An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
At the 2007 DOW Mission Deanery Retreat, Fr. Michael Dahulich (Dean of St. Tikhon) came and spoke to us. And one of the things he talked about that really struck me (particularly as a newly transferred member of the OCA) was when he noted what he believed to be the much great health and vibrancy in the life of the Church in the west as compared to the east. As I recall he even suggested that we in the west were "doing it right" and had much to teach those in the east where there is too much of the "old school" attitude that often leads to parishes becoming ethnic ghettos - many of which are dying on the vine. I blogged about it briefly HERE.
I've no means of judging the situation in the east and so I am wholly reliant upon Fr. Michael's assessment. But as the surprising news (though, oddly enough, our lay delegate and I discussed this possibility before he left Sunday) of Bishop JONAH's election spread, I recalled the way Fr. Michael talked about this idea of the west "doing it right." Coupled with the financial scandal (a problem clearly arising prominently in the east), I wondered if the election of Bishop JONAH (an 11 day old Bishop from the west and for many in the east - I suspect - relatively unknown) wasn't in some ways an acknowledgment of what Fr. Michael was saying to us in 2007?
Metropolitan JONAH, it cannot be denied, is a breath of fresh air into the sails of the Orthodox Church in America...and perhaps even into the sails of Orthodoxy in America period. And not only because he is the first head of an American jurisdiction to be a convert. Those of us who know him (to any degree), know that the talk he gave at Tuesday's Q&C session, which some have said earned him the election, really was not exceptional for him at all. And these are not performances on his part, like a skilled politician. As he told AFR in his interview when they asked about the inspiration of his talk: "What besides the Holy Spirit..." It was ONLY the Holy Spirit. Not a few of us can confirm this.
Listen to his vision speech. Keeping in mind that the man's world has literally been turned upside down in a matter of a day and that he perhaps had a few hours to prepare these remarks. Like so many of the talks I have seen his Beatitude give, I believe this one proceeded more from his heart than an article of paper before him. I really appreciate his push for reaching out to our communities; his evangelical (yes I said evangelical) bluntness of stating the obvious that the Church can offer the cure for what ails our sick world - specifically noting those people who suffer, feeling literally abandoned by their churches which are more and more leaving the apostolic tradition in favor of the prevailing cultural winds. He asks: where are our Orthodox schools, hospitals, and elderly care centers? (When stating the latter I immediately thought of the "Life Draining Giving Spring") And he notes that personally reaching out is a superior means of giving than simply writing a check...and well...if you know me then you know this really struck a chord with me. That human touch is so important. Anyway, I won't summarize it all for you here, give it a listen and see if you too hear a man who truly has an Apostolic vision for our Church. A vision of Christ's love for the world.
I'm inspired. And I suppose that's a great part of what a leader is supposed to do.
Hehehe...and if I may: checking out the Orthodox Christians for Accountability comments section - which has in the past been a bastion of negativity, pessimism, and worse - one finds it now to be in a range more akin to a few expressions of cautious optimism to...well...a huge amount of outright joy.
The fact that he is a convert is the least important fact concerning him. I am concerned that you did not stress the fact that Vladyki Jonas was the only hierarch in the OCA with a proper monastic formation, being guided by Archimandrite Pankraty of Valaam.
He is very similar in habit and temperament to Vladyki Hilarion Kapral, and one can see that his elevation may be the first act of the unification of the three "Russian" churches in N America. To speak bluntly, my clerical friends in Russia see this as a repudiation of the Schmemann opium dream. Just as Laurus Skurla had the courage to heal the breach with Moscow, Jonas Paffhausen has the guts to bury the OCA.
As for the West being "superior" to the East, please, be careful with such talk... it is prelest of the the worst sort. After all, Jordanville and the Monastery of the Holy Cross are in the East.
There is much that shall happen in future, and, just as the right-wing wingnuts left after the 17 May reconciliation, the left-wing wingnuts shall leave when it becomes clear that Schmemann's dream is being given proper (and overdue burial).
That is to say, this is only the Preface... the book has yet to begin.
The fact that he is a convert is the least important fact concerning him.
Oh, I disagree...at least if we consider ALL the facts (e.g. color of his beard).
Jonas Paffhausen has the guts to bury the OCA.
No idea what you mean. Not sure I want to know. As a side, in my conversations with Hieromonk JONAH (as I predominantly knew him) I never had any impression that he was a Russophile bent on sacrificing OCA autocephaly for some unified Russian expression of Orthodoxy here in North America. Have you listened to much of what he has said? Not only at the AAC...but via other resources as well?
As for the West being "superior" to the East"
I note you put "superior" in quotes. *I* never said that. I noted the sentiment communicated by Fr. Michael, who never said it either...you may, of course, take up the issue with him. As I said...I've no judgment to make about the east. I merely was mirroring some thoughts offered to me by others that suggested a need for "new blood" (from the west) was a fuel that led to his election. And, last I checked HTM in Jordanville is not OCA, FWIW.
Vara have you posted over at Stokoe's webiste? I'm sure you'd get much more "action" over there...or maybe even the Indiana list. Here, alas, notions of intensive church politics will get from me little more than shrugs of blissful ignorance and "Glory to God for our new Metropolitan."
Knowing Metropolitan JONAH, I think he would do something similar. But, now, I flatter myself.