This was the +JONAH I was hoping to hear. Well thought out, gracious, graceful, articulate, and loving.
I have a couple concerns with his points, but am thrilled to hear him speak in a more loving and respectful manner.
Firstly, his point that the difficulty of uniting the Church in America (and I'm paraphrasing here) is in doing it in a way that alienates no one. I think this is a key point. He is very concerned about the laity, obviously, and thank God. But I think that this has to be applied not only to the laity of the OCA, but that of ALL the jurisdictions (I'm not saying he meant it for only the OCA, I'm just making a general point here). I'm willing to forgive and forget the manner and tone of his pan-Orthodox sermon, personally (chalk it up to the purple demons of Lent). But it is more the general issue that concerns me. I have no problem with seeing the dance troupes, Greek schools, Greek celebrations, etc. put aside (or at least into proper perspective), but I do NOT want to see a loss of the liturgical traditions, be they Greek (from the Byzantine tradition), Antiochian, or Russian (or any other liturgical traditions). By traditions I don't mean language, I mean the manner and style of serving by the priests, musical traditions, architectural traditions, etc.
You made a point earlier which I hadn't respond to:
And another (one of my favorites):
Not to some kind of alien ideology, not to some nationalist or imperialist ideology from some forgotten empire. Not the imposition of foreign customs, and the submission to foreign despots – but to a united church in this country. Really? You must be kidding. He's talking about foreign customs wearing a RUSSIAN style of vestments! Did I miss something or didn't the OCA come from the Russian tradition? Certainly looks like it, from the tradition of music, liturgics, and vestments (among other things). Why does he fault the Greek Orthodox for following the Byzantine tradition of music, liturgics, and vestments? Isn't that a little backward? If he is not speaking of liturgical tradition, then what is he speaking of? Is he implying that the EP is going to force everyone to learn modern Greek, Greek dances, Greek cooking, celebrate Greek holidays, etc? Surely not. I think we can all see how absurd that would be. Unfortunately, yes, many of the GOA churches have Greek school and dance troupes. And I think most of us (including the clergy and hierarchs) will tell you it is unfortunate, not the place of the church, and that we are trying to weed that stuff out. To take that further and say that not only would the EP NOT weed those things out, but would force them on other churches, that is just baseless and, I'm sorry, but falsehood.
and a related question:
sI'm not sure where you're going with this... would you mind elaborating please?
I've often found that clergy of such and such ethnicity are often the ones most insistent on obliterating it.
I think your point on the "Russianness" of the OCA (or the "Nashness," from the large core of Carpatho-Russians who came in) is valid. I myself spent a decade in a OCA parish, and then 5 years in the OCA Cathedral of Chicago, Holy Trinity ( blessed in that it was consecrated by St. Tikhon himself, and another saint, St. John Kuchurov the Protomartyr of the Bolsheviks, was the founding priest). Yes, there are some who think because its in English, its not ethnic, but I have to say, for the vast majority of those I knew/know in the OCA, they are aware of ethnic differences. I remember one person at the cathedral commenting on some hymn/tone and saying it was "hill billy Russian" (Carpato-Russian/Rusyn) and compared it to another hymn:both were in English (btw, the person also seemed to be unaware that his grace Job was CR). There were other things we sang in "Greek tone," in English, (but also in Greek too).
His grace instituted a number of practices that were refered to as "Greek": some were brought by Greeks in the parish. Everyone thought of them as "Greek," although the parish did them year after year. Btw, the "Greek" was just for identification purposes: I never heard anyone complain of them, and many were enthusiastic about them.
One thing should be remembered: although his beatitude converted, he was received at a Patriarchal Parish, Our Lady of Kazan, number 6 on the Tomos list:
Finally, in addition to the Michigan parishes listed above, all the following still are active Patriarchal parishes:
6. Our Lady of Kazan Church, San Diego, State of California
He subsequently spent a year in Russia working for the Moscow Patriarchate, entered Valaam Monastery (near Finland, where the original missionaries to America came) and was evidently ordained priest there. So although a convert born in the USA and ordained a bishop by the OCA, his roots are deeply Russian. So I don't think he has an animus about ethnic culture, far from. I think he only has a problem when it becomes isolating. He serves Russian style, because in some ways, he is Russian. But I don't think he has (and I see no evidence of it: if you have, please quote) anything about "Byzantine" (I prefer "Constantinoplean" or "Greek") style or any other style of liturgics. I don't think he has a problem with language (again, if I am wrong, please indicate), nor dance troups etc. (as long as in proper place). I don't think he sees unity in terms of homogenization or "Americanization" in the sense of obliterating ethnicity. He is just opposed to divisions based on it, or ecclesiology based on it.
As to my comment about the clergy and ethnicity, let me give an example: at the parish I was at, the new priest, who was CR like the parish, once was telling me with glee how he was putting the stake throught the heart of the Slavonic. He was somewhat stunned when I asked why. I pointed out that I didn't have a drop of CR, or Slavic for that matter, blood and I didn't mind the Slavonic: they alternated so something in Slavonic this week was English the next. People tried to be able to say "Christ is risen!" to me in Arabic. This was their heretage, they founded this Church (from the Vatican, btw) so it was here for me when I needed it. My singing in Slavonic was a way of thanks, and no one looked down on me or required the Slavonic of me. "Why can't you leave it alone?" was my concluding remark. Said priest, btw, ended up defrocked when he abandoned his wife and sons and ran off with another priest's wife.
Most convert clergy (which is over half in the OCA and among the Antichians) are quite fine with tolerating the language and culture at least. The only ones who I've heard talk about killing it have all been those who are of it.
Secondly, he puts forth the OCA not as the ACTUAL Church to be adhered to (in other words, you don't have to join the OCA per se), but rather as the MODEL for unity. I'm glad that he has made a clear distinction that we don't have to all come under the OCA. I think that would make many uncomfortable. However, I would prefer to see SCOBA as the administrative model, personally, whether +DEMETRIOS is at the head or not. I personally like the way SCOBA functions and, considering all the problems the OCA has had in recent years, I think SCOBA is the more practical model. That's nothing personal toward the OCA at all (I personally love the OCA, as my former father confessor was from the OCA and I felt loved, accepted, and very at home in his parish).
When SCOBA is discussed as a eccleasiastical model, I have to confess, I don't know what it means, as it is not an ecclesiastical structure: it is an ad hoc committee. When it tried to transform itself into a canonical structure at Ligonier, well, the rest is history. I have no problem, in priniciple, of SCOBA being an "Episcopal Assembly" on its way to becoming a Synod, but 1) the Chief Secretary's comments makes me distrust such a scheme, as his comment:
The principle of presidency is followed, namely the representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate presides over these Episcopal Assemblies in order to preserve the necessary element of canonicity.
is contradicted by SCOBA's constitution
II. AUTHORITY AND STRUCTURE
All authority in the Conference resides in the member hierarchs and is derived from them. All decisions of the Conference shall require two-thirds approval of the member hierarchs present at a regular or special meeting to become binding on the Conference.
No decision of the Conference shall interfere with the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of any of the Canonical Orthodox Churches, or any of the member Hierarchs.
Autocephalous Churches, represented in the Standing Conference, are recognizing each other as equal sister Orthodox Churches with equal canonical rights.
Presiding Hierarch. The Office of Presiding Hierarch shall pass in turn annually to the presiding hierarchs of the member jurisdictions in order of their precedence in the Church.
and 2) there is the problem that it would include an autocephalous Church with representatives of other autocephalous Churches. The Resident Synod often in Constantinople might be a model, but I would think that would require Met. Jonah, as primate of the Residence, to head it, not to run afoul of Apostolic canon 34 and c. 8 of Ephesus.
Thirdly, he offers a rather unOrthodox idea of conciliarity... that being one of the hierarchs AS WELL AS clergy and laity. This concerns me DEEPLY for two reasons. One, the Tradition of the Church (until the recent developments in the Russian tradition that he points out) has ALWAYS been one of hierarchical conciliarity. This is one of those times when I think bucking against the tradition of the church that has prevailed for 2000 years could be dangerous. Two, frankly, I don't trust the laity (myself included). I think that has too much potential for mob rule, and not the work of the Holy Spirit. I would have less of a problem with the hierarchs and clergy (absent of the laity). But I think there's something EXTREMELY important to be said for not only theological education (which all of our hierarchs and clergy have, but a sad few of the laity have), but the GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHICH HEALS THAT WHICH IS INFIRM AND FILLS THAT WHICH IS LACKING (to paraphrase the prayer of ordination). That grace is given ONLY to clergy/hierarchs, not to laity. And to blur those lines is terribly dangerous.
Not so dangerous as the opposite: just look at Mardukm's posts, and more at CAF, on the reaction of the Faithful to the council of Florence. The examples could be multiplied: the Faithful's reaction to the deposition of St. John Chrysostom, the Faithful in Alexandria's reactions to the exiles of St. Athanasius, the abolition of the Henotikon, etc. The laity are not totally devoid of that grace: we receive a portion in chrismation. And there have been numberous times in the Churches history when we had to use it.
And watch out for education: when I went to a Unitarian "church" once, they made the point that the average seminarian today has more theological training and knowledge than the bishops at the First Ecumenical Council. "Yes," I said, "that's how they got it right."
Fourthly, along the same lines of conciliarity, he presents, again, this idea of a synod, and throws in the primate as an afterthought. This concerns me. I would really like to hear more from him as to what he feels the role of the primate would be. Would it be ONLY symbolic/liturgical? Or would it, in fact, also be administrative? Where is the line drawn?
As he is dismantling the centralization of the OCA, it would seem to be the former. But I don't think it's either/or. Just "what is primary?"
Fifthly, his general characterization of the EP and the Greek Churches in America (by his implications) still concern me and strike me as fear mongering, to some extent. This is because, when he was talking about the EP and then moved on to synods, he made it sound as though the EP functions absent of a synod, as though he is a pope. This is, of course, terribly incorrect and, frankly, misleading. He said (again paraphrasing-- I took notes, btw), that it is critical for church worldwide to have truly active EP who reflects the true diversity of Orthodoxy worldwide... this can only be done by entire synod... This is misleading people to think that there is NO Patriarchal synod, or that the Patriarchal synod is not diverse. On the contrary, there IS a Patriarchal synod, and it is made up of bishops from all over the world, who routinely rotate in and out, so that the diversity is ALWAYS changing (there is always a bishop from the US on the synod, btw).
I'll have to rehear it before commenting.
I think that's it for now. I'm going to try to transcribe the entire conversation tonight and post it here, if I have the time following vespers. I am REALLY eager to hear what everyone else thinks!!!
LOL. Be careful what you ask for....
Though I do wish his last one had been delivered in this manner and not as it was, and though I may disagree with a few of his points, this is one conversation that, for his loving and gentle delivery, I am proud to say AXIOS to His Beatitude +JONAH for!
Irenic as ever.