Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Let’s Sit Down and Have a Nice Chat, Hon…

Filed under: Christian,internet,Orthodox life,religious,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00


Recently, I had an incident on the internet… therefore, I asked several people (including my staritsa), their opinion on the matter. To speak truthfully, I was a latecomer to the cyberworld, not really posting until ’04. Boy! I was as green as grass… one knows how to proceed in society and one doesn’t trust easily… hard experience has taught all of us that. Indeed, it was like going through adolescence again… the trickiest thing about the internet is that you can’t SEE your interlocutor. Therefore, one of the main indicators of finding truthfulness is lost.

The group that was the greatest disappointment were the “Orthodox” in the cyberworld. Firstly, all too many are babies… they are less than five years in the faith, yet, they opine on the Canons and the Fathers as though they were Oxbridge double-firsts or holders of a kandidatura from the MDA. In fact, I found that the more ponderous and pompous the prose used by someone, the lesser the time that infant had been around. Ergo, most “Orthodox” commentary on the ‘net is utterly specious and lacking in any value whatsoever. Trust me… I’ve read quite a bit in the Fathers… and I’ve read enough to know that I’m no expert and that the Fathers are contradictory. You can use them to justify bloody near anything (and the same can be said of Scripture and the canons, as well).

Before we go further, it would be good to recall some words of Bishop Job Osacky. He spoke of the culture regnant in the OCA, and his observations are spot-on accurate… and they have not changed under JP and Co… they may have even deepened.


I’ve often stated that in our little OCA, where many people know many others and have had longstanding relationships with them, we have largely failed in learning how to agree to disagree. I’ve used the example of a most unfortunate exchange; regarding not concepts or points, but, personalities.

The first person says, “You do not agree with me. That means you are not with me. That means you don’t like me. That means you are against me. That means you’re out to get me. That means you are attacking me. That means I have to destroy you”.

The second person should reply, “No, it means I don’t agree with you. That’s all. Let’s have a cup of coffee and discuss it, and maybe you’ll convince me, or, at least, we might be able to reach some compromise”.

But, my friends, our reality has shown that the exchange would not take place. The second person would never have been given the opportunity to respond, and the attack by the first person, with the motive of character assassination would begin. And, my sisters and brothers, there would be no opportunity for discussion, for dialogue, or for compromise. This scenario was repeated again and again, and continues today, and has become the basis for promoting personal agendas and lusting after power and authority. Is this noble; is it righteous; is it Christian? Can it ever be justifiable as being “for the good of the Church?” God forbid! And may He help us all, because this is how we’ve been operating in the Holy Synod and Central Church Administration for years, and we are slow to adopt an alternative.

1 October 2007

Bishop JobJob Osacky

Archbishop of Chicago and the Midwest (OCA)

The Official website of the Diocese of the Midwest of the Orthodox Church in America



In the two years since this was written by one of the few solid OCA bishops, nothing has changed. Log onto oca.org, the official website… one would think that the situation was utterly normal and that everything was “under control”. Perhaps, this is the only reason that the incompetent Jarmus is kept on as “Director of Communications”. Nevertheless, none save the terminally-credulous (and the perennially-Pollyanna-ish) are fooled. It is so desperate that two staff-slots at the top have been merged… in bureaucratic terms, as institutions (and those staffing them) always seek their survival and growth, this means that it is dire, much more so than is being let on.

If the situation is extreme, then, it stands to reason that an institution will resort to whatever means are at hand to ensure its continued existence, even those that are not completely licit (of course, I am not defending such, I am only describing what can be seen). This point was passed many years ago in the OCA, as Bishop Job’s words indicate, but, the state of affairs is now reaching a new phase… one that may be critical, if not terminal. If you thought that the OCA had a dysfunctional operational culture before… I believe that it is going to get far worse… especially as JP favours the cultish HOOMies, the quasi-Uniates at New Skete, and the ivory-tower navel-gazers at SVS (and there is always the inimitable Bobby K from Venice… don’t forget him… if you do, you shall regret it). That is to say, I expect the situation on the internet to get substantially worse.

Of several friends, I asked the question, “How should one proceed in the internet to protect oneself from trolls and other such problems?” One answer was, “If you are attacked, do not respond. If someone asks for personal information, do not give it. Do not respond to idiocy on other websites. If attacks continue, note who makes them and what group they belong to”. This was the best one… note well that I did NOT come up with it (I wish that I did… but, honesty is a harsh mistress)… I think that this is good advice for all of us, not only me.

Do mistrust anyone who asks personal questions. If they are subjecting you to such invasive probing, it means that they are not averse to asking others the same sort of meddlesome and snoopy queries, or, what is more sinister, they will probably not hesitate to publicise any answer to them (I find such sorts utter and complete rotters, worthy of nothing but the most absolute and unqualified scepticism and contempt, don’t you?). If they are willing to pry into the life of another… they are more than ready to do so to you, as well… reflect on that.

Would we accept such in our normal lives outside of the internet? No… Of course not! As for myself, I ask no personal questions of anyone on the internet… if you wish me to know this or that about yourself, you shall tell me, and that’s that. If you don’t, you won’t, and everyone has a right to a private life (it is why confession and counselling are confidential, after all). Nosey Parkers have no respect for anyone else… it is quite that simple. That’s what I call “disrespect”… certain clerical posters would do well to note that.

After all, in the case of the OCA, we are speaking of an organisation that tolerates a Raymond Velencia; indeed, it is an establishment that rewards those such as Mr Velencia. It does not dispute that he passed confidential information for public viewing, the court documents state merely that they dispute who is responsible. Therefore, the conclusion is chilling. JP and Co had the chance to end all of this scandal by apologising to Ms Koumentakos, holding a proper hearing (sending Alexei Karlgut down with a demand to settle or else was not acting properly, guys), and handing the proper discipline to Raymond Velencia. The ROCOR priests who are viewing this with perplexed incredulousness are right in one regard… it isn’t right to sue the Church for personal gain. Yet, what does one do if the Church refuses to act as it should? Do you merely sit there and take it “for the good of your soul” (which is not what I believe a certain clerical gentleman had in mind) or do you seek justice in the secular courts for the civil wrong that was done (for pastoral confidentiality is a legal concept as well as a moral category)?

All of the above are merely symptoms of a worsening situation. If it was toxic before, it is now going to be worse… yes, Virginia, things CAN get worse. All sorts of attacks against all sorts of people can be expected… trust me; some of the things that I have dealt with personally up to this point are mere piffles. In the end, I fear that not one of us is going to be unscathed. Therefore, do heed my friend’s advice above… it bears repetition, does it not?

  • If you are attacked, do not respond.
  • If someone asks for personal information, do not give it.
  • Do not respond to idiocy on other websites.
  • If attacks continue, note who makes them and what group they belong to.

This is some of the best advice that I have ever been given. If we all follow this, it shall be for the best, no? As for all “simple” things, it is damnably hard in the execution, isn’t it? I won’t sit here and pretend to be a saint…

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Albany NY


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