With the pestilence of the coronavirus not a day passes without a new prophecy emerging from some Elder who died either some years ago or even recently, or who is still alive and insists that he has prophesied about the coronavirus.
Also, many references are made by many in our days to the Book of the Revelation, the numbers 666 or 33, that lead to conclusions that we are seeing the end of the world. It is really amazing the number of messages I have been receiving on a daily basis from the Greek-American Community and also from abroad. Some even reveal to me that they have received instructions from elders on Mt. Athos and even from priest-monks in Thessaloniki and Northern Greece to make the sign of the cross on the doors of their homes with oil.
This phenomenon, which is widespread in Greece, has been transplanted to the United States through the movement of extreme fundamentalism. It can be described with three words: Prophetism, elderism, futurism.
I had written about this topic some years ago. It is a phenomenon that has to do with the ‘prophesies’ and ‘statements’ of various monks, who either died in the distant past or recently, or are still alive on Mount Athos and elsewhere.
These ‘contemporary prophets’ prophesize on just about anything, you name it. They prophesize about the political crisis or that the blessed Race of Greeks will reclaim the Queen City of Constantinople, and of course, about the coronavirus. These simplistic charlatans can do harm not only to innocent and uneducated people, but also to nations.
Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic crisis worldwide has significantly affected the mindsets of many. Thus, they search for some ray of hope to hold on to, or some kind of ‘supernatural’ explanation of what is happening in order to mollify their fears.
Thus, the prophesies of various elders and monks find their way into the hearts of many hope seekers. They are even willing to engage in extreme fanatical religiosity and blind obedience that absolutizes the elders’ ‘prophetic futurism.’ Once an elder says it, that’s it. No questions asked.
A huge industry of futurism has been created, and in some cases an industry of miracles that urges hundreds if not thousands of faithful to form long lines over the graves of various elders. Many put their ears against the tombs, hoping to hear some sounds from within the grave supposedly coming from the dead elder in question. The books of such elders become bestsellers and, of course, many ‘smart’ religious industrialists become rich in the name of a twisted Orthodoxy.
There is a dangerous trend today of creating a sick ‘Orthodox guruism’ in the name of spirituality and elderism. Many elders today tend to replace even Christ and His Church. We have arrived at the point of a total cultish culture to ‘worship’ people of little or no theological education at all, simply because they wear cassocks and grow long beards and hair. This has become a ‘spirituality of the hair.’ They speak and preach on a simplistic Sunday school level, yet appear to their followers to speak with authority and infallibility.
They use the sacrament of holy confession just to get control over the lives of their followers, demanding from them total and blind obedience. They take away the freedom of their ‘spiritual children’ and dictate to them how to live their lives to the extent that the elder even decides their personal choices, including their sex lives. Of course, the elders demonize the human body and human sexuality.
The elder makes all of their decisions. He has complete control over their lives because “he knows best” regarding their spiritual well-being. The spiritual children don’t really care about the teaching of the Church or the writings of the New Testament. They only care about what the elder thinks and says. They don’t read the Bible, but instead they read the elder’s fairy tells.
These uneducated smallminded fundamentalists have become the drama and the trauma of our Orthodox Church, and no one seems to have the boldness to confront them and teach them that Orthodoxy is not a fundamental ideology of some sadistic God who is ready to punish the people. The God of the Orthodox Church is the source of Love. It is Christ who comes as “fierce lover,” as Bridegroom in the middle of the night because He loves us all as we are.
In our case here in America, we are confronted with similar sickening fundamentalist mentalities. Many of our clergy have been influenced by the simplistic teachings and pseudo-pietism of the certain monastics to the point that many parishes have been poisoned. It seems that “a parallel Church” has been created alongside the canonical Church. Many clergy teach and even appear externally as some type of ‘Orthodox Osiris’, with long beards and hair. They go out into the world, on the streets and into stores wearing their cassocks and kalimavkion (clerical hat) causing our fellow American citizens to look at them strangely, not knowing who they are and what they represent – which is particularly significant in these times of confusion.