Ed. Harry Coin, an occasional commentator on AOI published this editorial on Orthodox News recently.
By Harry Coin | July 6, 2009
The people who consider the church a ‘home near home’ come with the expectation that it is a place where the right thing happens most of the time, and the higher the authority the more often the right thing happens. If that isn’t the case, then even if people come at first, they won’t stay or come consistently since we all know the sort of experience where the wrong thing happens takes much less work to find, or finds us whether we want it or not.
Nobody older than 14 expects any gathering of people to get it all right all the time. The whole matter of survival much less growth for our Orthodox church turns on whether there is or isn’t a tolerated culture of leadership misdoing, while accepting the expected individual stumbles.
The historical time is over when the leadership can put on grand clothing and be accepted as if they lived as they would have people think during visits and occasional services. Much as in the days of the village where everyone lived so closely with one another they knew the main points of the truth of matters, the modern cell phone cameras and internet and so on has closed the ‘anonymity and impersonalisation gap’ opened during the 1900’s. No more will the future support ‘rock star’ bishops who gain moral authority only by their seeming during infrequent visits.
The leadership to date appears to be very reluctant to right its own course, favoring increasing control over populations free to leave. As survival strategies go, that one is a loser. As growth strategies go, that one doesn’t even cross the starting line. The days of governments paying dubious church leadership in exchange for political support are drawing to a close. Support must come from within, or not at all.
There are some efforts at ‘cultifying’ Orthodoxy pretending to be growth avenues. We see the present adventure of guru-pseudo monasticism. History’s example here shows these to be as balloons, there always appears to a ‘pop’ at the end then little remains, while draining resources elsewhere. (For those with eyes to see…)
What is the answer? We must accept the distasteful job of quietly and effectively policing our leadership ranks, so that those who know beforehand they will continue to live other than as the job requirements set forth will do everyone a favor and choose to contribute as they can in other ways than connivance to leadership postings. And that those who nevertheless obtain leadership postings living other than as the job requires will be made to depart church leadership. The present leadership must recognize that unless they help in this change history will record them as presiding over the last of the faith as a viable organism. We must fail if in this social context of ‘ gay marriage’ debates we defacto only allow the shrinking pool of ‘ordained young never married’ people to be decision making bishops. Senior ‘empty nester’ priests must be allowed to be considered as bishops, and the size of diocese must be reduced so the parishes feel actual local cooperative efforts will work out well.