Voices from Russia

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Paffso’s Old Monastery to Face Wrecking Ball

00 point reyes monastery. 20.09.14

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An anonymous developer wants to tear down the remnants of an old monastery in Inverness Park CA to build six new structures, totalling 8,300 square feet of building area. The 17-acre parcel near the start of Drakes Summit had been the home of St Eugene’s Hermitage, a Christian community that lived in cramped cottages, made candles, and whispered prayers in a small white chapel since 1951. The monks departed in 2006 after repeated attempts to expand provoked neighbours’ ire, leaving the property unoccupied and littered with fir needles for the past several years. The new owners, Hidden Dragon, LLC, submitted designs to county planners last month to demolish the four existing structures and build a 5,494-square-foot two-story home, a second 750-square-foot residence for the caretakers, a 1,316-square-foot detached studio for art or writing, two garages, a lap pool, and a “meditation hut”. They also plan to install two septic systems, two 5,000-gallon water tanks, a 1,000-gallon propane tank, and four parking spaces for guests. They want to remove four dozen Douglas-fir, California bay, coast live oak, and madrone trees, 31 of which have protected status due to their size; they’d replant 28 California live oak big leaf maple and buckeye trees.

The Inverness Association’s design review committee will look at the application over the coming weeks, said Bridger Mitchell, the group’s vice president. The Community Development Agency is accepting comments on the application’s completeness and the project’s merits until next Friday, 12 September. Designed by Seattle-based Olson Kundig Architects, whose other residences the New York Times described as “ruggedly elegant” and “uncomplicated” in form, the primary residence is a steel and concrete structure with a painted metal roof. Its walls would feature an aged-wood siding to match the dense forest around the home, and its rooms look out onto the landscape through large windows. Architect Steve Grim said that his design intends to be a transition between the meadow and the forest on the parcel, a mediation “between those two experiences while being in and of both”. It utilises a pavilion structure to reduce bulk and keep a low visual profile from the street. Inspired by the J B Blunk house, Mr Grim said that the design means to be “sustainable, healthy, and visually unobtrusive”.

Chris Stanton, who represents the titleholders through his San Rafael CA-based firm, Inverness Construction Management, wouldn’t disclose the names behind the limited liability corporation. According to the California Secretary of State’s records, the agent behind the LLC is Whitney Rugg, who lives in a luxury Presidio Landmark apartment recently remodelled from a dilapidated graffiti-painted hospital in San Francisco. The home will be their secondary residence for now, but the owners plan to retire here, Mr Stanton said (a young couple with a child who previously lived in West Marin will be the property’s stewards and live fulltime in the second cottage). In that sense, the property is returning to its oldest use… Inverness began as a hideaway, or a hermitage, if you will, for those in “the Establishment”, as historian Jack Mason wrote in Earthquake Bay. During the summer, “bankers, doctors, and judges from San Francisco and the Valley cities, and academicians from the Berkeley scene” retreated to their Inverness houses, which “reflected taste and affluence that set the town apart from the jerry-built summer colonies elsewhere in the county”.

James Cobb, who worked in the insurance business and lived in Berkeley with his wife and five children, built the first house on the parcel, which appears to still be standing, in 1920. During the summer town’s heyday… between the building of a horse-and-wagon stageline to Point Reyes Station in 1905 and the downturn after the Great Depression that bankrupted the hotels… the house was a vacation home, presumably, or even a rental. A later owner, Maria Lurie of San Francisco, gifted the property to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1951. She named it St Eugene’s as a memorial to her son Eugene Lurie, an infantryman killed on the last day of World War II only hours before the declaration of peace.

The first inhabitant, Rev Dimitri Egoroff, built two small cottages… one with a chapel suitable for one person to occupy and another with a kitchen and reception area for guests. In a 1956 sermon, Fr Dmitri recounted, “In the California forest, on the small hill on which the monastery stands, an air of detachment from one’s surroundings, which were somewhere down below, wafted. The place reminded one of something Athonite (a holy mountain in Greece with twenty Orthodox monasteries) and breathed an untroubled peace”. Under vows of poverty, chastity, and solitude, Fr Dmitri lived alone, praying the morning matins and the nightly even-song until his health began to decline after 18 years. At each sunset, his chanting, “Thou makes darkness and it is night”, echoed through the forest accompanied by floating trails of incense.

After the founder left, several monks trickled in and out until a group of nuns moved from Calistoga in 1983. They resumed a years-long project to build a small chapel suitable for services. Completed in 1988, they built it around the cupola from the belltower of Holy Trinity Cathedral in San Francisco, where the young Mr Lurie had been a member of the congregation before his death. A relic with a piece of a saint’s toe and painted icons of Jesus surrounded the walls, all lit by beeswax candles on silver bases. When the nuns could no longer care for the property and moved to Santa Rosa, the Monastery of St John took over operations in 1996. They continued to make candles in a rusting shipping container and pray in regular devotions, but the growing organisation of about a dozen monks needed to expand beyond the original dwellings, intended for one or two people, and had since fallen into disrepair due to crude construction and an infestation of black mould after years in fog. The monks’ plans faced continual rejection… “stymied by Marin County officialdom”… and eventually, fed up, they dismantled their small chapel, loaded it onto the back of a flatbed truck, and carried it off with them north to Manton, a remote town in Tehama County, in 2008.

Mr Stanton said the new owners, like the holy men before them, have “concerns” about how their plans will be received, saying, “I wouldn’t equate it with the chapel, a residence, and having 30 people at the site, but you know, it’s West Marin, and so we plan to see some objections raised”. One wonders how the men and women in black robes would react to seeing their cottages bulldozed, how the monks who renounced this world to instead plead daily for repentance would feel observing the new owners towel off from the pool and retreat into their own meditation hut. In his 1956 sermon, Fr Dmitri gave his own arguments justifying a “small, modest, secluded” life. He preached, “A person in the world becomes accustomed to the world and starts to live by its interests, but we know that everything in the world is temporary and swiftly passing. As for man, his days are as the grass… as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth. For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone, and no longer will it know the place thereof”.

4 September 2014

Christopher Peak

Point Reyes (CA) Light

http://www.ptreyeslight.com/article/proposed-inverness-park-home-would-raze-historic-retreat

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

23 October 2012. Trouble in Manton. The Official Take on the Matter. Paraphrased from Official Documents

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Fr Meletios Webber resigned as Abbot of the Monastery of St John. The stress and internet publicity over the recent turmoil involving monks leaving the monastery led Fr Meletios to conclude that he can no longer serve in the capacity of Abbot at this monastery. Fr Meletios will return to Europe. The monks who left without a blessing won’t be allowed to return without a face-to-face meeting with the bishop.

The recent developments at St John of San Francisco Monastery, Manton CA, include Fr Meletios Webber resigning as abbot of the monastery; he’ll receive a release from the OCA and will return to Europe in the near future. After the departure of six monks from the monastery, six monks now remain. There’s an outstanding balance of approximately 70,000 USD (2.2 million Roubles. 54,000 Euros. 44,000 UK Pounds) in outstanding credit card debt. Additionally, the monastery pays a monthly mortgage in the amount of 5,000 USD (1.57 million Roubles. 38,500 Euros. 31,400 UK Pounds). Due to the departure of the younger monks and the unavailability of the mailing list of benefactors, due to its unauthorised removal from the monastery, the monastic brotherhood is facing significant difficulties in meeting its financial responsibilities. There was a consensus that the OCA Diocese of the West should provide the monastery with financial assistance at this time, in the form of a loan. This loan would pay off the credit card debt and provide for payment of six months of the monastery’s mortgage.

http://dowoca.orthodoxws.com/files/reports/Council%20Meeting%20Minutes/Diocesan-Council-Meeting-Oct-2–2012.pdf 

http://dowoca.orthodoxws.com/files/reports/Council%20Meeting%20Minutes/DC10-4-12.pdf

 

Thursday, 12 July 2012

12 July 2012. Some Vox Pop on the Manton Six… The Cabinet Agrees that They’re Nutters

Here’s what reasonable folks think of the Manton Six…

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Here’s what a friend sent me on the Manton Poseurs:

Excellent! It tells it like it really is, not like the konvertsy want to make it to be. The Serbs are fools if they take these clowns in permanently.

Another friend was more prolix, but agreed with us, too:

I always had a sense of what the Church calls oikonomia. It’s a first-cousin to common sense. It’s reasonableness, armed with practicality, and infused with compassion. It’s justice tempered with mercy. It is a person at the office in a soulless bureaucracy who says, “Well, I’m not supposed to do this, but go ahead… sounds like you could use a break”. So, Abbot Mel followed oikonomia, rather than the “letter of the law” and incensed some tight-ass monks. What, I should let my dinner get cold over this??

What more is there to say? It’s time we told these jabronies, “Get with the programme, or get gone”. That’s the only language that they understand, I fear.

BMD

The Hegira of the Manton Six: Zealotry Without Knowledge

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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

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

St Serafim Sarovsky

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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.

NB:

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

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