Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Pro LGBTQP "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 2)

For Part 1, see The Pro-Abortion "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 1)

The fact that today we have people openly promoting the LGBTQP agenda in the Orthodox Church is something that was unthinkable less than a dozen years ago. But here we are. They are vocal minority to be sure, but like most leftists, they try to convince people that their opponents are the minority, and they are only motivated by hate.

The tactic that the Pro-LGBTQP "Orthodox" have generally taken to promote their agenda is to pretend that the only people concerned about what they are pushing are "fundamentalist" converts. The suggestion being that somehow prior to the time when Americans began to convert to Orthodoxy in large numbers, everyone in the Orthodox Church was fine with the idea that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle. Back then, they would have us believe, no one would have objected to embracing transgenderism, or any of the other limitless "sexual preferences" and "gender identities." This is of course complete nonsense. Not only was no one pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church prior to 2009, no one in the Orthodox Church was even contemplating the acceptance of transgenderism, and most had never even heard of it. 

Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1973, when activists pushed the organization to change this designation. It was only in 1987 that homosexuality was completely removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It was in the wake of the AIDS epidemic, which began in 1981, that the acceptance of homosexuality in the wider culture began to increase from something which previously had been close to non-existent.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann is not usually thought of as a fundamentalist convert, and yet one of his students told me that around 1981, he made the statement "I refuse to be the dean of a seminary of pot-smoking homosexuals." This was in the context of him having actually kicked a pot-smoking homosexual seminarian out of the seminary, and so these were not idle words.

If you look at the views of the Orthodox in traditional Orthodox countries even today, you don't find them embracing homosexuality or transgenderism either -- this is true of their populations as a whole, but it is all the more true when you consider those who actually go to Church.

I have been blogging since 2004, and the first article I have in which I felt a need to respond to the push for gay marriage was in 2009, and this was completely without reference to any dispute within the Church, because at that time, there was no such dispute. I suspect that this began in 2009 because prior to that, George W. Bush had successfully used the issue to win his second term, by ensuring that there were ballot measures in swing states that banned gay marriage. But after Obama was elected, apparently people on the left felt emboldened, and so the push began. And it was only in 2011 that I began to see Orthodox Christians who were pushing for the acceptance of homosexuality. Initially, this was mostly done anonymously, or in private discussion groups. 

2013 was the year that the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and forced every state to allow for gay marriage. Many dismissed the significance of this at the time, but two things happened almost immediately as a result of it -- this strengthened the general push for the acceptance of homosexuality, and no sooner had gay marriage been forced on the country did the push for the acceptance of transgenderism begin in earnest. 

2014 was the first time to my knowledge that an Orthodox priest began to publicly push for the acceptance of homosexuality. In November of 2014, Fr. Robert Arida posted an essay to the official OCA website. After being overwhelmed with complaints, the OCA removed the essay, though you can still read it via the Internet Archive. Among the many statements which responded to this essay, the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas wrote a rebuttal, which was signed by almost of all the clergy in the Association (and was signed by all who were present at the meeting which discussed it). This rebuttal was reposted on the Greek Archdiocesan website at the time.

In 2015, the City of Houston tried to push through an ordinance which would have forced churches and businesses to allow men who identify as women to use women's restrooms. Again, the Orthodox Clergy Association issued a statement against it. The ordinance was overturned by a referendum, and it was mostly Black and Hispanic churches in Houston that led the fight against it. Houston is about 44% Hispanic, 24% White (Non-Hispanic), 22% black, and 7% Asian, and so it was not a bunch of racist White people who overturned this ordinance. The vote was not even close: 61% opposed to 39% in favor.

Onto the scene came George Demacopoulos and later, Public Orthodoxy. George wrote an essay attacking those he termed Orthodox Fundamentalists on January 29th, 2015. I wrote a reply, and we later had a sort of debate hosted by Kevin Allen on Ancient Faith Radio. Since then, George has made attacking anyone who is not ready to embrace homosexuality, transgenderism, modernism, and a whole host of other perversions a career through his website Public Orthodoxy, which is a part of the Fordham University Orthodox Christian Studies Center, which has been formally endorsed by the Greek Archdiocese.

If you look over the archives of Public Orthodoxy, you will see that it has produced a steady stream of articles that defy almost every aspect of Orthodox Christian morality, and as a matter of fact they regularly argue that while dogmatic issues (which they define as being limited to strictly theological matters) are beyond debate, moral issues are not dogmatic, and therefore up for revision. This is a completely novel approach, and one that is heretical and contrary to the clear Tradition of the Church.

Most recently, the former Chancellor of the OCA, Fr. John Jillions gave a lecture for the Orthodox Theological Society in America, in which he bemoaned those Orthodox "fundamentalists" who are unwilling to dialogue on matters such as homosexuality and transgenderism. He argues that we cannot judge such matters "before the time," which will apparently only come when (so they hope) they finally wear everyone else down with their endless pressing of their agenda and we let them have their way. The problem is that these issues are not up for debate. Not only are the Scriptures clear on these issues, we have numerous canons from Ecumenical Councils, and the clear and unified testimony of the Fathers and Saints of the Church which leave no room for doubt as to what the Church has always taught on these subjects. In this lecture, you see the same kind of mealy-mouthed argumentation that we found in the essay by Fr. Robert Arida, but as time goes on, they are becoming more emboldened. One has to wonder how long their respective bishops will put up with this, but I think at this point, we have to conclude that at least some of the bishops in question allow this to go on because they agree with it.

Now if people like Fr. John Jillions wanted to dialogue about how to deal pastorally with people who are struggling with these sins, in order to help them overcome their sins, that would be a dialogue worth having. But you can't have that dialogue with people who are unwilling to concede that we are talking about actual sins. That has to be the starting premise. And to be clear, this is the point that they refuse to concede. In fact, they will almost never provide a direct answer to a direct question on whether or not these things are inherently sinful -- and that is for the simple reason that to say what they actually believe would put them in an indefensible position, and would force their bishops to do something about it.

We are not opposed to the LGBTQP agenda because we hate those who have been sucked into going along with it. We are opposed to it because this agenda is destructive to these people. As St. Paul tells us, these things are contrary to God's created order, and as such, they can only lead to great misery and the destruction of souls. St. Paul tells us that homosexuals and the transgendered (i.e. effeminate) will not inherit the Kingdom of God:

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [malakoi], nor sodomites [i.e., homosexuals, arsenokoitai], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Not inheriting the Kingdom of God is pretty big deal, if you actually believe in God, and so if you love the people struggling with these issues, you would want to help them to repent and overcome them, rather than affirm them in a choice that will lead to their spiritual deaths. 

I hope I am wrong, but I believe we are witnessing the unfolding of a full-blown schism. It will not just be over abortion, or over the LGBTQP agenda, or over the other issues we will be looking at, but each of these are pieces to the larger puzzle. If a schism is to be averted, it will only be averted because bishops begin to find their backbones, put their collective foot down, and put a stop to the spreading of these false and destructive teachings.

For More, See: 

Sermon: A Mad Mad World (Which was in response to Fr. John Jillions lecture referenced above)

Moral Heresy?

Discernment or Scaffolding?

The Living Church 2.0

The Bible the Church and Homosexuality: Obscurantegesis vs the Truth

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Reader Services through Pentecost Sunday


This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar May, which on the civil Calendar runs from May 14th through June 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). During this period service variables for the Vigils are all found in one file.

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 15th n.s. / May 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 18th n.s. / May 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman / St. Nicholas (May 22nd n.s. / May 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha4_stnicholas.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (May 29th n.s. / May 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 1st n.s. / May 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha_apodosis.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 2nd n.s. / May 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 5th n.s. / May 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha6.doc 

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 12th n.s. / May 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_pentecost.doc 

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the Paralytic (May 15th n.s. / May 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha3.doc 

For Mid-Pentecost (May 18th n.s. / May 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_midpentecost.doc 

For the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman / St. Nicholas (May 22nd n.s. / May 9th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha4_stnicholas.doc 

For the Sunday of the Blind Man (May 29th n.s. / May 16th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha5.doc 

For the Apodosis of Pascha (June 1st n.s. / May 19th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_apodosisofpascha.doc 

For the Ascension of the Lord (June 2nd n.s. / May 20th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_ascension.doc 

For the Sunday of the Holy Fathers (June 5th n.s. / May 23rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha6.doc 

For the Sunday of the Pentecost (June 12th n.s. / May 30th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pentecost.doc 

Thursday, May 05, 2022

The Pro-Abortion "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 1)

who as the Icon shows, famously said 
There can be no compromise in matters of the Orthodox Faith.

In recent years, there are lines of division that not only show the signs of an emerging schism in the Orthodox Church -- it is becoming increasingly clear that we are witnessing the birth of a new religion, which will only retain some of the outward trappings of the Orthodox Christian Faith, but in fact is increasingly becoming unrecognizable as Christian. We see this when it comes to how the innovators see the sanctity of life, sexuality, human nature, the Church, and Tradition.

As we currently contemplate the prospect of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, it is important to remember that in January of this year, at the March for Life, Archbishop Elpidophoros used the occasion to affirm his support for abortion "rights." 

When I first saw the above meme, I thought a critic had put it together, only to find that this was the image from Greek Archdiocesan website -- and so evidently they were proud of what he said, and wanted these two quotes to be especially noted.

Here is the full text of his speech, taken from the official website of the Greek Archdiocese:

"Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today, we come together in solidarity with our Brother Bishops of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America.

We affirm the gift and sanctity of life – all life, born and unborn. As Christians we confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.  Every life is worthy of our prayer and our protection, whether in the womb, or in the world. We are all responsible for the well-being of children. We are their “keepers,” and cannot shirk from our accountability for their welfare.

At the same time, we also affirm our respect for the autonomy of women.  It is they who bring forth life into the world.  By His incarnation, our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ assumed human nature, through His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. She freely chose to bring Him into the world, and God respected her freedom. We can and must make the case for life, both born and unborn, by our own example of unconditional love.

We march not for coercion.

We march with compassion,

With empathy,

With love.

And with our arms extended to embrace all.

Let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.

Lord, You have granted us the opportunity to offer these common prayers in unison and have promised that when two or three gather in Your name, You are there also. Fulfill now, O Lord, who was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of Your All-Holy Spirit, the petitions of Your servants. Remember, Lord, the people here present and those who are absent with good cause. Have mercy on them and on us according to the multitude of Your mercy. Remember, O God, all those whom we are not able to commemorate by forgetfulness or because of their multitude since You know the name and age of each, even from their mother's womb. For You, Lord, are the helper of the helpless, the hope of the hopeless, the savior of the afflicted, the haven of the voyager, and the physician of the sick, the protector of the voiceless. Be all things to all, You who know all people, their requests, their households, and their needs. For You are the Giver of Life, bringing each person from non-being into being, sealing each person with love and sanctity. May we come to the light of Your Truth and glorify You, the Giver of Life, together with Your Father, and Your All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen."

Clearly Archbishop Elpidophoros agrees with Roe vs. Wade. And so giving such a speech at the March for Life was an insult and a betrayal of all who have prayed and marched to overturn it for nearly a half century.

You find the most devote representatives of every Christian denomination at the March for Life, which has taken place every year since Roe vs. Wade made abortion on demand the law of the land. To have an Orthodox bishop participate in this March, be given a platform, and to have him endorse "a woman's right to choose" to kill her baby was an embarrassment. And make no mistake, everyone understood exactly what he was saying. The Washington Post cited it as an example of a "pro-choice" shift among many Christian and Jewish groups. George Demacopoulos, editor of "Public Orthodoxy," who champions the abandonment of Christian morality in the Orthodox Church, is cited in support of Archbishop Elpidophoros' coming out speech:

"George Demacopoulous [sic], a Fordham University theology professor and expert on Orthodox Christianity noted that abortion is legal in every major Orthodox country. While the faith views abortion as tragic and wrong, he said, it also respects the autonomy of women. Church and state are generally separate, he said, and abortion is more divorced from politics.

"In the United States, the debate is very much positioned as these two goods at war with one another; we’re being asked to pick. And he’s saying that’s theologically wrong," he said of Elpidophoros. "It’s a Christian truism that you can hold seemingly contradictory views. Christian moral teaching isn’t black and white"" (Washington Post: "The threat to Roe v. Wade is driving a religious movement for reproductive choice," by Michelle Boorstein, February 5, 2022, Emphasis added).

George Demacopoulos

This is part of a pattern on the part of the Fordhamites at "Public Orthodoxy," of downplaying Christian morality, and suggesting that it is fluid, something apart from dogma, and therefore open to debate and revision. Here they suggest that one can affirm the sanctity of life, while supporting the "right" to murder the innocent. Elsewhere, they suggest that perhaps homosexual sex might be allowable, and transgenderism is something we should embrace. Up until recently, while we have seen a shift on the part of modernists in the past decade towards defending sexual deviancy, they at least used to give lip service to being pro-life. Apparently, the slippery slope is a thing, and where it stops, nobody knows.

What does George Demacopoulos mean when he says that we believe abortion is "tragic and wrong"? The Church has unambiguously taught, from the beginning that abortion is not just a tragedy or a wrong choice, but that it is murder. If you believe it is murder, affirming someone's right to murder someone else is moral nonsense.

The earliest Christian document outside of the New Testament is the Didache (which is usually dated to be of first century origin), and it says:

"...thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born" (Didache 2:2).

Canon 91 of the Sixth Ecumenical Council states:

"As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take foetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers" ((D. Cummings, trans., The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons by Saints Nicodemus and Agapius (West Brookfield, MA: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1983), p. 395).

Canon 2 of St. Basil (whose canons were specifically affirmed by the 4th and 6th Ecumenical Councils, states:

"A woman that aborts deliberately is liable to trial as a murderess" (Ibid, 789).

There is absolutely no ambiguity at all on the question of whether or not abortion is murder. How you deal with someone who has engaged in this sin pastorally is another question -- and there certainly is forgiveness for those who confess and repent -- but that it is a sin which is absolutely prohibited by the Church, is as clear as it gets. There are not shades of gray here. You will not find a single Church Father or Saint of the Church that calls abortion anything less than murder.

The Scriptures are abundantly clear that God takes the shedding of innocent blood very seriously. We are told that God destroyed the kingdom of Judah because they engaged in child sacrifice:

"And he [Manasseh] made his son pass through the fire [a form of child sacrifice], and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger" (2 Kings 21:6).

"Surely at the commandment of the Lord this [the destruction of Judah by the Babylonians] came upon Judah, to remove them from His sight because of the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also because of the innocent blood that he had shed; for he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, which the Lord would not pardon" (2 Kings 24:3-4).

So is it morally tenable to say that you believe abortion is murder, but affirm the "right" of others to engage in it? Let's see how this logic works when applied elsewhere:

Can a person really be opposed to rape, but not want to "impose their morality" on others? No.

Could a person oppose lynching, but not want to "impose their morality" on others? No.

And so clearly a person cannot be opposed abortion, and yet affirm the "right" of others to engage in it. 

Every law reflects someone's morality. There is no reason why Christians should not use their power to vote to influence the laws to protect innocent life. This after all is why the March for Life takes place, and if you want to affirm "abortion rights," you should not only show up at the counter protest, rather than style yourself pro-life -- you should also admit that you have departed from the Orthodox Christian Tradition, because as a matter of fact, you have.

Update: Metropolitan Nathaniel of the Greek Archdiocese felt the need to say something about abortion on Mother's Day Sunday, because as a bishop it is his duty to teach. But watch how he studiously avoids saying anything that might discourage a woman from killing her child in the womb, and ends up affirming that women who abort their babies are mothers too. Well, yes, they are mothers, because the babies they had killed in the womb were really babies, but it would have been good to have said that, and to have pointed out that the Church teaches that this is something that Orthodox Christians are not supposed to do, because it is murder:

Continued in The Pro LGBTQP "Orthodox" (The Birth of a New Religion, Part 2)

See Also: Moral Heresy?

Sermon: Choose Life (Roe vs. Wade and the Orthodox View of Manhood and Womanhood).

Monday, April 11, 2022

Reader Services through the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women


This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar April, which on the civil Calendar runs from April 14th through May 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days), all the variable material is included in one file. 

Beginning with Lazarus Saturday (April 16th n.s. / April 3rd o.s.) through Pascha (April 24th n.s. / April 11th o.s.), you will find all of the services laid out as reader services here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/holyweek_index_rs.htm

For St. Thomas Sunday (May 1st n.s. / April 18th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha1.doc 

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 8th n.s. / April 25th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/pascha2.doc 

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

Beginning with Lazarus Saturday (April 16th n.s. / April 3rd o.s.) through Pascha (April 24th n.s. / April 11th o.s.), you will find all of the services laid out as reader services here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/holyweek_index_rs.htm

For St. Thomas Sunday (May 1st n.s. / April 18th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha1.doc 

For the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers (May 8th n.s. / April 25th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pascha2.doc 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Sister Vassa and Public Orthodoxy on Ukraine, Part 2

 

A wall in Cathedral of the Schismatic Church in Ukraine, which has been recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In it you see St. George slaying the Russian Double-Headed Eagle, people literally draped in the Ukrainian flag, and you also see the Neo-Nazi Right Sector Flag in the background.

The people at Public Orthodoxy have issued a declaration against the Russian Church in which they accuse the Russian Church of heresy -- which they assert is the idea of "Русский мир" or "The Russian World." They included accusations against the Russian Church for failing to condemn one of the three major parties in the war in Ukraine (which includes Russia, the post-coup Ukrainian government, and the United States). They also allude to the controversy over the Ecumenical Patriarchate's recognition of the schismatics in Ukraine. I won't repeat what I have said about the complexities of the war, in part 1. And I have written fairly extensively on the Ukrainian schism -- which you can read in full here, but if you only want to read one article, see "An American Perspective on the Ukraine Crisis." In this article, I will focus specifically on the merits of the claim that there is a heresy called "The Russian World."

What Public Orthodoxy has Not Felt a Need to Condemn

Before getting into the merits of their claims in this declaration, I think it is interesting to consider that while Public Orthodoxy has posted numerous articles condemning the Russian Church and its position on the Ukrainian schism, as well as numerous articles condemning Russia for the war in Ukraine (which has been going on for 8 years, and began with a coup sponsored by the United States), but they have not felt any need to condemn the United States' regime change war in Syria which has raged for 10 years. Far more people have been killed in that war (the current estimates range between 500,000 and 610,000), and this war represents an existential threat to the Orthodox Christians in Syria (which was about 10% of the Syrian population before the war). If the United States had succeeded in installing an Islamic jihadist government in Syria, this would have meant the end of Christianity in Syria, for all practical purposes, and likely the same fate would have befallen Lebanon. Russian military intervention has thus far prevented that from happening, but the United States continues to occupy 10% of Syria, denying Syria access to its own oil resources, and it has imposed crippling sanctions on Syria that are causing immeasurable suffering among the people of Syria -- both Christian and Moslem. So this is an issue that Orthodox Christians ought to be concerned about -- and yet not only has Public Orthodoxy not issued a statement condemning the actions of the American government in Syria, it has hardly said anything about it at all. Perhaps some big money might dry up, if they chose to take such a stand, but one would think anyone who was a believer, and had an ounce of courage would take the right stand regardless. Why the silence? 

See "The Immoral Policy of the United States Government in Syria," for more information, though the article is from 2016, it nevertheless lays out the reasons why US policy in Syria is undeniably evil.

Public Orthodoxy not only fails to condemn those who oppose Christian morality -- they are one of the chief purveyors of these heretical teachings. So Public Orthodoxy is hardly a reliable guide on the subject of what is, or is not heretical.

"Ethno-Phyletism" for Me, but Not for Thee

One telling fact of this declaration is that it does not include a single quote of a specific statement that it might have cited as an example of the errors they claim the Russian Church is teaching. They also do not reference any document in which one might look to find this heresy espoused. 

In a search of the official website of the Moscow Patriarchate, I found an article in which Patriarch Kirill summarized what he understands the concept of "The Russian World" to refer to: "Святейший Патриарх Кирилл: Русский мир — особая цивилизация, которую необходимо сберечь," which in English means "His Holiness Patriarch Kirill: The Russian world is a special civilization that must be preserved."

Patriarch Kirill notes that the Orthodox Culture of the Kievan Rus', which is the common heritage of the Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and Carpatho-Russians, is not defined by political boundaries, and he has does not see it as promoting the building or rebuilding of any empire. He does see it has something worth preserving, which if lost, would be a loss to humanity. He does not see this as ethnic or racial, but cultural. He also does not assert that this culture is superior to all others, only that it is their culture, and it is worth preserving.

In the official conciliar documents of the Russian Church, the question of the Church's relationship to culture has been addressed in detail. "The Basis of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church," which was approved in 2000, includes in section II, a statement entitled "Church and Nation." I would defy anyone to point to anything in this statement, and to lay out a reasoned and supported argument for why it is heretical.

It is especially curious to hear this charge from an organization which is headed by two members of the Greek Archdiocese, because one hears a very similar concept to "The Russian World" fairly frequently, only it is called "Hellenism." A Google search of the official website of the Greek Archdiocese for the word "Hellenism" turns up "About 13,900" hits. One of the first articles to come up is entitled "New Program to Promote Hellenism in the United States." And the subtitle of that article is, interestingly enough "The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Foundation for the Hellenic World Announce New Program to Promote Hellenism in the United States" [emphasis added]. In that article, you will see that Archbishop Elpidophoros himself was involved in the promotion of this new program. It certainly seems like Archbishop Elpidophoros thinks that there is a Greek Orthodox culture that is not limited by political boundaries, which is the heritage of all Greek people, and is worth preserving.

So is there a heresy of "The Hellenic World"? If not, it seems like members of a Church that considers the promotion of Hellenism to be a key part of their mission, might want to lay out exactly how this concept is not heretical, before they accuse the Russian Church of heresy for essentially having the same idea with regard to their own culture.

As a non-Russian who has been in the Russian Orthodox Church for close to 32 years now, I can tell you that I never felt pressured to become a Russian, nor have I been made to feel like I was a second class member of the Russian Church because I was not a Russian. For more on that, see "Converts and Culture," and "The Colors of the Russian Church."

In short, this declaration consists of a series of assertions that the Russian Church teaches things that they provide no evidence of anyone actually teaching, and they should perhaps examine their own views of Orthodoxy and culture, before they attack those of others.

Reader Services through the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt



This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar March, which on the civil Calendar runs from March 14th through April 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services prior to Pascha require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. Beginning with Pascha, all the variable material is included in one file. On Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

For the Sunday of the St. Gregory Palamas (March 20th n.s. / March 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent2.doc 

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone6.doc

For the Sunday of the Cross (March 27th n.s. / March 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent3.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone7.doc

For the Sunday of St. John Climacus (April 3rd n.s. / March 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent4.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone8.doc

For the Great Canon, (which this year is on Tuesday of the 5th Week of Lent, due to Annunciation), for those who are not use to doing services, I would recommend that you use the text of Small Compline: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/compline.htm and then, right after the Creed, you would do the Great Canon. This text has the text has the text for the Great Canon on the 5th week of Lent, beginning on page 42:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/greatcanon_sts.pdf

For the Feast of Annunciation (April 7th n.s. / March 25th o.s.):

Annunciation is one of the more complicated services in the Liturgy Year. If anyone wants to try to put it together, the rubrics and texts are posted here:

https://saintjonah.org/services/annunciation_index.htm

But for most people, I would suggest that if you are unable to go to Church, on the eve of the feast (Monday night) use this text for Small Compline, which has the Annunciation Canon in it, laid out for lay use:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/smallcompline_annunciation.doc

For the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, we do the service of the Akathist Hymn. For those not use to doing services, I would recommend using this text, which follows the more simple Greek order of service, but is arranged as a Reader Service:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/smallcompline_akathist.doc

For the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt (April 10th n.s. / March 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent5.doc 

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone1.doc

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Sunday of the St. Gregory Palamas (March 20th n.s. / March 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent2_t6.doc

For the Sunday of the Cross (March 27th n.s. / March 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent3_t7.doc

For the Sunday of St. John Climacus (April 3rd n.s. / March 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent4_t8.doc

For the Feast of Annunciation (April 7th n.s. / March 25th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_annunciation.doc

For the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt (April 10th n.s. / March 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent5_t1.doc

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Sister Vassa and Public Orthodoxy on Ukraine, Part 1



Once again, Sister Vassa and Public Orthodoxy have boldly staked out positions, which just happens to coincide with the fashionable opinion of the moment. In a video by Sister Vassa, and then in a declaration published by Public Orthodoxy (which Sister Vassa signed), they express their belief that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is evil, that Putin is solely to blame, and that the Russian Church should condemn Putin for it. And the declaration goes on to accuse the Russian Church of outright heresy. In this response, I will focus my attention on Sister Vassa's video. In part 2, I will address the Public Orthodoxy declaration.

The Intentional Fog of War Propaganda

Before getting into Sister Vassa's specific assertions, I would like to remind those who are old enough to remember the lead up to the first Gulf War -- and to inform those who were too young or not yet born -- of the lies our government propaganda machine churned out to talk us into going to war. I remember it well, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps because I believed the things we were told. Iraq had invaded Kuwait, and we were told horror stories of how the Iraqi soldiers treated Kuwaitis. One of the more memorable things we were told was that Iraqi soldiers burst into hospitals, took babies out of incubators, left them on the floors to die, and then carted those incubators off to Iraq. There was testimony to this effect before the United States Congress, from a young woman who claimed to have been an eye witness to these barbarous acts. George H. W. Bush alluded to this frequently as he beat the war drums. This could not stand. Something had to be done. The only problem was, it was a lie. The young woman who testified before Congress happened to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, and had not been in Kuwait at all during or after the Iraqi invasion. Of course, this only came to light long after the war was over. In 1990 and in 2003, the vast majority of Americans supported going to war with Iraq. Today, the vast majority of Americans believe it was a mistake.

 

Then under Bill Clinton we launched a war against Serbia, in which we bombed them back to the stone age, killed thousands of civilians, and carved off Kosovo from Serbia, where we still have American troops stationed to this day. This also happened due to the stenographers in the mainstream media, which dutifully presented a one-sided story of a complicated civil war, along with countless fabrications and lies which were designed to inflame the emotions of the American people... and then the United States did exactly what we are accusing Russia of doing right now.

In the lead up to the second Gulf War we were assured that there were weapons of mass destruction being amassed by Sadam Hussein, and this also turned out to be a lie. We invaded Iraq, and a country that was 10% Christian now has few remaining Christians because we unleashed Islamic Jihadists that Sadam Hussein had kept on a short leash, and the country has been a wreck ever since. I think there are few people left who would not gladly turn back the clock, and put Sadam Hussein back in charge of Iraq. As bad as he was, the world was a far safer place, and Iraq was a far better and safer place too.

More recently we launched regime change wars in Syria and Libya in which our military played direct roles, which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, and millions of refugees. What we did in Libya caused further Islamic terror in other parts of Africa, as Libyan weapons made their way into the hands of Islamic terrorists, like Boko Haram. We have seen open slave markets, and human misery increased exponentially all because we wanted to take out the latest Hitler of the Month. If when we embarked on these regime change wars, we were creating paradises in their stead, perhaps one could justify this as a foreign policy theme, but instead, we consistently make bad situations into hell holes.

I could go on, but we have been repeatedly lied into going to war in country after country, and in almost every case, the situation has been made far worse by our actions. But the point here is that the media willfully presented propaganda to the American people, designed to whip up public opinion and get them to support American foreign policy based on lies.

The Complexities of the War in Ukraine

In Sister Vassa's comments, she repeats a great deal of the spin we are hearing in the western media, as if it were all true, and there was nothing more to it. Her arguments amount to appeals to emotion based on the media narrative, and appeals to majority opinion, rather than on reason, evidence, or logical argument. The problem here is we should know by now that we cannot put a lot of faith in what our government or the media tells us when our government is trying to push public opinion to support a war. And make no mistake, that is what is happening. We are being asked to support an economic war, which will have huge repercussions on our own economy, as well as every economy in the world -- which will disproportionately affect the poor throughout the world, and put them in positions in which keeping body and soul together will be extremely difficult. We are being asked to supply weapons to one side, and there is the very real prospect that we could soon be drawn into the fighting on the ground before all is said and done, if we are not careful.

Anyone who is presenting this war in simple terms is either ignorant of the facts, or is trying to deceive you, and they are certainly not advancing the cause of peace. This war has an extremely complicated background. For one thing, Ukraine was never an independent country prior to the 1990's. For most of the last 3 centuries it has been united with Russia, and so there are strong ties to Russia, particularly with the Eastern and Southern regions of Ukraine. Ukraine has had two "revolutions" since it became independent, both of which the United States had more than a small role in. In 2014, we had a blatant coup d'etat in which our country sponsored the violent overthrow of the lawfully elected government of the country. As a result there was unrest throughout Eastern and Southern Ukraine. The Russian government seized Crimea, which has been the base for the Russian Black Sea fleet since Catherine the Great, and whose population overwhelming supported the action. In most of the South, unrest was violently squelched, but in Eastern Ukraine, two regions declared their independence, and with Russian support, were able to keep from being crushed by the new Ukrainian government, but the people in those regions have been subjected to continuous shelling by the Ukrainian military for the past 8 years, and about 14,000 people have been killed... but CNN didn't bother stoking anyone into being outraged about those deaths -- and in fact, most people are unaware of this aspect of the present conflict entirely. 

For more on the 2014 Coup, see the documentary Ukraine on Fire, the follow up documentary Ukraine Revealed, as well as How US-backed Maidan coup, Russiagate led to war in Ukraine.

Since 2014, there have been two peace agreements that have been signed which would have ended the war in Eastern Ukraine, and in both cases, nothing came of them, because the president of Ukraine was either unable, or unwilling to implement them. I am sure the politics of this is very difficult to navigate, but while the last two Ukrainian presidents both ran on a platform of bringing peace to Eastern Ukraine, and they may both have been very sincere in their intentions, neither was able to accomplish their stated intentions... for whatever reason. Zelensky even went to Eastern Ukraine and personally ordered the overtly Nazi Azov Battalion to withdraw... and they simply refused to do so. So it is unclear who has really been running the show in Ukraine.

On top of the 8 year war against Russian speaking people in Eastern Ukraine, Zelensky suggested in February of this year that Ukraine would be seeking to acquire Nuclear weapons, and Ukraine has stated its intention to join NATO, and to retake Crimea from Russia... by force if necessary. Russia had laid out to the US a list of its "Red Lines," the biggest of which is Ukraine entering NATO, and the US refused to accommodate Russia on any of its concerns. Countless experts have been warning that this policy of NATO expansion would eventually lead to a military response from Russia:

And so given that this was entirely predictable, one has to wonder why the Biden administration chose to continue to press ahead with NATO expansion, rather than to press Ukraine to actually implement the Minsk agreements, and end the 8 year war in Eastern Ukraine.

Sister Vassa notes that even Fox and CNN agree that this is all Russia's fault. The problem is that war is the one remaining bi-partisan issue in America. The establishments of both parties generally support going to war. Fox News has generally taken the same stance.

Sister Vassa dismisses concerns about Nazis in Ukraine because Israel sides with the US, Zelensky is Jewish, Ukraine fought against the Nazis in World War II, and she suggests that like any other country, Ukraine simply has people with various political leanings. But Israel has little choice but to side with the US, given that the US is Israel's only ally in the world, and heavily funds and supplies its military. Zelensky is Jewish, but that doesn't prove that there are not Nazis throughout Ukraine's military and security forces, and when you have overtly Nazi Battalions that are part of the Ukrainian Army, that is not just having some kooks in your country. Yes, 8 million Ukrainians died fighting the Nazis, but many of those from Western Ukraine died fighting for the Nazis. You had Ukrainian divisions of the SS. And they have a Nazi war criminal that is celebrated as a National hero -- Stepan Bandera. Obviously the average Ukrainian is not a Nazi, and one could argue that the Russian government makes more of this than is warranted, but pretending that this is not a real issue is either ignorant or dishonest.

The BBC has reported on the heavy role played by Nazis in Ukrainian politics as well:

A good case can be made that the primary reason why the Minsk Agreements have never been implemented is that the Ukrainian government has a legitimate fear of being overthrown by these Nazi forces.

You cannot honestly discuss the current war in Ukraine without addressing the 2014 coup, the last 8 years of war in Eastern Ukraine and the 14,000 people (mostly Russian speaking Ukrainians) who have been killed under nearly constant shelling, and dealing with the role of various Nazi groups in both the coup and the war, and you certainly cannot discuss this without mentioning the United States' role in all of the aforementioned. And yet Sister Vassa almost completely ignored all of this.

To say that this war is all Putin's fault is, at the very least, simplistic. If you say it is all his fault, you are in effect saying it is not the United States' fault, or the fault of the post-coup Ukrainian government. But it is quite possible that there is some blame that is due to each party here. And while God knows exactly how much everyone responsible is to blame, I don't believe we do, at this point. It certainly simplifies things if you can paint one side as heartless people who take babies out of incubators and throw them on the floor, but it probably is better to wait until you have a better idea of what has actually happened before you jump to simplistic conclusions.

Furthermore, laying all the blame on Putin takes off any pressure for the US or Ukraine to seek a compromise solution, and at this point, a compromise solution is the only way the fighting will end in the short term. So while people who take this position have the self satisfaction of virtue signaling, and can claim that they are for peace, they actually are making it less likely that peace will be restored any time soon.

The Pastoral Issues for the Russian Church

Aside from the problem with pinning the blame on only one side when we don't have sufficient evidence to really reach that conclusion, the Russian Church has the very real problem of having people who are on the various sides, and everywhere in between -- and this is true just among the Ukrainians in the Russian Church. In my parish alone I have Ukrainian people who believe Russia is coming to the rescue, and people who think Putin is evil, and then people who have mixed opinions. I don't want to alienate any of those people. They all have family and friends who are suffering, and many who have been killed or will be killed. The Church has to rise above such things, and appeal to all sides to find a way towards peace.

Conclusion

We can all agree that war is evil. We are praying for a swift end to the war. And in the meantime we are doing what we can to raise money to help those who have been displaced by the war. No one in the Russian Church wanted to see things come to this point. All sides should do what they can to end this war as soon as possible. We can certainly say that anyone who contributed to causing this war will have a lot to answer for before God. Anyone who chooses war when they have other viable options is committing a great sin. God knows the truth. At this point, I don't believe we do.

This war was certainly preventable. I believe the US government could have prevented it, and so if I was going to condemn anyone, I would have to start with the government that at least theoretically answers to the American people.

For more information:

Sermon; The War in Ukraine

Sermon: God is on the Throne

Update: Let me clarify one point so that no one is confused. It is not my place or the place of the Church to tell Ukrainians that they should not want to have an independent country, nor would it be to say that they should. Ukrainians themselves are not of one mind on this question, and so obviously everyone cannot have their way when people disagree. They should find a peaceful way to resolve such disputes, but this really should be a matter that they settle without outside interference.

Furthermore, war is always an evil thing, and there is always at least one side that is in the wrong. Sometimes both sides are in the wrong. Reasonable people can disagree about such things, because we all have limited knowledge, and we come from our own perspective. God, however, knows exactly who is to blame, and it would be a horrible thing to have to answer for on the day of judgment.

Update 2: One other point, just to be clear. Anyone has the right to think or say whatever they believe to be true about the current war in Ukraine. If Sister Vassa had simply voiced her opposition to it, I wouldn't have responded. It is the accusation that the Church has to condemn one of the three major parties to this war, but not condemn either of the other two, that I take issue with. War is horrible. Everyone with any compassionate would rather it not have happened, and would want it to end as soon as possible. But the reasons for why we are where we are at this point in history are not simple, and demanding that the Church pretend otherwise, and exonerate the US and the post-coup government of Ukraine, while laying the blame only on the Russian government, is not a reasonable position to take. If Russia had invaded Ukraine out of the blue, that would be a different matter, but there has been a war going on for 8 years, and so it is not nearly so clear cut. More facts will hopefully come out, and as they do I hope everyone will revise their opinions accordingly, but that is how I see it at this point.

Also, one commentator mentioned that a lot of other people collaborated with the Nazis, including Russians. I can understand why people living under Stalin, knowing only what they knew at the time, might have thought that Hitler was the lesser of the two evils. However, when you have groups of Ukrainians in 2022, who choose to identify with this particular chapter of their history, and identify themselves as Nazis, they have a lot less of an excuse then their grandfathers had. And furthermore, when you have those people functioning openly in the Ukraine military, in Nazi units, it is a far more problematic matter. Every country has its share of kooks. Most don't have Kook Battalions in their military.


Saturday, February 12, 2022

Reader Services through the First Sunday of Lent

This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar February, which on the civil Calendar runs from February 14th through March 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English-speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of  the Presentation, and then various Katavasiae from the Triodion  -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Vigil for the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 15th n.s. / February 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_presentation.doc

For the Sunday of the Prodigal Son / Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 20th n.s. / February 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/triod2_february07.doc 

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone2.doc

For the Sunday of the Last Judgment (February 27th n.s. / February 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/triod3.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone3.doc

For the Cheesefare Sunday (March 6th n.s. / February 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/triod4_forerunner.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone4.doc

For Forgiveness Sunday Vespers (done on Sunday Evening), this text has everything laid out exactly as it would be done, with nothing omitted:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/forgivenessvespers_rs.doc

First Week of Lent: for Monday (March 7 / February 22) through Thursday (March 10 / February 25), the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is done. 

http://stjonah.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/greatcanon_sts.pdf

Ideally, this is done as a part of Great Compline, but if that is too much, you can do it as part of Small Compline.

On the Fridays of Great Lent, you can do the Akathist with Small Compline:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/akathistforlent.htm

For the First Sunday of Lent (March 13th n.s. / February 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/lent1.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone5.doc


Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Feast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 15th n.s. / February 2nd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_presentation.doc

For the Sunday of the Prodigal Son / Afterfeast of the Meeting of the Lord (February 20th n.s. / February 7th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_triod2_february07.doc 

For the Sunday of the Last Judgment (February 27th n.s. / February 14th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_triod3_t3.doc

For the Cheesefare Sunday (March 6th n.s. / February 21st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_triod4_forerunner.doc

For the First Sunday of Lent (March 13th n.s. / February 28th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_lent1_t5.doc

Saturday, February 05, 2022

What Happens When "Scholars" Fail to Address Arguments and Evidence Presented to Them

The Lynching of 17 Chinese in California 1871

Aram Sarkisian has posted another hit piece in "Public Orthodoxy" that attacks the Ludwell Orthodox Fellowship, as well as myself and others.

He begins by complaining about some of the online harassment he has received as a result of his previous essay. I truly I am sorry to hear that. However, this is not something unique to him or people of his political or religious views. My parish had a credible terrorist threat in June 2020 that I had to get the FBI, as well as state and local authorities, and my parish had to spend thousands of dollars to increase security. Mean tweets are far more easily handled. If you have someone saying stupid things to you online, blocking them is usually the best and quickest solution. The anonymity of the internet, and the fact that most social media platforms let people use pseudonyms create the environment that promotes that sort of behavior. Pointing out things that Aram Sarkisian has posted in the past, however, is not harassment, and it is certainly something that he feels free to do too.

Aram Sarkisian again plays the game of guilt by association, and he also didn't quote a single thing I actually said in my response to his first essay (nor did he provide a link to my article, so people could read it for themselves and come to their own conclusions). Instead, he mischaracterized what I said, and put his own twist on it. He also failed to address any of the contemporary moral issues that I pointed out -- nor did he explain his strange silence about them. The only contemporary moral issues he does talk about are abortion and the LGBTQP agenda, and on those issues, he promotes baby killing and sexual immorality. We cannot change the past, but we can do something about genocide in China, the genocide against Christians in Africa and the Middle East, the killing of a million babies a year in this country, the promotion of sexual immorality, and the rise of Marxism (the most evil and murderous ideology in human history) -- particularly in the academic environment that Sarkisian lives and works in. But saying something against those things might actually cost Dr. Sarkisian something professionally and personally.

He wrote, with regard to my response to him:

"Co-founder Fr. John Whiteford explained on the Michael Sisco Show in October, after all, that racial harmony in the antebellum South was such that the concept of segregation did not exist there—until it was exported from the North. Fr. John too asserted that post-Reconstruction Jim Crow segregation wasn’t all that bad for Black southerners—just misunderstood and misremembered."

I of course said no such thing, and in fact stated pretty much the opposite. The problem here is that it is unfair to compare the South at any point in its history with an ideal society, and to find it wanting. What is fair is to compare it with other societies at the same time. And as a matter of fact, it is true that there was no segregation in the South prior to the late 19th century -- there was subordination, but not segregation. In the North at that same time, blacks were excluded from society, pushed to the margins, and allowed not even the most basic of rights. As Alexis de Tocqueville put it, in his book Democracy in America

“So the Negro [in the North] is free, but he cannot share the rights, pleasures, labors, griefs, or even the tomb of him whose equal he has been declared; there is nowhere where he can meet him, neither in life nor in death.”

Northerners, in fact, often criticized Southerners for living in too close proximity to black people. For example, David Wilmot (of Pennsylvania) wrote:

“By God, sir, men born and nursed of white women are not going to be ruled by men who were brought up on the milk of some damn Negro wench!” (Brion McClanahan "Is “White Supremacy” an Exclusively “Southern” Ideology?")

There also were free blacks in the antebellum South, many of whom became prosperous. Many became slave owners themselves. Some even became very wealthy (e.g. Horace King). 

It is also true that Jim Crow laws originated in the North, and only came to the South with the New South Movement (which was a progressive movement, by the way -- for more information, see the book "The Strange Career of Jim Crow," by C. Vann Woodward (Oxford University Press, 1955). I never suggested that the Jim Crow period was a good time for black people. The fact people put laws in place to force segregation is evidence that there were many people who were doing the opposite. The same is also true of laws against interracial marriage. I believe that government-imposed segregation is wrong, and while I also think it is not a good thing even when voluntary, there have been many black scholars that have argued that black people were better off under segregation (economically especially), and you have many who are now pushing Critical Race Theory, that are promoting segregation today. I am glad legal segregation is a thing of the past (at least outside of American Universities). But here again, Dr. Sarkisian wants to compare the South with perfection, but fails to compare it with other contemporary examples. Segregation was very common in the North and West of the United States, and still is, in practice today. And the point is that even after segregation ceased to be legally enforced in the North, it remained a more pervasive and absolute reality than it ever was in the South.

I happen to have the ability to see this from both a Northern and Southern perspective, because while my father was from Texas, and came from a deeply rooted Southern family, my mother was from Chicago, and her family was mostly Northern in origin. I wouldn't throw either side of my family under the bus, but let's just say that I didn't hear much racist talk from the folks who were from the South. Chicago remains one of the most segregated cities to this day, but it is not particularly unique among large northern cities.

A black minister I know of pointed out what he saw as the difference between life in the South and life in the North in the post World War II era. He said white people in the South didn't mind living next to black people, but didn't want them to have more than they did. White people in the North, didn't care what black people had, but didn't want to live anywhere near them. That is of course a somewhat exaggerated generalization, but I think it has a lot of truth to it, if we are talking about life prior to about 1980.

Aram Sarkisian wrote: 

"There is little I could do in this brief essay that might even begin to dismantle such staggering historical falsehoods, nor do I think Fr. Whiteford would care to hear it."

I would actually love to see Dr. Sarkisian reply to the substance of my essay, but I am not holding my breath. I suspect he will continue to reply to his straw man characterizations of things I have said, rather than what I actually said.

"They were never dehumanized to the status of property, never barred from schools and universities on account of their race, were never asked to count bubbles on a bar of soap so they could vote, never had to hold their bladder until they found a “colored” bathroom, and knew they would never experience the terror of the lynching tree."

I have addressed the issues of slavery, and how this was an American problem, and a world wide problem, and not a specifically Southern Problem in "Orthodox America Has a Cultural Marxist Problem," Lynching was also an American problem. It was worse in the South in the wake of Reconstruction, because of the divide and conquer policies of Radical Reconstruction, which sought to cement Republican political control, rather than to bring about racial reconciliation in the South. The largest single incident of lynching happened in California in 1871, and the people lynched were actually Chinese. Chinese laborers were routinely abused and killed in the American West. The Chinese who worked on the railroad were paid slave labor wages, asked to do the most dangerous work, and little concern for their safety was given... which is the origin of the phrase "a Chinaman's chance," which was usually used in the form of "He hasn't got a Chinamen's chance," which given the slim odds Chinese people were usually given in America, basically means whoever is being spoken off hasn't even got those slim chances. And there would no doubt have been a lot more lynchings of Chinese, except Western politicians managed to pass the Chinese Exclusion Act, and effectively made it impossible for Chinese to immigrate to the United States prior to 1943, when it was finally repealed. Blacks were lynched in nearly every state in the Union. They were lynched more frequently in the South, because there were a lot more black people in the South, but of the lower 48 states, 44 of them had incidents of blacks being lynched, and while the numbers are lower, white people were lynched frequently too. Lynching is of course a horrible crime, and it is of course a good thing that we do not see it very much anymore.

"To be clear, no one is saying that racist ideas are held by all Orthodox Christians in the American South, or that American racism has been, or is now limited only to that region. And there is nothing wrong with Orthodox evangelism to the South. But if evangelism draws on racist Lost Cause mythology and iconography of the failed Confederate rebellion, especially at a moment of renewed Confederate nostalgia, it is important that these ideas are stopped from becoming mainstream. When a group bears witness to Orthodoxy using an image of Stonewall Jackson in uniform with his hand upon a Bible, as is found on the Ludwell Fellowship website, could the message be any clearer?" 

I addressed the question of the Lost Cause and Righteous Cause myths, but Dr. Sarkisian didn't bother to address any of my arguments or the evidence I presented, but instead simply repeats the accusation. Booker T. Washington was an actual slave, and yet he had this to say of Stonewall Jackson and Lee:

"The first white people in America, certainly the first in the South to exhibit their interest in the reaching of the Negro and saving his soul through the medium of the Sunday-school were Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall Jackson.' ... Where Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall’ Jackson have led in the redemption of the Negro through the Sunday-school, the rest of us can afford to follow.”

Stained glass window in the historically black 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church in Roanoke, Virginia. The scene is of an army camped by a river, and the text contains Stonewall Jackson's last words. It says, "In Memory of Stonewall Jackson. Let us cross the river and rest in the shade of the trees."

Stonewall Jackson taught a black Sunday School class, (which taught children how to read and write -- not just about the faith) and supplied its needs out of his own pocket, and out of that Sunday School class came four black churches, and several Black clergymen, who held him in high regard. There is even a stained-glass window dedicated to Stonewall Jackson in one the churches founded by these clergymen. In dismissing Stonewall Jackson as some sort of cartoonish evil character, Dr. Sarkisian is also dismissing the memory of these black people who knew and admired him. Stonewall Jackson is a good example of the deep religious piety that you find in the South. It has not normally been an Orthodox piety up until now, but it does provide us with something to work with. In my experience, I have seen this kind of piety especially found among the black folks I have worked with over the nearly three decades that I worked for the State of Texas.

"And it’s just as alarming that one of its primary voices is Fr. Whiteford, who has appeared on the “Dissident Mama” podcast, and who promoted the Fellowship alongside another co-founder, Dr. Clark Carlton, on the Michael Sisco Show. One loses plausible deniability when they repeatedly seek and out and accept these kinds of platforms to spread harmful historical falsehoods, especially when they wear a cassock."

I firmly believe, have written, and have preached, that hating someone on the basis of race, or mistreating someone on the basis of race is a sin. I don't believe Michael Sisco or Rebecca Dillingham disagree with that at all. Michael often makes fun of his critics by tweaking them in sarcastic ways, but that is a different matter. Rebecca pushes back against Cultural Marxists, but this is because of what she loves (her children, thus the moniker "Dissident Mama'), not what she hates. I am sure that they have said many things I wouldn't agree with, or said things in ways that I wouldn't say them, but having gotten to know them personally, I don't believe that they hate people, based on race or for any other reason. I believe that the Golden Rule applies to everyone, regardless of race, and I believe that they do too.

And by the way, I have also appeared on Roman Catholic podcasts, and Protestant podcasts, and I would even appear on a podcast by someone like Aram Sarkisian, so long as I thought the format would be fair. 

What Aram Sarkisian wants us to do is to hold Southerners to standards that no other group is held too. Do you hear any scholars lecturing Africans, Arabs, Indians, Chinese, or Latin Americans about how they should be ashamed of their own history because it included slavery? No, you do not. You also don't hear them talk very much about slavery in the United States that involved anyone other than Southerners, even though New Englanders ran the Slave Trade, which was the most brutal and inhumane aspect of American slavery. I am not a great student of Armenian history, but I suspect it included slavery too, and I also suspect that Armenians do not have a long history of embracing cultural and racial diversity. However, I would not expect Aram Sarkisian to denounce his ancestors, because that would be evil. The Golden Rule suggests that one should not expect other people to do what they would not want to do themselves.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Reader Services through the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee


This installment covers the Sundays and Feasts of Old Calendar January, which on the civil Calendar runs from January 14th through February 13th. I intend to keep these texts posted as long as there are states or English-speaking countries that are still under lockdown due to the Coronavirus.

The Eves

For the Eves of the upcoming Sundays and Feasts, you could ideally do the Vigil. The fixed portions can be downloaded here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/reader_vigil.doc

or viewed in HTML, here:

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil.htm

For the Rubrics, see: http://www.saintjonah.org/rub/

The variable portions of the service can be downloaded here (all of these would be served on the eve of their respective days). The Sunday services require two files, because these combinations do not repeat annually. In addition to the files linked for the Sundays below, you will need to use the appropriate Katavasia, which for this time period is the Katavasia of the Theophany and then that of the Presentation -- the respective Rubrics will tell you which. Also, on Sundays, there are some hymns that are appointed according to which Matins Gospel is read. To find out which one is read, you also need to look at the Rubrics. For those texts, you will find them here: http://www.saintjonah.org/services/matinsgospel.doc Those hymns are usually done at the Exapostilaria and then at the Doxasticon at the Praises.

Also, the texts below do not always have the full canon for the Menaion, but you can find that here:

https://www.ponomar.net/maktabah/MenaionLambertsenJanuary2000/index.html (you will need to look up the service according to the Old Calendar (o.s.) date).

For the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord & St. Basil (January 14th n.s. / January 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/stbasil_circumcision_weekday.doc

For the 30th Sunday after Pentecost / Prophet Malachi, Forefeast of Theophany (January 16th n.s. / January 3rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/1-03_prmalachi_ff_theophany.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone5.doc

Vigil for the Eve of Theophany (January 18th n.s. / January 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_theophany_eve.doc

(This service is not set up as a reader service, but by following the usual modifications, you could easily use this text to do it as a reader service)

Vespers for Theophany (January 19th n.s. / January 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/theophany_vespers_rs.doc

Vigil for Theophany (January 19th n.s. / January 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/theophany_vigil_rs.doc

For the 31st Sunday after Pentecost / St. Theophan the Recluse / 31st Sunday after Pentecost (January 23rd n.s. / January 10th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/1-10_af_theophany&sttheophan.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone6.doc

For the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost / St. Anthony the Great (January 30th n.s. / January 17th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/1-17_stanthonythegreat.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone7.doc

For the 33rd Sunday after Pentecost / Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (February 6th n.s. / January 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vigil_nmmrussia.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone8.doc

For the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee (February 13th n.s. / January 31st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/triod1.doc

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/tone1.doc

Typika

In place of the Liturgies, you would do Typika:

For the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord & St. Basil (January 14th n.s. / January 1st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_circumcision_wk.doc

For the 30th Sunday after Pentecost / Prophet Malachi, Forefeast of Theophany (January 16th n.s. / January 3rd o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent30.doc

Royal Hours and Typika for the Eve of Theophany (January 18th n.s. / January 5th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/royalhours_theophany_rs.doc

Typika for Theophany (January 19th n.s. / January 6th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_theophany.doc

For the 31st Sunday after Pentecost / St. Theophan the Recluse / 31st Sunday after Pentecost (January 23rd n.s. / January 10th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent31.doc

For the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost / St. Anthony the Great (January 30th n.s. / January 17th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent32.doc

For the 33rd Sunday after Pentecost / Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia (February 6th n.s. / January 24th o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_pent33.doc

For the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee (February 13th n.s. / January 31st o.s.):

http://www.saintjonah.org/services/typika_triod1.doc