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re: beards

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  • Don Hackenberry
    Dear All, I am very glad that Michael brought this subject up. It turns out that the tradition is a longstanding one. One of our group sent me a website
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 1, 2004
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      Dear All,

      I am very glad that Michael brought this subject up. It turns out that
      the tradition is a longstanding one. One of our group sent me a website
      address of interest: http://members.aol.com/jnsrca/rhb.htm. Cut off the
      part after the last slash and got to the index. There are other articles.
      Especially like barberism.jpg. Wonder who jnsrca is?

      Best,

      Don
    • Nikita Simmons
      Well, I m not sure who jnsrca is, but I have an idea. At any rate, the collection of quotes presents the foundations of the Old Believer teaching on having a
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 1, 2004
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        Well, I'm not sure who jnsrca is, but I have an idea. At any rate, the
        collection of quotes presents the foundations of the Old Believer
        teaching on having a beard. For the record, I will present the Old
        Believer teaching, although I must make the disclaimer that I'm only
        telling it like it is and I don't mean to make this an inflammatory
        issue. I merely wish to demonstrate what "Old Orthodox" Christians,
        who are outside the mainstream of Orthodoxy, teach and believe. (Of
        course, individual Old Believers are free to disagree with this
        teaching, since the legality of the Stoglav Council, the prime source
        for this Church legislation, has always been a bit controvertial.)

        No matter what Old Believer group you ask, priested or priestless, all
        agree that "bradobritie" (cutting the beard, which includes trimming
        it) constitutes heresy. A man who is clean-shaven is considered to
        have fallen away from the faith and to have entered a state of grave
        spiritual uncleanness. Such a person is not allowed to enter the nave
        of the church, but can only enter the narthex of an Old Believer
        church. He is not allowed to participate in any public prayers,
        including singing or making the Sign of the Cross (or even being
        censed by the priest), and other Old Believers are forbidden to sit
        down and eat with a clean-shaven man. Until he grows his beard back,
        he cannot receive any of the sacraments, and he can be buried only
        with a General Panykhida prayed at the cemetery.

        On the other hand, a man who trims his beard, even though it is full,
        can be admitted into the church and can participate in public prayer,
        but he is still cut off from taking Communion until he refrains from
        shaving entirely.

        First of all, I want to say that I am an Old Believer and am fully
        active in my community (and thus have an untrimmed beard), so I do
        have a certain amount of personal bias. But I do not feel that
        Orthodox Christian laymen are absolutely bound by any authority to
        have a beard, although we are strongly encouraged to have a beard for
        spiritual reasons. I would never dream of passing judgement onto those
        who choose to shave.

        Second, Old Believers throughout history have had a grave
        misunderstanding of what heresy is and what constitutes heresy. Our
        ancestors have also carried forward the teaching of someone being
        "spiritually unclean" on account of sins they have committed -- at
        least until they have refrained from what they are doing and have
        performed their penance. While this mind-set is a useful tool for
        coercing the faithful into adhering to behaviour which is proper for
        Orthodox Christians, it also alienates those who cannot meet the
        requirements, either willingly or through circumstances beyond their
        control. This system can be cruel in the hands of those who are not
        spiritually mature or lack compassion.

        Thirdly, the Scriptural, Patristic and legislative decrees about
        having a beard all fall short of being a dogmatic or doctrinal
        teaching of the Christian faith. It is merely a polemical issue and
        cannot be classified as anything else. Failure to comply cannot be
        considered as "heresy". Why? Because we are not bound by Old Testament
        legislation, nor are we currently bound by Byzantine secular
        legislation. There are no specific canons in the Rudder that specify
        that anyone except ordained clergy absolutely must have a beard.
        Although laity are encouraged to have beards for spiritual reasons,
        there are no canons strictly forbidding a layman from shaving. Old
        Believers have cited the Stoglav Council as an authoritative source,
        but the council fails to have acchieved any long-lasting recognition.

        Lastly, we must examine why this teaching has evolved. It is possible
        that monasticism has had some influence, but it does not seem to be
        the prime motivating factor. The primary reasons for the beard are as
        an outward symbol that one acknowledges God, that we are made in God's
        image, that our bodies contain the image of God and are therefore
        holy, and that after baptism we are also the temple of the Holy
        Spirit. To shave is to deface the image of God and disfigure the
        temple of the Holy Spirit. The secondary reason is to demonstrate to
        God that we accept God's will, and that we humbly accept ourselves
        just as God made us and intended our bodies to look. We accept our
        human nature with dignity and do not attempt to alter our appearance
        to please others and ourselves. (This also includes women not cutting
        their hair, refraining from wearing jewelry and makeup, and both sexes
        wearing modest clothing that will not lead others to be tempted by our
        appearance.) Often we do not care for a long scraggly beard or
        receding hairline or physical imperfections or overweight and sagging
        bodies, etc., however we as Christians have been taught by the
        Scriptures and by the Holy Fathers to not be concerned about such
        vanities, but to be humble in all things. (On the other hand, if one
        wears a beard with pride, he certainly has his priorities all messed up.)

        But for clergy to not have a beard, as the Rudder instructs, is just
        plain wrong. I'm sure it's just my Old Believer upbringing, but I have
        a hard time acknowledging a clean-shaven (or goateed) priest or bishop
        as a clergyman. (I admit that the thought makes me physically nauseous.)

        In Christ,
        Nikita Simmons

        P.S. I find that in the counties surrounding the area in Oregon where
        the Old Believers live, if you mention you are Russian when you apply
        for a job, and have a full beard for religious purposes, every effort
        will be made to accomodate you in the work place and no pressure will
        be put on you to trim. In fact, because the Russians are so well
        respected for their work ethics, many employers are very happy to have
        Russian Old Believers as employees. (Old Believer women wear the
        traditional floor-length sarafan and full head-covering to work each
        day, which also is something that employers must get used to.)

        P.P.S. I personally find that my long beard functions like a "litmus
        test" or "social filter". Those who look at me and judge me for having
        an unpleasant appearance are people I don't really need in my life
        anyway. But someone who looks at me and sees past the long beard has
        "passed the test". (And if they actually like my appearance, then this
        is not an entirely bad thing. <haha>)

        --- In ustav@yahoogroups.com, "Don Hackenberry" <donhackenberry@a...>
        wrote:
        > Dear All,
        >
        > I am very glad that Michael brought this subject up. It turns
        out that
        > the tradition is a longstanding one. One of our group sent me a website
        > address of interest: http://members.aol.com/jnsrca/rhb.htm. Cut
        off the
        > part after the last slash and got to the index. There are other
        articles.
        > Especially like barberism.jpg. Wonder who jnsrca is?
        >
        > Best,
        >
        > Don
      • sputnikpsalomschchika
        ... wrote: ...No matter what Old Believer group you ask, priested or priestless, all agree that bradobritie (cutting the beard, which includes trimming it)
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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          --- In ustav@yahoogroups.com, "Nikita Simmons" <starina77@y...>
          wrote:

          "...No matter what Old Believer group you ask, priested or
          priestless, all agree that "bradobritie" (cutting the beard, which
          includes trimming it) constitutes heresy. A man who is clean-shaven
          is considered to have fallen away from the faith and to have entered
          a state of grave spiritual uncleanness..."

          Obviously this practice is completely ignored in the OCA!

          I for one will never trim my beard until I die.

          Reader Michael Malloy
          Choir Director
          Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (OCA)
          Columbus Ohio
        • Daniel R. Palko
          I have found all this talk about beards to be very interesting. I only wish it had taken place about two weeks ago. I had a beard for about a year for
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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            I have found all this talk about beards to be very interesting. I only wish
            it had taken place about two weeks ago. I had a beard for about a year for
            reasons expressed quite well in this list. In march I was Baptized and
            Chris mated with a beard and I was thinking a beard to be a very Orthodox
            thing to do and I thought it to be an outward expression of an inward grace
            taking place in my life. I have however what I think to be a horrible
            beard; very stringy and not very attractive. Most of my friends hated it.
            My daughter also didn't like it.

            Most people (non-Orthodox) were encouraging me to shave it off because I
            looked like some kind of a nut. I resisted until I started to look for a
            new job and I did shave it off to make myself more presentable to would be
            employers. My thirteen year old daughter gave her dad a big hug. I was
            very ambivalent about shaving it off and I'm not sure I did the right thing,
            especially now given thread. The biblical injunctions are quite clear on
            this matter. Should I be thinking about throwing away my new razor and
            growing it back? Well, I haven't used it in two days...

            Daniel
          • holytransf@aol.com
            Dear Daniel, The blessing of the Lord be upon you. Congratulations on your reception into the Holy Church. May God grant you many years! As a neophyte and
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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              Dear Daniel,

              The blessing of the Lord be upon you.

              Congratulations on your reception into the Holy Church. May God grant you
              many years!

              As a neophyte and unemployed man with a 13 year old daughter you have more
              than enough on your plate right now. In regard to having or not having a beard;
              share your concern with your Spiritual Father -- I am sure he will give you
              Godly guidance.

              In Christ,
              Father Igumen Joseph +
            • Andrew Morbey
              I have had a beard for about 33 years, save for a few days after a good portion of it went up in smoke as I leaned over a candle in a restaurant. But I do trim
              Message 6 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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                I have had a beard for about 33 years, save for a few days after a good
                portion of it went up in smoke as I leaned over a candle in a restaurant.
                But I do trim my beard every couple of months, although it is a long beard
                even after trimming. Being a long-haired (even though there is very little
                hair left on the top) and a bearded priest - and generally considering this
                to be the proper 'image' of a priest - I have always been interested to
                follow and reflect on the idea. My reading thus far has led me to the
                following conviction.

                At some middle point in Byzantine history, some bearded urban or parish
                priests in Constantinople caused a bit of a scandal by affecting the style
                of ascetics, that is monks. They began to grow their hair and to stop
                trimming their beards. Up until this point the standard 'image' of the one
                who presides at the Liturgy was more along the line of a patrician, the head
                of a family, a member of the senate or of the local legislative or
                deliberative body. This image - and one can find the image in early icons,
                especially the Sinai icons, in funeral portraits and other 'secular' art -
                is certainly of a bearded figure with a certain 'gravitas'. But the beard is
                trimmed, not untrimmed, and the hair is also trimmed. The bishop - and the
                parish priest - cultivated not so much an ascetic 'wildness' as a patrician
                authority. He was part of an ordered social life, with it's typical visual
                clues in dress and hair -style with regard to social status, rather than a
                charismatic figure with typical ascetic indicators.

                Somewhere I think I read that one of the complaints about parish priests
                affecting the style of ascetics was that it was too attractive to pious
                women. Ascetics gathered groupies and formed small circles of followers,
                rather than maintained the public and institutional character of public
                worship.

                Another complain was that while for a real ascetic the untrimmed look
                represented a real break with the social order and a life of renunciation,
                for non-ascetics it was a form of play-acting.

                And finally, there was the hint that among such clergy the untrimmed was
                effeminate.

                There may also have been political overtones to the ascetic look. From time
                to time the Byzantine Church suffered various schisms and movements arising
                from an unhappy mix of civil and ecclesiastical conflicts and claiming the
                mantle of zealotry. The ascetic look was often a clear marker of where one
                stood. Of course, not all the church-political movements led to schism. The
                triumph of hesychasm, which we see as the proper 'development' or
                articulation of Orthodoxy, had strong ascetic leadership and the integration
                of hesychast clergy into the imperial church may well have legitimized the
                ascetic style as a clergy option.

                In short, I think that the basic or orginal 'image' of the bishop and parish
                priest not that of the ascetic or charismatic, but of the civic and family
                leader. At some point the ascetic style became fashionable and has continued
                to be so in many places.

                AA in M
              • kevin.claiborne@instinet.com
                But then again: St. Epiphanios of Cyprus:leaving long hair is a practice alien and against the spirit of the catholic Church; a man should not let his hair
                Message 7 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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                  But then again:

                  St. Epiphanios of Cyprus:leaving long hair is a practice alien and against
                  the spirit of the catholic Church; a man should not let his hair grow long
                  (Migne 42, 765-8)


                  Eustathius Bishop of Thessalonika (11th Century) "Those of you gathered
                  here who leave long hair trespass in a major way"


                  Canon 42 of the 6th Ecumenical Council:


                  An eremite dressed in black vesture and not having his hair cut, unless he
                  has his hair cut shall be expelled the city and be shut up in his
                  monastery.





                  And then there's Canon 21 of the same council:


                  Those who have become guilty of crimes against the canons, and on this
                  account subject to complete and perpetual deposition, are degraded to the
                  condition of layman. If, however, keeping conversion continually before
                  their eyes, they willingly deplore the sin on account of which they fell
                  from grace, and made themselves aliens therefrom, they may still cut their
                  hair after the manner of clerics. But if they are not willing to submit
                  themselves to this canon, they must wear their hair as laymen, as being
                  those who have preferred the communion of the world to the celestial life.





                  What does this mean ? Not much, except that standards of appearance for
                  clergy and laity change over time. I happen to wear a full beard (kept
                  trimmed), but this is a matter of personal taste. If I felt it was harming
                  my spiritual life I would certainly shave it.








                  KC





                  "Don Hackenberry" <donhackenberry@...> on 09/01/2004 11:06:23 PM

                  Please respond to ustav@yahoogroups.com

                  To: <ustav@yahoogroups.com>
                  cc:

                  Subject: [ustav] re: beards



                  Dear All,

                  I am very glad that Michael brought this subject up. It turns out that
                  the tradition is a longstanding one. One of our group sent me a website
                  address of interest: http://members.aol.com/jnsrca/rhb.htm. Cut off the
                  part after the last slash and got to the index. There are other articles.
                  Especially like barberism.jpg. Wonder who jnsrca is?

                  Best,

                  Don





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                • benjaminstell@aol.com
                  I think this issue is more on the order of straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel . It affects your appearance, not your heart. We re a religion of
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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                    I think this issue is more on the order of "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel". It affects your appearance, not your heart. We're a religion of grace, not law...I do think we're inclined to lose sight of that now and then. I have gone with and without a beard, and I think it's main effect was more on the people around me (i.e. their judgements), rather than me. It makes me wonder why the "new style" churches seem to be thriving more than the "old style" (mine is old, but I'm curious).

                    Reader Benjamin
                  • Kyril Jenner
                    ... From: Andrew Morbey To: Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 4:10 PM Subject: Re: [ustav] Re: beards ... this
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 13, 2004
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                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Andrew Morbey" <amorbey@...>
                      To: <ustav@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 4:10 PM
                      Subject: Re: [ustav] Re: beards


                      > I have had a beard for about 33 years, save for a few days after a good
                      > portion of it went up in smoke as I leaned over a candle in a restaurant.
                      > But I do trim my beard every couple of months, although it is a long beard
                      > even after trimming. Being a long-haired (even though there is very little
                      > hair left on the top) and a bearded priest - and generally considering
                      this
                      > to be the proper 'image' of a priest - I have always been interested to
                      > follow and reflect on the idea. My reading thus far has led me to the
                      > following conviction.
                      >
                      > At some middle point in Byzantine history, some bearded urban or parish
                      > priests in Constantinople caused a bit of a scandal by affecting the style
                      > of ascetics, that is monks. They began to grow their hair and to stop
                      > trimming their beards. Up until this point the standard 'image' of the one
                      > who presides at the Liturgy was more along the line of a patrician, the
                      head
                      > of a family, a member of the senate or of the local legislative or
                      > deliberative body. This image - and one can find the image in early icons,
                      > especially the Sinai icons, in funeral portraits and other 'secular' art -
                      > is certainly of a bearded figure with a certain 'gravitas'. But the beard
                      is
                      > trimmed, not untrimmed, and the hair is also trimmed. The bishop - and
                      the
                      > parish priest - cultivated not so much an ascetic 'wildness' as a
                      patrician
                      > authority. He was part of an ordered social life, with it's typical visual
                      > clues in dress and hair -style with regard to social status, rather than a
                      > charismatic figure with typical ascetic indicators.
                      >
                      > Somewhere I think I read that one of the complaints about parish priests
                      > affecting the style of ascetics was that it was too attractive to pious
                      > women. Ascetics gathered groupies and formed small circles of followers,
                      > rather than maintained the public and institutional character of public
                      > worship.
                      >

                      Long hair was originally not ascetic but an affectation of the Byzantine
                      aristocracy at a certain period. As a relatively large proportion of the
                      monks in Constatinople came from this class it was subsequently adopted by
                      monastics against the previous tradition of being tonsured.

                      Archimandrite Kyril Jenner
                    • James Morgan
                      Father, bless! In other words, long hair is an innovation ? Rdr. James Olympia, WA ... From: Kyril Jenner [mailto:kyril@mynachdysantelias.fsnet.co.uk] Sent:
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 13, 2004
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                        Father, bless!

                        In other words, long hair is an 'innovation'?

                        Rdr. James
                        Olympia, WA

                        -----Original Message-----
                        From: Kyril Jenner [mailto:kyril@...]
                        Sent: Monday, September 13, 2004 1:33 PM
                        To: ustav@yahoogroups.com
                        Subject: Re: [ustav] Re: beards

                        Long hair was originally not ascetic but an affectation of the Byzantine
                        aristocracy at a certain period. As a relatively large proportion of the
                        monks in Constatinople came from this class it was subsequently adopted by
                        monastics against the previous tradition of being tonsured.

                        Archimandrite Kyril Jenner
                      • cjomlc@juno.com
                        In regards to Nikita s wonderful explanation of his (Orthodox, Old Believer s) view of beards and why they should be grown I had a question. Forgive me, I
                        Message 11 of 12 , Sep 14, 2004
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                          In regards to Nikita's wonderful explanation of his (Orthodox, Old Believer's) view of beards and why they should be grown I had a question. Forgive me, I have been away for a week and a half and was not able to write sooner.


                          The main reason given was that we should be as God made us, so if we have a beard we grow it, if it is scraggly we let be as it is. I find it beautiful, but would that apply to everything that God gave us? Should we not cut our nails, either?

                          Christopher
                        • frjsilver@optonline.net
                          Dear Friends -- It might be helpful to remember a few principles regarding our practice of the Faith: 1. Everything we do -- without exception -- was at one
                          Message 12 of 12 , Sep 14, 2004
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                            Dear Friends --

                            It might be helpful to remember a few principles regarding our practice of the Faith:

                            1. Everything we do -- without exception -- was at one time an innovation, never having been done before.

                            2. Some innovations were good, and some not so good. The retention or rejection of an innovation is not necessarily an indication of its value, high or low. What seems to count is its popularity, not its integrity or coherence with the Tradition as a whole.

                            3. We should not receive practices uncritically, but rather seek to learn their meaning and application.

                            4. We should not be afraid to innovate practices which have integrity and are consonant with the Tradition, and to leave off practices which are not. This requires study and prayer, and will not be served by blind prejudice for or against things we don't know or don't like.

                            The Church is alive and --we hope -- growing!

                            Lord, save us through Your Cross and Resurrection!

                            Peace and blessings to all.

                            Monk James



                            ----- Original Message -----
                            From: James Morgan <rdrjames@...>
                            Date: Monday, September 13, 2004 11:38 pm
                            Subject: RE: [ustav] Re: beards

                            > Father, bless!
                            >
                            > In other words, long hair is an 'innovation'?
                            >
                            > Rdr. James
                            > Olympia, WA
                            >
                            > -----Original Message-----
                            > From: Kyril Jenner [kyril@...]
                            > Sent: Monday, September 13, 2004 1:33 PM
                            > To: ustav@yahoogroups.com
                            > Subject: Re: [ustav] Re: beards
                            >
                            > Long hair was originally not ascetic but an affectation of the
                            > Byzantinearistocracy at a certain period. As a relatively large
                            > proportion of the
                            > monks in Constatinople came from this class it was subsequently
                            > adopted by
                            > monastics against the previous tradition of being tonsured.
                            >
                            > Archimandrite Kyril Jenner
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            >
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