Friday, November 14, 2014

Hodgepodge of this and that

Dear friends,

Unfortunately, I need to hit the road for two trips these next couple of days and until Monday my schedule will be rather crazy.  This post will therefore be a "hodgepodge of this and that" in which I will try to plug a few holes.

Old Ez posted this question:
Saker you should do more - many more! - of these cultural write-ups. The cultural aspect of this war is paramount in my opinion. As an aside, it seems to me that in a situation of acute social dislocation, a married priest is less likely to tend to his flock and more likely to rush home to his wife and children and see to their safety first and foremost. I suppose such an individual would simply be a "bad priest" in the event. In the Orthodox rites, are there any problems with nepotism or hereditary fiefdoms in the clergy/clerical offices?
Alas, I had not time to answer it.  Thankfully, a friend of mine who is a Hieromonk (or priest-monk) did, and here is his reply:
A tentative answer from an Orthodox priest-monk (unmarried, by definition) :
That a married minister should tend to his wife and children, it goes without saying (otherwise, how could he be expected to uphold family values?). This should not be a matter of any concern in itself: we can see married professionals in many critical service areas (police, hospital staff, fire brigades and so on) whose jobs are not hindered a bit by the mere existence of their wives and children. If anything, sadly, it's the family itself that could be somewhat neglected by the necessities of a time-consuming job. Orthodox Christian rites are long, and coupled with attention to many faithful, they do sometimes put a strain on a priest's family, just as it happens to the families of other committed professionals. That is why the priest's wife must give an explicit consent to her husband's ministry, for him to be ordained a priest by his bishop. It also explains why Orthodox faithful are supportive and generally patient with their married priests, when it comes to safeguarding an area of family life and intimacy for their pastors.
We must also take into account that an unmarried priest is not necessarily lacking a family. What about parents or a widow mother, who could be cared about by a priest son in a parish house just as likely as by any other children? What about brothers and sisters and any number of nephews and nieces? After all, the very word "nepotism" comes from the privileges accorded to nephews and nieces. In the Catholic Church, it certainly refers to illegitimate children raised as "nephews" to divert a public stigma, but in just as many cases it refers to actual nephews and nieces of unmarried (and presumably chaste) priests who had a tendency to unfairly promote the interests of their kin.
As for the hereditary clergy, that is an obvious risk, just as for any profession in a traditional society where children tend to inherit their parents' (and especially their father's) profession. In itself it is not such a scandal: when we see the son of a soldier, a judge/lawyer, an artisan or a politician taking on his father's job, we certainly feel no noticeable degree of indignation, although there must be an obvious edge of "unfair advantage" in his training. And a priest's son is well trained, almost by definition. Whereas a policeman's son cannot accompany his dad on service, a priest's son is expected to serve in church when dad is celebrating! This gives literally years of free practice, serving at the altar, in the choir, and in any number of parish activities.
Do we have hereditary lines of priests? Yes, we do. Is this a sign of bad practice? It does not have to be so, but yes, alas, it might degenerate, especially in times of social turmoil, when priests may be overtly protective of their families' interests (just like many other professionals, by the way). What do we have to avoid this tendency? We have unmarried bishops! We did have married bishops in the ancient Church, in centuries where the office of a bishop was much similar to the office of a present day parish priest. But as soon as the bishop started to have a directing and coordinating role over a large number of priests, the threat of a hereditary directive role was immediately detected - and countered. Admittedly, this system worked well. It has worked well for more than one millennum and a half, and still does not show signs of needing serious repair.
If you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to address them to Father "PM" (as in priest-monk, not his real initials) as I would absolutely love to "draw him in" to this blog :-)

[Sidebar: also, if my memory is not mistaken, there used to be a canonical prohibition against sons of priests becoming priests, but it was later lifted because it proved not to be a problem.  Don't quote me on that - I have not seriously studied canon law in over 25 years now and my sclerotic brain might have imagined it all]

Podcast: I will record it on Monday and try to post it the same day.  If I can't, the ETA will be Tuesday of next week.

Russian silence on MH17:  many of you have wondered why the Russians are sitting on evidence.  Let me tell you that I would bet the house on the fact that not only do they have all the radar recordings from their military surveillance, but that they also have all the radio intercepts from all the communications between this aircraft and the ATC.  I did some work for the Air Force intelligence of my country of birth in Europe and I call tell you that we tracked and recorded *everything*.  Even far away from us.  And I know for a fact that so do the Russians.  So why the silence?

1)  Soviet/Russian military culture is totally obsessive-compulsive with secrecy.  Russian military intelligence is even worse by several orders of magnitude.  Yes, Putin can order them to release whatever he wants them to release, but there will be a lot resistance, foot-dragging and, in particular, arguments of why this might not be the best idea.  And they are right because

2) Why reveal your own intelligence and commit a massive diplomatic faux-pas when this stuff will most likely be leaked on its own.  I am not referring to public diplomacy, but to real behind-the-scenes diplomacy.  Does anybody seriously believe the Russians don't know about 9/11?  That Putin is honest when he calls the idea of an inside job "crazy" (has he did several times).  I can tell you that I know for a fact that there are a lot of non-written rules between the US and Russia, stuff which both sides have agreed upon.  For the US to have Russia get involved in the 9/11 issue would be seen as a massively hostile act, a provocation of the first order, and God only knows what Uncle Sam could do in response to that.  So the rule here is "stay away from m our internal issues" and both sides more or less abide by it even when they pretend not to.  The US has a much worse track record on that, but the Russians are old-9fashioned if you wish, there are stuff which they will not do to the US just to embarrass or hurt it.  But the Russians, with their gradual leaks, are telling the USA "keep accusing us and we will leak more".  So in "real world diplomacy" these leaks are threats.  I am also sure that the Russians are telling the US "look, you botched your false flag, now don't come crying to us - deal with it, bury it if you want, but don't come pissing us off with those ridiculous accusations or else more leaks will happen".

Latin Christians have been very upset at me for bringing up the past.  My I suggest that it is for the victim of abuse to decide whether and for how long he/she wants to remind the abuser and everybody else of what she/her had to endure and not for the abuser to tell the victim to STFU?

Nasty comments:  The new blog is being worked on, but I want to gradually introduce the same moderation rules here as I planned on the new one.  For the time being, you can still see them here: .  Please pay attention to rule 3#: "any comment designed to make me angry will make me angry and will be removed in anger".  Just saying... :-P

Oliver Stone: check out his interview with one of the nastiest most liberal, pro-US, pro-Zionist pro-everthingwrongontheplanet reporter in Russia, Vladimir Pozner, here: (I know, Pozner is smart, and he smiles a lot.  He is still a despicable SOB no better than Savik Shuster).

Amazing comparison on Gilad Atzmon's website:

The next couple of day: I will try my best to moderate as fast as I can.  To those angry about the slow pace of moderation I can only say: "sorry, I also have a life in meatspace"

Cheers and kind regards to all,

The Saker