Saturday, August 7, 2021

The Burning Bush Brotherhood statement

This has been sent widely around the Internet. It has been panned as overly ornate or out-of-touch by some and lauded as a clarion call to the clergy and laity of the Church by others. It is certainly hard to digest without being moved one way or another. Read it for yourself. Their website is here.

Below is a snipper of the letter available in full at Orthodox Reflections.


Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

We write this letter in anguish and pain of heart, carrying a burden we have borne in silence for too long. Today we write with boldness, a boldness that is found not in ourselves but in our desire to hold fast to the Holy Traditions of our beloved Orthodox Faith—the true medicine of the world. We write as a brotherhood of clergy in America not bound by jurisdiction or diocese. The fires of current trials have brought us together, and our brotherhood has been forged in tears, brokenness, and prayer. It is in the ashes of what this past year and a half has wrought that we have felt the disruption of the Church at many levels, but have found like-minded brother priests whose resurrectional joy, silent suffering, and confessor-like endurance kept the spark of zeal ignited. Sadly, because of the nature of our testimony, we cannot publicly disclose ourselves, but we judge our voice to be a necessary voice crying in the wilderness out of love and pain for the Church. We are keeping anonymity not on account of cowardice but for the reason we have been silent for many months: we have deep concern what may happen to our flocks if we are identified. Truly, a lamentable predicament to be in! It is the suffering cries of the laity and our flocks, however, that have inspired us to speak out with a necessary tone of repentance and healing. We will address the laity whom we have neglected, exhort our brother priests to awake, and exhort our beloved fathers and chief hierarchs to fervent apostolic witness.

Firstly, to the faithful. The past year has revealed much in our hearts. It would be easy to place the blame on some outside circumstances or some other person—society at large or authorities in the government or in the Church. Yet we acknowledge that, above all else, sin starts in our own hearts. Above all else, we are personally responsible for the shortcomings and failings that the Lord has laid bare. It is He who has allowed the many tribulations and temptations of the past year on account of our many sins. These trials are for our chastisement and healing; they are for the turning of our hearts back once again to the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe, as the saints testify, “Because of your sins the Lord has allowed this trouble to come upon you, because you keep forgetting God” (St. John of Kronstadt).

As clergy, we take responsibility for the many stumbling blocks set before the flock of Christ the Lord, especially in the turbulent year 2020. We acknowledge that, in many ways, we, the clergy, acted out of weakness and ungodly fear. We humbly ask for forgiveness. We know that the actions of clergy made dire prophecies ring true. “The time will come when we will not find even a tiny piece of antidoron, and we will say to ourselves, ‘Where can I get a little antidoron? I used to have it every day.  I took and ate it by the handful. Where are you my little antidoron, that I might partake of you?’ The time will come when we will not have either antidoron or holy water.”

Forgive us for not sounding a clear call to repentance. Forgive us for closing churches in a time of deep spiritual need. Forgive us for limiting services and restricting attendance. Forgive us for turning the people of God away from Church and the Holy Mysteries in a time of profound need, effectively “not allowing those who are entering to go in.” Forgive us for allowing the altering of the mode of Holy Communion for fear of the spread of illness, such as the use of multiple spoons and the wiping of the communion spoon in a disinfectant. Forgive us for refusing in-person holy confession during a time of great crisis. Forgive us for forbidding the proper veneration of icons held by the Holy Fathers of the 7th Ecumenical Council, a veneration our forefathers and mothers shed blood for. Forgive us for making face-masks a requirement for entering the Holy Temple of our Lord. Forgive us for placing secular narratives above the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Faith...

Complete article here.


  1. Plenty of pietistic zeal, but wisdom? Masks are what woke these (alleged) clergy up to the secular falling away of the people?!?! Hard to believe, but I won't argue against it if true, except for this haphazard new theology of equating of masks and iconoclasm.

    Vinegar has been used as a disinfectant for the communion spoon since the plagues of the middle ages...strange this tradition has been around since long before masks and ecumenism.

    "Today, clergymen stand in awe at the evil that has escalated over this past year but have neglected to see the cosmic significance that our vocation plays in it..."

    This is all but an explicit sacerdotalism. The Real Symbol in/of Holy Liturgy has been battling this reduction to a *symbolism* within Orthodoxy for a very long time - Schmemann documents this reduction back into the middle ages when too many Orthodox accepted as a matter of course (and life) western categories of ontology/metaphysics not just intellectually, but (far more important) in life and heart. Even worse, behind this "divine lines of the Holy Liturgy" as this document puts it is the acceptance of the very secular categories (e.g. the world divided into secular and profane - such that temples and spoons are Immaculate Objects not tainted by original sin, the profane/secular, etc.) that they claim to be repenting of...


  2. The Burning Bush Brotherhood is breath of fresh air. Perhaps people can begin waking from this COVID nightmare and finally take a patristic stand for the Holy Orthodox Church. I am looking forward to more material from them.

  3. Thank you, Jake. Their excellent use of neuro-linguistic rhetoric did not made it reach the next neuron though.

    1. "neuro-linguistic rhetoric"

      Had not heard of this concept before Bozo2U, following it down the rabitt hole now... ;)

  4. It saddens me very greatly so see a letter like this. Priests need to obey their bishops. If they can't, they should resign.,bishop%20is%20to%20disobey%20Christ.

  5. But what if the bishops are errant or don't have a clue as to what is best.I have observed in many of the celibates such a trait. There needs to be a mutual respect and sensitivity. This is management 101. If the Bishop was not married, and if the Bishop was not a successful parish priest,,,then his is an out of context approach which can be lethal to the success of the clergy who are the Frontline contact with the laity. We are all fallible, the clergy and laity need to feel free to air their grievances. I have known many clergy who incurred the wrath of their myopic bishop. There are many good bishops and many good managers,, however there are some in the teal world and the religious world who need to be chastised and even removed from office. A former professor of blessed memory one told me that the best thing czar Peter did as to abolish the patriarchate because it eliminated a lot of the administrative ills and biases. Every management system is corrupt, that is the nature of humanity,, however some are worse than others so there needs to be a safety net. I have seen fewer bishops chastised and deposed than I have seen managers fired. It seems that once you are a member of the sanctified bretheren, you are a member of the fraternity for life. This does not pass the sanity test. There have been many bishops in recent years ,,, circa 70 years, who were retired who should have been lacizied in the eyes of many clergy and laity but they were not. This is a black eye our collective church isn't it? Just think of those bishops who have brought scandal into the church, and those who were complicit. The list is very long. Just remember that our luminaries such as metropolitans platon, theophilus, leonty, Orestes, and makary we're all widowers.

  6. This is a very unfortunate appropriation of the Rugul Aprins movement.

  7. Unfortunate that such statements have to be made anonymously lest they suffer severe punishment for giving voice to a very real pain felt across the Church. But it is always encouraging to hear of more people who understand how much damage has been done by clergy embracing worldly policies antithetical to Orthodox worship.

    Sickness has always been a part of the Christian life, fear of death (and an incredibly unlikely percentage chance of it at that, less than 1%) has never been a Christian trait. Yet suddenly so many bishops and priests act as if our faith, our worship, is entirely secondary to making sure not a single person faces the mere possibility of getting sick.

    More lock downs are coming, they're already starting around the world, Australia is once again a prison colony, I pray this time more clergy realize that closing churches in times of trouble is not the answer. Withholding the mysteries is not the answer. Abandoning the flock is not the answer.

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  9. Fine be anonymous, but how many are in this so called brotherhood? The site has been up for 10 days. Does this group even deserve being engaged with or is the ortho-internet world going crazy over some lone figure writing in rhetorical prose?

  10. Kinda boring and patronizing. Get over yourselves, it's not all your fault. Laymen are free to choose and to demand as well. This was a new thing, an asymptomatic virus that is highly unpredictable. Let's move forward with sanity, not bemoaning the spilt milk.

  11. Whoever the person may be who wrote in the name of this brotherhood, his omnibus lamentation in very high-flown prose does not convince. If he had shown the discipline of posing a concise argument on a couple points he may have done better, but by conflating prophylactic measures against the pandemic with ecumenism and beyond, his argument quickly goes off the rails. Not that I agree with a single thing he wrote!

    This is a piece of propaganda for the new type of Orthodox zealot, who spiritual plant went to seed as it were sitting at home during lockdown last year, whose temporary discomfiture sheltering in safety while millions around him die of a novel disease feels intolerable, who casts about for enemies to blame for arranging some vast conspiracy. These are the people who scream for the punishment of Dr. Fauci, the nefarious plotter of their paranoid fantasies. They also rail at every clergyman and especially hierarch who feels responsible for the safety of his flock.

    This letter by the purported pious brotherhood (more likely one angry person) appears as just one more artifact of the crazy times, the insanity exacerbated by digital access to communication that always, by dint of the medium itself inflates every issue and seeks to conflate them inferring interconnection between events and phenomena as though there was a coordinated attack on all that is sacred. I am so very sick of this cant but I know it’s going to get much worse, much more strident as global crises multiply.

    1. "...inflates every issue and seeks to conflate them inferring interconnection between events and phenomena as though there was a coordinated attack on all that is sacred..."

      The Manichean impulse is behind this thinking is not Lance H.? From Scripture and the Fathers (and our own experience if we pay attention) we know that the Devil does not work by building up positive structure, empire, or grand conspiracy. Rather he works much more simply (and effectively) simply by confusion and suggestion ("you will not surely die, for God knows..."). We then take this false knowledge/discernment and using the power of our discursive reasoning- our "logic" - we (and not the devil) build grand structure and conspiracy that is simply not real, or as only as real as our sinful behavior makes it.

      The logical formulation of:

      masks = iconoclasm = ecumenism

      is as shallow and nonsensical as it appears (yet also "grand" and formidable - like any Big Conspiracy), and reveals the tendency and danger of the "Traditionalist" nous towards the Manichean error...

    2. Nailed it Jake! The same voice that says, “space is fake”. The question we should ask is, “cui bono?” when confronting Traditionalism. Not be of conspiratorial mindset myself, I’m stumped!

    3. "cui bono?", the devil in the end. Traditional*ism* in the end is not anti-intellectual or anti-reason, any more than Eve was in the garden. It just starts out with the devils presuppositions and reasons from there.

      Orthodox Liberalism and/or Progressivism is the same, such as GOA's/EP's/Archbishop Elpidophoros easy acceptance of Classical Liberalism's presuppositions around theological anthropology and "liberal" governance, church/state relationship, and (most importantly) how Orthodox Christians are supposed to relate to and live in "the world". Both are failure paths...

  12. The masks are demonic and useless. The vaccines are "leaky" and pushing variation. The social distancing and lockdowns are outright cruelty. "Two weeks to flatten the curve!" Does anybody seriously think this will ever be over--that the government will ever give up this awesome tool of social control?

    Eventually people are going to stop attending church after years of being told to treat their fellow humans as biological weapons and not to venerate, not to greet with a kiss of peace, no common bread, no common cup. After all, if masks, distancing, neurotic wipedowns, etc. are safe, not attending is even safer.

    The masks, distancing, awkward elbow-bumps, temperature checks, and the constant swabbing are actually a praxis of a new Science!-based religion.