Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Stop the Presses! I’m “Uncharitable” and “Unreasonable!”

Filed under: internet — 01varvara @ 00.00

The following came in my combox, but as I wish to kick the stuffing out of the ideas, but spare the author, I’m using this method. This way, I can gleefully give these ideas their well-deserved drubbing, yet spare their misguided author. Let’s call them “XXX”.

Here’s their bleat (I deleted some material that would hint at the writer’s identity… yes, I disagree with them… but that gives me no right to trample on their privacy):

I agree with Fr Patrick on many things and disagree with him on others. I don’t keep up with most of his writings for Touchstone, mostly because I believe they are less than what they could be. I will, however, argue that he is one of the best Biblical exegetes in English-speaking Orthodoxy today and the works he has left behind will be of great spiritual value to Orthodox faithful in the US, cradle and convert–for decades (if not more) to come.

With that said, I agree with you that there could have been “more” to his letter. At the same time, he understands–just as you understand–that there will be no reverse course here. A protest ought to be entered, but how far should a priest go when addressing a hierarch? You may argue that Metropolitan Jonah does not warrant respect because of the missteps you have chronicled on your blog, but surely you understand that Fr Patrick (and others) still carry with them a respect for the office of the bishop–an office, which the Church’s history attests to, has been filled with Saints, scoundrels, and everyone in-between (i.e., where most of us sit). At worst, Fr Patrick could be “charged” with being too kind, but if one is going to error, why not error on the side of love? Is that not more consistent with what Christ taught than to come out with guns blazing, accusations flying, and a tone which incites anger or hurt feelings over when which demonstrates respect, even in the
midst of dissent?

As for your other comments concerning Fr Patrick, I have no comment. I do wonder, however, if the case you have made for your evaluative statements can surmount even the most basic hurdles of reasonableness or charity.

As Jed Clampett would say, “Well, dog my cat!” This is typical of Amerikantsy konvertsy and their arrogant condescension to all of us who don’t ape their PC therapeutese. For instance, Mr Reardon isn’t a “great” anything (he’s nothing but a UPS delivery driver moonlighting as a priest)… he isn’t well formed in Orthodoxy… how could he be? He received an Anglican formation, and he wears that so obviously that one finds it difficult to believe that this man is formally “Orthodox”. What I’ve seen of his writing is a dreary rehash of C S Lewis and N T Wright, there’s no sign of familiarity with any current Orthodox thinkers such as Kalomiros or Osipov or Archdeacon Kuraev, or such figures as Khomiakov or Ilyin. His ignorance of the literature of the Orthodox countries is clear… so is his ignorance of our history, both secular and ecclesiastical. So, the works he has left behind will be of great spiritual value to Orthodox faithful in the US, cradle and convert–for decades (if not more) to come, is overblown and without foundation.

One of my correspondents said the following:

Please, let these people acculturate in Orthodoxy and complete their formations, for the majority of these converts are on a denominational quest. You can see this in the rabidly ecumenist Fr Reardon. They want to reduce Orthodoxy to “an accepted American denomination of the WCC church”, but not the Church that is the life in the Holy Spirit and the light of salvation to the New World and the whole world. Shchi would be just as offensive to most converts as any other thing they brand as “fundamentalism”, because they haven’t fully converted. They don’t fully understand what an Orthodox culture is or what it means to live in one and structure YOUR LIFE to living in the Holy Spirit as a member OF THE ONE TRUE CHURCH, sans all heretical ecumenist nonsense. They are cosier with a cafeteria form of Eastern Rite High Church Episcopalianism, and that’s the travesty of the “converts”.

If you wish to call me “unreasonable” and “uncharitable”, do so openly, XXX… otherwise you are open to the charge of hypocrisy (the besetting sin of the Anglo-Saxon).

______________________________

Note well that XXX did not address the fact that I called Mr Reardon to task for fastening on the moral peccadilloes of Mr Williams (his open support of homosexuality) instead of attending to the major issue, that of the Church, Her boundaries, and what She is. Indeed, XXX refuses to address anything of substance. Instead, they stamp their foot petulantly, and mewl out, I do wonder, however, if the case you have made for your evaluative statements can surmount even the most basic hurdles of reasonableness or charity. Note the sneaky smarminess of this! According to their lights, I lack reason and charity, but they lack the basic guts to say so openly. I wonder if this person is an ex-Episcopalian… this statement reeks of “comprehensiveness”. As for priests addressing hierarchs, we’ve someone here who is ignorant of actual Orthodox life. In 1998, in Yekaterinburg, brave priests addressed Bishop Nikon in the exact tone I used in my proposed “letter”… and they were slapped down initially, but they were vindicated by the next bishop (Nikon was sent to a monastery to work his repentance, just as JP should be).

Indeed, XXX is not supported by most of my mail. One of my correspondents wrote, Loved that part about how a Russian would write a letter. I’m not really Russian, but that’s the way I would have written it! Nevertheless, there’s a good thing in XXX’s dreary argument. It’s a good illustration of the arrogance and condescension that one finds amongst konvertsy and pseudo-intellectuals (there is, unfortunately, much overlap in these two groups).

Earlier, a friend and I exchanged the following e-mails:

ME:

Turns your stomach with its toadying and obsequious tone, no? I’m writing a piece entitled, Pardon Me, Mr ReardonI found his piece arrogant and condescending, and he deserves hell for it and he’s gonna get it! “First, I speak for the simple faithful who worship in our Orthodox parishes…” No, you don’t, sir! In any case, he’s a complete dunce and ignoramus… thinking that he’s so superior. You can smell the “untermensch” attitude in his remarks. It’s why I’ve come to hate Episkie converts, especially those who masquerade as Orthodox clergy. The sooner these sorts leave the Church, the better, and, trust me; Reardon is gonna follow JP and his lot.

THEM:

Hi Vara! Yes, stomach-turning it is! And certainly patronising. I’ve never been a Reardon fan, either. He’s one of those “religious intellectuals”, that may be the former, but really aren’t the latter. If I could stomach it, I’d go see what Freeman says, too, but I’m afraid that’d be too much…

I think what bothers XXX is that we aren’t just falling down in front of Reardon and JP and begging their indulgence. TFUI! That’s not the spirit of 1612, that’s for sure! Also, note that XXX (by implication) defends Reardon’s arrogant assumption that he speaks for us poor and benighted “simple people”. Please, do bloody spare me. Of course, we’re all supposed to be well adjusted little suburbanite dweebs with perpetual smiles and no questioning of our “betters”. Such people don’t like real flesh n’ blood Orthodoxy… it’s a raucous agora filled with feisty Greeks, combative Russkies, crazy Cossacks, and hardcore Serbs, amongst others. We drink vodka and raki straight up from the bottle, and our tolerance for foolishness and BS is LOW. Good God, one can feel how some of the konvertsy hate us! If they could have Orthodoxy without the Orthodox… that’s what some want, I swear!

Mr Reardon is one of those. XXX didn’t checkmate me at a single point. Mr Reardon doesn’t speak for me. He speaks for no one save himself. Mostly, XXX is upset that I am not “playing nice”. XXX, grow up… this is how any investigative reporter writes. Mr Reardon is one of your heroes… fine, so be it. I’m not going to argue the point. Nevertheless, no one has the right to attempt to muzzle free speech under the guise of “niceness”. God is going to judge us on the content of our character, not on the “niceness” of our expression. THAT’S what drives me.

Most of all, I CARE. People who care deeply express themselves strongly. Frankly, I find that “nice” people all too often hold wishy-washy positions and are not there when the crunch comes. That’s the great divide… you can have goodness or you can have niceness… I prefer the former over the latter, what about you?

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 30 January 2010

Albany NY

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