Friday, July 10, 2020

Hagia Sophia going back to sad mosque past

(NBC News) - A court ruled Friday that Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia can be converted from a world-famous museum back into a mosque, in a big victory for the Islamic conservatism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, said that a 1934 decision to convert what was then a mosque into the museum was unlawful, according to Reuters, paving the way for its restoration as an Islamic place of worship despite international concerns.

"The cabinet decision in 1934 that ended its use as a mosque and defined it as a museum did not comply with laws," the Council of State said, the news agency reported.

The president had proposed restoring the UNESCO World Heritage site into a mosque, placing the almost 1,500-year-old building at the center of a struggle between those who want to preserve Turkey’s secular roots and the president’s aspirations.

Erdogan signed a presidential decree Friday that said the Hagia Sophia would be handed over to the directorate of religious affairs, a government department, which would open it up to worshipers. He is due to deliver a speech shortly before 9 p.m. local time Friday (2 pm ET).

The sixth-century structure was the Byzantine Empire’s main cathedral before it was changed into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic in the 20th century, then turned the majestic domed building into a museum that attracts millions of tourists each year.

Many in Turkey will welcome the decision, and see Friday's ruling as an emphatic victory for Erdogan’s plans for the secular but predominantly Muslim country.

“Mehmet the Conqueror took the holy city with his sword, he always wanted Hagia Sophia to be a mosque,” Ozlem Kaya, 52, a homemaker from Istanbul, said ahead of the decision, referring to the 15th-century Ottoman sultan who captured the city, then known as Constantinople.

“With Erdogan, Turkey will be a more powerful country in the near future,” she said by telephone. “There is no need to be secular anymore.''

The Hagia Sophia site has been a part of a centuries-old struggle over the identity of the region that sits on the fault line between the East and the West, and between Christianity and Islam.

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based in Istanbul, said ahead of the ruling that converting the Hagia Sophia into a mosque will “disappoint millions of Christians around the world” and will “fracture” the East and the West.

“As [a] museum, Hagia Sophia can function as place and symbol of encounter, dialogue and peaceful coexistence of peoples and cultures, mutual understanding and solidarity between Christianity and Islam,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook last week.

Tuma Celik, 56, a Syriac Christian and a member of Parliament with the Turkish pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, or the HDP, said he was against turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. "This court decision has made what we all know and experience in reality very clear, that today’s Turkey is not secular,” he said via WhatsApp.

Founded in 1923, modern-day Turkey was built on the secular belief of separating religion and state.

However, almost a century later, the country continues to wrestle with how its secular governance intersects with the fact that it is predominantly Muslim. Turkey’s Christian community, for example, is believed to number around 100,000 people, a tiny fraction in a country of more than 83 million.

The conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a museum in the 1930s was seen as part of a broader effort by Ataturk’s government to secularize the country. Today, Erdogan is widely believed to be doing the opposite.

Since assuming power, Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, or AK Party, have made Turkey more religious and conservative, including by relaxing strict secular laws that barred women from wearing Islamic headscarves in schools and public offices.

Erdogan is not the first person to suggest the building’s status as a mosque should be restored. Thousands of Muslim Turks have prayed outside the building over the years to demand that it be reconverted to a place of worship.

But not everyone is convinced by what is driving the move.

Nearly 44 percent of the population think the move is designed to divert attention from the current economic crisis and nearly 12 percent think the government believes the debate will politically benefit it in case of a possible snap election, according to Turkish pollster MetroPoll. Only some 29 percent believe it is motivated by a desire to return the museum back into a mosque, according to the poll.


  1. There is absolutely no reason to be upset that an old building is being changed from a museum into a mosque at a time when many Orthodox churches have been closed by the own leaders, and others are being led into heresy by them.

    Dionysius Redington
    Lubbock, Texas

    1. I usually don't care for gimmick accounts, but this one is hilarious. "Dionysius Redington," LOL! Yeah, some converts really are just like that.

    2. It isn't just "an old building," just as Christ the Savior in Moscow wasn't just some empty lot they turned into a swimming pool. How many Russian Christians prayed secretly there? Much like the other buildings that were "repurposed." But I suppose Russian people were just being silly, like wanting to restore it brick by brick, right? They're just "old buildings."

      The Russian Church has been very gracious on this topic (because they actually understand the pain of seeing their churches desecrated).


    3. Well, if you like old buildings, the Parthenon was a church for 500 years or so; why not forget the Elgin Marbles and rebuild the iconostasis? A time when churches are voluntarily empty, and/or drifting into more-than-papism, is not a time to complain about the repurposing of buildings that were repurposed in 1453.

      Dionysius Redington
      Lubbock TX

    4. Not a bad idea, actually (with respect for the historical artifacts of course), but that isn't the point I'm making. It isn't just an "old building," and you know that full well.

  2. There is absolutely no reason to be upset that an old building is being changed from a museum into a mosque at a time when many Orthodox churches have been closed by the own leaders, and others are being led into heresy by them.

    Dionysius Redington
    Lubbock, Texas

  3. "The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide..."
    I wish they'd stop doing that. Journalistic boilerplate divorced from reality.

  4. "“As [a] museum, Hagia Sophia can function as place and symbol of encounter, dialogue and peaceful coexistence of peoples and cultures, mutual understanding and solidarity between Christianity and Islam,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook last week."

    Thing is, even those who such statements are spoken for (performed for really) don't believe it...

    1. I've been there a couple of times. You buy a ticket, go in (I don't think you can enter the nave), admire the vaulting and what's left of the decor (from two religions), and that's it. I guess you can say that people from different religions are peacefully coexisting there--at least I've never seen any fights break out, although I do remember this one European woman who was arrested by guards in Cappadoccia for taking photos inside the caves. (Can't remember if you could take photos in Haggia Sophia.) If you chatted I guess you could count that as encounter and dialogue.

  5. IMHO this is God's judgement on the Phanar and it will be just the tip of the iceberg if they do not repent.

    1. You might want to scratch off the H on this.

  6. It is sad, but it doesn't change the fact that the ground is forever consecrated to Christ. The countless Liturgies and Saints who hallowed those walls and that ground remain forever, and it can't be erased by decree, Ottoman or Erdogan.

  7. The turks make a fair amount of money from the place, I hope that will motivate those particular vandals from plastering over the byzantine mosaics uncovered in the 20th century. There's a lot in common between turks and tudors, both were pretty bad people to leave in charge of a church. Let's not forget English citizens as late as the 19th century would dynamite Glastonbury Abbey to mine bricks. There is the great "common ground" of Christians and muslims. That's the extent of the depth of Bartholomew's thought. If he had the building back the first thing he'd do would be to invite the pope, Dalai llama and archbishop of Canterbury in for a service. He doesn't deserve it. It'd be a bigger money sink than his hole in the ground in New York.

  8. For those of you who are going after Mr Redington, you are completely missing the point. A blind man can see both his theological as well as his rhetorical points.

    And if you are criticizing him for being a convert, then you are nothing but a bigot.

    1. Different 'Unknown' here than the one above.. How can Mr. Redington possibly be making a sound point when it stands against the statements of all the Patriarchs and bishops voicing their opposition to the desecration of the Hagia Sophia?

    2. Well Unknown, Hagia Sophia has been desacralized for 560 years! Islam had thourghly conquered the Byzantine Empire and its Imperial Church of the East literally hundreds of years ago.

      On what basis do these bishops make their complaint? Some kind of appeal to Classical Liberalism, Multi-Cult_ism, etc.?? Where in Christianity is the support for that?!

    3. Perhaps these bishops should focus on the here and now, and not wistfully dreaming of the past. Christ and his joy for us is not dependent upon long dead and burried "Hagia Sophia" (let the dead bury the dead) - rather we must repent of our nostalgia and get on with the business of being Christian in our own time and place

    4. The basis is that in as much as the Hagia Sophia was erected for the worship of Holy Trinity, the conversion of the temple ( or "space" or "building" if you prefer) into a mosque so that those in delusion may now offers prayers to a false god is an insult to God in the here and now.

    5. "The basis is that in as much as the Hagia Sophia was erected for the worship of Holy Trinity...."

      Q: Then what happened?


      Those (and their descendants) who erected said temple were defeated militarily, culturally, and religiously - they were either killed, converted, or forced to live elsewere (e.g. the population exchange).

      Q: What's going to happen now?

      The Muslims reclaim the mosque that used to be called "Hagia Sophia" from a secular interloper among their own ranks (aka Kemal Ataturk) after he turned it in to a "museum" for a short time.

      Meanwhile, Orthodox Christians living in faraway western secular lands will complain in a delusionaly ideological manner about reality, allegedly "insulting" the Holy Trinity, how secular "tolerance" should prevail for others who are not secular, etc.

    6. There is no circumstance that makes it appropriate for any church, much less the Hagia Sophia to become a place where antichrists (1John 4:3) offer prayers to their false god. All those of us in the Church are not isolated, individualized atoms but rather a brotherly communion which neither time not space nor death can separate because we have united ourselves to the risen body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So whether the Hagia Sophia is down the street from us or not, whether litugies have been served there recently or not or whether it addresses the problems posed by secularism outside our doorstep or not, natural Christian sentiment will greet this sad news with opposition.

  9. I'm not "going after" him, Caradoc. Hagia Sophia is not just an "old building."

    I know who Mr. Redington is (I read around on the Orthodox internet) and his point of view. There is no "missing the point" here. I'm just not interested in re-hashing the standard anti-EP boilerplate or going down the rabbit hole of being belligerently obtuse to stick it to bishops he disagrees with.

    I think that when the country everyone cites as the model of "moderate Islam" decides to do something like this, it is a cause for concern for us (combine that with Erdogan's "victory" speech----not "moderate" by any stretch). Of course we should be concerned with the devastating effects of the virus, and we are (one can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time).

    We are all converts in one sense or another. There is no such thing as "born" Orthodox.

    1. Respectfully David B., Mr. Reddington has a good point. This building has not been a church for over 560 years. I don't know what you mean when you say it is "forever consecrated to Christ" - you can't mean Sacrementally. Perhaps you mean it is in the same way that all things in Creation are? Perhaps you mean in the way it in a "symbolic" manner in the hagiography and self understanding of Orthodoxy?

      I am too much of a realist, including (especially) symbolically, to care much for this building. I care about the Temple's around me - my children, my fellow parish members, my city, country and culture I live in *right now*. We can't even pass the Faith on to our children or otherwise be the Cult of Christ in our own time and place, and we think a building that has been a mosque for 560 years has something to do with that!? It probably does, in that it is symbolic in how we focus on the wrong things...we deserve to be secularized.

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    3. What I mean is that it will always be Hagia Sophia. The Turks can't erase history or the holiness of those walls.

      We can do both, Jake. This rigid binary/zero-sum game mentality that seems to be all too prevalent is the "wrong focus."

      I'm not worked up about it. The Turks can do what they like. It changes nothing as far as I am concerned. Christ still adorns the walls and the prayers of the Holy Fathers still permeate the place. It is an extension of what I was talking about before, Jake. We are not soup cans. We are Icons that have been merely painted over. I felt the same way about the "multi-spoons" uproar. It's still Christ in the Chalice. Our own folly does not change the true reality of a thing.

      What we "think" about something does not change what it actually is. Father Stephen on his blog made this point (Words as Icons). American Christians don't realize that they have already conceded to the "Modernists" by accepting their misuse of language and ideas. Reading Derrida and Deconstructionism is like taking a stroll through a desecrated graveyard, but it is enlightening in how untethered we have become.

    4. David B.

      I think your forcing a schematic/way of thinking about icons and other ideas from Fr. Stephen into areas they don't fit. Hagia Sophia *really* is a mosque, and has been for a long time. The holiness of the earthly Jerusalem, to say nothing of "Hagia Sophia" is wholly dependent upon the Heavenly Jerusalem. You recognize this, but want to look past the soup can of this world. Ok, but the *reality* of a thing - in this case the building in Istanbul under discussion - really truly IS a mosque!

      Fr. Stephen emphasis the paradoxical - and he should most of the time - but sometimes as the expense of when things really are "a binary", or more often just a simple contradiction. Indeed, he is seemingly constitutionaly unable to deal with contradiction, binary, simplicity. I believe it is why he stays away from *internal* church matters. He makes much of secularism (and is one of the few who does it well enough), but refuses to even admit how secularized American Orthodoxy (to name one example) really is. He won't face head on the homosexualists in his own priestly ranks, Fr. Robert Arida being an example, and instead retreats with "we don't criticize bishops/clerics here". At best this is head in the sand wishful thinking, but with Fr. Stephen I think it is more (I give him more credit) - its a *real* clericalism justified by a hyper mystical understanding of his role in particular and the Church in general.

      You and Fr. Stephen are wrong - your not realists at all. If you were, you would be able to admit when a mosque is just a mosque.

      This may seem harsh, and I dearly love and support Fr. Stephen in so many ways, but Reality is, just as you say - and part of God's reality is Heaven AND Hell...

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. How many Mosques have mosaics of Panagia and Christ on the wall? Of course it's a mosque, but that isn't all it is. Every building, every street, every person has a history, a story. Acknowledging the depths is not the same as denial.

      I won't derail this blog debating another blog, but I will zero in on points you made about the American Church------

      I think the vast majority of people in the American Orthodox Church understand our problems to varying degrees. The question becomes what to do about it. I see some people online heaping scorn on "indifference" in the parishes and supposed inertia, but did it ever occur to these critics that maybe it isn't indifference at all?

      How should we "face" the scoundrels? There are different answers to that question. Perhaps this drive to "do something" is in itself a temptation. Maybe the folks with white hair who keep their eyes on Christ and whisper the Prayer are on to something. In the past, the Church had much worse corruption and degradation than what we see now, and yet the Lord provided. Nothing has changed. The only difference now is that we are all "activists" and "pundits" and acting as if we have to "fix" the Church somehow (as if God is not able or willing).

      If we're doing all we can to be holy, that's everything. I'm not a realist. I'm a Christian. If that is "hyper-mystical," I can live with being labeled as such.

    7. I agree with you David B. Nobody (myself included) knows how to *be* Orthodox on communal/practical level in our secular culture. I disagree with you that "nothing has changed" in that Orthodoxy and all its normative praxis was formed in Christendom first, and then under repression second. Our secular/modern situation is different in every way that counts, and our praxis is proving to be particularly ill-equipped to pass the Faith on generationalyj...

    8. How many of those youth come back later in life? Some do. Some don't.

      God is control. That is what has not changed. There is no "plan," there is no "strategy." The Church fosters holiness, and everything tends to itself. When it fails in that mission, then that is where disaster strikes.

      Our modern saints like St. Porphyrios and St. Sophrony understood secularism very well. Authentic holiness and faithfulness to Christ and to the Tradition is the answer. If we are faithful, then our children have their own choices to make. If they become apostates, they are sadly not the first nor will they be the last.

      That doesn't mean we leave them to the wolves, but if they choose to enter a wolf den against our loving counsel, what can we do but entrust them to God? He will provide where we were unable.

      I'm not indifferent to the challenges of the Church of modern life, but I see it in terms of God's business and my business. We are in the age of the busybody. Everyone is a pundit, everyone has "an opinion." That may seem like a silly thing to say on an internet combox, but I include myself in the dock.

      Christ has overcome the world.

  10. A question: a legally constituted court in the country where the Hagia Sophia is located because it is anti-Christian while similar and far more impactful orders regarding our actual worship by legally constituted authorities are OK?

  11. Here is the skinny as i see it,,, we and our leadership have done it again,,, we spend so much time criticizing and quarrelling -- all of which is not CHRISTIAN,, albeit it may be Orthodox! If we were on the ball, especially our bishops, we would be united, of one voice, and therefore have some politcal clout.

    Why do I say this? In the regular news media today they are covering what the pope has said about this travesty,,, however i have yet to see any eastern orthodox prelte, clergy, or layman interviewed.
    So, is the pope leading us? Is the pope our spokesman? Is the pope the protetor of our Shrines? When ne of our patriarchs comes to the USA there is nary any coverage,, yet when the pope comes they are falling over each other to cover his every move.
    Perhaps instead of our petty, egoistic infighting, and criticizing of others, we should all come together as an american church, no foreign born bishops,no foreign ties, and create a patriarchate of the Americas with its capital in washington d c which will become the fourth rome and we may have some politcal clout.
    The tragedy is that we all refuse to be Christian, we do not follow what Jesus tried to teach us, we are like the prodigal son's brother, or the servant who buried his talent. In order to prevent these travesties from happening we must believe the message of Jesus, and become one, not a multitude of ethnic orthodox but not christian ghettos. I am just devastated at our lack of vision and leadership.
    We are being punished for not keeping our eye on the ball and embracing Jesus's message. As such, divided we fall. May God help us to see the light!

    1. An "American Church" will not solve the problems you lament. The World chases after power and "relevance," but what about holiness? Maybe we are entering the remnant stage? All of this was to come to pass. Why are we looking to "fix" what God has ordained? If good comes, it will be by God's Grace and as a fruit of our own collective holiness. If an American Church comes, it will be due to that and not to any plans we make.

    2. God gave us his teachings and we rejected them. I don't think he ordains ethnic ghettos,,,I do not think criticizing or fingerprinting instead of doing and building is what he ordains. The lack of unity and charity is not what he teaches. But, alas, we orthodox refuse to see how we have deviated from the basic teachings. We do not love, we do not forgive, we love to judge, criticize, splinter,. We need to get back to basics

  12. Orthodox disunity is what the Turk, European and American enemies of the Church rely upon and have engineered. They’ve had amazing success over the last century with only one real setback in the resurgence of Orthodoxy in the post-soviet sphere.

    The Greek-run Churches, former clients of the Porte, are happy to line up behind Western Powers and do the incremental work of dividing Orthodoxy permanently, first with calendar, then divergent liturgical rubrics and most significantly with allegiance and dependence on Western patronage, warping their moral ethos to fit a Western secular narrative. This has always been aimed at isolating the Russian Church as an arm of Russian state power, engaging on the side of the West in its struggle for Eurasian dominance over Russia.

    The upshot of Greek Orthodoxy aligning with the geopolitics of the West is that it actively antagonizes Russia and its Church, successfully alienating it especially with the Ukraine schismatic adumbration. This pleases both the US State Dept and Ankara. Normally the US exerts stabilizing power over turkey to prevent drastic willful action but trump is no match for Erdogan as we’ve seen. He has no interest in maintaining the status quo because he revels in chaos. Tyrants like Erdogan and Putin are happy to create crises and benefit more from them than does trump, impeached from his job as American President because he is a criminal and not a leader.

    Lacking presidential leadership, American foreign policy is driven by actors like Pompeo and Pyatt, who want to hurt Russia at any cost. I would bet they were blindsided by Erdogan taking Hagia Sophia as a mosque just as the CIA was caught off guard by the Iranian Revolution. They may be smart, but they are not in control. The Phanar made a grave error in trusting these men and likewise they are not as smart as they would like to think. In such a case as this, Russia would have acted to foil the Turk’s ambitions, but they will do nothing now that the Phanar has acted in Ukraine to harm the Russian Church in a significant way. I don’t think Patr. Bartholomew will be able to walk back any of his rash actions and will die in infamy, having hubristically overreached. The Phanar will likely collapse soon as a result.

    1. When has Orthodoxy ever been truly "united" in the sense that modern people mean?

      It never was. Court intrigues and political schemes have been there since St. Paul's day. We are united in Christ, but that doesn't mean what moderns think it means. I see the messiness of Orthodoxy, and it is a great comfort to me. Because I know that this is truly God's Church. Without Divine intervention, a dysfunctional organization like ours could not endure and keep the faith, but we have.

      Lance, this whole post reeks of the politics of the moment. Our history has had many such "moments." Reprobates and holy men and everyone in-between have stood at the Bishop's Throne.

      They "engineered" nothing. This Moscow-Constantinople conflict has gone on for centuries and this is just the latest chapter. This is God's will, and He is in control. Why did this happen? That isn't for me to say. The people who think they are "in control" are deluded, just Pilate was blind in his ignorance over Who was really "in charge."

    2. "Your most holiness, we are by your side in all your efforts to strengthen your presence in the land of your forefathers, Constantinople." - Patriarch John of Antioch in a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew


      "The decision to change the status of the St. Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul is Turkey's own internal affair." - Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

      Unfortunately, there isn't even a pretence at Christianity anywhere in Lance's post, especially:

      "In such a case as this, Russia would have acted to foil the Turk's ambitions, but they will do nothing now that the Phanar has acted in Ukraine to harm the Russian Church in a significant way."

      No love. No forgiveness. No trying to work things out between Christians. Only vindictiveness. If that's supposedly how the Russian leadership acts, then how do you know that they did not give Erdogan the green light to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque in the first place?

    3. “how do you know that they did not give Erdogan the green light to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque in the first place?”

      I don’t know but Erdogan does this ‘because he can’ to demonstrate to his plurality (he, like trump is not generally popular and has to play to his base) that ‘The Turk is back’ along with other demonstrations of ‘autonomy’. Embedded in his rhetoric is, again like trump, a strong taint of grievance, as though the Turks have been suffering under some (Greek? EU?) ‘yoke’ that now they throw off to march toward greatness (MTGA).
      The Phanar played its Ukraine hand as best it could thinking the US had its back but forgot there is no leader here that can or would focus support for them. The world of secular democracy is waning as tinpot dictators wax bold. The Phanar can only survive in a world of compromise and pluralism, which shades of meaning are the first thing authoritarians abolish in their brutal discourse.
      I don’t see a future for Bart and his outfit, at least not in Erdogan’s Turkey. They thought they had some ace up the voluminous sleeve of Bart’s rason but it turned out to be a Jack. When this is all over we will realize we never needed the Phanar anyhow, at least not in modern times.

    4. In fairness, Metropolitan Hilarion and the top hierarchs in the Moscow Patriarchate denounced in very strong terms what is happening with Hagia Sophia. We shouldn't engage in calumny due to politics or a grudge against the Moscow Patriarchate.


      The EP has been "finished" a few times in its history, and yet it endures. I see God's Providence in that. Whatever you think of the political moment, the Church of Constantinople itself is venerable, and they do still have a flock (diminished, but there are thousands of Orthodox Christians still in Turkey).

      Political winds change all the time. Behind all of that is Divine Providence.

    5. "Political winds change all the time. Behind all of that is Divine Providence."

      Bingo. The initial comment which prompted my response is the geopolitical analogue to the historical critical method which seeks to understand theology according to the supposed historical circumstances that influenced it. In both cases the subject is engaged superficially, according to the writer's preconceived notions while ignoring the will of God and activity of the Holy Spirit. The irony is that in being purely a product of cognition instead of divine illumination, "Orthodox Christian geopolitics" is just as secular as the supposed "warped moral ethos" of the Greek Church that Lance complains of.

  13. saint tikhon antiipated all of this, his russain boys choir sang at the white house,,, the russian orthodox mission church had very well placed contacts, unfortunately the revolution came and we lost all of our clout. then in the 40's we began to try aga9n, our bishops united behind becoming recognied as a fouth major faith ,,, then instead of standing fast and moving forward we allowed forign intrigue to inflitrate our churches - and i blame bishops, clergy, and laity for this,, we lack leadership, we lack one voice ,,, instead of learning from the protestants and roman catholics as how to be successful in our beloved United States, we continue to critice them and we retreated into our ethnic ghettos,,, then when the oca was created we had the golden opprotunity to get on the bandwagon and become a recognized united american church, with one recognized leader,, yet we retreated again back to the eighteenth century and its byzantie politics.
    Now, the pope has to speak for us on the national level, the roman catholic bishops speak for us regarding covid 19 - i have yet to see one of our bishops on national tv talking about the crisis.

    this is not our government's fault, this is not our beoved president's fault,, remember rince prebus is greek orthodox and aziz is antionian orthodox,,, it us, laity, clergy, and bishops who have not supported these men, who have not gone to the white house, who have not been at the day of prayer in the rose garden,,,, where is our version of franklin graham? it is so typical of us to blame others as we reside on the sidelines doing nothing.
    God has given us the talent, God has given us the knowledge, why have we all not used it for the benefit of the church?
    We have not followed in the footsteps of st. paul. We need to missionaries, educators, and leaders - that is what a true christian is,,, but oops, pardon me, we are orthodox and our kinda people do not do that, such a tragedy ,,, my God help us to see our frailities and to enable us to improve.

    1. how is it not the president's fault or at least his lack of doing anything to at least say something publicly, when Erdogan publicly cited his reason for making HS into a mosque. Erdogan clearly said he did it as retaliation for Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moving the Embassy there.

  14. Klancko, are they examples of holiness that we should emulate? Power is nothing. "Power" comes and goes like the wind. Remember the Icon of St. Sisoes.

    You are coming at the problem from the wrong angle. You see it in terms of "influence," in terms of "numbers." Look at the Old Testament. The faithful in Israel were always a minority. To be a Christian is to be united with Christ. All of that other stuff you talk about comes from holiness. I agree with you that we need to get back to basics, but I disagree with you on where that leads. If we are holy, then all that other stuff can be cast in the fire to be burned. If God wills us to have a Church, we will have it. If not, then not. Our business is to be holy, and then we'll see what happens.

  15. the operative word is Holy,, I do not see us as being holy,,, I do not see us emulating Christ,, I do not see us living according to christian teachings,,,,, for if we did, we would be united, as one holy eastern orthodox christian church in the usa, but alas we are not. we act like brats unable to play with each other in the sand box. if we were truly holy, we would have hospitals, schools, and charitable outreach in our communities, we would not be russian, greek, ukrainian, etc we would be orthodox christians. and all of this takes leadership. we need to face the reality that we are no longer respected in this country, and perhaps the world,, for it the case was different the pope would not have to issue a statement of importance regarding hagia sophia,, and franklin graham would not need to need to meet the president or set up a hospitl in central park,,,we would,,,but alas we have not invested in being christians nor part of the fabric of this great country - and for this i weep. it is time for us to face the elephant in the room.

  16. We don't need to be "respected" to be holy. The "respect" of the world has strings attached, and is more often than not, a tool of the Enemy.

    If we were holy, a united American Church is a likely fruit of it, but one does not necessarily follow from the other, especially if it is not God's will for it to be so. Parishes all over the world do good things, as best they can (if they hold back, that is for Our Lord's judgement, not ours).

    I don't think the answer is imitating the Catholics and Protestants, or being more "American." What does that even mean, anyway? The GOA did that quite a bit under Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory, and with what result? (I don't have an opinion, as it isn't as bad or as good as anyone says)

    What has happened to their hospitals and schools? They have done a lot of good deeds, but what has come of it? I think we can always learn something from others, but not necessarily along the lines you are thinking of.

    Orthodoxy in America is a part of of the fabric of America. What that actually means depends on who you talk to.

  17. So me one thing comparable to what that Maronite layman Danny Thomas did or what Franklin Graham has done to provide Christian service to mankind

  18. Klancko, we're not here to serve mankind. We're here to serve God. If we serve God with our hearts and souls, then mankind will be served as a fruit of our devotion to the Lord. You're coming at the problem backwards. It is the same mistake the Catholics and Protestants made, separating holiness and "social work" when the latter flows from the former, and not the reverse.

  19. Give me one example how we are serving God and how the two examples I gave are not,,,,,we love to shift the responsibility and we love to close our eyes to reality ,,, we are not following in the footsteps of st Paul are we?

    1. You are missing my point. I argue that your very conception of what it means to "serve God" is flawed. In short, I reject the premise of your argument. Being Chaplains for the American order is not "serving God" in itself (Good fruit may come of it, but one doesn't necessarily flow from the other).

      As for the problems in the Church, we shouldn't be surprised at all. The Holy Fathers knew and said as much, that in the last days, just being a faithful Christian will be an ascetic feat that will dwarf everything that has come before.

      Perhaps those days are upon us. I contend that the era of the "grand gesture" is coming to an end. With the death of the "public square" and complete distortion of reality (with its attendant prelest), just simply affirming the truth of Christ will take everything we have with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

      We are not in the era of St. Paul. We are in the era of St. Kosmas Aitolos. The Turkish Yoke provides us with a historical example. An uneasy existence with the governing power that could be cordial at times but under the shadow of an unmitigated hostility that can flare up at a seconds notice.

      We know who we are and Who we serve. In the days to come, that will be everything. As I said, the Holy Fathers foretold this.

  20. Your polemics are the reason we are dying on the vine,,,,excuses but no positive action,,,,time to prepare to go the way of the shakers

  21. Klancko,

    This will be my last post to you on this.

    There is positive action all around if you care to look for it. The "action" you want is what has gotten Christianity in America into trouble. You want Orthodoxy to become "American."

    What does that even mean? We have English Liturgies and mission work (say what you want about the OCA, but they do the best job with this---Antioch is not far behind).

    We can make these accommodations (we have), and yet we are still in the state we are in. The Protestants and Catholics tried the "Come on In!" approach and they are still losing people.

    Why? That is the question you are not addressing. You seem to just want us to double down and do the same thing. "It will be different, because we are Orthodox!"


    The knife cuts both ways. We can wring our hands about what we are not doing, but people are choosing to turn away from Christ. We can open the door but we can't force them to come in. In Noah's day, the Ark was open to anyone who wanted to come in. But they all laughed.

    We do what we can and offer what we can. The rest is in God's hands.

    If America is becoming apostate and slipping into darkness, it is not up to us to "prevent that," but to offer a way out of the darkness.

    As I said in another post, we need to face the truth that maybe the protesters are right, but not in the way they think. The foundation is rotting.

  22. And we are allowing it to continue to continue to rot. This was not the case in the 40s and 50s,,,,that is the elephant in the room

  23. Klancko,

    Truly my last post to you.

    The 40s and 50s?! This is exactly the problem. Thank you for posting this.

    Nostalgia Nostalgia Nostalgia. THIS is what is poisoning the American Christian witness and America in general. The America that you are holding on to is dead (if it ever lived at all). It is no different than nostalgia for the Byzantine Empire or "Holy Rus."

    It's poison. It's from the Enemy. Reject it. Accept God's judgement on the United States, whatever it is. If we are to be destroyed, then we know that it is God's will. If we are saved, it is on account of the 10 righteous. Let's not kid ourselves. There are secret saints in America right now who have saved us from destruction by their prayers.

    Holiness, Klancko. Nothing else but personal holiness.

    You can have the last word, May Our Lord bless you.