Dear Matt Parrot,

Let me start by saying clearly that I am saddened by the denial of the eucharist to Matthew Heimbach. I understand why it was done, at least according to the (rightly) limited information made public. But I remain saddened, for my own reasons. I wish you and yours the best on your sabbatical from (though I admit I am not clear who is taking this sabbatical, so blessings to whomever you are during this time).

Further, I appreciate your gracious reply to my original post. Since we will disagree on how the core tenets of Christianity impact ethnic, national and immigration policy, let me first point out a few places where we agree:

  1. It is clear that we share a value for a politics that takes into account our faith.
  2. We agree that ethnicity and regional and national cultures are important, and worth respecting.
  3. Our assessment of the world around us influences our political solutions, and the way in which our faith may affect those solutions.

The fact is, you and I have very different assessments of the danger to White culture.

Not only do I think that White culture is quite safe, I also think that White culture as lived in North America is far more disrespectful and dangerous to non-White cultures than the reverse. I simply don’t believe that ethnic or cultural separation is either practical or ideal in the United Stages. Nor do believe it is historical. The South, for instance, was never entirely white and so it makes no sense to me that it is a natural homeland for whites. Rather, the South after colonization has always been multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Its economic prosperity for years (and the economic prosperity of the North which depended on the South) was based on the existence of enslaved and impoverished laboring classes. Today, the prosperity of our nation relies on poorly paid workers both here and abroad.

We read history and the present very differently.

We also have very different notions of what it is to protect a culture or ethic group. The reality is, and this is something Orthodoxy struggles with, culture changes as it encounters other cultures, and much is lost while much is gained. Orthodoxy in North America is quite new to a multi-cultural context, coming as it does from nation-states that until the 18th-19th century experienced levels of ethnic stability completely foreign to its present experience. It must adapt, and seek to live the Gospel in whatever context it finds itself. That is the heart of Christianity.

What I cannot agree with is protecting culture at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of others. I also cannot defend aspects of a culture which depend on the subjugation and denigration of others in order to maintain its own power, prestige and privilege. I am only a tiny bit of a Marxist (though members of my Jewish family were card-carrying communists. How about that for some fuel for more fiery comments about me!): while I think Marx’s analysis was insightful and brilliant, his solution was not. Leninism and Stalinism underscore the solution’s failure and its brutality.

We also have different notions of receiving the “historical church.” I am under no illusion regarding the mixed nature of the theanthropic organism which is the church. We have failed to embody theosis as a community at many points in our history and our present. Thus, we need to learn and grow into God, into theosis, both as individuals and as a community. This is a controversial view, but then, Orthodoxy has been sharpened by controversial views which allow it to better express both the fullness of God and the humble limits of our vision.

Most importantly, I am not arguing against your reputations. I knew nothing of your reputations before reading posts and watching videos. My post is intentionally full of links to videos or written statements by members of TradYouth. I did not use the comments of the interviewer in the Nightline series. My goal was to reflect on your words, and that is what I did. When I state that Matthew Heimbach argues for violent solution, that is because he in an interview, he suggested a one-to-one killing of other ethnic/racial groups. My comments regarding the use of Orthodox theology were reflections on linked writings available on as well as OccidentalDissent.

You do not respond directly to any of these quotes, but repeat that your reputation is worse than the reality. I cannot reconsider my condemnation of these statements since you have given me no reason to believe you mean something other than what has been said in print and video.

You and yours will likely call me “anti-White.” But as a Christian, I have no vested interest in being white first. Rather, I have a vested interest in becoming like Jesus. When my whiteness prevents me from being a loving neighbor to those around me, from seeking their flourishing, regardless of their color, nation or ethnicity, I must repent.

35 thoughts

  1. These people speak in the language of traditional fascism. They celebrate violence (in a culture that is already deeply violent), they fuse the language and iconography of the state with religion, and they demonize the vulnerable–Muslims, undocumented workers, homosexuals, intellectuals, feminists, etc. There is a long list of people they despise. And I don’t think you can take that rhetoric lightly in a time of economic and social turmoil. I think one would need only look to Yugoslavia and the propaganda campaigns that created that fratricide to understand that fact.

      1. You calling them out is important, I think. As is my expression of joy that Heimbach was denied the eucharist, which is justifiable insofar as I express it in a way that challenges them and the people around me to think. I call them out, not because I want to hurt their feeling or some such thing, but because I want to challenge them and others to examine their beliefs. And this has some redeeming value, especially if I think my views are right and they really should question theirs. You calling them out is much the same.

      2. I simply can’t go down the path of treating the eucharist as instrument for getting others to think. Its denial is never a source of joy. Sorry, I can’t wish on someone else something I do not wish on myself or friends, even when I think their theology is reprehensible. The eucharist isn’t about us being right. If it were, none of us should eat it. We can call people out without denying them the eucharist. If they are unable to sustain membership in a community that does not support their beliefs, they can, and likely will, voluntarily go elsewhere.

      3. Fair enough. I am, in many ways, a consequentialist, so I imagine that is where we diverge on this.

        “If they are unable to sustain membership in a community that does not support their beliefs, they can, and likely will, voluntarily go elsewhere.”

        In most cases, you would be right, but in this case Matt intends to “use” the Church. It gives him something he cannot get anywhere else: legitimacy. And he knows that. Just like Hitler knew he needed to be able to say to the mostly Christian population of Germany that Nazism was founded upon Christianity.

        You know, I just don’t see any middle ground here. I don’t see playing politics with the truth. These guys are fascists. And, while I am willing to compromise on strategy, I am not willing to compromise on principle.

      4. So, I suppose I’ll rejoice every time a fascist is denied the eucharist, because maybe that just gets him one step closer to Christ.

  2. Wonderful post, Maria. And its calm, measured, and generous tone, combined with its decisiveness, cogency, and strength – perhaps inspired is the word. And while I am a minister in the Reformed tradition, I agree with you that the eucharist should not be used as an instrument of discipline.

    1. Thank you Kim. I have not always felt this way about the eucharist as it is frequently a tool of discipline in Orthodoxy. I just no longer see it as a particularly useful tool, even as I cringe at the idea of eating with these them. But, if Jesus can eat with Judas, it does not seem like I get to decide who shares a table with me, even as I can publicly decry what they teach.

      1. The Eucharist is never, I repeat never, used as a tool of discipline. To believe so is to completely misunderstand Orthodox liturgical and sacramental theology. It is we, sinful humans, who separate ourselves from the Eucharist by our thoughts, words and actions. It is none of anyone’s business when/why some one is not allowed to receive the Mysteries. That is between the person and the father confessor. Granted, members of the community of faith become involved when something happens in public that scandalizes them, but how we as individuals handle that, spiritually, is no one’s business but an issue only for us and the father confessor. Let’s not forget what those tassels at the bottom of the priest’s stole (in Greek petrahili) mean.

  3. I’d love to know more about your “jewish family members”?

    Please expand on this? Who were they? How did you become a Christian if your family were jews?

    1. My mother’s father was an adamantly secular Jew and her mother a non-practicing Methodist. As an adult, she fell in love with Byzantine Chant in Greece, and it led to her joining an OCA, the jurisdiction in which my sister and I were raised.

    1. Vaguely apropos: The Lindbergh Quarter, April 28, 1941

      Def: Concern Troll: “A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere and condescending.”

      I have never covered my head, so I can’t imagine what veil you think I was wearing.

      1. I have never covered my head, so I can’t imagine what veil you think I was wearing.

        Metaphors go over your head then? I’m sorry to hear that.

        Thank you for posting the definition of a Concern Troll! That took either great courage, or a great lack of self awareness.

    1. First: This article does not argue children are racist. It points out that children are aware of color from early on, and seek to understand their relationship to people of their own color and people of other color, and they notice the dynamics around color quite early: “Just as minority children are aware that they belong to an ethnic group with less status and wealth, most white children naturally decipher that they belong to the race that has more power, wealth, and control in society; this provides security, if not confidence.” The point of the article is that rather than assume that we should NOT talk about race, we SHOULD talk about it, earlier than expected in order to frame the what they see and address the racial stratification still embedded in our society. The observation of difference and how to relate with differences are two distinct issues.

      Second: Orthodoxy believe in ancestral sin, that is, we inevitably embody the consequences of living among people whose relationship with God is broken (this is an Orthodox version of what is often called “original sin” in Western theologies. So, arguments that children observe racial differences does not affirm that racism is a part of being a child and something to which we should convert.

      Third: 1 Cor 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” I will leave it to you to reconcile your reading of Jesus with a comment from Paul.

      Finally, Mindweapon, unless you choose to interact with the substance of what I am saying in my post, I will no longer respond to or approve your comments. There are abundant resources which articulate clear Christian opposition to racism, even as Christians have been guilty of using their religion and scripture to defend it. You are clearly capable of using google to help you out.

  4. When people are received into the Orthodox Church, they are newly-illumined, but it takes years (lifetime?) to begin to understand this illumination. So, the newly enrolled catechumens and the newly illumined are indeed treated as children. They are not permitted to speak on topics of which they do not yet understand. They are not allowed to preach, nor teach. For years – not days or weeks or months. Years.

    We also have to be aware that everyone is in our parish, everyone is our neighbor – not just the “tribe” or “nationality” or “race” that is familiar to us. That is the lesson of the Good Samaritan – and of the woman at the well, and of the tax collector Zacchaeus (who “betrayed” his race by working for the Romans).

    As a priest, I have an obligation – a duty – to minister to everyone in the community, some sacramentaly, others in different ways. The African-American, or the Roma, or the Arab, or the Jew, or the fornicator, or the homosexual, or the white supremacist, or the glutton, or the slothful, or the child molester – I am bound to consider all of them as my neighbor, and all of them in my community and ministry. And when they are harmed, I must take notice, and take action.

    Let the chrism dry. Even St. Paul after his conversion spent a couple of years at Antioch learning about the faith from the elders there, and then spent time with St. Peter in Jerusalem, before obtaining the blessing to do missionary work. Note that phrase – obtaining a blessing. It is an extremely important part of Orthodox life. Important things we do with a blessing.

  5. Maria,

    You picked out a red herring. How about this:

    Moody found that the more diverse the school, the more the kids self-segregate by race and ethnicity within the school, and thus the likelihood that any two kids of different races have a friendship goes down.

    So being exposed to actual people of different races, and being afforded more opportunity to form friendships and relationships with people of different races, actually makes kids less likely to have cross-racial interaction. To know them (members of other races) is to prefer to avoid them, seems to be the motto of children.

    Kids are natural segregationists. Jesus commands us to be like children.

    By the transitive property, Jesus commands unto us to be segregationists.

    Notice that one of us is able to express thoughts clearly and succinctly. The other one is very wordy.

    1. What can I say Mindweapon, I come from a wordy tradition which understands that simple logical properties are inadequate to expressing the fullness of our life in Christ. Guilty as charged.

    2. If our ancestors were not “racist”, white people would not exist.

      If “racism” is a sin, then the existence of White people is a sin.

      If someone tells White people that God thinks their existence is a sin, she is pushing us away from God.

      Therefore that person is doing the devils work.

    1. I am a “a Cultural Marxist infiltrator”. Awesome. Perhaps someone who is a friend of yours listed the following “facts” you can add to your arsenal:

      [Here are some facts about Maria Gwyn McDowell](
      1) She is an outspoken feminist who tries to revise history.
      2) She supports LGBT militant queer cultural Marxism.
      3) She is openly anti-white

      Oh, and I am a nun. Fortunately, a corrected misimpression.

      1. Maria,

        Do you support having openly gay priests? Female priests? Do you think Orthodoxy should support gay marriage and fly rainbow flags over the Hristos Nika churches?

        You sure level a lot of criticism at your own church for not being liberal enough. There are lots of liberal churches already. Why join a conservative church and criticize it for not being liberal enough for your taste, when you could be a welcome part of any number of rainbow flag, gay friendly, neo-Babelist denominations?

      2. Read my other posts. You will get an answer to your questions.

        I did not join Orthodoxy, I was raised Orthodox. And yes, I am more welcome in other places for a variety of reasons, but criticism racism and anti-semitism is hardly just a “liberal” endeavor. There we plenty of conservatives who do not share your beliefs.

  6. Maria- you need to answer to the reality lived by poor whites. As far as I can tell, you are only interested in quoting “clobber passages” as the gays say. Your rejection, shaming and humiliation mean nothing to me.

    1. I would hope that the poverty experienced by poor whites would lead to compassion for poor of other races and ‘folk’ rather than vitriol. A reassessment of the systems which control the distribution of wealth and power does not require racist or ant-Jewish rhetoric.

  7. Jeez, I’ve just paid a visit to the “Traditionalist Youth Network” and read the comment thread for its May 1st post. Just before Sunday lunch: bad timing – I lost my appetite. It was like being on a Vergilian guided tour of the 5th and 6th circles of the Inferno. I half expected an intervention from Silouan – “Keep your mind in hell and don’t despair” – but then the staretz would have been viciously abused by the trolls. The experience almost makes me rethink, for such sad souls, for their own sake, the practice of eucharistic exclusion: I’m thinking I Corinthians 11:29. Kýrie eléison!

    Pax, Maria.

    1. Yes, I admit the same, alas. But then, when we cannot agree on what is or is not sin, what is or is not truly a danger to the community, exclusion of one group justifies exclusion of another. Someone stated on an Orthodox forum, discussing all of this, that homosexuality and same sex marriage is worse than racism. It all seems a bit intractable at this point.

  8. Maria,
    I like your writing in general and your approach to the TYN problem, which I learned about on an OCA clergy-only listserv. I cannot but agree with Fr. Gillquist that the young man in question be excommunicated (so soon too!) for his persistent and intense involvement in ideologies alien to the Christian spirit, and which take him out of spiritual communion with the Body of Christ. I didn’t want to think ill of the fellow, and was curious what they meant by “Traditionalist” and am disappointed by the confused,promiscuous collation of pseuedo-mysticism (typified by that charlatan, Julius Evola) with rabble-rousing political fluff (e.g. the Bundyites of NV).
    Traditionalism seems to mean whatever a person wants it to mean. To a great artist like John Tavener, it was an esoteric symbolic language for the use of organizing music coherently. To a thinker like Philip Sherrard, it was a deeply penetrating philosophy. To a painter like Nicholas Roerich, it was a fascination with spiritual legacy across many cultures, times and places.
    Sadly, Heimbach is using Orthodox Christianity just as he uses Traditionalism – degrading it to a convenient badge of legitimacy atop a trashy and inchoate heap of impulses which tend toward violence.
    Fr Gillquist did the right thing by denying the young man communion. If he were to continue to empower him spiritually, the damage could be exacerbated. Communicants are warned in that they are taking fire into themselves. It’s not hyperbole. Spiritual ruin is the result of chasing temptation – and Mr. Heimbach’s take on Tradition is just that – he, and the little group calling itself TYN are playing with fire; they Holy fire of Communion would ruin them utterly.
    I hope he sincerely repents of the pernicious delusion of Traditionalist idolatry and begins to value Christ and His Mystical Body more fully, realizing through denial of the Gifts, what trash he has chosen instead.

  9. I may not be an Orthodox but this year’s election campaigns have opened my eyes to the fact that NeoNazis are infiltrating “traditionalist” or “conservative” church groups. There are many traditionalist Catholics who support such ideologies (or maybe they are just really, really loud). I do not understand how anyone who accepts the fall of man or Adam and Eve can be a racist. Physically at least, if not spiritually, all humans are members of the same family. What would Adam tell racists in heaven?

    I hope we could perhaps pray for each other, that either all Catholic Christians can convert to Orthodoxy if it is the True Church or all Orthodox Christians can convert to the Catholic Church if it’s the True Church. I honestly just want to be in Christ’s Church if I am not already.

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