Saturday, April 30, 2011

OCA Truth, OCA News, Dreher, Fester and Met. Jonah (Oh My)

SUMMARY: My issue with this entire approach is not the need to rehabilitate a reputation or to support a hierarch but the use of the public trust in such a deceptive way. This use of deception in the name of truth, honor, loyalty, transparency, clarity and the support of a slandered or accused man now willingly crouching behind a perceptions of a 'gentle abbot' is unbecoming a bishop or the church. It is unbecoming a churchmen.

OCA Truth is the lastest in a ring of propped up websites designed to distract and reframe actual conditions on the ground. It is the counter argument to OCA News which also purports to defend the faithful from insider trading church style. The OCA Truth has run amok and much like a beheaded chicken calling for “ urgent need in the OCA: for an independent source of real inside information and analysis in this critical time in the life of the OCA.” And here we are yet again with another OCA scandal and exception to every rule. Everyone claims to be an insider but with more honor then the other. So here is what we seem to know. There is a rift a real division and war being waged within the OCA. There is so much transparency that it's blinding to the average reader who takes everything at face value. The OCA is on a strict time line to have all its ducks in a row before the Episcopal Assembly. So as everyone takes sides and covers their bums mistakes are made and blunders a plenty.
While OCA media claims to be disinterested in printing or promoting propaganda each are cleaving to their proverbial guns.
 The Who's Who in this shell game.

Based on the 'alleged' email correspondences the is handled by Jason Folsom and is written by Jesse Cone and Rod Dreher. Each of these men are either current or former parishioners of St. Seraphim’s Cathedral in Dallas. It is clear from the correspondences that Fr. Joseph Fester, the former Dean of St. Seraphim’s (and current Dean of Metropolitan +Jonah’s St. Nicholas Cathedral in Washington DC), has had a tremendous influence on its direction and function. Unless Met. Jonah has been unconscious it would appear that Fr. Fester's participation was known by Met. Jonah and not detered in any way; therefore  at a minimum Met. Jonah has cooperated by omission.  
The OCA Truth seems to be the brainchild of Rod Dreher and an act of desperation by Fr. Joseph Fester intended on spinning news and reshaping Met. Jonah’s public image to improve his standing amongst his bishops, clergy and laity. This make-over seems to be the true intend of this website. According to one source, the campaign to improve Met. Jonah’s image began with the a story by Julia Duin with Washington Post story.

In an email dated February 26th of this year Rod Dreher emails Fr. Fester in which 'the well is being primed' and any semblence of intergity or basic ethics is completely gutted. Dreher is concerned with a strong field postion and Fester is poised to respond. The email as published reads as follows:
 “...I am acutely aware that I don’t know the inner dynamics of Jonah, or of this political situation within the Church. But I offer it as speculation. Here’s something I do know about: this Washington Post profile is going to be enormously important in re-establishing Jonah’s footing. Julia Duin, I learned from her phone calls and emails yesterday, is worried that this will derail Jonah. The way she spoke of the metropolitan yesterday convinced me she is personally on his side. As I‘ve mentioned to you before, there will never be change to have a media outlet of this prominence write a portrait of Jonah that will be so positive. We have to make the most of it. It is scheduled to run, she said, on March 17th. My advice is that Jonah should plan to speak with her sometime late next week, if only for five minutes. Or failing that, write her an email message from his personal account-- something that doesn’t look like it was composed by a publicist or spin doctor. I can guarantee you that her story, as it is right now, will end on a cliffhanger: what kind of Jonah will emerge from the wilderness? I say this not because she has told me so, but because that is the natural arc of this story. If I were Jonah media manager, I would ask him to think about the impression he wants the public and faithful of the OCA to have of him and this crisis. The story will the stage for his re-emergence. It’s hugely important that he take advantage ( and not in a cynical way) of the reporter’s sympathy, and the fact that this story will establish the playing field in the public’s mind. My sense - and I stress that this is only an informed guess - is that the piece will the remarkable story of a gentle abbot who rocketed to the top of a crisis-ridden church in a moment of its greatest peril, simply speaking the truth in charity. But now the abbot -turned metropolitan’s rise has been damaged by his enemies in the church. Duin is not sympathetic to the Stokoe crowd, as best I can tell. She will let Jonah have the last word. It won’t be the worst thing in the world if Jonah doesn’t speak with her, and lets the story go forward as its stands now. But I think him communicating with her in some way - via email even - from his retreat would give him the last word and could be enormously helpful in establishing strong field position in the contests he faces when he returns...". Dreher concludes: “ If I can help you craft a media message in any way, don’t hesitate to ask. I know yesterday’s OCA Press Release* was probably the only thing that could be said politically about this extremely delicate and combustible situation, but it still reads like an Official Story.”
"Your Spy in Philadelphia,

Rod Dreher sends another email to Fr. Fester during the morning of March 2, 2011. In this correspondence Rod seems to be regretting his latest conversation with Julia Duin the Washington Post writer.
“Father Joe:
Julia Duin wrote me this morning to say she’d spoken with Stokoe yesterday, and he told her the Synod was furious with HB [Met. Jonah] for not actually going on retreat. This is what prompted them to release the minutes of the meeting; they believe Jonah is spinning this thing. Julia is wondering what the heck is going on, saying that this latest information looks bad for Jonah.
She’s right -- and I say this purely as a public relations matter. You all know the background information, not I and certainly not Julia Duin. But she’s a journalist sympathetic to Jonah who is having a hard time figuring this one out. To be clear, I trust your judgement re: the picture you’ve painted for me about what’s really going on behind the scene, but as your friend and supporter, I need to to tell you that this stuff needs to come out, because the release of the minutes of the meeting do put Jonah’s case in a negative light. I received this morning an e-mail from an Orthodox friend who has been a strong supporter of Jonah, who read those minutes and now says he doesn’t know what to believe, because it looks like HB is being misleading in his Sunday statement.
That this man, and a sympathetic journalist, are now doubting HB’s side of the story tells me that y’all have a problem. You are at a disadvantage because Stokoe has his site, and y’all have nothing like it to counter. What about Fr. Hans Jacobse’s blog? I don’t think many people read it at all, but if word gets around that key documents supporting HB’s case are appearing there, at least people a place to go and see them. Its clear that Team Stokoe is going to play hardball here. HB may choose to rise above it, at least until after Pascha, but that decision should be made, if it is made, in full awareness that in a case like this, perception is to a large extent reality and perception makes reality -- by which I mean that what people believe may have happened, or may be happening, can make certain future outcomes more likely.
For example, I looked on Stokoe’s site this morning, and see that he has a snarky comment up about HB’s participation in the reception in Chicago saying something to the effect of “it is unseemly for the Metropolitan, who agreed to go on retreat, to go party in the luxury suites.” Stokoe is correct --and I say that not as moral judgement but strictly as a matter of public perception and PR. I imagine it’s the case that protocal required HB to be there, and perhaps Jonah feels he needs to demonstrate a certain independence from the Synod in these matters. That may be true...but to the wider public, who doesn’t have the picture of what’s really going on that you and HB do, it doesn’t look good. I fear that HB may be giving his enemies ammunition unnecessarily. Stokoe is a master at using information to his advantage, and he is definitely armed more heavily in this regard than our side.
Please understand that I am offering you this media management advice not as someone in the peanut gallery throwing spitballs, but as a friend and supporter, one who wants Jonah to triumph. I have a lot at stake in this too, not only in that I want my church to live, but some of the dearest people in the world to my family, +Jonah, you, Kathy [Kathy Fester, Fr. Fester's wife] Fr. Gregory [Deacon Gregory Stevens, aide to Metropolitan Jonah]-- have everything at stake.
I think also y’all should be open to having an “on background” conversation with Julia Duin to make sure she knows exactly what’s going on, and isn’t susceptible to Stokoe spin. “On background” means that which was spoken of in the conversation cannot be quoted, that it’s only an informational session for the reporter. This is distinct from “off the record” which means the reporter is to treat what she learns in that session as if it never happened.
If I can help in anyway, let me know.

Within minutes Fr. Fester’s reply:
“You will now begin to get some background.”

Rod Dreher then responds by mentioning the possibility of a new blog as the quick fix.
“...Is it possible for you to start a blog and to post on it. You could set up a blog in 15 minutes. I could help you with it. Is there someone one step removed from you who could run it, and to whom you could feed background information? I would be pleased to help you shape the narrative from behind the scenes, if that helps the cause.
When the WaPo’s [Washington Post] story comes out, this becomes a bigger public story, and things are going to move quickly, I imagine. Team Jonah needs to think two or three steps ahead, and anticipate what the Stokoe people are likely to do next.”

Later that same day on March 2nd Jason (Elijah) Folsom sends an email to Fr. Fester describing the details and actual mission statement of the OCA Truth website and who can be counted on to be a member of Dreher’s “Team Jonah”. Within this email there is the assumption that blessings were given to move ahead. Folsom writes:
“Father Bless.
Father, you may have heard both Jesse (Cone) and Rod (Dreher) express a desire to have some sort of medium to post some clarifications of what is going on so that the truth can be made more clear to those who want to know. Jesse is currently seeking the spiritual counsel of His Beatitude in pursuing that idea. If he is given a blessing from His Beatitude I would also like to have your blessing to facilitate the means for them to do so. I basically just want to buy the domain name, set up the site, hands the keys over to them, and deal with any web administration that needs administrating.
Jesse advised me in seeking the advice of my spiritual father in this situation would be wise, I agreed, so I am asking you, if this would be ok to have that facilitational involvement with them in their desire to post some truthful information.
We miss you a LOT!
Jason Elijah”

Later that evening Dreher informs Fr. Fester:
“Looky here:”

At which time Fr. Fester immediately responds:
“tell your friends. tell your neighbors. you want more info, let me know.”

Dreher, however, cautions Father Fester:
“Please, please, please don’t tell ANYBODY that I have anything to do with this site. Very, very important. You know, Fr. Gregory knows, Jesse Cone knows ( he’s posting too), Jason knows and HB knows. But really, I am taking a big risk here.”

This plea is coming from Rod Dreher who writes a column “Rod Dreher - Science Religion Markets and Morals” on

On March 3, 2011 the website was published and stated its mission and purpose as “an alternative source of information and analysis about the current crisis in the Orthodox Church in America. An alternative, that is, to” This site made several claims to project third party objectivity but it was all a rouse as it was not really or exclusively “ by laypeople who have experience in the OCA, and sources throughout the Church...” They sought to project themselves as independent and morally driven “ urgent need in the OCA: for an independent source of real inside information and analysis in this critical time in the life of the OCA.”

The bloggers like Rod excused away the need for anonymity by protecting others but in reality they were covering themselves especially Met. Jonah, Fr. Fester and Rod who was professionally compromised by his involvement in spinning the news. “... for being anonymous, but we all have to be here to protect the sources who have been telling us the real behind-the-scenes story.”

Conspiracy Theories No More Fr. Joseph Fester and Rod Dreher Outed?

More times then I care to detail I have been personally accused of being small-minded, slanderous and paranoid. Now unequivical evidence of my claims of conspiracy and hidden agendas on the part of OCA leadership and the Orthodox Internet Pentarchy (now six) either through explicit compliance or through a willful denial has surfaced. Mark Stokoe has aquired and published 'alleged' emails from Fr. Joseph Fester OCA Chancellor DOS and current head priest at the cathedral in D.C and Rod Dreher who runs the Belief Net. I am currently reviewing the emails so I will say more on them in my next posting. The lay, clergy and hierarchs wishing to lead the Orthodox in America have engaged in all sorts of strategic extremist tactics. The OCA machine with their non-official media groups have started to reframe the debate and have doubled their propaganda efforts and revisionist history.

Until now the OCA has played the shell game in an attempt to disassociate itself with non-official organizations. The OCA leadership by not condemning such extremism is using these groups as an extension of their operation. In my next blog I will post the 'alleged' email correspondences expose the degree to which this coup on Orthodoxy in America has metastasized throughout the official and unofficial OCA representatives and their Internet media outlets.

Mark Stokoe has jumped ship and for that they intend on marginalizing him and discrediting his reporting. I'm sure defamation suits will incur. We should note that while the OCA has been demanding apologies for breaking the story on Met. Jonah's respit and subsequent reporting they have been frantic trying to regain a stronghold and distract the populous.

Reader be aware when visiting orthodox websites noted in previous blogs entries which are essentially commonly-owned-or-operated, collectively-promoted, mutually-motivated, misleadingly-traditional-and-accomplished Orthodox ministries. In reality these are propaganda businesses. Their sole purpose is to re-educate, disorientate and motivate their readers to adopt there heretical theologoumena, uncanonical orthodox theology, and hyper vigilant personal intentions.

Orthodox Christian Laity
American Orthodox Institute
Orthodoxy Today

Simply take the time to review and scan these sites and you will understand that they are not objective reporters but editorials of a very narrow destructive vantage. Visit their pages listing their supporters and Board Members and Staff. While watchdogs like me have had to underwrite all the expense of my work They have made full time careers pushing their books, audio pod casts and speaking stipends. We have a radio station whose line up endorse these same individuals, an Orthodox Speakers Bureau that endorses some of the most unsound topics and discredited clerics and speakers seeking to legitimise itself through parasitism means. This propaganda is filtered and passed out for the consumption of all. Most interestingly, though distant from any impartial mission statement and not close to objective Orthodox ecclesiastic or theological interests, these Internet businesses collaborate intimately with business partners most of whom are not Orthodox and do not share any semblance to or prerogative with our Holy Tradition.

Stay tuned for the email correspondences mentioned above in the following post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Patriarchal Proclamation for Pascha

+ B A R T H O L O M E W
By the Mercy of God
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church Grace, Peace and Mercy
From the Savior Christ Risen in Glory

Beloved children in the Lord,Once again, in a spirit of joy and peace, we address you with the delightful and hopeful greeting: “Christ is Risen!”

The occurrences and events of our time may not seem to justify the exultation of our greeting. The natural destruction caused by seismic tremors and oceanic swells, together with the lurking devastation from possible nuclear explosion, as well as the human sacrifices resulting from military conflict and terrorist action, reveal our world to be in horrible torment and anguish from the pressure of the natural and spiritual forces of evil.

Nevertheless, the Resurrection of Christ is indeed real and grants to faithful Christians the certainty – and to all humanity the possibility – of transcending the adverse consequences of natural calamity and spiritual perversity.

Nature rebels when the arrogant human mind endeavors to tame its boundless forces endowed by the Creator it its seemingly insignificant and inactive elements. In considering from a spiritual perspective the grievous natural phenomena that plague our planet repeatedly and successively in recent times, we appreciate and acknowledge the belief that these are inseparable from the spiritual and ethical deviation of humanity. The signs of this deviation – such as greed, avarice, and an insatiable desire for material wealth, alongside an indifference toward the poverty endured by so many as a result of the imbalanced affluence of the few – may not be clearly related to the natural occurrences in the eyes of scientists. Yet, for someone examining the matter spiritually, sin disturbs the harmony of spiritual and natural relations alike. For, there is a mystical connection between moral and natural evil; if we wish to be liberated from the latter, we must reject the former.

Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the new Adam and God, constitutes the model for the beneficial influence of a saint on the natural world. For Christ healed physical and spiritual illness, granting comfort and healing to all people, while at the same time bringing calm and peace to stormy seas, multiplying five loaves of bread to feed the five thousand, thereby combining the reconciliation of spiritual and natural harmony. If we want to exert a positive impact on the current negative natural and political conditions of our world, then we have no other alternative than faith in the Risen Christ and fulfillment of his saving commandments.

Christ has risen and given new life to the perfect ethos of humankind, which had darkened this ethos. Christ became the first-born and pioneer of the regeneration of the world and the whole of creation. The message of the Resurrection is not empty of meaning for the quality of human life and the balanced function of nature. As we completely and profoundly experience the Resurrection of Christ in the depth our heart, our existence shall favorably impact upon all humanity and the natural world. The natural sciences may not yet fully have underlined the relationship between the regeneration of humanity and the renewal of creation, but the experience of the saints – which should be the aim our own experience – confirms the experientially proven fact that, indeed, a person reborn in Christ restores the harmony of the natural world disturbed by sin. In Christ, the saint can move mountains for the good of the world, while the sinful person, who opposes the ways of God, can shake the earth and raise destructive waves.

Let us approach the sanctity of the Risen Christ in order, through His grace, to calm the natural and moral waves that trouble our world today.

May the grace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, beloved children in the Lord. Amen.

Holy Pascha 2011
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant for all
before the Risen Christ