Fr Michael Plekon’s tenth chapter is devoted to Fr John Meyendorff, “Defender of Living Tradition.” What is perhaps most curious about the chapter is that it is given over almost inits entirety to Fr Meyendorff’s ecumenical work, with only passing reference to his theological and academic labors. His pioneering work on St Gregory Palamas is mentioned, but otherwise such works as Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, Byzantine Theology, Byzantine Hesychasm, Byzanium and the Rise of Russia, among others, are mentioned only in a single footnote.
There is certainly much that is attractive in Fr John Meyendorff’s personality – one only wishes one saw more of it in this essay and fewer attacks on his perceived opponents: ROCOR is singled out three times for criticism:
He was especially critical of the divisive and destructive activities of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, the synodal church descended from the Karlovtsy synod of bishops who held themselves to be the true Russian church, over against the allegedly Bolshevik-compromised Moscow patriarchate. He also took on the Mount Athos monastics and various adherents to the old calendar for their theological definitions of ecumenical work as “heresy.”
We are also told that “he did not employ much diplomacy in his critique of the attitudes and tactics of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, perhaps historically one of the most consistent proponents of the “traditionalist” stance described here.
I may be mistaken, but it seems to me that OCA/ROCOR dynamics have changed a great deal since the time of Frs Schmemann and Meyendorff. The OCA has grown more “traditionalist” (its current Primate was the abbot of a monastery dedicated to St John of San Francisco and Shanghai!), while ROCOR has made amends with the Church in Russia. While eucharistic concelebration between ROCOR and the OCA remains limited, it will likely soon be fully resolved. One wonder what Frs Schmeman and Meyendorff would have made of this dynamic.