Our Westernized Orthodoxy...
By Fr. Filotheos Faros, from "Word Magazine," May 1976
CULTURE, CELEBRATION & EXPRESSION
It is difficult to figure out how the prevailing assumption developed that Western cultural tradition is more refined and civilized than is the Eastern. Nevertheless, whatever the origin of this assumption might have been, it seems that this has been taken for granted for a long time. In this part of the world this is especially true, and people of both Eastern and Western cultural backgrounds seem to accept this assumption. As a result, the Westerners have developed a certain air of superiority and have at times demanded that those of an Eastern cultural background renounce their cultural tradition and conform to their prevailing superior Western cultural practices.
When in the beginning of this century, and to some extent even now, the Anglo-Saxon city clerk told the intimidated immigrant that his name would not be Basil or Constantine but William or Charles, he did not have the slightest doubt that he was a missionary who was civilizing the “barbarians.” On the other hand, the immigrant Easterner often felt embarrassed for his “barbarian” background and he was very eager to Anglo-Saxonize himself. He would change his name from Papadopoulos to Papson, forget his mother tongue, speak to his children in broken English, and, finally, he would also change his religion, and become Episcopalian, because Episcopalianism was the religion of the “high” class. Even if he did not change his religion, he would try very hard to protestantize Orthodoxy so that it was less “barbaric.” The use of incense was limited, as was lighting candles, kissing icons, or doing prostrations. All these were the uncouth practices of an old grandmother; these were dismissed with disgust by father and mother.
In everyday life many reformations were also very quickly introduced. Those reformations had mainly to do with the ways of expressing anger, sadness, happiness, and despair, as well as the role and value of the human body. Expression of anger, which was so direct with Easterners, was strongly discouraged. Screaming or yelling, a very common and healthy way for Easterners to express anger, was characterized as cannibalism, and composure and calmness became the definite indication of refinement. The expression of joy was also limited to controlled smiles and celebrations, and feasting was so much devitalized that it became difficult to know the difference between a wake and a wedding reception.
This mentality influenced immensely Orthodox worship in the West, since Orthodox worship is celebrating and feasting more than anything else. The spontaneity of the faithful was suppressed and Orthodox worship deteriorated to an orderly bore. The expression of grief was reduced to an ugly farce. Many non-reformed Orthodox who visited their grieving Anglo-Saxon friends found themselves in the predicament of being consoled by the bereaved themselves who would try to control their visiting friends’ sobbing by repeating in disgust, “Do not cry my dear, everything is fine.”
I do not think there are many things more pathetic and more barbaric than the mother who stands dressed in a flowery dress with a glamorous hairdo and makeup next to the casket of a young son or daughter who has died a tragic death and asks with a smile of every newcomer, “Doesn’t he look beautiful?”, and the visitor replies with the same smile, “He definitely does; they have done a beautiful job,” to which the grieving mother responds very politely, “Oh, thank you very much.”
Another strong element of Western culture is a definite dualism. For example, there is a strong contempt for the human body which is not expressed in the crudely open ways that some of the ascetics express it, but in a very subtle, undetectable way which penetrates everyday living. Most common is the strong distaste for any bodily gestures or facial expressions, as well as touching, which implies that the body exists only for sexual promiscuity.
Many zealous Orthodox, especially converts, are overcome with indignation when Orthodoxy is mixed up with cultural or, as they call it in order to make it sound more Chauvinistic, ethnic traditions. These people are obviously still unable to get rid of their former error, which is probably the worst of Western heresies, namely, the separation of religion from life and its reduction either to a sterile religious intellectualism or to some kind of quaint and exotic mysticism. In reality, unless religion becomes a style of life that is a culture which is continually experienced in everyday life without any impressive pronouncements and fanfare, it is only a gimmick, a game, or a “trip.” To help in understanding this point, I would like to bring to your attention that the Anglo-Saxon cultural characteristics I tried so hard to ridicule have a theological origin. They were inspired by Puritanism and pietism, those ugly monsters which were begotten out of wedlock from the triangle of Christianity, Romanism (Ed. Note: Roman Catholic) and European barbarism.
SPIRITUALITY: STATIC OR BECOMING?
I do not know if I can fully explain how these disastrous distortions of Christian morality developed, but it seems that Western Christianity very early developed the belief that people either are Christians, which means they meet certain standards, or they are not. Western Christian spirituality and morality is static in that sense. The procedure of becoming a member of the body of Christ is similar to the procedure of becoming a member of a club. That is, to become a member of a certain club you have to meet certain requirements. Actually in the Orthodox Church in America the procedure of becoming a member of the Church is not similar to that of becoming a member of a club but identical.
It is not probably an accident that the passage of the 5th chapter of St. Matthew is translated in English as: “You must be perfect.” However, in Greek, the verb is in the future tense of indicative mood and it is a promise which implies very clearly that perfection will be granted through grace in the future, though in English it is in present tense and the imperative mood which implies that man is expected to reach perfection by himself immediately.
As I said, I cannot trace out the origin of this notion; I only know that Augustine was already introducing it when, if I am not mistaken, he said in his confessions that after his baptism he had no sexual thoughts. I hate to question Augustine’s honesty, but it is absolutely impossible for me to accept his statement. I suspect that he made that statement because he already had the notion that since he was a Christian, he was not supposed to have any sexual thoughts. The understanding of Eastern Christianity at the same time was entirely different. Historically, outstanding Christians with a great reputation for wisdom, perfection, and holiness, like St. Anthony, do not have any difficulty talking about their sexual thoughts and temptations, even to a very old age. The desert fathers, those giants of Christian spirituality, report their sexual anxieties and transgressions with an amazing simplicity and openness. I would like to mention only one of those beautiful stories that convey so well the desert fathers’ definite conviction that a Christian is constantly in the process of becoming; consequently, what makes somebody a Christian is that he is moving, that is, he is growing spiritually, and not just that he is meeting any standards at any specific time.
“A brother was goaded by lust, and rising at night be made his way to an old man, and told him his thoughts, and the old man comforted him. And revived by that comforting he returned to his cell. And again the spirit of lust tempted him, and again he went to the old man. And this happened many times. But the old man did not discountenance him, but spoke to him to his profit, saying, ‘Yield not to the devil, nor relax thy mind; but rather as often as the devil troubles thee, come to me, and he shall go buffeted away. For nothing so dispirits the demon of lust as when his assaults are revealed. And nothing so heartens him as when his imaginations are kept secret.’ So the brother came to him eleven times, confessing his imaginings. And thereafter he said to the old man, ‘Show love to me, my father, and give me some word.’ The old man said, ‘Believe me, my son, if God permitted the thoughts with which my own mind is stung to be transferred to thee, thou wouldst dash thyself headlong.’ And by the old man saying this, his great humbleness did quiet the goading of lust in the brother.”
I said before that what makes somebody a Christian is the fact that he is moving and growing; he is not stagnant, nor has he reached a certain level of perfection as a final point. The expectation for the person who is on the first step of the ladder of perfection is to move to the second; the expectation for the person who is on the tenth step is to move to the eleventh; therefore, when the latter individual is not moving towards the eleventh step, he can be condemned, while the first one can be saved, although he is eight steps lower than the latter. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector is a good example of that. The Pharisee is a decent man. He is not a thief, not an adulterer; he is a temple-goer and an ardent temple supporter. But he is satisfied with his accomplishments, and he believes that there is nothing else he has to do; and, as a result, he had become stagnant. On the other hand, the tax collector lives an ugly life, but he realizes it; he is not satisfied with it, and he is resolved to move. It is the latter, not the former, who went up to his home justified, said Christ. The whole Eastern Christian tradition has developed on the basis of this stand. Western Christianity seems to have missed this entirely, and it got really caught up in its inflexible and impersonal generalizations. It developed the either/or Christian morality which presented very serious problems right away, and these show up very clearly in our times. The Christian West tried to cope with the consequences of its "either/or" generalized and standardized morality by developing two highly destructive patterns: 1) the “appear to be” pattern and 2) the “lowering of standards” pattern.
THE TWO DESTRUCTIVE PATTERNS IN THE WEST
The first, in essence, just removes the focus from trying to be a Christian to trying to appear to be a Christian. Very early, Western Christians realized that they would never make it if the only way they could be Christians would be to meet all the standards; therefore they concentrated their efforts on trying to appear to be the way they were supposed to be. A good name for that tactic is hypocrisy, and it is familiar to all legalistic and rigid moralities. Phariseeism was exactly that, and Puritanism and pietism excelled in this, far beyond Phariseeism. Southern Baptist piety is an excellent contemporary example of this tactic.
The other pattern has been the lowering of the standards. That is, if the only way you can be a Christian is to meet all the standards, we can increase the number of Christians by decreasing the moral standards. Our age has witnessed much of this tactic. It started with Protestantism and developed to a spectacular firecracker in Roman Catholicism which responded with an overflow of permissiveness to the recent overwhelming exodus and indifference of its followers. I wonder which of the two tactics has been more destructive. The first created false people who spent their energy not to grow but to hide! The second took the excitement out of life. All the average American expects from himself is not to steal and not to kill, and when he accomplishes that, he sits back doing nothing and ends up vegetating and being bored to death. There is not any far-reaching perspective in his life; therefore, he develops an infantile self-concern, which leads either to depression or to breakdown. When he cannot have instant gratification of his great needs, the world falls apart. He would never have a chance to get depressed due to sexual frustration, if he had the far-reaching direction in his life that a certain ascetic had, who every time he ate food, cried because he was nurturing his corruptible body when his incorruptible soul was starving.
That static notion of Christian morality and spirituality penetrated the life of Western Christians and became a life style, which they live without being aware of it. Since the Western notion of Christian morality was the meeting of certain standards, a Christian was not supposed to have any negative feelings like anger or hatred. That notion was incorporated in the culture and eventually the expression of anger became a sign of “barbarism.” Refined people were not supposed to express or feel any anger. As a result of this notion, anger was suppressed, and it was transformed to all kinds of bad symptoms. Repressed anger is a basic part of all mental disturbances. The suppressed anger becomes devious and comes out well camouflaged and over-destructive. This is exactly what Christ describes, saying, “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest, but he finds none. Then he says, `I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and brings with him seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” (Matthew 12, 43-45)
The unclean spirit that comes out of the Easterner with uncouth screaming and yelling, and which is repressed by the refined Westerner, comes back bringing with him seven spirits more evil than himself like all kinds of neurosis, schizophrenia, depression, religious fanaticism, and many others; undoubtedly, the state of the psychotic refined Westerner is far worse than the state of the uncouth and crude, screaming and yelling Easterner. Repressed anger has been the cause of many disasters in human history. Many wars, revolutions, and massacres have been the disastrous outburst of repressed anger, and likewise many destructive effects of religious fanaticism like the Inquisition and the dreadful murders of the Calvinistic communities in the Middle Ages. Also, many dictators or stern and punitive religious leaders are moved by a repository of repressed anger which usually refers more appropriately to parental figures and which has been repressed by religious and cultural inhibitions. This is how religion becomes life, and it is lived by these people without awareness. This is how Western Christianity has influenced Western culture and this is how a distorted Christianity has caused immeasurable harm and innumerable deplorable cases of mental disturbance with which modern psychiatry is struggling. The therapeutic process for a schizophrenic in essence is a process of Easternization of the Western man; it is a process of re-orthodoxizing the Western Christian, because Orthodox Christianity has not accepted the “appear to be” pattern and, although it encourages the struggle for perfection, condemns perfectionism which is intolerance of human imperfection and which, in the language of the ascetics, is an indication of demonic pride.
THE IMAGE OF CHRIST
Finally, it is amazing how Western Christianity distorted, in this issue, the scriptural image of Christ; He is presented as condemning human aggression and as a sickening, soft, and effeminate man with rosy cheeks and blond wavy hair. It is deplorable that so many Orthodox are offended by the strong, powerful, dynamic, scriptural Christ of the Byzantine art although they are infatuated by this nauseating Western Christ. It is amazing how Western Christianity managed to visualize the fiery eyes of Christ which “looked around” at the Pharisees “with anger,” (Mark 3,5) as sweetish and wishy-washy, how it resolved to present as soft and effeminate, the powerful Christ who made “a whip of cords” and drove with it all the merchants “out of the temple” with their sheep and oxen, and “poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” (John 2, 13-16) It is amazing how Western Christianity managed to describe as quiet and soft-spoken him who uttered the dreadful “woes” and called the Scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites,” “blind fools,” “blind guides,” “white-washed tombs,” “serpents” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23) and told his tempting disciples “be gone Satan.” (Matthew 16, 23) It is inconceivable how Christ disintegrated to a eunuch prince of peace although he stated very emphatically, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and man’s foes will be those of his own household,” (Matthew 10, 34-36) Christ did promise peace but not a hypocritical external peace but a real inner peace. He said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” (John 14,27)
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"Prejudice Makes Prisoners of the Hated and the Hater"
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While the answer and question above is not sufficient for some to understand, we take the view (which we believe is ORTHODOX) that all things pertinent to life and living affects, and has an effect, upon not just our belief (Orthodox), but (for many) the way in which we act in accordance with our belief, our very faith.
Because this is a highly Protestant Country in which we live, having an effect upon the laws of the land, we should know something of what is on-going and where efforts by those denominations may affect and have a intrinsic effect on our very laws, for such does have an effect upon our daily lives as Orthodox Catholic Christians.
If one is not cognizant of the real events happening both locally and in the world, although many are removed from the world... one will not know what to expect or what to do, or how one can or cannot act which might betray one's faith and accrue the wrath of civil authorities as laws change. Yet, we are also reminded that these things must happen and it was for that which there exists many early Christian Martyrs and Saints.
While we can remove ourselves from the world, we still live in it. And for the faithful, theirs is a struggle for knowledge and understanding. All things are pertinent to the Orthodox Catholic Christian Faith which is the very foundation of Christianity. As such, we can not abandon them and leave them blind to events and happenings.
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Remember, not all Protestants, especially hard core cultic groups such as "Charismatic" - "Evangelical" and other people are not so generous in their viciousness toward anyone and anything that appears "Catholic" whether of the Roman or Orthodox jurisdictions, for they do not know or want to learn that which makes them "different" in their walk and talk as being far from the roots of Christianity.
Remember, it is the Roman jurisdiction which has more outwardly shown that it can be one of the most vicious toward those who are not Roman but are very much "Catholic" - for the sun and moon does not rise and set on the Vatican (Latin or Roman) jurisdiction as to who is or is not "Catholic" for the Roman jurisdiction split (schismed) from the roots of "Catholicism" which is founded in what is termed and called today as "Orthodoxy".
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“I prefer a defeat accompanied by humility to a victory accompanied by pride.”
There are unscrupulous people on the internet these days. Some of them are not who they claim to be and in order to disrupt honest spiritual pursuits, they are known to send out e-mail under someone else's name or the name of another church or jurisdiction with attachments. Anyone can do this, if they want. Some of them exist in Toledo, Ohio... Some in Texas... Others in Michigan, California and many other places... Some are "haters of truth" who follow (whether they are willing to admit it) those who have sway over less educated or ignorant people... as their are also those who do not even know what they are doing because they seek glory to satisfy their own vanity and selfish pride to take over a church or jurisdiction of another, or to wreck havoc over those whom they hate without considering the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ.
If you should ever receive an e-mail with an attachment purporting to be from anyone at "apostle1.com" - "apostle1.org" or even "apostle1.net" - - - know that our policy is to not send out e-mail from any of our domain names with an attachment. Therefore, don't open it! If you receive any e-mail from apostle1.com, apostle1.org or apostle1.net and have never before communicated with us... even if you have communicated with us... verify, verify and again, verify.
Unless we know exactly from whom an e-mail comes... nothing is clicked on or opened, not even attachments! You would be surprised from whom 'hate' e-mail arrives and what attempts and extremes they go to make their e-mails "look" official when it is a lone person or persons who hate TRUTH and love lies, hate anything from being posted that involves TRUTH because they may be affected with exposure to the LIVING TRUTH of Jesus Christ's Love.
Also: Hang Up Telephone Calls constantly get to you?
We get them all the time. But one thing we do that many are unaware of... We keep an automatic telephone log and then we turn them over to the same group who monitors and interacts with the hackers, etc.
It no longer matters if the caller calls once in a day, every other day or every day or several times a week, once a week for several months... All get logged, even those who think they have escaped notice by using the actual I.D. Caller number of "000-000-0000" which is being used of late.
It is known that a telephone number showing up may actually be a telephone service provider phone number, yet... they too keep logs and information as to each individual cellular or local (their locale) phone usage...
In the not-to-distant future, we intend to post some of those telephone numbers which constantly show up as "harassing hang-up" callers. May be, you too have the same? If so, may be we can assist in interacting to go further in bringing them to justice...
Contact us by E-Mail... provide us with your telephone number (U.S. residents only)... so that we may telephone you and assess the information.
Those who do such unscrupulous things, HATE some of the news, quotes, and such as to inform the general public. Some of them pose as clergy, while a few are actually clergy from various "other" offshoot AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH or other jurisdiction(s) of the same or similar name of which we are, in some instances, their former MOTHER CHURCH (as is the same named Toledo, Ohio based, an offshoot, who had once been a part of us and unknowingly to our unworthy selves, were once a part of the clergy but they did not obtain permission to leave the jurisdiction they were under, according to Canon, and thus obtained for themselves re-ordination and consecrations, several times... and then using a variety of church names, including our own after they were defrocked and excommunicated, having more than three (3) times being excommunicated by other legitimate apostles/bishops); having joined in and with "Independent" churches who have nothing to do with us or even true Orthodoxy.
They seek to go out of their way to character assassinate and disparage religious web sites who do not meet their own brand of standardization which is evidence of their being not "Orthodox" "Christian" or even "Catholic" no matter what their nomenclature corporate name may be. The Toldeo, Ohio based same name group under their so-called leader has been deposed, defrocked and excommunicated more than three different times by various bishops/apostles. He, and several others, have become just as bad as the modern day Ecumenists of the National Council of Churches, World Council of Churches, the World Council of Bishops and more. Their ultimate aim and goal is destruction to those from whom they had either originated from or gone through to obtain the same named "church" they claim to hold to by the state's civil law in which they reside alone. They are not a "Schema-monk" or even a true "monk" for they were deposed and excommunicated for violations of the Holy Rule they claim to subscribe to, giving and openly providing false misleading and inaccurate information about other more honorable clergy. These 'wolves in sheep's clothing attract other nefarious and questionable persons whose aims are similar: for fame, image, power and glory.
Remember, anything that is a HALF TRUTH is not truth but a lie! Many there are that you may know who fit those descriptions... pray for them. Pray that God will send his Spirit of Truth upon them and lead them to Salvation through tears of Repentance, conversion of their cold and calculating hearts toward seeking forgiveness from God and those whom they attempt to harm.
Those who receive e-mail from us, know who we are and from where we send mail. There are also many who know that they can send e-mail under another group or person's e-mail address, which has been happening. If you receive e-mail that purports itself to be from us, verify first by hitting your "reply" button and ask, "I received this e-mail but would like verification if it is from you."
If you are of another jurisdiction, you too could find that your parishioners, clergy and faithful might become subject to the same as we have recently found.
Let this be a warning to visitors so as to be safeguarded against unscrupulous e-mails which contain viruses, worms and unsavory material from person(s) organizations or institutions that are more self-serving than uplifting and informatively news worthy.
For ourselves, we have, as in the past, so once again, acquired the assistance of those who are able and capable of tracing e-mails back to their source and taking appropriate action in North America.
We have learned that the organization we subscribe to, whose members come from various legal and law enforcement backgrounds amongst other areas of society, are committed to the faith even though they may hold different theologies. Yet, in their monitoring of electronic communications of various persons or people, they do not always make haste to bring perpetrators to justice until after enough evidence has been gained in order to build a solid case. We do not always know what information they have gained, but we do know the organization, whom we've been asked not to name, has had a 97% success rate in bringing to justice and obtaining a conviction against individuals, people, and sometimes even religious organizations of a persona that gives the appearance of both secular and religious bearing but who abuse and misuse technology. The organization views those who abuse and misuse the internet and other technologies as nothing more than a form of "domestic terrorism" - - - - and, it would seem to appear that the courts are in agreement!
Those kinds of people, organizations, etc. who misuse and abuse communication technologies are no different than those who attempt to use coercive measures, and in some instance, even blackmail for the same idea is involved... to cause havoc and wreckage, to destroy the spirit and activity of those who struggle in the faith out of pain of heart for the Orthodox Church which is TRUTH. The degree that some have been known to go to, as seen by other jurisdictions, is to take advantage of questionably mentally challenged or those who have a lack of education and understanding to get them to make statements, even outright lies, in writing, in order to destroy. Such persons or groups are spiritual terrorists for unholy and un-Orthodox causes, aims and goals.
Yes, our Metropolitan Archbishop, +Joseph Thaddeus, SSJt., Ph.D. strongly defends the Seals of the Confessional for such leads to true Repentance in thought, word and deed whereby the penitent is required to make amends, where possible, to seek forgiveness of those harmed by his actions whether real or imagined, and to give his forgiveness to those who have harmed him before taking the Holy Body and Blood in the Eucharist, Jesus the Christ. The reality of this understanding is bound up in and with the findings for which cause he, himself, had been character assassinated by his detractors who claim the courts prevented him from breaking the Seals of the Confessional which is not the truth at all.... Click here to see what another bishop's findings are...
The workings of Holy Spirit will not be daunted by those who attempt to cause disruption! It is for these and other reasons that you are urged to read what true repentance and forgiveness means for real "Christians".
"It would be better to have ten (10) true repentant X-felons who ask for and give true forgiveness than it would be to have one (1) non-x-felon or common person whose self-righteousness exceeds even the Pharisees, Sadducees, the gossip mongers, slanderers and un-repentant; for the repentant x-felon understands the true meaning of the Church's purpose as being the spiritual hospital." (siq) +Joseph Thaddeus, OSB, SSJt., Ph.D., Metropolitan Archbishop, Archabbot, Primate
Yes... "Prejudice Makes Prisoners of the Hated and the Hater..." (1992-Fr. Alan Stanford)
One can ask, "What part of 'Prejudice' and 'hate' do you not understand? Are you a complacent person? In light of the saying, examine yourself! You may be surprised if you are honest with yourself for your soul may convict you before Jesus Christ convicts you in the times to come!
tested by some trial you should try to find out not why or through whom it came,
but only how to endure it gratefully, without distress or rancor."
St. Mark the Ascetic.
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit." Psalms 32:1-2
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