A Letter from Evan Lambrou to Steve Angelides
( "Response to Angelides" )
( August 26, 1999 )
I am thankful that you accepted my clarification concerning my call for repentance, and you do not need to apologize for "harsh words." You were reacting, and your words weren't so harsh.
But I certainly don't want you to think that your concessions are my objective.
I do not require your concessions, although the Church might. What sort of concessions am I referring to, however? This is a question which needs prayerful consideration.
Prayerful consideration, as long as it begins with prayer of the heart, leads people to the necessary state of humility to make real concessions, not to me or some other individual, but to God and His Church.
The Church is the body of Christ. She is at once the Arc of Salvation and a social entity. As a social entity, She functions through social networks. Those social networks involve individual people and the way people relate to one another. The way we relate to one another is the way we express the life in our community of faith. As I learned from Father Clapsis, "we don't relate as we exist, but we exist as we relate," for salvation is a social process.
Our dialogue, yours and mine, is a relational phenomenon. It is part of the social process. Through it, we are struggling to acknowledge and understand one another. I will not demand of you what you are unable or unwilling to give, as this would contradict the principles of Christian love.
But I will bring it to your attention objectively, however, when I find something wrong with your thinking or approach, if only to make you conscious of a perspective you may not have considered beforehand. You must do the same for me because this is our Christian responsibility to one another.
So back to concessions...
To make a concession, one requires humility. To be perfectly frank, I have a problem with what I view to be GOAL's lack of humility. Please don't be offended by this, but rather let me explain why I have this view.
I can make many references to GOAL's voluminous archives, but since you are communicating with me directly; since you are a spokesman for GOAL; and since we need to keep matters relevant between us, I'll refer to your letter of today.
1. In your letter, you introduce a very interesting analogy. You draw from personal experience (which I will not pry about), and you liken the actions of GOAL in its zeal to have Archbishop Spyridon removed to "cancer surgery." You then state that you have been "both part of the patient and also one of the surgeons."
2. You preface this analogy by acknowledging that "GOAL and Voithia have done harm to the Church, and have done it deliberately and knowingly."
3. In yet another part of your letter, you state that "GOAL will be disbanding... assuming once again that the Hierarchs will run it for us so we have nothing to worry about."
4. And still in other parts of the same letter, you refer to the former Archbishop as an "adversary" and a perpetrator of abuse; you accuse him of having misbehaved; and you accuse him of trying to "run roughshod over our Church."
My God, Steve. Since when is GOAL judge and jury of the Church? This has always been the basic problem with your movement, as far as most of our people are concerned. GOAL has set itself up as some sort of standard, but in the process, you place yourselves above the Church. Under whose authority was GOAL appointed? Under which ecclesiastical license was it driving? If you say the Holy Spirit, I'll laugh, and then I'll cry. Does the Holy Spirit work apart from the Church? Most assuredly, He does not.
In the first instance, one can not be his or her own doctor, nor was surgery necessary. All that was needed was a little exercise to rejuvenate a sluggish body. And to refer to the Archbishop as a "cancer" is shameful. You say that it was the lesser of two evils to "air our dirty linen" in public, but there's an old Greek adage which advises us to never bring our dirty laundry out for the rest of the world to see. Incidentally, who actually soiled the fabric? Do you really think undermining the Archbishop "with the resulting negative publicity" was the lesser of two evils? It brought so much shame and embarrassment upon our entire community of faith. The people who constitute GOAL should have worked with His Eminence, but as an ideologically-conditioned movement, GOAL clearly could not practice Christian reverence. You say exposing the problem was necessary. I say it was lewd. Moreover, GOAL did not identify a problem. GOAL created a problem and became a problem by attacking the living representative of Christ for God's Church in America and skewed the public's outlook on the whole archiepiscopal office. "What's wrong with you guys," I've had so many people ask me. "It isn't me. It's them," I reply. "But aren't you guys all members of the same Church," I'm asked. "I thought we were, but I don't know right now," I answer. Me and them. How do you like that? That's how I have to explain it.
All the allegations which GOAL levied against His Eminence were objectively groundless. What did the Archbishop do to you and your friends to deserve such character assassination? His direct and forthright manner, though abrupt at times (usually because he was put on the defensive), is hardly evidence that he was "unloving" or "paranoid," as GOAL relentlessly and pietistically asserted.
Indeed, he reached out lovingly to those who didn't love him; he certainly never attacked anyone; and his silence was his answer to the calumny, in that he continued to do his work despite the guns which were blazing around him. History will vindicate him, and the ecclesiological fact remains that by attacking the Archbishop, as you do in the fourth instance, GOAL attacked the Church. You can not injure the head without seriously harming the body, and in your own letter, you admit that GOAL did this intentionally.
The only medical analogy which applies, in my opinion, is that an old worn-out organ was replaced by a new one, and the some of the system's antibodies (i.e., GOAL) rejected the new one. The question I would ask you is, was there something wrong with the organ, or was there something wrong with the immune system? I believe there was a hyper immune reaction, and that there was nothing wrong with the new organ. But again, what's done is done. Now we have to repair the damage which, upon your own admission in the second instance, was inflicted by GOAL. Mark me: The whole Church has to recover from GOAL's assault on Archbishop Spyridon in more ways than you can imagine, and the healing process will be an ordeal because, as Saint Paul stells us, we have too many instructors (most of them self-appointed), and we don't have enough fathers.
But because the Archbishop Spyridon has been displaced by Archbishop-elect Demetrios, and because we are dealing with a new reality, the first, second and fourth instances don't trouble me as much as much as the third instance.
You have indicated that GOAL will gradually dissolve, but you make this contingent upon a certain condition, namely that the administration of the Church must be handled to GOAL's satisfaction. Once again, you are implicitly telling me that GOAL bears the standard. Through your disclaimer, I can only infer that GOAL is still hell-bent on running the show.
And then GOAL wonders why people consider the movement to be Protestant in nature. By appointing yourselves, you spit your Orthodox spirit in the face and forfeit your Orthodox inheritance. GOAL is not the guardian of our faith and tradition. The Bishops are. By not denouncing GOAL more vigorously, than they did, I feel betrayed by the Metropolitans, who are supposed to be our guardians. And what did the Archbishop do? He invited GOAL to meet with him on several occasions (this is well-documented), and GOAL wouldn't meet with him, unless he capitulated to GOAL's demands. Well, I have news for you: Taking an Archbishop prisoner is not the way for Greek Orthodox Christians to behave. For what reasons would GOAL not meet with him? Tell me. I'd really like to know, and please don't make any sweeping generalizations about the man and his character. I'm asking for solid evidence from you, personally and directly. If I'm missing anything, then please tell me what it is.
And in all honesty, you are contradicting yourself a little bit. On the one hand, you refer to His Eminence as "that man." On the other hand, you say "it is not for me (you) to judge the righteousness of Spyridon." Which is it. Are you judging him or not? We already know the answer. We both know that GOAL has judged him and judged him vindictively. Ask yourself, what sort of an example has GOAL set for succeeding generations? That lay people can intimidate the Hierarchy of the Church?
You may feel "engaged, active and alive" at the moment. I do not, (at least not in the sense which you have described to me). I am constant as the North Star, and I plan to be vigilant. The toppling of an Archbishop by overly-zealous lay people with political interests is not something a person in my line of work can afford to take lightly, nor is it something a faithful member of the Church should consider to be without potentially disastrous consequences.
Speaking of vigilance...
You say you are "no more interested" in Father Dragas than you "ever" were. I wonder what you mean by "ever." You seem intent on opening this discussion with me, and you don't seem to want to take my word on anything regarding Father. You also place conditions on a man you have never spoken to. Why? You claim he has been a "divisive force" at our sacred school, but I was there, and you were not. In what ways was Father divisive, in your opinion? Tell me what you think you know. My eyes saw and my ears heard what your eyes and ears were too far away to see and hear. I am a first-hand witness, and those who have tried to discredit me have attempted to do so because they know I am a credible witness. I know full well who was responsible for the school's problems, and it wasn't Father. Or are you at odds with the accrediting agencies which, much to Dr. Collis' chagrin, exonerated the school in spite of his shameless efforts to cast derision on Holy Cross and bring the backbone of the Church to its knees? Rest assured, I will also continue to be interested in the future. The school is near and dear to my heart, and I miss being there every day. If you are interested in the health of the school, I am all the more so. The only question I have for you is, why do you not take the word of a man with professional experience in life who attended Holy Cross as a mature student? Who are you listening to, and what are they telling you?
In any event, I'm glad you do not hold yourself out as a theologian "or as any kind of authority on matters of theology." If that is the case, however, on what authority do you argue or base your arguments? I never said someone has to have formal theological training to be a good Christian. For all my learning, my yiayia has more faith in her little pinky than I do in my whole body and amply demonstrates it when she does her stavro in Church. But because I don't have her faith, I studied theology in order to acquire a deeper understanding of the Church; the life She prescribes; and Her role in the world.
My studies have enriched and edified me, so when you tell me that you "will not abdicate my (your) role as part of the Royal Priesthood," in light of what GOAL stands for, and in light of your commitment to GOAL, I have wonder how well you grasp the concept of the Royal Priesthood.
Please excuse the forceful tone of this letter, as I am attempting to find my way through our dialogue. But from an organic standpoint, you're last letter is somewhat confusing. Some of your statements do not mesh with others, and I'm looking for consistency.
Nonetheless, thank you for giving me an opportunity to think things out. I do appreciate it.