It would seem that I am a poor predictor of outcome, for lack of a better term. And given my numerous, varied and eclectic delvings into the depths of human psychopathology and depravity, I certainly do not consider myself naïve. Nevertheless, my ventures into the the world of the Orthodox Christian internet fora and the mysteries of “anonymous” and distanced interactions never ceases to surprise, if not shock me. So, I thought I would share some of the responses to my “critique” in the previous post of the response of the Russian Orthodox in San Francisco to a small protest of gay activists over the perceived symbioses or the Russian Church & Russian government that has resulted in violence against LGBT citizens.
I took this criticism quite personally for a number of reasons, one being a “relationship.” Again, I question in my own mind the fact that real relationships, first & foremost, are founded in trust, dignity, & respect: ask first, confront later. Secondly, while the bishops had no conflict in accepting praise for their “moral authority” in taking these actions by name, several were offended that I had “shamed” them by name. Go figure. For the record, I did seek the advice of several bishops and priests – advice, not endorsements – before posting. Thirdly, the implication of “self-aggrandizing” is so ludicrous as to border on fantasy. One cafone commented that “you’re trying to make a name for yourself because Syosset left you in the dust.” Madonna mia! Did I miss the posting, “Chancery needs field hand?” And finally, while I may be “hot-headed” and reactive, I have lived with and witnessed this lack of charity and tolerance my whole life. My father was friends with a Juvenile Court judge when I was growing up, and tried to bring a handful of adolescents from the jail to our parish as often as he was allowed. The reaction and scorn of parishioners that he was bringing “delinquents” – African-American & Hispanic at that – and sitting in the front pew was initially confusing to him; he believed it be a “safety issue.” When, finally, the priest explained it was a racial issue, it literally brought him to tears, and then anger. He stopped bringing them, stood in the back, and never spoke to the people who complained.
More than a few comments focused on the presumed, stereotypical character of the protesters themselves:
“Had they asked the Church to condemn the acts of thugs who beat up homosexuals, they would likely have gotten a positive response?” Ummm… I wouldn’t bet on this with your money. No, sir. Sorry.
Customarily in the fora, topics become “hijacked,” and mine headed off in the direct of President Putin and the relationship of church & state in Russia:
My resonse to a rush of these comments was to say that:
But there is. however, good news, in the form of an Orthodox hierarch who responded:
So much drama, so much bluster, so much fear. And for what?
I began by quoting this story of Jesus and this woman accused of adultery. What is so moving for me in this story is that this agitated, “seductive” crowd receives the silencing “smackdown”: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” They slowly dissipate to silence, and as St. John describes the scene, “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said to her, ‘Woman, where are those your accusers? has no man condemned you?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.’” Now, many would end this scene at the words, “Neither do I condemn you.” The nouveaux–Orthodox – waiting to pounce like Zola, “Aha! J’accuse!- to disrupt the pastoral transcendence of this moment by shouting, “He said sin no more!” as if validating your parking receipt. Is the implication “never sin in your life again?”: (Go) πορεύου, (and) καὶ (from) ἀπὸ τοῦ (now, from this point) ) νῦν (no more, no further) μηκέτι ([commit] sin) ἁμάρτανε. It seems more reasonable to conclude that, like for all of us, the true intent is marvelously summarized in the Rite of Confession:
Who could not imagine that, whenever tempted, this woman could not help but recall her “confrontation” of loving charity and tolerance at the peaceful hands of this stranger on the Mount of Olives.
In my estimation, that is what should have been the message to the Castro – when you feel persecuted and otherwise rejected – the Russian Orthodox Church, while affirmatively and unchangingly standing by it ancient theological & anthropological principles, is always charitable, always intolerant of persecution, always intolerant of hate, is always a haven in heartless world.