“Life is full of disappointments. Yes, and I am full of life,” the words to a John Gorka song, is what comes most readily to mind this week. I had to let go a house full of furniture for people because Uncle John’s truck broke down and I don’t have enough of a network of friends and supporters to call upon to get a replacement . We don’t have enough money to pay the bills, much less to rent a truck. I had hoped for The King’s Jubilee to be and to do so much more. And I had hoped to find the church of the New Testament. Somehow I thought these two goals would coalesce. Instead I find I cannot attend the Orthodox church that I moved closer to. The priest there will not talk to me. He lies, saying the bishop has ordered him not to, yet on the occasions when I do dare to go, he approaches me with saccharin sweetness as if nothing were wrong. This is a big show to discredit me in front of parishioners, after lying to me and about me and never confessing or repenting for one single offense. He is given his pulpit and I am told to shut up. He keeps oppressing the poor in the congregation and bullying any who disagree with him and the bishop stands with him, bullying us, too, by ignoring any cries for redress.
So, I guess Fr. Noah & Bishop Thomas may get what they apparently desire. I may have to shut down The King’s Jubilee. Who am I kidding? We have no church base. We have about $300/ month in pledges. It costs about $200 each week, plus we have to live. We have no income now. No one seems to care about this. There is no mutual care at the church. Someone asked me, when did Fr. Noah change his tune toward TKJ? And I looked back through correspondence. It was when I became sick and the business started to fail and we could not give as much to the church; when we became needy. This is his pattern. The money people generally don’t have serious problems with him. Of course, I’ve been told by numerous priests that he knows how to play it, because our bishops won’t make any changes until they are hit in the pocketbook. It’s all about money. I guess it is all about money. For lack of money, we will have to close or severely curtail the ministry.
Perhaps we haven’t found the true church, after all. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” I certainly haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the Orthodox Church here in America: in-fighting, the priests who do serve the poor get grief from their parishes, three sociopathic priests in our area, spending more on entertainment than on mission, letting their own members become homeless faster than rescuing anonymous homeless. An older priest told me this week that “just such churches have produced many Saints.” I asked him how many atheists did they produce along the way as well. Persecution produces many Saints. Does that mean it is OK for the church to persecute, and the bishops should just sit back and do nothing? I was rebuked and unfriended by several priests for just posting James 5 without comment on-line. I was called a communist by Antiochian & OCA priests for James 5:1-9. God help us! No bishop corrects them. The lay people continue to be bullied. Ministries continue to be undermined.
I haven’t seen a whole lot of good fruit in the former USSR. Ukraine and Russia are at war with each other! Orthodox brethren! Georgia is killing and beating homosexuals & lesbians in Jesus’ Name?! Numerous border wars in the Balkans and Orthodox killing Muslims. Serbs and Romanians killing atheists. The beat goes on. Where is grace? Where is love? Where is faith? Where is God?
Jesus never said that we would recognize his disciples, and thus his church, by their genealogies and creed. He did say that we would recognize them by their love for one another (John13). Wealthy people standing next to people who are becoming homeless, without even considering altering their lifestyle to help, or not even caring enough to know their situation, is not love. This is the situation in most Orthodox churches I have seen, where the emphasis is on the service , the service, the service. Are we using the service to do what the service is for, to “prepare his people for works of service?” Orthodox theology says we go to heaven together and go to hell alone, but we all leave church alone. Churches hold so many services that there is no time left for people to visit in each other’s homes. The church is divided by class.
I have more than once been told, with a straight face, by priests, that their parishes could not afford to prevent their own people from becoming homeless. That would “overburden” them. I have been in some of their parishioner’s homes, or I should say palaces! Not an icon in sight, but repapered for the holiday season! James 5, communist indeed! People not obeying James 5 is what led to Bolshevism. “If the salt loses its flavor, wherewith shall it be salted?” Our parish let several families fall through the cracks, without an appeal, without anyone noticing, yet if someone passes out in a service, there are three to five doctors huddled around to determine whose specialty applies. They are not hard hearted people. They have lacked pastoral leadership and knowledge on this. We were on the verge of losing our homes, yet it was Uncle John & I who rescued a parishioner who was about to become homeless, after Fr. Noah and the parish council told him he had to quit selling his things in the parish hall. It was during Lent. It was the only way he had to raise gas money to get to and from church. I wasn’t there much. I happened to be there that Sunday & he pulled me aside.
He received no visits from the priest and no invitations for the holidays from anyone from church until I called the church (that I was not going to) and suggested it might be a good idea. Why did I expect them to care? My friend still did not have any money. What good was he to the church?
I don’t know if this church will produce any Saints, but I do know several atheists it has already produced out of cradle Orthodox under this priest.
So, once again, I am at a crossroads. Once again, I find myself at risk of losing many friends. I don’t feel at risk of losing much support, because there is not much to lose. I don’t know at this moment if I will have enough gas to get to and from the city tomorrow night. I get a lot of Attaboys & Aren’t you specials, but they don’t keep the car running or buy meat for the soups or veggies for the vegetarian dishes or help any of the guys with their rent when they’re a few bucks shy.
Sorry. I looked for the church for 30 years and thought I had found it. Now I find no accountability. The Orthodox parish is just like an independent Baptist church with a tin horn dictator pastor, because the bishop doesn’t feel like doing his job. I am expendable. The homeless are expendable. The Antiochian Church has basically told us to go to hell. Somehow, I think our ragtag bunch may be on our way in the Kingdom together, because I am very much in hell alone when at church. To people who have not suffered psychopathic abuse from clergy this sounds like blasphemy, but to the millions of us who have, it has the solid ring of freedom.
Once again, I am in dire need of doing some real making nice and solid fund raising, because we may not last another week. Do you people not understand? I haven’t been doing this kind of front lines ministry for nearly 30 years because I am a hireling who is just going to dance to your flute while you lie to my face and play church for a paycheck. We are not talking about fancy paintings and golden chalices. Lives are on the line, living icons of Christ! And you don’t care. You keep playing church under your gold plated dome.
Fr. Noah was told by Bishop Thomas to keep supporting The King’s Jubilee. He has done his best to remove all support from St. Philip’s for The King’s Jubilee. The church only supports local agencies (I will not call them ministries, because some of them treat the poor horribly.) where they can get credit locally, i.e., “Sound the trumpet as the Pharisees do.” He told me (through my daughter) that the bishop told him he was not allowed to speak to me. The bishop never informed me or Fr. Boniface of this bizarre instruction. (Fr. Boniface is supposed to be overseeing our reconciliation.) Yet when I go to St. Philip’s when he is there, say for a Baptism or Christmas, Noah makes a big , public show of greeting me. That is when I fail to see him on time so I don’t run. I ended up with a migraine with stroke like symptoms for three days over Christmas that started immediately when he touched my arm. Now he is either lying about what the bishop said, or he is disobeying the bishop when he is talking to me at church. He can’t have it both ways. In August, my wife wrote him an angry letter. For over a month he did not answer her or speak a word to her, her priest! He sent Fr. Boniface to repeat his lying excuses after more than a month! And, of course, it was all my wife’s misunderstanding. Sure thing. That’s why Noah hasn’t looked her in the eye for a month.
So yes I am angry. And No I don’t like the idea of any of my family going to St. Philip’s, a place I used to love. It is ruled by a lying psychopath with no oversight from the bishop. He abuses the altar boys including his own sons. He abuses the subdeacons and deacon. He makes capricious changes in the middle of the services. He once stepped out of the altar at the height of the Liturgy to tell me that I was distracting him in the back of the choir, because I had my hands in my pockets! I told him he should get hold of himself and work on his concentration. He had to work to see me all the way back there around the iconostas and all; freaked me out.
I’ll catch hell for posting this. But, the bishop doesn’t check in. If I am to believe Fr. Noah, Bishop Thomas gave him an awful stupid order, to tell a priest to not talk to a parishioner, but just send nasty messages through his relatives and other priests? I don’t think Bishop Thomas is the sharpest tool in the shed, but I don’t think he’s that stupid. I think Noah is lying like he usually does. No one listens to me. Hardly anyone is giving to The King’s Jubilee. We used to get a good bit of support from St. Philip’s. Those people are mad at me for my attitude. They are still giving to support this psychopath, but they withdraw support to help the poor and homeless, because Noah abuses and lies about me! That makes perfect sense in a Republican sort of way. I have CPTSD because of his abuse and others like him, for which I am undergoing treatment. There is no known cure for psychopathy. A less harmful career path, which I have suggested to him would be real estate sales.
Somehow you think your withdrawal of support will bring me around to your way of thinking? If you punish the poor long enough on my account, I will see that you were right all along? Go ahead. Have your food fest. Use the public to pay for your temple! Soon you will have to raise more to pay taxes on it, too, as the public finally wakes up and remembers why the exemption was given and realizes churches don’t meet that qualification anymore. It had nothing to do with separation of church and state. It was the idea that churches provided services to the poor and needy that otherwise the state would have to provide, so a tax exemption was cheaper than providing those services. That is no longer true, by a long shot!
If I haven’t scared you off, you are definitely our kind of people. We have gone through changes before and the one constant has been our service among the poor and homeless. Please give. We don’t hold on to money and no one is getting rich. If there is ever any “extra”, it goes to fill someone else’s lack.