Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Man in the Cellophane Mask

As I had pointed out earlier, Rod Dreher's writing over the last year or so has been greatly curtailed by his employer, the John Templeton Foundation. In the meantime, speculations and questions from various sources about when he might be back have abounded. A hostile gay site asks "What's going on with Rod Dreher?" Another mean spirited blog entry hopes aloud that he was fired. Then there are Bluegrass Up and Alexandria voicing a more friendly curiosity, and from the online birthday party at Red Cardigan we learned that although Rod is not allowed to blog, he is allowed to comment on blogs. That was on February 14.

About two weeks later on March 3, Rod began blogging at the OCATruth site under the pseudonym "Muzhik", which means peasant in Russian. This was revealed by the OCA News site on April 30 based on "leaked" emails sent to Mark Stokoe, the OCA News site administrator. Since then, Rod has not added to his fifty blog posts as Muzhik. News items include the termination of a priest, Father Joseph Fester, who was in on the creation of OCA Truth and an FBI investigation about leaked emails. There is evidence that several OCA Truth posts hastily written since the outing have been since removed, a pretty good indication that they are shaken and confused, although to my mind they seemed to be the wronged party here.

Pikkumatti requested that I write up the cliff notes to this pile of spaghetti, but I admit that I need to buy a vowel as well. I don't know all the characters in this soap opera, and I admit that readily. The comments to the OCA news revelation may serve as a beginning, and there are some criticisms and condemnations of Dreher written there which make mine look mild and moderate by comparison. Some are strong enough to make me resemble the guy's drinking buddy. That suggestion is probably more likely than the narrative behind Mark Shea's accusation that I really, really hate Rod Dreher which he made a year ago in National Catholic Register. But no, I'd rather drink with happy, non-anonymous people who don't hug the bottle, and I doubt our Working Peasant would want to kick a six of MHL with such an admitted cultural Philistine.

Another piece penned around the same time a year ago was Dreher's blast at the OCA's former administration, suggesting that Metropolitan Herman has a gay lover and extolling the newly elected Metropolitan Jonah for condemning the previous administrations for corruption. Maybe he got that idea from shots at George Bush in Barack Obama speeches? I was thinking that Rod's line—"Seeing him lead us at the March for Life made me so proud to be OCA, and that’s not a feeling I’m accustomed to"—on that first post as Muzhik reminded me of Michelle Obama's comment during the 2008 campaign. An interesting admission, I think, that he's rarely proud of his new denomination. But this is a digression, sorry. My main point in bringing up the "Primate Rape" post is that in the comment section, he predictably returned to his old standby topic, the Roman Catholic clergy abuse scandal, and wrote 3 or 4 times the copy as the original post about the OCA. I won't excerpt any of that here, you can go read it yourself. He hit all the old memes: the Pope's moral failings, the lack of action on the part of Catholic lay people because they shrugged and said "It's no big deal" instead of starting blogs, bishops didn't attack other bishops enough in public, the absolute need for righteous journalists to uncover corruption, etc.

It appears that Muzhik is not much different than Rod Dreher. In his post titled This is not a game. This is real life, peasant Muzhik informs his Orthodox readers about what is going on in the Catholic church in a warning tone.

Any OCA bishop not affected by what the Roman Catholic Church has suffered because its bishops did not take sexual integrity and immorality seriously, is a fool. In Philadelphia, a grand jury recently indicted a monsignor of the Roman church over his alleged complicity in the rape of children by two priests. This monsignor did not participate in any sexual assault. The grand jury indicted him because he knew these priests were pedophiles, and he assigned them to ministry anyway.

If the state is willing to go that far there, in Philly, will it not do the same elsewhere? Personally, I rejoice in this. The bishops of the Roman church are incapable of policing themselves, and in taking their responsibilities to the faithful seriously. Let some of them start going to jail for the damage they do. That will get their attention. If our hierarchs don’t get right on this issue, they too may face jail. And that is not a bad thing.

To my knowledge, we don’t have any issues in the OCA like what the Catholics are dealing with, but I am in no position to know for sure....

Here's a cute one from March 14 where Muzhik publishes a note from a reader. Read the letter. Of whom does the reader remind you?

Over the weekend, I received an e-mail from a man who said he had been thinking for a long time that “the OCA promised by Metropolitan Jonah” is the place he and his family belonged. They are feeling defeated by the chronic problems in the Roman Catholic Church, and want a solid, orthodox place to grow in Christ. The recent trouble between the Synod and His Beatitude had discouraged the man, but he said that seeing my name on the list of Jonah supporters gave him confidence. I’m honored by his confidence in my judgment, and I’m glad to be part of an effort to spread the good news about Met. Jonah, and to remind the wider world that there’s another side to the story. His letter reminds me, though, that there are huge implications to this crisis beyond the immediate result of whether or not His Beatitude survives it. People are watching us, and not just fellow Orthodox. We are a very small church, and we cannot afford to lose potential converts. More importantly, we cannot afford to lose ordinary families who are desperate for what Orthodoxy offers. That’s how my family found its way into the OCA. We didn’t come because we believed in the bishops. We came because we believed in Orthodoxy. But the bishops, if they don’t get their act together and act like men of God instead of CEOs, will make it ever more difficult for people on the outside to hear the call of the Gospel in Orthodoxy over the noise of the petty game-playing and agenda-pushing.

The emphases are mine. Sounds like the Working Boy, doesn't it? It sort of reminded me of the episode where Bruce Wayne calls Batman on the Bat-phone. Alfred has to use some special kind of computer keyboard connected to the phone and programmed with words spoken in Batman's voice. The internet sure has simplified things.

Here's another post, The Long Game (didn't he say "This is not a game" earlier?) which takes some more shots at the Catholic church. For the record, I'm not really concerned with the posts that don't contain the word "catholic" in them. That's how I've chosen the ones to highlight, by the way.

Fr. Ted Bobosh, who is the ethics chair of the MC, has publicly stated that he doesn’t believe homosexuality to be a sin, and Mark Stokoe, Bobosh’s parishioner, is living with a same-sex partner, though we don’t know whether or not they are living chastely. Again and again, I don’t make it my business to pry into the sex lives of other people, but as an Orthodox layperson, I have a right to expect that the private lives of the men and women who serve in leadership capacities in our church — especially top leaders like MC members — are lived in conformity with Orthodox teaching, especially on a subject as contentious within all Christian churches as homosexuality. +Tikhon can’t brush this aside (nor can the other bishops), especially not in light of the destructive experiences of the Roman Catholic and Mainline Protestant churches with this subject. Not only is this a matter of theological divisiveness, but a hidden culture of sexual sinfulness among the clergy (homo and hetero) has wreaked total havoc within other churches, especially the Catholic Church. We cannot let tolerance for that kind of thing take hold in the OCA, because it will tear us apart. The OCA is not going to change its teaching on homosexuality, but neither have the Catholics, and they have been devastated by the secrets kept and lies told to keep a facade of holiness for the laity’s consumption while the reality of life among some of the clergy is very different.

Got to love that ol' Catholic facade of holiness!

I had already blogged on this post by anonymous blogger Tovarishch which features a letter from non-anonymous Rod Dreher. Here's an excerpt from it which I find darkly humorous:

The OCA, like the Roman Catholic Church in our country, is too often an absolutely passive church, one that just stands back from the culture in self-satisfaction and with a false sense of invulnerability, while opportunities to open the door for Christ to save souls slips through our complacent fingers. True, none of us need the permission of priests or bishops to evangelize for Orthodox Christianity, but when you have a visionary pastor like His Beatitude, who is all-in for a visible, counter-cultural Orthodox mission, it does wonders for one’s sense of hope and confidence.

I agree that everyone, Catholics included, should be doing more to spread the Gospel message. But I'm sorry, when you add in the current context, what I'm forced take away from this is that if Catholics were more active in spreading the Gospel, we'd be starting more anonymous blogs, then we'd be writing letters to the anonymous authors and signing our real names to be published in said anonymous blogs. Whiskey, tango, foxtrot.

I could go into a long list of books written by Bishops like Chaput and Wuerl and Popes like Benedict and John Paul along with those by hundreds of Catholic priests and lay people. But what a waste of time that would be, tilting at the cardboard windmill of Dreher's official narrative.

Well you can read the rest of the entire Rod Dreher Muzhik catalog on your own. I wish I had read more of it a couple weeks back. I think I might have outed Dreher as Muzhik without doing anything potentially illegal or unethical. He's wearing a mask, but it is made of cellophane. Who could have written this stuff other than him?

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  1. To my knowledge, we don’t have any issues in the OCA like what the Catholics are dealing with...

    Rod really needs to co to Confession after posting that whopper. SMPAC Report, anyone? Supposedly Dreher has obtained a leaked copy of same, along with Met. Jonah's proposed rebuttal.

    In another place, Rod says that Orthodox sex-abuse cases don't involve children. Ummm, does that mean he's never read I doubt it, seeing as he used to quote the Pokrov folks back in the day. Yet he can utter this whopper with a straight face?

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.

    His lies are beneath contempt. Words fail me.

  2. Posted this comment at an excellent Orthidox blog run by an Orthodox poriest:

    Father, bless.

    I apologize for using a pseudonym, but I have been the target of Dreher’s vicious insults, and I have no desire to go down that road again.

    I am a Catholic. Over the years, I have been appalled to see Rod Dreher take his righteous (and entirely understandable) indignation at the Catholic sex-abuse scandals so far that he no longer lets facts, reason, truth, or charity get in his way. He lies, smears, misrepresents, tells half-truths and outright untruths. To paraphrase Basil Rathbone in an old Sherlock Holmes movie, Dreher is of the species “mendex flagrante.”

    Is there tons of REAL dirt in the Catholic scandal? Of course. But, not content with retailing the real dirt over and over again, obsessively ad infinitum, Rod must manufacture new dirt, misrepresent what’s there, impute the worst motives to those less apoplectic with outrage than he, and impugn the good faith of those countless Catholics sincerely trying to implement reforms. Case in point: Rod’s recent gross misrepresentation, in WaPo, of the RC Philly situation. (Bill Donohue of the Catholic League effectively eviscerated Rod’s cheap shots.)

    Given all this, I am not in the least bit surprised that Rod is using the same tactics now vs. the Holy Synod that he once used (and still uses) vs. the Catholic Church. It is of a piece. Same old Rod.

    The one thing that does surprise me (but shouldn’t) is his astonishing hypocrisy. Crusader Rod supposedly led the charge to force those Evil RC Bishops to reveal their coverups and lack of transparency. Now he is sitting on the SMPAC Report while insisting that the OCA does not have a sex-abuse problem like the Catholics’ problem, blah-blah-blah. (At one point, he even suggests that the OCA sex-abuse cases do not involve children. I nearly choked on my cappuccino when I read that. Has he never read

    Today’s Catholic Church is transparent and zero-tolerant to a fault. (Yes, we’ve been forced into it; nonetheless, we are indeed implementing our zero-tolerance policy, and I can give you examples from my own diocese to document this in spades.) Yet Rod *continues* to attack the RCC unceasingly…while defending Met. Jonah and suppressing SMPAC. The irony is staggering.

    Rod just needs to shut up already. About the RCC, which he left five years ago, for crying out loud. And about the OCA Holy Synod, too.

  3. Some funny stuff here. Pactum Serva asks "Are All Crunchy-Cons Girlie Men?"

  4. Saw your comment at Pactum Serva. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this post.

    I wrote on a friend's blog recently that when considering which communion to join, i.e. Catholicism vs. Orthodoxy, as safe a bet as any is simply to choose whichever one Rod is not in at the moment.

  5. Thanks for the kind words, Mr. White. I read your "Farewell" post on Diane's recommendation. I think we have room for a "big-tent libertarian Marxist" over here at Est Quod Est, comrade.

  6. I need to buy another vowel here... Diane? Check out the OCA Wikipedia page:

    "Membership estimates for the OCA vary, with recent figures ranging from as low 27,169 to as high as 1,064,000."

    After the first read I did a double take, but I had read it correctly. So there are either around 30,000 people or over a million plus 64,000? Whaaaa?

  7. Fr. Thomas Hopko has stated repeatedly that there are approx. 30,000 communicants in the OCA. He has traveled around for decades now visiting OCA parishes of all sizes (I first heard him speak at a parish with a regular attendance of 40 or so), and I trust his judgment on the matter more than anyone else's).

    A few years back the OCA was rather infamously noted as the fasted growing "denomination" (a word which may just be perfectly apt for an American Orthodox jurisdiction) in the U.S. This occurred because of reporting done by the NCC. The origin of this is iconic of the patheticness of American Orthodoxy.

    An OCA committee in Syosset (the OCA HQ) whose oversaw PR reporting and such decided, without any data or hard figures, that it was time to increase the reported number of members in the OCA. So they arbitrarily decided to report a membership of 1.1 million up from the 1 million they had reported for the previous 6 or 7 years. They sent the numbers to a number of organizations, and the NCC promptly reported that the OCA had been the fasted growing Christian body in the U.S. for the previous year (at 10% increase in one year would be phenomenal), which then got some tread in the mainstream media. The NCC was more than happy to plug the OCA at the time because it has just recently lost the Antiochian jurisdiction, and was very earnest to retain its other Orthodox members. This is something of an inside joke among those of us who have spent time in the OCA and keep abreast of these things, as there is no way the OCA even has 1.1 million on the books, let alone members in any meaningful sense of the word, and it is well known among OCA folks that numbers have been spiraling for decades.

  8. Hi, Owen! Welcome. :)

    BTW--wanted to go on record as saying that I hope Rod does NOT lose his job over this brou-ha-ha. Losing your job sucks, especially in this economy, and especially when you have young kids.

    But then, I hope Rashard Mendenhall doesn't lose his job, either. He plays good football.

  9. The Man From K StreetMay 5, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    "Muhzik"'s "reader comments" are a lot like his buddy Andy Sullivan's: everybody, sympathetic or hostile to the blogger, knows they're made-up, just excitable Andy himself or his minions playing at sock-puppets, but everybody agrees to just pretend they represent real people.

  10. Here's a response from Muzhik himself: "Not by me — I’m out of this; my activist days are over, because as far as I can tell, Stokoe has triumphed, and the issue has been settled...." If only it were true....

  11. Good point MFKS; that's probably why Andrew Sullivan doesn't allow real reader comments either.

  12. Well, that's good news from Muzhik (and I hope Rod Dreher means it, too). Maybe if he learned it is not so much fun to be part of the story, it won't be so easy or fun to him to lob loud and vicious attacks from the sidelines as once it was. Including at the Catholic Church.

    And then the secularists and the nihilists will have one less Useful Idiot.

  13. Might I assert that, when acting from Manifestos (Crunchy or Communist -- Hi, Owen!) or other loud public statements ("Orthodoxy and Me"), there is the temptation to defend the Manifesto beyond all reason. Truth and intellectual consistency (among other things) can become victims. Maybe even one has to fire the same parting shot over and over again for five years, or resort to double-anonymous public correspondence with oneself, to keep up the defense.

    Here's hoping all that's over for Crunchy.

  14. I fear that Mr. Dreher enjoys being part of the story. I think that was part of Orthodoxy's appeal for him -- he can be a very big fish indeed in that minuscule pond. He can be a mover and shaker, a behind-the-scenes powerbroker, etc. He could never have played such a role in the Catholic Church.

  15. There are some things which you just can't do publicly. Talking about certain issues to the general public simply ruins your effectiveness on those issues entirely. This is true esp. of all the church scandals I can think of. Rod and company have merely provided a new stick to the opposition with which their man, +Jonah, will be beaten.

  16. What I find most interesting in this story is the fact that Rod is now party to some of the dirtiness of American Orthodoxy, particularly of a sexual nature, and yet he is swinging for the defense, as it were, in much contrast to his RC life.

    I have not seen the "classified" report Rod has seen, but what is in that report has been talked about in some OCA circles. Sure, it paints a bad picture of those Rod is now attacking within the OCA, but it also places some big question marks around some of the folks Rod has now aligned himself with.

    Rod seems to be quite merciful toward Jonah despite Jonah having sat on the issue of ArchBp Seraphim of Canada, even though Seraphim had credible allegations against him for years before he resigned. I first heard that Seraphim was going to be forced to resign because of those allegations three years prior to his resignation.

    It has become fashionable for the OCA South to bash Herman and Theodosius for their sins, particularly homosexual ones, but it will be interesting to see how far they will want to press this. A certain beloved retired archbishop of the OCA South, the one Rod was so enamored with when he was getting invited over for gourmet dinners cooked by the arch, has had tales circulating him for years about a fondness for young male prostitutes on his visits to Mexico City during the many years he was OCA exarch for Mexico. I ignored the first couple of emails sent to me about this issue, bet kept getting more as I blogged about Orthodox scandals over the years. This same arch also had an interesting relationship to his decades long traveling companion and OCA South treasurer, an oddity I have seen in person and which struck me as 'off' before I had heard any of the other.

    The unedited journals of Fr. Schmemann are said to contain sexual dirt on just about everybody who is anybody in the OCA. Met. Jonah himself has always played a very soft hand toward known sexual predator Gleb "Fr. Herman" Podmoshensky (see ) whom Jonah has spent some time with in the past.

    If Rod cares to have his eyes open, he will find that Orthodoxy is as ridden with serious and grave scandal as RCism. And then what? It sure seems that he is posturing to take quite a different tact this time around than he did when a RC. And that begs many a question. Perhaps he just prefers his sexual predator priests and his look the other way bishops in Byzantine garb instead of lace. Byzantine garb is so much more 'manly,' of course.

  17. Owen, you said a mouthful!

    And BTW, I had also heard a thing or two about Rod's beloved Archbishop Gandalf -- but obviously not as much as you have heard. WOW.

    Personally, I don't care whether Rod defends OCA perps and refuses to engage OCA scandals. I just want him to stop bashing us Catholics. If he can just refrain from attacking us every five minutes, I'll be happy. It's been five years since he left Catholicism. Time to give the Catholic-Bashing a rest.

  18. Yeah, sorry to go off on all that.

    The subject of Rod just gets me going. The fact that a person only 5 years Orthodox could have such influence is telling. But as for being anti-Catholic, I have been as guilty or guiltier than Rod is, for which I hope I have some years to repent.

  19. The subject of Rod just gets me going.

    Yeah, he seems to have that effect on people.

  20. No need to apologize, Owen! You pointed out the same stupefying irony that has my papist jaws dropping. More irony than in a Thomas Hardy novel. I think I'm going to start calling Dreher Irony Man.

  21. BTW, Pauli, I loved this:

    if Catholics were more active in spreading the Gospel, we'd be starting more anonymous blogs, then we'd be writing letters to the anonymous authors and signing our real names to be published in said anonymous blogs.

    LOL!! Well, along those lines, I've been thinking of blogging again. Not that I have time, mind you, and no doubt my new blog will wither on the vine just as the old one did. (Blogger doesn't even seem to remember that it ever existed -- which is a good thing, I suppose, since, the last time I checked, the comboxes were filled with Chinese [or was it Japanese?] spam, which I suspect had a porno connection.)

    Anyway, if I do start a new blog, it will be much like the old one: treating subjects like mondegreens and P.G. Wodehouse and shape-note hymns and my older kid's college-application process and the tick I had to dig out of my husband's thigh and the amazing beauty of spring in NC and the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and the deliciously vulgar characters in Jane Austen, like Mrs. Elton, and stuff like that. After a grueling day in Dilbert-World, I just don't have the energy to tackle thorny religious and philosophical questions. I'll leave those to Mike Liccione. :)

  22. The Man From K StreetMay 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    A certain beloved retired archbishop of the OCA South, the one Rod was so enamored with when he was getting invited over for gourmet dinners cooked by the arch, has had tales circulating him for years

    ¡Ay, caramba! Not "Vladika Gandalf" (a/k/a Robert Royster)!

  23. Yes, indeedy, Man from K Street!

  24. You know... think about the original Gandalf, you know, the wizard from Lord of the Rings. What was he doing around all those little Hobbits all the time? Teaching them to smoke and taking them into caves and doing who knows what. And dwarves, too... they're like weird midgets, right? not a female in the bunch. They dress with all that goth hardware, chains and S&M spikes and crap. Hmmmmmm.... then they can't find a straight dude to even play Gandalf in the films.

    As Catholics we are taught not to question Gandalf the Wizard. After all, he brought down Sauron whose regime was at least as bad as the Soviet Union, as well as defeating Saruman and the Balrog who were basically post-modern atheists. But there are an awful lot of Catholics who are totally unquestioning in their loyalty to Gandalf the Wizard and don't ask uncomfortable questions. Then at the end of the books he sort of gets beatified really quickly and sails off to Heaven, and no one ever thinks "What was he doing with those hobbits?"

    Yeah, I had a couple beers.

  25. Hey, it was Cinco de Mayo. Weren't you supposed to have Margaritas?

  26. OK, so it's Friday, and I just got out of an utterly insane meeting, and I'm bored, and I have to get right onto my next assignment, but I don't want to, so I just thought I'd ask... (perhaps those in the know can help me out here?) ... aren't the OCA honchos having some big honkin' meeting right now? I wonder why neither Muzhik nor Stokoe has blogged about it. Is it secret, or something? I know that, when the USCCB has a big honkin' meeting, they send out blow-by-blow tweets of everything the various bishops say, as it's happening. But then, we're that non-transparent church, so what do we know?

  27. Christ is Risen !

    I was exposed to Mr. Dreher's "style" when he belonged to our parish. Please do not think that I support him, his writings, or his nefarious skullduggery. I do think that he should have continued within the Catholic church. He loved it, and was very happy there. There is no reason ever to convert to the Orthodox Christian faith unless one genuinely believes that it is the true faith. From the beginning, the signals from Mr. Dreher were that he did not convert to Orthodoxy because he believed it was the truth, but only because it was not the Catholic religion. It was sad to witness.

    I respect anyone who embraces and attempts to live his/her Christian faith from deeply-rooted conviction that it is the truth. I may disagree with what that person sees, but I definitely am going to take their Christian belief as being rock-serious, within the confines of their particular group. From that basis, I personally believe that Mr. Dreher should have tried to work things out where he was, for as long as he truly loved his Catholic faith as being, in his viewpoint, the truth.

    With Christian greetings to you all during this Paschaltide,

    a reader

  28. There is no reason ever to convert to the Orthodox Christian faith unless one genuinely believes that it is the true faith. From the beginning, the signals from Mr. Dreher were that he did not convert to Orthodoxy because he believed it was the truth, but only because it was not the Catholic religion. It was sad to witness.

    Thanks for this, Reader, you speak wisdom. We can't know for sure what is going on in someone's mind, but the evidence supports your balanced analysis..

    If there is one thing I am trying to bring to light in my posts about Rod Dreher it is that he is haunted by the Catholic Church day and night. He can't stop writing about his Catholic experiences even when he tries to write about something else. He can't stop criticizing the Catholic church even when he is in the midst of criticizing a different church. He has become the professional ex-Catholic which he claimed to loathe. I see only one happy ending for Rod and that's to come back to the Catholic church quietly and take a seven year hiatus from writing about religion. If he can't bring himself to do the first, the least he could do would be to try the second.

  29. Welcome, Anonymous, and thank you. Yes, He is risen indeed! :)

  30. Pauli, that is a lovely comment. I was thinking last night -- indulging my sinfulness -- "Heck, we don't want him back. The OCA is welcome to him." But I know that was deeply uncharitable. Anyway, thanks for the much more charitable observation....

  31. Speaking as a man who has known Archbishop Dmitri for two decades, I can only say that I feel somewhat more qualified to pass judgment on his character than those posting comments here. I have neither seen nor heard anything indicative of sexual misconduct. You posters here are, of course, entitled to your opinions. I reserve, however, the right to challenge each of you to the field of honor. Shall we say holy water at forty paces?

  32. Who is Dmitri? I'm not accusing anyone of sexual misconduct. That's Muzhik's department.

  33. Mr. White's comment: "A certain beloved retired archbishop of the OCA South..." It is concerning Archbishop Dmitri Royster.

  34. Oooh, I think I've encountered Mr. Arsenios before in my Internet wanderings.

    Wait here while I grab some popcorn.... ;)

  35. Hardly likely, Diane, considering I very seldom interject myself into Internet discussions. But I shall do my best to entertain or edify, whichever you prefer.

  36. Pauli, your wretched lies will not go unchallenged.

    Gandalf did not teach hobbits to smoke. Hobbits taught Gandalf to smoke.

  37. As for Rod, it was always my hope that his pledge not to write about OCA scandals -- as annoying as that was, given his obsession with RC scandals -- might at least allow him to find peace in following Christ.

    Quite apart from the politics or the pseudonymity, that he was unable to keep his pledge is a sorrowful development.

  38. Yes, Rod would be much happier as a Catholic. He was so disappointed to learn that we don't have a Pope that he tried to build one himself. For all the mud slung in this fooferall, it always has been a question of ecclesiology, and all indications are that his brother bishops just sent the would-be pontiff to the woodshed.

  39. Sorry, Arsenios. I think I was confusing you with one Reader Arsenios, with whom I've crossed swords before. I don't have particularly negative memories of this Reader Arsenios. Unlike some Internet Orthodox I've encountered, who seemed to believe that theosis means being as viciously mean and nasty as possible toward all non-Orthodox, Reader Arsenios seemed like an OK guy, IIRC.

  40. Re Owen's comments about Abp Dmitri: I do hesitate to comment further, because I do not want to scandal-monger re the OCA the way Dreher does re the Catholic Church. I know nothing about the alleged Mexico connection (although, yes, I have heard vague rumors), and I will say nothing about that. But I do know that several cases are a matter of public record. These cases are far less serious than the Mexico allegations. But, had these incidents occurred in the RCC, I think it's safe to say that Rod would NEVER let us hear the end of them. Never, ever, ever. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, he has barely peeped about any of them:

    *** The Rayburn case:
    (see entry #38)
    *** The Holy Cross case: Abp Dmitri welcomed into the OCA a rogue Eastern Catholic monastery that was then under investigation (by both the RCC and the police) because one of its young monks had murdered a young nun, stabbing her over 100 times. It later turned out that the monastery's abbot and sidekicks recruited young monks from the Ukraine in order to molest them. The murderer was one of these abuse victims. Whatever else it shows, Abp Dmitri's reception of such a monastery at such a time shows very questionable judgment. Moreover, the monastery iteself, now relocated to my own state of NC (gee, thanks), is still part of the OCA!
    *** The Blanco case: See articles too numerous to list at; search on "Blanco." Yes, I know this monastery was not always OCA, but at one point it was part of the OCA DOS, and Abp Dmitri countenanced this.

    I'll say it again: If any of these cases had occurred under Catholic auspices, Rod Dreher would never have let us hear the end of it.

  41. Anonymous: I've seen comments like yours at May I make one observation?

    There's the Real Pope, and then there are faux popes. Many Orthodox seem to harbor serious misconceptions re the Real Pope. They see him as a combination of tyrant, despot, micomanaging control freak, and Overbearing Dishpot.

    The Real Pope does not fit this description at all. He couldn't micromanage 1.31 billion Catholics if he wanted to; and believe me, he doesn't want to.

    NO Catholic I know experiences papal leadership as oppressive or tyrcannical. Well, maybe a few off-the-rails New Age nuns experience papal leadership that way -- that's the impression I get from their rantings over the Vatican's investigation into their shenanigans -- but the rest of us Katolicks do not experience the papacy as anything but a blessing. The recent overwhelming public approval for John Paul II's beatification should amply demonstrate this.

    Faux popes, OTOH, almost invariably turn out to be tyrants and despots (or, at least, would-be tyrants and despots). One Orthodox priest who converted to Catholicism once observed that he had experienced more tyranny at the hands of Orthodox bishops than he had ever experienced under the pope. Previously a convert to Orthodoxy from evangelicalism, he had been taught from the cradle to regard the pope as the Great Papal Bogeyman, the enslaver of souls; and naturally he clung to this prejudice after he became Orthodox. But when he later became Catholic, he found the Catholic Church far more freeing -- and his bishop and pope far less despotic -- than he had ever dreamed possible.

    Perhaps you should get to know the Real Pope, as opposed to the Mythical Despotic Pope constructed by evangelical and Orthodox polemic. You might find that the Real Pope bears little resemblance to any faux pope in any other communion, including yours. ;-)

  42. Rod Dreher is a miserable human being. His narcissism is remarkable. His "issues" with the RCC have been played out against the OCA, which hardly needed this sort of "help".

    If the Romans had sent Dreher into our midst as a provocateur to destroy the OCA, would he have done anything different than he has?

    Sad ...

  43. Rod Dreher is a miserable human being. His narcissism is remarkable

    For the record, I wouldn't call Rod a "miserable human being" any more than I'd call myself one. I will say he's evidently a troubled and lacks peace as Tom points out. And his narcissism is no more remarkable than many others I know personally. I think the main problem with his religious and political writing is that he's tone deaf and obsessive, two attributes which negate his sincerity and render him ineffective in shaping opinions.

    His "issues" with the RCC have been played out against the OCA, which hardly needed this sort of "help".

    That certainly seems to be the case, no disagreement with you there.

    If the Romans had sent Dreher into our midst as a provocateur to destroy the OCA, would he have done anything different than he has?

    Damn! WE'RE SO BUSTED.... But seriously, the Romans know that the number of OCAs is closer to 28K than 1.1 million, so I doubt they waste their best agent--codename double-O Crunch--on y'all.

  44. What Pauli said. I don't think Rod's any more miserable or narcissistic than the rest of us poor sinners (of whom I am chief), but he definitely has an obsessive fixation or two. And I am truly sorry that he is now trying to do to the OCA what he tried to do to the Catholic Church. Per Anonymous #1, he apparently has not succeeded.

    I don't have any dog in the Jonah-versus-Holy-Synod fight. It's not my fight; I'm not part of the OCA. Met. Jonah strikes me as a good guy, but suppressing SMPAC and allying with the likes of +Nikolai and Fester are not Good Things. The whole affair strikes me as way too messy and byzantine for my poor little brain to wrap itself around. As I noted elsewhere, I can't even figure out the politics in my own parish, let alone those in the OCA.

    And, with that observation, I'm going to give this topic a rest for awhile. I hafta get my family ready for my older son's Bama Bound college orientation in tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, and that takes precedence over Church Wars.

    Love yas! And may I take this opportunity to say that I love my OCA brethren and sincerely hope they get through all this in one piece? We Catholics know exactly what it feels like to be torn by crises, and it ain't fun. Best wishes to y'all.


  45. I hafta get my family ready for my older son's Bama Bound college orientation in tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa

    Best wishes on that, Diane. We went through a similar thing with our daughter, who moved into her dorm room freshman year at Loyola New Orleans for one night. We met her the next day to go to Wal-Mart (take that, Dreher) to buy dorm room things, and she told us that she had to leave because of the hurricane. Yes, that was in August of 2005, and yes, the hurricane was Katrina.

    Glad to report she was in the Katrina Class that graduated from Loyola in 2009, on schedule! Things work out, and students and colleges are resilient.

    P.S. A sad note: the 'Bama senior that was killed by the tornado was a high school lacrosse teammate of our daughter. Truly sad, and our prayers go out for her and her family.

  46. Wow, pikku! That is an amazing tale. I am so glad your daughter got out of New Orelans *before* Katrina hit.

    The student deaths in Tuscaloosa are so sad. I cannot even begin to fathom what those poor parents are feeling.

  47. I've seen comments like yours at May I make one observation?

    There's the Real Pope, and then there are faux popes.

    I meant no offense, and please forgive any that I gave. I was speaking only about ecclesiology. I was an Achristian. I believed it, but I didn't attend any church or anything like that. It was the death of JPII that made me begin to think. Specifically, "I wonder what it's like to not be afraid of death?". Your Pope made me ask that question.

    I ended up Orthodox, but I owe JPII my soul.

  48. And let me add that JPII is a Saint. I couldn't give less of a damn about the formalities. He lived a life infused by the Holy Spirit. When the entire world notes your holiness, there's probably something to it.

    I really hope he is praying for me.

  49. Wow, Anonymous, thank you, and please forgive me for jumping to conclusions. I do that a lot. Mea culpa!!!!

  50. I certainly would not call Rod a miserable human being either but I am so tired of him and his ilk...what is it about Orthodoxy that every convert has to get a blog and tell us cradle Orthodox how to be Orthodox...Please take him back Roman Catholics!
    The irony is that he goes on and on about gays when he has gay clergy in his parish in Philadelphia and back in his old Cathedral in Dallas.. and yes the rumors about Archbishop Dimitri are true...
    I don't want Rod to lose his job either especially as he has children but please somebody make it so he cannot type!

  51. Please take him back Roman Catholics!

    Sorry, no backsies.

  52. "what is it about Orthodoxy that every convert has to get a blog and tell us cradle Orthodox how to be Orthodox"

    LOL! I feel your pain. :)

  53. please forgive me for jumping to conclusions.

    No it was my bad. Sorry.

    every convert has to get a blog and tell us cradle Orthodox how to be Orthodox

    I've found I identify more with the cradles than the converts. It's not a "cradle v. convert" thing, but I guess I have the advantage of coming from nothing. Too many Orthodox converts still think they've found instant holiness. It's a process, and you are going to screw up. Live with it.

    And let's be clear: I hate borscht.

  54. Hey, Paul Z, if you're joking that's cool. Otherwise remember: we're not Donatists here. Even though we do like donuts.

  55. I'm sure Paul Z is joking. We would love to welcome Rod back. :)

    I've been thinking about Abp Dmitri. If the allegations are true, how has he managed to snooker so many people?

    It reminds me a bit of Fr. Maciel, "Nuestro Padre" of the Legionaries. He snookered some people I knew when we lived in Charlotte. He snookered them big-time.

    But there was always something "off" about the Legionaries, which a lot of people picked up on. I kinda-sorta did myself, too, although I couldn't put my finger on it. Anyway, I guess if you really want to believe in someone, and if the person gives off that pious-schmious aura, then you can get snookered. My Charlotte acquaintances did eventually wake up, and one of them now runs an anti-Legionaries website (actually ex-Regnum Christi). But anyway....

    Our bishops have never allowed the Legionaries to set up shop here in the Charlotte Diocese, which must mean that they were suspicious even way back when. It's simply amazing that the rot was allowed to fester elsewhere as long as it did.

    We Catholics certainly have NO reason to gloat at the expense of our OCA friends. We have more than enough filth of our own to clean up, and the Legionaries clean-up is still ongoing.

    But anyway, I would like to try to understand the psychology of these True Believers who swallow the party line of cult leaders -- like "Nuestro Padre" and (perhaps) like Abp Dmitri. I could so easily fall for such BS myself. What saves me from doing so is that I'm not a "joiner" -- I don't have time for evening meetings and similar outside commitments, and I don't like to join stuff anyway. I'm basically just a homebody, and you can't be a homebody when you're sucked into a cult.

  56. Sorry, Anonymous tossed up a softball and I had to take a whack.

    Even though we do like donuts.

    After giving up sweets for Lent, I can testify to that.

  57. OK--glad I don't have to hook up the heresy meter again.

  58. Diane, you say, "I would like to try to understand the psychology of these True Believers who swallow the party line of cult leaders -- like "Nuestro Padre" and (perhaps) like Abp Dmitri."

    If I may, then I shall seek to explain what, at least, I observe. Cult followings don't always have cult leaders. Often the presumed leaders of these factions are figures on whom misguided admirers project their own ideals. What makes this possible is that often the targets of such projections don't care to stand atop a soapbox to shout their opinions at the world. Their silence -- sometimes due to ignorance that their name is being abused in such a manner -- is then misconstrued by admirers as approval of their own activities.

  59. Arsenios, you speak much wisdom. Ithink that is probably a common pattern.

    WRT Father Maciel--I think he cultivated the cult-leader thing to the nth degree. It's really not fair to compare Abp Dmitri with him anyway, or to mention them in the same breath. No matter what Abp Dmitri may or may not have done, he cannot possibly hold a candle to Father Maciel, who appears to have been one of the most evil monsters in the entire history of the Church.

  60. LOL:

  61. I think I just figured out why Rod is so unhappy...he did not not convert to Orthodoxy because he loved the Orthodox Church...he left Rome because he was mad...that is no reason to join the Orthodox Church....we have our warts too...we have tons of gay clergy...ours are better liars than the Episcopalians and we do have a legacy of "celibate " clergy...we have sex offenders too,,the Archbishop of Canada is going on trial for molesting two boys..Rod is doomed to be unhappy until he confronts his own internal demons but please Rod leave the OCA alone...try to make your mark {pun intended} elsewhere..

  62. anonymous # 61: Bingo! (to use a Catholic term)

    Thou hast touched it with a needle.

  63. 430 comments -- mamma mia! Of course, they're all by the same five or six people, mostly, but still.... LOL!

  64. The funny thing is that Roddy screams about gay people..usually gay men but a deacon at St.Seraphim Cathedral is living with his partner ,an Episcopalian priest..they moved to Dallas from Chicago together but Roddy would rather scream about the deacon and Bishop in Florida...he couldn't or wouldn't look under his own nose..

  65. he couldn't or wouldn't look under his own nose

    So true. He wouldn't look at the Blanco case, either, until it blew up in his face. Even then, he wrote only a mealy-mouth piece re the chief perp, to the effect that we are all sinners blahblahblah.....

  66. Ole Roddy pooped on us, then he went Orthodox and pooped on y'all. He's quite a pooper. Which religion is he gonna tinker with next? Sufism might be a nice fit for him.