Ben Lomond: When Antiochian Orthodoxy Drove Away its Converts

August 22, 2008

A terrible tragedy happened 10 years ago this month known as the Ben Lomond Crisis. According to these re-published accounts, it was an event characterized by rigidity, intrigue and ethnocentricism on the one hand, and a defiance of legitimate episcopal authority on the other, which ruined Antiochian Orthodoxy’s best hope for a major influx of Evangelical converts. The “Orthodox Moment” among Evangelicals began and ended at Ben Lomond, California.

While there are undoubtedly conflicting versions of this event, here are two accounts of what took place in this historic turn for Orthodoxy in America.

From Ben Lomond Tragedy:

An account from 1998, November 26, 1998 (broken into paragraphs for easier reading)

The parish in Ben Lomond, CA was then the largest parish of the Antiochian Evangelical Mission. In 1997, it was a parish of about 1500. Saturday Vespers had about 200 attendees. The entire congregation sang as the choir. It has a K-12 school, a world class choir, a hospitality house (for visitors), programs for teens, and a publishing house, Conciliar Press, which the evangelicals brought with them. The parish allowed a highly respected spiritual father from Mount Athos to visit them and to hear confessions and give guidance. People began to fast and pray more.

The hierarchy of the Antiochian Archdiocese then forbade any Antiochian clergy or faithful to go for a confession to a non-Antiochian priest. Their practice of having a complete round of daily services, with Matins, Liturgy, Vespers, and everything else, all well attended, was considered bizarre and no longer normal. Moreover, they had some unusual liturgical customs and Russian customs in their services. Certain Arab ladies in the parish got the ear of the local Bishop and started demanding that the thing was getting out of control; a new leadership had to be installed at Ben Lomond. Read the rest of this entry »

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TheCall: Evangelicals March on Washington

August 20, 2008
USAToday reports on TheCall, a movement of Evangelical religious and political rallies held in cities across the US and abroad to draw attention to moral issues and to offer prayer and fasting.
WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of evangelical Christians converged on the National Mall here Saturday to highlight moral issues before the fall presidential election with a day of fasting, prayer and music.

Organizers of TheCall DC said 70,000 people turned out for the event, though that number could not be confirmed independently by the National Park Service. Read the rest of this entry »


Evangelicals: Change of Heart toward Catholics

July 28, 2008

Evangelicals have been going through a major change of heart in their view of Catholicism over the past 15 years or so. In the 80’s when I was in college I lived in the Biblebelt and had plenty of experience with Evangelicals–much of it bad experience. The 80’s was the height of the “Are you saved?” question. In Virginia, the question often popped up in the first 10 minutes of getting to know someone. As I look back, Isurmise that this was coached from the pulpit or Sunday school as it was so well coordinated and almost universally applied. It was a good tactic for putting Catholics on the defensive even before it was known that they were Catholic—“ummmm, uhhh, well no, I’m not sure, I’m Catholic.” Then a conversation about works righteousness or saint statues would ensue. Yeah, nice to meet you, too.
Thankfully, those days are pretty much over. We now have formerly rabid anti-Catholics apologizing and even praising the pope. Catholics and Evangelicals have both learned that we have much in common and need each other to face the secular culture with a solid front. But, where did this detente come from? I think there is a real history to be told here and a book should be written. Let me give my perceptions of 7 major developments since 1993, which I regard as the the watershed year for the renewal of the Catholic Church in the United States.

1. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1993. When this document came out, it was uncertain that even Catholics would read it. We should have known that something was up when the French version hit the top of the bestsellers charts in France and stayed there for months. The English version did the same in the US. Catholics were reading the Catechism, forming study groups and challenging errant professors in the classroom. Read the rest of this entry »


Evangelicals Moving to Obama is Media Hoax

July 21, 2008

I am vindicated!

As I have long suspected, (December 10, and January 4) the evangelical vote is not moving toward Obama as the MSM has been reporting since last November. In fact, support for Obama among Evangelicals at this point in the election cycle (25%) is slightly less than it was for John Kerry (26%) four years ago! GetReligion.org reports this media hoax based on Pew research figures. Read the rest of this entry »


Courting The Evangelical Vote

June 11, 2008

Elsewhere in the blogosphere I have come across a post that explores the relationship between  the GOP courting the Evangelical vote and winning elections…

A question to be asked is how this might be affected or explained by demographic overlap. What are the commonalities and cohorts of the memberships of Evangelical communities? Do they vote one way or another (or at all) because they are Evangelicals (FULL STOP)? or do they vote as others in their cohort would but the commonality is that Evangelicals are largely successful ALSO among those particular demographics that Republicans have been.

From there I guess questions arise as to issues of universality, where politics begin, and where religion ends… and how much of Evangelicalism is influenced in fact by politics and NOTvice versa.

Chickens and eggs, eh?