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045. May 10/23, 1970. St. Simon Zealot, Apostle

Dear Father Michael [Azkoul],
In truth Christ is risen! Bless us, Father!

Many thanks for your letter. First of all — yes, we would most certainly like to see your answer to Fr. Schmemann, the sooner the better. We might even be able to substitute it for our already prepared article on Fr. S’s “liturgical theology,” which has no particular timeliness — depending on length. We ourselves thought of writing something by way of reply to that, as also to Fr. Meyendorff’s attack in Orthodox Church, but we couldn’t find the time and concentration, and then Fr. George Grabbe’s replies came out. Fr. Grabbe’s replies, while always sober and factual, are really addressed to Russians who can’t get excited about people like Frs. S & M. because they’ve long recognized them as apostates and just don’t listen to them any more. But for English-speaking people there should be a more fighting approach, I think; in English these people are “theological authorities,” and it’s up to us to prove that they aren’t. We heard just yesterday from Fr. Neketas that you had written such an article; he plans to print it together with Fr. Schmemann’s original to give the complete picture and avoid any charges of unfairness. But our circulation is probably at least double his, although I’m sure none of our outlets can come close to The Orthodox Church, which I would imagine must be 5-10,000. Diaconia does make an effort to get the whole picture and present opposing viewpoints, though I get the impression that they cull Orthodox publications and pick out the newsworthy articles rather than taking manuscripts as such.

It was our good fortune to be blissfully unaware for several years of what was being printed in The Orthodox Church, but with the Metropolia scandal we decided we had better see what they are saying. We’ve seen the last 6 issues now—and such a brand of shady, second-rate journalism is just about without peer in the Orthodox press. Quite apart from his attack on the Synod, even poor Athenagoras isn’t allowed to be represented, and then his letter is finally presented in a footnote as some kind of “mystery,” by implication a forgery. Fr. Meyendorff is apparently aware of addressing a very limited audience who can’t be trusted to distinguish the “right” point of view (evidently the party line) from any others. We’re still hoping to get the time to write him an Open Letter on this subject, with a note on its implications for their new “American Orthodoxy.”

You have confirmed our own general impression of Metropolitan Philip as a well-meaning man who unfortunately wishes to be at peace with everyone. So many of our young American priests of almost all jurisdictions go through a vague and mostly external Orthodox education and then gain parish experience mostly in how to get along with people, and they simply aren’t equipped to stand up and fight for Orthodoxy. But now — 1970 being perhaps the very year of decision, our American “watershed” for Orthodoxy — those who don’t stand up and fight, knowing what they’re fighting for and against and having the weapons to do it, just won’t be Orthodox any more.

We rejoice in your coming to the Synod. In The Orthodox Word we’ve tried not to push any too-exclusive idea of the Synod, but the logic of church history itself is forcing the role of “guardian of Orthodoxy” upon the Synod. Diaconia already speaks of the forging of a Synod-Old Calendarist “ultra-conservative alliance” against the rest of Orthodoxy, a rather politically-toned appraisal, but perhaps even useful if it leads some to investigate that there is something worth conserving in Orthodoxy. Probably you do not know many of our Russians in the Synod; my own acquaintance with them, from laymen to bishops, has persuaded me — as I just wrote to Dr. Johnstone — that they are in the main of a caliber you just don’t meet in the world, or in other Orthodox Churches, today. The stamp of faithfulness to Christ and His Church, and confessing these, is on them. Experience of the Soviets has given them an awareness, also, that you just don’t find elsewhere.

About Athenagoras-Iakovos, we have nothing at all except their occasional sermons and epistles in the Orthodox Observer. Fr. Panteleimon is undoubtedly the best source for material here. Yes, perhaps a “theological” analysis is too flattering to them, but certainly we have the right to analyze those statements and actions by means of which they are changing Orthodoxy, and show what they mean and where they lead. Perhaps this is a big order, but it would be nice to have some kind of coherent appraisal of them.

Within a week or two, God willing, we will have a linotype, and hopefully the worst part of our tortuous hand-setting days will be at an end and we can start producing more. Please keep us in your prayers.

With respect and love in Christ our Saviour,
Eugene Rose

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