Facebook “Listening” Group Drags Culture Wars into the Orthodox Church

Culture Wars Orthodox Church facebook by Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse -
Progressive fads sweep through the culture like clockwork. Remember the impending global ice age in the 1970s that morphed into global warming today? How about the fight about abortion where anyone who dared criticize it was branded as a hater of women? Remember the Equal Rights Amendment and how convinced its supporters were that it was absolutely necessary for a just society?

None of these movements should be taken lightly of course but that doesn’t disqualify them as fads. There is always a strong strain of self-justification among Progressive Culture Warriors; a posturing that creates a facade of virtue and labels the critic as ignorant. Fellow travelers bask in that warm glow of imputed righteousness that they generously confer on each other. The rest of us can return to our caves.

That kind of arrogance informs the new Facebook group “Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality with the Orthodox Church.” The tendentious title is the first clue something is seriously skewed. What silence needs to be “broken”? Who are the people breaking it? Is the Orthodox Church really silent on sexuality? [Read more...]

Orthodox Bishops Must Speak Out Against the Homosexual Agenda

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

by Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
When the light shines, the darkness is made manifest scripture tells us and nowhere is this clearer than in the debate about the morality of homosexuality in the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Most readers know that this debate is heating up, driven in large part by the Facebook group Listening: Breaking the Silence on Sexuality within the Orthodox Church.

True to its tendentious name (there is no “silence” that needs “breaking”), the group follows the playbook of homosexual activism that crippled the Episcopalian Church: Accept the premise that the prohibitions against homosexuality need to be “revisted” (a favorite phrase) and thereby undermine the authority of the moral tradition. Refuse and you will castigated as unloving, uncharitable, closed-minded, ignorant, homophobic, responsible for teen suicides — all the usual pejoratives that are foisted on those who disagree. It’s all done with a smile of course. Call it intimidation through church-speak.

The OCA is hampered with the problem of homosexuality because past leaders were active homosexuals. These leaders did not champion the homosexual agenda, but because they were morally compromised the homosexual behavior in some ranks of Church leadership went unchallenged. [Read more...]

Fr. Johannes: Philadelphia – The Cost of Equivocation

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

by Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
Why such outrage over the Philadelphia abortionist? What moral difference is there between severing the spinal cord of a newborn with a pair of scissors and dismembering a baby with a scalpel a few moments before its birth? There isn’t any.

Yet the outcry over the brutality indicates that the fiction of viability may be lifting, and not a moment too soon. Viability, the idea that an unborn child has value only when it can live outside the womb, is a concept that the ignorant still believe has scientific credibility. It’s a rhetorical pretense that helps us avoid what we don’t want to see.

The cold hand of the malefactor reveals that the brutality outside the womb occurs inside it too. It’s not so easy to pretend anymore that a difference exists because we see one but not the other. Josef Mengele at least maintained the pretense that he was serving science. This butcher wouldn’t even do that. His staff kept their lunches in the same refrigerator where they stored left-over fetal parts.

Should we be shocked that the abortionist treated the newly born like a piece of pork? Why? How is it any different than how he treats the unborn? [Read more...]

Vatican II and the Orthodox Bishops

Fr. Thomas Hopko

Fr. Thomas Hopko

10/14/2010 – Fr. Thomas Hopko -
Orthodox Christians devoted to accountability are surely aware that accountability in behavior cannot be separated from accountability in understanding since practice (praxis) is necessarily connected to vision (theoreia).

This conviction inspires me, given the present state of things, to raise the following question:

Is it possible that the teaching of the Second Vatican Council about the ministry of bishops in the Roman Catholic Church is now being taught and practiced in an adapted and altered form in our Orthodox churches today?

Let me explain why I raise such a question.

According to the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church, following Vatican I and the Council of Trent, bishops are not organically connected to the specific dioceses in which they serve. They rather have their episcopal position and power by virtue of their personal sacramental consecration as bishops. [Read more...]

Thieves Hijacking the Language of the Christian Moral Tradition

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

10/4/2010 – Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
What happens then when people leave Christianity and want to promote ideas about morality that violate the moral tradition? They have only one option: Hijack the language. They use the terms of traditional Christianity but mean very different things by them. Words don’t mean what they used to mean. Language gets inverted, turned upside down. Do this long and loud enough, and in less than a generation the new meanings take hold. When hijackers use the language of the moral tradition, they implicitly claim to stand inside that tradition. It’s only a pose of course, but their pose fools many people.

NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) – In a recent Catholic Online article (Social Justice: Take Back the Term from the Thieves and Build a New Catholic Action) Deacon Keith Fournier writes about a question he was asked at a recent conference:

…the host of the conference made a suggestion that we get rid of the term “Social Justice” because it is now used by ‘the left”. He asked for my thoughts. I strongly disagreed. I insisted that we take back the phrase from those who have stolen it, either on the “the right” or “the left”. He then suggested the Church does not use the phrase “Social Justice”. An attendee did a “google” search of the Vatican documents on his handheld device and reported it was used thousands of times in the magisterial teaching of the Church.

Fournier is right on two counts: The Christian moral vocabulary properly belongs to Christians, and we should not cede the vocabulary to the thieves. [Read more...]

Why We Should Preach After The Gospel

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

Fr. Johannes Jacobse

8/11/2010 – Fr. Johannes Jacobse -
I used to preach at the end of the Liturgy.

It was a pragmatic decision. A good portion of my congregation didn’t arrive until after the Gospel reading. The sloppy behavior was ingrained in parish life for decades and wasn’t likely to change soon no matter how strongly I exhorted them to arrive on time. Better to hear the teaching later then never at all I reasoned.

Did some people benefit from the arrangement? Probably. Did it implicitly encourage the sloppy behavior? Most likely. But short of a full-blown renewal in the parish, the late-comers were like to keep on coming in late and what would they remember if I preached earlier? The announcements?

Since moving from a large parish to a mission parish I’ve changed my ways. The sermon is always after the Gospel reading. I used to think that the rubrics required it because the reading was fresh in the minds of my hearers. While this is true, I’m no longer convinced this is the primary reason. I see something new: The timing of the sermon vivifies – breaths life into – the Eucharistic half of the Liturgy. [Read more...]

Ground Zero is American Holy Ground. No Mosque Near Ground Zero

Ground Zero Cross 7/27/2010 – Fr. Johannes Jacobse -

Sacred ground is more easily understood by European Christians than their American counterparts. Some events are so catastrophic, or prove to be so historically significant, that they transcend the categories we normally employ to explain them. These events must reference something higher to make sense to us.

NAPLES (Catholic Online) – Muslims have it over secularists, but not Christians – at least the clear thinking ones anyway. The Muslim proposal to build a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is not only an affront to all people who died there, but another chapter in a cultural jihad that seeks to replace the cultural traditions of Christendom with Sharia, the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed.

First the caveats. Yes, most Muslims are not jihadists; they may see the non-Muslim as an infidel but won’t resort to violence to defeat him . Yes, Muslim believers pose no threat to American cultural norms and legal structures as long as their numbers remain small. Yes, every Muslim citizen should be afforded the rights due to all Americans regardless of their religion. [Read more...]

Orthodox Patriarch: Pope Is Like-Minded on Morals, Values

Patriarch Kirill - Pope Benedict

Patriarch Kirill - Pope Benedict

7/23/2010 – Fr. Johannes Jacobse -

We are witnessing the emergence of a new kind of ecumenical work, one that respects theological differences, but recognizes that if the de-Christianization of culture continues, it would lead to cultural catastrophe (most likely a capitulation to Islam). This recognition also sharpens both the beliefs and values the Christian Churches share in common so that ecumenical activity in the future would be formed around cooperation in strengthening them.

MOSCOW, JULY 19, 2010 (Zenit.org). – Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russias says he and Benedict XVI often see eye-to-eye on many issues, especially with regard to those of a moral nature.

The Patriarch said this in statements on the occasion of his trip to Ukraine, reported today by the Russian agency Interfax. “I must say that the position of the present Pope, Benedict XVI, leaves room for optimism,” he said in an interview on Ukrainian television channels, on the eve of his visit to that country. [Read more...]

Culture is at Risk of Becoming Anti-Culture without the Church

AOI | by Fr. Johannes Jacobse | 3/10/2010

Metropolitan Hilarion

Metropolitan Hilarion

Metropolitan Hilarion’s warning deals with what Nietzsche called the “transvaluation of values” — what his dark prophesy warned would happen in the West because “God is Dead,” by which he meant that Western culture was entering into a period where it functioned within the cultural structures shaped by Christianity but without concrete, existential communion with the Savior — the kind of communion that would lead to martyrdom if required. Those structures would weaken as the historical memory of Christianity grew increasingly dim from one generation to the next.

That is the period we are in today, call it secularism, but understand that secularism is just a layover from one city to the next. We have left the City of God (recalling Augustine) for what — Islamic domination? Perhaps. Man cannot live by bread alone, and that includes the secularist as well as the believer. [Read more...]

Thomas Hopko: Darwin and Christianity – Part 1


Speaking the Truth in Love | Fr. Thomas Hopko | Jan 21, 2010

What is the relationship between the concepts of natural selection and Christian theology? Fr. Tom begins a series of reflections on Charles Darwin and what he has learned in his research may surprise you!

Darwin and Christianity – Part 1 – 1/21/2010

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When Bishops Disappoint


AFR | Fr. Thomas Hopko | Sep. 9, 2009

In this podcast Fr. Thomas Hopko addresses the key issue of “What do we do when those in leadership are not exercising their leadership properly?” Fr. Tom discusses corruption in the Orthodox Church and explains that these types of situations are nothing new. He references scriptures and explains that proper Christian leadership consists of servanthood (not overlordship) and exhorts the faithful to help the priests and bishops to “tend the flock of God that is in (their) charge.”

When Bishops Disappoint – 9/9/09

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Fr. Johannes Jacobse: Paschal Message 2009

AOI | Fr. Johannes Jacobse | Apr 19, 2009

Only the Gospel of Christ, the proclamation that Christ is risen from the dead, reveals that death is an enemy destroyed and exposes the nihilistic embrace of death as a lie. The grand schemes of the social engineers who are intoxicated by their own pride and contemptuous of what is good and true, will one day come to nothing. Babel will fall. But until it does, destruction and suffering prevail by their hands.

How does evil flourish? Edmund Burke answered the question this way: When good men do nothing. God enters the world through a word. The Gospel of Christ, when preached with authority and by the Spirit of God, tears down strong places. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers in the heavenly places,” writes the Apostle Paul. Truth, spoken into the world of space and time, draws from and reveals Him who is True, and tears down the towers that men build to reach God. [Read more...]

Fr. Thomas Hopko: Christianity and Armageddon

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What a Christian Bishop Should Be Like

OCANews.org | Fr. Thomas Hopko | Dec. 11, 2007

A St. Nicholas Day Reflection
The Orthodox Church’s main hymn (troparion/apolytikion) for the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra is the general hymn for all of the Church’s holy bishops. As such, for example, it is sung the day after the feast of St. Nicholas for the celebration of St. Ambrose of Milan. This hymn tells us what a Christian bishop (and, by extension, also a presbyter) ought to be for his people. And so it also tells us how all Christians should be. [Read more...]