“Romanism at its finest”

“Romanism at its finest”


Classy, Photius.  Real classy.

Right up there with “Does Ratzinger understand 1 Cor 3?”

Why use a regnal name?  Why NOT use a slur?

UPDATE: From Perry Robinson, the owner of Energetic procession this morning I recieve the following email:

This is regarding your comment on our blog. You are perfectlyfree to disagree and make an argument to that effect. What you are not free to do is to post rhetorical cheap shots that do not advance the conversation. Consequently your post has been deleted. And such posts will continue to be deleted. Continued rehtorical comments and ad hom statements will result in banning.
Perry Robinson

My rhetorical cheap shot? As follows:


Tell ya what, fellas, why not just avoid slurs and cheap shots as the very titles of your posts?


117 Responses to “Romanism at its finest”

  1. Why not make an argement to demonstrate the error rather than rhetoric?

  2. Perry,

    What argument is to be made?

    If we were to write a post “Photian Schismastics at their finest” or “Fermentarians at their finest” and “Prozymitesat their finest”. What argument could or would you make to simply have the good sense and good taste to not use a slur?

    Slurs and now censorship. Keep showing your hand.

  3. Why not an argument concering the post itself? Or perhaps make an argument that a better title might have been selected? Those options were open to you. Instead you chose to utter an expression of frustration and anger.

    I didn’t write the post or choose its title. We have more than one contributor. It should come as no suprise that we don’t cnsider cahtolicism to be a genuine and full expression of apostolic Christianity. Of course, as the pope not too long ago made clear, he thinks we only amount to true particular schismatic churches acting illicitly. It’s an old argument.

    Hey, it’d be nice though if you guys could convince James Likoudis and his ilk to stop referring to us in the ways you mention above.

    Wishing you the best.

  4. Addendum,

    If your comment had been a one time deal, I would probably would have let it go. But you fairly routinely do not contribute to the conversation and just makepot shots.That is why I deleted your comment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “Romanism was a word used as a derogatory term for Roman Catholicism in the past when anti-Catholicism was more common in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is still used, though rarely, by anti-Catholics.”Wikipedia

    Since I am a protestant converting I was baffled by what is going on.This is the definition I got when I looked it up. Hmmmmmm……
    I am still baffled since I don’t know Perry Robinson what his affiliation is but I would make a simple person guess that by his picture~Satanic Worship?

  6. Anon,

    Ah, Wikipedia, that great authoritative source!

    As for the pic, ever hear of Star Wars? Its part of an inside joke I have with one of the other contributors of my blog.

    As for affiliation, I am Orthodox.

    If you are a protestant converting to Catholicism, did you just as seriously and extensively explore Orthodoxy as another possibility or no?

  7. anon says:

    Mr Robinson is a convert to what he considers “Orthodoxy” from what I suppose is some form of Calvinist Protestanism. Since his understanding of “Orthodoxy” is somewhat limited to denunciations of anyone who doesn’t agree with him or the illustrious “Photios” Jones,
    (“Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?” as quoted by an Orthodox priest when mentioning the blog to him ),
    or anyone who doesn’t agree with their notion that the “West” is enthralled by the doctrine of “ADS”, (Absolute Divine Simplicity), and the influence of Augustine, their viewpoint is somewhat limited and lacks any sense of joy or humor.

    Anyone considering investigating Orthodoxy and its relation to Western Christianity is advised to be quite discerning when reading their posts.

    P.S. I have the honor and privilege of being banned by the mentioned above all for “laughing” at their statements.

  8. Anon, aka Brave Sir Robin,

    Actually, you are mistaken. I was raised Anglican and converted from Anglicanism. You wrongly paint me as being on some Orthodox fringe. I am and have been a member of the Greek Archdiocese in good standing for almost ten years now. My perspetive is garnerd from mainline and primary sources like Meyendorff or Staniloae.

    And if you are going to make these kinds of slights on my character and ideas, you should at least have the courage and decency to show yourself.

  9. I always thought Perry was sincere in his positions. I disagree about the extent that Neo-platonism played in St. Augustine’s thought and his argument against the filioque, but at least he’s made the effort to investigate it, which is more then 90% of Christians of all stripes. Whether that says more about the state of Christian education in general or if its an issue to divide over will be worked out in the next 1000 years.

    His position is held by many within Orthodoxy (more popular then fringe), but from my observations its not the majority view. If you look at what Marcus Eugenicus was objecting to on the filioque it’s not much different from Perry objections to it.

  10. Maureen says:

    When people use the word “Romanism”, they are using a word only used by those who burned Catholic nuns’ convents around their ears, tried to prevent Catholic churches from being built, lynched Catholics, and dumped the capstone of the Washington Monument in the Potomac because it came from Rome. All this is fairly well known to any student of American history, as the infamous catchphrase “Rum, Romanism, and rebellion” is still a feature of basic textbooks.

    In short, you are doing the equivalent of calling someone of different color from you a n*gg*r.

    And if you don’t know what a word means and connotes, don’t use it.

  11. Maureen,

    I’d suggest broadening your historical perspective as the term has pre-Reformation purchase and outside of western Europe even after by non-Protestants. Photios used it in an Orthodox context, not a Protestant/Catholic debate context.

  12. Nan says:

    Nevertheless, Maureen has a point; it doesn’t matter in which context it’s used. If it’s offensive, it’s offensive.

  13. anon says:

    Well, if Mr Robinson is really from the Meyendorff/ Staniloae branch of Orthodoxy, it’s news to me. I don’t remember them being fixated on ADS or Augustine.

    I’ve only seen referrals to the works of Joseph P. Farrell, ( a rather peculiar Orthodox whose views echo that of John Romanides- granted that they have some cache in some Orthodox circles- they are not within the mainstream by any means).

    Mr. Robinson should really know what a pejorative starement is.

    “Romanism” is rather pejorative as he well knows;

    Romanism was a word used as a derogatory term for Roman Catholicism in the past when anti-Catholicism was more common in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is still used, though rarely, by anti-Catholics

    From Wikipedia.

    As for who I am, he well knows. No need to elucidate further.

    I’m only writing this because I wish that Mr Robinson and his tag-team partner, Mr Jones, would quit being so fixated on proving how “right” they are and how “wrong” others are.

  14. Hey, it’d be nice though if you guys could convince James Likoudis and his ilk to stop referring to us in the ways you mention above.

    Take it up with James – I don’t post his stuff, he doesn’t write with me.

    But you can take some responsibility for what you publish on your blog.

    “Romanism”… You know better, you just don’t care. Photius likely thinks – given what I have read of his – that it ultimately doesn’t matter if you are rude to or about Catholics… The prevailing sentiment I see time and again in his writings is “They have it coming anyway.”

  15. Diane says:

    Yeah, right, Perry…Romanism is a term of respect and endearment. I’ll retire to Bedlam.

    Quickbeam, some of the biggest jerks in history have been sincere in their convictions. Not that I’m calling anyone a jerk, mind you. Perish the thought.

  16. Diane says:

    anon, isn’t Farrell the dude who believes the Nazis had spaceships or something like that? To say he’s out of the mainstream is to put it very mildly.

  17. Diane says:

    their viewpoint is somewhat limited and lacks any sense of joy or humor.

    Ain’t that the truth. I’ve found that this joylessness seems to characterize much of the religious discourse on the Internet–especially among those who engage in feroicious “anti” polemics pretty much 24/7.

  18. Anon,

    Farrell wrote a specific monograph on St. Maxmius. He has an earned doctorate from Oxford in patristics. His work was earlier than the flurry of works now making it to press. But there are plenty of other authors we employ and refer to for other things.
    Romanides was the star pupil of George Florovsky and Florovsky was hardly fringe.

    Romanism was also used in Russia for the past 300 years appart from Reformation influences. It also has some pre-Reformation purchase among the pre-Reformation conciliarists in the west and in Constantinople.

    Sure, its not a term of endearment, vut so what? If you don’t like, then don’t read it.

    And Nan, plenty of things said by Catholics about orthodox are ofensive, including this site from time to time. So what?

  19. If joyless means dispassionate, then I am happy to take the designation as I strike in my writing to be dispassionate when making an argument to clear away the rhetoric and stick to the inferences.

    As for my spiritual life I think your go too far in making claims about someone whom you do not know personally.

    And no Diane, Farrell does not think the Nazis had space ships. What he wrote on was some of the speculative physics of Nazi scientists in search for new weapons which was motivated by theirsupremacist ideaology. If you actuallyread what he wrote,he says it is bunk, it it was important to see how the ideaology drove the science. You can find the same stuff among the Stalinists.

  20. happy says:

    Sorry, I messed up when I posted. I am “Happy” my name is Ally. No thank you, I am catholic bound. I am OLD and lots of study has brought me this path. NO, orthodoxy….no, no, no.
    When I looked up Romanism(as I said I had not heard that) well, its sad.
    Perry,Am I to understand Wikepedia is an incorrect source? I am sorry, SS?, Nan, Diane? Was I wrong in my understanding of how derogatory that word is?
    sorry about…. star wars. Its still a scary picture.

  21. happy says:

    Sorry, correction when I posted as anon.

  22. anon says:

    The Giza Death Star; Joseph P. Farrell

    Product Description
    Evidence of the use of weapons of mass destruction in ancient times is one of the secrets of the Great Pyramid of Giza. The chapters of this revelatory book include: • An Archaeology of Mass Destruction • Thoth and Theories • The Machine Hypothesis • Pythagoras, Plato, Planck, and the Pyramid • The Weapon Hypothesis • Encoded Harmonics of the Planck Units in the Great Pyramid • High Frequency Direct Current Impulse Technology • The Grand Gallery and its Crystals • Gravito-acoustic Resonators • The Other Two Large Pyramids, the Causeways, and the Temples • A Phase Conjugate Howitzer

    About the Author
    Joseph P. Farrell is a physicist and researcher who lives in Oklahoma. This is his first book.


  23. Anon,

    Yup, thats the book. And? In anycase, like I said, I agree with his treatment of Maximus and of course it is referrenced in the peer reviewed literature. And none of his major conclusions are contradicted by other scholars in the literature on Maximus either, whether its Louth or some one else.

    As for simplicity and the theological problems associated with its platonic conception, I’d suggest reading some of Saint Mark of Ephesus.

  24. Nan says:

    Perry, the difference is that you first censor things you don’t like in your combox, then come here, to reiterate your slurs, on a blog that doesn’t censor.

    Generally we post information that’s informative; if you think truth is rude, so be it.

    Happy, wikipedia isn’t an academic source but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily incorrect. You’re right on the negativity that comes with the word.

  25. Nan,

    Actually I do not censor things I do not agree with. I do censor things that are rude, rhetorical and are not arguments. I hold people generally to the standard that they need to make an argument for their position. The fracas here is an example of someone not actuallyengaging the argument. People are quite free to disagree with me and other contributors on the blog without reprisal. What they must do is make an argument. To date after almost five years, there are only three people banned from the blog and one of them due to his threatening my family. Other than that, the blog is fairly open.

    As for truth being rude, my reply is the same. From the Orthodox point of view Catholicism, following Dostoyvsky is more of a historical construction than apostolic deposit. Hence the term “Romanism.” If you think the truth is rude, “so be it.”

    Catholics in the western world have grown accustomed to an almost unquestioned right to view themselves as patristically pristine and ancient, bringing in the Orthodox as a convenient apologetic tool against Protestants and then quickly pushing them aside. They have dominated the journals and academic publishing putting forward their positions on events in history (Florence, Photios, etc.) which not too infrequently included myths made up out of whole cloth (Nag’s Head Fable, Photios’ Second excommunication, etc.) Those days are comng to an end. If you don’t care for the fact that the Orthodox view contemporary Catholicism more as a product of Medieval Frankish triumph over the west, well, too bad if the truth is offensive.

    Comments on my blog like the last one that don’t actually make an argument will continue to be removed. Persistence will lead to a banning individuals in question.

  26. Diane says:

    Yes, Wikipedia is a mixed bag. But it can be quite accurate, and, in the case of “Romanism,” it’s entirely so. Perry is trying to discredit the argument by discrediting its source–isn’t that a logical fallacy, BTW?–but the argument stands on its own merits, so the ploy doesn’t work. There are numerous other sources for the pejorative content of the term “Romanism.” Wikipedia is a convenient source, but is is far from the only one.

    Happy, I agree with you re “Romanism,” and I am thrilled that you are Romeward bound. Congratulations and welcome! :)

  27. “Those days are comng to an end. If you don’t care for the fact that the Orthodox view contemporary Catholicism more as a product of Medieval Frankish triumph over the west, well, too bad if the truth is offensive.”

    That will happen when one inhales to deeply from the well of Philip Sherrard.

  28. Diane says:

    Or from the bong. :)

  29. Quickbeam,

    I would suggest Henry Chadwick’s work, East and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church, Oxford, 2005, instead of Sherrard. ;)


    No, I don’t need to discredit Wikipedia.My point was rather its not a reliable source and even when accurate can’t be cited as an authority. So no, I didn’t commit a genetic fallacy.

  30. We will see of this makes the cut…

    Why not quote the “Daming quote” more fully? (I accept you linked to it… still, the omission of a fuller context seems rather contrived and with agenda.)

    . IF Minns’ interpretation of Irenaeus is correct, it does not follow that Irenaeus is a more reliable witness than Vatican II to how the teaching authority of the Church functioned in his time. From the Catholic standpoint, all that would follow is that Irenaeus didn’t get that particular matter quite right—just as, e.g., the brilliant Church father Origen got a few important things wrong a century later, or just as Augustine’s idea that original sin is personal guilt didn’t get original sin quite right. Although there is admittedly (and rightly) a consensus patrum that the deposit of faith may never be added to or subtracted from, there is no such consensus saying that all doctrine must be either stated explicitly in or deducible from the words of Scripture. Indeed, it was only within the living memory of Irenaeus that the Church of Rome, responding to the Marcionite challenge, had put together an NT canon pretty close to what we now have. She could not have done so had she not had “rules of faith” enabling her to decide which writings in circulation did, and which did not, belong in the canon. Those rules included various practices and oral teachings as well as the writings themselves. Collectively, they constitute Tradition (the “handing down” of revealed truth) in a wider sense than Scripture. And Irenaeus never questioned Rome’s authority to utilize Tradition in putting together a scriptural canon.

    AS it stands (and I suspect this was intended), the result of your clip & paste work allows for a cursory examiner to conclude the “Romanists” are saying “We don’t need no stinkin’ fathers, we have ourselves Vatican 2!”


    “Fathers? Fathers? We don’t need no stinkin’ Fathers.”

    Helps also, in the ommission, to more fully appreciate the “sheer gnosticism of Vatican II”.

    And yes, the title of this post is childish and offensive.

  31. anon says:

    The Cosmic War

    Joseph P. Farrell

    Adventures Unlimited Press

    PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946

    9781931882750, $18.95 http://www.adventuresunlimitedpress.com 1-815-253-6390

    A fascinating and detailed study offering an iconoclastic commentary that rejects traditionally
    naturalist and materialist assumptions to account for the presence of the asteroid belt in our solar system, Joseph P. Farrell’s “The Cosmic War: Interplanetary Warfare, Modern Physics and Ancient Texts” asserts that what is commonly attributed in the scientific community as the result of gravity driven accretions of material, the asteroid belt is in fact the remains of an exploded planet whose catastrophic demise was brought about by a Cosmic War. Drawing upon extraterrestrial artifacts, novel ideas in contemporary physics, and the texts of ancient myths, Farrell intriguingly postulates an ancient interplanetary war fought out within our solar system with weapons of horrific power and sophisticated military technology. “The Philosophy Of Rich” is a fascinating read and especially commended to the attention to alternative archeology students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in ancient legends and cosmology. Also very highly recommended and iconoclastic reading are Joseph Farrell’s previous books: “The Giza Death Star”; “The Giza Death Star Deployed”; “The Giza Death Star Destroyed”; “Reich of the Black Sun:; and “SS Brotherhood of the Bell”.

  32. happy says:

    Diane and Nan,
    Thank you for the support and welcome.

    Ha, I don’t really use wikipedia as a source as I delve into theology! That was sarcasm toward Perry. It is obviously not a nice term wherever you look, though.

    Good day!

  33. anon says:

    No. E.P doesn’t censor pstst. It censors posters. In doing so, it reduces its audience to an “Amen corner”.

    Chadwick’s book carefully outlines the tragic split putting the blame for the split on all sides.

    The Byzantines thought themselves God’s gift to humanity. Only their view was correct. Everyone else was a heretic or pagan.

    The Franks thought themselves the inheritors of Rome.
    Everyone else was a heretic or pagan.

    By Augustine’s time, few could speak both Latin and Greek.

    It’s this lack of a common language that is the source of the split.

    Latins had little knowledge of the Greek and Syriac Fathers and vice-versa.

    Romanides’ Franks, Romans, Feudalism and Doctrine is a very provocative book that has some good arguments but it simplifies things to such an extant that it reduces explaining the split to a conspiracy theory.

  34. diane says:

    The Byzantines thought themselves God’s gift to humanity. Only their view was correct. Everyone else was a heretic or pagan.

    Hah! This reminds me of the liner notes on a CD of Orthodox chant I picked up at the local Greek Festival: “Byzantine chant is the only music that has sacredness and sanctity.” I nearly split a gasket laughing over that one (as I listened in rapture to my heavenly Renaissance polyphony on my very Western IPod).

    I mean no offense; this is all purely a matter of taste…but I’ve tried and tried and tried to appreciate Byzantine chant; have downloaded various Byzantine chants to my ITunes and listened over and over. It still sounds like caterwaulin’ to me. I have this thing about melody. Chacun a son gout. (Now don’t y’all jump all over me…as I said, it’s a matter of taste. My taste runs to polyphony. I’m not that crazy about Gregorian chant, either, unless it has some melody….)

  35. Perry,

    The book was on my list. But Frankly(pun intended)I believe that the split btwn east & west was much earlier then Charlemagne as it appears you still hold. IMO the split was linguistically & culturally around 250 A.D., ecclesiastically by 343 and politically by 381.

    The barbarian hordes in the 5th & 6th centuries sealed the deal.

    Chadwick at least desired reunion with Rome as a viable Christian church. One does not reach your position until they drink from the well of someone like a Sherrard.

  36. Quickbeam,

    I think in the periods you mention were still sufficiently capable of being multi-lingual. In any case, I’d read Chadwick prior to making the ad hom remark about Sherrard. I am perfeclty capable of thinking and weighing evidence. I don’t just swallow whatever Sherrard says.

  37. Anon,

    I can support any specific contention concerning Maximus from other scholars-Thunberg, Louth, Torensen, Barthrellos, et all. I don’t need Farrell to do that. And the fact that Farrell’s work is cited by these and other scholars on the specific point of his mongraph is reason enough to cast aside your smear campaign.

    But we could continue the fun and look at the Occult sources of say Balthasar’s Origenism as it trickled down to Neuhaus in his nonsense of “Dare We Hope” universalism and how Neuhaus and others were toodull to see it for what it was. How about we go read up on Balthsar’s fun with Tarot Cards as a source for Catholic theology eh? Shall we discuss the influence of Marxism, Hegelianism or out and out Feministic goddess worship among contemporary Catholic theologians? Read any Elizabeth Johnson lately or how about Ruether or Fiorenza? And it is always such a joy to watch how this trickles down to every Catholic liturgical practice on youtube.

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stoones.

  38. Anon,

    Your comments look more like sour grapes. If your comment were true, I would not have let asimplesinner’s comment through when he attempted to make an argument. We permit plenty of differeing views. What we don’t permit is your type of rhetoric, personal insults and such which do not amount to arguments and only inflame people. If you are to convince us that we are wrong, you need to make arguments rather than attack the characters involved.

    As things stand, I wish to thank all of you for the extra blog traffic and inquiriers into Orthodoxy that resulted from this post.

  39. diane says:

    LOL!!! Looks to me as if Black Cordelias got the extra blog traffic. I certainly haven’t visited Energetic Digressions…I’d rather have a root canal. :)

  40. As long as your content with your scales and give it due consideration. We simply disagree about the double procession which affects our ecclesiology. Until someone can clearly explain the eternal relationship btwn the Son and the Holy Spirit we will always have this disagreement.

    “It has been very well observed that there is no such thing as an impartial historian. Every man who sets out to trace the development of life, whether in politics, religion, or art, is bound to do so with some theory in his mind… The historian, or the theologian, who is most nearly impartial is not he who has no view, but he who is aware of other views, and can give them due consideration.” — Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, May 1907, paper read before the Society of St. Thomas of Canterbury

  41. anon says:

    No one is throwing stoones.

    I don’t dispute Farrell’s scholarship on Maximus. Haven’t at all. I just wonder why he hasn’t pursued patristics any more and is doing something so remote from that.

    I didn’t know that Balthsar was an Origenist and which “occult” sources are you referring to? Besides this, which Origenism are you pointing to? I’m always fascinated by how the charge of Origenism is hurled about so easily especially since Origen is to the Orthodox what Augustine is to the West, ( or do you wish to dispute that the Cappadocians weren’t influenced by Origen as were Maximus and others and that monasticism was heavily influenced, ( St Antony being influenced by Origen if Samuel Rubenson’s argument in his Letters of St. Antony is correct)), by Origen?).

    The Meditations on the Tarot is a rather fascinating book but I’ve never seen anyone take it as a serious work of theology. It’s more what it says- ruminations on archetypal symbols that are fairly and widely recognized. Nothing to do with fortune telling. More to do with self-understanding.

    As for Johnson,Ruether and Fiorenza, they can and have defended themselves quite well. One doesn’t have to agree with them but they aren’t to be dismissed as far as their questions are concerned.

    Why not admit that you have a very narrow theological view and that you don’t tolerate anyone having a broader view?

    That would be honest at least.

  42. anon says:

    Mr. Robinson- I think you have an exceedingly small sense of humor and take yourself far too seriously.

    I’d really like to know, and have inquired before, what you think is a personal insult.

    Is it stating that you lack humor?

  43. diane says:

    ;m getting my anons mixed up. Is the anon right above the same as the anon just above him/her, or are they two separate people?

    I like ’em both; just wondering….

  44. happy says:

    Hi Diane,
    I am the 1st anon. I accidently hit submit without putting my name in. I posted on Feb 13 and mine doesn’t have an icon. Other than that post I think the other anon is the same person and way to clever to be me! Lol…. I am the one who is converting.

  45. anon says:

    I’m the second anon.Sorry to get you confused.

    I’m posting my remarks here regarding E.P because, as far as they’re concerned, I’m a non-existent being.

    But I think I’ve written enough.

  46. diane says:

    Well, I think both anons are waaaay cooool. Y’all exist as far as I’m concerned, LOL!

    Drop me a line sometime, y’all!


  47. diane says:

    Oops, gave you the wrong addy–it’s


    (The other addy is a mangled version of my workplace addy…and since it’s mangled, it won’t work.)

  48. Mr. Wrestling #2 says:

    If I’m not mistaken, Anon usually goes by Evagrius.

  49. diane says:

    Ohhhh! I know Evagrius! Thanks much, Mer. Wrestling. That explains a lot (the wit, for one thing). :)

  50. anon says:

    Ya got me Photios!

    Have you read “Byzantine Orthodoxies” by Andrew Louth and Augustine Casaday? It’s a nice collection of essays on Orthodoxy in the Byzantine Empire, the result of the 36th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies held at the University of Durham in 2002.

    A quote to get you excited;

    “The Byzantine Empire was, then, in aspiration at least, an oppressive regime, and if its record of oppression does not match that of such twentieth-century regimes as the Soviet Union under Stalin that may only be because it lacked the machinery of oppression open to modern governments.”

    Introduction by Andrew Louth, page 2.

    Have you heard of Theodore De Regnon? I hadn’t until recently. He’s the 19th century Jesuit scholar who, in a four volume history on the Trinity, came up with the notion that the East begins with the Persons and proceeds to the Unity while the West begins with the Unity and proceeds to the Persons.
    According to Michel Barnes, in an essay I have to find and read, this idea was picked up by Vladimir Lossky and attributed to De Regnon in his French edition of the Mystical Theology but not, not, the English edition that does not mention De Regnon. Lossky ran with it to great effect.

    Ironically, De Regnon, according to Barnes, didn’t see the difference as a big deal- it was just two complementary ways of looking at or explaining something.

    Barnes argues that it became an unexamined cliche among scholars of Trinitarian thought and that the actual writings of the Fathers don’t really support it.

    Barnes, by the way, also holds some contrarian views on Augustine. He argues that Augustine was not as beholden to Neo-Platonic philosophy as has been charged. He claims that charge is the result of selective reading limited to books 1 and 2 of De Trinitate.

    Of course, the same can be said of Dionysius, as Fr. Alexander Golitzin has shown.

    Patristics is entering a new era of interesting schlarship.

    I dare say that most of the cliches and pre-conceptions regarding the Fathers are due for an overhaul.

  51. Diane says:

    Evagrius, yo! My DH wrote his doctoral dissertation on Basil II and his immediate successors, so he could tell us a thing or two about oppressive Byzantine regimes. :) (I get the distinct impression that Basil wasn’t the sort of guy you’d want to encounter in a dark alley…especially if you were a Bulgar.)

  52. Diane says:

    Very interesting point re patristics, BTW.

    When I retire from my job as advertising hackette for the apparel industry, my DH is going to take me on a guided tour of the Church Fathers. I’m looking forward to it!

  53. Quickbeam,

    I can clearly explain the eternal relationship between the Son and the Spirit, but it doesn’t follow that it will be clear to you or that you’ll be convinced. People fail to be convinced by perfectly good truth preserving inferences all the time. You could also just read the explications given for example in the council of Blachernae in 1285 for the Orthodox dogmatic understanding.

    I don’t think you really wish to say that there is no such thing as impartial history. Do you mean to imply that your adherence to the papacy is not really the product of what the evidence and reason imply but of your own dispositions? I don’t think you want to say that.

  54. Anon,

    As to Balthasar, I am referring to his rather obvious veering into an Origenist apacatastasis, as I alluded to above. I don’t deny that Origen influenced lots of people, especially Augustine for that matter. But influence and uncritical acceptance or adherence to his faulty presuppositions or beliefs are not the same thing. Maximus for example freely corrects Origen, as did Jerome for that matter.

    As for Balthasar and the Tarot, regardless of whether he employs it to tell the future, it should be obvious that using such things as part of a theological method in a wider attempt to import material from the Hermetic tradition is forbidden to Christians. Such things are detestable to God.

    As for Ruether, Johnson and Fiorenza, I find it rather laughable that you think they either defend themselves well in the light of anything remotely Christian or that they are suitable examples of Catholic theology.

    I can’t admit that I have a narrow theological vision since to do so would require me to lie. And it is unclear what exactly “narrow” amounts to. Does it amount to being conservative? Then guilty as charged. Does it mean exclusionary? Perhaps, but to what degree since everyone’s views are exclusionary to some extent or another. This is the problem with remarks like these. They are rhetorical fluff and border on the fallacy of complex question. They aren’t arguments and so only serve to inflame people rather than help them.

  55. anon,

    You don’t know me so I’d beg you to refrain from making remarks about my person. I try to be dispassionate and stick to the arguments, since it is the arguments that, if they are good, move us from things we know to things we didn’t know. That is the value of logical demonstration.

    So you don’t know me. You have never eaten with me orplayed with my kids or been to my house. You have never worshipped with me or broken beer with me. You have very little to go on. So why not stick to the arguments rather than attack me personally? Or would you prefer that I attack you personally? Perhaps you suffer from the vice of cowardice since you can’t even seem to display your name? Is that the level you wish to take the conversation? Please, Catholics can do better than this. Please do so.

  56. Anon,

    I’ve read plenty of Louth and by today’s standards, it was repressive, but so was the kingdom of Israel under king David. And of course the penal codes under the Franks in the west became progressively more brutal requiring braning and chopping off of noses and such. So what?

    As for Barnes, I am quite familiar with the work on De Regnon. In fact we discussed it on EP about four or five years ago. If you look at the bibliography on our web page, I have a link to his book on my reading page and a search will show a number of places where it is referenced. So yes, I am aware of it and a number of his articles. You might also try Dodaro and Lawless’ Augustine and His Critics. The useful thing about Barnes book is that it substantiates the claim that the essence/energies distinction was present and clearlygrasped in the Cappadocians since it is impossible to understand the Cappadocian/Eunomian debates without it.

    As for Dionysius, that depends since he was probably Damascius one of the last heads of the Academy who became a Christian and heavily influenced by Proclus. (See Sorabji’s work on the late Academy. In any case I am not unaware of the scholarly literature on these questions. My criticisms of Augustine’s Trinitarian theology aren’t indebted to De Regnon. I came to them through reading Augustine and the Latin scholastics long before I ever considered Orthodoxy.

  57. anon says:

    I’m glad that you can “clearly explain the relationship between the Son and the Spirit”.

    That’s quite humble of you. I’m amazed that you haven’t been asked to do so before an august group of theologians.

    ( It’s precisely this type of comment that stirs my sarcasm.)

    Regarding Balthasar. Why should the Hermetic tradition, if there really is one, be offensive to God? Anything that contains truth, no matter how small an amount, should be accepted. Of course, as with anything, discerment is necessary. I think Balthasar had that quality. As for his “Origenism”,
    (apocatastasis not apacatastasis), he was quite careful to state he was not arguing dogma but stating a hope that all will be saved.
    Do you mean to tell me that you wish people condemned to hell?
    As for Ruether, Johnson and Fiorenza- well, they’re teaching and writing so something must be of note in their teaching and writing. You may not like them but they have every right to state what they state. Refute them on their own grounds and not by what you should recognize as “ad hominem” attacks, ( which you often accuse your questioners of doing).

    No. I don’t know you. I just know you by the rather strident tone that you write in. It reveals someone that can’t quite get the fact that, when all is said and done, all that one writes is just smoke and nothing more until one truly confronts what is beyond thinking, knowledge, concepts etc; and then one can either laugh or shut up.

    Basically, you’re entertaining yourself in your writing.

    I do the same so don’t think that the above doesn’t apply to me.

    But basically, cut it out with the “I can clearly explain….”, “I know more than you…” routine.

    State your opinion as your opinion.

    If you were such a hot shot, we’d see you teaching at some university, presenting papers, writing articles etc;

    And, by the way, I’m not Catholic but Orthodox. I just happen to like Catholic theology almost as much as Orthodox theology and find that the two really do complement each other like brothers. Aso, I have a fondness for Buddhism,Hinduism and Taoism as well as Jewish Kabbalah and Hasidism. Even Islam is interesting. First Nations religions intrigue me. After all, they are all searches for God. So I’m not exclusionary but inclusive. Being pluralist doesn’t mean making all equal all. It just means that we haven’t reached the complete fulness of faith in its full expression. Christianity may have the fullness of faith but it still has to fully express it. It hasn’t. That’s why history, the meetings of faiths and peoples is still occuring. We’ll know when that fullness comes.

  58. Sophocles says:


    Please forgive me but you are quite in error. Your views are decidely not Orthodox.

    I will reserve judgement on your statement that Orthodox Catholic and Roman Catholic theology compliment each other because you have not provided an explanation as to how this is so(I realize this was not in the scope of your answer to Perry). But with your last paragraph and how you feel about these faiths, I can somewhat gather where you’re coming from.

    I understand your disclaimer about “your” pluralism and I would take you to mean that all these paths hold elements of truth yet no one single one embodies truth in and of itself but with the study and appreciation in an open-minded way of each one, one will be enriched and will come away with a closer approximation of what constitutes “fullness” and when this then is imported into Chritianity, the Christianity that has not fully expressed the fullness of faith will much more do so. Is this a fairly close account of your thinking on this matter?

    Briefly I will state that I have gone down this path and have found it not to be so. Confusion reigns when one opens the portal so wide.

    I believe you give the human being far too much credit in his ability to be able to process so much information, information which for one of these religions requires a lifetime in and of itself to even begin to “understand”.

    And specifically with Orthodoxy I say that this is far from the mark, dear friend. Orthodoxy is ascetism. But not just ascetism in and of itself which can only lead to demonic pride from the carrying out of the ascetism when the carrying out of it is its only aim. Orthodox ascetism is where our theology derives from. It informs and forms our theology and in turn our theology informs and forms our ascetism with the goal of knowing Christ Who is Himself the fullness of our Faith. In other words He is our Faith. No concept can replace Him, Person. There is an inseperable bond here.

    One may be tempted to say at this point that yes,this is true and good. That one agrees Christ is the fullness of faith but the problem as you are presenting it Evagrius, is,just how does one come to “know” Christ in Whom is the fullness?

    You would state that in gleaning “truths” from these other religions one may find himself on his way towards a more complete picture of the Truth of Christ Who has left His footprint in all creation in all cultures because all that is true is true in Him. Which one human being has the years and ability to thouroughly and accurately wade through what requires not only conceptual knowledge but a lifetime of experience in each tradition to make this judgement?

    Orthodoxy’s message at its heart is “Repent”. And one repents the message repeats itself. “Repent”.

    In repentance, this very narrow way, is life. Here is fullness because here one begins to “know” Christ as He is, not as I would make Him. Orthodox theology, if we are to boil it down to a utilitarian mode, hedges in the way of repentance for the sinner who is utterly lost except for the Grace of God. The theology of the Church illumines the sinner’s path to Christ but the theology has to be exact to do so. And to be exact is born from experience and not theory.

    And the history of the Church is replete with the testimony of those who have indeed testified that this fullness is possible and in fact the attaining of this fullness is the goal of the Christian life. And this is not just textbook testimony but this living Tradition of the fulness is carried forward and embodied in those who attain to and are attaining unto theosis.

    I find it sad when I read the comments of those who are in the fold of the most Holy Orthodox Church and seek outside of Her for that which She does not lack. After all, one never graduates from repentance.

    Evagrius, along these lines, what are your thoughts on the Anti Christ, whose appearance is to preceed the Lord’s Coming? What are your thoughts about the Scriptures stating that a great falling away must take place before the end? With the Kabbalah(especially) and Hinduism what does the association of the name Aleister Crowley mean to you? What are your thoughts on the occult, magick and the like? Does the Gospel of Jesus Christ find enrichment from magic?

    Hinduism, which is especially “inclusive” of all paths(except when a path-like “narrow” Orthodoxy states that they are not compatible in which case Hinduism shows its true colors and reveals how narrow it really is in denouncing that which is not “inclusive”. In what way do you find Hinduism may enrich Orthodoxy?

  59. Mr. Wrestling #2 says:

    Anonevagrius’ last post should bring this thread to a screeching halt, and we should all proceed to go and take a bath.

  60. diane says:

    Screeching halt? Nahhhh. Just when the thread was getting really good. What’s not to like? From “I’m smarter than you are, neener-neener” arrogance to pious-schmious gobbledygook…I love it!

  61. anon says:

    Sophocles- I’m not sure exactly what you’re arguing.

    Perhaps it’s because I don’t think of Orthodoxy as being from the past but rather from the future.

    Orthodoxy is the eschatological realization of the Gospel.

    See John Manoussakis’ essay on the Myriobiblos site.

    You argue that Orthodoxy is asceticism. All well and good but I think asceticism by itself is just asceticism. Obviously you mean to include theosis why is beyond asceticism even as it depends on it.

    If Christ is fully human, then He wasn’t just a Hellene or Jew. Those other religions which have some understanding of what it is to be human also are included in the definition human.

    Associating Crowley with Kabbalah and Hinduism is laughable. They have nothing to do with him.

    Hinduism is a complex of religions, some quite rigorous in philosophy and logic and some extremely devotional. Its ability to include all this is both its strength and weakness.

    Considering that we can no longer live in isolation from each other, don’t you think that knowing a bit about other religions, their truths, insights and lack, can be helpful to a more peaceful world.

    What you advocate is a ghetto mentality.

    Stay in the ghetto if you wish but the ghetto will be getting smaler and smaller.

  62. Perry,

    You could have used his predecessor Becco instead to demonstrate the support of it as well – so what.

    Both draw on Blemmydes and came to opposite conclusions.

    We can fill grand canyons with inferences. I simply think its helpful to recognize the fault within all of us. If you’ve been give a special charism your are truly blessed.

  63. Quickbeam,

    Perhaps, but i on’t think the Blemmydes is neutral. In anycase, it matters not since the church has alrady ruled against Beccus.

  64. Anon,

    The eternal relationship between the Son and the Spirit in Orthodox theology is articulated at the council of Blachernae in 1285. If you wish to dismiss my attempt to explicate it, then I’d recommend looking at what the church you claim says about it in dogmatic form.

    The Hermetic tradition and associated Occultism are forbidden to Christians on Biblical as well as clear Patristic grounds. As for Balthasar’s Origenism, the expression of a “hope” was motivated by Universalistic presuppositions and so it is easy to see how he motivated in his thinking by these was moved to the “hope.” It is just the pendulum swinging from the more predestinarian pole in the preceding concentration on Thomism to the other end.

    If you take Ruether, Johnson and Fiorenza to be faithful exponents of Catholic theology, then I suppose its best to leave that for you to discuss with the blog owners. I suspect that the advocation of things like women’s ordination and feminist inclusive language will e sufficient to generate an interesting discussion all by itself.

    And given the parameters of an established theological position, it is not ad hominem to point out heterodoxy as a reductio ad absurdum.

    Perhaps I am strident. Perhaps not. But you aren’t exactly the soul of meekness either. It matters not, either here or there since character doesn’t make an argument good or bad.

    While I am a firm believer in apophatic theology, I am also a firm believer in cataphatic theology, which means that I think that God truly reveals himself. I do not subscribe to the Gnostic maxim that all texts are ultimately meaningless and semantically dissolve themselves since it is predicated on nihilism about the world and posits an oppositional relationship between God and his creation. Consequently I reject the charge of aestheticism in my writing. My purpose is entirely different and is rather to aid as far as I can people who suffer in lack of understanding. Otherwise there is little pointing in reading other than for my own edification.

    As for opinions, that is a rather large difference between us. I think things can be known of God and that is the point of revelation. The Scriptures and the teaching of the God bearing Fathers are not opinions or approximations by merely human authors about God in a specific temporal-cultural context. Consequently your claim to be Orthodox flies in the face of clear Scriptural prohibitions and teaching. The epistle to the Hebrews makes sufficiently clear that God speaks finally and expressly in his Son. Whatever truths may be found in other religions are not true because of those religions, but rather in spite of them. I would recommend Catholic readers consult Dominus Iesus and Fides et Ratio.

    I was up until recently pursuing a doctorate in philosophy. As for writing I do have a forthcoming paper to be published in a peer review journal. As soon as my financial situation becomes more stable, I have a few other drafts for publication. In any case, this is irrelevant since it is just another ad hom fallacy.

    As for what is “interesting” I think this bespeaks a spiritual sickness, an intellectual aestheticism rooted in despair. This is why you have gone beyond the markers of Orthodoxy in search of something that grants your mind the immediate, the erotic, the new. It is a common ailment among intelelctuals and academics. I’d recommend reading some Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death. In any case, it is clear to me that you are not Orthodox.

    There is nothing else to say.

  65. diane says:

    There is nothing else to say.

    In the immortal words of Buddy Holly, “That’ll be the day.”

    BTW, just curious: By what authority do you read Evagrius out of the Orthodox Church? is there indeed an Orthodox Magisterium, and are you it?

  66. Diane wrote,

    “Screeching halt? Nahhhh. Just when the thread was getting really good. What’s not to like? From “I’m smarter than you are, neener-neener” arrogance to pious-schmious gobbledygook…I love it!”

    I think that reveals plenty of why you search out and hover about such conversations and it speaks badly of your character. Just look who you claimed as an ally. Someone who allys himself with syncretism and paganism.

    “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?” Is 8:19

  67. Diane,

    Try the Scriptures, the Fathers and the Councils all forbid this kind of syncretism and prying into Occult practices. Your own “magisterium” says as much.

  68. diane says:

    Perry, I will overlook your completely unwarranted ad homs and focus on just a couple of things:

    ** I do not agree with everything Evagrius writes — not by a long shot — but I certainly am neither willing nor qualified to write him out of the Christian fold. Geez, doesn’t he even get a heresy trial? ;)

    ** From my reading of Evagrius, he is not “prying into Occult practices.” He is simply recognizing — as any Christian with a reasonably open mind should recognize — that there are glimmers of truth in most of the major religions. Lots of falsehood and depravity, too, sure, but also glimmers of truth. Like Saint Paul in re the “Unknown God,” Evagrius is seeking common ground — seeking those areas where the Hindus and Buddhists have intuited something of the truth. No, they don’t have the benefit of Divine Revelation — but, as St. Paul says, the Creator reveals Himself in His creation; we should not be surprised, therefore, if we find little glints and glimmers of truth among the welter of pagan beliefs. Surely you realize that there is a rich tradition of recognizing that the pagans sometimes have glimpsed bits of the truth? (Virgil, the Sybil, etc.)

    ** I agree with Evagrius that you have grossly mischaracterized the arguments of von Balthasar. I am no huge fan of Balthasar’s thesis — not by a long shot — but even I, dumb untutored shlemiel that I am, can clearly see that von Balthasar is not a universalist. There is all the difference in the world between HOPING that all may be saved and ASSERTING that all <will be saved. Von Balthasar makes a very nuanced, complex argument — I don’t happen to agree with it, but there’s no mistaking the fact that it is carefully argued and nuanced. IMHO, it is completely bogus to reduce it to Origenism. It is no such thing. AFAIK, the jury is out as to whether von Balthasar’s thesis is permissible for a Catholic. I personally think it verges on going just the eensiest bit too far, but I’m not the Magisterium, so I’m in no position to issue any kind of verdict.

    Bottom line: Von Balthasar asks us to dare to HOPE, not to insist, and even he concedes that it is extremely unlikely that all are saved. Your gross mischaracterization of Balthasar’s thinking = caricature, pure and simple. If you expect to be taken seriously as a scholar, shouldn’t you demonstrate an ability to make crucial (and sometimes fine) distinctions, rather than painting everything with the broad, distortive brush of caricature?

    ** Fiorenza, et al., are certainly not my cup of tea, and where they dissent from Magisterial Teaching, they are certainly wrong. But I haven’t read enough of them to know whether every single syllable they write is wrong. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Evagrius shows a willingness to read and engage even those he disagrees with. This is the hallmark of a liberal (in the best sense) mind.

    ** Finally, you write as though you officially speak for Orthodoxy–as though you represent and serve as the arbiter of what is and isn’t Truly Orthodox(TM). Given the fact that Orthodoxy has no Magisterium–AND given the fact that the Scriptures, Fathers, and Councils can be susceptible of just as many different interpretations as “Sola Scriptura” is (IOW, Tradition, like Scripture, does NOT interpret itself, which is precisely why the Magisterium is necessary and precisely why the lack of a Magisterium has wrought such confusion within Orthodoxy–given all of this, how on earth can you claim to be able to pronounce upon who is or isn’t Orthodox? It all comes down to authority, and ISTM you ain’t got any. If Evagrius’s priest allows him to take Communion, doesn’t that mean that he is de facto in, not out, of the Orthodox Church? Until he is barred from Communion, you have no more right to tell him he’s not Orthodox than I do.

  69. Diane,

    I think you need to read what he wrote more carefully since he is claiming more than what impute to him. Do you take Elizabeth Johnson to be a faithful teacher of Catholicism? Have you ever read her books?

    I never claimed Balthasar was a universalist, so you impute to me views which I never expressed. I said that his thesis of “hope” was grounded in and motivated by universalistic presuppositions coming out of Origenism. You can see this in his misreading of Maximus on this point in comparison with say Thunberg’s treatment. Even Catholic scholars like Daley agree. I’d suggest you read the sources in question to see for yourself. Given that Balthasar’s original gloss comes out of his treatment of Maximus and Origen, it is hardly bogus. It seems so to you I’d wager because you haven’t actually read the respective texts.

    Of course the jury is out for Catholics, that is the price you pay for thinking that doctrine develops-yesterdays acceptable gloss is todays heresy. That doesn’t make my claim about Balthasar’s misreading of Maximus and the incipient Origenism any less true. You conflate the formal and material here.

    I have read Johnson and Co. firsthand. She Who Is made me vomit. So it is not as if I am unwilling to read sources with which I disagree. It is more than a bit ironic that I am defending traditional Catholicism at this point and you are defending obviously heterodoxy Catholic writers.

    I don’t need to speak for the whole church to correct some other layman. That is a standard that even Catholicism does not errect. If one of my parishoners says that Jesus sinned, I don’t have to have an ecumenical council to inform them that it is false and that if they persist in the error they have ceased to be considered Orthodox in any meaningful sense. You create a false standard and then chide me for not adhering to it.

    If you think the Scriptures, Fathers and Councils are susceptible to any interpretation as to syncretism and occultism, I can’t help you. Likewise you confuse questions of epistemology with normativity. I can do the former and I don’t need to do the latter since it is already done. And you create a rather silly problem for yourself since the Magisterium is not self interpreting either so now we have an infinite regress with respect to a Magisterium. This is why I noted that you were conflating epistemological questions with questions respecting normativity. And you make the fallacious claim that since we don’t have a magisterium like Rome does that there is no teaching office and no authoritative mechanism for rendering judgments, which is absurd on its face given the episcopate as divinely instituted to do just that as saint Paul indicates when he elucidates how the “man of God” is to utilize the Scriptures. Comparing Orthodoxy to Protestantism’ free for all is just stupid. Protestants don’t have succession through a valid episcopate and they haven’t preserved the faith, liturgy and sacraments. A lack of a singular despotes doesn’t imply anarchy. You have one and just look at the state of Roman liturgics. Barney blessing anyone? How’s that for some humor?

    If Eusebius of Nicomedia allowed Arius to take communion, does that imply prior to Nicea that Arius was Orthodox or that it was acceptable to treat him as such? No.

  70. diane says:

    Of course the jury is out for Catholics, that is the price you pay for thinking that doctrine develops-yesterdays acceptable gloss is todays heresy.

    What’s Russian for bullsh_t?

    As you have repeatedly demonstrated at Mike Liccione’s blog, you do not understand THING ONE about Development of Doctrine. (And, if you think there has been no “development” in Orthodoxy, then you are seriously, seriously deluding yourself.)

    Once again, you distort, misrepresent, caricature, and then attack your silly straw-man. You have been refuted re Development a gazillion times. You have yet to demonstrate that you even understand the arguments that have been presented to you by Mike L. and many others. You’re far from dumb, so I can only conclude that you choose not to understand.

    If you think the Scriptures, Fathers and Councils are susceptible to any interpretation as to syncretism and occultism, I can’t help you.

    That’s not what I said. Not even close. My syntax was pretty convoluted, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here.

    All I’m saying is that Tradition is no more self-explanatory or self-interpreting that Scripture is. That’s why Orthodoxy is so rife with confusion — and why asking 12 different Orthodox what Orthodox believe about X, Y or Z will elicit 12 different answers. Catholicism has the three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. Removing any of those legs — no matter which leg — results in all kinds of disaster.

    As to whether Evagrius is in or out of the Orthodox Church: Why don’t you ask his priest? You still haven’t explained to anyone’s satisfaction what gives you the right and authority to pronounce on the question of Evagrius’s ecclesial status.

  71. diane says:

    Nor have you demonstrated why it is “stupid” to compare Orthodoxy to Protestantism’s “free for all.” Yes, y’all have both Scripture and Tradition (two legs of the stool as against Protestantism’s one). And y’all are “true parfticular churches,” not “ecclesial communities.” That’s why y’all are far less fragmented and fissiparous than Protestantism. But considering that y’all have all this stuff–plus valid Orders and Mysteries–it’s pretty darned amazing how divided, fragmented, and jurisdictionally chaotic Orthodoxy is. Fr. Schmemann courageously admitted this, but perhaps y’all follow the “we have no problems; our sh_t doesn’t stink” school of Internet Orthodox apologetics. :)

  72. happy says:

    I have to appreciate your ya’lls in there and assume you are a southern gal like me! You are quite clever yourself!


  73. diane says:

    LOL! I’m a transplant–originally from Boston. But we’ve been in North Carolina almost 20 years, and I married a Kentuckian, sooooo…I’ve adapted. :)

    Whereabouts are y’all?

    Thanks so much for the compliment, but I confess to feeling frustrated. I’m losing my temper, saying uncharitable things, and burning time I should be spending on other stuff. (I’m at work right now–i-yi-yi!)

    I’d better get back to the salt-mine!

    Thanks again!


  74. Sophocles says:


    Thanks for the compliment.

  75. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Well, Diane, you certainly know how to hold up your end of an argument.

    May I recommend some books to you from an author that I consider my Teacher, ( in capitals because that’s what he truly was), the late Donald Nicholl, ( may his memory be eternal!).

    Mr. Nicholl, ( that’s how I title and remember him), was my first professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He was a deeply devout Roman Catholic, ( though I didn’t know how devout), and, at the time, I too was Roman Catholic. Anyway, he taught us freshman, ( freshpersons?), World Civilizations. He was an expert in medieval history, Celtic history, Russian religious thought, etc; etc;. In the course of being in his classes and outside of class, I learned quite a bit from him. He was one of those truly “catholic” teachers, willing to be open to anything but having a discerning eye for what was bullsh*t and what wasn’t, and having the courage to say so. At any rate, he introduced me to Russian religious thinking via Dostoyevski, ( he taught, if that’s the right word, a discussion class on the Brothers Karamazov, ( which he recommended that one should read evry year!), at a coffee house- interesting discussions), and other aspects of other religious traditions. I remember going to his house, years later, and finding nothing but a very bare living room with a couch. Apparently, he gave most of his earnings to the Missionaries of Charity, the order Mother Teresa founded, ( he was a member of the lay association affiliated with them). I cannot recommend him highly enough. His spirit of inquiry and openess has guided me throughout my life.

    He wrote a number of books, ( I hope they are still in print and on Amazon);

    Holiness- a book that deals with how to live a holy life with examplars of many religious traditions, from retreat talks given to the Poor Clares in Aptos, California.

    The Triumph of the Spirit in Russia- a book that explores a number of examplars from the Orthodox Russian tradition, ( which he loved deeply- there’s a foreword from Bishop Kallistos Ware, a friend).

    The Beatitudes of Truth- a collection of essays gathered from essays in The Tablet, a lay Catholic journal.

    The Testing of Hearts- His reflections on being the director of the Tantur Ecumenical Center in Israel.

    You can find more information at;


    It was from him that I learned not to be afraid to seek truth wherever it may and also, to try to discern what is bullsh*t and what isn’t- he has, in one of the books, I think his essays- a wonderful etymology of discernment-(originally from able to see what is and isn’t shite).

    I’m afraid I’m one of his less able students but I try.

    You’ll have to take what Mr. Robinson states about Orthodoxy with a very huge grain of salt. You’re correct. As Fr Robert Taft once said, the tragedy of Orthodoxy is that it doesn’t have a Magisterium, ( not that that often helps- oftentimes it can be a hindrance but at least one has a single voice to reflect upon). This is its weakness but also, interestingly, its strength.

    Mr. Robinson has a certain narrow view of Orthodoxy, one shared by many on the Internet, but not necessarily by all Orthodox. Don’t take his view as being normative by any means.

    At any rate, I’m quite happy to have had a discussion with Mr. Robinson, a discussion I was not allowed to have on his blog since he made me a non-entity.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that I should be able to exchange views on this blog rather than his.

    Thank you, A Simple Sinner, for graciously allowing such a discussion to occur. Your irenic spirit is to be commended.

  76. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Mr. Robinson,

    If you were to read the writings of Hinduism, Buddhism etc; you’d find that they aren’t new. In fact, some go back as far or even farther than the O.T.

    Have you read “Cosmic Man” by Paulos Mar Gregorios?
    It’s on Gregory of Nyssa and Hinduism.
    Recommended by Fr. Dragas BTW.

    You really need to look beyond your sandbox.

  77. Sophocles says:





    (asimplesinner: sorry if this comment gets posted twice as somehow it got stuck awaiting moderation while the last one made it through-thanks)

  78. Diane,

    It is hardly BS since that is what the theory entails, namely that possible glosses at a given time, can later on be judged to be heterodox. Fr. Kimel and Mike Liccione have explicitly argued so.
    My disagreements as to DOD do not consist over what the concept is. I recognize my own thoughts on it as to the concept in Mike L’s writing. Our disagreements are over whether it is necessary, actually does the kind of work it is supposed to and if it is consist with or part of the apostolic deposit. I’ve read what Mike has written on the subject on his blog and I haven’t actually commented much since there isn’t much else to say that hasn’t already been said. I have to date yet to see an attempt to deal with the problems I posed to it with respect to the underdetermination of theory by facts, theoretical incommensurability across conceptual schemes and problems of fideism. Other than that, he is not moved by other arguments against it and I am not moved by arguments for it. He knows this and I know this. He knows that I know and I know that he knows that I know and he knows that I know that he knows. We are two knowledgeable people.
    As to what constitutes development and if there has been any in Orthodox theology, you have displayed over the last five years no substantial knowledge of Orthodox theology and I don’t think you can even articulate what Newmans’ concept of development in fact was. So I will keep my own counsel on what has taken place in my church. I have read Newman, Dulles and a host of other Catholic writers. I doubt you have.
    Certainly you are deluded into thinking that merely asserting that I misrepresent and create straw men amounts to a demonstration that I have in fact done so. Fist pounding Diane, is not proof. And again, with the personal ad hom’s. How is this one right back at you? You display all the properties of a bigot. You hover around discussions that far exceed your ability and experience and cheer lead your side recommending works that you yourself have not read but you have been told that they do the trick. If the pope lied, you’d swear to it. You must win ever dispute even it means implying the worst motives to the other side without so much as giving any substantive argument for your own position. You can never concede the slightest bit of plausibility to anything from the other side. So I think the shoe of moral and intellectual viciousness is on the other foot. You simply choose to be a bigot.
    The implication from what you said was that without a magisterium of the Roman variety, then it would be a veritable free for all. Secondly, the office of the teacher according to the NT and the Fathers is that of an authoritative teacher employing the rule of faith the scriptures. If you don’t think so, then this just confirms that there are no bishops in Rome, just the pope with essentially a myriad of legates. Again, you confuse not having a singular teaching office with not having authority, but this is clearly not the case conceptually or historically. Constantinople I did just fine condemning the Pneumatamochoi heresy authoritatively without a single bishop over them.
    I didn’t claim Scripture or Tradition more widely understood was self explanatory. Again, you can’t seem to track the thought of someone who doesn’t share your prejudice. I don’t need to be infallible to know what the bible or the Fathers say or to grasp the consensus patrum. Knowing and normative judgments are not the same things, as I have now pointed out to you three times, but like a bad marksman you keep missing the target.
    Asking any group’s average member will result in a host of different opinions and this is even more the case in Catholicism. Just look at any stats you like in North America for example on the percentage of Catholics who reject not only major moral teachings of their church but also core theological beliefs like the real presence in the Eucharist, Trinity, Papal infallibility, etc.
    As for disaster, I think people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Do you mean disasters like Vatican II? Whatever problems Orthodoxy has with phyletism and ethnic insularity, for my part, I’ll take that over gross corruption of the Liturgy. So I’ll see your ethnic insularity and raise you a mass of female alter servers, an army of LEMS, and a host of other banal, inane and quackadox liturgical practices. Gotta love those guitar masses, with the evangelical happy clappy muzak! Oh Yummy! I can live with the former and the fact that many traditional Catholics are literally running to Uniate churches to escape this nonsense is sufficient confirmation.
    If I knew in fact that Evagrius was Orthodox and where he was a member I would probably do so, but I have no means to do so since I don’t know those things. And as I said before, but you obviously don’t grasp, I don’t have to be an ecclesiastical court to not consider him Orthodox. Do you have to be the Pope to consider a vocal advocate like say Matthew Fox a heretic when he was a Catholic priest? No. You are fabricating standards which your own church doesn’t recognize. In any case, why not ask Evagrius what Orthodox church he is a member of, what jurisdiction, etc. I make no great secret of my membership.
    Yes I did demonstrate that it is stupid to compare Orthodoxy to the theological free for all in Protestantism. Orthodoxy takes certainly theological questions to be infallibly settled. Protestants don’t. As for throwing jurisdictional matters in my face or the problems that Fr. Schmemann noted, there are two points to consider. Rome has plenty of jurisdictional squabbles. There’s a biggie in Austria if memory serves about to pop out, not to mention the wackiness among the Uniates. Why do they have to go back to their home countries to get ordained? Why won’t Latin bishops permit them to be ordained here? Uhm, can you say jurisdiction?

  79. Evagrius,

    I have and have read the book in question and it is quite funny, since if memory serves there isn’t a single reference to Hinduism in the entire book. The book is an explication or Nyssa’s thought, the first third of the book being an explication of his argument against Eunomius and the rest being an explication, contra certain Roman Catholic teachings, of his doctrine of creation, anthropology specifically. I read this book back in 1998.

    As for the “sandbox” you need to stop making stuff up. Why not come clean and just tell everyone where you in fact go to church?

  80. Sophocles says:


    A comment I had intended for Evagrius with links is stuck I think. Are the links causing the moderation to kick in? I appreciate your looking into this matter.



  81. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    You’re right. It isn’t Mar Gregorios, it’s T. Paul Verghese, later known as Mar Osthathios. In his book, Freedom and Authority, he has a section of Gregory of Nyssa and the sages of India. Quite an interesting chapter, ( I got the two Mars confused).

    As for where I go to church etc; that’s my business. I certainly don’t want to cause my priest any grief over someone whining about me.

    Your response to Diane shows precisely why you shouldn’t teach. Mr. Nicholl often encountered erroneous views from his students, ( I certainly had them and stated them). He never once stated that the holder of the views was stupid, dumb, ignorant, ( and then parading his knowledge to prove it), etc;. Instead, he kindly led, through the Socratic method, the holder of the erroneous view to realize for herself/ himself that it was an erroneous opinion. A very gentle way of teaching but far more effective.
    I think Diane can figure out for herself what she needs to know.

    As for the state of the Catholic Church, you’re quite right. It is in crisis but it’s a good crisis forcing it to really come to grips with its traditions, politics, and its relation to the modern world.

    As for the Orthodox, it may look like it has no visible crisis but then that’s only on the surface.
    It still doesn’t have a unified voice, it too is losing members, ( Greece doesn’t look that well), it still hasn’t come to grips with its own lack of clarity with regards to the modern world.

    Interestingly enough, Mar Osthathios’ book Freedom and Authority was quite prescient in dealing with these questions.

  82. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Sophocles- Interesting links that I have no real wish to explore. Mr. Crowley knew about those subjects as much as Rasputin and Stalin knew about Orthodoxy, ( you do know that Stalin was a seminary student and Rasputin a monk?).

  83. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Some links regarding Mar Osthathios of India;




    On the Malankara Orthodox Church;


    U.S. site of the Church;


    Enjoy. You will find some interesting, fruitful things to ponder on.

    I especially recommend the articlearchive.com article.
    You may need to sign up but it’s free service.

  84. Sophocles says:


    Yes about Stalin and Rasputin.

    Crowley finding actual use from Kabbalah to further his vision is quite different from Stalin’s hate of the seminary and reaction to it and the “mystic” Rasputin who picked up elements from Orthodoxy and blended them into his persona.

    My main point to you in regards to Orthodoxy put simply is that one has his hands full just being Orthodox. Just overcoming myself and struggling to keep the commandments of Christ is enough. This is the ascetism I’m speaking of.

    You wrote that it would be prudent to know about others’ beliefs considering that we no longer live in isolation from one another. Leaving it at that I would agree but I think from what you write you take it further and actually take elements from these paths and incorporate them into your own own “Orthodoxy”.

    As for ghettos, I could just as easily point out that your associating with like-minded people as yourself is the forming of a “ghetto” albeit with different criteria as to who lives in your neighborhood than I would have. But yes, it would seem that your ghetto seems to be getting bigger and more powerful than mine at this time in the world and that mine is getting smaller. Let’s see what happens.

    Again though, I’m curious for your response to what you understand about the Anti Christ preceeding the Lord’s return and the great falling away before His return?

  85. Diane says:


    You. Do. Not. Understand. Development. of. Doctrine. Your insistences to the contrary and your mischaracterizations of Mike’s and Fr. Kimel’s statements only serve to demonstrate that you do not get it. Again, I assume that’s because you are unwilling to get it. It’s really not that hard to understand. Even a stupid ignoramus like me can get it. Catholicism (unlike Holy Gnosti–oops, I mean Orthodoxy) is accessible even unto children. You do not have to be either a holier-than-thou ascetic or a smarter-than-thou PhD student in order to understand Catholic doctrine. What a concept, eh?

    Secondly, our Catholic “crisis” is in the process of being resolved, and all the leading indicators are trending positive. Anyone with an open mind and a good set of eyes can see that most dioceses are trending more conservative, that new episcopal appointments are solidly orthodox, that conservative seminaries and religious orders are flourishing, and that even those educational institutions which formerly flouted “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” are now cleaning up their act. I can point to countless examples of this trend. As Father J has observed, even five years ago the scene was very different.

    Worldwide, we Catholics are showing robust growth — 1.31 billion and counting. Worldwide, I’m told, Orthodoxy is shrinking. Not trying to play a numbers game here; just trying to point out that, if y’all are so spiritually superior to us Katolicks, well, you seem to be having a pretty hard time convincing the world of that.

    Meanwhile, as Evagrius notes, Orthodoxy’s crises are very real. And, I would respectfully argue, while we Catholics are (slowly and painfully) resolving our crises, Orthodoxy seems rather less willing to resolve its crises. Jurisdictions still bicker and compete; monks still bash each other with bricks every Easter at the Holy Sepulcher; political, financial, and sexual corruption run rampant in Greece and Russia. And no, despite one speech by Met. Jonah, transparency and integrity have not been magically restored overnight to the OCA. Today, right now, Catholics are miles ahead in the transparency department — which is why, as one comboxer elsewhere put it, we have people with the “stones” to stand up and “out” the Legionaries…resulting in the ongoing Legionaries Bust. The same comboxer (apparently an ex-Orthodox) lamented that no one was playing a similar role in the OCA, which was why, he said (his words, not mine), it was turning into a “kool-aid cult.” (Again, just quoting; not necessarily subscribing to his views.)

    It’s painful for me to write this, because, unlike you and Daniel, I don’t get my jollies out of bashing other people’s churches. But the fact remains, Orthodoxy flies under the radar. Its problems receive far, far, far less publicity — at least in this country — than Catholicism’s do. Plus, it does not have to deal with deeply rooted, pervasive American anti-Catholicism. So, Orthodox problems receive little news coverage. But that does not mean they don’t exist. Problems are problems, whether or not they’re widely publicized. Crises are crises, even if relatively few people know about them. If they exist, they exist; it’s not the publicity that somehow makes them exist. They’re there, period, and, if there’s denial and lack of transparency, then they will just get worse.

    Recently I read about a Greek Orthodox priest who was busted for his involvement in a child pornography ring. After I read this article, I felt ike I needed to immerse my head in brain bleach. It was beyond horrifying. (Some of the victims were as young as six months old. I won’t elaborate. It was horrific.) But you know what? If this had been a Catholic priest, we’d never hear the end of it from certain quarters. It was an Orthodox priest, so it flies under the radar. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Shame on anyone, Catholic or Orthodox, who seeks to downplay or cover up or piously ignore a heinous crime like this.

  86. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Sophocles- If you wish to be literate about the Apocalypse, that’s your choice. I prefer to think of the Anti-Christ as a shabbily dressed businessman offering a 25% return on your money if you invest in his scheme.

    I prefer to believe that the victory has already occured as manifested in every liturgy, ( read Manoussakis on eschatology).

    As for my reading about and inquiring about other religions, whatever truth they point to can often help in seeing things in a new way. I recommend Mar Osthatios’ essay on athreita as an example.

  87. happy says:

    Texas! The bible belt. Like a I said, a simple girl.
    To be VERY honest,most of this is lost on me in this discussion. Here about as deep as it gets is we are suppose to follow the teachings of Jesus. When a family has a death you take them food and love on them. When you see someone with a need, you give … however, to see that their needs are met:) We take care of the ill,clothe the poor, put roofs on neighbors houses that cant afford to. We teach our children to do the same. In our town, when people come together to work, doesn’t really matter what church they belong to they all work together.
    My daughter had cancer while she was in the hospital groups took turns feeding the rest of my family and doing our laundry. One week Baptist,one methodist, one Catholic, one presb., one Lutheran, so on and so on. To be quite honest most of these people could care less about telling any other faith group they are doing it wrong! ha!

    As far as numbers. We live in a town of 200,000 very close to the small town in which I grew up. There are at least 8 Catholic Churches. There is one small Orthodox Church(that I know of). If you said Orthodox most people have never heard of it here.

    For the record, In pretty much EVERY church there has been things done by the leaders that are dispicable. The Catholic Church by far are not the only group to have things happen in them. Just the quickest to make the news(for some reason).

    I just find it amusing that some people come on here and are so offended that people are making “personal judgements” and shots against him and yet he has taken the last few days to do exactly that.(if you know what I mean!)

    good thing simplesinner lets us have these discussions. Wouldn’t have happened on their blog, right?

    Ya’ll be blessed :)

  88. diane says:

    Happy, I am with you. It all comes down to love God, love your neighbor, preach the Gospel (use words when necessary :)), feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and trust in Jesus. That’s why it’s been revealed “unto the merest children.” :) As Father Longenecker has recently pointed out, part of what’s so cool about Catholicism is that it appeals to great intellects like Augustine and Aquinas yet also to simple folk, even children. It’s not some esoteric mystery reserved for the discerning, enlightened few. It’s the Good News for all mankind.

    I don’t think Orthodoxy is inherently gnostic or elitist, but I think the way Perry presents it comes off as gnostic and elitist. After reading his and Sophocles’ posts, I just want to come up for air: FRESH AIR. The fresh air of the Gospel, which I experience every day in my good ole mixed-bag big-tent Catholic Church.

    And I too thank Simple Sinner for letting us ventilate here. Thanks so much, Simple Sinner.

    And I apologize if I have offended anyone. I get carried away sometimes. :)

  89. happy says:

    “It’s not some esoteric mystery reserved for the discerning, enlightened few. It’s the Good News for all mankind.”

    Amen, sista!

  90. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Diane and happy- You should know, of course, that most Orthodox do and are the same as those you describe.
    The only real “gnosticism” that anyone should be concerned about is knowledge of the heart.

    That knowledge comes from prayer and following the commandment to love.

    Anyone, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, what ever faith, can do that no matter what their intellectual ability.

  91. Diane,

    This is the problem. You assert and fist pound but you give no real reasons to support the bald claims. Your mouth writes checks that your brain isn’t cashing. How could I have mischaracterized the statements of Fr. Kimel and Mike L if I never gave them? I never glossed their views in the above thread. I only indicated where the discussion lies and a few of the major objections specific to me that have gone undiscussed.

    I have read enough on it that I understand it and my interlocutors take me seriously enough to engage me on most of the points I have raised. If they thought I simply didn’t understand it, I doubt they would have bothered or would have argued much differently than they did. I suspect you think that I don’t understand it since I take it to permit innovations. That doesn’t imply that I don’t understand it but rather that despite reasons proffered to the contrary, I have other reasons for why I think those defensive reasons aren’t good ones. That doesn’t make me dense or immoral, it means that I don’t think the counter-points actually do the work that the people deploy them think they do. So, you fallaciously move from, I can’t see why he can’t agree to, he must choose to not to agree. So perhaps, you could stop making moral judgments about me and others, because frankly your accusations of sin and overt judgementalism are nauseating.

    Since you feel that you grasp DOD, perhaps you can explain how Newman’s theory of DOD escapes the problem of underdetermination of theory and theoretical incommensurability that usually afflicts idealistic models like Newman’s? Somehow I suspect all I will hear are cricket’s chirping.

    On the ground level, the Catholic crisis isn’t going anywhere. When most of the parishes in the US do not have LEM’s handling the eucharist on a regular basis or alter girls for example, then I might believe you. Even with conservative seminaries and orders, they are dwarfed by the institutional liberalism which is a noxious and pervasive fume. I know this first hand having spent time in a Catholic university at the graduate level. The Sodomites still hold many many of the door keys. Of course this is what your conservative seminarians tell me. And of course we have the near open revolt brewing in Austria among the majority of bishops there. All the hope for Benedict is really a pipe dream since he can’t really employ papal power so much as to execute a minor excommunication by banning some politicians from the table or clean out the corrupt episcopate without having global schisms on his hands. All he can do is take back this or that piece by a creeping method. You know this to be true. So no, the toothpaste is out of the tube. It is not that I wish Rome harm in this respect, it is rather I prefer to have a realistic picture. Rome is so big that if it sneezes everyone else gets a cold. A more liberal Catholicism is not in anyone’s best interests.

    As for growth, in some places Catholicism is growing, in others, its dying on the vine. Same is true for Orthodoxy, but that has always been the case in history. I suppose I take Augustine’s argument in the City of God far more seriously than you do. As for sheer numbers, I wouldn’t brag. Let’s take a look at Brazil. It has about 80 million professing Catholics and oddly enough those same people identify themselves as “spiritualists” with the result that roughly Brazil has the same number of Catholics as Spiritualists. If you go to major cities along the coast during specific months, you get the benefit of seeing them in action. After Mass, they go down to the beach and worship the Sea goddess, tens of thousands of people, complete with sex orgies, magic rituals and possession. And that’s just Brazil. So sorry, I am not buying the, “we healthy cause we gots mo peeps!”

    Bishops have squabbled over pride of place since the time of the Apostles. With Rome, one squabbler is top dog. As for growth, the church was Catholic with 12 apostles and 70 disciples. Catholicity is not about geography but about the faith according to all of the apostolic sees, not the innovations in one of them.

    The reason why you bring these kinds of problems to light because you really think that they are deal breakers or indicate the truth of your position, when in actual fact, these are not the main issues to be discussed between the two bodies. I suspect you find the lowest level here since you aren’t at home in the real issues like the papacy, Filioque, etc. and so you lash out with this kind of nonsense. If the Filioque is heresy, it doesn’t matter how many continents Rome has to spew it on.

    I am not privy to all the ins and outs of the troubles in the OCA, nor do I care to be. The simple fact is that there is no point in me delving into it since God hasn’t put me in a position to do anything about it. When he does, I’ll let you know. Spiritually running from place to place to learn about such things is bad for oneself and others. But I do know that a good number of people have spoken out about it and change is taking place albeit slowly. But that is the difference between us, you look for and measure things like this in terms of institutional power, whereas I think a la Maximus, even laymen can be infallible.

    I don’t know why you think Daniel and I get our jollies over “bashing” other people. Daniel and I are quite repulsed by talking with you. I simply ignore you most of the time and skip over your posts or just don’t even post on a given blog. Frankly Daniel is tired of fighting with people which is why he doesn’t post as often. What is said is said. I post things to try and help people think through problems to remove obstacles to becoming Orthodox while at the same time providing material to people already Orthodox to assuage doubts or concerns. An ounce of prevention…So I think you clearly misdiagnose what I am up to.

    It is true that Catholics get more press, but don’t brag about being the biggest and then complain when someone airs the dirty laundry. If you are going to go around the block with the big dogs, don’t piss like a puppy. God is a God of the small, just as much as he is of the big. The fact is that every body has to deal with sin and practical problems, which is why NONE OF THESE ARE A SUFFICIENT BASIS TO MAKE A DECISION FOR A SPECIFIC BODY. This is why it is better to stick with the official teachings and focus on a few deal breakers. This is why nothing you have written here concerning practical matters really amounts to anything worthwhile.

    Simply because I focus on those issues doesn’t imply that I am Gnostic or an elitist any more than say the legion of Catholic apologists who focus on proving the papacy from spoof texts are elitist or Gnostic.

    As with Evagrius, there isn’t anything more to say. Titus 3:10

  92. diane says:

    Rest assured, I do recognize this, Evagrius. I do not think Perry’s version of Orthodoxy is at all representative of Orthodoxy “on the ground” in Real Life. It certainly doesn’t jibe with what I’ve encountered among Orthodox whom I’ve met in Real Life. It seems to live mainly on the Internet and among the “Orthodoxy or Death” crowd. :)

    BTW, thanks for the book recommendations…I will look into them at Amazon etc.

  93. diane says:

    Oh goody, more personal insults from Perry. Really makes me want to continue this conversation…not.

    The reason why i don’t engage you on the subject of DOD is that others have already done so and you have shown, over and over, that you are deaf to their carefully argued positions, which they make far better than I could. That is why I conclude that you do not choose to understand DOD. and that you’re completely in denial re the fact that DOD has occurred in Orthodoxy. (That is where my background in history and my marriage to a Harvard-trained historian kind of comes in handy: The fact that Orthodox doctrine has developed can be demonstrated historically…and history, not philosophy, is the arena where such questions should be addressed.)

    Re the “crisis” in Catholicism; Since when do you get to be the arbiter of what constitutes that crisis and what indicates its continuance? Personally, hate to shock you, but…I don’t happen to feel that altar girls spell the end of civilization as we know it. There are far bigger problems facing the churches, including Orthodoxy, than altar girls. Or even Eucharistic Ministers.

    If you do not see the positive trends in contemporary Catholicism, you’re simply not looking. Thankfully, in this respect, you’re a member of a rather minuscule minority. Every year, some 150,000 to 200,000 adult converts enter the Catholic Church here in Americas — about three times the entire active membership of the OCA. Presumably we’re doing something right.

  94. happy says:

    Diane, well said.
    But, Perry wont hear that, he is repulsed by you and doesn’t read anything you write…..Lol. oh, brother.

  95. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    “As with Evagrius, there isn’t anything more to say. Titus 3:10″

    Mr. Robinson, is this a self-portrait?

    ( La Nouvelle Traduction Francaise dit; Celui qui est intolerant….etc;”

    Je pense que ce mot est juste).

    Perhaps the whole DOD question is just a matter of perspective.

    I’m intrigued with the idea that the present expression of Orthodoxy is exactly the same as its expression in the first century A.D.

  96. diane says:

    LOL, Happy, thank you!

    Evagrius, I am intrigued by the same idea. I would suggest that such an idea betrays stunning historical ignorance, but I would not want to resort to the sort of personal potshots my interlocutor seems to specialize in.

    Happy, speaking of not reading anything the other writes: May I make a modest suggestion for Perry? If he wants me to wade through his combox tomes, he might try breaking stuff into bite-size paragraphs. Any web usability guru could tell himthat a sea of grey type on the Internet is not only daunting and off-putting; it makes the reader’s eyes sore. Ergo, readers tend not to read it. If you know what I mean.

  97. Sophocles says:


    You said,

    “After reading his and Sophocles’ posts, I just want to come up for air:FRESH AIR”.

    I did not address a single one of your points and somehow you felt this had to be said. Nor have I been rude with Evagrius. What have I said that you felt was so stifling to warrant this remark?

    Do you not feel it perhaps uncalled for in a forum where people of opposing views discuss matters to just in essence denigrate everything they have said in such a blanket statement?

    I have never done this with your remarks much as I disagree with you. I understand your love and enthsiasm for the Roman Catholic Church and do not fault you for this.

    As for Perry, I think what he’s trying to tell you in regards to DOD is that he understands the points Mike L. has put forth and having understood he simply disagrees with him and DOD as the Roman Catholic Church understands it. And he has offered valid points to at least cause Mike L. and the other proponents of DOD to engage him in conversation to convince him. Because one disagrees with somethings does not necessarily imply that one does not understand the things he disagrees with.

    No one is claiming that the Orthodox Catholic Church just dropped out of the sky at 33 A.D. and has remained completely unchanged in its expression. What is being said is that the mechanism that the Roman Catholic Church utilizes to explain its development into its present day form, which I hope we can both agree is different from the form of the Orthodox Catholic Church, is of a different nature than that of the mechanism of the Orthodox Catholic Church. And the development itself is of a different nature and has occured for very different reasons in both communions.

    You have not explained what you mean by us Orthodox being “gnostic” and “elitist” so I will not try to explain anything along these lines. But I would be interested in what these terms denote to you and where the offense occurs for you.

    I would like to ask you as well, Diane, if it is acceptable for a non Roman Catholic to question the Roman Catholic Church in any way and to even state that the Roman Catholic Church is in error. I feel that perhaps this is where the rub occurs for you and you cannot countenance for a moment the audacity of one in the Orthodox Catholic Church claiming we are the Church by which the others are measured against to determine “orthodoxy” and heterodoxy.

  98. Diane says:

    Dear Sophocles:

    If you think I cannot “countenance” the charge that my Church is in error, then I respectfully suggest that you think again. Do you think this is the first time I have encountered such a charge? Anti-Catholicism runs rampant in this country, and it is not limited to Orthodox–not by a long long lonnnng shot. I have heard it all. Truly. You have no idea, LOL.

    But can you stand the counter-charge that you are in error? I wonder. ;)

  99. Diane says:

    Speaking of which…I’ve been thinking a bit about the vehemence and prolixity with which Perry, et al., ventilate their views, not only here but all over the Cathodox web (and frequently at Catholic blogs).

    IMHO, Perry, Daniel, and Sophocles have much much more at stake than we Catholics do, and that partly explains why they engage in constant religious controversy hin and yon all over the Internet.

    Why do I say they have much more at stake? Because theirs is an all-or-nothing, either/or position. They are not merely content to assert they are right. They want to prove that everyone else is wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, but completely, utterly wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, every day and in every way. It’s the “anti” mentality par excellence, and Internet Orthodox exemplify it to the nth degree.

    This sort of “anti” mindset leads inevitably to constant controversy, relentless wrangling, and 24/7 polemics. I can’t imagine how this could possibly be fun, but chacun a son gout, I guess. :)

    We Catholics are in a different position altogether. That’s because we do not see our Orthodox brethren as completely, utterly wrong. Rather, we see them as mostly right. Not 100% right, but almost. Yes, we firmly believe that the Catholic Church is the One True Church actually founded by Jesus upon Peter the Rock. Yes, we believe we have the fullness of the Truth. Yes, we believe that the Orthodox are in schism from us — and that those who remain in schism obdurately (i.e., willfully and maliciously, rather than merely in ignorance) imperil their salvation.

    But, at the same time, we believe that the Orthodox are closer to us than any other communion; that we have much much more in common with our Orthodox brethren than otherwise; and that there “lacks little” (theologically, doctrinally) for complete reunion.

    Because we believe this, we do not have to take that all-or-nothing, take-no-prisoners approach. We can appreciate what’s good in Orthodoxy (just as we can appreciate what’s good among the Southern Baptists, for that matter). While we see Orthodoxy as still incomplete, we can appreciate that it has a heck of a lot going for it…so that someone who converts from Orthodoxy to Catholicism is simply completing an almost-finished journey. As others have noted, we Catholics (including Latins) can appreciate the Eastern charism far better than most Easterners can appreciate the Western charism.

    As a result, we don’t have to spend tons of time and energy convincing the Orthodox that they’re Completely Wrong About Everything. We don’t believe this, so why would we argue it?

    Yet Internet Orthodox like Perry and Sophocles do apparently feel this compulsion to tell us, at every opportunity, that we’re Completely Wrong About Everything. This makes the situation much harder for them than it is for us.

    Number one, their position is indefensible. It is manifestly untrue that Catholics (or Protestants or Westerners for that matter) are Completely Wrong About Everything. The contention cannot be proved because it is flat-out absurd. So, the person making this argument expends endless energy yet gets nowhere. Which is why he or she hops from blog to blog, forum to forum, always seeking fresh venues for the Eternal “Anti” Polemic.

    When you’re merely trying to show that your church has the fullness of the faith while other communions have less of that fullness (in varying degrees), your task is relatively easy. When you’re trying to prove that your church alone has ANY truth, ANY grace, while everyone else is in utter, total error, then your task is far more difficult. Impossible, in fact, since it flies in the very face of empirically observable reality.

    And the stakes are so high — much higher than they would be if you were trying to argue a more reasonable position. (“you” in the sense of “one”; am not addressing anyone here…)

    No wonder our exasperated friends so often resort to personal insult. Desperation does that to people. ;)

  100. Diane says:

    clarification: I should have said that many (not most) Easterners do not appreciate the Western charism the way most Westerners seem able to appreciate the Eastern charism. Obviously, there are many irenical Orthodox and Eastern Catholics (like Simple Sinner) who can appreciate Western spirituality.

    The rest of my argument stands.

    Time for beddy-bye. :)

  101. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Sophocles- You’re correct in the description you give of DOD. However, quite often,some Orthodox seem to imply that nothing has changed over the centuries which, of course, isn’t true. The difference between East and West is how the developments are made and explained. That difference usually comes from how decisions are made by the Church in question. I would hazard a guess that both sides are coming more to raprochement on this than it looks from the surface. The recent resourcement to the patristic era is the key to this.

    As for the “gnostic”, “elitist” charge. I think what bothers quite a few people is a certain romanticism regarding theosis. It seems that only certain select people really have that, ( mainly monks, mainly at Mt. Athos) and that the rest of us just have to stumble through life with only bits and drabbles of it. Some, ( like Fr. John Romanides), hold that only “illuminated” bishops are real bishops and only they should be accepted as theologians, ( this is a crude simplification but I think it’s the gist of it). In holding such a position, one comes close to what really could be described as “gnosticism” and “elitism”. I don’t think that many Orthodox really hold to this position. However, those that do are often the only ones heard.

  102. Diane says:

    Another thought, briefly, re DOD:

    As someone has pointed out at another blog, the phrase “Development of Doctrine” is kind of a misnomer (which may be one source of the confusion over its meaning).

    Catholics do not believe that doctrine itself develops. Rather, our understanding of it develops. Over time, as the Church, like Mary, “ponders these things in her heart,” she reaches a fuller, clearer, more crystallized understanding of the primitive Depositum Fidei.

    This is so manifestly The Way Things Work that I cannot see how it can be gainsaid. It was thus in ancient Israel, which developed in its understanding of God’s self-revelation to the patriarchs. And it is thus in the Church, which develops in its understanding of God’s definitive revelation in Christ.

    Presumably, when Mary “pondered all these things in her heart,” she reached a fuller aand clearer understanding of them. Otherwise, why bother pondering?

    The Church follows Mary’s example in this. The mustard seed becomes a spreading bush, sheltering the birds in its branches.

  103. Diane says:

    Another analogy: You are an organism. So is the Church (the BODY of Christ). Organisms develop. You were once a zygote. Presumably today you do not much resemble that zygote. (Leastwise I hope not.) Yet you are the same entity, the same organism, as that zygote. You have the same DNA.

    The Church develops through history, just as any living organism does. Just as a mustard seed does. Our understanding of doctrine develops.

    Yet it has the same DNA.

    This is not “evolution.” It is not innovation. It is not mutation (you do not “mutate” as you develop, and neither does the Church or her doctrine).

    It is time that the enemies of Catholicism dropped all those silly, facile, bogus charges. It is time that they started engaging what DOD actually is, as Catholics themselves understand it, and not as anti-Catholic polemicists maliciously misrepresent it.

  104. “Perhaps, but i on’t think the Blemmydes is neutral.”

    I don’t know if neutral would be a good term, but the topic would be interesting and perhaps helpful to both side long term.

    “In anycase, it matters not since the church has alrady ruled against Beccus”

    Surpised you would claim that one. Are you saying “the church” in the mid-thirteenth century excluded all latin churches? With your background I wouldn’t expect you support a formal split of 1054? that’s fine for a reference point, but clearly not in reality. Its like me using the term Eastern schism, assuming all the blame is on the greek church.

  105. diane says:

    Indeed, QB. Here is one Orthodox in good standing who would also be surprised to learn that Bekkos is completely outside the bounds of Orthodoxy:


  106. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    As usual, things are far more complicated than those who have only black and white vision wish.

    The Bekkos sit is very good as a corrective to the E.P. site, as was Eirenikon.

    Right now, as a result of remembering Mar Osthatios, I’m going to examine the incredibly lovely 3 volume work, The Hidden Pearl, on the Syriac Orthodox Church, ( with video presentations). I think that this will give me a bit of a needed vacation from the rather stuffy atmosphere of Byzantine/ Roman intrigue.

    ( The Hidden Pearl, 3 vols plus video), edited by Sebastina Brock, ( he’s THE Syriac Orthodox expert- his work on Ephraim the Syrian is superb-), Trans World Film Italia,2001)

    If you can obtain this, please do. I think it incumbent on all Christians to know the heritage of all Christians. That’s the only way to really come to the True Communion Table in peace and fellowship.

  107. Sophocles says:


    Please, again I would ask you to not think I am attacking you. I am not. Please do not attack me either. There is no need for this. And just to be clear, this recent posting of mine on this thread is my first interchange in months. I have until recently not been interested in internet debate whatsoever. I do not go from site to site looking to corrert anyone. I became involved here dispassionately only because I saw Evagrius’ comments and felt a fair exchange could be had between the both of us who are both Orthodox. Once again, and I think Evagrius will testify of this, I have not been in any way rude to him.

    But don’t you see that the position I am approaching this is taking your statements which you hold about the Roman Catholic Church and applying them to the Orthodox Catholic Church,i.e. She is the True Church, She possesses the fullness of the Faith, She is the measure against which all other Christian communions are to be measured against.

    All your strong convictions which you hold about the Roman Catholic Church is the conviction held by the Orthodox Catholic Church.

    If it is indeed the case that the Orthodox Catholic Church is the Church, can you fault Her children for rising up to defend their Mother in whatever capacity they have been gifted to do so?

    In essence what is happening in these debates is that Rome says let’s say, X, and attaches certain meaning and substance to X. But the Orthodox say, “Uh, actually X means thus…”. And from this difference is the whole thing started, meaning the divergence of viewpoints and questions on what the content of the Faith is.

    So this is what I posed for your consideration in my last paragraph about to what degree does a non- Catholic have to question the Roman Catholic Church’s stance and pronouncemets if they feel Rome is in error? Remember, it is possible to believe something of someone is in error without harboring hate and malice towards that which is error.



  108. diane says:

    Sophocles, thanks for the very sweet response. I do not think you are attacking me or that you harbor hate or malice. I do think, however, that you are missing the point.

    Of course you have strong convictions. So do I. But you suggested that I have some defensive inability to countenance the very idea that my church might be in error. All I’m saying is: Back atcha.

    And yes, I, like you, will defend my Church whenever she is grossly misrepresented (which is almost always in Internet Orthodox Land ;)).

    And yes, I happen to think you’re wrong. i just don’t happen to think that you’re Completely and Utterly Wrong About Everything. Which, I would respectfully suggest, makes my position a whole lot easier to argue and defend than yours. ;)

  109. Sophocles says:


    Looking at my words about”countenancing,etc.” I see that you are correct. I did not mean to imply that you had some defensive inability. Bad choice of words on my part.

    As for our respective positions, I am not in fear. Every one’s position makes sense from within the soil they stand in.

    In explaining Orthodoxy the task is difficult because it is the painting and explaining of a world and worldview(words I use for lack of better terms)that is not readily apparent to those who are not looking for it. In a sense, I would say that the framework from which within the Christian of the West is more easily explained and defended because it is familiar. It is the “default” language of being so to speak in which we all, myself included, live and operate in.

    I do not think, in a sense, that anyone is Completely and Utterly Wrong about Everything. I say “in a sense” because the image of God is inherent in all and that that image present and inherent in all informs and motivates the human being in whatever soil they happen to be planted in.

    In Orthodoxy the only way up is to first go down, becoming little and insignificant in one’s own eyes. I believe true humility is irrestible and has a fragrance that attracts.

    In many ways, what we are witnessing here in the West is the flowering and budding of that which has existed always in Orthodoxy but is now newly being handled by many who have yet to acquire humility or knowledge in the handling of that which is only able to be handled with gentleness and love. I am in this category and am inept and arrogant. What humility does not mean, however, is strenght and determination to stand up and oppose error when one is confronted with error.

    I know I am inadequate to the task of presenting the Beauty and Truth of Orthodoxy. My task I feel is to attempt this though. In order to do this it often requires me to ask questions and to “build” an Orthodox “worldview” for those I’m having these discussions with.


    God bless you.

  110. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Nicely put, Sophocles.

    I think the problem is that there are those who truly think they “know” what they think they are discussing, ( see the above by one who claims to “clearly explain the procession of the Son”).

    I’m reminded of a story about St. Augustine, ( perhaps it’s Gregory of Nazianzen also). Augustine had a vision of seeing a child on a beach scooping water into a cup and exclaiming, “I have the ocean!”.
    Augustine wondered what that meant. A voice told him,” You think you can understand the mystery of God with that cup of a mind.”

    There’s a lack of humility among many discussing these subjects. If some of the discussants could only stop and “know” how little they “know”.

    I certainly think I “know” something but there’s always Someone who tells me, by showing me my faults through daily life, that I “know” very little.

  111. Sophocles says:


    Thank you very much. I believe it is the Blessed Augustine who this story relates to.

    And you’re right about “knowing”. But I think in one sense we need to differentiate between the type of knowledge that is because it is and that I, the sinner that I am, am incapable to present it adequately and without my ego being in it.

    But it is possible to strongly and sternly speak of that which we know without sin. It is also possible that in this strong and stern speaking without sin one may be misundestood. I think the Lord is the prime example of this, for “which of us can convict Him of sin?” as he asked His persecutors. And yet, He, Truth Incarnate was hated for His Truth and misunderstood and they lied in wait “to catch Him at His words” whereby to condemn Him.

  112. Diane says:

    Sophocles: I agree that your post is very beautiful. I truly appreciate its irenic tone, and I apologize for my snideness and snippiness in previous posts.

    I hope you will not mind a few small quibbles, though. :)

    You speak of the difficulty of explicating Orthodoxy because it is an entire “worldview.” But can’t the adherents of any religion say that? Every religion encompasses a worldview, whether it’s Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Calvinism, evangelicalism, or Buddhism, for that matter. All religious adherents can (and do) claim that their religious traditions can only be fully appreciated from the inside. Doesn’t that kind of go without saying? If you maintain that Orthodoxy is somehow unique in this respect, then aren’t you kinda-sorta arguing for a species of gnosticism?

    Secondly, you speak of the importance of humility as if that, too, is unique to Orthodoxy. But isn’t humility, er, in the Bible? Isn’t it part of the Gospel? Doesn’t every Christian communion emphasize it?

    May I respectfully ask how familiar you are with the lives of Catholic saints, including post-schism saints? (I was teethed on this stuff; when I was a little kid in Dorchester, Mass., during the pious ’50s, I used to borrow Lives of the saints from the bookmobile. (This is one reason why I tend to get a tad impatient with some adult converts to Orthodoxy who lecture me about how holier-than-thou their tradition is, when they do not have a clue about mine. I was familiar with all that saint-and-sacrament stuff practically from the crib, whereas these folks have just discovered it as adults, yet they act like they’re erudite experts instructing the village idiot. Present company excepted; I’m sure you know whom I mean.)

    Getting abck to the res: As I say, if you would familiarize yourself with Western saints, I think you would find that the spirituality you admire is not reserved exclusively for the East — not by a long shot.

    I think you would also find that there is more than one valid, fruitful way to be Christian, more than one way to express one’s spirituality and one’s relationship with Christ. One of the glories of Catholicism is that there is such a wide diversity of legitimate spiritualities; one doesn’t have to shoehorn oneself into one particular phronema (sp?) which may not fit one’s personality at all. As one former Orthodox put it, we are are not all meant to pray like 19th-century Russian peasants!

    I think that, if you were to become more familiar with Western saints (assuming you aren’t already), you would learn to appreciate them, and you would (perhaps) be able to strike more of a balance between East and West. I think you would be amazed by the depth of sanctity you would find among such saints as Bernard of Clairveaux, Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Aquinas, Gertrude, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Margaret Mary Alacocque, Louis de Montfort, Vincent de Paul, Catherine Laboure’, Bernadette Soubirous, and countless others (many of whom have been discussed right here at this very blog). The East has not cornered the market on theosis, my friend. Again: not by a long shot. :) Take a look at Saint Bernadette’s incorrupt body — I’m talking TOTALLY incorrupt — and then tell me the West lacks grace! (Read about her life of heroic sanctity, and then tell me Christian humility is the exclusive preserve of Orthodoxy.)

    The East hasn’t cornered the market on sanctity. Not by a long shot. Nor was it ever meant to. That’s a whole ‘nuther topic.

    Our Lord never said, “Go and preach Easternness to the Greeks and to the Slavs and then get them to impose Easternness on all of their converts.” No. He said, “Go and make disciples of ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

    The Catholic Church has done this. With all due respect: Has Orthodoxy?

    Similarly, Saint Paul never said, “In Christ there is just Greek and Slav, and maybe a few Arabs, and you’d better adopt the Eastern phronema or else you’re out.” Rather, he said, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek” — strongly implying that the Gospel transcends ALL geographical and cultural expressions, that it cannot be limited to just one culturally determined phronema.

    Moreover, when Saint John had a vision of the Church Triumphant, he didn’t see a bunch of Greeks and Slavs being all Eastern-schmeastern. Rather, he saw “a great throng which no man could number, from EVERY nation and tribe and tongue.”

    For my money, that’s a perfect descrption of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church alone spans all nations, tribes, and tongues. She alone incorporates every conceivable legitimate cultural expression of Christian spirituality. She alone accommodates a kazillion different legitimate ways of relating to Christ Our Savior. And yes, they ALL involve humility, because that’s not some esoteric Orthodox Thing; it’s part and parcel of the Gospel. I bet there are even Baptists and Pentecostals who are humble. ;) ;) Yes, shocking as it sounds…I have seen Christian virtue even among Baptists. Go figure, eh? ;)

    Joking aside…God bless you, too, my brother in Christ. :)


  113. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Sophocles- Here’s a statement from Mar Gregorios- it may explain why I choose to look at other faiths as well as Christianity’


  114. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    BTW- Messrs Robinson and Jones are back in their ring happily disputing Calvinists on the nature of grace, ( not George Burn’s wife, unfortunately), and nature, ( not Yosemite etc; again unfortunately).

  115. Diane says:

    Where on earth do they find the time??? They must live on the bloomin’ Internet.

    I’ve spent way too much time on this thread, but it was only one thread, for goodness sakes! If I were doing this sort of thing hin and yon, hour after hour, how would I ever get anything else done?

    Those dudes must be phenomenal multi-taskers; that’s all I can say. ;)

  116. anon/eVAGRIUS says:

    Well, I admit that I spend a bit too much time reading them, and others, but I’m trying to understand rationale or attitude.

    On the other hand, I find gems, like Mar Gregorios, and this from the Orthodox Web journal Theandros;

    The Brief Rule of St. Romuald, ( the founder of the Camaldoli order of hermits;

    Sit in your cell as in paradise.
    Put the whole world behind you and forget it.
    Watch your thoughts like a good fisherman watching for fish,
    The path you must follow is in the Psalms — never leave it.
    If you have just come to the monastery, and in spite of your good will you cannot accomplish what you want, take every opportunity you can to sing the Psalms in your heart and to understand them with your mind.
    And if your mind wanders as you read, do not give up;
    hurry back and apply your mind to the words once more.
    Realize above all that you are in God’s presence, and stand there with the attitude of one who stands before the emperor.
    Empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God,
    Like the chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what his mother brings him.

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