Monday, May 29, 2006

Some jottings on the Orthodox tradition
Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald): Certainly not the gentlest of men but a fascinating figure with good qualities at least from the distance of this blog (an outsider’s view): theological and liturgical traditionalism fuelling anti-Bushian politics. He is the reverend father in God of the old Russian Orthodox diocese of San Francisco in America’s Pacific Rim, which unlike the ethnic-Ruthenian majority (more) in what’s now the OCA is really historically Russian. (SF has its Russian Hill neighbourhood.) Regrettably he seems to have taken the wrong side in a horrible financial scandal (possible embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the synod officials from their largely elderly working-class Slavic parishioners*) and so is now being essentially ordered to retire.

St Tikhon wasn’t a hypocrite. I wondered how he could be so friendly to the Episcopalians’ faces but at the same time plan what eventually became most of the Western Rite Orthodox experiment. In a com-box note to me Joe Zollars made it make sense. Indeed tsarist Russians weren’t particularly nasty to other Christians including those, like themselves, of Catholic traditions. St T envisaged not dishonest sheep-stealing but something rather like the provisional recognition of Anglican orders that some patriarchates announced in the early 20th century: corporate union of the Anglican Communion with Orthodoxy in which Anglicans would be received economically in their orders (without re-ordination) and retain their rite but de-protestantised and slightly byzantinised. That tsarist non-animosity included the first generation of the Russian Church Abroad: founding first hierarch Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) agreed with that provisional recognition (which has never been nor will be activated) and his successor, the learned Met. Anastassy (Gribanowsky), once preached in St Paul’s Cathedral! But stories of official Orthodox approval of intercommunion with Anglicans and of Orthodox participation in episcopal consecrations and ordinations are the stuff of fantasy, nonsensical from the Orthodox point of view.

A word from Huw Raphael on that non-hostility and the Golden Rule. I don’t think there was a lot of imperial rhetoric about graceless heretics and dubious tortured Aleuts when Western Christians were being begged for refuge after World War II, for a reprieve from being sent back to Stalin’s USSR and its labour camps. In that spirit Joe Sobran, a Catholic, has good things to say about Protestant America. Here’s a note on religious liberty as a relative good.

On the recent furore in Moscow: the answer of course is neither thuggery nor political correctness. The Orthodox are of course entirely correct that it’s an abomination but the freedom homosexuals have in the privacy of their homes is the same freedom to be a Christian. So no, the government shouldn’t harass gays. Just don’t flaunt one’s perversion in public — if you want respect then show respect to the rest of us! (Note this predictable MSM dig at the church. If you believe in the laws of God and nature you’re painted as the murderers of Matthew Shepard.)

Today is the 553rd anniversary of the fall of the Roman Empire (its eastern half): its capital, Constantinople, to the Turks, who especially since the 1920s under Mustapha Kemal (God have mercy upon him) have nearly succeeded in wiping out millennia of Greek civilisation in Asia Minor including Christian civilisation — and people (Aristotle Onassis was a survivor of the rape of Smyrna). The last emperor died in communion with the Pope. By the time it fell it was the Roman Empire in about the same legal sense that Taiwan is the legitimate Republic of China: much shrunken with its historic homeland taken over by somebody else. Kyrie, eleison!

*A hit this relatively poor, shrinking (ageing) denomination can ill afford.

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