April 18, 2014

Bishop Savas Launching New Blog

Bishop Savas, head of the Greek Orthodox Office of Society and Culture, is starting a new blog called Living in the LOGOSphere (no posts yet). He told Greek News that the new blog “will have a different, less personal, less whimsical character” than the travel diary blog he authored last year. Readers of the AOI Observer will recall that his blog greeting to the new president after last year’s election included this exclamation: This is the Day that the Lord has made!

The editorial focus on the new blog will range from “the political to the environmental, from bioethical issues to trends in popular culture,” the bishop says. A number of writers will be involved.

This is a positive development and welcomed here. Too much of what passes for “social witness” in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in recent years has been focused on the very mixed bag of “national issues” of the Greek state and constant collaboration with various and sundry Greek pols and bureaucrats. Defense of the Ecumenical Patriarchate against Turkish repression, certainly. Lobbying in Congress on the Macedonian “name issue,” ridiculous.

We hope that by citing “bioethical issues” the bishop intends for his new blog to offer a strong defense of the sanctity of life. But we know that might get him in “Church and State” problems with Greek Orthodox politicians who would rather defend a party platform than defend the unborn. We shall see.

Excerpt from Bishop Savas’ interview with Greek News:

Greek News: Please tell us something about your new office.

Bishop Savas: The Office of Church, Society and Culture is actually the revival and adaptation of the Department of Church and Society, which was an important part of the Archdiocese from the ‘60s through the 80’s. Archbishop Demetrios felt strongly about resurrecting that department to explore means of reaching out to the great numbers of Orthodox Christians who stand on the borders, as it were, of a full-blooded commitment to the Church.

You may recall that the theme of last year’s Clergy-Laity Congress in Washington, DC, was “Gather My People to My Home”. His Eminence and the Holy Eparchial Synod firmly believe that God has charged us to bring the world into the Church. To that end, my new directive is to promote a creative Orthodox Christian engagement with contemporary social and cultural realities. My office is charged with the task of developing and implementing programs and ministries that will assist those persons, and particularly young adults, who look to the Church for guidance in meeting the challenge of living lives that are both fully and authentically Greek Orthodox Christian and fully and authentically 21st-century American.

GN: I understand that one of the initiatives of your office is an upcoming blog.

BS: Yes. The word “blog”, of course, is a neologism, short for “weblog.” It’s a type of website with regular entries and that exists in a variety of types. I kept a personal, travel-diary-type blog when I spent two months in Florence, Italy, late last year, as a way of sharing my thoughts and experiences with friends and family. The blog I am preparing to launch for the Office of Church, Society and Culture will have a different, less personal, less whimsical character. It will provide commentary on a variety of topics that have an impact on our lives as contemporary Orthodox Christians in America, ranging from the political to the environmental, from bioethical issues to trends in popular culture. One of the things that sets a blog apart from say, a newsletter, is that it provides readers the opportunity to leave comments, to interact with the content. And I say “content” because it won’t be just text; it will include videos and podcasts as well.

GN: What’s the difference between this sort of engagement—on-line, with possibly controversial questions—and other forms of religious education or pastoral guidance offered by the church? What do you see as the advantages and risks of using blogs and social networking technologies to take our faith into the marketplace of ideas?

BS: Blogs and social network technologies are the new marketplace of ideas and we ignore them at our own risk. They are where people go, especially young people, to find out about their world. On the other hand, there are significant risks involved in engaging people on line. It’s no secret that a cultural war is raging all around us. We have become a very polarized society, and we’ve taken to shouting our differences at each other over the airwaves. Cybershouting is made easier by the fact that people can hide behind avatars or pseudonyms in cyberspace. In other words, they can snipe at others anonymously. So there’s a scary dimension to expressing yourself on the Internet because people don’t necessarily have to account for their behavior.

GN: How will you deal with the problem of masked identity on your blog?

BS: People will have to register with their real names. This might cramp some people’s style, but those are the people that we wouldn’t want to appear on the blog anyway. I’ll be the blog’s gatekeeper, as it were, giving thumbs up or thumbs down on whether a comment appears or not, so it’s not going to be a free-for-all.

[ ... ]

GN: What is the name of the blog?

BS: “Living in the Logosphere”. I’ve decided to call it that because I want to set this blog apart from the rough-and-tumble of the blogosphere, that virtual space where hundreds of millions of people are posting their opinions and reacting, often heatedly, to the opinions of others. I want the Logosphere to be a kind of metaphor for the Church. It’s where the Logos, the Word of God, the reason for everything, the Life of the world, reigns over all. It’s another way of saying “The Kingdom of God.”

GN: You mentioned that the blog will provide commentary on a wide range of topics, from politics to pop culture. Will you be addressing all of the topics personally?

BS: Mine won’t be the only voice you hear in “The Logosphere”. I’m the contributing editor, but there will be far better qualified voices than mine addressing topics like Church-State relations, bioethics, and green issues. My own expertise, such as it is, is on culture: film, literature, music, and that’s where I’ll largely be focusing my energies, evaluating what passes for entertainment today and helping people discern what is of lasting value or where dangers might lie. I am not a mindless kind of celebrant of whatever pop culture puts out there but neither am I a reflexive critic in the sense of being a denouncer who says “no good can come of this”, because I’ve experienced a lot of good from pop culture. I think that both ends of the spectrum are extreme and untenable positions; we have to have a more nuanced stand toward popular culture.

Comments

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I applaud Bishop Savvas for his insights and wish him the best for this new adventure. Although I have had issues with His Grace in the past (particularly the essay he wrote re the election of Obama) and for the water he’s had to carry for the archdiocese, I’ve always thought him a to be a straight-shooter one on one. I pray he will feel liberated enough on this new “logosphere” to continue bringing an honest Christian witness to the American landscape.

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    Andrew says:

    I wish His Grace the Best but count me among the skeptics who say that the political and ethnic interests that guide and control the GOA are not going to tolerate any honest type of dialogue let alone criticism. The Omogenia before Ortodoxy crowd is not going to tolerate the bishop wandering off the Hellenic Reservation.

    Remember John Couretas opened this blog to any greek priest who wanted to write about American Orthodoxy -yet there were no takers.

    The Bishop’s travel blog was his own personal work. This blog is under the banner of the GOA. Its a big difference.

    If His Grace respects the freedom of American Orthodox Christians to voice their informed and polite opinions then things will grow. If comments and content are heavily controlled then the blog will fade fast.

    How is the Bishop going to deal with fair-minded criticism of the EP’s environmental visit? Will some people be labeled close minded and unenlightened fundamentalists?

    And then there is always the chance of the Bishop committing a classic GOA act of buffoonery again as he did with his Obama comment.

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    Chris Banescu says:

    Count me among the skeptics. This bishop did not just support Obama and his platform, he “rejoiced” when the Obamination was elected. Something is terribly wrong with the discernment abilities and truth understanding capabilities of a clergyman who’s able to disregard the openly Marxist, virulent pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, and pro embryonic stem-cells research tendencies of Obama. Obama did not hide these views prior to his election and he still proudly promotes them in his legislative agenda and on the White House site.

    Here’s a small sampling:
    Obama: Destroying Human Life for the ‘Greater Good’
    http://chrisbanescu.com/blog/2009/03/17/obama-destroying-human-life-for-the-greater-good/

    Obama to Overturn “Conscience Rule” for Pro-life Doctors
    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2009/02/28/obama-to-overturn-conscience-rule-for-pro-life-doctors/

    Obama’s Civil Rights Agenda, A Social Catastrophe
    http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2009/01/21/obamas-civil-rights-agenda-a-social-catastrophe/

    In his blog post, Bishop Savas reassures us regarding Obama: “But neither is he the Antichrist, as some of his opponents would have you believe.” Thank goodness! I guess the reality that Obama is not only 100% pro-abortion (even partial birth abortion), but he also supported not providing medical help and assistance to a baby that was still alive (just let it die!) after a failed abortion attempt is something that should not bother Orthodox Christians much. After all an era of “change” is upon us.

    Interesting how none of these serious moral and ethical issues have yet been addressed by Bishop Savas before or after the election. The deafening silence from him so far could be an indication of what we could expect to see and read, or rather not see or read, on this new blog. Only time will tell if Bishops Savas has finally come to his senses regarding one of the more aggressively anti-life and pro-abortion presidents in recent memory.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Bp. Savas is a solid man — his politics notwithstanding. If he is free to speak on the critical issues (a big “if”), his contributions could be very valuable, even if only in terms of clarifying ideas. I wish him success.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Although I was mortified by his enconium to Obama (I would never countenance such by an Orthodox bishop for Reagan, who I thought hung the moon), I feel that we should encourage His Grace to speak his mind and applaud him for not parroting the party line of the GOA which is delusional almost to the core.

    For this reason I applauded Archbishop Demetius’ recent pastoral letter on the occasion of our nation’s independence.

    Like Andrew however (and Daniel), I do remain skeptical about the length of the tether allowed to Bishop Savvas in his new enterprise. As such, I will reserve judgment and criticize only in a constructive way. I guess I’ll just hope for the best.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Bishop Savas says he will be commenting on ‘green issues’. That comment alone tells you he will be following a left wing political ideology rather than the Gospel.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    I know Mike, I’m just trying to look for a silver lining. As usual, when one deals with 79th Street, one is invariably heartbroken.

  8. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    I have a hypothetical question for Bishop Savas based on this response from him:

    My office is charged with the task of developing and implementing programs and ministries that will assist those persons, and particularly young adults, who look to the Church for guidance in meeting the challenge of living lives that are both fully and authentically Greek Orthodox Christian (emphasis added) and fully and authentically 21st-century American.

    What would his office provide as guidance to young adults who are Romanian, English, Chinese, Russian, Albanian, Armenian, Syrian, Egyptian, Canadian, or Swedish and who happen to be practicing their Orthodox faith in the GOA? Will they also have to have the “Greek” label firmly planted in front of their “authentic” Orthodox Christian faith? Does that mean that their cultural heritage will have to be subservient to the “Greek” cultural heritage too? It’s somewhat puzzling, especially in the case of Romanian and Syrian Orthodox Christians whose Orthodox faith developed simultaneously with the Greeks.

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Dan: ouch! I guess the homogeneia crowd is more powerful than we thought!

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    Chris,

    No way your question gets answered.

    The more I think about it the more I believe this blog will be pure cotton candy. It will have nice pictures and some nice gentle posts and that is it.

    Bishop Savas remarked in the interview

    My own expertise, such as it is, is on culture: film, literature, music, and that’s where I’ll largely be focusing my energies, evaluating what passes for entertainment today and helping people discern what is of lasting value or where dangers might lie.

    I would have felt more assured if he -instead of this statement- said he was a Bishop of the Church given the sacred charge to preach, teach and preserve the Faith both in season and out of season

  11. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    August 11, 2009 – Bishop Savas Blog on Taxpayer Funded Abortions in Healthcare Bill
    http://livinginthelogosphere.blogspot.com/
    Nothing posted. No comment from anyone in the GOA regarding funding of abortions with taxpayer funds in the new Obama and Democrat health-care scheme. To be fair, I am not aware of any other “official” Orthodox Church statement on this issue either.
    The Silence is deafening!

    Meanwhile, let’s see what the Catholic Church is doing…

    August 11, 2009 – Catholic Bishops on Taxpayer Funded Abortions in Healthcare Bill
    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/god-and-country/2009/08/13/us-catholic-bishops-healthcare-bill-funds-abortion.html
    The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a letter condemning the House Democrats’ healthcare plan, alleging that the plan’s purported prohibition on federal funds for abortion is a “legal fiction.”

    Letter from Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, sent to U.S. House members yesterday:
    http://www.usccb.org/prolife/CardRigaliHealthCareReformLetter-08-11-09.pdf

    “As this debate continues we will share our perspectives on positive and negative features in this and other health care reform legislation. In this letter I am writing specifically about our fundamental requirement that such legislation respect human life and rights of conscience in the context of abortion. Much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an “abortion rights” agenda or reversing longstanding policies against federal funding and mandated coverage of abortion. In this sense we urge you to make this legislation “abortion neutral,” by preserving longstanding federal policies that prevent government promotion of abortion and respect conscience rights.”

    [...]

    “Funds paid into these plans are fungible, and federal taxpayer funds will subsidize the operating budget and provider networks that expand access to abortions. Furthermore, those constrained by economic necessity or other factors to purchase the “public plan” will be forced by the federal government to pay directly and specifically for abortion coverage. This is the opposite of the policy in every other federal health program. Government will force low-income Americans to subsidize abortions for others (and abortion coverage for themselves) even if they find abortion morally abhorrent.”

    [...]

    Most Americans do not want abortion in their health coverage, and most consider themselves “pro-life,” with a stronger majority among low-income Americans. About 80 percent of all hospitals do not generally provide abortions, and 85 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. By what right, then, and by what precedent, would Congress make abortion coverage into a nationwide norm, or force Americans to subsidize it as a condition for participating in a public health program?

    As long-time supporters of genuine health care reform, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is working to ensure that needed health reform is not undermined by abandoning longstanding and widely supported policies against abortion funding and mandates and in favor of conscience protection.

    I urge you to help ensure that any legislation that comes up for a vote in the full House does not include these unacceptable features. Please support amendments to correct them, and oppose any rule for consideration of H.R. 3200 that would block such amendments. By your actions on these issues, you can advance urgently needed health care reform that will truly serve the poor and needy and uphold the dignity of all.

    What stark contrasts! Lord have mercy!

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Dan,

    the silence should shame us.

    geo

  13. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    George, Who is “Dan”? I saw a few references to Dan in this thread but nobody with that name or nickname has posted in this topic.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, I think that the problem with a lot of the moral issues is that Catholics are the thinkers and Conservative Protestants are the foot soldiers. The Orthodox like to take a middle ground, maybe the leadership doesn’t want to be in the same camp with the other too.

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    DStall says:

    Bishop Savas says he will be commenting on ‘green issues’. That comment alone tells you he will be following a left wing political ideology rather than the Gospel.

    Really?

    If he (and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration and all those other leftist liberal “green” Orthodox) would only comment in favor of ‘anti-abortion’, then I suppose “them” could be perfectly righteous Christian like “us”. After all, humanity is the “crown of Creation”, and bears no responsibility for the sub-human, and there’s no Mosaic commandment prohibiting abuse of Creation. Anything that suggests otherwise just can’t be the Gospel.

    Does any of that really, sound, look, feel, taste or smell like Theanthropos? Let’s give it the Creation acid test. Embody it, and expose it to a wild beast to see if the beast tears the embodiment asunder, or recognizes the sweet fragrance of Ioesus, lays down at His feet and purrs in recognition of the Lord of Creation.

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    Andrew says:

    Don’t you get the feeling that the blog is not going to work out.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    DStall, the responsibility humans have for the rest of creation is not the issue. The issue is whether those responsibilities will be framed and articulated from a Traditional Christian perspective or a secular, neo-pagan ideological perspective using Christian language. Nothing, I mean nothing, I have seen from the EP remotely suggests a Traditional perspective.

    The fact that +Savas in particular is so sycophantically willing to overlook the ‘little’ matter of abortion indicates the total lack of Traditional understanding of our command to dress and keep the earth.

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    What is most astounding is that someone alive today can clairvoyantly know the mind of a Bishop to be able to proclaim that he has “overlooked” abortion as an issue of spiritual concern, his motive in doing so is lacking in “Tradition”, and that what the Bishop will publish on a blog even before it is published is lacking in same “Traditional understanding”!

    Surely a person capable of such must have that Spiritual Maturity of which Met. Jonah speaks as so essential for “Traditional understanding”, lacking in ego centricity.

    In reference to your comment about the EP’s “lack of such understanding”, I suggest you read the works of Fr. John Chryssavgis and Met. John Zizioulas of Pergamon, both of whom are under the EP jurisdiction, as well as the EP’s encyclicals and statements on care of God’s (not humanity’s) Creation, and Through Creation to the Creator by Met. Kallistos Ware (another Met. of the EP whose work The Orthodox Church is widely read by most seeking an Orthodox Christian “Traditional Understanding”).

    You can find some quotes and articles by them, and references to their other writings on the matter, as well as the same for the EP, and many, many other heirarchs who are tainted “green” and probably (in some “minds” at least) lacking in “Traditional understanding” at The Orthodox Fellowship of the Transfiguration.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Have you read what +Savas posted about Obama? No clairvoiance at all. He abandoned the traditional teaching of the Church to support a political candidate for political reasons.

    I have read Chryssavgis. I have read the EP’s writings. Obviously you interpret them differently than I do.

    God forgive us both if we allow that to separate us from Christ.

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    Chris Banescu says:

    DStall, I’m sure every Orthodox jurisdiction has plenty of writings that exemplify the Moral Tradition of the Church regarding the abomination known as “abortion.” No one is denying that truth. However, where is the bishops’ (besides +Jonah, +Hilarion, and a few others who continually oppose and talk about it) public witness and outspoken stand against this massive evil currently being promoted and embraced by too many Orthodox faithful, especially the young adults who hear little from the pulpit or the official church statements and channels that informs them of the Truth?

    The defense of the unborn (the most innocent and defenseless of God’s creation) is a moral absolute and must be a priority, ahead of saving the whales, the rain forests, and the polar bears. Nothing wrong with caring for all of creation and being passionate about green issues, IF and that’s a big if, we have already done everything possible to defend the innocent first!

    How about caring about saving the environment in the womb? This message needs to be shouted from the rooftops and continually broadcast from the pulpit. There is something terribly wrong with our hierarchy when millions are spent on Mississippi symposiums that declare: “the fate of the Mississippi waters is more than one aspect of global warming. It is also, very acutely, an ethical crisis.” and abortion, an ethical issue 1,000,000 times more serious and morally important, is virtually ignored by the very same Orthodox leaders.

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    DStall says:

    Michael, the Bishop undoubtedly favors a different political leader for America than you. That doesn’t necessarily translate into his interpreting “Traditional understanding” along “secular, neo-pagan, ideological lines”.

    Instead of distracting yourself (from repentance) with such things and working yourself into a frenzy over abortion as a political issue, why don’t you instead hesychastically ask in prayer and stillness what you are doing that is disrespectful of human life and All life of God’s Creation, and what you can do with God’s help to correct (change) that, then surrender yourself totally (sit down and shut up as Met. Jonah says) and listen for that still quiet inner voice.

    I’m totally confident that if you do, you will find the one thing needful (as Met. Jonah also says) and won’t have to worry about separating yourself from me or anyone else in Christ. Right now, you are merely words on a computer screen about which I chose to make no snap judgements, but I do care very deeply about Christian community.

    As far as interpretating aforementioned writings “differently” from you, I find nothing neo-pagan, secular or ideological in them. I wonder if your interpretation might not be darkly clouded, but do not really want to enter into such discussion here.

  22. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    The irony is just amazing! After telling Michael to basically shut up and stop harping and being in a “frenzy” over the abortion issue, DStall has the gall to proclaim that he chooses “to make no snap judgements.” Wow, talk about hypocrisy and self-contradiction!

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Chris, obviously abortion is something about which you care deeply as do I, but I do not think anyone should allow that concern to color their perception of everything else about others, even those who they may be inclined to perceive as being “silent” about abortion or “favoring” it.

    Personally, I feel very sorry for young people today who I think have such an extremely, incredible amount of stuff to be concerned over, not just the unborn. In reference to the unborn, I do think they are particularly concerned about whether they even want to bring an unborn child into a world that has no respect for God’s Creation as a sacred symbol of life, lovingly given to humanity to “tend” as a source of temporal human sustenance in this “strange land”, this Valley of the Shadow of Death, wherein we all must struggle for spiritual healing.

    Secular concern for God’s Creation may seem to focus on polar bears, fish, rivers, etc., but from an Orthodox Christian standpoint that is not in exclusion of humanity, but because of humanity. If human activity is not changed which is threatening to destroy all that is “good” and life-supporting in Creation, then humanity will ultimately also be drastically affected, both the human unborn and born alike.

    As Fr Alexios, Abbot of Xenophontos Monastery says: “Nature is here to serve man: man must serve and care for nature in order for it to serve man. The fall of man led to the fall of nature and the renewal of man to the renewal of nature.” That is not a neo-pagan, ideological “understanding” of the Gospel!

    Those who do not understand the sacrilege that is committed when an unborn child is manually aborted, will continue to find ways of doing so even if Christians are able to politically ban abortion in the USA, just as those poor deluded souls did before abortion was “legalized” here. This is not an “excuse” for avoiding loving ways of calling such to the attention of those who are considering abortion, but it is an attempt to put into perspective some of these many, many conflicting political issues with which young people (our “future”) must deal, over which many people today get emotional, and over which most of us in reality have very little if any “control”. As such, such distractions over “control” (power) that does not belong to us, benefit all of us little.

    As far as penultimate issues go, I think future generations will care tremendously whether they have a source of drinking water and food, neither of which is contaminated or artificially poisoned, and a roof over their head. They will also care tremendously whether their ancestors foolishly and selfishly squandered God’s gift to humanity that He deemed “good” for their temporal survival.

    Future generations will not care if they have a car to drive or all the artificially manufactured “stuff” that is currently made from crude oil, most of which ends up buried in a landfill because it was produced in response to a culture rooted in happiness-seeking sickness, instead of Sacramental Living.

    In light of All the pressing issues that future generations will face because of us, our parents and grandparents, I do not think future generations will care whether we voted democrat or republican in favor of anti-abortion or not, in order to ban it or not. So while abortion may seem to your “moral” point of view like the penultimate contemporary social issue, I see abortion as an effect and not a cause, an effect not of “immorality” but of happiness-seeking sickness in need of spiritual healing.

    BTW I emailed Bishop Savos with the “concerns” expressed herein about him, to get a response directly from the horse’s mouth. His email address is published on his blog. If anyone has any more to say about his “understanding”, public statements or behavior, I exhort them to do the same. Only the Bishop (with God’s help) can change anything about himself that might stick in someone else’s craw, and he won’t hear it here. Anything less than direct communication is malicious gossip, and not fitting “food” for any Christian.

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    DStall says:

    I did not tell Michael to sit down and stop harping. Please do not pick a fight.

  25. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Chris Banescu says:

    “Christians are not called by God to maintain the status quo. Christ is not needed for that. Salvation is a truly radical experience. Jesus said it was so revolutionary that it could only be likened to being born again. That is extreme. And every facet of salvation (from receiving it to proclaiming it) must involve taking risks. Catholic theologian Hans Küng wrote, “justice and freedom cannot be preached only where it costs the church and its leaders nothing” and continues “I mention all this openly…because it is the theologian’s duty and responsibility to speak the truth, whether it is opportune or inopportune, even if punishment might follow” (from Why I am Still a Christian, p. 33).

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    George Michalopulos says:

    Chris, I am sorry, but I meant you. In my old age I tend to mix metaphors and forget names as well. Please forgive me.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    DStall says:

    Personally, I feel very sorry for young people today who I think have such an extremely, incredible amount of stuff to be concerned over, not just the unborn. In reference to the unborn, I do think they are particularly concerned about whether they even want to bring an unborn child into a world that has no respect for God’s Creation as a sacred symbol of life, lovingly given to humanity to “tend” as a source of temporal human sustenance in this “strange land”, this Valley of the Shadow of Death, wherein we all must struggle for spiritual healing.

    (emphasis added)

    Pardon me if I detect more than a little dualism in this statement. A dualism that is in fundamental denial of the effect and meaning of the Incarnation and our God-given responsibility to dress and keep the earth and offer it back to God. It also reveals an eqalitarianism that is antithetcial to Christianity, tacitly denigrating the unique status of human beings who are the only ‘living souls’ in all of creation–image and likeness of our Creator. Be careful not to make an idol of the created realm as we are explicitly warned about in Romans 1. Beware of akedia masquerading as a hunger for worldly righteousness and justice.

    Be wary of romantic psuedo-asceticism and false holiness. Shoot, I’m a fat old white guy who has seen more than enough false spirituality and been tempted by it in my day to want no part of it from anyone. I will freely admit that I am not a practicing heysachist. I rather expect that anyone posting on web-sites without a specific, bishop approved mandate to do so is lacking in heysacastic credentials. The mere act of posting is a breaking of silence and an attempt to influence the other by our own will. I prefer the frank human arrogance of Met. Philip, for instance, to the folks who wave their long prayer ropes in my face proclaiming their spiritual superiority without knowing a thing about me.

    The care of the created world (it is not really ‘natural’ after all since it has a super-natural point of origin and still vibrates with the living Word of God) is not a political problem, it is simply a matter of allowing Christ to overcome the fear, isolation and other sins that continue to disrupt His order. To vest the politicians with any real authority or ability to address the problems is silly. All they can do is make the matter worse–and they will. All they do is cater to our sinfulness and they do. All they can do is tryannize in the name of justice and fairness–and they will. In the end, we will be faced with both environmental and spiritual disaster because the Church as failed to preach the Gospel.

    Abortion was given legal blessing due to a miasmic cultural wave of militant hedonistic materialism which still dominates our culture and infects the Church. Abortion is the worst environmental disaster we could ever have. It is the willful destruction of the unique gifts of God to His creation, other human beings. If we don’t cherish one another in Christ, we cannot possibly heal anything else.

    Unfortunately, your words about the wisdom of not bearing children are yet another reflection of the non-Chrisitan anthropology that infests so much of the environmental talk from even Orthodox sources.

    The Church needs to recover her prophetic voice and reject the pathetic dhimmi inspired kow-towing to politicians. As long as we are under the control of foreign bishops we will always be hobbled doing that.

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    Chris Banescu says:

    George, You’re most gracious. No need to apologize. :) Now that I know it makes more sense. :)

  29. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Michael, thanks for the “spiritual” direction, but no thanks. I take spiritual direction from Met. Jonah, and your assessment of what I think/am is at odds with his direction.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    The mistake that many environmentalists make is that they think criticism of their solutions (and in some cases science — such as global warming) is tantamount to not caring for the environment. In religious circles this is especially evident since moral posturing gets mixed up with ideological goals all too easily.

    While I approve the Ecumenical Patriarch and others for their concern for the environment, I have to wait and see what ideas are being promoted before the approval becomes a cheer. Their silence on the most crucial moral and cultural issues facing Western society makes me wonder if the embrace of the green movement is a convenient fad (full of sound and fury but…) or something that is actually drawn and informed by the moral tradition.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    DStall says:

    Personally, I feel very sorry for young people today who I think have such an extremely, incredible amount of stuff to be concerned over, not just the unborn. In reference to the unborn, I do think they are particularly concerned about whether they even want to bring an unborn child into a world that has no respect for God’s Creation as a sacred symbol of life, lovingly given to humanity to “tend” as a source of temporal human sustenance in this “strange land”, this Valley of the Shadow of Death, wherein we all must struggle for spiritual healing.

    Talk about sentimental nonsense. This just drips with false piety and feigned concern.

    Here’s the upshot: Yeah, abortion is wrong, but how wrong can it be if the environment is being despoiled?

    DStall, think of the womb as a sealed world of its own where its occupant, if left unmolested, continues on with life. If you think of protection of the environment in terms of the protection of the person, then you will avoid the implicit dualism (good call Michael Bauman) that leads to the intellectual confusion you exhibit above.

    Meanwhile, read this article about Pope Benedict (who gets a lot of this stuff right) to understand the distinction even more: The Not So Green Pope.

  32. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr Gregory says:

    DStall,

    May I ask, when you say you receive spiritual direction from Metropolitan Jonah what do you mean please? Is he your confessor or are you simply responding to the audio of his talk? I’m not trying to be intrusive, but I’m having a hard time reconciling your words with His Beatitude’s.

    Again, forgive me if I have offended.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  33. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Fr. G: I suggest you copy this blog post with my comments and send copy or link to blog to Met. Jonah. Ask him if he has a problem reconciling my comments with his talk. If he does, then he can contact me.

  34. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Western cultural “happiness-seeking sickness” is the Status Quo which Christians are called to resist. From an Orthodox POV (not the “moral” Papist/Protestant POV) radical change means radically changing oneself by the Grace of God and the Church’s Path of Salvation, AND changing one’s way of life from that of Frankism and all it’s eccentricities to Orthodox Culture (Sacramental Living) – (New) Hellenism. Refraining from doing “business” that promotes happiness seeking sickness. Not focusing primarily on making moral “laws” about others behavior, but on changing one’s own ego self. There’s nothing to stop anyone from change (as Met. Jonah says), except fixation on others, including Bishop Sava.

  35. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Western media-manufactured self-socialization (see PDF download at link) is really more of a threat to Orthodox youth than lack of preaching by Bishops or priests against abortion. If youth are not socialized into Christian tradition (see podcast on linked page), they will not only fail to see the horrors and dangers of abortion, they will most likely never see Christian Faith and Way of Life as anything more than one of many “choices” in the smorgasbord of Western cultural “modern living”, together with topless or long-sleeve, Prius or Hummer, PC or Mac, paper or plastic.

    Media, among a plethora of other consumerist aspects of Western social “culture” (esp. entertainment and advertising), does not help citizens become dispassionate, but instead manipulates passions of the unwary for power (control) over their lives. The minion of these cultural “aspects” are the temptatius agents of Western Frankish “economy” whereby consumer slaves are made from the ancestors of pre-industrial serfs and peasants.

  36. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Correction: in previous post, change “ancestors” to “descendents”.

    All of the aforementioned are cultural “forces” with which any Western or globally Westernized youth must deal.

    Also see: Education

  37. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Fr. JJ, you wrote: “Yeah, abortion is wrong, but how wrong can it be if the environment is being despoiled?”

    If you interpreted what I wrote to mean that I think abortion is less tragic (or “wrong” in the “moral” POV) because of degradation of Creation, that is simply not what I think.

    I think both abortion and degradation of Creation are tragic and symptoms of a utilitarian “culture” based in false types of icons that rely on furthering happiness-seeking sickness rather than curing it.

    Michael, as far as human creatures being important because we have souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, that is most definitely true, but does not make the rest of Creation un-important.

    Even animals have souls (logoi), although not Created in the image and likeness of God, and God cares for all Creatures and all Creation, as well as humanity. To suggest otherwise is more fallen Western Augustinian nonsense.

    Also, I appreciate the link to the Pope whom Italians call the “German Shepherd”, but I’m interested in Orthodox Christian POV not Papist.

  38. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    DStall: since you gave me quite intimate spiritual direction in #21

    Instead of distracting yourself (from repentance) with such things and working yourself into a frenzy over abortion as a political issue, why don’t you instead hesychastically ask in prayer and stillness what you are doing that is disrespectful of human life and All life of God’s Creation, and what you can do with God’s help to correct (change) that, then surrender yourself totally (sit down and shut up as Met. Jonah says) and listen for that still quiet inner voice.

    I figured you would want some feedback as to how I perceived your guidance. I didn’t realize I was under the obligation of obedience. Plus I felt I was actually reinforcing you point as posting unsolicited opinions on web sites doesn’t seem to qualify as “sitting down and shutting up” So, I guess we just have to accept the fact that neither of us is the other’s spiritual director.

    I’m glad you are on such intimate terms with your bishop. As I said, I’m just an old fat sinner who loves Jesus Christ because He first loved me despite my sins. I figure that if He did that for me, the least I can do is work to allow others to be born so they can be have the same opportunity. After all, He keeps sending them. I’m sure He has a reason.

    Before I was baptized, I rejected Satan and all his works. Abortion is such an obvious work of Satan, can’t get around it. It’s not about politics, just an ontological and spiritual truth that can’t be avoided.

    Plus, I’m a natural born preacher–a bit of an anomaly for an Orthodox layman, but there you go. The Church has always proclaimed that abortion is murder. That is the direction of my bishop and my priest as well. I have been told that to even mentally accept the ‘woman’s right to choose’, i.e, willfully destroying the gift of God, bars you from partaking of the Cup. Met. Jonah has quite forcefully pointed out the destruction of human life in abortion is the most disrespectful thing that can be done to life. Did you miss that?

    Oh well, time to go back to my mindless destruction of the environment that I do everytime I breath, or eat, or engage in any activity whatsoever that’s not pre-approved by the environmental watchdogs and their queasy economics. You’re correct though, if the environmental activists get their way, we’ll probably all be living in a setting that apes the asceticism of monks but without the holy impetus or result.

    The Church has no point of commonality with the secular environmentalists who refuse to recognize the sacred at all and use fear as the motivator for ‘change’–to gain, consolidate and maintain power. I’ve lived through 50 years of it(it started in that miasmic decade, the 60′s). I don’t buy it any more. I came to the Church to escape that stuff–to learn of God and His love for us in His Son.

    All the causes and the existential angst of the moment, the ‘mass movements’ (Sounds a bit like someone took too much laxative doesn’t it?). That’s exactly what they are.

    Of course there really is no such thing as ‘the environment’ anyway. To even think in such separatist terms invites idolatry. Every act of our being done with a consciousness of God bears good fruit. Every act we do from a sinful worldly mind brings destruction.

    Pray, fast, give alms, repent, attend on the Holy Mysteries, love your enemies, allow the Holy Spirit to conform our minds to the Mind of Christ. That’s an environmental action program if I’ve ever seen one.

    You want Green, think of the celebration of Penetcost and all that is associated with that: The Nativiy, the bodily ministry, the Cross, the Grave, the Glorious Resurection and Ascension. That is what ought to be preached and taught and lived. Anything less is futile.

    Heck, I warned you I am a preacher. Hope I didn’t put you to sleep, unless that’s what you need.

    Glory to God in all things!

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    DStall says:

    Michael, I wasn’t giving you any spiritual “direction” only repeating what Met. Jonah expounds in his talk.

  40. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    Dualism refers to the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil. As such, dualism is aptly applied to the barbarian Frankish Western Augustinian “moral” POV which views Creation in terms of “good” and “bad”, “sacred” (“holy” days, holidays) and “profane”(“secular”).

    There is no such separation in Orthodox Christianity, where the God of Love is the only Creator, and creates everything “good”. God’s love is contradictory in the Western moral POV, where the Divine being is made into a tyrant in the image of medieval Western man. (See: River of Fire) From such distortion of Christianity comes Western escapism from the divine tyrant (aetheism and “happiness-seeking” utilitarianism)

    Human born and unborn alike are not “persons” except if in communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

    The human unborn (fetus) is a fallen creature just as the human born, although not yet having exercised ego-centric will in opposition to God’s will. As such, all unborn are “saved” to communion with God without need of baptism, upon which the Western moral POV insists, thereby making something “magical” of the sacrament.

    No doubt, someday there may be an Orthodox synaxis icon of the martyrdom of the unborn.

    However, protecting the unborn in the womb as protection of the rest of God’s Creation alike, follows from such false Western moral dichotomy. The cessation of all abortion on Earth, will not restore the Earth’s fisheries, topsoil, etc. as long as human appetite (materialism, consumerism) continues unabated, and the human born (who have multitude of opportunity to oppose or align with Divine will) refuse to practice asceticism in modern Sacramental Living.

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    Fr Gregory says:

    DStall,

    You write:

    Dualism refers to the doctrine that there are two independent divine beings or eternal principles, one good and the other evil. As such, dualism is aptly applied to the barbarian Frankish Western Augustinian “moral” POV which views Creation in terms of “good” and “bad”, “sacred” (“holy” days, holidays) and “profane”(“secular”).

    “Dualism” refers to two principles in opposition to each other (for example, humanity and nature as these terms are typically used in the rhetoric of contemporary environmental movement). What you describe as “two independent divine beings or eternal principles,” is Manichaeism. While Manichaeism is a form of dualism, not all forms of dualisms (male/feamil, up/down, left/right) are forms of Manichaeism.

    Your comment about Frankish Augustianism is simply bad theology and bad history. I’ve read Romanides and whatever else his work has to recommend it, he doesn’t understand Augustine.

    You write:

    Human born and unborn alike are not “persons” except if in communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

    This makes no sense–are you REALLY saying that, for example, a Moslem is not a human person? IF you are, you are simply wrong.

    You write:

    The human unborn (fetus) is a fallen creature just as the human born, although not yet having exercised ego-centric will in opposition to God’s will. As such, all unborn are “saved” to communion with God without need of baptism, upon which the Western moral POV insists, thereby making something “magical” of the sacrament.

    Can you please cite your sources for what you assert as being both the Orthodox and Western positions? While I would not dare to speak for all of Western Christianity, I have a masters in Catholic theology and have taught at Catholic institutions at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and can say that what you describe above is not the “Western moral POV.”

    Reading you comments DStall, I must confess, I wonder if you are actually a communicate in the Orthodox Church. Most of what you write seems more ideological driven than it does anything else. Whatever might be your intent, what you have offered here is not Orthodox theology.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

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    DStall says:

    Read Met. Heirotheos Vlachos (and possibly others). “Person” is a theological term, and non-christians are not “persons” in a Trinitarian sense. All human creatures are created in the image and likeness of God, but “personhood” comes through reCreation, Transfiguration, theosis that brings one into communion with God, humanity and all Creation.

    Lack of personhood is not justification for abuse of creatures created in God’s image. Western Europeans seemed to thinks so. Re: historical record of the “discovery” of the SW and Latin America by “Catholic” Spain, and the NE by Puritan England.

    I trust Fr. Romanides grasp of Augustinianism, but I’ll gladly read any criticism of his work. Just send a link to source(s).

    So I stand corrected on the precise definition of dualism. The bottom line is it’s gnostic heresy. And the moral POV borders on such schizophrenia by obscuring the Love of God. If the Western moral POV had satisfied my heart’s desire, I wouldn’t have need of Orthodoxy.

    See: Dr. David Turner, Lecturer in Byzantine Studies and Orthodox Theology at the Study in Greece Programme of Beaver College (Philadelphia) based in Athens, and on the Study in Greece and Turkey programme of Lake Forest College (illinois)
    Byzantium (esp. pp 7-8)

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    DStall says:

    What I refer to as the barbarian Frankish Western Augustinian “moral” POV is the forensic (legalistic,”moral”) Western, scholastic, intellectual construct called “justification“.

    (Also at Wikipedia)

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 37.

    If you interpreted what I wrote to mean that I think abortion is less tragic (or “wrong” in the “moral” POV) because of degradation of Creation, that is simply not what I think.

    I think both abortion and degradation of Creation are tragic and symptoms of a utilitarian “culture” based in false types of icons that rely on furthering happiness-seeking sickness rather than curing it.

    I told you how I interpreted your comment. You wrote that abortion is wrong, but it can’t be all that wrong since the baby would be born into a “degradated” Creation anyway.

    Apart from whatever you might mean by “degradation of Creation” (you seem to have swallowed Rousseau’s myth here), even positing that abortion of the unborn is on moral par with polluting the earth is an intellectual pollution of its own. That fact that you find both “tragic” doesn’t justify your confusion in the matter.

    Also, I appreciate the link to the Pope whom Italians call the “German Shepherd”, but I’m interested in Orthodox Christian POV not Papist.

    Too bad. He draws a distinction you fail to grasp, ie: any discussion of the care of creation must preserve the sanctity and freedom of the human person. Would you believe it if an Orthodox leader said it? Is the criteria here what is true, or is it merely who says it?

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    DStall says:

    I most certainly grasp that any discussion of the care of Creation must preserve the sanctity and freedom of the human person. I will still believe that if/when an Orthodox leader says or doesn’t say it and have not said otherwise as you insist. You seem to need to discredit others in order to defend your Western moral POV, moral “imperative, etc. Have it your way; it’s your illusion. But you’ll get nowhere with others except those infatuated with the law. The moral paradigm has been/is vastly overused, and has been the root of much historical bible thumping, suffering and bloodshed. St. Paul is all things to all people. To the Romans he communicates in terms of law, and bashes any pagan Roman ideas that the law leads to divine communion. To the Hebrews, he does the same with “sacrifice”. Young people today, including Orthodox youth, will tolerate the pontificating of moralizing “elders”, but will allow their words in one ear and out the other for the “freedom” and escape that the utilitarian culture offers as soon as they leave home, or latch onto the moral aspect for a superficial form of “identity”, without entering into real communion. Most will respond positively to the understanding of God as love, not as moral arbitrator of justice; it’s the paradigm that the world is ready and has been waiting for, and one that only Orthodoxy is capable of communicating eloquently. The vision that God loves me and wants me to become a glow in the dark, levitating, clairvoyant elder is one with which even Harry Potter can’t compete. What you call “morality”, I call fruit of the Spirit that comes from theosis. The millstone “medal” for leading youth with moral “imperatives” will have to go to you, not me.

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    cynthia curran says:

    Well, one can disgree with Augustine on theology but calling him a barbarian is hardly true. Augustine stated that he didn’t like Greek but preferred Latin in school. As for the Franks, they were in Gaul at the time not North Africa, that was the Vandals that were in Hippo during Augustine’s old age. And the Vandals were of course Arians, not Catholics And Augustine’s City of God criticized the pagan Romans for their civil wars from the Late Republic to Imperial Times. At the time, pagans blame Christianity for the decline of the Roman Empire. And let’s face it, the early Byzantine Empire’s politcal structure was partly created by the pagan emperor Diocletian, and even after the rule of four different emperors, Constantine the Christian emperor still keep the basic system developed by Diocletian. And lets face it, if the Romans or Greeks had less slave labor the industrical Revolution might have occured centures earlier and I think if it did, we could of had a Byzantine Industrical Empire.

  47. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 45.

    I most certainly grasp that any discussion of the care of Creation must preserve the sanctity and freedom of the human person. I will still believe that if/when an Orthodox leader says or doesn’t say it and have not said otherwise as you insist.

    Do you really? There’s lots of talk in your writing about the corrupt “West”, a tendency to relegate all those who don’t agree with you into that category, and the bantering of terms (theosis, personhood, communion, dualism) in ways that are poorly explained and even misunderstood on occasion.

    I’m not so sure you really understand the things you are saying; For example:

    To the Romans he communicates in terms of law, and bashes any pagan Roman ideas that the law leads to divine communion.

    Presumably you are referring to the Book of Romans, correct? If so, your analysis is all wrong. To the Romans St. Paul writes to the Jews of his Roman Church how faith in Christ supersedes the Mosaic (Levitical) law.

    For all your talk about the “West,” you are making the classic “Western” mistake in your ostensible defense of “Eastern” Orthodoxy: You (like Luther), read all references to the law in the Book of Romans as pertaining to a cosmic moral law, rather than the Mosaic Law. The law wasn’t pagan and it wasn’t Roman. In fact, the Law was good because it revealed the need for Christ, as St. Paul says.

    Lots of sound in your words, lots of fury, but…

    Another troubling sentence:

    Most will respond positively to the understanding of God as love, not as moral arbitrator of justice; it’s the paradigm that the world is ready and has been waiting for, and one that only Orthodoxy is capable of communicating eloquently.

    Sounds dangerously close to the Oprahization of Orthodoxy to my ears. There is no doubt that the religion of Calvin is spiritually exhausted. There is no doubt the West is ready for Orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, I think you demonize the West in order to elevate the East, when in fact you don’t understand some critical points of both.

  48. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    I did not refer to Augustine as barbarian, but to Augustinianism, which is distorted Western “christianity” invented by scholastically (rationalistically) exaggerating the errors of Augustine’s theology into a “new” theology. That was done, not by Augustine, but by barbarian Germanic-Frankish conquerors of Western Europe who were at best Arian, and who infiltrated the Church of Rome without inbibing Orthodox Christianity, in order to usurp what they saw as the Church’s “power”. These barbarian Frank, Merovingian and Carolingian overlords are what gave Western “christianity” its worldly orientation, its moral duality which served their quest well for worldly “power”. The rest is modern Western history.
    For more on Augustinianism see: Augustine-1, Augustine-2

  49. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    DStall says:

    One need only view Western European history after the barbarian sack of Rome to see that it is “bloody” (Inquisition, Crusade, Reformation/Counter-reformation) like Islam, and that the Frankish barbarians made an external, moralistic, forensic, legalistic “system” (religion) with superficial appearance of Christianity, in likeness to other forensic religions, such as Judaism and Islam. Whether such legal orientation is “Mosaic” or “Roman”, neither constitute the Gospel. Those who live by the sword (wordly power) die by the sword (physical violence). Orthodoxy is about spiritual “warfare”, not building worldly kingdoms, like most Jews expected Jesus of Nazareth to provide them. Augustine wrote that if he were in error, he would stand to be corrected. If he were alive today, he probably wouldn’t continue to argue from a moral POV to resist correction of what was quite possibly a result of his dualistic, gnostic, Manichean youth. After all, teen and young adult years are some of the most formative for human creatures. As the old saying goes, you can take the boy out from the Manchees (or Papists-Protestants), but you can’t take the Manichees (or P-P) out of the boy. That only comes with Spiritual Maturity which is the goal of Orthodox Christianity, not Augustinianism or any other religion. Only Orthodoxy sees fallen human creatures as suffering from happiness-seeking sickness manifested in “moral” POV of religion, and usury based utilitarian-consumerism (materialism, mammon-worship).

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    DStall says:

    Cynthia, slave labor is not why the “Greek” real Romans (not the counterfeit Frankish “Romans”) failed to create an industrial empire. They didn’t need industrialism or consumerism because they were spiritually healed of happiness-seeking sickness, and their Hellenic culture transfigured into Orthodox Christian culture (“new” Hellenism). Fake Roman culture, the ancestor of “modern” Western culture, has not been transfigured thus, and though it claims to be rooted in Ancient Greek “Western” civilization, such is another of its lies, in likeness of Charlemagne’s lie, the beginning of the “modern” era. As George Vasilimos writes at Ellopos, “The Greeks did not develop their interest in science and technology, because these means can not really overcome Death. This is why philosophy and faith in God monopolised their interest. Therefore, when we say that the West is Homeless, we can’t mean only lack of identification with this or that culture, but essentially lack of Love. Only the absence of Love can explain all this effort for discoveries, technological innovations, endless will to power and survival in a world where Death is the ultimate Ruler. The [Frankish, modern] West is Eccentric indeed, if heart is the centre.” [ which of course is the case, heart, not morality, Is the center of Christianity].

  51. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Let add to Fr Hans’ observation above (#47)–DStall you are making comments and critics about things that you clearly don’t understand and I suspect have never read.

    For example, you reference to Vlachos’ work are a muddle of misunderstandings (and before you ask, I used Vlachos extensively in my doctoral dissertation and it was on the strength of my work that, I was ordained to the holy priesthood in the GOA without having to attend seminary): that the modern concept of person developed (partly) within the context the Christological and Trinitarian debates of the first centuries is true; that Vlachos criticize some aspects of western culture is also true. But he does not deny the personhood of non-Christians–nor would he, since he knows that all human being are created in the image of the Tri-Personal God and to do so would be an anthropological heresy.

    Nor, I should add, does Vlachos reject (as you seem to do) the whole of western culture and science. For example in one of his works (Orthodox Psychotherapy?) he clearly states that he works closely with clinical psychologists because he values their scientific expertise.

    The ability to cut and paste sources from the internet does not mean that you understand the material that you are quoting–in fact given the speed with which you respond, I am rather confident that you are simply parroting what others have said.

    Regarding critical responses to Romanides , the best sources for this is to read Augustine and Aquinas–neither of whom I suspect you’ve read. For the record, the most that can be said of Romanides critic of scholasticism is that it represents a rejection of one, very narrow, very contemporary school of neo-scholasticism. To the best of my knowledge Romanides does not engage directly with the text of any seminal scholastic thinkers or even that matter with Aquinas in any substantive fashion; nor have you here. Nor does he (or you) seem aware of the VAST amount of material written by the non-scholastic by contemporaries of Aquinas (for example, Albertus Magnus, Bonaventure, and Bernard of Clairvaux to name but three).

    As for the development of science, or the lack of development in Byzantine culture, I am not certain where to begin so deep is your misunderstanding. You might want to read Stanley Jaki and his careful, well documented, historical work in tracing the development of science over several centuries and cultures beginning with the OT, continuing through the NT and the patristic era.

    As for you claim that Byzantine culture was a deified culture, well, no sir that simply ain’t so. PERSONS are deified, cultures are not, nor can they be, since they have no real existence and (to the degree they can be identified at all) are merely intellectual abstractions.

    What you have offered us here DStall is simply prejudice and ideology. Your criticisms of all things Western boarders on the Manichean (East, all good, West all bad) and (for the record) is NO WAY reflects anything that Metropolitan JONAH has said or written.

    What value your criticism might have is undermined by your use of the technological fruits of a culture you condemn as poisoned. But I will leave that aside.

    To be clear, I am not angry with you, but I am saddened by the things you say. You misconceptions reflect poorly not on you but on the pastoral and catechetic work of the Church. We have for too many years simply accepted a mindless and uncharitable criticism of all things Western. Shame not on DStall, but on us for our lack of discernment.

    Brothers and Sisters, we have be content for too long to be satisfied with mere negation of the West and been dependent not on prayerful scholarship but slogans. Doing this is not only unworthy of our great calling but is an injustice to our Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters and our fellow citizens. Worst of all, however, is that it sets the stages for our offering inquirers a stone instead of bread, a serpent when they ask for a fish.

    My involvement here is my small attempt to do penance in my life for my own participation in our shared folly.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

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    DStall says:

    Fr. J.J., Luther taught that no “law” has the power to “save”(restore humanity to communion with God), that salvation does not come without reliance on God’s “grace” (Divine energies). What Luther stumbled over in Holy Writ was references to “works” not “law”, by which he failed to comprehend the Ascetic Ideal of the New Testament as expressed by St. Paul, something that seems to also be “missed” in the moral POV.

    The moral POV seems to makes an idol of “law”, and “rates” sin (non-compliance with the law) as not so bad, bad, worse, worst, etc. something evident in Papism’s heirarchy of transgressions for which “atonement” must be made by way of penance. Such heirarchy of sin must be from whence comes the notion (from the moral POV) about abortion being untouchable and the “greatest” of “sins”, by which no other lack of communion with God (“sin”) can compare. Yet Holy Writ proclaims that All have “sinned” and fallen short of the Glory of God, not that some have sinned more than others. The Parable of the Vineyard also makes this clear, that someone who repents (be it from abortion or theft) and is saved just short of death will be saved alongside those that have spent an entire lifetime in spiritual warfare, struggling to maintain communion with God, who have refrained from abortion (among other transgressions).

    The moral POV seems to see any equivalence between “sins” as an affront to its sacrosanctity of the human person which is considered “life” absolutely; in which no other Created form of life qualifies or need apply. Hence, murder (a synonym for abortion) is far greater than adultery, much less is theft, abuse of livestock, etc. etc. The moral POV worships what is “right” (“good”) and “wrong” (“bad”), a duality the moral POV sets up between two “opposing principles”. The moral POV then uses accusations of “moral relativism” and “moral equivalence” in rationalistic political debate in its exercise for will to power, to condemn those with whom it disagrees (such as Bishop Sava).

    Power and judging are really the hidden (occult) objectives of the moral POV, often hidden even from those who indulge in it, but unfortunately, such is not power that “saves”, and such judging of others distracts those with moral POV from repentance over their own sin (which Met. Jonah makes clear in Spiritual Maturity is a sign of immaturity). Repentance is the basis for theosis (vision of God; “Blessed are the pure in heart (repentant) for they shall “see” God). Only vision of God (communion with God) saves. Only Divine energies that come by way of repentance (Path of Salvation, Ascetic Ideal) give a human the ability to “keep” the law. A thousand or more years of proclaiming moral law in the agora has not prevented the “progress” of Liberal Enlightenment (English or French) from proceeding to logical conclusions inherent in the philosophies on which such movement is based. Sentimentality for an earlier time in the history of Liberal Enlightenment culture when things were considered “christian” (not so “immoral”) may not be Oprahism, but certainly can be said to be Beaverism (as in Leave it to Beaver).

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Note 49.

    As the old saying goes, you can take the boy out from the Manchees (or Papists-Protestants), but you can’t take the Manichees (or P-P) out of the boy.

    So how were you raised?

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    DStall says:

    52: I was reared lovingly; I am raised by Divine Energies :-)
    My bio is on my site, the one for which you reported broken links, and wrote that you were finding some things of interest.

    Why do you ask?

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    DStall says:

    Fr. G, I stand by your correction re: Vlachos. His work is a difficult read to say the least, so I’ll accept what you say without checking actual reference.
    But the point about “person” is clearly that like the Most Holy Trinity, human “personhood” is relational and not moral. Immorality can break relations, but a sterile “morality first” POV does not restore relations, especially one that never manages to point to first principle for restoration: repentance(>DivineEnergies>FruitOfSpirit), and conveniently overlooks these “little” things.
    I do not reject “the whole of western culture and science” as you seem to think. Neither do I uncritically accept what western culture and science dishes out (materialism; consumerism). What passes for “science” in modern western culture is actually “applied” science, science enslaved to “economics” of western business “funding” after the Prussian model of social “system”. Go back and read the links I “mindlessly” (in your opinion) “cut and pasted” in previous post.
    Sorry if you feel inadequate because of my technical “efficiency”, but that’s not my spiritual problem.
    RE: Romanides, go back and read the post links on Augustine. Aquinus attempted to reconcile “faith” and “science”, the duality that had already come to develop in Western rationalistic theology in his day. There is no such “split” in Orthodoxy. See interview with Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, audio on this page. Google for other works by him; his speciality is quantum mechanics.
    I do not claim that Byzantine culture was deified, but that pagan Hellenism was transfigured into “new” Hellenism, i.e. Orthodox Christian culture. I also think that the whole creation will be transfigured, which is why St. Paul says it “groans” in anticipation of that event.
    It is “uncharitable” of anyone who claims to be Orthodox Christian, to remain silent while their heterodox Brothers and Sisters are enslaved to distortions of their ancestors Orthodox Faith. Also see: England
    Congratulations on wowing GOA with your scholastic prowess. You must be proud of yourself for “progressing” by Western standards far beyond the ignorant, muddled of the world, such as fishermen and me. BTW, just saw an episode of Natural Heroes that featured a Delaware fisherman who came up with a way to decrease use of horseshoe crab for commercial fish bait to preserve more of them so shorebirds would have more of their eggs on which to feed in order to migrate to the arctic. He expounded the benefits of his way of life, one of which was witnessing Divine power that he experiences daily in his life. He said it was hard to believe that anyone with such experiences could believe there wasn’t a god. But of course, he doesn’t live an academic life, subsidized by “faithful” and “diocese’, isn’t versed in Augustine or Aquinas, and omitted denouncing abortion, so what does he know and what “good” are he, or those crabs, shorebirds, ocean and sunset anyway (none of the latter being made in Divine Image), by comparison to the fetal elite, the measure of all “Life” in the Universe.

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    DStall says:

    Fr. G, I see that you identify yourself as an “independent scholar” and serve an OCA parish in OH. Since you slander my priest who is now deceased (Memory Eternal!) over your perceived lack of my proper academic spiritual formation, I request that you contact Met. Jonah, ask that he review all my posts including related links and my website, and that he contact me regarding how any of it “reflects anything that he has said or written” regarding Spiritual Maturity.
    I also ask that you ask whether he thinks making such proclamations on the internet are a proper form of “penance” for you or any of the faithful in your care.
    When Met. Jonah (Fr. Jonah then) was assigned to TX before becoming Met., he answered my email indicating that he remembered me and was interested in my work to convert family property to an Orthodox Christian intentional community. But of course, that never transpired because he was made Met. shortly thereafter. Also, please contemplate the Magnificat (the part about “lowly”, “rich” and “empty handed”) and this by St. John SF: “Significant portions of the Russians, who have gone abroad, belong to the intelligentsia [academics, scholastics, merchants, "upper" class] which in the last days before the revolution, lived according to the ideals of the West. Although they were children of the… Church, confessing themselves to be… [Christians], the people of that Class had in their world outlook [POV] strayed far from Orthodoxy. The main sin of these people was that their beliefs and way of life were not founded on the teachings of… [Ancient] faith. They try to reconcile the rules and teachings of the Church with their western habits and desires.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Dstall:

    Fr. J.J., Luther taught that no “law” has the power to “save”(restore humanity to communion with God), that salvation does not come without reliance on God’s “grace” (Divine energies). What Luther stumbled over in Holy Writ was references to “works” not “law”, by which he failed to comprehend the Ascetic Ideal of the New Testament as expressed by St. Paul, something that seems to also be “missed” in the moral POV.

    Luther’s idea that works are opposed to faith understood the the term “works” to mean moral works. He juxtaposed moral effort against faith. That’s why he had trouble with the book of James which posits the exact opposite: faith is expressed through works.

    St. Paul wrote that faith supersedes the “works of the law”, but Luther read this reference to law to mean a cosmic moral law, and not solely the Mosaic Law. It is on this basis Luther regarded James as the “epistle of straw.”

    So, yes, Luther, although reading Paul correctly in that no law could save man, still misunderstood the nature and character of the law to which Paul referred, that is, the Mosaic law and not a cosmic moral law.

    Looked at your bio and realized your logic only makes sense if I look at it in terms of “Lutheranized” Orthodoxy. It is why you (erroneously) concluded that Paul’s reference to the law referred to “Roman and pagan” law that I called you on upstream (note #47). Frankly, when I first I read your conclusion I saw it could arise only after first being filtered through a pre-existing (and still operative) category. Your conclusion could not, in other words, be lifted off the pages of the text without something else first being read into it — in this case the faith vs. works moral dichotomy of Luther. When I read you were raised Lutheran, the puzzle fit together.

    So I can’t help but wonder if, despite all your protestations of Western corruption, that you aren’t the one still bound to the Western categories?

    In any case, you get the last word and then this thread is closed. Feel free to post your website address and invite others to continue the debate there if you wish.

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    DStall says:

    “It is often assumed by scholars [aka "intelligentsia"] that whenever St. Paul refers to “the Law,” he is referring to Mosaic Law and the strictures of Pharisaic Judaism. This is, however, not the case”
    Hermetic Cosmology and the Pauline Epistles: The ‘Birth of Gnosticism’. On Time and the Calendar in Orthodox Liturgical Theology: Some Historical Observations. Edward Moore, St. Elias School of Orthodox Theology
    Per above source, what you accuse me of represents poor scholarship on your part, and your conclusions are Wrong. But based on past behavior, I expect you to simply discredit Edward Moore and St. Elias School as somehow not being “good” enough for your moral consideration, your reasoning being to discredit Every point made against moral POV without addressing any of them except something secondary you can nitpick. Your response is typical of the moral POV: find something with which to make a “straw man” that you can presume to “knock down” with wordy (false) “logic”, and thereby conclude “error” on basis of that one point alone so as not to address any of the actual points of discussion (such as Spiritual Maturity, The Ascetic Ideal, fetal elitism, or the Cosmic dimension of “salvation” that include all Creation, not just the human person, which in your moral POV seems to Only consist of the human fetus.) Such behavior seeks to distract from real matters at hand in order to deceive what is good and true, and is tantamount to quibbling over mint, anise, and cumin; over dotting “i”s and “t”s; while omitting weightier matters of Justice, Mercy, & Faith, the core of the “moral” law you so zealously seek for others to uphold, while failing to do so yourself, since you “weight” sins of others “worse” than your own. Such Double Standard is another hallmark of the moral POV. You root out my religious background in order to expose your presumption of “Lutheranized” Orthodoxy, without being forthcoming about your own background. Moral POV is obvious to those with “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”, and exhibition of the moral POV form of happiness-seeking sickness of religion as opposed to spiritual cure requires no knowledge of specific religious background of those who are sick with spiritual disease.
    I know of no other Orthodox who refer to the so called Orthodox “moral tradition” or “moral imperative” except those who indulge in the moral POV while ignoring that God is Love at all times and never a Christianized humanistic type of “judge”. Orthodox Tradition incarnates primarily through the Ascetic Ideal, and as such cannot be simplistically condensed into “morality”. Furthermore it requires Both-And mode of thinking, not typical Western Either-Or dichotomies. The Most Holy Trinity (God) is Both-And, Transcendent-Imminent. Imminent not just in the human person but in All Creation as St. John Damascene proclaims.
    I give the human fetus primacy in All Created Life, together with All Created Life, not in exclusion of it . I will include abortion, First! together with consumerist rape of Creation on my site, LifeGivingSpring.info, and will advocate such for OFT, whenever the same inclusive advocacy for pro-life is exhibited at the internet forums of moral POV, OrthodoxyToday.org, OCNet.com, and AOIusa.org, and the Ascetic Ideal (Spiritual Maturity, “cure”) is advocated there as well as the true (“moral”) Orthodox Church Tradition.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    OK. Thank you DStall. Thread is now closed.

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Thread closed completely.

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