Voices from Russia

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Guess Who WASN’T Invited to Dinner?

patriarch bartholomew

Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis (1940- ) is visiting New York City as part of his trip to the USA. He met with all the Orthodox First Hierarchs in the USA… except for Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral of the ROCOR. Why?

On Tuesday, 27 October, Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of the EP held an audience in New York City for “the Orthodox Primates of the USA” in the words of oca.org. The URL for the entire article is:

http://www.oca.org/news/1979

How wonderful! How grand! How… MISLEADING! There was an “Orthodox Primate” (“First Hierarch” is a more correct translation from the Greek or Russian) missing!

GUESS WHO?

Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral, Archbishop of New York and Eastern America, First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, that’s who. This meeting took place in the seat of his see. Some shall protest, “This was a meeting of the SCOBA hierarchs”. Yes… but, Jarmus did not state that. He stated that Bartholomew met “the Orthodox Primates of the USA”… that is the direct quote from oca.org. Besides that, it took him TWO DAYS to post this. I would have had it up immediately after the meeting… that is what a conscientious and dutiful person does. Jarmus is not only a lazy dogsbody incompetent; he doesn’t know how to use the English language. JP is a fool to engage such a sort as “Director of Communications” (Jarmus, apparently, is literate enough to cash an OCA pay-cheque, though!). In addition, Jarmus did not see to it that the proper people posted photos of the event (digital cameras exist, sir… we can post photos from them on that very day).

However, my task today is not to excoriate Jarmus for his (usual and expected) inept bungling. Do note well that Vladyki Hilarion was not invited to this great love-feast and Dixie-Fry of “the Orthodox Primates of the USA”. He IS the ranking bishop of the MP in the US… yes, the ROCOR is autonomous… but, it IS a part of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all the Russias (Vladyki Hilarion did take part in the last MP Archpastoral Council in Moscow, after all). This was a highly interesting omission on the part of the EP handlers of Patriarch Bartholomew. Bart did not plan this… no superior in any organisation handles such detail… that is handed over to underlings (who often have their own axes to grind and agendas to advance). There was no mention of a separate meeting with Vladyki Hilarion on the official ROCOR website. He was in Atlanta GA on Monday 26 October, but, there is no further news of his whereabouts after that date on the ROCOR site. Could a meeting between Vladyki Hilarion and Bartholomew have occurred? Perhaps… but, there is no posting on any website that confirms such a meeting.

Why was Vladyki Hilarion not at the meeting of “the Orthodox Primates of the USA?” Jarmus’ slip in grammar is probably not completely innocent. There is a possible explanation for this… one that is not very edifying (after all, we are talking of human-beings with real emotions, not soulless automata). More recent arrivals may not remember it, but, there was a bitter and acrimonious conflict between the OCA and the ROCOR from 1965 until (circa) 2000. ADS fomented this… as so many other cancers in the Church were. Trust me, this dispute was deep and it caused grievous wounds to both parties. It was one of the major causes of the decline in membership that both bodies suffered in this period (the other major reason was that gossip ran rampant in many parishes… typically, our parishes are so small (often, fewer than 200 parishioners, all told) that such personal silliness and spitefulness causes greater harm than in larger organisations). Both bodies hid this by not issuing accurate membership figures. We only have two citations from reputable “public figures” on this… Jonathan Ivanoff of the OCA stated officially that membership had declined 6 to 12 percent per annum for at least a decade. Alexander Lebedeff of the ROCOR stated that very few of the students that had gone through his church-school classes were still in the Church, and that New Russians (post-1991 Russian immigrants) made up 80 percent of the membership of the larger urban parishes of the ROCOR. In short, this was one of the most severe self-inflicted wounds in American Orthodoxy.

Obviously, the sentiments of that period are not dead. It is clear that the EP planners were in touch with people such as Lyonyo Kishkovsky of the OCA. LK could have gently reminded them to invite Metropolitan Hilarion as a courtesy… no doubt, what he did was more sinister. He simply did not mention him, and the Greek parties went ahead with planning, not realising that LK was omitting a key figure in American Orthodoxy by his silence. This raises questions about how deep the reconciliation between the OCA and ROCOR truly is and what the MP is going to do to resolve the present disunity in Russian Orthodoxy in the US and Canada. It also raises doubts on SCOBA itself… for the ROCOR is part of the MP, no? The reconciliation did not happen yesterday… it occurred in May 2007, over two years ago.

Of course, there were always personal contacts between Russian Orthodox people… in Washington DC, a priest at the OCA parish and a priest at the ROCOR parish were brothers-in-law. Amongst ethnic Russian people, friendships and family ties proved stronger than the “official” conflict (which was, basically, a private feud between ADS and Grabbe). However, we lost many of our children due to the disedification caused by the antics of the combatants. The most fanatic were  amongst the convert cohort… the worst were SVS in Yonkers and Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston. I remember an OCA priest claiming in 1984 that ROCOR was not Orthodox and that no other Local Church admitted them to communion (admittedly, he was one of the MP priests that went to the OCA after Feodosy Lazor became First Hierarch of the OCA in 1977). This priest is still active… and he is an authority-figure, interestingly enough.

I might add that a pall of silence from official quarters covers this haemorrhage. No one is not allowed to speak of it… nor can one speak of its major cause… it has gone down the memory hole. True, some public figures have spoken of it… but, nothing of substance happens as a result. My view is clear… we must have frankness on the actions of public figures in the past… otherwise, we learn no useful lessons and we shall repeat our previous mistakes (and they are usually worse the second or third time around). Mark down well that no one in the higher levels of Orthodoxy in the US wishes to speak of past errors… and, often enough, those of us who bring such up face accusations of disloyalty and slander. I would say that a membership decline has occurred… and that it is mainly due to our own freely-chosen actions. We have to discuss this openly to prevent such happening again. If we do not… trust me, the scandals of the past shall hold no candle to the scandals that we shall be handed in future.

Metropolitan Hilarion was not at the New York meeting with Bartholomew… that’s a fact. He belonged there… that’s a fact (he IS a First Hierarch, after all, of a larger establishment than some of those represented at the fete). The fact that he was not there was a scandal. Jonas Paffhausen was there… and the autocephaly of the OCA is not accepted by the EP. Hilarion Kapral was not there… and the EP considers the ROCOR a canonical church body. THAT’S a contradiction in terms, friends and neighbours. I looked at the official itinerary of Bartholomew and there was nothing about a meeting with Hilarion (are they to meet after the Patriarchal liturgy in New York City on Sunday? There is nothing to show such).

As Alice said… things get curiouser and curiouser. I’ll say this… events in Orthodoxy are never boring or dull… there’s always an odd twist to them, isn’t there?

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 31 October 2009

Albany NY

“Off With Their Heads!”

Filed under: humour/wry/"people are funny",intellectual,internet — 01varvara @ 00.00

Queen of Hearts

We’re all familiar with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. Right now, I am thinking of the Queen of Hearts. The following quotation makes the Queen look very sane, indeed. This is an illustration of the sort of thing that one puts up with if one’s blog is popular. Actually, it’s a howler and says more about the author than it does about me. In short, I’m LAUGHING… and the thought that some bloke is taking this seriously and thinks that this is hurting me is HILARIOUS. Truly, I have a sense of humour and proportion… which this barmy wanker obviously doesn’t!

Read it for yourself (I didn’t make this up… no, I didn’t… I SWEAR to you on a stack of bibles!):

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how pathetic
none cares to comment anymore
how pathetic
you have to comment on your own posts
how nice to know all the
little voices of russia
in your head all agree with you

the little voice of russia
maybe millions
but the anger
the hatred
the violence
what Christian people in the ussr?

U-northodox
S-exist
S-chismatic
R-ussia

proud to be you

FULL STOP

******

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are as in the original sent to me.

This is a sign of something. As Bob Czech said to me many moons ago, “They wouldn’t be hollering if what you said wasn’t true”. Poor dears… you can’t shoot ALL the messengers. Indeed… what are they going to do? Hire a hit-man for a KGB-style mokriye dyela? I think NOT! The obvious boobosity and pomposity of my interlocutor has me wondering if they are married or in a relationship. What sort of person would want such an obvious loser in their life?

Let’s lift a glass and cheer! If this is the best that the opposition can muster… there’s hope for the old planet yet! SMILE… that really riles ‘em (shaking my head and laughing as I pass you your glass). The best revenge you can have on such sorts is having a wonderful day and not thinking further of such rot.

Remember… you tend to grow a THICK skin in the Church. There are malicious, malevolent, and spiteful children about… Do remember the scene in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at end of the section dealing with the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost opened his robe to show two urchins clinging to him, and Scrooge asked who they were. “This boy is Ignorance, and this girl is Want. They cling to me for protection. Beware them both, but, especially beware this boy”. Yes, indeed… it DOES take all kinds. Why must they all cross MY path, though?

Cheers, and have a wonderful weekend!

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 31 October 2009

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

Of course, “Off with their heads” is NOT what I think. I’m not so silly and self-centred. Isn’t it a perfect characterisation of my interlocutor’s attitude to the world as revealed in their screed? There is no way to know who this was, as it was anonymous (as all such cowardly and childish missives are), but, it would not surprise me to find that this came from the hands of an angry konvert (yet, I am wise enough to know that such filth does not stick to many (or, indeed, most) converts). I am going to continue to post on “touchy” topics in future. Those whose skins are thin should either stay away, change their behaviour, or grow up. That’s the way of it in the adult world… you don’t shut someone up by throwing a tantrum and stamping your foot. Only toddlers think that (isn’t that a sad commentary on our society, especially the suburban affluent effluent?).

Friday, 30 October 2009

There Oughta be a Law!

Laura Dekker

Laura Dekker (1995- ), the brave Dutch girl who wants to sail around-the-world single-handedly… bully for her! Fie on the judges, shrinkie-dinkies, and “child protection authorities”… let them go to their master (and it sure ain’t the Good Lord, that’s for sure)… and right smartly, too!

______________________________

Update 20 December 2009:

Laura Dekker’s missing from her father’s home. No foul play’s suspected in the least. Here’s a link to the latest:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2009/12/20/2009-12-20_dutch_sailor_laura_dekker_14_goes_missing_after_fighting_for_solo_trip_around_th.html

******

I thought that I’d seen it all… Well, live and learn, they say! First, read the news item below…

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Dutch Court Nixes Teenager’s Round-The-World Sail

A Dutch court ruled Friday that 14-year-old Laura Dekker was still too inexperienced to be allowed to set off on her quest to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Judges at Utrecht District Court placed Laura under the guardianship of child protection authorities until next July to ensure that she can’t set off on her dream voyage. The ruling means Laura can continue living with her father, but, her parents must consult child protection authorities about all major decisions in her life. Laura and her parents weren’t in court Friday, but, family spokesman Mariska Woertman said the teenager was “disappointed that the court doesn’t have faith in her to leave now”. However, Woertman said Laura was confident she can be ready to sail soon after next July and still set the record as the youngest sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

The Utrecht court first blocked her departure in August out of concern for her safety. The decision sparked a worldwide debate on how much authorities and parents should limit children’s freedom to undertake risky adventures. Laura’s parents, both veteran sailors, are separated. Laura’s father supported the attempt, but her mother said in a newspaper interview in September she thought Laura was too young. Presiding judge M. Oostendorp said Laura’s mother has given her blessing “so long as she has assurances about the safety measures. At the moment, as far as she is concerned, they’re insufficient”. Child protection authorities welcomed the decision.

Judges said they were confident that Laura was emotionally ready for the trip, but questioned the safety precautions and her ability to continue her schooling while at sea. They said, however, her sailing skills weren’t in question. A psychological analysis submitted to the court said Laura’s planned trip wouldn’t impair her social or emotional development. “The good news today is that we have established Laura is capable of making this voyage”, said her lawyer, Peter de Lange. Laura told the three-judge panel at a closed hearing Monday that she was equipping her 26-foot (8-metre) yacht Guppy with extra security and communications equipment and learning to use it. “(The plans are still) too unclear, not concrete enough and too uncertain” to guarantee her safety, said Oostendorp.

Laura also told the court that she planned to wait at least until next May, after school ends, to embark on the voyage and will be guided by an experienced sailor in a separate boat. She also promised to take a sailor’s first-aid course and practice sleep management techniques. De Lange criticised the judges for questioning Laura’s single-handed sailing experience… which is limited to trips on Dutch rivers, close to the coast, and a single solo voyage to England and back. “They say she hasn’t got much experience of solo round-the-world sailing. That’s a bit weak”, he told reporters. “How do you get experience? By doing it”.

In August, 17-year-old British sailor Mike Perham became the youngest person to sail solo around the world. Earlier this month, 16-year-old Australian Jessica Watson also set off on a single-handed, round-the-world trip. De Lange said Laura can still break the record if she sets off next year. “But the record isn’t her primary goal”, he added. “Laura just wants to sail”.

Mike Corder

30 October 2009

Associated Press

As quoted by Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091030/ap_on_re_eu/eu_netherlands_young_sailor

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This is utter stuff n’ nonsense. A judge (of all people!) issues an opinion on nautical matters… not maritime law… one expects that… but issues a ruling on the fitness of an individual to undertake a voyage. This is the sort of rubbish one sees routinely in American suburbia amongst the affluent effluent. Sadly, it means that the Americanist contagion has spread to parts of Western Europe. Legalism, not good-sense, underpins this madness. It leads to such things as the OCA claiming that it has no legal responsibility for the actions of its priests, as these fellows are, in essence, independent contractors and actors. What’s the difference? In the Dutch case, a court prevents a young sailor from departing on a risky journey by using questionable logic… all sorts of supposedly grown-up adults are wasting a good deal of time, effort, energy, and money on this. Let the young girl sail, I say… she knows the risks… it’s her life, after all. The “child protective authorities”, head-shrinkers, and judges should butt out (I believe that this is actually an episode in a dispute between the separated parents)… the court would do better to spend its time pursuing real child abusers and paedophiles (isn’t that the case… the legal system chases ridiculous will o’ the wisps such as this… and real abusers hop away, scot-free, because the court wastes its time and energy on such frivolities).

I bring the story of this court case up for a reason. One of my correspondents wrote, “The OCA should be taken to court for what its hierarchs have done”. I quite agree… but there’s a traffic-jam in the courts… caused by cases such as the one about Laura Dekker. Real child-abuse advocates will tell you straight-up that it’s hard to get the system to punish actual abusers because of the logjam of such frivolous cases. Another reason is that the OCA’s no major actor either in American religion or on the American scene in general. For God’s sake, its central budget is less than 5 mill, and most of that’s spent on salaries for a small set of dronish apparatchiki on the Island, where the cost-of-living is so above the national average that the cost of maintaining a HQ there is a criminal and egregious drain upon the donations of the faithful. That is, money that should go for charities and missions goes into the gaping and ever-voracious maws of Kishkovsky and Garklavs). In short, it isn’t worth the government’s while… at least, not yet (after all, the RCs are 20 to 25 percent of the US population… a major proportion by any measure… all Orthodox in total are about 0.3 percent (the OCA in toto is 0.03 percent… if we were disappear, America would not notice it). Even in Orthodoxy, it’s a miniscule voice… out of some 986,000 Orthodox in recognised Local Church bodies in the US (per Aleksei Krindatch), only 115,000 are in the OCA (and 27,000 of those are in its virtually independent Romanian branch and 20-30,000 are Alaska natives in the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska, leaving only some 58,000-68,000 under Syosset’s direct rule in the “lower-48”).

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the courts to act (I do think that Kristi Koumentakos is going to get justice against Ray Velencia… but that isn’t striking at the root of the contagion). Certainly, I’d be pleased to see it happen… but let’s be frank. We’re just too unimportant as a group… except for a few isolated areas (such as north-eastern and western Pennsylvania, the industrial Midwest, and some cities in the Mid-Atlantic region), we’re so small that we’re invisible. Remember, the loudest noises issue forth from miniscule sets in Lilliputian mission parishes (something that Fr Alexander Lebedeff noticed in a post on the dissidents who protested against the MP/ROCOR reconciliation… the sociological imperatives in the OCA and ROCOR are almost identical as they are both “Russian Orthodox” bodies).

Is it, “Abandon hope, all ye that enter here?” NO… emphatically not. However, we must resolve this ourselves, not the courts. That is, a solution requires that we act to put it right.

Shall we?

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

30 October 2009

Albany NY

An Item from the Old Curiosity Shoppe

Jonas Paffhausen

Metropolitan Jonas Paffhausen (1959- ) of the OCA in a meeting with a low-level MP functionary in Syosset NY. Note well that one of the people in the picture is Leonid Kishkovsky… When he was in Moscow earlier this year, JP stated that all the major players under Herman were gone (his exact words were that only a house-cleaner and two secretaries were left)… it seems that he lied… draw the proper conclusion.

Here is something that just crossed my path that is far less than it seems. Trust me… it appears of great importance… then, when one looks closer, it fades into nothingness. Let’s look at the news item, first.

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Primate of the Orthodox Church in America gives audience to president of the International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox Nations

His Beatitude Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada, received in audience on 26 October 2009, the president of the International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox Nations, V. Alexeyev, and the representative of the Orthodox Church in America Archimandrite Zacchaeus (Wood).

Mr Alexeyev informed Metropolitan Jonah about his recent visit to St Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood NY, to convey to it an official letter from His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, informing the Seminary that it won the Foundation’s Prize in recognition of its efforts for strengthening unity between Orthodox nations in the field of education. They also discussed in detail various projects of the Foundation, the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church Representation in America has reported.

DECR Communications Service

http://www.mospat.ru/en/2009/10/28/news7186/

******

Firstly, do NOT be fooled by the URL. This is NOT from the main official website of the MP… it is the official website of the MP DECR… if you go to the homepage, you do NOT go to the homepage of the main site. This is vitally important.

My first task was to see if this news had appeared on the RIA-Novosti, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax-Religion feeds. It had not. In short, this is not considered important by the main secular news agencies that cover religious news. I only bring this canard of an article up because the OCA fanatics are going to beat the drums about this.

Note well that Hilarion Alfeyev did not put his name to this release… the only body named is a nebulous International Foundation of the Unity of Orthodox Nations… I have never heard of it and I follow the Russian religious press fairly closely. It smells contrived and hurriedly cobbled together… there has been no major press release on any of the relevant Russian news-services about this putative organisation to my knowledge prior to this event (there have been one or two articles mentioning this “award”… that is the only sign of life that this “foundation” has shown).

On a minor note, SVS’s address is given incorrectly… it is in Yonkers NY, but, the OCA invariably says it is in Crestwood… Crestwood is not a city, town, village, hamlet, or census designated area… it is only a neighbourhood of the City of Yonkers with no real or legal existence (the OCA does not like using the real address because it lacks the cachet of the rest of Westchester County… Yonkers is in Westchester, but, it has a grittier and more plebeian image). His buddies in Syosset misled HA…

As for the letter from KMG… the poor fellow signs hundreds of documents daily. He has a busy schedule of personal meetings and audiences (I pity the poor fellow… he must spend two hours a day in minor audiences (that is, those quickie 5-minute affairs) alone). Do note well that His Holiness gave no one in the OCA an audience to receive this letter. Zacchaeus Wood did not even get one of those minor five-minute jobs where one receives a smile and a letter from the hand of KMG, and a PR snapshot with the Patriarch. HA did not give him an audience… he did not even get a meeting with anyone important such as Bishop Mark Golovkov, or Frs Vsevolod Chaplin, Mikhail Dudko, or Nikolai Balashov. All that happened is that a “V Alexeyev” (a complete and utter unknown, let me assure you… he has figured in no other major news items from any major Russian or international agency of my knowledge), a very minor flunky and lackey, has brought a letter from a vague (and previously unknown) “foundation” just when JP needed something to distract people from the Nashotah House débâcle and the controversy swirling about the rumours of an “Anglican Rite” in the OCA (God willing, saner heads shall prevail… but, I shan’t hold my breath… it’s unhealthy, you know).

In short, this is total GIGO. It is not worth the paper it is printed on. Does Syosset truly believe that the faithful are that stupid? Have they truly lost contact with reality?

I fear that we know the answer all too well…

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 30 October 2009

Albany NY

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