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.
Metropolitan Phillip's decision to pull out of "his" 1st year seminarians from SVS and STS is garnering no small amount of internet ire. And I think the likes of Rod Dreher "taking sides" is indicative of the extent to which this action is being perceived as petty, vindictive, totally misguided, and even perhaps a confirmation of all manner of rumors of tyrannical and vindictive behavior. Put more simply: both the demand that the OCA silence someone and the vengeful "blackmail"-like response when they could not or would not do so, is conduct decidedly unbecoming of a Christian hierarch.
Now Met. Phillip has dragged the OCA into this mess and is not only hurting his own seminarians but is also hurting the cash strapped OCA seminaries who had NOTHING to do with what an OCA layperson decides to write on his private website. I'm guessing people aren't exactly going to laud this act.
And yet while I hear a fair amount of gloom and doom talk online, I'm actually encouraged. I see all of this as being a step - albeit a difficult one - in the right direction toward accountability and unity. No, it won't be easy...but treating an infected wound is always going to involve some pain.
Might this be a bit of an overreaction? From +Philip's office: "This decision effected two students. The third new student was already planning to attend Holy Cross. Over the years we have tried to keep a balance between the distribution of our seminarians to various Orthodox seminaries here and abroad, especially St. Vladimir’s, St. Tikhon’s and Holy Cross. In fact, this year, we will have 10 students at St. Vladimir’s, 9 students at St. Tikhon’s and 6 students at Holy Cross."
The most I can see that he can be accused of is using poor judgment, and even that is arguable. For people to reject unity until this "horrible sin" is addressed is just over the top. Come on guys. It's not blackmail. Certainly moving 3 seminarians isn't going to hurt any seminary I know of except the mom-and-pop ones that some Prots run. I think that for +Philip to think he can silence the press bespeaks disconnectedness from American culture, of course, but I'm not exactly ready to tar and feather him because of that. In fact, a lot of us could do with some disconnectedness from American so-called "culture," too. I also think that inconveniencing one's own seminarians is a weird way to try to make some kind of statement, but still, I'd like to think we can temper our reactions more than I see being done.
Well from all I've heard what we are seeing here is a particular breed of Arab political culture...I'm not sure its preferable. Christian culture demands that even our hierarchs are held accountable..."beyond reproach" and all that. Did you listen to AFR recordings of the convention...I thought them shameful. Contrived responses to avoid an "expensive" audit...I don't buy it.
Someone is lying about why the seminarians were moved and given that +Phillip did this before over the Joseph Allen affair I'm guessing the "official" explanation isn't quite as accurate as Stokoe's phone call from Syosset.
All this said...I have a great deal of HOPE because this is Christ's Church not +Phillip's. And thus far I do not think there has been enough of a reaction to what we've been seeing, hearing, and reading.
And...I will admit...my impression could be utterly wrong, but from all I've seen, read, and heard I cannot see it. God have mercy on me if I am judging unfairly.
I'm inclined to agree with Patrick. If the seminarians themselves are offended, it's easy enough for them to ditch the AOCNA. going to seminary is a huge deal, a big decision, not an education that will be of much value except in the ministry, at least if I was going, it would be a major decision. If the bishop suddenly wanted me to go to a different school, particularly if I felt that he was satisfying some urge to hit back at the OCA for all of his personal issues, I guess I'd drag my feet in obeying, complain to the Holy Synod, etc. If none of that is happening then these men clearly are more interested in just getting through seminary, and so perhaps which seminary matters less.
I don't think Phil is disconnected from American culture. Sadly, he has completely reduced his church to the typical american 501c, trumpeting itself, but wasting much of the resources on self-promotion. Quite aside from the disaster of the convention: imagine what a waste of money it is for 800 people to buy plane tickets to listen to prepared speeches. What on earth does that have to do with Christianity?
I agree with you both...believing that the bigger issue is NOT the burden on the seminarians who 3 weeks before starting have to repack their families and move elsewhere (though that does suck and betrays the REAL reason for the shift.)
Steve...a "typical American 501C" does not refuse to open their books and expect to live long. No, sorry I must disagree, a belief that once asked for they can find means of denying audits, exemplifies a fundamental disconnect with American culture.
I don't really care who, if anyone, is lying. It's probably truer to say that someone is mistaken, and honestly so. What particularly grieves me is that I see so much self-righteous posturing to the effect that Orthodox unity cannot possibly become a fact until someone's/everyone's bishops meet someone's/everyone's exacting specifications. Crap. Bishops come and go. Some of them fall prey to the same passions that you and I do, and some them are alleged to have done so by those who get pissed off by decisions they don't like. But here's the thing: No unity, no authentic Orthodoxy. You can get that from any father you care to name. Until we have that, we're basically all wasting our time. Either that, or Holy Tradition has it all wrong. Your choice. If we are waiting for the Church to be based on human perfection, that only means that we don't get it. It already IS based on human perfection: The human nature of Christ, imperfectly reflected by both us and those we would judge.