Voices from Russia

Saturday, 10 October 2009

There is More to See in Woodstock than Just Yasgur’s Farm

Church of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ on the Mount in Woodstock NY

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Editor:

Yes, I’m well aware that the Woodstock Festival actually took place in Bethel, some 70 kilometres south of Woodstock… but, it’s a catchy title for a post, and Woodstock does crawl with superannuated hippies and other such sorts. Touché!

BMD

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Today, Nicky and I took a refreshing motor south through the brilliant autumnal colours down Route 9 to Woodstock, which is some 70 kilometres from Albany, some one-third of the distance to New York City from here. We were seeking out a Buddhist Monastery on Meade’s Mount overlooking Woodstock. We drove down 9 to Saugerties, turned onto 212, and went to the main intersection in Woodstock, which is right in front of an old-school picture-postcard-pretty Reformed church. Oh… it’s SO special… the street signs in Woodstock are in cursive writing… not in ordinary print. That seems to shout out, “BE WARNED! Watch out for the Pompous and Affected ahead in large concentrations. BEWARE of exaggerated and ostentatious boobs and those out to get them! This is an official and legal counsel, caution, and notification”.

The town was crawling with people… ah… there was a “Peace March” today! There was nary a parking space or a seat at the yuppieterias to be found anywhere. We turned right at the sign for Tinker Street/Rock City Road and to motor along a twisty and windy road that wended its way up Meade’s Mount (in fact, its actual name is Meade’s Mount Road). There’s a parking area at Overlook Point, then, one goes further to reach the Buddhist Monastery, which is at the peak. Nicky noticed an Orthodox-appearing establishment on the left right before we reached the top of the road, and he drew it to my attention. We resolved to return after we had investigated the Buddhist temple.

Well… the Buddhist site was a BUST. They had the shrine locked up, even though it was a time that it was supposedly open. There were some pricey Buddhas for sale… oh, I lied… they weren’t for SALE… you made a DONATION, then, you could take them home. Needless to say, the donation wasn’t small! Signs informed one that food and lodging weren’t available, except for those who had made prepaid arrangements to go on one of their retreats (per local ordinance… hmm… Christian monasteries give hospitality to pilgrims, as do Buddhist monasteries in India… have these fellows imbibed capitalism too deeply? Perspiring minds want to know!). After some 15 minutes there and receiving a cool reception from the two people that we saw, we decided to check out the “Orthodox” location next door. When we arrived, the sign read, “Church of the Holy Transfiguration of Christ on the Mount”, giving the time for Sunday liturgy at 11.00 and Saturday Vespers at sunset.

Firstly, there was no proper car-park, save for a wider shoulder on the adjacent road. Nicky estimated that four or five vehicles, tops, could park there. There was a metal rope blocking the only easy access to the property and a ditch surrounded much of the area. The slope was fairly steep and many of the rocks that made up what passed for steps wobbled and were not solid footing. In short, the path to the church was execrable in the extreme and I almost fell twice. The church looks beaten-up; it may be a century old, give or take.

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Interior of the church-building, click here for a video on this site

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I worked the doorknob, expecting it to be locked. Interestingly enough, the door was open, so, we walked in. There was a sense of “wrongness” about the place… it wasn’t “right” at all. I should say that I don’t think that the fellow identified in a news item posted on the wall as the pastor is a bad fellow; I don’t believe that he’s a nasty sort, indeed, we never met him, and so, as Christians, we MUST give him the benefit of the doubt. I wondered which vagante bishop this place could be under. Ah… here was a calendar… “The Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and the Americas, Archdiocese of New York and New Jersey”… if one applies the rule of “the longer the name, the fewer the faithful”… you do get the inference, I’m sure. Certainly, this Archbishop John LoBue wasn’t in communion with any recognised Orthodox Local Church that I was aware of. We also found a baptistery with an Orthodox onion dome on the property, but it had a locked door. We looked in, and it was rather spare and bare. We found an easier path to walk down the hill, but, a metal rope blocked the exit, so, it was a little dicey in getting back to the car.

Such places make you wonder… what drives people to found such establishments? Just what makes them ignore the mainstream churches? Let’s be blunt… part of it is that we just brush too many people off as cranks. Yes, there are manifest cranks and crackbrained lunatics out there, and more of them than we’d like! Unfortunately, many of them are amongst us, and we can’t point the finger at others as long as we accepted the HOOMies (their history is NOT pretty) into our ranks. I fear that not many people wish to understand JP’s role in all of this. Apparently, he was gung-ho in favour of receiving the HOOMies and their clergy, a stance echoed by Benjamin Peterson. To speak frankly, I’d rather accept some of the so-called vagantes before I’d accept obvious cultists and those with a history of accusations of child abuse such as the HOOMies.

I’ve no idea who this Archbishop John LoBue is, but, I’m certain that he’s no worse than JP or Benjamin Peterson. Indeed, if those two have accepted HOOMie clergy, one wonders why they haven’t accepted all the other vagantes. Certainly, they’re no worse than the HOOMies are, and they may very well be better! Look at this in light of recent events. JP has allowed SVS to sign a “covenant agreement” with Nashotah House (a heterodox Anglican institution). If he’s done so, he’s spat on the Church. I’ve nothing against either vagantes or Anglicans… however, neither of these groups is “Church”, and we should NOT act as though they were. JP has gone further than any past “dialogue”… who controls events? Is it SVS or is it JP? Or, to speak of the worst case, are both in agreement and intend to ram this scandalous, foolish, and just-plain-potty agreement down the throats of all good Orthodox Christians? Does this make JP a vagante? Good question!

We drove back into town, and I looked at Nicky and said, “Let’s get out of here and get back to sanity. Let’s stop at the Greek greasy-spoon, eat dinner, and get on the Thruway home”. So, we drove down 212, past the Smokehouse of the Catskills (which is the border-line of sanity… when you pass it going to Woodstock, it marks the place where things start going ODD), and we reached our destination. Ah… sanity reigns! The Starway Café, a good example of what I call a 3GS… a Genuine Greek Greasy Spoon… there’s also another meaning for it, Good Food, Good Prices, Good People… there’s nothing quite like a Greek-American Diner, and there’s nowhere that I enjoy eating more. If you order a medium-rare burger, you get a medium-rare burger, with no lectures on how you should have the meat cooked to medium or you’ll get all sorts of awful diseases and conditions. Nicky ordered the meatloaf; I had a cheeseburger and fries… classical diner fare, wot? Trust me… if you’re on the road, you’re not looking for excitement… you’re looking for comfort and reassurance. All too many people judge diners by the standards of a fine-dining establishment, and that’s not fair… it’s another breed of cat altogether. Mind you, I’m amongst the first to try new restaurants and what-not… but, after a day like today, you CRAVE the nurturing that such a place gives (it’s located right off Exit 20 of the NYS Thruway… I recommend it HIGHLY if you’re in the area… remember, GREEK DINERS RULE! Nikos and Spiros run the kitchen in heaven… and DON’T YOU FORGET IT!)

After I arrived back home and thought about this day I reflected that I’ve had few days like this one. I felt compassion for the people who pray in this little chapel… they are trying so HARD. When I reflected on JP and those like him, my heart hardened. These people intend to steer the Church into alien and treacherous waters. THEY deserve no quarter… for they give none. God Almighty… why must we live in such INTERESTING times? What we do shall resonate for our children… I know what I must do… do you?

BMD 

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