DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN
ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
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SEPTEMBER 2005, VOL 39 No. 9, (1552)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Book Review, TORNADO IN A JUNKYARD
2 Book Review: ELDER HARALAMBOS DIONYSIATIS
3. FIRST PATRONAL FEAST IN NEW CHURCH
4. NEW ITEMS FROM THE BOOK CENTER
Let us enter into the words of St. Paul: "I had rather speak five
words with my understanding than ten thousand words in a tongue" (I
Cor. 15: 19). I am unable to express how fortunate we are that we have
become worthy to utter these five words. What joy! "Lord Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me, a sinner." Just think! O Lord! Whose Name am I
pronouncing? That of the Creator, the Founder of everything, before
Whom all heavenly powers tremble! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God! Thou
hast shed Thy blood for me, hast saved me, hast come down to earth.
1. BOOK REVIEW
Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism, by James
Rufuge Books, 1999.
Up to about 150 years ago all Christians believed that God created
the world in six days, some 4,000-5,000 years before the birth of Our
Saviour. Some of the Fathers of the Church, such as St. Basil the
Great, thought that the six days probably represented aeons, not
literal 24-hour days such as we know them. Then Origin of Species was
published in 1859 by Charles Darwin. Although there was significant
dissent at the time of publication, most scientists jumped on the
bandwagon, the theory of evolution entered into the mainstream of
Western man's thought (via the media), and the world changed
irrevocably. Nothing again would be the same. Immense, unimaginable
time spans were accepted uncritically, the older the better, bones of
apelike creatures were dug up, dated at millions of years and
proclaimed to be the ancestors of modern human beings. Because the
media proclaimed the truth of evolution, it was seen to be a much
better explanation than Scripture, and with the separation of Church
and State, schools have been banned from teaching a God-centered,
creationist explanation of the universe and our earth. We have been
carefully taught that human beings are just another form of animal,
that all animal life evolved from one-celled molecules, that our earth
is a tiny speck on the edge of an ordinary galaxy, somewhere in the
back-of-beyond. The account of creation as told in Genesis was
relegated to the shelf, just another myth similar to those told by
every primitive group of people. And God Himself? Totally unnecessary.
I was raised as an atheist. Evolution and the enormous age of the earth
always seemed like very interesting, even exciting, things to read
about, even though I had no science background. I read books on recent
discoveries in biological evolution and gazed in wonder at
reconstructions of Neanderthal and Australopithecine bones. I was
always fascinated by the theory of plate tectonics and continental
drift. I took a geology course at the University of Washington and
wrote a successful term paper on the volcanism of Iceland, the birth of
the Island of Surtsey, and the fact that Iceland is part of the
Mid-Atlantic Rift. I accepted all the theories because they were so
neatly packaged in textbooks and popular science books and were always
favorably reported on by the media. It just all seemed so reasonable.
The account in Genesis? Impossible.
After becoming Orthodox, I began reading the Bible with great interest,
love, and attention. I found I deeply desired to believe that the
account in Genesis was absolutely correct. But I had been so thoroughly
indoctrinated in the theory of evolution that I just couldn't make the
leap. After all, weren't the scientific dating systems infallible (+-
some hundreds or more years, of course), weren't there proofs of
evolution, such as the peppered moth and the horse? I was very
ignorant, but not more so than most people, I would venture to guess.
Then I bought a copy of Tornado in a Junkyard from the St. Nectarios
Book Store. The lights began to go on! I found out through this book
that the "proofs" I had accepted had been debunked. The peppered moth
"proof" had turned out to be merely variations already present in the
moth species, and the highly touted scenario of horse evolution
(complete with pictures) had been proved totally wrong. Perloff
describes how scientists must interpret all discoveries and results of
dating systems (of once-living matter and of rocks) in the light of
evolution, thereby sometimes creating imaginary links between fossils
and accepting some dating results but discarding others as not
reasonable according to the theory. The public, of course, is told only
of the discovery and the date that was deemed to be acceptable to the
evolutionist scientists. And if it appears on the evening news, then it
must be correct, correct?
Perloff carefully dissects all the legs on which evolution stands -
dating systems, fossil record, mutation, etc. - and finds them all to
be quite shaky. For example the Carbon-14 test for dating once-living
matter is very unreliable, even giving an age of some 27,000 years to
the shells of living snails (pg. 141). The lava dome of Mt St Helens,
formed in 1980, was radiometrically dated at 2.8 million years (pg
146). In addition, there are many unresolved problems, not answered by
the evolutionists, such as the amount of helium in the atmosphere, the
amount of salt in the oceans, the size of the Mississippi delta, to
name just a few. One that is very interesting is "The People Problem"
(pgs 135-136). If man evolved over some 25,000 generations, as in the
evolutionary scenario, there would have to be at least 102100 (1 with
2,100 zeros after it), even allowing for only 0.5% increase. However,
if one takes the year 6300 B.C. as the starting point and a rate of
increase of 0.33%, one gets roughly the population we have now,
starting with just two people. If the Flood happened around 2350 B.C.,
which left eight survivors, "we would get today's population from an
annual growth rate of only 0.5%" (pg. 136). An article on this subject
can be found at www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v23/i3/people.asp.
Perloff also discusses the effects of mutation, one of the cornerstones
of evolution. In the theory of evolution, mutation is believed to be
the most important (alongside survival of the fittest) method by which
one type of creature gradually evolved into a higher form of life over
vast eons of time. In real life, however, mutations (birth defects, as
we call them today) are nearly always a very negative occurrence,
making it very difficult or even impossible for the being to survive.
One additional difficulty is that mutations are recessive, making it
mandatory that both the father and the mother have that particular
mutation in order to reproduce it in their offspring. Another
difficulty is that many processes found in living creatures, such as
the remarkable poison-spraying mechanism of the bombardier beetle or
the human eye, are so incredibly complex and so interdependent on the
various components of the process that the process simply could not
have evolved over long periods of time; i.e., if one component of the
process were missing or underdeveloped, the whole mechanism would be
inoperable. The structure of DNA and the information contained in it is
difficult to reconcile with the theory of gradual evolution from simple
to complex, since, for example, mutations involve a loss of DNA
information, not an increase, which would be necessary for a species to
The abundant quotes from scientific journals that Perloff cites
strongly indicate that the fossil record does not support evolution.
Each creature found in the fossil record appears at the lowest level in
the exact same form as it does in the most recent level, allowing for
slight variations of the type in individuals. Even the evolutionist
Stephen Jay Gould admits (as quoted on pg 18): "Most species exhibit no
directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the
fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear;
morphological change is usually limited and directionless." Trilobites,
arthropods found in vast numbers at the very lowest geological levels,
are an unsolved mystery for the evolutionists. A quote from
enlightening on the question of the origin of trilobites (and also on
the way evolutionists habitually refer to anyone who disagrees with
The big problem with the earliest known trilobites, is that they are
trilobites. That is to say, their earliest representatives - from the
order Redlichiida and in particular the Fallotaspididae - are
distinctly and emphatically trilobites, and they do not look like
anything else. They provide few clues to which other arthropod groups
may be their close relatives, or to their origins. Although it is true
that one or two of the Ediacaran forms such as Spriggina superficially
resemble early trilobites, to date the detailed case for such an
ancestry is far from compelling. This problem is particularly galling
in one respect: it has not escaped the notice of those well-known
oxymorons, the creation science brigade. However, those of us with an
interest in the origins of things are compensated with a fascinating
Tornado in a Junkyard contains a wealth of material, very clearly
footnoted for easy further reference, on the unreliability of all that
supports the theory of evolution and the growing amount of data
supporting creationism as recounted in Genesis. Perloff also has quite
a bit to say about the effects of the teaching of evolution on the
minds of young children and its overall effect on society as a whole.
As he says (pg 231), "One hundred years ago students learned they were
created in God's image. Today they are told in effect: 'The universe
was created by chance. You therefore are here by accident. Your life
has no purpose or meaning. There is no afterlife; you have no soul. You
are just a blob of molecules . . .'" The inference for the individual
and for society is inescapable: eat, drink, and be merry, for there is
nothing else. It seems reasonable to extrapolate this mind-numbing
brainwashing to the rise in drug use, child suicide, depression, crime,
abortion, and other ills of our day.
This book is a perfect introduction to a study of just how far the
"proofs" of evolution can be accepted and also an invitation to explore
creationism and what the creationist scientists are saying. The
popularity of the evolutionary theories calls for some
counterbalancing, and a thorough study of the claims of the
evolutionists vs. those of the creationists is needed. It is very
difficult for the non-scientific layperson (like myself) to discern
error from truth in such a complex arena. I submit, however, that our
best guide is Scripture itself. A partial list of Christian Mysteries
include: the Holy Trinity; bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood
of our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ; the spiritual and physical
healing that comes from partaking of that Mystery; the Incarnation; the
Virgin Birth; the Resurrection; the miracles performed by our Saviour;
the existence of angels. As Orthodox Christians we accept these
Mysteries and many more through our faith in God's Word revealed to us
through Scripture. Not one of these Mysteries can be proved through
scientific means. It is only because science has challenged the
creation ex nihil by God and the account of the Flood of Noah that
these particular Mysteries cause us problems. But we must remember that
physical science is not only fallible, but it is also the product of
worldly wisdom and knowledge that, even if correct in some aspects, is
extremely limited and can never progress into the realms of God's
revealed Mysteries. Only love for God and faith in His Scripture can do
that. We do not know the Mind of God and we cannot plumb the depths of
His mysteries. We don't have to have been born prior to The Origin of
Species to know and believe that with an easy conscience.
TORNADO IN A JUNKYARD is available from St. Nectarios Press.
2. BOOK REVIEW:
Abbot Haralampos Dionysiatis: The Teacher of Noetic Prayer
by Monk Joseph Dionysiatis. Athens 2004
Did Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina Sign "That Which He Did
With all due respect to the author of Abbot Haralampos Dionysiatis,
some of the anecdotal history he presents concerning of the reasons
Elder Haralampos left the True Orthodox Church of Greece to commemorate
the Patriarch of Constantinople is open to question.
First, on the issue of grace, it was the New Calendar State Church that
first declared the True Orthodox Christians to be without grace.
On April 24, 1926, the State Church of Greece issued a very harsh
encyclical (Protocol Number 2398/2203) directed against the traditional
Orthodox Christians. The encyclical states: "They separate
themselves from the Church and cut themselves off from the Body of
Christ, drawing upon themselves condemnation and excommunication, not
knowing, or perhaps forgetting, that he who does not hear the Church is
'as the heathen man and the publican' (Matt. 18:17)...The decisions of
the Church are absolutely obligatory; he who does not obey them no
longer belongs to her; he is deprived of the means of divine grace; and
is liable to eternal torment" (emphasis added). A persecution
followed which included the forced closure and demolition of the places
of worship used by the traditional Orthodox, sacrilege, and the
disruption of their worship in which the clergy were beaten and
arrested. The faithful were also beaten and imprisoned, and one,
Catherine Routis, even died as a result of the wounds inflicted on her
by the police.
In May of 1935, three Bishops who returned to the
Church Calendar and left the State Church of Greece, one of whom was
Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina, Synodically and officially issued
an encyclical two days after they consecrated four new bishops.
In this encyclical the following was stated "the governing hierarchy of
Greece has, in spirit, torn and walled itself off from the sacred
canons and the entire Body of Orthodoxy, and potentially and in
essence, declared itself schismatic, according to the determination of
the committee of experts in canon law, of theologians, and professors
of the University [of Athens] who were assigned to study the calendar
question (one of the committee members at that time being His
Beatitude, the Archbishop of Athens, who was a Professor of
History in our national University)."
These statements provoked the intense wrath of the
State Church and the seven bishops were immediately arrested and
brought to trial in June of 1935. The bishops were condemned for
causing division and disturbance by organizing "unlawful assemblies,"
and showing contempt for the "legal" and "canonical" Church.
Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina was one of the bishops sentenced to
exile and imprisonment. Before the Bishops left, they addressed
their flock with one last synodical Encyclical. In June of 1935 they
wrote, "...we counsel all who follow the Orthodox festal calendar to
have no spiritual communion with the schismatic Church and its
schismatic ministers, from whom the grace of the All-holy Spirit has
departed, since they have set at naught the resolutions of the Fathers
of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and all the Pan-Orthodox Councils that
condemned the Gregorian festal calendar..."
Elder Haralampos was a prominent layman among the
traditional Orthodox at the time these events took place. It is
very surprising that he was not aware of these official Encyclicals
issued by his bishops and instead, according to the author, says on pg.
53 "Some believed that grace was lost in the official Church along with
the change of the calendar, while others said that grace remained, and
ours was a stance of protest. I agreed with latter."
Perhaps Fr. Haralampos is referring to the private
opinion that Metropolitan Chrysostom expressed in a personal letter to
Bishop Germanus in November of 1937. Metropolitan Chrysostom
modified and softened his original position because he saw that
although there were many in the State Church who violently persecuted
the traditional Orthodox, there were many who sympathized with the
traditional Orthodox. He had high hopes that a Pan-Orthodox
Council would set all things right in the near future. This
softening caused a division among the traditionalist bishops because
they saw Metropolitan Chrysostom's opinion as a betrayal.
Metropolitan Chrysostom himself, in his private letter, said, "it is
our personal and completely private opinion that His Beatitude and the
Hierarchy with him...have potentially, but not actually, fallen from
divine grace...His Beatitude and those Bishops who are of one mind with
him will fall away from divine grace and become aliens...in
actuality...when they are proclaimed as such and as actual schismatics
by a Pan-Orthodox Council..."
In 1950, after seeing that the State Church showed
no signs of changing direction and that no Pan-Orthodox Council had set
things aright, Metropolitan Chrysostom reinstated his original views in
the synodical Encyclical he signed in May of that year. He
"revoked and repudiated whatever was written by us from 1937 until
today...incompatible or contrary to the principles of the Eastern
Orthodox Church of Christ...as it was proclaimed in the encyclical
published by the sacred Synod in the year 1935, without any addition or
omission, including even the technical phrase 'potentially and in
actuality.'" It is of this Encyclical of 1950 that the author of
Abbot Haralampos Dionysiatis claims that the venerable Metropolitan "is
believed to have said, 'I sign that which I don't believe.'" (pg. 54).
To say that Metropolitan Chrysostom did not believe in his last
Encyclical cannot be supported by the historical facts. First, he
suffered a two-year exile on account of this Encyclical, because it had
especially infuriated the new calendar State Church. Secondly, he
returned from exile in 1952 and lived three more years in freedom, but
he did nothing to retract the Encyclical. Besides, in
ecclesiastical matters, it is the official and public confession and
statement which bears weight. Certainly, he was a man of
integrity who had proved by his exiles and imprisonments that he did
not fear to take a position because of its consequences.
Nothing less could be expected from a man of such stature.
Metropolitan Chrysostom of Florina had spoken his convictions in clear
conscience and maintained them with integrity. One may disagree with
Metropolitan Chrysostom's stand, nevertheless, the facts are so clear
that it is impermissible to ignore his position of 1950 or discount it
as mere hypocrisy. For a full treatment of these issues, we refer
the reader to The Struggle Against Ecumenism (Holy Orthodox Church in
North America, 1998, ISBN 0-943405-09-2), especially the second and
The moot point is what is exactly meant by the
technical phrase "potentially and in actuality." We think that it
is best understood as to whether or not the other bishops, clergy and
flock are aware of the schism or heresy of their chief hierarch and his
accomplices and are of one mind with it, or are ignorant of it.
These things take time to become known and for the clergy and flock to
react with clarity. Some condemn the heresy or schism immediately
and break communion, others wait and will stop con-celebrating with
those they do not agree with, yet will continue to commemorate them in
the diptychs. Others will break communion with the bishops and
clergy, but not the monastics and laity, waiting for a conciliar
decision of some sort concerning the heresy or
schism. At such times in Church History, many become
confused and have sometimes erred due to excessive caution.
Sometimes even Saints have been confused, "hesitating," for a
while. St. Gerasimus of the Jordan is a famous example.
Alas, some have even reposed in this ambiguity and it is the Church who
will later ascertain their status, sometimes numbering them among the
saints because it is very clear from the rest of their writings and
witness that if they had lived a little bit longer they would have made
a clear statement and not continued in communion with the
innovators. New-Hieromartyr Archbishop Hilarion Troitsky
(1927+), the holy Elder Joseph the Hesychast and Cave-Dweller (1959+),
and the venerable Fr. Justin Popovich (1979+) are notable examples of
In 1964, when Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras met in Jerusalem
and publicly prayed together, many of the Fathers of Mount Athos
published a proclamation of protest. The entire Synodia of Elder
Joseph the Hesychast was then living at Nea Skete. They all,
including Abbot Haralampos, signed this protest.1 The "answer" of
Constantinople to this protest was "the lifting of the Anathemas of
1054." At this time almost the entire Holy Mountain ceased the
commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch.2 The entire Synodia of
the Elder Joseph also stopped commemorating the Patriarch. Elder
Joseph the Younger (the Cypriot) wrote to a young member of the
original Synodia residing in the United States with a fledgling
community, strongly advising them to seek refuge with Metropolitan
Philaret of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. Abbot
Haralampos remained a non-commemorator until he agreed to become the
abbot of Dionysiou Monastery in 1979.
Regardless, can one really say the State Church of Greece, the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, or for that matter, any of local Orthodox
Churches, is free of "fanaticism, egoism, ambitions, and division
of the leaders" (pg. 54 of Abbot Haralampos Dionysiatis) without
appearing to be incredibly ignorant, naïve, or hypocritical? Is
not the current persecution of the confessing fathers of the Holy
Monastery of Esphigmenou on Mount Athos by the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
with the full cooperation of the Greek Government and the commemorating
monasteries on Mount Athos, "fanaticism?" Are not the scandals of
the State Church of Greece and the Jerusalem Patriarchate that are
currently being broadcast to the whole world a sorry exposé of
"egoism, ambitions, and divisions of leaders?" Regardless, these are
human sins, not matters of faith. One cannot justify the apostasy
of "World Orthodoxy" because of the divisions and scandals of the
traditional Orthodox. Sinful and divided the traditional Orthodox
may be, but heretics they are not. We can only pray that our
beloved Fr. Haralampos, with all his spiritual gifts, will find mercy
as a good intentioned hesitator who was scandalized by the extremism of
some of the zealots on Mount Athos and the divisions of the
traditionalist Orthodox hierarchy in Greece, and that somehow he was
not aware of the gravity of the essential issues because of his
well-known simplicity. This simplicity no doubt worked to his advantage
when it came to making progress in prayer and asceticism; it did not,
however, work to his advantage in the present crisis facing the
Church. His explanation of only commemorating the apostate
Patriarch of Constantinople in the litanies in the main church of the
monastery was disingenuous to say the least. He was led
astray by those around him whom he trusted to his
disadvantage. No one should use his mistake, hopefully made
in ignorance and with the best pastoral intentions, as an excuse to
remain in communion with apostate "World Orthodoxy."
ABBOT HARALAMBOS DIONYSIATIS is available from St. Nectarios Press.
3. FIRST PATRONAL FEAST IN NEW CHURCH
ST. COSMAS OF AITOLIA PARISH
The parish of St. Cosmas of Aitolia in Lanham,
MD (Washington DC area) celebrated its first patronal feast in the new
church building on September 4th. Visiting clergy joining Fr.
Seraphim Johnson included Abbot Isaac of Holy Transfiguration
Monastery, Archpriests Michael Lightfoot of Catlett, VA and Rodion
Laskowski of Mt. Holly Springs, PA, Priest Nicodemos Gayle of Richmond,
VA and Deacon Christos Patitsas of Mt. Holly Sprints, PA. Many out of
town visitors joined in the liturgical celebration and festive meal
following. The beautiful weather allowed the many children to be
outside while the adults enjoyed a lively and informative
question-and-answer session with the clergy following the meal.
4. NEW ITEMS FROM THE BOOK CENTER
(EH) ELDER HARALAMBOS DIONYSIATIS: The Teacher of Noetic Prayer by Monk
Joseph Dionysiatis. Originally from the brotherhood of the Elder
Joseph the Cave Dweller, Fr. Haralambos went on to become the abbot of
the large monastery of Dionysiou. He reposed in December , 2000.
Along with his life, teachings and testimonies of his disciples, the
volume contains many color and black & white photographs.
289pp. Paper e$20.00
(IGP) INTRODUCTION TO ST. GREGORY PALAMAS. Fr. George Papademetriou.
"An excellent introduction to this great saint and a valuable
contribution to the study of his theology" (Dr. Constantine
Cavarnos).175pp Paper e$16.00
(TM68) THE DIVINE LITURGIES AS CHANTED ON THE HOLY MOUNTAIN. St.
Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery. Has prepared its Divine Liturgy
Music Project.It covers the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom,
St. Basil the Great, St. James and the Presanctified Divine Liturgy.
This CD contains 900 music files which are downloadable.
These files are available on the interactive CD which is compatible
with Windows computers only. With this CD you can view, hear and print
the music. The words of hymns are provided in Modern English,
Elizabethan English and Greek.d$18.00.
1 This Proclamation was published in Agioritki Bibiotheki
May-June isuue, 1964, pp. 161-164. An English translation can be
found in the appendix of Against False Union, St. Nectarios Press.
2 Alas, one by one most of the ruling monasteries began to commemorate
again. The civil authorities put pressure on the monasteries and
even removed two abbots, Archimandrite Andrew of St. Paul's Monastery
and Archimandrite Evdokimos of Xenophontos Monastery, by force.
These abbots were betrayed and deposed by their own brotherhoods.
Esphigmenou Monastery, along with their abbot, Archimandrite
Athanasius, remained united. Today, Esphigmenou Monastery is the
only monastery of the twenty ruling monasteries that refuses to
commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Bartholomew is
seeking a way to have the fathers there removed by force.
However, the sketes, cells, and hermitages of Mount Athos, for the most
part, do not commemorate the Patriarch.