April 23, 2014
American Orthodox Institute
I’m confused. I thought Hellenism had already been incorporated in the Church via the Cappadocians and even earlier, in St Paul’s rebuke to St Peter (the universalists vs the ethno-tribalists of their day). If the archbishop says what I think he says, then this will undo all the good of the mass-conversion of the Indians in Central America. Perhaps I got this incorrect? I hope so.
It’s just too complicated for mere mortals to understand the complexities of
showering gushing praise and comparing one of the most incompetent and virulently pro-abortion president in American history to Alexander the Great to score points.
It seems us dumb sheep just can’t grasp the enormous sophistication of kissing a$$ in public to gain political favor with the president of the United States, regardless of his radical pro-death views with regards to the unborn and even the partially born. Got it!
Obama to Push Pro-Abortion Health Care Bill
Obama’s New Budget Contains Massive Funding of Abortion, Planned Parenthood
Obama to Overturn “Conscience Rule” for Pro-life Doctors
Obama: Premature Babies Aren’t People
Botch an Abortion? Obama Would Let Baby Die
Here’s another clip that’s just as “inspiring” as this explanation by Abp. Demetrios of the Leadership 100 group and its purpose and “work” in the world:
Yeah, the Feast of the Conception of the Lord, er, Greek Indepdendence Day, can’t talk about the sanctity of life in the womb.
“Hellenism is a transnational/nonethnic entity.” LOL.
I notice not a peep about any moral issue going on in this coutnry.
Isa, they can’t have it both ways: either Hellenism which is already subsumed within Orthodoxy or ethno-centrism. If converts feel that the Hellenism is going to force them to acknowledge the culture and/or politics of Greece, then they’ll immediately pick up that they’re second-class. That’s ok for those who are Philhellenic in their cultural affiliations (think of how T E Lawrence felt about the Arabs –he went native), but it won’t work for the vast majority of committed Christians. Christianity has universalized Judaism and Hellenism both. For that matter it globalized Romanitas.
It is true that Hellenism is a transnational/non-ethnic entity. It is also true that Hellenism has been incorporated into the Orthodox tradition through the Cappadocians. Thus, anyone faithful to the tradition inculcates those Hellenistic values properly understood.
However, when Hellenism is defined in terms of the national interest of the Greek State, or when Constantinople deviates from the moral tradition when it tacitly accepts abortion as a legitimate moral choice, Greco-triumphalism has in fact replaced the true Hellenistic values.
Personally, I think the truth is that the definition of “Hellenism” has changed, dramatically over the years. And each person, group, organization tends to distort it to suit their purposes, the GOA and His Eminence included.
Hellenism, as defined in ancient times by Alexander, was something to aspire to – the forces of light and knowledge as opposed to the forces of ignorance.
Hellenism maintained that definition thru the Middle Ages and to the Fall of the Eastern Empire (but I’m not expert on how the Cappadocians viewed Hellenism).
However, beginning in the 17th century and certainly into the present, I’ve noticed that people use the word “Hellenism” interchangeably with the Greek interests worldwide. Personally, I think they do the concept of Hellenism a tremendous dis-service when this is done – to the point of many, myself included, now equate Hellenism with racism. This is a bastardization of the term in the extreme.
As much as I have always admired Abp Demetrios, and can actually sympathize and (find nothing wrong) with the idea of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop acting as the Ethnarch of the Greek people in America (any more than I would argue with Met. Philip acting as the same for Syrians and Lebanese, or the Serbian or Romanian archbishop acting as the ethnarch of the Serbians and Romanians) – I find it terribly disappointing that His Eminence actually believes that he is there, in the White House, representing anything but Greek interests.
Let’s be honest…we know why he is received there, and so do the politicians…(particularly the ones from Chicago).
Trying to represent the politicians as thinking that “Orthodoxy and Hellenism are transnational entities, not ethnic entities” is delusional in the extreme, and seems to at the same time completely overstate the importance that we have in America. My guess is that the visits are part of a very simply, political calculus…pandering to the Greek interests allows us (the politicians) to be able to count on the Greek-American vote in the next election. It’s no more “transnational” than that.
And the argument that that same ethnarch (of whatever ethnicity) has squandered his moral capital in the process of representing those ethnic interests is simply a fact of life. It was a conscious choice, so they should be prepared to live with the consequences.
Sorry to say…
Dean, you hit it right on the head. However by giving the various jurisdictional primates a pass as to their status as “ethnarch” (i.e. Philip for the Arabs, Demetrius for the Greeks, Joseph for the Bulgarians, etc.) a can of worms are opened up. In that is this is so, then all Arab parishes belong by necessity to Philip, the Ukrainian eparchy of the EP belongs to the Ukrainian jurisdiction of Canada, ACROD belongs to the OCA, etc. And since we’re talking about ethnarch, +Jonah is the ethnarch of the “Americans.” Which of course opens up the worst can of worms at all: are Greeks, Lebanese, Serbs, Bulgars, etc. Americans or do they have dual loyalties?
I was confronted recently on which canon mandated national churches by a priest. Rather than answer it (because I didn’t have a copy of the canons with me) I remained silent. The above observation though should make it obvious why “the ecclesial model should follow the civil one.” (I believe that’s Apostolic Canon 1). So yes, there is a canon that mandates regional, local churches delineated by political boundaries.
Thanks for your critique, it allowed us to flesh this out even more. Sad to say, you may be right about some of the bishops being “delusional.”
This presumes that we poor ‘unwashed’ don’t know civics, or can’t anticipate corrupt bureaucracy. Any way you look at it, he’s insulting those who question his motives. I seem to recall a certain priest Kondratick and his cronies doing the same in the OCA prior to his fall from power.
The GOA really does not understand America, or Americans, AT ALL. And it is going to cost them when they try for the big ‘omogenia’ public push shortly.
The previous were just trial balloons.
That’s about it – “The GOA really does not understand America, or Americans, AT ALL.” Having grown up within an immigrant community (WWII immigration), I saw the same thing there. And that’s OK for the immigrants; it took but the next generation (first born in the US) to quickly address this. But to perpetuate the lack of understanding reflected in the immigrants reference America and then claim that “people” are ignorant to the complexities and processes entailed to resolve problems at the federal/international level is truly nothing short of patronizing and condescending. My goodness, one would think I must still be swinging from tree branches and need those incredibly evolved and sophisticated Europeans to take the parental role of rescuing and protecting me from my un-evolved self. And we Americans are so frequently accused of being arrogant…
John, I relistened to +Demetrios’ speech. He’s a kindly man but the quote that struck a nerve was how “complicated” things “were.” How there are “many layers of complextity” in getting things done. Yeah, so? What’s new? Is the implication that we peasants should stay out of things that would tax our poor little minds? Doesn’t this sound condescending? Especially when we know that in the GOA it’s the secular elite which really runs things? Let’s not forget the recent letter to the Phanar by Jaharis. That really left the synod in Istanbul shaking in their boots.
I’m still waiting to see how the GOA/Phanar is or if it’s going to trumpet the Guatemala thing. If they don’t it’s because they’re scared of the precedent.
John, you are correct I think. Essentially, those who ask for the rationale about why some issues are lobbied over others are told that raising the question is harmful because we don’t understand the complexities of government. There is a tone of condescension throughout it.
If the GOA wants to serve as the American lobbying arm of Greece and Constantinople, fine. Just call it what it is. Don’t shroud it in the universal character of Orthodoxy (which is derived from the universality of the Gospel) and then argue that questioning the approach is irresponsible because we are too ignorant to understand the complexities of the lobbying process.
There is a presumed claim here: The interests of Constantinople are preeminent. If Orthodoxy is universal (which it is), and Abp. Demetrios is its representative (implied throughout the interview), then the Archbishop’s agenda items are preeminent as well. In actual fact however, this is nothing more than Byzantine church politics after the fall of Byzantium carried forward into America (see: Runciman, Nationalism in Greek Orthodoxy).
It also raises questions about the GOA’s good faith regarding Chambessy. The leadership speaks as if they want a unified American Church, but their public actions reflect the policy of ethnicity-uber-alles, in this case Greco-triumphalism.
This too may explain why Constantinople (and the GOA as its representative) can’t see a political gaffe before they make it: Supporting the abortion lobby, giving a Koran to a prominent American businessman (timestamp 32:14 – 32:40), comparing Pres. Obama to Alexander the Great, supporting global warming (and confusing political celebrities like Al Gore with serious scientists), not recognizing when they are being used by powerful lobbying interests, confusing triumphalism with leadership — the list goes on.
There is a presumed claim here: The interests of Constantinople are preeminent. If Orthodoxy is universal (which it is), and Abp. Demetrios is its representative (implied throughout the interview), then the Archbishop’s agenda items are preeminent as well.
Your statement above goes to the heart of my concern about GOA leadership in America. There is nothing wrong, as you said, with the GOA looking after the interests of the Greek community whether that is the community here or the nation of Greece.
But fair is fair. If the GOA wants to assert a leadership role they need to demonstrate that they are able to put aside the concerns of the Greek community for the good of all. They also need to show that, when needed, that the can place the needs of the Greek community second should those needs conflict with the needs of another ethnic community.
A universal leadership requires a universal vision not a narrow ethnic one.
Thanks for your insights here.
Fr. Gregory, I am not so sure, given the Hellenism (by which they mean Greek ethnicity) and Orthodoxy apologetic that functions both as their raison d`entre and as the foundation of their claims of primacy over the American Church (see: Lambrianides), that they can ever put aside their lobbying for Greek national interests. To put it aside would implicitly repudiate the Phanariote policy that has guided Constantinopolitan affairs since the fall of Constantinople and still guides it today.
They may be prisoners of their own history (or at least the last 500 years of it).
Fr Gregory, I’m not sure that they are capable of placing the needs of the non-Greek elements in American Orthodoxy. Please don’t misunderstand, it’s not that they’re incorrigible it’s just a mindset that is borne out of phyletism. I would say this about the other ethnic jurisdictions as well. Even the OCA was guided by foreign-ethnic concerns in the election of the two previous metropolitans. If nothing else, the other churches would learn from the OCA’s mistakes.
What we did see recently is OCA meetings in DC pushing multi-ethnic foreign-policy concerns, including C’ople in Turkey, with the US Gov’t. I don’t think when the mandate prior to the Great Council is to come up with an integration plan, that anybody’s gonna roll over for anybody else’s ethnic/homeland concerns/lobbying. There’ll be competing for “importance.” But an inclusive Orthodox Catholic Church … in North America … is gonna need to try to speak for all of us and our concerns, not just where one or another bishop (or lobbyist or lawyer or rich layman) happens to come from. We all will have to come to stand up for each other: “United we stand, divided we fall.”
It’s a non-stop gaffe-travaganza. Although it started decades ago, it accellerated last year during the infamous and scabrous lecture given at Holy Cross by Rev Lambrianides. Fr, if I may, I believe the money quote in your response above is “good faith.” I’m afraid that the Chambesy process is not being entered into in good faith on the part of the several of the Old World patriarchates. (Moscow alone being excepted?)
Thinking through this George, the gaffes fall into two broad categories: 1) servility, or 2) grandiosity. Makes you wonder, especially after reading Runciman, how much is shaped by Turkish domination, especially dhimmitude. They function as if the Turkish captivity exists in America.
See my comment 8 under the “Another one? . . .” article.
Good points Scott. I’ve reproduced your comments below.
Scott Pennington wrote:
I’m not sure we can chalk this up to phyletism. If we were talking about a Romanian Church honoring a Romanian or a Russian Church honoring a Russian, we wouldn’t look at it with outrage. The point is that this senator is a pro-choice Greek.
So the question is why does the Archbishop honor a Greek-American despite the fact that he is aggressively pro-choice, etc.; i.e., why did he not balk in view of the senator’s views?
I think I know the answer to this and it’s not phyletism. It’s uglier than that:
There are a number of Greek hierarchs who desperately – - and I mean desperately – need to be seen with the movers and shakers in society, the important people. It bestows on the hierarchy a much needed sense of self worth and a salve for their inherent inferiority complex. I assume it’s a vestige of dhimmitude. You can see it as well in the Archbishop’s comparison of Obama to Alexander the Great.
He is creating a stumbling block for the faithful. He already has the reaction to the honoring of Sarbanes and Snowe to alert him to the feelings of many Orthodox about these unpleasant mistakes.
As far as the RCC being better about this than the Orthodox, we should remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. The Conference of Catholic Bishops is quite liberal and, although it is true that some bishops and priests would not give pro-choice politicians communion, I think that many would and do. The Conference seems to have been studying this question since 2004 and has not yet set policy. There have been those inside the Vatican who suggest a hard line, but the Pope has not ordered it in such a way that priests or bishops risk their vocation if they disregard canon law and offer communion to those politicians who are pro-choice.
Nonetheless, it would be a very good development if we consistently refused communion to anyone who openly, publicly advocated “abortion rights”.
Re: “They function as if the Turkish captivity exists in America.”
I always called it the hangover from the Turkish period.
The sad fact is that their entire world view remains shaped by the dhimmi status of their Ottoman past.
You have to hand it to the Ottomans…they did their work well.
And to John Panos…I always really enjoy your posts. You are right on the money…they do not understand America at all…but then again, does Metropolitan Philip?
One of many reasons why “locally elected bishops, sitting in synod”is a sine qua non…the unquestionable goal of a united American Church.
Everything but THAT is negotiable…Chambessy notwithstanding.
Dean, you are right. LOCALLY ELECTED BISHOPS. And I take it to mean men elected locally within each diocese.
Well, it’s nice to know that the Prime Minister of Greece is so prominently mentioned as he begins gushing about Greek Independence Day. Too bad he forgot to mention all the NON-GREEKS that made it possible. (God rest Gordon Lord Byron who died fighting for Greek Independence, and whose writings about it galvanized wealth western (that is NON-GREEK) support for the fight. His eminence just forgot him, I’m sure).
Good thing he left out all of the Greek civil strife and war that made it almost impossible to maintain.
The Greek hierarchy, like the Greek nation, is hanging by a thread – and the ‘omogenia’ is swinging the sword of Damocles in wide arcs nearby. Add to this Pres. Obama’s pledge to help Greece out of its current crisis while he drives the US to the brink of the same state.
Is anyone in the GOA paying attention?
What a world!
“Well, it’s nice to know that the Prime Minister of Greece is so prominently mentioned as he begins gushing about Greek Independence Day. Too bad he forgot to mention all the NON-GREEKS that made it possible.”
Ypsilanti began the Greek War of Indpendence in ROMANIA (the Romanian patriots, e.g. Tudor Vladimirescu, being thrown under the bus).
Removed the post. Criticism is allowed, but finger wagging isn’t. Support the criticism with reasoned argument and you will be fine.
“In any case, does seeming to parrot GOP/hard-right talking points best serve the cause of “a research and educational organization that engages the cultural issues of the day within the Orthodox Christian moral tradition.” ISTM the case has yet to be made here that the American hard right and Republican Party are somehow mystically “within the Orthodox Christian moral tradition.” ”
I could go on many points, but, to stay on point, I’ll stick to one: compare the Republican party plank on abortion, and compare the Democrateic party plank on abortion. One is within the Orthodox Christian moral tradition, and one is not. On the day of Our Lord’s conception, rather than deal with the abortion issue in this country, instead +Eemetrios praises, with a comparison to a Greek hero, the president who embodies the pro-death plank of the Democratic party plank, and has done so his entire public career.
To state the same thing when you are in agreement is not to parrot, it is to add your voice to the chorus. The sound carries better that way.
Deleted. Peter, I am not interested in pontifications (“finger-wagging”). If you don’t want to engage the ideas, find another blog. If you want to engage the ideas, which means if you want to do more than register your disapproval and then rationalize that disapproval with generalized condemnations, you are welcome to stay. Also, you don’t need to apologize for “intruding” since this is an open forum.
Then there is the Truman Doctrine, where American aid effectively defeated the Communist Greeks in the Greek Civil War and prevented the horror and privation Albania and Romania experienced under Communism.
I wonder if these guys were also at the meeting? Just released
Aide to Illinois Democratic Senate Candidate Arrested for Writing Bad Checks
Restaurant chain owner Nick Giannis and two others are accused of writing $2 million worth of bad checks from accounts at a bank owned by candidate Alexi Giannoulias’ family.
CHICAGO — The Illinois Democrat running for President Obama’s old Senate seat has a new political hassle.
A campaign contributor to Alexi Giannoulias was arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding banks by writing bad checks.
Restaurant chain owner Nick Giannis and two others were accused in a $2 million scheme that included writing bad checks from accounts at a bank owned by Giannoulias’ family.
It was not immediately known whether Giannis had an attorney. Prosecutors have not accused Giannoulias’ family’s bank of wrongdoing.
Giannis has donated $110,000 to Giannoulias’ state campaign fund and $4,800 to his Senate bid. Giannoulias says he’s donating the money to charity.
The bank is in danger of failing and has been a political problem for Giannoulias.
I wonder…nah, that’s too easy. It’s Lent.
From the interview:
A steady reference in our meetings, in our dealings with Washington… they were Ecumenical Patriarchate, Cyprus, and the Macedonian name issue and they were standards. So the role here of our community is a tremendously important role that is far beyond what we define as the role of church, or people of the church; is an involvement with all these things.
I know that the Abp. cannot mention every aspect of everything in every interview, but something about this quote just struck me as, I don’t know, parochial? Provincial?
What if, on a particular issue, the Cypriots, or the Macedonians had the moral high-ground? It seems that, no matter the merits of the case, the GOA would feel duty-bound to support Greece regardless.
Is it reasonable to extrapolate from the above quote that – from the GOA viewpoint – the Christian position on a particular issue, is the position that supports Greece?
Or am I making too much of this?
What was missing was something pastoral.
No Greg, Isa is right, as are you. If the Macedonians have the high moral ground (I’m not saying that they do) then you are right, the arbp. would still take the Greek gov’t position. This leads us to an interesting dilemma however: seeing that the EP is becoming ever more a water-carrier for the Turkish gov’t, on which side will the GOA come down on when the crisis between Greece and Turkey comes to a head?
Did anybody pick up on the part in which he said that “some things are larger than the Church”? Did I miss-hear that?
Well, this is a little bit off topic but the two most well known byzantine emperors in the west were not born in Greece. Constantine was born in Naiuss-modern Albana and Justinian in Tauisium, south of Skupe in modern Macedonia. It most gall the Greeks that these men were not born in Greece.
They were actually proto-Romanians, Vlachs if you will.
Well, I know that region spoke latin. And maybe, that is what you mean by proto-Romanians.
Papadreou government announces 20% tax on the Church. Is 79th street too busy worshiping world leaders to notice when the Church is under siege.
Greece Targets Church in Massive Tax Grab
This parallels the Catholic Church and the Boston Globe. Homosexuality in the Catholic Church led to the abuse crisis (the crisis is not technically pedophilia since almost all victims were adolescent boys). The Church hid behind a firewall and it took an outside organization to pry the facts loose and start the much need exposure (and hopefully) reform.
In Greece the Church is hampered by its own corruption, some of it extensive in places. (Some really good priests in Greece, I worked under one when I lived there.) It has lost a considerable amount of moral credibility making the government cash grab all the easier. The Church of Greece is very wealthy (largest landowner in Greece), a condition that contributed to the corruption and public scandals that resulted.
So yes, the Church is under siege, but some of this trouble is of its own making.
The Archbishop may state that Hellenism is trans-ethnic etc but reality is different to say the least. The invitation for Independence Day festivities at 79th street state the following:
The Omogeneia is invited to partake in this dual feast and commemoration of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in the presence of the Consular and Diplomatic representatives of Greece and Cyprus and the representatives of the Greek-American organizations, associations and federations.
So much for welcoming everyone in the spirit of trans-ethnic identity. Only people of the omogeneia (same race) should feel welcome.
The concept of Omogenia contains the seeds of its own collapse, at least in America. It fosters a clash between monoculturalism and ethnic variation in America — a tribalist ecclesiology and the universality of the Gospel (and the rule of law that emerged out of that notion of universality and characterizes American culture, IMO).
It’s fundamentally a weak principle of self-organization since any claim to a widening authority necessarily requires a greater emphasis on a purer ethnicity — at least on the hierarchical level and perhaps parish priests as well. This runs counter to some very basic principles of American culture and self-identity. Further, the attempt to employ the universality of Hellenism (which helped shape America) alongside ethnic supremacy won’t make up for the flaw either, since Hellenism, in the Archbishop’s functional (as opposed to academic) definition of the term, operates the same way.
It might be time to let, well, the Omogenia be for the Omogenians. If they don’t really want to engage cultures other than their own, the focus should be on preventing any attempt to dominate those outside of it.
One more point. If the country goes socialist, a claim to titular leadership might emerge, much like the EP’s putative claim to ecclesiastical leadership of the European global warming movement (global warming is cover for economic central planning). The Green Patriarch public relations blitz late last year was purely a political play, an obvious point once you read the theological rationales for support of global warming which are neither compelling or coherent (you have to look beyond the moral exhortations and sentimentality to see there is not much there besides these two elements), and the socialists he played to. Further, his rationalizations about abortion makes him acceptable to the socialist crowd despite their abhorrence of most things religious. It may have worked had not Climategate intervened. The GOA has no moral impediments from the socialist point of view either (silence on abortion takes care of that) and could emerge as their amen corner. The politicians could return political favors for the accolades — and thus the appearance of moral credibility — heaped on them by the hierarchs.
Lord have mercy. We are on the precipice of a new Dark Age.
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