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Talk:St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery (Florence, Arizona)

Real unbiased news story?

Inside the monastery:

Is this really necessary? Was this report truly an unbiased story covering an Orthodox monastery (as the news director promised dozens of people who wrote and called the news station) or rather tabloid journalism based on complaints of a few misinformed and misguided people?

Hmm.. I wouldn't call it unbiased. There are many other sites making criticisms. It is true that one of Elder Ephrem's books mentions the Protocols, which I think is unconscionable. However, I doubt that this kind of rhetoric strongly colors the life of the monastery. Perhaps Fr. Ephrem learned this from his spiritual father, and being ignorant (in a worldly sense) repeats it. This is bad, dangerous even, but it's just one small sliver of the whole picture. It doesn't mean the monks don't pray or aren't being somehow transfigured by divine light. I think it does mean that just because someone is holy doesn't mean they're never wrong. If people are interested, we could have a brief section containing a descriptive overview of the criticisms and the response from the monasteries. God isn't afraid of truth. — FrJohn (talk)
Reading the report, I also came to the conclusion that it was bin-filler. But, most major institutions have some kind of controversy. One of the purposes, I would think, of this encyclopedia-like site is to put all of this together - both supportive of the monastery, and otherwise. Most worldly institutions are falling over themselves to present their side of the story, and while the monastery is a different kettle of fish, it does have lay supporters that can do the same thing. is the best example I can think of offhand. -- — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 00:21, February 10, 2006 (CST)
I am, of course, unqualified to judge an elder like Fr. Ephrem, but I have heard troubling reports from time to time. The Pokrov web site appears to be trying to present both sides of the matter, but there's a great deal of emotionality from both sides. If the accusations that I have seen are true, things could be very bad--but that is if and only if such accusations are true. There is a certain rigor in Athonite monasticism--and a rather vigorous way of expressing this rigor. This could be misinterpreted. Regarding the news story, one quote did strike me as an example of this culture clash: "Their brain is run by the monastery. They can't read whatever they want to read. They have to ask for permission for everything they do." From what I understand of monasticism in general, this sort of discipline is normal in both East and West for newcomers to the community. Dogface 12:30, February 10, 2006 (CST)

The World Hates the Disciples

John 15:18,19

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 17:14

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

1 John 3:13

Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

And the point of this is? The Monophysites, Arians, and Gnostics all claimed that they were, likewise persecuted as these verses foretold. That there are questions raised about alleged practices such as denouncing the marriage bed as defiled--advising married couples to permanently abstain from conjugal relations--is not identical to "hatred". As I have pointed out, this could be a matter of misunderstanding of Athonite strictness and the vigor with which Athonites seem to prefer to express themselves. Affecting an air of "persecution" in response only invites greater investigation. Of course, nobody is ever hurt by truth, right?Dogface 13:54, February 10, 2006 (CST)
One of the main problems with heretics is that they never have the humility to even admit they are persecuted or weak (if they are/were at all persecuted). In fact, it was the Arians (to use your example) who were persecuting the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church was the "weaker" party for some time, and Pope Athanasius was standing against the whole world, giving rise to the expression "Athanasius contra mundum".
The particular examples given in this video seem "out of context" (we are not told the full story or why a particular advice was given).
Pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44), as the father in the video said, "we are praying for them".
Umm... am I missing something? What "video" is being referred to here? Also, please sign your posts everybody!
I think that one thing we need to avoid in this controversy is the tendency to demonize one side or the other. The monks aren't perfect (as I trust they would admit), and neither are the monastery's critics. I think some people would have a hard time thinking that the monks are wrong about anything, though. Likewise, some people want to take an alarmist tone that totally passes over the role some of the criticized practices play within Orthodox tradition. — FrJohn (talk)
This has been pretty much my point. The strictness of Athonite practices and the vigor with which it is expressed may be subject to misinterpretation in our culture. Likewise, the strong discipline under which the newly-admitted to a monastry live may be misinterpreted. Such discipline is actually not as unusual as some might think, even in Western (non-Orthodox) monasticism. The problem appears to be that nobody wants to bother to explain anything. Concern is automatically interpreted as rebellion, and austerity as totalitarianism.
Father, The links to the video in question are at the top of this page. Many monks, bishops and saints suffered similar attacks, e.g., the trial of St. John Maximovitch in public court [1]. --Arbible 15:15, February 10, 2006 (CST)
Ah, ok. Thanks - I thought those were just articles. No doubt, many have been persecuted wrongly, both for and by the church. Reading through, e.g., the articles linked from Pokrov, it seems to me that some of the criticisms, at least, are valid. I'm not sure simply crying "persecution" negates this. Of course, the devil wants to stir up confusion - no question about that. Living a holy life is a difficult thing - and the higher one seeks to ascend, the greater the dangers that lurk. Fr. John
All this is, imho, getting away from the point - should the current controversy be posted on the St.Anthony's article page? ISTM that, given the lack of any externally verifiable evidence on either side, it would be best to post, both accusations and replies, first on the talk page to ensure neutrality (and then in the article after some time has passed). Unless others have superior ideas, of course -- — by Pιsτévο talk complaints at 23:07, February 10, 2006 (CST)
I think we shouldn't get too deep into the controversy on the main page - maybe just mention that some things are controversial, offer a list of issues, and include some links to both sides. That can be done in one paragraph + links. Fr. John

Protocols of the Elders of Zion

One Athonite monk has told me that the Protocols are second only to the Gospels in their popularity on Athos. Anti-semitism is alive and well in the heartland of Orthodox monasticism. It is a salutary reminder that we should not romanticize Athonite life. This side of the grave, the monks of Athos are sinners like the rest of us. --Fr Lev 12:59, February 18, 2006 (CST)

That's sad to hear Fr. Lev, though I'm not too suprised (well, maybe by the second only to the Gosples part!). I suppose it's part of Greek life generally, and I suppose that even deep prayer does not cleanse one of all "village ignorances" or certain other human failings and foibles." I do think it's possible to be very holy and wrong about some things at the same time! Fr. John
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