The bogeyman doesn’t even go bump in the night (it’s nothing but a “monster under the bed”)… do fear ignorant enthusiasts and self-interested “operators”… they CAN do you harm…
A great hue-and-cry has issued forth in response to Matt Moriak canning Mark Stokoe from the MC and the Archdiocesan Council. Firstly, Mark is a known member of Lyonyo’s faction, so, if a toady of JP (and JP’s Bobby’s sock-puppet) became Bishop of the Midwest, it shouldn’t have surprised him that such happened to him. Actually, if I were in Mark’s shoes, I’d have resigned before Moriak kicked me out, forcing Matt and JP’s party to recalibrate… and since they’re not overly bright, it would’ve screwed them up for a month, at least. There’s nothing funnier (or more satisfying) than to force a foe to punch empty air… there are few pleasures so deep and gratifying (your enemy looks like one of the Three Stooges, whilst you look like Einstein explaining the Unified Field Theory).
This is a good time to talk about the LACK of a conspiracy in the higher reaches of the OCA. Trust me… it’s been this hutsky-klutsky from the beginning, but since Lyonyo had complete editorial and production control at TOC (assisted by his loyal Sancho Panza, Connie Tarasar), that meant that he kept any competing “narratives” from circulating. Especially, in the salad days of the early 70s and early 80s, the propaganda line was that the OCA was the “coming thing”, and Lyonyo allowed no one to disseminate an alternative version (remember the noise about “six million Orthodox Christians in the USA” and “Orthodoxy, the fourth major religion in America?” … I haven’t heard either of those old whoppers in years). This was easy to do in pre-Internet and pre-PC (personal computer, that is) days. There was NO conspiracy involved at all. Simply put, printing was expensive, which meant that only an organisation could issue official-looking documents. In fact, if you’ve seen some of the original printed official OCA (and ROCOR) documents or publications from that period, many look unusually shoddy and second-rate, because Lyonyo had to produce much of it on the cheap (using stapled-together poor-quality newsprint, with ordinary paper covers), as the OCA (or the ROCOR) never had any serious money, and white elephant prestige items such as the Syosset mansion and SVS ate up what little money they had. Then, once you’d produced your material, you then had the problem of distributing it… there was no e-mail, everything had to move in hard-copy form via snail mail. In short, if a determined group of individuals wished to control information, they could… with no need of “conspiring”.
Ever since Metropolitan Leonty’s passing in ’65, a coterie of about 100-200 interrelated individuals centred on Syosset and SVS ran the OCA/Metropolia (some of them are relatives in the literal sense, hence the title, “First Families”). Frankly, they were the only people at any OCA institution with any serious money at their disposal (and that was little enough, the OCA has always been a hand-to-mouth organisation). If “money talks and bullshit walks”… you get the picture. ADS ran the show from the mid-sixties until his death in ’83. He wasn’t the brains of the outfit (Ivan Feofilovich von Meyendorff was twice as intelligent, and four times as prudent)… but he was something a great deal more indefinable… and far more necessary to the success of the project. Aleksandr Dmitrievich was a “rainmaker”… he could make people “believe” in Autocephaly, even though anyone could see that it was nothing but a transparent phantasm ginned up by Rotov at the Centre. Objectively speaking, ADS wasn’t an original scholar nor was he free of his problematic mentor’s (Bulgakov) hobby-horses. He had something far more important in human affairs… whether one called it mana, or charisma, or élan vital, or numen… an indescribable, yet very real, ability to “manufacture” luck and to “convince” others of his notional plans. That’s to say, ADS possessed what Weber called “charismatic authority”… and no one else did… not at all.
Before we leave the topic of ADS’ charisma and his undoubted charismata (in the psychological, not religious sense of the word), do consider the following. This doesn’t apply fully to ADS… a unique and charismatic (although deeply-flawed and fatally-myopic) character, but parts of it do adhere to him, and his “successors” were fully in the mould described below. An egotistical leader (again, in the psychological, not vernacular sense), gathers around themselves compliant and reliant sorts to reinforce their behaviour. Almost inevitably, this leads to the organisation deteriorating over time. Egotists may assert institutional loyalty outwardly, but they’re only committed to their own agendas; thus, their decisions centre on their own interests rather than the interests of the group as a whole or the standards of the larger outside society. As a result, a certain kind of charismatic leader can run an organisation on thoroughly-injurious principles for a time, but people DO wake up from their pleasant dream sooner or later. In short, ADS was a successful moonshiner; he convinced people that his potent cheap spiritual vodka was New Wine… but when he died, there was NO one to replace him, and there was no one who could produce the requisite soma.
You can’t teach someone charisma, least of all in an academic setting. You can’t find charisma in books, scholarly journals, or weighty dissertations. That’s a fool’s errand… what’s more, you can’t allocate charismata per a TO&E schedule. Therefore, when ADS croaked, it killed the OCA. You see, ADS WAS the OCA; he WAS the “Autocephaly Project” incarnate. He was never able to articulate his vision adequately, probably, because he himself wasn’t clear on what he wanted or meant. When ADS died (with no replacement), in essence, his followers treated him like Lenin in the Red Square mausoleum. Interestingly enough, the role of post-mortem totem would’ve horrified both Vladimir Ilyich and Aleksandr Dmitrievich… both were personally modest (which was a cardinal factor in their success, by the way), neither one had grandiose personal delusions (actually, both men were only concerned with essential means and actual authority… the trappings and “rewards” of power interested them not in the least).
There’s no conspiracy in the OCA… there’s a community of interest in maintaining a crook narrative, which isn’t the same thing at all. That’s why so many untutored and poorly-catechised converts have been ordained. They buy into the mythos, as they don’t have contact with Living Orthodoxy. Of course, such a “community” looks like a conspiracy, but the distinction is, I’d say, that the conspirator actually wishes to do evil. On the other hand, the deluded think that they’re doing good… and the cynical don’t bloody care one way or the other, so long as they benefit from the situation. To be evil, you have to know that you’re transgressing the moral law, and that you don’t care tuppence for it. In any case, most mischief comes amongst us not from premeditated malevolence but from ignorant hutsky-klutsky or self-interested manoeuvring.
For instance, Mark Stokoe is both a deluded autocephalist fanatic and a self-interested former Syosset drone. Truly, he believes that only he and his “band of brothers” (Hunchak, Hopko fils, and Wheeler) can steer the Church correctly. Does he see how Lyonyo uses him and his pals? That, no one knows. Matthias Moriak is a petty dictator (did he jump from the ACROD out of ambition or was he tossed out… or was it a bit of both?)… he’s trying to insert his son as rector of a parish that’s “above his weight” and he slapped down a deacon high-handedly, not just Mark. Abuse of power isn’t evil… it’s simply bad business and it isn’t according to the institutional culture of the OCA Diocese of the Midwest (Moriak’s in for a rude awakening). Rather, evil is Ray Velencia blabbing personal intimacies of a parishioner to the OCA MC… oh, I forgot… “We admit no wrongdoing”… how silly of me! It’s also Paffhausen’s guru-disciple relationship with the sodomite Gleb Podmoshensky (Podmoshensky was a guru to Freddie M-G and Dreher, as well)… JP refuses to repent of it.
The OCA has been living on its accumulated capital, both actual (monetary) and spiritual (ideological), since the death of ADS. Today, the cupboard’s bare… all of Kishkovsky’s horses and all of Stokoe’s men won’t be able to put Syosset back together again (as for the ROCOR, that’s not germane here… the reason for their decline is intrinsically different from that of the OCA, and it deserves separate treatment). They’re demented children dancing about a decaying and putrid corpse. Won’t anyone give this cadaver decent burial? That’s one of the acts of Christian mercy, isn’t it?
Wednesday 17 August 2011