(Washington Post) Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington

Jonah’s move to Washington strikes at the core of the traditional Eastern Orthodox reluctance to be on the front lines of the culture wars, much less political conflicts. The religion’s 1 million American adherents, who remain split into 20 separate ethnic groups, are more likely known to the general public as sponsors of bazaars featuring Slavic or Mediterranean food, crafts and dancing than as societal firebrands.

“Orthodox Christianity tends to be heavily theological and more concerned with matters of doctrine, liturgy and belief than evangelical Protestants and certainly the conservative Christian right,” said Rabbi Niles Goldstein, a senior fellow at the Utah-based Foundation for Interreligious Diplomacy. “They’re wrestling with how to find this balance between Christianity and activism, which makes it difficult for them to speak with a unified voice on social policy and foreign affairs.”

But Jonah sees American Orthodoxy at a crossroads where the choice is either to remain in ethnic enclaves and be irrelevant or jump into the stream of culture and politics and make a difference. He dreams of Orthodox Americans speaking out “as a conscience for the culture.” They would have clout in Congress, advocating for persecuted Orthodox around the world, such as the Egyptian Copts. They would stand equal with evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics in opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, cloning and euthanasia. St. Nicholas would be a hive of missionary work and outreach.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

10 comments on “(Washington Post) Metropolitan Jonah goes to Washington

  1. Grandmother says:

    Wonderful news! Rumor had him all but OUT! Thank God one leader has it all together…

  2. A Senior Priest says:

    Met. Jonah is a holy man, for sure. However, his dysfunctional Holy Synod of the OCA says he’s on a leave of absence from his job, even though Met. Jonah declined to acquiesce to their request.

  3. Ad Orientem says:

    This was a good article… as far as it goes. But there is a lot going on right now that was not mentioned. The bottom line is that the situation in the OCA is messy right now. Jonah’s position is precarious. He has stepped on more than a few toes and while I like and admire him I also can see where he needs to make some modifications to his leadership style.

    One underlying issue in all of this is the question of the OCA’s status within the broader canonical Orthodox Church. This is a very contentious issue which has not just the OCA but also much of Orthodox N. America sharply divided.

  4. Teatime2 says:

    i dunno. one of the many things i admire about orthodoxy — big o, i’m having to type one-handed — is that it hasnt waded into secular politics. imo, when churches become politically charged, they risk losing their way and inviting factions/activism to emerge and the gospel used for political purposes. we’ve seen this happen in the religious right, tec, and the rcc.

    there’s a fine line between being a voice for justice and values in the world and becoming part of the political world.

  5. Hursley says:

    The search for “relevance” often leads to places quite removed from the Kingdom of God. TEC’s concern with “the r-word” was an essential fuel for its journey into the wilderness of secularism and (ironically) its general “irrelevance” today. Being an ethnic enclave is a dead end, granted; but diving into the toxic pool of cultural relevance is perilous, at best. I don’t perceive Jesus’ ministry as being about “relevance.” Indeed, he often seemed to side-step the “issues” of the day that diverted attention from the real focus of “the Law and the Prophets.” The authentic Gospel, it seems to me, doesn’t need to be “relevant.” Rather, I believe the Gospel, when proclaimed and received, makes us relevant to God. Even with good intentions, pursuit of relevance in our society tends to end up as religious marketing at best, or the gateway to apostasy, at worst.

  6. Abouna says:

    This article captures to a certain degree the dynamism in Met. Jonah that many of us have appreciated since the day he was elected. I was there, and I was deliriously happy, more than that, the presence of God was palpable.

    However, I am afraid I do not believe that this article is balanced at all. First, I think a lot of OCA tension did not begin with the election of Met. Jonah as Ms. Duin writes. Rather, the beginning of his tenure marked an end to the horrible period of tension of 2006 – 2008.

    The meeting in February of the Synod is presented as if it where a response to Met. Jonah’s pioneering participation in the March for Life. Except it wasn’t (it was responding to wholly other concerns). This wasn’t the first year he went. And he wasn’t the first OCA Metropolitan to go. Met. Herman, (Met. Jonah’s predecessor, zealously supported the March for Life ever since it began in the 70’s when he was a young bishop, and attended every year. Met. Herman, whatever other problems he had, was visible in the Pro-life cause, and was visible in DC as Metropolitan, frequently participating in national events, not only the March, but also representing the Orthodox at those big soirees in the National Cathedral etc. Other OCA bishops have participated in the March for Life.

    Our bishopsdo not teach any strange doctrine concerning abortion or homosexuality. There is no evidence of such.

    The issue of the chancery location is one about feasibility and affordability at this time, and how the decision is made. There are issues about the Autocephaly of the OCA, and who decides whether the OCA sticks to the autocephaly or not. Almost all parties in the OCA have now acknowledged problems and breakdowns in administrative matters.

    Ms. Duin refers to the meeting of our Holy Synod of bishops as “disastrous” and where Met. Jonah “faced a revolt among his own bishops at a conclave in Santa Fe, N.M.” Our Holy Synod is not a conclave of bishops in revolution. I find this approaching slander.

    There are such serious omissions combined with spurious implications in this article as to make it wholly misleading.

    Fr Yousuf Rassam

  7. Hursley says:

    Thank you, Fr. Yousuf. The Orthodox church can seem very opaque to those outside of it. Your insights are very helpful. Blessings be upon you and the community you serve.

  8. Stefano says:

    (Reply to Hursley)
    I write as someone who grew up with the Orthodox Church and with many friends actively involved with it today. The workings of the Orhtodox churches are not “opaque“; they are “byzantine” 😉

  9. A Senior Priest says:

    May the Lord bless Metropolitan +JONAH with many, many years in His service as Metropolitan of All America and Canada.

  10. Rogue Saint says:

    Welcome, yet another bigot in the name of Christianity.