DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF ST. JOHN, ARCHBISHOP OF SHANGHAI AND SAN FRANCISCO
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ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN WITNESS (USPS 412-260)
is published monthly by St. Nectarios American Orthodox Cathedral,
10300 Ashworth Avenue North, Seattle, Washington 98133-9410.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
OCW, 10300 Ashworth Ave. N., Seattle, WA. 98133-9410
Fr. Neketas S. Palassis, Editor Email: frneketas@stnectariospress.com
Telephone (206) 522-4471; (800) 643-4233 U.S. & Canada;
Fax: 206-523-0550

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.

Elder Nazarius




1. BOOK REVIEW
Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism, by James Perloff.
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 evolve.

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 http://www.peripatus.gen.nz/Taxa/Arthropoda/Trilobita/Trilobite.html is enlightening on the question of the origin of trilobites (and also on the way evolutionists habitually refer to anyone who disagrees with them):

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 puzzle.

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.
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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 Not Believe?"

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 third chapters.
    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 this.
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.
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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.

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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.


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