Saturday, July 8, 2017

Sr. Vassa not retracting, rejoices in increased attention and $.

If you have no context for the below comments by Sister Vassa, please go here for some background information.

EMAIL OF THE WEEK, from a COUSIN of mine, about my recent correspondence with a woman with a homosexual son):

My dear sister,

What follows is a totally incoherent series of disjointed thoughts, about your email to the woman with the 14-year-old homosexual son. You know, it’s doing no favors to your reputation, which is my concern.

What is the planned course of action from here? Firstly the whole thing is totally ridiculous given the fact that you precursored (real word?) the whole thing by saying it's just your personal opinion and not the opinion of the Church.

Personally I'm a bit surprised that you decided to come so close to such a live wire topic, given that most of Modern Chistiandom is so divided on it. Can you offer some explanation on what compelled you to address this topic at all? I don't think you intended to align yourself with the gay community- I don't believe that's a priority for you. But surely you must have expected some backlash for this.

I often think about so many stupid things I do and prejudices I hold because of our guilt-ridden childhood, in our church-upbringing, and the one conclusion I always come to is that I'm always actually doing myself the biggest disservice. I am always actually the biggest malefactor of my own inner biases. How does this relate to this topic? I think you are really well intentioned, my dear sister, I always thought that about you. I think that you feel you can push the Church into new and better directions and to do so of course you need to push the envelope. But I fear you will get burned in doing so, as you tread onto unknown territory. You can’t handle it, I fear, because it’s your own territory that you are departing, when you push the envelope.

In any event, I think that this whole homosexuality issue is not really the right place to choose the field of battle. The idiotic backlash you're experiencing actually reveals a bigger problem. The problem is that our Church is full of religious prigs. I liked C.S. Lewis' idea that if you're a thief and an adulterer you're better off being that than a pious prig.

Anyway, I support you and I hope you're not taking this tempest in a teacup too close to heart. It too will pass and maybe in the meantime you might consider some retraction or explanatory follow up to this?

Love you, my dear sis!



Hey X!

Thanks for writing and caring, my brother. No, I didn't delete the post because I'm retracting it in any way. I just thought that, after three full 24-hour days of people fighting about it, it was enough. But please note that ca. 90% of the response I got has been positive. I have more followers now, on Facebook, and also more subscribers to my audio-podcasts. So, this isn't some kind of catastrophe or "failure," for me. OK?

I don't believe I said a single thing that is untrue, including my statement, in no uncertain terms, that active homosexuality is a "sin." And that one's denial of Holy Communion is a consequence. And that one shouldn't leave the Church nonetheless. Not everyone in "the gay community" (whatever that means) was thrilled with that. My point is, it is simply untrue that I have somehow "championed" the gay lifestyle. I don’t “champion” my own “lifestyle” either, you know. I just champion following my vocation, if you get what that means.

As far as my "reputation" goes, it's fine. In fact it's a lot better than the actual truth about me. I'm not saying that in "humility," I am just saying the truth of the matter. As you know, my dear brother, I am just a normal human being, so I don’t have any expectation that other people will particularly value what I do or do not think. Besides, this is not the first controversial subject on which I've written. Some people thought I committed church-political suicide when I published an article on those rules about menstruating women. But here I am. For some reason, people still seem to care what I think, to the point that they spend days arguing about it.

I don't claim to think or reply to questions perfectly, but I have found that I can't avoid some of these questions, and shouldn't. I think that for whatever reason, known only to God, I need to speak on certain issues, because I happen to be called to. And the stuff that I've written on problematic subjects has been occasioned by repeated questions I got on these issues. I've been in this game long enough, now, and as I get older I find that I want to actually say what I think, and share genuinely of myself, rather than repeat unhelpful formulas that are "safe," yet utterly useless because they are untrue and ignorant of our everyday realities. I want to be of some use to people, as far as I can from my little bell-tower, but I don't think we are really of any use to anybody when we're not genuine. Life is too short, for me to spend the rest of it just praising "the emperor's new clothes," when everybody knows he is naked. Now, I'm not being reckless, but I have become self-accepting enough, in my middle age, to say what I truly think, when I think some of my listeners could benefit from that. And some of this self-acceptance comes from the very loyal following I've built up these past years; people who support me and also pay my bills with their support, because I do speak to them genuinely.

So I don't regret publishing this email-and-response. You know, when C. S. Lewis was asked about homosexuality, he said, I can't speak about an enemy I haven't met in battle. It's akin to what Pope Francis said (Who am I to judge?) Were many people upset that both of these men refused to gay-bash or at least condemn the "sin"? Sure. But both those men "matter,"and people care what they thought/think, because they're "the real deal," rather than party-line mediocrities who just repeat "safe" formulas.

I miss you, and hope you're OK.



  1. Replies
    1. I can always count on you to visit and say whatever your magic eight ball tells you to.

  2. The holy fathers of the Church have given us the "safe formulas." The Holy Orthodox Church runs everything through the holy filter of the holy fathers.....not pope Francis.....and not C.S. Lewis. She is giving her opinion to people who may think she is speaking for the Church (even though she says she is not speaking for the Church). The Hierarchs of ROCOR must make it crystal clear that her opinion is not the teaching of the Holy Orthodox Church. Furthermore, she is justifying her "advice" by saying that she has increased followers and subscriptions so that she can more easily pay her bills?!? Just because she feels that she is speaking to people "genuinely" does not mean that she is helping people. If someone is giving advice from a place of delusion....the people accepting the advice participate in the delusion.

    She is in prelest.

    1. I'm confused by the meaning of prelest. I used to think it meant vanity, but the word itself means charm, or fascination. It even translates to beauty in English. What am I missing here?

    2. It means spiritual delusion.

    3. @Vergil Prelest here is being used according to its meaning in Old Church Slavonic (spiritual delusion) and not according to its meaning in modern Russian (something precious). The meaning has changed significantly. "Prelest," interestingly, is what Gollum from Lord of the Rings says in the Russian translation to mean "my precious."

  3. Dear Father: I am not on FB. Do you know whether anyone has posted Fr John Whiteford's reply to her from his blog? It would be helpful to see her reply. Presently sounds as if she is quite deluded and has not been respectful of the Fathers in her mind anyway for some time. Please, please, anyone who does not respect the Orthodox Tradition, please do the only decent thing and go elsewhere where you "feel" you fit. There are many liberal Episcopalian Churches who would welcome and encourage you to be "yourself" (instead of learning to conform to the image of God) and confirm you in your self-appointed postion as "interpreter" of the Faith, suggesting improvements on the Saints. Intellectual pride was certainly a failing of mine as Protestant, one I still battle as a convert. Those impressed by her scholarship and disappointed by her posting seem to be Protestant converts rather than Monks of Mt Athos types. Perhaps this sad display can help us all be cured of that in the Church, from seeing her massive fall. May God heal her and all of us!

    1. It is an excellent and thorough response.

    2. Yes, absolutely. I was hoping Sr Vassa has seen it and replied on her blog to it...

    3. Slightly disagree with you. We should never encourage someone to leave the Church. Instead, we should encourage them to see where they have gone astray and to work to be in line with the Church. Apostasy is a pretty serious thing.

    4. You are correct, REM, thank you. I was thinking of her impact on readers, supporters, students, the Church rather than of her as an individual. I will pray for her as a sister in Christ to see and be healed of distortion as well as for her readers, fellow scholars, sisters, admirers and the Church to be protected from her present distortion.

  4. Equating Pope Francis with CS Lewis is drawing a long bow. This is the pope who refused the Royal Commission (Australia) access to the files of pedophile clerics held by the Vatican. How is that the real deal? His Amoris Latetitia is a pastoral nightmare as it it is like many of his speeches; "doublespeak". CS Lewis was clear, concise and fairly much in full accord with received tradition. The pope is not in the same league at all. He has, whether intentional or not, celebrity status....that's all. Sorry to smash your idol however examine the facts of his acts and writings and you will see beyond the headlines. The sooner the Roman Church retires him the better.

  5. As Archimandrite Sophrony (Essex) noted shortly before he died, anthropology (the theological question to "what is man(anthropos)) is THE question of the day, THE arena in which the Faith is doing battle with "heresy" in our time. This is reflected most clearly and obviously in the sexuality issues (homosexualism, divorce, pornography, etc. - even women's ordination) because we live in a secular society which is the midst of a "sexual revolution" (well, we are in the tell end of said revolution).

    One could say many things about this, but I would note the link between the logorrheic and confusing mix of Christian and secular anthropology that is Sister Vassa's reply and her academic position/life style. Too many of our Orthodox scholars (often labeled "theologians") suffer the usual academic disease of accepting secularized, nominalistic, Cartesian presuppositions around anthropology and unconsciously (or consciously) mixing these with Christian anthropology and proposing a confused mashup in their expressions and "opinions" which they often note is not "official" Church teaching. In a sense I feel for them, because they have committed themselves (their life and work) to the modern Academy and "Science" and thus are truly between a Rock (i.e. the Church) and a hard place (the overwhelming cachet of "Science" and "Scholarship" that the Academy has in our secularized culture). All too often, in this conflict it is clear that scientism wins.

    Also, note that these institutions are more often than not Roman Catholic (for a host of reasons but this aspect is rarely acknowledged). Also, note that our Hierarchs appear to be as unwilling to even acknowledge (let alone question, confront, etc.) the stranglehold that the secular Academy has on "scholarship" as the scholars themselves. Few are willing to brave the cultures scorn when they call you unscientific and "backwards".

    I say all this to point out that Sr. Vassa's reply is a symptom of the age and while I don't doubt her sincerity or even her Christianity, I do not accept how she and too many others (including big names like Met. Kallistos) have attempted, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to mix the light with the dark. The Hierarchs in general are lying low about all this because they really don't know how to react and "fix" this situation. The problem is they risk being stooges for the spirit of the age...

    1. Thanks for this insightful and clear comment. This kind of comment is sadly lacking from our hierarchs.

  6. What the hierarchs allow, they encourage.

    Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist

    [A]s incautious speaking leads into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often improvident rulers, fearing to lose human favor, shrink timidly from speaking freely the things that are right; and, according to the voice of the Truth (Jn. 10:12), serve unto the custody of the flock by no means with the zeal of shepherds, but in the way of hirelings; since they fly when the wolf comes if they hide themselves under silence. For hence it is that the Lord through the Prophet upbraids them, saying, 'Dumb dogs, that cannot bark' (Isa. 56:10). Hence again He complains, saying, 'You have not gone up against the enemy, neither opposed a wall for the house of Israel, to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord' (Eze. 13:5). Now to go up against the enemy is to go with free voice against the powers of this world for defense of the flock; and to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord is out of love of justice to resist bad men when they contend against us. For, for a shepherd to have feared to say what is right, what else is it but to have turned his back in keeping silence?

  7. Wonderful! We need St Gregory and his wisdom today. The church is being remodelled into the world.......what a time we live in......the Christians thirst for the Water of Life but are denied it by those who sadly themselves seem no longer to have It...Kyrie eleison!

  8. We've got him. Read his wisdom and pray for his intercession.

    Most especially I have to guard my own heart so that I do not fall into worse errors.

    Lord have mercy.