While I said I wouldn’t answer things that have been answered already, it appears that Minas Christie is now falsely accusing me of “cyber-stalking” and using my family name to perpetuate a fraud. There are so many lies at this point that this is now becoming near-impossible to debunk without gigantic responses.
And I’m pretty busy, so. On my schedule, here you go, including Minas’ texts– in proper context. I am collecting this info, as I’m pretty sure at this point only a lawsuit will get the lies to stop. Keep reading to find out why!
In 1999 Joseph Suaiden had joined the vagante Orthodox Catholic Church in North America, just another one of many in his jurisdictional travels. http://www.angelfire.com/journal/occna/
It seems Joe was excommunicated from this group after he went along with another vagante breakaway group, the “Roman Orthodox Church” led by a excommunicated priest turned bishop, Denis Garrison. If your interested, more info on all this can be found here : http://orthodox-catholic.tripod.com/rococab.html
In the first place, my “joining” this group, which no longer exists, and hasn’t since Victor Prentice threatened them with a lawsuit (oh, we’ll have to get to that I guess) consisted of speaking to them, writing an essay about them based on incredibly limited information, and taking online courses in a free seminary (something that, while nearly impossible to envision in 1998 and 1999, is commonplace today). In actual fact, I was a catechumen in St Vladimir’s Miami ROCOR parish, who showed up infrequently, but at least somewhat regularly, and had never been anything but (yes, you are reading correctly. I was a catechumen in 1998, 1999, and was baptized a few months after joining HOCNA in the summer of 2000).
In any case, Minas produces a list of emails which of course have their “to” and “from” deleted, because they came from the websites of a certain soi-disant Archbishop Victor Prentice, who was busily suing, threatening and harrassing the now long-dissolved “OCCNA (Orthodox Catholic Church in North America”), a small independent group who used the then-fairly-new internet to create something pretty unprecedented at the time: an online seminary.
To understand this mess (as I got to experience first-hand, and was part of a miserable memory long-forgotten until Minas managed to mangle history– perhaps intentionally– to make me out to be a cyber stalker) one needs to understand a bit of history. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy.
In 1927, then-Abp Aftimios Ofiesh (he later married, and whether he was treated as deposed or retired will remain in question forever– he was certainly outside the Church, and at least one ROCOR history claims they deposed him) formed a group called the “THEOCACNA” and incorporated in Boston with the apparent approval (quickly rescinded) of Metropolitan Platon to form an American Orthodox Church. He took in an Anglican Bishop, Ignatius Nichols, as a Western Rite Bishop, as well as a Bishop Sophronius Bishara and Joseph Zuk. After Aftimios became inactive, Nichols, Bishara and Zuk continued consecrating Bishops, some of whom were of questionable character.
Some, ironically, gained quite a bit of interest among those in “regular Orthodoxy”, such as James (Toombs), who was ordained by a semi-occult sect under a George Winslow Plummer, who had been ordained by Nichols above– and then joined ROCOR for a few years as a Bishop for American Mission Parishes. Indeed, not a few priests had joined canonical churches from these groups– including Fr Gregory Williams. Some rather famous figures were also initially involved in this mess, such as Bishop Theofan (Noli) of the Albanian Orthodox, but I’m digressing.
The point is that Nichols, Bishara and Zuk ordained a bunch of people, who ordained a far bigger bunch of people. The latter two Bishops went to other churches after Aftimios’ marriage, and eventually what was left was a big ol’ crowd of folks claming historical lineage to the 1927 THEOCACNA.
One of these groups was the OCCNA, who stressed that they considered themselves a spiritual successor to the THEOCACNA (married Bishops and all). They were in communion a Canadian monastic bishop, an Archbishop Andrei (Brennan),– who had a church called the Orthodox Church of Canada and a few parishes. Compared to what was being done with the Americans (modified Novus Ordo masses as “Western Rite”), they appeared just typical, so I occasionally offered to help them with stuff, like build a website for them, et cetera.
Enter Victor Prentice, an indie bishop who lived in a trailer park, who took the lovely step of re-registering the THEOCACNA trademark, and then proceeded to drop lawsuits on everyone on the Internet who used the THEOCACNA name. Including…. (wait for it)– the OCCNA who started that online seminary! With the help of Colin James III, a famed internet troll, who also became Prentice’s assistant in his “synod”, a series of online threats began to issue out against everyone named on the website.
At this time, I was a catechumen in ROCOR (this did not change until I joined HOCNA in January of 1999). However, as these folks seemed genuinely nice and knowledgeable about Orthodoxy, I decided, to see, in the name of education and free stuff, to take a few online classes (as I mentioned they were free) at this OCCNA seminary. I told Fr Daniel about it; since most were basically public domain and Orthodox books like Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, he didn’t see the harm, though he warned me to watch out for independent groups.
Since the fellow running it, an Abp Denis Garrison, asked if I could be listed as a student (I figured they just wanted to list students) I said sure. What I wasn’t expecting was that I would be listed as “Brother” and therefore was part of “the hit list” of this pair of cranks. When I found out, I was livid: I immediately called up and asked that “brother” be taken off, as it implied I was not only a seminarian, but under some sort of tonsure. See, what Minas has left out of his collection of emails (intentionally?) is that it was an online school, something that — at the time, was considered an idea, largely not feasible and impossible to implement. So they didn’t charge tuition, fees, have membership requirements. ANYONE could access their texts– because the texts were free.
Meanwhile, I helped make a website for the Canadian people, which then led to some of the emails Minas is quoting. By then, Brennan had become rather wary of the OCCNA, between its ritual and other strange features. He stayed friends with Father Kristopher Dowling (who did have a decent Orthodox western rite, and who he ended up making a Bishop), and so things were odd in that Synod. I became a little bit happy that I had not joined with the OCCNA at all (I admit I was considering it, as some things were happening in the ROCOR parish which frustrated me) which was now, in response to the lawsuit threats, “rebranding itself” as the “Roman Orthodox Church”.
With that in mind, we continue with Minas’ lies– which I will need to separate between Minas’ lies, Prentice’s lies, and my actual words.
Minas: A list of name follows, Suaiden’s included
This is what Joe writes about the above [14 April 1999]:
1999 Me: “My “silly puff piece” was the result of eight months of investigation, including joining their seminary (NOT their jurisdiction.) That was quite clear from the start.”
Minas: Their response to this statement:
Prentice: [Editor notes: How does one join an allegedly orthodox seminary without joining the jurisdiction — unless either or both are bogus.]
Minas: But then Swaydyn contradicts himself with:
1999 Me: “I had mentioned that I would join less than a day or two ago [ie 12 or 13 April 1999]. I hadn’t taken vows. ‘and” I think I was just listed as a brother there honorifically.”
Minas: i.e…”vows” And, “I think”… Honorifically! Is that something like being awarded the key to the city ?
( From http://www.occna.com/md/history/swaydyn.html= this is no longer a valid link)
What follows is a long article by JMS , and to give the devil his due, largely accurate.
Of course, Minas has to split up my sentences to make his point. I was joining the SEMINARY, as a STUDENT. This was largely due to the fact that I had dropped out of college just months before, and wanted to continue actually learning. And yes, I made an excuse for the OCCNA people. I was horrified. But I was also defensive. I considered these people friendly acquaintances being treated badly, by bad people.
Minas: However, it seems the malcontent Joe wasn’t satisfied yet and felt the need to harass these people via emails and phone calls using false identities until such time as they had had enough of these shenanigans, getting the Canadian Police involved.
Now… let’s talk about that. See, as I mentioned above, I helped Andrei Brennan make a website. At the time, I was quite good at it. So I did.
It was then I received an email from what I thought was the people in Canada, saying that Andrei had died of a heart attack because of stress caused by fighting on the internet.
I proceeded to put up a death notice, to which I received a call two hours later from Andrei saying he was not dead and to take that down. We spoke on the phone.
I then decided to try to “catch” the perpetrator by writing the following email, which Minas quoted:
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 17:59:48 -0700
Subject: I hope you are happy you slime
Dear [name of innocent party elided]:
I hope you realize just how much you will have to answer for.
Look at what you’ve done. Vladika did nothing to you…. Poor Father…. he would simply talk about all the stress, and how people could be so filled with hate. Well, read it your damn self, you scum. You make me sick.
I hope I don’t ever catch the disease that created you, you monster– I am angry enough as it is….
I pitied you. But not today.
I’ll find a way to stop you… somehow. I’ll put that page back up– I will end this nightmare– before you kill anymore innocent people. You claim to be a Christian….You bastard
That was totally me. I was aiming for a response that would admit guilt.
Meanwhile, as I planned to write a response on my apologetics website clarifying that I was not part of the OCCNA, I discovered it had been shut down. Apparently there was a claim of “trademark fraud” because I “claimed the OCCNA was THEOCACNA”! Despite attempts to contact Angelfire directly, my site remained closed, regardless of the fact that it was primarily an Orthodox apologetics website, and I had written a single essay on the group. Back then ISP’s were much more scared of stuff like that.
Then, perhaps out of the stupidity of someone who thinks he knows better, I created a small prank website called “Campus Crusade for Colin” to get back at Colin James for slandering me. Perhaps mocking someone who was actually famous for attacking people on the Internet was dumb, in retrospect.
The next day my job (I worked for an internet software provider) received threatening faxes that their ISP would be contacted for legal action due to fraud. Realizing I could lose my job if I didn’t address people directly at this point, I looked up Victor Prentice’s phone number and called.
After directly explaining that I was not a member of this group, was not a brother or anything else, Victor Prentice removed me from the list. Though it took him a couple of months and formally (which basically meant announcing on the Internet) cutting off ties with the OCCNA, Andrei Brennan did this same.
>-From: “Orthodox Church of Canada”
>-To: [name elided]
>-Subject: You win
>-Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 21:02:37 EDT
>-Alright, I capitulate. You win.
>-What can I do to end this harassment?
Meanwhile, however, they were still looking for stuff to get these people on the hook for:
From: “Orthodox Church of Canada”
Subject: Re: You win
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 1999 20:41:16 EDT
Very cute, [name elided].
So you were “Igor” the fake Russian who called the other night. You should have called me back, and we could have played some more games together!
So obvious, when you promptly updated your webpage to list my one-time surname (it is properly Niebler, not Arenburg) and my son’s civil name of Stephen (you spelled it wrong!)
Vladika ANDREI created this account and had only used it to e-mail once before today, and that was the message that follows. You stupidly have given us all the evidence we need by replying to this box from your “Aberrant” account. We have confirmed your identity. Better hire a good criminal lawyer fast! One who specializes in international law! Tee hee!
Soon you will be in prison, much to our blessed relief! We shall pray that God heals you of your mental illness soon.
Of course, Minas, in trying to pretend that Victor Prentice and I were one in the same, claims this letter was TO ME.
He then quotes another letter to me– and at this point, I was willing to do anything to resolve my issues with these trolls and get them off my back.
>To: firstname.lastname@example.org (aka Joe Mahomond Swaydyn)
>CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
>Subject: Timely clarification
>Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 20:38:38 -0700 (PDT)
>In response to your specious and unoriginal objections regarding the
>unfortunate excommunication of Denis Garrison et al (see
>”[The Editor further notes that there were _more_ than three _valid_
>Orthodox bishops on the THEOCACNA synod which excommunicated Garrison
>et al and that the constitution of THEOCACNA, Inc. requires only one
>signature of the Archbishop-President or acting locum tenens of the
>Presidency of the Holy Synod to sign such a document.]”
>Do not respond to this email or initiate any further email in the
>future to this account.
And I didn’t. Of course, the next email included by Minas was ALSO not addressed to me, but Prentice.
“Upon the advice of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Hate Crimes Unit, I am giving you precisely one warning:
You will not under any circumstances send e-mail to this or any other account in use by our Church, or by any clergyman or member of our church. Failure to abide by this requirement will result in charges of criminal harassment being filed via the F.B.I. If charged, you will be subject to extradition and criminal trial in Canada, where a conviction will lead to a sentence of two-years-less-one-day in a Provincial prison.
All web pages under your control containing the names of hierarchs, clergy, or faithful members of our Church are to be immediately shut down. Do not imagine that you are safe from being tracked, as court orders from either Canada or the U.S. can make it possible to get ISP records from even the freenet webpage providers. Under Canadian law, you are in violation of hate crime statutes, an offence subject to extradition from the U.S. to stand trial in Canada, and the potential sentence of 10 years in a Canadian penitentiary. You are also subject to civil liability for libel, defamation of character, and any personal or corporate damages attained therefrom.
This is your only warning. Failure to comply will result in criminal investigation. We are hardly worth that much trouble to you.
Rev. Mother Anastasia
Orthodox Church of Canada”
I had nothing to do with the above email, and further, everyone was just trying to extricate themselves from Victor Prentice’s online list, which was basically “people I’m going to keep threatening with lawsuits”. In the end, I learned my lesson about independent groups, internet trolls, and crazy people.
But eventually, every dog has his due. In 2002, an independent priest with little patience for trolls named Tony Begonja (who I and dozens of others offered to issue statements to) spent hard earned time and money, and answered Victor Prentice and Colin James III with a counter lawsuit, took them to the cleaners, and which finally smashed their forced “online credibility” to pieces.
Now I can have some fun with Minas’ final paragraph, having taken it apart with the above facts.
Minas: I believe it was shortly after this time that Joe, frightened by the possibility of being held accountable and facing jail time for his actions….
Not only was I not frightened of these people, nor ever under threat of jail time, I had not only been living in Florida, but had been writing on the internet on the Paradosis list and countless other lists for the entire time all the way up until I went to Russia– TWO YEARS after Tony Begonja’s lawsuit, which was THREE YEARS after all the above events. Of course, Minas knows this. So he’s just lying.
Minas: …decided to drop the Mahomond name, change the spelling of Swaydyn to Suaiden and hightail it to Russia for a couple of years (he claims he was invited) supposedly making his living there teaching English.
In the first place, I can’t just “drop the Mahomond name”. That would require a legal process I cannot afford. As an American, I can use whatever name I wish for legal reasons. That said, “Suaiden” is in fact my family name. I have documented proof of my father’s real name, which he managed to change before his death. (“Mahomond” is a French spelling of a patronymic, which I’ve said a million times now.) I went to Russia in 2004, after I separated from my ex. But Minas knows this, because he’s quoted from my ex’s website at the time, as well as other stuff. He’s lying. Lying is what he does.
As for the spelling of the name? Simple. There are a lot of Suaidens who emigrated to the country. There is one spelling in Arabic, which I unfortunately can’t reproduce because I’ve seen it like once and can’t write in Arabic. When I was about 19, my dad showed me, in his various travels, cousins’ business cards. I saw it spelled “Suaiden”, “Suaidan”, “Suidan”, “Swayden”, “Swuaiden”… you get my drift. Since I was new to the Internet then, I chose a stylish double-y “Swaydyn”. As a couple of years passed I realized nobody could pronounce it. I switched to a more pedantic “Suaiden” to eventually change my name legally with something that sounded professional, as opposed to a kooky spelling which looked really cool to a 19-year old new to a nascent Internet. So the simple answer to why I changed the spelling is “I grew up”.
Minas: Just another questionable chapter in his history that requires further investigation. By his own account he was a member of ROAC before being booted out for undisclosed reasons.
I’m not sure why Minas is pretending my life is some sort of secret. In fact, I was creating websites, writing on the Internet, and interacting with people all these years. So it’s kind of stupid. Even the website he pulled up from my ex-wife is during this period– so how can he even say that there’s some sort of secret involved here?
Minas: His so called present “leave of absence” from his NFTU to “pursue other projects” is to create more slander blogs against us “mousemole’s” as he also calls us. I personally believe he may be some sort of a paid mole working to dissimulate the Orthodox Church
No, he doesn’t really believe this at all. He hopes his readers do. The truth is he believes I’m someone who called him out as a liar, a criminal, a stalker, and an unrepentant pothead. And so for this, I must be punished.
If you really remember me, Minas, you’d remember I’m big enough not to be scared of a thuggish loser who’s got nothing left to do in life but harass others. Get a life. As the above response should tell you– I’ve dealt with bigger trolls. In a sea of online sharks, you’re just chum.