Wisdom for Orthodoxy in America (Schmemann) part 1
- ...in America [there is a] rupture between the Orthodox world view and the
secularistic culture is so radical that the former finds virtually no "point
of application," and the language by which it is transmitted, that of the
Liturgy, spirituality and ethics, remains "alien," even if it is English. As
the integration of the formerly "immigrant" community into American culture
and into the "American way of life" progresses, there develops a truly
schizophrenic situation in which deep attachment to Orthodox symbols and
"externals" (e.g., worship, music, architecture) easily coexists with an
almost totally secularistic philosophy of life. Needless to say, such a
situation cannot last long, and a mere faithfulness to Orthodox externals
will not save Orthodoxy from being dissolved sooner or later into that
peculiar blend of secularism and vague religiosity which seems to emerge as
a new pattern of American religion. To those who have ears to hear and eyes
to see, it is already abundantly clear that in America one cannot be
Orthodox by "osmosis." A spiritually alien culture makes Orthodoxy here a
challenge, and the faith, if it is to be true to itself, must be consciously
accepted, clearly understood in its implications for life, and constantly
defended against the pressures of secularism.
Fr. Alexander Schmemann
from "The Task Of Orthodox Theology In America Today" St Vladimir's Seminary
Quarterly, 1966, Vol. 10, No. 4
submitted by your servant,
Fr. John Brian
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Mission
- Dear All,
The act of cursing and the result of curses were seen in the Bible at
171 places. Yehova cursed serpant first after the creation. A series
of curses is witnessed later. But at the end "Christ redeemed us from
the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." Galatians 3:13. Our
Lord asked us to bless those who curse us (Romans 12:14; Luke
6:28). Therefore, there is no place for curse in the Church.
Nevertheless it can cause certainly "If any one does not LOVE the
Lord - curse be on him." I Corinth 16:22. Jesus one day cursed the
fig tree (Mark 11:21) The fig tree is an innocent plant that knew
only to give more than recieving. The only defect it had was it was
fruitless when Lord came to it. It could be non-seasonal. Don't know why the
Lord became so harsh on that poor plant.
We may get curses 1) if we do not Love God 2); if we become fruitless.
Today it is a classic example. There is no LOVE and no fruits. How
can we be sure that we may not earn 'CURSES'? How can we hope that He
will come again to bear our 'curses' on the cross? The only recourse
could be "LOVE". We can certainly win over the curses with LOVE.
- Are we consensus builders..
Mr George Varghese of Calgary has put together some views on consensus for
our parishes. The reproduction from the Esatern Orthodox Church also throws
some light on consensus building. Most of us living in North America one way
or another get involved in consensus building /dispute resolution activities
through work, unions, associations or by profession. And the mechanism
works. But when it comes to our parishes or dioceses or the Mother Church
itself, the consensus building does not work.One would wonder why? We do not
respect the institutions and principles that are precondtions to the
functioning of a consensus building process as I see it.
Let us take the principle number three, in the Eastern Church
If one person believes that his/her view is the right view and it has to be
heard,our parishes do not offer an opportunity to express that opinion and
allow that person to articulate his/her belief and convince others to accept
his/her thesis. That would require calling of a proper meeting. an impartial
and non intervenining chair and a peer group willing and respectful of
another individual's right to stand up for what he/she believes in. How many
of our parishes follow a proper format or some rules of procedures when
conducting any meetings including managing committee meetings or Parish
Assembly meetings. Generally speaking vicars by virtue of the office also
become that chairs of these meetings. They come with a personal agenda for
their survival and agenda dictated to them from outside vested interest. He
is not interested in any consensus building if there is problem. Several
examples can be sited here from our parishe's experiences. Even if 100%
majority is there in a committee meeting it is overruled with out any
Thanks and regards
George Mathew Panicker
- Dear Br.Gejoe Daniel,
In response to �The book is "Christava Sabha �Erupathu
Noottandukaliloode"(The Christian Church through 20 centuries) -a malayalam book written by Mr.J.C .Dev who is a member of Brethren (protestant )�
Kindly request you to not to encourage Gnostic works because there are several ordinary people are subscribing this forum, this may lead others to fall and we would be responsible for their division. If you wish to debate or get response from our church leaders kindly contact them directly with an open mind,I am sure that you will have the right answer with right backups.
Hebrew 6 : 1-2
1Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
4As they travelled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
2Peter 2 :3
In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
The Gnostics from the second centuries considered the organized church as un faithful, as teaching something else than what Christ taught just as many Christians today. All these Christian Gnostic writings show this tendency of criticizing the official church as heretical, while setting themselves as true Christians.
Gnostic preferred individualist, interiristic, and intellectualistic interpretations of Christianity and did not want to associate with ordinary Christians or with their community. The Gnostics were anti church ,anti clerical, antisacramentarian as many Christians today.Ref. Dr.PMG-A Human God.
Matt 7: 15,16
15"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
If you happend to adopt their faith kindly test fruit produced by J.C Dev and his team which includes Br.Vadavana, Br.Mike Grendon
6By their fruit you will recognize them.
Please try first to smell the Jasmine flowers from your own church on kneel, which is a difficult task, then you smell the neighbors garden recognize the difference.
� Don�t be too sure your self even the way looks easy; always watch where you are going� Sirach 32:21,22.
Please forgive me Jesus, if my words hurt any one.
- --- In IndianOrthodox@yahoogroups.com, "George Mathew" wrote:
> Dear ThomasDear George, What you discussed in the later part of your mail is most
> Thank you very much for the clarification. I am not so sure
> whether we need to rely on the 'discoveries' of Fr.V.C. Samuel to
> understand the tradtion in which we are brought up.The Bible that I am using
> is a book written in simple language and is easily understandable to any
> sensible person who has got basic language skills.Unlike Getha or
> Mahabharat,it was not written for the intellectuals.The people who followed
> the Lord were also mostly not intellectuals.They were simple souls like
> Peter and Mary Magdalene.
> George Mathew Panicker
important. I hope our bishops are aware of the issues facing the
church. The reason why we do not see this happening (or happening
with a lesser magnitude) in India is because of our Indian culture,
which believes in conservative family values. In the West,
irrespective of the claimed Christian background and high Evangelism,
family life is disintegrating. Now, this is effect is spreading to
Indian also. Media plays a major role in the spread of culture. Again
this proves one thing, that the path to salvation is not an individual
act, but it involves the self, the family and the society.
I don't believe that fishermen, farmers etc. lack in intellect.
Intellect is not related to the profession, but it is a gift from God.
Not everyone get the chance to become an Engineer or Doctor, but that
is no proof that they lack in intellect. We also see not so gifted
people achieving great results through hardwork. In Matthew 25 we see
the parable of the talents.
Regarding Holy Bible, I don't think it is always a simple book. While
there are simple passages like the "beatitudes", "Lords Prayer", the
new commandments" etc., which are for every person, there are also
very complicated verses. Some of the explanations of Apostle Paul are
not very easy to understand for common man. He is considered a
theologian, one who explained the faith in great detail for the first
time. It is a typical liberal Western tendency to consider the entire
Bible a simple book and interpret it with ease, according to
convenience of the interpreter. There was one pastor shown in TV,
throwing the Bible in to air, while interpreting it.
I think the Bible is for every one. Like St. Gregory of Nyssa says, a
verse is like a peacock feather, giving different colors at different
Those who learned from Fr. V.C. Samuel agree that his style was
simple. He had the gift of explaining deeper mysteries in simple ways.
He also wrote news testament Bible studies which is used for
"Divyabodhanam" studies. He was a true Acharya, with special gifts
from God. H.G. Paulos Mar Gregorios also wrote very inspiring bible
studies. Thus, they both produced something for every one.
The Geetha is also for common Hindus. This is why ordinary Hindus read
it for inspiration. There are very simple passages in Geeta. A passage
from Geeta: "To work alone you have the right, but never claim its
results. Let not the result of actions be your motive, nor be attached
to inaction." In most books, there is something for everyone.
- This has reference to the posting of Mr. Shaji Varghese regarding a recent
sponsored supplement in 'Malayala Manorama-KTM edition' by the Jacobite
parish in Dubai. I endorse his views on the subject and thank him for
bringing up the issue. There are ample reasons to consider that it was
the latest deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the Malankara
Orthodox Church, founded by St. Thomas, the Apostle who shed his blood for
establishing the church(He is still interceding for all his children
including those who try to insult him directly or indirectly and knowingly
or unknowingly) The following are some observations:
-The Jubilee of the captioned parish was celebrated months before and
there was no relevance to have a supplement published after many months
connecting the incident. It would have been relevant had it been published
-Even illiterate people would comply with certain codes of conduct and
etiquette when dealing with important issues. Contrary to all ethics, the
language used was below average and obviously revealed the interest and
culture of the promoters. (The Catholicate supporters were called
'Maruthalipukar" which can mean the mean dissidents/ opponents)
-It was surprising to see some statements without any base or drops of
truth in it. The plot of land where the Dubai Orthodox church is situated,
was a magnanimous gift by the then generous ruler,(Late) His Highness
Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum to the Indian Orthodox church some 35
years back, which was obtained through the good offices and kind efforts
of H.G. Mathews Mar Coorilose(the present Catholicose H.H. Baselios Mar
Thoma Mathews II). The initial church building was consecrated by (Late)
H.G. Joseph Mar Pachomeos and the new bigger church building built at the
same site after demolishing the old one was consecrated by H.H. Bava
Thirumeni in 1992.Even if all the genuine documents are discarded for
argument's sake, the photograph showing the two great personalities(H. H.
The Catholicose -the then HG Mar Coorilose &(Late) His Highness Sheikh
Rashid) together during the audience that Bava Thirumeni had with the
Sheikh is a living monument of the bondage which the Church had been
maintaining with the Rulers & ruling families. In the supplement it was
mentioned that the church was taken over by the Malankara Orthodox church
from the Antiocheans & supporters!! This is a good example how
crystal-clear facts are distorted even now. (See how the truth is hidden
intentionally and how baseless, untrue, meaningless, blind and childish
statements are published in an irresponsible manner ) . However hard one
tries to hide the truth, glimpses of reality tend to appear somewhere - It
was mentioned also that while the Jacobite congregation was formed 25
years back, with 7 founding members. If that was the strength of the
congregation before 25 years, would there have been anybody at all
before 35 years?
- Mentioning of the historical facts about the church was even worse. The
establishment of the church by Apostle St. Thomas in AD52 is vague, 1600
years of the relations with the Persian church is completely
ignored/omitted whereas 330 years of contact with the West Syrian church
is unproportionately magnified.
A word about Malayala Manorama as well. The present day management should
not have completely forgotten Pulikkottil Thirumeni's initiative to
publish the paper from Kunnamkulam during the ban by Sir CP in Travancore
and Malankara Sabha's initial involvement in the shares of the Press and
property.To put it very mildly, "The prevailing policy of the Paper may be
looked upon as an insult to the brilliant, towering personality of Sri
K.C. Mammen Mappillai, who led the Lay people of Malankara victoriously in
the most crucial times".
- Dear John Philipose's mention of "Avathar" that is of "the editor of the
Bible" prompted me to send my response to the "Avathar". This article of
mine, I wrote immediately after the ad in the Malayalam Pathram a few years
ago and was send to my email friends. I hope it will be eye openor to our
Holy Bible-Use or Misuse?
Malayalam Pathram dated Jan 3, 01 published a brief interview with �Brother
Mathews Varghese.� He is publishing Holy Bible in contemporary Malayalam.
New version contains special features namely, exposition on 66 books,
spiritual discourses, explanations, commentaries, comparisons, etc.
�Omniscient Lord made me aware of defects of existing Malayalam version.
Present Malayalam-CMS-edition contains many printing, spiritual, ideological
and linguistic errors. Many passages are contradictory, for example, 1 Sam
17:51 as compared to 2 Sam 21:29 and Gen 6:6 as compared to Num 23:19.
Linguistic expertise alone is not sufficient to translate the inspired Word
of God. Holy Spirit gives knowledge necessary for God�s works. This is
prepared by inspiration and guidance of Holy Spirit. I worked only as
revealed and entrusted by the Holy Spirit,� said Mr. Varghese.
It consoles me that at least now someone publicly accepted that �there are
many defects in the existing Malayalam edition.� My experience is,
Protestant-friends ridicule in utter disbelief when I talk about translation
errors in the Bible. The errors are curious not simply because of obsolete
usages but most of them are purposely added to aid protestant teachings. How
the new version deals with them?
The first translation from Latin/Greek to German, according to well-known
German Linguist Dr. Emsor, contained more than 4000 translation errors.
English translation carried even more errors than German. Church never
encourages private interpretations. Until the invention of printing press in
15th century Bible survived in manuscripts. About 24200 of them still
survive. It was heavy task to write by hand numerous copies of such
voluminous collection. Due to such scarcity few Bible copies were kept in a
prominent place in the church or monastery for public reading. It was enough
because of limited literacy. Protestant propaganda that public was
prohibited to read Bible in �dark ages� is false and misleading.
Europe was under spell of feudal system in the medieval ages. Nobles and
clergies oppressed and exploited vassals or peasants who were also
restrained from learning. Roman Catholic was Europe�s religion. Church
hierarchy connived with the nobles; utterly misused the Bible dubiously
interpreting it to exploit the illiterate common man. Inquisitions are
infamous. �Sale of Indulgences� is best example, which said the dead soul
would escape punishment in the purgatory- purgatory itself was a novel papal
invention- and get admitted to heaven by paying to church estate value of
the deceased. Martin Luther, a German priest stoutly objected to these and
ultimately separated from Roman Catholic Church in the name of reformation.
Henry VIII of England fortified reformation by declaring himself as the head
of the Church of England to justify his marital acrimony. Thus more than
spiritual, political, social and economic factors contributed to
reformation. Pope�s monopoly was seriously impaired.
Martin Luther did not originally envisage break away from the Catholic
Church. Yet, he is discredited as having placed himself above Bible instead
of with it by free interpretation. Zwingli, Calvin, etc. followed Luther but
later broke away and considered obsolete the doctrines of the mother church
and introduced counter doctrines. It was difficult without amends made to
the Word of God. Thus free translations, commentaries and doctrines surfaced
from multifarious sources in such unbridled fashion and number that Luther
had to severely regret in his old age. Needless to say, many errors found
permanent place in the new translations.
Reformation was chiefly aimed at and directed against newfound doctrines,
utter disregard to true spirit of the Gospels, lust for worldliness and
formidable political ambitions of Roman Church and the way Pope handled
crucial issues affecting the common man.
While Luther�s best intentions are never at doubt what proved highly
regrettable and irreconcilable folly was the failure of reformation leaders
to come back to the original faith (Orthodox). Instead, they gradually and
steadily went off drifting from the right faith that was alive at all times
and disintegrating to their own regret into small schismatic factions
namely, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Reformed, Anabaptist, Amish, Mennonite,
Quaker, Anglican, Puritan, Baptist, Methodist, and the list goes. According
to one estimate there are about 22000 independent denominations and the list
swells @ one addition each week based on the same Bible and all claim,
Another grave folly that Luther committed was rejecting the authority of the
church over Scriptures. He denied equal status to Apocrypha books and wanted
to delete certain books that went counter to his teaching. Thus there are
variations in the contents of various early translations such as, Wycliffe
Bible (1382), Luther�s Bible (1534), Zwingli�s Zurich Bible (1535),
Calvinist Olivetan Bible (1535), Coverdale�s English Bible (1536), Great
Bible (1540), Bishop�s Bible (1568), KJV (1611), etc. I am deliberately
omitting versions after KJV lest it would be too lengthy and unnecessary.
Again, I decline to talk now about Bible of Jehovah Witness, Mormons or
Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints, Christian Scientists,
Unitarians, etc because although such sects had their origin from
Christianity, they are not Christians. A Christian is the one who believes
in Triune God and confesses that Jesus Christ is God the Son, Lord and
Savior as declared in the Nicene Creed.
People from the beginning constantly meddle with Scriptures against its very
spirit. Faithfulness and accuracy of �brother Mathews Varghese version� is
yet to be seen. Like all others in this predicament he repeatedly claimed,
�Holy Spirit entrusted and guided the work.� I do not discredit his
integrity. Yet, I have genuine doubts as to why one should go of his own
when the very thing he explores is currently available. Dr Kurian
Corepiscopa recently accomplished a yeoman task, translated the whole Bible
directly from the most ancient, authentic, error-free and popular
�Syriac-Peseetho� to Malayalam. This version is most competent, authentic
and valid because Supreme head of the Church permitted and Bishops, teachers
and experts certified it and published under the auspicious of most ancient
and authentic Syrian Orthodox Church.
Holy Bible and history bear witness to numerous instances when Holy Spirit
inspired people for certain tasks. Jesus Christ in the form of heavenly
light confronted Saul of Tarsus at the gate of Damascus. Saul did not
straight go to preach instead, he proceeded to Ananias. Ananias, as Lord
instructed, laid hands on Saul and Saul was filled with Holy Spirit. Then he
visited and acquainted with Peter. After praying and fasting the Church laid
hands on Saul and Barnabas and sent them for missionary work. Despite the
fact that Jesus directly appointed Saul as His �chosen vessel� Saul did not
claim self-ordination or self-appointment instead, he submitted to Church
authority AA Ch 9, 13:2.
St. Augustine of Hippo who lived in the 4th century, as a young man led a
filthy, sensuous worldly life, staunchly advocating Donatism. But when he
came into grip with the Word of God, instead of taking authority upon
himself or initiating new movement, submitted to bishop St. Ambrose who
encouraged him to grow in faith. He finally became the most brilliant
theologian, author and committed bishop in the Church second only to St.
Paul. Christendom is adorned with so many glittering silver stars like Mor
Burdono, Mor Aphrem, St. Francis, Fr. Damien, Mother Theressa, etc who in
humble submission their calling and in perfect obedience to the discipline
and authority of the Church lived and died serving the Lord, the Church and
the humanity. Sectarianism and division are offspring of Protestantism.
I see two extreme types of people 1, ultra-conservatives who are critical
about everything from spirituality to Church authority, making themselves
judges, deciding whom and what to accept or reject and 2, ultra-radicals who
reject very principle of institution and assess everything according to
their own notion and insight. In the case of Bible and tradition �they take
a little piece and spurn the whole.� Both are misguided enthusiasm, contrary
to fundamental doctrine, faith of our fathers and Christian virtue:
So if one feels Holy Spirit called, it is noble and praiseworthy, and indeed
he or she deserves full encouragement, let him/her first learn to submit to
the Church authority. Church is the body and Christ is the head. It is
everyone�s duty to obey the God-given authority, 1 Pe 2:13. If, on the
contrary, one feels he is called to go alone and start independent movement
under whatever pretext then we ought to think what kind of spirit is behind
Fr. John KK, Vicar.
01/23/01.(originally written on)
- Dear Dr. George K. John,
In your article you mentioned about the lack of interest people showed
in knowing the mysteries of God while Jesus was alive. I always wished if I
was alive at that time so that I could ask him several questions and clear
all my doubts. But now I have the satisfaction as if I lived with Jesus
after reading the five thousand pages' book named "The Poem of the
Man-God"(five volumes) by Maria Valtorta. It is not a fiction; It is the
narration of the visions experienced by the author between the years of
1943-1947 while she was on her death bed as a young lady. The visions start
with the life of Virgin Mary's parents and end with the assumption of Virgin
Mary and the Acts of the Apostles. She wrote down everything as if she is
watching a videotape. This is the most exciting book I have ever read in my
life, which made Jesus my closest friend in my life. I advise the whole
world to read it. I know how hard it is to read all that because I took
almost three years to finish it. Once I started reading, I could not stop
reading. Because of the difficulty of making people read it, I have made
two articles on it.
The first article I wrote is on Virgin Mary(fifteen pages). The second
article is "Answers to the Mysteries of God". I wrote 22 pages already. I
have to write another 8 more pages. If anybody has the desire to read
it(which I wish), please request to me at my E-mail:
sunnycicily @..., and I will E-mail it to you. Thank you.
Staten Island, NY
- Christ Is Risen! Truly He Is Risen!
"Whether a habit is good or bad, time nourishes it, just as wood feeds a
fire. Thus, so far as we can, we should cultivate and practice what is good,
so that it becomes an established habit operating automatically and
effortlessly when required. It was through victories in small things that the
fathers won their great battles."
St. Peter of Damaskos.
"Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your
heart." Psalm 37:4
- My Daughter (2months Old) is suffering from severe heart problem. Her arteries were not properly working; she was in I.C.U for the last 3 days. Yesterday she was baptized in hospital itself. My special request to all our IOF members: please remember my daughter and our family in your prayers.
Alex Thomas - Mumbai, India