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Author Topic: Concerns about conversion & Orthodox church - The Ochlophobist comments  (Read 10187 times) Average Rating: 0
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KATHXOYMENOC
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« on: July 13, 2006, 11:06:06 AM »

Some interesting/provocative comments about conversion to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox church in general from The Ochlophobist's blog:
 
http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/
 
Specifically this 4-part series "the überfromm snuggling up to the gates of hell, parts I-IV":

http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/2006/06/berfromm-snuggling-up-to-gates-of-hell.html
http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/2006/06/berfromm-snuggling-up-to-gates-of-hell_26.html
http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/2006/06/berfromm-snuggling-up-to-gates-of-hell_27.html
http://ochlophobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/berfromm-snuggling-up-to-gates-of-hell.html

Any comments?
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2006, 11:22:47 AM »

Quote
there are 7 times more amish men than OCA

 Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked Shocked

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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2006, 12:15:32 PM »

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The Greek Orthodox Church depends on the Greek Archdiocese in North America to keep many operations within the Church in Greece financially afloat.

Really?  I thought the Greek government helped support the Church in Greece and the GOA in NA helped support the Phanar.
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2006, 12:23:51 PM »

Really?  I thought the Greek government helped support the Church in Greece and the GOA in NA helped support the Phanar.

I believe the Greek government supports BOTh the Churches of Greece and Constantinople. The GOAA gives very little to either with the EP relying more on donations from the wealthy in the US (that "archon"-thing)
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« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2006, 12:27:30 PM »

Really?ÂÂ  I thought the Greek government helped support the Church in Greece and the GOA in NA helped support the Phanar.

You're correct; the blog is incorrect. The blog author is in the OCA, however, and so his lack of understanding regarding the GOA's financial expenditures is understandable. Don't expect me to be at all accurate about the OCA's or Antiochian's budgets, for example...

I believe we have discussed elsewhere on this site the portion of the EP's budget that is contributed by the GOA. This amount has not increased much in the past ten years and actually is only a fraction of the EP's budget (I am thinking Cleveland may actually have the budget figures on hand).

While I don't remember the specific amount the GOA contributes, I was thinking it was in the low 6 figures. It shows that the 'common wisdom' that the EP will not "free the GOA due to the veritable treasure galleons of gold that America dumps into Constantinople's coffers" is not at all accurate.

Cleveland, do you have the information I referenced, or otherwise know where/how to obtain it?
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« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2006, 12:28:11 PM »

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The OCA has a renegade bishop who is clearly suffering from mental illness and has issued public statements that are an embarrassment to all Orthodox Christians. The OCA synod has no moral authority or administrative legitimacy to do anything about it. Interestingly, the auxiliary bishop in this same diocese is a known alcoholic who shows up to Church functions drunk.

This is a great one.  +Tikhon is not a "renegade"...well, I suppose it depends on how define what a "renegade" is.  (Btw, can someone give me a short synopsis on the debate of Clintion defining 'is'?  I never figured that one out.)  AFAIK, the OCA synod can depose/suspend/whatever to him if they so choose - they just have not chosen so.  Also, I thought that auxiliary just USED TO get drunk AFTER church functions...or at least drink enough to be over the legal limit.  Since the DUI incident, I'm pretty sure he has barely had a drop of alchohol outside of Communion.

Scanning further down this article, there seems to be loads of misleading, half-truth, outright lies and other statements.
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2006, 12:32:27 PM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9507.msg127752#msg127752 date=1152807831]
I believe the Greek government supports BOTh the Churches of Greece and Constantinople. The GOAA gives very little to either with the EP relying more on donations from the wealthy in the US (that "archon"-thing)
[/quote]
gotcha.

Where can you find out who the blog author is (i.e. who the 'Ochlophobist' is)?
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2006, 12:47:37 PM »


Scanning further down this article, there seems to be loads of misleading, half-truth, outright lies and other statements.

Again, you and I agree.  Smiley

However, I was concerned that if I was the first person to write such a statement, it would be seen as me unfairly criticizing someone bashing my Archdiocese, or that my opinion was some sort of official proclamation of OC.net. It is not, and to clarify things OC.net cannot be held legally accountable in any way from something that is clearly only a personal opinion by me, and so should be deservedly ignored by all.

Thanks for being so attentive to that blog!  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2006, 12:56:30 PM »

Again, you and I agree.ÂÂ  Smiley

However, I was concerned that if I was the first person to write such a statement, it would be seen as me unfairly criticizing someone bashing my Archdiocese, or that my opinion was some sort of official proclamation of OC.net. It is not, and to clarify things OC.net cannot be held legally accountable in any way from something that is clearly only a personal opinion by me, and so should be deservedly ignored by all.

Thanks for being so attentive to that blog!ÂÂ  Wink

Oh, I just barely skimmed it!  At first, I thought the blog author might be an ex-member of my parish that gone off the deep end, but it is someone else (who I guess you are saying IS in the OCA currently who has gone off the deep end).
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« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2006, 01:09:47 PM »

Man, my first thought was the guy doesn't know how to keep it to the point, and my second point is he accepts a lot of stuff that are innuendos and lies as being clearly true.

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« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2006, 01:15:32 PM »

Man, my first thought was the guy doesn't know how to keep it to the point, and my second point is he accepts a lot of stuff that are innuendos and lies as being clearly true.

Anastasios

That's what some of the Comments on his Blog in response to his posts have said, though I think he defends what he writes as coming from reliable sources, IIRC (there are 54 or more replies to part IV alone).
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2006, 02:12:31 PM »

Well...

You're correct; the blog is incorrect. The blog author is in the OCA, however, and so his lack of understanding regarding the GOA's financial expenditures is understandable. Don't expect me to be at all accurate about the OCA's or Antiochian's budgets, for example...

I believe we have discussed elsewhere on this site the portion of the EP's budget that is contributed by the GOA. This amount has not increased much in the past ten years and actually is only a fraction of the EP's budget (I am thinking Cleveland may actually have the budget figures on hand).

While I don't remember the specific amount the GOA contributes, I was thinking it was in the low 6 figures. It shows that the 'common wisdom' that the EP will not "free the GOA due to the veritable treasure galleons of gold that America dumps into Constantinople's coffers" is not at all accurate.

Cleveland, do you have the information I referenced, or otherwise know where/how to obtain it?

I don't have the figures on-hand; but the contribution of monies from the GOA to the EP is public information to those who will be in Nashville and who will be part of the sessions where they distribute the Archdiocesan budget.  I'm not sure if it's online anywhere...

As for who supports what: I think the Greek government supports the EP to a certain degree, but that's not really much... in some ways, the fact that Athens administers the "New Provinces" on behalf of the EP is the biggest help they could count on.  The Greek government does not, however, support the GOA - the only times I've heard of money from Greece coming has been to help Hellenic organizations/events (I don't think AHEPA, but maybe some others) and the Greek gov't sponsors much of the Holy Cross senior class trip (airfare, some transportation, hospitality at any monastery of our chosing, and I think a couple of nights in a hotel/motel where necessary).

As far as where the EP gets its money: contributions from the lands within the Patriarchate, the contributions of the people within the Archdiocese of Constantinople, some amount from the nation of Greece, the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and I believe that there are estates/endowments that have been left to the EP.  There has been some rightful criticism that some of the hierarchs of the Patriarchal Synod waste the Patriarchate's money when traveling with the EP (anyone seen the HBO series Entourage?), but otherwise it's not like the EP lives an extravegant lifestyle.  There are lots of helpers/employees at the various Patriarchal institutions, but much of that is done to help employ Orthodox Christians in the area...
« Last Edit: July 13, 2006, 02:13:26 PM by cleveland » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2006, 02:53:58 PM »

I have to say, I don't pay much attention to the inner dealings of the various jurisdictions, and I was never an evangelical, so my reaction to parts I and II was rather meh, but his part III and especially IV is absolutely spot-on with its description of the problem of "überfrommity", as he puts it. It's something I expect to be dealing with more and more as I assist in establishing a WR mission here in Houston. The lack of a "secular" (to use Latin terminology) form of Byzantine piety is one thing that I have always thought is a major weakness in Orthodoxy as it is practiced.
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2006, 03:00:06 PM »

I think some good points were made about the lack of pastoral care to keep converts in the Church.... but some of this stuff is just over the top.... especially the part of those who are opposed to Fr. Ephraim suddenly showing up dead or in serious illness.  Sad to see what could have been productive get lost to all those stupid accusations. 
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2006, 03:30:07 PM »

Some fairly detailed comments and rebuttals are at this weblog:

http://gabriel4580.blogspot.com/2006/07/ochlophobist.html
http://gabriel4580.blogspot.com/2006/07/contra-ochlophobist-part-1.html
http://gabriel4580.blogspot.com/2006/07/contra-ochlophobist-part-2.html
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2006, 03:41:50 PM »

Quote
The lack of a "secular" (to use Latin terminology) form of Byzantine piety is one thing that I have always thought is a major weakness in Orthodoxy as it is practiced.

Could you quote what part of the document that is from? I'd like to read it in context. If I understand what you are saying correctly, I'd have to fundamentally disagree. A lack of "variety" and "style" in piety is one of Orthodoxy's greatest strengths in my opinion.  Where has all this variety gotten the Latins? It's like a smorgasboard.  How can there be a standard measurement of spiritual development? I don't know, maybe I am just taking it wrong, but when I see things mentioned like "blind liturgical conservatism", etc., it just makes me cringe.

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« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2006, 03:46:59 PM »

Anastasie,

I believe what is being refrenced is not so much the varied piety of Latins but that their Divine Office has retained a much simpler form that can be used by the laity and small groups/missions much more easily than the Byzantine Divine Office. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2006, 03:53:15 PM »

Well, you can simply not pray all the prayers, that's what I do! (with my bishop's blessing!).ÂÂ  I think we seem to think these things develop willy nilly. I'd say they developed because they work. Hesychasm, the mixed monastic/cathedral typikon we now use, these things simply work, and that's why they are here today. I know, I have a simplistic notion of things and betray all that wonderful liturgical theology I learned in seminary Wink

I don't know, as I've said before I think the WR and other varieties are ok, I just don't like the idea that there should be "monastic" and "secular" ways of doing things. The typikon now used by the Orthodox Church combines both together--laypeople never read long amounts of psalms in the Cathedral rite--that was what monks did. Monks just didn't have hymns.ÂÂ  Now monks have hymns and laypeple have psalms. It's balanced.ÂÂ  If someone can't pray all of it,t hen just cut stuff out as needed and blessed. I'm sorry if I am offending anyone who has struggled with this. I just don't see what the solution would be other than to keep things stable and allow variation on a person by person basis.

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« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2006, 05:02:44 PM »

I mostly agree with what Anastasios wrote, mostly because despite a much simpler rite very few RC parishes have any portions of the Divine Office served.  Although the current Orthodox practice of the office isn't too spectacular.... low attendance, most the kathismata are cut anyway etc. 

Something else on this that I'm wonding about - I don't really follow OCA happenings... is the scandal THAT bad that? 
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« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2006, 05:26:13 PM »

Quote
Could you quote what part of the document that is from? I'd like to read it in context.

It's not really about the Divine Office. Part IV really goes into this. This excerpt explains what I'm talking about pretty well:

Quote
The totalizing experience that we are all supposed to have, as far as Orthodox are concerned is one of ascesis. It is a ubiquitous saying within Orthodoxy that "we are all called to the ascetical life," whether clergy, monk, or layperson.

[...]

Prior to the überfromm takeover of the Church, there are many examples of extreme asceticism to be found. Many of the desert fathers competed with each 0ther in acts of extreme piety (Jacques Lacarrière’s Men Possessed by God has a whole chapter devoted to these competitions in which he points out the similarities between the similarities of the desert monks and athletes during the same period). One need only think of the stylites to recall that extreme asceticism is as old as post-constantinian Christianity. But prior to the überfromm there was a non-monastic spirituality alive and well in the East which was at times vigorous and healthy. This spirituality was reflected in the fact that it had its own liturgical practices that were much more suited for the lives of laymen and married clergy than were the monastic liturgies. This spirituality was much more literate, more urban, and much more associated with bishop and cathedral than abbot and monastery. After the advent of überfrommity all Orthodox spirituality is monastic spirituality. Many Orthodox writers believe that this is essential to Orthodoxy. I do not.

[...]

It is impossible to develop an authentic Orthodox culture as long as the Church is a monastic Church. Thus, when a lay Orthodox (or married priest) engages culture, he does so in a necessarily fragmented manner (here, Roman Catholics have a great advantage over us). He has his totalizing monastic bag of devotional tricks in one corner of his life, and then he has the rest of the world that must be fuddled about in manners which are adopted, stylistically, from other sources. I cannot pinpoint a manner of lay life and say of it -- "every aspect of that Basil's life is recognizably Orthodox" (this can only be said of Orthodox monks) in the manner that I can say that "every aspect of Henry's life is recognizably Catholic" or "every aspect of Ed's life is recognizably confessional Presbyterian." There is a cohesive and comprehensive nature to magisterially faithful Catholic and some confessional Protestant modes of life. These styles are rarely totalizing and fragmented. Instead they are embracing of every aspect of human nature (especially Catholicism). When Henry drinks beer, he does so in a manner that, well, seems Catholic (Catholics have an articulated theology of food and drink, and temperance with regard to them). When he watches movies, he does so in Catholic fashion (Catholics have an articulated theology of the purpose and telos of modern forms of media). When Henry has sex, he does so as a Catholic (his Church teaches him exactly what is and is not permitted within the bounds of marriage, and informs him of the purpose and telos of the sexual act -- ask 10 different Orthodox about sexual matters, i.e. contraception, the relation of sex to fasting, etc., and you will get 15 different answers). There can be recognizable Catholic and confessional Protestant styles of life because they are surrounded by enough definition and boundary to work on a comprehensible art of living. The lay Orthodox on the other hand must always revert back to a monastic style of life which is not really his and which he can never live up to. This distortion is hidden by the abstract (in the art sense of the word) uses of non-definition and active non-clarification. In the Orthodox Church, the whole ethos of the realm of personal holiness (righteousness) and a personal style of living is something like a cross between a Quaker meeting and the French Theatre of the Absurd. On the one hand, I find refreshing the Orthodox aversion to cookie-cutter Christian moralism. On the other hand, humans being the mimetic creatures that they are, the former moralism is often replaced with cookie-cutter ritualism (prayer ropes, beards, etc.), even if this is done on a very limited basis by busy, worldly laymen. Needless to say, I get a chuckle thinking about the (not a few) Orthodox friends I have who never cease to use the word ascesis, but who I know barely manage to get off one Our Father a day and crack open the Philokalia for 1/2 an hour per week. But hey, they are really rooting for those monks! They believe in the salvific efficacy of a system of which they only touch the dust on the surface.

[...]

 I have come to believe that there really isn't an Orthodox manner of living, and there cannot be as long a totalizing überfromm ritualism is the only manner of life offered. As long as that is the case lay Orthodox life will remain fragmented. Catholics are at an advantage because their religious orders contain both active and contemplative traditions. The active acts as a leaven to the contemplative, and vice versa (when self-destructive liberalism has not infected them). Furthermore devout, conservative Catholics have clearly established manners of living for celibate lay, married lay, religious, and clerical styles of life. Most of their bishops are not monks (like the Eastern Church of the first millennium). Monasticism should be a leaven in the Church; it should not be the Church. Christianity started without monasticism, and if need be, it can enter the Last Day without it as well. In confessional Protestantism all manner of life is essentially lay Christian life and there is a distinct style of lay life in some of the conservative confessional Protestant groups.
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« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2006, 05:26:59 PM »

Quote
The typikon now used by the Orthodox Church combines both together--laypeople never read long amounts of psalms in the Cathedral rite--that was what monks did. Monks just didn't have hymns.

I was under the impression that it was the Cathedral rite that had extended, sung psalmody (much like the Western office still does), and most of the Byzantine hymnody came out of the monasteries.
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« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2006, 07:54:26 PM »

I was under the impression that it was the Cathedral rite that had extended, sung psalmody (much like the Western office still does), and most of the Byzantine hymnody came out of the monasteries.

Sung psalmody with a refrain was indeed part of the Cathedral rite.  Recitation of psalms in their entirety as part of the kathisma was not.  In the Cathedral rite, the refrains between psalm verses became longer and longer until they overpowered the psalm verses and hence the beginning of hymnography.  Hymnody did not come from monasteries, where before the fusion of the two typika, services were mostly focused on psalm readings and scripture verses.

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« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2006, 08:06:32 PM »

yBeayf,

Thank you for quoting the relevant portions of the text in question. I must say that from my experience, nothing he says corresponds to what I see in my experience in Orthodoxy. I'm sure you'll disagree and I don't mean to lump you in with him and go on the attack.  So, the rest of this post should just be taken as my thoughts and not "directed" at you for any reason.


-------

Basically, I am one of those "wackos" who has a beard (although it is trimmed) and wears a prayer rope (a small one with no cross).  I pray a certain amount every day and read a certain amount.  I say my Jesus prayer frequently and I'm a happy camper.

I do believe there is an Orthodox way of life and it's something that I see lived in parishes in our jurisdiction and in ROCOR type parishes. Of course there are unhealthy outgrowths but there are in my opinion unhealthy outgrowths in the other direction, too.  When the article talked about "Roman Catholic ways of approaching sex" and talked about it actually being beneficial that there were rules and regulations about everything and it was clearly defined, I found myself thinking, "NO! NO! NO!" The Roman Catholic "holy sex" "theology of the body" stuff is so cheesy to me personally.  Sex is sex--I have a healthy relationship with my wife but I don't find anything remarkably "holy" about it just like I enjoy sharing a meal with her or with my friends but I don't find that spiritual even though it is emotionally connective.  I don't know, I just never found any of that stuff personally fulfilling.

Protestantism is full of ways of approaching life, all of them wrong in my opinion, and so I am just surprised that anyone would want Orthodoxy to try and develop some kind of restricting world view and automatic response to all life's problems. To me, this world is basically fallen, it has some good in it, we are supposed to pray, fast, be charitable, go to Church, and be kind to those around us and things are transformed one person at a time. I don't see how anything else could beat that.

I've been Protestant and I've been Catholic, I've tried the whole "world view thing" the whole "making life Catholic" thing, even the whole Chestertonian pipe and a cocktail version of Christianity and none of it worked for me. Orthodoxy has literally changed my life, one day at a time, by doing a few prayers and trying as best as possible to fast.  None of that extra fluffy "lay culture" Catholicism or Protestantism ever had the effect on me that simply, traditional Orthodoxy has had.  I worry when I see attempts to "create" the Orthodox equivalent of these things--I've seen it tried and fail several times (for instance at New Skete, at SVS, etc).  It just seems to take the emphasis away from God's work of purification, illumination, and deification in our lives and try to replace it with a humanism in religious trappings.

If I've been obtuse, offensive, or overbearing to anyone, please point it out to me. I'm just trying to sort out my thoughts on an issue I've thought a lot about inside but never really expressed outside, and I'm not always good at that.

Anastasios
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« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2006, 08:58:03 PM »

Quote
I worry when I see attempts to "create" the Orthodox equivalent of these things--I've seen it tried and fail several times (for instance at New Skete, at SVS, etc). 

To be fair the author of the linked blog articles was also critical of New Skete and those types. 
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« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2006, 09:00:33 PM »

[quote author=Νεκτάριος link=topic=9507.msg127806#msg127806 date=1152838683]
To be fair the author of the linked blog articles was also critical of New Skete and those types. 
[/quote]

Yeah, I found it difficult to concentrate on the whole series, although I tried. So I missed that point. Still, what is the difference between what he suggests and New Skete? I have been to New Skete and talked to them, and they believe they are doing just what he suggests.  In fact, when asked why monks were dabbling with renewed "Cathedral" rites and "lay" spirituality, they said it was because the parishes WEREN'T doing it!

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« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2006, 11:05:58 PM »

Meh.  Whatever.  This guy has some valid points, but mostly I just don't get it.  At the end of the day, the only one who really matters is Jesus and He is the only one we can trust in- not our bishops, not our priests, not ourselves, and most certainly not some "reformer" who says everyone but himself is wrong.  Also, why does this man feel he has the right to criticize and label everyone like he does?  I'd like to know what category of convert he fits in. 

As for myself, I can say that my relationship with Jesus is real and alive now; before becoming Orthodox there honestly wasn't a lot there.  I would say that the Church has borne good fruits in my life, and it has proven itself to be the Truth by what has happened to me.

Also, I would say that my parish has an excellent sense of community and we  are most certainly not a bunch of ex-Evangelicals.  There's a few, to be sure, but mostly we're ex-mainline Protestants, ex-Catholics, and American cradle Orthodox with a few immigrant Orthodox thrown in for good measure.  Ok....so maybe we're pretty mixed actually, lol.  But seriously, my parish is great.  We all know each other and actually care about each other, and wonder of wonders, see each other outside of church and also we help each other when problems arise in our lives.   I know all parishes aren't like that, but the writer of that blog is insane if he is trying to say that Protestant churches are such wonderful communities.  Actually, after 17 years in the same Episcopal parish, I can honsetly say I didn't form any close relationships with anyone.  But in 11 months of attending the Orthodox church and almost 3 months of being a member, I have made several close friendships with people. 

But in the end, all that matters is Jesus, and do I know Jesus more deeply since becoming Orthodox? YES!!!!!!!!!!!!



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« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2006, 12:00:34 AM »

Dear all,
I very much appreciate the overall tone here.ÂÂ  I found many of the comments to be quite insightful.ÂÂ  I only wish to clarify two points at this time, if I may:
1.ÂÂ  I did not say that GOArch kept the Church in Greece itself afloat, I said, "The Greek Orthodox Church depends on the Greek Archdiocese in North America to keep many operations within the Church in Greece financially afloat."ÂÂ  The Church in Greece is state funded, but that does not mean that every operation within the parameters of the Church is entirely, or even mostly in some cases, state funded.ÂÂ  As one writer graciously mentions, I am OCA, and Greek finances are not those of which I am familiar.ÂÂ  What I have read of the Greek finances has largely been in the context of OCA writers comparing the Greek financial situation to our own.ÂÂ  If I am incorrect here, please let me know and I will change that line in my post.ÂÂ  Even if formal monies by GOArch amount to only low 6 figures per year, this is a considerable amount of money to the Greek Church.ÂÂ  Bear in mind that if they are receiving 6 figures from North America, they are also receiving considerable (though certainly lesser) sums from other Western dioceses.ÂÂ  Furthermore, if they were going to negotiate a permament end to a yearly gift of low 6 figures from GOArch, then I would think the pay-off would have to be in the 2-3 millions to make the pay-off worthwhile for Greece.ÂÂ  Thoughts?
2.ÂÂ  I did not write that Fr. Ephraim actually kills people, or spiritually has them killed in some way.ÂÂ  I wrote, "Those who oppose him are said to frequently die or get seriously ill." -- this line on my post provides a link to a website which describes how parents of current and former novices, monks, and nuns at the monasteries in question were told stories about these killings in order to intimidate them.ÂÂ  The whole thing is quite eerie, and is mentioned as a criticism.ÂÂ  I have no idea if Fr. Ephraim actually uses some sort of spiritual power to harm others.ÂÂ  I certainly hope not.
Warmest regards to all of you.
Thank you for your consideration of my posts.
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« Reply #27 on: July 14, 2006, 01:58:21 AM »

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2.  I did not write that Fr. Ephraim actually kills people, or spiritually has them killed in some way.  I wrote, "Those who oppose him are said to frequently die or get seriously ill." -- this line on my post provides a link to a website which describes how parents of current and former novices, monks, and nuns at the monasteries in question were told stories about these killings in order to intimidate them.  The whole thing is quite eerie, and is mentioned as a criticism.  I have no idea if Fr. Ephraim actually uses some sort of spiritual power to harm others.  I certainly hope not.

It is sad, because you have some good points to make.  There are some "rough edges" at Fr. Ephraim's monasteries, there are certainly many problems within all of Orthodoxy today.  When you make outlandish claims and link to webpages promoting the whole David Smith saga... you kill all of your credibility. 
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« Reply #28 on: July 14, 2006, 06:41:09 AM »

The phrase quoted above is the only one that has anything to do with the David Smith saga.  The rest of what I write concerning Fr. Ephraim is based on his own writings, which I also link to.   What some refer to as "rough edges" I refer to in other terms.  All I would ask is that persons spend just a few minutes to read a few different Fr. Ephraim texts, which are available online.  Then they can make their own determination as to whether we have here a phenomenon that is best characterized as "rough edges" or rather one more in keeping with the language I use to desribe it.
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« Reply #29 on: July 14, 2006, 08:29:18 AM »

I am lost on this one, I can't figure out why this was opened in the Convert Forum. I am locking this one and ask that if you wish to reopen it to do so in the Free For All.

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« Reply #30 on: July 14, 2006, 08:32:07 AM »

Instead of starting a new thread, I will just move this one to Free For All.

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« Reply #31 on: July 14, 2006, 09:58:21 AM »

I am lost on this one, I can't figure out why this was opened in the Convert Forum. I am locking this one and ask that if you wish to reopen it to do so in the Free For All.

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I originally posted it in the "Convert Issues" forum because a lot of Ochlophobist's comments related to issues facing converts, or issues that, in his opinion, converts were not being told or were being misled about.
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« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2006, 05:59:52 PM »

This is a long, complex denuciad, and I don't think picking at the details is going to help much.

As far as the numbers are concerned, I believe he is right. Everything I see indicates that in the USA orthodox bodies have demographics like mainline Protestants. And I think that part of what he refers to as the überfromm reflects a dynamic that I very much see in the Episcopal Church. Just as all Greeks should of course be Greek Orthodox and all Russians should be Russian Orthodox, all upper middle class educated Americans ought to be Episcopalians. And likewise, it suffices to be a member-- well, actually that part is even more accentuated on the Orthodox side because Episcopalians are still tainted by lingering traces of the Protestant obligation to go to church on the basis of what one believes. And I think his comparison of the two as far as how they relate to community is spot-on.

And as far as the various corruptions are concerned, it seems to me that he is also right, if perhaps somewhat exaggerated. The various discussions I've seen here and there are just more evidence that Lord Acton was right. I would guess that the Orthodox in this country have been spared the sort of scandals that have beset the Roman Catholics only because a largely married clergy greatly reduces the pool of possible offenders.

I think his thesis stumbles badly at the point where he includes the superpious in the überfromm. A lot of what he has to say about the superpious is more accurate than most people ehre would like to bleieve, I imagine, because superpiety is a little too close to the kind of interest we have for comfort. On the other hand, I see a lot of what I'll call theological Protestant converts falling into a "Orthodoxy can be no wrong" attitude that is the sister of superpiety, if not her twin. It's very common in converts to Catholicism too. The section in the first article about the fallen-out evangelical-to-Orthodox converts is very much to the point. It's why I don't see the various western rites surviving long-- unless the rest of Orthodoxy collapse about them. The implicit criticism of having a separate rite, coupled with the lack of hierarchical investment, guarantees that it will be neglected and then suppressed. (And if it's any consolation, I think the RC Anglican Use will be long gone by that point, because the criticism in that case is hardly so implicit.)
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« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2006, 05:03:49 PM »

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The section in the first article about the fallen-out evangelical-to-Orthodox converts is very much to the point.

Yes, but beside the point - as the ORU convert experience doesn't illustrate his thesis (much unsaid about it, as it is still in progress, and its 'demise' has been exaggerated by some.) I don't think I can name any ORU converts who have 'read out of Orthodoxy'. Those who have primarily had difficulties, it has been related to personal issues which don't reflect on Orthodoxy itself ... or converts for that matter. Any other issues tend to be related to a small minority attracted by 'Puritan' type sects, or those who have undergone the same stresses that any Orthodox in America undergo: the weight of the world, lack of Orthodox ministry 'on the ground' in much of the USA, Canada, etc., reactions against demands on time, resources, expectations.

Whatever happened at Wheaton, with ORU it has still primarily been a success. The first wave includes not only more than a few priests, but a bishop, and a few theological professors. A few who converted between then (the late 1970s) and the second wave (early 21st c.) have variously had great success or setbacks (I can only think of a few who consider it a failure - usually because they became 'more Orthodox than the Orthodox' and reduced themselves to a Church of One). For the second wave, the difficulties have not been in the majority - they don't outweigh the successes. What difficulties have been relate to habits, relationships, the lack of strong parishes when one leaves Tulsa, or just generational tendency to laziness, materialism, or falling into a bit of nominalism due to unexpected personal freedom. All in all, the same stuff *every* convert deals with - and often temporary (though, in a bit of a funk, some might see it as an 'end'. Thank God, they don't stay that way.)

The problem is, one has to build stability. It takes work. Often with people younger than 60 years of age, there can be lifelong habits of cyclical behavior (from manic obsession, to burned out apathy) - Orthodoxy doesn't promise 'quick fixes' (though there might be a few Orthodox who do). It helps to have a priest who doesn't paint only the rosy picture (at ORU, we were blessed - Fr. George didn't. If any ORU convert had a rosy picture, they didn't get it from St. Antony's - maybe the internet?) So far, I don't see that there has been *any* attrition from the ORU conversion due to exaggerated claims of Orthodoxy, or 'buyer's remorse' due to a 'bait and switch'.

As for Keble on WRO's future - wishful thinking. Wink
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« Reply #34 on: July 20, 2006, 02:04:31 PM »

Yes, but beside the point - as the ORU convert experience doesn't illustrate his thesis (much unsaid about it, as it is still in progress, and its 'demise' has been exaggerated by some.)

Take pity on us non-Texans, and spell out "Oral Roberts Univerity" at least once, OK?ÂÂ  Tongue

Quote
Whatever happened at Wheaton, with ORU it has still primarily been a success.

Maybe because intellectual standards at Wheaton are higher?ÂÂ  Grin Tongue Grin Tongue (just being obnoxious)

Quote
Orthodoxy doesn't promise 'quick fixes' (though there might be a few Orthodox who do).

Welllllll, it's not that simple. People who are looking across from other denominations, out of dissatisfaction with their own, are very much prey for implied quick fixes. For Episcopalians bothered by heterodoxy at home, Orthodox churches offer a quick fix to "I want to be rid of Jack Spong". For evangelicals who are bothered by their churches' lack of liturgy and historical perspective, going to Orthodoxy offers a quick way to get both.

This type of person is prone to a rush of enthusiasm which puts them into a kind of hyper-orthodoxy. And what they seem to bump up against rather often is not just the ugly reality of Orthodox theological one-upmanship or liturgical inattention or skeletons in the closet. It's the dogged resistance to doing anything about these things, particularly when it is justified by reference to the perfection of Orthodox teaching, that drives these people out.
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« Reply #35 on: July 20, 2006, 03:15:18 PM »

I'm not a Texan, but an Oklahoman. ORU's academics have been rated pretty high in the past, though I worry about it now. It really has depended upon the department.

Quote
Welllllll, it's not that simple.

Which is *exactly* what I wrote - I didn't imply or infer any 'simple explanation'. Orthodoxy doesn't promise 'quick fixes' (verifiable by dogmatics) - but some Orthodox may (I could name a few ... and that includes converts who make implicit or assumed promises to themselves.) I haven't noted too many over-enthusiastic 'hyperdox' conversions out of ORU - a couple, really. But, overall the ORU convert experience has been worlds away from the Evangelical convert's experience, IMHO. So far I don't see so much as a tendency towards any of us being 'driven out', though there are certain parishes each convert seems to prefer (or prefer to stay away from.) The real problem being anecdotes as evidence: someone has a particular experience, hears a few rumors and reduces all of the above to a proposition. Having a broader picture would probably help, though I don't know many who would have a good enough perspective on everyone to offer such a proposition on the effects of all.

This can be particularly irksome when it is being used in such a way where Gen-X dialogue about struggles (in particular, dealing with the temporal realities of people in the Orthodox Church), are misunderstood and used as judgments against the Church itself, or against some segment of the Church (converts, WRO, former Evangelicals, Wheaton folk, ORU converts, former Episcopalians, etc.) An example would be St. Paul's talk about the Jews - used often out of context for Anti-Semitism, when really it was every bit an *internal* criticism, and an argument over legitimate authority in the 1st century. But, I understand some still will use anything to gleefully hope for the demise of what they consider a competition for converts (as if so many of us are so easily bought.)
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« Reply #36 on: July 20, 2006, 05:23:11 PM »

I don't think it's exactly what you wrote, but we need not debate that. Perhaps I'm not expressing myself well.

I am extremely wary of the dismissal of testimony as anecdotal. That is one of the chief defenses of institutional commitment to bad situations, and looking the Oral Roberts experience instead of the Wheaton experience is simply picking and choosing anecdotes. The testimony is both, not one or the other, and the institutional foible is to push off responsibility from the institution and onto the (bad) converts.

What I see in this area is on the one hand a lot of überfromm (or what Serge once called "a small, b*tched-up ethnic chaplaincy pretending to be a universal church"), and on the other hand a small set of convert churches with rushes of exuberant delusion. (Some of them parallel a phenomenon I see in Catholic parishes led by Tiber-crossing ex-Episcopal clergy: Orthodox liturgy conducted according to Anglican liturgical principles.) I won't name names, but I see books by some of these converts which make me wonder whether the bishop is really paying attention, because potential converts reading this not-to-well-disguised ad material are bound to run into trouble if they end up at a real (read: ethnic) parish.
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« Reply #37 on: July 20, 2006, 11:23:20 PM »

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I don't think it's exactly what you wrote, but we need not debate that. Perhaps I'm not expressing myself well.

Well, it is what I wrote, though I agree that you might not have expressed yourself well.

Quote
I am extremely wary of the dismissal of testimony as anecdotal.

Except that hasn't happened in this case. The issue with the ORU anecdotes is that it was *entirely* lacking in testimony. It appeared to be based on a single post from David Bryan's blog, which really wasn't about the success or failure of the ORU conversions, but focusing on why some were nominal/disinterested at this point in time. Having been there, I can pretty much say that what Ochlophobist describes really doesn't apply to the ORU situation at all: different people, different problems. The war is different than the third hand perception of a half-heard war story.

Quote
That is one of the chief defenses of institutional commitment to bad situations, and looking the Oral Roberts experience instead of the Wheaton experience is simply picking and choosing anecdotes. The testimony is both, not one or the other, and the institutional foible is to push off responsibility from the institution and onto the (bad) converts.

You still aren't getting it. There is no 'instead' - I don't know about the Wheaton experience. I don't doubt the veracity of the testimony in that case, as I've seen it happen with other converts. I just can't relate. The ORU experience, however, is *my* experience, and a number of others - it isn't a 'bad situation' in any sense of the word. It has nothing to do with defending an institution or 'bad converts' (of which I would call none of them bad - only converts working out their salvation with the usual successes and failures on the way. If the ORU converts have had any great difficulty, it would be in finding an appropriate moral praxis, and in the usual things one recovering from religious abuse would go through - the abuse from the Charismatic movement, I should note.)

Quote
What I see in this area is on the one hand a lot of überfromm (or what Serge once called "a small, b*tched-up ethnic chaplaincy pretending to be a universal church"), and on the other hand a small set of convert churches with rushes of exuberant delusion.

My argument, then, hasn't been with the broader theme of Ochlophobist's essay. He's right where he's right (most of it), though the ORU inclusion was a problem. Otherwise, I'm still waiting for a definition of what 'uberfromm' is. I don't find the essay a difficulty though as I simply can't read my own experience of Orthodoxy in it, nor most Orthodox that I know. I suppose those who do get riled about it are 'stung'. I don't see the problems so existent in most Antiochian parishes (though that varies by diocese).

It should also be considered that it is quite unhealthy behavior on the part of those *outside* Orthodoxy looking for reasons not to believe, and that an apostate is probably not the best person to look to for criticisms on their former faith. Others are defending their own institutions (and their built-in delusions and abuses) which they are committed to, resigned to (or have apostasized to) and grasping at anything bad in or around Orthodoxy that can be held up as a sort of 'wolf's bane' for discouraging folk. But, then again, I don't 'get' making religious decisions based upon the criticisms of real-life 'Comic Book Guy' ("Worst episode/Church ever!")

I don't know that a resigned fideistic response is what is called for at the end of it all (I find it - inconsistent maybe?) as goes the essay on the 'Uberfromm'. Motes & beams. I suppose if I was invested emotionally in some of that, or involved in some of those dioceses, I'd sound as pessimistic. Beyond the ORU issue, and finding it mostly irrelevant to experience, the only parts I actually found bothersome was what seemed to be a bit of 'hero worship' of the St. Vlad's scholars and Abp. Lazar Puhalo's opinions (red-flags whenever someone harps on 'toll-house heresy' - no such heresy ever being condemned by the Church. One would have an easier time finding a real Monophysite - which at this time I think might be extinct ?)
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« Reply #38 on: July 21, 2006, 09:27:33 AM »

As for Keble on WRO's future - wishful thinking. Wink

I don't see how that is "wishful thinking".  While there are some WRO and "Anglican Use RC" they are still few and far between and young in the overall view of things.  And there are objections to those rites from others including Hierarchs. 

Not "wishful thinking" but perhaps more like "not counting chickens" or "wait and see".

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« Reply #39 on: July 21, 2006, 09:58:46 AM »

No, it is wishful thinking for their demise. The Old Rite Russians have objections from others (including Hierarchs), so do the liturgical uses of the Greek/Antiochian churches, etc. It is quite the opposite of well-wishing, and quite more negative than simple observation.
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« Reply #40 on: July 21, 2006, 03:06:19 PM »

As far as the various sorts of malign intent revolving around WRO, let me just say that it's hard for me to maintain complete equanimity towards a movement whose purpose would appear to be, in large part, to destroy my church.

In the larger picture: while apostates are clearly biased sources, ignoring them as a class is also an expression and source of bias. When outside criticism is rejected out of hand, serious and systematic sin is sure to be found.
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« Reply #41 on: July 21, 2006, 03:14:39 PM »

As far as the various sorts of malign intent revolving around WRO, let me just say that it's hard for me to maintain complete equanimity towards a movement whose purpose would appear to be, in large part, to destroy my church.

If you guys really want that lot, you're more than welcome to them; I'd personally wish people so disgruntled as to be willing to leave my church a good riddance. But if you really want them back, I doubt most Orthodox would object to you having them.
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« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2006, 06:29:48 PM »

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As far as the various sorts of malign intent revolving around WRO, let me just say that it's hard for me to maintain complete equanimity towards a movement whose purpose would appear to be, in large part, to destroy my church.

Which is plain silly. The purposes of the WRO are many, none of them have anything to do with destroying *any* Church. If your Church is undergoing a destruction, you'll have to look elsewhere for the causes than the WRO. Case in point - I'm WRO, and I've *never* been a member of "your church".

That some converts are disgruntled towards various groups they have belonged to before isn't any reason to judge them. Sure, it might entice some to become 'more Greek than the Greeks' (even to the point of taking on a new identity, name, culture, personality, etc.) But, 'disgruntled' isn't a term than can be attributed to Western Rite Orthodox as a whole or in general. A conversion towards fulfillment of one's faith isn't a disgruntled rejection.

Quote
In the larger picture: while apostates are clearly biased sources, ignoring them as a class is also an expression and source of bias. When outside criticism is rejected out of hand, serious and systematic sin is sure to be found.


Ah. Outside criticism = "destroy my church". Read you loud and clear. Wink  And, please - serious and systematic sin is *always* with us. That is part of the Christian struggle.  The problem with apostates isn't 'bias', but their falsifications. Or, is the bias of ignoring Alberto Rivera's claims about Roman Catholicism a fault? (Me - I don't believe a thing Alberto Rivera says about Rome.) Criticism is one thing - slander another.
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« Reply #43 on: July 22, 2006, 08:01:53 AM »

No, it is wishful thinking for their demise. The Old Rite Russians have objections from others (including Hierarchs), so do the liturgical uses of the Greek/Antiochian churches, etc. It is quite the opposite of well-wishing, and quite more negative than simple observation.

The Old Rite Russians have been in existance for a long time, if you mean the "Old Believers".  I know of the history that the Nikonian Reforms lead to the split.    WRO and Anglican Use RC are much more recent and have not been continuing for centuries.

There is more scope for person's opinions then only either active support or negative "wishful thinking".  I observe that the WRO and the Anglican Use RC exist now.  They are few and far between. Some of their members (most in the case of the RC) are former Anglicans or from other "western" non-EO/RC bodies.  Time will tell if they will be around in 10 years or 50 years or a century.

You have your opinion, others have theirs.  Wait and see seems to me to be reasonable.

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« Reply #44 on: July 22, 2006, 11:08:12 AM »

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The Old Rite Russians have been in existance for a long time, if you mean the "Old Believers".

Actually, the Old Rite within the Orthodox Church was only reestablished by Ukase in 1974. It had formerly been anathematized and condemned by the Russian Synod in 1667. Western Rite Orthodoxy was first reestablished by Ukase in 1870 (a century before, though there are multiple Ukases afterwards) and the rite itself was never anathematized or condemned by the Church. Continuity of Western rite tradition is the same as that of the Old Rite - a few centuries outside the Church, practiced by those who were anathematized and excommunicated from the Orthodox - only that Western Rite Orthodox (first implemented in 1890, continuously since 1926, 1932, and 1937 depending on the country) have been practicing longer in the Church than the Old Rite Russians have (first implemented in 1983). The two both depend on readmitting separated Christians to the Orthodox Church with their rights, and providing for them Orthodox clergy.

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Wait and see seems to me to be reasonable.

Negative predictions are not consistent with the position of 'wait and see', of which St. Gamaliel was the originator. *If* certain folk were legitimately taking such a position, then they wouldn't engage in speculation.
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"We must begin at once to "build again the tabernacle which is fallen down, and to build again the ruins thereof, and to set it up;" for HE WHO GAVE THE THOUGHT IN OUR HEART HE LAID ALSO THE RESPONSIBILITY ON US THAT THIS THOUGHT SHOULD NOT REMAIN BARREN." - J.J. Overbeck, 1866
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