Western Rite Critic

A Balance to Contagious Enthusiasm

Maybe the Rite isn’t the Core of the Problem Anyway?


Would it be fair to say that many of the problems plaguing Western Rite initiatives are endemic to their parent jurisdictions? Would something like the following chart be a fair way to compare these problems?

Eastern Rite Western Rite
Includes some WR people who were pressured to “Byzantinize” Includes many converts who were pressured to “go Western Rite”
Sometimes treating WR brethren as second class Often dismissing ER brethren as outmoded and irrelevant
Can exhibit East European Phyletism Frequently exhibits Anglo-American & West European Phyletism
Confusion about what is Orthodox Confusion about what is Western
Twin problems of Neopapism & Anticlericalism Twin problems of Neopapism and Congregationalism
Alien (im)pieties: general absolution, deprecation of all things seen among Russians Alien pieties: sacred heart, stations of the cross, rosary
Abbreviated Liturgics, and deprecation of the full range of services, vigils, etc. Serious liturgical problems: Tridentine, BCP, and so-called Tikhon’s Liturgy
Confusion about what is piety and what is culture Confusion about what is culture and what what is piety
Inadequate Catechesis & Dubious Converstion Inadequate Catechesis & Dubious Converstion
Ecumenistic courting of Rome Ecumenistic courting of Rome
Deprecation of monasticism Deprecation of monasticism
Dubious evangelistic methods Dubious evangelistic methods
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May 15, 2008 - Posted by | Western Rite Questions | , , ,

38 Comments »

  1. The other sources of falling away, declining numbers and inspiration for Maybe the Rite isn’t the Core of the Problem Anyway Question anyway are in my opinion various expressions of Orthodoxy which frequently escape scrutiny in this site and the mention of which will probably offend many. There are ER jurisdictions besides the Antiochian which also deserve mention and further discussion.

    Within the MP there are a fair number of ex-Uniate parishes, which in the celebration of their history are more than a little resistant to give up their customs, sometimes considered “Rusyn.” Any move towards Russian Orthodoxy (Russification) is seen as an imposition and a threat to parish “identity.” The levels of sad irony here are many. One that I will mention is the assumption that this “Rusyn” identity is somehow more open, warmer or somehow even more universal and will draw in lapsed parishoners or even converts… but does anyone qualify or really define this “Rusyn” identity now some three generations old and living mainly in the suburbs? Add to this the notion among many of these “Rusyns” that the OCA is somehow the future of Orthodoxy (an idea which seems passe, something from the 80’s)which even many active MP people have and some ROCOR raised middle aged people have who seems to enjoy going back and forth to OCA activities, some of whom later come to reassess their years of “enthusiasm.”

    Related to this is the OCA in and of itself. This is not to paint all OCA parishes or members with the same brush or to detail the obvious references to their ongoing “troubles.” All jurisdictions have troubles. Frankly, it would seem that even the big names of the OCA like Fr. Schemann have contributed to the problem of “this”: the almost delusional notion that unless Orthodoxy develops a pan-Orthodox American Orthodoxy all will be lost. Many of the maneuvers criticized in the Anitochian jurisdiction have their precedent in the liturgical reform sensibilities in some (yes, I said some) of Fr. Schemann’s writings, especially wherein history itself is utilized in ways that are academic at best and often tramsaparently programatic.

    I have to say this, and I was born in the USA, I think American Orthodox Christians need more than just what they consider acceptable Russophobia, but also some measure of sober Amerophobia. The notion that suburban mentality is somehow the solution or that everything American is good makes St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians required reading.

    Comment by publican123 | June 24, 2008 | Reply

  2. Ah yes, when teachers became “educators.” Teaching presumes a body of knowlege with a referential existence and application. Moreover, the process of learning has a relational existence to this knowlege and the applications thereof.

    Education (or reeducation) is much more prone to -isms, a sense of learning wherein paradigms are readily discarded and replaced while being foregrounded, ahistorical, or where history itself reveals as an organic development (ex. Aristotlean order as then utilized in writing, expression) history is selectively valued or devalued at the service of some other -ism be it a form of nativism (Roussean or overextensions of linguistic theories, as in Chomsky), or one can cite the earlier way of doing things as having the greater authenticty though in the course of time a later “less authentic” expression proved more effective, more useful in developing the original goals. This approach is plastic, amorphous, cunning like the devil.

    Comment by publican123 | June 19, 2008 | Reply

  3. Frankly, if one looks at the core documents from the architects of public schooling, then looks at major shifts in public schooling, there’s a strong trend away from Churches that correlates with public schooling, and moreso with each passing decade, beginning at some point (which one could argue about choosing). My point is that public education is widely considered a driver in dechurching youth culture. There are other culprits, but public schools are where we inculcate young people into the culture. They eclipse all other institutions combined for that purpose. If one wants to design how people respond to their environment, one uses public education to do it.

    Comment by tuD | June 17, 2008 | Reply

  4. Perhaps the turning away by the youth or next generation are for reasons that are more banal. Many ethnic parishes are in neighborhoods that “have changed” (now an inner city ghetto?). People move away with greater socioeconomic level. Intermarriage, even by so-called older generation parishoners. Multiplication of Orthodox parishes within a relatively small radius (paradoxical effect, related to groups of older parishoners “who didn’t get along.”)Social activties of the older parishoners left behind in even so-called more active parishes, spirituality of retirees, depressing field trips. Parish councils of those left behind with a tight grip depite declining numbers. Anti-clerical rhetoric of even older generation… “If Mom and Dad are really that unhappy after all those years, the coffee hour complaints and GOSSIP, what was the point of all those hours in Liturgy over the years? I’ve met people who don’t go to church who are actually kinder…”

    Not much prayer in the home before the family icons…

    Comment by publican123 | June 17, 2008 | Reply

  5. You’re right skobtsov (about authority and teaching) and I stand corrected. I wasn’t thinking about it from that perspective, but it’s the one way I should have.

    Incidentally, and this is not too preserve the argument, but I was thinking about the question of disaffected youth, and I recall seeing numbers which, unfortunately I can’t reproduce right now (I am thinking of consulting gallop), that show massive loss of next generation youth in almost every major Christian religious sector. In other words, it’s a general phenomenon and not one specific to Orthodoxy. And that brings us back to the culture as a cause. I have my own ideas about what that cause is, but Publican is right about it not causing simultaneous inhibitions to the outlandish world of cults. Though, I’d venture to say even 2nd generation scientologists are perhaps just as much at risk, thank goodness. 🙂

    Comment by tuD | June 17, 2008 | Reply

  6. @ 31, publican 123:

    I agree wholeheartedly about the Two Paths posting. That’s a valuable addition to this discussion and I intend to comment upon it. Thank you, tuD.

    @ 30, tuD:

    It’s one thing to say, This is what I think, let’s talk about it. It’s another thing to say, This is the Orthodox faith — and you are advocating heresy. Now I might think that the latter be the case in some particular instance, but I would go really slow in asserting such, for the obvious reason that no angel has descended from Heaven to anoint me as a teacher of Orthodoxy, and I am loath to bring myself under judgment by condemning my brother. These aren’t my personal “theories on teaching and authority,” these are scriptural aqnd patristic considerations, wouldn’t you agree?

    We will answer for every word, remember?

    For the record:

    1. I do not hold “that Western Rites are necessary to restore the heritage of and a living relationship with the Saints and the Fathers.” I do hold that the Church has lights that have been hidden under bushels.

    2. I do not hold “that the American people (either in general or among the disaffected children of Orthodox ancestors) determine what a genuine American Orthodoxy is.” I do hold that genuine Orthodox who are Americans have a responsibility to address legitimate issues of inculturation, just as other Orthodox peoples have done.

    3. I do not hold “that the chief opposition to Western Rites is unfamiliarity and inconvenience among the clergy (and what that suggestion implies).” I do hold, however, that this is, indeed, one factor among many.

    Please fiorguve my offenses as I forgive yours.

    Now on to the Two Paths!

    Comment by skobtsov | June 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. I might add that for those who are looking for what the world wants or to increase numbers, it might be useful to review the Gospels. Yes, this sounds somewhat sarcastic, but is actually quite necessary.

    I would dare say that our own lack of setting a good example and being charitable (and yes, happy as Orthodox Christians) does more to turn people away than simply the length of the Liturgy or the number of bows/prostrations.

    We might recall that those who turn away to non-Christian religions have less fear/disdain for length of services or numbers of bows/prostrations.

    In many cases, they never knew what Christianity taught/believed (that is, Orthodoxy).

    Comment by publican123 | June 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. Yes, “We’re a discussion in progress” and “Christians in progress.” All of us face eventual illness and death, and yes, judgement. With that said, we too easily forget that the brother or sister on the other end of our typing is a human being, body and soul. Once again, we repent, but that does not mean we will simply and always agree or make too many concessions.

    I think the latest posting about the Two Paths is excellent, not because it is scientific but in a reasonable and meaningful way draws contrasts. These contrasts are not without spiritual meaning, distinctions. I think THAT is a big part of this site.

    What makes it hurt sometimes worse is similar to the effect of a letter in the mail, only here everyone else reads as you read the letter.

    May we all always pray.

    Comment by publican123 | June 16, 2008 | Reply

  9. Skobtsov, while I don’t subscribe to your theories on teaching or authority, I certainly have no wish to misrepresent your views. However, one cannot really account for inconsistency in another person’s reasoning. For instance, if you say, “The US needs to reduce its dependency on foreign oil, so that we’re not at war all the time.” it would be fair to say that your presupposition is that the US is frequently at war over resources. You might then say, “Wait, you’re misrepesenting my views; I’d never say that.” And that may be true; you might be inconsistent; but it is your premise, even if you don’t acknowledge it. This is not looking deep in your psyche for hidden attitudes, but simply doing the logic/math of representing your syllogism.

    It is possible that I have misread your argument and, if indeed that is so and you don’t hold that Western Rites are necessary to restore the heritage of and a living relationship with the Saints and the Fathers (and what that implies), then I’ve been mistaken. If you don’t hold that the American people (either in general or among the disaffected children of Orthodox ancestors) determine what a genuine American Orthodoxy is (and what that claim implies), then likewise I’ve been mistaken. If you don’t hold that the chief opposition to Western Rites is unfamiliarity and inconvenience among the clergy (and what that suggestion implies), then I’ve been further mistaken.

    However, if you do in fact hold these positions, as I understood you to do, from your post, I feel free to extract from them the presuppositions necessary to those premises and likewise their implications, and to do this against the backdrop of Orthodox thinking. After all, what else would we be doing here?

    We’re not standing around “sharing” — What we are doing is trying to work on several sets of problems surrounding the various things, movements, texts, pieties, and people variously called “Western Rite”. It’s a group collaborative project. Our touchstone is always the Orthodox Faith in her fulness. If anyone says we can’t have that, without the Western Rite, that’s begging the question and, naturally, we have to reject it — for that reason and, of course, because that claim would be heretical.

    I’m not, incidentally, claiming that you hold to the various things in those agendas – just showing the tendency I think is there if we go down those paths, and the tendency I think is already well-worn among many enthusiasts for Western Rites of one definition or another. It’s another articulation of the problems we face, for which you’ve provided some fodder.

    Frankly, you show remarkable restraint, despite what I think are some inflammatory assertions early on that need to be reconsidered. You may have no interest, but you’d be welcome to stick it out and hash out these difficulties with us. We’re a discussion in progress that sometimes is part diatribe, part scathing criticism, part simple debate, and part inquiry and data gathering. We’re like a group of people gathered around trying to find the an elusive nanoparticle and dealing with various theories that give conflicting reasons for why we can’t. The collective result might be useful or not but, so far, it’s been helpful for some of us to clarify our thinking. It’s no excuse for being rude to one another of course – I think it’s fair to say I’ve trounced some of your ideas, but I might have bruised you quite unfairly in the process. No excuse:

    Please forgive me for offending you. Right or wrong, I should not do that.

    I might do it again, mind you. But it’s not intentional. I’ll do the best I can to go after ideas w/o hitting the vocalizer.

    Comment by tuD | June 16, 2008 | Reply

  10. @ 28, tuD:

    I’ve read your post carefully, several times, and thank you for the trouble you’ve gone to. In response, I don’t know where to start. This broadside of yours is aimed at an “agenda” I do not share and do not profess — it is a tissue of misrepresentations of my views, such as they are. All I can say is, I hope and pray, for the sake of your soul, that you may be right, because you have taken upon yourself an awesome teaching authority. I hope you are prepared to answer for it.

    Comment by skobtsov | June 15, 2008 | Reply

  11. Skobtzov: Leaving aside the phenomenon of “I started a logical debate, but since you’ve diagrammed my argument and it’s heretical, now I’m crying for a hankie – you’re so mean, so mean, and you’re not Christlike and loving…” You write:

    No effective evangelisation of North America is possible with attitudes such as yours. Orthodoxy will continue to be a fringe faith and a crazyquilt of “jurisdictions” that cannot retain even many of the young people raised in it.

    I think you’re illustrating my point. You don’t have much respect for Orthodoxy as it is. You use it to preach when it suits you, and slam it when it’s not your brand. How dare you speak of the Orthodoxy in this manner. For one thing, Orthodoxy is not one Faith among many, nor does it brook any real comparison, so your treatment of it as “a fringe faith” is a claim that it’s another religion and a denial that it is the truth. The claim of it being “fringe” is an obsession with the comparison going on in your head, and your wish that it be more acceptable in and fitting to society than that it remain what it is. Again, you wish to change it.

    You try to shore up this essentially Protestant/Episcopalian approach to religion, with appeals to a “crazyquilt of jurisdictions”, showing that you have no respect for the piety and pious people who have been born, lived, and reposed in this situation. You seem ignorant of the even wilder canonical situations in the countries of origin for these jurisdictions. No, you want to make Orthodoxy into something it has never known nor seen – a mythical homogeneity of presentable, clean, crystalline acceptability on a part with other supposedly monolithic “faiths”. One must repudiate such a dream as full of every kind of pride and presumption. The desire to be the social architect of the Faith and the Church is itself an attitude of heresy and rebellion, and must be shunned.

    You likewise appeal to an inability to retain youth which, in true non causa pro causa style, you attribute to overlapping jurisdictions, multiple jurisdictions, and lack of a widely-supported Western Rite. For one thing, popularity among the youth is, as a general goal for the Church, idolatry. Which of our fathers ever said that we must do what it takes to retain the youth and not let them get away, or else we’ll be “fringe” and that’ll be bad? I can name may Protestant authorities who spoke like this. But Our Lord spoke rather differently in the Holy Gospels. For another thing, I’d like to see your statistics comparing youth who leave the Church in the US vs. those who leave it in Eastern European countries where one jurisdiction prevails – like Russia. I think you’ll find you don’t have much of a case for any of your claims.

    Instead, what I see is a desire to be more popular, liked, wanted, desired, accepted, appreciated, lauded, respected, and part of something large and widely attractive – transferred onto a desire to modify Holy Orthodoxy. In other words, I see in your claims and wishes all manner of passions which are repudiated by the Fathers of the very Faith that evidently you don’t love enough to remain in love with when you think it’s unpopular or has a high social cost. This is your cross; this perception you have is a fork – literally a crossroads: on the one hand is Christ calling you to leave father and mother and take up your cross and follow Him; and on the other hand is Death, and its passions telling you to desire to be desired, to want to be wanted, to appreciate being appreciated, to seek popularity and the acclaim of the world. This is literally the glamour of the world being shown to you as it was to Christ on the mountain, and you must make a choice.

    But here, I can tell you most certainly, we will be quite unsympathetic with anyone trying to preach popularity and acclaim and the approval of the world and youth culture. We will not go whoring after other gods. This is the Faith of our fathers.

    And I believe you are mistaken in two areas about Western Rites:
    1. That it is the ticket to worldly acclaim, or should be. Such a Western Rite deserves no support. But nothing about Western Rites demands such a brand anyway. A well-executed genuine Western Rite should be just as much an affront to your average denizen of the US as an Eastern Rite. And if it’s not, then you’ve sacrificed truth for familiarity – you’ve created a liturgical canard – something that gives the impression to a visitor that he knows what’s going on, but in fact is deceiving both him and you. I’ve seen Western Rites that were just as offputting to your average Methodist or Episcopalian visitor as any Eastern Rite. That’s one way you know they haven’t used a rite as a means to disguise watering down and modifying the faith, which is despicable and idolatrous behavior.
    2. I think you’re mistaken in assuming that Western Rites (or some kind of homogenous “Western Rite” culture, whereby the question of rites is just a canard) are properly a solution to your perceived problems of multiple and/or overlapping jurisdictions (the former not even being a real problem, according to the canons and the political structure of the US). What evidence do you offer that if all the juridictions in the US switched from using the rite of St. John to using the rite of St. Gregory, it would bring a resolution to either multiple or overlapping jurisdictions? This seems at best faulty logic and, at worst, an unsupported suppositions – a wish, a guess. And frankly, when people are loudest at hollering for you to overturn accepted practices and revise the way we do things on the basis of their insistence it will solve our problems, aside from the fact that their pride and presumption refutes their own demands, you can be sure we’re even less motivated to listen and the firebrands have little or no solid evidence or argument.

    No, you offer a typical cause-problem-solution scenario, where the cause cannot be shown to correspond genuinely with the problem, and the solution cannot be shown to genuinely mitigate the cause or the problem. And you dress it up with rhetoric that casts aspersions on the Orthodoxy of those who don’t agree with you (so that’s really all you have, falsehoods and insults). And what is not addressed is the immense presumption, the seduction you’re slinging (“Come, be more popular, be more accepted, let the world embrace you.” that sounds just like the children of Israel being lured to the golden calf), and the passions evident in your diatribe against the Faith and at variance with the demands of its Author.

    We reject the idea that there is an Orthodox Western Rite without the Cross. And we should reject it, and so should all supporters of Western Rites. Let the Orthodox be Orthodox, and those who want to use Western Rites to alter the Faith be corrected by the Faithful of any rite.

    No one here has rejected a Western Rite that is true to the Faith. But no Western Rite supporter should, for the sake of his cause, be willing to sacrifice the Faith, and its costs, for the sake of his agenda. The fact that “Western Rite” initiatives have always been used, aside from whatever Saintly support, to advance various personal agendas for overhauling the Church, the Faith, and the relationship of both to the World, the dominant culure, and heterodoxy, is one of the reasons for widespread concern about it. The enthusiasts try to bury that aspect of its history with mere appeals to the canonicity of various groups, orders, or initiatives, but the truth is it has always been a place to hide for revisionists, social architects, and even less savory things we won’t mention. That shouldn’t mean there can’t be excellent Western Rite initiatives and, frankly, there are some reasonably good ones. But it does mean that the temptation to get in on the ground floor of new initiatives and use them to revise and overhaul the Church and its relationship to other things, should be watched carefully.

    It’s like the environment that surrounds a government in transition – all kinds of actions and initiatives are carried out which people had in their heads but couldn’t get away with when things were quiet and ordinary. So many of the screamers for Western Rites seem bent on creating “versions” of Orthodoxy that are more suitable to them, and merely use the various problems besetting Orthodoxy to remain in a holding pattern, free from letting the Faith shape them; they’re waiting for policy changes as a way of avoiding internal changes. They have distanced themselves from the Faith that produces theosis, and are waiting to get their way, a different policy structure, so they can then interpret things as they wish. This isn’t conversion, it’s subversion. In my experience, a lot of supporters of Western Rites, unfortunately, are trying to convert the Church rather than the other way around. One of the things this site does is provide a place for Western Rite supporters to sound off who don’t believe that Western Rite initiatives should be about revising the Faith itself.

    You know, you can hear the agenda-bearers all the time:
    * “I’m glad we have Western Rite; the Church needs to be more American!”
    * “I’m sick of all the ethnicity; we need an Orthodoxy that’s less Russian!”
    * “We’ve got to appeal to the youth. I don’t want to be in a fringe group!”
    * “There’s no reason why Episcopalians shouldn’t become Orthodox. We’ve got to change our style!”
    * “Our numbers are too low. We’d be a lot more “successful” if we went Western Rite.”

    These enthusiastic cries for overhauling our image, our relations to the world, the culture, and heterodoxy are, frankly, a far cry from those who want to use a Western rite in the fulness of Orthodox experience, the unique assertions of her doctrines, and the richness of her piety, without making the Faith more patriotic, more in line with the dominant social/political agenda, less pious, more popular with those who don’t really like Orthodoxy anyway, more homogenous and bigger. On the one hand, you hear enthusiasts with their own agenda, wanting to use Western Rites as a springboard, and on the other, quite a bit less loudly, you hear what I think is a minority, who don’t want to change anything except which prayer book they’re blessed to use and, in fact, want the fullest expression of the Faith in both rites. They’re not trying to make their way the one way for everyone, either by mandate, or by criticizing everything they can about “Eastern-ness” and trying to get people to either defect or die off, so only their platform is left.

    I’m not a Western Rite supporter, per se, but I’m with the latter camp, not the former. I can have an honest disagreement or two with people who don’t brook heresy and idolatry. With the former, though, it’s tablets of stone. The law is the law. And here, however it may be prettied up, I’m going to call it out. Frankly, as much as I know some of the Western Rite supporters here wish I’d go easier, I know too that in their heart of hearts they know they can’t take support from the wrong groups for the wrong reasons. It’s not about numbers and the loudest voice; it’s about what’s right. I know the pious Western Rite supporters here don’t want a house built on sand.

    And if I seem harsh on you, sir, it’s not you at all; it’s that you’re doing something I’m convinced (lest I think less of you), you don’t fully realize, and it needs to be extricated. I’d be remiss if I didn’t call your attention to it, but remiss further with our readers if we let it stand as the best representation of Western Rites. There are far better reasons to permit some Western Rite churches than the agenda you’ve espoused. The reasons you’ve given are reasons against.

    Comment by tuD | June 15, 2008 | Reply

  12. 1) Funny thing. Your name sounds familiar. I just linked it by accident, I guess. I don’t think it was an accident, but hey, maybe I’m confusing you with someone else.

    2) Scared of not getting an “amen” when you preach ideas contrary to Orthodox doctrine”?

    3) Wonderful. We use pre-schism Western services in our house. What we don’t use (usually on this site “Western enthusiasts” are defined as AWRV people with little to do with actual Orthodox Western tradition) is the “Liturgy of St Tikhon”, which St Tikhon did not write, correct, or compile; it being only a Cranmerite liturgy edited with a couple of paragraphs.

    I agree we need to restore Western Orthodoxy. But we need to do it AS ORTHODOX.

    Comment by joesuaiden | June 15, 2008 | Reply

  13. @ 22, Joe Suaiden

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m not involved in any discussion on OrthodoxChristianity.net, which I’ve never visited, and I certainly wouldn’t try to silence anyone if I had.

    “But I guess Skobtsov here realized he was now on an open forum run by an Orthodox and got kind of scared.”

    Huh? Scared of what?

    “I love how they cite modern saints defending the Western services, but the services had to be *Orthodox*…. No saint ever approved the Liturgy of St Thomas Cranmer and they know it.”

    Well, one hopes. My personal views on this issue have nothing to do with Cranmer — I think that the liturgies of the pre-schism West should be restored.

    Re evangelisation: If we continue to do what we’ve always done, we will continue to get what we’ve always got.

    Comment by skobtsov | June 15, 2008 | Reply

  14. As an aside, look at what even “conservatism” has become.

    Comment by publican123 | June 14, 2008 | Reply

  15. The malls are America’s cathedrals. More than 30% of the year, we work for the IRS, not counting hidden taxes. What the money gets used for? Effective programs and policies? In the midst of this, it’s a shame that in terms of morals people have “relationships,” low budget versions of Hollywood. Do not be surprised when facts or history are rejected in place of opinions. Our educational system largely devalues memory and idealizes the question, “What do you think?”

    North America is a big place. I do not know what the “effective” evangelisation from an Orthodox perspective is supposed to look like aside first and foremost with the setting of a good example and a clear witness in Liturgy and teachings (including personal sharing where applicable). The notion that a “Western rite” will somehow draw the numbers if distortions and concessions or greater presence of images of the society at large are included (ex. megachurch approach, allowance for Charismatic prayer). Door to door like the Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons?

    “Come to Me all who labor and are heavy burdened.” Beneath all the “hedonism” people are suffering.

    Comment by publican123 | June 14, 2008 | Reply

  16. Perhaps it is true that speaking of God’s purposes for man’s salvation through the Western (as opposed to Eastern) rites, is a bit presumptious. I don’t know, nor do I judge. I expect, however, that if such speech is indeed considered over-the-top, equal outrage will be manifested about all Orthodox who say that the Western rites died out because it was God’s will. Why don’t we just resign ourselves to Gamaliel’s dictum, “If it is of God, it will endure?”

    Also, it very much is true that in this country we have unprecedented freedom to exercise our faith. The problem is that the prevalence of hedonism and the erosion of historic civic-Christian traditions portend such an unholy alliance with the fallen part of our nature, that we have less ability (in actual fact) to practise our faith than inhabitants of intact Orthodox societies. For example, by abolishing Sunday as a day of rest, and opening it to all manner of economic activity, many are required to miss Liturgy and work on Sunday, so as to feed their children. There is a freedom that’s not really freedom… and being pressured into working on Sunday (to satisfy someone’s dream of “freeing” everyone from Puritanical mores) is only one of many handy examples.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | June 13, 2008 | Reply

  17. Well, it seems I am now silenced at OrthodoxChristianity.net since the facts I bring up are “my opinions”, and so I cannot release a post without permission.

    Apparently I have no right to speak either. But I guess Skobtsov here realized he was now on an open forum run by an Orthodox and got kind of scared.

    That’s ok. The truth is still getting out. I love how they cite modern saints defending the Western services, but the services had to be *Orthodox*…. No saint ever approved the Liturgy of St Thomas Cranmer and they know it.

    Comment by joesuaiden | June 13, 2008 | Reply

  18. @ 20, tuD;

    OK, you win — I’m outta here.

    Aside from the fact that you have no right to speak to me, or anybody else, this way, the spectacle of straw men being slain is proof enough that this blog is essentially tendentious.

    I am certainly NOT advocating a new ecclesiology or a change of doctrine, this is a ridiculous accusation — and neither were the modern-day fathers and saints who supported, at least in principle, that Orthodoxy in the West revive and resume its indigenous traditions. And the accusation of jingoism is likewise spurious.

    It’s clear what’s happening here — you have your one talent, and you’ve buried it in the ground.

    No effective evangelisation of North America is possible with attitudes such as yours. Orthodoxy will continue to be a fringe faith and a crazyquilt of “jurisdictions” that cannot retain even many of the young people raised in it.

    Oh you’ve “corrected” me, alright — but in the process you have lost your brother.

    May the Lord forgive us both for our sins and faults.

    Comment by skobtsov | June 13, 2008 | Reply

  19. The fallacy you’re committing is one of asserting necessity. Logically, your argument reduces to the assertion that one must accept the ecclesiological necessity of a Western Rite in order to support any possibility of the Western Rite. Unfortunately, that makes, for you, a Western Rite dependent upon an ecclesiological heresy that denies the fulness of the Church as she is. If you draw a logical fork between heresy with Western Rite and Orthodoxy with no Western Rite, as you have done, you shouldn’t be scandalized if people reject Western Rites out of hand. Of course, we have not done that, because we reject your presupposition. But it is telling that the result of your argument is that you want to change Orthodoxy – Orthodox doctrine – in order to make room for a Western Rite. If there is an Orthodox Western Rite, it isn’t the brand you’re selling.

    You ask, rhetorically, “Who defines what’s heritage and what’s distraction — this blog?”

    We don’t play games with snippy comments like that. Ask reasoned questions, and you’ll get reasoned answers. Some maturity is needed – not smart alecky rhetoric or sophomoric questions involving trees falling in solitary forests. Besides, if you don’t like the site, no one’s requiring you to participate. Or does it bother you that somewhere someone is saying things you don’t like? But I thought you were in favor of pluralism?

    You quip, “So you’re leaving for Greece or Russia when … ? That’s a lovely way to talk about a nation thst has given many Orthodox greater freedom to practice their faith than the Old Countries they came from.”

    Again… And do you see a big red, white, and blue flag waving on this site? We never agreed to have any particular patriotic warmth. If you’re expecting some sort of neoconservative rhetoric to be taken seriously here, that’s like trying to sell coffee to Mormons. Likewise, we don’t accept your kneejerk politicized historical claims about “freedom”. You don’t seem to have much experience with the “nations they came from” – your claim that Orthodox haven’t had much freedom there is akin to the claim that the US is the “greatest nation in the world”. In the words of Lewis Black, “how the heck do you know? For all you know, there are nations that are giving away free pie, all the time, and you just haven’t been there.”

    Claims such as yours might be understandable coming from the devotees of an infant nation (200 years) which has had an Orthodox presence less than half that time and, while founded in theory with religious freedom in mind, has a history of religious intolerance (with all the attendant massacres and “cleansings” ) that it all too conveniently forgets. Understandable, except that then it looks to nations that bore 70 years of an imported Western ideology (a virtual blip on their relative historical radar, if highly destructive), helped and fomented with US support (do you recall where Lenin was holed up before the revolution?), and now has the audacity to blither about a tradition of religious freedom and the darkness of other benighted lands. Without even starting on Greece, or whole sectors of the Orthodox world outside of the USSR period, it’s already patently absurd. And frankly, such jingoism forgets that Orthodoxy has undergone a captivity in the US, at the hands of the patriotic cheerleaders of “Americanism”, that it hasn’t even begun to take full stock of. The US is not God’s gift to Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is the fulness of the Faith, and the very suggestion borders on heresy.

    You hypothesize, “The fact is, the Lord has placed us in this place at this time. You think this is an accident? He has given ethno-Orthos from the world over a place to grow a pan-Orthodox church that has the freedom to look ahead into the future and re-evangelise the West. You think this is an accident?”

    I think you’re articulating a quasi-Protestant semi-Pentecostal superstition that has nothing really to do with the Orthodox mind. And frankly, I think it borders on prelest. When you have achieved the ascetic advancement to be regarded as a prophet, then you can tell us what God has done and for what reasons and to what ends and purposes. In the meantime, you’re either in the wrong religion, or you’ve brought the incense of something alien with you, and it should be exorcized. Please do not lecture us about what God wants, thinks, has decided, and try to explain your version of history in accordance with it – that’s delusion, it’s spiritually dangerous, and it’s an unconverted operation of your soul. Get rid of it.

    Comment by tuD | June 13, 2008 | Reply

  20. I see the orthodoxchristianity.net discussion appear to be spilling here….

    Comment by joesuaiden | June 13, 2008 | Reply

  21. @ No. 9, tuD:

    Well, thanks for speaking your mind. Now I know that this blog is not so much about balancing “contagious enthusiasm” as about extirpating any possibility of the liturgical renewal of Western Orthodoxy. You had nothing to say, I note, about “traditional Western rites, restored in accordance with Orthodox faith and practice, accompanied by thorough catechesis.” Nothing, qua “we don’t have a duty to restore that heritage, because there’s nothing missing that needs (to be) restored, and because that which isn’t necessary to the fulness of the Faith is NOT the heritage, but a distraction from it.” Who defines what’s heritage and what’s distraction — this blog?

    “There is no ‘seed’ of purely American Orthodoxy, much less one in American culture, which is quite inherently gnostic and heterodox, when not outright occult. What America needs is not to stamp its brand on Orthodoxy, but to have Orthodoxy stamped upon it.”

    So you’re leaving for Greece or Russia when … ? That’s a lovely way to talk about a nation thst has given many Orthodox greater freedom to practice their faith than the Old Countries they came from. The fact is, the Lord has placed us in this place at this time. You think this is an accident? He has given ethno-Orthos from the world over a place to grow a pan-Orthodox church that has the freedom to look ahead into the future and re-evangelise the West. You think this is an accident?

    Comment by skobtsov | June 12, 2008 | Reply

  22. Well, it’s a shame there’s a lack of clarity coming out of recent Orthodox communications on the subject, or that it even needs to be explained on web sites. If the Orthodox giving this advice were to live according to the traditions we received, men and women would stand apart during prayer, women would cover their hair and dress modestly, and lengthy religious gatherings involving a lot of outspoken talk (on a congregational/Protestant model) would be shunned. Men would wear the symbols of their pious commitments, their beards, and in general an atmosphere that correctly and at all times communicates and encourages the right relation of people to each other, including genders, would prevail.

    As it is, in the absence of any clear and persistent communication from the very piety and polity of Church life, we find the need to treat it like a philosophical discussion, in which there are options and opinions. If I am a man, I know what a woman is to me; I’ve seen an ikon of the Theotokos, and ikons of many of her handmaidens. A woman is a sister. A woman is first and foremost a spiritual being that God is saving (deification). Apart from that being the constant communication, symbole, mindset and mind, a philosophy of sexual relations is just another slippery sin.

    Comment by tuD | June 11, 2008 | Reply

  23. It is a difficult thing to address, because historically there were no such written guidelines, since society had not totally broken down. There was a whole system formerly, of matchmaking, of chaperoning, of asking the parents’ blessings, etc.. All the Church had to do was teach the timeless moral law of God, and oversee that marriage was conducted rightfully and canonically. Today, now that all structure and expectations have been washed away like topsoil in a flood, more specificity is needed. I would always tell my spiritual children (back in days of ancient yore) that if they have determined on marrying–if plans for the marriage were underway–they should not go any farther than holding hands, or a kiss on the cheek if others were present. In extending even this I may have erred, and if Saints and Fathers with far better grasp of Christianity than I disagree, well then I agree with them. Anyway, experience shows us that there must be some such agreed-on line in the sand. The Latin Orthodox Fathers are wont to call sexual sin “the slippery sin,” an apt metaphor because with pious folk it’s usually the eventual outcome of a slippery slope. It differs in that way from, say, anger which can ignite on a sudden and be expressed outwardly (in a blow or angry word) in the same moment it is born, and under nearly all circumstances.

    Well, I’ve probably said much more than I needed to, but I was compelled to, since this is of such immediate, practical import for our young people (of all ages!). Most holy Mother of God, save us.

    Comment by hieromonachusaidanus | June 10, 2008 | Reply

  24. For those infatuated with approval from “authorities,” perhaps this citation from an article on the Orthodox Christian Information Center will be of assistance. It relates to the Ecumenical Patriarch and the origins of the New Calendar. For those who already know, well, you already know the story. It does relate also to the Anglican Church and may explain a bit of the thinking in the use of the BCP. It’s somewhat long, but so is history:

    “Who was Meletius Metaxakis?

    “His name in the world was Emmanuel Metaxakis. He was born on September 21, 1871 in the village of Parsas on the island of Crete. He entered the Seminary of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem in 1889. He was tonsured with the name Meletius and ordained a hierodeacon in 1892. He completed the theological courses at Holy Cross and was assigned as secretary to the Holy Synod in Jerusalem by Patriarch Damianos in 1900. Meletius was evicted from the Holy Land by Patriarch Damianos, along with the then administrator Chrysostomos, later Archbishop of Athens in 1908 for “activity against the Holy Sepulcher.”[11] Meletius Metaxakis was then elected Metropolitan of Kition in 1910. In the years before the war Metropolitan Meletius began successful talks in New York with representatives of the Episcopal Church of America, with the intention of “expanding relations between the two Churches.”[12]

    “After the death of Patriarch Joachim III on June 13, 1912, Meletius was nominated as a candidate for the Patriarchal Throne in Constantinople.[13] However, the Holy Synod decided that Meletius could not canonically be registered as a candidate.[14] With the support of his political allies and acquaintances he was uncanonically elevated to the position of Archbishop of Athens in 1918, but after the usual political changes he was deprived of his see. His place was taken, on December 10, 1920, by the rightful canonical candidate, Theocletos, who had previously been unjustly deposed as Archbishop. While Meletius was still Archbishop of Athens, he along with a group of like-minded persons visited England where he conducted talks concerning the union between the Anglicans and the Orthodox Church. In February 1921 Meletius visited the United States. On December 17, 1921, the Greek Ambassador in Washington sent a message to the prefect at Thessalonica stating that Meletius “vested, took part in an Anglican service, knelt in prayer with Anglicans, venerated their Holy Table, gave a sermon, and later blessed those present.”[15]

    “At this time preliminary hearings were conducted, organized by the university professor Paul Karolidis concerning complaints against Meletius Metaxakis. It was decided that Meletius should be summoned to court before the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. The Synod published a report on November 21, 1921 calling for “investigative committee” against Meletius.[16] Although the investigation was proceeding against Metaxakis, he was nonetheless unexpectedly elected Patriarch of Constantinople. Despite the election, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece deposed Meletius Metaxakis on December 29, 1921 for a series of infractions against canon law and for causing a schism.[17] In spite of this decision Meletius Metaxakis was enthroned as the Ecumenical Patriarch on January 24, 1922. Under intense political pressure Meletius’ deposition was uncanonically lifted on September 24, 1922. Political circles around Venizeles and the Anglican Church had been involved in Meletius’ election as Patriarch.[18] Metropolitan Germanos (Karavangeis) of the Holy Synod of Constantinople wrote of these events, “My election in 1921 to the Ecumenical Throne was unquestioned. Of the seventeen votes cast, sixteen were in my favor. Then one of my lay friends offered me 10,000 lira if I would forfeit my election in favor of Meletius Metaxakis. Naturally I refused his offer, displeased and disgusted. Then one night a delegation of three men unexpectedly visited me from the “National Defense League” and earnestly entreated me to forfeit my candidacy in favor of Meletius Metaxakis. The delegates said that Meletius could bring in $100,000 for the Patriarchate and, since he had very friendly relations with Protestant bishops in England and America and therefore could be useful in international causes. International interests demanded that Meletius Metaxakis be elected Patriarch. Such was also the will of Elevtherius Venizeles. I thought over this proposal all night. Economic chaos reigned in the Patriarchate. The government in Athens had stopped sending subsidies, and there were no other sources of income. Regular salaries had not been paid for nine months. The charitable organizations of the Patriarchate were in a critical economic state. For these reasons and for the good of the people [or so thought the deceived hierarch] I accepted the offer…”[19] Thus, to everyone’s amazement, the next day, November 25, 1921, Meletius Metaxakis became the Patriarch of Constantinople.

    “The uncanonical nature of his election became evident when, two days before the election, November 23, 1921, there was a proposal made by the Synod of Constantinople to postpone the election on canonical grounds. The majority of the members voted to accept this proposal. At the same time, on the very day of the election, the bishops who had voted to postpone the election were replaced by other bishops. This move allowed the election of Meletius as Patriarch. Consequently, the majority of bishops of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who had been circumvented met in Thessalonica. They announced that, “the election of Meletius Metaxakis was done in open violation of the holy canons, ” and proposed to undertake, “a valid and canonical election for Patriarch of Constantinople.” In spite of this, Meletius was confirmed on the Patriarchal Throne.[20]

    “Under pressure from Meletius, the Patriarchate of Constantinople accepted the validity of Anglican orders in 1922 — an act which even Rome protested against. Then in 1923 Meletius initiated the “Pan-Orthodox” Congress (May 10–June 8). On June 1st, clergy and laymen dissatisfied with the innovating Patriarch held a meeting which ended in an attack on the Phanar with the goal of deposing Meletius and expelling him from Constantinople. On July 1, 1923, on the pretext of illness and the need for medical treatment, Meletius left Constantinople. On September 20, 1923, under pressure from the Greek government and through the intervention of Archbishop Chrysostomos of Athens, Meletius retired as Patriarch.

    “Meletius was then nominated as second candidate to the Throne of the Patriarchate of Alexandria in 1926. The first candidate was Metropolitan Nicholas of Nubia. According to the normal procedure the first candidate should have been elected Patriarch. Nonetheless, the Egyptian government, having delayed a whole year, confirmed Meletius as Patriarch on May 20, 1926.

    “As Patriarch, “at the cost of disapproval and division,” Meletius instituted the New Calendar in the Alexandrian Patriarchate.[21] While still Patriarch of Constantinople he had established ties with the Russian “Living Church.” The synod of the “Living Church” wrote on the occasion of the election of Meletius as Patriarch of Alexandria, “The Holy Synod [of the renovationists] recall with sincere best wishes the moral support which Your Beatitude showed us while you were yet Patriarch of Constantinople by entering into communion with us as the only rightfully ruling organ of the Russian Orthodox Church.”[22]

    “As the head of an ecclesiastical delegation Meletius Metaxakis took part in the Conference at Lambeth in 1930 and undertook measures for talks on union with the Anglicans.[23]

    “Finally, although critically ill, Meletius offered himself as a candidate for Patriarch of Jerusalem, but no election took place. Metropolitan Methodius Kondostanos (1942–1967) wrote, “This exile from the Holy Land, from Kition, from Athens, from Constantinople, Meletius Metaxakis — an unstable, restless, power-hungry spirit, an evil demon — had no qualms about grabbing for the Throne of Jerusalem even from Alexandria in his desire to extend himself.”[24] Meletius Metaxakis died on July 28, 1935, and was buried in Cairo.

    “After considering all this biographical information it should not surprise one that Meletius was a Mason. In connection with his election as Metropolitan of Kition, Meletius was initiated into Masonry in Constantinople as a member of the Masonic Lodge “Harmony,” as reported in the Journal Pathagore-Equerre (Vol. IV, Part 7–8, 1935).[25]

    “In 1967 the founding committee of “Masonic Bulletin,” the journal of the Great Lodge of Greece assigned the Mason, Alexander Zervuldakis the task of writing a monograph in which he describes Meletius as, “another shining star which glitters and illumines the firmament of the Greek Orthodox Church.”[26] Zervuldakis compiled a detailed biography of Meletius Metaxakis, whom he met while Metaxakis was still in Constantinople during those tragic days for Greece after the defeat in the 1922 war with Turkey. “I greeted him like a Mason greets another Mason,” wrote Zervuldakis; Metaxakis smiled and said, “I see that you understand me.”[27] From Zervuldakis’ monograph we know that Meletius first met with Masons in Constantinople in 1906. Full cooperation between Meletius and the Greek Masons in Constantinople began in 1908. The Masons with whom he met began to act forcefully in order to make “that investigative and curious spirit of Meletius… decide…to follow the example of many English and other foreign bishops and to…dedicate himself to the hidden mysteries of Masonry”.[28] Meletius is registered in the “Harmony” lodge in Constantinople as No. 44. He was initiated in 1909. Concerning this, Zervuldakis emphasizes, “I remember the joy and pride expressed by all the brotherhood over Meletius’ initiation when he was elected into our lodge.”[29] “After his initiation,” continues Zervuldakis, “Brother Meletius spread Masonic activity everywhere he went during the entire gamut of his tumultuous life.”[30] “There are very few,” the Greek Mason concludes, “who, like Brother Meletius, accept Masonry and make it the experience of their life. It was a great loss to us that he was so quickly called into eternity.”[31]

    “Meletius’ main cohorts in the calendar reformation were the men briefly mentioned above: Metropolitan Chrysostomos Papadopoulos and Gamilkar Alivizatos, professor of the theological school of Athens. In 1923 the Greek government created an electoral synod consisting of five men who elected, by three votes, Archimandrite Chrysostomos Papadopoulos, then professor of theology, as Archbishop of Athens on February 23, 1923. The faculty of the theological school of Athens prepared a recommendation for him, “through the initiative of Professor G. Alivizatos and with the approval of E. Venizeles and Patriarch Metaxakis.”[32] The election was uncanonical.[33] Nevertheless, Chrysostomos was consecrated as Archbishop of Athens two days later by the three bishops who had voted for him. During this period Metropolitan Germanos (Karavangelos), mentioned above, prepared to flee Athens. Many of his friends proposed him as a candidate for Archbishop of Athens, but Prime Minister Gonatas and the synodal bishops convinced them to elect Chrysostomos Papadoupoulos.[34]

    “Thus we see that the Church Calendar reform instituted at the “Pan-Orthodox” Congress in 1923 was invented and created primarily by the uncanonical bishop of Athens, Chrysostomos, the deposed Metropolitan Meletius Metaxakis, who was illegally elected to the Throne of Constantinople, and Professor G. Alivizatos. Both “hierarchs” maintained close ties with Protestants in America and England. Both acquired their sees by the active interference of secular authorities. They were both, therefore, obliged to comply with the wishes of the Masonic and political circles which had put them forward as candidates.”

    Comment by publican123 | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  25. Related to this thread, I dipped into the Antiochian Archidiocese website and read briefly from a section on sexual morality for teens, “How far is too far?” I recalled by stark contrast the clear teachings presented on the Orthodox Information Center website.

    From the Antiochian website:

    “Where to draw the line marking your moral borders? That is a question you have to ask yourself, but there are definitely things that are “too far”. Some teenagers today have indeed drawn “the line,” but not nearly as far away from sex as they should. Many consider themselves far too moral to have sex, but will do anything and everything leading up to it. I have heard these phrases uttered entirely too often: “Well, it’s just something that couples do,” or “It’s not the real thing…” I am very aware that certain sexual practices have gained widespread acceptance among the youth of our nation, but do you believe that as long as you personally don’t consider it “real sex,” that it is acceptable? It is called sex for a reason; treat it as you would “the real thing.” Doing these things is without a doubt, too far.

    You yourself need to understand what is right and wrong. “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) I have often heard the excuse that, “It just happened…” Of course, if you ignore the issue, you leave the door wide open for things to happen. You cannot just sit back and let things occur. You need to draw your line, and make it perfectly clear to yourself and others. That is the only way to ensure that you will make moral decisions.”

    8 things: First, I think books written in the fifties were more explicit. Second, the language which asserts that “You youtself need to understand,” “a question you have to ask yourself” with “there are definitely things that are ‘too far.’ Third, why not spell it out. Fourth, no mention of Confession. Fifth, no mention of prayer, self-discipline, fasting, almsgiving, CHRISTIAN MODESTY. Sixth, no mention of the teachings of the Fathers and the Saints. Seventh, NO DIRECT CRITICISM OF THE WORLD’S STANDARDS AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE INCLUDING FASHIONS, MUSIC, TV, MOVIES OR THE STAGGERING STATISTICS. Eighth, no mention of the devil, the evil one.

    Yes, let’s opt for neognostic solutions in all departments. Here in America where neognosticism reigns especially in our educational system where linguistic theories (Chomsky) are misapplied and overapplied in theories and methodologies that would make even the pre-psychotic Rousseau interrupt the conversation, let’s, in the back of our minds, “not worry the issue” of liturgics, but worry, underneath it all, what Oprah might think. Or what “they” say.

    Comment by publican123 | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  26. Feel free to compile any such findings, Publican. 🙂

    Comment by tuD | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  27. Let’s be frank, Joseph. It’s:
    – a bid for acceptance by the culture
    – a ratline to import the culture into the faith via the religious process
    – ultimately a stepping stone on the path to union with Rome, which seems to be urgently desired
    – a means of homogenization of religion (which yields something safer and easier to corral and control and bend toward the political and cultural will, but also make comfortable people who are uncomfortable with diversity and liberty)
    – a means of translating the imperialism of the West, rooted in its current center (the US, with its European arms), into a religious map – a Christendom that overlays with the Western geopolitical structure
    – a means of coopting Orthodox religion by wedding it to the above processes – transforming Orthodoxy into something that retains Orthodox trappings while acquire neognostic principles

    Comment by tuD | June 9, 2008 | Reply

  28. “Nor do the “American people” determine what American Orthodoxy is, nor does any definition of “American” that says it takes x-number of generations to make one. That’s the heresy of phyletism with another face. There is no “seed” of purely American Orthodoxy, much less one in American culture, which is quite inherently gnostic and heterodox, when not outright occult. What America needs is not to stamp its brand on Orthodoxy, but to have Orthodoxy stamped upon it.”

    There is no seed of purely any country’s Orthodoxy; this is the problem with all the arguments.

    We are not speaking on a level playing field. On the one hand, we have Americans who have not fully converted to Orthodoxy; on the other, we have Orthodox who don’t fully recognize the Orthodox heritage of the West.

    I guess I just don’t get it. We got our copy of “Orthodox prayers of Old England”. Though we were Greek Old Calendarists and Russian True Orthodox before we came to our Synod, we could see Orthodoxy in the liturgy. We knew it was Orthodox, not just academically, but spiritually. I believe anyone can see Orthodoxy in a Western Orthodox liturgy, provided it’s Orthodox.

    So for me the real question has been of late: why are these “Western Orthodox” so violently against *Western Orthodox tradition*? Of what value is it to them to point to a Greek tradition so they can hide under a phyletistic umbrella?

    If you point to them the authentic Orthodox tradition of the West, and they STILL have a problem, then we see the problem isn’t phyletism. It’s nostalgia for heresy.

    *THAT’S* the problem as I see it.

    That’s the root of *my* issue, and I find it is a point of contact for Eastern Orthodox as well. When East and West are *Orthodox* there just isn’t much of a difference. All of this dumb talk of “American Orthodoxy” and BCP Orthodoxy tells me that people don’t know what *Orthodoxy* is.

    Comment by joesuaiden | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  29. “What can possibly be wrong with this, other than the discommoding of
    bishops and clergy who wish to stick with Byzantine traditions because they’re beloved and familiar?”

    The most telling and offensive comment in the entire post for it trivial tone and nonchalance, and the most ironic and ridiculous. Consider the use of the beloved and the familiar in the development of the WR(from the BCP)from materials that were NEVER Orthodox but more accurately beloved and familiar and then “Orthodoxized” as much (or as little as possible). No need to “worry the issue?”

    If anything, the second paragraph supports NOT attempting to build Orthodoxy on American culture, even for the sake of the “droves.” One should recall the example of The Rich Young Man.

    tuD, I think it would be interesting to see the geographical distrubution of WR parishes in America, State by State. The distribution would correlate with…

    I’ve heard Russian pieties criticized. What do American pieties look like?

    Moment of silence (Freemasons).

    Comment by publican123 | June 7, 2008 | Reply

  30. No, I don’t think we have such a duty. I think we already have that heritage wherever you find the Faith. Frankly, much of the rhetoric that claims to support a Western Rite in the name of restoring a heritage is coming dangerously close to suggesting that the fulness of Orthodoxy is not available where one finds the Bishop, the Church, and the Faith. And that’s just another version of the heretical, ecumenist “two-lungs” theory. So no, we don’t have a duty to restore that heritage, because there’s nothing missing that needs restored, and because that which isn’t necessary to the fulness of the Faith is NOT the heritage, but a distraction from it.

    Nor do the “American people” determine what American Orthodoxy is, nor does any definition of “American” that says it takes x-number of generations to make one. That’s the heresy of phyletism with another face. There is no “seed” of purely American Orthodoxy, much less one in American culture, which is quite inherently gnostic and heterodox, when not outright occult. What America needs is not to stamp its brand on Orthodoxy, but to have Orthodoxy stamped upon it.

    Nor is popularity a right basis for ‘overhauling’ anything. In fact, according to Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers, popularity may be a distinct sign of failure and unpopularity the reward of success. “Beware when all men speak well of you. For so they did the false prophets. Rejoice when all men cast stones at you, for so their fathers did the prophets before you.”

    You set up straw man arguments, of which the last paragraph of your comment is an example. But if this is what you need to resort to to justify an American Orthodoxy, much less a Western Rite (which aren’t necessarily synonymous and may in fact mutually inhibit one another!), then it isn’t worth buying.

    Comment by tuD | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  31. What do posters make of this?

    “We Orthodox claim to stand in a living, organic relationship with the fathers and saints who have gone before us. Since this is the case, hasn’t the Orthodox Church in the Western diaspora the filial ~duty~
    to re-claim, revive and restore the heritage of the Western fathers and saints, including the Western rites and menaion? Wouldn’t this in fact be the only authentic beginning for a home-grown “Western Orthodoxy”? That, having failed to do this, Orthodox jurisdictions
    shouldn’t nourish high hopes for much success beyond the diasporal communities — which is exactly the situation they’re in?

    “The question has been raised, “What is ‘American’ Orthodoxy?” Well,that comes down to people, of course — in this case, American people. It’s said that it takes at least three generations to “make” an American. First, immigrants; then the immigrants’ children, born
    here, then their grandchildren, born here. According to everything I’ve read and heard, it’s precisely that third generation that is abandoning the ethnic Ortho-churches in droves, by alienation, indifference or conversion to Western heterodoxies. I would be very curious indeed to see demographics on third, fourth, fifth generation
    Americans of Orthodox heritage, because there, fathers and brothers, is the seed of American Orthodoxy.

    “Then there are converts. I’ve been bemused to read strong
    condemnations of what some people term “reverse uniatism,” i.e., reaching out to people already estranged from heterodoxy by offering them their traditional Western rites, restored in accordance with Orthodox faith and practice, accompanied by thorough catechesis. My
    point here is not to worry the issue of which of these rites be the most authentic, suitable, effective, etc., but to raise the question: What can possibly be wrong with this, other than the discommoding of
    bishops and clergy who wish to stick with Byzantine traditions because they’re beloved and familiar? Which sentiments are identical to those that Westerners feel when desiring Orthodox worship according to their own venerable traditions?’

    Comment by skobtsov | June 1, 2008 | Reply

  32. When one reads the entire blog of John and Jane there are some flawed views on their part to be sure. BUT, and I think it’s revealing, maybe the WR is better at “converting” parishes less individials or couples.

    In its present form, what is the WR saying about “Orthodoxy?”

    Comment by publican123 | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  33. John and Jane Smith experience “Western Orthodoxy”.

    http://fromheavenwithlove.blogspot.com/2008/05/update-on-our-lives-matt-and-i.html

    “The reason we decided not to become Eastern Orthodox this time, even if granted, by some miracle we were to get a mission church started here, was because of the Western Rite churches who are supposedly in communion with the Eastern Orthodox. If the Eastern Orthodox can be in communion with these churches, that says to me that the proper form of liturgy and church architecture is not as vital to the Orthodox Church as I had previously thought. Given that, it’s clear to me now that to break communion with the Bishop of Rome, and head East, metaphorically speaking, would not be the solution.”

    Comment by occidentaltourist | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  34. One of the myths of American society is the so-called openness of “liberals.” Frequently “anything goes” does not include dissent or simply sober consideration.

    I said it before as have others, the notion of “anything goes” as in the AOA depends on neo-papal approvals. In this way, the people on top can do whatever they want. I let you do something, now I’m going to do something.

    And lest we not forget, the “this is what reunion looks like” photo op…

    Comment by publican123 | May 20, 2008 | Reply

  35. Incidentally, I recently responded to a query with the following:

    Thanks. We are providing a service to Orthodoxy at large, to pan-Orthodoxy, to an ecumenical council if there is ever another one, to local synods meanwhile:

    * by contributing to the debate
    * by ensuring others have a free platform where criticism of WR initiatives is not squashed or herded into dismissable categories
    * by serving as a clearing house for critique on the subject

    The enthusiasts should welcome this, but alas.

    Enthusiasm, incidentally, is actually a religious term from revivalist religion. Enthusiasm is being caught up in “the spirit” of your own experience or methodology or purposes, so that you can toss out the rational restraints, considerations, arguments – it’s a direct channel to experience that no one can refute and which your brethren must simply accept or else be themselves ‘unspiritual’ (read unenthusiastic). We think it’s the appropriate term for the atmosphere surrounding many “Western Rite” initiatives and much that passes for “Western Rite”. In Orthodoxy, we actually call it prelest.

    I don’t think our intellectual opponents just haven’t picked up yet on what we’ve done by using that term in this way; we’ve exposed the squelching of dissent, or the mischaracterization of dissent (as bigotry, ethnocentrism, rigid legalism, etc) for what it really is – a thought-terminating religious agenda.

    Most of those of moderate disposition seem to recognize what we’re doing. But one can’t really talk to the shrill, so they’re not actually our audience – they’re our subject matter. 🙂

    Comment by tuD | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  36. Well, this is good discussion. I think we’ve hit on something here, and I like your term for it “The Offer” and your analysis of it as a marketing methodology (I won’t say “technique”, because methodology makes clear there’s a body of content in the technique, like Methodism – where we tend to think of techniques as content-free). And I appreciate the candor, Fr. Augustine, about things we’ve all thought and been concerned about – even the congregationalism at work where a vestry controls a Church, as they do in Episcopalianism, rather than the Bishop. This is refreshing to get it out in the air, but equally disheartening and disturbing.

    Maybe we should all collaborate on a book together. We could appoint an editorial board and then each write chapters, but then the board of all chapter-writers would moderate/edit/approve the content. We could publish freely as a pdf ebook. 🙂 Would only really work with at least 9 contributors.

    Incidentally, the phrase from Death to the World, comes to mind: “Accept all cultures, embrace none.” Maybe that would be a title.

    Comment by tuD | May 19, 2008 | Reply

  37. Agreed and I stated this myself before. I think that the notion of “The Offer” particularly applies in the Antiochian ER AND WR and that this is something very up front, a kind of marketing format.

    There is a not so subtle valuation of “Evangelicals” and “Bible Christians” who at once need to be brought in and shown especially “the Scriptual basis” for Orthodoxy with a simulatneous notion that they have so much to teach Orthodoxy. These same people need to be somehow “assured” about the Theotokos and icons… Underneath this, is it all a form of American phyletism?

    The idea that one “proves” Orthodoxy in this manner is in itself a Protestant venture. Is the result a parish where converts have been assured and/or a gathering where “converts” attenuate aspects of Orthodoxy which they still feel somewhat uncomfortable with, all the while maintaining to some degree heterodox practices, within the ER or the WR? The “Catholic” aspect of this is the neo-papal AOK because an “authority” now said it was OK…

    With respect to reading, I much prefer Fr. Michael Pomazansky to Clark Carlton. Carlton’s endorsement of Ron Paul, for example, is a testimony to his abiding need to utilize an American Protestant format/appeal, even while criticizing current American military initiatives paving the way for the U.S.A. to become the new “Evil Empire.” Fine. He likes Pon Paul. There are no true conservatives, and one could agree. He makes numerous appeals to the Constitution… But if he followed his own “logic” he might arrive at something closer to Father Seraphim Rose. There is something in the “tone” that while supporting even Orthodoxy that seems shrill and Protetstant. Bluntly put, I think the AOA is attempting to be THE new and improved OCA.

    The issue is this, that if one adopts a post-schimastic outlook that conforms to the world whether it’s ER or WR, there’s trouble.

    If America is really going down the drain and might end up the new “Evil Empire” why take corollary maifestations of various yet similar impulses of this culture and try to make them, without much critical assessment into a compromised ER or WR?

    Comment by publican123 | May 17, 2008 | Reply

  38. Well, this is something I’ve thought for a long time (and have tried to hint at).

    There is no functional difference between bringing Southern Baptists into Orthodoxy with poor catechesis and little formative liturgical experience, and bringing in High-Church Episcopalians with poor catechesis and somewhat better liturgical formation.

    The “Evangelical Orthodox” debacle seems far worse to me, than all the perhaps poorly received Western Rite parishes put together.

    And, it’s why I went to the ROCOR parish rather than the Antiochian parish in town. At the Antiochian parish I would have entered an entirely convert community, that was wholly ignoring much of the Church’s discipline and canonical norms. I would go to Vespers at the Antiochian Church and stand in the nave with anywhere between none and two other people. But, the next morning, fifty people would line up for communion. Unless they were confessing on their own time (since the time following Vespers was the indicated time for confessions), most of those people would go up for Communion for months and months without a confession. I could believe that some of the parish made arrangements to meet with father at another time for such a thing (I know how dangerous it is to “jump to conclusions” about such a thing as this) – but it does seem unlikely that *the entire parish* had private appointments with father throughout the week. There aren’t enough hours in the week for the priest to have met with them all at some other time!

    Two teenage converts kept the heart of the choir going. A prominent woman in the parish was preparing to marry an Episcopalian with an Orthodox wedding. The priest was a good man, and kept exhorting his congregation to do better – to remove the pews, attend vespers, live Orthodox lives… but, the parish council kept stone-walling his plans/proposals and requested that he desist from preaching on certain sensitive topics.

    Would I have been more shaped in the Orthodox mindset there, than in a Western Rite parish? I would only have learned Orthodox dilettantism – the art of feeling like I was in the “correct” religion, while doing nothing it commanded me in a correct manner.

    That’s not a defense of the WR’s problems, per se – but it is an admonition to remember that these problems are hardly specific to the WR. It is difficult for us to paint them as specifically WR problems, when they are really THE overarching problem in American Orthodoxy. The WR merely casts them in a special relief.

    Comment by fatheraugustine | May 16, 2008 | Reply


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