Voices from Russia

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Play the Ball Where It Lies…

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

“There was no unified Church prior to 1920″… now, that’s a “comfortable lie”, if there ever was one… I ask, “Who is saying such, and why, when there obviously was a single hierarchy here prior to 1920?”… perspiring minds want to know!

Some good friends of mine pointed up to me what an individual with the user-name of “Gavriil” was saying about me. So, I took a look… it was the usual sophomoric konvertsy twaddle. I e-mailed my staritsa, and she said, “Don’t respond to the personal attack… you are a Christian, you must forgive, as hard as that may be. You may address general trends, especially if others share them. Hold the ideas up to ridicule, not the person”. Therefore, there are two facets of his proposition that are INTERESTING, to say the least.

Firstly, one thing that I would warn my readers of is that one of the most obvious signs of an ungrounded hyperclerical ignoramus is putting a cross in front of a bishop’s name (or putting such a name in “all caps”… I hasten to add that anticlericalism is just as corrosive as hyperclericalism). I use the major Russian language sources daily… much of what I read I have no time to translate. In Russian sources, such a usage is NEVER used. Let me repeat that. Such a usage is NEVER used in Russian language sources. Ergo, someone who does such is ignorant of correct journalistic practise in the Orthodox homelands (I am assured by Greek-speakers that the situation is identical in the Greek press). That is, they are bereft of any knowledge of Orthodox writing in the major Orthodox languages (of which, English is not). There is only one instance where such a usage is known… that is when one wishes to show that a bishop signed an official document or ukase. Otherwise, one writes a bishop’s name normally, with no cross, and not in “all caps”. I would tell all those who use such an obviously “hypercorrect” (and, therefore, wrong) usage that not even patriarchia.ru does so. Mistrust all those such as “Gavriil” or Mark Stokoe who do… they are telling you that are unfamiliar with real Orthodox sources.

Secondly, “Gavriil” bows down in front of a scholar named Oliver Herbel. Mr Herbel is only a callow young fellow of no repute or stature (rather immature and inexperienced, he’s only in his early 30s), obviously a convert from Lutheranism (with an initial formation in a Lutheran seminary, unfortunately). Herbel is part of a very fancy website that purports to be an objective historical site. It is not, emphatically not. All academics start their research with a guiding presupposition; they usually “shape” the evidence to fit the propositions of their overarching ideology. Mr Herbel is one of those Proddie converts who never converted in their heart-of-hearts. He retains a Proddie conception of the Church… for his guiding presupposition is “there was no united Church in the Americas prior to 1920”, and his overarching ideology is Amerikantsy Autocephalism. Such a stipulation is utterly ridiculous and without merit if one approaches the question as an Orthodox Christian should, using tserkovnost and sobornost. Tserkovnost tells one that the unity of the Church is not harmed by the existence of schismatical organisations on its territory. Sobornost tells one that the unity of the Church is founded upon the person of the bishop.

It is interesting that the gang at SVS is supporting Mr Herbel. Of course, Mr Herbel hasn’t been in the Church long enough to know that SVS once held a belief 180 degrees removed from what it holds now. In Schmemann’s time and up until the turn of the millennium, SVS taught that there WAS a united Church in the Americas under Moscow prior to 1920, and that the OCA was a logical outgrowth of that. Indeed, John Erickson (Mr Herbel positively slobbers over this Stalinist pseudo-scholar (don’t forget that Erickson was one of the main actors in the Iliff cover-up)), in particular, was one of the loudest voices in that chorus. In short, SVS has declared war on the MP position. This is asinine and foolish… for the MP is the sole canonical lifeline of the OCA (the only other Local Churches to accept its “autocephaly” are those of Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia… all satellites of Moscow). In fact, the MP has the clout in the Orthodox world to demand, if it lifted the Tomos, and a “rump OCA” ensued, that all other Local Churches break communion with such a body and make it stick (don’t forget that Bart is going to Moscow later this month…. I’d love to be a fly on the wall at Peredelkino). Mr Herbel NEVER mentions this volte-face in his work. Why not, Mr Herbel? It happened. On the other hand, is it because he chooses to ignore obvious truth because it does not come with full footnotes and scholarly apparatus? Or, rather more sinisterly, is Mr Herbel a conscious part of the SVS dezinformatsiya machine (do you remember how the SVS sorts all supported the Osborne schism? I wonder what they’re saying now that their hero left the episcopate to marry?)? I’d love to know Mr Herbel’s opinion of l’affaire Plas (or the whole controversy in Nice… hmm?)!

The facts are clear. There was a united hierarchy in America prior to 1920. It does not matter if there were schismatical rebels who refused to submit to its authority. So what, Mr Herbel? Schism and rebellion do not break the unity of the Church. All grounded Orthodox would say that… all grounded Oriental Orthodox would say that… hell, all grounded Roman Catholics would say that too. Mr Herbel has a problem with that. Do remember that Proddies believe that the Church is a subjective “mystical” and “invisible” union of all believers. If one uses that sectarian yardstick, then, there was “no unified Church in America prior to 1920”. However, that means that Mr Herbel is using sectarian, not Orthodox, standards, and we must discount all of his conclusions, for they flow from a faulty and erroneous syllogism. In short, “Gavriil’s” praise of Mr Herbel tells us more about the workings of “Gavriil’s” mind than it informs us of any objective information about Mr Herbel (God willing, Herbel is not as rabidly Proddie as his writings indicate… at least, one hopes so).

It does point up something about the ungrounded konvertsy… they are not of us, they never were, and they are preparing to leave us, I am afraid. I’m just playing the ball where it lies…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 1 May 2010

Albany NY

Editor’s Postscript:

A priest-friend in the MP sent me the following (he knows the great Fr Vsevolod Chaplin. As they were driving past FSB headquarters in Moscow, Fr Vsevolod leaned out and made like he was firing an AK at the guards. The guards acted like this lunacy was normal (it is!). Can you see why I think Fr Vsevolod is great?):

I love the cartoon. It says it all.

To converts who remain converts (instead of becoming Orthodox):

How can you be filled with Orthodoxy when you are still full of yourself?

A waggish and spry Batiushka

I also received an angry little missive from “Gavriil”… it appears that he can dish it out, but he can’t take it. Typical of the immature and inexperienced, no? God willing, he’ll grow up. In the meantime, he’ll find out that the adults don’t care much for smarkachi who reach above their level.



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