Smashmouth politics

run to daylight

The basic running philosophy employed by the Green Bay Packers under coach Vince Lombardi [was run-to-daylight.] The central two plays in this philosophy are off-tackle run and the so-called Packers sweep. In both plays, the offensive line would work to seal off a running lane for the back to use, and the running back would aim for this corridor rather than a specific pre snap hole. In the off tackle run, the quarterback would hand off (often to the fullback) who started running to the position between the tight end and tackle, but would aim for the best hole that developed. In the sweep, the two guards would pull to form the outside wall of the running lane, while the center and run side tackle would form the inside wall of the lane. – Wikipedia


Each item of equipment in the modern ampibious assault force–from the multimillion dollar aircraft carrier to the least expensive radio battery, every highly skilled man–from a jet pilot to the operator of a small, portable radio–exists to get the Marine rifleman in position to close with the enemy and destroy him. – Guidebook for Marines

I’m a simple man so I like punchy quotes that are clear, direct, and axiomatic. The goal of the ground offense in “smashmouth football” is simple: clear the field in front of you in order to advance the ball to the opponent’s end zone. The goal of Marine assault is similarly reducible: put an infantryman on the disputed ground so he can engage with and destroy the enemy.

The goal of politics is simple as well: acquire power to implement desired policy. The Left has pursued that goal single-mindedly for a long time. The Right has been debating minutiae, but they are quickly catching (growing) up. The Right is adopting the smashmouth politics of their opponents and not a moment to soon.

More subtly stated, the goal of politics is to control the frame of debate. The US Civil War banished secession and slavery outside the frame of debate. (I can use the Civil War interchangeably because politics is just war by other means–instead of firing the rifles, we count the rifles.) Socialism, royalty, government racial discrimination are outside the frame of US political debate.

The current problem in US politics is the competing frames. Past a point, the competitors aren’t fighting over holding calls; they’re fighting over which ballpark. As I’ve been saying for a long time, politics has passed beyond ideological to territorial. Keynesian economists can exist in the same frame with the supply-siders, socialists cannot. Lots of people are now actual socialists. They will literally vote to take your stuff unless you out-vote them, and when votes no longer work, you’ll have to physically, ahem, stop them.

Sexual deviancy is also zero-sum. If you don’t banish transgendered freaks to live under bridges, they will dress up like Baphomet and read books to your children. If I’d said that ten years ago, you’d have called me a lunatic.


Now for the hopeful stuff, as I promised last post.

At this point, Kavanaugh must be confirmed. It won’t be pretty, it will drive the Left even more insane (which doesn’t seem possible but always is), and that’s why it has to be done. If it’s not, we lose the framing. We’re not ceding an arrogant, eccentric Robert Bork to get the more conventional and tepid Anthony Kennedy; we’re hanging on to Kavanaugh because the Left’s real premise is that white heterosexual males cannot be allowed to govern. Call me crazy (am I? Am I?!) but look at how transgenderism has snowballed–remember last post how I said these things always snowball?

The Republicans and American bourgeois finally recognize the competing frames. We’re in a gunfight, not a toy knife fight. You play smashmouth or you lose. This isn’t about oafish Irishmen, it’s about straight white males period. The ideological debate is back there in ancient, white-guy history, and the scales are falling off a lot of eyes.


So if you see me with a twinkle in my eye, a spring in my step, and a jaunty straightening of my tie, it’s because Trump has fulfilled a simple man’s simple wish: he’s made smashmouth politics great again!

jaunty lindsey

The adults have left the room


Like those old John Hughes’ movies, the adults have been inexplicably though indispensably absent to the titillating plot line of politics in the Kwa. No youthful indiscretion has been too infinitesimal as the leaders of the world’s most powerful and oldest continuous government root around in details of beer-drinking and sex from parties that were cleaned up and forgotten long ago.

You may recognize the scene from Sixteen Candles above. I enjoyed being a young person in the early 1980’s, but unfortunately never got to make out with a drunken Haviland Morris.

haviland 1982

Here’s Haviland now. She works in New York City real estate.

haviland now

The 1980’s were fun times. I attended a number of those parties that Christine Blasey-Ford has been talking about. Ms. Ford is no Haviland Morris. (In fairness, I’m no Anthony Michael Hall.)

blasey ford

Speaking of, Anthony Michael Hall has ended up with a pretty interesting, pugilistic look. He’s also gotten tall (6′ 2″) and his estimated worth is $16 million. As I said, I’m unfortunately no Anthony Michael Hall.


I’ve been following this story to see if another member of my age cohort, Brett Kavanaugh, will have his Supreme Court appointment derailed by Ford’s completely unprovable and unrefutable allegation that he ravaged her fair white body at a beer-fueled rapefest in 1982.

Where are the grown-ups to tell us forget it, it was 36 years ago, we don’t know, we can’t know, and therefore we don’t and can’t care? We’re the grown-ups now: world-weary adults with thinning hair, arthritic joints, aging or deceased parents, furiously denouncing our peer group over drunken groping that may or may not have happened in the bloom of glorious youth.

As somebody who remembers those torrid years rather fondly, I’m astonished. I can recall lots of good and bad times, including being physically humiliated by a bigger, stronger peer. I could look this man up on Facebook. We have our own adult lives and responsibilities. Why would I seethe over any number of stupid incidents from high school? That’s what grown-ups do: they grow up. Christine Blasey-Ford is not a grown-up. Lots of women never grow up. We used to not bother counting their votes.

The hysteria has snowballed to encompass all manner of lurid allegations and minutiae. Grown-ups can tell you that’s what hysteria does: it feeds on itself, snowballs to attract all sorts of freaks. A woman named Julia Swetnick came out of the woodwork to say Kavanaugh and his friends ran trains on helpless, poisoned women. Wow! Except our big-brained media and savvy politicos forgot to notice that Swetnick was crazy as a fucking fruit bat and being shepherded around by a psychopathic lawyer.

The circus continues and will for some time. Women roam the Congressional office building, screaming in its halls. Millions cower at their computer monitors, convinced women are routinely assaulted at a level which would otherwise shut down much of society, with women refusing to leave the house and men fighting blood feuds over the constant attacks on their wives and daughters. It’s all nonsense.

There have been hopeful signs out of all this mess, and I’ll address them in the next post.

Be of good cheer

Eastern Orthodoxy is splintering, Rome is burning, secularism’s gaping maw is at your heels and the Benedict Option won’t save you.

It will be fine.

Handle has read Dreher’s Benedict Option so you and I don’t have to. It is a lengthy and even-handed treatment and Dreher’s heart is definitely in the right place. Handle reaches similar conclusions to mine, including that Dreher, while sincere and offering a clear vision, still can’t work himself up to “go there.” As Handle puts it, Dreher tells us of a dire world of crumbling morality and overbearing government where Christians need to be prepared to run to the hills, only to assure everyone he’s not telling them to run to the hills. Rather, observant Christians can build up educational, financial, and social infrastructure centered, literally geographically, around their cathedral or parish. Dreher points to actual examples where this has been done and draws on the successful example of the Mormons, who build themselves little Zions in the heart of the American State.

Christianity needs a Christendom, but Dreher can’t find it in himself to put things in quite those terms, probably in recognition that Christendom on any significant scale would be an insufferable rival to the secular State. The Mormons avoid such conflict by touting themselves as the truly and inherently American creed, loyal to and increasingly employed by the American State.

mormon vision
Mormon President William Woodruff visited by the beatified founders of the USA, including Christopher Columbus. Few know this.

The future belongs to those who show up, and the Mormons showed up and carved out their space in the culture. And this highlights my (though not necessarily Handle’s) main objection to the Benedict Option: I don’t want Christians to hide from the State; I want us to capture the State, or at least be too potent to be screwed with. Again, that’s outside Dreher’s comfort zone, so he omits or overlooks a significant and pertinent phenomenon: the establishment of the highly successful Israeli State, of, by and for Jews so Jews can practice Judaism safely. So when it comes to carving out safe space for ourselves, I favor Free Northerner’s strategy of building up shadow elites who can seize the levers of power when it’s opportune. There is likely a synthesis between the two strategies.

As for Rome, her faithful should understand they have a Big Gay Problem at least as much as a pedophile/pederast problem, and until they make homosexuals uncomfortable in the clerical ranks they will continue to have that Problem. I’d suggest they ordain married priests, since there aren’t enough heterosexual men qualified to handle celibacy to staff all their parishes. Homosexuals go where the men and the fabulous aesthetics are, and the professional ranks of the Church are often where they end up. I’ll say no more. It’s not my Church and it’s the spiritual home of many Christians observing the Faith of their fathers, or who just find Eastern Orthodoxy too removed and alien for their Western roots.

And boy, is Eastern Orthodoxy ever alien, with an arcane battle royale between the Church’s oldest and largest Patriarchates respectively.

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Orthodox Church said on Friday it would no longer participate in structures chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, deepening a row in Orthodox Christianity over the Ukrainian Church’s bid to break away from Moscow’s orbit.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod ruling body convened on Friday to consider how to respond as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church has courted Constantinople to formally make it a self-governing body independent of Moscow.

Ukraine’s pro-Western political leaders have sought step by step to take the former Soviet republic out of Moscow’s orbit after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and a Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in eastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Legoida, a Russian Church spokesman, said the Holy Synod had decided to suspend its participation in all structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It is also suspending all services with top priests of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and will not commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I in its services, Legoida wrote on social media, summarising the outcome of the meeting.

“Essentially this is a breakdown of relations. To take an example from secular life, the decision is roughly equivalent to cutting diplomatic ties,” the Russian Church’s Metropolitan Ilarion was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.

I previously mentioned this sovereigns’ dispute here. The canonical Orthodox Church in the Ukraine is a metropolia seated in Kiev, whose Metropolitan Onufry is under the authority of +Kyrill, Patriarch of Moscow. The Church in the Ukraine has a tangled history, with Moscow and Constantinople respectively claiming ecclesial authority at various times. The Ukraine and Russia have some differences, and at the moment the Ukrainians find it galling that their putative national Church still answers to Moscow.

Enter +Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Istanbul Constantinople, whom we also observed in these blog pages here.

old chum

My old friend.

my old friend

+Bartholomew is apparently pushing ahead with the grant of a Tomos of Autocephaly to Kiev, and here is where things get even more interesting.

“The Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced on 7 September 2018 that within the framework of the preparations for the granting of autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has appointed as its Exarchs in Kiev His Excellency Archbishop Daniel of Pamphilon [Ohio] from the United States, and His Grace Bishop Ilarion of Edmonton from Canada, both of whom are serving the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful in their respective countries under the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the United States is very young, and has its own tangled history, answering to the Ecumenical Patriarch and not, as one would assume, to the Metropolitan of Kiev. The Ukrainian Church in the US is open to converts, as you can tell from poking around their website, but is still popularly and culturally Ukrainian and apparently intends to remain so, even as their children marry out and converts marry in. Their bishops were members in good standing of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate’s bishops in the Americas, even though Moscow’s own Ukrainian Metropolia apparently has no parishes outside Ukraine. Are everybody’s heads hurting yet?

+Bartholomew plucks his two bishops from the Americas and deposits them, presumably without having to pry their fingers from the plane doors, back in one of the most uncouth, corrupt countries on the planet where they will prepare to accept the Tomos of Autocephaly and elect a Patriarch.

Wait there’s more.

United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback has said the United States is ready to assist in implementing a Tomos of autocephaly in Ukraine once it is granted to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. “Following the decision to grant a Tomos of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, the United States will support this resolution,” Brownback said at a meeting with Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy, according to the parliament’s official web portal. Brownback stressed that “at the stage of adopting a decision to grant the Tomos to Ukraine’s Orthodox Church we do not interfere. But once such a decision is arrived at, we will support it, and if we can be useful at the stage of its implementation, we will be happy to assist,” the U.S. ambassador said.

Parubiy thanked the United States for its support in many areas “in a very difficult time for Ukraine when we have to defend our independence with arms in our hands.” Parubiy also thanked for the attention to the issue of granting Ukraine’s Local Orthodox Church the said Tomos of autocephaly. He expressed his conviction that this is “one of the key issues of the existence of the Ukrainian state itself.”

The things you learn! In case you’ve been awake at nights wondering where former Kansas Senator Sam Brownback ended up, he’s apparently endowed in the indispensable office of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

I can hear the young under-employed Mormons in the State Department typing up their report telling Undersecretary-Deputy-Assistant Somebody that this is A Good Idea all the way from here.

This is kind of a big deal in world Orthodoxy, as Muscovite, Greek and Ukrainian bishops in their turn withdraw from communion elsewhere. Antioch and Jerusalem are already not talking over their own jurisdictional fight, and Antioch is not on good terms with Constantinople either. There will be disputes over who does and doesn’t recognize the new Ukrainian Patriarchate, resulting (I don’t see how not) in further severances of communion.

If you’ve read me over the years, you’ll pick up that this is a problem arising from the Church’s continued employment of canons written for an Empire that disappeared almost 600 years ago. Then came trans-oceanic emigration, as the Orthodox faithful discovered they could just leave when the wars started or the jobs disappeared.

What a mess, amirite? But the affairs of sovereign bishops need not disrupt our Christian praxis and parish life. Before the current mess there was the Russian Revolution and Soviet Union, disrupting numerous jurisdictions. Before that was the fall of Constantinople and its attendant confusions and before that the Great Schism, and before that the Oriental Schism, and numerous conflicts and disputes in between. Really and truly, it has always been thus. As Fr. Stephen puts it, the history of the Church is the history of humans, and we love the Church just as we love humans (I hate humanity).

Besides, the more time the hierarchy has to spend defending their jurisdictions, the less time they have to spend lecturing us about immigration and global warming.

At some point these issues will resolve, probably with the American Churches telling the Sees across the pond how things will be going forward. Historically, ecclesial issues are resolved by fait accomplit.

“The economy’s biggest mystery”

How to Fix Stagnant Wages:  Dump the World’s Dumbest Idea

Today’s New York Times tells us that wages should be rising, since we live in a world in which stock markets are soaring, the global economy is growing and unemployment levels are at record lows. But wages aren’t rising. For most workers around the world, wages continue to stagnate, after decades of minimal growth or decline. The implications are dire for global political stability: resentment among middle- and lower-class workers has already given rise to populist leaders in both the U.S. and parts of Europe. Unless the problem is solved, more trouble lies ahead.

Yet the world’s leading economists aren’t much help in understanding, let alone solving, the problem of stagnant wages:

It’s “the economy’s biggest mystery,” writes CNBC’s Jeff Cox.

“This is one of the big economic questions of our time,” said Ángel Talavera, lead eurozone economist at Oxford Economics in London.

“The lack of wage growth at the aggregate level despite the declines in the unemployment rate and strong job gains remains a mystery,” Joseph Song, U.S. economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, wrote in a note to clients.

“Economists are stumped,” writes Noah Smith in Bloomberg.

The author, retired World Bank executive Steve Denning, thinks he’s found the answer:

Previously, firms had sought to balance the needs of all the stakeholders—customers, employees, shareholders and the community. Workers were valued both as contributors to the gains that had already been made and as the creators of future growth. But once shareholder value thinking took over, workers came to be seen as expendable commodities, whose training for the future and career development were simply not their problem. No responsibility was felt to those employees who had helped create the wealth of the company. Instead, corporate raiders, who had played no role in creating that wealth, extracted much of the gains, which they then used to conduct more raids.

“Fifty years ago,” writer Lynn Stout, the late distinguished professor of corporate and business law at Cornell Law School, in her book, The Shareholder Value Myth, wrote, “if you had asked the directors or CEO of a large public company what the company’s purpose was, you might have been told the corporation had many purposes: to provide equity investors with solid returns, but also to build great products, to provide decent livelihoods for employees, and to contribute to the community and nation. The concept was to focus on long-term performance, not maximizing short-term profits.”

“All this changed in the 1980s. Economists began arguing, confidently, if incorrectly, that shareholders ‘own’ corporations and that stock price always captures a firm’s true economic value. Thus shareholders should have more power over corporate boards, and executive pay should be tied to shareholder returns. These academic arguments were embraced by activist investors seeking to buy shares, pump up price, and sell for a quick profit. They also appealed to CEOs hoping to enrich themselves by boosting share price by any means possible (including, at Enron, outright fraud). The result is today’s world, where ‘shareholder value’ is king.”

I’m not an employee of a publicly traded corporation but I do work for publicly traded corporations, and I’ve done it for the past 27 years. I have many colleagues who’ve done it longer than me. My father worked for publicly traded corporations, as did his father before him. My grandfather’s father worked for the railroad, and I’ve heard some of those stories too. So what I’m about to tell you is based on a store of human knowledge and experiences spanning more than a century:

Corporations have always been shortsighted and greedy.

Corporations have always skimmed the fat for their shareholders, scrimped on the workers, built shoddy products, maimed and poisoned people, bribed legislators, creatively accounted, and evaded taxes. Contra Mr. Denning, I think the answer to this economic mystery is more drearily, micro-economically simple: the supply of labor has increased exponentially since around 1980.

When I was a child–about 4 billion people ago–sophisticated products and services were provided by the US, Europe and Japan. Africa was where the famines happened. The Soviet Union and Red China (remember them?) were lumbering, socialist autarchies. Southern and Southeast Asia were where all these insanely violent wars broke out. That world is as gone and vanished as the O’Hara family’s cotton plantation. First World workers now compete in a global labor market at all levels of sophistication, and there are 7.6 billion of us.


From the perspective of the global marketplace, most of us do embarrassingly fungible work. The demand relationship is the world’s simplest economic graph: labor prices will not rise. Not ever.


So that’s my hypothesis, even though Forbes magazine doesn’t quote me. There are many more of us than ever before, and we actually need less workers per good. Think about the mining industry, and imagine how many miners you’d need swinging pick axes all day to keep up with this behemoth.

This is actually a great thing. Mechanical excavators don’t get horrible diseases, and don’t leave weeping family members behind when disasters happen.

black lung

massey disaster

But what do you do if you’re a coal miner? Bucket wheel excavators don’t require a twentieth of operators and mechanics as the miners they replace, and there’s no reason the operation and maintenance won’t be automated at some point as well. Unquestionably, the cognitive threshold for remunerative work is rising. Billions of people exist on the left-side distribution of the intelligence curve. They are looking at an idle future.

The two deaths

Via @trifon.

On August 18, 2014, the American nun Theocletia (Clara Thelen) fell asleep in the Lord at the age of 30. Here is her story.


The Convent of St. John the Baptist on Mt. Kissavos (Ossa), situated just outside the village of Anatoli near the city of Larisa (Greece), is one of the most unique convents of this country. Founded in the tenth century, the monastery flourished in the mid-sixteenth century under the Abbot-Martyr Damianos the New († 1568). In the early 2000s the Athonite Elder Dositheos arrived at the deserted monastery and undertook the construction work of the new living quarters. It was the nuns, who are under spiritual guidance of the elder and under the authority of the active and prudent mother superior, Abbess Theodectia, who revitalized the abandoned monastic site. The convent’s distinctive feature is that its nuns are not only from Greece, but also natives of other countries—Austria, Australia, the UK, Armenia, Germany, Cyprus, Lebanon, Russia, the USA, Estonia, and Japan; and they hold some parts of the services in their native languages. Nun Theocletia of blessed memory, to whom our short narrative is dedicated, was among the nuns of this unique convent.

Clara Thelen, who was born in America in 1984, while searching for the roots of the Christian faith discovered Orthodoxy at this Greek Convent of St. John the Baptist in 2008. Following all the necessary preparations as a catechumen she was baptized and received the Orthodox name Photini on February 19, 2009. On Bright Week of 2013, she became a ryasophor nun and was given the name Theocletia. In the autumn of that year Sister Theocletia’s health deteriorated and after a medical examination she was diagnosed with cancer that affected her throat and digestive system. Then she underwent chemotherapy. In April 2014, on Thursday after Pascha, Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias tonsured Sister Theocletia into the Great Schema as she grew worse. On the following day the schema-nun was taken to the university hospital of Larisa, where she stayed for four months, radiating peace and optimism in spite of her extremely bad condition. Both the medical staff and numerous visitors felt that they were communicating and conversing with an angel not a human being. The convent’s nuns who were with her all the time witnessed that Nun Theocletia had a great patience and fortitude, and always took care of others. Her gentle soul became even gentler through her pain, and so she easily understood the troubles and sorrows of other people. She tried to dispel all of this by her radiant smile and unceasing repetition of the Jesus Prayer, turning grief into hope. The hospital ward where Sister Theocletia spent the final several months of her life was converted into a monastic cell, where an perpetual vigil lamp was lit, incense burned in front of holy icons, and Nun Theocletia herself prayed and practiced needlework in conformity with the monastic rule.

More than once the hospital doctors and nurses feared that her strength was ebbing away, but each time Nun Theocletia overcame her affliction by her incomparable smile that appeared on her grace-filled face over and over again. In July, Sister Theocletia’s condition deteriorated sharply. The doctors put an oxygen mask on her and alerted the convent sisters right away. As soon as the beloved Gerondissa Theodectia entered the ward, Nun Theocletia instantly tore off her mask and asked for Holy Communion, which meant that the Body and Blood of Christ became her daily bread and joy. After receiving Communion the nun was very lucid again and later told the gerondissa that at that moment she had ascended to the Lord Who said to her: “You will be with Me!” The nun felt a boundless peace and quiet, but she kept in mind that she would cause the sisters’ profound distress if she departed this life straight away. She said: “May Your will be done, O Lord!” And the Almighty prolonged her life (and, significantly, prolonged her stay with the other sisters) for an additional month. Early in the morning of August 18, 2014, Nun Theocletia peacefully commended her soul to her beloved Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed Sister Theocletia’s body remained soft and flexible right until she was buried at the cemetery of the convent where she had served with an infinite love and self-denial, leaving her mark on all the places and obediences. According to a large number of spiritual people (including those who didn’t know her personally) who prayed for Nun Theocletia, she not only found eternal rest but also had the boldness to intercede for others with the Lord. The faithful often come to the convent and ask permission to go and pray by the grave of Nun Theocletia on the territory of the cemetery.

It is amazing that her simple and open soul became spiritually mature within the short span of four years by giving herself entirely to God and thus achieving theosis, which is the goal of every Christian. Absolute obedience to the gerondissa, based on deep love and reverence, coupled with the refusal to judge others both verbally and mentally—these are the two virtues that, like two wings, helped Nun Theocletia’s soul reach heaven in such a short time. There she met the souls of the holy monks who had performed their spiritual labors on Mount Kissavos for many centuries (we sense the fragrance of their labors here to this day).

The sisterhood of our convent has a lot to learn from this humble soul, the “Novice Dositheus of our times”[1]. We are relieved by our conviction that Sister Theocletia has become an organizer of our heavenly coenobitic abode, where she is waiting for all of us.

Nun Theophania
St. John the Forerunner’s Convent
Anatoli, Larisa, Greece

[1] A famous disciple of the Venerable Abba Dorotheos.


Nun Theophania
Translation from the Russian version by Dimitry Lapa

The tonsuring of young women and men is bittersweet. They physically separate from friends and family. They lose their christened and surnames and will not bear children.

As a rassaphore, Theocletia had her hair cut, donned a cassock and veil, and was admonished to chastity, poverty, obedience, perseverance, and stability (monks cannot leave the monastery without their senior’s permission).

Upon reception into the Great Schema, Theocletia took the explicit vow of death to the world.

Know, then, that from this present day you have been crucified and put to death to the world through the most perfect renunciation. For you have renounced parents, brothers, wife, children, forefathers, relatives, associations, friends, habits, the tumults in the world, cares, possessions, goods, empty and vain pleasure and glory; and you are renouncing not only those things which have just been said, but even your own life, according to the voice of the Lord which says: ‘Whoever wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ If therefore you truly seek to follow him, and if without lies you ardently desire to be called his disciple, from the present moment prepare yourself not towards ease, not towards freedom from care, not towards sensual pleasures, not towards anything else of those pleasures and enjoyments which are on the earth, but towards spiritual struggles, towards temperance of the flesh, towards purification of the soul, towards mean poverty, towards the good grief, towards all the sorrowful and painful things of that life according to God which brings joy. For you have to hunger and to thirst and to go naked and to be reviled and ridiculed, to be reproached and persecuted and to be tempted in many sorrowful things, in which things the life according to God is characterized. And when you suffer all of these things, ‘Rejoice,’ it is said, ‘for great is your wage in the Heavens.’

In October 2013, a friend of the nun’s visited the convent and took a number of photos.

And other than a short obituary in the Seattle Times, that is all I was able to find.

True monastics are a very different breed, and more people pursue the vocation than are qualified for it. The Antiochian Archdiocese started a convent, only to disband it within a couple of years. Monasteries are tough, strange places, and without strict obedience, prayer life and ritual, they quickly fall apart.

ortho nuns

—Upon monastic tonsure, the sisters receive a cell rule of prayer, and every nun is charged with prayer as a duty. Our cell rule includes the so-called 500.[2] As you know, monastics pray for the whole world, they pray for all people, and they are a mystery: Monks pray in secret.

I must note that our monastery is cenobitic, and laborious, and there are many people. Over the course of 120 years, the experience of total immersion in contemplative prayer has not been here. The prayer of the heart must be taken up with a blessing and under the direction of an experience doer of the Jesus Prayer. The older sisters say that the Lord hears the humble. First, we must learn humility…

“Cenobitic” monasteries are just communal monasteries, as opposed to hermitages, that is, eremitic monasticism. What the abbess means is that her nuns must work to feed and shelter the community and pilgrims and are therefore unable to live the life of total contemplation practiced by hermits.

So remember that, the next time you’re trying to fit in one Trisagion a day or go without meat on Wednesday and Friday.

May God and our Blessed Mother speed the Nun Theocletia to Beatitude!