Voices from Russia

Friday, 30 August 2013

30 August 2013. Stop the Presses! Vassa Larina’s Started a New YouTube Lecture Series! Hear, Hear!

01 read all about it


I got the following from the Cabinet:

V. L. has started a YouTube lecture series (click here). Expect much more of her cutting mockery of her parents, her home parish, and the Russian Orthodox tradition more generally, now straight to your computer screen!

I quite agree. Another Cabineteer sent me this:

Don’t link Mother Vassa with Fr George! He’s quite upset with her dalliance with Bob Taft and of some of her public utterances. He’s an Old School ROCOR priest, in the best sense of the term.

I quite agree with that, too. The Larins are part of the First Families apparat, but that doesn’t mean that they’re corrupt or evil. Once we have a united Church here in the American and Canadian diasporas many of the First Family sorts will have leading positions in it. You’re stupid to think otherwise. As for me, I agree with Deng Xiaoping:

It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.

Some of the First Family sorts (such as John Jillions, Eric Tosi, Victor Potapov, and Leonid Ksihkovsky) are incompetents and/or corrupt to the bone. Others are “operators” but competent (such as Alexander Lebedeff), whilst still others simply have the “right pedigree” (Alexander Golitzin, many of the Lukianovtsy, George Larin, and Alexander Garklavs). There’s a deep longing for unity amongst Russian Orthodox in the American diaspora. That’s the impression that I received from my conversations at St T’s and Jackson. Let’s not ruin it by stupid vendettas that’ll do nothing but advance personal agendas and halt unity. Keep it focused; keep it businesslike; keep it issues-oriented; we’ll get there (and faster than you’d think, too)




Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Hegira of the Manton Six: Zealotry Without Knowledge


Our starting point is always wrong. Instead of beginning with ourselves, we always want to change others first and ourselves last. If everyone would begin first with themselves, then, there would be peace all around!

Elder Tadej Štrbulović of Vitovnica

Our Thoughts Determine our Lives


Save your own soul, and thousands will be saved about you.

St Serafim Sarovsky


By now, most of you have heard of the six monks who up and left St John of San Francisco Monastery in Manton CA because they disliked the pastoral dispensation that Meletios Webber gave an individual (note well who took them in… the rather questionable bunch at PlatinaPodmoshensky‘s old haunt). Here’s what passed between a friend and me (I’m in italics):

That’s what I was alluding to in my latest post. Transgendered, ungendered, supergendered… it’s no one’s business. If the Church extends oikonomia, they should shut up or go to the bishop. It’s that simple.

I’d agree. Those monks who left are the bad guys in this latest.

The main actor in this little Kabuki play is one Martin Gardner. It’s another konvertsy melodrama (just like the Toll Houses and an obsession with homosexuals)… it’s turning out to be the same ol’, same ol’, kids. The only thing to say is, “Gad, sir, that ain’t Orthodox!” Virtually all Anglo-Saxon converts are addicted to akrivia of one sort or another, especially former Episkies. If a bishop or priest shows pastoral oikonomia towards anyone, they all crawl out of their dustbins and caterwaul about how the Church’s going to hell in a handbasket, and they “know” what they’re talking about, ‘cause they saw what happened to PECUSA. If they were to ask a real canonist like Alexander Lebedeff, he’d tell them, “Read the canons! It says, ‘or as the bishop shall prescribe’… that’s the Orthodox way!” Indeed, we drive the papists absolutely nutso at times…

But X agrees with us!

Yes, they do… it’s their opinion.

You mean that you don’t agree with it?!?

No… the Church doesn’t define it… it’s not central to salvation.

That’s the Orthodox way. Orthodoxy is fond of giving people the “second chance”… hell, it loves giving people “third” and “fourth chances” too. We’re willing to bend the rules, if it’s going to save a soul. Mind you, oikonomia does carry a “price tag”. Second marriages are “allowed”, not “blessed”. Someone married twice may not become a priest (as the Church recognises civil marriage, unlike the RCs, Matthew Tate has to be defrocked immediately, as he’s a divorced man). Homosexuals are not driven out of the Church (click here for the bio of Nikon Mironov, a gay bishop (who got into trouble for personality problems unrelated to his sexual orientation… however, do note that the Church doesn’t make an issue of his orientation as Mironov supports the public teaching of the Church))… all the former Episkies bloviating on “gays” are full of it and should shut up. The Church opposes homosexual propaganda and the notion that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equal.

That being said, HH said, “We respect all human choices, including those involving sexual orientation. However, we reserve the right to label sin as ‘sin’”. This isn’t what the extremist konvertsy want to hear. For instance, the late Patriarch Aleksei Rediger of Happy Memory gave Nikon Mironov a high Church decoration and HH gave him a panagia in 2010… for Nikon is a defender of traditional Church order and Tradition. He burned Schmemann’s books on a public bonfire; he can’t be all bad! Note well how the Church dealt with Nikon… they sent him to the Pskovo-Pechersky Lavra to do penance for his abuse of the laity in Yekaterinburg (at the Lavra, the late Elder Ioann Krestiankin (a real saint) dealt lovingly with him). Then, the Church authorities allowed Nikon to settle near Moscow; the Church made him the honorary rector of a parish (he was NOT deposed from the episcopate; my understanding is that he agreed not to serve publicly). Therefore, one can see that the Church just doesn’t kick homosexuals in the arse and abuse them, as the former Episkies do (that’s why I contend that very few of them are converted-in-fact).

In short, Martin Gardner and his five confrères are not only chock full of beans, they’re prime candidates for punishment, as they made public a private pastoral matter. I only deal with “public figures”, “public occurrences”, and “public matters”. Private pastoral matters are not for us to publicise. If you have a “problem” with the pastoral oikonomia extended by a priest or bishop, go to the ruling bishop. I know what an Old School ROCOR priest said many moons ago about giving communion to a gay person (it was LOUD, trust me)… (heavy Russian accent) “If you have problem with this, go talk to bishop!!” Need I say that the person making the complaint didn’t go to the bishop? Fancy that…

That’s the way it is in the real Church. It’s the salvation station for every nation… and it’s more compassionate than the zealots wish to admit.


The fact that Nikon Mironov is a “retired bishop” indicates that such a status is fully-canonical, and that those who question such a status aren’t in the mainstream of the Church. For instance, Nikolai Soraich is a “bishop”, so is Jerome Shaw, but neither are “ruling bishops” or “vicar bishops”, they’re “retired bishops”… kapish? They CAN serve as clergy, but they have NO authority (they CAN wear a mitre, but one doesn’t serve hierarchical liturgy when they’re present). To make a “grey” situation even “greyer”, in 2013, Nikon was made a vicar bishop of the Diocese of Perm, thus “unretiring” him (the MP HS said that he might become a ruling bishop again if he was a good boy)… confusing, but that’s Orthodoxy for ya! If you want consistency, join the papists

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Thursday 12 July 2012

Albany NY

Monday, 17 October 2011

17 October 2011. Lebedeff Smarmily Accuses Those Who Disagree with Him of Anti-Clericalism and False Accusation

THIS is what Lebedeff’s doing… it’s a Three-Card Monte game, and you’re a fool if you get suckered into it…


The Queen’s Bench has formally charged Storheim. Full stop. Lebedeff is blowing smoke. If someone’s under formal charges, they should stay away from kids. Lebedeff’s defending Storheim’s actions… shame on him. Formal charges are formal charges and no amount of bluster can change that.


Firstly, this is what Alexander Lebedeff posted on the Orthodox Forum:

Regarding the following interchange (quoted below) between Harry Coin and Stan Shinn regarding safe environments for children, and which is safer, the school or the church, it is interesting to note headlines and articles in the British press, just published:

“Nearly half the allegations made against teachers in England are malicious, unsubstantiated, or unfounded, a government study suggests. According to the Department for Education survey, only 3 percent of investigations resulted in a criminal caution or conviction for the teacher. Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the research justified the government’s plan to give teachers a legal right to anonymity when pupils made claims”.

Click here for the BBC News article and here for an article from the London Daily Mail.

“Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the research justified Government plans to allow teachers facing potentially career-wrecking allegations to remain anonymous while investigations took place. The founder of the child advocacy group, ChildLine, Helen Rantzen, is quoted as being in support of the proposed anonymity provision for those accused. She was in favour of the anonymity provision because of “terrible” cases in which “good and committed” teachers had been “to hell and back” after false allegations were made against them”.

I’m sure that the people in the United Kingdom are just as concerned about the safety of children as those here in the States, but with half of all abuse allegations against teachers and school personnel found to be “malicious, unsubstantiated or unfounded”, safeguarding the reputations of innocent teachers must also be important. A person’s reputation is like toothpaste… easy to squeeze out of the tube, and impossible to put back.

Click here for something from Sky News.

So… there’s clearly a conundrum. Abusers must be punished and children must be protected. At the same time, the damage to a person in authority (a priest or a teacher) falsely accused is immeasurable. How can this be intelligently resolved?

With love in Christ,

Prot. Alexander Lebedeff


He plays his violin prettily, doesn’t he?

What did Sergeant Friday say? “Just the facts, ma’am”… here are the facts:

  • Seraphim Storheim isn’t just facing accusations
  • Seraphim Storheim isn’t merely under investigation
  • The Queen’s Bench determined that there was enough evidence to press criminal charges against Seraphim Storheim

Most accusations die in the preliminary investigation. Only a minority of accusations go on to be further investigated, and of these, most are found to have insufficient evidence for trial. That’s to say, Alexander Lebedeff is throwing smoke in your face. The charges against Storheim have passed both stages, and the Queen’s Bench agrees that there’s enough evidence to proceed. I should also mention that a lawyer in Halifax put out a notice for any additional victims of Storheim to come forward. In short, this isn’t unfounded, and Mr Lebedeff KNOWS it. He’s quoting surveys that are inapplicable to the case at hand.

Remember the stages:

  • Accusation
  • Preliminary investigation
  • Investigation
  • Charges
  • Trial

The charges against Storheim are almost at the trial stage; they’re not mere accusations, as Mr Lebedeff snarkily implies in his post. In short, Mr Lebedeff is being his usual hyperclericalistic self. He’s intelligent… he’s competent… he’s educated… but he also believes that clergy have a “get out of jail free” card. DO you remember how he savaged Kristi Koumentakos, but that he was silent about the payoff to Bobby K? It’s OK when the faithful’s money goes to pay off legal settlements for clergy, but not for layfolk. For shame, Mr Lebedeff… if you kept your silence concerning the Bobby K payoff… that meant that you supported it.

There’s no two ways about it. Any clergyman (or anyone else) facing formal charges of sexual abuse or paedophilia should stay away from kids… full stop. Storheim had to post a surety bond… that means that he DOES face real charges in a real court of law. If that’s the case, he should stay away from all parish affairs in all parishes. This is cockamamie and insane… you don’t allow a man under formal charges to just roam about.

Give Lebedeff an “A” for effort… give him an “F” for substance. He’s defending clerical malfeasance, yet again. A man facing formal charges in a duly-constituted court of law has no right going where there are kids… and the people defending such are out of their gourds, frankly speaking. This is monstrous and noxious… as I say, if this were a layman, Lebedeff would be leading the lynch mob. I’ve got to walk away from such manifest shit. Reflect on what we’ve come to… well-connected priests make excuses for criminally-charged bishops. Good God Almighty… doesn’t that offend any one?

Let’s leave with a quote from Mr Lebedeff:

A person’s reputation is like toothpaste… easy to squeeze out of the tube, and impossible to put back.

If such is so… he owes Kristi Koumentakos a public apology. After all, he did attack her in public, didn’t he? If he wrote the above quoted line, it applies to him, too!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Monday 17 October 2011

Albany NY

Saturday, 24 September 2011

24 September 2011. What’s Right IS Right… No Matter Who Says It

An interesting colloquy occurred recently on the Orthodox Forum. Take a look:

I’m not Greek Orthodox, I’m not Russian Orthodox, I’m not Serbian Orthodox, I’m not Rumanian Orthodox, I’M ORTHODOX, and the quicker folks realise this, the better. Since when did Christ establish the “fill in the blank” Christian church? He established the Christian Church devoid of ethnicity and the sooner we realize this, the better. When or if we get to heaven will Christ divide the Russians from the Germans, from the Serbians from the “fill in the blanks” folks? It’s about time we stop this INSANE NONSENSE of ETHNICITY…

Joe Stearne


Sorry, Joe…

There’s no such thing as being a member of a “generic” Orthodox Church. In order to be an Orthodox Christian, canonically, you have to be a member of one of 14 or 15 mutually-recognised Orthodox Church structures. You can be a member of the following Local (meaning “regional”) Orthodox Churches:

(NB: “Archdioceses” and “Metropolias” are identical structures… the former is the Greek usage, the latter is the Slavic terminology… confusing… but true. That is, in the Greek style, an “archbishop” outranks a “metropolitan”… in the Slavic formulation, a “metropolitan” outranks an “archbishop”. This is Orthodoxy… did you expect consistency? BMD)

There’s also the Orthodox Church of America, recognised as autocephalous by some {only by the MP, Georgia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Czechia/Slovakia: editor}, but not all, of the other canonical Orthodox Churches.

There’s NO other choice.

Either you’re a member of one of these “national” Churches, or you’re not an Orthodox Christian. If you don’t accept this, you’re NOT an Orthodox Christian. If your priest and bishop aren’t members of one of these “national” Orthodox Churches, they’re uncanonical and their mysteries are invalid and devoid of grace.

That’s the way it is.

With love in Christ,

Archpriest Alexander Lebedeff


This exchange points up a truth that all of us should all keep in mind. It doesn’t matter WHO says this-or-that… what matters is WHAT they say. That is, the question of WHO says it is minor compared to WHAT they say. For instance, Mr Lebedeff is one of the leading lights in the First Family apparat. That means that one should be wary of his motives, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s the leading canonist in the USA (“They don’t know an ecclesiastical court from a tennis court”) and one of the leading church historians (I know a great deal, but he’s got at least double my storehouse of knowledge). I wrote to a friend:

Did you see the hardening of attitude on Lebedeff’s part towards the konvertsy? I think that the ROCOR First Families are going to “rend their garments” over the OCA fagorama. They’ll raise such a righteous howl… they’ve always known… but the party-line was to ignore such. Now, the party line’s changed, so, they’ve changed. Lebedeff’s intelligent, but he’s an apparatchik. He’s a smart one, but he’s for himself first, last, and always. You forget that at your peril.


I take Mayor Ed Koch’s attitude (as do all mature people)… “If we can agree on what’s in front of us, we can work together. If you agree with me on everything, you’re either crazy or you’re an ass-kisser”. In short, I can cut a deal with and work with Lebedeff or Gan… why not, if the cause is just? Mel Pleska’s soft on Uniatism, but he’s still the best bet to topple the OCA’s rolling and continuing fagorama. Ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing out there?” Quite obviously, the most important thing out there is restoring order to a chaotic canonical situation in Russian Orthodoxy in the diaspora. Fr Alexander would agree with me wholeheartedly on that one. We might not agree on many other things, but we’d agree on THAT (we probably agree on many other things, as well, all things being equal). Believe me, that’s enough for a working relationship… no, it wouldn’t establish either a friendship or an acquaintanceship, but we COULD work together.

I’d advise all comers that Alexander Lebedeff isn’t a “trusty” individual… he’s been a First Family infighter for too long and he’s left too many bodies on his trail. However, you shouldn’t turn up your nose at this one or that one showing up on the right side. EVER. Allies are where you find them… but never forget that they have THEIR reasons for fighting your foe, NOT your reasons. Accept their aid… but never slacken your vigilance… never let down your guard. You’ll be sorry if you do.

That being said, it’s a sign that the creaky edifice is swaying upon its foundations. It bids fair to be “interesting times”… may God preserve His Church (and us, too).

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Saturday 24 September 2011

Albany NY 

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