Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Allen’

Part 2 – Illumined Heart Interview with Metropolitan Jonah

January 8, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post Part 2 of Kevin Allen’s Illumined Heart  interview  for days now, but getting slammed at work wasn’t part of my post-New Year’s plan.  I wanted to ease into the routine after a pretty slow Christmas work schedule, not spend the last few days running like a hamster on a wheel.  Now that I’ve been back at work I have just today replayed this interview at least 6 times, and each time I hear something new and exciting.

In particular, it’s so encouraging to hear Metropolitan Jonah talk about the important position the OCA’s Metropolitan holds as the head of the autocephalous American Orthodox church.  For so long it seems the OCA has been insular and suffering from a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.   The Church of Serbia, the Church of Finland, the Church of Poland, for example, are autocephalous or self-governing churches.   How are we any different?  Yet, I just don’t see the OCA confidently embracing itself as The Orthodox Church in or ‘of’ America.  If the OCA wants to see the growth of American Orthodoxy and unification of Orthodox jurisdictions in this country we need to act like leaders.   

It’s a given that unification wasn’t going to happen under the last two Metropolitans.  The will, the desire  just wasn’t there, and now that we know about the  financial mess, the credibility certainly wasn’t there either.  We were in “the desert…” as Metropolitan Jonah calls it.  I was shocked when Metropolitan Jonah said unification would be easy.  He jokingly states that with enough funds American Orthodox could achieve unity in one week if we just let loose the attorneys on the administrative details.   Seriously, he has no doubts about the feasibility of unity; it is just a matter of stoking the desire while setting aside pride and self-interest.

I say GIVE HIM A WEEK!  Give him all the time and whatever it takes to achieve this.  I want to be part of a united, strong witness for Orthodoxy in America.  It’s time we suck up our pride, our petty jurisdictionalism, the provincialism and culture club mentality and really be “The Orthodox Church of America”.  I am tired of explaining to my friends, family and acquaintances why there is no difference between Greek, Serbian, Syrian, Russian, ad nauseum, Orthodox Churches, much less how we are similar or different from Roman Catholics.

This is the clear and strong vision of Metropolitan Jonah.  This is what we all have to work towards – laity and clergy.  Who can’t be standing 100% behind him when he says

“I believe that our church is set at a crossroads…we have definitively left behind the old way of doing things.. and have embarked upon  a very new road, of really taking up the challenge of being  the fullness of the presence of the  Orthodox Catholic  Church in this country and the ministry at the cross that that entails.   The challenge to bring together, to come together with all the other Orthodox communities in this country, so that together we can create a new incarnation, as it were, of the Orthodox church in America, which embraces all Orthodox Christians in this country, so that we can reach out to and evangelize this country in new and creative ways which we may not have even thought of yet, so that we can challenge our society to live a life in accordance with the will of God, in accordance with the scriptures, in accordance with Christian ethics.  Not by being judgmental and critical of individuals, but rather of showing them in compassion that there’s a better way to live.  Orthodoxy is not just about what you believe, and it’s certainly not just about what you do in church.  Orthodoxy is about how we live.  It’s about how we treat one another.  How we forgive one another, how we’re transformed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, how we let go of resentment, and bitterness, and anger, and vengeance, and desire for retribution and all of these things which defile our souls so that we can grow into the fullness of personhood that God intended for us.  This is my vision.”

I want this too and God-willing, with Metropolitan Jonah’s leadership, his devotion to the Gospel and God’s Holy Church, we are past the days when the Orthodox Church in America could do nothing more than shoot itself in the foot.

 

Illumined Heart Interview With Metropolitan Jonah Part 1

December 27, 2008

desert

In anticipation of Metropolitan Jonah’s consecration tomorrow, Ancient Faith Radio has posted a new Illumined Heart podcast.   Host Kevin Allen asked many background questions the average layperson has probably been wishing he could ask, particularly about his Beatitude’s  conversion to the Orthodox Faith.  It’s a voyeuristic curiosity among converts that we never get tired of listening to these stories.  Not to compare our faith with another believer, but as a reminder of where we came from.  I think it’s a way of renewing our zeal for the faith.

I loved the questions about Metropolitan Jonah’s favorite movies and books.  I think you can tell a lot about a person by what they read (Met. Jonah cites Edward Abbey among others), the movies they like and their childhood hobbies and interests.   For the record, my 8 year old thinks our new Metropolitan is officially cool.  Anyone, even a hierarch, who lists Star Wars among his favorite films is ok with him.

During the early 80’s as a college student studying wildlife science and parks and recreation, I think reading Edward Abbey, particularly Desert Solitaire, was as close to a spiritual experience as I’d ever had at that point.  To this day, a hike through the desert Southwest can feel like a second baptism.   It wasn’t until I became Orthodox years later that I got the same “religious” feelings from any other writer.  Some people think of Abbey as an eco-terrorist, a liberal radical, an anarchist.  Well, he might have been all that but he was also a philosopher.  The man who could say “Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing”, can’t be totally without a spiritual core.

Two things really struck me about Metropolitan Jonah’s interview – one,  just how calm,  easy-going and sensible he sounds.  This is someone who knows people and how to deal with them; that is the strength that made him a good abbot and also what being an abbot taught him about dealing with people.

The second was how the Holy Spirit was working in his life even as a college student and Orthodox newcomer.   In the Orthodox college fellowship  that he founded, at least eight persons went on to become  priests, priest-monks, a nun, deacon and matushka.   That is a remarkable number considering most average parishes can count on one hand the number of priests, deacons or monastics ever produced during the community’s entire history.

I’ll post Part 2 as soon as it’s out on Ancient Faith Radio.  In the meantime, please keep praying for our Metropolitan.