“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Friday, March 11, 2011

The True Costs of a Lost Decade: The Decline of "Filotimo"

We have often outlined on this site the lost "opportunity costs" in this dismal period in our community's history. For nearly a decade, we have witnessed overarching clerical control, aided and abetted by an unquestioning, cherry-picked lay "leadership". We have seen, first-hand, what this lost decade has done to this once-vibrant community.
During this time, our community's faithful have witnessed:
  • missed opportunities for badly needed church upgrades and expansion
  • ongoing and pernicious squabbles that have put worthwhile projects on hold
  • unilateral re-prioritization of projects to suit the needs and wishes of the few
  • gross negligence in governance - including tax penalties and liens
  • an audit revealing faulty accounting and operational practices
  • resignations of parish council members under the cloud of conspiracy and ethics issues
  • bullying by the hierarchy (using the sacred), and priests and parish council members (using the profane) against faithful, loyal stewards of several DECADES' standing
  • dismissals of entire boards, and/or individual board members
  • removal of stewards from ballots to ensure only certain individuals will be on the parish council (native Greek speakers need not apply!)
  • capricious and arbitrary ecclesiastical sanctions for specious reasons, without benefit of hearing
  • deliberate action to denigrate and cause harm to the reputations and livelihoods of outstanding stewards in the community
  • stewardship declines
  • dysfunction, confusion, sadness, frustration, outrage, apathy
This caustic situation has been foisted upon us as a deliberate and calculated tactic to maintain absolute control by the very few and on their SOLE behalf to divide us. This, in spite of the FACT that the great majority of us DO NOT WISH TO BE DIVIDED. This (mis)administration's own survey demonstrated this FACT quite clearly.

Despite what their own numbers tell them and us, we are continually witnessing that which is not so easily measured - the depth of the human costs - the strained relationships - between parents, children, in-laws, siblings, cousins, koumbaroi, friends - that will take years to mend, if they mend at all.

Clergy are, we are told, "men of God." We would posit that to be "a man of God", you first have to be A MAN, and a GOOD man at that! To be a good man is to be a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good brother, a good friend. A good man loves the Lord, loves his spouse, loves his family, loves his friends. A good man is not just an observant Christian, more than that, he is an ethical Christian. A good man stands for what is right, despite the cost. A good priest, married or not, must go yet further and love his flock, exemplified by Jesus' love for His Church and for mankind. No professed MAN of God should ever foster, condone, or seek to excuse the situation that pits a community's members against each other. Yet, inexplicably, our clergy, our shepherds (lower and higher), have done so and continue to do so. A good man, and therefore a good clergyman, has "filotimo".

"Filotimo!" That most untranslatable of Greek words! Loosely, it means the honoring of friends, but more so, it denotes one who is a friend of HONOR! No one single word in the English language can describe it. It is an attribute of character described by the Hellenes that is very much in line with Christian love, Christian compassion, Christian empathy and Christian humility. It is a trait we ought to strive for in our reflections during this Lenten season.

Kali Sarakosti s'olous,

- Barbara Billinis Colessides

1 comment:

jsefandonakis said...

While true our community has witnessed concerning changes over the last decade, one of the most difficult things to swallow is the coffee served up during social hour.

Where are our priorities? Will we drink anything the church hands us to drink?

Sure we need church upgrades like a new dome and past due bills need to be paid. In fact, some of these concerns can cause us to lose sight of what really matters, like a good cup of coffee that does not leave a bad taste in our mouth.

Years ago actual coffee grounds were perked and a half decent cup of coffee could be found after church. It was good coffee back then. It was coffee that we enjoyed drinking because we were drinking it as one community. But the coffee today? Search high and low, you will not find one person that likes what is being served up.

So I think the time has come for a new coffee maker. I'm talking about a chrome and brass Italian espresso machine that we can all be proud of. A machine that keeps us from sneaking out early from church to visit the Starbucks just down the street. We need this coffee maker and we need it yesterday. We can even call it our Filotimo coffee maker.

But how will we pay for this new machine when so many of us are reluctant to contribute funds to a church that has been serving us bad coffee for so long? I for one would give much more to my church if I knew the money that I gave them was being used for good things. I don't have an unlimited pocket book so when I do give I hope the money is used wisely. But now I am not even being told what they are doing with our funds. They won't let us vote for a board or allow us to have a general assembly. As far as I know they are building secret rooms with wires running in and out of them. Does anyone know other than a very small handful of people how our money is being managed? I don't have a clue what is going on because no one is telling anybody anything. So until we make right these problems, not very many people are going to hand over a check to an organization that keeps us in the dark on how they spend our money. Looks like it will be a long time before we get a new coffee maker, and we will just keep drinking cup after cup of the same old thing.

See you at Starbucks.