Voices from Russia

Thursday, 2 July 2015

2 July 2015. A Plea for Sanity in re Homosexuals in the Church

00 george orwell. 020715

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I saw this on Facebook… it’s a Read n’ Heed.

BMD

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Someone sent an e-mail to at least three Orthodox persons. The author threatens to out “Orthodox-in-name-only homos”, and given the recipients, doesn’t actually care if the persons they identify are sexually active or not. The author declares “There will be no homosexuals allowed in Christ’s Church” and “The time has come for the homosexuals to be removed from the Church”. If you’ve received this e-mail, or know of someone who has received it, please inform your priest AND your bishop. If you’re afraid of being outed, please, contact me. I’d be happy to inform priests and bishops anonymously. More importantly, please, be sure you have a safe and loving place to worship, whether your own Orthodox parish or another ecclesial home. I don’t casually recommend leaving one’s ecclesial home, but God is, after all, “everywhere and in all things”. For those clergy and people in positions of authority within Orthodoxy reading this, please, publicly disavow such rhetoric in every space you can: Facebook, homilies, parish newsletters, e-mails to your congregants. Please, do so regardless of how you feel about same-sex unions/marriage/relationships. You’re caregivers not only to those who object to homosexuality, but to gays and lesbians, their families and their friends. All your people need your comfort and protection.

29 June 2015

Maria McDowell

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AMEN.

We’re paying dearly now for having coddled people such as Reardon, Jacobses, Whiteford, Paffhausen, Dreher, Eliel, Brum, Moriak, Maymon, Trenham, and all the rest of that sorry crew. They came to us not because they loved Orthodoxy for what it was… they came to us because of what they perceived us as being opponents of (not what we actually oppose, mind you, but what they thought that we opposed). They brought all kinds of rubbishy baggage with them, and some bishops unwisely ordained some of them.

This isn’t behaviour that builds up Christ’s Church… if you think so, you’re my enemy, and I’ll fight with all that I’ve got. That’s the long n’ the short of it. You don’t reason with a rabid dog, you shoot it. Ponder that…

BMD

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Vox Pop from Facebook on “Conservative” Outing of Gays in the Church

00 christ the first communist. 010715

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I saw this on Facebook… good stuff…

BMD

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Within my faith community there are some who’ve decided that “outing” other individuals is a Christian way of dealing with differences in sexual orientation. These messages are a response to that disturbing development, however, these quotes show Orthodox Christianity at its best and most authentic:

Enemies have driven me into Thine embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth; enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They’ve punished me, whenever I’ve hesitated to punish myself.

They’ve tormented me, whenever I’ve tried to flee torments.

They’ve scolded me, whenever I’ve flattered myself.

They’ve spat upon me, whenever I’ve filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord, Even I bless them and don’t curse them.

Whenever I’ve made myself wise, they’ve called me foolish.

Whenever I’ve made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I’ve wanted to lead people, they’ve shoved me into the background.

Whenever I’ve rushed to enrich myself, they’ve prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I’d sleep peacefully, they’ve wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I’ve tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they’ve demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thine garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and don’t curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realise that they aren’t enemies, but cruel friends.

It’s truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world… friends or enemies.

Therefore, bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he doesn’t understand, but a son blesses them, for he understands.

For a son knows that his enemies can’t touch his life.

Therefore, he freely steps amongst them and prays to God for them.

St Nikolaj Velimirović of Ohrid and Žiča

Prayers By the Lake (A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Volume 5)

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I posted this as a comment to the above:

Alex… are you ready to rumble? They want to take over the Church. Paffso, Whiteford, and Reardon… the Unholy Trinity… there’s more, but they’re the “Godfathers”. Shall we swallow a kopeck’s worth? I fear that we’ll down a rouble’s worth before it’s over.

There be dragons abroad… they mean what they say. I know this from personal experience. No one who doesn’t fit their idiosyncratic and Pretendodox criteria is fit for communion or even attendance at the Liturgy. Beware ALL who say, “I speak the truth in love”. Such people NEVER speak the truth nor do they EVER show any love (beyond their family circles and friends, that is, as our Lord Christ said, “Even the Pharisees do as much”). We live in perilous times. Have a care… I’m handing out the AKs, RPGs, axe handles, and dynamite at the back door…

BMD

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Is VVP Signalling a Change in Russian Policy Towards LGBT?

00 Putin in Sochi w China TV reporter. 19.01.14

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Read this. Here’s the relevant quote:

President V V Putin called Russians to rid themselves of aggression toward sexual minorities, sparking discussion of a possible softening of the country’s official stance on homosexuality. In a film about the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi broadcast by Rossiya-24 TV in early February, Putin said, “It’s each person’s business” to choose what kind of sexual life to have, emphasising that there isn’t criminal prosecution of homosexuality in Russia. “Now about the law on sexual minorities […] Both straight people and non-traditionally-oriented people should rid themselves of aggression and treat each other in a more straightforward way”.

Take this for what its worth. It’s a good sign. By the way… VVP is simply echoing the Church’s stance. HH said, “We respect all human choices, including those of sexual orientation. We reserve the right to call a sin ‘sin'”. The Church does NOT condone homophobia or violence against gay people as an institution. That being said, there are individuals who ARE homophobic or who preach intolerance of gay people. We aren’t fundies… VVP simply reflects that. No, the Church does NOT “bless” homosexuality… but it doesn’t teach hatred of gays either. It’s nuanced…

BMD

Monday, 20 October 2014

20 October 2014. A Call for Pastoral Sanity… It’s Time to Gag the Rigourist Idiots

a fork in the road

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I adapted the following from an article on the Catholic Church here. It spoke to some problems that we have too. I’ll have more to say, but let’s get the raw meat on the table, first. Again, what follows is an adaptation!

BMD

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I don’t call for discussion to change teaching, but to expand it to include missing parts… the “missionary” and “pastoral” dimension… the merciful, healing, loving, welcoming part of the Church, which those outside the Faith don’t get to see. If you come to understand why they don’t, well, you get the point of my call. Those of us who know the Church know that in our parishes, schools, and institutions, our pastors pastor. They tend to us, nurture us, help us, and support us… whoever we are, and whatever our stage of moral development. Most of us live in a gap between who we are and who we’re called to be; being Orthodox isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. The doorway is wide; inside, essentially, it’s warm and welcoming… a clinic for the feeble, not a club of the smug. It’s nuanced and compassionate, even if it keeps the goals clearly in the spotlight.

So why do so many people see only judgementalism and rejection, even pharisaism? It’s because some concentrate on asserting doctrinal clarity and uniformity, partly to restore direction following divisions opened up in the early 1960s (the time of the Church War… SVS and Jordanville had a real Cold War going on). This meant keeping out the pastoral. We just didn’t discuss awkward pastoral questions, so, existing teaching and practise suffered, too. We have to bring the peripheral into the centre, breaking open the Church to a new (yet ancient and old) pastoral language. We need to ask tough questions with unprecedented frankness… how does one bind the wounds of the divorced, whilst promoting indissolubility? How do we embrace gay people, whilst celebrating marriage as a conjugal institution? How can the church be, like a good parent, both clear teacher and merciful mother? The tensions are as old as Jesus, who called people to lifelong sexual fidelity yet saw the adulteress as both sinner and victim. What’s new is bringing the tension into the governance of the Church.

A few think this is deeply misguided. They make a lot of noise… but compared with those who consistently favour a pastoral and missionary reset, they’re a tiny number. However, that means only that we need a lot more discussion and reflection before we can come up with concrete proposals. What matters is that we bring the pastoral to bear on the doctrinal… the Church decided to live in that tension. It’s a lot less tidy, but a lot more holy.

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His Holiness said, “The Church respects all human decisions, including those of sexual orientation, but we reserve the right to call sin a ‘sin’”. That is, I’m not calling for throwing out actual synodically-defined doctrines of the Church. The Councils are what they are… the Lived Tradition is what it is… the Canons as actually wielded by the Church reflect what it truly is.

To hear some, you’d think that homosexuality and abortion are the central questions in Christianity. They are not. Emphatically, they’re not. Our Lord Christ left us no clear guidance… the Church simply tells us that homosexual activity is sinful… and that abortion is a sin, too. However, neither is at the level of greed… the Mother Sin, as it were. As the Apostle put it, ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία (Root for all the evil is the love of money)… “Love of money is the root of all evil”. In Latin, it’s Radix malorum est cupiditas… cupidity is ardent desire, inordinate longing or lust; covetousness. Yet, the modern-day moralists say nothing about this… they urge us to vote for Republican greedsters due to their stance on “morality”. However, if greed, cupidity, the love of money, is the root of all evil… and Apostle St Paul IS an authoritative source… it means that we can’t vote for a faction whose mottos are “Greed is good”… “Winning is the only thing”… “America is a spotless city on a hill”.

Note well that there’s no tension in their world-view… as there must be in all forms of Truth. Its all “black n’ white”… yet, the Church is the most Zen-like of all the Christian bodies… it out-Zens Zen! As a priest told me once, “The Church keeps certain things undefined so as to give its clergy the pastoral freedom to deal with specific cases. When a teaching comes under attack… then, the Church MAY define it… but only after reaching a consensus”. Orthodoxy gives us the right questions to ask to come up with the right answers… it isn’t a stereotyped set of responses, regardless of the circumstances. Orthodoxy is authoritative… but only after long and often acrimonious debate. It took the Church CENTURIES to deal with Arianism… it wasn’t an overnight thing.

We face the same sort of thing here. There are pastoral problems in the Church… but they’re pastoral, not doctrinal. I truly don’t see a major problem with homosexuality in the Church (sorry, the konvertsy obsessed with it don’t seem to realise that they’re in a body that really doesn’t have much of a “gay problem”). It’s simply not there… as the Church doesn’t excommunicate gays… it doesn’t shun them… but it also doesn’t bless “gay marriage” nor does it bless homosexuality. It realises that a certain number of people are gay… it recognises this. It doesn’t bless it… it doesn’t commend it. When Bishop Job Osacky allowed Mark Stokoe to take communion, he wasn’t blessing homosexuality… that was oikonomia… an exception that didn’t overturn the rule. That’s how we do things. The rule stands… but we interpret it compassionately and with the intent of keeping people within the Church. We don’t use the rules as clubs… as one sees in certain konvertsy circles (Paffhausen is a good example of this). We deploy the canons as positive tools of healing and integration.

I know that this will cause certain of the rigourists to come out of their holes. So be it. I am NOT arguing for “anything goes”… however, I AM saying that we can’t allow a loud set to take over the direction of the ship. Remember, the same people who obsess on homosexuality and abortion also obsess on questionable doctrinal positions like the so-called “toll houses” (I believe that the ROCOR Synod was correct in closing down all discussion on them).

As a priest at Jordanville once told me, “St Serafim said, ‘Save your own soul, and thousands will be saved around you’. That means that you should concentrate on cleansing yourself. If you can do this little thing, the larger will fall into place”. The older that I get, the wiser that gets! If you can work on yourself, it affects the world around you… now, that’s what I believe. If you want to go out to crusade against this or that, my advice is to leave Orthodoxy… that’s not what we do. However… do ponder what the “big tent” means… and the big tent does exist in Russian Orthodoxy. There’s room for all sort of people in Christ’s Church. It’s a House of Sinners… not the Haven of the Saved. The older that I get, the more “lenient” that I get… the Church is all about Ultimate Things. Anything that distracts from that is wrong. The Crusaders against gays and abortion should reflect on that. There IS a wrong way on focusing on the right things… now, THAT’S a meaty bone to gnaw upon!

BMD

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