterosexuals.[3]

Violence against homosexuals by others gets all the press, but it is interesting to note that the great majority of anti-”gay” violence is committed by other “gays.” The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) is the leading tracker of violence against “gays” in the United States. According to the NCAVP’s statistics on anti-”gay” violence, 83 percent of all violence committed against “gays” is carried out by other “gays” in domestic situations. This does not even count “gay-on-gay” violence committed outside the home.[4]

This confusion is now pervasive in society, and questioning the agenda is simply not to be tolerated – especially among America’s youth.

For example, the classical notion that universities should be “arenas for the free exchange of ideas” has been completely discarded in the United States. More than three-fourths of U.S. colleges and universities now possess codes of conduct that ban behavior and speech based upon, including many other things, “homophobia.” The danger that these codes represent to academic freedom far outweighs their usefulness. This has already been amply demonstrated, as many colleges have severely punished students for merely desiring to debate the topic of homosexuality.

The squashing of dissenting views on homosexuality in the classroom has been going on for decades now. In 1991, a student at the University of Michigan announced his intention to establish a counseling program to help homosexuals leave their lifestyle. He was dragged before a panel of university administrators, unanimously found guilty of “sexual harassment,” and was thrown out of the university.[5] In 2000, the Student Judiciary of Tufts University voted officially to “derecognize” the Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) club for taking into account, for purposes of selecting leaders, the beliefs of a member whose views of Scripture and homosexuality were opposed to their own.[6] The TCF was stripped of funding, not permitted to use the Tufts name, not permitted to meet in any room that required a reservation, and not allowed to advertise or announce any of their events or meetings. In 2011, a Fort Worth, Texas high school student was suspended from school for reportedly saying, “I’m a Christian, and I don’t think being gay is right,” during a class discussion.[7] And teachers don’t have it any easier. In 2010 a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign was accused of “hate speech” and relieved of his teaching duties for teaching Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in his Introduction to Catholicism class.[8]

Political science professor Jean Betheke Elshtain, while highlighting the dangers presented by codes against racism, also points out the difficulties associated with all punitive codes of this nature: “My hunch is that, over the long haul, the upshot of such endeavors [college speech codes] will not be a purified, racist-free, collective student consciousness, but a simmering backlog of resentment at being labeled as a racist, even if one has never committed a racist act or uttered a racist slur.”[9]

No one should attempt to deny homosexuals their basic human rights; which are the same basic rights that we all have as being sons and daughters of God. But it has gotten to the point where we have to fight to preserve our own basic rights — the rights to free speech, religion, assembly, and teaching our own children our values – in order to protect our own families and institutions.

Those who promote homosexuality are forcibly tearing away more and more of the rights of Christians, and the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Who could have possibly imagined just a few years ago that companies would start firing people for writing pro-family articles on their own time, or business owners would be sued for refusing to participate in homosexual union ceremonies?

Now is the time to draw the line, to stand and defend our families and our rights without apology in the public square.

This article was adapted from its original version in the Spring 2012 issue of FrontLines, the official magazine of Human Life International. You can sign up to receive FrontLines here. Dr. Brian Clowes is the director of education and research at Human Life International (HLI).

[1] Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen.  After the Ball:  How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90s [New York City:  Plume Books], 1989.

[2] Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) annual report entitled “Hate Crime Statistics.”  Table 1, “Incidents, Offenses, Victims, and Known Offenders by Bias Motivation.”  http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm.

[3] Ibid.

[4] The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP).  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Domestic Violence:  2003 Supplement.

[5] Paul Weyrich.  “Politically Correct Fascism on Our Campuses.”  New Dimensions Magazine, June 1991, page 44.

[6] Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. “Victory At Tufts; Evangelical Christian Group Regains Recognition.” May 16, 2000. http://thefire.org/article/137.html.

[7] “Student’s Homosexuality Comment Leads To Suspension.” CBSDFW.com, September 21, 2011. http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/09/21/students-homosexuality-comments-lead-to-suspension-first-amendment-discussion/.

[8] Adam Cassandra. “University Reinstates Professor Terminated for Teaching Catholic Doctrine on Homosexuality.” CNSNews.com, August 1, 2010. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/university-reinstates-professor-terminated-teaching-catholic-doctrine-homosexuality.

[9] Stephen Goode.  “Efforts to Deal With Diversity Can Go Astray.”  Insight Magazine, September 10, 1990, pages 15 to 19.


  1. Ummm…George, that post header should read “Who’s Bashing Whom”, as in “Who Is Bashing Whom”. “Whose” is the possessive of “Who”, which is not what you’re trying to say here; you’re contracting “Who Is”, thus “Who’s”.
    It’s a common enough error in English usage, especially and understandably so, I find, among those for whom English is a second language learned by ear rather than by reading. I’m guessing you may have grown up speaking/reading Greek before English? Feel free to correct your headline and delete my comment as I’m not trying to show you up, just submitting to my compulsive urge to correct grammatical errors :0)

    • Basil, thank you for correcting me. You are right, even though I am native-born, I did not speak English til I was in kindergarten. Thankfully, there was no attempt by the public schools to continue to enable me and my cousins along a “bilingual” (read: Balkanized denizen) which is why I now sound like an Okie.

      • George!

        Change “Greek” to “Russian” and your experience exactly matches mine. I spent the first half of kindergarten trying to decipher the teacher’s “funny accent.” Of course, not knowing how to ask for a trip to the bathroom presented certain challenges.

        As for “gay rights,” I’m getting a bit tired of being asked to accept as “normal and natural” acts which, if they truly were normal and natural, would lead to the extinction of the human race.

        • Ken Miller says

          Indeed, the fathers are clear that even within marriage, the purpose of sex is procreation. I suspect that is what is at the root of the Catholic church’s stand against birth control. St Agustine taught that it is venially sinful to have sex even within marriage except for the purpose of procreation. Homosexual acts are not only mortally sinful, but they also have neither the protection of marriage nor the purpose of procreation. The decisive nail in the coffin is, of course, that those who do such things “shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” The fathers took that quite literally, and there is and never will be any wiggle room on that. Without repentance, there is no salvation.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

        Me too but change it to Dutch. I remember sitting in my first grade classroom looking at a pictures with English words below them but having no idea which one I was supposed to check. Half the time I didn’t understand the teacher. Great way to learn English though!

      • George, your school possibly did not even bother to teach the students formal English grammar. Surprisingly, I attended public schools which did teach old-fashioned (i.e. artificially based upon Latin) grammar. In college foreign language classes, I often was the only student who knew what was the subjunctive (and who routinely used it in everyday speech).

        P.S. It remains a hopeless battle; however, I stalwartly reject the ridiculous term “homophobe”. Never, ever in my life have I met, or read of, a person who literally is “afraid” of gay people.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Antonia, beware of defining words by their etymologies. Remember, we drive on parkways, and park in driveways. Not only that, but, in human and animal terms, fear and hate are often manifested identically.
          The mark of a dog infected with hydrophobia is often pure rage, snarling, attacking. If you really want to be careful about language and usage, that should be borne in mind.
          And maybe it’s because I’ve traveled a lot, but I have more than once met persons who were (“literally” and “illiterately”) terrified of a person they knew or had just met upon learning that they were homosexual. Not a few parents, for example, also are convinced that any homosexual is a fearsome danger to their offspring. Some children have been taught to fear homosexuals as well.
          Now, for the first time in your life, Antonia, you can “stalwartly” affirm you’ve read of persons who literally are afraid (without the quotation marks) of gay people.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Antonia, they actually tried. I have fond memories of my elementary school and the teachers were definately Old School. By the time I got to Jr High it was a heroic effort to keep us from fighting each other and High School was just “batten down the hatches” and hope these guys get out of here before they do any real damage.

          Hence, the heroic financial efforts my wife and I undertook to send our two sons to Catholic school.

          I also don’t like the word “homophobe,” it’s an irksome neologism that literally means “afraid of the same.”

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            In my rather dated “Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary,” 1991, the word ‘homo’ appears twice. The first time it is defined as man. The second time it is defined as homosexual, plural: homos.
            “Homo’ never appears by itself as an adjective meaning the same. It dates from 1929.
            Homophobia, however, dates from 1969. It means irrational fear of homosexuals or homosexuality.
            “Neologism”, itself a neologism once, dates from 1800.
            All that came from that dictionary.
            The high school I went to had a comprehensive grammar test in the second half of the tenth grade. It had 140 questions. I took it in 1947-8. Our main competitor, Saint James Catholic High School, did not have that good a reputation at the time. It was thought to be (like a military academy) a place to send not only Catholics, but anyone who was a behavioral problem or “slow.”
            We never made war on each other; however, whenever we had an athletic event, we’d usually clap when the Catholics would make(trivializing) the sign of the cross before a place kick or free shot. We were what were then called, “your average Americans.”
            Nowadays, though, such trivializing of the Cross by athletes is considered to be heroic by some;: saintly by others, and even patriotic by still others. The Cross as a desperate attempt to score one for the home team.!

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Basil, the error you noted is nowadays often the result of using speech-to-text technology.
      For example, I often compose and write letters using Dragon Naturally Speaking, which involves only my voice and not my hands in producing text. You just put on your headphones and mike and talk away, while MS Word or whatever puts it into printable form. It’s great for diaries, reminiscences, etc., and doctors use it more and more to record procedures, like operations, as these are performed. Such programs as Dragon Naturally Speaking and its Mac cousin, MacSpeech, can’t automatically distinguish “whose” from ‘who’s”, but require some training in learning the speaker’s style and habits first.
      I’ve been using that stuff for a very long time: since it first came out. Father Alexander Lebedeff (also a computer programmer), has used it as long.
      What’s most convenient is being able to record your thoughts while away from the computer or typewriter, and later hooking up your recorder to your PC and watching it appear on a page. It’s not real cheap, but it’s not as expensive as it used to be, but worth every penny.

      • Fascinating, Your Grace, but far beyond my experience with computers.
        When they develop a program that corrects human grammatical errors, I will regard it as true progress!

  2. Ivan Vasliliev says

    Well done, again, George!

    (And, yes, I’ve been known to make the Who’s/Whose mistake, too. Never trust spell check on this one!)

    A family member has struggled with homosexual desires for decades. As a rather traditional extended Russian family, we don’t talk about it publicly, but I’ve talked a lot with him privately. He’s one of my favorite cousins. He is still a faithful member of the church, too. He’s quite certain about two things: He didn’t “choose” to be gay (He says he can’t imagine anyone who would) and he doesn’t think that makes it “okay”, either ( in the sense of practicing or “celebrating” a gay lifestyle). Basically he looks at it like he has diabetes or some other illness in this broken world. His personhood is not defined by his illness, it is part of the cross he, like everyone else, has to bear. We are about the same age and in his conversations he’s indicated that there have been ‘slips’. He tells me that in those times he feels all sorts of emotions–defiance, anger (at himself and at God), but never that he has been rejected by God or the Church. In the end, all that’s left to do is seek forgiveness and try again. To me this pretty much sounds like Christian life. Whatever the struggle we have, doesn’t it follow this same pattern?

    The writer of the article affirms that no one may be denied basic human rights because we are all in the image and likeness of God. I will assume that that includes the right (in the purely civil law sense of the term) for the gay men who live down the street from me to pursue their quiet and non-intrusive lives like the rest of us. I would hate to live in a society that started hunting “non-desirables” down. At the same time, I find it uncomfortable to live in a society that insists on “celebrating” the life-style these men have chosen. As an Orthodox believer, I pray that they find the better way, even while affirming their civil right to live among us without interference. After all, there are millions of non-gay people within and without the church who live lives that are equally objectionable from an Orthodox Christian standpoint. Most of us fall within that category at one time or another. The chief difference is that most of us (believers) would be horrified if we were asked to ‘celebrate’ our sins publicly!

    These are hard times for Orthodox believers in the West. We are put in the position of reacting against a false dichotomy of defending the “right” to practice things that lead to greater spiritual sickness or being seen as “haters”. This is because we have let the discourse be taken over by others. In truth the dichotomy is health and salvation vs sickness and sin and that battle is fought out within each person. We cannot draw a line between the “saved” and the “damned” because the line is WITHIN each one of us! Orthodox KNOW this on a gut level, but the West, dominated by twisted versions of the teaching of St. Augustine (not his own teachings but perversions of it) is always trying to divide the world into two camps. In the old days it was done by religious believers, nowadays it is done by their secular descendents.

    The reason why we can’t have a sane dialogue with our opponents is that they are fundamentalist Gnostics (whether religious or secular); they can’t conceive of a world in which the wheat and the tares coexist until the Day of Judgment and they certainly can’t conceive of a world in which the battle lines aren’t between groups but within each person. So they will always end up us horrific ideologies in which someone–some group–MUST be persecuted and ultimately annihilated be they gays, or Jews, or “class enemies”, or Christians. Our task as Orthodox is to change the rules of the debate, not in the expectation that the ideologues will hear us, but for the longer term record.

  3. Diogenes says


    Within the upcoming weeks Federal Parliament is likely to debate
    whether same sex marriage should be legalized. At first we may think
    ‘well this does not affect me’. A good way to get a feel of how it may
    affect each of us and our Church is to consider the consequences in
    different areas of life or to look at overseas case studies where such
    legislation has been enacted. See below for more information:
    CANADA: Marriage Commissioner ordered to pay damages for refusing to
    marry two men. Canada redefined marriage in June 2005 under then Prime
    Minister Paul Martin. (read more).
    WHAT Are Australian law groups saying about forcing Churches to marry
    gay couples (read more)
    CONSEQUENCES for the ideal of biological mother-father parenting (read
    THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Catholic adoption agency closes –
    adoption & same sex couples (read more)
    Canada redefined marriage in June 2005 under then Prime Minister Paul
    In the same year, Saskatchewan marriage commissioner Orville Nichols
    refused to perform a wedding for two men. Taken to court, it was
    declared that he did not have the right to refuse to perform the
    wedding, and he was ordered to pay $2,500 to one of the men. In July
    2009, Nichols lost his appeal, with Justice McMurty ruling that the
    Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission had correctly “established
    discrimination” and that: accommodation of Mr. Nichols’ religious
    beliefs was not required.’
    In 2011, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejected proposed amendments
    from the Saskatchewan Government that would have allowed commissioners
    such as Mr Nichols to refuse to marry same-sex couples for reasons of
    One of the proposals was that only those commissioners who were
    employed before the law changed to allow same-sex couples to marry
    would be exempt; this proposal was also dismissed. The Court of Appeal
    said that giving marriage commissioners the ability to refuse to marry
    same-sex couples would be “contrary to fundamental principles of
    equality in a democratic society” (Re Marriage Commissioners Appointed
    Under The Marriage Act (2011) SKCA 3, [161].)
    It appears that same-sex marriage legislation ensures that even
    fundamental rights such as religious freedom, guaranteed under the
    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Canada’s
    Human Rights Charter, are not safe.
    In New Mexico, which still defines marriage as a man-woman union,
    photographer Elaine Huguenin was found guilty of unlawful
    discrimination by the New Mexico Human Rights Commission when she
    declined to photograph a “commitment ceremony” for two women.
    Huguenin, who runs her photography business from home, was ordered to
    pay over $6,000.
    New Jersey has also not redefined marriage, but does have a same-sex
    civil union scheme. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Christian
    retreat, refused a request from two women to use the resort for a
    civil union ceremony. Judge Solomon A Metzger ruled that it was not a
    religious freedom issue, and that “some intrusion into religious
    freedom” is necessary to “balance” other goals.
    A submission from the Discrimination Law Experts’ Group recommended
    ‘We believe that the religious exceptions should be removed because we
    do not accept that religious rights should prevail over the rights of
    individuals to be treated in a nondiscriminatory way in public sphere
    The Equality Rights Alliance recommended that exceptions:
    ‘for religious organisations which would enable them to discriminate
    on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity should not be
    included in the consolidated [anti-discrimination] Act’.
    The Human Rights Law Centre was particularly harsh on religious
    exemptions. It acknowledged:
    “with disappointment… the Government’s pre-determined position on
    the maintenance of permanent exemptions for religious bodies” and said
    such exemptions are “manifestly inappropriate and inconsistent with
    Australia’s human rights obligations and international best-practice”.
    Consequences of same-sex marriage for children – Best interests of
    The first serious consequence of redefining marriage would be to
    remove the ideal of biological mother-father parenting. Not only would
    this ideal be removed from the law, but it would send the message more
    broadly that our society does not value motherhood and fatherhood, at
    least not highly enough to protect in law.
    As Girgis, George, and Anderson argue in the Harvard Journal of Law
    and Public Policy:
    “If same-sex partnerships were recognized as marriages, however, that
    ideal would be abolished from our law: no civil institution would any
    longer reinforce the notion that children need both a mother and
    (Sherif Girgis, Robert P George, and Ryan T Anderson (2010), What
    is Marriage?, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol 34, No 1,
    pp 245-287, p 263.)
    In Massachusetts, parents are unable to remove their children from sex
    education classes that teach views on sexuality that differ from their
    own. Since legalising same-sex marriage in 2004, teachers often
    normalise homosexuality in sex education, and teach its equivalence to
    In 2006, Catholic Charities in Boston were forced to close because of
    a law that would have obliged the adoption agency to place children
    with same-sex couples. The redefinition of marriage in Massachusetts
    meant that Catholic Charities would have had to go against clear
    Catholic teaching.
    Archbishop Speaks on Marriage Bill
    The Head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, Archbishop
    Stylianos, has authorised the release of a webpage opposing the
    suggested change to legislation which, if accepted by Parliament, will
    legalise the marriage of same sex couples. The proposed bills all seek
    to alter the current definition of marriage according to Australian
    law, which is identified by the Marriage Act 1961 to be “the union of
    a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered
    into for life”. Currently under inquiry by the House of
    Representatives, the three bills advocate that this definition be
    amended to allow marriage to encompass the union of two people
    regardless of their sex and hence accord these married same sex
    couples the identical rights as heterosexual married couples.
    The canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Episcopal Assembly of Oceania
    sent a response to House of Representatives Committee investigating
    the proposed bills, expressing their strong opposition to the
    advocated changes to the institution of marriage. The Episcopal
    Assembly’s statement maintains that:
    “Marriage is regarded above all as a sacrament that has been
    instituted by God who created man and woman in His own image and
    likeness. There is a strong biblical basis for this view, and the
    position of the Orthodox Church worldwide (not only in Australia) can
    never depart from the teaching of Holy Scripture”.
    Archbishop Stylianos has released an encyclical that will be read in
    all Greek Orthodox Churches in Australia in June, stating that:
    “the proposed alteration to the traditional form of marriage (between
    a man and a woman) is diametrically against the sacredness of marriage
    and of the family, as taught by the Christian faith and Greek Orthodox
    His Eminence entreats all Christians not to remain indifferent, but
    that it is the “sacred duty of every responsible member of our church”
    to request their local Member of Parliament to vote against the
    Marriage Amendment Bills when it is debated after the winter break.
    While Liberal Party Leader Mr Tony Abbot has already declared that his
    party will stand against the bills and has prohibited his party from
    submitting a conscience vote, Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard has
    declared that she will allow ALP representatives to vote according to
    their conscience.
    Orthodox Christians are called to voice their concern as the issue of
    same sex marriage has gained momentum.
    Three bills allowing gay marriage in Australia were introduced in
    federal parliament in February this year and a vote by federal members
    of parliament is imminent. Last year, the federal Labor Party changed
    its party platform in support of legalizing same sex marriage while
    also allowing its members a conscience vote on the issue. At this
    point, the Liberal Party will not allow a conscience vote.
    The vocal gay lobby claims that the majority of Australians support
    same-sex marriage and, as such, parliamentarians ought to vote in
    favour of the bills.
    The Christian voice cannot remain silent and must be heard. It has the
    potential to make a difference and influence the position of the
    As such, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has blessed the
    establishment and launch of a website about the issue as a vehicle to
    help the faithful promulgate their voice.
    His Eminence, Archbishop Stylianos, has released an encyclical that
    will be read out in all the Greek Orthodox parishes later this month.
    It can be viewed on this website.
    The encyclical urges the faithful to send a protest email to their
    local member of parliament and to express their belief in the
    sacredness of marriage only between heterosexual couples.
    The website provides easy steps to follow to send an email to a local
    member of parliament. It is imperative that each person make only one
    submission otherwise we run the risk of being dismissed and ignored.
    However, if there is only one email address, each member of the family
    can use the same address to send a protest email.
    This issue, in our difficult times, is a challenge we cannot ignore
    and an opportunity to witness to our faith.
    The vote in parliament is imminent. The call to action is urgent.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I think we want to stress that HOLY Matrimony, or Crowning, is limited to those who are married by an Orthodox Priest in a canonical rite. As for unholy matrimony, that is, all those secular and heterodox rites, all Orthodox Christians should be warned that anyone who enters into unholy matrimony is forbidden the Mysteries and blessings of the Church.

      As for those contracting Matrimony that is not Holy and not Crowning: we should pray for their repentance and conversion.

      • Bishop Tikhon said “as for unholy matrimony, that is, all those secular and heterodox rites, all Orthodox Christians should be warned that anyone who enters into unholy matrimony is forbidden the Mysteries and blessings of the Church.” What exactly does that mean? I decide to convert, my spouse doesn’t.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Your Grace, do you hold that marriages outside the Church are unholy and therefore not really marriages?

        What of someone who had several civil marriages and then later came to the Church, would her prior marriages prohibit being married in the Church after her conversion?

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          Well, I see I should have said “not holy” matrimony, rather than unholy. I apologize and hope I’ve clarified it.

          marriages outside the church should not concern the Church, unless they are contracted by Church members, who are thereby excommunicated. As for what happens with married converts, the Tradition is, apparently, not fixed. I believe it was St. Ambrose of Milan, no slouch where canonicity and theology are concerned, he answered the question this way: “All sins are washed away in the baptismal font. Marriage is not a sin. Therefore married converts should not be re-married. However, we all know that the Antiochenes, among perhaps others, routinely require convert couples to be Crowned in Church after being received into It.
          My basic point is that the Orthodox Church should not try to control everything outside her. The Roman Catholic Church has no such scruples and no limits to their control of people’s lives. The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t want ANYONE, atheist, Buddhist, Scientologist, etc. to be allowed to use contraceptives.
          I feel the Orthodox Church should not control or try to control who, outside the Orthodox Church, gets married. It is a great and sometimes holy struggle just shepherding our own flock: Why run over and use your staff on sheep from another fold? Is our own house really in order?

          • George Michalopulos says

            That’s an interesting point, Your Grace. I especially like your quote from St Ambrose. An excellent polemic in just one sentence.

            However I disagree with your contention that the Church should not try to “control” those things “outside” it. That’s how we got rid of dueling, slavery, child-labor, most forms of corporal punishment, etc.

            • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

              George, when you say “we got rid of”, you surely don’t mean through the CHURCH’s control?

    • As someone presently resident in the fair land of Australia, Diogenes, I can add that the present “feeling” here is that authorizing same-sex marriage would be a “bridge too far” for what is after all a minority government (i.e. in the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy a government which relies upon the votes of parliamentary members not of its own party political persuasion to keep control of the Treasury benches) with a tenuous hold on power. Why, even the avowedly atheist Prime Minister is publicly against SSM. Furthermore, the “feeling” and more crucially the polls strongly suggest that said minority government is very likely to be summarily dismissed by the electorate when an election is called next year. If so, the conservative party which will win government at that election is decidedly against same-sex marriage, which will set back “the cause” politically for at least a decade, depending on the size of the majority they win. Which is all to say that this particular hot potato is very much “up in the air” at the moment. Not that I have a crystal ball – just providing some context for you and others, since you mentioned it.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Quebec has just established a “Registry of Homophobic Acts” run by a homosexual organization but funded by tax dollars.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Michael, sometimes I feel like we should just give up on the whole Freedom of Speech thing. It’s not like the Brownshirts and their secularist allies really believe in it. What’s depressing to me about this essay was that the writer correctly noted that free inquiry/speech is not tolerated in most American universities today. He’s 100% correct. What good are colleges for then? Isn’t education, science, etc. all about free inquiry?

        • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

          The role of free and independent inquiry outside of the hard sciences has shifted to journals, think tanks, etc. Better thinking is being done there then in the universities.

          • M. Stankovich says

            And you are able to support this contention how?

            • George Michalopulos says

              Yes. Larry Summers, formerly president of Harvard, questioned the fact that there women in the “hard sciences.” He wondered why this was; he thought it required inquiry. He was roundly kicked out even though he abjectly apologized no less than five times.

              Galileo, call your office.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Dr. Summers is the former president of Harvard University, not because he questioned women – you are suggesting it was a matter of “gender bias” – but because of his reasoning behind his epically moronic statements. You can apologize, repeatedly, for errors of gender bias and it might be but a footnote in your biography. Epic moronic reasoning results in the Ivy-League letter-sweater “P”: pariah. “You’ll never work in this League again.” Not the best example you’ve offered, Mr. Michalopulos.

                • MS, what you describe is a distinction without a difference. A well-connected, liberal, Democrat office-holder, academic, and eminence grise of the Establishment, wondered why women were not represented to any significant extent in the “hard sciences.” Maybe he was maladroit about how he said it.

                  So what?

                  Challenge him! Prove where he was wrong (if he was wrong). But they didn’t. They just threw him overboard. Even the Inquisition which tried Galileo took months to investigate his findings. He was afforded counsel and allowed to present his views. Summers was just thrown out the window without so much as a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

                  (BTW, I’m not a fan of summers, he was one of the Harvard Boys that went to Russia during the Yeltsin presidency and looted close to a trillion dollars from Russia. But that’s a story for another day.)

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    Mr. Michalopulos,

                    You cannot be aware of the academic response, just from his own university faculty, and claim they neither challenged him or proved him wrong. They beat the pants off this guy! He didn’t “wonder” about women in science, he asserted that women are less likely to commit themselves to the rigor necessary for “high-end” positions (ignoring that they are compensated significantly less than male counterparts when they do); argued that women lack “intrinsic aptitude” attributable to genetics (which is borne out in neither science nor standardized aptitude test scores); and rejected discrimination as a factor because women would then segregate to “non-discriminating” universities (without admitting that “well-endowed,” private schools such as Harvard can discriminate without scrutiny because they can afford it). Lawrence Summers is an economist. It was 2005.

                    Summers’ comments were available internationally the day he made them, and he himself provided the full faculty a transcript nearly a month before their joint meeting. Epic moronic reasoning was compounded by his reliance on the media to “explain,” and defend himself. Summers wasn’t thrown out the window, Mr. Michalopulos, he jumped. And I can’t imagine any woman shed a tear for him.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              James Q. Wilson and the Manhattan Institute laid the groundwork for welfare reform

              The Manhattan Institute provided the theoretical basis for the “Broken Windows Theory’ (the revitalization of neighborhoods and the crack down on petty crime leads to the revitalization of cities) adopted by Rudolph Gulliani that turned around New York (See: How New York Became Safe: The Full Story).

              The Heritage Foundation and the relationship between poverty and the breakdown of the family.

              The Buckeye Institute is doing a lot of the research for pension reform in Ohio.

              The list goes on.

          • Daniel E. Fall says

            To suggest that better thinking is being done in conservatively biased think tanks than universities is really not something you can support factually. We can give citations back and forth for days on such a subject matter. You are taking a FoxNews approach, where you want something to be factual and you support it with a piece of evidence that doesn’t make it false, but doesn’t make it fact.

            If you hadn’t said better; you wouldn’t be getting this response. I am just intolerant of b.s., especially coming from a priest.

            Now, all that being said, I agree with the broken window concepts in part and that is why I steadfastly believe wealthy landlords need to answer to government for collapsing buildings which is an important part of social order.

            • Daniel, so much here. Let me just take apart your last baseless assertion: It is not landlords who break windows on purpose. That would be hoodlums.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              That’s been studied too. Rent control led to the loss of middle class housing in Manhattan. Owning property became unprofitable and landlords abandoned their buildings.

              And no, it’s not a “Fox News” approach. Got to get your mind away from the television, Daniel. Let me suggest starting with two of America’s premier journals:

              City Journal

              The New Atlantis

              When you are ready to discuss ideas, we can talk.

              And no, if a point does not meet your liberal criteria does not mean it is “biased.” It means it is conservative. Using the term “biased” presumes that a standard of objectivity inherently exists in the left-wing position. We both know that is not true.

              • George Michalopulos says

                For what it’s worth, my dad was a landlord and I never saw him throw a rock through one of his rental units. Come to think of it, I’m a landlord too. Never even thought about doing that myself.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Like the well behaved tennants of the govenment school system who on a recent field trip to the 9/11 memorial dumped all kinds of trash and garbage into the reflecting pools and even attemted to bring in live ammunition.

              BTW Daniel, puntive regulation alone does little or no good in recovering neighboods. What does good is assisting the tenants and owners to gain the skills, the pride and the knowledge to care for places. Government can do that, but rarely does because it views such actions as ‘to expensive’

              It is not the class struggle that is the problem, it is the focus on the material rather than the human, the forensic power rather than coopertive community building.

          • Fr. Hans, when you said better thinking is being done in think tanks & journals as opposed to universities, I’m assuming that applies across the board–conservative, as well as centrist and liberal think tanks and journals? And what do you attribute this to?

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              I gave my examples above. Frankly, when it comes to this kind of thinking, the terms liberal, centrist, and conservative don’t apply. For example, the only “liberal” solution for the revitalization of cities is, well, there is none. Same for welfare reform, which is why Clinton signed the Republican solution (the Democrats have no answer to institutionalized poverty except to attack any challenge to it).

              Put another way, the reason the universities have such paltry answers (exceptions exist of course, but here too the thinking is primarily “conservative’ — Robert P. George, Thomas Sowell, etc.) is because most of them are wrapped up in defending a failed status quo.

              About the only think tanks that exist as “liberal” alternatives is the Brookings Institute which has some respect even in “conservative” circles, or the Center for the American Progress which is basically a Progressive activist group although much more careful about not appearing as blatantly partisan as, say, Media Matters or groups funded largely by George Soros or the Tides Foundation.

              ideas have consequences Logan, which means some ideas are better than others. That conservative think tanks offer the most compelling ideas is not because they are “conservative,” but because the ideas are compelling.

              • M. Stankovich says

                And for every action there is a reaction. What are the consequences of the “revitalization” of the City of New York? The courts are flooded with cases of racial profiling, systematic harassment of the homeless and poor, systematic police brutality and harassment, uncontrolled police corruption, and the “penal colony” of Rikers Island operates at double and triple-capacity, all so white people can go to the theater without having to see people sleeping in doorways. In San Diego they call ii “renaissance”; when the Padres are in town, the homeless move to their “second home” blocks away, so as not to disturb the illusion of “Family Nights” at the ballpark. It’s “conservative” magic: Poof! The homeless disappear. I would run into a AIDS clinic patient in lower Manhattan I hadn’t seen in a while: “Where you been, man?” “Cops put me on the bus to [New] Jersey and I couldn’t get back.” Cracked me up every time I heard it.

                Sure, the NY Times reports some movie star had a rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper-Eastside, paying less than half the monthly market rate in rent. The original idea was help soldiers returning from World War II get a start. But now, the vast majority of rent-controlled apartments are held by elderly, fixed-income white people who have lived there continuously since the 1970’s and the Emergency Tenant Protection Acts. These people could never afford to stay in their homes, and de-control would result in the single largest event to precipitate homelessness in US history. And who is funding the current drive to repeal the laws? The real estate industry and the “conservative” Cato Institute.

                I read your story, Abouna, and the ideas are so compelling that my hand automatically checks to see if I still have my wallet and watch.

                • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

                  If I lived in California I’d hang on to my wallet and watch too. Your state will end up declaring bankruptcy, just as Stockon did yesterday. It’s the only way out of the mess that liberalism has created for itself. That won’t happen in the states with more traditional values which includes recognizing that the root causes of crime, homelessness, and the other problems is due to the collapse of the family. You implicitly argue that the problems are best addressed by the ideas that contributed to their rise in the first place. No thanks. Been there, done that.

                  Some startling facts:

                  63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.

                  90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.

                  85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)

                  80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)

                  71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)

                  Father Factor in Drug and Alcohol Abuse

                  – Researchers at Columbia University found that children living in two-parent household with a poor relationship with their father are 68% more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs compared to all teens in two-parent households. Teens in single mother households are at a 30% higher risk than those in two-parent households.

                  70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)

                  85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)

                  Father Factor in Incarceration

                  – Even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds. A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39% of jail inmates lived in mother-only households. Approximately forty-six percent of jail inmates in 2002 had a previously incarcerated family member. One-fifth experienced a father in prison or jail.

                  Father Factor in Crime

                  – A study of 109 juvenile offenders indicated that family structure significantly predicts delinquency. Adolescents, particularly boys, in single-parent families were at higher risk of status, property and person delinquencies. Moreover, students attending schools with a high proportion of children of single parents are also at risk. A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent

                  Father Factor in Child Abuse

                  – Compared to living with both parents, living in a single-parent home doubles the risk that a child will suffer physical, emotional, or educational neglect. The overall rate of child abuse and neglect in single-parent households is 27.3 children per 1,000, whereas the rate of overall maltreatment in two-parent households is 15.5 per 1,000.

                  Daughters of single parents without a Father involved are 53% more likely to marry as teenagers, 711% more likely to have children as teenagers, 164% more likely to have a pre-marital birth and 92% more likely to get divorced themselves.

                  Adolescent girls raised in a 2 parent home with involved Fathers are significantly less likely to be sexually active than girls raised without involved Fathers.

                  43% of US children live without their father [US Department of Census]

                  90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]

                  80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice & Behaviour, Vol 14, pp. 403-26, 1978]

                  71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]

                  63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]

                  85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]

                  90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]

                  71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]

                  75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]

                  70% of juveniles in state operated institutions have no father. [US Department of Justice, Special Report, Sept. 1988]

                  85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia jail populations, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992]

                  Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems. [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999]
                  Census Fatherhood Statistics


                  The problem is fundamentally moral. The legacy of the Boomer generation, besides the 40% of their children they aborted, is the human despair they left in their wake. Your solution is what? — to point to the wreckage in order to justify continuing the policies that helped create it in the first place?

                  I call that the Planned Parenthood approach. Flood the inner cities with money and distort the natural economy so that the destruction of the Black family is aided and abetted for no greater cause than to make white liberals feel good about themselves. Then build abortuaries to both hide and profit off the destruction while justifying it all in the name of compassion. Who wins here? Hint: it’s not the poor. White liberals can feel good about it though.

                  Did you know that when you remove the fatherless factor from incarceration rates that black and white rates are proportional to their populations?

                  The old ideas have been tried and found wanting. Grandma and grampa knew a thing or two.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    I suspect you’re going to get a bill from Google.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      Ah, yes, the old “give me facts, facts and more facts” man who will only accept certain facts that have been meticulously scrubed of any meaning or context. When faced with any facts he doesn’t like, he denigrates the source and the person using them. Only the carefully controlled set of facts with which he agrees will be admitted to evidence. That is not dialog.

                      Mr. Stankovich, “…there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy”

                      Why don’t you respond to this fact that Fr. Hans offers: Did you know that when you remove the fatherless factor from incarceration rates that black and white rates are proportional to their populations?

                      Everybody selects facts and fact sets that support their arguments (even scientists) while rejecting or minimizing facts and fact sets that tend not to support their argument or contradict it. Some sorces are more accurate than others. However, if (gee I’ve heard this from someone somewhere) if you have a dispute of fact, please point out where you think Fr. Hans is in factual error and name your sources. Beyond the facts themselves however is the selection criteria, the manner in which the facts are prioritized by value and importance, how they are arranged and presented. Most important of all is the context, the set of assumptions and pre-suppositions that are used that underlies all of the fact handling I mention.

                      The assumptions, pre-suppositions and premises are what should be examined and critqued. Unless of course the facts are so obviously bogus that there is a obvious case for declaring the proposal bogus on the face of it. Even in such a case, however, a great deal can be learned about the overall argument by examining the assumptions.

                      Most ‘fact oriented’ people with whom I have engaged over the years tend to be quite rigid on what they even consider as facts. If they don’t like certain facts, they reject what they don’t like as even being facts. Odd, don’t you think?

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      My point, Mr. Bauman, is that “facts” are true within context. When you say “this was helpful” but don’t say it also had a lot of “unpleasant side-effects,” who can judge? As I have said, it is a foundational principle of statistics: the smaller your sample of data, the less reliable the inferences you are able to draw. Nevertheless, integrity would suggest that, even when you come across data that is not “supportive” of your hypothesis, you are bound to acknowledge it. Some would suggest that to do less is, in fact, deceptive.

            • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

              What do I attribute it to? People serious about ideas will inevitably move (from your point of view) rightward. The left has very few credible ideas anymore. Ironically, Obama has done more to drive this point home than any conservative could have done.

        • Michael Bauman says

          George, folks in general don’t like freedom, they want license to do what they want to do (isn’t that our fallen state).

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          George has something there. The illiberal people all disparage universities’ research on climate change, global warming, the environment, and so on.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Because it is often fraudulent, agenda driven drivel designed to gain money and power.

            Does that make me an ill-liberal or just ill your Grace?

            Ah well, idiotology makes us all ill I think.

  4. This otherwise great article loses me when it starts speaking about Christian rights. That term doesn’t make any sense – it’s often mentioned along with other 25 cent pop-sociology terms like culture wars, secularism, other BS-isms. I think we need to be a bit more escatological. Be thoughtful, be humble, speak the truth the best you can as one individual to other individuals. If it gets you kicked out of school or fired then apply somewhere else or work somewhere else – what a great opportunity to be a witness. Where does it say “Blessed are they who vote for politicians that promise to put policies in place that give me the right to express my beliefs without being challenged by the world”? Boo hooo.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      The problem is when you get kicked out of school or fired, and try to apply or work somewhere else and you can’t get in AT ALL because you’ve been effectively blackballed, or willing employee or academic institution intimidated into not taking you on. Remind me again, how did that work out for people clinging to religion in the Soviet Union?

      • They became saints.

        • Ivan Vasiliev says

          Many were divorced by their spouses and cut off from family and friends (sometimes under pressure, often because being associated with an “enemy of the people/class enemy” brought consequences for anyone attached to them).
          Many were sent to camps.
          Many were murdered.
          Many went just plain crazy.
          Many got chased out of their country.
          Not all became “saints” as the term is commonly used, even if they were “confessors”. The cost was immense and profoundly unjust and cruel.

          I’m not so sure that your response, Mike, takes into account the “lived reality” of those who endured it. I, for one, am not willing to sit back and let it happen to me or to my loved ones. I think we need to speak up while we can. Even if the committed ideologues won’t listen, they don’t have the power that the Soviet state had–yet. And there are still millions of good, compassionate, and just people in this country who will give us a hearing, even if they don’t always agree with our beliefs. It is one thing to take a political/social stand on an issue; it is quite another to demand punishment for those who disagree with you. This applies to ALL “sides” in these debates (right, left, whatever). This country is grounded in the belief that free speech, open debate, personal opinion, and religious convictions are not just cause for firing people from their jobs, exiling them from educational institutions, and isolating them from society as pariahs. That these kinds of things are happening at all is cause for grave concern and we need to confront the perpetrators BEFORE they can acquire the full strength of the law. In a real sense, we are seeing the mirror opposite of what happened in the 1950’s to leftist opponents of the system in academia and the arts. It was unjust to persecute them and it is unjust now to persecute people who hold traditional beliefs. In the end, I don’t think this country will tolerate the wholesale persecution of any group–at least not in these post-Civil Rights days. But, I do know, silence is NOT the answer.

          • By saints I meant all of the martyrs and confessors and regular people that suffered and struggled and through it saw God.

            I think we should speak up and confess our faith boldly, most importantly by our lives, by our speech, by our understanding as we, as individuals, interact with other individuals around us. I don’t think we can “outsource” it.

            The article above is excellent. If we know the tactics of the world we are better prepared to explain its fallacies. Perhaps my reaction/understanding to the word “right” is too narrow or incorrect. But to me “Christian rights” seems to imply that we are exploiting the “victim” status ourselves. What bothers me most is that clamoring for our “Christian rights” means that we are relying on someone else to enforce those rights for us, and that does not seem to be consistent with (most) of the lives of those on our calendar. It seems cowardly.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      pop-sociology terms like culture wars, secularism, other BS-isms?

      Really? Each of these terms refers to a readily identifiable thing. Those who use these terms know exactly their point of reference.

      Why the disparaging?

      • Fr. Reardon,
        Because I think they obfuscate rather than illumine. They take complex issues full of nuance and boil them down into things that is easier to talk about and write about. It’s like a map, which can be useful, until you start mistaking the map for the reality and start seeing people in groups instead of individuals full of diversity and complexity. That’s my theory – I disparage the isms to try to keep myself from making the mistake – I admit I read too much Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Mike, you’re correct but still it’s an insouciount (dare I say “flippant”) approach to take. No, I don’t believe justice prevails in this world but that doesn’t mean that the injustice can’t be corrected or at least identified.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I agree with Mike R. that as Christians we have no rights whatsoever. We deserve nothing, and everything we receive from God is in spite of our unworthiness, not because we have a “right” to it. Esau thought he had “rights.” Where did that get him?

      • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

        Rights are not a matter of what a person “deserves” but what God imparts. Life is the greatest gift. When a person fights against evil in defense of that right to life, he does the work of God. He affirms light over darkness, truth over a lie. Rights then, properly understood, have a concrete albeit communal reality and thus appropriate cultural forms and expression.

        • Monk James says

          I’ve often wondered how we can have a ‘right to life’ when — as accurately noted here — life is a gift of God.

          Who ever had the right to receive a gift?!

          Perhaps pro-life/anti-abortion rhetoric would better be expressed in more precise terms such as that once we actually exist, even in embryonic form, we have the ‘right to LIVE’ and to continue living until the Lord sees fit to call us to Himself.

          • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

            Well, even “gift” doesn’t cover it since “In Him we live and move have our being.” “Gift” implies an equal standing of sorts, when in fact our very very existence (not just biological life) has its source and continuence in God. So yes, I get your point, but I think the term “right to life” covers it too.

            Thinking about it a bit more “right to life” does point to the transcendent, to something beyond the authority beyond the individual challenging the life of another. “Right to live”, ISTM, is too fraught, too susceptible, to utilitarian contingencies. “Life” has more of an objective connotation.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Your Grace, while you are right within the context you are using, it is not the same context in which public/civic rights is used and often miss-used.

        In U.S. Constitutional terms ‘rights’ are what cannot be violated by government because they are given by God as part of our humanity and indeed as an integral part of what He created us to be.

        In modern legal/poltical terms ‘rights’ are what a government grants or what you can get a jury/judge to believe.

        Although quite different the two types of ‘rights’ are frequently and intentionally confused by the political ‘rights’ peddlers of our time (from all areas of the political spectrum).

        When those who support a baby’s right to be protected by governement (for instance) rather than sacrificed on the altar of barbarism, they are simply saying the government has an inherent obligation to protect the most vulnerable of its people. The obligation of the government to do so is not based in law, or politics, it is based in our own God-created human nature.

        The three inalienable rights deliniated in our Declaration of Independence that are declared to come from God and that government is obligate to protect are: Life, Liberty, and prusuit of happiness. At the time Jefferson wrote, ‘happiness’ was generally construed to mean a life of virtue that was in acord with natural law or Providence. Happiness did not mean the licentious prusuit of carnal pleasure, profit or power or the ability to live off the commonweal. In fact, government was obligated to prevent and/or punish those of drastically deviated from a life of virtue or attempted to take from others their life, liberty or property. (How things have changed)

        There is nothing inherently un-Chrisitan with rights properly understood. And last I checked, there is no inherent obligation on Chrisitans to allow government to destroy human beings lives, livelihoods and liberty just ’cause we “don’t have rights”

        It could be argued that the Declaration of Independence is implying that if a government does not fulfill its inherent obligations as ‘instituted among men’ (by God), then the governed have an obligation and a duty to overthrow the government by any means necessary. Jefferson seemed to think this, at least at the time. Why? Because the ultimate responsibility to govern is vested in the individual human person and the state has no authority apart from or above the people it governs.

        This point of view is quite at odds with the utopian idealists that feel obligated to force folks to do the right thing and monarchists who feel only the elite can properly rule.

        Three perspectives here: 1) the Biblical perspective founded upon the revelation of God and our position in His community as created/dependent beings; 2) the Founders/Enlightenment understading of God, man, and society; 3) Those who have placed the state at the apex in which the state is both the arbitor and the grantor of ‘rights’

        #3 is a counterfeit that has historically led to great devastation especially among Christians and our communities.

        One can argue quite a bit with the Founders understanding of man and his proper role in creation, but at least there is a clear path to allow each person, without any interference from government, to work out his salvation in fear and trembling with his neighbors.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse says

      Mike R.,

      I am reviewing a book called “Road to the Temple” for the Acton Institute. It will be published next month sometime. It is the first history of the the deep self-examination by Russians within Russia of the Soviet system under Perestroika during the Gorbachev era.

      You should read it. The suffering was not as neat and tidy as you seem to think. Some examples, parents were hauled off to prison camps and their babies we left to starve to death in their homes. Mothers were ripped away from children. Sometimes both parents were hauled off and the children were left orphaned and alone. The evil and brutality are close to incomprehensible. That some were able to rise above this and become Saints is a miracle in itself.

      Suffering, indeed all of human experience, expands far beyond any kind of quantification we try to impose on it. Don’t rely on Taleb to comprehend human experience. It can’t be done. Read some history to balance your views and avoid the fallacy of believing that what you don’t understand doesn’t have any objective value or meaning, or worse, concrete existence.

      Roads to the Temple: Truth, Memory, Ideas, and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991

  5. Ashley Nevins says

    On Sunday night June 10th and at approximately 2:45 AM Scott Nevins took his life at St. Anthony monastery in Az. He was 27 years old and had been in the cult for 6 years prior to recently leaving. The cult stole 6 years of his life and did great harm to him emotionally and spiritually.

    Gods only alone right and one true church cannot be wrong. Those who say there is a problem are made the problem for pointing out the problem. Therefore, there cannot be any blood on any GO hands. It does not matter if it is youth with Katinas or youth with Astoria NY monks. The Greeks and their church are Gods only alone right and one true church and that covers all.

    Greek Orthodox cult mind control that damages and/or destroys the minds of youth is the GO youth ministry outreach to America. I got the proof. Anyone want to deny my proof???

    Who do you think the diocese and the monastery will blame since both are Gods one true church and cannot be wrong? You don’t think they will say it was all Scott’s fault, do you?

    I called bishop Gerasimos at noon today. The diocese had not heard the news. You would think they would be the first to know, you think? I broke it to them. The bishop was not in and I do not expect him to call me. Orthodox mercy and grace at its finest.

    Go be right, Orthodox. Go be right.

    Ashley Nevins

    • George Michalopulos says

      Ashley, I am so sorry for your loss. I pray for God’s mercy and that he may confort those who grieve for him.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Ashley, my prayers are with you and your son. I cannot adequately express my own sorrow for your loss.

      May God comfort you in your grief.

    • I’m very sorry for your loss. Sadness beyond words . . .

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        I second the comments of Colette and others.

        This is terribly sad, and I will pray for the boy and his grieving family.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I second George’s expression of sorrow and condolence. Suicide almost always produces enough guilt and blame to fill up the universe. It’s especially horrifying when a chosen refuge fails as such and death is seen as the last and apparently only resort.
      Ashley, God can be trusted…

      • Jane Rachel says

        Vladyka: Absolutely true, and I know because I’ve been through it. This comment “It’s especially horrifying when a chosen refuge fails as such and death is seen as the last and apparently only resort” is helpful because I hadn’t seen it in quite that light before, and yes, horrifying is the word for it. No one except those who have been through it directly can even remotely imagine or begin to know how horrifying it is. I suppose that’s one of the reasons anger lingers for so long. My thoughts, paltry prayers, and so forth go out to all reading this who have been through “it.” There’s no word to use for the devastated living left behind. What are we, survivors? I guess we are. Ashley, all the best to you and your family in getting through the pain. It will get better as time goes by. The sun will rise tomorrow, so “just keep swimming.” Get as much help as you need, take care of yourselves. There are plenty of online discussion groups that might help you when the fog clears a bit.

        To Ashley and all affected by Scott’s death: I am SO SORRY (filled with enough sorrow to fill a universe) for your loss.

    • Anna Rowe says

      Mr. Nevins,
      Peace and courage.

    • Ashley, I am terribly sorry for the loss of your son. Your son and your whole family will be in my prayers.

    • Mike Myers says

      Ashley, I’m so very sorry this terrible tragedy has taken your son from you, the rest of your family, his friends and all those who knew and loved him. I’ve been to St. Anthony’s many times since my first visit in 2006. In fact, my plan had been to begin an extended pilgrimage there this Friday, my first one in nearly three years. I’m certain you can easily understand that this is deeply disturbing and disheartening news to me, especially under these circumstances (I’m reading your post very early in the morning on Wednesday the 13th — the first I’ve heard about the loss of your son. I had only finalized my plans to vist the Monastery mere hours ago, Tuesday afternoon.) My prayers are and will be with you and yours, for whatever they may be worth.

      I’m worried about you, though, because the tone of the announcement here of this tragedy sounds numb and detached, and I hope you’ll have the support you’ll need from family and friends if and when the death of your son hits you in an even more pronounced and perhaps more deeply painful way. I know of course that you’ve thought and felt for many years that your son had been damaged physically and spiritually by the human darkness and fallenness and delusion that in your view was refracted through Scott’s exposure to some aspects of a particular type of Greek Orthodox monasticism imported to America (a darkness and fallenness and susceptibility to delusion that all of us struggle with, both in ourselves and in those around us — as I’m sure you know). And so perhaps his death in this way may not come, as yet, as quite as much of a shock to you as it does to those of us who haven’t experienced and lived through what you have. I hope Scott’s mother is holding up through this terrible time, too.

      You and I have interacted a bit in the past here on this list, but if you have any interest in talking to me in person privately, you can call my mobile phone, 949.677.0016, any day after 7 a.m. and before 8:30 p.m. PDT, or you can e-mail me today (Wed.) or Thursday. From Friday on I’ll probably have only sporadic internet access until early July.

      Again, my sincerest condolences to you and your family and to all of Scott’s friends.

      • Mike Myers says

        As someone with significant personal experience of the fathers of St. Anthony’s Holy Monastery — over a number of years and from many visits (comprising nearly 90 days already), I feel compelled to add that I am absolutely certain these men must be devastated by this. I’ve never encountered such a concentration of radiant interpersonal sensitivity, lovingkindness and Uncreated agape, so much Light and Grace, anywhere else, ever, in my life. In my own experience, this place is like Heaven on earth, paradisiacal. With few exceptions these men and this community are a spectacular witness and foretaste of the Kingdom of God. My visits have brought me next to nothing but overwhelming blessings, many new friendships with people from all around the planet, and some of the most beautiful memories and days in what had already been an unspeakably rich and blessed life in God’s grace. I joyfully testify that I owe my ascent to a new level of blessedness to the Holy Spirit Whom these men and the pilgrims they attract, from all over His good Earth, have shared with me, in Christ. And I thank God for them every day.

        I felt I had to say this, too, even though I’m more saddened than I could possibly express in words about Scott’s death in this holy place in this terrible way.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Unlike you, I’ve never had the blessing to attend St Antony’s but I know others who have and they would heartily second your appraisal. Even from a position of ignorance, I must concur with your assessment about the devastation that that brotherhood must feel.

          If anybody knows Scott’s monastic name, please inform us so that we can pray for God’s mercy.

          • Heracleides says

            Just returned from visit at St. Anthony’s Monestery.
            Spoke with monks about suicide. Much not
            disclosed by Ashley regarding Scott’s very
            troubledhistory, including mental illness,
            departure from monestery/noviate nearly
            two years ago,subsequent return requesti ng
            financial aid, exulsion from the grounds and
            later inability to return (viewed as divine protection
            by some at monestery). I am informed that the
            Brotherhood did all it could to assist Scott
            and have been greatly sadddened by his suicide.
            My prayers to all affected – both Nivens family
            AND the brotherhood.

            Pleasse excusse typos,grammer, etc. – am
            posting via Nook ebook reader.

    • Lola J. Lee Beno says

      My sympathies. I’ve known people who had a suicide in their family. And my cousin, who I didn’t really know that well, took his own life. It is particularly hurtful, and I pray that you and your family will be supported by other people’s prayers.

      • What a very sad tragedy indeed. May God have mercy and may all who are affected by this horrible news find consolation and strength from the Lord.

        Over the previous 6 months, Scott has posted a number of comments to various YouTube videos concerning the monastery and Elder Ephraim, saying that the Elder is “a satanist”, “is from satan”, and “is demonized”; that the monks he buries do not experience rigor mortis because “the monks get buried alive”, that the Elder is “on drugs”, and other such wild assertions that are indicative of a greatly troubled mind. Scott started his own anti-Elder Ephraim website as well, and solicited testimonials to help “expose” the Elder, but either he didn’t receive any testimonials, or perhaps he didn’t have time to post them before his tragic demise.

        God alone knows what took hold of Scott and led him to such a tragic end. We must certainly pray fervently for all who are impacted by this tragedy, and all who may find themselves in a condition similar to what Scott has experienced these past months since departing from the monastery.

    • Joanna Higginbotham says

      Is there going to be a funeral?
      joannahigginbotham at gmail dot com

  6. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    What are “Russophobe liberals?” Is this a new development?
    I know about Russophobe Greeks and Russophobe Poles and Russophobe Ukrainians, Russophobe Muslims, but I confess I’ve never imagined them to be liberals. In my time, it was Russophile that was a very dirty word thrown at liberals!

  7. Ivan Vasiliev says

    Иногда я просто не понимаю–Sometimes I just don’t get it!

  8. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    While I presume you might have considered I would take issue with the contents of this essay – and I have never heard of Dr. Brian Clowes or Human Life International (HLI) – I would make several comments regarding methodlogy and process.

    My first thought in reading this essay was déjà vu all over again, recalling its origin in the evolution of the 13, 14, 17, leading to the 25 Techniques for Truth Suppression originated by David Martin and furthered by Michael Sweeney. Apparently, Dr. Clowes feels comfortable “borrowing” without attribution, suggesting that he didn’t want to disclose that the original accusation of “tactics” was not directed at the homosexual agenda, but at the Republican Right. I have been quite vocal in my objection to “disinformation” methods and the failure to identify sources of “information.” But for heaven’s sake, Dr. Clowes accuses tactics of “disinformation” by plagarizing the scholarship of a third party?

    Secondly, in drawing upon the tactic of “impugning motives” by assuming the role of “victim,” Clowes refers to the FBI statistics for victims of reported hate crimes, with the specific “bias motivation” being sexual orientation:

    An analysis of FBI statistics on hate crimes committed against homosexuals during the time period 2000-2008 shows that the probability of any individual homosexual being the victim of a hate crime during his or her entire life span is slightly more than one percent.[2] Interestingly, “gays” are more likely to commit hate crimes against “straights” than “straights” are to commit hate crimes against “gays.” According to the FBI, there are 3.98 hate crimes committed by each million heterosexuals annually against homosexuals, and there are 4.44 hate crimes committed by each million homosexuals annually against heterosexuals.[3]

    I took the available raw data from 2005 – 2010 (only because it was available without hand-extracting data) of hate crime victims and combined male-homosexual, female-lesbian, and those victims generically identified as “homosexual” into one group, and all victims identified as “heterosexual” (male or female) into another group. From the FBI data, for the period 2005 – 2010, there were a reported 8913 “homosexual” victims of a hate crime, and 56 “heterosexual” victims of a hate crime. Using this data, how did Dr. Clowes determine that there are, in fact, more hate crimes committed against heterosexuals by homosexuals per million? He didn’t. His statements are totally contrived. To reach such a conclusion, you would first need to know the number of homosexuals in the US – 4.4 hate crimes committed per million homosexuals of how many million homosexuals? 5 million? 10 million? 25 million? In the case of stigmatizing identities such as homosexualities, attempts at estimations of prevalence are always thought to be, at best poor. And as if not satisfied, Clowes adds the straw man of gay-on-gay “domestic” violence which is significant to the argument how? And what is the correlary of heterosexual “domestic” violence and its influence on hate crime? Apparently it is insignificant. I stop at this point because the manipulation makes me sick.

    Footnotes are as good as the sources they cite, Mr. Michalopulos, and I will say again that you do no service to legitimate research by publishing those that are purposefully misleading.

  9. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    M. Stankovich, I really appreciated “deja vu all over again!”

    An even better one is “Vuja de”: that feeling that you’ve never been here.
    What’s another word for thesaurus?
    Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?’
    Never lick a gift horse in the mouth.

  10. Matrimony is a sacrament, marriage is a civil contract. Maybe he could not model for his employer but he surely took a stance, not unlike Rosa Parks. Don’t doubt for a minute he didn’t know the consequences of his actions. You seem to be resistant to the idea that that rights he’s appealing for are “equal rights”, not unlike Rosa Parks. I’m no more certain of his motives than you are, but I commend him for his willingness to take the risk! How do you know that the Church’s position on marriage will not change, unless you are privy to information we mortals do not possess. If anything he’s is demonstrating how the Church needs to re-examine its position on homosexuality. Trust me, the science and psychology about same sex orientation is right around the corner. People are genetically predisposed in their sexual orientation, it is NOT a choice!

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Silver Price claims, “You seem to be resistant to the idea that that rights he’s appealing for are “’equal rights’, not unlike Rosa Parks.”

      No, VERY unlike.

    • Patrick Henry Reardon says

      Silver Price insists, “How do you know that the Church’s position on marriage will not change, unless you are privy to information we mortals do not possess. If anything he’s is demonstrating how the Church needs to re-examine its position on homosexuality. Trust me, the science and psychology about same sex orientation is right around the corner. People are genetically predisposed in their sexual orientation, it is NOT a choice!”

      Ah, the force of metaphor.

      In the mind of Silver Price, the heroic efforts of Rosa Parks for racial equality become a metaphor (“not unlike”) by which to argue for the “civil right” of a homosexual to some sort of mock-marriage, in which a person’s anal cavity (or whatever) is “not unlike” a vagina.

      Well, okay, let’s stick with metaphors, if we must.

      Indeed, simply for the sake of argument, let us suppose a genetic origin for the homosexual impulse.

      The presumption of a genetic origin for the homosexual impulse doesn’t change a thing. The Church traditionally regards this impulse as an affliction—something from which to be healed.

      If, for the sake of argument, some folks are born homosexual, let us also observe that some folks are born blind. If Silver Price is correct, then I wonder why we decline to give blind people a driver’s license.

      Let us be careful of our metaphors.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        I agree with our Church’s stance on homosexuality; however, I think the Church’s stance is harmed when resort is made to fuzzy thinking. I consider Father Reardon’s resort to the purpose of the anus to be that kind of thinking. I believe that female homosexual couples do not use their parts to penetrate each others’ behinds; neither do all male homosexual couples resort to anal intercourse, according to what I’ve read on the topic since at least 1953 or so when Kinsey’s report on the American male came out.
        Even if it were true that ALL homosexuals would practice such buggery, resort to anatomy as providing information about God’s intentions is very problematic. I’ve always wanted to ask one of the Intelligent Design or Intelligent Creation folks just what intelligence informs male nipples.
        I personally hold the conviction that God made creatures that evolve to survive. This might indicate that male nipples are evolutionary leftovers.
        Men and women are moved by sexuality. Further, In ONE sense, we are all born “omni-sexual”; that is, we may be sexually aroused by almost anything: a tree-trunk, a cucumber, a sheep, too-tight whities, and so on. Solitary masturbation is always homosexual to the max, with only an accompanying mental/imaginative process, and not the anatomy, playing the main role.
        The common, even pedestrian, resort to “mental imagery” to determine “sexual orientation” is quite flawed.

        One might be entirely repulsed by the imagery of same-sex activity and fail to show arousal. At the same time, in prison, one might be amazingly and “willy-nilly” aroused by another body of the same sex, in the dark (or not).

        Which is to say that we must be guided by what we have received in the Holy Tradition, not on this or that public, political, psychological, statistical, research or ideological arguments or passions.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Your Grace, I only wish to point out one assertion regarding ID and leave the others alone for the moment: having been pre-med I was well-steeped in the sacred texts of Darwin. We were told that random (Darwinian) evolution must be true because we modern humans have “vestigial” organs. Since then, we have found that none of our organs are vestigial. The appendix for example is a vital part of the immune system. The coccyx is a necessary bony platform for the pubic muscles in the female, making childbirth easier. Etc. The male nipples are a vestige but of the fact that all fetuses start out anatomically female until the Y chromosome kicks in.

        • Patrick Henry Reardon says

          Bishop Tikhon writes, ” I believe that female homosexual couples do not use their parts to penetrate each others’ behinds; neither do all male homosexual couples resort to anal intercourse.”

          I defer to the bishop’s understanding of these matters.

      • M. Stankovich says

        “If, for the sake of argument, some folks are born homosexual, let us also observe that some folks are born blind. If Silver Price is correct, then I wonder why we decline to give blind people a driver’s license.”

        Perhaps on account of the “ravages of senility” you missed post-Mendelian Genetics 101, where, I suspect, you would be quite surprised at how few human characteristics are believed to be directly determined by an identifiable “genetic marker.” There are no legitimate medical researchers who would even suggest that anyone is born – meaning pre-determined – homosexual. We only posses limited information by way of the mechanisms by which we have determined the majority of human characteristics to be under genetic influence: pedigree, inheritance, and twin studies.

        If by “pre-disposed,” Silver Price is suggesting that some individuals appear to have inherited, familial risk factors under genetic influence that interact with psychological, environmental, and spiritual factors – referred to as epigenetic – that result in same sex attraction that is neither their wish nor their desire, but is, in fact, their sexual orientation, I completely agree. While fully acknowledging that all things are possible, and thanks be to God Who has delivered any and all from this condition by whatever means, it is unlikely and even rare to “change” sexual orientation, particularly in this group. It bears repeating: is it impossible? No. Is it statistically probable or likely? No. In saying “it is not a choice,” however, is most certainly not to say we condone same-gender sexual activity, or the obligation to walk the path of chastity and “right-mindedness” to which we are all called.

        In my mind how does “the Church need to re-examine its position on homosexuality?” Orthodox Christians with same sex attraction do not belong in NARTH and Exodus and reparative therapies and other unproven, perhaps terribly emotionally traumatizing experiences. We would not think twice about refusing to send our children to these heterodox charlatans for Christian “education,” so why would we entrust our children to them for unproven “sexual reorientation?” They belong in the Church, the Fountain of Healing and Holiness. If you say, “We lack the resources,” then we need to create them.

        Rev. Fr., if you could pause your incessant sarcasm and silly analogies, you might be less likely to speak to what you do not understand.

        • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

          So Michael, when are you going to admit that same-sex attraction and same-gender sexual activity are not “mutually exclusive”? And that you were wrong to insist repeatedly that they are?

          • M. Stankovich says

            M. Stankovich says:
            November 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM

            That your stance is apparently to pursue and interject until I address this issue – suggesting my integrity or veracity should rise or fall on this single point – let me be clear: my application of the concept “mutually exclusive” – as typically employed in logic, mathematics, and statistical probability to indicate that one condition cannot exist in the presence of the other – refers specifically to the two “labels,” “descriptors,” “badges,” “tags,” the combination of words that result in these phrases “same-sex-attraction” and “same-sex sexual activity.” My objection is to the employment of these labels as if they were “synonymous,” equivalent in meaning; yet, fully appreciating the statistical possibility that by saying they are “mutually exclusive” admits they may equally be wrong. Obviously, I am confident in assuming that risk. Time will tell. While I am well aware of the fact that “attraction” is associated with “action” – and perhaps is more characteristic than not – to label homosexuality, defined as “attraction,” as if it were interchangeable with the label activity is error.

            Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says:
            November 17, 2011 at 3:31 PM

            Behavior and thoughts are in no way “mutually exclusive,” and only an idiot or a con would say they are.

            Why can’t Stankovich just admit that he has overstated the distance between SSA and SSSA?

            Why is pushing them apart so important to him that he misses the absurdity of his words?

            Why should we trust his opinion of NARTH’s reliability when his own unreasonable bias is so plain?

            M. Stankovich says:
            November 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM

            I am an idiot and a con – albeit a good one. Yours was the last word.

            • Dn Brian Patrick Mitchell says

              Thank you, Michael, for continuing to undermine your own credibility with the nonsense above. You now claim that everyone understands “mutually exclusive” the way you do, when in fact nobody does, since you understand the term to mean simply not synonymous.

              Now when are you going to admit that same-sex attraction and same-gender sexual activity are not “mutually exclusive”? And that you are wrong to continue pretending that they are?

        • Michael Bauman says

          Mr. Stankovich: I agree that those who stuggle with homosexuality need to be in the Church. But I don’t think we need ‘programs’ other that concentrating on the spiritual formation of our epicscopal candidates, our priests and through them the rest of us. We also need to encourage and teach parents how to do the same for their children and provide ways for young people to be traditioned into the life of the Church (not just the activities of the parish).

          Intact families with fathers who lead and mothers who mother (rather than farming it out to others) will reduce many of the problems we see today, IMO.

          • Michael,
            I also agree that those struggling with homosexuality should be in the church. But I DO think we need more than the priest and the parishioners for this struggle. In many parishes there are too many needs in the congregation and the priest is only one man who may or may not know how to address this struggle. Special programs-especially ones that are within Orthodoxy create a support system for them and give them a concrete plan on how to deal with their struggles.
            I agree with your last sentence, but we need to address persons who didn’t have that.

            By the way I know more than a handful of persons who identified themselves as “gay” in college who chose to not be so, whether they went through a program or not (several did) and today do not identify themselves as such. Most are married with children. They struggle like the rest of us.

            • M. Stankovich says


              I absolutely agree. That is why I was encouraged by the work of Mamalakis and Williams as they presented in the Ancient Faith interview. These men obviously demonstrate the unacknowledged and “unconsecrated” talent and resources available throughout the Church, and it seems to me reasonable to expect the hierarchy to identify and utilize this talent.

            • To clarify, I did say “struggling”. I am not at all referring to persons who want to change our teachings and/or are proud about their sin. That is something different entirely and I think Andrew would agree.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Do people choose to be Alcoholics? Do people choose to be Drug Addicts? Do people choose to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder over certain things or activities? I personally had to live with OCD. The constant hand washing that I did, the nail-biting down to the numbs and the continuous and repetative checking and re-checking if I closed the front door to my house was exhausing and frustrating to my parents, and the countless other things I did growing up. I also cannot begin to tell you the “Germ” or “Infected” feeling I would get that would paralize me if someone touched me that I felt was dirty.

      You think I still have OCD? Yes, but its greatly under control. However, to this day I cannot mix my food. I eat my chiken first, then my rice, then my corn. I never mix and IF i do my dinner is effectively over sometimes, NOT all the time. WHY? Because I UN-became what I became, and I am still working on it to this day. Now I do not have the endless routines, the endless hand-washing or checking the front door. I still have a few quirks, but NOT what I had.

      Do I still get feelings of OCD that build under pressure? Absolutely, but I learned how to release the pressure without giving in to my OCD.

      All this things are compulsions that can be controlled. Did I have a genetic predisposition to it? Maybe, but its just that a predisposition NOT a Genetic Determination. I control my behavior NOT my genes. That was drilled into my head and it still with me to this day.

      So what one becomes one can also unbecome its only a matter of will and desire. I’m not saying its easy, its tough, but it can be done.

      Just my 2 cents. Bye.


      • Geo Michalopuls says

        I agree with you Peter. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen how people succumb to disorders (if I go more than two days without smoking my pipe or a cigar I become grouchy) because of external pressures. No, I don’t think people become murderers because Mommy made them eat broccolli but the stresses of the world make us want to seek some type of solace outside of ourselves.

        You’re right, I could “undo” my tobacco desire but it wouldn’t be easy. Having said that, what we are talking about here are the “passions” aren’t they?

        • George Michalopulos says

          Of course my wife would insist that I have other compulsions as well. If nothing else, I’ve been told that I could always serve as a bad example.

      • Peter A. Papoutsis says:
        June 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

        So what one becomes one can also unbecome its only a matter of will and desire. I’m not saying its easy, its tough, but it can be done.

        Is not that the truth that the ‘story’ of St. Mary of Egypt reveals to us?

        • Michael Bauman says

          I rather think that St. Mary of Egypt reveals to us that will and desire in and of themselves are not enough. The grace of God in needed which requires repentance. True asceticism lies in realizing the source of our life is not in the material, but in God alone especially when we struggle with passions that are deeply rooted.

          There is no indication in the story of St. Mary of Egypt that she did not need to continually stuggle with the fleshly passions. Sometimes, we are called to struggle in this life and accept the little victories as sufficient.

          • Ivan Vasiliev says

            If I recall the story correctly, St. Mary struggled mightily against her passions for many years in the desert. Only later did peace come by the grace of God. Imagine–even all alone in the desert she struggled with the desire to go back to her old ways! Only faith and grace kept her going and, in the end, grace and mercy gave her peace. We can apply this to any passion. The sexual ones, though, always seem to get disproportionate play. We treat them as if everything else pales by comparison. Yet, as we all know, there are many other sins which can be committed against our own bodies (St. Paul was perhaps suffering a lapse of awareness when he chose to allude only to the sexual ones in I Corinthians. Gross obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc., seem quite somatic, to me at least). They are all passions that distract us from the “one thing needful”.

            Every untamed passion is idolatrous (whether it is for food, alcohol or drugs, wealth, or sex). We have campaigns in this country against obesity and addiction, but for some reason sexual promiscuity and deviation (I use the word carefully) are untouchable. At best they are dealt with as medical problems or psychological issues, mostly they are treated as human rights concerns without any moral value attached. Something is wrong with this picture. As I said before, sometimes I just don’t get it!

            • Interesting how she didn’t partake of the holy cup till the end of her life. In other words she didn’t take communion while she was still in the midst of her struggle, but took it when she had found peace, after how many years of struggle? When she was prepared.

              • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says


                if you carefully read you will see that St. Mary also partook of the Holy Mysteries before going to the desert, and did not struggle in the wilderness without the Grace of having received the Gifts.

                St. Mary’s struggle was indeed to prepare for Communion, but also to preserve the Grace of having received as well. Same as the rest of us, really. The peace she found in her desert struggle enabled her to take Communion, but was also itself enabled by her having received Communion already.

                Fr Yousuf

                • Yep you are right. She took it after her great repentance and change of heart. And then later before her death. So scratch my first sentence, the rest I maintain.

          • Ken Miller says

            I agree that St Mary of Egypt is a shining example of how repentance, humility, ascetic struggle, and God’s grace can transform a person’s sexual lusts. I would not, however, sell short the heights that she had achieved by the end of her life. Zosimus was considered one of the most holy monks of the era, and he recognized St Mary as more holy than he. Having read the account several times, I don’t remember any evidence that she still struggled with lust at the end of her lifetime. She was a true saint and had achieved dispassion. Of course, she still considered herself unworthy because of her former deeds, but that humility is part of her greatness and her sainthood. This slightly different take on St Mary does not diminish Michael’s point – I think it magnifies it. If we follow in St Mary’s footsteps, God not only helps us in our ongoing struggle, but with persistence, it is possible to move past the struggle to conquer our passions and achieve glorious dispassion.

  11. That’s a nice post.

  12. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Papoutsis,

    I appreciate you making this disclosure, and you raise several very important issues.

    OCD is officially (meaning for insurance billing purposes) a mental disorder. Nevertheless, it is probably the mental disorder most investigated and determined to be influenced by genetic variance. Does this mean it was pre-destined or pre-determined or even predesposed that you would have OCD? No. Does it mean you were at a higher risk than others because of environmental factors interacting with your genetic risk? Most likely. Will your children be at a greater risk for OCD? More likely. Did you “will” OCD? No. Did you “choose” OCD, even unconsciously? No. Was it “caused” by an “event” or negative circumstance in your life? No. Is it “punishment” for something you did? No. Is it a sign of an underlying character weakness or personality flaw? No. Are you weak or unable to cope? No. Is OCD from or of God? No. “Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (Jn. 9:2) No one.

    As I have written before regarding homosexuality, we are created as biological-psychological-social-environmental-spiritual beings in symphony, in wholeness, and in total. OCD occurs in the context of the whole person. How can we explain that some individuals with OCD are dramatically helped by a simple medication if it were just an expression of “passion?” I believe that an adequate resolution will be found in an assessment for medication, learning some simple behavioural techniques, and practicing the Orthodox Faith.

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Hi Michael:

      Thank you for your post. I completely agree with your position and with your comments in general when it comes to the interplay between genetics, socialization and environment. I think the main point of disagreement I, and I do not think we truly disagree in this regards, is in regards to “change of Behavior” or “Mutability” of behavior. I do truly believe that all behavior is changable if the given individual desires such a change.

      In my case, my OCD is so strong that it took over a significant part of my life fo a span of 8 years. The urge, and I mean URGE to clean and order my room and house in general, and my several other routines, were in many ways a living inprisonment. It was only when I realized that the prison was one of my OWN creation that I started to heal.

      As you stated “practicing the Orthodox Faith” was directly the game change in my life and specifically, reading and re-reading 4th Maccabees along with developing a deep and abiding prayer life is what kept me sane for many years. After this, the routines stopped, the nail-bitting reduced and my strict devotion to the “Jesus Prayer” almost every night saved me.

      I do not know if cured is the right word, but I have a 3 1/2 year old boy that just discovered my Star Wars collection, Yes I am a fanboy, and I found him one day scattering my orderly collection and he even opened a few un-opened Star Wars figures that I have had for a very VERY long time. In the past such a scene would have literally paralized me, and thrown me for a complete loop where I would have blinders on and would not have heard or seen anyone or anything until all was set back in order and put back in their place.

      Guess, what I did? I hugged my son, gave him a big kiss and did not care about the colored pieces of plastic and walked away letting him enjoy himself. Heck I even tore a figure open and let him play with it. Don’t worry I took all small pieces away so he wouldn’t choke and kept an eye on him from afar.

      My wife, who knows about my OCD, was completely amazed! So was I. I just realized that I created that prison, a true prison of passion, and I did not want to go back to it. I wanted to live! I wanted to love my life and love my kids. And it just clicked. From 1989 to today I have been free of the harmful and evil effects of OCD and I have been the better for it. For those that do not have OCD I cannot explain the desire and draw that certain activities have and the releif that they provide once done. Many describe it as a rush as if taking drugs. I have never taken drugs so I don’t know for sure.

      Now I have a family member that also suffers from OCD and still does. I have tried to help, but he needs and is getting professional therapy for it and tips on how to deal with it. It was just a few years ago that he was able to leave his house WITHOUT doing a certain number of routines and even eating something other than his certain designated foods. Yet, he is a non-practising Orthodox Christian and has no prayer life.

      I truly believe that the practice of our faith helped and saved me from the various passions and desires I had through OCD. I cannot emphesize enough the importance of 4th Maccabees in my struggle with OCD. If it wasn’t for my own struggle with OCD I would not have truly understood why Orthodox always looked to 4th Maccabees for inspiration and help in regards to controlling one’s passions and desires.

      In any event, thanks for the post Michael. I found it really illuminating, and after reading it closely I do not think you or any of us really disagree on this issue from an Orthodox perspective. I could be wrong and I might get flak over it, but it just MHO.

      Take care.


  13. cynthia curran says

    Sorry to hear that Ashley. may your son rest in peace.

  14. Ashley Nevins says

    Laity members of the Greek Orthodox Church of America I come to you today to share with you the most recent experience we had with Bishop Gerasimos. I called his office three times this week and on three different days this week. He was not in the first time and too busy the next two times. I tried to arrange a specific time that we could talk. The diocese could not seem to make that a priority, but they did assure me that he would call.

    We are trying to deal with our sons remains, personal effects and the like in another state, but we are sure the bishop has more important priorities and so he could not make a phone appointment with us during this busy time in the life of Gods alone right and one true church and salvation. The GOA is growing at such an exponential rate I am sure that he is all tied up with its greater development in his diocese.

    We did receive a voice mail of condolences from the bishop today and while we were away. My wife also got an email from him. Orthodox mercy and grace at it finest. He cannot wash the blood off of his hands. He was told and he did not listen. He is of Gods only right hierarchy and so he is the most spiritually wise and mature. We were just heretic trouble makers to him and therefore expendable to the greater calling of slave labor development to prop up the cult monastery.

    He did not ask us to call him back or offer any kind of help or support. He is a bishop and so his words are all we need. He is of the direct spiritual line decedents of the Apostles and so his words bring healing and peace. You merely hear his voice over the voice mail and all is made whole, well and healed. You have to only read his words in an email and all is reconciled and made perfect.

    Orthodox, do I strike you as a man who is afraid of any bishop or Patriarch? Do I strike you as a man who compromises with church corruption, spiritual abuse of power and the destruction of the sincere in faith? Do I strike you as someone who cowers in fear to corrupt authority that masquerades as authority from Holy God? Do I strike you as someone who would not expose’ the corrupt in public?

    Bishop Gerasimos was told to his face and by us that the elder is a cult leader, the monastery is a cult and that it was doing great harm to our son. We were uncompromising with him at the diocese meeting in 2006 and he threw us out. My wife then stood in front of large bay window at the posh Pacific Heights S.F. Diocese and wiped her feet off in front of them all.

    The Orthodox do not listen. They do not have to listen. When you are Gods only alone right and true you only have to listen to yourselves in your closed, isolated, subjective and top down authoritarian structure and system. When you are Gods alone right and one true church you are the objective standard of spiritual measure that determines what is Christian or truth before it. That is exactly how the corrupt church has treated us from the beginning. We know of sex abuse victims treated exactly like this by the GOA hierarchy and they also treat all parents concerned about their children with the elder the same.

    Gerasimos wrote the 17 Articles of Monastery Regulation and I would not line a bird cage with them. It would poison the foul. Ditto the GOA sex abuse policy. Both are worthless shams designed to deceive the GO into believing that there is Christ centered moral and ethical transparency and accountability with consequences in the GOA. Pull back the window dressing and anyone can clearly see the con game being played with peoples spiritual lives and who are victims of GOA spiritual abuse, spiritual abandonment, cult abuse and sex abuse.

    Satan is a liar, thief and murderer. He first used the cult to lie to our son, then once the lie was believed the cult stole his mind, will, emotional and spiritual life away from him. Then once that was completed Satan murdered our sons mind, will, emotional life and spiritual life. He sucked out his inner self like a black widow spider and left him an empty husk in the web of the cult.

    Scott was a 19 yr. old teenager convert with no parish life experience and the church IMMEDIATELY put him into an isolated cult monastery where he was then placed under mind control and control milieu. He was told to not think for himself and to obey without question. He was told this was the Orthodox path to Gods only alone right and one true salvation. They believed this was Gods calling on his life and we knew it was not. Of course, who are we and what do w\e know when Gods alone right and one true church is your spiritual life calling. We are nothing but expendable heretics to the cult. What do we know in comparison to Gods only alone right and true special ones like the elder and bishop?

    We have a picture of Scott at his high school graduation. Full of life, enthusiasm and brilliant potential. We also have one of him at the monastery under cult mind control 18 months later. The comparison is scary stark. We know have a morgue picture of our son with his head blown away. Do any GOA think that if I showed you those pictures in their sequence that you would then believe me when I tried to tell the GOA it was destroying our son? Will you believe me now??? Not even pictures this gross will bring change to the GOA.

    We now can see the end result of Eastern Orthodox cult salvation. I told all of you and you did not listen. Are you listening now GOA? No you are not. The spiritually apathetic who are carnal corrupt and indifferent can only hear their idolatry of what makes them carnal corrupt. They only hear their idol of corruption and all are expendable to the idol. All are expendable to the propping up of the corruption. It is corruption over Gods people and the GOA is dying a slow, ugly and painful death because of this. It is found in a corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state of sick systemic sex and cult corruptions that are enabled by the apathetic and indifferent who are spiritually dead.

    Feeling bad and being sorry is not repentance that changes a corrupt system to a holy system. Of course, what do I know? I am not Orthodox. I am a heretic to Orthodoxy and critic of its corruptions that murder emotional and spiritual life. I know exactly who the real heretics are. I see right through all of you and your church.

    It was the YEAR OF THE FAMILY in the GOA the year that our son was cult recruited into the deception and delusion of the ephraimite cult. So, write me off as an emotionally distraught father. Find the excuse, rationalization, blame or justification over how your church destroyed our sons capacity to recover from the cult mind control damage done to him. Make him the problem and do not look into the mirror.

    I will talk to the corrupt bishop. I promise and all of my promises to the Orthodox come true. All of them.

    Ashley Nevins

  15. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    I dislike dramatic but misleading (and probably untrue) pronouncements,like the following one by M. Stankovich: “Is OCD from or of God? No.”
    I refer him to Isaiah, through whom God said this (Isaiah XLV: 5-7):
    “I am the Lord , and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none else. I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

    • M. Stankovich says

      What you refer to is what the Fathers describe in the phrase “as it was in the beginning.” I refer to the consequences of the broken world of our disobedience and sinfulness. He created us in His very “image and likeness,” which certainly did not include OCD.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Did you mean “consequences of our having been tempted?” Was it Eve’s OCD that caused her to grab that apple? Did this include DD (Disobedience Disorder)? Or was there another force at work? Seems to me that’s Zoroastrian, along with Satan. If we were created with freedom of choice, there would have to have been something else to choose, right?
        Please, give us ONE citation from a Father which uses the phrase “as it was in the beginning” which you said they use to describe something or other.

        • M. Stankovich says

          Perhaps you are a drole?

          I am not your research assistant. Hint: “I’ll take St. John of Damascus for $100, Alex.”

  16. Ashley Nevins says

    Greek Orthodox laity of America, you will hear from me one more time and after I have confronted the corrupt bishop over his part in the destruction of our sons mind, will, emotional life and spiritual being.

    He was told in no uncertain terms that the cult monastery was destroying our son and he did nothing to stop it. He is a cult enabler, spiritual abuser and he is as dangerous as the guru cult leader elder. He is corrupt and the entire hierarchy is corrupt.

    It is the laity carnal spiritual apathy and indifference that allows all of this go on with impunity. Sex abuse and cult abuse enablers is the GOA laity. The spiritually, morally and ethically dead laity is as corrupt as the hierarchy or none of this would go on. They are not powerless to stop, but at the same time they are powerless to stop for being the sick enmeshed enabling that allows it to destroy lives right before their eyes. Period.

    The Greek church is unsafe, unhealthy and diabolical in its thinking. The systemic corruption has reached a point of no return and the GO laity can only expect to stay in a corrupt and failed state as a result of the sin they enable, support and LOVE.

    In a few months and after I expose the bishops conversation with me here you will get one more post from me and when it comes it will be very publicly obvious why it came. I will come out of no where and from a place and time least expected. Wait, watch and see.

    The GOA has blood on its hands and it is not going to wash off. This is not going to go away and no excuse, rationalization, justification or blame is going is going to work. I promise and all of my promises to the GOA come true. All of them.

    The Greek Orthodox hierarchy and laity have screwed with the wrong father. A real father has zero tolerance for what attacks and then tries to destroy his family. He has zero tolerance for those who destroy youth and who refuse to stop the destruction.

    Orthodox, feeling bad or sorry is not repentance that leads to systemic change of the sexually and cult corrupt system of the GOA. It does not heal what it damages or make whole what it destroys. It is quite hollow and empty at this point and after ALL of you were warned of the cult and hierarchy corruption that was destroying our sons inner emotional self and spiritual being. Oh, but, now you feel bad and are sorry.

    This is typical Orthodox, too little too late and people are harmed or destroyed. Then everyone is shocked when the abuses result in destruction of lives. Yet, the GOA laity does nothing to stop it. You are without excuse before God and God is going to deal with your church severely. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. The state of the GOA tells me that there is a mill stone around it proud stiff neck and Gods vengeance is clearly seen. It is going to grow ever worse and it is undeniable why your church is in this state of corruption that is destroying it. What is destroying it destroyed our son and the GO will deny that. That denial is the GOA self destruction.

    The corrupt GOA refuses to listen. Now is the time to listen. Your sin denial is what destroyed our son.

    Ashley Nevins

    • Mr. Nevins,

      I am so sorry for your loss and your pain. I will pray for both your family and your son.

    • Dear Mr. Nevins,

      I grieve with you.

      But I am not convinced – yet – that our corporate (as the body of Christ known as the Orthodox Church) “sin denial” is what led to the death of your son.

      Three years ago, my sons and I had the pleasure of working with your son in the trapeza during the week of our first pilgrimage to St. Anthony’s Monastery. He was very kind to us. My son fondly remembers Ioannis’ gentle humor during the time when they were making cookies together. The memory of the welcome that Ioannis and the other monks gave to us was an incentive for our pilgrimage the following year.

      I have come across some of your postings on the net over the years. I remember reading the one when you rather triumphantly announced that your son, a novice monk had left the monastery. I didn’t know at that time that your son was the novice known to me as Ioannis.

      Even when the horrific news of the death of your son was hitting the internet, I didn’t make the connection. It was my son who connected “Scott” with John/Ioannis for me. My family is heartbroken. We pray for him.

      My horror and sadness have been compounded by your repeated and almost crazed fulminations against not just St. Anthony’s Monastery, but our Holy Orthodox Faith. It is my belief that you have misplaced the blame.

      After all, you succeeded in “rescuing” your son from the monastery. He left it behind. He was no longer a novice. He was back in your care. He enrolled in college in Oregon.

      What happened to him after he left the monastery to make him lose hope and give in to despair to the point of no return?

      I have come across some of Ioannis’ postings, his comments on youtube against his former Elder and going even further against the Christian faith and against the Lord Jesus Christ. There was a familiar pattern within these nonsensical posts that has raised a warning in my mind.

      The posts read to me like false memories. They made me think about anti-cult deprogrammers, specifically the ones that I have heard about on the West Coast.

      It occurred to me that you might have engaged the services of an Exit Counselor (a.k.a. “Deprogrammer”) in order to help your son get over his experience of the monastery (in your mind, a cult).

      There is an infamous deprogrammer in Oregon named Marion Knox. Do you know of him?

      He is a self-proclaimed “deliverance counselor” who practices Repressed Memory Therapy (RMT) and is well known in “Christian” counseling circles . He has been sued for implanting false memories of abuse (spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse) during therapy sessions in those who have sought his services. These false memories have resulted in the destruction of families.

      Let us know that Scott/Ioannis was not subject to any Repressed Memory Therapy, deprogramming or any other anti-cultic therapy that could have planted false memories in his mind that put him over the edge and made him lose all hope.

      If you are going to continue to try to make a clean case to us that the Greek Orthodox Church through the ministrations of its most vital monastery in the U.S. is indeed solely responsible for the death of your son, then you are going to have to tell us as to what happened to Scott/Ioannis after he left the monastery behind. It should only make your case stronger, right?

      • Mr. Nevins,

        On June 21, 2012, The National Herald published the news: Troubled Monk Apparently Commits Suicide in Arizona by reporter Theodore Kalmoukos.

        The article quotes a phone conversation between Scott and Elder Paisios:

        Paisios revealed that “on Monday June 4, he called me and threatened me saying ‘I will blow your brains with a gun.’ I told him that it would be good for him to go and see a psychotherapist. He told me that ‘I already had gone and I am well.’

        Who is this “psychotherapist” who had been treating Scott after he left the monastery? Might he/she have had an influence in Scott’s behaviour after he left the monastery?

        Did you give the name of this therapist to any of investigative bodies (e.g. Pinal County Sheriffs Dept./DA; National Herald; Pokrov; GOA Metropolis of San Francisco) who are looking into the circumstances of your son’s life after he left the monastery?

        • Mr. Nevins,

          According to Scott’s obituary in the Modesto Bee, he was enrolled at Chemetka Community College in Salem, Oregon.

          On a hunch I googled, “Marion Knox” and Chemetka Community College.

          I found one hit.

          There is a private Christian school (grades 6-12) that by strange coincidence is also located in Salem, Oregon called: Western Mennonite School .

          The school’s Spring 2009 newsletter( “In Touch”) lists Marion Knox and his wife Doris as donors to the school. It is also interesting to note that under the heading, “What have we accomplished?”, the school proudly notes that “we have added College Credit Now classes through Chemeketa Community College.”

          To get the background on Marion Knox, all one has to do is google search terms: “Marion Knox” and “Albany Democrat Herald” and “Jennifer Moody” to read a whole series of investigative articles on Knox and his co-religionists who have destroyed lives by implanting false memories through RMT Therapy.

          The first hit you should get on google is this article:

          Marion Knox – A profile: Part 3 in a series
          By Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald

          The latest news that I have read about Knox is this:

          Linn judge rejects change of venue request in Knox case
          April 25, 2012 7:00 am • By Jennifer Moody, Albany Democrat-Herald

          If a civil suit against a Lebanon couple alleging the implanting of false memories comes to trial, it will take place in Linn County, Judge James Egan has ruled.Egan heard motions Tuesday in the case against Marion and Doris Knox of Lebanon. He denied their attorney’s request for a change of venue and also denied motions from the plaintiff’s attorney to introduce certain evidence in advance. Former Albany resident Stephan Skotko has sued the Knoxes for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He claims Marion Knox, during family counseling sessions, caused his children to falsely believe he had sexually abused them. No trial date has been set.

          So Mr. Nevins, is it just a coincidence that Scott was at Chemetka Community College located in the same area where Marion Knox prowled like a lion looking to devour?

          Did you lead your son to Marion Knox and his wife Doris for RMT therapy?

          Did they implant false memories of abuse into your son?

          Were they complicit in removing the hope for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ from Scott?

          Say it isn’t so.

          • Essentially all memory researchers, all of the major mental health therapists’ associations, and most therapists now believe that the “memories” generated from RMT (Recovered Memory Therapy, also known as Repressed Memory Therapy) are images created during the therapy (‘iatrogenic”). They are often called “false memories.” The “memories” are as close to representing real events in the past as are nightmares.

            It is known that RMT is an effective way of transferring the general abuse beliefs of therapists (and perhaps in Scott’s case – the parents who hired the therapists) into their clients’ thought processes.

            Part of RMT involves “confronting” one’s abuser(s) in person. RMT therapists may urge their patients to surprise the “perpetrator” with a rehearsed confrontation. The rationale for this is that since “survivors” feel powerless, they need “empowerment.”

            So was Scott’s June 10 confrontation with the fathers at St. Anthony’s monastery planned and rehearsed in order to “empower” Scott to finally break with the monastery?

            If so, something terribly went wrong with the plan.

            If Mr. Nevins did indeed engage the services of an RMT therapist (Marion Knox or an associate) in order to tear his son away from the Orthodox Church, then how can the Church be responsible for the harm perpetrated by others on Ioannis Scott after he left the monastery?

            Mr. Nevins, please let me know if I have been barking up the wrong tree. I’d like to get to the bottom of this particular monastery mystery.

  17. Diogenes says

    The Church looks at sex between a MARRIED man & woman as a “normal” relationship & union. The two have devoted themselves to each other having no OTHER persons. First, there is a CIVIL union recognized by the STATE for legal purposes. The Church recognizes the union as a total commitment to each other with Christ as their center. They in effect, become a NEW Adam & Eve in a NEW creation. This is totally blessed by God!

    Illicit (unlawful) relationships are those between a man & woman (intercourse) without the commitment of marriage (civil or church). Also, a woman with a woman; a man with a man or either with animals or any combination thereof. There is NO COMMITMENT and no possibility of a NEW CREATION, only ANIMAL LUST FOR ANIMAL LUST – no possibility of anything beyond this!

    Homosexuality isn’t normal. It can NEVER be condoned by the Church as NORMAL. It is abnormal. Acceptance of homosexual marriage by a society only degrades a society – it isn’t a relationship centered around anything, but LUST. When we lose vision of what IS normal for what is ABNORMAL as acceptable, we degrade ourselves!

    • Diogenes is absolutely correct. Homosexuality, with no productive end possible—the bearing of children—is in the same boat as heterosexual lust, which is fundamentally self-idolatry, which is in its very essence counter to the whole rationale for Judaism and Christianity—reconciliation with, and obedience to, God. It’s not necessarily the homosexuality that’s a sin—it’s the self-idolatry. Thus, active homosexuality is the quintessential sin. Homosexuals who realize this and are prepared to transcend their self-idolatry are no different from every other Christian; the demands placed on them by the Church are identical. If you are homosexual and determined to live life in thrall to your own desires, you are probably better off re-thinking your membership in the Church. If you don’t accept the fundamental demand for transcendence above man’s ego, then what, indeed, is the point of being a Christian?

  18. Ashley Nevins says

    Greek Orthodox laity of America you can all be put at ease now. Bishop Gerasimos is going to conduct an investigation into the death of Scott Nevins. You can now feel all spiritually transparent and accountable and know that God the Holy Spirit through the bishop is going to get to the Orthodox bottom of this. However, the bishop has already conducted an investigation of the monastery through the priest at Assumption Greek Orthodox church in Scottsdale, Az. He delegated it to Fr. Andrew Barakos SEVERAL YEARS AGO.

    We were interviewed by this priest as part of the that previous investigation. In the course of our discussion with him he the priest told us and I quote, ” I BELIEVE WE HAVE A CULT ON OUR HANDS’ . That report was given to Gerasimos and then shared with the other bishops at their following quarterly bishop meeting. Nothing changed as a result of that investigation. I got the proof that it did not change. Do any GO laity disagree that I have the proof?

    KOVA TV in Tuscan Az conducted a REAL investigation into the monastery by a 3 part expose’ and when they came to the bishop to discuss the monastery and elder with him he refused to go on camera and face the hard questions that would have exposed him to the world. Any GO can see that 3 part expose’ via a Google search. It is not going to go away. The former ephraim cult member David Smith and I have made sure of that. The priest the monastery put up to represent the monastery cult in that TV expose’ was later accused of sex abuse and settled out of court. Now this same bishop is going to conduct an investigation into the death of our son and come to a spiritually mature, wise, discerning and moral and ethical determination? Anyone who believes that is as corrupt as the hierarchy of the GOA.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America your bishop is both incompetent and corrupt. The sexually corrupt and spiritually abusive and abandoning hierarchy is going to investigate the corrupt guru cult leader and his cult. They have known for over 20 years what takes place at the monastery and nothing has been done to stop the control milieu, mind control and ultra fundmentalist Pharisee legalism. An investigation of Pharisee’s by Pharisee’s is going to come to an moral and ethical conclusion that can be believed about the Pharisee’s?

    Greek Orthodox laity of America the corrupt who investigate the corrupt will have a corrupt determination at the end of the investigation. Anytime in politics, religion, law enforcement or business and when the corrupt leaders investigate the corrupt leaders the outcome determination is corrupt. Anyone who believes otherwise and who has had any real dealing with the GOA hierarchy around abuse and corruption issues knows what the outcome determination of this so called investigation will be. I know exactly how the hierarchy treats those who have experienced GOA cult and sex abuse. They are expendable to the greater power and control of the corrupt in authoritarian power and control and whose determinations are like God speaking through them and therefore really cannot be QUESTIONED.

    EX: Holder can investigate Obama with objectivity, fairness and balance? He can come to an unbiased and ethical conclusion? Only a FOOL would believe that. Only a FOOL would believe that the hierarchy of the GOA can come to a moral and ethical determination by a objective investigation. The corrupt bishop does not see himself as corrupt and so the delusional are going to conduct this investigation and come to a rationally objective determination? Guess who else does not see themselves as corrupt? It is the LAITY who support, enable and tolerate the corrupt. It is the laity who will believe what the corrupt hierarchy tells them. The bishop who does not believe the cult is a cult is going to come a objective determination. I can’t wait to see that.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America all of the evidence of the elder being a guru cult leader leading a cult is undeniable and your corrupt bishop leads that denial. His denial is going to bring you the Orthodox determination regarding Scott Nevins. Only those in cult denial will believe him. I know the leading cult experts in the world and they are going to hear what the bishop has to say. So, listen to your cult expert bishop who is corrupt to his core and completely incompetent. The corrupt always believe the corrupt and that is why they are corrupt and stay corrupt. The corrupt are circular without solution to their corruption for applying corruption to their corruption problem and then expecting a Godly result.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America you are corrupt for allowing the corrupt to investigate the corrupt. You are corrupt for allowing corrupt and incompetent leadership lead your church into a state of failure, corruption, irrelevancy and demise. You are corrupt for enabling and tolerating the sex and cult abuse of youth. Gods only alone right and one true church is as corrupt as is its salvation. It is as alive as its salvation is and it as moral and ethical as it salvation is. Period.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America how many more children have to have their inner self destroyed by the sexually corrupt? How many more youth have to have their mind, will, emotional life and spiritual being destroyed by your cult monastery?

    Greek Orthodox laity of America the blood of victims abused and destroyed is on your hands and it is not going to wash off. Their blood cries out for justice. You have beeb told in no uncertain terms what is taking place at the highest levels of your church leadership and you do nothing to stop it. You are without excuse, blame, rationalization or justification before an Holy God of Healing, Mercy and Grace and who does not destroy children or youth by His true salvation.

    The bishop who was told by Ashley and Diane Nevins that the elder is a cult leader, the monastery is a cult and that it both were doing our son great emotional and spiritual harm is now going to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation of the monastery or my son’s state of mind after it being destroyed by the cult? He threw us out of the diocese when we confronted him with the facts that he DENIED. We just don’t carnal corrupt role over to the corrupt nor are we intimidated by them. He expected us to respond and act like all of you in the laity do. No wonder to me why the hierarchy can get away with corruption and abuse of ANY KIND.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America who is going to investigate Bishop Gerasimos? No one is and that is the state of your corrupt church. The corrupt investigate the corrupt and the corrupt laity buys into the corrupt conclusion. The entire structure and system from the Patriarch down is corrupt and it is in SPIRITUAL DENIAL of its corruption or the laity would stop the corruption. The corrupt cannot stop the corrupt or they could no longer be corrupt. When corruption is the norm it is seen as spiritual maturity from God to the corrupt. That is the entire GOA structure and system. The corruption has made it delusional about itself and the laity are the most deceived by the delusions of what their church really is in the reality of the real world where it really matters.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America I expect the bishop to be as objective about our son and the cult monastery as the hierarchy was about its investigation into Katinas and the Patriarch’s investigation into the Astoria NY monks. No rule of law came to them and because your church operates outside of the rule of law. The corrupt hide and protect the corrupt to self protect their corrupt power over ALL OF YOU. Anyone who allows them-self to be controlled by such men is delusional about who and what these men really are.

    The Orthodox QUESTION my salvation and hold it SUSPECT. Yet, the sexually and cult corrupt GOA tells me it is GODS ONLY ALONE RIGHT AND ONE TRUE SALVATION. I could only believe that if I had been demonically deceived and made spiritually delusional like Scott had been by your corrupt church and cult.

    The elder and his cult are not the core problem. Are you shocked to hear me say that and after all of my expose’ of him and his cult? The core problem is the corrupt hierarchy, priests and laity who enable the cult leader and his cult. They are the ones who support the abuse of children and youth. They are the ones who do not have ZERO TOLERANCE for the corrupt and so they are corrupted by them and in way they cannot see. The corrupt elder and corrupt bishops could not exist among a Godly laity that is not corrupt. They would be defrocked and the criminals among them would face the rule of law. No one in this church can conduct a fair, honest, unbiased and objective investigation and to believe that the corrupt can is corruption itself.

    More to come. I have yet to talk to the corrupt bishop and ask him the hard questions. I will tell ALL OF YOU what he tells me in answer to my questions. The elder will not be the primary focus of my further expose’ of GOA cult corruption. The corrupt bishop who is in authority and had the authority to stop this when warned is going to be exposed and then all GO can circle the wagons of self protection around him and defend him and his corrupt incompetency. Like all of you, he refused to listen. He is at the center of this and far more than the guru cult leader elder and cult monastery. The entire hierarchy is the authority that allows itself to be corrupt and the rest of the church is in love with the corrupt bishops of their church self destruction. It is systemic corruption on a MASSIVE SCALE and no GO is innocent with clean hands. The severity of Gods wrath and anger is upon you and you are so carnal corrupt that you cannot see it for being blinded by the corruption that you bow too as your GODLY AUTHORITY. If corrupt authority is from God who is Satan?

    No Greek Orthodox of America condolences, feeling bad or sorry can justify what the incompetent and corrupt bishops allow to go on at the cult monastery or inside the corrupt hierarchy. They ring empty and hollow when faced with the fact that the GO did nothing to stop the cult abuses and they cannot tell me that those abuses were not EXPOSED to them. They cannot tell me that they do not know of the bishop corruptions. All of you were told for years and did nothing. No amount of after the fact feeling sorry or bad is going to heal the emotional and spiritual damage done to victims of GOA sex abuse, spiritual abuse or cult abuse. You were warned before the fact and you refused to listen. The blood of innocents is on all of your hands. Yes, Orthodox, feel bad and sorry this happened and then pacify your consciences with the words of Gods truth from you Bishop Gerasimos and do not do one damn thing to change one thing. Believe your bishop without question and like you do most everything in your church.

    I already know what the corrupt GOA and other corrupt Orthodox are going to conclude about our son. The victim of cult abuse will be made the problem and I know how they will try to do just that. I am at least 5 steps ahead of all of you in this and no telling what steps I am going to take. Wait, watch and see. All that I have told you for years is true and I did not compromise with any of you about what I know is going on. I screamed it from the roof top and no one cared or listened. I confronted all of you to your face and I was not Orthodox nice or polite about it. I knew the lives of children and youth WERE ON THE LINE. Precious ones created in the image of our God and Savior and whose worth and value is the blood of Christ on the cross.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America welcome to my continuing expose’ of your corrupt church and cult monastery. You have seen nothing yet. I promise and all of my promises to the Orthodox come true. All of them. The GOA screwed with the wrong father and I told you from the beginning that you had. Unlike the carnal laity men of the GOA I do not spinelessly bow to corruption, fear it or enable it. I expose it to its corrupt face, to all of you who are carnal and then to the world. That is the BIBLICAL MODEL. Now, like good Orthodox hold my salvation suspect and claim yours morally and ethically superior. I see right through you.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America, the next time Gerasimos visits your parish or you go to see him at cathedral be sure to line up and bow to KNOWN CORRUPTION and get your holy blessing from him. Then stand in wonder why your church is found in a corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying state in America. Gasp in shock the next time an abuse is exposed and when the damage it causes can be undeniably seen, and do not see that is all of you causing the cult abuses, spiritual abuses and sex abuses by your carnal toleration of moral indecency and unethical behavior.

    Greek Orthodox laity of America I leave you with one final thought in this post….




    Ashley Nevins

    • Mr. Nevins,

      I’m confused about what you mean by a “full investigation” into Scott’s death in regards to what you want the GOA to undertake on your behalf. A full investigation would mean that the GOA would have to investigate not just your son’s life at St. Anthony’s but also his life after he left the monastery.

      Reading further into your post, you seem to believe that any kind of investigation done by the GOA would be a sham undertaking because (forgive me as I attempt to paraphrase your words): A cult can’t investigate a cult, because cult is, as cult does.

      Anyone doing a full investigation into your son’s death will not have the a priori assumption that the monastery was responsible for your son taking his own life.

      An objective investigator will have to look at the sequence of events in Scott’s life after he left the monastery and ask questions:

      • He left the monastery. When? How? Why?

      • Was he in the care of his parents afterwards? For how long?

      • He enrolled in community college in Salem, Oregon. Why Oregon and not a local (Modesto area) community college?

      • He received treatment from a therapist after he left the monastery. On June 4, 2012, Hieromonk Paisios (after receiving a death threat) suggested to Scott that he see a psychotherapist to which he answered: “I already had gone and I am well.”

      Who was this therapist? What were his/her credentials? What kind of treatment led Scott to believe that he was “well”?

      • On June 11, 2012, Scott arrived at St. Anthony’s Monastery reportedly armed with 2 guns and a knife. When and where did he obtain these weapons? Arizona? Oregon? California? Modesto?

      If the GOA were to hire an outside investigator on your behalf, would you, in the interest of a full investigation, answer these questions?

      Since you deem the GOA to be untrustworthy, would you answer these questions coming from a television reporter (e.g. KVOA-TV) or a newspaper reporter (e.g. National Herald or Albany Democrat-Herald) or maybe our host blogger Monomakhos?

      You’ve been posting your exposes on St. Anthony’s Monastery and the GOA on Monomakhos so that readers can understand what happened to your son. Please answer the questions above so we can understand how a full investigation into his death should proceed.

  19. Ashley Nevins says

    Greek Orthodox laity of America, the continuing toleration of corruption in the hierarchy will be seen in the new Holy Cross Seminary Scandal. Now believe the hierarchy without question, do not hold them transparent and accountable and do not deliver severe consequences to them. Look the other way, ignore, deny and remain passive.

    Do as you have been indoctrinated by evil to do.


    Ashley Nevins

    • Peter A. Papoutsis says

      Mr. Nevins:

      The last thng I would be doing if my son committed suicide is blog. Ashley, its time to start the grieving and healing process, and to lay your boy to rest. I am sorry your boy could not find the peace he obviously so desperately needed in this life and hope he finds it in the next. I will keep him, you and your family in my prayers. Ashley its time to say good-bye, and be with your family.

      May Scott’s memory be eternal.

      Peter A. Papoutsis

  20. Joanna Higginbotham says

    • the corrupt to investigate the corrupt? •

    Ashley, I saw the official death notice on the GOA website where it says they are going to investigate, and I thought, “That’s like having Al Capone investigate Clyde Barrow.” I expect the “investigation” to end in an official excuse or cover-up – and, yes, as is typical of evil, we can expect that they will basically blame the victim.

    It is possible, though, that publishing this incident might deter at least one soul from fatal enslavement to the pseudo-elder. I.M. Kontzevitch wrote in his book, “Acquisition of the Holy Spirit,” that pseudo-elders can cause irrevocable harm to souls, including there have been cases of suicide. This is in his chapter on Elders.


    • Are you saying there have been other suicides with this elder and at this monastery?

      • I think it was meant to say bad elders can cause suicides, not that anyone else has committed suicide in connection with an Elder Ephraim monastery.

        • yes, but I want to know if there have been other suicides in these monastery’s. I could see if there were several linked with them in some way why people would need to be leary. But an isolated case is not reasonable cause to call them a cult.

          • Colette, I don’t think there have been any other unusual deaths around Elder Ephraim monasteries.

            • Not unless you consider “unusual deaths” those who have died at the monastery and whose bodies did not display the typical signs of rigor mortis at the time of burial. In his recent comments on YouTube, Scott claimed that the bodies of those burried at the monastery were supple because monks were being burried alive (!), but those familiar with monasticism know that monks who repose on Mt. Athos also do not show signs of rigor mortis.

              • M. Stankovich says

                Perhaps I’m missing something, but what is the “ominous” significance of “rigor mortis?” Muscles begin to contract approximately 6-8 hours after death when the supply of a molecule that ordinarily releases them is used up, peaking at approximately 12 hours. In any case, this “stiffness” slowly dissipates as the actual decomposition of the muscle begins. The extent and duration of rigors can be influenced by genetics, age (e.g. infants generally have none), gender, health, or temperature of the place the body is located.

                A “supple” body would suggest you are within 6 hours of death or approximately 48-72 hours after death. It would tell you absolutely nothing as to the cause of death (e.g. “buried alive”). This is very simple science.

                This discussion is rapidly deteriorating.

                • Nobody said anything about rigor mortis being “ominous”, Michael. It is generally known that rigor mortis dissipates after two days or so. If nothing else, the popularity of police procedurals (the CSI shows, etc.) has made most people aware of this.

                  I am not an expert on incorruptibility, but I believe a person who shows signs of incorruptibility may not have rigor mortis at all even in the time when it would be expected. Of course, there are other signs to look for: a simple lack of rigor, without other indications, is not a sign of sanctity by itself.

              • By “unusual deaths,” I meant deaths from other-than-natural causes: suicide, homicide, accidents. To my knowledge, there haven’t been many of these around Orthodox monasteries in general or Elder Ephraim’s in particular.

                • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                  The convert novice, Brother Baruch, fled from Father (then) Jonah’s Monastery of St. John and soon thereafter his young life came to a tragic end.

                  • Your Grace, just so nobody latches onto that tragedy as an example of monasticism being “dangerous”: Brother Baruch died in a river-rafting accident. Brother Baruch happened to go without the necessary safety gear, his head struck a rock, and he drowned. It happened while he was away from the monastery, and had nothing to do with his pursuit of the monastic life. Metropolitan Jonah also happened to be out of town at the time.

                    I also thought of the unfortunate Athonite monk who accidentally drove his tractor off a cliff while trying to get around a cordon at Esphigmenou Monastery, and the helicopter crash that killed the Patriarch of Alexandria and several other African bishops.

                    May their memories be eternal.

                    The point I was trying to make is that the monastic life does not tend to cause unnatural deaths. These were all freak accidents, or were at least precipitated by some condition that had nothing to do with monasticism.

                    • pelagiaeast says

                      Thank you, Helga,

                      Brother Baruch’s case seems to be one of Vladyka’s favorite “hobby horses.” Sad. Unnecessary, misleading, causing confusion and discrediting, and not all the far off from the terrible bitterness shown by Mr. Nevins.

                      What I don’t understand is why he seems to need to do this to the memory of Brother Baruch, and to Metropolitan Jonah’s reputation.

                      Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

                    • Why make such a point, Helga? Did I state that anything but a rock in a river caused Brother
                      Baruch’s death. Have YOU heard from Metropolitan Jonah WHY Brother Baruch came to him and said he thought he should leave the monastery? There’s nothing wrong with Metropolitan Jonah’s having told him not to make a sudden decision, but to just take a leave to “reevaluate the situation.” Why do you and others IMAGINE that I’ve claimed his death was anything other than a freak accident? WHY? I’m merely telling you that what Jonah told me was the reason for Brother Baruch’s wanting to abandon monasticism has not been bruited, ;and it does not reflect positively on the atmosphere and order at the monastery at that time. Get it? You’re not going to worm it out of me either by these straw men you, pelagiaeast and others are attempting to set up.

                    • Your Grace, you only mentioned the young brother left the monastery and then died tragically. I wanted to make it clear that his death was the result of an unrelated accident, since you did not make that clear. I wasn’t contradicting you. Whatever reason Brother Baruch took leave of the monastery, it has nothing to do with his death.

          • Monk James says

            colette says:

            June 16, 2012 at 7:37 pm

            yes, but I want to know if there have been other suicides in these monastery’s. I could see if there were several linked with them in some way why people would need to be leary. But an isolated case is not reasonable cause to call them a cult.


            With sincere regrets, I want to tell you that a young man who came to my monastery and was received as a novice — against my advice — later returned to a place near his family’s home and killed himself.

            We monks were NOT responsible for this. The young man in question was already in psychological trouble when he came to us, and we were in no position to help him.

            Our hegoumen was himself in need of counseling at the time, but he was my superior and I was unable to prevent the tragedies which ensued his bad decisions, or at least his lack of good decisions.

            Ultimately, I had to dare to co-opt my superior and invoke the authority of the bishop, who was able to get our hegoumen the help he needed, but much too late to save the novice.

            Please remember the servants of God Archimandrite Hilary and novice Anthony in your prayers.

            • Just for clarification, since the question was asked about unusual deaths linked to Elder Ephraim’s monasteries, I just wanted to point out that the monastery that Fr. James is referring to above was not one under Elder Ephraim.

            • Thank you all for your answers. As of now it seems this tragedy appears to be an isolated incident.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Any reference to I. Kontzevich (cf. Joanna Higginbotham’s) usually comes from a disciple or former disciple of the would-be elder, former Abbot Herman Podmoshchensky, no? However, this brings to light how monks could flee from their monastery to their Bishop (then Archbishop Anthony (Medved) of San Francisco) with their reports of perverse behavior, and a regular canonical process would follow: the Bishop proceeded to summon Abbot Herman, after suspending him, at least three times and didn’t get even the courtesy of a reply; on the contrary, Herman proceeded haughtily to serve Divine Liturgy with another Bishop, not his own, whereupon even the notably patient and long-suffering Archbishop (of blessed memory) had to convene his diocesan court, which deposed Herman. However, the charges of perverse behavior were not considered by the court; deposition was deemed the proper remedy. The unrepentant former Abbot then chose to go under the pseudo-omophorion of “metropolitan Pangratios.”
      I am acquainted with details of this case I learned from the lips of ever-memorable Archbishop Anthony himself, as well as an official letter I received from the Diocesan Council or the ROCOR Archdiocese of San Francisco, making public announcement of Abbot Herman’s deposition

    • To the General Readership: If you examine Ms. Higginbotham’s personal blog (link below), you will understand that she comes from a worldview quite different from that held by most of us. Her comments will make more sense, given her personal context. I recognized her name from some web-surfing of some time ago, and was surprised to see her posting.


  21. G. Sheppard says

    It was my understanding that if you read something which is “personally hurtful to a living person, or a comment made by another person for the sake of keeping an old vendetta alive,” then you would delete those comments licketty-split.” This is what you said on May 17. As a matter of fact, you indicated that you would “even go back and delete comments made by that person in the past.”

    Well, I am a living person and as part of the Orthodox laity, it greatly offends and hurts me to be called “corrupt,” “carnal,” “spiritually, morally and ethically dead,” “without excuse, blame, rationalization or justification before an Holy God,” etc. Since Ashley has posted the same information over and over again in the past, I consider this to be “an old vendetta” against the laity, our clergy and our beloved Church.

    I suspect there are others who feel the same way, but don’t want to appear insensitive. Having just lost my own son, who coincidentally was close to Scott’s age, I understand the need for a grieving father to vent, but what is being said here is not even close to being healing; for ANY of us. We all feel VERY badly about Ashley’s son’s death.

    Nothing I’ve said in this post is disrespectful, unkind, untrue, etc. I am hoping you will show the same consideration you have shown others by posting my comment on your blog.

    • It’s up to George to decide to extend mercy to a grieving father.

      I hope Ashley and his wife are getting professional counseling to help them cope with the loss of their son. Praying for Scott’s soul will help them also.

      I am sorry for the loss of your son, Gail. May his memory be eternal. Would you please tell us his Christian name?

      • Fr. Yousuf Rassam says

        I believe his baptismal name was John.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Thank you all for your kind words regarding the loss of my son. Helga, if you’re asking about my son, his name was Andrew. We called him Chase which was his middle name.

        • Thank you, Gail. Yes, I was asking about your son as well. Andrew Chase is now on my prayer list along with Scott John.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      I agree with Gail’s sentiments as she just expressed them. I think George MIGHT have erred on the side of charity, but that’s all right. I feel Ashley’s recent messages are ill-advised. After all, some people who don’t know him at all might think he is taking advantage of his son’s suicide to repeat his previous rants on the Internet! What an idea, right? Why blame anyone else for a suicide but the person who committed it, after all? Trying to decide whether it was his father’s mistakes or the monastery’s mistakes is a pointless exercise and benefits no one. God is the sole judge of the suicide, and we can certainly trust God’s judgments.

    • Brian McDonald says

      I would agree with G. Sheppard and also ask people to reread Mike Myers’ posts on his positive experience of the monastery (June 13 and 14th) as well as Jason’s post on the 13th sharing Scott Nevins’ bizarre and very hard to believe charges about supposed goings-on at the monastery. if Jason has reported these correctly, it is not possible for a rational human being to give credence to many if any of Scott’s claims. It doesn’t seem uncharitable to suggest that Scott may well have carried his issues to the monastery rather than developing them while there.

      It is quite understandable that a grieving father might want a religion he so manifestly detests to serve as a scapegoat for the horrible tragedy that has struck his family. It is also possible that we Orthodox might feel that under the circumstances he should be allowed free rein to express his anguish on this blog. But that Ashley wants to blame our Church in general and this monastery in particular, doesn’t mean that in fact they ARE to blame. Perhaps the the brothers at the monastery have some responsibility. Perhaps they are entirely innocent. How is any of us in a position to know at all?

      I only mention these things because neither a (possibly) false sense of guilt nor the scapegoating fever so common in an age that assumes somebody MUST be to blame when tragedies strike can provide the kind of atmosphere in which truth is likely to be found–especially at a distance and by people who know nothing of the circumstances involved.

      • Jane Rachel says

        I visited a monastery.Overall the visit was fine. However, three things happened that weekend that make me cringe with embarrassment to this day. A friend who had to use a walker and therefore he walked very slowly came to visit while we were there. The nuns rang the bell for a meal, and because the man with the walker took too long to get to the table, one of the nuns was not nice at all about us being a minute late. Such a disapproving scowl! I will never forget it, and I am sure the man will not forget either. The next day, when a friend asked for a copy of a prayer that was being given to another person, a nun was disapproving that she had been asked to make two copies. When a friend asked to talk to the iconographer about making icons, you would have thought there was nothing more important than her time, and she was really impatient that she would have been interrupted. Oops. Nevertheless, the nuns were kind overall. But there was a put-offiishness about them. I guess they are busy praying. People should realize before they visit monasteries that the people there are humans like everyone else. They may act like they are close to God, but five billion prostrations a day will not make you holy. Only love will make you holy.

        • Monk James says

          It’s disappointing to learn that ‘Jane Rachel’ had such a painful experience at one of our monasteries. Clearly, these nuns were poorly instructed, since hospitality is one of our most signal monastic virtues.

          I hope that she and all of you are better treated by us monastics. Please remember all of us monks and nuns in your prayers.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I have visited monsteries in the Holy Land, and even one Female monastery in the area of Jerusalem. None of the monks that I visited had any social graces and in fact the hospitality they showed was simply a requirement.

            Now this is not saying anything bad of them, but they are NOT there for us they are there for themselves and God. Hopefully, mostly for God. WE interupt their Prayer and life cycles when we show up. Both my mother and I were warned about this before we went to visit the local monasteries by both the Local Palestinian Greek Orthodox Priest who was our most humble guide back in 1994 and the then Bishop of Bethlehem.

            ASIDE: The Town of Bethlemhem was wonderful and I could have stayed there for quite some time. The local people were just so kind and hospitable that they made my time in the Holy Land a great experience.


            The Bishop called monstics “Fools for Christ.” They serve an incredibly important function praying for the salvation of sinners and the world and for their own salvation, but do not expect them to have social graces that you and I are accustomed to. Its just the way it is. Some do, but the one’s I encountered did not.

            Nothing bad about it if you know what to expect. I remember one monk being somewhat beligerant to my mother and I about taking up his time to show us around the monstery. He showed us about three areas then left for some matter and then never came back. The priest we were with explained that this usually happens, but that he would take us around the monastary himself showing us the shear beauty of the place and its Iconagraphy. Obviously, we were in the outer courtyard and permitted areas and could only go were we as tourist could go, and where my mom could go, but it was still beautiful. The monastery was around Jerusalem somewhere as we were not that far away from our hotel in East Jerusalem.

            I actually got my first look at a Greek Septuagint at the Monastery, published by the Zoe Brotherhood, and quickly asked the priest that was with us: “What’s this?” The rest as they say is history.

            Monasteries are beautiful places, but take them for what they are worth – Spiritual battlegrounds and arenas. We cannot expect spiritual gladiators to have the best of manners. At least, I don’t, but that does not mean I don’t like them and like the beauty of their services, writing, iconography, and thoughts in regards to our faith. That’s all.

            If you make anything more out of them you will be greatly disappointed as they are still sinners working out their salvation like the rest of us, just a little more hardcore than us.


            • We cannot expect spiritual gladiators to have the best of manners.

              Actually, I would. Bad manners suggests a lack of empathy with other people, which runs exactly counter to monasticism’s supposed aspirations.

              • Peter A. Papoutsis says

                Good luck with that one.

              • Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of the monastic life. Hostility and unkindness do indeed run counter to the aspirations of true monastics. That doesn’t mean they always have to be completely charming to be around, but they should remember the needs of others and treat them with love.

            • Ken Miller says

              St John of the Ladder puts “Faith, Hope, and Love” as the last step in the ladder of Divine Ascent, echoing with the Apostle that the greatest of these is love. St Augustine devoted an entire treatise, “The Enchiridion” to this trio of virtues, again emphasizing that the greatest of these is love. The pilgrim in “The Way of the Pilgrim” found that as he developed in the practice of ceaseless prayer, on the one hand he badly desired to withdraw into private prayer, but on the other hand he found that when he encountered people, he had compassion on them and they generally showed great affection for him. As any of us climb the ladder of Divine Ascent, and especially monastics, on the one hand we count as nothing the worldly things that distract us from God’s kingdom, but we also must evolve to practice perfect compassion and love, or we are deluding ourselves thinking that we are climbing the right ladder when in fact we are on the wrong ladder (perhaps the ladder of self-love, or of spiritual pride, or some other devilish ladder to hell.) The natural consequence of conquering our self-love and our ego is to feel the love of God and to share that love to others, realizing that we are no more worthy of that love than anyone else.

              I’m sure there are monasteries where, sadly, the use of repetitive and ceaseless prayer has fallen into disuse, or where the Ladder is not studied and earnestly followed. In such cases, the monastics may not exhibit the love of Christ as they ought. Any monastic who thinks he has achieved something spiritually ought to do a reality check – if they have not mastered love, they have achieved little.

              By the way, love as understood in the scriptures and the fathers is not the same as modern worldly use. To the modernists, to love is to eagerly allow others to plunge to the depths of hell through sin without warning. True love always has the spiritual wellbeing of others at heart. Love is kind, but it is not afraid to tell the truth in humility, that unrepentant sin will lead to hell and rejection on the day of judgment.

          • Jane Rachel says

            Hello Monk James,

            My real middle name is “Jane” so if you would like to use that name without “quotes” if you ever reply to my posts, it would be honest enough. Thank you for your kind words. Overall, of course, the nuns at this monastery are sincere lovers of God, good and holy women, hard workers, and I do understand that everyone has their moments. I believe that, rather than expecting monastics to be shiny all the time, it is more a matter of those who visit monasteries accepting them as they are and also realizing that monastics are as human as everybody else. We all struggle.

      • Joseph I. says

        Michael, please stop these posting by A.N. The man needs help, not a soap box.
        Thank you
        Joseph I.

    • Jane Rachel says

      Gail, I am so sorry to hear of the recent loss of your son. It meant, and still means, a lot to me when people said that simple but honest phrase, “I am sorry for your loss,” and I am. Doggone it, anyways.

  22. cynthia curran says

    Yes, Ashely religious groups whether they are Orthodox, or Roman Catholic or Protestant should clean their acts sometimes. But hitting people here over corruption in the orthodox Church is wrong,, some here have been critical of some of the corruption in the church. The church can somtimes be as corrupted as some of the worst Byzantine rulers as the saying goes. However, the Orthodox Church can not be accuse of being evil all the time, it has gotten involved in ministry in the US like Focus North American and probably a lot of poor people being help either come from a Roman Catholic background or Protestant one. Theology or failings on the part of the Orthodox Church should not be the only way of viewing people here and George believes in the older classical liberal way that people should be heard even if he doesn’t agree with them.

    • Jane Rachel says

      I agree with Cynthia here and hope it helps Ashley sort through his rage, which I know he is feeling, and begin to separate the wheat from the tares, so to speak. Ashley, you are allowed anger at the people who hurt your son, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Some people are corrupt who call themselves Orthodox Christians, but they are not Christians or Orthodox. They are fakes. Weeds. Thorns and thistles. The True Faith, the Orthodox Church, which is ageless and timeless and without boundaries, and always good, can’t be corrupt. The countless faithful, through the ages, in whom God is wondrous and has always been wondrous, are the True Church and Bride of Christ. All these good, true, honest and pious saints, living and dead, far outweigh and out perform the bad weeds.

      No one can “drive a person” to commit that act. Your son committed the act all by himself, though it’s probable that he used the people in whom he had found refuge, but who “failed” and “rejected” him, as his final excuse. Nevertheless, he committed the act alone. Others have been rejected terribly and they keep going. There is a connection between those you blame, Ashley, and your son’s death by his own hand, but there is no one who is truly to blame. I would say that not even Scott is to blame. He was overwhelmed and took the route he felt would end his pain. Depression is awful. What Scott did (I can’t use the word, it’s too painful) might also be a final act of anger against, or “getting even with,” or “getting the attention of” the people who rejected and hurt him. Oh, well, I’m getting personal again. It’s my experience I’m drawing from.

      All the best to Ashley and his family. May you find peace.

      • Jane Rachel says

        I wrote, “the people who rejected and hurt him. ” but I meant, “the people who he perceived were rejecting and hurting him.” All this writing on this blog is probably not sinking in right now, but maybe later, it will.

      • I thought this all sounded vaguely familiar and looked it up. Mr Ashley Nevins had been on a campaign of harassing his son and the monastery he went to for YEARS. I do think it qualifies as harassing your son if your adult son joins a monastery and you instead insist that he was forced into it. And then complain everywhere possible that your son is brainwashed and in a cult. And then spread whatever rumors of the most lurid sort he can find regarding the monastery wherever he can spread it. He and his wife clearly have no grasp regarding Orthodoxy or monasticism and never have wanted to understand. It’s not what they wanted for their son and it’s not modern and like a college campus therefore it’s a cult. They were just outraged at the choice their son made and flat out refused to accept it and went on a campaign to enlist others to try and stop their adult son from being allowed to make adult decisions.

        I remember reading some of what they said years ago and wondering what in the world was wrong with these people. And what Mr Nevins writes here just helps confirm it. He sees his son as incapable of making any decisions for himself. All decisions he made are someone else’s fault. Any random lay Orthodox Christian is some how MORE responsible than his own son in his personal choice to enter a monastery and then later to commit suicide. It’s just off the deep end but not a new irrational mindset regarding his son but just a continuation of what he’d been ranting of for years.

        Is it possible that Ashley Nevins ought to look at himself first and see what real fruits his actions have wrought? I am deeply sorry for his loss. But I am far more sorry for his son. He was harassed by his parents for years and treated as a moronic imbecile who was not capable of just being an adult and making his own life choices but was instead seen as a vessel to be controlled either by his parents or others. What would have been the end result here if as a 19 yo man he’d been able to go to the monastery in peace and simply make his own decision to stay or leave without the constant background drama of his parents ranting and raving across the country that their son had been effectually kidnapped?

        Even now he’s not an adult in their minds but a child with no responsibility for his actions. The entire Orthodox world was apparently against him and his parents in this battle his parents dreamed up. Would everything have some how turned out differently if the entire Orthodox Church has risen up against the monastery, stormed it’s walls and dragged their adult son home to his parents? It’s just not rational. It’s a good reminder for me though as a pretty protective mother that I have got to be able to let my children go at some point. That I’m going to have to let them be the adults and make their own decisions and accept the responsibility of those decisions.

        • Jane Rachel says

          Irene, maybe you needed to vent about someone else’s problems? In the end, these are only words on a screen that does not really exist except in our heads. What is real is the boy, the father, the mother and the family. In the end, the family will go on suffering loss and hurt after everyone else has forgotten all about them. The criticism likely stings. Is that what we are doing here, hurling hurt on top of hurt? A man writes too much, says to much, criticizes What Must Not Be Touched according to some, but in the end, the man, his wife, his son, their family, their home, the food they eat and the tears they shed, all these things of which we know nothing, are real. He’s not made of words. He is human. Let him struggle. If George feels Ashley has crossed the line that George has written in the sand, then George will not allow Ashley’s comments to be posted.

          Again, Ashley and family, I am so sorry for your tragic loss. Please take care of yourselves.

  23. Daniel E. Fall says

    No good bill of rights would afford any married persons more or fewer priviledges in society than unmarried persons.

    The idea that homosexuals desire marriage equality suggests inequality for those that have no partners.

    This story has little to do with Orthodoxy and much more to do with George’s overwhelming dislike of homosexuality which is nearly a perversion of its own. Christ hung out with whores..

    • For clarification, we know Christ associated with repentant whores, or any fallen person who desired to repent and change their life. Repentance is the key word here. All current justifications of homosexuality or gay marriage has nothing to do with repentance.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Most homosexuals, at least the one’s I have known and been friends with, are not whores. They are troubled people. Troubled in a different way than I am troubled, but troubled nonetheless.

      Jesus calls all of us with troubles to Himself and to communion with Him through repentance, prayer, fasting, almsgiving and sacramental worship.

      Each of those acts is important but none gives strength, healing, peace and freedom more than repentance. It is also, probably, the most difficult.

      And Mr. Fall, I have seen no one here ever post anything that even remotely calls for the exclusion of homosexuals from the life of the Church. What has been rejected is the idiotic notion that sin in any form should be celebrated. What has been called for is to encourage those who are troubled by homosexuality (and any other sins) to submit themselves to the life of the Church as described above. Jesus will welcome them as He does us, the rest of the maimed, the halt and the lame that make up His Church here on earth.

  24. Seraphim says

    Due to a special set of circumstances, I have been blessed to spend considerable time in a wide variety of Orthodox monasteries, visiting over the years at least fifty monasteries (often numerous times) in nine different countries on four continents. I have made five pilgrimages to Mt Athos and my spiritual father is an Athonite monk. I also have a godson who is a monk, and I have spoken often with him about his experiences. Although I am happily married, monasticism is an important part of my life. I have read widely on Orthodox monasticism and taught a college course on the topic. Altogether, I have spent at least a year of my life in residence at Orthodox monasteries. For me, it is an essential element to living an Orthodox life, and I am convinced that the next step in the maturation of Orthodoxy in North America will be closely bound up with the growth of monasticism here.

    Monasticism is not something optional, a kind of add-on to Orthodoxy, but since the third century, it has been an essential and irreplaceable foundation of Orthodox Christianity. Take a look at the lives of the Church Fathers—virtually all of them were monks. Orthodox monasteries are holy places, venerable places that we should hold in the same kind of reverence that we reserve for holy icons and relics. As Orthodox Christians, we are not at liberty to slander them thoughtlessly. (I am not thinking of the Orthodox commentators on this blog, but of at least one web site that seems to take zest in the defamation of our holy monasteries, often on the basis of little more than hearsay and conjecture.) Nor should we provide a forum for any other individual to make (for whatever reasons) absurd and scurrilous and reckless attacks on holy people and places, let alone a continued verbal assault upon our Holy Church. To continue allowing this would, in my view, risk a certain impiety. (And from a merely psychological view, it would be unhealthy as well—not just for Mr Nevins, but even more for us readers. Any more of this would involve us in the kind of morbid curiosity to which we are tempted when passing by an ugly car wreck. Beyond a certain point, you either pitch in to actively help, or keep on driving past and leave the help to professionals who know what they are doing.)

    I have visited six of the Elder Ephraim’s monasteries, and there are two of them that I regularly visit—at least once per year each. I have also made several pilgrimages to St Anthony’s Monastery. In a different venue, there would be a few minor criticisms that I could (very hesitantly) make of them, all having to do with taking certain canons in a somewhat overly legalistic manner. But this is something I have encountered widely in other Orthodox monasteries as well, and there is nothing extraordinary or unseemly about how things are done at the Elder’s monasteries. And above all, I have experienced absolutely nothing even remotely cult-like about any of them. (I was in a college fraternity long ago, and the brotherhood there was exponentially more cult-like than at any Orthodox monastery I know.) Everything is voluntary, everyone if free to arrive or leave at will. Monastic obedience is simply cooperation of the same sort that is required for progress in any program of therapy. One can always walk away, pick another physician, or decide that no treatment is needed. Some treatments are more demanding or rigorous than others, although we need to bear in mind that if it is practiced in anything like a traditional manner, Orthodox Christianity as such is very strong medicine indeed, and if we don’t experience it this way, I think we need to be suspicious. Likewise, equally good monasteries vary in all kinds of ways, including their degree of rigor. Elder Ephraim came to America from Philotheou, which of the twenty monasteries on the Holy Mountain has a reputation for rigor: perhaps the Athonite equivalent of the Marine Corps. And the Elder has carried something of this to America, just as one would expect. Moreover, St Anthony’s (as his flagship monastery) is one of the most rigorous of the Elder’s monasteries. But this is just its draw for young people, for this kind of rigor has the potential to evoke healing and holiness in a most impressive manner. (If you need to be reminded of the results of religions that make few or no demands on people, stop by your nearest mainline Protestant Church on Sunday morning. There will probably be plenty of room.)

    Is this for everybody? Of course not. There are monasteries of all kinds for all sorts of people. Can certain people be harmed by rigorous monasticism? Of course, but no more than they can be harmed by undertaking any demanding endeavor: violin or ballet lessons, medical school, or law school, or just attending a difficult college or university—any one of which certainly has far more casualties of various sorts than any Orthodox monastery. Every winter, students leap to their deaths into the abysses of Cornell University. Does it ever occur to anyone to call Cornell a cult for that reason? Despite our very modern eagerness to make the world safe from every human folly, it remains true that everything worthwhile has certain dangers that are intrinsic to it.

    If anyone has made it this far in my post, I apologize for its length. Nor have I meant to appoint myself as the arbiter of all things monastic. But I do believe that we need to approach Orthodox monasticism with respect and humility, for it is something holy and something of which our Church stands in the greatest need. And I believe that those who persistently seek to disparage its holiness should not (both for the sake of their own souls, as well as ours) be offered an Orthodox venue to continue this unhappy pursuit.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Seraphimist: very well put.

      • Brian McDonald says

        I agree wholeheartedly with you about “Seraphim’s” post, George—as well as Michael Bauman’s below. I found both posts spiritually useful because they don’t engage in gossipy speculations about what might be going in others’ lives but simply state what each writer has discovered through his own. And those discoveries are of such a nature as to provide wisdom to the rest of us as we seek to understand and apply the healing “therapies” of our faith to our own life struggles.

        As a regular reader but infrequent poster, I think these are the kind of posts that exhibit Monomakhos at its best. Both Michael and Seraphim have shown it’s possible to combine hard-hitting truth-telling with compassion and insight. Along those lines, I thought the following suggestion by Seraphim particularly apt:

        “Nor should we provide a forum for any other individual to make (for whatever reasons) . . . reckless attacks on holy people and places, let alone a continued verbal assault upon our Holy Church. To continue allowing this would, in my view, risk a certain impiety. (And from a merely psychological view, it would be unhealthy as well—not just for Mr. Nevins, but even more for us readers. Any more of this would involve us in the kind of morbid curiosity to which we are tempted when passing by an ugly car wreck. Beyond a certain point, you either pitch in to actively help, or keep on driving past and leave the help to professionals who know what they are doing.)”

        Seraphim’s comments on “health” provide a powerful rationale for why your decision to moderate posts is such a good one—and while I personally hope you’ll feel less hesitant in exercising it. (Please forgive my presumption.) Certain kinds of posts do neither readers nor those who post them any good. Like others, I respect your honest allergy to anything that savors of stifling free speech, but I think Seraphim has provided a useful standard for at least attempting to sort out those that promote insight and honest debate from those that generate heat but no light.

    • Thank you, Seraphim, for this informative, balanced post. It’s good to hear from someone with exposure to monasticism and specifically St. Anthony’s. I have one question, not specifically for Seraphim, regarding the Scott Nevins tragedy.

      Why would such a recent convert to Orthodoxy be accepted at a monastery? It seems like more experience living an Orthodox life in an Orthodox parish would be required.

      • Seraphim says

        Maria: Being “accepted” at an Orthodox monastery is not a simple matter of being “in” or “out.” At the discretion of the abbot or abbess, and as accommodations permit, virtually any sincere person will be accepted as a guest and given monastic hospitality, just as you or I would be. Beyond this, if a person stays more than a few days, he or she will generally be assigned some work to do. If that person begins to start thinking about an ongoing commitment, their work will probably start to become better defined, and they may be eventually granted the status of postulant, which usually entails the wearing of black clothing but no part of the monastic habit. If this is successful, as judged by all concerned, and if the person begins to feel that there might be a monastic calling, they may be granted the status of novice, which will usually involve the wearing of at least the monastic belt. Eventually, and if the preceding conditions are met at a higher level, and if there is proper spiritual growth, he or she may receive tonsure as a Rasophore Monk, perhaps a bit like being an untenured instructor at a university, but not fully a professor. They will wear the rasson or outer part of the cassock, and take on more rigorous ascetic rules of life. And finally, if it becomes clear that there really is a monastic calling, and if the person fits well with the brotherhood or sisterhood, then that person can become a Stavrophore Monk, which entails being given a monastic name different from ones Orthodox name. ONLY at this point is that person considered to have taken full monastic vows. They will add to their monastic garb the inner part of the habit, but not yet the “schema.” In addition, it should be emphasized that any one of these stages (including that of guest) can continue indefinitely, and each will almost certainly go on for a period of many months and in most cases, many years. The status of rasophore and stavrophore, for example, customarily require at least three years preparation each. And there are cases in which very celebrated monks have remained for a lifetime at an earlier stage, even at the stage of novice, as an expression of humility, or for some other pious reason. Every stage is, of course, voluntary. And there are stages beyond this, most notably the Great Schema, which entails wearing the full monastic habit, and which is reserved only for the most spiritually advanced. Beyond this, there are levels of leadership and responsibility such as abbot and archimandrite, and of course there is also ordination to the priesthood, which may or may not take place, and upon which the person is termed a hieromonk. There is wisdom in this gradual and nuanced approach, for lifetime commitments are no small matter. It has been worked out over the course of many centuries, and shows an awareness of the dangers of rash or premature commitments. (NOTE: Monk James or others, please correct me if any of this is erroneous or seems misleading. And the details can and do vary. But what is important is that it is not a matter here of an all or nothing acceptance, but a very gradual process involving much discernment and reflection on the part of many people. And, of course, the latter is never, by any means, infallible.)

        • Monk James says

          Our Lord Jesus Chrst tells us that He would not cast out anyone who comes to Him. As a result, monastic communities generally accept anyone who comes. It becomes obvious soon enough that an aspirant is suited to monastic life, or not. Once in a while, we know from the get-go that a particular individual is or isn’t suited for our way of life, and — under normal conditions — we react accordingly.

          Personally, I have no reason to disagree with ‘Seraphim’ in his overview here, except to say that the Great Skhema is the ordinary status of monks and nuns, as is well explained in St Nikodemos’s monograph ‘The Skhema is One’.

          For some reason, russian practice seems to reserve the Great Skhema for monastics who’ve been in the life for fifty years or so, and doesn’t allow nuns to be tonsured as staurophors before age 40. This is some sort of distortion, probably an abuse, but I hope it goes away soon.

          Athonite practice (the ideal) assumes that a candidate will be a rasophor for a few years, and then be clothed in the Great Skhema.

          The ‘intermediate’ grade of ‘staurophor’ seems to be some sort of permanent state of engagement which never eventuates in marriage. It should be abolished, as St Nikodemos insists.

          • Thank you, Seraphim and Monk James for these explanations. I learned a lot!

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            Well, Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain was, indeed, a real fuss-budget about stages in becoming a monk and varieties in the habit according to those stages…a real nut on the subject! He did a good work in compiling the works of the others, like a good librarian who commented on all the books in his or her library. When I think of him, I think not only of some of his commentaries in the Makrakis edition of the Pedalion in English, but of how it has recently been shown that he himself purchased a couple indulgences from the Constantinopolitan Patriarch of his day, for some friends of his or some people who asked him to do it for them with a donation, and these are, I believe preserved somewhere: they were unearthed by a modern scholar of the Russia Church.
            St. Nicodemus, like all the Orthodox of Greece back then, belonged to a Church which was “more evolved” than the Russian Church. I don’t think the Russian custom of Riassophore, Stavrophore, and Schemamonk are Russian inventions. They probably witness (like so many usages of the Russian Church) to the usages of the Greek Church they originally received. I remember hearing the anecdote how, after some disagreements with Father Alexander Schmeman, Father George Florovsky transferred to Holy Cross Seminary; however his fruitful days teaching there were cut short when Archbishop Iakovos heard that he was teaching his students “The Russian Church received everything from the Byzantine Church: it’s sad that the Byzantine Church didn’t keep more of it!” I’m surprised if Father Hilary never told you about that: I first heard it from a graduate of Holy Cross some years ago.

            • Schema-monk Theodore says

              St Theodore the Studite wrote against granting the “little habit” (stavrophore) as being foreign to the practice of the “fathers,” so it was obviously a practice in the Greek monasteries of his time (Ninth Century). Clearly, it was not a Russian innovation since the Holy Great Prince Vladimir whose joyous Feast we keep this day) and his people had not yet received the light of the Gospel.

              Earlier monastic practice had fewer stages: usually a probationary period and then full commitment. Over time, however, the Church in its wisdom saw that it was helpful to allow stages of gradual entrance into the spirit and realities of monastic practice. How many stages has varied through history. Current “Greek” practice is more in line with St Theodore’s preference; “Russian” practice, as has been noted, tends to reserve the Great Schema for those advanced in years and spiritual practice. Reservation of the Great Schema to a time nearer (or right before) death is sometimes observed because it is considered, like Baptism, a death and new birth that conveys forgiveness of all sin, known or unknown, etc.

              My superior and I were tonsured to the Great Schema the same day. He had been a Stavrophore for many years; I was in my third year as a Rasophore. The decision rested with His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos, who at that time was de jure our Abbot.

    • Michael Bauman says

      There are those in our culture that believe any demand put on anyone to do anything they might not ordinarily do is a violation of their human freedom and a form of tryanny. A couple of examples

      I married a woman recently who’s entire (large) family is lukewarm, at best, about Christianity. Despite her constant dedication to Christ in her own life, her children have not followed the same path. They believe that she is now in some kind of weird cult that I seduced her into. Evidence of this is such things as crossing herself and giving thanks before meals.

      The entertainment group The Blue Man Group started a high priced private school awhile back that instituted all of the most modern, progressive methods of education that allow children to discover knowledge on their own. After a few years of attendance, some of the parents demanded that their children be tested. They found their children were illiterate. But, you see, it is just too much of an imposition on the freedom and creativity of the children to actualy require them to do the work necessary to learn to read, do computations, etc.

      Orthodoxy is not a good or comfortable fit in our culture of democracy and license. The Church requires spiritual discipline even in her current weakened state that is far beyond what most people are famiiar with. Even monastries that are not rigorous go well beyond that.

      My son was fighting some things a few years ago and we talked with our priest about my son spending some time in a monastary. My priest did not recommend it because my priest felt that the particular struggle my son was having might be intensified by living in a monastary, even for a short time.

      Ultimately, monastaries are the frontlines of the battle for the human soul, while they can be places of healing, I don’t know that they work well as an ER or ICU. Each person’s case is different, but the practice in our parish is to seek permission and a blessing from the bishop, through our priest, to spend time in a monastary.

      Suicide is always a demonic temptation. It comes from no where else. Unfortunately, the demons are quite good at mimicking one’s own inner voice and suggesting that the person will be better off dead and everyone else will be too. The more pain one is in, the more difficult it becomes to ignore the suggestions and the more they merge with one’s own thoughts.

      I was fortunate, I never quite allowed the suggestions I experienced to become my own and they pretty well stopped when I was Baptized and Chrismated. Now it is quiet easy for me to tell the difference between me and the occasional suggestion that still floats by and I can laugh at such silly attempts. But not everyone is so fortunate and for many the pain or simply the single moment of wide openess is too much and they submit to the temptations with a sense of fatalism, relief and even a belief that they are doing everyone else a favor.

      The only antidote I know is prayer and repentance in a worshiping community (a good psychologist can be of great assistance too). Then it is possibile to allow God’s ever present joy to breakthrough into one’s own heart. We go above and beyond the demons to a place they cannot reach when we submit to God’s love and enter into the victory he has already won by His Resurection.

      We are trained however, to be self-reliant and encouraged to become autonomous, critical individuals. We become isolated from the heard and easy prey for the lions hunting us whatever our weakness. Whether it is death by suicide or death of the soul by the enslavement to our passions, it is still death.

      Monastics are a living example of what it takes to enter into that victory. They make it easier for all of us by their example and their prayers.

      • Pravoslavnie says

        Equally well put, Michael. You reminded me of the quote from G.K. Chesterson “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried”.

        • Being a Christian, in the sense Christ intended, is the highest ideal to which a human being can aspire—not absolutely impossible, but very near.

        • Proavoslavnie says

          In the interest of accuracy, I shall correct Chesterson’s quote which I paraphrased in haste. His quotation states “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried”.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      Good one, Seraphim!
      I feel there’s another elephant in the room as well. Monasticism truly began to flower when Constantine made the Church both official and respectable…something new in the life of the Church–almost unheard-of. It was all too much for many of the devout, “conservatives” of the day, who FLED into the deserts and mountains and forests to get away with the new ‘Symphony’ with not just the Emperor, but, through him, with the WORLD. What so many resentful critics of monasticism and monasteries complain of, exclusiveness, strictness, puritanical behavior, and so on, were all characteristics of the Church before it became the place to be, the organization to belong to. An asset to society! The Church before Constantine showed no signs of teaching that the”Great Commission” was given to all the Faithful, rather than the Apostles. No one, before Constantine, was asked,”Why don’t you visit our services, PARTICIPATE in them?” On the contrary, no one but the initiated, the illuminated could even hear a creed. Even individuals, previously vetted by the Bishop could even stand in the porch, the narthex, the vestibule, for a few initial prayers and scripture readings, then it was “Out with them!” ‘Make sure the doors are locked!”

  25. Daniel E. Fall says

    I am sorry to hear of Mr. Nevin’s loss.

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      I understand how badly this thread has been jacked by a frustrated parent, but I can’t allow Helga’s thoughtlessness begging the question about how many people have committed suicide by joining an Ephraim monastery. To suggest suicide is the measurement of a cult activity is flat wrong.

      There are other parents who have posted on Rick Ross’ website that their child became detached from them by attaching themselves to Ephraim, and detachment is a far better criteria for measuring a cult. Some might say detachment from family is a prerequistie for attachment to God (enough to drive people to anti-theist reason). This kind of thinking is cult like which I’m sure will slow rebuttals.

      I think it is important to first define a cult before any dialogue. A cult doesn’t necessarily need to result in death of its members to be a cult (a good grief Charlie Brown moment).

      Ephraim himself wouldn’t logically consider himself to be a cult leader, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t. When is the last time a good cult leader came forward and said I’m running a cult?

      A paper praising Ephraim suggests abuse was a part of Ephraim’s becoming a monk (forgive my misuse of the language here). It is hard to believe abusiveness isn’t pervasive if he learned it. And I’ll take the praising paper as at least a warning.

      In the world of cover your hiney we live in, I’m sure the Nevin’s story will get a grand rugsweep, but at the end of the day; the Ephraim monastery(s) appear(s) very cult like (abuse, charismastic leader, disconnection from society, a new name, failure to seek traditional medical care) ; with the small exception that it would at least seem on the outside; you can leave. I’m not sure that is part of the definition either, though. Generally, deprogramming is required to leave, but I’m guessing they don’t offer that at monastery.

      And while I have never personally enjoyed the extended postings of Ashley Nevins; I am not unwilling to take the hard look. A nun responding negatively to a man in a walker a minute late to dinner begs the question alone. Detached and despondent children are something else. Most people that leave cults look back on it as an experience.

      • Daniel,

        I believe she was answering me and I would say if there are other deaths, I would be alarmed and easily call it a cult. The fact of the matter is people think of “cults” in different ways. My parents thought the evangelical churches were cults, my friends thought the Orthodox Church was a cult. To follow Christ we are to leave all and follow Him- which to most of society if you follow anything with any seriousness, you are in a cult. What is a real determinate?-if you join something that kills you-as in David Koresh, Jim Jones or the like. Monasticism looks much like a cult, any monasticism. I have heard criticism of the Ephraim monastery’s because they are strict. I have gone to several they are strict but if it’s not for you- leave. That is not a cult. You can’t leave a cult and cults don’t tyically have visitors.

        • Seraphim says

          Colette makes a good point: “cults” certainly do not welcome outsiders as visitors. But it may be helpful to push this a bit further, since the Liturgy of the Ancient Church asked those who were not initiates (i.e. catechumens and all those who had not been baptized) to take their exit prior to the Liturgy of the Faithful, and to this day the Divine Liturgy commemorates this with the Deacon’s exclamation: “The doors.! The doors!” (Note Bishop Tikhon’s fine post above.) Could it be that the Church itself is, and always has been, at its heart (and in some deeper, more basic sense) a cult? That “culture” in general, as the word suggests, is founded in cult?

          Where do we turn for an understanding of “cult.” To Mr. Rick Ross, who has never attended college and whose felonious activities, from burglary and jewelry store heists to false imprisonment, span several decades? (There is nothing wrong with not going to college, unless one wants to set himself up as an “expert” in a field whose scientific and academic literature spans multiple disciplines from the behavioral sciences to history and theology? And, of course, there is something wrong with committing felonies.) Or should we turn to the Ancient Church itself, with its “cloud of witnesses,” its holy men and women whose spotless lives and character and wisdom are testified by their martyrdom and their incorrupt relics, as well as by the narrative testimony of both contemporaries and later generations who have come to know them in prayer. A quick perusal of the Book of Acts will send up all kinds of red flags to those conditioned by publicity hounds and “victims rights advocates” to seek “signs” of cult behavior. And just as shocking is the fact that the Orthodox Church itself asks all the faithful to strive to live the kinds of lives that monastics are able to carry out with greater rigor: strict fasting that scandalizes secular minds, frequent confessions to a Spiritual Father, a time-consuming rule of prayer, long vigils that prepare us for Great Feasts and the Holy Mysteries, and so on. Unlike the Latin Church (which divides the “religious” from the laity) there is nothing expected from monastics that is not expected from us all, to the best of our current ability.

          But what of scowling nuns and getting smacked by stick-wielding elders? The modern age (at least since Kant) has reduced religion and spirituality to ethics, and then further reduced ethics to being “nice.” Scowling nuns are not nice, nor are elders who give you a good whack with a stout pole. But was St John the Baptist, the first monastic, a “nice” person? Were any of the prophets, who harangued their contemporaries in the most unpleasant way, “nice” people? Was Jesus Christ Himself nice? Was the encounter with Christ on Mt Sinai a nice experience for Moses? Understood traditionally (and I would say authentically) religion is not about niceness or any kind or about conventionally good behavior at all. It is about holiness, about purifying oneself to enter into the presence of holiness and even becoming holy oneself. (The German, Lutheran theologian Rudoph Otto, early in the twentieth century, rediscovered this ancient truth that the Orthodox Church has always known.) Look at the icons of the Church, starting with St John the Forerunner and concluding with Christ Pantocrator. Holy faces, awe-inspiring faces, but hardly nice in any conventional sense.

          Mainline Protestantism is all about being nice, and since everyone is nice, it is easy to feel good about oneself. This is the utopia of bourgeois values, a place where everyone is “good” in this very conventional sense. But it is not, in my experience, what authentic spirituality is about at all. Holy people often seem at first to be rather harsh, perhaps even a bit fierce. Try doing battle 24-7 with the Evil One for a while, and monitor the results. But as you get to know them, as they see that you are a genuine seeker, a wonderful and unforgettable warmth and radiance begins to penetrate your heart, and you start to see: “Yes, this is what real holiness is all about”!

          And pole wielding holy men, who haven’t bathed in non-geological time? Elder Joseph the Hesychast (Elder Ephraim’s own Elder) was an extraordinary man, an exceptional man. His followers have been largely responsible for the revival of monasticism (without which the Church has no living compass) in the twentieth century. But this too repels us moderns, that there could be holy men and women, called by God, who are called to do unconventional things? Here, all I can suggest is to spend some time with Holy Scripture, and you will find more testimony to the soundness of this principle than I could offer here.

          Dangerous stuff. But what if, as I suggested an earlier post, everything good and worthwhile is dangerous? What if the safe and the tame is a delusion and a trap? (Readers of Lewis’ fantasy works might think here of Aslan, who as the children need to be reminded, is after all “a real lion.”) And all this can be so easily abused. But so too can what is nice and safe and conventional. Mephistopheles, at least as envisioned by Goethe, is an awfully nice guy. So was Jim Jones: watch the old videos. Both of them charming fellows. Spiritual discernment is imperative, and there are no algorithms, no rules that can substitute for it. We must approach with fear and trembling. And humble prayer. But I would, at the very least, urge that we not assume in our discussions that it is a good thing to judge the Ancient Church by worldly and conventional standards. Everything in the Gospels points in just the opposite direction.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        Relative to the category of cult, I remember picking up a pamphlet years ago at my grandmother Frieda’s house characterizing all the non-Lutheran variations of Christianity. After running down the histories of Ames and the Amish, the Campbelites, the High-Water and Hard Shell Baptists and the Episcopalians and the Methodists and so on, one came upon the final section, entitled, “Miscellaneous Anti-Christian Cults.” Under this heading one could find, among others, “Christian Science” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormonism”
        I’m not at all sure how the “world of cover your hiney” relates to Nevins’s story. Please, elaborate on that. And, along with that, who is it that will be giving “the Nevin’s story…a grand rugsweep?
        By the way, after I enlisted in the US Army in 1954 at the age of 21 going on 22, I was sent to Fort Leonard Wood Missouri for Basic Training. I doubt very much if Elder Ephraim’s novices and so on are treated with more physical and psychological abuse than I was. Our drill corporal saw to it that we were entirely “disconnected” from society” and we lost our names entirely for a long time, being called just “private”, or “stupid” or “ill-co” and so on. To go on sick call was to risk ridicule and shunning, and, unlike the climate in Elder Ephraim’s monastery, one couldn’t leave without utter disgrace and a mark for the rest of your life.
        And, Donald, NO cult “requires deprogramming’ to leave, nor do they offer it. ‘Deprogramming” is, rather, the more or less forced method of re-introducing the deformed products of a “cult” to the “real world,” i.e., to the society outside the “cult.”
        As for detachment, I believe that “he who loves father or mother….more than me is not worthy of me” would form a prima facie case as the ravings of a cultist, especially relative to Daniel’s reference to detachment from parents. As Daniel writes, “When was the last time such a cult leader came forward and said ‘I’m running a cult?”
        It’s very hard not to understand that in Roman Society before Emperor Constantine, the Christian Church superbly epitomized a cult, by all known standards, moreover a Jewish cult. Some even considered it to be an “atheistic cult!” One should not judge any cult by the people who leave it! Surely, one must look, rather and primarily, at the members of the cult, no?

        • Daniel E. Fall says

          Your Grace (hoping this title is acceptible to all),

          I am only suggesting it is unlikely for purely liability reasons that anyone would admit or suggest Ephraim is running a ‘cult’. This is the ‘likely’ cya and rugsweep. A rugsweep of dirt or not dirt, if you will.

          Mr. Nevins expects a poor investigation; but he truly wouldn’t ever get any… There is no desire to investigate Ephraim as a cult. Even if it could be considered one by certain definitions or persons…Rick Ross, by the way, is not the only person to identify Ephraim as a cult; I believe there is an entire group of people in Chicago against Ephraim as well if I read things correctly. But Ephraim sort of gets a pass on being a cult doesn’t he? Just for being a mainline Christian?

          I appreciate your mention of the US military and how it is cult-like; very spot on.

          I am mostly sorry for Mr. Nevins. I understand people can leave a monastery, but I’m not sure the ability to freely leave also defines a cult.

          What if a cult uses mind control by depressing subjects? I mean it is fair to say that people give up monetary gain and social status when they join a monastery. So, while they may not be bilked out of prior earnings; they certainly do give up a great deal to be in the group. Maybe all of this caught up with the poor fellow.

          I think the rating thing is funny in a useless kind of way. I’m going for continued negative ratings.

          Pretty tired, think I’ll go home now…

          • Michael Bauman says

            If one is going to talk cults it is also important to discern what type of folks are attracted to abusive cults.

            Obedience is essential for any progress toward holiness in the spiritual life so is some distancing from the ways of the world and, sometimes, one’s previous life. We post-Christian Americans steeped in the culture of the autonomous individual and the license = liberty idea have a great deal of difficulty with being obedient. That translates into suspicision of anyone who asks for obedience.

            Surely obedience can be abused but so can every other good thing we are given. Obedience is also difficult. That’s kinda why we have to struggle for our salvation. Learning to discipline our minds, our wills and our bodies so that we can pray, give alms, fast, and worship requires the deepest repentance. Healthy monastaries give a venue for that to happen.

            There are two intertwined questions here: 1. Do we as a Church and a people really support strict monasticism (or monasticism at all) and, 2) are the Ephramite monastaries healthy ones?

            Even if we really support and want monasticism, we must be careful not to idealize the monastaries, the monastics and the elders that lead them. We must practice disernment there even as we support them.

            Even a healthy monastary is not the right place for everyone at every time. It is wise, IMO, to always seek the blessing of one’s parish priest and one’s bishop to stay for more than a weekend. If I were running a monastary, it would be policy on my part for Orthodox inquirers.

          • Peter A. Papoutsis says

            I believe there is an entire group of people in Chicago against Ephraim as well if I read things correctly. But Ephraim sort of gets a pass on being a cult doesn’t he? Just for being a mainline Christian?

            Don’t put too much stock in these “Chicago” critics because their motives, if you have read their website, has less, MUCH LESS, to do with improprieties about the Monasteries here in Illinois and Wisconsin and more to do with a bunch of Modernized Greeks who do not like a return to traditional Orthodoxy and Priests refusing communion to unrepentant practicisng homosexuals.

            Most Orthodox, Greek or not, take a very balanced approach towards the monasteries, very much like the approach echoed by Michael Baueman. The Ephreimite Monasteries are just the lightning rod in the on-going battle between Modernism and Christianity.

            I and my family have visited the Female Monastery of St. John Chysostom in Pleasent Prairie, Wisconsin several times and all of us have enjoyed our time there, especially during Holy Week. Very peaceful.

            Monasteries, like our Church, are NOT “Angelic Institution” that are perfect in every action. They are filled with human beings who are flawed and working out their salvation. They do immense good and are an Oasis in this vast Moderinist Desert. We need our Monasteries, especially in this country, for a healthy form and expression of Orthodoxy.


  26. Gail Sheppard says

    19 year-olds “detach” from their parents, period. My daughter is an A student at a unversity. My son was into the punk rock lifestyle. I did not choose their paths. They “detached” when they entered into adulthood and I respected their right to make their own decisions, whether or not I agreed with them.

    I knew a man who lived at the monastery for over a year. He had no trouble leaving and the reason he left had nothing to do with his feelings about their practices. He left because he knew one day he would want to marry.He continues to visit every year for 25+ years. I don’t think he would do that if he thought he narrowly escaped a “cult.”

    Although I am deeply sorry about Ashley Nevin’s loss, I have to judge the veracity of his claims, by the way he presents himself. He has expressed over and over again, before the grip of grief, how morally bankrupted we are as a Church. He claims our ENTIRE Church is a cult! I know that to be false. So if his opinion of the Church isn’t credible, why would we accept his claims about the monastery?

    I suspect if it were truly a cult, there would be many more men speaking out about it. This thing is not getting “swept under a rug.” The accusations have been voiced. Perhaps nothing is being done, because nothing is amiss. Lack of action doesn’t necessarily mean a cover-up.

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  28. cynthia curran says

    Well, George is not hard on homsexauls, in fact Emperor Justinian paraded some bishops that were accused of having sex with boys and had them castrated well the bleed to death.

    • Daniel E. Fall says

      So, wow George, you are being held to a very high standard it seems !! As long as you don’t castrate them; you are a good fellow.

      Gosh, golly, gee.

  29. cynthia curran says

    well they bleed to death I mean.

  30. cynthia curran says

    Well, father a lot of Californians are not liberal, its just that Los Angeles County votes Heavily for Democratics since the blue collar aerospace workers that voted Republican left it around 20 years and a lot of immirgants moved in and the white population that did come in tended to be more Democratic. On the other hand, the Republicans which were more conservative in Calif limited property taxes in 1977 by passing prop 13 tha is why Calfiornia has higher business taxes and income state since Property tax is limited. Father the inland Empire, Orange and San Diego that are growing faster La are more conservative and moderate than La County is.