Voices from Russia

Thursday, 18 June 2015

It’s Time to Tell a Story (Part IX): The World, the Flesh, and Fr Herman (It’s Sad… but True. Read This and WEEP…)

00 Russian Proverb. the truth. 06.06.15

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WARNING! SEXUAL MOLESTATION

I rarely saw Fr. John Marler. He was always in Kodiak, working on setting up the school. That’s one of my regrets. However, Fr Herman, our Spiritual Father, was coming to Kodiak, and to Spruce Island! He was coming to visit his monks and nuns… and the students! I was elated. Abbot Herman was so fun to be around and he was a holy man. My head, full of visions of clairvoyant elders and fools for Christ, immediately suspected him to be a walking Saint. He brought us to the True Faith. He guided us into the fullness of the Christian life and he connected us with the “Golden Chain of Sanctity”. He’d hold one’s hand in his and say, “My hands have touched the hands of a saint, and now you have touched them!” I was amazed. He knew St John Maximovich! He was in the great spiritual tradition of the Optina Elders. Most importantly, he was transmitting this grace to us. I venerated him as a living saint, and hung on his every word. What’s more, he made always made one feel so special.

One evening, behind the Meeting of Our Lord Chapel he conducted confessions. The chapel was too small to offer privacy. Out in the twilight by a tree, I poured my heart out to him in confession. Then, I told him my deepest desire. I was on fire for God. I wanted to become a monk! He brought me before an icon of the Theotokos and bade me offer this up to her. Another evening, a few of us boys were in the Abbot’s barabara spending time with Fr Herman. We prayed and he inspired us with words of wisdom. Then he singled me out and in his enigmatic way said, “This one. This one will be a saint”. Imagine hearing something like that from the Holy Elder! Of course, I did my best to be humble and forget about it. We went to Saint Michael’s Skete, Fr Herman and I, to visit the nuns. It was delightful. I got to go up into the tower with Fr Herman while he translated the lyrics of a modern Russian spiritual song into English.  I tried to help him. He had me scratch his back. I remember his back had pimples. I remember a nun coming up to get us for church.

Occasionally, we boys would get to go to town. Take a shower. Eat junk. The best part was Monk’s Rock café and bookstore. It was the coolest place. It was always bustling with activity, delightful after the isolation of Monk’s Lagoon. The back room had a loft at the time that was an illegal sleeping quarters (something about zoning and codes). We’d sleep there. One morning, I woke up to Fr Herman on top of me in the loft of Monk’s Rock. He was kissing me, repeatedly, on the lips and face in a romantic fervour, saying my name, Sammy, and what a sweet boy, and I love you…

18 June 2015

Caz and Little: Speaking the Unspoken

https://cazandlittle.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/its-time-to-tell-a-story-part-ix-the-world-the-flesh-and-fr-herman

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

St Herman Monastery LIES and PUFFS UP Podmo’s Funeral

podmo funeral 02. 15.07.14

Podmo’s funeral at Holy Dormition parish in Santa Rosa CA… do note the lack of a proper iconostas

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A Cabinet member sent me this (hold on to your cookies… it’s off kilter and divorced from all reality)… no URL available, just copies of two e-mails:

E-mail One:

Fr Herman was buried in Sebastopol CA in the new Orthodox section of one of the cemeteries in the area. It was the decision of our Bishop Maxim to not allow his burial at the monastery. The below is a report sent out by one of the parishioners at the Holy Dormition Church. If you like, I’ll ask her permission to send you a link to the photos that were taken during the funeral and burial.

Yours in Christ,

The unworthy Hieromonk Paisius, secretary

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E-mail Two:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As most of you know, Fr Herman reposed in the Lord on the morning of 30 June 2014 in Minneapolis MN. The funeral for Monk Herman Podmoshensky, the former Abbot of St Herman of Alaska Monastery, was served at Holy Dormition Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa CA (USA) on Thursday, 3 July 2014. His Grace Daniil, Vicar Bishop of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the USA, Canada, and Australia of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Bulgarian Patriarchate), officiated. He was assisted by the clergy of Holy Dormition and Hieromonk Paisii of the St Herman of Alaska Monastery, and by nearly 20 priests, hieromonks, and other clergy of many canonical Orthodox jurisdictions, and by monastics and laypeople from all over America and from as far away as Mt Athos and Moscow.

The graveside burial service took place in the Orthodox section of the Pleasant Hills Memorial Park in Sebastopol CA. The address of this cemetery is 1700 Pleasant Hill Road, Sebastopol CA  95472; it’s only a 15-20 minute drive west of Santa Rosa CA, deep in the countryside. After the graveside service, those who didn’t have to leave immediately to the airport gathered under the redwoods next to the Holy Dormition Church for a memorial meal. Bishop Daniil, who became a monk in Bulgaria when converted as a young man by the writings of Fr Seraphim Rose, never met Fr Herman, so many of those present shared dozens of stories about their encounters with Fr Herman.

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An interlocutor commented on the situation:

It happened at the OCA (sic) church in Santa Rosa CA, a bit north of San Francisco. If that’s their iconostas, how strange! … Did they do his funeral in their church hall, not in their church proper, for some reason? This church in Santa Rosa belongs to the Bulgarians; it’s a bunch of HOOMies.

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Another Cabineteer opined on California Fats, and why he’d avoid going to his guru’s funeral:

He won’t go… that type forgets the past and expects us not to bring it up… he also doesn’t honour his friendships.

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Firstly, here are images of the church and of its parishioners:

00 Holy Dormition 'Orthodox' parish. Santa Rosa CA. 15.07.14

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00 Holy Dormition 'Orthodox' parish 02. Santa Rosa CA. 15.07.14

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A careful headcount gives fifty people (including clergy) in this “parish”. For his miniscule conventicle, there are THREE PRIESTS and TWO DEACONS. I shit you not (click here for the proof). There’s no real iconostas in this “church”… NONE. One can tell that the funeral was in the church proper by the presence of the bema. The “About” section of the website doesn’t give the foundation date for the parish (odd… that’s one of the most important titbits on a normal parish’s site), but it does refer to the patronal feastday in 2007, so, this odd lot is at least seven years old, if not older.

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Here’s an image of the “crowd” at the funeral and of the trapeza after the burial:

podmo funeral 03. 15.07.14

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podmo funeral 01. 15.07.14

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podmo funeral 04. 15.07.14

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There are ten seats at each table; it looks like there are six or nine tables in all, not counting the clergy table (do note the empty seats at the tables… there may be another row of three tables out of sight). That is, at most, there could be 60 or 90 people at the funeral (but there wasn’t… the empty seats are mute testimony to that)… this tiny conventicle couldn’t fit that many, to be frank. My guess is that about 40 to 60 people, all told, attended this affair. I only counted six clergy in the images, and the largest number of laypeople in any one image was 33. There wasn’t 20 clergy present… that figure is fiction at best, a self-serving lie at worst. In short, a small bunch of groupies gathered for Podmo’s funeral. The OCA, ROCOR, MP, GOAA, Serbian, or Antiochian bishops and clergy were no-shows. None of ‘em showed up. NONE. Fatso didn’t show up, even though Podmo was his guru for years (including after his 1988 deposition… James Paffhausen went to Russia under Podmo’s auspices in that Russky Palomnik boondoggle, remember?). Note well that the Serbian bishop refused to allow the burial of Podmo at Platina. That means that he doesn’t trust the Seraphim Rose groupies. Maxim refused to come to the funeral… yet, the Platina brotherhood (and the nuns nearby) came to the affair. This means that they’re unrepentant and haven’t truly turned away from Podmo’s oddbod teachings. Actions DO speak louder than words do. Never forget, we live in a crank world where first impressions can be misleading. Have a care… there be dragons…

BMD

Monday, 17 February 2014

17 February 2014. Whatever Happened to Deacon Andrei Kuraev? What Meaning Can We Pull from His “Fall?”

andrei-kuraev

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In the early 2000s, Deacon Andrei Kuraev was one of the leading lights in the Orthodox cyberworld. Lately, he’s become more and more strident, making all kinds of oddbod statements. I asked around and one source told me:

For years now, Kuraev has gone off. His problem is his self-obsession. Pro-Western media outlets, eager for any scandal, pay him much attention. Moreover, producing scandal so that people quote him consumes him; besides which, he’s obsessed with how many hits he gets. Charlie‘s right… Kuraev’s going Protestant; he’s gone Renovationist. He’s become an enemy of the Church in his egoistic quest for celebrity.

I agree. Deacon Andrei has gone off the rails. Once, he was a “go-to” source… today, he’s an embittered “dissident”. I think that he’s well on the way to being another Gleb Yakunin (who was one of the few people personally anathematised by the Church). I don’t think that he’ll be another Rusantsov, but he does have the potential for being defrocked.

Remember, the Church always does the least-invasive thing to solve a problem. For instance, in this case, the Centre used the least-invasive method of shitcanning him. “He didn’t attend to his duties as an MDA faculty member”. This was like the ROCOR Holy Synod stopping the Toll House Wars about thirty years ago by saying, “There’s not much revealed on this topic. All discussion of it should cease” (they should revisit that decision and muzzle the loud konvertsy who perpetually call the Toll Houses “an important Church Doctrine” (which it isn’t)). In the case of Podmoshensky, the ROCOR gave him the drop for serving under suspension (Lebedeff said that was a great relief; nobody wanted to go near the issue of sexual perversion unless that they absolutely had to).

This first disciplinary action… removing Kuraev from the MDA faculty… was a salutary warning. If he continues to fuck up… well, the Church hopes that he doesn’t. I noted that they said nothing of his connection with PSTGU… I wonder, does such need approval from the Vorobyov Mafia (perspirin’ minds wanna know)? Bear in mind how the Church dealt with the rank heresies of Bulgakov and Florensky… it condemned the heresies, but it showed mercy to the people involved.

For instance, to give a good example of such, the Church should send Seraphim Storheim off to live in a monastery, far from children, without any pastoral role. This would be fair to all parties. It’s fair to the victims… for it’d show that the Church implicitly believes their story by denying Storheim a public role. It’s fair to the believers… for they’d be spared worrying that there’d be a relapse. It’s fair to Storheim… for it’d spare him some shame and pain (look, a court found him guilty… that’s harsh enough for me… it DOES put the “Scarlet Letter” upon him, after all). It shows respect to the Court… it shows that the Church intends doing something to neutralise Storheim, removing the need for further legal action or imprisonment. Last of all, it’s fair to the Church… it means that the issue will die a natural death (that is, it’ll persist for as long as Storheim’s alive…  but after he’s dead, people would say, “Y’know, they did the right thing…”. Shall this happen? I’d truly like to see it happen, but given the nasty-ass attitude of Syosset and the First Families, I expect more legal manoeuvring, obfuscation, and denials… I’m not hoping for such, but that’s what I see.

It’s not just Deacon Andrei… it’s our whole attitude to dealing with dissidence and malfeasance. Frankly, we’d do well to stick to our traditional ways… they work. Take it one step at a time, and don’t dump on someone all the way all at once. Shall Deacon Andrei turn back? I don’t have a working crystal ball, do you? Things are never boring following the Church, are they?

BMD

 

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

We Should Follow Our TRUE Leaders…

00 aghast polar bear. Oh, NO!!! 04.01.14

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Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of internet “Sturm und Drang” from relatively unformed sorts. One of the worst was when two well-known konvertsy ganged up on Frank Schaeffer. Mr Schaeffer stated the classic Church teaching on Symphonia, which most konvertsy disregard (and hate). The Church views the state in very positive terms… it doesn’t share the sectarian hatred of government one little bit (note well that the konvertsy NEVER gave up that particular heresy)! Of course, all the usual suspects pilloried Mr Schaeffer (I got my share for sticking up for him). My belief is that he comes in for especial vitriol because he’s a convert, but he doesn’t toe the “konvertsy line”.

Another fave target of the toddlers is Lazar Puhalo. Having met the man, I can say that whatever else is true, he’s genuine, and he gives a shit. That goes a long way in my book. Everyone knows that the konvertsy have a sick absorption with homosexuality. Bishop Lazar had a family member who committed suicide due to pressures from idiots. A Cabinet member wrote me:

He infuriates right-leaning culture warriors when he applies both science and compassion to issues related to sexuality and gender (he had a close relative hounded into suicide over his identity, hence his passion on the subject)… they won’t brook any talk of acceptance or questioning of their “traditional” take on “unnatural” sex.

Kids… what they trot out aren’t doctrines or dogma of the Church… they’re theologoumena, often very controversial ones. Do note that many of them are “spiritual children” of wayward “gurus” such as Seraphim Rose and Gleb Podmoshensky… do note that these paladins founded a “monastery” without real guidance or having real monastic formation. Neither spent time in a real monastery as part of the brotherhood under obedience before “retreating from the world”. That, in itself, isn’t Orthodox in the least. For instance, St Herman was a monk at Valaam before leaving for Alaska… that’s the real way… men and women go out from established houses, after having internalised the ascetic way, and, then, form new houses.

The only wonder is that Platina didn’t go sour earlier. All that we have in the way of records on it are hagiography, not history… worthless puffery, in academic terms. However, I’d commend you to ponder this… Paffso was acridly anti-homosexual, yet, his “spiritual father” was Gleb Podmoshensky, and Manton’s life is like that of Platina. I’d say that we should study the lives of REAL elders such as Serafim Vyritsky, Sampson Sievers, and Zosima Sokur… the latter elder’s gifts bore fruit recently when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich (a spiritual son of Elder Zosima) refused to use unbridled force against the rioters in Kiev. Viktor Fyodorovich proved himself a true son of the Church… by their fruits ye shall know them.

That’s the real world choice on offer… we can follow real elders and receive solid spiritual food, or, we can follow semi-converted charlatans purveying semi-heretical pabulum. I’ve chosen… that means that I’ve also REJECTED. I’ve chosen to follow the path indicated by St Serafim Vyritsky… by Elders Sampson and Zosima… I’ve chosen to reject the path indicated by Seraphim Rose and Gleb Podmoshensky. You can’t choose both… you can have Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, or, you can have the Orthodoxy of the Ages…

Let me leave you with something that I wrote several years ago… it hasn’t lost its savour:

St Serafim [Vyritsky] made TWO sets of prophecies… do remember what prophecy is (as compared to “clairvoyance”, the knowledge of the future). Prophecy tells us what “could” be, if we don’t mend our ways. It’s the “Sign of Jonas”, as Thomas Merton put it so well. Also, all too many take “prophecy” as something “literal”, when it’s more “literary”. Prophecy is much like what Scrooge said to the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come, “Tell me that these are the shadows of what could be, and not what will be!” Remember St Jonas in Nineveh… he preached the city’s destruction, but since the Ninevites repented of their sin, the destruction didn’t occur.

Repentance or degeneracy… that’s the choice facing Russia… and us. St Serafim pointed up what could happen in either case. What happens in future is our call… God DID give us Free Will. We’re NOT marionettes manipulated by a Divine Puppeteer… we’re NOT automations following the dictates of a “god” “who has a plan for your life”. We’re free men and women, endowed by their Creator with the OBLIGATION to choose. That’s how much God loves us… He allows us the COMPLETE freedom to choose our fate. That’s scary to so many… that’s why they find either Materialism or Sectarianism comforting… they down Ol’ Scratch’s cheap spiritual vodka in order to blind themselves to Christ’s Reality. However, a hangover ALWAYS follows a toot… and that goes for spiritual drunkenness as well. Ponder that, if you would…

Choose well…

BMD

 

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