Sunday, December 31, 2006

What American accent do you have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
North Central
The South
The West
The Midland
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Which Superhero am I?

Given a lifelong love of comic book superheroes, it was hard to resist!

+Fr Gregory

Your results:
You are Superman

Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
You are mild-mannered, good,
strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Leadership Burnout in the Orthodox Church (Part II)

In a previous posting (Leadership Burnout in the Orthodox Church, Part I) I discussed what I saw as three central causes of burnout among Orthodox Christian clergy and lay leadership. These are:

(1) An institutional lack of recognition of personal and professional achievement.

(2) Unhealthy limiting of personal and professional autonomy.

(3) A systemic neglect of the work of fostering justice relationships among ourselves.

While the term “burnout” is somewhat overused and admits to a variety of definitions, I think the best description of the experience is offered by Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig in his book Power in the Helping Professions. He writes about a therapist, late in his career and well respected in his profession, who nevertheless (for all his technical proficiency) has become closed to the mystery of being. For this man, all his relationships are at their foundation, professional relationship—everything he does and every conversation he has is a professional in nature.

Something very much like this can, and often does, happen to those who take on leadership roles in the Church. There is the parish council member who is busy with “council business” during Sunday Liturgy. Or, there is the man or woman on the “Welcoming Committee” or “Hospitality and Outreach Committee” who is so busy welcoming Christ in the guise of visitors that he or she neglects to welcome Him in the Scriptures or Holy Communion.

There is likewise the priest who runs from one pastoral obligation to another and yet fails to spend anytime in quiet prayer and who never seems to have time to read the Scriptures or do the studying that is essential for his own personal and pastoral development. Ironically, it is often this same man who is so busy caring for other people that he fails not only to care for his own non-negotiable physical needs for proper food, adequate rest and exercise. And the circle of failure will even extend beyond his spiritual and physical health and erode his other relationships so that he neglects his wife and children and friends.

In there own way, bishops are as prone to the same aberrations that we see among the laity and the clergy. Many (I dare say most) bishops simply neglect their own monastic profession, living less as monks and more a bachelors or (worse) princes or middle level executives. Often they view his brother clergy not as fellow workers, but (at best) as employees or worse competitors.

As I mentioned in another post, especially dangerous here is the bishop or priest or lay leader for that matter who adopts a remote style of leadership that actively works to obstruct anything that resembles a collaborative style of leadership. As Guggenbuhl-Craig work suggests this happens as a result of a narrow for vision. As the article summarizing Ramarajan and Barsade’s research puts it, burnout is most likely when we fail to see the broader context of our work.

It is important that “Employers can also highlight to their employees how important their work is to society as a whole, Barsade adds. ‘Very often, caretaking work is not all that valued, but if employees in a daycare center, for example, understand that they are involved in early childhood education,’ this puts their work in a broader context. In addition, she suggests that for people in jobs that don't pay very well (and won't in the future), managers can at least compliment employees, hold awards dinners and so forth, ‘just so long as these shows of respect are authentic.’" For many Orthodox Christian leaders what is missing is a healthy, more biblically and anthropologically sound broader context of ministry.

In the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese the Greek ethnic community often provides this broader context. With converts, especially in the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America, this broader context is the rejection of the “West.” In both cases however the broader context is often more imaginary then it is empirical. We too often situation the ministry of the Church with a context that is really only a sentimental longing for Byzantium or Holy Russia or the “Old Country” or (what is underneath in all) a rarefied “Eastern mindset."

Orthodox Christians certainly cannot divorce ourselves from our own past, theological or ethnic. We have obviously come from somewhere. But, the only way to be faithful to our past is to faithful to our current situation. What we fail to do, and what we must do, is actively engage in a creative and appreciative critical dialogue with not only the culture around us, but also our own past.

At the heart of this dialogue is not a mechanical preservation of the past, but a willingness (like the wise steward) to draw from the treasury house of tradition those riches that make it possible for us to be “yeast in the dough” of the contemporary world. Our goal, in other words, is not so much preservation of the past as transformation of the present.

In answering the charge that Christians were harmful to the health of the Roman Empire, St Augustine argued that that as the soul is to the body, so the Christian is to the world. Jesus tells us that we “are the light of the world.” If we see the world around us as shrouded in darkness or trapped by the powers of sin and death, then we are called by Christ to respond by proclaiming the Gospel to the fallen world.

The burnout, the unjust practices, and the just plain sloppiness in the Church’s life reflect I think the lost of an evangelical vision for the Church’s life. We have become more concerned with preservation—cultural, theological, and liturgical—then transformation. But it is precisely working for transformation, our own and the world’s, which is at the heart of the Church’s vocation and (in a practical fashion) the way out of the narrowing of vision that afflicts us.

In neglecting the evangelical vocation of the Church we have fallen back on ourselves and brought about an increasingly narrow vision of the Church's life. It is not, and I cannot emphasizes this enough, a narrowness of vision that cause us to neglect evangelism, but our neglect of evangelism that narrows our hearts. Or maybe more accurately, evangelism is part and parcel of how God in Jesus Christ heals our constricted heart. We learn to love by loving, we learn what is really essential in the Christian life by introducing others to Christ and taking seriously their struggles.

I know in my own life, having to respond to those who do not believe has taught me what is of primary and what is of secondary importance in the Christian life. Add to that the undeniable limitations that mission work imposes which has the delightful effect of bring about and a certain clarity of vision, often whether I want that clarity or not.

"Let us," as we sing in the Cherubic Hymn, "lay aside all earthly cares and welcome the King of All, invisibly escorted by angelic hosts." This is the heart of the evangelic life and it is the key to the transformation and revival of the Church.

The effectiveness of self-imposed deadlines on procrastination

This just in from our eclectic social scientific friends at Tasty Research:

I often hear of graduate students postponing their research to do other things: play Tetris, read comments on Slashdot, or write a blog. We defer doing something “more important” to do something else and feel guilty and pleased at the same time.

How sweet is it not to do work? Apparently, sweet enough to abate the heavy and bitter costs of procrastinating. Late fines and extra work for missing a deadline seem distant when you can chat online for another 20 minutes right now.

Why do people procrastinate? This is an effect psychologists attribute to “hyperbolic time discounting”: the immediate rewards are disproportionally more compelling than the greater delayed costs. In other words, Procrastination itself is the reward.

However, the eventual cost of neglecting a task has such an impact on people that they learn to impose deadlines on themselves to restrict their own behavior. At what lengths do people do this? This article looks at three questions:

  1. Do people self-impose costly deadlines on tasks in which procrastination may impede performance?
  2. Are self-imposed deadlines effective in improving task performance?
  3. Do people set their deadlines optimally, for maximum performance enhancement?
A few studies are reported in this paper, where students had the opportunity to choose their own deadlines for three tasks they needed to do (write or proofread papers). They were allowed to set separate deadlines for each paper, but they would be binded to the deadlines and be assessed penalties if the papers were submitted late. Logically, the best solution would be to set all the deadlines to be the last day, which would give them the most flexibility and time to work on the three tasks.

However, only 27% of the students chose to submit all three papers on the last day of class. This answers the first question — people are aware of their own procrastination and give themselves earlier deadlines to counter it. The studies show that these deadlines do improve performance over only having deadlines at the very end. Unfortunately, they are still suboptimal because the subjects who were given equally spaced deadlines performed better, thus supporting question two but rejecting question three.

Procrastination Study

But hey, I’ll push myself to start my taxes earlier, but after a round or two of Winterbells.

Ariely, D. & Wertenbroch, K. Procrastination, deadlines, and performance: Self-control by precommitment. Psychological Science, 13(3), 219-224. [PDF]

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two Creativity Killers


Seth Godin states that there are two things that kill marketing creativity.

1. Fear
2. Lack of Imagination

Fear is nothing more than hyped-up worry. So stop worrying about failure or criticism and start focusing on the things of God and what He wants you to do as Matthew 6:25-34 teaches. Of course, there will be times when things do not work or go as planned, but learn from your mistakes. It will only strengthen your creativity.

Lack of imagination is simply poor stewardship of the brain God gave you. Learn to imagine like you did like as a child. Most importantly, don’t instantly kill the ideas you imagine because you think they are impossible. It could be you just don’t know yet how to make it possible or entertaining the idea could be the link and inspiration you need for an even better idea.

So stop fearing and start imagining, and you will find yourself reaching a new level of creativity.

But What's The Reason For Jesus?

At this time of year the "Christmas Wars" are again being fought.

People--that is Christians--will say that we must put "Christ back in Christmas! No more X-mas!" But my personal favorite remains the bold proclamation: "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!"

But what is the reason for Jesus?

The man in black, Johnny Cash, in his video God's Gonna Cut You Down offers us a sober reminder of the reason for Jesus and His birth. Jesus has come to save us from our sinfulness and to spare us the harsh judgment that Cash sing about in his song.

This is not to say that God will not cut us down--but it does mean that in Christ the cutting is therapeutic, a pruning away of our sinfulness rather than a cutting that is a casting away.

So yes, God in Jesus is "gonna cut you down" but from the cross of your own making. And 33 years from His birth, this new born child will ascend the cross in your place.

(A thoughtful reflection on Cash's video is offered by Russell Moore on Mere Comments. You can read Moore's essay here: "Cash Refund.")

Leadership Burnout in the Orthodox Church (Part I)

As the glorious disciples, in the washing of the feet, were enlightened, the profane Judas, ravaged by greed, as benighted. And to the lawless judges he surrenders You the just judge. Consider, you who love money, the one who hanged himself for the sake of it. Shun the insatiate heart that could dare such a deed against the Teacher. Lord, benevolent above all humans, glory to You.
Apolytikion, Holy Thursday

Back in November, a summary appeared of a research project undertaken at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. The study conducted by Lakshmi Ramarajan (a doctoral student in the Wharton’s management department) and Sigal Barsade (management professor at Wharton) is titled “What Makes the Job Tough? The Influence of Organizational Respect of Burnout in Human Services.” The summary of the research can be found online in an article entitled “More than Job Demands or Personality, Lack of Organizational Respect Fuels Employee Burnout.” While the whole article and the study it references are both worth reading, there are two points that I think are important for understanding the practical challenges of fostering a healthy style of leadership in the Orthodox Church: (1) the importance of mutual respect in the Church’s life and (2) the need for a vision for Church life that transcends the parish. In this essay I will address the first of these points

Based on their research “on the health care industry—specifically on certified nursing assistants (CNAs) in a large, long-term care facility,” Professor Barsade argues that "One of the biggest complaints employees have is they are not sufficiently recognized by their organizations for the work that they do. Respect is a component of recognition. When employees don't feel that the organization respects and values them, they tend to experience higher levels of burnout."

After discussing different aspects of institutional respect, the authors identify the autonomy of the employee as key to job satisfaction for both professional and hourly workers. The conclusion that Ramarajan and Barsade reach is that “The impact of organizational respect on burnout is felt most strongly when job autonomy is low. This finding confirms the researchers' hypothesis going into the study about the importance of autonomy, which they define as ‘the discretion that one has to determine the processes and schedules involved in completing a task.’ Autonomy, the researchers note, can act as a buffer on stress—and actually decrease job burnout—if autonomy is high, but not if it is low.”

In a recent essay posted on (“Understanding Clergy Stress: A Psychospiritual Response”) priest-psychologist Fr. George Morelli describes for us a pastoral situation that suggests that clergy leaders at least have relatively little autonomy in their professional life. Clergy find themselves responsible canonically to their bishops and economically to their parishes. Even assuming that they are not trapped between conflicting episcopal and lay demands or that there is not a collusion between episcopal and lay that works against the priest’s best interest, the priest serving “two masters” has the practical effect of limiting the areas of his autonomy not only professionally but also personally.

Ironically, this limiting of personal and professional autonomy is not limited to the parish priest. Rather it reflects an overall unhealthy relational structure in the Church. For better or worse, each order of the Church tends to find its own legitimate freedom either inappropriately limited or (what amounts to the same thing) neglected by one, and some times both, of the other orders. In other words, the life situation of the parish priest that Fr. George is not unique to the priest. Rather each order in the Church will find itself at times in an adversarial relation with one or both of the other two.

Largely I think this lack of institutional respect reflects a lack of appreciation for justice in the Church. Justice in the Church is not primarily procedural but relational. We do not see that our own personal good is only possible to the degree that we place the good of the other—spiritual, material, professional and personal—before our own. Even if relationships are not adversarial, this lack of concern for the wellness of others reflects poorly on the Church’s commitment to justice and I would suggest undermines the abilitu of episcopal, clerical and lay leadership to function effectively.

We have as Orthodox Christians neglected the work of justice among ourselves, I would suggest, because we have embraced a view of ecclesiastical relations that value above all the absence of conflict. Wrongly we equated the absence of conflict with peace we pray for in the Great Litany.

But this peace that we pray for, and upon which the life of the Church depends, is shalom. The peace that we need is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of right relationship among ourselves and with the world around us. And peace in this sense is the fruit of justice. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in his 1984 Nobel Prize lecture: “God's Shalom, peace, involves inevitably righteousness, justice, wholeness, fullness of life, participation in decision-making, goodness, laughter, joy, compassion, sharing and reconciliation.”

At the top of these essay is an icon of Christ washing the feet of His disciples. The hymn for Holy Thursday suggest that either we serve one another in fidelity to the example of Christ or, like Judas, we will be "ravaged by greed," betray Christ and destroy ourselves.

In my next essay, I will again return to the study by Ramarajan and Barsade to suggest what might be done to correct the current situation in the Orthodox Church.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

History of Religion in 90 seconds!

I thought this was clever and worth posting.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On Prophets and Quislings

David Mills discusses the sociology of academic writing in his post on Mere Comments this morning. One of the points he makes is that academic writing is writing by academics for academics. The practical result of this is that academic writing has relatively little to do with the advancement of truth. This is especially the case in the humanities and so theology.

This raises for me an interesting question for Orthodox/Catholic ecumenical relations. The vast majority of our clergy and theologians are trained in an academic setting by academics who have themselves adapted to the ethos of the modern research university.

In other words, we form intellectually and spiritually the people who will be the teachers and guardians of our respective traditions in an environment that often does not value clarity much less the truth. Quoting approvingly C. Wright Mills' book The Sociological Imagination, David Mills explains why this sad state of affairs has come to pass in the university: "Desire for status is one reason why academic men slip so readily into unintelligibility."

Unintelligibility in the service of status (and not infrequently, power and control) is not a norm that I find suitable for the next generation of priests, deacons and theologians. Sadly though, this is exactly the social norm of the university and by extension the seminary whose faculties have often drank deeply of the academic ethos.

David Mills offers me much food for thought as I reflect on the need for East & West to re-establish full communion with one another. The proclamation of the Gospel in general, and reconciliation of divided Christians in particular, is an act of prophetic boldness that demands moral and physical courage. But the academy does not value this courage, but rather ambiguity, vainglory, pride, and pettiness in expression and ambition. It is it seems to me an environment better suited for forming quislings then leaders.

To read the whole of David Mills's reflections: C. Wright Mills on why academics write the way they do

More Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (IV)

The latest installment of the essay on Orthodox/Catholic relations by Archbishop Anthony (Bashir):

By Anthony Bashir, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Syrian Archdiocese of North America

From Orthodoxy* (10:4, Autumn 1964)

Let me review [Patriarch Maximos'] conclusions. Christ is, he says, the only head of the Church. The Pope, a successor of St Peter, is head of the episcopal college. The Pope as the head of the bishops governs them but is not distinct from them. The bishops are the true heads of their dioceses. The Orthodox Church is the result of a living apostolic tradition in which Rome intervenes only by way of exception. The primatial power of the Pope is personal and pastoral. It cannot be delegated, and is only to be understood in the light of the Pope's position as head of the episcopal college. The Patriarch assumes that these conclusions are possible even after the First Vatican Council of 1870 in which it was solemnly proclaimed that the Pope is infallible in himself, and without the consensus of the Church. If Patriarch Maximos is correct, then we Orthodox may hope that the First Vatican Council did not shut the door forever on a reconciliation with the Latin Church.

Read more: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (IV)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Zenit News Agency - Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue as Witness

In giving Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholic Church, God has also given a great gift to the Orthodox Church. Already in his short reign, His Holiness Pope Benedict has greatly advanced the cause of Orthodox/Catholic reunion. While some Orthodox would disagree, I think that a reconciliation of East and West would be of great advantage to both Churches.

While the Orthodox Church has profound spiritual riches to offer, we are parochial in our outlook and internally divided. Yes, certainly we have the same faith, the same liturgical tradition, but existentially we remain divided. The situation here in Pittsburgh, PA where I live is illustrative, we have separate celebrations of the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Some serve Vespers on Sunday evening, others an ecumenical doxology. Two services, at the same time, in different churches.

Any way, I recommend the interview with Bishop Agathangelos of the Church of Greece.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Interview With Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion

ROME, DEC. 17, 2006 ( The theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches "can give witness of Christ," says a Greek Orthodox prelate.

Bishop Agathangelos of Fanarion is director general of the Apostoliki Diaconia, which in the Greek Orthodox Church is in charge of the missions, the formation of seminarians and publishing.

Last spring Bishop Agathangelos came to visit Rome with a Greek-Orthodox delegation, to get to know better the tradition and culture of the Catholic Church.

According to the bishop, it is important to discover everything that united the two Churches in the first millennium, when they were not yet divided, to get to know and listen to each other. He shared his views in this interview.

Read More: Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome

Sunday, December 17, 2006

OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (III)

There is another point at which I differ from some Orthodox in seeing positive ground for hope where they see only added obstacles for understanding. That is in your Uniates. I do not deceive myself about the Uniates, the so-called Greek Catholics. They were organized as a result of some of the worst deceptive proselytizing ever engaged in by Christians. Commercial privilege and civil and military pressure brought them into being, and in many instances simple laymen were deliberately deceived. This is why there has been no Orthodox protest when, in the Ukraine and Rumania, they have been recently reunited to the Church, sometimes by forceful removal of their hierarchs. Even now Uniate propagandists willingly exploit local Orthodox difficulties to pervert our people. There are not enough Latin clergy to hold traditionally Roman Catholic Latin America, but there are enough to staff the missions working among the Orthodox in the Middle East. All of this I deplore, but I do understand and respect the ideal of your Unia – your belief that Rome is the one true Church of Christ to which all must belong and in which all may worship according to their particular ancient rites. While I cannot respect the "Rice Christians", I admire any faith that acts consistently with its conviction that it is the unique Christian Church.

Read more: OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (III)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

By Anthony Bashir, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Syrian Archdiocese of North America

From Orthodoxy* (10:4, Autumn 1964)

In conclusion, and to avoid misunderstanding or exploitation by the popular press, I insist that these proposals are made as a loyal representative of the Orthodox Church who holds it to be the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church of the creed, outside of which there is no salvation. I am not glossing over the schism or heresy of the west, and by no means suggesting any other solution to division than the reunion of all Christians with the same Orthodox Church. If reunion cannot be accomplished by a restatement of the two positions, however, I do not see it as possible in any other way.

Read more: OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (II)

OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)

Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)

By Anthony Bashir, Archbishop-Metropolitan, Syrian Archdiocese of North America

Orthodoxy* (10:4, Autumn 1964)

We all share the privilege of living in a most exciting, even exhilarating time for Christian believers. The age of mutual recrimination and proliferating schisms appears to be drawing to a close and all who profess loyalty to our Lord Jesus Christ now feel the challenge of His will that 'all may be one.' However Christians differ from each other in their understanding of their heritage, they seem to be laying hold upon the vision of a united Christendom. Orthodox and Catholics can turn from the frustration engendered by the observation of the bewildering variety of sectarian creeds and customs, and contemplate with satisfaction the truly vast area of agreement which they have in common. They can draw comfort further from the significant fact that while orthodoxy (with a small 'o') does not depend on the counting of noses, as St Athanasius well knew, the great general agreement that includes Orthodox and Catholics in an almost unanimous tradition places the onus on Christians outside of these two bodies to justify their minority witness.

Read more: OCCIDENTALIS: Thoughts on Orthodox-Roman Relations (I)


In his blog "Reflections on Faith and Culture," Catholic layman Gil Bailie offers his reflections on what he (accurately I think) the "intellectually robust revival of conservative thought."

After briefly considering and rejecting for himself the media created "neocon" ("a liberal who has been mugged") and "theocon" (which he says "works better, but it, too, has certain connotations (especially in the glazed eyes of those who use it disparagingly), which are somewhat problematic," though he does not specify what these problems are), he introduces a new term for his own position. Bailie identifies himself as a "rubicon."

A rubicon, Bailie writes, "is someone who realizes, again belatedly, that his culture is under a serious assault from enemies within and without, and that the historical success and momentary preeminence of the culture built on Judeo-Christian foundations does not in any way guarantee that it will emerge triumphant from the present challenge." A rubicon is not interested particular interested in politics or the culture wars. Indeed for Bailie, he is only involved in these conversations as a "distasteful necessity, a draftee in the struggle to preserve the foundations of civil order and to remain faithful to religious principle."

But the heart of the rubicon philosophy is one that any Orthodox Christian--or indeed traditional Catholic, Anglican or classical Reformed Christians for that mater--cannot help but affirm. For Bailie a rubicon is someone who "realizes either intuitively or by bitter experience, that the burning heart of the tradition that nurtures everything he holds dear is ultimately liturgical."

It is only with a "a deep appreciation for rubrics, whether they are the liturgical rubrics of Christian sacramental life or the traditional constitutional rubrics of political liberalism which are currently being twisted in knots by domestic postmodern apparatchiks and mocked by the West's external enemies, whose fascist tendencies are daily more in evidence" that it is possible to maintain the Great Tradition on which Western culture is founded.

The challenge we (not simply Orthodox, but also Catholics, Anglicans and classical Reformed Christians) face today is "the liturgical rubrics, that red-letter essence of Christian worship which is the true font of the bounty enjoyed by those cultures fortunate enough to have been hosts to these liturgies" are being evermore marginalized even in those traditions that are self-identified as liturgical. While this is more graphically seen in Roman Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, even in the Orthodox Church there is an indifference to the anthropological content and implications of out liturgical tradition.

If we are faithful to our liturgical tradition, then we will realize that as members of the Body of Christ we are food and drink for one another. In other words, we are dependent on one another and not simply for the practical necessities that constitute the life of the Church. Our dependence on one another is more intimate then that. I cannot become who Christ has called me to be apart from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Together we are the Body of Christ and it is only together that we can each of us become who we are most truly.

The Liturgy is not simply something that we do--it also expresses who we are both personally and communally. It is this anthropological insight that must be further studied and explored. At the heart of this study must be the willingness and the ability to bring into ever increasing conformity the pastoral and administrative practice of the Church with our liturgical tradition.

To read more of Bailie's essay: Reflections on Faith and Culture: Only half in jest . . .

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Friday, December 15, 2006

Remote Leadership

One of the central concerns of the Palamas Institute is fostering biblical sound and effective leaderships skills in the Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, many leaders in the Church have adopted a "remote leadership" style. Writing for the online edition of Business Standard Shyamal Majumdar describes a remote style of leadership as one that has "no tolerance for dissent or even argument." Rather, the remote leader is one "who like to be surrounded with only yes men and women and who have little contact with the rank and file."

A remote or autocratic leadership style, whether in business or in the Church, will certainly get results. But theologically such a style it seems to me runs counter to a more collaborative style of leadership that appreciates the diversity of gifts in the Body of Christ. In addition, a collobrative style more accurately reflects the relationship of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity.)

Practically, Majumdar points out "that purely autocratic leaders ultimately become bottlenecks because people learn that the best survival skill is to ask the boss first before making a decision. Peole learn to wait for directives from the boss, or worse, they become terrified about making the wrong decision." This I would suggest is the problem that we are facing in all dimensions of the Church life. If we don't exactly see bottlenecks, there is a great deal on inaction and division on not only the national and diocesan levels, but also on the local levels, but in our parishes and in our inability to establish viable trans-parochial and trans-jurisdictional ministries.

In any event, Majumdar's article is worth reading. To read his article click here: Opinion & Analysis.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

St Gregory Palamas - Blog Archive Ellopos Blog

Some helpful links that offer addition information about St Gregory Palamas can be found here: St Gregory Palamas - Blog Archive Ellopos Blog

Blog by-the-Sea: Common Declaration between Pope Benedict XVI and Abp. Christodoulos

Teresa Polk in her Blog-by-the-Sea has translated the Common Declaration Between Pope Benedict XVI and Abp Christodulos of Athens.

In their joint declaration they apply the words of St Basil the Great to the current division between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. They write "St. Basil the Great, who in a period of multiple divisions in the ecclesial body was persuaded 'that with more durable reciprocal communications and discussions without a quarrelsome spirit, if some new explanation is needed, the Lord will provide it, He who makes all things work together for the good of those who love him' (Letter 113).

Central to this process of "reciprocal communication" between East and West they write they "wish to live ever more intensely our mission of giving an apostolic testimony, of transmitting the faith to those who are near and to those afar, and of proclaiming to them the Good News of the Saviour’s birth that we will both soon celebrate. It is also our common responsibility to overcome, in love and in truth, the multiple difficulties and the painful experiences of the past, for the glory of God, the Holy Trinity, and of His holy Church."

For this reason, the commit themselves and their Churches "to travel together the difficult path of dialogue in truth in order to restore full communion of faith in the bond of love. Thereby we will obey the divine commandment, and will carry out the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, and, enlightened by the Holy Spirit who accompanies and never abandons the Church of Christ, we will continue our commitment, following the apostolic example and showing mutual love and the spirit of reconciliation."

The visit between the Pope of Rome and the Archbishop of Athens and their common declaration is an exciting development that I hope and pray will bear fruit in full communion soon.

You can find the whole text of the declaration here: Blog by-the-Sea: Common Declaration between Pope Benedict XVI and Abp. Christodoulos

Thank you to Teresa Polk for her translation.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Zenit News Agency - Challenges of Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue

ROME, DEC. 14, 2006 ( Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, expressed hope that his historic meeting with Benedict XVI will lead to a joint declaration in favor of recognizing Europe's Christian roots.

For insight into today's visit and its ecumenical repercussions, ZENIT interviewed Monsignor Dimitrios Salachas, of the Greek-Catholic Apostolic Exarchy of Athens.

The monsignor is a professor of canon law in Rome, and consultor for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and other Roman Curia organizations.

Read more:
Zenit News Agency - The World Seen From Rome

CNS STORY: Pope, Greek Orthodox primate pledge to work toward full communion

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After centuries of allowing themselves to grow apart, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox must seek forgiveness and learn to work together for the good of the world, said Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece.

The pope formally welcomed the primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece to the Vatican Dec. 14, solemnly signing with him a commitment to preaching the Gospel together and to working for full communion.

Read more: CNS STORY: Pope, Greek Orthodox primate pledge to work toward full communion

Orthodox Church 'stunned' by extent of financial abuse

Orthodox Church 'stunned' by extent of financial abuse: "Leaders of the Orthodox Church in America, who had long resisted calls for an investigation, have acknowledged a history of financial abuse at church headquarters in Syosset, N.Y.

'Large amounts of church funds were used to improperly pay for personal expenses,' said a joint statement yesterday from the Holy Synod of Bishops and the Metropolitan Council, a governing body of clergy and laity."

Pope calls for cooperation among Christians against secularism in Europe - Europe - International Herald Tribune

VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday urged Archbishop Christodoulos, head of the Orthodox Church of Greece, to work together to fight growing secularism in Europe.

The pope met Christodoulos at the Vatican in what was the archbishop's first visit since he attended the funeral of Pope John Paul II in April 2005.

Read more: Pope calls for cooperation among Christians against secularism in Europe - Europe - International Herald Tribune