Thursday, November 13, 2014

"The Russians are coming!" No.


Putin and his church aren't a threat to me.

  • NATO: Russian troops enter the Ukraine. Not my problem. The Ukraine has been an integral part of Russia for centuries; its east wants to go back. Otherwise I have nothing against an independent Ukraine; dreaming of a Catholic-friendly Russia Jr. that's not a shill for Western liberals. (Patriarch Sviatoslav sounds like a Novus Ordo liberal with an accent.)
  • "Why Vladimir Putin and the Moscow Patriarchate will destroy Russian Christianity." Russophobia. Ukie scare piece/saber-rattling. Russians like strongmen and think they're the true church (at least they're not wimps about it like our churchmen); not news. I hope he's their new Constantine. I don't cheer for every article that's hard on the Orthodox; as a Catholic with an eye on the big picture (reunion with these estranged Catholics, even though they don't like us), I know better. Even if what Fr. James says is true, it's not my problem, and the Ukrainian Catholic Church is safe far to the west of Russia, in an independent Ukraine. At most Russia wants the rest of the far eastern Ukraine back, like the Crimea (historically never Ukrainian); Russians (next to no Catholics) live there (the people from there I've known do not identify as Ukrainian), and sovietized (secular) Russians at that, so no big deal.
  • Back to my regular programming:

    Dale gets it:
    There is a liturgical conservatism in Byzantine Orthodoxy, but social conservatism? I sincerely doubt so. The Ecumenical Patriarch has often supported a woman’s “right” to choose an abortion, and he has openly given ecclesiastical titles or Archon to Greek-American political figures with a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood, and no one batted an eye. The Greek Archbishop Demetrios has literally grovelled before Obama and called him the “New Alexander.” So outside of pretty liturgy, and the fact that most Orthodox laity and many of the hierarchs have swallowed most liberal social morals, I fail to see that Orthodoxy is in any way protected, it is in some ways simply a more conservative Byzantine-rite Episcopalianism with longer beards.

    If you think that the Orthodox are immune in any way from Modernism, please think again.

    There is, and I admitted this, a resemblance to a more solid attachment to traditional morality simply because of liturgical conservatism, and the traditional attitudes that are still evident in ethnic communities, but even that tends to be a facade; real issues, such as abortion, gay marriage, support for pro-abortion candidates, etc. is very strong within both ethnic Orthodox as well as Catholic communities.

    Surprisingly, converts to Byzantium either have their heads in the sands or live in a very isolated environment. They seem to have invented their own ecclesiastical myths, which bear little resemblance to the reality.

    Ware is a prime example; his attachment to Hellenism is simply typical, upper-class academics who like fancy-dress. He actually wanted to form a committee in England that would review all applications for conversion and that this committee would have the right to blackball anyone who did not met their intellectual criteria. This is Church as not only committee, but social/country club. The only reason such a committee was never formed was that the Greeks and the Russians in England could not work together, and everyone was angry with the Antiochians for accepted group conversions, which even included, for a few short weeks the western rite, gasp!

    My own personal favorite was when the Greek “American” presidential candidate Dukakis was declared a “Greek Orthodox in good standing” even though he was a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal Church and a member of St John’s in Washington, D.C.! This is not Church, this is ethnic social club in action.
    Byzantium in America: as I and others suspect of Rod Dreher (who lives in a convert bubble of his own making), a form of surrender.

    Outside of anti-Catholic convert circles, I found the real Orthodox deafeningly indifferent to abortion, and I knew only churchgoers.

    An Orthodox:
    Look, I send my children to the local RC school. It’s a wonderful place; however, I also know that on average more of these folks voted for Obama than the people of my congregation. It is a scandal to both the RC and the Orthodox that the latest Pew research shows that the evangelicals are “getting” classical Christian morality at a better rate than we are. Still, the same research shows that the Orthodox are still relatively “conservative” compared to the RC.
    Oh, I've seen their sellout on contraception used as a selling point ("it's a feature, not a bug") as well as the nonsense about divorce and remarriage. Also, as cultural Catholicism downsizes (Vatican II's result: the American church is now literally broke 45 years later; my archdiocese will probably end up with two churches per suburban county in 50 years), the remaining Massgoers are becoming conservative (across the board, people in religions that matter, not the mainline or the Mohammedans, vote Republican). In other words, more and more, the ethnic Obama voters no longer identify with the church.
    I have also realized over the last few years that something strange is going on over there in England. Most of those who call for a “looking into” the re-creation of the female diaconate (something that is known to have existed in both the east and the west from 300 or so until about 600 — though it probably had existed before that) are led by those whose scholarship was done at Oxford (most notably Bishop Ware). It is these same people who lead the small and strange “Orthodox pacifist” movement — which as far as I can tell has mostly teetered out — no doubt because it so obviously contradicts the Church’s moral tradition and history. Again, these groups are small, unpopular, and their voice is quickly drowned out by reaction from the clergy and laity whenever they to make themselves heard.

    As far as Bishop Ware himself, I have a friend who studied under him at Oxford (this was years ago), came back to America and taught at one of the Orthodox seminaries here, quickly fled to an “Old Calendarist” jurisdiction because he thought American Orthodoxy was a generation from the Anglicans (wrongly in my estimation — but then the OCA might disabuse me of that). He still considers Bishop Ware a mentor and friend and quite approves of him. So who knows?
    Or maybe their conservatives aren't.

    William Tighe:
    Well over 20 years ago a Catholic friend (English; of Greek background; formerly Anglican) characterized the “Oxford Orthodox” as “Anglicans with beards.” The “infestation” is spreading; how right he was.
    I know who he is; met him long ago.
    As to the “female diaconate,” I strongly doubt that there were “female deacons” in the early Church (or, put otherwise, that “deaconesses” were “female deacons”). The best book on the subject is Aime-Georges Martimort's “Deaconesses: An Historical Study” (published in French by Edizione Liturgiche [Rome] in 1982; English translation published by Ignatius Press, 1987; reprinted, 1996). Kyriake Kydonis Fitzgerald’s “Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church” (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Press,1998) is a screed advocating the “restoration” of female deacons; in it, and elsewhere, she airily dismisses Martimort’s views as “reflecting a Western phronema.” Mrs. Fitzgerald is the wife of the Greek Orthodox priest Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald.

    Bishop Kallistos himself favors “women deacons” and insists that the ordination of women to the presbyterate and episcopate is “an open question” in Orthodoxy. It is instructive to compare his very good essay in the first (1983) edition of “Women and the Priesthood,” ed. Fr. Thomas Hopko (St. Vladimir Seminary Press) with the essay which he substituted for that first one in the second (1999) edition; also instructive to compare essays by Fr. Hopko in the two editions: in the first, it is a strong theological essay opposing WO, while in the second he substitutes a rather “hand-wringing” essay in which, while he still states his opposition to WO, agrees that it is “an open question” for the Orthodox and that, lacking a Magisterium (as he says) the Orthodox church cannot resolve the question unless and until all the members of the Orthodox Church come to a common consensus on the question, which I suppose can only happen ad Kalendas Graecas. (He also states that it was the severe criticisms of his essay in the first edition by an Orthodox bishop — now known to be the late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh — that impelled him to replace that essay with the one in the second edition.)
    Ethnic cultural conservatism vs. pressure from the larger culture + spiting Rome ("Western phronema").

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