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135. Transfiguration of the Lord, 1973. [August 6/19]

Dear Father Ioannikios,

Blagoslovite! We send you greetings on the glorious feast of our Lord s Transfiguration.

Thank you for your letters and the copy of your letter to Alexey Young. We are very glad to see your sound counsel to Alexey, which I think is basically what we also have tried to tell him. Alexey was here last Sunday and was very encouraged by an earlier letter you had written him. Of late he has been rather abandoned (to say the least) by many who supported him in the beginning, and this of course has been discouraging for him, but he seems to be holding up well and not losing his zeal. The whole experience is doubtless very sobering and ultimately very good for him, but he needs our prayers. He is also having financial difficulties right now, and that also is discouraging for him. We so much hope and pray that, in a time of such indifference and discouragement, this one little candle of zeal will not go out, but will continue to burn and give hope and encouragement to others, as we think Nikodemos has done so far.

Please forgive us for scaring you about a possible “major conflict” ahead. We truly hope and pray that there will be no such thing, and we certainly aren’t going to start one! Even if our fears come true, and attempts will be made to discredit some of our great Orthodox teachers, we certainly do not intend to answer by means of open letters, counter-accusations, and that whole useless polemical approach among missionary laborers who should always be brothers — but our only “answer” would be to present these Orthodox teachers in the true and inspiring light in which they should be presented, insofar as God gives us strength.

But still I will tell you our sorrow: we have been extremely shocked and discouraged by the attack of Fr. Neketas and the Boston fathers on Alexey. Fr. Neketas wrote us that he was “withdrawing all support” from Alexey, and we have had visitors direct from Seattle who were astonished that we approved of Nikodemos, since Fr. Neketas had just old them that Alexey was a “catholic” and can’t be trusted. We wrote two long letters to Fr. Neketas in defense of Alexey (while admitting his mistakes) and begging him to apply Vladika John’s principle of trusting and encouraging missionary laborers and not trying to make them fit into a preconceived pattern or forcing them to submit to some standard “authority.” To our grief Fr. Neketas replied that on this point Vladika John was wrong, and converts must at times be “stomped on.” Well, Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter constitute a “stomping on,” no doubt of that, with the distinct impression that anyone else will also be “stomped on” if he doesn’t accept our “Greeks” as the one and only Orthodox authority.

May God forgive us and keep us from judging anyone — but we don’t like this whole tone and attitude, and we feel extremely uneasy about it. The whole ideal for which we have tried to labor for these many years is precisely one of mutual trust and encouragement, not one of forcing our “authority” on someone else.

For these many years we have seen in Fr. Panteleimon and our “Greeks” nothing but the best kind of Orthodoxy and a source of inspiration for others. When we visited the Fathers in Seatde last February, both Fr. Herman and I left with a feeling of renewed and strengthened ties of brotherly love and __________. And then, behold, because Alexey has a different view of evolution and the
“Shroud,” such a merciless attack is directed against him! Fr. Neketas wrote him that he was refraining from a public denunciation of Nikodemos at this time (Fr. Neketas underlined it); but actually Fr. Ephraim’s letter, although couched in kind terms, amounts virtually to this threatened denunciation.

Whenever we think of Fr. Panteleimon and our meetings with him, which have always left the warmest impression on us, we are simply in perplexity: Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter just do not fit in with this impression.

May God forgive us all and renew the ties of love among us, and may this whole thing be indeed some kind of superficial misunderstanding. And if, as we do not cease to fear, this is all the sign of some deeper disagreement — then may this trial at least be for the benefit and enlightenment of all of us, and not for open warfare.

We have seen the draft of Alexey’s reply to Fr. Ephraim, and it seems to us to be written with meekness, heartfelt sincerity, and attention to causes and not to personalities, without any element of bickering or bitterness at all. We breathed a sigh of relief when we read it. May it lead to peace and better understanding on all sides!

Concerning the translation of Fr. Michael’s Dogmatics: We’ve just received his (and Vladika Averky’s) blessing to start the translation, together with Fr. Michael’s revisions. Will you really have time to help on the translation? We are making first a preliminary translation (by means of tape recorder, which saves the translator much time, since it can be typed out by others) which we will keep in a looseleaf notebook (8 1/2 x 11 paper) until the whole text can be gone over for a final version. If you will really able to help, we can divide the text up with you. I notice that the section beginning on the bottom of p. 26) (_____), through p. 36 inclusive, a little over 10 pages, has almost no revisions in the text, so you could translate it straight from the printed text and send it to us as is. But please let us know if you really have the time for this.

Brs. Laurence and Daniel are becoming acclimated. Please pray for us all, and also for the repose of newly-departed Tatiana (Kursell), the sister of my godmother, who died suddenly on July 10/23, the day of the Konevits Icon of the Mother of God! We don’t know the meaning of this, but we know that God is close!

Sept. 3/16, 1973
St. Theoctistus

This letter has been a long time in getting out! Since I started it, Michael Farnsworth has joined us, and we ask your prayers for him. We have also received another letter from Fr. Neketas, repeating his previous opinions about Alexey and recommending as an “objective Orthodox presentation on evolution” a Greek Archdiocese article which we found to be a typically simple-minded “liberal” presentation, even to the recommending of the evolutionary views of T. de Chardin. We told him as much in reply, but added that we haven’t the time to engage in debate on such a complicated question, that we are not upset about his opinions on evolution or the Shroud, and we entreated him not to allow any such differences of opinion to introduce any feeling of coldness or hostility between any of us laborers in the missionary field. We also urged him to look at Alexey’s positive qualities and not exaggerate his supposed faults, and above all not to publish “open letters” against him (which he mentioned he was still thinking of), reminding him that this is not in the spirit of Vladika John, whom we all revere. May God grant that peace and mutual love and respect may reign always in our midst!

Asking your prayers, with love in Christ our Saviour,
Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose
135. Transfiguration of the Lord, 1973. [August 6/19]
Dear Father Ioannikios,
Blagoslovite! We send you greetings on the glorious feast of our Lord s Transfiguration.
Thank you for your letters and the copy of your letter to Alexey Young. We are very glad to see your sound counsel to Alexey, which I think is basically what we also have tried to tell him. Alexey was here last Sunday and was very encouraged by an earlier letter you had written him. Of late he has been rather abandoned (to say the least) by many who supported him in the beginning, and this of course has been discouraging for him, but he seems to be holding up well and not losing his zeal. The whole experience is doubtless very sobering and ultimately very good for him, but he needs our prayers. He is also having financial difficulties right now, and that also is discouraging for him. We so much hope and pray that, in a time of such indifference and discouragement, this one little candle of zeal will not go out, but will continue to burn and give hope and encouragement to others, as we think Nikodemos has done so far.
Please forgive us for scaring you about a possible “major conflict” ahead. We truly hope and pray that there will be no such thing, and we certainly aren’t going to start one! Even if our fears come true, and attempts will be made to discredit some of our great Orthodox teachers, we certainly do not intend to answer by means of open letters, counter-accusations, and that whole useless polemical approach among missionary laborers who should always be brothers—but our only “answer” would be to present these Orthodox teachers in the true and inspiring light in which they should be presented, insofar as God gives us strength.
But still I will tell you our sorrow: we have been extremely shocked and discouraged by the attack of Fr. Neketas and the Boston fathers on Alexey. Fr. Neketas wrote us that he was “withdrawing all support” from Alexey, and we have had visitors direct from Seattle who were astonished that we approved of Nikodemos, since Fr. Neketas had just old them that Alexey was a “catholic” and can’t be trusted. We wrote two long letters to Fr. Neketas in defense of Alexey (while admitting his mistakes) and begging him to apply Vladika John’s principle of trusting and encouraging missionary laborers and not trying to make them fit into a preconceived pattern or forcing them to submit to some standard “authority.” To our grief Fr. Neketas replied that on this point Vladika John was wrong, and converts must at times be “stomped on.” Well, Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter constitute a “stomping on,” no doubt of that, with the distinct impression that anyone else will also be “stomped on” if he doesn’t accept our “Greeks” as the one and only Orthodox authority.
May God forgive us and keep us from judging anyone—but we don’t like this whole tone and attitude, and we feel extremely uneasy about it. The whole ideal for which we have tried to labor for these many years is precisely one of mutual trust and encouragement, not one of forcing our “authority” on someone else.
For these many years we have seen in Fr. Panteleimon and our “Greeks” nothing but the best kind of Orthodoxy and a source of inspiration for others. When we visited the Fathers in Seatde last February, both Fr. Herman and I left with a feeling of renewed and strengthened ties of brotherly love and __________. And then, behold, because Alexey has a different view of evolution and the
“Shroud,” such a merciless attack is directed against him! Fr. Neketas wrote him that he was refraining from a public denunciation of Nikodemos at this time (Fr. Neketas underlined it); but actually Fr. Ephraim’s letter, although couched in kind terms, amounts virtually to this threatened denunciation.
Whenever we think of Fr. Panteleimon and our meetings with him, which have always left the warmest impression on us, we are simply in perplexity: Fr. Neketas’ attitude and Fr. Ephraim’s letter just do not fit in with this impression.
May God forgive us all and renew the ties of love among us, and may this whole thing be indeed some kind of superficial misunderstanding. And if, as we do not cease to fear, this is all the sign of some deeper disagreement—then may this trial at least be for the benefit and enlightenment of all of us, and not for open warfare.
We have seen the draft of Alexey’s reply to Fr. Ephraim, and it seems to us to be written with meekness, heartfelt sincerity, and attention to causes and not to personalities, without any element of bickering or bitterness at all. We breathed a sigh of relief when we read it. May it lead to peace and better understanding on all sides!
Concerning the translation of Fr. Michael’s Dogmatics: We’ve just received his (and Vladika Averky’s) blessing to start the translation, together with Fr. Michael’s revisions. Will you really have time to help on the translation? We are making first a preliminary translation (by means of tape recorder, which saves the translator much time, since it can be typed out by others) which we will keep in a looseleaf notebook (8 1/2 x 11 paper) until the whole text can be gone over for a final version. If you will really able to help, we can divide the text up with you. I notice that the section beginning on the bottom of p. 26) (_____), through p. 36 inclusive, a little over 10 pages, has almost no revisions in the text, so you could translate it straight from the printed text and send it to us as is. But please let us know if you really have the time for this.
Brs. Laurence and Daniel are becoming acclimated. Please pray for us all, and also for the repose of newly-departed Tatiana (Kursell), the sister of my godmother, who died suddenly on July 10/23, the day of the Konevits Icon of the Mother of God! We don’t know the meaning of this, but we know that God is close!
Sept. 3/16, 1973
St. Theoctistus
This letter has been a long time in getting out! Since I started it, Michael Farnsworth has joined us, and we ask your prayers for him. We have also received another letter from Fr. Neketas, repeating his previous opinions about Alexey and recommending as an “objective Orthodox presentation on evolution” a Greek Archdiocese article which we found to be a typically simple-minded “liberal” presentation, even to the recommending of the evolutionary views of T. de Chardin. We told him as much in reply, but added that we haven’t the time to engage in debate on such a complicated question, that we are not upset about his opinions on evolution or the Shroud, and we entreated him not to allow any such differences of opinion to introduce any feeling of coldness or hostility between any of us laborers in the missionary field. We also urged him to look at Alexey’s positive qualities and not exaggerate his supposed faults, and above all not to publish “open letters” against him (which he mentioned he was still thinking of), reminding him that this is not in the spirit of Vladika John, whom we all revere. May God grant that peace and mutual love and respect may reign always in our midst!
Asking your prayers, with love in Christ our Saviour,

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