Friday, July 27, 2012

Scott Nevins, a Voice Crying in the Wilderness

One of the reasons that I have not been blogging in recent weeks, and months is because I have been reflecting upon some of the serious issues that have taken my Church hostage. One of those issues is -- as my book The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy points out -- the rise of a subset of Orthodox Christians known as "traditionalists." Now, traditionalists do not like that term. They claim that there is not such thing as Orthodox traditionalists. So from this moment forward, I will no longer use the term which these non-existent traditionalists find so offensive. From now on I will just call them what they actually are: fundamentalists.

Yes I know, there is "no such thing." Well, I -- and thousands of other Orthodox Christians -- disagree.

The sad thing is that among fundamentalists, there are unique subsets and disputing factions. One of the most dangerous of which are the Ephraimites. Up until now, I have not written much about Ephraimites -- well, that is about to change.

Right off the bat, let me say that like ANY religious faction, not all adherents of any one worldview are all bad. Some people, who might consider themselves supporters of the twenty some Greek Orthodox monasteries run by Athonite monk, Elder Ephraim, are good people. In fact, Elder Ephraim may be a good person. I have no idea. I have been told that he is. And I have been told that he is a con man. I don't know which is true. What I do know is that his monasteries are extremely controversial -- for all of the wrong reasons.

Many of the abbots and monks/nuns in these monasteries offer "spiritual advice" to Christians which include harsh penances, the teaching of the gnostic doctrine of toll houses (an ancient belief which says demons can prevent dead Christians from reaching heaven after death), and advocating that married couple abstain from sexual relations -- because sex is sinful.

Now, there is much more to the Ephraimite movement than that. But that is a very brief introduction for my non-Orthodox readers.

One of the other controversial things that recently happened at one of these Ephraimite monasteries was the death of a young man, named Scott Nevins. Nevins was a convert to Orthodoxy, and six years ago joined St. Anthony's Monastery in Florence Arizona. But, fifteen months ago he fled the monastery in the middle of the night, and spent the better part of a year revealing many of the cult like practices and teachings that he experienced during his time in the monastery.

Sadly, in June 11, 2012, Scott Nevins died by a self inflicted gunshot wound, near the grounds of his former monastery. There is much controversy involved and the details remain very sketchy. In fact, the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses has still not addressed Nevins' death, nor acknowledged it in any way.

If you would like to read more about this, the Orthodox organization, We Are Orthodox has just published a piece I have written titled Scott Nevins, a Voice Crying in the Wilderness.

If my non-Orthodox readers would like to get more information about Orthodox fundamentalist, and the Ephraimite movement in particular, you can check out the links page of the  Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform website. Or you can check out The Rick A. Ross Institute's page on Elder Ephraim.
 Rick Ross is a leading expert in cults, helps people escape from cults and has documented the cult-like practices of the Ephraimite Monasteries. 

That's all for now,

take care, and blessings to all

Breaking the first commandment of the blogging gods!

By now, I'm sure I've lost most of my regular readers because, well, I haven't been blogging (even though I said I would.) There are numerous reasons for this -- some of them good, some of them not so good. One of the reasons is because I've been listening way too much to those who proclaim that the first commandment of blogging is that your blog must be about one particular topic. And since I cannot determine what I want my blog to be about, I do not blog.

I suppose the best option would be for me to create multiple blogs, and who knows, I may do just that. But is this really a rule that bloggers must ascribe to? If so, why? Does it not pigeonhole people into "groups" which bloggers are trying to reach? Why can't bloggers just reach people?

If I write something about politics, does that mean I am forever a political blogger? If I write about religion, does that mean from that time forth, I must always write about religion? If so, which religion? I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian -- does that mean I always have to blog about Eastern Orthodoxy? Many people blog about Eastern Orthodoxy, and they have successful blogs, but why do I have to conform to their particular blogging structure?

Supposedly, the experts say bloggers must "focus" and pin point our "market," as if people's interests were limited to nothing but religion or politics.

On the other hand, maybe my previous posts have been too broad. After all, I do not have a "successful" blog. I do not have hundreds, let alone thousands of followers. I do get lots of people sending me hate mail -- although this has slowed down in recent months, I guess all the "true Christians" got tired of coming here -- but that hardly makes me a successful blogger? So what am I to do? Should I "conform" to the "rules" which the blogging gods have set forth from on high? Maybe. On the other hand, maybe I won't. Whatever I do, I will try and blog more often, whether anyone reads my blog or not. Why? Because I am a writer and writing is what I do.