“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


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Sounds of Silence? Hardly.

Moderators' Note: This blog, like the one just before it, is in response to the Metropolitan's most recent letter. The original may be viewed here.

Reading Metropolitan Isaiah’s latest letter with its assertion that he has “kept silent” except in response to letters addressed to him is laughable. He has neither kept silent, nor has he acknowledged the actual reality that exists in this community. He has had ample evidence that the REAL dividers in this community are those who (despite having found themselves on the short end of a valid survey of sentiment in this community, and despite the evidence of lack of popularity for their wish to split, as witnessed with free elections) will not cease in their divisive activities.

The only “increase in divisiveness” in this community is occurring because the Metropolitan has allowed and continues to allow clergy and the minority to engage in continuing and ongoing acts of divisiveness.

He then, falsely, claims that it is the parish council that cannot provide unity. When three unelected people are allowed to create a separate corporation in the name of one church only, and when this unethical activity is not decried by the clergy and the hierarchy, it is obvious from where the lack of unity arises. Further, since the clergy and hierarchy will not put a stop to this nonsense, the majority simply will not support the community wholeheartedly because they fear the Metropolitan might again resort to the shenanigans of the past years. The fact that the community sees that the parish council cannot persuade the clergy and hierarchy to act otherwise further erodes trust. That the Metropolitan fails to see his actions, and/or lack thereof, and those of his priests as the major cause of this problem is beyond ridiculous. It has proved tragic for the vibrancy of this community, and, by extension, the Archdiocese and Metropolis as well. In point of fact it portends a larger tragedy for the vibrancy of Greek Orthodoxy in this country.

The enumeration of “some realities” the Metropolitan sees as existing in the community are based on fallacy:

1. When the Metropolitan deigned to “allow” a general assembly and free elections (which are STILL our right under the flawed UPRs) he first said there were no conditions attached as to the candidates. (Let us not forget, however, that our erstwhile Metropolitan has pointed out, that if he didn't write it, he didn't say it! How convenient! He can dissemble all he likes verbally! Semper fi, yet again! The WORD of this Marine is meaningless!) He reneged when two people he specifically did not want were elected. Mr. Bapis declined to serve and was replaced by the candidate with the next number of votes. Mr. Armaou did not decline. He met the specific criteria demanded by the Metropolitan after the fact, yet was still not sworn in. The Metropolitan now asserts that Mr. Armaou may not be sworn in and does not have the right to send a letter to the Patriarch of his church in protest to the ongoing deception and to the divisiveness being fomented in this community by the local clergy and the metropolis.

2. a) “Speedy” liturgies have been performed by both proistamenoi in this community for a variety of reasons. No one suggested rushing through the Eucharist. A shorter sermon might suffice, or the Orthros begins a little earlier. Ultimate insult? This is simply exaggeration and hyperbole.

b) Insulting the teens in the Oratorical Festival? Please! Again, exaggeration and hyperbole.

c) Since when are specific amounts of stewardship divulged, even to the Metropolitan? And if stewardship had been lower in the years where the Metropolitan, clergy and appointed “leaders” squelched the majority of this community’s parishioners, they can lay the blame squarely upon themselves. The Uniform Parish Regulations currently in effect have succeeded in telling Greek Orthodox adherents in this country that they must accept and obey a lopsided construct in the governance of their church. They have no conciliar power whatsoever if the clergy chooses to squelch them. Their only recourse, if the avenues for redress of grievances fail, is the purse. Don’t blame the parish council, blame the Uniform Parish Regulations and the blatant short-sightedness of “spiritual leaders” and their lay minions who believe they can treat the laity with such ongoing and misguided contempt.

3. Like our Metropolitan, many parishioners in this valley have a long familial tradition of supporting this community in a variety of different ways and for different purposes. His generous commemoration of his uncle is laudable. It makes the uncharitable spirit with which he has viewed us currently so hurtful, so puzzling and so aggravating. In the spirit of the generous and self-sacrificing giving of our Greek immigrant forebears, the majority in this community longs for the days when our community was progressive and thriving. Too many needed projects and updates for our community, especially for our youth, are being left undone because a minority and our clergy will not let them proceed. Any discussion that the clergy and hierarchy do not wish to hear results in their invalidating any meeting by simply leaving, or by not being present. The majority becomes further disheartened, and the Metropolitan wonders that stewardship is less than vibrant.

4. Absentee ballot concerns? Now here's a new one! Apparently the country's recent general election has affected our hierarch! When did anyone ever ask such a question for a parish council election? Of course, when one is inclined to dispense with elections, or to whittle the candidate list so that only the select few may serve, one never needed to worry about such niceties as voting -- in person, or absentee.

5. As for this community's inability to pay its archdiocesan obligations, we submit that if the Metropolitan had not indulged in dictatorial practices these past several years; had he but asked his priests to lead their flock, rather than seek to dominate it; had he currently allowed and encouraged this community TRULY to unite; had he forbidden the creation of a separate Prophet Elias corporation; had he sworn in the parish council members he had said he would seat; had he insisted that his priests actually cooperate fully with the elected leaders this community voted for in the first free election in years; and, if he would stop listening ONLY to a small segment of parishioners in this valley, the situation he describes would not exist.

6. His final “insult to injury” phrase is fraught with self-pity. He was “congratulated” by his brother bishop because he “allowed” a general assembly to take place last April. (This "allowance" is not, and should not be, a matter of a hierarch’s “largesse”.) As for the assertion regarding the actions of certain youths, and their alleged profanity? DOUBTFUL. This is the first anyone has mentioned such an occurrence. Inquiries have been made of persons representing all points of view in this community. No one knows of this! Most assuredly had this actually occurred, the e-mail chains and Facebook rants would have been disseminating the incident like wildfire!

The "realities" the Metropolitan lists are full of exaggeration and hyperbole. They are also designed to inflame a fragile situation and to keep fanning ongoing pressure from a minority - and from a priest who refuses to minister to ALL the parishioners in this valley - to split this community.

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