Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Keller's Occidentalis: A Misinformation Rumor Mill

Pssst. Did you know one ROCOR monk adds a Byzantine litany right into the middle of his "Tridentine" liturgy? That when another monk petitioned Abp. HILARION of Sydney for ordination, Vladika sent him to Keller's monastery instead? That ROCOR isn't really in communion with Serbia or Jerusalem?

Good, because none of it is true. But you would think it's true if you hang out on Keller's Yahoo group, Occidentalis.

I first became aware of Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller's penchant for twisting the truth and smearing his perceived enemies (every Western Rite Christian not amenable to the OSRM) this way. In addition to his flawed history and liturgics, he manages to regularly rumormonger about his enemies and their practices. (Incidentally, he's been corrected about all the above and more, many times, but he has refused to retract anything.)

For instance, when an Occidentalis member asked about the Book of Common Prayer, Keller switched topics, discussing his "strong impression that the W. rite of Antioch* is substantially Byzantinised." His proof? One of the prayers in our Tikhonite services "is from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom ('that when two or three are gathered in Thy name.')"! As anyone mildly conversant with liturgy knows, the "Collect of Chrysostom" was added to the daily hours by Convocation (perhaps by Thomas Cranmer) in 1549, not by the AWRV.

His asterisk in the comment above pointed to this truth-twister: "At the time that the St. Andrew's Service Book was published, the American archdiocese was still part of the Antiochian Church." (???) Of course, the Antiochian Archdiocese is still very much a "part of the Antiochian Church."

Discussing ROCOR's inclusion of the hymn "Let all mortal flesh keep silence" in its Sarum liturgy, he wrote, "'Let all mortal' is an 18th c. hymn which was composed in France." One hardly need attend a university course to understand this beautiful hymn (#159 in the St. Ambrose Hymnal, #197 in the 1940 Hymnal) comes from "the Cherubic Hymn from the Liturgy of St. James, 5th c." Even Frederica Mathewes-Green mentioned this in one of her columns. It was translated by Gerard Moultrie in 1864. (which is the 19th century, not the 18th), but it's viciously dishonest to call it "an 18th c. hymn."

I understand he's since apologized (again) "for all the times I have written in needlessly dismissive words regarding liturgical matters." Which unfortunately is par for the course with him. For instance, in September 2004 he wrote, "I promise I will forbear from polemics in the future. " Almost instantly, he resumed spreading stories about Fr. Michael and Abp. HILARION. Five days later, he claimed, "There are, sadly, those who feel their bounden duty to God and Holy Orthodoxy is to destroy our reputation and work. I have seen them, including clergy, resort to lies, orchestrated rumours, shocking intrigue, bribery, and even forged documents, in order to advance their aims." Keller replied to a posted e-mail from Fr. Michael of Tasmania thus: "pomp and blather!"; "He is lying through his teeth....God help him." Delightful All this (and more) within less than a month of his eirenic turn.

Unfortunately, this is the tip of the iceberg, and does not include questionable behavior offline.

If he has repented, let him "bring forth fruits meet for repentance." Let him set the record straight and shut down his online hate campaign. Until he does, he is worth keeping at well farther than arm's length. One's salvation may be aided immensely by simply unsubscribing from his groups and ignoring his website resources.

Don't misunderstand: I don't wish him -- or anyone else -- ill. I wish him a long, happy life as a high school Latin teacher and layman in any canonical Orthodox Church (though I believe he would be best suited for the Byzantine rite). If he hasn't already, I pray he and his followers will stop submit themselves to a canonical Orthodox Church, experience the transfiguring grace of the sacraments, and begin preparing for the evening when the Bridegroom comes, Who puts an end to all vain pursuits (ours, too).

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Blogger SomeGuyMouthingOff said...

While I can hardly be considered a "fan" of Father Aidan, your visious and personal attack says more about you than him. Placing his monastic name in quotations, and judging that he is only worthy to serve as a layman in what you consider a "canonical" jurisdiction is just plain nasty.
No-- it's down right cunty!
Get a grip.
One this you write is true. You are pathetic.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Thank you for your invaluable comments (on Good Friday, no less). Your name and your blog say more about Keller and his followers than I could convey otherwise. You are both beyond parody.

Incidentally, this is the second time one of Keller's followers called me that exact pseudo-biological term. Apparently, this is the Milan Synod's form of ecclesiastical Latin.

God bless,
Ben Johnson

4:35 PM  
Blogger OrthodoxMonk said...

Say what you will about someone you actually know! But say nothing about the Milan Synod until you have met the dedicated and faithful folks under Archbishop John of NY & NJ and elsewhere outside Texas. By the way, NO ONE represents the Milan Synod except the Synod itself!

8:26 PM  
Blogger Joe Oliveri said...

Good God. Whatever you do, folks, do not visit this person's blog.

I just threw up in my mouth a little.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

"OrthodoxMonk," if you read my comment above, I specifically say he represents "Keller and his followers." Unfortunately, I haven't encountered any greater hospitality from anyone in the Milan Synod or the various vagantes who cluster on certain online groups. This guy is their perfect spokesman. (Unfortunately, I understand some are northeastern MS clergy.)

However, I do welcome one opportunity to clarify: I've only heard positive things about Abp. John himself, including from AWRV clergy whose opinion I respect. From what I've heard, he deserves better representation than some of those online. If only he'd join the AWRV....

1:39 PM  
Blogger Father Aristibule Adams said...

You might have a better chance talking St. Clement's, Philly (ECUSA) into AWRV.

Abp. John and his WR people would probably be more comfortable in ROCOR Western Rite - that is, if they have preserved the tradition they claim of being a continuation of Russian Orthodox Western Rite. (I hope most of them aren't so given to saying the nasty things about us that I've seen in past years and recent months - particularly falsehoods about Saint Petroc and Christminster.)

1:58 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

...But as you know (and have told me yourself), the ROCOR bishop in his area is distinctly unfriendly to Christminster and the WR in general. Outside certain areas, the WR is not tolerated, much less encouraged. Abp. John's best hope of being accepted into a larger body at this time would be the AWRV, or secondly...become the first WRITE representation of some other Orthodox church. (THAT would be an interesting development.)

Unfortunately, I think Keller has spread more rumors and falsehoods about ROCOR WRITE clergy by name than about AWRV (but to compensate, he lies about our practices more frequently).

2:06 PM  
Blogger SomeGuyMouthingOff said...

Why Ben, do you not post my reply? Are you afraid to engage me?

Or is it, because I'm a freak, it suits your purpose allowing people to think that I am a member of the so called Milan Synod?

I would rather be a protestant than join the Milan Synod or the AWRV.

The truth is, Abp John of NJ-- is just another Old Catholic "ordained" by the late Willy Brothers, and as nice as he might seem to be, demonstrates behaviors of someone who suffers from mental illness.

His holy name "abbey" is a mountain top ramshackle house filled with dirty cat litter boxes and surrounded by broken down cars and and semi-burried trash.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


mmmmmmm your use of adjectives... and your apparent hostility says alot about you... more about you than even what you were responding too... does your mother / wife / girlfriend kiss that mouth?

I assume you live by a theology that "2 wrongs make a right", assuming that what you replied to was even wrong to begin with.

What a charitble, Christian contribution to the discussion! Sounded more like a frustrated teen.

So.. maybe you would benefit from taking your own advice... and get a grip?

12:42 PM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...


Try this: you defended Keller's nonsense on this blog, and your vicious and foul-mouthed demeanor is typical of his followers. You say you're not; frankly, I don't care.

Why won't I engage you?
1. I don't believe in same-sex engagement; and
2. I think you have absolutely nothing to add to this conversation intellectually. Your seething vulgarity is exactly the kind of silliness I enabled moderation in order to strain out.

So...bye now.

Matt -- interesting blog! Quite a few Lutherans have come to the WRV -- including Fr. Paul Schneirla, the current Vicar-General, and Fr. Edward Hughes, who is on the WRV commission. From reading your blog, I think you'd be right at home.

7:05 PM  
Blogger Eric John said...

"He is lying through his teeth....God help him."

The above link has mysteriously disappeared. No wonder.

3:12 PM  

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