Back when I was working on my graduate degree, I remember an anecdote from one of my history professors. In mock seriousness, he asked us if we knew why infighting within academic departments was so vicious. We were all a little intimidated of him, so no one answered. After a long pause, he replied because the stakes are so small. That's kind of how I feel about the latest sideshow within my particular Orthodox jurisdiction, the OCA. I do not mean to imply that one's salvation is small stakes, but as one commentator wryly noted, there are more model train enthusiasts in America than there are members of the OCA.
I have heretofore refrained from addressing the situation. Mine is not an "Orthodox blog," so to speak, but one where I may occasionally express my own Orthodox slant on contemporary happenings. I avoid publicly addressing "issues" within the Orthodox community. Also, I know I have visitors to this site who are outside Orthodoxy, to whom recent events would seem nigh incomprehensible. Well, hell--it should be equally incomprehensible to any right-thinking Orthodox. But with so much going on, it seems perversely head-in-the-sandish not to acknowledge the situation.
Let's just say there has been a little something for everybody in this year's imbroglio: attempted coups and counter-coups, plots within plots, machinations within machinations, leaked e-mails and stolen emails, dueling blogs, pettiness, jealousy, more plotting, occasional appearances by our royal family trying to keep everyone in line, de facto governance by blog post, sordid sexual allegation upon sordid sexual allegation complete with hierarchical condo hide-a-ways, formerly respected priests throwing their reputations away in vicious attacks, demonization on all sides, etc.
The world of the OCA is a small one. Basically, we all know each other. So it is not unusual that I would have some familiarity with a few of the parties involved, and why I find objectionable the cheap allegations and demonization against those I love and respect. I have been taken aback, as well, by the glee some take in all these troubles. But the Synod has met and decreed. Entrenched mediocrity has been confirmed, and the status quo ante affirmed. On our diocesan level, things are still roiling down here as perhaps the OCA's most vibrant parish, just for good measure it would seem, has been thrown on its back. I am convinced more than ever that the OCA's days are numbered, its vaunted autocephaly an increasingly impolite fiction--whether there is a Great Council or not. But God is still on His throne, and Orthodoxy, thankfully, is far larger than our little OCA. Back in my Protestant days, I saw "church problems" destroy the faith of some. And I have seen it in previous scandals within Orthodoxy. In a strange way, this has done nothing to weaken my faith. Any reality-based reading of Church history clearly shows the faithful plodding on, while bishops may plot and scheme. Simply put, if the Church were not what she claimed to be, such behavior would have sunk it centuries ago. This is all the more reason to keep my head down and tend my own garden here on the parish level. But in doing so, I am reminded of the line from Fiddler on the Roof, which has some applicability to our present situation:
May God bless and keep the Tsar... far away from us!