No more discussion on AOI of the OCA’s inner turmoil

Dear Readers,

The discussion on the OCA turmoil flared up on the AOI Observer where I let it run for a few days and then declared a moratorium. A major reason I imposed the break was that emotions ran very high and facts were in short supply — usually a recipe for even more unpleasantness. Another reason is that I really don’t like to discuss jurisdictional problems of the Church unless absolutely necessary. Each jurisdiction has problems, each jurisdiction is responsible for dealing with them, and usually it is best to let the people responsible for them just work it out.

I said it would think about the moratorium for a few days and come to a decision about what to do. I have decided that discussion on this topic is permanently closed.


  1. Macedonia74 :

    On that note. Father Hans at al, have you ever thought about an AOI store? Mugs, T-shirts, shot glasses(j/K)? I’d bite …

  2. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Actually yes. I’ve got to get on that.

  3. Thank you for your decision Father. While many of us may share different viewpoints, there is no question that without restraint this blog would easily collapse into chaos right now. You made the right call. I am sure it was not easy but it is for the best all things considered.

    Might I suggest an online symposium of sorts for an important question or two. I was thinking we can have a nice discussion on the question “Does American Orthodoxy need capitalism?” There are also some other good questions out there which I am sure AOI readers would love to discuss. Take a poll and toss out some topics for discussion. I would welcome the opportunity to dive into some of these issues. There really is alot to explore beside jurisdictional issues and I am sure the readers here have much to offer.

    • Kenneth D. Mitchell :

      Given that Capitalism is the inherent economic system and dominant ideology in America, I think this is a valuable question for exploration and discussion. Could an American Orthodox Church be “successful” in evangelizing its mission and work outside the capitalist framework? That would include its ability to build schools, hospitals, plus social programs for the poor and aged.

      To look at this in a comparative perspective, I seem to recall in Russia during the 1200s, 1300s, and 1400s the Orthodox monks were quite successful in building institutions and economic systems in Russia that allowed them the capability to be a powerful force in ruling Russia in both a social and political sense. I can not give specifics on how they were able to create their wealth, but somehow they managed with some type of economic theory.

      I think Andrew’s topic could generate much discussion.

      • American Orthodoxy is not a government entity like the Church is Greece. It relies on the free will donations of individuals not tax dollars. Therefore, I believe that capitalism is an essential part of a free and vibrant American Orthodoxy. I also believe that government supported Orthodoxy has a limited outlook when it comes to evangelization. (The notable exception being Russia).

        Lets find a way to frame this question in a manner that leads to a great discussion. Is Capitalism good for Orthodoxy? I believe it is…………

        • Kenneth D. Mitchell :

          Not sure if I can suggest yet a bettered framed question than you have already. But I agree with your side of the argument.

          The Orthodox will need to adapt to the Capitalist system and learn its rules. This is something the old world churches do not understand (the Russian Church would be included here). This would also be one argument why the U.S.needs an independent church. To be allowed to adapt to capitalism with out having the old world stings attached. Adapting to capitalism includes here not only the business side, but the government side as well. It is the Federal and State governments that write the regulations governing social systems and tax policies (and tax exemption policies).

          • I think we have the beginnings of a great discussion here that is essential in understanding American Orthodoxy. I hope Father gives this topic its own spot on the blog so we can unravel these questions further. There is more to this question than we think and I believe our answers can help us better understand the challenges Orthodoxy faces around the world.

            I also think this topic is a wonderful way to invite lurking AOI readers to participate in a healthy discussion.

      • Kenneth:

        Orthodox monks were quite successful in building institutions and economic systems in Russia

        I always thought that monks build monasteries not “institutions and economic systems “. 🙂

        • Kenneth D. Mitchell :


          Dr, James Billington in his 1998 book, The Face of Russia (1st Chapter) describes how the monks evolved to be part of the ruling class in Russia during the time period I mentioned. It takes more than just monasteries to rise to that level. Eventually their power was thwarted by the rise of the Russian Empire.

  4. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Andrew, that’s a great idea. How about it readers? Let’s throw out some ideas.

  5. Scott Pennington :

    Not to address the OCA’s inner turmoil, but rather the decision to impose a blackout on its discussion here: AOI has allowed and fostered discussion of intrigue within GOARCH and the Phanar. Occasionally, AOI has allowed posters to address recent dramatic events in AOCNA. Perhaps the reason the fur flew more freely here regarding the OCA is that the issues involved more evenly polarized regulars here. On the issues in the other jurisdictions, opinion was more one-sided.

    It may be expedient for AOI to close debate on these questions but it does give the appearance that OCA is being treated differently than the other jurisdictions.

    • Dean Calvert :


      Fr. Hans made the right call. I know he wrestled with it…and I’m sure it was not easy. Sometimes the continued health of the brand or medium (AOI) requires some painful short term decisions.

      When we are all continuing to have superb discussions a year from now on this blog, we will all look back and thank Fr. Hans for his wisdom.

      Just my opinion.

      Best Regards,

      • I agree with Dean and Father. I do not share the viewpoint some do here but I will honestly say if the discussion was not controlled and halted the entire AOI brand would have self-destructed.

        Bottom line, whether I agree or disagree with Father Johannes, I trust Father’s judgement and will continue to do so. He has consistently proven himself to be worthy of my respect and trust.

      • Dean: I believe you meant Scott. I do not know what really happened. I do not know why “emotions ran very high” and I am not curious to find out more about it. I could only sense that a lot of energy was being wasted.

      • Scott Pennington :


        I wasn’t necessarily saying that Fr. Johannes made the wrong call. In fact, given the wrangling and the fact that everyone was flying blind to some extent, I can’t say I would have called it any different. But it did bear mentioning that we’ve debated other dirty laundry from other jurisdictions here as well. I’m sure Fr. Johannes considered that though. In order to preserve the integrity of the blog, especially during Lent, he was probably right.


  6. Michael Bauman :

    What we do need to discuss is the proper order of the Church. The jurisdicitional dysfunctions and the EA have exposed the fact that said order is in flux. Are we to have a multi-jurisdictional approach with each shop handling its ‘own’ business? Are we to have a united Orthodox Church in the US with a monarchical hierarchy with little lay input; a distributed hierarchy with significant lay input; a more congregationalist approach where the laity dominates; a near cultic approach that depends on the personality of the bishops; overseas control; autocephally; autonomy? Some wild and crazy combination of all of the above (kinda like we have now)?

    Is our practice to be modern, dominated by a high degree of so-called economia (some would say accomodation) to the way of the world; an ethnic dominated traditionalist approach that emphasizes correctness; an incarnated form of the Holy Tradition that is adapted to this time and place while taking advantage of the experience of the Greeks, the Slavs and the Syrians?

    We don’t know. We ought to be able to discuss the issues without going into the specifics of the jurisdictional dysfunctions; or by lapsing into ad hominum reactions and scape-goating witch hunts–neither of which is the least bit Chrisitan. We can and should be strongly engaged in finding the will of God for us. That means we will butt heads and be tempted by self-will.

    As much as we may wish to compartmentalize the various jurisdictional dysfunctions, that is a temptation we need to avoid. We all have the same basic challenge. The symptoms of our unwillingess to engage that challenge productively and in a Chrisitan manner vary, but the challenge does not. We will learn from each other, bear one another’s burdens (corporately and personally), or we will wither and divide: each one to his own way as we loose our savor.

    We cannot just bury our heads and ignore what is happening. Prayer, discernment, humility and courage are necessary. If we respond to the challenge in a Godly manner, God’s grace will create abudant fruit.

    • Michael:

      We cannot just bury our heads and ignore what is happening.

      Maybe we are looking in the wrong places. If we are to “be strongly engaged in finding the will of God” and be not “tempted by self-will” we should, first of all, be able to hear the voice of God. When we keep shouting to each other there is little hope to discern God’s voice in all that noise.
      A letter from Aiud (prison) (29 January 1946), Valeriu sent to his family

      Life is something other than what people imagine. Man himself is something other than what he imagines himself to be. The Truth is something other than what the human mind imagines. I want to be sincere and open, down to the deepest fibers of my soul. From the very moment in which I first set foot in prison, I wondered why I was locked up. In the realm of social life, regarding my relations with the world in which I lived, I was always considered to be someone very good, an example of moral conduct. If I entered into conflict with anyone, it was only for the sake of Truth. After much struggle and unrest, after much pain, when the cup of suffering had filled up, there came a holy day, in June 1943, when I fell to the ground, on my knees, my forehead to the floor, my heart crushed, in an outburst of tears. I asked God to grant me light. On that day, I had lost all confidence in Man. I realized perfectly well that I was in truth, so why then was I suffering? In all my soul full of spirited self-assurance there had remained only love. No one understood me.

      In my prolonged weeping I started to do prostrations. And suddenly – O, Lord! How great art Thou, O Lord! – I saw my entire soul filled with sins. I found within myself the root of all human sins. Oh, so many sins, and the eyes of my soul hardened by pride had not seen them! How great is God! Seeing all my sins, I felt the need to shout them out loud, to cast them away from me. And a deep peace, a deep wave of light and love poured into my heart. As soon as the door opened, I left my cell and I went to those whom I knew loved me the most and to those who hated me and had sinned the most against me and I confessed to them openly and plainly, “I am the most sinful man. I don’t deserve the trust of even the lowliest of men. I am blessed!” Everyone was dumbfounded. Some of them looked at me with contempt, others with indifference, and some looked at me with a love that they themselves would not have been able to explain. Only one single person said to me, “You deserve to be kissed!” But I fled back quickly to my cell, buried my head in my pillow and continued weeping while thanking and glorifying God.

      On that day, I began a conscientious struggle with sin. If you could only know how difficult the war with sin is! I want you to know that I struggled very much with sin not only here, but also when I was free. [Here he testifies that, although he was tempted physically, he did not fall, but remained pure.] In prison, I examined my soul and I realized that, even though I had not sinned in deed, I had sinned in word and especially in thought. After a deep examination of conscience, I went to a priest and confessed. My confession unburdened me. And I carry on a continuous struggle. The struggle does not cease with death. Without repentance no one can take even one step forward. Anyone who flees from the reality of his own soul is a liar. What is life? It is a gift from God that is given to us in order to purify our souls from sin and to prepare ourselves, through Christ, to receive eternal life. What is Man? A being created through the limitless love of God and to whom God gave the choice between holiness and death. Be very careful! In social life, people regard each other and judge each other not according to what they are in essence, but according to what they seem to be in form. Have no illusions about Man – anyone who does will suffer bitterly – but love Him. Only one is perfect, only one is good, only one is pure: Christ-God! And now: What is the Truth? The Truth is Christ, the Word of God. Seek to draw near to Christ sincerely and leave the world and its sins in peace!”

  7. Michael Bauman :


    I say, yes, it is my sins that are reflected in the dysfuntion I see and am a part of: my own disobeience, lust of power, Pharisetical assumptions of holiness and goodness, corruption–all of that and more. That is exactly why the situation cannot be ignored, but we must still act must we not? Act to disapate the noise and the rancor in our own hearts first but also in our brothers when we can. Even if all we can do is stand quitely as a stop sign while refusing to be swept away.

    • Michael: I believe this is what we are doing here. We “learn from each other, bear one another’s burdens (corporately and personally)” and try not to wither nor further divide.

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