Deny, Defend and Deflect

By dogcatcher on July 5th, 2013

 

(How does your Clergyman respond when you ask about the Ephraimite Issue?)

Since the launch of this website, we have been surprised by tendencies in the dialogue about the Ephraimite issue. Our detractors follow a step by step template when it comes to sending us their comments. As strange as it may seem, there is also a protocol when you ask a Clergyman or Hierarch about where he stands on the issue. There are those involved in the Church that make their personal positions very clear. They cut to the chase and just say things like………”yes, you are correct, we have a major problem” or ……”you know that the Hierarchy must show leadership and deal with this problem” or even “we are headed for a schism and I pray that the damage to the Church and the Faith is minimal”.

But a clear indicator of where you are personally on the spectrum of what we call “Ephraimite intelligence” it only requires you to ask a simple question. This is to say, once you ask the question, where does the respondent place you in their mind? How much respect, knowledge or even compassion does the Clergyman or Hierarch show to you, the person who is asking the question?

You see even a simple question such as “Your Eminence, I hear a lot of talk among my friends and other members of the Laity expressing a concern about the followers of Elder Ephraim and their impact on the Church. Is there a reason for concern?” Their response to you will tell you a lot about how that person perceives you.

Stage one …………DENY!

If after your simple question, the trusted Hierarch or Priest says something like………… “There is no real problem with the Monasteries of Elder Ephraim,” it is safe to say that your question has no value to them and you become someone in whom they will show their disdain. They see you as someone that can be placated with a token effort. A small gesture will do, a quick and thoughtless reply will, from their perspective, “put you off” and their real hope is that you will accept their authority without further critical thinking. In their hierarchy of the Faithful, you have unfortunately descended to the bottom of the heap. You can accept your position at the bottom of the heap (albeit in their minds alone), after all the reason the Church is in decline is because of unconditional acceptance of seemingly anything that is proposed by or comes out of the mouths of our Clergyman.

The person answering the question does not have the basic respect to give you a real (even if mendacious) answer on the issue. Some of the Lay leadership of the Church shares this tactic. One wonders how we as a religion can operate when our leaders spend so much denying the truth. To see this in action, please read the article at the bottom of page 8 the Orthodox Observer issue for April 2011. Here is the link: http//:gotruthreform.org/wp-content/April 2011 Orth Obs p8.pdf

In the article entitled “ARCHDIOCESAN COUNCIL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETS,” there is a reference to something they now call the “Monastery Review Committee” (MRC). The article states the MRC was formed by the Executive Committee and the Synod at its fall 2010 meeting, which actually occurred in October of 2010. According to the article, two major bodies of the Church, the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council and the Synod came together and took these unprecedented steps with a hope of finding a solution to clearly perceived problem. “This special committee was created to collect certain data from the monasteries around the country and provide a report to the Executive Committee as to how they work and interact with the life of the Church in America.”

Yet, some within God’s Church would rather deny the problem then answering truthfully. Think about this………would there be either a GOTRUTHREFORM or a WEAREORTHODOX website in operation today if the Church would act in a responsible manner? Nonetheless we have those who still deny that there is a problem.

Stage two…………..Defend!

Well, you are almost there. You are a person that the Clergyman or Hierarch sees as worthy of a more cogent response. Let’s look at that simple question again………“Your Eminence I hear a lot of talk among my friends and other members of the Laity expressing a concern about the followers of Elder Ephraim and their impact on the Church. Is there a reason for concern?” Now instead of a quick and thoughtless or, even worse, a purposely false answer you hear a spirited defense of the Ephraimite movement.

Here it gets a bit tricky because of the tack they take with you. Are you told …… “People just dislike Monasteries in America because they are just not used to them” or “People do not understand Athonite Monastics or Monasticism” or even “Monasteries are a part of Orthodox life and have historically protected the Faith”.

The above responses fall into the first subcategory of the defense of the Ephraimite issues. They are the “red herring” responses. A “red herring” is an English-language idiom, a logical fallacy or aside that misleads or detracts from a real evaluation of an issue. It is also a literary device that leads readers or characters towards a false conclusion, often used in mystery or detective fiction,” by directing the attention away from the issue. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_herring. First of all “People just dislike Monasteries in America because they are just not used to them”, is insulting to the listener’s intelligence. Every one of our Editors loves Monasticism, a real, healthy and abiding Monasticism; what we oppose and are able enough to see through is a false and unhealthy form of Monasticism that uses and abuses the faithful before turning away from them in their hour of need.

What about the reply by the Hierarch or Clergymen that “People do not understand Athonite Monastics or Monasticism”. Again a red herring used to throw off the questioner. Please read the article on this website entitled “Ephraimite Fallacies Part One” for a detailed understanding as to why we disagree with the proposition that we are dealing with real Athonite Monastics. (Here is the link: http://gotruthreform.org/ephraimite-fallacies-part-one). Then we have the last of the first layer of defensive replies, “Monasteries are a part of Orthodox life and have historically protected the Faith”. We wholeheartedly agree that healthy Monasticism is a very important part of Orthodox life. But that is not what we have here; again, if we did, our Editors would be in Florence, Arizona confessing to Elder Ephraim or his heir apparent Elder Paisios.

The Editors of this website have trouble reconciling what is clear and convincing evidence of damage occurring to the Laity and to our Parishes from extreme and heretical fundamentalism from a cult like sect and damaging silence or worse from the hierarchy. Our Hierarchs need to act like real Hierarchs and that requires responsible leadership and honest replies to necessary questions. Here is a question that should have already been answered by the actions of our Church………. ”What has been the Church’s position on the death last year (June 11, 2012) of Scott Nevins?” Most unbiased adherents to our Faith would agree that this is a legitimate question. The answer is uncomfortable, at best; however an answer is necessary. To provide even a cursory response is nothing of any significance. Our Editors are embarrassed at the manner in which this is being “handled”, that is by ignoring the problem hoping most will forget it.

There are of course a number of ways to defend anything that occurs. One only needs to walk into a courthouse and go from court room to court room to hear every possible justification for crimes. Those who hide behind their ecclesiastical robes and use them as a shield have only given themselves temporary relief here on earth. Judgment for those who remain silent (or worse yet, for those who compromise their conscience and Faith) will be certain. What about those who lack the moral fortitude and ethics which their position requires? We understand that we are being a bit aggressive, but please consider the following scenario, consider it because it is now common practice within the Church. Oh, what do we do with the Ephraimite Priest that goes from Parish to Parish and leaves a trail of pain and a distortion of our Faith in his wake? Such parish hopping was one of the main complaints against another Christian denomination when there was clear legal responsibility to take action.

The answer may surprise you. If you are indeed surprised then please discuss this phenomenon with those you know who are well versed in the Church, not the Faith – – there is a difference. The answer is we “transfer them”. Yes we take carriers of a cancerous virus and we expose them to another Parish that they can infect! Think about that next time a Clergyman denies or defends the Ephraimite movement. We have one of our Hierarchs currently trying to “transfer” such an individual. First he tried the Metropolis of San Francisco, which failed. Then he tried the Metropolis of Detroit and that failed too. But rest assured there is a game that is a lot like liars’ poker being played for supervision of your Parish home. Unfortunately, and in total disregard for our laity, someone will accept this carrier of the “theology” of the Ephraimites. You see in the Greek Orthodox Church we just transfer our problems from place to place. Perhaps he will be sent to a Parish on life support like the one in Miami, Florida. Perhaps a for sale sign will go up on the property in a year or two and the money will go to pay the debt on the retreat center for the Metropolis of Atlanta. In the end we all suffer, not just the Parishioners at the most affected Parishes. One of our Editors coined the phrase “legacy Greek Orthodox Christian”; we are losing souls from our Church, and losing them at an alarming rate. Ask yourself “where are the numbers”? We have been looking and asking for 5 years. All this from a Church that can demand from Parish Councils every penny they owe; yet when it comes to parish membership/stewardship data, transparency is wanting.

Stage Three………….Deflect!

When you are listening to the deflection explanation from your Clergyman on the Ephraimite issue, then you know you have made it. What good fortune you have to be considered worth of this reply to your question. Are you on the Metropolis Council? Or perhaps on the National Philoptochos Board, or is it that you are an Archon. While the deflection reply still does not proactively suggest unity by the one delivering it, it is not an out and out denial of the problem or defense of the cult.

Think about an institution where the one answering the question says something like…………“well I keep a tight reign in my Metropolis and do not allow any of that”…………or “I think that this movement is damaging the Church and the Faith, but my brothers do not wish to act”………or “I am only concerned with what is occurring in my Metropolis and I understand that this is a damaging element within our Church but there is nothing I can do”. So when you think about the fundamentalist movement tearing through the Church, remember that it was not that long ago that the phrase “Militant Islamist” was unknown. They had a beginning to their “movement” as well. The beginnings of their movement, a fundamentalist religious one like ours, radicalized many of their adherents. It too feeds on the emotional needy, with a “secret theology [only known and followed by them], mixed with ethnic/racial superiority and laced with spiritual arrogance”.

Make no mistake about it; we are at the beginning of the end as a unified Faith and Church. The guardians of our Faith appear to be planning their summer vacations in Mykonos or perhaps Santorini if they are a bit older. Either way no one is protecting our Faith or our Church from this spreading virus.