October 20, 2014

Jacobse: The Progressive Captivity of Orthodox Churches in America

My reflection on the Acton – St. Vladimir’s Poverty Conference was published on the Acton Institute website. From Acton:

Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse looks at what was behind the criticism of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary’s partnership with the Acton Institute on a recent poverty conference. He points out that some who adhere to the “ancient faith” of Eastern Orthodoxy have very left-leaning ideas about economics and politics. The poverty conference, Fr. Hans writes, reveals to Orthodox Christians that their thinking on poverty issues is underdeveloped and that those who objected “relied solely on ideas drawn from Progressive ideology.”

Source: Acton Institute | Rev. Johannes L. Jacobse

acton-institute-logoMost Christians who are received into the Eastern Orthodox Church as adults do so for the same reasons that others embrace the Roman Catholic Church: They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions. These great historical Churches offer an oasis of clarity where the first questions are settled and the foundations do not have to be laid again in every generation. At least that’s the idea.

Alas, it is not always so. Orthodoxy and Catholicism have their share of dissenters but this is nothing new to anyone who knows their history. Yet this realization often comes as a surprise – even a shock — to many Orthodox converts. They assume that the precepts of the moral tradition will be taught in our generation as well. Sometimes they aren’t.

Analyzing the present culture and discerning how the moral tradition speaks to it is always a complex business because people are dynamic beings. Truth is relational because Truth is a person – Jesus Christ. As such, any self-revelation of Christ whether it be Him directly or through the words and work of His followers requires much more than an outline of propositions. If it were that easy we would all be fundamentalists.

This relational dimension however, is where it gets dicey. Christianity’s secular counterpart – Progressive morality – has impressive fluency in the language of human compassion in which ideas that are inimical to the Christian moral tradition are hidden. It confuses believers and convinces secularists and lies at the root of much internal dissent in the historic Christian churches.

This problem exists in some quarters of the Orthodox Churches in the United States today. Take for example Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s statement on abortion (see: A Patriarch who ‘Generally Speaking Respects Human Rights’). He leads the largest, by far, Orthodox jurisdiction in America, the Greek Orthodox. Here the patriarch appeals to personal humility to avoid restating what the Fathers of the Church make clear: Aborting a child is a grave moral crime. Appeals to humility might be morally compelling, but in this case it is misplaced.

Consider instead the teachings of the Russian Orthodox Church where the sanctity of all human life is unequivocally affirmed (see: The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church). Or read the statement on this same problem issued in Belgrade by the Serbian Orthodox bishops earlier this month. They spoke of “a deep moral degradation, a great crisis of family life and lack of true faith in God among many people, though many of our people declare themselves as faithful Orthodox Christians at least in the elementary sense of that word.”

When human dignity ceases to be the source and focus of thought on cultural issues the moral foundations of culture are undermined. One reason why the Church Fathers were clear on the moral status of the unborn child (today they would be branded as “haters”) is that they understood if the unborn child was seen as a commodity, any kind of cruelty could be justified in the end. They fought for the elevation of human morality. Today we fight against its devolution.

Sadly, this type of confusion often exists when American Orthodox Christians encounter other profoundly moral questions. Recently the Acton Institute co-sponsored a conference on poverty at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, the flagship of Orthodox seminaries in the United States. To its credit St. Vladimir’s, located in Yonkers, N.Y., resisted considerable behind the scenes pressure aimed at shutting it down. From whom did the pressure come? Orthodox Progressives.

Acton’s approach to poverty places the native creativity of the poor at the center of any program to alleviate poverty. People have natural dynamism because they are created in the image and likeness of God – an insight that can only be grasped and responsibly applied if one first believes that all people have inherent value and dignity. This moral vision is the legacy of the Christian moral tradition comprehensively understood.

This understanding is a threat to the Progressive vision however, because it lays bare the materialist vision of man (man is a biological machine, a better society is achieved by manipulating the mechanisms of state) that lies at its center. The reason for the confusion between the materialist (Progressive) and Christian vision is that the materialist vision borrows the language of the Christian tradition thereby making it appear that the ideas it champions are indeed Christian and thus in accord with cultural history.

Ecumenical discourse between the churches (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) that hold fast to the moral tradition will be fruitful if it stimulates internal reflection and prompts necessary corrections in our respective communions. The Acton-St. Vladimir’s conference reveals to the Orthodox that 1) thinking on poverty issues is underdeveloped and 2) the objections to the conference relied solely on ideas drawn from Progressive ideology.

This fact is not lost on Orthodox moral conservatives and traditionalists. We call it the Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Churches in America. There are historical reasons why we are late to the discussion (Turkish captivity, Communist tyranny, etc.).  It led to some missteps along the way such as joining the National Council of Churches (the NCC functions primarily as the amen corner of the secular left) but they are being corrected.

The hour has passed however, when we can excuse participation with those who misappropriate the Christian moral vocabulary in order to cloak ideas and policies inimical to the Christian moral tradition. The moral confusion in the larger culture should not become our own.

Acton grants permission to republish this commentary without restriction.

Comments

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    Christ's unprofitable servant, Seraphim says:

    Well said Father!

    A word to my Progressive brothers & sisters: “Put not your trust in princes, in sons of men in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. The Lord will reign forever; Thy God, O Zion, to all generations.” Psalm 145:3 & 10 / 2nd Antiphon.

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    Alexis, The Always Pondering says:

    Nice going, Father J.! I didn’t realize how much this conference was being undermined. Thank the Lord we have The Early Church Fathers.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Thanks Alexis (and Seraphim above). The moral tradition — particularly the unequivocal and bold witness of the Fathers — is a protection.

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    M. Stankovich says:

    Having listened to most of the conference, and now having read your appraisal, I cannot say I am any more “satisfied,” for lack of a better term, with what I heard than my own foolish attempts to address the problem as I meet it as one person, in one place, at one given time. As I have stated many, many times here, I simply cannot manage global perspectives of what is for me everyday occurrences. I work in prison or a psych ER/crisis service, walk the streets, live and shop in the inner-city, and so on: τοὺς πτωχοὺς γὰρ πάντοτε ἔχετε μεθ’ ἑαυτῶν (“The poor you will always have with you.” Jn. 12:8).

    It can be overwhelming, and hideously unattractive when it becomes overbearing (i.e. you cannot help everyone), and at times provokes inner-questioning when there is a paucity of gratitude or even a response of hostility. I had to laugh at your statement that “Acton places the native creativity of the poor at the center of any program to alleviate poverty,” as I have personally experienced notable creativity for just such experiences. Likewise, in coming here, I am met with more jargon I cannot decipher – “progressive” Orthodox that see man as a biological machine, whatever – and for which I have no interest:

    Then one said to him, Behold, your mother and your brothers stand without, desiring to speak with you. 48But he answered and said to him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brothers? 49And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Mt. 12:47:50)

    Who was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves? Which now of these three, think you, was neighbor to him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus to him, Go, and do you likewise. (Lk. 10:36-37)

    I do not mean to disparage organized approaches to poverty, hunger, homelessness, mental illness, addiction, and so on on the streets, as it is essential. Fr. Florovsky has written that, while the Church has never “ordered” such responsibility or expectation of the “organization,” it was quite naturally assumed by monastics and others as a moral responsibility in Orthodox Monarchies. Now, I cannot say for sure, or even with a reasonable amount of certainty, but I strongly suspect that one person, motivated in their heart by the Gospel, anonymously modeling the Samaritan of Luke 10 in their own cities as they are able brings unmeasurable joy to the angels in heaven.

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    Anon says:

    It is a simple fact that nothing and no one in Holy Tradition anywhere endorses anything even roughly comparable to market capitalism – which is in fact the ultimate materialist philosophy – Dostoevsky viewed it as the worship of the flesh-god Baal.

    None of the hierarchs of the major Orthodox Churches and none of the significant Orthodox intellectuals now or in the past support the world view of Acton – in fact they all teach and inveigh against it. That is especially true in the Russian Church, which, as Fr. Jacobse notes, tends not to pull punches. There is a segment of Orthodoxy in America that is radically out of synch with both the world wide Orthodox consensus and Holy Tradition and they unfortunately have disproportionate influence in American Orthodox media, esp. the Internet. It might more accurately be noted that the Church is now in captivity to this segment.

    Sure, the opposition to the Market may on occasion draw on progressive vocabulary or ideas. But it may just as likely be a reflection of a desire to be consistent with the teachings of the Holy Fathers, our theology, and our leading intellectuals (can one imagine Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s reaction to this conference at St. Vlad’s? I mean, seriously, can you imagine it?).

    Or more generally it may reflect a very traditionalist view, which recognizes the Market as a force profoundly opposed to the possibility of virtue. As Alasdair MacIntyre notes “the tradition of the virtues is at variance with the central features of the modern economic order and more especially its individualism, its acquisitiveness and its elevation of values of the market to a central place.” There’s no question that the degeneracy and filth of modern culture is the product of a market culture – it is not possible to be a moral conservative and be an apologist for the Market.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      Anon: there was no systematic idea of “market capitalism” during the time of the Fathers and I rather doubt that they endorsed any particular economic systems. Their really weren’t any other than “let the buyer beware”.

      What we have in today’s world is NOT market capitalism, it is more akin to fascist economics than anything else. Now that IS, as you say, solely about materialist gain.

      Certainly, capitalism can be ruled by materialism and become an anti-Christian ideology ‘capitalizing’ everything including human beings. However, unlike socialism, communism, fascism, mercantilism, feudalism and other forms of centralized, zero-sum, state controlled economics, capitalism need not be.

      I have yet to see a viable alternative from the folks who inveigh against capitalism, especially since they are rarely criticizing actual capitalism in the first place and often don’t have a clue what capitalism really is.

      In a truly capitalistic economy no one stops anyone from sharing their wealth by being altruistic and/or ascetical even kenotically so. Real capitalism rewards those who are creative, resilient, prudent risk takers who have the benefit of others in mind. For instance, one of the most successful programs for lifting people out of poverty in third world countries has been micro-loans. Really small (often $100 to $250 or less) loans that are easily repaid. They are given to individuals to capitalize the work of their own hands and hearts so that they don’t have to rely on state welfare or be at the mercy of the wealthy. Often such folks then band together into cooperatives to both market and sell their goods and produce a greater profit.

      The real killer in today’s neo-fascist global economy is personal debt. That is slavery and clearly un-Biblical.

      Genuine capitalism does not promote the un-controlled accumulation of debt for the purchase of more and more ‘things’. Just the opposite, capitalism promotes the creation of wealth that allows people and businesses to invest and grow using prudent and appropriate resources and materials while retaining their integrity.

      Consumerism is not capitalism. Consumerism is the outgrowth of a secular, utilitarianism that devalues everything, especially humanity and our labor because it rejects the numinous presence of the sacred.

      Christian capitalism does not do that because Christians acknowledge and attempt to live by the reality of the Incarnation that the Person of God is “everywhere present and fillest all things” and that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. No centralized, state controlled bureaucratic economy I have ever studied does that.

      The free and open exchange of goods and services with the prudent management of money and other resources to facilitate both quality goods, needed services and the welfare of everyone involved is what Christian capitalism is about. The state needs to be involved as a restrictor of bad behavior, including the over concentration of capital and control of markets by too few entities. Unfortunately, the state has become more and more an actor in the economy and the primary profit taker while at the same time rewarding vice, not virtue, monopoly rather than competition and creativity.

      That is not capitalism. It is, as I noted earlier much more akin to fascism (the economics not the anti-Semitism). Such fascist thought seeks world domination and control, it is elitist in the extreme and focused on power and greed more than anything else. Christian capitalism is not.

      The key is the Christian capitalism is made by Christian people and their communities. It is built and maintained by the love of God and of our fellow creatures, i.e, the two commandments which Jesus gives us. Christian capitalism allows a freedom and a genorosity that is not possible in any other economic form I have studied.

      There are certainly too few examples of Christian capitalism now and in history, but that does not mean we should reject it in favor of inherently anti-Christian ideologies.

      Instead of simply rejecting the creative proposals of others, I would love to see competing alternatives. Or is that too capitalistic for you?

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      I don’t understand what these thought experiments about the Fathers and what they would have said about market capitalism have to do with the St. Vlad’s poverty conference. You are silent, Anon, about the findings and content of discussions, which focused on what works effectively to alleviate poverty. What’s more, your thought experiments dishonor the lived experience of Orthodox Christians in this country who have become not only wealthy, but philanthropic.

      Would my Greek grandparents also be culpable for the “degeneracy and filth” of our culture, and its unparalleled standard of living? Would you prefer that we return to the “world lit only by fire” to borrow Manchester’s phrase? Why did millions of Greeks leave their villages and families and friends for a shot at prosperity in places like the United States, Australia and the U.K.? You know, all that hokey stuff about the American Dream. Was my great-grandfather a “materialist” because he left his family for years to trade his strong back for dollars by working on the railroads in Utah?

      Go, Anon, to the list of “50 Wealthiest Greeks in America” published by the National Herald. Do you think there’s any overlap between that list and membership rolls of the Archons or Leadership 100? Do you imagine that these “filthy and degenerate” Greeks helped build any number of parishes, hospitals, schools, etc.?

      From the lead story:

      At 83, John Pappajohn is a bundle of energy and insight, making more money than he ever did. But with his wife Mary, he is also giving away more of it than ever. They have given away $100 million over the past ten years.

      Were my grandparents, who lived frugally, invested, shunned debt, and gave a significant portion of their wealth to their parish (and sent a lot of hard-earned dollars back to Greece) also culpable for this “filthy and degenerate” culture you despise? Was their Coney Island Restaurant an altar of market idolatry? Why didn’t all of the millions of Greek, Arab, Serbian, etc., immigrants who came to America not return permanently to their home countries, for the most part, after they made their pile here?

      Maybe the National Herald should change the name of its list to “50 Filthy and Degenerate Greek Billionaires and Millionaires.”

      According to Pew, the Orthodox trail only Hindus and Jews on the list of wealthiest faith communities. Sounds to me like the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Orthodox immigrants, may their memory be eternal, are doing quite well.

      What would Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn have said about that Pew survey in your thought experiments?

      Who are these anonymous hierarchs who “teach and inveigh” against Acton’s worldview? Do you mean the Acton Core Principles, which begin with “Dignity of the Person”? Do you see anything in those principles about Baal worship and market idolatry?

      Just tell me what you make of the recent cover story in the Economist which details how “market capitalism” (free market, free enterprise, market economy … ) is responsible for lifting hundreds of millions of people out of dire poverty in just a few decades. All due to economic growth. How is that growth created?

      Subtitle: “The world has an astonishing chance to take a billion people out of extreme poverty by 2030″

      In 1990-2010 the driving force behind the reduction of worldwide poverty was growth. Over the past decade, developing countries have boosted their GDP about 6% a year—1.5 points more than in 1960-90. This happened despite the worst worldwide economic crisis since the 1930s. The three regions with the largest numbers of poor people all registered strong gains in GDP after the recession: at 8% a year in East Asia; 7% in South Asia; 5% in Africa. As a rough guide, every 1% increase in GDP per head reduces poverty by around 1.7%.

      What does the “significant intellectual” MacIntyre say about that? I suspect he’s silent.

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      Rostislav says:

      I find it rather odd that someone tries to argue social democracy from the standpoint of the New Testament. But let’s take this for what it is worth and say that, yes, the Holy Apostles endorsed free market capitalism at its apogee. The Holy Apostle Paul counseled a slave to be obedient to his master. …

      The underlying basis of “capitalism” is endorsement of personal liberty. John Locke’s argument for private property is simple and succinct. A man has a right to own a piece of land because in its fallow state it does not produce. While when he labors upon it, it brings up crops. Thus, he imparts to it part of himself and it necessarily becomes his by right, because in reality he has imparted something to it and it by the sweat of his brow has become part of him. There is almost a metaphysics of the right to property expressed here, founded in the most Marxian of concepts – the right to ones labor.

      Let us go further. The Holy Apostle Paul admonishes us, “He who will not work shall not eat”. Thus, the social democrat is vexed to contend with the clear teaching that he does not have a right to another man’s labor, but has every obligation to labor for himself.

      This entire farce was settled long ago when the Berlin Wall collapsed and the Bolshevik experiment in Russia was shown to be a brutal and oppressive atrocity, a crime against humanity, which precisely dehumanized generations by compelling them to be slaves for a state that “had the best interests of the proletariate in mind”. The scars of social democracy are still visible in vivid color in Russia and the Successor states, and there is reason why a generational shift has occured, generations demanding freedom, including the economic freedom to reep the fruits of ones labor and administer ones own prosperity to the greater glory of GOD.

      Any system which compels or steals from another or others or classes is not of CHRIST, for CHRIST in love honors and expects us to be responsible stewards and free, exercising our free wills. That is the heart of capitalism. CHRIST did not come as a thief or one who advocated theft and robberies, although HE was crucified with thieves and robbers. CHRIST was guilty of no crime, however; thus, HE did not and would never endorse socialism, ie state sponsored robbery. Although by HIS blood, HE did die for these sins. HE bore them for humanity.

      The Church is to provide a haven for the less fortunate and those who cannot work or are in transition indeed, but it can only provide inasmuch as there are those who work and by the sweat of their brow create prosperity, not by the largesse of social democratic leeches who can only steal but never create. It is only the providers who provide, not those whose sole economic role is parasitism.

      The canundrum of the socialist is that he runs out of the money of the capitalist and socialism collapses. The Soviet experiment taught us that once everything is stolen and dependency is institutionalized that production of wealth ceases and the welfare state – workers paradise collapses in on itself. All go hungry because no one works and everyone is entitled to consume, to consume that which they have not earned, wealth which they did not create and which therefore was never created.

      The American Dream was never placed on trial by the Church, the Fathers, the Gospel. Earning the fruits of ones labor and being free to prosper is as Christian a notion as the fact CHRIST empowered the entrepreunership of Galilean fisherman and helped them reep profit, even super profits, providing for them catches “which strained their nets to the point of bursting”.

      So “greed”, “entrepreneurship”, “prosperity”, “wealth” being disparaged by Christianity? Orthodoxy no less? JESUS didn’t establish a commune in Galilee and HE didn’t organize fisherman into a “workers collective” appointing St. Peter as commissar and confiscating his boat. But HE did challenge them all in reeping the fruits of their labor to become “fishers of men”, honoring their free will and voluntary contribution and efforts.

      Moreover, citing Ivan Kireevsky of all people? A noble and landowner?! To call this argument preposterous is to insult the term with a triteness it does not deserve to bear.

      Indeed, the Holy Apostle John tells us in no uncertain terms about the motivation of Judas Iscariot in betraying CHRIST. He loved money he did not earn and he stole it from those who did. He loved doing this so much he betrayed CHRIST because he couldn’t get enough of other peoples’ money. Thus, today’s left of center neo Bolsheviks have a biblical patron indeed.

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        Michael Bauman says:

        Rostislav, the weakness of classical capitalism is it’s reliance on the ‘individual’ at the expense of the community and utilitarianism at the expense of the sacred. The Church is admirably placed and equipped to alleviate those problems if we will.

        Communism exploits this weakness by wrapping itself in the language of genuine community that requires God and voluntary human asceticism while throwing out God, voluntary and human.

        Consumerism does much the same, preying on people’s passions to have, but clothing it in the guise of individual right and debt is the means to achieve what you have a right to.

        Otherwise I agree with your assessment entirely.

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          Rostislav says:

          Since I am rather fond of individual liberty, I do not see the exaltation of it as a “defect”, but rather the affirmation of the free will of all to act and pursue their best interests and prosperity as they would. Prosperity is contagious. Because the prosperous employ resources and the labor of others to increase their wealth and prosperity. Those amongst the employed who are industrious likewise pursue their own wealth creation and prosperity. Thus the system is “self correcting” in uplifting the “community” out of poverty. The history of the United States and that of Great Britain is a testament to the fact that classical capitalism creates wealth, improves living standards and creates functional community, for the impoverished, poor, enserfed and communalized stagnate, fail to actualize the fruits of their labor and have no means of improving their lots. Since they are poor, hungry, poorly sheltered, lack ever more essentials, and are socialized to accept this reality of dehumanization and “benevelont”, secular totalitarianism, they lose all sense of effective community growth and prosperity. They stagnate. They decay. They degenerate. Their cultures and societies decompose, rotting away both by the village’s total dehumanization of individual liberty and incentive and its assault against “traditional bigotries and superstitions of morality and historical conventions”. Just look at pictures of today’s Detroit, a Leftist utopia, to reconcile your doubts. This is the economic history of the world prior to the advent of capitalism. The reason why the “developing” or “third world” is a basket case today is precisely because of communal interests and haphazard attempts at welfare states without the necessary inculcation of work ethics and ethos of industriousness and wealth creation. The American Dream is not a flaw. It is the affirmation of the hopes and dreams of free people.

          Does supply create its own demand? Well, let’s name some industries of the last one hundred years and consider how much living standards increased for all of humanity because of them. Electronics, computers, software, telecommunications, automobiles, airplanes, plastics, refrigeration, healthcare… Yes, wealth has a habit of spreading, and it spreads quickest where people are free and unencumbered to create it.

          Thus, no, it does not “take a village”. It takes the sweat of your brow and the work of your hands. You are firstly responsible to yourself and to your GOD. You can only fully meet your obligations when you are free. The freer you are, the greater your liberty, the more you can attend to yourself and thus attend to others. I would posit that those who call for a “village”, for communal interests, for “New Deals” to be undertaken by the state do not fully consider from whence the state is arrogating this authority to itself by compulsion and assault upon liberty. It is taking these responsibilities away from the Church, which is freely assembled. The state thus emerging sets out to secularize a society, making it dependent on the state while assaulting the role and relevence of the Church with coercion, because it hates competition which is preferable to its compulsion. Like a drug dealer giving out the first few fixes free to create junkies. This is the inherent evil of statism. It is quiet theomachy. It is distilled, militant atheism. This is the true ugly face of secularism at its apotheosis. The “village” is nothing more than a euphemism for a “kolkhoz”. Thus, the sloganeering of collectivization is unmasked.

          Communism, social democracy, mixed economics, etc. fail miserably when followed to their logical conclusions, because these systems leech wealth creation out of an economy, penalize industriousness and thus assail prosperity. They live off the labor of classical capitalism, sucking it dry until it is no more, while disincentivizing people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and feed and clothe themselves. This is clearly visible today in the abject failure of the Hyper-Keynesian economic policy being pursued here and in Europe. People are being impoverished by the welfare state. Wealth creation is stagnating or declining, and the poorest in the West are experiencing decreasing standards of living while becoming more dependent on the state which is sapping economic, job creating activity dry. We are worse off today because we have been led by incompetent pied pipers and usurpers down roads of “economic justice” and “welfare state entitlements”.

          There is no fundamental difference in the mechanisms of leftist political economy. The difference only lies in the matter of degrees, but ultimately, the economic incompetence of the Left acts as nothing more than depression of prosperity and reduction of personal liberty for the sake of a bureacracy, a totalitarian commune, and a psychology of entitled indolence which lowers the standard of living of all and economically atavizes nations and cultures. These are all evils. Indeed, in old China, bureacracy was demonized as one of the “eight evil winds”.

          “Consumerism” is both a cultural and spiritual phenomenon, rooted in a secular escapism and affirmation of nihlistic existentialism. Since one is spiritually empty, one is impelled to consume, to fill the void. The only way classical capitalism affects this dynamic is by enabling this consumption. But classical capitalism does not have this as its intent. While providing higher living standards, it ideally prompts wealth creation and industry, employment where consumption is not a past time as much as it is a matter of necessity, of occasional leisure, of moments of luxury. Now, where the Church is not nominalized by secularism it fills the spiritual hunger of humanity and directs it with morality, culture, society, an infrastructure of humanism and spiritual growth which improves the human condition and necessarily moderates consumption. In doing so, it provides for the least fortunate, for those in transition, for those impoverished. It is not capitalism’s fault that the moral order of secular humanism has caused the spiritual, moral and cultural decline of the West, leading people to consume, to narcotize, to escape, to find self affirmation in acts of infamy to simply be able to blink. Nor will the Church ever be empowered by the Left to combat this phenomenon. However, in a state where individual liberty and prosperity is idealized, a capitalist state, the creation of wealth and the sacrifice of wealth creators to the Church does indeed empower the Church to combat the spiritual necrosis of secularism much more handily. Ultimately, when one is free to help in a Christian society one is much more apt to do so. Under compulsion in an amoral, post Christian, secular humanist society, no true help is ever given and thus resentments emerge, love abates, classes hate one another and the dialectic of class war emerges. Moreover, under compulsion moral standards lose authority. It is only in liberty, where free people affirm their faith tradition and fully live it, in a society wealthy and prosperous enough for them to be able to do so that the degeneration of the human condition, which is the hallmark of the social engineering of the Left in its secular humanist depravity, that the human existenz, spiritually and materially, can fully embark on reaching its fullest potential.

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            Michael Bauman says:

            Rostislav: I draw an important distinction between and individual and a person as, I’ve been taught, does Orthodox anthropology.

            An individual is separate from others, independent as in isolated: morally, spiritually and individually. A person exists only in relationship, indeed, interrelationship with others. The Holy Trinity is the prime example of such interrelationship in love and the prototype of genuine, healthy community at the heart of which is divine communion. Only in such interrelationship is a person really free. Only in communion can human beings reach their full potential.

            In actuality, we are all interrelated whether we want to be or not: to one another, to the rest of creation, visible and invisible. In our falleness those interrelationships are not always healthy.

            Political, social and economic ideologies of the left quash the human person attempting to create a false collective. Where, as any Star Trek fan will tell you, “resistance if futile, you will be assimilated”

            Political, social and economic ideologies of the right quash genuine healthy community, atomizing and weakening the natural human desire and need for connections to others. The more atomized we become, the less reason we have to adhere to any morality but survival of the fittest. Such atomization is essentially nihilist as Nietzsche described it. The Will to Power becomes the prime directive.

            Both types of ideologies are false and lead to tyranny and great restriction of human freedom. The Church, by the Grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit transcends all such ideologies and recognizes that even though “the very hairs of our head are numbered” and we are uniquely known to God, it is only responding to the call to come together as His people in obedience that, paradoxically, we can realize and exercise our liberty. Marriage, family and our ability to dress and keep the earth bringing it to greater fruition under our righteous dominion is the result.

            Social, political and economic freedom is the fruit of such obedience and community.

            A rightly ordered state is a virtuous state flowing as it does from a citizenry that is rightly ordered in our communion with our Creator.

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              Rostislav says:

              Orthodox anthropology where “community” is emphasized has its culmination in the Eucharist where the congregation assembled as the Church becomes one in CHRIST JESUS in HIS BODY and BLOOD by Holy Communion. In this theanthropic participation, human beings are enhpostastized into CHRIST where their dual natures of body and soul experience by the indwelling of the HOLY SPIRIT the PRESENCE of and UNITY in CHRIST in HIS ascended theantropic nature in theosis. This is the fundamental understanding of “community” in Orthodox anthropology.

              “Personhood” in Orthodox anthropology is understood as culminating in the exercise of the free, INDIVIDUAL will, in this life (and in the eschaton) where body and soul are united and engaged in worship, stewardship and glorifying GOD, living by the HOLY SPIRIT in grace, coming to HIM as FREE INDIVIDUALS to achieve real personhood. Our personhood in CHRIST occurs in HIM living in us and us living in HIM firstly as individuals. Then in the Church in the Eucharist.

              Arriving at a political premise from this, especially one espousing collectivism, speaks of the intrusion of a nominalism and secularization of Orthodox theology.

              Individuality being denatured by the LEFT cannot rise to full participation in CHRIST, for humanity itself is nominalized and secularized to the point of a nihlistic, amoral fugue, in an ontology which at best finds metaphysical moments of escape in existentianlist rebellions.

              The will to power is indeed a Nietzschean concept (Although Schopenhauer might call it plagiarism), and to understand it fully, one must understand its premise before speaking of “atomizations” on the Right and other such inaccuracies. Nietzsche, lamenting the “death of GOD”, prescribed the Will to Power, to rise humanity out of the mire of the dehumanization of the collective of the groupthink, the village which had “murdered GOD” (or so it thought) and in doing so murdered the spirit and potential for greatness for all of humanity and enslaved it thereby in a dehumanized existence. The Will to Power in Nietzsche was a metaphysical force, primordial, acting of its own accord, captivating individuals who freed themselves to its action to liberate their humanity and throw off the chains of the inhumanity and dehumanization of the village. The Will to Power was a proxy for grace to uplift humanity and liberate it. Its role ultimately was to create a society of a redeemed humanity imparting a grace and glory and achievement for the human condition into the future. Destroying the order of the commune and the village, the advent of the superman merited men an earth which could be structured as Valhalla, as Elyseum, as Avalon, a new free society of the greatness of human achievement. Its intention was liberation and exhaltation in establishing a freed society. In other words, the concept of superman was messianic and the call of a new humanity, an emancipated humanity.

              Nietzsche, the son of a Lutheran pastor, died in a straight jacket in an insane asylum bashing his head against the walls of a padded cell, totally undone by loving a GOD he could not believe in.

              Now, we aren’t talking about Nietzsche here and his despair. We are talking about Orthodoxy.

              In Orthodoxy, the “monakhos”, monk, “sole struggler”, individual, is understood, in the ideal sense, to be a living martyr, struggling ALONE to live the angelic life and thereby in the acquistion of the HOLY SPIRIT uplift the world around him/her by the sanctifying power of grace. This culminates in the Church in the Eucharist, but, the Church in the Eucharist is understood to be the assembly of REBORN INDIVIDUALS, reborn in CHRIST JESUS, in KENOSIS, self surrender/submission/self-emptying, working in grace to save their souls and surrendering AS INDIVIDUALS in love and submission to CHRIST. This is a community of freed individuals establishing their full personhood in CHRIST, not communized and socially degenerated collectivists being led by a commissar in “what’s good for them” where they can only NOMINALLY participate and submit in CHRIST. Unless you are a free individual, you can never fully submit or participate in a society of grace or even in a socio-economic organism. This activity is called “podvig”, “askesis”, “struggle”, and it is a struggle which can only truly by undertaken by free individuals. Thus, Orthodox anthropology understands that you have to be a free individual to become a full person in CHRIST JESUS by the HOLY SPIRIT.

              “Atomization”, along with the above notion of “consumerism”, is not even a side effect of the “Right” or “classical capitalism”, etc. As in the case of “consumerism”, “atomization” is an act of ones free will where one chooses not to participate in the Church in the Eucharist, in a Christian society or a society of faith, but, rather, to live ones life secularly as one sees fit according to the drives of ones passionate heart and the understandings of ones fallen intellect. That would be exercising ones free will to pursue a secular life. While what we have been talking about is exercising ones free will to pursue an Orthodox Christian life in the hopes of creating an Orthodox Christian culture and a renewed Orthodox Christian ontology in North America.

              The Left in its social engineering has created a superstructure which wars with the very advent of such a culture. The Right allows individuals to choose for themselves and only requires that individuals be free to choose to participate. The Left specifically denatures individuals by debasing them in atheist, secularist indoctrination supported by a superstructure which as a premise acts to quash, nominalize, destroy, assault societies of faith. The Right is at worst indifferent to them but more commonly, as Hegel asserts, cooperates with these societies of faith, for they create moral, stable, prosperous cultures/states, founded on free individuals pursuing their prosperity and spiritual well being, freely comprising families, communities, nations.

              Just to be clear-we are talking about the Christian Right, not the secular Right, when we speak of the creation of an Orthodox culture. But we are doing so being cognizant of the fact that the mechanisms of the secular Right are the bridge today to bring this culture about after achieving a radical revision of the direction of our society.

              Atomization then is made most acute living in the spiritually repressed societies of the LEFT or where the LEFT’s deleterious influence has produced a secular humanist statism/culture which promotes the relativism of atheistic, nihlist existentialism. Here humanity is hoarded into a commune (as into a cattle car) and degenerated in reprobate degrees: people are given the illusion that they are free because they are programmed to “freely” reject all the “bigotries and superstitions and outmodedness of history” in participating in the cultus of the village. A cultus which ascribes to every drone it depraves a very mortal neo paganism, calling all to be the relative gods of oneselves whose “truthes” die with them where in community it is realized that there is no “absolute”, no “objective truth” other than empiricism, materialism, sensualism, consumerism, where atomized spirits in the collectivized village live in subhumanity not knowing how much of their lives have any real meaning where they comfort themselves with debased lies of spiritual realities until they expire. But simply dare to assert an “objective standard” or hint at “absolute Truth” and in these living hells you will be repressed. You will be ostracized, You will be exterminated as a “counter revolutionary element”. The Leftist culture/state allows no challenge ever to its fundamental premise of relativized, secularized subhumanity. It is by their collectivist “village” they enforce their “message discipline” and programme of totalitarian control.

              Orwell’s genius prophesied the Left’s assault against the human condition. We would do well to fully appreciate the peril at hand and act to reject it.

              In a society of the RIGHT, this total and satanic debasement of the human condition is precisely avoided. People are free to exercise their free wills, yes, to choose CHRIST or falleness. But they are also free to understand the mechanics of one way or the other and are not hoarded into a technocratic plantation (gulag) and taught to hate love and surrender their spirits to the despair of mortality and life without ultimate meaning. The Right exalts humanity in its exaltation of the individual. The Left debases mankind into subhumanity. CHRIST redeems individuals and in HIM they find their true personhood.

              Any thought which assails fundamental free will, deriding it as “atomization” or “selfishness” or “individualism” or whatever, is challenged to reexamine its premise at the outset, for it is constructed on the notion that it will use compulsion, it will ignore free will and impose its own standard upon it. That is fundamentally antiChristian from the outset. Faulting the Right for asserting the sovereignty of free will is asserting that humanity is not entitled to it, cannot choose to go its own path, and must subject itself to the village, to the commune, to the state, and live by the will of that state. Thus humanity becomes subject, is enslaved, where CHRIST precisely freed it to choose salvation or to remain as it would. The very attack against the Right in its premise admits its guilt against humanity and GOD’s honoring of our free will.

              The narrative of salvation, so hated by atheists who revile it and its metaphysical properties (love, good, nobility, beauty, etc. does exist and defies empirical – materialist categories and “dialectics” and “evolutionary theories”), is a foundation of the narrative of the societies of free individuals on the Right. Whereas, on the Left, it is at best persecuted as “bourgeios sentimentality”. The Left’s narrative is humanity is too disfunctional of its own accord to survive and old “superstitions” have only exacerbated the suffering of the human condition so its “elites” must intercede and “enlighten” the “unwashed masses” and herd them into “purposefulness” in a “politically correct” manner “for their own good” in “what really matters” – here and now, affirmation of transient feeling and consumption, bread and circuses, bread alone, the machine of state providing all cradle to the grave (once it “culls the herd”): just don’t “rock the boat” OR ELSE. This is the pathos of Pasternak’s novel Dr. Zhivago.

              This fundamental hatred of humanity is unworthy of CHRIST and of HIS Church.

              Thus, the apparatus of the Right enables human anthropology from the Orthodox perspective while the collectivist superstructure of the Left wars against it.

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    anon says:

    Michael, the idealized capitalism that you describe doesn’t exist, never has and never will. Like all utopian ideologies, free market theories ignore the reality that markets/culture/government are interconnected parts of one reality. The reason why our capital markets, for example, while riddled with fraud, graft and abuse, are reasonably functional is the legal framework that stops the unregulated market from eating itself alive. Also, the Fathers have plenty of commentary on wealth and poverty, the passions, materialism and acquisitiveness that bear directly on the kind of Market domination we are experiencing in America today. I am more than a little surprised that anyone would suggest otherwise or that this is somehow not relevant to the kind of society we are creating.

    John, I don’t think your comment really speaks directly to my original comment (it poses rhetorical questions that presuppose a bunch of positions don’t hold to), so I am not sure there is much for me to defend. However, I understand well enough where you are coming from and a decade or two ago probably would have written something quite similar: my own heritage and my ancestor’s reasons for coming to the US are similar to what you describe. They worked hard, saved, and did what they could to build a better life and maintain those virtues that came along with their cultural and (Orthodox) religious inheritance. In fact, MacIntyre also notes in the same book (After Virtue) that “the tradition [of the virtues] also survives in a much less fragmented, much less distorted form in the lives of certain communities whose historical ties with their past remain strong. So the older moral tradition is discernible in the United States and elsewhere among, for example, some Catholic Irish, some Orthodox Greeks and some Jews of an Orthodox persuasion, all of them communities that inherit their moral tradition not only through their religion, but also from the structure of the peasant villages and households which their immediate ancestors inhabited on the margins of modern Europe.”

    But this point about Greek Orthodox immigrants is largely a non sequitur: if you think that the commercial culture in the US – which is very much a culture of the Market – is somehow a product of Greek Orthodox immigrants than I guess you would have a reason to be defensive. However, I doubt very much that is the case. And I would be *very* surprised if any Orthodox pastor or hierarch were to defend American commercial culture, which is for most young people defining their worldview in significant ways. I have observed what American values have done to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation of Orthodox immigrants – they are deeply impacted by American social values.

    To your later question about wealth and the responsibility of Orthodox Christians: I think if you read the New Testament, St Basil, St John Chrysostom, etc there are very real responsibilities that we (all of us Orthodox here in the US, not just the super wealthy) should be struggling with every day. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I am on the wrong side of this struggle in many ways and just to be candid I do believe there is a point where wealth and the Gospel cannot be reconciled.

    And yes, I did not comment on the specifics of the conference itself as my concern is a general one. Look, “markets” are powerful and useful things – well regulated, decentralized and subservient to broader social values they are both necessary and important. But that is not what the “free market” right is ultimately selling and defending: they are consistently agitating for unregulated Markets with extraordinary social and cultural costs, which in my view are unacceptable from the position of Orthodox Christianity. What is surprising to me is that no one is even attempting to go to the Tradition and argue otherwise. That would be much more relevant than personal defensiveness or arguments about the efficiency of markets.

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      This is not what I argued, Anonymous:

      if you think that the commercial culture in the US – which is very much a culture of the Market – is somehow a product of Greek Orthodox immigrants than I guess you would have a reason to be defensive.

      We immigrant families came here to prosper in the market culture that was already here.

      You’re still ducking the question about what works effectively to alleviate poverty, the focus of the Acton-St. Vlad’s conference. Did you listen to the audio? Did you read the article on poverty in the Economist?

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Anon. Nothing in exists in a pure form in this world, not even the Church. Remember though, it is not money and its use that is the problem, but the love of money. You have yet to propose any alternative. Your rather idealistic longing for a world of the Fathers partakes more of sentimentalism than I do, IMO

    To make Christianity real takes real Christians who, by the grace and energy of God can transform everything even money.

    The statist zero-sum alternatives have all been tried and found not only wanting, but horribly destructive as is the statist capitalism (so-called) we have today. The sense of the sacred and the understanding of the value of the human person has been stripped. Not by the market but by state supported greed which ain’t capitalism at all.

    What is you solution besides, not that.

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    anon says:

    Man you guys are fast!

    John, I believe we are talking past each other. American culture of a few generations ago had many buffers against market control of the culture (and less technological possibility for the Market culture to project itself directly on new immigrant families). For example, there were obscenity and censorship laws that have been progressively stripped away. Immigrant culture was significantly more localized as well.

    In any case, neither my original post nor my followup was answering the question you are posing here as I was trying to make a different point altogether (I did not listen to all the audio and I did read the Economist to answer your other questions): I was not addressing “what works best”. I was addressing the substance of our Faith and whether it can properly support a Market-dominated social program. I used to believe it could and did for many decades. I don’t any more: I believe that markets have an important role to play but that they must be subordinate to other social and cultural concerns and most especially that they must be carefully regulated. I am deeply concerned about the cultural apparatus that we have created and what it is doing to us as people – we are not building a society that supports the cultivation of the virtues. And I am puzzled why no one on this thread on an Orthodox blog is willing to address the teachings of our Faith and how they relate to the a culture defined and controlled by the Market.

    Both you and Michael (who has now dismissed the Fathers social teachings out of hand) are asking how we could help alleviate poverty – that is an indefinitely long discussion that we will not be able to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. And again, was not the primary issue I was trying to raise. But, let me take the bait. If we are going to improve the lot of the poor in the US it will be by going against the recommendations of free market advocates: severely penalize offshoring of jobs, provide worker representation on corporate boards, protect small businesses at the expense of chains, establish vocational tracks for manufacturing and skilled labor as a matter of public policy, protect worker health care, etc. Take a drive through North Philly sometime (preferably in a bullet proof vehicle): look at all the empty factories one after the other after the other after the other. This is the Market moving jobs to more efficient locales. Look at the wasteland left behind. I use this as an example, but the same applies to countless other situations across the US: its not just that these situations develop: they do so unnecessarily.

    I have read the Economist article and, sure, growing economies will create more wealth in areas that are severely deprived. But the devil, as always, is in the details. Will this be by transfer of opportunity from more expensive societies? What safeguards will be in place to protect the marginalized and powerless or even public health? What kind of social dislocations will be created? What are the likely wealth distribution consequences? All of these problems require intervention vis a vis market forces.

    By the way, I would be remiss if I did not say this: God bless you both and please forgive me if I got you heated under the collar.

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      And I am puzzled why no one on this thread on an Orthodox blog is willing to address the teachings of our Faith and how they relate to the a culture defined and controlled by the Market.

      Because you don’t really understand how markets work. Market’s don’t control culture. Listen to the audio and read the article in the Economist before going any further. Your conception of free markets fits more with Crony Capitalism (the manipulation of markets by the State and those the State favors) which is really a form of central planning without the nationalization of industry.

      What you are trying to say I think is that controlling markets will somehow stop our moral decline. It won’t. It is probably inevitable however that if the decline continues state control of all aspects of our lives including our economic decisions will increase (using the IRS to enforce Obamacare for example). When men leave off God, the State becomes god.

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        anon says:

        Interesting: I have a masters focused on finance from undoubtedly the leading university in the world for the subject, worked for years at a free market think tank, published market oriented papers, edited a number of the economist and “libertarian” thinkers cited from time to time on this blog, and have managed large businesses from bootstrap phase through public operations on a global scale. My conclusions after many decades of thought and experience is not simplistic nor doctrinaire and always somewhat tentative, however, I am more than confident that I am not the confused party here.

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      My collar is cool, Anonymous. But your statement about market culture and its “degeneracy and filth” was just a tad too sweeping, too over the top. This country was built on a market culture and is still founded on that same culture. Immigrants staked their lives on its promises. And, from what I know, they didn’t worry too much about localizing their trade. They were perfectly happy to take greenbacks from anyone.

      As for the teaching of the faith on economic issues, no one here is ignoring that. But broad moral principles (St. John Chrysostom’s preaching and teaching on wealth and poverty, e.g.) though perfectly true don’t lead ineluctably to economic policy prescriptions more than a thousand years later for highly industrialized, highly technological societies that are massively larger. These are matters of prudence. We’ve found — on the poverty question — that some things work and some don’t work so well. See PovertyCure.

      We know something about this in Michigan:

      Take a drive through North Philly sometime (preferably in a bullet proof vehicle): look at all the empty factories one after the other after the other after the other. This is the Market moving jobs to more efficient locales. Look at the wasteland left behind. I use this as an example, but the same applies to countless other situations across the US: its not just that these situations develop: they do so unnecessarily.

      Yes, but economic globalization is happening everywhere. It explains why countries like India and China have lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Once they shed their closed, collectivist policies, they were on the way to tremendous gains in output and income. This is irreversible. We can work to humanize it, but we can’t make it go away.

      Industries, economies ebb and flow. Some remain competitive and some don’t. Your proposal to “severely penalize offshoring of jobs” is the worst sort of command-and-control economic planning I can imagine. Keep in mind that we don’t operate in an unregulated economy. The debate is not about “laissez-faire” but how much more regulation and taxation we can tolerate before choking our prosperity out of existence.

      See The Regulatory State:

      The Code of Federal Regulations runs to 165,000 pages and contains tens of thousands of rules involving every conceivable aspect of commerce and society. Federal agencies add about a thousand new mandates every year; many are relatively minor and uncontroversial, but somewhere between 50 and 75 fall into the “major rule” category, with annual costs of $100 million or more. By the agencies’ own estimates, the total annual costs of complying with their rules amount to hundreds of billions of dollars, with each year’s new rules adding more than $10 billion to the total (private estimates are higher).

      I thank you for your comments.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    What is called crony capitalism is really fascist economics.

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      Fr. Hans Jacobse says:

      Michael, did you see this? The Moral Crisis of Crony Capitalism

      An excerpt:

      Today’s new rich is the “government rich” according to Peter Schweizer. Massive centralization of money, resources, and regulation has allowed our public servants and many big businesses to thrive. The poor, new business start ups, the taxpayer, and the free market are punished. Washington and corporate elites profit from the rules and regulations they create for their own benefit and their cronies. As daily news reports currently reminds us, Washington is a cesspool of corruption and abuse of power.

      Clearly much of the talk in current leadership about helping the middle class is a smoke screen for lining the pockets of the privileged.

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    Cynthia Curran says:

    You’re still ducking the question about what works effectively to alleviate poverty, the focus of the Acton-St. Vlad’s conference. Did you listen to the audio? Did you read the article on poverty in the Economist
    Well, I don’t agree 100 percent with the economist but one interesting point they made about Mexico why NAFTA didn’t lift them out of poverty is their monopolies under certain business like Oil and so forth. Also, Mexico has to have parts shipped from them to the US in order to manufacture things like cars and so forth.

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    Cynthia Curran says:

    Or more generally it may reflect a very traditionalist view, which recognizes the Market as a force profoundly opposed to the possibility of virtue. As Alasdair MacIntyre notes “the tradition of the virtues is at variance with the central features of the modern economic order and more especially its individualism, its acquisitiveness and its elevation of values of the market to a central place.” There’s no question that the degeneracy and filth of modern culture is the product of a market culture – it is not possible to be a moral conservative and be an apologist for the Market.
    This can be said of the Land Aristocracy of the Byzantine period, lots of poor people as well. Read the Justinian Code it mentions about people abandoning their children and monks could take them in.

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    Cynthia Curran says:

    Also, another interesting book is The Fall of Rome by Ward Perkins, that the sophisticated market where a peasant could received goods from another part of the Empire starting falling apart as the Western Empire political system unraveled. Britain return to an economic level even before the Roman Conquest in the first century A.d. where the potter’s wheel had to be reinvented.
    Rome like the US had a lot of the economy state supported by the needs of national defense but there was a lot of it that was not stated directed. Also, their is a real contrast in wealth between the Eastern Empire in the 6th century and Italy. The Eastern Empire could still make a very large church while the western churches were much smaller.

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    Cynthia Curran says:

    I think sometimes there is an idealizing of countries that are Orthodox. The Russian Empire end because thinks were not perfect there and the communists took advantaged of it. Byzantines had trouble with peasants having land to farm since their were sometimes Land Barons. Modern Greece problem is that they wanted a welfare state like in other parts of Europe without paying taxes, Greeks are known to do tax evasion.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    The market is not a sentient being out to devour us and force into antu-Christian actions against our will. It is thesum of the economic decisions and actions taken by everybody. As such two things are true: it will refect rather than create the humanity or lack thereof of the participants; some regulation of behavior will be required.

    Only when that regulation is done to favor the big over, the evil over the good and at the expense of liberty do I have a problem. Paradoxically Anon the regulation you say you want works at odds with your objective, an objective I think we share.

    Giving power to an anti-Christian government will not enhance the morality of the economy

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Anon: While I need all the prayers I can get, you didn’t come close to warming my collar.

    I just disagree with more state control being the answer.

    The Church, that is to say, the people of the Church becoming more worshipful, more ascetic, more giving within whatever form the larger economy takes is the solution.

    All economies will be corrupt, wasteful and cruel. That is the lesson I draw from history. Capitalism seasoned with the salt of Christian faith will be somewhat less so that any statist controlled imagining could ever be.

    The practice of Christian virtue and the grace of Christ is the solution.

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    cynthia curran says:

    As a Chinese who lived in China’s remote village for years, I know what kind of life people live there. Tourists may enjoy the idyllic and nostalgic scenery while watching through tour bus windows, but I doubt they would like to live for more than one day in the condition of without electricity, sanitary sewer and running water. China’s past 30 years reform has raised more than 400 million people out of poverty, a great social, economic and human right achievement in human history, but there are still hundreds of millions living in poverty, especially in remote mountain area. These people have the same right to enjoy modern facilities. Elderly need to attend hospital and children need to attend school.

    The question is how to provide modern facilities to these hundreds of millions people. It is very costly to build roads and electricity lines to the remote area and to construct sewer and running water system for small villages. Chinese researchers suggested the easier way to help people in these area get out of poverty is helping them settle in area which already have modern facilities and job opportunities. China’s modernization can’t follow America model. Building relatively higher density communities is more economy, because infrastructures of sewer, electricity, public transportation, running water are used more cost effectively. It’s also more environmental friendly. Energy consumption per family in condo buildings is much less than in detached houses.

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      Right on, Cynthia. The kind of poverty you experienced is completely foreign to most Americans. Here’s an interesting article that raises important questions. Electrification — and all that it brings — has followed economic globalization in places like China and India.

      Five Surprising Facts About Energy Poverty

      [snips]

      … electricity has been extended to 1.7 billion more people between 1990 and 2010, and 1.6 billion people gained access to cleaner cooking fuels. But world population grew 1.6 billion over that same period, with high growth in regions with poor energy access—a problem concentrated in about 20 countries in Asia and Africa. The World Bank report said the pace of expansion would have to double to meet the 100 percent energy access target by 2030.

      Fastest-Moving Countries Still Have Largest Problem

      No country has moved as quickly as India to deliver electricity to more people, extending the reach of its grid to an average 24 million more people each year since 1990. And China by far has achieved more than any other nation in energy efficiency, yielding savings that add up over the past 20 years to an amount equal to the energy China used over that same time frame. Yet both nations still face the world’s greatest energy poverty challenges. India has 306.2 million people without electricity, and 705 million people who rely on wood and biomass for cooking. In China, 612.8 million people—nearly twice the population of the United States—lack clean fuel for cooking and heating.

      Cooking Smoke Kills

      About 3.5 million people, mainly women and children, die each year from respiratory illness due to harmful indoor air pollution from wood and biomass cookstoves. That’s more than double the annual deaths attributed either to malaria (1.2 million) or to HIV/AIDS (1.5 million). In the past, international health and energy authorities looked to kerosene as a cleaner alternative, but the World Bank report pointed out that recent scientific study confirms that kerosene can emit troubling amounts of health-damaging pollutants, while posing a major burn and poisoning risk.

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    Andrew says:

    One of the areas yet unexplored is the role of progressive thinking in Orthodox youth and young adult ministries. We spend alot of time talking about keeping young people connected to the Church but what good is staying “connected” to the Church if you are not connected to the teachings of the Church. I suspect we have placed too great an emphasis on keeping young people connected to the Church socially that Church leaders have never stopped to ask just what kind of values and priorities are we passing on to people who will assume positions of leadership in parishes and other organizations.

    My own thought is that we a raising a generation of young Orthodox Christians whose primary vehicle for understanding Orthodox Christians living and leadership is conventions and conferences not liturgy.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Rostislav. God bless you sir. I apparently do not have the skill to communicate my ideas in a way that allows you to understand them as you continue to misrepresent and misunderstand what I am saying. I know what the reason appears to be: you seem to be operating from within a well constructed, deeply researched and deeply held template. You have a formidable energy and a good intellect both of which makes it quite difficult to penetrate the template and actually be heard.

    While there is a great deal of good and true insights within your template, I fear it is too inflexible to allow other view points even if those viewpoints carry truth.

    I would only say that in my experience, no matter how well constructed and thought out a template is, it is impossible for it to encompass all of the truth and such templates tend to harden into ideological dogma and actually promote relativism and are ultimately harmful to the person holding them.

    Lord have mercy on us all and may He bring us into His Kingdom.

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      Michael, The detailed analysis by Rostislav is pretty good and addresses the flaws in your claims. He took the time to deconstruct the “moral equivalent” aspect of your arguments that set the real demonic ideology of the Left on the same level of the so-called “ideology” of the Right. He correctly pointed out the problems with that view.

      You also create the impression that Orthodoxy is some sort of 3rd way, equally distant from the Left as it is from the Right. It’s not that you failed to communicate your ideas properly. It’s that you are using the same collectivist criticisms against freedom and individuality that the Left uses and seem to have accepted the fallacy that “conservatism” is just another “ideology” among many and . It is not!

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        Michael Bauman says:

        No I’m not.

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          Rostislav says:

          I believe you perceive you are not considering the inherent divergent relations of Orthodoxy with the secular Left versus the secular Right, but it is clear you are insisting on moral equivalence between them while ignoring the programmes of these ideological orientations and their clear differences. I don’t perceive your point of view so much putting forward a “third way” but moreso trying to insist on a moral equivalence which “edges in” Leftist conceptions of “balance”. It was my intention to show that that particular orienation was a denaturing of human liberty and a half measure which would not really address the problem. It was my endeavor to insert the notion that liberty, religious liberty, for us today is best achieved through Right of Center government and that no Leftist solutions will ever be conducive to the restoration of a Judeo Christian society, for Leftist systems actively are repressing religion and the pursuit of non-secular lives. Moreover, I was clear in illustrating that only economic liberty, where individuals can be prosperous and reep the fruits of their labor, will empower restoration of a Judeo-Christian order. Fundamentally, the secular Right will get out of the way of religious – secular war (and stand with us at times) while the Left will promote atheist secular humanism and the nominalization of all religious forms with an accompanying amorality which leads to degeneration and the decline of our culture and nation.

          The point you seem to miss is that the Right creates the opportunity for communities of prosperous, free Orthodox Christians while the Left promotes nominalism, atheist, secularized groupthink, “politically correct” amorality, emerging out of “community” mandated by the state, all emerging out of the curtailment of individual economic and religious liberty to the point of totalitarian socialization and control.

          It is NOT the state’s business to dictate to you your fellowship and community and your religious standards. That is best determined by your INDIVIDUAL free will emerging out of cultural, religious and economic liberty. That is the fundamental point you seem to be missing. The Left is warring to supplant the various religious communities, associations, morality and teachings you mention. The Right will either leave them alone or affirm their social function and empower individuals to live in religious freedom.

          It doesn’t seem as if you have thought this through…

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      Rostislav says:

      Thank you for your words of encouragement. While I don’t believe I am following a template, I hope what I have provided for you merits due consideration as I have not misrepresented what you have said but have tried to treat it from an Orthodox and American perspective. My goal is only that it reach the readers and provoke thought, that it throw a wrench into a system actively oppressing the Orthodox worldview…

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Monasteries are communities; parishes are communities; families are communities. The Church is a community. There is nothing collectivist about any of these. Human beings are community building. Each person is part of many different communities in many different ways. The readers of this blog are a community. An ant colony is a collective.

    Human communities, unlike ant colonies or collectivist tyrannies work best when the people who are part of them are able to function and create at their highest capacity in freedom. The glue of healthy communities is love which is always voluntary and has at least a degree of willing self-sacrifice.

    Collectives are forced together and maintained by force against the will of those who are collected.

    I under no circumstance have ever thought or supported in any way, shape or form collectivism.

    Is Orthodoxy a “third way” NO. It is THE way in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no political/economic theory or system that is identical with the ethical and spiritual demands of the Christian faith. The Church always transcends any of them, even the best of them.

    If you want to go ‘individual’, you might as well be a Protestant who says:
    “It just me and Jesus baby, I don’t need to stinkin’ church, or sacraments, or saints, or Holy Tradition or any of that there idolatry stuff. That’s for heathens boys! You do that and you goin’ to HELL!”

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      Rostislav says:

      The word “monk” can be translated as individual. There is no true community – it is never possible without the full actualization and free will inherent in individual liberty. I refer you back to what I have written.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    I have thought it through deeply. I have pondered it, studied it, read everything Nietzsche wrote (in translation). I do not posit a moral equivalence between the left and the so-called right in theory. In practice modern politicians are corrupt and despite the official positions have little use for them.

    All I have ever said is what I thought was a rather mild and generally minor critique of aspects of capitalism that practiced without a sense of the sacred and an understanding of genuine humanity are troublesome to me.

    Philosophically and spiritually there is a difference between an individual and a person.

    I have particularly studied community and how humans and why humans form communities: “it is not good for man to be alone” has echoes and applications beyond the male/female synergy to which it primarily refers.

    We are all interdependent. To strip from us the basic human capacity to form interrelationships in ways that no other creature is capable of is to sacrifice a great deal.

    I understand you are not advocating that, but there are those within the capitalist milleau who do. Again when capitalism is stripped of the sense of the sacred it becomes destructive.

    The is no sense of the sacred in the left.

    I suggest the book: The End of Indian Kansas to get some perspective on what I mean.

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      Rostislav says:

      I can only say that in this country when the production of capital was freest and individual liberty not squelched by the state, religious faith and community were strongest, most churches built, religious schools, hospitals, universities and institutions founded. We had less crime, less social problems and had more of a sense of being a unified, decent nation, a “community”. We were economically prosperous and led the world in the production of wealth and increasing standards of living. That is what capitalism with its stress on individual liberty and prosperity produced. It wasn’t until the 1960s that many people started locking their doors at night. That “1950s” effect the current usurper seems to think he gains political capital in railing against. In short, American history says you are wrong in your critique of personal, individual liberty and economic freedom.

      You still don’t seem to appreciate that it is never the role of the state or an economic system to impose “community”, that “community” can only truly and faithfully arise when free individuals agree to form it in moral, spiritual, political and economic liberty.

      I asked you specifically to consider your point of view, for I have addressed it from an informed perspective and shown it to be false. I will simply reiterate that the American Dream is NOT defective, but the best hope for the prosperity and liberty of mankind.

      If you can’t make it here in the USA, where in the world do you think you can make it? Where could it ever be better?

      Lastly, to simply “dissent” while ignoring political realities and insisting on some personal ideal divorced from the process really isn’t offering a solution. It is simply tuning out and going off the grid, allowing the current situation to get worse. We need to arrive at practical solutions to firstly end the assault upon individual economic, political and religious liberty in this nation, be able to reestablish a Judeo-Christian cultural machinery secondly so that we can thirdly form informed/pious/faithful/zealous youth, converts, reverts and current Orthodox in active Orthodox faith, worship and ontology to be able to fourthly return those we have lost and finally emerge upon the American landscape as an Authentic Apostolic Non Papal Catholicism which finally achieves its vocation of missionizing the 20% – 30% of North America which Orthodoxy readily attracts. This goal of community isn’t going to emerge by flirtations with Hillary’s village (kolkhoz) or disparaging the American Dream. It will emerge in prosperity in individual liberty, in Orthodox praxis, in love, in disciplined fidelity.

      But I leave you as an INDIVIDUAL to choose to continue in your convictions… It is neither mine, nor the state’s, nor a “community’s” business to rob you of your convictions, your individuality, and indoctrinate you in thought which opposes your liberty and your free purpose in pursuing your own prosperity and free will.

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    Michael Bauman says:

    Aside from the fact that I never made any inference nor do I believe that the state has any legitimate role in forming communities, in fact just the opposite, I am not nor have I ever been an individual as I use the term.

    I have always been and will continue to be a person in a variety of communities some of which I can opt out of, others which I cannot but all of which have formed my thoughts, my life and my approach to my life. My freedom resides in my obedience to Jesus Christ and the depth of my communion with Him. Short of that, I find that I am a slave to my passions which are exacerbated by the larger community of which I am a part, the human race. My choice is the choice of Gideon, even Patrick Henry. To the extent that I choose to serve the Lord, I live. To the extent that I serve my passions, I die.

    St. Silouan, to the extent that I understand his life, was consciously aware of the human/divine connections he shared with everyone and everything and was thus able to pray for us all in a manner that few ever approach. When I pray my weak, sin-riddled “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner” I am at least somewhat aware that even that weak prayer has an impact on and includes my wife and both our families. By God’s grace that is so. It is not, nor can it ever be and “individual” prayer because “…that same prayer of mercy teaches us to render the deeds of mercy…” and transforms us, inch by inch into who we are created to be unseparted from our Creator and part of the eternal and divine community of the Holy Trinity.

    Every action I take or don’t take effects everybody and everything else on this planet (John Donne comes to mind). There is no such thing as a victimless crime or an act of virtue that does not bear fruit in others.

    That is what allows us to live a sacramental life and properly exercise the dominion we have been given by God. It is an intergal part of our being as an image and likeness of God. That is what allows a Christian to “make it” anywhere, under any form of government or economic system.

    Yes, I have choice by the grace of God, because that too is part of being in the image and likeness of God, but that choice is never without consequence to others which an ‘individual choice’ would be.

    The Nietzchean desire to “transcend” that web of inter-connections which he mistakenly lableded “the herd” while denying God is metaphysical, but it is also a demonic delusion which perhaps, in addition to his syphilis, what drove him to madness.

    The paradoxical truth is that only by submitting to the love of Christ and entering union with Him and thus strengthing the bonds of humanity we share with one another and becoming more aware of them, are we truly freed, unique and fullfilled as human persons.

    If you have ever read Emerson or have an understanding of the iconoclasm of the Enlightenment and the Puritans you will begin to know how much the nihilist ideas that flowered in Nietzche had precurssors in the founding of the United States.

    That is one reason why I can agree so readily with the Scripture that admonishes us not to put any trust in men or the princes of men. That is not moral equivalence at al, but an aknowledgement that “..we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God…” by “worshipping the created thing rather than our Creator.”

    I read an interview with a former Chinese Buddhist who is now and Athonite monk in which he said that he became a Christian because of the companionship offered by God. In Buddhism, one is alone, wholly alone and that is crushing. It is the difference between the goal of Buddhism to extinguish any sense of human uniqness vs. the escatological goal of a full realization of our unique humanity in Christ.

    Biblilcally, the authority of the state is limited to restricting and punishing behavior that is inimical to my person and estabilishing a rule of justice to the extent that we humans can actually be just. However Shakespere was wise when he wrote Portia’s speech in Merchant of Venice.

    There is no state in existence today that is acting in acord with the Biblical mandate. Some, like the United States, used to do so (as you have mentioned although very spotty) now they have exceeded the legitimate mandate by magnitudes because they have ignored both the precepts of the Bible, the principals of ethical capitalism, common sense and simple humanity as our foray into the nihilist depths of “social democracy” (which is neither social nor democratic and cannot be supported by Christianity) and the movement into what I can only describe as a global fascist economics WRONGLY called capitalism shows.

    The Communist and Fascist states never had any kind of moral authority to stand on. So I ceed all of the points of your argument and have always been in agreement with you.

    I merely say this: Capitalism, while alone of the economic systems I have studied, has the capcity to respond in a wholly Christian manner to Christian peoples, can become, without the Christian consciousness of the sacred and our realization that we are a people of God, quite destructive.

    Apparently, you find that threatening because you bring out a full array of critiques which are aimed, not at me or what I say, but at straw men of your own imagining.

    I bid you adieu and ask only that you pray for me and the salvation of my soul so that we each may continue as part of the community which is the Kingdom of God under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Glory to God for all things. I rejoice in our exchange and may it be for the salvation of each of us.

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      Rostislav says:

      Frankly, as I have defined “individual” in the sense of Orthodox anthropology, I stand convicted of my treatment of the terminology.

      You are a free individual, free to pursue your point of view as you like and to hold fast to your views as you individually will. That is validation of your free will.

      Ultimately, your critique of capitalism was based in the notion that it somehow resulted in atomization and consumerism and every other ill that you read about in a book from Kansas or some such thing. You essentially indicated that because capitalism (and the Right) did not create the community in the way Leftist states mandate these things that this was a fundamental flaw. The entire discussion then resulted in juxtaposing Right vs. Left. Capitalism vs. social democracy. Post modern (atheist secular humanist) vs. Christian (Orthodox) culture where you all the while added your objections and enfleshed your apprehensions which were addressed and deconstructed.

      Thus now to speak of my treatment of “strawmen” is at best disingenuous. You were addressed at YOUR WORD. Although there was thorough treatment of the strawmen you tried to make of American capitalism, individual liberty and the American Dream.

      While we could speak of St. Silouan, very much a monk or “individual”, who very much attained theosis as an individual, I don’t think the point would hit the mark. You have your agenda and it is an ideology which you will not waver from. Conflating things with Nietzsche or Emerson or Sartre or GOD knows who else will only end up with us taking this conversation off topic. Although I assure you, you would find a very interesting corrective in these discussions.

      Lastly, I appreciate the fact you have expressed yourself as an individual and hold to your individual viewpoint, but as has been illustrated, it seems that in the correctives offered to your objections that it is both quite aloof and flawed. I am not slighted by your satisfaction in the slightest as it is a product of your free will and individuality. You are entitled to it. (Although I wouldn’t write of humility and use philokalic language in expressing it.)

      Thank you for your kind consideration. Be well.

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    Anon says:

    4 Recent Signs of the Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Church

    1) The National Herald endorses same sex marriage:
    http://www.thenationalherald.com/article/59768

    2) The Official Child Protection Coordinator of the Greek Archdiocese publishes an essay on the official youth ministry blog of the GOA basically say that the Church’s ministeries have caused gay people to commit suicide and become addicted to drugs. These cries out for a response. Who is this guy?
    http://orthodoxyouthministry.blogspot.com/2013/06/throwing-stones.html

    3) Meet Pistol Pete, Greek Orthodox Stripper. He doesn’t take bookings past 11:00 PM on a Saturday Night because he goes to Church
    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/my-biggest-sin-is-creating-lustful-eyes-meet-stripper-pistol-pete-20130524-2k4r7.html

    4) Meanwhile the assembly of bishops has issued no statement on marriage, the Church and Society Commission continues not to meet but hey there is a time for an Orthodox Comic Book Convention http://www.doxacon.org/’

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      “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

      “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:15-23)

      America is gripped by increasing spiritual corruption and a falling away from God, truth, and morality, and bishops like Metropolitan Savas Zembillas are busy fiddling with many superficial functions and lavish dinners while remaining publicly silent about the serious issues of our day: abortion, moral corruption, sexualization of children, spiritual destruction in public schools, gov’t attack on religious institutions, the redefinition of marriage, etc. . The militant Left via the Democrat party and thousands of liberal, progressive, and secular groups feverishly fight to undermine and destroy the very moral foundation of our laws, institutions, and society with very little opposition from the Orthodox bishops in America. In the face of this enormous tsunami of delusion and corruption, Met. Savas sees fit to attend a COMIC Book Convention? Talk about “Met. Savas fiddling while America burns!”

      Too many Orthodox bishops remain silent in the face of the dangers and evil in our society that corrupt the innocent, confuse young minds, pervert the Christian faith, and enable the moral destruction of the faithful. They shamefully allow the sheep — whom they have sworn to defend and protect — to be scattered and be lead astray by wolves in sheep’s clothing and all sorts of ideas and ideologies that contradict the Moral Tradition and Teachings of the Christian Faith. Such impostors are cowards, not Christian men. They embrace the wisdom of the “world” and fail to support and preach the wisdom of God. While worshiping God with their mouths, their silence in the face of so much falsehood and corruption betrays their true allegiance.

      “MEN fight wars. If you refuse to do your duty and act like MEN, then the war is already lost. And make no mistake, cowardice is a grave sin, and you will answer for it.

      Every bishop is given a crosier upon his ordination to the episcopacy. A crosier is a shepherd’s staff. It is a six to seven foot long staff that a shepherd uses to beat the crap out of wolves. That’s your job. Beating the crap out of the wolves – not killing all of the sheep yourself so that there is nothing left for the wolves to eat.

      MAN UP!!!! FIGHT, YOU FOOLS!!!”

      http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2012/06/the-bishops-are-being-played-like-cheap-fiddles/

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        The OCA Holy Synod of Bishops released a statement today re-affirming the Church position on marriage and indirectly challenging the US Supreme Court decision.

        In light of the decisions rendered on June 26, 2013 by the Supreme Court of the United States of America with regard to same-sex marriage, we, the members of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church in America, reaffirm that which had been stated in June 1992, namely that marriage involves the union of one man and one woman, as divinely revealed and experienced in the sacramental life of the Church. As such, the Church does not, and can not, condone or accept marriages apart from those involving one man and one woman who seal their relationship in the all-embracing love of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

        We exhort the clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America not to have fear or anxiety in the face of the decisions of the civil authorities of our lands, but to bear witness to the timeless teachings of Christ by striving for purity and holiness in their own lives, by instructing their families and communities in the precepts of the Holy Gospel, and by placing their trust in our Lord Who “has overcome the world.”
        http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2013/07/oca-bishops-synodal-affirmation-of-the-mystery-of-marriage/

        Unfortunately the OCA statement is a far cry from the much stronger, more powerful, and very clear public rebuke issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

        “Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

        “Marriage is the only institution that brings together a man and a woman for life, providing any child who comes from their union with the secure foundation of a mother and a father.

        “Our culture has taken for granted for far too long what human nature, experience, common sense, and God’s wise design all confirm: the difference between a man and a woman matters, and the difference between a mom and a dad matters. While the culture has failed in many ways to be marriage-strengthening, this is no reason to give up. Now is the time to strengthen marriage, not redefine it.

        “When Jesus taught about the meaning of marriage – the lifelong, exclusive union of husband and wife – he pointed back to “the beginning” of God’s creation of the human person as male and female (see Matthew 19). In the face of the customs and laws of his time, Jesus taught an unpopular truth that everyone could understand. The truth of marriage endures, and we will continue to boldly proclaim it with confidence and charity.

        “Now that the Supreme Court has issued its decisions, with renewed purpose we call upon all of our leaders and the people of this good nation to stand steadfastly together in promoting and defending the unique meaning of marriage: one man, one woman, for life. We also ask for prayers as the Court’s decisions are reviewed and their implications further clarified.”
        http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/blog/2013/06/catholic-bishops-on-us-supreme-court-decision-tragic-day-for-marriage-and-our-nation/

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      Rostislav says:

      Now when the pendulum swings back and these people in the GOA are clearly exposed as a fringe minority and able churchmen arise to set the ship straight, 1). Many espousing these radical anti Christian views will claim to never have “taken these positions” OR “that it was the times we were living in”. while 2). Certain Greek American laity groups will campaign to remove said churchmen, their allies, and those who agree with said churchmen (even if they are the majority) as “traditionalists, fundamentalists, reactionaries, etc.” 3). Although statements like this will be disavowed in the future, radical revisions in outlook they have created will linger and be referred to as “American standards”.

      When your chief spokesman is Frank Schaeffer and an agnostic fellow who has been “Orthodox” 18 months and writes books about how the Holy Canons are crazy, the Fathers “nuts”, and Orthodox spirituality and ecclesiology “cuckoo” and your archdiocesan administration sponsors seminars on the “Traditionalist menace” which travel from parish to parish, this is the type of out of control nominalist Renovationism you get…

      This is precisely why I am opposed to Constantinopolitan rule of the Episcopal Assembly and prefer a separate route. I would prefer a different paradigm where OCA-Slavic-Romanian-Antiochian Orthodoxy (perhaps transitionally under the Patriarch of Antioch who could be invited to take up “exiled residence”) restores an older organism and missionizes North America with a faithful and traditional Orthodox witness. Our goal is an autocephalous united local church, not a structure which espouses a nominalist “mainline” denominationalism in the pocket of the Left like this. “Papally friendly” Eastern Rite “-ish” Protestantism with Anglican “comprehensiveness” is not Orthodox mission to North America, no matter if it is ruled from Constantinople.

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    cynthia curran says:

    ) Meet Pistol Pete, Greek Orthodox Stripper. He doesn’t take bookings past 11:00 PM on a Saturday Night because he goes to Church
    http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/my-biggest-sin-is-creating-lustful-eyes-meet-stripper-pistol-pete-2013052

    Well, things have changed alot if you were a stripper or actress in the 6th century you could not have communion until your deathbed.

  23. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Today is a tragic day for marriage and our nation. The Supreme Court has dealt a profound injustice to the American people by striking down in part the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The Court got it wrong. The federal government ought to respect the truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, even where states fail to do so. The preservation of liberty and justice requires that all laws, federal and state, respect the truth, including the truth about marriage. It is also unfortunate that the Court did not take the opportunity to uphold California’s Proposition 8 but instead decided not to rule on the matter. The common good of all, especially our children, depends upon a society that strives to uphold the truth of marriage. Now is the time to redouble our efforts in witness to this truth. These decisions are part of a public debate of great consequence. The future of marriage and the well-being of our society hang in the balance.

    Well, conseravtives in States like California have not been good at getting their ideas out for years. San Diego is purplish, Orange is slightly red, Kern is red and little Placer county, Riverside is barely red.

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    Andrew says:

    WHOA! Stop the presses. I happen to be surfing around recently and stumbled upon an article that is in fact an interview given by Patriarch Bartholomew to an Italian Journalist named Sylvia Ronchev at the recent secret conference on the anniversary of the Edict of Milan. The interview is entitled Principles of Orthodox Freedom and can be found here

    http://www.archons.org/news/detail.asp?id=657

    What struck me at first was why on earth would such an interview not appear elsewhere throughout the GOA media establishment. The EP’s English website does not carry this nor the GOA website. The article also does not appear in the GOA facebook stream.

    So I took a read and then I knew why….. this is the EP equivocating at his best. The EP avoids the big questions and lets forth language that once you read it you are not quite sure what is going on. However, Ms. Ronchey gets close to nailing the EP down when she asks him the following:

    Regarding progress, what is your opinion on the status of the embryo, about which the Pope has recently spoken?

    The EP responds:

    “The Orthodox Church is interested in cultivating the conscience of human beings in order for them to make their existence useful to civil society. Our task is to form consciences so that they can grow freely and be mutually respectful; their peaceful coexistence can help the spiritual promotion of human existence, and it is this spiritual promotion that is of interest to the Church. It is up to the State to legislate on anything that goes beyond this. Having said this, however, the enlightened person is always in search of divine justice.”

    I have to say I was flabbergasted for the following reasons 1) The EP for all his human rights talk cannot state that an embryo is a human person, 2) He seems to limit the Church’s witness to a small corner of spirituality while neglecting any public witness to Orthodox Christianity. 3) He seems to echo this mantra of the government being all-powerful. OK, your All Holiness, if the state legislated slavery would that be ok? How would the EP have responded to the government in Bonhoeffer’s Germany? Can we really ignore evil and just focus on spirituality?

    I am disappointed by this interview. I struggle to even understand…. what on earth is the Patriarch saying? I also wonder whether or this language is just the sign of someone who is avoid engaging serious issues.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      One way to elevate the conscience is to affirm the moral status of the embryo. We could start there.

      Secondly, the term “spiritual” in this context can’t mean anything more than non-material. The Ecumenical Patriarch has relegated the material world — where we live, breath, and work — as of no interest to the Church. Yet how does he think laws against murder, rape, religious persecution and so forth come into being?

      Moreover, the Phanar makes appeals (and rightfully so) to the Turkish authorities for the restoration of property taken from them all the time, even enlisting American politicians to help them. Doesn’t this violate the dictum against speaking about natural justice that he applies to the unborn?

      The trouble with the Ecumenical Patriarch’s reasoning that is it employs an erroneous bifurcation between the natural and non-material worlds. It’s the same mistake David Dunn makes where he argues that there is no relationship between natural and sacramental marriage. This is a serious theological error and in making it Dunn concludes that the Church should have nothing to say about same-sex marriage. His Holiness makes the same mistake to justify his silence about the unborn child.

      His Holiness needs to read St. John Chyrsostom again, particularly the moral instruction, and note that one cannot find the bifurcation in any of Chrysostom’s teachings.

      This confusion is more evidence of the Progressive Captivity of the Orthodox Churches in America.

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        Andrew says:

        Thank you Father!

        What I see more and more is Orthodox leaders reducing the Church and its teachings to mere majority opinion of the tribe. If we follow this line of thinking Orthodoxy no longer teaches anything that is universally true. You really cannot have one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church if there is no moral truth. This is the trouble with the EP and like minded folks, the path they are preaching leads directly to the powerful exploiting the weak in the name of government authority. Meanwhile a whole generation has been so poorly catechized that it cannot engage in any meaningful public witness.

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          Rostislav says:

          I think it a good time to sit and reflect about the relevance of the EP. It surely does claim all sorts of authority and many people do appeal to it when they want to try and get their way (of course, not with empty hands). But at this juncture, if the Orthodox were simply to move on and simply ignore the EP, understanding it as a local church of shrinking authority, and refusing to entertain its pretensions, then statements like this would gain their proper context.

          After the Fall of Constantinople, the EP regained its authority outside of the Ottoman Empire by making moral stands and traditionally upholding Orthodox teaching and ecclesiology. It isn’t doing this so much today, nor does its input really impact most of the other local churches.

          The largest and potentially most influential Orthodox church is the Russian church, but as I have commented on another post, the situation there isn’t ideal either. However, it is more stable and more functionally Orthodox in its statements and pronouncements than the EP.

          Thus, this becomes a matter of realism. If the EP does assume position x, it does not have as much of a real impact on Orthodoxy if say the Russian church were to assume position x.

          There are times when we simply have to consider the source and the circumstances of a local church, like the EP, issuing its pronouncements and then ask ourselves the question, “Do we have to accept the positions put forward for ourselves, for our local church?” since their message is so compromised and morally flawed.

          I think it was a mistake to use the Episcopal Assembly as an organ of EP legitimacy in North America. Statements like this and actions in the GOA indicate that Orthodox witness, fidelity, mission is not their primary concern. A native more faithful and traditional organism is a better choice to consider. A native organism which could unite jurisdictions and work with the Episcopal Assembly where it is relevant, but actually faithfully missionize North America.

          The EP is one local church, assuming the mantle of “First Among Equals”. It is not an Eastern papacy. It is unclear whether or not there is even a canonically grounded basis for making non binding appeals to it. Let us keep that perspective. As such, it is equal to other local churches. It is probably not the best local church to emulate in providing Orthodox witness to North America.

          I can certainly and unequivocably say that I would not want to be a member of the EP or of the GOA: I am glad I have better alternatives in North America. The EP/GOA does not represent my identity as an Orthodox Christian, nor does their presentation of Orthodoxy act to rally and unite other Orthodox Christians. If I were considering Orthodoxy, I would lose interest if the GOA were the only route. Moral positions taken by the EP/GOA like those we are discussing are precisely divisive, because they relativize morality and Orthodox moral teaching.

          From a Russian Orthodox perspective, there has been a century of such relativization in ecclesiology, worship, theology, canonical discipline afoot in the EP and its dependencies. Even other Greek speaking churches like the State Church of Greece have reacted to it. While a citadel of Orthodoxy like Mt. Athos seems to always be in dissonance with its Mother Church.

          Fidelity and Orthodox witness must come first.

          Let’s move on and find a better way.

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Andrew, my question is how does His Holiness expect to elevate the conscience towards the value of human life while refusing to speak to the value of unborn life?

          By arguing the Church has no interest in commenting on the moral status of the unborn, His Holiness cedes his authority to those who argue the unborn have no value at all. If His Holiness were to challenge this charge, he would be required to offer an affirmative statement on the inherent value of unborn life yet he refuses to do that.

          So, yes, you are right. This is a path to the exploitation of the weak. I think you are right too in your point about many Orthodox being so poorly catechized that they can’t see through the smoke. The Ecumenical Patriarch’s logic adds to the moral confusion.

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            Andrew says:

            Father, I think most Orthodox -and especially the GOA- do not understand the destructive nature of the ideas they are playing with. You start following the EP’s thinking or the disturbing thinking of so many of our young Orthodox PhDs and you can find yourself lost in all kinds of errors and more importantly destructive behavior. Orthodox belief and moral witness is quickly becoming less and less of a bond among the faithful. It is amazing what kind of errors are now recycled as fashion among our leadership. I wonder how young Orthodox Christians will remain Orthodox in a Church where leaders give the impression that Orthodoxy is optional.

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        James Bradshaw says:

        “One way to elevate the conscience is to affirm the moral status of the embryo.”

        Why not start with the personhood of the developed fetus? The question is why a fetus that exhibits the characteristics of life as understood by everyone (heart beat, breathing, brain activity, etc) does NOT deserve legal protection. My feeling is that much support for abortion is reluctant and sometimes simply a vote against people on the Right that some don’t like (as silly as that sounds).

        This seems a more intuitive approach that arguing that a recently fertilized egg is somehow a person to a culture that attributes certain basic biological qualities to personhood.

        “no relationship between natural and sacramental marriage.”

        Would you say that most people in America view marriage the way the Church envisions it? Would you say that most marriage contracts in America reflect a real covenantal relationship between two people as the Church would have it exist?

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          Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

          Dr. Peter Bouteneff makes essentially the same point in a podcast that I listened too in the last few days. It’s a good argument up to a point but it still cedes the ground to the claim that the fetus (Latin: little one) is merely potential human life. Dr. Bouteneff argues that we are all “potential” — that is grow and progress are meant to be continual and to decree the unborn child as less valuable because it is less developed is arbitrary.

          Well, yes, it is but there is some philosophical confusion at the root of the argument. A fetus is not potential human life. Rather, potential is a function of being and not the other way around. In other words, the fact a fetus has human potential is what affirms it is human.

          So why not ask instead: If it is not a human being, then what is it? A kitten? A dog? A CD player? And if it is not a human being, then why is it necessary to abort it?

          Regarding marriage, the fact that same-sex couplings are reduced to only two partners and that some Christian communions want to bless these couplings shows in some way that natural law still has a lingering effect. Also, the supporters of same-sex marriage who don’t really understand the cultural implications of the decimation of marriage think in the same terms. So, yes, in broad terms many people still think of marriage as covenant.

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            Andrew says:

            I would ask Dr. Bouteneff or any other eager beaver theologian…….When do human rights begin?

            Dr. Bouteneff would do well to consult with Professor Robert George.

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              Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

              I didn’t mean to imply that Dr. Bouteneff is wobbly on the value of the life of the unborn. I don’t think he is. I think that he frames the argument too much in culture war polemics (his ideas of the right are informed exclusively by critiques from the left) but that can be worked through.

  25. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    Well, Patriarch Bartholomew things modern rulers are like Constantine the Great, helping the church even he is flawed. Obama is no Constantine.

  26. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    cynthia curran says:

    This is my take, I’m one of the biggest critics here of illegal immirgant but a lot of low skilled whites and afro-americans should take two or three service jobs and if the wife has to work so be it. Its better than having everyone on food stamps because manufactoring has went overseas or is automated. In fact illegal immirgants who both work the biggest welfare program is the free and reduce lunch programs. It would be better if Americans went from welfare and food stamps to just having welfare for their school age kids. free and reduce lunch programs. Also, Americans that work service jobs have finished high school and did some college and usually speak english well while the illegal immirgant doesn’t. So, a US Citizen has a better chance to moved from low paying and part time to management or if a 2 or 4 year degree buyer. In fact I find the far left and Paleo-con views of Pat Buchnan bad since a lot of the manufactoring is probably not coming back and in the future if it does it will require more job skills, factory work is starting to asked for AA degrees besides work experiance.

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      Rostislav says:

      From my perspective, the issue of illegal immigration can be swung the other way. Shift this away from government agencies. Allow religious and charitable institutions block grants to aid illegals to become citizens with the proviso that future immigration be monitored and the borders closed, and that these religious and charitable institutions be capable of providing them work and a livelihood. This takes the majority of the strain off of our social services, empowers churches, and takes this key voting bloc away from the Left and creates a new conversation with Hispanics which allows them to vote their conscience against Obamunism.

      I would be the first to endorse Orthodox relief missions to Hispanics.

      I have witnessed how hard these people work in Arizona and the Southwest. In 3digit temperatures, working like mules while “legal” workers look on and scoff at them. I have witnessed firsthand how the majority of them are willing to work for a better life and “make it” in America.

      Ultimately, you have to consider the political and very real budgetary costs of repatriation, a repatriation which will never work. It isn’t a solution to give the jobs illegals work to citizens. It is a solution to grow this economy so that it create opportunities and living wage jobs for Americans, that the entitlement society and its accompanying demonetization and social democratic impoverishment be tossed into the ash heap of history and that we revitalize the American Dream.

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        Rostislav says:

        But I would clarify by saying that I by no means support Sen. Rubio’s Hispanic gift to the usurper Obama administration. That travesty would disfigure American politics for a generation and transform America into a Third World country permanently.

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

    FRACKING is now a serious issue for GOA Hierarhcs.

    From the GOA Facebook Page, http://www.facebook.com/goarch.

    The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago participated in this production of “Fracking Southern Illinois: Faithful Opposition”, which was originally broadcast on the Chicago ABC-WLS-TV Channel 7 on June 30. His Grace Bishop Dimitrios, Chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago is interviewed in the program. In the context of the program, His Grace talks about our theology of being made in the image and likeness of God and our responsibility as stewards.
    http://youtu.be/FXwdhp5ilxs

    Yet, Another sign of the Progressive Captivity of the Church in America. At about the 25:30 Mark of the youtube video Bishop Demtrios says we bring natural disasters on ourselves.

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      Rostislav says:

      It is ironic that this same group contends that homosexuality, abortion, all manner of immorality and state sponsorship of social degradation to the point of religious repression is “none of its business” or even “right and proper”, “evangelical”, “Christian”.

      The Leftist koolaid cups do indeed seem to be part of GOA coffee hour. That and their new McCarthyism of “rooting out Orthodox Traditionalists”.

      Such a strange and politically, unnuanced brand of ‘Hellenism”.

      Maybe this is why the usurper Obama used a Greek temple for a prop all those years ago?

      Makes one wonder If they really still espouse “Orthodoxia”, because their trajectory seems to definitely be “orthophobia”.

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      A Greek Orthodox bishop channeling the Spirit Guide Al Gore. A perfect example of what Fr Hans wrote about in the “Progressive Captivity.”

      Responding narrowly to Bishop Dimitrios’ claim that we’ve brought these disasters upon ourselves, check out the “take-home points” from a statement by Roger Pielke Jr. to a July 18 U.S. Senate hearing on climate change. Pielke is a professor of environmental policies at the University of Colorado and is the author of The Climate Fix (Basic Books, 2011).

      Take-Home Points

      — It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally. It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.
      — Globally, weather-related losses ($) have not increased since 1990 as a proportion of GDP (they have actually decreased by about 25%) and insured catastrophe losses have not increased as a proportion of GDP since 1960.
      — Hurricanes have not increased in the US in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. The same holds for tropical cyclones globally since at least 1970 (when data allows for a global perspective).
      — Floods have not increased in the US in frequency or intensity since at least 1950. Flood losses as a percentage of US GDP have dropped by about 75% since 1940.
      — Tornadoes have not increased in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since 1950, and there is some evidence to suggest that they have actually declined.
      — Drought has “for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a smaller portion of the U. S. over the last century.” Globally, “there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.”
      — The absolute costs of disasters will increase significantly in coming years due to greater wealth and populations in locations exposed to extremes. Consequently, disasters will continue to be an important focus of policy, irrespective of the exact future course of climate change.

      Then note Pielke’s following points, under the heading “to avoid any confusion,” adding good context, following his warning that the climate issue is “deeply politicized.” As the video Andrew linked shows.

      Full Pielke statement here, with others:
      http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=cfe32378-96a4-81ed-9d0e-2618e6ddff46

      Golly. This stuff is complicated! And this:

      Sensitive information — A peek inside the next IPCC assessment
      The Economist. Jul 20th 2013

      … over the past year, several other papers have suggested that views on climate sensitivity are changing. Both the 2007 IPCC report and a previous draft of the new assessment reflected earlier views on the matter by saying that the standard measure of climate sensitivity (the likely rise in equilibrium temperature in response to a doubling of CO2 concentration) was between 2°C and 4.5°C, with 3°C the most probable figure. In the new draft, the lower end of the range has been reduced to 1.5°C and the “most likely” figure has been scrapped. That seems to reflect a growing sense that climate sensitivity may have been overestimated in the past and that the science is too uncertain to justify a single estimate of future rises.

      more >>> http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21581979-peek-inside-next-ipcc-assessment-sensitive-information

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        M. Stankovich says:

        While I generally do not find myself defending the GOA, it seems to me you are seriously overstating the participation of His Grace Bishop Dimitrios and the position of the GOA. If his entire 90 seconds or so of commentary is extracted, I would never have guessed as to what he was referring, and thus the statement, “FRACKING is now a serious issue for GOA Hierarhcs” is, in fact, a cheap convention. That the GOA “promotes” such a video is, in all likelihood, more a decision and promotion of their PR Dept. than their “Faith & Order” Dept. They’re like that. I actually thought his point, simplified and direct – stewards though we be, we are not “entitled” (endowed, indemnified, gifted, whatever you wish) to use the creation as we wish – was an excellent point.

        Mr. Couretas, a nice catch of the Pielke statement – I was happy to download and disseminate it. But seriously, I do not believe His Grace Bishop Dimitrios was making a statement of “biological fact,” nor is he alluding to “A simple truth.” It was a simple message that, like sin, in this fallen world, actions have cosmic consequences.

        Give the guy a break.

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          Andrew says:

          Stankovich,

          Why are interviews with fracking activists given a prominent spot on the GOA webpage but no interviews with pro-life activists?
          Are some politics for suitable than others in the GOA?

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            M. Stankovich says:

            Andrew,

            While I grant you that the motivations of the GOA are notoriously unpredictable – and I specifically indicated that I am a most unlikely defender – but they are so predictably ethno-centric/GOA-promoting that any inclusion of any GOA hierarch speaking in a position of “authority” (and you must admit His Grace Bishop Dimitrios makes an excellent “media presence”) would be promotable & duly promoted. That was the intent of my purposely vague (and cynical) summation: “They’re like that.” Don’t get me wrong, Andrew, I am not being dogmatic here and want to be clear that this is my opinion, but have Diane Sawyer call the GOA for a bishop to speak for 90-seconds in a Tuesday night World News segment on pro-life and see where “fracking” goes…

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          No, M. Stankovich, either you missed the entire point of video — which is to build public opposition to fracking — or you’re averting your eyes. This is a perfect example of the “progressive captivity” that Fr. Hans wrote about. Just perfect.

          We’ve thrown in with the hand-wringing progressive Christian environmental crowd which, not so long ago, was lecturing us about peak oil. Now that the United States is in the midst of a true oil and gas boom, they’ve despaired of achieving their utopian dream of bringing the fossil fuel economy crashing down. And our entire economy crashing down with it.

          And all of this wrapped in loose talk for half an hour about the “sacred.” Indeed.

          So we have a Greek Orthodox bishop spouting oh so predictable nonsense about the impending global environmental cataclysm, which is what we’ve been getting for years from the Green Patriarchy project. Utter nonsense. The video is agitprop, not a balanced and reasonable examination of the technology and risks behind the boom. Search in vain in the video for any counter to the endless predictions of irreversible disasters that will be caused by fracking. Scary!

          What’s next? Will Bishop Demetrios slip on his birkenstocks, pick up the eagle bone whistle, and join with the folks protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, coal-fired power plants, LNG exports, and on and on? So predictable. Can’t wait for his next video.

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            M. Stankovich says:

            Mr. Couretas,

            If you were able to discern & divide that “We’ve [been] thrown in with the hand-wringing progressive Christian environmental crowd” based on the bishop’s presence or the 90+ seconds of actual dialog in that short film, I say get yourself one of them “dream interpretatin'” certificates and set up a practice as “Bishop Whisperer.” I could pull out Bishop Dimitrios dialog verbatim, and use it to support the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. (or perhaps, supporting the science that “epigenetic x-chromosome inactivation results in female fecundity for homosexual males,” and the bishop would say, “We bring this upon ourselves.”)

            Now this is another matter altogether. In my mind, better the bishops speak about the chances of the Detroit Tigers in this year’s World Series than speak to anything of substance, because 1) many times it will be “cringeworthy” and, practically speaking, useless, or 2) in the age of the internet, there will be hundreds of anonymous, disaffected, belligerent, concrete-thinking jackasses who know better than the anointed of God. These will scour the web for any single sentence – context is insignificant – to prove just how nefarious, just what scoundrels these bishops really are! And what, in heaven’s name, could St. Paul be thinking: “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col. 3:11) and “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28) We batter one another with unnaturally contrived labels of “conservative Orthodox,” “traditionalist Orthodox,” “Parisian Orthodox,” progressive Orthodox,” and of course the usual right, left, Tikonian, Sergian, Leninist, Obamaists, blah, blah, blah. There is a new “summer movie” telling the story of an advertizing executive who apparently suffers a head injury and can only speak in TV commercial jargon, and that apparently, is what we’ve come to on this site. The need for jargon, it seems to me, serves as “filler” for an otherwise thin gruel.

            Mr. Couretas, I concede the point. I am well of the “purpose” of the film, thank you for asking.

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              Mr. Stankovich:

              You wouldn’t be talking about me here, would you?

              … in the age of the internet, there will be hundreds of anonymous, disaffected, belligerent, concrete-thinking jackasses who know better than the anointed of God.

              Such vehemence! Are you OK?

              No “dream interpretation” guides needed. All you have to do is click on the YouTube video and let Bishop Demetrios do his Green Patriarchy thing. You know, how he explains that we’ve brought tsunamis and earthquakes down “upon ourselves” because “nature has a way of replenishing itself.” What? Really? Then he warns us that we’ll get more of these deadly disasters if we don’t straighten up.

              Your quoting of Holy Scripture puzzles me. Does the Scripture speak to this discussion about the GOA bishop throwing in with Progressive Christians in an agitprop video designed to shut down fracking in Illinois? I don’t see it.

              Yes, by all means, let us shun “unnaturally contrived labels” of patently political origin when discussing the work of bishops engaged in patently political agitation. Nothing to see here! Move along please!

              Because Orthodox Christians are above this sort of thing, don’t you know? We float aloft on the empyrean free of any political taint. Unless of course we’re protesting fracking with the Progressive Christian Left, posting their videos on church Facebook pages, engaging in down-at-heels Protestant social gospel advocacy with the greying sandalistas over at the NCC, or endlessly lobbying for Old Country national issues at every statehouse in the land and in Washington.

              Sorry, won’t wash. You’ll have to try to paint this all as “jargon” somewhere else where folks won’t call you on it.

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                M. Stankovich says:

                Mr. Couretas,

                I most assuredly was not referring to you, and pardon me for even appearing to make the implication.

                The Scripture I quoted, in fact, speaks to my longstanding opinion that these “labels” are the antithesis of what St. Paul describes as “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the building up [οἰκοδομὴν] of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12),” and far too frequently ends up quite reminiscent of the words, “God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, progressive, Parisian, Sergian, or even as this Obamian.” (cf Lk 18:11)

                I repeat myself, Mr. Couretas, that I concede the point. I dutifully watched the film; I read your information, downloaded the Pielke statement with gratitude; and have my opinion. As you noted regarding Mr. Solzhenitsyn, with respect, we have our differences. No doubt we will differ again, but thankfully the exchange killed no one.

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        Rostislav says:

        I don’t doubt that global warming is occurring, but I am not convinced it is manmade, because it seems to also be occurring on Mars and on the moons of Jupiter.

        That being said, I can see how the whole ecological theology pushed by the EP does have a point: man is responsible for the stewardship of creation. But the falleness of creation is firstly alleviated by mankind’s overcoming of falleness and personhood in the GOD man, in the Eucharistic life. Of course, conscious effort and correct use of the environment makes sense. But that doesn’t mean selling ones soul to the eco hypocrites, Al Gore, Kyoto and Carbon Credit private jet Cophenhagen crowd.

        The most disturbing part of this is that this jurisdiction does not seem to care about the standard of living of its parishoners decreasing, their moral climate assaulted and their religious liberty being back into a corner by the Left. There are many things to be concerned about, but when your “concern” seems to primarily coincide and resonate with Left of Center politics that in and of itself seems like something which is best labeled “neo sergianist”.

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    Cynthia Curran says:

    But I would clarify by saying that I by no means support Sen. Rubio’s Hispanic gift to the usurper Obama administration. That travesty would disfigure American politics for a generation and transform America into a Third World country permanent
    The Koch brothers support this but they support business getting as low as labor as possible. Now, I do agree with Rand Paul that they did have a chemical that could cause cancer and maybe of their business practice have caused damage to the air and they should have been penalized, the left might have been right but the left that hates the Koch brothers on the environment supports there support of the gang of 8 bill.

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      Rostislav says:

      So do the labor unions… Strange bedfellows make you wonder why certain people fund GOP candidates? Me too.

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

    THe Acton Inst. just posted the following link about a Greek Orthodox Church in Turkey that was recently turned into a Mosque.
    You can read it here:

    http://blog.acton.org/archives/58094-powerlinks-07-30-13.html

    What I do not understand is why no American Church noticed this let alone the Assembly of Bishops. We are constantly told time and again that Halki will open soon and things are changing but I think serious Orthodox questions need to question this narrative and its foundation in reality. Does anyone think Halki will open when the Turkish Government is still taking Churches.

Care to comment?

*