Voices from Russia

Thursday, 5 November 2009

“Unity in Our Time”: What Has JP Been Smoking?


“Unity in our time”… JP, what are you smokin’, who’s your connection, what’s the price, and where can I get some?

I have recently seen with my own eyes that OCA priests have not vested and served in GOA liturgies, though all others do. The canonical status of the OCA is, of course, peculiar, with the autocephaly recognised only by a Moscow Patriarchate of nearly 40 years ago, under vastly different circumstances.

What I’ve noticed is that the Greek hierarchs here have gone silent about Jonah Paffhausen just after his intemperate, inconsiderate, and foolish comments during Lent. A number of bishops issued statements in response at that time, politely ripping him a new one, but, since then:  zilch. That means something is undoubtedly up. But, what that may be is unclear as yet. Like all well-mannered people, our bishops are keeping their cards close.

From what I’ve seen, the OCL is dealt with like a crazy, ranting cousin:  politely listened to because they’re family, but, their recommendations are completely ignored. It has no canonical or ecclesiastical status, and thus has no standing. It’s that simple. Greeks love to argue, of course, even when they’re wrong (as the OCL is!). The converts that get into the OCL are usually former Episcopalians or radical Latins that want to take over the Church and remake it in their own image. Everyone I know holds the OCL in scorn, and thinks people are simply wrong for participating in it. There have certainly been various scandals and problems, but, the OCL is by no means a solution, although it was ostensibly those scandals that led to its creation by disgruntled parishioners.

But, yes, I’ve seen that same division you mention: the OCA and AOCANA (we call them “the Arabs”) on one side, and everyone else on the other. Saliba has too much power, and is grasping for more. You know all his pet evangelicals? They first applied to be accepted en masse into the Greek Archdiocese, but, they were told,  “No, you’re not ready. You need more instruction”. Among other things, they had “problems” with the role of the Virgin Mary in the Church! So, they got pissed, turned around, and went to the Arabs, who hoovered them right up, though at least demoting their bishops to priests (which the Greeks were not willing to do at all:  they wanted everyone to convert individually, without retaining their corporate structure or ordinations). So, just a few years later, the Ben Lomond schism happened, and a bunch of them solicited the Jerusalem Patriarch (talk about canonically odd!) to bring them under his omophorion. The rest stuck with Saliba and his treacherous gang. It’s a total mess.

A Good Ol’ Workin’ Chap


I asked a friend of mine in the Greek Church for their take on the noises about unity coming from JP and Co as of late. The above was their answer to me. Before you do anything else, do read the following on oca.org:


Read it? Good! You just looked at something that we should nominate for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction! It doesn’t show the real world as it is… JP is stoking up the bong and inhaling deeply, friends and neighbours.

First, Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) is not an official organisation of the GOAA… indeed, one could say that it is a group of malcontents at odds with the GOA hierarchy. Most Greek circles hold it is in very low repute. That is to say, JP addressed a faction that is anti-clerical and in rebellion against its bishops. He did not speak to a group that is in good odour with the GOA. Then, we must add to this mutinous soupçon the fact that it took place at Antiochian Village, an official facility of the AOCANA. For Saliba to give the use of one of his facilities to a set that often attacks the GOA leadership is, essentially, an attack against the GOAA. Note well that oca.org is pumping this meeting up as an important event. If we take this and add to it his attack on the GOAA earlier this year, JP is in trouble. He is in the deep kimchi and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men will not be able to pull him out of it.

Apparently, there are already places were OCA clergy cannot concelebrate at a GOAA liturgy. I should add that when Iggy had our church dedication liturgy on Saturday 30 May, only one GOAA priest showed up (he was a classmate of the Iggster at a special programme at SVS… so he doesn’t count). The rector of the largest GOAA parish (St Sophia in Albany NY) wasn’t there… neither were any clergy from Jordanville (we are a 90-minute drive (some 110 kilometres) from the monastery… so it was practical for clergy from there to have been present). Doesn’t sound too united to me! JP drew only 80 people to this event… I counted them. I was there. I saw the autos in the car-park and noticed that their licence-plates were from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York State. It took people from three different states to come up with less than 100 in attendance. That is meagre, derisory in the extreme, I say. It calls all the puffery on oca.org into question.

The above destroys the oca.org article. There is no need to go into a long discussion on  the Chambésy gabfest. It was NOT a meeting of First Hierarchs, nothing of note happened, for they agreed to nothing binding. It was nothing but a pointless and windy talkathon… a bunch of irrelevant theologians made the usual lot of useless resolutions and said the usual empty phrases about unity. It would impress me if, let’s say, Fr Vsevolod Chaplin or Bishop Mark Golovkov were to have said something about this (they are trustworthy sources). Instead, we have the usual windy talk from Hilarion Alfeyev… don’t forget that KMG took major portions of the DECR away from him and that HA is only a titular bishop (Volokolamsk is in Moscow Oblast, some 125 kilometres from Moscow City, thus, it is directly under the Patriarch (in reality, under his vicar, Metropolitan Yuvenaly)).

Therefore, unity is not around the corner… indeed, by flippantly speaking to the disobedient and unruly buccaneers at OCL, JP put a serious and grievous roadblock on the way to real unity! I agree with my Greek friend. Something is in the works and JP is not going to like it when Demetrios Trakatellis gives him a good dose of Granny’s castor oil (with the open and hearty aid of KMG, you can bank on that). Reading oca.org is like reading Pravda of old… there is little there that corresponds to reality, but, there is gold for those who are willing to dig for it. I’ll say this; it’s never boring covering the OCA beat… things keep getting curiouser and curiouser. Let’s see what’s next… JP as His All-Holiness Infallible Pope and Patriarch of all America, Canada, Mexico, and the Outer Islands? (Shaking my head in wonderment and bemusement) It DOES take all kinds, doesn’t it?

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Thursday 5 November 2009

Albany NY


Let’s Look at the Toteboard!


It never ceases to amaze me that people prefer a comfortable delusion to the truth about reality. I understand the attraction, I suppose, but, it’s much more important to know and believe what has truly happened, rather than some Pravdaesque concoction that soothes all fears and reinforces all one’s wrong beliefs and keeps the purveyors of lies in their undoubtedly lucrative jobs.

A Good Ol’ Workin’ Chap

All of us have spent a pleasant day at the track… if you haven’t, you should! One gets to wear a pretty frock and hat, sit in the clubhouse with friends, watch the horses, and have a pleasing spot of fun betting on the races. In short, it’s one of the more enjoyable and agreeable ways of spending a summer day. One of the more important fixtures at the track is the toteboard. Nowadays, like everything else, it’s a computerised gizmo. At one time, it was a mechanical whiz-bang, and older hands tell me that, at one time, before that, it was really a board. The bookie chalked up the changing odds on it (they still do it that way at some English racing meets, by the way). Now… can’t you hear Freddie Caposela at Belmont and Chic Anderson at Churchill Downs calling the races again or see The Shoe riding Ferdinand to a long-shot victory in the ’86 Derby in your mind’s eye (that’s a stroll down Memory Lane, wot?)?

Well… Tyotya Vara is putting up a toteboard for JP and Co. I’m not taking bets… it’s a sure thing that they are going to finish dead last. Much of the information is out there already, but, let’s look again… we might find something useful. Let’s see what they’ve done to date… it’s like reading the Daily Racing Form, isn’t it? First, you see who’s riding the nag and who the trainer is. Hmm… Benjamin Peterson is riding this one… his record isn’t very good at all (he’s no Shoe, that’s for sure). BP was a protégé of Nikolai Soraich, he of sorry Alaska infamy… they served together in Las Vegas. He also gave refuge to David Brum, John Dresko, and Innocent Brittain (the last one named is not listed in the oca.org clergy directory, but, reputable reports place him in a parish in Oregon in BP’s diocese). That is, two deposed Syosset apparatchiki and Nikolai Soraich’s reputed homosexual lover are clergy under the shelter of BP’s omofor. Furthermore, he ostentatiously lives in a “homeless shelter” run by the HOOMie clique. Overall, it adds up to a questionable total, especially when one adds that BP is a supporter of Gerasim Eliel (GE’s known ties to Gleb Podmoshensky should disturb any grounded Orthodox Christian).

Who is the trainer? That is, who was the crucial influence in JP’s formation? If this does not alarm you, nothing can. JP is the spiritual son of Gleb Podmoshensky… the ROCOR Holy Synod deposed him for very good reason… they caught GP in naughty doings. JP went to Russia under GP’s auspices…  St Herman’s Press published Russki Palomnik… I remember seeing the adverts for it at the time… The MP did NOT publish it, as oca.org claims. Indeed, JP was under GP’s influence for over a decade before going to Russia (I would say that JP was under the sway of GP from shortly after his reception in ’78… that is some fourteen years before his trip to Russia). His attempts to advance Gerasim Eliel are proof positive that JP has never repudiated GP and his heretical ideas (GP taught that Pavel Florensky was a saint… I asked a friend of mine who is a priest in the MP if that were true… he said, “Emphatically not! Sophiology is a heresy!”), for GE and Damascene Christiansen are the only two members of the St Herman’s Brotherhood to defy the ROCOR Holy Synod and stay with GP after his suspension and deposition (the rest of the brotherhood departed in disgust).

THAT’S bad enough! Now, does JP have any major strikes against him? That is, has he suffered any major defeats? Yes, he has suffered two, so far. The first is his abortive attempt to move the OCA main office to Washington DC. The MC shot it down, mainly due to a lack of funds. This is no longer talked of… it is too embarrassing a defeat for JP and Co. It now leads to an interesting situation… the Archbishop of Washington and the Bishop of New York and New Jersey shall live on the same territory. Of course, this was so with Feodosy and Peter in the past… two scabrous peas in a pod. The konvertsy scream about the canons incessantly… now, their hero is going to transgress one of them! Watch them excuse it! I say, “If you shout for oikonomia in this case, you must shut up about the canons in future. If it is good for your idol… it is good for everyone else”. It is the same phony situation as we saw in the past… remember, they tell us, “Everything has changed!” It has? I think not!

His second defeat was in his attempt to bring David Brum into the episcopate. That was BOLD… that was BRAZEN. Brum had been Secretary to Feodosy and Herman… do you recall JP saying that no one remained from the former administration in Syosset… hmm… methinks I smell a rat here! Brum authored a controversial document, the so-called “Brum Doctrine”, where he argued that the First Hierarch of the OCA has papal-style dominance over all the other bishops. Brum is a former papist priest with no Orthodox formation, so, this is not surprising. Reflect well on the fact that Feodosy, Herman, and JP had no quibble with that (despite the obvious fact that no Orthodox First Hierarch has ever had such power)… the first two promoted Brum to high office… the last attempted to make this poseur a bishop. Do not forget that Brum’s reception into the Church and instantaneous shake n’ bake ordination was at JP’s monastery in 1997. Brum’s promotion hit a roadblock, thank the Good Lord. However… JP shall try to push his friend forward at the next-available opportunity.

Three strikes and you’re OUT! Is there a third strike in the offing? Yes… there are persistent rumours that JP is going to start an Anglican Rite in the OCA. If such occurs, that shall cause uproar amongst the faithful. It may even be the spark to set off the explosion destroying the OCA. Taking JP’s latest tirade at Antiochian Village to the GOA dissidents of the OCL into account, one cannot be optimistic about the situation. I am going to cover this in another post, so, we aren’t going to look in detail at it. (I still wonder if Philip Saliba informed Demetrios Trakatellis before the fact (that is, before the OCL publicised the event)… I doubt very highly that the GOA is very happy about all this).

We are at a point now where everyone knows what is going to happen. The Titanic has hit the iceberg… do recall that it took nearly three hours for the ship to sink, a long time. In this case, there are enough lifeboats for all, indeed, the rescue ships are hovering nearby, fully lit and entry-hatches open. The officers are refusing to lower the boats… “The ship is unsinkable… go back to your cabins… disregard the listing of the ship… it’s a normal thing, trust me, the ship is stable… that is not in question”.

The bookie has toted it up… the odds are on the board. I’ll not wager a penny on this one… what about you?

img_0001Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Thursday 5 November 2009

Albany NY

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