It rhymes with news.
Just heard that there is, finally, a viable candidate to succeed my late bishop, +Metropolitan Nicholas of Amissos.
The candidate is from the Metropolis of Atlanta in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. He is American-born, well-educated. More importantly, he knows about prayer. He can even talk about the nous -- without any sarcasm, I must say that this fact alone distinguishes his candidacy.
You can imagine, I'm sure, that some cultural and ethnic questions have been asked. Isn't there any candidate from our own ranks, from our own "people"? Isn't there anyone from the old country?
The fact remains -- despite some bloggerisms to the contrary from the usual sources (the sort that read like a monongahela brown-land on a rainy day in grey November) -- that our chancellor, vice-chancellor and consistory priests worked hard in the last 15 months, looking for and praying for a worthy candidate. Some were identified -- and for one reason or another, these "some" did not work out. That kind of process must be allowed for, given the complexity of this world, and the free moral agency of every man.
There has been no contact from the old places in Europe. A few intemperate notions (on blogs and facebook pages and twitterisms -- I can't wait for the inevitable anonymous letters) suggest that there is some geo-political contretemps between the Patriarchate and some Eastern Europeans, and consequently the former quashed any consideration of the latter.
No -- the reason for the absence of an old world candidate is far less interesting (and much more despondent): the old world simply hasn't said a word or made contact or demonstrated one iota of interest, in these last 15 months, in showing up for the continued pastorate of its children in America.
I should note here that one can always expect intemperateness in transitional moments, such as the one we're in. To us who are still afflicted by old family memories of the Habsburgs or the Tsars (or their red successors), any and every regime change brings out predictable anxieties. We whisper. We project. We speculate. We are sure that large forces are at work, working against our interests. We are positive that choices are foisted upon us, and that all we do is to "rubber stamp" decisions that have been already made.
I get that way myself, and my grandparents and great-grandparents did not come from the starij criju. Switzerland, yes, and Aberdeen. Thuringenwald and Brementown, too. But I suggest that these worries are not confined to any single sort of people. When I get that way -- i.e., intemperate and anxious -- I pray, and remember that the Holy Trinity disposes a Good Economy, and that Christ Jesus is our one and only High Priest and Pastor. I also listen to the Sons of the Pioneers on my porch in the evening.
To the "old world" voices who harbor strong notions of ethnic continuity, I would like to remind them, gently, that I have bent over backwards (to use an old cliche) personally defending the ethnicity of this particular Orthodox community. I have suggested, not too gently, to converts that they should quit complaining about the occasional appearance of Church Slavonic in the services, and that the Carpatho-Russian recension of the typicon is just as valid as is the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian or Antiochian recensions. We converts can be a wild-western lot, I know, having been one and, I guess, continuing to be so. I have also helped Vladyka prepare presentations on the Rusyn (see? I can use that spelling, too) heritage, and its continuing value for the Orthodox evangel to America -- and I believed in those presentations. He always laughed about my monoglottism, and my complete inability to translate the simplest phrases into po-nashemu (this means "our language" to us ex-anabaptists). He said, on several occasions (and even as a joke at one of our interminable banquets) that I said Slava Isusu Christu with an Oklahoman accent.
Now (and please excuse this post-modern meta-self-referential idiom), that last paragraph was rhetorically positioned in just the same way as St. Paul's remark in Philippians 3.5: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.
You see? Despite my Heinz 57 pedigree, I should get some credit for having tried to be Carpatho-Russian -- or at least, to act in the best Carpatho-Russian interest.
Having lodged this credential, in an admittedly pathetic manner (and you must pardon that rhetorical pun there, because it was so irresistable), I suggest that the pastoral care given us by the Ecumenical Patriarchate since 1938 hasn't been so bad. The Phanar has let us be (and continue to be) who we are. We have made necessary adjustments. We have not been folded, willy-nilly, into another diocese and into another culture -- a sad state of affairs that would be manifestly non-Chalcedonian, and very much at our particular expense. Oddly -- and "oddly" in a tragic sense -- the ethnic voices who might actually work politically for such a "folding" would, if they got their way, produce the very extinction of Carpatho-Russian values that one would expect they'd rather avoid.
I like this Carpatho-Russian culture, this idiom of Orthodoxy in the wild west. Once in a while I understand parts of it.
At this point, I still know little of this new candidate for the episcopacy of our diocese. But I pray fervently for him and this process nonetheless.
But as an ingrafted convertski Carpatho-Russian priest, I have nothing to fear. For God is sovreign, and we serve a timeless apostolic church. Metropolitan Nicholas is praying for us in Paradise -- of that I am sure.
We should trust God. We should worry less, and stop thinking so politically.
Because historically, politics is manifestly not "our thing."