Jacobďż˝s Well Spring/Summer 2020
Published with the blessing of His Eminence, The Most Reverend Michael, Archbishop of New York and the Diocese of New York & New Jersey Editor-in-Chief
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Jesus Washing Peter's Feet (2020) by Sophie Maliniak Frontispiece
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| From the Fathers | 40 40
Diocesan Diocesan Life Life
| Scripture | | Scripture | 44 44
by Presbyter Matthew Brown
| History |
by Nick Tabor
10 History of the Cathedral: Part I 10 by Craig Truglia History of the Cathedral Part 1 "The Pentecostal Church Prepared Me to Orthodox" Anbe Interview with Jasiel Rodriguez
| Theology & Culture | | Theology & Culture | 52 52
In Memory of Archpriest Paul Paul Lazor Lazor
by Archpriest John Shimchick
Feature Essays 20 24
Shelter Ethics: Thomas Merton and a Merton and the Coronavirus Reflection on the by Presbyter Joel Weir Corona Virus
by Presbyter Joel Weir
Why I Became Catholic and Not Orthodox Why I Became Catholic by Professor Robert Moore-Jumonville and Not Orthodox
by Professor Robert Moore-Jumonville
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Parenting and| Disability Life 60 |OnFamily "Do Not Claim Anything as Your Own" Apocalyptic Koinonia
by Roman A. Montero
The Desire to Dominate or Be Dominated? Dominated
by Professor Adam DeVille Adam Deville Hemispheres
Race and American Orthodoxy Interview with Fr. Moses Berry
Raising a Child with Disabilities
| Poetry |
â€œThe Loveofofathe Neighbor is a Sacramentâ€? The Love Neighbor as Sacrament: Paul Evdakimov's Evdokimov's Vision Vision of of Church and Society
by Brent Cline
by Professor Brent Cline
by Archpriest Michael Plekon
The Myth of the "Monophysites" Non-Chalcedonians
by Stefan Johansson
by Craig Truglia
interview with Jasiel Rodriguez by Nick Tabor
Codifying the Canon of the New Testament New Testament Canon
by Professor Jeane Constantinou by Professor Jeannie Constantinou
7 An Interview with Archbishop Michael 7 Archbishop by Nick TaborMichael's 10th Anniversary
An Ornament for the Altar: Chrysostom and Eutropius
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4 Letter from the Editor 4 Letter by Presbyter Brown fromMatthew the Editor
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2020 Diocesan Graduates Kid's Pages
However, Christianity subverts the ordinary hierarchical patterns. Christ articulates this most clearly in the Gospel passage where James and John ask to sit at His right and left hand in the Kingdom to come. He seizes the opportunity to instruct the twelve, saying: “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave —just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28). Living with the tension
by Presbyter MATTHEW BROWN
ierarchy has a bad reputation. We associate it with oppression, abuse of power, and corruption. Equality, on the other hand, we see as a virtue, especially those of us in Western societies. Consider all the major revolutions of the modern period, including the American Revolution, French Revolution, and the many socialist revolutions of the 20th century. Was each one not a struggle for a more equal society? The slogans of these movements are still familiar to us today: “All men are created equal,” “liberty, equality, fraternity,” and “workers of the world, unite!” And yet, what exactly is meant by equality is often unclear. And this helps explain why something so ‘obviously’ good can be met with such rancor. We do not all operate with the same conceptualization of equality, nor is that concept always entirely clear in our own minds. This is why certain issues surrounding equality — like gender parity, transgender identity, gay rights, racism, immigration, and wealth inequality — are so divisive. We think of hierarchy and equality as merely pertaining to the realm of human society, as if they were some veneer that could be stripped. They are far deeper than that. The truth is that we have a deep biological attachment to hierarchy. We are neurochemically wired to seek our place in the dominance hierarchy of our social group; recent advances in neural imaging and molecular technology have only made this more clear. The same principle is true for almost all animal life, down to crustaceans. It is also reflected in our religious lives: in worship, we recognize that God is at the top of the cosmic hierarchy, and in this way we flourish inside the most stable and enduring dominance hierarchy of all, the one that is completely transcendent.
Another way to frame hierarchies is by seeing them as structures of competence. In terms of evolution, hierarchies have traditionally helped ensure the greatest chance of group survival. When a hierarchy does not place the best people in the best places for their given abilities, for the greatest good of the group, it’s bound to eventually collapse. Corrupt hierarchies just do not last. Competent hierarchies do. Hierarchy also has an existential root. All values are hierarchical. To value something is to prefer it over something else, to judge it as better. In fact, hierarchy and inequality give life purpose and meaning. To posit an aim for your life is to put something at the top and make other pursuits subservient to it. Without hierarchies, we couldn’t make choices or even survive. Even the desire to survive over not surviving is itself a hierarchy of value. Hierarchy is an unavoidable and permanent aspect of reality. Order itself is inherently hierarchical; the only alternative is undifferentiated chaos. However, our place in the social hierarchy is determined by comparison to others — not by some absolute metric. Take poverty, for example. We feel we are rich or poor, not based on whether we have food, whether our kids can go to school, or whether we have enough clothes, but in terms of how fashionable our clothes are compared to our neighbor's, or how big our house is compared to our friends’ houses. We might be rich compared to people who lived hundreds of years ago, but that isn’t enough for us to perceive ourselves as being rich. All social hierarchies are relative in this same manner. This demonstrates to us how socially bound our sense of purpose, achievement, and meaning is. The trouble is that inequalities tend to produce resentment, violence, and social instability. Consider the condemnation of the prophets in the Old Testament. Was not their chief message to the people of Israel that the rich and powerful were oppressing the weak and poor among them, and that God was angry about it? What usually followed if they were not repentant? Violence and social upheaval. The correlation between inequality and social instability is well established. As social stratification increases, so does the society’s instability. That is why, for example, increases of violence in any given city or region can usually be explained by increases in inequality.
Lazarus (1864) Daziel Brothers, engraving after John Everett Millais Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Democracy itself can only properly function below a certain level of inequality. When a few select people control too large a share of the resources, a society can only continue as a democracy in name alone. Furthermore, if social inequality becomes too pronounced, the society itself can collapse. Consider the Ming Dynasty of 17thcentury China, the Russian Empire on the eve of the revolution, or the Weimar Republic. They all share in common vast economic and social inequality followed abruptly by societal collapse and revolution. So where and when has equality been achieved? In his 2018 book The Great Leveler, the Stanford historian Walter Scheidel examines patterns of wealth and income inequality (which are just one aspect of inequality,
broadly speaking) from the Stone Age to the present day. He finds that even 15,000 years ago, in Neolithic huntergatherer societies, resources were distributed unevenly, indicating that wealth and income inequality are as old as humans themselves. He also found that inequality tends to be greater in agrarian societies than among huntergatherers. It seems that inequality is linked to resource abundance. As soon as there is a surplus of any kind, Scheidel demonstrates, inequality tends to emerge. And the more advanced a society, the greater the abundance of resources it has, and therefore the greater the inequality. Historically this holds true. Attempts to innovate our way out of inequality and the injustice associated with it often produce more inequality instead. 5
The only phenomena that have historically leveled out the wealth and income of societies are what Scheidel calls the four horsemen: mass warfare; violent, transformative social revolutions; societal collapse; and catastrophic plagues. Sorry for the bad news. What this means is that wealth and income inequality have only ever been achieved by removing the surplus. There are deep reasons that inequality, at least in the economic realm, is so persistent—deeper than mere economic policies or systems. On this point Alexander Solzhenitsyn aptly wrote, “Humans are born with different abilities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.” What is to be done?
So if we cannot eradicate inequality, how can we blunt its worst effects? There are conceivably two dimensions to remedying the problems of inequality: mitigating inequality in society, and changing our negative response to the inequality that persists. One is external and the other internal. Both are necessary. The social dimension requires us to pair the inverted spiritual hierarchy of our Christian tradition with the best science, economics, and philosophy to find the solution to reducing inequality without producing a cure that is worse than the disease. As great as capitalism and meritocracy are, they do produce greater inequality precisely because they produce greater abundance. At the same time, we can learn from the catastrophic failure of authoritarian regimes in the 20th century. Those regimes failed in large part because they only tried to address the distribution of wealth without sufficient cultivation of personal virtue. Too often these regimes encouraged an attitude aimed at fixing the problems of other men without fixing those in one’s own soul. One saw the speck but not the plank. We must both labor to ease the suffering produced by inequality, as the Church has always done through its charitable work, and address the systems and persons of power who are responsible for the inequality, which the Church also has always done. It is the prophetic voice of the Church perhaps best exemplified by Saint John the Baptist. We must treat the symptoms and the disease. I believe we begin first by working to make our churches into communities in which equality thrives in the midst of a healthy and valid hierarchy. We must try to believe and practice what Saint Paul taught us, that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). We must work to achieve the harmony between equality and hierarchy within ourselves, within the Church. Only then can we go out into the world with any kind of authority and offer a remedy to what ails society. We must also guard ourselves against resentment, envy, and despair. We remember Christ’s words, “I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink, I was naked jacob's well
and you clothed Me” (Matt. 25:35). Our neighbor’s joys are ours. His hardships are ours also. Embedded in the Gospel is the cure to the problem of hierarchy and equality: We invert the hierarchy. “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Consider our Lord’s condescension in the flesh — his willingness to unite himself with those further down the hierarchy, that they might be raised up. Can we not imitate this in our own social hierarchies? Is not this part of the solution: voluntary self-abasement out of love? “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25). Jesus is not the only one inverting the hierarchies and preaching a kind of voluntary condescension down social hierarchy. The Church Fathers were also ardent critics of wealth and income inequality. Contemplate this quote by Saint Ambrose of Milan (4th century): “You are not making a gift of your possession to the poor man. You are handing over to him what is his.” If that didn’t prick your conscience enough, hear what the Didache—a 1st-century work written before the gospel of John—says: “Share everything with your brother. Do not say, 'It is private property.' If you share what is everlasting, you should be that much more willing to share things which do not last.” Perhaps the Gospel holds more promise than political ideologies for ameliorating the pernicious side of inequality. Perhaps personal transformation and voluntary communities based on equality, like the early Church, represent the best path forward to reforming systems of inequality. Perhaps such economic policies only work when founded upon a people who have cultivated the virtue necessary for such policies to function. And perhaps this burden falls heaviest upon those at the top of any given hierarchy, whether it be wealth, intelligence, or any characteristic or ability of value, to voluntarily work to mitigate the problem of inequality by discerning the best use of their surplus for the general welfare of all mankind. “To whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12:48). This does not preclude political action; it merely establishes it upon its proper foundation. There has to be broad societal buy-in for antiinequality policies or programs to work. Changing hearts and minds is essential, which is why one of the best things the Christian Church can offer the world is its theology of stewardship and its own faithful and radical adherence to that theology. All we possess, whether it be wealth or some valuable talent, belongs to all men, for the very reason that God, the source of all these possessions, has given himself freely and equally to us all. We are all coheirs with Christ and therefore all have an equal share in the common inheritance of His creation.
REV. MATTHEW BROWN is the Secretary of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey (OCA) and the Editor-in-Chief of Jacob’s Well. He is the rector of Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Saddle Brook, New Jersey.
Photo courtesy of the Diocese of New York & New Jersey
An Interview with Archbishop Michael social crisis.
that experience to the seminary and to our Diocese. I looked at the seminary community —faculty, staff and students and their families — as a family, just as I look at the clergy and faithful of the Diocese as a family. And I try to be a father as best I can.
When you became bishop, you had several decades’ worth
Can you describe what that transition has been like?
of experience in parish ministry. But I would think your
The large amount of travel that I have to do is difficult in the sense that I am not a fan of driving, especially long distances. I like to go places and I love arriving there and staying there. The challenge for me is getting there and then back home— especially in the winter. In parish life, you are pretty much set in one
Archbishop Michael (Dahulich) was consecrated bishop of the Diocese of New York and New Jersey on March 30, 2010. In this interview, he reflects on his first decade, the state of the diocese under Covid-19, and the Church’s responsibilities in times of
current role is much different.
Before I became the Dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary and then a bishop, I had 28 ½ years of experience in two communities as a parish priest. That’s all I ever wanted to be since I was 14: a priest. That’s all I really ever knew. I brought
place. A bishop travels every weekend — the canons say a bishop should visit his parishes at least once every year — so during Lent, sometimes I am in four parishes each week. I am grateful that, at least on weekends, I have a driver. What parts of the bishopric were you not prepared for?
I think that seriously disciplining clergy is the hardest thing for me. Having to take away someone’s priesthood or diaconate— there is no more painful a decision or action that I can think of. Nothing prepares you for it, even the experience of having done it before. It is heart-wrenching, almost like throwing a son or daughter out of the household. No parent is ever prepared to do that. Is there anything you’ve had to unlearn?
The work I do is sometimes very challenging, and I have to remind myself not to take it personally. I can’t make it about me. My first responsibility is to the Lord; I am just a “vessel of clay in the Potter’s hand,” in the words of Jeremiah. I serve at His pleasure, and one day someone else will be the bishop of New York and New Jersey. It can’t be just my vision, only my program, always my way —it has to be the Master’s way. That’s why I seek the counsel of my chancellors and deans, the members of the Synod and His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon: so that I don’t make it about me. Could you describe a couple of the most memorable events of your tenure?
I was privileged to serve Liturgy in the Holy Land, especially at Bethany School for Girls, which our diocese supported. There are a number of orphaned Orthodox Christian girls there, and it is run by Russian Orthodox nuns. Those girls sang the responses to the Liturgy for us! I was also invited to help consecrate a new church in Slovakia, not far from where my grandparents lived before they came to America. And I was privileged to be the guest at the annual Pilgrimage for the Feast of the Transfiguration at Grabarka, Poland — with 27,000 pilgrims in attendance—to help anoint at Vigil and help give Communion at Liturgy to throngs and throngs of faithful! You are still an administrator at St. Tikhon’s as well. How do you balance those responsibilities with your work in our diocese?
Yes, I serve as the rector (the bishop who oversees the seminary) and I teach Scripture and Ethics there, usually three courses in the fall semester and two in the spring (because of the demands of Lent). I pretty much focus the first part of each week on St. Tikhon’s and the rest of each week on the Diocese. jacob's well
Do you see a relationship between the two?
I think the relationship between the two is teaching. As a professor, my chief job is to teach my students; and as a bishop, one of my chief roles is that of teacher. In fact, I am prayed for in the Liturgy to “rightly divide the word of Thy truth.” So, I teach future deacons and priests at St. Tikhon’s, and clergy and faithful in the Diocese, by the words I speak, and hopefully by the example I set. Also, seminarians inspire me with their yearning to learn, their exuberance to serve, and their love for the Lord. Teaching them rejuvenates me for the work I do as a bishop. Could you give us a brief rundown on the state of the Diocese?
These are certainly challenging times for the Church, here in America and throughout the world. Secularism, materialism, and atheism are all on the rise. Many younger people want to be “spiritual” but not affiliated with a given church. The “nones and dones” are also on the rise. Often people don’t stay in New York and New Jersey all their lives, like my grandparents and parents did; the cost of living, job opportunities, taxes, and the weather all invite them to move, especially to the South. However, I am pleased to say that over the last few years, we have seen consistent growth of a few hundred new people each year in our parishes, many of them young. We have opened a number of mission parishes in the last 10 years and have ordained more deacons and priests. In fact, there are now three deacons and three priests awaiting ordination. And we have a few Diocesan students who will be studying at St. Vladimir’s and St. Tikhon’s Seminaries when the new school year begins. But we still need more priests. There are senior priests who can’t retire until we have replacements, and there are missions we would like to open but we need priests to serve them. So please pray for vocations; please support our seminarians. What kinds of trends were we seeing before the pandemic? Where are parishes growing and where are they shrinking? What were you observing on your pastoral visits?
I would explain the trends this way: It is much harder for parishes with older demographics to grow. People seeking a faith are looking for it in a community’s life. Parish growth is most consistently evident, I have found, in parishes where the priest is working very hard and has members of his parish working with him, inviting people to come and see, to visit the parish; welcoming newcomers; helping them understand the services; introducing them to others at the fellowship hour; often becoming their sponsors. When parish growth is seen as (almost) everyone’s responsibility, the results can be phenomenal! And once these new people are received, like St. Paul, we have to make sure they remain solid in the faith, with follow-up and encouragement.
How have the events of the past couple months
Many of us Orthodox in America take pride in the
changed the overall state of affairs?
moment when Archbishop Iakovos, from the Greek
The pandemic stopped every parish in its tracks. For many weeks, parish churches were either completely closed (if priests were elderly or compromised health-wise), or reduced to skeleton crews of less than five persons. It was an unprecedented challenge to Church life. We accepted these limitations, not because we thought Church life was not essential, as some authorities did state, but out of love for our brothers and sisters, to stop the spread of the virus and help preserve as many lives as possible. For months, of course, New York and New Jersey—especially New York City— constituted the epicenter of this pandemic in our country. Our clergy’s response has been incredibly creative. Most parishes began live-streaming their limited services. Bible studies, educational classes, council meetings, and even coffee hour have migrated to online video platforms. Many priests told me their online participation exceeded what they had had in person before the pandemic— no doubt, in part, because there was such a reduction in other activities that competed with the programs offered by the Church.
Orthodox Archdiocese of America, marched with
What will be your biggest concerns on the other side of this, and what has given you hope lately?
I certainly hope that everyone who was coming to church before the pandemic struck will return, and that people who discovered services online will visit and stay. I certainly pray that no one, having stayed home for all this time, will choose to continue doing so once conditions are safe again. Of course, I am hopeful that as good stewards, our faithful will continue contributing for the day-today operation of their parishes. Parish budgets depend upon faithful giving. I say that knowing that the economic consequences of this pandemic, including the permanent loss of millions of jobs, present us with longterm challenges. Truly, it is not an easy time. But so far, donations made online or by mail have sustained our churches through this time of crisis. Now we’re living through even more upheaval, this time over race relations and policing. How should church leaders respond to something like this?
It is most appropriate for bishops to take a public stance in the face of tragic events like those that have unfolded in our country in the past few weeks. The Church, through Her hierarchs, must condemn racism and inequality, hatred and prejudice, and brutality and abuse, as well as actions of violence and vengeance. It is our role to present the alternatives of Christ—seeing in everyone the image and likeness of God; following the Golden Rule; offering the fruits of the Spirit; not repaying evil with evil, but overcoming evil with good; and loving our neighbor and loving even those who hate us.
Martin Luther King in 1965. How do you think that moment compares to this one?
Speaking of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we do well to remember his words on this subject: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate; violence multiplies violence in a descending spiral of destruction.” Peaceful marches of protest are a distinctive hallmark of American freedom and progress. And when Archbishop Iakovos marched with Dr. King, that was a monumental moment in our Church’s history and our relationship with the entire African American community. This year Archbishop Elpidophoros, also of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, marched in New York City with peaceful protestors, as did some of our clergy. That’s a great thing. I have marched every year in support of the pro-life movement. I didn’t march this past month, because of the pandemic. Not everyone was wearing masks or social distancing. I am over 65, and I have an injured lung from a car accident many years ago, which makes me susceptible. But taking a peaceful stand is important. However, the work of establishing justice and equality, and peace and love among all peoples in our country, cannot be achieved by one-time efforts alone; it must be an ongoing process of change, of true repentance. And some kinds of evil, according to our Savior, are only driven out “by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). This is why I have invited all of our Diocesan family to join with me in a “Year Dedicated to Reconciliation and An End to Civil Strife” by praying and fasting on the first day of every month, beginning Wednesday, July 1: by praying the Akathist to the African Saints, and the Prayer for Racial Reconciliation, at 12:00 noon, and abstaining from eating lunch that day. (For those who cannot pray and fast at noon that day, they should choose another meal from which to fast, and another time to pray the Akathist, or at least offer the Prayer for Racial Reconciliation, which is at the conclusion of the service, if that is all that they have time to do). We need to ask the Lord to help each of us become an instrument of peace and reconciliation. Those who truly pray and fast for this cause cannot be at the same time instruments of hatred and violence. We need to pray to Him to bring an end to the strife that divides the people of this country from one another, and to make us all instruments of that process. Interview by Nick Tabor
Photo: Tagor Vojnovic
The Cathedral A History of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection of New York Part I: 1870-1943
by CRAIG TRUGLIA Adapted from the 1993 article “Continuity of Life in Unity of Faith: A History of the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection of New York,” by Fr. Christopher Calin.
ocated on East 2nd Street in Manhattan’s East Village, the Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection of New York has been the seat of many archbishops and metropolitans since 1870. Its history is not simply that of a building or a singular parish—it is, in many ways, a microcosm of the Orthodox experience in America. One cannot tell this history without surveying how Orthodoxy began in New York, its many hurdles and bumps along the way, its saints and its sinners, and despite it all, the perseverance of New York’s Orthodox Christians. This article will cover the beginnings of New York’s great Orthodox cathedral through 1943. Our next article will span from then up to the present day. Part I: Orthodoxy makes its first in-roads in New York City
Orthodoxy is often viewed as a “missionary religion” in the United States, brought by immigrants from historically Orthodox homelands to new homes throughout the nation. In New York City, however, things began a little differently. Father Nicholas
Bjerring, who founded the city’s first parish in 1870, was in fact a convert to Russian Orthodoxy. Bjerring, who was born in Denmark, taught philosophy at a Roman Catholic seminary in Baltimore before he came to New York. He was first exposed to Orthodoxy by reading a scholarly journal called L’Union Chrétienne, edited by a French Jesuit convert. The catalyst for his conversion was the 1870 Roman Catholic council popularly called “Vatican I,” which officially dogmatized Papal infallibility. In response to the council, Bjerring wrote to Pope Pius IX in 1870, accusing the Roman Catholic Church of lacking true catholicity—in contrast, he said, to the Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Isidore of Saint Petersburg took notice, and about a month later, he ordained Bjerring to the Holy Diaconate and then to the priesthood in quick succession. Bjerring served his first Divine Liturgy in German at a chapel in Russia. At the time, there were only a few Orthodox parishes in the United States outside of Alaska. Bjerring was tasked with opening the first Orthodox chapel in New York City. The Russian Orthodox Church did not have a Patriarch—it was under the firm control of the Imperial Russian state—and the political leaders wanted a church in New York for diplomatic reasons. The goal was to expose Americans and foreign dignitaries visiting New York to Russian culture. 11
In November of 1870, Bishop Paul of Alaska consecrated the parlor of Bjerring’s home at Second Avenue and 50th Street (now the site of a gastropub) for use as a chapel. This “house church” was named the Chapel of the Holy Trinity and remained active for about 15 years. Just as the Holy Synod planned, it was visited by multiple bishops and dignitaries from around the world. The feasts of the Church were regularly celebrated as were Russian and Greek civil holidays, according to the Julian “Old” Calendar. While this small chapel may at first glance have seemed very foreign, it was also distinctly American. All the services held there were initially in English. An English translation of the Divine Liturgy had been approved by the Holy Synod and published in 1865. The translation was completed anonymously by Fr. Stephen G. Hatherly, himself also a convert and an Orthodox priest in England under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Saint Innocent of Alaska, the Metropolitan of Moscow, assisted the small parish in New York. He chose the best seminarians out of Saint Petersburg Academy to help serve with Bjerring. These included E.V. Smirnoff (who later became a chaplain in London) and A.I. Mikhailovsky and Alexander Pavlovich Lopukhin (both of whom later taught at Saint Petersburg Academy). In a travelogue of his time in America, Lopukhin described the parish as “not large but diversified.” Its membership comprised both Greeks and Russians, Serbs and Syrians, members of consulates, and recent immigrants to New York. Between 1870 and 1880, there were records of 55 baptisms, 12 marriages, 14 burials, and four receptions of converts to Orthodoxy. The small church was a curiosity to clerics of all denominations as well as to the secular dignitaries who regularly visited—but this would prove to be the parish’s main purpose to its Russian financial supporters. When funding was withdrawn in 1885, Bjerring was asked to close the church and move to Saint Petersburg to teach in its academy. This apparently was so jarring to him that he later apostatized, first to Presbyterianism (where he took up social activism, at that time called by Protestants the “Social Gospel”), and later back to Roman Catholicism when the Presbyterian Church reneged on funding his activist efforts. He died a Roman Catholic layman in 1900. Part II: An Orthodox resurgence and the Church of Saint Nicholas
Orthodoxy’s inauspicious beginnings in New York soon morphed into long-term success. At the time, no one knew that many of the men serving and passing through New York City’s church would later prove to be saints, venerated worldwide by the Orthodox faithful. jacob's well
In 1895, the Holy Synod began taking seriously the increasing number of Russian immigrants settling in the city. The Synod established a church in rented rooms at Second Avenue and 78th Street, naming it the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas. The parish’s first rector, Fr. Evtikhiy Balanovich, returned to Russia after only one year. Its second priest, however, was none other than St. Alexander Hotovitsky. Hotovitsky was a Russian immigrant from Volhynia, a tiny region in present-day Ukraine that was part of the Russian Empire. He was the son of a rector at Volhynia Theological Academy. After graduating from Saint Petersburg Academy in 1895, Hotovitsky was ordained a reader and attached to the Church of Saint Nicholas. After his ordination to the priesthood, Hotovitsky began raising funds to construct a permanent building for the parish. Considerable sums were donated by wealthy Russian citizens, including Saint Tsar Nicholas II. Fr. Alexander also supported efforts to plant new parishes throughout the region. With his help, Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church was founded in Yonkers in 1898 and St. Basil’s Russian Orthodox Church in Watervliet in 1901. He admonished the 19 men who were to form the Watervliet parish with the following words: You are a mustard seed that shall rise and grow till its branches overshadow the Earth. You are a few, but this is the work of God. His smile is upon you and your children shall fill the Earth forever.
Hotovitsky laid the cornerstone at St. Basil’s later that year and would travel regularly from New York City to serve the Divine Liturgy there. He also assisted other new parishes in New Jersey, such as Three Saints Russian Orthodox Church in Garfield and Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church in South River. By 1901 he had raised enough money to build a church at Fifth Avenue and 97th Street. Bishop Tikhon visited in 1901 to bless the cornerstone. By 1904, the Russian Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas became the Diocesan Cathedral (and therefore Bishop Tikhon’s see for his ministries in the United States). That same year, Fr. Raphael Hawaweeny (later known as St. Raphael of Brooklyn) was ordained a bishop at the cathedral so he could minister to all North America’s Arab parishes. A few years later, in 1907, Bishop Tikhon returned to Russia, becoming Patriarch of Moscow. Before leaving, he said the following to the parishioners in New York City: Forgive me my cathedral church. You are precious and dear to me. During my ministry as bishop you were created, during my ministry you were beautified,
Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow
and during my ministry you were made a cathedral. It may be that to those who have seen the magnificent cathedrals in Russia you seem small and poor; you do not sparkle with gold and silver and precious stones as do those temples. But for Orthodox Russians who have suffered long without a temple, you are a precious treasure. Part III: A time of troubles
For the Orthodox Church in America, now growing rapidly, the future appeared very bright. However, things quickly changed with the advent of World War I, which set off a cascade of events that led to the Russian Revolution and, ultimately, the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe. Bishop Tikhon, who was by then the Patriarch of Moscow, was imprisoned by the Soviets in 1923. He was released later that year, but he was already ill, and he died in 1925. He is now venerated as a saint and remembered as a confessor of the faith. Hotovitsky, who followed Patriarch Tikhon back to Russia in 1914, was martyred—executed by firing squad in 1937. Leadership of the Church in America was intended to transition to Bishop Platon (Rozhdestvensky), who was ordained Metropolitan of North America before Patriarch Tikhon’s repose. However, he and the Church of Saint Nicholas itself were in a sense also casualties of the Russian Revolution. Meanwhile, a reform movement that had splintered from the church in Russia was also expanding its influence in North America. The Renovationists, also known as The Living Church, distinguished themselves from the main body of Russian Christians in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, when they argued for liturgical reforms and took an accommodationist stance toward their country’s new regime. Against
St. Alexander Hotovitsky
the canons of the Church, they appointed Fr. John Kedrosky, a married priest from Connecticut, as a rival to Metropolitan Platon. The Renovationists moved to seize the Church of Saint Nicholas. In 1925, after a lengthy process of litigation that worked its way up to the New York Court of Appeals, the church was lost to the schismatics. Dispossessed of his cathedral, Metropolitan Platon accepted an offer from the Episcopalians to hold services at St. Augustine’s Chapel on East Houston Street. At this time, the Lower East Side had one of the largest concentrations of Russians in America. In fact, most of St. Nicholas’s parishioners lived closer to the Episcopal church than their own church uptown. St. Augustine’s Chapel became, in effect, America’s new Orthodox cathedral. Archpriest (and future Metropolitan) Leonid Turkevich, who is now being considered for canonization, served the first Divine Liturgy there in 1926. On Palm Sunday of that year, the Episcopalians allowed the Orthodox community to consecrate part of the chapel as their own cathedral. By one account, they installed a soundproof wall to mark the boundary. These makeshift accommodations would hold them over until 1943, when they would buy the building of the Olivet Memorial German Reformed Church, two blocks up the road.
[continued next issue]
CRAIG TRUGLIA is a civil servant living in Syracuse, New York. He is a parishioner at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, which is part of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. He blogs at OrthodoxChristianTheology.com. 13
A Dominican Convertâ€™s Journey jacob's well
Photo courtesy of Jasiel Rodriguez
"The Pentecostal Church Prepared Me to Be Orthodox"
an interview with JASIEL RODRIGUEZ Jasiel Rodriguez, who was born in the Dominican Republic
I’m picturing all the Latino storefront churches I’ve
and grew up in the Bronx, now directs the choir at St. Mary
seen in Brooklyn. In the evenings, you’ll walk by and
Magdalene Orthodox Church in Manhattan. We asked him
see pastors preaching, with bands behind them. Were
to explain how his faith took this unusual course.
you playing in those kinds of churches or mostly bigger ones?
You were born in the Caribbean, right? When did you move to the U.S.?
I moved here when I was 9 years old, back in February of '01. I've been living in New York ever since—19 years now. My dad's side of the family still lives in the Dominican Republic, and my mom's side of the family lives here in the U.S., all over the States. So, you went to high school in New York?
Yeah, I went to two different high schools. First, I went to Cristo Rey, a Catholic high school, in East Harlem. “El Barrio” is what they call that area. Then I went to the Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, which is what I always wanted to do. My last few years there, it was really, really, really fun playing music. What is your main instrument?
Well, my main instrument is not the one I started with. See, I did not grow up Orthodox—I grew up Pentecostal. When I was nine years old, I picked up the drums from just going to church and looking at what the drummer would do. Then when I was about 11, my family visited this new church. They needed a piano player, and I said I would do it. I picked up piano kind of on my own, and since then, it has been my main instrument. But I've also learned how to play the guitar and the bass—all the rock-band instruments. And you stayed in New York after high school?
Yes. I tried going to school for music audio technology. I wasn't really feeling it, so I left. I was able, by the grace of God, I say, to do a full-time church gig. I was the music director at The Beautiful Church, over here in the Bronx. I directed music there for maybe three years, but then my dad became a pastor, so I left that behind to help my dad with music. His church is called The Church of All Souls; it’s an Assemblies of God church in the Bronx. It’s mostly Latino. Then I became the music director for the youth ministry of the Bronx section of the Assemblies of God. I would also play in bands and we would travel to different states.
My dad's church is not a storefront church—it has a pretty decent size congregation—but many times we would go and play at storefront churches, for sure. The bulk of the time we would spend at retreats and conventions. I was a part of what the AG calls the Spanish Eastern District, which is the biggest district in the U.S. Right now I think it has about 500 churches. The Assemblies of God, for a long time, was my life. I was pretty much immersed in it. Seems like a big jump from there to St. Mary Magdalene. What was the catalyst?
Well, one day I stumbled upon a Christianity sub-Reddit, and there was an argument about Mary. I was reading what the Orthodox had to say about that, and about Holy Communion and other things. I was really impressed by their answers. I became super, super interested in the faith. Did this all happen in one afternoon?
It was actually over months. A different thread would come, and people would ask these questions that were very difficult for a Protestant to answer. The way the Orthodox spoke, it was just new to me. I was in love, I guess, with the language. Does any Reddit thread stand out in your memory?
There was one about Holy Communion and about the real Presence. Somebody linked to St. Ignatius of Antioch, who said basically that those who deny that the bread and wine are the flesh and the blood of Christ are denying Christ. I struggled with that because I knew he was a disciple of St. John. I asked myself why he would say something like this. That spurred me to do some research. I came to realize that the whole consensus of the early Church was that the Eucharist is the flesh and blood of Christ. I was like, “OK, if the early Church believed this, what else did early Christians believe that is completely different than from what I've been believing and what I've always heard preached?” So I started to read the Church Fathers. 15
Many people start with primers on the faith—books written in our own time. They don’t read the Fathers until later. But you went straight to the source.
Right, because something about what they had to say really intrigued me. I know that some of these people were the disciples of the Apostles. Little by little, I learned about things like apostolic succession. It created this crazy curiosity in me. Then one day I stumbled upon a video by Fr. Barnabas Powell, who was previously a Pentecostal, same background as me. He was speaking to his catechumens about why a Pentecostal preacher would ever want to become Orthodox. He contextualized everything I was reading from the Fathers. It made me realize that the church that they were speaking about was the Orthodox Church. So when did you first visit an Orthodox church?
Oh, it was much, much later. For a whole year I was just reading about the Orthodox Church, up until the point where I guess my mind was Orthodox. I was even saying Orthodox prayers without any sort of guidance or anything like that. It wasn't until my girlfriend said, "You've been speaking about this church this whole time. Let's go." She looked up the closest one, which was St. Mary Magdalene. It was a Sunday morning, January of 2016. I believe that they were still celebrating Theophany. To this day, that's my favorite feast, because it reminds me of the first time I ever went to the church. What were your first impressions when you went there?
think I was in the most unique situation out of anybody. For maybe my first two years, to keep peace with my family, I would leave the Liturgy at a certain time and go to my dad’s church and play piano, just as an act of good faith. I even spoke with my priest about it. I was also working for another Pentecostal church during the evenings on Sundays. So, you were a devoted Orthodox Christian, but you were still playing in two Pentecostal services every week.
Yeah, yeah. It was definitely interesting, but after a while it began to take a toll on my spiritual life. I had a conversation with my dad. At first, he didn't take it very well, but he became OK with it pretty quickly. Then I had a conversation with the music director at the church where I was playing at Sunday evenings. They took it so hard. I think it's been a whole two years since I've stopped playing consistently at Pentecostal churches. Once or twice a year a friend invites me to play keys at some sort of event, and it's usually not even a service. What you’re describing is almost like when someone is a minister in a different tradition, and they have to give up their job to convert. Not many converts have to give up this much.
Yeah, for sure. And I would do it again. No hesitation, huh?
I'm home. It's where I was meant to be. Christ was waiting for me all along and I'm glad to finally be home.
It must have been built up so much in your mind.
It was. The first thing that I noticed was the smell (of incense). I didn't associate church with a certain type of smell. Now I definitely do. When I walked in, the Hours were being read. I remember saying, "Wow," and smiling and just sitting in the back. Then the deacon, Fr. Nicholas, who is now a priest at St. Nicholas in Whitestone, came over and gave us the warmest welcome I think I've ever received at any church, period. We kept going every Sunday after that. How did your family take this?
My conversion was not well received. A couple of months before I went, my father approached me in the living room one day and said he wanted to know what it was that I found so intriguing about the Orthodox Church. I tried to answer him, and it created this whole big thing with my entire family arguing with me.
Is there anything you miss about the Pentecostal church?
No, not really. I might if I had lost a lot of relationships when I left, but I didn't. My best friends to this day are still Pentecostal. We meet once a month for tacos or something. And we're all very supportive of each other. The day I was Chrismated, they were all there. So, I don't really miss anything. I think the Pentecostal church prepared me to be Orthodox, in a sense, because it puts a big emphasis on prayer and having a personal relationship with God, where prayer is key. Your walk has to be personal. In the Orthodox church, that's what it's all about. It's ultimately about becoming one with God. What do you think about the music situation in Orthodoxy? Pentecostals tend to have more resources invested in music than the OCA.
When you started going to St. Mary’s, is that when you stopped attending his church?
No. My girlfriend and I became catechumens, and we were Chrismated on Holy Saturday of that year. But I jacob's well
Well, at St. Mary’s, I think we do pretty well. We have a good choir. While we're not playing elaborate gospel music, our hymns are all prayer. I don't think there's anything more beautiful than that.
Do you miss connecting with other Dominicans at church?
I feel OK with it because the church, as I understand it, is the Kingdom. To me, that's first and foremost. It’s the Kingdom of God, where all ethnicities come together to worship Him, you know? I cherish my ethnicity, but I'm a Christian first, then everything else second.
me to be in his band without ever hearing me play. I told him that he had a lot of faith. What if I'm not good? It all worked out and we've been playing music ever since. We do shows around the city at times. It’s clear that the honeymoon with Orthodoxy is not over for you.
Have you encountered many other Latinos in the Orthodox Church?
Just two. A good friend of mine sings in the St. Mary’s choir. He used to be a choir director of another church, and he plays the trumpet. Before I was choir director, he heard me sing. We added each other on Facebook. He saw that I had a picture of me playing the piano and he asked
I don't think it ever will be. When somebody asks me what is it that I love about it, I say, "Everything." There's not a thing I don't like. There will be ups and downs in my spiritual walk, but when it comes to how I feel about the Orthodox Church, that's never going to change. “Lord have mercy,” you know? Who knows what the future holds? But, yeah. Interview by Nick Tabor
Abstract II / Music of the Spheres (2019) Dean Fogal 17
In Memory of Archpriest
Paul Lazor by Archpriest JOHN SHIMCHICK
fter I saw the works of Jean-Francois Millet, I could never look again at landscapes or humanity in the same way.” I don’t remember the name of the 19th-century American artist who said that, but I know the feeling: Once Fr. Paul Lazor came to our church in the 1960s, many of us at the Holy Trinity Parish in New Britain, CT, never saw our lives or our place before God in the same way. I had grown up in the church, had been an altar server, and knew well and liked all our pastors (the first I remember was Fr. Sergius Kuharsky and his wife, Faith). But there was something different about Fr. Paul. First, he had gone to the University of Pittsburgh on a basketball scholarship, and while there competed against players like Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, and Jerry West, who I later watched on TV playing in the NBA. His roommate at Pitt was Mike Ditka (who became a professional football player and coach); there is at least one team roster available on the internet from 1959-60 that lists them both on the same team. Basketball was my favorite sport, and I had never met anyone, let alone a priest, who ever had those kinds of experiences. But you could talk to Fr. Paul about all kinds of things: music, for instance (he especially loved Elvis and the musicians from that period), and literature—we discussed Dostoevsky and other authors. In my young eyes, I saw and felt for the first time that one could love God and the liturgical and spiritual life, be involved in the complications of a church community, and still be human: it was possible still to love sports, music, literature, and Jesus Christ and to hold it all together. I had never seen this done before. Watching him was what first made me think about becoming a priest. Fr. Paul helped me to realize that I could sing. On Sunday mornings, we would celebrate Matins before the
Divine Liturgy. For some reason, Fr. Paul invited me to sing this service with him each week. Eventually I moved from being an altar singer to the choir, and he encouraged me to gain some occasional experience directing our choir. When I went to St. Vladimir’s Seminary, I was able to major in music, direct the Seminary Choir and Octet, and work as a church choir director before ordination to the priesthood. He encouraged my mother as well, and she sang with him during weekday services when the choir director was not available. It was a golden period of her life, for he had a beautiful voice and sang with joy and dignity. My wife, Barbara, came to Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, attended our parish, and also became close to him. He celebrated our marriage there in 1980 (see the attached photo). As my parish priest, he also became my Confessor. I knew I could be honest with him about every aspect of my life. He left our parish in 1977 and joined the faculty at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where he stayed until his retirement in 2007. Once he moved to the Poconos, we remained in communication, especially over the past few years. Several weeks after our last call, he was taken to a hospital with symptoms of pneumonia (unrelated to the pandemic). He reposed on May 9. As a gift for my ordination 34 years ago, Fr. Paul gave me his first clergy cross. I still wear it today, and whenever I do, I know I’ll never think of the priesthood or our lives together before God in the same way. May his memory be eternal!
The V. REV. JOHN SHIMCHICK is the rector of the Orthodox Church of the Holy Cross in Medford, New Jersey, and the former Editor-in-Chief of Jacob's Well.
Photo courtesy of St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
"Do Not Claim Anything as Your Own" On The Economic Practices of the Early Church
by ROMAN A. MONTERO
ommunism is a nice idea in theory, but it can never work in practice.” So goes a refrain surely familiar to anyone who grew up this side of the Berlin Wall. Given the horrors committed by Marxist-Leninist regimes during the 20th century, one can understand such caution. However, in researching and writing my 2017 book, All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians, I became increasingly convinced that the first generations of Christians practiced what can properly be described as communism, and that passages to this effect in Acts 2 and 4 (e.g., “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common…”) are not idealizations or hopeful anticipations. Rather, they describe real practices, practices which were normative for the first Christian communities, and which differentiated the Christians from the surrounding culture. This arrangement included in its reach people of different social classes and ethnicities. I also became more and more convinced that these practices were not only to be found in Jerusalem for a short time but were practiced throughout the Roman Empire well into the second century. Of course, the term “communism” often sets off alarms, especially for those who grew up during the Cold War. But allow me to clarify what I mean. In All Things In Common, I use a general — non-political — definition, which is more or less the classical definition: any social arrangement or relationship governed by the rule, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” This is distinct from quid pro
St. Martin divides his cloak with a beggar (fifteenth century) Martin Schongauer Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
quo exchange relationships or top-down hierarchical relationships. I’ve drawn these categories from the discipline of anthropology, specifically as these categories are presented by the anthropologist David Graeber in his 2011 book, Debt: The First 5,000 Years. There are two reasons I use the term “communism” as opposed to other terms such as “communalism” or “communitarianism.” First, communism is the technical term used by Graeber that applies to the economic practices of the early Christians. Second, communalism and communitarianism are accompanied by the idea of a commune, or a community, with a shared culture or background, a kind of "natural" community that organizes itself accordingly. The first Christians, however, came from all different backgrounds, classes, and ethnicities. The only thing that made them a community was their dedication to Christ; they were not a commune, nor a "naturally" pre-formed community. Communism is the correct technical term in that it describes only the relationship/arrangement and not its cause. In my examination of early Christian communism, I distinguish between two types of communism: “informal communism” and “formal communism.” Informal communism refers to communism that exists spontaneously and without group enforcement. Examples might include a group of friends buying rounds at a bar, or going on a trip, where each friend is expected to pitch in and help the group and only take from the group what he needs. A staple of informal communism is the family unit. In a family, people don’t ask who owns the coffee machine; perhaps the father or the mother bought it, but everyone in the household has free access. If several family members want coffee, perhaps someone will make coffee for everyone. If the machine needs to be cleaned, whoever can clean it will do so. If the coffee runs out, whoever has money (perhaps the bread winner) will pay for more. This dynamic—which is the communist “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” dynamic—works in a family on basically all levels, from food to clothes, cars, cleaning, and the home itself. In various societies, particularly tribal and other pre-modern societies, this communist dynamic applies more universally. It is this kind of dynamic that we would find among the early Christians. This should not be at all surprising, given that the language of the first Christian communities was that of a fictive kinship (brothers and sisters in Christ). Formal communism, on the other hand, refers to communism structured by explicit rules, enforcement mechanisms, and institutions. Examples of this might be a monastery, where the duties are shared on a communist basis but regulated, up to social security programs and communes.
The communism of the early Christians involved two general arrangements. The first was a redistribution based on the collecting and distributing of goods to those in need (i.e. formal communism). We find this system described in Acts, in the Pauline epistles, in the Didache, and in the work of second-century apologists (such as Justin Martyr, who explains that “what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want”). This system also was cross-congregational (Acts: 11:27–30; Galatians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 16:1–2; 2 Corinthians 8:13–15).
The communism of the first Christians was much different than any secular attempt at overcoming systems of domination to create a society of solidarity, and was much different than any supposedly “scientific” socialism grounded in Enlightenment reason.
The other arrangement involved an admonition to sharing and a moral enforcement of mutual obligation (i.e. informal communism). The Greek word for this, koinonia, is used often throughout the early Christian literature (for example, in 1 Timothy 6:18, which commands the rich to take part in the koinonia). Koinonia could be literally rendered “communism,” since its root word is koinos (common), and what it refers to is a relationship of sharing and mutuality. In the Greco-Roman world from which Christianity sprang, there were well-known concepts of communism already in place. Aristotle, like many of his contemporaries, certainly had high praise for communism. “And the proverb ‘what friends have is common property’ expresses the truth,” he wrote in book 8 of Nicomachean Ethics, “for friendship depends on community.” Interestingly, the language used in Acts 2:42–47 and Acts 4:2–37 is the same language used by the Greek descriptions of communism among friends. It is not paralleled in earlier Jewish literature, which tells us 21
that Luke’s audience would likely have been drawing on the Greek idea of communism when reading Acts 2 and 4. The Christians, however, did not ground their communism in the same kind of hierarchical “rationality” of the Greek philosophical schools. The koinonia, or communism, of the Christians, and the commandments that underlie it, was entirely grounded in the apocalyptic eschatology of both Jesus and His disciples (which itself was grounded in Jewish apocalyptic thought). As I point out in my 2019 book Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain, many of the teachings of Jesus focused on the Kingdom of God, which stood against the kingdoms of this age. In this sense, the communism of the first Christians was much different than any secular attempt at overcoming systems of domination to create a society of solidarity, and was much different than any supposedly “scientific” socialism grounded in Enlightenment reason. The communism of the first Christians was based in faith in God and the revelation of Christ: a revelation that God's Kingdom was at hand, and that the world was to be liberated from the powers and principalities of this world and restored to communion with the divine. It was a communism of revelation, an apocalyptic koinonia. This apocalyptic worldview, and the eschatology that came with it, led to the admonitions to share and the moral enforcement of mutual obligations that grounded the informal communism of the early Christians. These admonitions are too numerous to mention—they are found all over early Christian literature — but let us look at two examples, the first from the Didache: You shall not hesitate to give, nor shall you grumble when giving, for you will know who is the good paymaster of the reward. You shall not turn away from someone in need, but shall share everything with your brother or sister, and do not claim that anything is your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more so in perishable things! (Didache, 4:7–8)
The second is from Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Plain, as reported by Luke: And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is it to YOU? Sinners also lend to sinners in order that they might get back the same. Nevertheless, love your enemies, and do good and lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High—because He is gracious upon the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:34– 35) . . . Give, and it will be given to you, they will give a good measure, pressed down, shaken, overflowing in your bosom—for that measure YOU measure out, it will be measured in return to you. (Luke 6:38)
When we take both commandments seriously and literally, we can understand how arrangements of informal communism would come about. Jesus's commandments to lend draw from Deuteronomy 15, where we have the Sabbatical year release of debts. Deuteronomy 15 reminds the Israelites that even if the Sabbatical year release is approaching, they ought to lend generously to those in need, without expecting anything in return (as the debts were soon to be released). If the commandments of Jesus, and those found in the Didache and elsewhere in early Christian literature (for instance, James 1:27 and 1 John 3:16–18), were taken at face value, then what would result is a situation where members of the early Christian community had material obligations to one another and where the poor had a claim on the community and all of its members. These commandments and injunctions are commandments, not suggestions. In fact, in my book, Jesus's Manifesto, I argue that the entire Sermon on the Plain was intended literally and normatively. In All Things in Common, I lay out the evidence that the first generations of Christians practiced both formal and informal communism, applying these commandments to their own communities. However, one piece of evidence that stands out to me is from the second-century satirist Lucian, where he describes the doctrine of the Christians as he sees it: Furthermore, their first lawgiver persuaded them that they are all brothers of one another after they have transgressed once for all by denying the Greek gods and by worshiping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws. Therefore they despise all things indiscriminately and consider them common property, receiving such doctrines traditionally without any definite evidence. (Lucian, The Passing of Peregrinus, 13)
This passage shows us what the Christians looked like to the outside. What was distinctive, what defined them and their doctrine, was their koinonia—their communism—along with their serving an executed Galilean peasant. We also know that the communism of the early Christians was abused and scammed, and from the way this is recorded in various texts (Didache, 13; Lucian’s The Passing of Peregrinus; 2 Thessalonians 3:11–12), it seems as though this included scamming the informal communist arrangements of mutual aid. This must mean that the informal communism was done to such a degree that it would be worth it for someone to pretend to be a Christian to live from it. In fact, we have evidence that the informal communism was taken so seriously that Christians would even fast in order to provide for those who were poor (Aristides, Apology, 14). What this looked like in practice is easy enough to imagine when it comes to the formal communism aspect.
We have descriptions of the formal communism — collection of funds and distribution, including daily distributions of bread to the needy—laid out for us clearly in early Christian texts (Acts 6:1–6; 1 Timothy 5:3–16; Tertullian, Apology, 39; Justin Martyr, First Apology, 67). Describing what the informal communism would look
Today's world is almost entirely engulfed by capitalism and
relationships to transactions and value to dollar amounts, is merely the refuse of this world, destined to be cast away. Like the brothers of the rich man at whose gate Lazarus sat and begged, we have Moses and the Prophets to admonish us (Luke 16:29); but we also have an example to imitate: the example of the early Church.
ROMAN A. MONTERO is an independent scholar living in Norway, and the author of All Things in Common: The Economic Practices of the Early Christians and Jesus's Manifesto: The Sermon on the Plain.
market thinking. It can be difficult to imagine a society or community organized differently. like in everyday practice is somewhat more difficult, since it was largely based on social relationships. However, imagine that the Spanish phrase, “mi casa es su casa” (“my house is your house”), was taken literally in a community. Picture, in other words, a society in which people literally viewed their possessions as being at the disposal of their neighbors, as much as they were at the disposal of their family members. I am sometimes asked what became of early Christian communism. As the scholar Peter Brown explains in his magisterial book Through the Eye of a Needle, the decline of Christian communism was partially due to the growing idea that what mattered was the state of the heart and not necessarily actions, along with the exporting of Christian ethics to members of the clergy class, such as monastics. One also suspects that the apocalyptic eschatology of early Christianity—which grounded early Christian communism, with its vision of hierarchical society turned on its head, and its vision of, and demand for, a just society of shared prosperity—did not fit well with a Christianity which was increasingly the religion of the ruling class. Today’s world is almost entirely engulfed by capitalism and market thinking. It can be difficult to imagine a society or community organized differently. As the political theorist Fredric Jameson wrote in 1991, “It seems easier for us today to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and of nature than the breakdown of late capitalism.” But for the Christian, “the world is passing away and so is its desire” (1 John 2:17), but there are "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). If that is the case, no ideology of commodification, including the ideology of this age that confines creation to a socialDarwinist struggle for survival, accumulation, and domination (Isaiah 5:8, Ecclesiastes 8:9), that reduces
Le mauvais riche dans l'enfer / The wicked rich man in hell (c.1890) James Tissot The Brooklyn Museum, New York 23
"The Love of the Neighbor is a Sacrament" Paul Evdokimov’s Vision of Church and Society
by Archpriest MICHAEL PLEKON
Without specifying the forms of social structures, the Gospel is nevertheless precise about the basic attitude in relationships among human beings, something St. John Chrysostom later would qualify as sacramental: “The love of the neighbor is a sacrament,” he would say, a sacrament because beneath the visible form of the neighbor is given the grace of the invisible presence of Christ. It is this presence which makes me the neighbor of all. The last judgment is centered upon this “sacramental attitude” towards the sick, the hungry, the poor, and prisoners.
ver fifty years ago, theologian Paul Evdokimov gave a course on the church’s social theology at the Ecumenical Center at Bossey. Evdokimov had migrated to Paris in the years after the Revolution and was in the first class at St. Sergius Theological Institute there. Fr. Sergius Bulgakov was one of his primary teachers, along with Nicolas Berdyaev and other luminaries of the émigré thinkers in Paris. Evdokimov raised his two children after his first wife’s death and spent years caring for the marginalized in ecumenical hostels in Sévres and Massey with his second wife. During the WWII occupation of France, these hostels helped protect people who were the targets of the
Nazis. Evdokimov was a faculty member at St. Sergius and an ecumenical observer at Vatican II. Of all the great writers at St. Sergius, Evdokimov was the most pastoral, the most concerned with the mission of the church to the world and, in particular, to the suffering. In this, he was close to the ministry of St. Mother Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris and her companions. The Bossey course was aimed at sketching out how Orthodox theology viewed the relationship of church and society, in light of Vatican II and of Pope Paul VI’s constant speaking out against war and for social justice. It was the early 1960s, a time of great ferment about underdeveloped countries both in the churches and in international aid groups like the World Health Organization and the United Nations agency UNESCO. European nations such as England and France were withdrawing their colonial presence in other countries, and the enormous economic gaps between the “third world” and the rest of the nations were drawing international attention. It was not only a time of such rising social and economic consciousness. It was also a time of the rediscovery of the church as the people of God and as the witness to the Gospel in the world, as exemplified
by Vatican II’s dogmatic constitutions, Lumen gentium (“Concerning the Church”) and Gaudium et spes (“On the Church in the Modern World”). As was his custom, Evdokimov later turned the core of his lectures into a longer article, published in the French Orthodox theological journal, Contacts. The essay begins with a sweeping overview of how Christians regarded the society around them throughout history, from the idyllic communalism of the Jerusalem church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and later in the post-Apostolic era, through the heyday of the Byzantine empire, the medieval period and thereafter,
to our own time. At the same time, Evdokimov cuts to the heart of things. Seeking a Gospel-based vision of how Christians should live in and confront society, he ransacks the tradition. He scours the Scriptures, then the library of writings that have come down to us, from the Didache and Letter to Diognetus to the powerful social outlook of Basil the Great and John Chrysostom, from the witness of the early desert mothers and fathers to the later Christian luminaries. As catholic as one could hope for, Evdokimov also invites us to listen to the “masters of suspicion” of the modern era — Freud, Darwin, and Marx — but puts them
Wine and Bread (2015) Alexander Antonyuk
Paul Evdokimov photo c. 1965
'A Christian alone is no Christian,' he argues, citing Tertullian’s great saying. in conversation with Christian writers such as Bulgakov and Berdyaev. Possessed of immense learning, Evdokimov urges us to also listen to the philosophers Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre, and Michel Foucault, as well as the novelist Franz Kafka and the playwright Samuel Beckett. He includes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi as exemplars of resistance, protest, and struggle. He even quotes King on praying to be an instrument of peace and freedom, love being the only way to defeat hate. It is easy to imagine that had he lived longer, he would have included Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, and when he learned of them, the American Catholic writers Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Daniel Berrigan among all the voices of witness and prophecy in the church of our time. One of Evdokimov’s great and enduring gifts is his work stressing the dignity of all vocations — monastic, married, those in orders, and the royal jacob's well
priesthood of all the baptized. He calls for all to be “ecclesial beings” and “liturgical people” who, after the Eucharist on the altar in church, celebrate the “liturgy after the liturgy,” “the sacrament of the brother/sister” that takes places in our hearts and in the hearts of those around us. This may start with coffee hour but extends to all other service and outreach the local church/parish gives to the community around it. “A Christian alone is no Christian,” he argues, citing Tertullian’s great saying. The kenosis of Christ, the self-emptying love of the Lord for the world, is the icon of our calling. Thus, with the eclipse of the corpus Christianum, the Christendom produced by the symphony of emperor and patriarch, of state and church, Evdokimov locates the mission of the church in the women and men who “become what they pray,” who also “become what they receive,” in the bread and cup —the disciples of Jesus become Jesus’ body in the world, for the life of the world. He maintains that in the church’s constant outreach to the suffering, the poor, the elderly, the sick, the persecuted, and those fleeing terror, we see the heart of following Christ and promoting the Kingdom of Heaven. No one can accuse Evdokimov of downplaying the liturgy, prayer, and Scripture, for these are the fuel of the life of diakonia (service), and this was recognized by the earliest church, as Acts attests. The preaching, teaching, breaking of bread, the prayers, and fellowship — these are accompanied by the care of widows, orphans, the hungry, and the homeless. Each of us is a place of theophany, for in us God is present and working. Evdokimov never tires of Nicolas Cabasilas’s beautiful description of God’s absurd or foolish love for us, (manikos eros), which is what each of us is called to do, to be. Christians are of the church— members of a communion of saints. Christians are in the world to be yeast, light, living water, and the “bread come down from heaven.” It is crucial to recall that Evdokimov speaks from the church. During WWII and the Nazi occupation of France, like Mother Maria Skobtsova and the other canonized martyrs of Paris, as well as his friend Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, Paul Evdokimov was active in the Resistance. We have no idea of what risks he took, what good he did in the face of Nazi monstrosity. For the rest of his life he was part of an ecumenical association that created hostels for the homeless, the displaced, and refugees; and later for third-world immigrants and students. He and his wife were house parents in these hostels. He led daily prayers, and in the issue of Contacts published in tribute after his death are testimonials to his compassion and patience, written by some of these residents of the hostels. Evdokimov experienced the “sacrament of the neighbor,” the “liturgy after the liturgy” of which he wrote. Given the divisions, the fear and suspicion, and even the hate with which we live today, Evdokimov offers some important perspectives. Several have already been noted—the vocation of all Christians to pray and work,
to draw closer to Christ and serve the neighbor, and to be neighbors to all. Seen from a different angle, the community of faith, the church is “the moral conscience of humanity.” He quotes his friend Lev Gillet’s prayer from In Thy Presence, a prayer for each of us: “Do not allow Your Word to be in my life as a sanctuary, separated from the world by some kind of cloister or wall.” Coming after the time of theocracy and of Christian empire and state-churches, but also after the horrors of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, the church of the 21st century may be without persecution but also the official legitimation of a state/empire. Evdokimov sees the church as free to uniquely witness to the Kingdom’s way of life, one of sharing of resources, of justice and respect for all with no exceptions, and of compassion for the suffering. Just as the church rejected the oppression and collectivism of Soviet regimes, the church also stands against the rampant individualism, consumerism, and inhumanity of capitalism. Evdokimov warned that Christians should not substitute some idealized, romantic version of their own communion for either of these destructive forms of political, economic, and social organization. The church, as the Christ, is the suffering servant of all, and the Lover who constantly pursues the beloved, always giving but never compelling. Though it did in the past, the church must turn forever from the impulse to dominate either its own members of the Body or the world around it. In his writings based on that course at the Ecumenical Institute, Evdokimov often points to an area of his specialization, the Russian religious thinkers of the last two centuries. In so doing, he shares the genius of the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov, who harbored the almost absurd hope that Christians could raise all the dead, as a kind of foretaste of the age to come. He also credits the insights of Gogol, Solovyov, and Khomiakov on community as church. He lifts up Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, and Berdyaev’s recognition of the social truth of the Gospel, the divine challenge to end inequality and suffering, which was so poorly served by the Bolsheviks. Evdokimov envisions with them, and with many other Christian thinkers, the authentic socialism which reflects the justice and peace of the Kingdom, over against the greed and power of so many governments and corporations. Writers and artists must be listened to whether they declare themselves believers or not. Hence his mentioning Sartre and Beckett and the others noted above. Evdokimov recognized that they force us to see the anguish and emptiness of our time despite the affluence. They challenge our beliefs to winnow out superstition and fantasy about who God is and how God acts in the world — and about our own responsibilities. The church’s social ethics are rooted in what Jesus says and does in the Gospels.
If secularized humanism denies God, if extreme asceticism denies the world, if pietism exclusively accents God’s transcendence, the ethics of the Eastern church are rooted in a total vision balanced between transcendence and immanence, between the heavenly and the earthly. It is the Gospel ethic of the “friends of God,” Macarius’ ethics of the heart, Berdyaev’s ethic of creation.
Knowing personally the violence of the Russian revolution and two world wars, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the nuclear arms race, the Cold War, and, at the end of his life, the civil rights movement, King’s assassination, the Vietnam war, and the student uprisings in 1968, Evdokimov can still speak of a completely other violence —“the Kingdom of the heavens has been violently assailed, and the violent seize it.” (Matt. 11:12) He knows Gandhi’s preaching of nonviolence and Dr. King’s adoption of it. There is a holy violence which does not seek to destroy or discredit even one’s opponents. It is the urgency of seeking the Kingdom and its righteousness or justice. It is a willingness to sacrifice for those who are oppressed or in need. Just as with the inability of many in King’s own black churches to grasp nonviolence, not to mention the more militant, this non-destructive, ethically purposed and spiritually based “violence” does not destroy property or bodies, though willing to be abused and attacked. If there is an authentic “theology of revolution,” then it is found here, where the tax collectors and prostitutes and other notorious sinners go before us into the Kingdom. (Matt. 21: 31) The real revolution is the “change of heart,” the conversion or transformation Jesus speaks of in His first words. (Mark 1: 15) It is impossible in a few pages to do justice to the richness of Evdokimov’s vision of the church’s social teaching and the social mission of Christians. One last perspective of his must be mentioned, and it is the one most likely to evoke disagreement and to cause trouble. He quotes at some length John Chrysostom’s extremely radical words about wealth and the wealthy. We know the payback John received for this defiant preaching from the state that supported the church in the 4th century—John was put on a death march! And this was for boldly saying that: The rich are stealing from the poor even if what they have is honestly acquired or legally inherited…In refusing to give and share we thus earn the punishment of thieves. We are as guilty as the tax collectors who use the money of all for their own needs. The rich are a category of thieves…Do not say, I enjoy what is mine. You are enjoying the property of others. All the things of this earth belong to all of us together, just as the sun, the air, the ground, and everything else. (Hom. 11 on Lazarus, Hom. 10 on I Cor. 3:4)
Evdokimov proceeds to line up and quote a parade of other notables echoing Chrysostom — Basil the Great, 27
Evdokimov makes it clear that the kind of giving these holy women and men have in mind is not the dollar we slip into the Salvation Army drum or the cash we spend at a charity bazaar. Gregory Nazianzus, Jerome, Ambrose, Symeon the New Theologian, Sergius of Radonezh, Tikhon of Zadonsk, and John of Kronstadt. We could add Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, and Mother Maria. John Chrysostom’s home church of Antioch fed thousands of people daily and sheltered the ill, the homeless widows and orphans, and many pilgrims, and yet the budget for all of it did not surpass the wealth of the richest family in the city. Basil likewise financed a multi-purpose service center in Caesarea, providing a soup kitchen, medical services, clothing, and shelter for those in need. Evdokimov makes it clear that the kind of giving these holy women and men have in mind is not the dollar we slip into the Salvation Army drum or the cash we spend at a charity bazaar. Their radical assessments of wealth were always accompanied by an equally radical sense of how one is to give back and give forward. Church people are not remarkable in their generosity, neither in the past nor now. Only their number makes up for both their genuine lack of disposable income and their unwillingness to simply give away what they have. It is best when there is a fundraising event where other people buy things or contribute and the proceeds are dispersed to worthy charities or causes. God, Evdokimov reminds us, “is able to do everything except constrain us to love Him and our neighbor.” The movement of the heart to sharing, toward generosity, must be free, not compelled or coerced. But it is not only a matter of individual choice. Sharing is a personal challenge for each of us. But Evdokimov does not stop at the personal level. As social creatures, he says, we are part of each other. We must realize that, stretching back into the ancient period, in mandates in the Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible, there was communal gathering of funds, not just for maintenance of the Temple and the sacrifices there, but also for the poor. If there is only one economic sphere in which we all live, we cannot, in justice, argue against taxes that are used for the good of all, for roads, schools, hospitals, police, fire services, defense, and many jacob's well
other public services. Despite the political opposition by some to government, taxes, and social entitlements, there has always been some taxation in this country, at one time for support of the church as well. In the open and hopeful spirit of the 1960s, Evdokimov joins with Pope Paul VI’s encyclical in proposing a global fund from deductions levied on conspicuous consumption —i.e. taxes on sales or entertainment, on waste and pollution, and finally on exorbitant military spending. At this time there was much more regard for what a global association like the U.N. could and should do. While the church does not prefer a particular form of government and does not legally compel people to give, the church nevertheless could, through its own corporate giving, urge governments to consider aid to underdeveloped countries where education, medical care, food, and shelter are lacking. A half-century later we have the personal philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett and the other wealthy people they have convinced to join them in giving, signing The Giving Pledge to contribute at least half their total wealth to good causes. Still, most ultra-wealthy only give 8-11 percent and many less than that. The Gates and Buffett are among the most consistent givers, while they are even wealthier now than when the Pledge was proposed in 2009. Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has underscored the relentless and growing social and economic inequality in his now-classic 2012 study, The Price of Inequality. For decades, the policies of U.S. administrations have furthered the concentration of wealth in less than 1 percent of the population through a collection of tax cuts, protections, and incentives that have not “trickled down” to result in more and betterpaying jobs, greater household income, and greater access to medical care and education, not to mention food and housing. The spurt of economic growth since the end of the Great Recession notwithstanding, America’s middle class is eroding. Many can find “gig” jobs or multiple jobs in an economy in which labor is expendable and often outsourced or technologized for greater profit. It is not hard to imagine that a communal effort is the only way to counter such inequality, because for decades, the market has seemingly shown that it cannot. America once had a tax scheme that enabled upward mobility. It created the interstate highway system and financed scientific and medical research and expansion of our educational institutions. What a tragedy that any such effort is immediately branded as a destructive “socialism.” Evdokimov would not agree. Echoing his teachers, his overview of the church’s vision showed a pattern of sharing in both the personal and communal senses, as well as a place for the state to use taxes for bettering the lives of the people. In this political season, we see a lot of weaponized communication with all sorts of caricatures
5th Station of the Cross: Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus Fr. Sieger Köder St. Stephen's Church, Wasseralfingen, Germany
and distortions of “socialism,” which would make popular and established programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid almost seem un-American, “communist” intrusions on our way of life. In the end, Paul Evdokimov does not provide a distinctive solution to our social, economic, and political troubles. Yet, his discernment as a contemporary teacher and renewer of the church offers us a rich social theology, rooted in prayer, liturgy, and the Eucharist. He called at the end of his essay for an interfaith gathering of the leaders of the Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches and the leaders of Judaism and Islam (the “family of Abraham”) to pray and consider the state of the global community. To these could be added leaders of the Asian religious traditions—exactly what has happened five times since 1986, beginning with the convocations
at Assisi under Pope John Paul II. Evdokimov, borrowing from his teacher Fr. Bulgakov, called this gathering an “ecumenical epiclesis,” a true calling down of the Spirit on all people. Such was Evdokimov’s own vision, at once marvelously generous and expansive and yet from the heart of the faith. His experience in service encouraged him to believe and hope that God’s people could make the seemingly impossible possible, and that remains good news for us today.
V. REV. MICHAEL PLEKON is professor emeritus, The City University of New York—Baruch College and attached at St. Gregory Orthodox Church, Wappingers Falls, New York. He has published widely in the sociology of religion, and on the life of holiness and women and men of faith in our time. 29
The Desire to Dominate or be Dominated by Professor ADAM DeVILLE
’ve never forgotten listening live on Ancient Faith Radio to the All-American Council in Pittsburgh in 2008, at which the OCA elected then-Bishop Jonah to be its new metropolitan. I wrote to a friend who was a priest in the OCA, telling him how impressed I was by what Bishop Jonah had said about the problematic conceptions of bishops and the tendency to confuse church hierarchy with “imperial aristocracy.” As an Eastern Rite Catholic, I was almost envious. Here, I exclaimed, was a bishop who clearly “got it” about many important but overlooked issues, not least the propensity to dress hierarchs up like emperors of old and place crowns on their heads. Bishop Jonah’s vision, at the time, was a healthful and hopeful corrective to certain practices of episcopal power as when, for instance, he said in his first address after his election that “the episcopos is not the master of the house: he is the head slave. And I am the head slave of the head slaves.” Sadly, as many of us know, that vision and that primacy did not pan out: Metropolitan Jonah was removed from his post in 2012. But parts of that vision, including Metropolitan Jonah’s talk of doing away with the “culture of intimidation,” deserve not just to be revived but implemented everywhere. The Orthodox scholar Ashley Purpura, in her excellent book, God, Hierarchy, and Power: Orthodox Theologies of Authority from
Byzantium, has made a compelling case for looking into the problems of power in the Orthodox Church. My own recent book, Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power, which draws heavily on Orthodox ecclesial structures, goes even farther in examining the problem of episcopal power and the loss of synodality among Catholics. The problem of Christian hierarchs imitating imperial and monarchical models is a very old one, going back arguably to at least the fourth century. Bishops almost everywhere have long been part of a social and ecclesial elite, endowed with tremendous powers, and they almost never act, dress, or are treated like “head slaves.” Rather, we treat them, and they usually expect to be treated, as “headmasters.” And in turn, the temptation in the Church to vie for mastery over one another goes back even farther. The discussion Jesus has with the hyper-ambitious mother of the sons of Zebedee indicates it was a temptation among the original apostolic band (some of whom seem not to have had the guts to talk to Jesus directly—hence they had their mom do it!) even when Jesus still walked the earth and clearly told all of us that he came “not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:20-28). Notwithstanding that clear dominical counsel, most of us rather like being served by others.
But what about our desire to be dominated by others? What about the urge we all have, at least some of the time and in some circumstances, to surrender our freedom and responsibility, often to some strongman (president, patriarch, pope—but many others far less exalted, too, and of both sexes), and allow others to tell us what to do, even (perversely) to the point of pain? (As The Guardian reported recently, the sadomasochistic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has sold over 150 million copies worldwide and was the fastest selling book in British history.) We might dismiss this as the sign of a culture in an advanced state of decadence and decay but for the fact that it has tapped into an urge to which Christians have no natural immunity, just like the rest of humanity. How ought we think about the problems of power and freedom in a Christian context? In an era when, like never before, the sins of bishops have been revealed in appalling detail, and the rest of the clergy—who, as far as we know currently, were not abusers or enablers of the same—do nothing but stand around seeking to protect their powers, privileges, and perks, the inclination for the rest of us is to summon our inner Robespierre and lob off a few mitred heads pour encourager les autres. That, of course, tends to raise delicate moral scruples (take, for instance, the commandment on murder). It would also be an entirely counter-
Haman and Mordecai (1884) Paul Alexander Leroy Odessa Museum of Western and Eastern Art, Ukraine
productive strategy, as Robespierre himself found out when he lost his own head on the guillotine to which he had condemned so many others. The replacement of one elite group holding a monopoly on power is invariably followed by another group erecting its own monopoly. Every revolution in history bears this out. As the Italian historian Benedetto Croce once said, history is a stage on which victims and executioners merely swap roles from time to time. It should, of course, be different in the Church. But it rarely is. What can we do about that? Yes, we could tinker with, say, episcopal vesture by replacing crowns and capes with something less grand. We could refer to popes and patriarchs as “head slave” rather than “Your Holiness” or “Your Beatitude.” But that would be cosmetic and almost entirely useless. We could and should look—as my own new book does—at ecclesial structures which allow hierarchs to monopolize power and find ways to dismantle those unhealthy and dangerous sources of temptation and wickedness. That is important and necessary in this era unlike ever before. 31
But it would still leave unexamined the underlying psychology on the part of Christians, and indeed all human beings, which wants to have leaders exalted over us, which wants to surrender to a powerful elite or singular potentate our own personal freedom and responsibility for both self-governance and governance of our communities, ecclesial and otherwise. In this sense, the problem is not limited to how we treat bishops; often it is most pronounced at the parish level—for instance, with the phenomenon of recent converts seeking “spiritual fathers” whom they can consult about every moral decision in their lives, including those involving the marital bed. In saying this, let me hasten to add here, I am not advocating for some radically individualistic Christian libertarianism, which I think theologically absurd and socially destructive. I am, rather, suggesting that it’s time we started thinking about crucial questions first asked almost 80 years ago on the eve of America’s entry into the Second World War. That question was asked in 1941 by Erich Fromm. This year marks the 40th anniversary of his death, which must not go unremarked for he was of one of the most influential but theologically neglected thinkers of the twentieth century. Born in 1900 and dying in 1980, Erich Fromm—psychoanalyst, global social critic, and anti-nuclear activist whose views were closely noted by at least one U.S. president and two popes—wrote internationally best-selling books that sold millions of copies and continue to sell each year. But as the Harvard historian Lawrence Friedman has put it in his magisterial biography, The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love’s Prophet (Columbia University Press, 2013), “the deepest and most important of Fromm’s books” was his 1941 runaway bestseller, Escape from Freedom. I would add to this only that his first major English-language book from 1941 should be read alongside his last, exactly 40 years later: the short book published posthumously in 1981, On Disobedience: Why Freedom Means Saying “No” to Power. Both books raise a challenge that Christian theology—East and West—has not taken up in any satisfactory way as far as I know. Certainly, Fromm’s questions and insights have been totally ignored in my own field of ecclesiology. If we were to take him seriously and begin thinking about the problems of power, freedom, and submission, we would need to ask such questions as: Why is “obedience” thought a virtue in the Church?
Is “disobedience” always and everywhere a vice? Why are bishops necessary—or are they? If we got rid of bishops, or at least any notion of having to “obey” or “submit” to them, wouldn’t the Church be a healthier, freer place? And what of our parish priests: while we benefit from their wisdom, are we also developing the measure of self-reliance that most any healthy spiritual life demands? Fromm does not answer those questions directly. Nor can I here give them a systematic exposition, let alone application. Instead, I want to leave all of us asking: how do we understand our desire for submission? How can we bring it to the surface and the light of day for critical examination? Fromm notes that ours is not just a desire to submit to external political figures or ecclesial hierarchs; nor do we do so simply and only because we are afraid of them. Rather, we begin with our own “submission to internalized authorities” and to “inner compulsions.” There is something fearful within us that lurks in the shadows of our heart, our mind, our soul, seeking to escape from that freedom for which, as St. Paul puts it so boldly to the Galatians, Christ has made us free (Gal. 5:1; but compare this with the rest of the epistle, which has compelling things to say about the dynamic between “bondage” [2:4] and “freedom”). Why is that? Why would we rather not be free? Why do we bind ourselves first before others demand our submission to them? If we begin by asking these questions, we may well come up with a more satisfactory, or at least less problematic, proposal than to amend or abolish hierarchical authority within the Church. For in doing so, we would inevitably merely replace one set of actors with another, and the dynamic of submission would start all over again. To avoid that cycle, let us begin at the beginning: with ourselves. Why do we seek to escape from freedom? Why do we long to submit to others? It is high time we seek out some answers for ourselves as well as for the good of the Church.
ADAM DeVILLE is associate professor and director of humanities at the University of Saint Francis, Ft. Wayne, Indiana and author most recently of Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power. He runs the blog Eastern Christian Books, easternchristianbooks.blogspot.com.
Mater II (2017) Pia Imbar
Hemispheres Toward a Clearer Orthodox Understanding of Gender by Presbytera KATHERINE BAKER
exuality has become increasingly politicized in the last decade in America. It has become popular to think of gender not in a binary way but as a spectrum with as many as 50 or more possibilities, each fading into the next. In some academic and social justice circles, the word â€œbinaryâ€? has become synonymous with what is limiting, simplistic, and worthy of being dismissed
with an eye roll. Whatever spectrum we feel we need to express sexuality in these times, the binary notion should not be thrown out altogether. Perhaps there is an alternative, and useful, way of thinking about this issue. If we think of sexuality in terms of two hemispheres, it will protect the binary aspect while still accounting for the idiosyncrasies and exceptions in each sex that so trouble the modern soul.
Just as the earth has two hemispheres, two poles, and an equator, in this metaphor a person is either north or south of that equator based on their genitalia and chromosomes. And each person —by nature, nurture, and circumstances—is either closer to the poles, inclined to the outer extremes of femininity or masculinity; or closer to the equator, and thus more like the other sex. And when men and women encounter each other, they may have varying amounts of metaphorical ground to cover as they seek to understand each other, based on each person’s unique characteristics. Though people span the “globe” of human sexuality, the poles and the equator are sparsely populated—just as most of the Earth’s population lives in the temperate zones, the great majority of people occupy the “temperate zones” of sexuality, being neither hyper-masculine nor hyper-feminine. And so, there are many women and men who have roughly the same “climate” when it comes to temperament (for example, a tendency toward aggression or compassion), though they are from their own separate hemispheres. Consider that Buenos Aires is similar in climate to San Francisco, though they are quite far apart geographically—in fact, on separate sides of the equator. A woman comes from the land of estrogen, with ticking biological clocks and hormonal realities that prime her for nurturing, whether she is interested in having children or not. Women, as a group, have been found by social scientists to be more agreeable than men, and more sensitive, both physically and emotionally, in ways that would make an infant in a woman’s care more likely to survive. Women are equally aggressive as men but usually manifest it socially instead of physically. Women are higher in negative emotion and usually self-report being less happy than do men. Women are coming from a tendency to gain weight for the sake of pregnancy and lactation, and face the physical challenges of menstruation, childbirth, and menopause — all events that a woman has little to no control over. A woman is keenly aware of her vulnerability to sexual assault. She has been formed by negative and irritating social expectations that demand she project as nice and attractive, youthful and thin, and somehow both modest and sexually provocative simultaneously. She has also been formed by more advantageous social assumptions—for instance, that she is incapable of committing crimes, unlikely to lie (ever, especially about sex), and basically altruistic or at least well-meaning most of the time compared to men. She will receive a 63 percent lighter sentence for the same crime as a man and be twice as likely to avoid incarceration if convicted. For better and for worse, society designates women as “those who need help.” Men, on the other hand, come from the land of testosterone. They are more interested in sex and more vulnerable to the temptation of pornography, are more disagreeable, and exhibit more physical aggression. jacob's well
They tend to have a greater interest in competition, risktaking, and line-crossing, and are ten times more likely to die at work than women because they tend to take on more dangerous jobs. Men die six to eight years earlier than women on average, according to the World Health Organization. Over 95 percent of CEOs are male, but it is also to be noted that 70 percent of all homeless persons are men. A man faces the possibility of the military draft, and expectations that he will be the one to do the dangerous things, that he will be strong and unflappable, that he will fix things (including his wife’s emotions). He faces fears that he won’t measure up to other men. Men often feel, understandably, as though they’re expected to read women’s minds. Our unwritten rules say a man should never pursue a woman until the moment she gives the signal. He will be held responsible for his partner’s unhappiness, which is statistically more likely given her higher negative emotion. Should she conceive any children by him, it is her decision whether to get an abortion or give birth. He will be held financially responsible for the child, but only if the woman wants it; if not, he has no recourse. Men’s rate of death by overdose is 68 percent higher than that of women, and men have double the rate of alcoholism and kill themselves 3.5 times more than women do. All this suggests that despite self-reporting to be happier than women, men are perhaps not as vocal as women about their pain. And yet for better or worse, our popular ideas of masculinity say that men should not need help. Men and women shoulder their individual struggles with their respective sets of strengths and weaknesses assigned by their biological sex, which are primarily aligned toward the survival of the species— not their individual enrichment or thriving per se, but their individual thriving insofar as they pass on their personal genes. Beyond that, to something like a career or financial success, nature is indifferent. While it is often said that “gender is a human construct,” I would argue that the notion of the hemispheres of the Earth is also a human construct, but it is an undeniably useful construct that only gives a name to what is apparent to everyone. One can insist that there are not two genders but a plethora. But the fact that there are an infinite number of points of latitude and longitude on a sphere does not negate the existence of the hemispheres altogether. We can maintain the idea of two sexes while incorporating nuance. Our life circumstances call out for more temperate or more extreme versions of ourselves to tackle what is put before us. With the birth of a child, we may be amazed to see a new sort of tenderness emerge; conversely, when a crisis erupts, often both sexes are suddenly capable of shocking and sudden aggression. Our places on the hemisphere move, but never past that equator line. Different people are better than others at sliding back toward the more temperate zones of
There is no shame in being either a man or a woman, and both hemispheres are broad and wide and have room for great diversity.
Double Exposure (2012) Michael O'Neal
comportment—for instance, when they must re-enter civilian life after war, or come home every day from a high-stress job as a police officer. Soldiers returning from war and stay-at-home moms going back to work both sometimes need therapeutic help to adjust to the changes. While men and women have more in common than not, one of the many differences is that women are more interested in people and relationships, and men are more interested in things and systems. Just one of many studies on this topic was done by the Cambridge psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen. He and his colleagues discovered in a 2000 study that day-old male infants—that is, children who have likely not experienced any social conditioning—showed “stronger interest in the physical-mechanical…while the female infants showed a stronger interest in the face.” This finding is confirmed in the choice of jobs women and men select as adults. As they are freer to choose what sort of work they want, the differences between men and women widen instead of narrow. Women who have a free choice in the matter tend to choose jobs based on people and relationships and men tend to choose jobs based on objects and systems. This is often called the Nordic Paradox, because it is very pronounced in the
Scandinavian countries where every effort has been made to liberate women from traditional roles. While there will always be exceptions to the norms, that is, people who are not typical and are perhaps more from the outer limits of the sexual hemispheres, denying that there is any sort of average or typical experience of men or women is untruthful and counterproductive and leads to public policies that hurt both men and women. A person’s position on the “globe of sexuality” can slide toward the pole or the equator throughout life, but a person’s chromosomes don’t change. And so, in the case of the transsexual phenomenon, sexual difference means being from someplace and not from another. If you have lived your entire life in California, and you tell someone you are from Brazil, you mislead them to think you have had experiences you simply have not had. Sexuality is much more than just how one presents at any given moment. It implies a certain history based, metaphorically speaking, on being from either the world of male or female. A person who hopes to “become” the opposite sex can have plastic surgery and change clothing and mannerisms, but they cannot change their personal history to be someone from the opposite hemisphere of sexuality. Truth is important in our relationships. The stories we tell about ourselves to each other matter. Anyone who suffers from a desire to obscure their origins should be treated with kindness but also gently encouraged to be honest and not to have a negative opinion of themselves. Also, men and women would both do well to be more understanding of the challenges faced by the opposite sex as well as the advantages our own sex enjoys. Sexual differentiation is a gift and not something limiting or oppressive but simply descriptive and useful, like the hemispheres of the Earth, merely the two sides of human sexual experience. There is no shame in being either a man or a woman, and both hemispheres are broad and wide and have room for great diversity.
PRESV. KATHERINE BAKER is widow to Fr. Matthew Baker, a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. An Indiana native, she is raising a daughter and five sons in Pennsylvania. She contributes occasional articles to Intellectual Takeout and Mercatornet. 35
Race and American Orthodoxy an interview with Archpriest MOSES BERRY
Could you give a brief rundown of your biography? Where did you come from and how did you become a
Fr. Moses Berry is the rector of Theotokos "Unex-
pected Joy" Orthodox Church in Ash Grove, Missou-
Well, I came from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, and I live in a house that my great grandparents built in 1871. My great grandfather built the house, my grandfather was born and raised in that house, my father was born and raised in that house, and I was born and raised in this town. When I was young, I was what they would call a lawless man. I turned 21 at the Missouri State Penitentiary in a 4.5-by-6.5-foot cell, with 12-foot ceilings and no windows. You know, this was in the late '60s and early '70s before prison reform. This was a horrible place to be. They had a habit of taking prisoners out of the cell and beating them for any number of reasons. And there was this man
ri, and a co-founder of the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black, a group devoted to linking ancient African Christianity and the African American experience. In this interview, he discusses his own conversion to the Orthodox Church, how the Church should think about interracial outreach, and what an African American expression of Orthodoxy might look like. This interview was conducted in the Spring, before the protests that followed the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, but it has been updated to deal with the recent events.
Video still from “And Who Is My Neighbor?” X Annual Lenten Retreat, Holy Virgin Cathedral, San Francisco
we called Pretty Boy, from Illinois. They took him out of his cell, and they beat him with a transistor radio wrapped in a towel. And every time he passed out, they would pee in his face to revive him. I was 19 years old. I looked under my cell gate door and I could see them mistreating him. I asked God to help me at that point. And I prayed that if He would help me, then I would serve Him. Did you have a religious upbringing?
Yes, I was a third generation AME—African Methodist Episcopal. I see. And I’m guessing this story ends with an answer to that prayer.
Well, the officer who had arrested me came clean. He had set our house on fire and came in with the police department, so he didn’t have to get a warrant. He had known there were drugs inside. But it was still an illegal procedure, so they threw it out of court. The officer had become a born-again Christian. So I was let out. I moved to Hawaii, and I lived there for a while. I wanted to somehow rededicate myself to following Christ. And the only experience that I had with the church was with Protestant churches in America—and to me, they were not the answer to what I was looking for. And so I became part of what you would call a newage Christian group. We all lived in San Francisco. This is what I thought was the answer. The church that I grew up in, the suffering African American church, had long since gone. Because after integration took hold in this country,
the black church was no longer a suffering church, where we had to rely and depend on God for any consolation. They relied on the fairness of men and the gesture of a quota system. And so, after being in this new-age, nondenominational, so-called “church” for a while, many of my friends were becoming Orthodox. In fact, in the Orthodox Church in America, we have at least 10 priests from our organization. You’re talking about the Holy Order of MANS, right?
Absolutely. I was one of the founders of it — one of the early people in that organization. What period are we talking about?
I joined in 1971. And then in the early or mid-'80s, we were introduced to Orthodoxy. At that point, I thought I would never become part of the Orthodox Church, because it seemed to me like an ethnic church. I didn’t see very many African American people in leadership positions. As a matter of fact, until last year, I was the only black priest in the OCA. Now we have two since Fr. Samuel Davis was ordained at St. Tikhon’s (Davis is now the rector of St. Simon of Cyrene Mission in Somerset, New Jersey). So the Orthodox Church seemed distinctly ethnic, and the ethnicities represented didn’t include your own.
Yes, it looked like quite an exclusive church, no matter how people may have tried to explain that away. But in about 1983, when my wife and I were living in Atlanta, we took a trip to visit a friend who lived in Richmond, Virginia. Our friend said, “You know, you should come to this church service with me tonight.” And I thought, Goodness, I don't think so. But he said, “Please come.” We went, and it was a house church. I guess people lived downstairs, and on the second floor there was a little chapel. As it turns out, it was St. Cyprian of Carthage Church, which is part of the OCA. And I had no respect for those people. I was just biding my time because it was just the civilized thing to do. The choir was only three women. I thought, This isn't even really a choir. I was displeased with the whole thing. You were probably accustomed to a full gospel choir.
Not only that, but I knew it was probably the priest’s wife, the priest’s daughter, and one faithful lady. Then the choir began to sing: “Rejoice, thou through whom joy will flash forth. Rejoice, revival of fallen Adam. Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve. Rejoice, thou bride unwedded.” And I was cut to the quick. I had never heard such language before. I hadn't read a book until I went to the prison, because I had dyslexia— and at that time, you know, that really wasn't diagnosed. So I just thought I was a dumb person. 37
They were singing the Akathist to the Mother of God: “She makes the most eloquent orators as dumb as fish.” I was very emotional at that point. Then they sang, “The wise children did not adore the golden idol but went themselves into the flames and defied the pagan gods. They prayed in the midst of the flames, and an angel bedewed them. Already the prayer of your lips…” I said, Oh, my goodness! They reminded me so much of the early gospel music and songs I had grown up with. It had this deep, heartfelt expression of God's love for man, and man’s redemption on account of God’s love. It was the thing I had been looking for and hadn’t been able to find. Structurally speaking, the Orthodox Church still was not what I was looking for. But that very night, I said to myself, I will forsake all, and I'll buy the whole field for this one pearl of great price. And, you know, even though all my superiors, all my peers, and all my subordinates will be of a different race than I am, I don't care. I’ll buy the whole thing.
Many people throughout the country have been affected by our outreach. Often they say they’ve found us through Facebook. They’re invested in trying to have some idea of racial reconciliation and recognizing the saints in the Church that are people of color—not that that’s important, but people need something to anchor themselves to. Just as other people are interested in Celtic Christianity because they feel an inner resonance with that Celtic expression. Well, I say, anything that works will work for me. So that’s why St. Moses is my patron, and it’s why I'm very interested in the African saints. When people walk into churches, they might not even see an icon that reminds them of themselves. Unless you know that deification is possible in your flesh, it is very difficult to be deified. Right. It’s the reason Protestant churches tend to make images of Christ that look like their members. Obviously, black churches do it, they have images of Jesus as a black man, but white churches do it too.
This is really moving to hear.
We’ve all seen the old pictures where Jesus is so white,
When I was a boy, I asked my mother why there were so many races of people. And my mother said to me, “That's easy, son: because we're all flowers in God's garden.” And I thought, Where, in this church, are those flowers that look like me? And I didn't find them. So I went to that church, St. Cyprian of Carthage in Richmond. The priest came out through the iconostasis. And beside the icon of the Mother of God was an icon of St. Moses the Black. And on the other side of the Mother of God was an icon of St. Cyprian of Carthage. At first, I thought it was some sort of ploy that the priest had made—a missionary tool to reach out to the African American people in the community. And I confronted him about that. I said I didn’t know who those saints were. He said, “We have many saints.” And he showed me the saints of the Boxer Rebellion. He showed me St. John Maximovitch. He showed me St. Mary of Egypt. I saw a tangible expression of “In Christ, there is no east or west, no bond, no freeman, no Gentile, no Jew.”
he looks Norwegian.
So when did you become a priest?
I became a priest in a non-canonical church of the Old Calendar Greek church in 1988. I became part of the OCA in 2000. Back in the ‘90s you started an organization called the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black— which is now the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black. Could you explain what it is?
It was formed for outreach to the African American community, which was tremendously underserved. We have several hundred people, and we have chapters in California and Virginia. So this is good. I don’t ever want to forget where I came from—not being accepted. jacob's well
And that makes sense. My mom, she made these lifesize murals on the wall of our church of the life of Jesus. It was an artistic rendering. He was brown-skinned. So we have to recognize that there are differences and that it's OK. It's not OK for you to have your own interpretation of Orthodox dogmatic theology, but it’s OK for you to have a somewhat different expression. We see this expressed all over the world, in Africa, in Russia. Many of the things that we hold dear about the Russian transmission of Orthodoxy — that I hold dear—are based on folk culture. That’s interesting, because one of the traits that makes Orthodoxy seem exclusive, or forbidding, is the way it takes on these strong cultural expressions. Many of our parishes are already centered on certain ethnic traditions. Do you think we can celebrate those without alienating newcomers?
Don't underestimate people's ability to be moved by the depth of our Christianity. There is a certain resonance in our musical expression that, if you allow it to, will touch you in a very deep way. Everybody knows some black people, and everybody knows some black people who are not in church. We could just say, “Within this year, I’m going to find a friend or someone I know and invite them to church.” Invite them; twist their arm. Don’t be ashamed. Invite them there and let God give you an increase. Bring them and let the service do the rest.
Yes, because that’s all that can happen anyway. I once went to St. Catharine’s in Ontario to speak at the university, and these local priests took me around to
show me the sights. They took me to a British Methodist Episcopal Church where Harriet Tubman had raised money for the Underground Railroad. I saw a podium where she spoke. And I said, "Oh my goodness, it's a relic." I believe inanimate objects hold sanctity. I think this very podium holds sanctity, because Harriet Tubman bled and sweated and suffered over this podium. So we just need to reach out to people and suppose that they will understand all that we understand. I’m not a very educated man. My children are very educated, but I didn’t even get out of high school. What reaches a person is our intention. If we have intention that’s strong enough to look out for somebody, and bring them to church, and show them the icon, and tell them about the lives of the saints —we’d be planting seeds. There are hundreds of young African Americans—though some of them aren’t so young anymore—who the Fellowship of St. Moses has evangelized. What do you think an African American expression of the faith might look like? How could we start
Have you seen racism lurking anywhere in American Orthodoxy?
I’ve never really seen racism. I’ve seen lack of consciousness. I’ve seen people who have been cavalier, who have said things off the cuff. Even as a 70-year-old, people want to touch my hair. But I also remember this man who came here and wanted to make confession. He was beside himself. He said, “You know, I’ve never made confession to a black person before. This is really weird for me.” Some people, if they want to, could make that person out to be a prejudiced person. He’s just a man who doesn’t know how to express himself properly. But in my children’s generation, people are a little more sensitive than they should be. They’re a little more suspect. Being a priest, you have to consider that these are your children, and your kids will say rude things. It’s because they don't have enough information, or it’s because they think it's funny — it’s because they think all kinds of things. But I’ve not seen what you would call racism in the Orthodox Church.
introducing elements of that?
Well, for one thing, I don’t think we can have some sort of contrived or made-up expression of African American liturgical music. I believe that we must wait on God to raise up a melodist among us. But I also believe that once you get a group of African American people together and they begin to sing—which I’ve witnessed in the Fellowship of St. Moses the Black—something comes forth from them that is very natural. They’re singing the same tones—for instance, the Slavonic tones—but it turns out to be an African American expression. That’s why evangelizing the African American community is more important than making up some kind of musical expression. Remember the old blues singer John Lee Hooker? He had a song where his mother and father were in the other room, and they were talking about John Lee, about how he always liked to boogie-woogie. He heard his dad say to his mom, “That boy’s got it in him, and it’s just got to come out. He’s got to boogie-woogie.” So the expression is always in people. If you unloose it a bit, it will come out. I have to say that among all the converts I’ve known over the years, I can count only a handful who are black. Most of our converts seem to be white. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because we don’t reach out to African Americans so much. We have to make a special effort. We must reach out to people in a concerted way. That’s all it is. I think most of it is fear. We haven’t made the effort. We’re praying. But African American people can be a little intimidating. They’re a little intimidating to me sometimes—and I’ve been one all my life!
How do you interpret all the unrest since George Floyd’s death?
It’s not surprising to me, because I’ve gone through, in my experience as a young man, the tumultuous times of the 1960s. Everyone was looking for the cause to these problems. You can’t find the remedy for a spiritual problem in a secular world, by secular means. So it doesn’t surprise me that these things would come up, because they were never properly dealt with in the first place. We have this problem in our country because of the things that we have done. We all make mistakes, nations and individuals. But in order to make it right, we must truly repent, and truly forgive one another. One young man asked me about being involved in Black Lives Matter protests, and maybe bringing some of his friends, who were Orthodox. I said, “I bless you to do that. Only one thing I require of you. I require that you carry banners of Jesus and of the mother of God, and I demand that you carry candles. And I want them to be beeswax candles. And sing, ‘The cross is the guardian of the whole world; the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings; the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful.’” He said, “We won’t very well fit in.” I said, “Of course. We don’t take our cues from this world.” So, therefore, what do we have to share? The only thing we have to share is the real remedy. We’d better figure out some way to unite and pray about this —at least our churches. Some call it racial reconciliation, and that’s an easy term to use, but it’s reconciliation of man to God. Interview by Nick Tabor
An Ornament for the Altar A Translation of Chrysostom's Sermon Concerning Eutropius by Professor DAVID C. FORD
Translator's Preface: Eutropius was a high-ranking official — a
the main preacher. Once inside the church,
consul — in the imperial government, and
the panic-stricken man ran up and threw his
the grand chamberlain in the imperial
arms around the altar.
court of Constantinople. He had arranged
the marriage of Emperor Arcadius and
Empress Eudoxia in 395 and had such
allowed Eutropius to stay and use the
influence with the imperial couple that he
cathedral as a refuge from the authorities.
was considered the most powerful person
This is all the more remarkable given that
in the Eastern Roman Empire. He was also
Eutropius had set himself up as an opponent
of the Church and had even tried to restrict
much of that wealth had been acquired
the Church’s right to provide sanctuary to
those fleeing there. But not only did St. John
Suddenly, in 399, he fell out of favor with Empress Eudoxia, who had been protecting
forgive the man, but he also urged his flock to do the same.
him from mounting popular opposition.
What follows is the bulk of the sermon 1
When guards were sent to arrest him,
preached by Chrysostom on the day after
Eutropius managed to flee to the leading
Eutropius fled into the church, while he
church of the city, Hagia Sophia, where St.
was again clinging to the altar. Chrysostom
John Chrysostom, the city’s archbishop, was
begins by addressing the consul.
1. The original Greek text is found in PG 52.391B-396C. An alternate, much older English translation can be found in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, first series, volume IX, pp. 249-252.
festivals? Where are the garlands and the curtains of the theater? Where are the cheers of the city’s citizens, the acclamation in the hippodrome, and the flatteries of the theater-goers? All of that is no more! Suddenly, a wind has blown against the tree, tearing down its leaves, revealing it to be quite bare, and shaken to its very roots. Where now are the friends gathered around you? Where are the drinking parties and the suppers? Where is the swarm of parasites, and the wine which used to flow all day long, and the great variety of dishes created by the cooks? And where are those courting your authority, doing and saying everything to gain your favor? All these things were like a dream in the night, or a fleeting vision in the day. They were like spring flowers, which all withered when spring was over. They were a shadow which has fled away, fruit which has rotted, bubbles which have burst, cobwebs which have been torn apart. Therefore, we continually chant these spiritual words, saying, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” This saying ought to be written continually on our walls, on our garments, in the marketplace, in our homes, along the roadways, on the doors and entrances, and above all on the conscience of each one of us, to be a perpetual subject for meditation. Since the deceitfulness of present things, and masks, and pretense seem to many to be truth, it’s needful every day, at dinner and at breakfast, and at community assemblies, to say to one’s neighbor, and to hear from one’s neighbor, the words: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” Because of his position as head of the Church in the capital city, St. John had access to those who were closest to the imperial couple. As seen from this next portion of the sermon, St. John had spoken with Eutropius personally about the dangers of seeking and relying on wealth, fame, and fortune — but apparently to no avail. Stringent warning about the accumulation of excessive material goods is a common theme in the Church Fathers.
Was I not telling you constantly, Eutropius, that wealth is fleeting? But you did not heed us. Was I not telling you that it is an untrustworthy servant? But you did not wish to be persuaded. But behold now — how your experience of things has shown that not only is wealth fleeting and untrustworthy, but it also can lead to one’s own demise. For this is what has led to your trembling and fear. Vanities of vanities!
anities of vanities! All is vanity!” (Eccles. 1:2). It’s always appropriate to quote these words—but especially now! Where now are the glittering trappings of your consulship? Where are the gleaming torches? Where are the rounds of applause, the choral dancing, the banquets, the public
John had also assured Eutropius of his love, affirming that his admonitions and rebukes were given out of that very love and concern that he had for this court official whose standing seemed so secure that he ignored St. John’s counsel. For the Church, justice is always rooted in love and mercy, for She always offers the opportunity for repentance to those who are treating others unjustly. How unlike the court of public 41
opinion, which so often seems to never forgive even those who have repented of their sins.
Did I not say to you, when you continually rebuked me for speaking the truth, “But I love you more than those flattering you?” And “I who reprove you care more for you than those currying your favor?” And did I not add to these words: “The wounds of friends are more trustworthy than the voluntary kisses of enemies?” (cf. Prov. 27:6) If you had heeded my piercing words, the enemies’ kisses would not have brought about this destruction for you. For my wounding works for health, while their kisses have produced an incurable disease. Where now are the cupbearers? Where are those who cleared the way for you in the marketplace, who a myriad of times sang your praises to everyone? They have run off; they have disowned their friendship; they are procuring their own safety, leaving you in anguish. But we don’t do that; we don’t abandon you in your distress. And now that you have fallen, we protect you and minister to you. And the Church, which you made war against, has opened Her bosom and received you, while the theaters which you frequent— and you often laughed when I warned you about them — have betrayed you, playing a role in your ruination. But we never ceased saying to you, “Why are you doing these things? You are vexing the Church, while casting yourself down a precipice.” But you spurned all my warnings. Now the hippodromes, exhausting your wealth, whetted the sword against you. But the Church, having endured your unwarranted wrath, is hurrying in every direction, wishing to pluck you out of the nets. Now our preacher shifts from addressing Eutropius to addressing his flock.
We see him using Eutropius as
Nothing is more fragile than human affairs. Wherefore, whatever one says to express their insignificance, it will be short of the truth — whether he calls them smoke, or grass, or a dream, or spring flowers, or any other name. So perishable are they that they partake of nothingness more than nothing itself ! Yet together with their nothingness, they have a perilous aspect also, as is evident here before us. A soul turned to stone
For who was more exalted than this man? Did he not surpass the entire world in wealth? Had he not ascended to the very pinnacle of distinction? Did not everyone tremble before him, and fear him? Yet, behold! He has become more wretched than those in bonds, more pitiable than household slaves, more indigent than paupers wasting away with hunger, having every day a vision of sharpened swords, a criminal’s grave, and the public executioner leading him out to his death. He doesn’t even know whether he once enjoyed past pleasures; he’s not even aware of the sun’s rays. For his sight is so dimmed that at midday it’s as if he’s encompassed with the darkest night. Yet, however much we may strive, it’s impossible for us to adequately describe his suffering, which he’s naturally enduring due to his expectation of being put to death at any hour. But indeed, what need is there of any words from us, when he himself has depicted his agony before us as if in an engraved image? For yesterday, when they came to him from the imperial court, intending to drag him away by force, and he fled to the holy altar here, his face was then, just as it is now, no better than that of one already dead. And the chattering of his teeth, and the quaking and quivering of his whole body, and his faltering voice, and his stammering tongue, and indeed his entire appearance make it look like his soul has turned to stone.
an outstanding example of what not to do—just as the Scriptures also provide many examples of human activity
Now St. John begins urging his flock to forgive the fugitive,
that we are to learn not to follow!
despite his having “made war against the Church.” Again, he is demonstrating love for our enemies—being forgiving
Contemplating the vicissitudes of human affairs
towards them, and more stringent on ourselves. This can remind us of how Christ was more lenient to the sinful
I’m saying these things now not to trample upon one who is prostrate, but as wishing to make more secure those who are still standing; not to aggravate the sores of one who has been wounded, but to preserve in sound health those who have not yet been wounded; not to push downwards one who is being tossed by the waves, but to instruct those who are sailing with fair breezes, so that they might not become submerged. And how might this happen? By contemplating the vicissitudes of human affairs. Even this man, if he had feared such vicissitudes, would not have endured such a sudden change in fortune. And while neither the counsel of his own conscience nor that of others made him better, may those of you who are prideful of your riches profit from his calamity. jacob's well
woman caught in adultery than to the Pharisees in their prideful self-righteousness. To incline you to mercy
I’m saying these things, not to reproach him, or to insult his misfortune, but wishing to soften your disposition towards him, to incline you to mercy, and to persuade you to be content with the punishment which has already come upon him. Since it seems there are many inhumane persons among us, who would likewise bring accusation against us for receiving this man into the sanctuary, I desire to soften their heartlessness by shedding light upon the depth of his sufferings.
The power of the Church and Her love for mankind
Tell me, beloved brother, what are you distressed about? You say it’s because he who continually made war against the Church has taken refuge within Her. Yet surely we ought to glorify God most especially for permitting him to be subjected to such need, so that he might learn both the power of the Church and Her love for mankind—Her power, in that he has suffered this great reversal of fortune due to his attacks against Her; and Her love for mankind, in that She whom he attacked now casts Her shield in front of him, receiving him under Her wings, and placing him in all security, not resenting anything he did against Her, but rather opening Her bosom unto him with great love (pollēs philostorgias). This is more brilliant than any kind of trophy; this is an illustrious victory; this shames the Greeks and disgraces the Jews; this shows the brightness of the Church’s face—in that having received Her enemy as a captive, She spares him. And when all have despised him in his desolation, only She, as a mother filled with tender love, has concealed him under Her cloak, over against the wrath of the king, and the rage of the people, and their unbearable hatred.
Have I led you to compassion?
So! Have I quelled your passion? Have I expelled your wrath? Have I extinguished your inhumanity? Have I led you to compassion? I very much believe I have done so. Your faces make this evident, especially the streams of your tears. Since your stony hearts have become deep and fertile ground, let’s hasten to blossom forth with some fruit of mercy, and to display a luxuriant crop of sympathy, by falling down before the Emperor— or rather, by beseeching our God Who loves mankind to melt away the wrath of the Emperor, and to make his heart tender, so that He would grant to all of us the favor we’re asking for.
Epilogue: Shortly after this sermon was preached, mercy was indeed shown to the disgraced grand chamberlain. Instead of being immediately tried and executed, he was exiled to Cyprus. But shortly thereafter, Eutropius was recalled from exile, tried, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded in Chalcedon, a suburb of Constantinople. We can appreciate St. John’s courage in defying the
An ornament for the altar
authorities of the State in giving refuge to this fugitive. It is always important for the Church to maintain Her
This is an ornament for the altar. A strange kind of ornament, you say? — with one accursed, an extortioner, a robber laying hold of it! No — don’t say that. For even the prostitute took hold of the feet of Jesus, she who was accursed and exceedingly unclean. Yet what happened was not a reproach to Jesus; rather, it became the occasion for great wonder and praise for Him. For the impure woman did no injury to the pure One; rather, the vile prostitute was made pure by the touch of the pure and spotless One. So don’t hold a grudge, O man! We are the servants of the crucified One, Who said from the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” “But,” you say, “he cut off his right of refuge here because of his various ordinances and laws against us.” But behold! He has learned from what’s happened that he should not have done those things. And through what he’s done, he has become the first to break the law, becoming a spectacle to the whole world. And silent though he is, he gives from there a voice of warning to all: “Don’t do what I’ve done, so you won’t suffer what I’m suffering!" You yourselves are witnesses that no persuasive arguments were used to bring you here in such great numbers, and with such great zeal. Brilliant indeed is the scene before us today, and magnificent is the multitude assembled, as now I see a gathering such as at Holy Pascha! Without speaking a word, this man has summoned you here; yet through his actions he has raised a voice clearer than a trumpet.
prophetic voice vis-a-vis the State, to be able to freely exhort the State to adhere to moral principles in its governance and administration of justice. Let us also benefit from this stark reminder of the dangers of reliance on one’s wealth — especially if it’s not shared liberally with others, and even more especially if it’s gained in any way illicitly. Our ultimate reliance and security must always be on and in our Creator and Savior, and not on or in any advantages we may have in this life. For every gift is from Him anyway, and as we are vividly reminded in this saga of Eutropius, it can all disappear in the blink of an eye. So may we all be greatly edified by this powerful sermon.
DR. DAVID C. FORD is Professor of Church History at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary, where he and his wife, Dr. Mary Ford, have taught for more than 30 years. He has authored, edited, translated, or contributed to a dozen books. He is a parishioner at the St. Tikhon’s Monastery Church.
Codifying the New Testament Canon by Professor JEANNIE CONSTANTINOU
t is hard to imagine a time when “the New Testament” as we know it did not exist. We are accustomed to turning to the Apostolic writings whenever we wish. But imagine a time when those books had not been written, or when they had not been gathered into a collection, or when easy access to them was not possible because books were rare and expensive. The earliest followers of Jesus, like most other firstcentury Jews, lived outside of Palestine in other parts of the Roman Empire. They did not see themselves as part of a separate religion; they were widely considered a Jewish sect, one of many different varieties of Judaism that flourished during the first century. The only thing that distinguished them was their belief that the Messiah had already come, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and had fulfilled the Scriptures. He was both the long-awaited Messiah and the Lord. Nor did these early Christians see any need for a separate body of Scripture. Their Scriptures were the Hebrew Bible (what we now call the Old Testament), whether rendered in the Hebrew language or in a Greek translation known as the Septuagint. As we know, some Apostles wrote letters, accounts of Christ’s life, and other books. Over time, copies of these Apostolic books were copied and distributed throughout the Christian world. Eventually they were read during the Liturgy and respected as the “memoirs of the Apostles,” according to St. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr, who died around the year 165. Apostolic writings became especially important after the deaths of the Apostles, but they were not immediately considered Scripture. For the early Church, even Apostolic writings could not stand alongside sacred books such as Isaiah, Genesis, or the Psalms, which were hundreds of years old.
The term “canon of Scripture” simply means the list of books recognized by the Church as Scripture. The term “canon” is also used for the decision of a Church council, or a regulation or guideline written by a Church council. The Greek word kanon was the word for a reed which grew in marshes. The segmented reeds were used as measuring rods or sticks, the way we use a ruler or yardstick today. Some scholars believe the list of books recognized as Scripture is called the “canon” because the Church used a measurement or standard for deciding which books would be included. Others say the term “canon” was used because the books of the Bible are the basis for how we measure ourselves. As I explained in my last column in these pages (“Heresy and the Scriptural Canon”, fall 2019 issue), the process of selecting a canon was triggered by the emergence of two heresies: Gnosticism and Marcionism. As the exponents of these false teachings tried to distort or supplant Holy Scripture, ecclesial leaders saw a need to defend the true Christian texts by formally recognizing their authority. In this column I would like to address the question of how the canon was ultimately selected. Once the process of choosing a canon had begun, there was little debate over the books that would form the core. Among the four books we now recognize as the canonical Gospels, the only one that sparked any disagreement was the Gospel of John. It was so different from the other three that it was viewed with suspicion by some. St. Irenaeus (c. 190) championed its acceptance by arguing that God had always intended four Gospels. The number four, he argued, symbolized universality and completeness, like the four corners of the earth, the four winds,
Photo courtesy of The Dublin Library
the four elements of the created world, and the four creatures by the throne of God. Other books that were accepted universally, without any debate, were Acts of the Apostles, the 13 epistles of Paul, 1 John, and 1 Peter. However, some other books were not accepted so readily. In the West, Hebrews was hotly debated. Its theology is perfectly sound (for instance, where it describes Christ as the heavenly High Priest). However, it was “anonymous”— not attributed to an Apostle —and therefore some Western Christians questioned its inclusion. But the East loved Hebrews, and eminent Church leaders like St. John Chrysostom believed it was so brilliant, so inspired, that it must have been written by St. Paul. The West eventually accepted it after it was supported by St. Augustine and St. Jerome.
Something like the inverse happened with the book of Revelation: It was initially accepted throughout both the East and the West, but around the middle of the fourth century, it fell out of favor in the East and was seldom quoted by the Fathers and never read in Church. It was eventually accepted again in the East relatively recently. (The acceptance of Revelation in the New Testament is unique and too complicated to be discussed in this article. For the details on how and why this happened, see my book Guiding to a Blessed End: Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse, The Catholic University of America Press, 2013.) Who decided which books would ultimately be in the New Testament? Bishops, priests, and even laypeople had different canons. Remember that a canon is simply the list of books that a person 45
considered to be Scripture. Because no single person or group had the authority to decide the issue for the entire Church, everyone could weigh in with his or her opinion, and a number of anonymous early canons still exist. Local councils occasionally listed the books they accepted, and local churches sometimes recognized different canons, although all of them included the “core” Apostolic books mentioned previously. The New Testament canon was formed by the consensus of the entire Church through the discussions that lasted more than 200 years—from roughly the year 200 until the early fifth century. Many people wrongly believed that St. Athanasius the Great, the bishop of Alexandria, singlehandedly settled the matter. But he was only the first person to list as his canon the same 27 books which we now have in our New Testament (in the year 367). Other people wrongly believed that Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, ruled on the canon in the early fourth century. But Constantine also had no authority to make that decision for the Church, and at any rate, the Church in Constantine’s day was preoccupied with fighting the heresy of Arianism. In the end, no single leader or council decided which books would be included in the New Testament. It was a decision the Church reached by consensus, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The books under consideration were assigned to three categories. Books which were accepted by all, meaning “undisputed,” were called homologoumena. “Disputed books,” such as 2 Peter or Hebrews, were called antilegomena. A final category existed for books that no one in the Church accepted as genuine: notha, which meant “spurious.” Notha were easily recognized as fake or counterfeit and this recognition was so universal that they were never even among the “disputed” books. When Christians challenged the authenticity of the false writings by asking why those books had only recently appeared, and had not been known in the Church before, the excuse given was that those books had been kept secret — so they became known as apocrypha, the Greek word for “hidden.” The apocrypha never appear on anyone’s canon. In addition to heretical apocrypha, some Christians wrote counterfeit books and falsely attributed them to Apostles. These books are Christian apocrypha. The Protoevangelion of James, for instance, narrates and embellishes the life of the Theotokos. It was written by someone in the second or third century and falsely attributed to St. James, the “brother of the Lord.” However, this book was also rejected by the Church, even though some people read it today. It was never considered for a place in the New Testament. Some people say the jacob's well
Church “learned” about the life of the Theotokos from this book, but the Church did not need a false book to acquire information about the life of the Theotokos. Rather, her life was known within the oral tradition of the Church. The author of the Protoevangelium of James took the existing oral tradition and elaborated upon it. The Church never accepted the Protoevangelium of James or any other Christian apocrypha as authentic, and they never appear on any canons. The term “apocrypha” is also used today by Protestant Christians to describe Old Testament books which Martin Luther (d. 1546) removed from the Bible but which most Christians still accept. Luther knew that the term for rejected books was “apocrypha,” so when he removed a few books from his German Old Testament, he used that term for the books he was discarding. When Protestants refer to “apocrypha” today they are usually referring to those same books. (Catholics — who, like the Orthodox, still regard those books as scripture — dubbed them “deuterocanonicals.”) What factors did the Church use when deciding whether a book should be in the canon? As people made their lists and discussed the issue, we can identify three main factors that the Fathers, Church councils, and ordinary Christians considered: Antiquity, Apostolicity, and Orthodoxy. Another way to understand these criteria is that the writings had to be Apostolic in time, Apostolic in authorship and Apostolic in content (i.e., doctrinally Orthodox). “Antiquity” meant the book was Apostolic in time, meaning it had been in existence from the first decades of Christianity. Our New Testament books date from before the year 100. How did the Church discern which books were ancient and genuine? First, it was already known among the early Christians which Apostles had written which books during their lifetimes, even when a particular Christian had never seen or read a particular book. This information was not only passed along orally, but was also written down in some early Christian writings, such as 1 Clement, the epistle of an early bishop of Rome. Clement mentioned the authors of the Gospels in the 90s, before the year 100, and another bishop in Asia Minor, Papias of Hierapolis, discussed who the Gospel writers were around the year 120. This means that the books already existed and were circulating within the Church. The Apostolic books were read within local communities, so the first Christians knew which books already existed prior to the year 100. In addition, we have other Christian books that were composed in the early and mid-second century (such as the writings of Justin Martyr) that quote from our New Testament
books, so we know the New Testament books came first. By contrast, none of the apocrypha is quoted by second-century Christian authors, indicating that those books either did not exist or were not accepted in the 1st century. To us, living nearly two thousand years later, a second- or third-century book seems quite ancient! But it was not considered “ancient” for the people who were discussing the issue of the canon in the third and fourth centuries. “Apostolicity” meant that the Church required that any book admitted into the canon be written by the Apostles or by those closely connected with them. One reason was that the Apostles were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ and to all the other things Christ said and did. Everyone can understand why this is important. Eyewitness testimony is paramount in courts of law because it is presumed to be more reliable than hearsay. Authors of the apocrypha knew that no one would read their writings if the true authorship were known, but they knew they could fool people into reading their writings by claiming Apostolic authorship. Therefore, these works falsely bear the names of Apostles. Some books which were popular, and which appear on early canons, such as the Epistles of St. Ignatius, were ultimately not accepted into the New Testament. They were false, but they were not Apostolic, even though they are quite early. Or in the case of the Didache, they were anonymous and Apostolic authorship could not be established. These books are very different from the apocrypha because they are not falsified writings. The final criterion was “Orthodoxy”: every book deemed worthy of canonicity had to be Apostolic in its content. Contrary to the genuine New Testament Scriptures, apocrypha present fairy tales and false teachings (heresy) about the Lord. Gnostic apocrypha, for instance, present Jesus as not human, but as one of many divine beings. And some Christian apocrypha present Jesus as a young boy making mischief by destroying property, magically bringing toys to life, and injuring or even killing young playmates who anger Him. Such stories contradict what we know about Christ. They also contradict the canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), which indicate clearly that Jesus seemed to be an ordinary boy, that He was obedient to Mary and Joseph and that He performed no miracles until He began His public ministry. His amazing eloquence and astonishing powers were a complete surprise to those in His village who knew Him as a boy (see Mk 6:2-3). This highlights the reason why the Church rejected apocrypha: The contents were not true. The story of the formation of the New Testament canon is an interesting one and very inspiring. Everyone had an opinion, and everyone —
laypersons, clergy, and councils — participated in the discussion that lasted over two hundred years. No one person, group, or council determined the canon, and yet eventually a consensus was reached. The Orthodox Church teaches that infallibility rests within the entire Church guided by the Holy Spirit. The formation of the New Testament canon is a classic example of the operation of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.
Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century) The codex contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. This leaf: Collection of the British Library, London, United Kingdom
Studies and Early Christianity as a teaching professor at the University of San Diego. She hosts the podcast Search the Scriptures and the call-in show Search the Scriptures LIVE! on Ancient Faith Radio. She is a parishioner at Saint Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego, California. Her husband, Rev. Costas Constantinou, is a retired Greek Orthodox priest. 47
Illustration: Ewa Kutylak
The Myth of the "Monophysites" by STEFAN JOHANSSON
hurch history is anything but smooth. Many of us like to say that before the schism of the Roman Church from the East in the eleventh century, there were “no denominations” and “it was all one Church.” This is not exactly accurate. Throughout the first millennium of Christianity, there were plenty of factions that fell out of communion with the Orthodox Catholic Church. Every one of those groups is now essentially gone — though some of their beliefs may linger in groups that exist now—so it is easy to forget about them or brush them aside. Well, all are gone except for one. Today we call them the Oriental Orthodox or non-Chalcedonian churches, but in centuries past, we inaccurately deemed them “Monophysites.”
Not only was there an initial misunderstanding, but continued misinformation has made it persist through the centuries. The conference we consider to be the Fourth Ecumenical Council, held in Chalcedon during the year 451, was ultimately rejected by many faithful Christians of Egypt, Ethiopia, Syria, Armenia, and India. But the Oriental Orthodox have stood the test of time, maintaining liturgical integrity and impressive piety and offering countless martyrs. It is for these reasons that in our communion of Eastern Orthodoxy, many people have
come to believe they in fact are truly Orthodox, sharing in the Catholic and Apostolic faith despite nearly 1,500 years of schism. Others will ask: How is this possible? Were the Fathers wrong? How can anyone maintain the true faith without accepting all the Councils? These are all legitimate questions, but they must be thoroughly examined, and not dismissed or treated as though they were already resolved, if we want to heal the schism. To understand the theological breach that opened in the fifth century, we must start in the year 431. Priests in Constantinople had begun teaching that the Jesus born to the Virgin Mary was not the eternal Word of God, and their bishop, Nestorius, was not correcting them. When he was called out, Nestorius admitted that he believed in a sharp distinction between the divine and human parts of Christ. He couldn’t stand the thought of God being a baby in a manger, or later, dying on a cross. He argued that only the human part of Jesus had had those experiences. This argument led to the Third Ecumenical Council, held in Ephesus, where St. Cyril of Alexandria argued forcefully against Nestorius. The council ended with Nestorius being condemned as a heretic. In the years after the council, another rift occurred — this time over how to interpret the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria (who died in 444). St. Cyril had used the Greek word miaphysis, which meant Jesus had one nature. However, a prominent priest in Constantinople, named Eutyches, began teaching that Jesus’s humanity was swallowed up by His divinity — whereas St. Cyril had taught that Jesus’s humanity and divinity coexisted in distinction, without canceling each other out. A council was called in Chalcedon to resolve this. Eutyches was condemned as a heretic, but there were large portions of the Church that did not care for how 49
it was done. To Church leaders from Egypt, Syria, Armenia and a few other places, the council’s verdict reeked of Nestorianism — especially because disciples of Nestorius’s mentor, Theodore of Mopsuestia, were vindicated at the council after previously having been censured. Church leaders did formally condemn Theodore, and the heretical writings of his followers that were reinstated at Chalcedon, at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople during the year 553. Unfortunately, this did not prevent the Chalcedonian schism from solidifying shortly thereafter. Since then, relations between the two sides have been fraught with misunderstandings. For instance, the standard Service for Reception of a non-Chalcedonian asks them to repudiate the heresy of Eutyches —but Eutyches has never been venerated in any of their traditions. In fact, it is recorded in the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon that during the first session, Pope Dioscorus of Alexandria stated, “If Eutyches holds opinions contrary to the doctrines of the Church, he deserves not only punishment but hellfire.” Dioscorus did eventually leave the council out of frustration and was summoned to return but did not. Therefore, in a later session he was deposed from his office as Patriarch of Alexandria. He was not in any way condemned for heresy at Chalcedon. Oriental Orthodox venerate Dioscorus as a saint and consider his deposition to be invalid. In other versions of the Reception for nonChalcedonians, they are asked to repudiate Theodore of Mopsuestia, who they anathematized long before we did. This makes it even clearer that there was not only an initial misunderstanding, but continued misinformation has made it persist through the centuries. At seminary, we hear a reading from the Lives of the Saints at Matins. During my first year, on the feast day of St. Maximus the Confessor, the reading went into detail about the issues of Chalcedon because of the lingering heresies in the days of Maximus. The text wrongly stated that Dioscorus had been the originator of the Monophysite heresy, teaching that Christ’s humanity had been swallowed up by His divinity! This, of course, was the teaching of Eutyches and not Dioscorus. We have a strong contingent of Oriental Orthodox students at St. Vladimir’s and, ordinarily, they worship independently in a chapel they’ve set up in a spare classroom. But that morning, one of the Coptic students happened to be in our chapel instead, and so I apologized to him. He said, “I wouldn’t have even been bothered if it had said Dioscorus was a heretic, because I understand that’s how he has been received in your tradition—but it attributed something to him that he never taught.” Oddly, I remember that this most recent year that same reading came up, and this time the text properly stated “Eutyches” but otherwise it read pretty much the same. jacob's well
Thankfully, this dialogue is not just a product of modernday “ecumenism,” but in fact stretches back quite far. To be sure, we Chalcedonians were not the only ones with misinformation. Regarding the bishops at Chalcedon, the Coptic reading for the feast day of Dioscorus claims: “They signed the document of the belief that Christ has two distinct and separate natures.” We obviously know that this is not what Chalcedon taught, but this is how the Oriental Orthodox understood it at the time, and how some still do. There is an Egyptian film called “Crown of the Syrians,” which is about Severus of Antioch, a sixth-century Patriarch of Antioch who essentially solidified the Chalcedonian schism. Severus is a saint to the Oriental Orthodox, whereas we have written anathemas against him. The film is in Arabic, but assuming that the subtitles are correct, what Severus in the film describes is perfectly Chalcedonian theology — and yet the Chalcedonians in the film teach very sharp Nestorianism. Clearly, this is an example of how misunderstandings persist in some circles. However, it also demonstrates that non-Chalcedonians do in fact believe the same things as we do —even if not everyone on either side has come to see it that way. With all of this in mind, what then is there to do? Thankfully, this dialogue is not just a product of modern-day “ecumenism,” but in fact stretches back quite far. St. Isaac the Syrian is said to have had a good relationship with the non-Chalcedonians back in the seventh century, even counseling others to not focus so much on debate with them. He is venerated in some of their jurisdictions, even though he was not canonically part of their group. St. John of Damascus wrote some decades later that the so-called “Monophysites” were “Orthodox in every single other way.” That continues to hold true today. Several canonized saints of the Oriental Orthodox churches, such as the twelfth-century Nersess Shnorhali of the Armenian Church, and thirteenthcentury Gregory bar Hebraeus of the Syriac Church, affirmed that Chalcedonian Christians shared the same beliefs but were just using different terminology. During his travels as an archimandrite, the nineteenth-century Russian bishop Porphyry Uspensky met with various Oriental Orthodox clergy, determining that they were not heretics after all either. It was in this same spirit that the Orthodox Joint Commission concluded its July 1967 meeting in Bristol, England, with the following statement:
Fourth Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (1876) Vasily Surikov State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
Ever since the fifth century, we have used different formulae to confess our common faith in the One Lord Jesus Christ, perfect God and perfect man. Some of us affirm two natures, wills, and energies hypostatically united in the One Lord Jesus Christ. Some of us affirm one united divine-human nature, will, and energy in the same Christ. But both sides speak of a union without confusion, without change, without division, without separation. The four adverbs belong to our common tradition. Both affirm the dynamic permanence of the Godhead and the manhood, with all their natural properties and faculties, in the one Christ. Those who speak in terms of “two” do not thereby divide or separate. Those who speak in terms of “one” do not thereby commingle or confuse. The “without division, without separation” of those who say “two,” and the “without change, without confusion” of those who say “one” need to be specially underlined, in order that we may understand each other.
millennium and a half could have been caused only by semantic, linguistic, or philosophical misunderstandings. However, it is evident that both sides have either misunderstood each other or intentionally misrepresented the other at many turns. The way forward is not only to celebrate the vast amount of doctrinal teaching we have in common, but also to talk about the difficult and painful things that continue to separate us. This also includes owning up to the erroneous statements each side has made about the other and facing them in light of what we currently know—while respecting the situation and context in which all of our forefathers found themselves.
STEFAN JOHANNSON is a recent graduate of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he is finishing non-degree studies in pastoral work. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic he has been assisting a priest in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia with home-
Of course, some Christians on both sides remain skeptical that a schism which has lasted for almost a
chapel services near the southern tip of Maine, in hopes of starting a mission. 51
Photomontage: Tagor Vojnovic
Shelter Ethics: Merton and the Coronavirus by Presbyter JOEL WEIR
his past spring, I had an essay forming in my head about the Roman Catholic writer Thomas Merton’s reflections on politics. The essay would have dealt with the struggle that anyone of serious faith, especially the contemplative (or in Merton’s words, the one who strives to “be attuned to the inner spiritual dimensions of things”), faces when addressing world affairs. I would have taken cues from Jim Forest’s excellent book, The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton’s Advice to Peacemakers. Set in the early 1960s, the “duck and cover” era of the Cold War, the book details how Merton, a priest-monk, struggled through the intersections of ecclesial, political, ethical, and personal concerns in a time of crisis. Its relevance, back in February or March, was overwhelmingly obvious. However, the world is now in a very different place. As I sit here writing, in the fifth week of Great Lent, the reality of the coronavirus pandemic has become abundantly clear. Churches have ceased public services. Much of the nation is in varying degrees of lockdown. Millions have lost their jobs. Most devastating has been the rapid rise in infections and deaths. Amid all of this, there have been difficult decisions made by both civil and religious authorities. Our hierarchs have had to navigate these circumstances with one eye to public health and the other to the spiritual needs of the faithful. Priests have taken on the arduous tasks of explaining restrictions and changes to their flocks, whether pertaining to public services, or most difficult, concerning visiting the sick. As I considered the tension of this moment, I came to appreciate Forest’s book and Merton’s words even more. The linchpin for me that connected a book about a monk who opposed “the bomb” in the 1960s to the experience
of living through COVID-19 in 2020 was the issue that seemed to initiate Merton’s serious foray into the public debate : "shelter ethics.” How is a Christian citizen to think about a fallout shelter? In 1961, Catholic writer and ethicist Fr. L. C. McHugh made the case that in the event of imminent nuclear war, a Christian would be justified in defending his own fallout shelter against outsiders seeking to get in. Merton’s rebuttal appeared shortly thereafter in The Catholic Worker: This is true war-madness, an illness of the mind and spirit that is spreading with a furious and subtle contagion all over the world. Of all the countries that are sick, America is perhaps the most grievously afflicted. On all sides we have people building bomb shelters where, in case of nuclear war, they will simply bake slowly instead of burning quickly or being blown out of existence in a flash. And they are prepared to sit in these shelters with machine guns with which to prevent their neighbors from entering. 1
In the past months we have been faced with our own “shelter ethics” of sorts. In one clear sense, the situation is opposite: in the ’60s, to retreat and bolt the door was selfish; now, in the spring of 2020, in the earliest weeks of the pandemic, to not stay in unless it is necessary is selfish. But the deeper issues, which I believe Merton uncovered in his writings, that cut through the political and economic
1. Forest, Jim. The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton’s Advice to Peacemakers. New York: Orbis, 2017, p. 28-29.
to get to the communal conundrum, have much to teach us. Unlike in Merton’s time, the sheltering-in-place we have been asked to do is not a futile act. However, it has disrupted work, family routines, and Church life, raising questions over whether it is justified. As in Merton’s time, it has been easy to get lost in economic, political, or even theological details when we count the cost of sheltering in place for an undetermined amount of time. We can debate statistics about how many people die of other illnesses; questions abound over whether the economic collapse could cost us more lives; and worries consume us over the potential ramifications of Church being designated as ”nonessential.” These are not unimportant discussions to have, nor were the debates in Merton’s time concerning security, the threat of the spread of communism, and deterrence. In his writings Merton did precisely what the prophet, the man of God, is called to do, which is to return to the Gospel with humility and discern what it means to love God and love neighbor in the actual moment. Merton did this knowing that it might appear foolish to the world, a stumbling block to some who considered themselves “religious.” At the height of the rhetorical battle, Merton seemed to have arrived at a moment of clarity in his own heart. He wrote in The Catholic Worker, the newspaper launched by his close friend, Dorothy Day: It seems to me that at this time….instead of wasting our time in problematic ways of saving our own skin, we ought to be seeking with all our strength to act as better Christians, as men of peace, dedicated wholeheartedly to the law of love which is the law of Christ...We are in the midst of what is perhaps the most crucial moral and spiritual crisis the human race has ever faced during its history. We are all deeply involved with this crisis, and consequently the way each individual faces the crisis has a definite bearing on the survival of the whole race... While each individual certainly retains the right to defend his life and protect his family, we run the risk of
The difficulty of this crisis is that for most, there is nothing 'active' one can do to confront a visible enemy. Rather, one is called to look within and exercise humility and restraint.
Like the crisis of Merton’s time, the coronavirus pandemic affects the whole world. Much more acutely than in the nuclear crisis, everyone’s actions really do affect the whole. The difficulty of this crisis is that for most, there is nothing “active” one can do to confront a visible enemy. Rather, one is called to look within and exercise humility and restraint. The outbreak hit the U.S. during Lent, a time already set aside for increased focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We have been called to commit ourselves in our homes to rekindle the “liturgy of the heart” spoken of by St. Dionysius the Areopagite. We have been called to fast, not only from the foods proscribed by the Church, but from going out and doing day-to-day things. Perhaps most difficult, we have been called to fast from the Divine Services and the Sacraments (even while those who work in healthcare, emergency response, the food industry, and other essential areas have faced profound ascesis of another kind). Hopefully, much of our almsgiving has been directed at supporting those on the frontlines as well as helping our neighbors who have lost work or faced other struggles due to the pandemic. We have likely all felt tempted to respond to this by asserting our “rights,” by finding someone to blame, or by getting into a numbers game of situational ethics. These are so tempting because they can help us make sense of our situation in the short term. However, just as Merton, at the end of his exploration of all the sides, all the ramifications, all the ethics of the crisis of his time, arrived finally at the foot of the Cross, which called him to speak to higher things, to eternal things, we have been asked in our time to do the same.. After celebrating Mass on the Feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch, Merton reflected: What we have known in the past as Christian penance is not a deep enough concept if it does not comprehend the special problems and dangers of this present age. Hairshirts will not do the trick, though there is no harm in mortifying the flesh. But vastly more important is the complete change of heart and the totally new outlook on the world of man. We have to see as our duty to mankind as a whole. We must not fail in this duty which God is imposing on us with His own hand. 3
As Christians, the way through difficult times is often not a way that will fit easily into any “side.” This is a lesson in the Gospels and throughout the history of the
2. Forest, 34-35. 3. Ibid, 80.
creating a very dangerous mentality and opening the way to moral chaos if we give the impression that from here on out it is just every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost...This means that a Christian will never simply allow himself to develop a state of mind in which, forgetting his Christian ideal, he thinks in purely selfish and pragmatic terms. Our rights certainly remain, but they do not entitle us to develop a hard-boiled, callous, selfish outlook, a “me first” attitude. 2
Church and witness of the Saints. The reason for which we shelter in place, fast for a time from Divine Services, do with less, are willing to suffer economic hardship, and do not “assert our rights” to do the things we wish to do is not just based on the advice from medical experts and orders from civil authorities. We certainly are informed by this, but the primary reason the Christian makes these sacrifices is to love our neighbor, especially the least among us, the sick, the immuno-compromised, the elderly, whose value is not based on their “productivity” in society but in the fact they are created and beloved by God. We do not simply “take care of our own,” especially at a time of shared suffering, but imitate Our Lord, the
Saints, and those like Merton who met the temptation of a partisan, self-preserving response with a call to return to the Cross.
REV. JOEL WEIR is the rector of St. Stephen the First Martyr Orthodox Church, in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He serves as a Frontliner in the emergency response network of the International Orthodox Christian Concern and as dean of the Indianapolis Deanery of the Orthodox Church in America. He is also a musician with numerous recordings and regular live performances. Blog: www.savedtogether.com Music: www.joeldavidweir.com
The Good Shepherd (1977) Sadao Watanabe 55
Why I Became Catholic and not Orthodox by Professor ROBERT MOORE-JUMONVILLE
n 2019, at the Easter Vigil, I was received into the Catholic Church. My decision came as a surprise to some, though those who knew me well saw my confirmation as the culmination of years of deliberation. Let me add some context. For 33 years, I had served as an elder in the United Methodist Church and 21 of those years as a pastor in rural Midwestern parishes. In addition, for almost 30 years I have taught theology, Christian history, and spiritual formation at two evangelical universities, and I earned my doctorate in a program titled “The History of Christianity in the West.” For years, I considered joining the Orthodox Church, but in the end, I decided against it. It might be constructive to reflect on the factors that spurred my decision.
My first real exposure to Orthodoxy occurred about 20 years ago, when two of my Protestant clergy friends drew me into reading Orthodox theology. We had all been pondering the validity of Protestant sacraments. And what is there not to love about Orthodox theology—its history and its mystery? The Eastern Church lives comfortably with theological paradoxes and puzzles, whereas the Catholic Church tends to parse every theological nuance. That difference in theological temperament between East and West can be observed as far back as the 3rd century— for instance, if we compare Origen with Tertullian. In these past two decades, my library has become stuffed with Orthodox books by Athanasius, Chrysostom, Maximus the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa, Symeon the New Theologian, Kallistos Ware, John Meyendorff, Lev
Gillet, Andrew Louth, Vladimir Lossky, Olivier Clément, as well as the Philokalia, scores of books on the Jesus Prayer, and much more. Those familiar with Orthodox thought realize how seamlessly it blends doctrinal and formational theology. “There is no intellectual means of entering into the Gospel, for the Gospel is spiritual,” wrote the Coptic monk Matthew the Poor, who died in 2006. “It must be obeyed and lived through the Spirit before it can be understood.” Because I have taught spiritual formation for much of my career, this transformational understanding of the Christian life has always attracted me. Though I could continue my list of aspects of Orthodoxy that I appreciate, let me mention one last quality, the one I imagine most often draws in young people today: Orthodox liturgy. Around 2003, I joined a group of like-minded Protestants who longed to experience liturgical worship. We began a Saturday-evening service in a side chapel of a large Free Methodist Church using The Book of Common Prayer. It was “high church,” chockfull of vestments, incense, and icons. The weekly services continued for two-and-a-half years, obviously meeting a deep spiritual need for people, with perhaps 30 souls in attendance at the height. Even during this experience of liturgical worship, however, several of us began wondering uneasily if we weren’t merely “playing at church.” Where was the Apostolic succession? Where was the larger Body of Christ to which we were tied, to which we were connected both geographically and historically? Right about this time, I attended the Orthodox baptism of a former student’s son. I recall how everything that occurred was full of meaning. The godparents spitting at the devil during the exorcism, the child being dunked three times, the priest taking the baby behind the iconostasis and then bringing the child to the foot of the altar for the parents to pick up. Even to write this brings tears to my eyes. I left the service enthralled by its beauty and depth while, at the same time, realizing Protestants could never simply extract a piece of the liturgy from here or there with the intent of sewing the old cloth on a new garment (Matthew 9:16). The liturgy was all of one piece. Any part isolated from the whole would lose integrity and meaning. The richness of my experiences with Orthodoxy further highlighted the relative poverty of my UM tradition, and for that, I am deeply indebted to Orthodoxy, even though I found my home in Roman Catholicism. I love all this about Orthodoxy, yet I became Catholic. The simplest reason for my choice was this: because my family did. Ten of us in my family (all former Protestants) now have received confirmation. The first was my nephew, Cameron, who had attended the liturgical services with us while he was in college. In my immediate family, my daughter, Annesley, went first (while attending a Protestant college), and then my wife, Kimberly, who teaches alongside me at the same university.
The Exchange of Crosses (1956, detail) Fritz Eichenberg
Catholicism felt more structured, but also more natural to me than Orthodoxy. I also came to realize that I felt more at home in the West than in the East. Of course, many thoroughgoing Westerners today identify instead with Eastern Orthodoxy, so I must elaborate. Much of my academic study has been in Western history—yes, beginning with the ancient Greeks (in the East), but moving quickly to Rome, medieval Western civilization, England, and America. The West (Catholicism) speaks my language. Part of my preference relates to liturgy. Since my junior year in college, I have frequently attended Episcopal worship. Anglicans knew English, of course, and often they wrote like poets. Catholics, in fact, have not been as nimble— either in their hymnody, or in their translations of the Bible into English, or in their English liturgy. But along the spectrum from low-church Protestant, to Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox, I experience Orthodox worship as most foreign, as strangest and most difficult. Much of 57
Catholics historically, at least in the past 500 years, have invested more than Orthodox in evangelism, world missions, work with the poor, and issues of social justice.
Orthodox liturgy—its fast pace and repetitions—leaves me feeling like I am lost in a foreign country. In my mind, a marked difference exists between the Orthodox intent to not change liturgy and the age-old Catholic practice of translating the Gospel into the next “host culture.” The matter of translating the Gospel for a new culture has been a perennial challenge for the Church. So, when a priest near us claims that the Orthodox have never changed their liturgy, I have to scratch my head. As a historian, I doubt that is accurate. But again, this basic difference between Orthodox and Catholic, at the cultural level, has stood since the early years of Christian history— beginning much earlier than the formal schism of 1054. The Catholic theologian Hans Küng gave a lecture I once heard depicting certain “church groups” as having “gotten off the cultural timeline bus” at some century in history (my paraphrase of Küng). So, for instance, Protestant Holiness churches got off the bus in mid-19th century America when revivalism flourished across the country. Catholics got off the bus in the Middle Ages in western Europe. The Orthodox got off the bus, according to Küng, somewhere during the Byzantine Empire. I have visited Egypt and Turkey. I prefer France and Switzerland. Although Catholic liturgy did appear mainly in Latin before Vatican II, I still think that experiencing a Tridentine Catholic mass of 1920 would feel more comfortable to me than the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. I admit I am speaking merely of a matter of aesthetic preference, especially as that relates to the experience of worship. But what also inspires me is the art and literature of the West: Fra Angelico’s frescoes; Gothic architecture; the works of Augustine, Dante, Chesterton, and Henri Nouwen; and all that Western inheritance which flows from the fountainhead of Catholicism. Many Catholic practices drew me to the West as well, perhaps again because they felt more systematic or programmatic than what I witnessed in Orthodoxy. The Ignatian Exercises, given either over an eight-day retreat or spread out over several months, and the daily jacob's well
Prayer of Exam both serve as examples of what I mean. Catholicism felt more structured, but also more natural to me than Orthodoxy. Finally, let me broaden my category once more to include more universal aspects I think Catholicism offers — features I do not find in Orthodoxy. First, the Catholic Church simply has a larger presence across the globe, and thus at least appears more catholic (read: universal). In addition, Catholic parishes seem more open to newcomers, more friendly, than Orthodox congregations, and quicker to catechize. Because my experience of Orthodoxy is limited primarily to one congregation and a half-dozen visits elsewhere, you should take what I am saying here provisionally. But Orthodox folk appear more closed than open to me— as though they are part of an exclusive club. Orthodox friends of mine worry about this, too, and work against their tribalism. Certainly, Catholic parishes can be experienced as clannish, as well, though Vatican II opened many doors. Theologically, Catholics more willingly admit Orthodox believers as equals (seeing East and West as “two lungs of the same body”). Regarding being open “to the other,” Catholics historically, at least in the past 500 years, have invested more than the Orthodox in evangelism, world missions, work with the poor, and issues of social justice. Those endeavors are all important to me. Since the Middle Ages, Catholics have also tended to challenge corrupt political institutions more directly than the Orthodox. In contrast to Catholic engagement with the world, one may argue that the Orthodox know better how to pursue the contemplative and mystical side of theology—a vision that focuses on the spirit within rather than on the world outside. In the end, please accept this as merely my story — less theology than autobiography. In the words of G. K. Chesterton (in the preface to his famous book Orthodoxy): I have “been forced to be egotistical in order to be sincere.” Recognize as well that Orthodox theology and my many Orthodox friends continue to influence my Catholic faith. For despite real differences, when compared with the wider culture, Orthodoxy and Catholicism share much in common, both offering our lost world an order of life and worship.
DR. ROBERT MOORE-JUMONVILLE teaches in the Department of Theology at Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, Michigan). A retired United Methodist minister, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in History of Christianity in the West.
San Damiano Cross (copy of c. 1100 original) Church of San Damiano Assisi, Italy
Illustration: Tagor Vojnovic
On Parenting and Disability by BRENT CLINE
here is no disability, only disabilities. This isn’t meant as a maudlin, emptyheaded statement, the way parents at the playground might dispense advice: each child is different, my kid is wholly unique, and so on. Of course, that’s hardly true. Children are so much the same that seasoned parents can all but guess exactly what new parents are going through just by hearing the children’s ages. This is not the case with disability. What does epilepsy have to do with achondroplasia? What does Down Syndrome have to do with cystic fibrosis? A wellmeaning family friend once told me that my daughter reminded her of a girl she knew: a young, blind woman leaving home to study at Ohio State. I didn’t ask this family friend what this young woman could possibly have to do with my daughter, who at 18 years old cannot reliably count to five.
When friends speak about Little League baseball or dance practice, I might consider including how my daughter successfully zipped her coat that morning. The peculiarity of disabilities can make parenting a lonesome and guilt-ridden experience. I know parents
of children with various disabilities, but none like my daughter. She barely speaks. She doesn’t have enough cognitive ability or attention span for sustained communication of any kind. When friends speak about Little League baseball or dance practice, I might consider including how my daughter successfully zipped her coat that morning, but normally I don’t say anything about her at all, effectively erasing her from conversation. I choose guilt afterward over pity in the moment. If there is perhaps any universal statement to make about the experience of parenting a child with a disability, it is this: pity is the great enemy. Pity is an appraisal of your own worth as remarkably too high; you remember well all your mistakes and cruelties. Pity is also an appraisal of your child as too low; she is every much a delight and a crank as any other child, and though it took a while, you have learned to feel pride in zipped coats the way others do in a home run or plié. Still, it is not difficult to imagine why these other parents harbor pity. No parent wants their child born with a cognitive or physical disability. You are, in many ways, living those other parents’ nightmares. And this is one of the great cerebral oddities of parenting a child with a disability: the innate feeling that they ought not to be this way. They should be able to see. They should be able to speak. That tracheal tube should not be there. This is the emotional tightrope that many parents walk: the instinctual, hyperactive pride for your child mingled with the awareness that your child ought not be this way. The reactions to this are predictable and each worthy of understanding. There is the parent who refuses to accept the disability, seeing instead only difference, a position possible if the disability 61
There are no exceptions in Communion; the babies, the scholars, the infirm, the healthy, the senile, and the sick all commune with the same risen Christ in the Eucharist. isn’t severe and doesn’t guarantee lifelong care or force the family’s life to center around caretaking. This is a common academic understanding of disability in the world of intersectionality: it is only difference. For many, this is true. But the child on a ventilator or the adult in chronic pain are not witnesses of simple difference. The impairment is real, and it is unfortunate. There is also the parent who cannot jettison from their mind the life that might have been if not for the medical error, the genetic fluke, or the traumatic incident. And as with all poles, there is the mass of us in between, swinging between a scornful pride toward our friends who do not understand why we high-five our children when they use a napkin correctly, and a guilt for daydreaming about our children as anything other than what they are. I don’t make any claims that I am positioned correctly between these poles, but it isn’t for lack of tools in front of me. The management of my own parental paradox (there are many more, I am sure) is modeled for me through the life of the Church. What remains is for me to embrace it. My daughter has no intellectual concept of God. She has little capacity for contrition. She cannot read, does not understand even the simplest story, and has never said a willful prayer in her life. The beats of the Church calendar, the sacrament of confession, and the beauty of worship and its schema for our own lives is lost upon her. She is locked out of the abundance of the Church through no fault of the Church or of her own. I cannot say anything but that this should not be. My daughter should not have the intellectual and emotional capacity of a distracted three-year-old.
Yet there, at the heart of every Liturgy, the chalice is held out to all Orthodox Christians. My daughter, guided each time by someone in our family, approaches. No pastoral exception is necessary to allow her to come forward. We don’t need any ancient canon announcing that our modern understandings of disability are not to preclude participation in the Eucharist. Her invitation is in the fabric of the Church, not in the compassion of a given individual. There are no exceptions in Communion; the babies, the scholars, the infirm, the healthy, the senile, and the sick all commune with the same risen Christ in the Eucharist. My daughter does not receive the sacrament as sentimentality, but as a young woman with full personhood made in the image and likeness of God. The church I attend has a fair number of regular non-Orthodox visitors, many of whom are more likely to know the plot of The Brothers Karamazov than who was in last year’s Super Bowl. It is not uncommon to hear how these visitors seem to already believe what the Orthodox Church maintains. They are already intellectually aligned with so many of the doctrines. I tell some visitors, the ones with whom I have a rapport, that no matter what they are intellectually aligned with, they are not Orthodox. And my daughter, who intellectually aligns with nothing but is baptized and partakes of the Eucharist, is no less a member of the Church than the priest who has the honor of offering her the spoon and watching as she bobs her head in pleasure upon tasting the wine and bread. The Church, in Her wisdom, offers me this model in raising my daughter. The brain damage should not be there, and in her resurrected body it will not be. Yet for now it is, and the reality of impairment and the incapacity of her brain and body do not lessen her personhood or her relationship to God. She is no less a symbol of the fall of humankind than she is a symbol of atonement; that is to say, she is no different than the rest of us. The Orthodox understanding of my daughter’s disability reflects a parent’s mourning about the grandchildren who will never be, while simultaneously celebrating the zipped jacket. The paradox is not meant to be undone, only embraced, just like all the paradoxes we all contain and scarcely recognize.
BRENT CLINE is a teacher. He is a parishioner at Holy Ascension Orthodox Church in Albion, Michigan.
Photograph: sewcream, courtesy of Freepik
The Lamentations of Jeremiah (1955) Fritz Eichenberg Rosenwald Collection National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
by John Emrys Van Maren
Who can speak the ruin wreaked by God on yearning hearts? The lonesomeness of lovelorn scattered minds Perusing shattered remnants of the past, Examining each stone—remembering just where it fit— And pulling tears and tears and prayers from what is gone forever; Or the bone-deep sorrow of a mother—arms evacuate And eyes bled dry—staring at the rumpled empty cradle? Grief can’t be teased out from what once was, The only cure we know is amputation of the whole Like Alexander severing the knot And making moot the prophecy In violent avoidance and contempt. Yet the heart insists there is a way To gather up the fragments that remain, Pick up our joys and sorrows and maintain To all—but most especially ourselves— That these things are precisely what they are And will remain unreconciled, worthy of our tears, Until at last (or always, or already, maybe), Grace in great abundance like a Spring announced by flowers Leaps from harrowed ground.
JOHN EMRYS VAN MAREN is a writer living in New York and a parishioner at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, a Roman Catholic parish on 34th St.
Life Under Pandemic Reflections of a 4th Grader
by GENEVIEVE BROWN
“Mom, my computer is dead.” “Can you help me with Math?” “When is my Zoom meeting?” “My computer is dead!” “Can I go to Smoothie King?”
ust a typical crazy morning since this lockdown began. I have been in quarantine for almost eight weeks now and have had to do school on the computer. My brothers are in the same boat. It is, however, a great chance to spend time with my family, and doing school from home makes things less busy. Staying at home gives you time to do all the things you could never do on a regular day. However, it can be frustrating because being stuck at home leads to more fights and getting on everyone's nerves.
Everyone is experiencing something hard during this pandemic. I miss going to school five days a week and I miss going to church every Sunday. Before the coronavirus, there was hardly a day when I stayed home with lots of spare time. We all miss the things we don't have now, like friends, teachers, and neighbors. The hardest thing for me during the coronavirus is trying not to fight all the time with my brothers while being crammed in a small house. Even though things are hard, confusing, and sometimes boring, there is always some good in things that are bad. Just like how God gave us something good from the Cross. You don't always really know how important the things you have are, like your health, school, and church, until they are taken from you. After this, I will appreciate these things more because I know that I have it better than some people that are sick in a hospital or have to be in a strict quarantine. At the same time, there are fun things about being quarantined. Like playing outside more and having a lot more family time. I really like family game nights, movie nights, and the new experience of online school and online church. Things will be different when this is over. Everyone knows they need to be more careful about the coronavirus so they don’t spread it. People might be afraid to be in big groups and shake peoples’ hands. When will things be going back to normal? When will stores be opening up again? Looks like Smoothie King won’t be coming back. All this is crazy and not what we expected. But when this started, my teacher said, “Don’t worry, the coronavirus is only in China, South Korea, and all the countries on the other side of the world.” That turned out not to be true, but I guess people have learned from this. I know I have.
GENEVIEVE BROWN is a 4th grader at Central School in Glen Rock, NJ and a parishioner at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Fr. Matthew Brown.
Fun & Games Without
1. "What can be seen once in a minute, twice in a moment, and never in a thousand years?" 2. "Which word is written incorrectly in a dictionary?"
taking your pencil off
the paper, draw 4 straight lines through each
3. "Feed me, and it will give me life. But give me a drink, and I will die. What am I?"
dot! You can only go through each dot once! Remember that each line has to be a straight line, and you can only draw 4 lines!
4. "The more you take out of it, the bigger it becomes. What is it?"
Draw more boards if you need to! You can find the solution to the Brainteaser at
4. A pit
3, Fire 2. The word "incorrectly" 1. The letter "M"
Answers Coloring Page
2020 Diocesan Graduates b
Sebastian Abt, parishioner at St. Gregory
the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, graduated from John Jay High School in Hopewell Junction, NY. He will attend Dutchess Community College.
Larisa is the recipient of the Moravian College Trustee Merit Scholarship, a scholarship from the Seeing Eye, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, the Prudential Spirit of Community Award
parishioner at Holy Apostles Mission in Lansing, NY, graduated from Ithaca High School in Ithaca, NY. He will attend the United States Air Force Academy, majoring in systems engineering.
Honoree for State Level Recognition, and the Seeing Eye Best Friend Volunteer Award. She captained her high school equestrian team and hopes to ride for her college’s team.
John Gregory Berezniak,
parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in South River, NJ, graduated Cum Laude from James Madison University with a BS in health science and public health.
parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Randolph, NJ, graduated from the Academy of Saint Elizabeth in Convent Station, NJ. She will attend Moravian College, majoring in fine arts and minoring in math/business.
parishioner at Church of the Holy Cross in Medford, NJ, graduated from Williamstown High School in Monroe Township, NJ. He will attend 69
Saint Joseph’s University, having received the university’s Presidential Scholarship, and will dual-major in international relations and French. Joshua served as Vice President of the German National Honor Society and was also a member of the National Honor Society and the Kitty Hawk Air Society (ROTC Honors) and is Williamstown High School’s Tri-County Scholar Athlete.
Leonardo Da Silva,
parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Bayonne, NJ, graduated from East Side High School in Newark, NJ. He will attend New Jersey City University, majoring in physics (preengineering). Leonardo earned 2nd place at the 2019 City of Newark’s Mathematics Olympics Team for Pre-Calculus. He also served as the mechanical lead and graphic designer in East Side High School's Robotics Club.
parishioner of Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church in Binghamton, NY, graduated from Union Endicott High School in Endicott, NY.
parishioner at St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, graduated from Arlington High School in Lagrangeville, NY. She will study mechanical engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Eva held memberships in the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Math Honor Society, and Torch and Laurel Society. She also did community service through Girl Scouts, where she earned her Gold Award by building benches for her church. Eva's passion for music spawned many special experiences, such as winning NYS Marching Band Championships for four years in a row, being a part of Conference All State in Rochester, NY for two years, and playing in other honor bands and orchestras in her area for four years. jacob's well
graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in fashion production management. During her time at FIT, Corrine interned at Tanya Taylor, Leota, Kiki di Montparnesse, and Vera Wang Bridal. She also served as treasurer and president of FIT's International Fashion and Culture Association Club and made the Dean's list. Corrine is now an Associate Production Coordinator at Ground Up International in New York City.
parishioner at Christ the Saviour Church in Paramus, NJ, graduated from Chatham High School in Chatham, NJ. She will attend the University of Nevada —Las Vegas and major in hospitality management. Penelope has worked throughout high school and is excited to learn more about, and work in, the hotel and restaurant industry. Nathan Alexander Devens, parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Elmira Heights, NY, graduated from Horseheads High School in Horseheads, NY. He simultaneously attended BOCES and graduated with honors in the Career and Technical Education Program as a veterinary assistant. Nathan is a gifted animal enthusiast who loves serving in the altar at Holy Trinity, volunteers at the local library, and was honored by the Youth Council for his community service. He will attend Corning Community College.
Catherine Kazakova, parishioner at Christ the Saviour Church in New York, NY, graduated from Millburn High School in Millburn, NJ. She will attend the University of Pittsburgh. Mikala Angeline Kobylar, parishioner at St.
Corinne Grabowski, parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ,
Basil Church in Watervliet, NY, graduated from Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY, with a 96 average and received the Shenendehowa Teachers Association Elementary Edu-cation Scholarship. She will attend SUNY Oneonta on a "Dean's List 4-year Scholarship" and was awarded the Joan Melzer Lydon Scholarship. Mikala will major in elementary education.
in Clifton, NJ, graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in mechanical engineering and minor in actuarial science.
parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in South River, NJ, graduated from Gill St. Bernard's School in Chester Township, NJ. He was recognized as an AP Scholar, a member of the Latin Honor Society, and captain of the NJ State Championship Soccer Team during high school. Nicholas will attend Rutgers University (New Brunswick).
University of Delaware, majoring in biology. Aubrey was the vice president of her graduating class and cheered for all four years of high school. She was in many academic and philanthropic clubs, including the Italian Club and SHARE, and was also a peer advisor.
parishioner at Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church in Clifton, NJ, graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BS in finance. Luke Naumiuk, parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in South River, NJ, graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with a BS in business administration and management.
Anthony Lyon, parishioner at Holy Trinity
Lizabethe Anne Kronyak,
parishioner at St. Nicholas Church in Auburn, NY, graduated from Liverpool High School in Liverpool, NY. She will attend SUNY Oneonta to pursue a degree in international relations.
Church in Elmira Heights, NY, graduated from Notre Dame High School, Elmira, NY.
parishioner at St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a BS in business administration.
parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Columbia University in New York City with a BA in psychology. He now works for Columbia University Community Impact and plans to continue to live and work in New York City.
parishioner at Holy Transfiguration Chapel in Princeton, NJ, graduated from The Peddie School in Hightstown, NJ. She will attend Tufts University, majoring in special education. Lewis, parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ, graduated from Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, NJ. She will attend the
Jacob Michels, parishioner at Assumption of the Holy Virgin Church
Jeremy D. Posluszny,
parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in South River, 71
NJ, graduated from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with a BS in environmental and business economics, and public policy. Over the last four years, Jeremy has served as a University Senator, planning board member, nonprofit leader, legislative aide, and community volunteer. Jeremy will attend Rutgers Law School, where he intends to focus on civil rights and constitutional law.
plans to pursue a Masterâ€™s degree in architecture and focus her research on inclusive design.
with a BS in computer science, software engineering.
Zachary Basil Sokol,
parishioner at Christ the Saviour Church in Paramus, NJ, graduated from Mahwah High School in Mahwah, NJ. He will attend the University of Scranton and major in communications. David was captain of the varsity football team during his junior and senior years and was named second team All-League Safety. He also played varsity baseball.
Calli Santangelo, parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ, graduated from the University of Scranton with a BS in occupational therapy. While at Scranton, Calli took a class that visited the Holy Land chaperoned by Fr. Azar, a University professor and Orthodox priest. She also participated in a service trip to Guatemala and did fieldwork for occupational therapy in Kauai, HI. She will continue at the University for one more year to complete her MS in occupational therapy. Khristo Shami, parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in East Meadow, NY, graduated from Mepham High School in North Bellmore, NY. He will attend Stony Brook University and major in biomedical engineering (pre-med).
parishioner at Christ the Saviour Church in Paramus, NJ, graduated from Iona College with a BA in adolescent education and concentration in social studies. While completing his studies, Mark served as the historian of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity's Iota Omicron Chapter. He hopes to teach high-school history in NYC and plans to pursue a Masterâ€™s degree in the near future.
parishioner at SS. Peter and Paul Church in Manville, NJ, graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in philosophy and MA in sociology. Zachary will attend the School of Medicine at Temple University/St Luke's in Bethlehem, PA. Victoria Szpynda,
parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in Yonkers, NY, graduated from Somers High School in Somers, NY. She will attend the College of the Holy Cross, majoring in economics.
parishioner at St. Basil Church in Watervliet, NY, graduated from University at Albany with a BA in English and education.
parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul Church in South Bend, NJ, graduated from Rutgers University jacob's well
parishioner at St. George Church in Buffalo, NY, graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University at Buffalo with a BS in architecture and minor in environmental design. Mira
parishioner at St. Basil Church in Watervliet, NY, graduated from Tamarac High School in Troy, NY. He intends to study biology (pre-med) in the fall.
parishioner at Church of the Holy Cross in Medford, NJ, graduated from Hammonton High School in Hammonton, NJ. She will attend Stockton University and major in computer science.
parishioner at St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, with a BS in environmental science. Alex is commissioned into the Engineer branch of the U.S. Army and will serve as a Combat Engineer with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He lettered for Army in cross country and track.
parishioner at St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY, graduated from Oyster Bay High School in Oyster Bay, NY. She will attend the University of Scranton, majoring in kinesiology to prepare for a degree in physical therapy. While in high school, Kyra was a member of the Music Honor Society and lettered in field hockey and track.
parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ, graduated from Whippany Park High School in Hanover, NJ. She will study early-childhood education at Purdue University. Lauren was a member of the National Honor Society and maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her high school career. She was also involved in the Color Guard for four years, this year as a section leader. Lauren
2LT Alexander Tosi,
Matushka Ekaterina Vansuch parishioner
at St. George Church in Buffalo, NY graduated from the University at Buffalo with a Professional MBA.
parishioner at Holy Resurrection Church in Wayne, NJ, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in finance. He works at MarketAxess in New York City.
Nicholas Zarras, Olivia Zabierowski,
parishioner at Holy Trinity Church in East Meadow, NY, graduated from Carle Place High School in Carle Place, NY. She will attend Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.