Voices from Russia

Friday, 8 July 2016

8 July 2016. Whom Do YOU Believe on the Tollhouse Nuttery?

00 Converts “Reading Their Way Into the Kingdom” Steve Robinson


I wrote this to a friend:

The services aren’t doctrine. If it’s a choice between Rose on the one hand and Archbishop Antony Bartoshevich, Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky, and Metropolitan Anastassy Gribanovsky on the other… there’s no choice. Didn’t they use the same sluzhebnik? Didn’t they know it better than we do? Checkmate, dear… the tollhouses are rubbish… top Church thinkers have said so… they used the same sluzhebnik as we do today…

There’s no doubt in my mind that the people I named were better and more-grounded theologians than Serafim Rose and St Ioann Maksimovich (the first had NO academic training in theology and the latter was a holy man, but no scholar). Just because someone’s a saint doesn’t mean that all that they said and did is correct. Far from it. St Ioann Maksimovich was a “Blessed”… a Fool-in-Christ, not a theologian or even a competent bishop. Archbishop Antony Medvedev had to clean up the mess that he left as a bishop… but that doesn’t decrease St Ioann’s sanctity… it means that he wasn’t an administrator. As for the tollhouse myth… both Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky and Archbishop Antony Bartoshevich condemned it. Metropolitan Antony was one of St Ioann’s teachers and Archbishop Antony was a contemporary (a confrère called him “the ROCOR’s conscience”). Orthodox doctrine rests upon the bedrock of consensus amongst the Local Churches, upon consensus amongst recognised and competent theological experts and authorities (not jumped-up unschooled frauds like Rose), and upon a common and universal consensus amongst the body of believers, clergy, and hierarchy. Such a consensus doesn’t exist in re the tollhouses… I’d say that you can believe in them if you will, but that you can’t force them on anyone else as doctrine and dogma (of course, the converse is true as well).

Be careful with konvertsy groups that use the names of saints to cover their lies and fabrications. Have a care with much of the postings on Orthodoxy on the net… a great deal isn’t true, sad to say…



Sunday, 22 May 2016

22 May 2016. The Tollhouses are NOT Orthodox Doctrine in the Smallest Possible Way

satan at the computer

The Evil One loves stirring up controversy… his main tools are the ignorant and pigheaded… just sayin’…


I posted this on FB:

The tollhouses are bullshit; the ROCOR Holy Synod forbade all discussion of them. Note well that the konvertsy brats know nothing of that.

It garnered this response:

Most cradles know nothing of that, either. A hieromonk gave me a book in favour of it; he told me it was true. Awkward…

I replied:

It happened in the early 80s [or was it the late 70s? My memory fails me: editor] over the rancorous criticism and advocacy of Seraphim Rose’s loopy defence of the tollhouse lunacy. Rose had no monastic or priestly formation… no seminary… but he’s the darling of the konvertsy set. After Rose’s death, Vladyki Antony Medvedev had to set the Platina mess right. There was no serious advocacy of the tollhouses before Rose… you didn’t hear Vladyki Averky Taushev speak on them nor did Vladyki Anastassy Gribanovsky. I’m 62… I’ve seen a few things…

Another person chipped in:

They’re too quick to believe evil of God and His Creation. It’s akin to listening to malicious gossip, but they call it pious opinion when it’s impious slander.

Let’s keep it simple. The tollhouses are NOT a doctrine of the Church. They aren’t dogma… they aren’t defined synodically anywhere. They aren’t even a theologoumena; that is, they aren’t a learned theological submission or opinion. They don’t even rise to the level of private piety… they’re just a oddbod opinion of one Basil the New, who’s a Nobody in Church History terms. They’re particularly popular with those influenced by papist notions of Purgatory (a concept rejected by the Holy Church). A belief in this notion is usually a sign of spiritual immaturity and persistence of heterodox ideas such as “proof-texting”.

One finds konvertsy telling grounded people, “Look at the Fathers. Look at the saints who approved of this”. Firstly, nothing in the Patristic Deposit directly corroborates the Tollhouse Lunacy. NOTHING. Secondly, saints aren’t infallible… we believe that they can be mistaken on this or on that, as everyone can be. In fact, I’ve received many warnings from experts over the years that the Fathers and saints contradict one another many times, and that it requires guidance to avoid falling into the ditch. The konvertsy are full of pride and hubris… they don’t seek out such guidance. Therefore, they fall into the ditch more often than not.

The tollhouses have NEVER been doctrine or dogma… they’re simply something held by a faction in the Church. As for me, I believe what St Chrysostom taught… the Judgement consists in us being in God’s Presence. Full stop. A larger circle accepts this submission than do those who accept the tollhouses. I offer it to you as a belief well proven and well accepted. After all, who’s more important in Church History, St Chrysostom, the greatest preacher who ever lived… or the obscure visionary Basil the New? I think that you know my answer… I confide to you… I’m not alone in thinking that way!

The ROCOR Holy Synod should reiterate its earlier decision… as they so wisely stated back then (if memory serves me correctly), “As we have little revelation on this, let all discussion on this topic cease”. It was wise then… it’d be wise now. It’s time to take these mewling toddlers out to the woodshed and give the boot to their juvenile theological ramblings. Let’s keep to the Golden Mean, as the Church teaches… that’s something that I think that most of my readers would applaud… and applaud loudly.

Keep it focused… the times aren’t good…


Friday, 10 July 2015

10 July 2015. A Thought from Archbishop Lazar Puhalo

00 Pochaev Lavra 01. Lazar Puhalo. 100715


I know all about the “dirt” on Lazar Puhalo… in my position, you hear from both sides about their favourite whipping boys… on the left, no one likes Seraphim Rose… on the right, no one likes Lazar Puhalo. If you have evidence against him, I suggest that you take it up with the OCA Synod. If what you know is truthful, they’d give you a listen. If not… be aware that I’ll “unfriend” ANYBODY who dares to question me on this one. I know the man’s past… so be it. This is correct, indeed, I’d call it one of the most ringing and to-the-point condemnations of the konvertsy mindset. This needed saying…

Vladyki Lazar, you did good on this one… here’s the jug…


Saturday, 2 August 2014

2 August 2014. Perhaps, A Reason Why Seraphim Rose Won’t be a Saint Any Time Soon

00 Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Joy of all Who Sorrow. San Francisco CA. USA. 02.08.14


A Cabinet member wrote this to me:

I asked [X] about what they thought about Seraphim Rose and the talk about him becoming a saint. [X] said that far that too many people are “saint crazy”, meaning that they keep wanting to make new saints all the time… [X] also talked about [Death to the World] and how they changed bishops’ names like Bishop Antony of San Francisco. [X] said that the book made Vladyki Antony look bad… but [X] knew that he was a very good man.

I removed the name of the person involved, as it’d give hints about my interlocutor. You see, the reason Seraphim Rose’s cause isn’t moving forward quickly is that many of his “partisans” are a rather questionable lot, especially, the Platina gang. One source told me that Rose wouldn’t become a saint until Platina rejoined ROCOR. We have copious and well-documented sources for Rose’s life up until he left for Platina… after that, all that we have are interested questionable sources offered by Platina (those connected with Podmo are particularly suspect). I’m not being nasty; I’m taking a Bollandist approach, as one must. Sanctity is important, ergo, we don’t decide it on the grounds of hagiography. For instance, we had a plethora of attested (and objective non-Orthodox) sources for St John Maximovich… but we don’t in the case of Rose after Platina. A friend of mine cautioned (and they WERE wise, I’d say):

I’d be very careful in criticising Fr Seraphim. I know that the MP, Serbs, and ROCOR will open a case for glorification. Many miracles are attributed to his intercessions. Icons of him have wept. The Church verified the authenticity of the streaming (via examination, exorcism, prayers, etc). He’s reputedly appeared in visions to bishops.

Nonetheless, friends of mine at the Centre tell me that no formal case exists at present… although there’s a clamour for one to be open, it hasn’t happened yet. One of the reasons for it, as I mentioned above, is that some of his partisans are… well, insistent on a glorification without the usual and normal process. That simply will not be… it’s not in the cards. As a friend at the Centre said:

It’s only been about thirty years since his death. St Serafim Sarovsky died in the 1830s and the Church didn’t glorify him until the turn of the twentieth century (mostly at the urging of Tsar St Nikolai). If such a glorification takes place, it’d be at least twenty to thirty years ahead in future. The Church does take the long view of things.

I think that this is a fair and just view. The Church takes its time with such matters, as it should. I’ll be so bold as to say that if the Church glorifies Rose, it won’t be in my lifetime (I’m 60, after all). Let things develop naturally… that’s best, I’d say. Let the Church have the final word in this… isn’t that what Orthodox Christianity is all about, kids?


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