Darnel

I’d like to introduce you to a former member of our church. His name is Darnel. I remember when he first came to visit. He had been to several churches but each one had its problems and eventually he found it necessary to look for another Church. I explained that All Saints had its problems as well, but Darnel assured me that he had grown from his past experiences and now wanted a quiet life of prayer and fellowship in a “more traditional church.” I must admit that for a period of time, Darnel seemed like a pillar of Orthodoxy and I invited him to help serve in the altar.

Then the trouble began. Darnel, although he had only been Orthodox for two years, began to question the way I did things in the altar. Being a convert priest, I had much to learn (and I still have much to learn), and so I would listen to Darnel’s advice. After all, Darnel had spent a lot of time studying liturgical books and could quote chapter and verse. Then, when my Bishop would visit, he would often correct what Darnel had advised. This caused Darnel a lot of embarrassment and later he would tell me how he didn’t like Bishop X because he was “cold.” I did tell him that he should not correct me during the service and that we could talk afterwards, but he seemed to bristle at the admonition.

The thing about Darnel is that he made friends easily. There’s nothing wrong about being friendly, but during one parish meeting, Darnel got up to oppose a motion on what I thought was a minor matter. In the end, He did not prevail but his passion made the discussion difficult. Later, I noticed that a group seemed to be angry. When I inquired as to the reason, they told me that Darnel had been hurt by the way he was treated in the meeting. I reviewed the meeting and while Darnel spoke, most people had sat quietly offering no objection. He lost by a simple vote. How had he been mistreated? The point was that Darnel had successfully created a faction in what had once been a harmonious Church family.

Many other things happened and soon I realized that Darnel was a real threat to the life of the Church. Yet, what could I do because he was an Orthodox Christian, and many people considered him to be a pious and friendly man? I talked to him several times but he always assured me that he was my greatest supporter and he would do whatever he could to help heal any situation. Church members began to come and complain about Darnel, and some wanted me to get him out of our Church. I knew that it would cause a lot of damage due to his circle of supporters. If I tried to pull Darnel out, I would lose other members as well. So, it seemed that all I could do was damage control.

My wife and I prayed often for Darnel and we did our best to soothe hurt feelings. Then the time came when God took Darnel from All Saints. News came that our jurisdiction was about to rejoin with the Moscow Patriarchate. Darnel made it his mission to speak often and long against this reunion. Yet as time passed, it became clear that this would be accomplished and Darnel became ever more adamant that we should leave our jurisdiction. When the final documents of union were signed, Darnel left our Church in a great huff. Happily, few of his supporters went with him. What followed was a time of peace, unity, and loving fellowship. The factions disappeared, but I realized then what the Lord meant when he said “The zeal of my house has eaten me up.”

I wonder when and if another Darnel will be planted in our fellowship. That’s up to the Lord because it is His Church. In a sense, Darnel was both a gift and a burden. When prospective members would come and stay, they would learn of the division in the Church, and some left. I will admit that I was glad when he left, but I also know that Darnel challenged us to exercise patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. It also taught us to trust that the Lord knows when to prune his Vine. Maybe this is why our fellowship is as strong as it is.

Do you have a Darnel in your Church? He/she looks like true Orthodox wheat in the garden of the Lord. In fact, they are weeds and not wheat. Pray to the Lord of the harvest and be patient.

Darnel, I’m glad you’re gone, but I wish you well. I hope that where ever you have gone, you have truly learned something from your time with us. I hope that you have become wheat in the Kingdom of God.

(Matthew 13:24-30 – KJV)

19 Responses to “Darnel”

  1. LINDA REXRODE Says:

    ISNT IT ODD HOW WE HAVE A DARNEL IN CHURCH AND ALSO IN LIFE. IT IS GOOD TO HEAR YOU LET GOD LEAD YOU IN MAKING DECISIONS. I ON THE OTHER HAND I HAVE ALWAYS LEFT CHURCHES AND THEN BACKSLID. BUT I THINK I HAVE GROWN ENOUGH TO NOT SEE PEOPLE AS I ONCE DID. MY PLANS ARE TO SEEK GOD IN ALL THE DECISIONS I MAKE EVEN THOUGH I HAVE A BAD HABIT OF SOLVING PROBLEMS ON MY OWN AND NOT TO PUT FAITH IN ANY ONE BUT JESUS CHRIST. I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU AND DONNA AND I WILL ALWAYS BE PROUD OF YOUR FAITHFULLNESS AND YOUR DEDICATION TO THE LORD. EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE A REDNECK PREIST. LINDA

  2. john moses Says:

    Thanks, Linda. I love you too.

  3. Lynn Says:

    John, this made me laugh outloud!!

    You and I were introduced to Jesus as teenagers and since that time I have served the church passionately “as unto the Lord.” I’ve worked for Pat Robertson at Regent University, J. Don George, a former Board member of the infamous P.T.L., Bob Yandian, known nationally and abroad as a “pastor’s pastor,” and Kenneth Copeland, international minister. In between I have served as the quentissential volunteer in area of community relations, promotions, fine arts, events, hospitality and administration. From this experience, you might say I’ve seen it all. And I can tell you I know Darnell very well. In fact Darnell is everywhere. Sometimes (more often than not) Darnell shows up as Darnella. In fact, he/she usually serves in the Prayer Department or a similar ministry to the sheep.

    I don’t know where Greek Orthodoxy stands on spiritual wickedness in high places, but please take no offense at my paraphrase to Eph. 6:12, “we wrestle not against (Darnell) but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    Darnell — flesh and blood — has simply come into agreement with principalities, powers, rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness. If he is born again, he (the real Darnell) is not the problem but he (the misguided flesh and blood Darnell) has apparently aligned himself with the kind of thing which cannot be wrestled and thrown to the mat in the flesh. Darnells and Darnellas are forever being used as enemies of the sheep, designed to upset and destroy the peace of those who follow innocently after God.

    Congratulations for refusing to compromise and making things so uncomfortable for Darnell that he chose to move on. I know what kind of courage that takes to stand on principle and truth. Unfortunately, however, until Darnell confronts the truth that he is being used as an enemy of God, no church will be safe from him. He will forever be a predator of the sheep. And he will never reach his divine destiny to the fullest God intended. But thank God for the armor of God. Pity we must use it to defend against the onslaught of our own!

    Be blessed, old friend! Take heart! There are more where Darnell came from!

    Lynn

  4. James the Thickheaded Says:

    Great story… and a good caution against the little bit of Darnell in each of us.

  5. 8-007 Says:

    Yikes, now we have the “Goofus and Gallant” approach to Orthodoxy. It seems like you want a bunch of nice neat “preppies” in their Levis Dockers and Polo shirts looking all “comme il faut” in their social conformity; like a bunch of Stepford wife robots.

    So nice to know then; that to even go all the way and become Orthodox, and be zealous at it; leads you to be condemned for the unforgivable “sinning against the holy spirit” (Matt 12:31; Luke 12:10); with a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” attitude; just over something as minor as a simple “personality difference”.

    Are you not responsible for your own flock? Darnell actually becomes one of your “own”, and you condemn him for neophyte mistakes, praise God that he’s gone and lost to you now; and use him as a glowing example to condemn others?

    Whatever happened to leaving the 99 sheep; and looking for the lost one? (Matt 18:12; Luke 15:4)

    He was one of your own; a “pillar of Orthodoxy” whom you invited to serve with you in the altar. Wouldn’t it be more preferable to extend a welcome mat (to come back) to all of the Darnels with open arms and Christian love?

    I pray to God that I never become a “pillar of Orthodoxy”!!! No thank you!!! I’ll settle for being the least deserving member; at the very bottom of the church hierarchy, if even that’s ever possible.

  6. frjohn Says:

    Dear friend,

    Thanks for you comment. I am never sure if anyone comes back to read the comments. However, I should make several clarifications. First, the character of Darnel is a fictional and composite personality. He was put together from experiences from 36 years of ministry, 15 as an Orthodox priest. Second, I chose the name “Darnel” because it is used in the KJV for the weeds mentioned in Matthew 13. The problem with darnel is that it looks just like wheat and so it is difficult to remove. Finally, as you may notice in a closer read, I made the story go as the Lord commanded in this parable. The workers wanted to go and pull up the darnel, but the farmer said to leave it until harvest time. Darnel was not weeded out by the priest, but given love, pastoral care, and patient forbearance until he was weeded out by the Lord and by himself.

    Yes, in my personal experience Darnels have come and gone, but entirely at their own whim. Thankfully, over time, they have come back, if only to visit. We were able to reconcile and part as brothers. Sadly, some have never come back. A few came back and stayed.

    But I will end this by saying that there also comes a time when a priest must protect his flock. The enemy can come dressed in sheep’s clothing, but their voice is the voice of the dragon. No pastor worth his salt would sit by an watch his flock be ravaged and divided. The Lord calls such as “false shepherds.” At that point it is hardly a matter of “personality conflicts.” Thankfully, this has been a rare experience for me, and never was it a Darnel that I had to cast out. The Lord of the harvest makes that decision.

  7. Fr Mark Says:

    I’ve struggled with some similar issues and appreciate your reflections.

    The accompanying graphic is a bit un-nerving, though.

    Rick Santorum? With a halo? Yikes!

  8. frjohn Says:

    Yeah, sometimes finding a picture or graphic is harder than writing something. This was the best I could find. Sorry.

  9. 8-007 Says:

    Sorry, I felt the comments I made were a bit too strong after posting; but I was a bit upset with this article, at the time I was reading it.

    I did not catch the comparison of Darnel to weeds; and assumed this to be about a real person.

    The one big problem I have; is that Darnel is listed as being a convert with only 2 years in Orthodoxy. I personally find Orthodoxy so completely alien, compared to “Western” confessions; that I find this to be a rather disturbing analogy.

    Usually, when you join a Western religion it is all verbal or literary; and you can explain all the rules up front. So when the person transgresses; at least they know ahead of time, not only the fact that they are crossing a line; but also what to expect in return as a consequence.

    Orthodoxy doesn’t seem to have any such rules, and apparently the Orthodox church feels comfortable punishing innocent observers who have no clue what is going on; and would do everything they possibly ever could to conform completely to whatever they are asked; but they are just left clueless, and harshly judged against some kind of “unknowable” alien standard, that they cannot possibly ever comprehend, anticipate, or even understand.

    Darnel, as only a 2-year convert, is essentially the equivalent of a 2-year old cradle Orthodox; despite whatever liturgical or scriptural knowledge he may have brought with him from his prior life, which would even then be questionably relevant; as the Orthodox seem to interpret the Bible completely differently than someone with a Western understanding ever would.

    My point is that the interpretive differences between the proper application of Bible teachings between “Eastern” and “Western” Christians are so vast, with such a monumental gulf between them; that for you to take a Christian with a “Western” understanding of the bible, who is only 2-years along into “Orthodoxy” and to declare him as some kind of an “apostate” threat; is completely ludicrous, if you ask me.

    Do you go into the pre-school age Sunday (or Saturday) school classes; and accuse the 2 and 3-year old children of being “apostates” and “sinning against the holy spirit” over their immaturity and personality differences; that they would have in their innocence as spiritual children?

    You seem to have alienated Darnel from Orthodoxy; by incorrectly understanding his spiritual level. Everything you said about him, especially how “he always assured me that he was my greatest supporter and he would do whatever he could to help heal any situation”; tells me that you yourself as the Priest; may be the one primarily responsible for alienating him from Orthodoxy; rather than this being his personal choice.

    It all depends on how you interpret his statement. If you take a “Western Business” interpretation of these words, then yes; they are a complete hypocritical lie, and you are completely justified in removing him; not necessarily for opposition or apostasy, but simply for insincerity and duplicity.

    The problem you have is; what if he really meant it? What if he tried everything he possibly could to be accepted and get along; but was just clueless, because he was blinded from the “unwritten Eastern rules” (or never knew them or could ever possibly imagine them) by his “Western” upbringing?

    Then are you not guilty of engaging in a vicious persecution of one of your own little spiritual children; and condemning him with a finality; that it’s doubtful even you yourself could ever deserve as a priest even now?

    Please forgive the implication of the above; I mean in no way to pass any kind of judgment; but to ask how certain you are of Darnel’s awareness of how “open” the “door of return” is?

    I guess I find it excessively harsh; that you would publicly state something like “Darnel, I’m glad you’re gone, but I wish you well.” to someone who became one of your own; and whom you had previously recognized as a “pillar of Orthodoxy” and had given the honor of serving at the altar.

    Not only such a statement; but even these kinds of sentiments expressed in a certain “Western” denomination that I am thinking of, would be deemed as completely unacceptable; and a grave sin of pride and lack of shepherding or stewardship; and could even bring you under a judgment of murder; if their departure was due to your own errors. (Matt 18:6)

    You statement, “Church members began to come and complain about Darnel, and some wanted me to get him out of our Church” causes me a great deal of concern, as well. This is again, an unacceptable sentiment from this other denomination I’m thinking of. How does it come about that a group of worshippers decide to cast out a member of their church over opposing a motion of some kind?

    I mean, it’s not like you’re giving a list of grave sins or wrongdoings here; but just violations of social conventions. How important are American social conventions supposed to be, in a Russian church? Or, if this is, in fact the “Russian” way; then why not take into consideration his “cluelessness” as an “American”?

    What if he had no “circle of supporters” or such ability to seemingly “make friends easily”? Is that all being an Orthodox Christian is about; is your ability to socialize and “make friends”? Why not then declare the church a social club, and yourself a Halloween costume director celebrating a theatrical farce every weekend?

    How much blood has been spilled in defense of ROCOR over the years; and you happily toss out a baptized member of the faith?

    You start out by saying that “All Saints had its problems as well”; yet after the expulsion of Darnel; you now have this great “time of peace, unity, and loving fellowship.”

    What if “Darnel” came from a certain bloodline; and his opposition to the re-unification with the Moscow Patriarchate was entirely justified; based on the sufferings of his ancestors at the hands of the KGB?

    Where on earth do you possibly expect him to “become wheat in the Kingdom of God” outside of his own “White Guard Russian” ROCOR church?

    The last two statements are not looking for an answer; but to ask if the difference between a Priest in a Church; and a social director at a costume party; is actually a matter of social convention; or if there is a presence of God, expected somewhere?

    Wouldn’t a better “apostate” candidate be a bishop or priest seeking greater power in the church; rather than an innocent convert spiritual child? Does it only require 2-years of experience to factionalize a ROCOR church? What was Darnel seeking to be, a Deacon?

    I’m sorry, it’s just the more I think about this article, the less sense it makes. I’ll just stop here and end this discussion, period.

  10. Fr. John Says:

    My dear friend,

    Thanks again for your comments. I am sorry that your experience of Orthodoxy (whether from within or without I cannot tell) has been so negative. I am sorry that this upset you, but as I said it is a composite picture taken from many years and experiences, yet you seem to want to portray him as an actual person. You are setting up a straw man and then delight in knocking him down. Your experience of Orthodoxy has not been mine, and as you say, I guess we will have to leave it at that. Period!

  11. 8-007 Says:

    Dear Fr. John,

    I didn’t intend to imply that I found my Orthodox experiences to be negative; perhaps a bit on the exciting side, but that’s better than the snooze-fest monotone robotic chant-a-thon over at the RC church; and I’m not sorry about any of them, in the least. It’s not your article that upset me, but the implications that could potentially be drawn from it; and how they might be applied to reality, that concerns me.

    I have no familiarity with the term “straw men”; even after looking it up, except for some of its esoteric meanings from Any Rand articles; so unfortunately I have no clue about what your comments might mean; but I appreciate the wide variety of experiences that are possible inside the ROCOR church; and find it interesting that they have such a breadth of occurrence, that someone like yourself could have no ability to relate to them.

    But, just for the benefit of the visually impaired, I do find your statement “Darnel, I’m glad you’re gone, but I wish you well” to be troublingly hypocritical; as I find it incomprehensible why you would ever want to celebrate the departure of a baptized/chrismated member of your social club/church; especially over the superficial grounds that you have listed; no matter how much of a “troublemaker” you may have perceived him to have been.

    I keep thinking of Shell Oil’s response to Hubbert when they said, “That Hubbert is a bastard, but at least he’s our bastard.”

    That reminds me of a time when a certain parishioner, while going up to kiss the cross on Halloween, happened to compliment the clergy on the costumes that they were wearing that day; and one of them said “You should see how we look in our ‘real’ costumes, I’d bet you’d find that truly scary.” And then this parishioner disappeared the next night, never to be heard from again; and his memory was either forgotten or his departure celebrated by the remainder present; until the day came when each of them individually followed in his footsteps.

    Thanks again for your responses, Fr. John.

  12. frjohn Says:

    Dear Brother,

    Thanks for your admonition. You judge well for I am in fact a hypocrite and the chief of sinners. Since we have not met, this is remarkable insight. May you continue to inform me about the errors to which I am blinded by my arrogance. After all, as the Proverbs say, ” a wise man loves rebuke.” I can’t say that I love it yet, so that displays my foolishness.

  13. 8-007 Says:

    Dear Fr. John,

    Perhaps, whenever posting a comment on these types of sites; I need to begin by saying in advance that “I know I’m going to be sorry for whatever I say here; no matter how carefully I word it; while it seems the other party can always say whatever they like; and get away “free and clear”; just by invoking some kind of secret eastern chant; which is outside of my knowledge or comprehension; and fit into some mysterious; as yet unknowable Orthodox lexicon; that all people within the realm of this secret mindset seem to share.

    What do we do with all these “sinless priests” who use mindless sarcasm to trash the ones who are trying to offer suggestions for improvement; by making them feel like they’re beneath the evil one, just for expressing a few concerns?

    My question is, “Why do you feel it is okay to ‘jump for joy’ over the departure of someone from your church? Why do you feel it is okay for a group of parishoners to just decide to kick someone else out of the church, just because they may not like something about them; or for some other trivial reason?”

    Do you not believe that maybe “being an Orthodox Christian” and a member of the church; is more important than any superficial personality or other considerations?

    Why are you only capable of seeing the word “hypocritical”; and unable to address my main point that being a member of the church should mean more; than being a member of a social club?

    Your article has already tossed me out of the church, before I’ve even had a chance to join it; as Darnel looks like an angel in comparison to some of the things I’ve done while in the church; but in response to my appeals for mercy, you only wish to offer additional rebukes about “remarkable insight” and “arrogance”.

    I so wish the time would come when Russians will quit playing the “arrogance” card against Americans. It has so lost it’s meaning; and is now just a cheap shot.

    You are not the “Chief of Sinners”. You are not a hypocrite. You are not even arrogant. What you are is just being a little bit too harsh on the innocent spiritual children, who don’t know any better; and are trying to appeal for mercy; and ask you to reconsider you decision to “celebrate” their departure or removal from the church.

  14. frjohn Says:

    Dear brother,

    Let me say first that I am sorry if my words offended you. I do not write these blogs to offend.

    However, with that said, I will address your central point since to address all of the statements you have made would take some time. I do not write with acrimony, but I find some of your statement to be incredible. You say your experience of Orthodox was not negative, but I can pull a number of statements from your posts that prove otherwise.

    If you again read with care and not with passion you will note that in this story, I did not drive out Darnel because of his personality. In fact, I tried my best to direct his piety, to communicate and to serve him as a pastor. I wrote it this way because of the Lord’s admonition that the darnel could not be pulled out without destroying the wheat, and so the workers should wait for the harvest.

    I waited.

    I can tell you in fact that of all the “darnels” that I have known, I only forced one out. Why? Because he was a registered sex offender and he was beginning to act inappropriately to the young women and female children in our church. Yes, he was “duly” baptised, so I suppose as a “good” pastor, after numerous pleadings and warnings, I was to just let him stay and wreck havoc on the congregation? Foolishness! And he did act most piously in public.

    The rest I lovingly served and suffered with and most left of their own volition and circumstances, and not because they were forced out by anyone. Most of them returned and we experienced real reconciliation (another point I mentioned before that you fail to acknowledge.) In this story, Darnel took himself out…and that seems to be a point you refuse to acknowledge. Forgive my human reaction that among the many burdens that I as a priest had to carry, I was relieved that this one had been lifted by GOD! And yes, a greater sense of peace returned to the congregation. I wished him well because I truly did care for him. Never did I “jump for joy.” I spoke of “gladness” because a rift had been avoided. If that is hypocrisy, then you must make the most of it.

    You do not know me, nor my experiences, nor my trials or blessings. You know nothing of the congregation that I serve. We are not a Russian club, nor a social club, but a small struggling mission made of converts who barely get the bills paid. We speak English, do the services and English, and about the only Russian thing we do is on rare occasion is eat borscht.

    You have read much into this fictional blog and you worry about the implications. I worry too about the implications of many of your statements. I highly doubt that this simple blog has driven you from the church. Perhaps it was a straw used by the devil to break your back. I am sorry for that.

    However, the following statement shows that you were already alienated – ” just by invoking some kind of secret eastern chant; which is outside of my knowledge or comprehension; and fit into some mysterious; as yet unknowable Orthodox lexicon; that all people within the realm of this secret mindset seem to share.” Who in the world invokes secret eastern chants? Where have you been attending church? If it was as your portray, then I doubt you were in an Orthodox church, even if it had incense and icons and guys in robes. This is only one of many statements that indicates your true point of reference from past experiences.

    You have no reason to trust this, but I try to speak the truth in love, but you may see little love in this. Walk a mile in the shoes of a priest before you make such judgements. Often a priest cannot defend himself because he has heard things in confession that he cannot share, even though it would exonerate him from calumny. AGAIN, this was a fictional piece put together from 35 years of experiences with all kinds of darnels, protestant and Orthodox. Please take it with a grain of salt.

    I am sorry that we have not been able to understand each other and I am sorry if you leave the Faith. I take no joy in it nor do I leap at the thought.

    And yes, I am the chief of sinners and a hypocrite. I would lie if I said otherwise. Please forgive this sinner who dresses piously every Sunday in robes of righteousness trying to hide his filthy and unrepentent soul.

  15. 8-007 Says:

    To begin at the summary level: the only offenses Darnel is accused of is trying to direct the liturgy; supporting unpopular motions at meetings; being overly social and sensitive; and rejecting the union of ROCOR with MOSPAT.

    I believe it takes a certain background for the union to drive someone out of the church; and given that reason alone; it seems a regrettable outcome.

    Now, when you mention specific violations as you did; well those reasons are not troubling; but tossing someone out for social “inappropriateness” (and I mean of the minimalist variety) seems unconscionable to me; as how does the social appropriateness crowd assume their authority to expel other people?

    Your words have no ability to offend me (in the manner you state) as I could always choose not to read or respond to what you say. It is the objective conclusions that can be reached from your words that troubles me; as someone (else) can read this article and then invoke it on me; and that would result in a departure for a period of time.

    I have no inclination to second guess your role as a pastor; I was responding to possible conclusions that could be reached and implemented, by applying your article in reality.

    I meant “eastern chants” as an allegory for eastern priests who operate outside of my anticipated expectations. I aim for the dead center bulls-eye; so, in my book, falsly throwing yourself on your sword, and claiming to be the greatest of sinners; to dodge an issue; is not much better than the other variety.

    This may be unpopular in the orthodox crowd; but my father was too forgiving toward certain people who deserved to be held accountable; and I cannot fall into that same kind of error.

    So, I’d rather you call me arrogant; than walk on me for being too forgiving.

    I appreciate you explanation that this is simply a matter of either not listing all the detail; or a coincidence that the union was chosen as the deal-breaker. Perhaps you meant this article more as speculation; rather than a court ruling. We can put that one down just to a matter of unfortunate timing in this article’s appearance.

    (To be more specific; if someone tried to throw this article at me as a way of passing judgment; I would burn it; and then start pursuing the perpetrator with a judgemental vengance; as this would be an attempt to lock me out of the church with superficial irrelevancies, that I’ve long ago passed over the accountability scale for.)

    I don’t expect you to interpret the above statement, either.

    In other words; I don’t find your words offensive in the least; and you have given me enough detail, now, for the intended context of your article to become clear. You were trying to do a weeds and wheat description; rather than passing social judgement on church parishoners.

    I do find your quote interesting:
    “You say your experience of Orthodox was not negative, but I can pull a number of statements from your posts that prove otherwise.”

    I have no contextual experience of Orthodoxy to evaluate what you seem to want to do, here.

    I meant, I did not find my Orthodox experience to be negative; compared to experiences with other religions.

    But, I have no way to know what a negative Orthodox experience is in comparison to your Positive one. I only know what I remember to have happened.

    Please feel free to expand on which of my experiences you feel to be negative or out of line with your expectations.

    But, please use caution; as I have no ability to second guess their originat(ion)ors.

    The fact that you do not know where I attend church is revealing; as most of your readers have already signaled me with direct responses and provided several layers of commentary in advance of my even writing replies to you. Perhaps, it’s better for that, to remain a mystery to those for whom it still is one.

    While I have no desire to walk in the shoes of a priest; you can be assured I will not leave the faith on your account; but I am happy that you would find that a regrettable outcome.

    Thanks for all your time and trouble in writing your responses. I appreciate you willingness to explain things in more detail. Thank you for caring enough to respond, again and again.

  16. frjohn Says:

    Dear Brother,

    Well, it has been interesting. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that your pilgrimage will lead you to the heart of God.

  17. Joseph Says:

    Bless!!!!!!!

    Great exchange.

    I am sorry, however, that so few of your respondents seemed to appreciate the vertical line of the compositional structure.

    Darnel is neither gone nor forgotten. He now has his own jurisdiction with sad little parishes scattered here and there, and he is a brilliant book publisher. And of course he feels rather invigorated in that he no longer must defend himself against those prying “ecumenist” Russian bishops; it is he who calls for their repentence now! Moreover, as a bonus he gets to hide his shame and error from the other Orthodox Christians in the neighborhood while indulging his various antiquated paranoias about KGB and Freemasons.

    Darnel should inspire pity and grief in all of us. “Zeal,” as you so solicitously propose, is not his problem and we all know it.

  18. janet Says:

    Don’t have problem w/the blog, but why did you use a picture of Rick Santorum? that seem more than a little mean.
    and Im not a supporter of his, still??

  19. frjohn Says:

    Yeah, given recent events, it might be worth changing. At the time, and if I remember correctly, it was just a pix on the web with no reference or name. I didn’t know who Santorum was because I’m not much of a politico.

    Thanks.

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