Lessons from Silence: Culture-Wars Orthodoxy

I announced last month that I would be taking a short hiatus from the blog because I learned that some of the heat I occasionally get has been singeing other people. (You can read the full post here.) I was planning on a much shorter break, but I got bogged down with an essay I was submitting for an academic journal. Over the course of what turned into a month, I did learn some lessons. Continue reading “Lessons from Silence: Culture-Wars Orthodoxy”

Breathing Deep

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dear Reader,

I have a few guiding principles when I do “public theology” (i.e. when I write for non-academics). The two most relevant for this post are:

  1. I will avoid controversy for its own sake; I will not make my career by being mean to people.
  2. I will not avoid controversy out of fear or personal inconvenience; after listening to others, my church, and my conscience, I will (respectfully) speak my mind.

I am willing to take grief from others for what I say. I am less willing for others to take grief because of me. It recently came to my attention that that has happened. Continue reading “Breathing Deep”

Review: “Ritual Impurity and the Churching of Women”


Kathryn Wehr, “Understanding Ritual Purity and Sin in the Church of Women: From Ontological to Pedagogical to Eschatological,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 55.1 (2011): 85-105.


An Orthodox woman traditionally avoids church for 40 days after giving birth. She and her child are welcomed into the parish with a rite called “churching.” The priest thanks God for the safe delivery of the child, and he prays for the mother, asking God to, “Purify her…from all sin and from every uncleanness.” Then he takes the new babe into his arms and walks to the front of the church. If the babe is a girl, he stops at the iconostasis (the icon screen). If the child is a boy, he passes through the royal doors and processes the child around the altar. Continue reading “Review: “Ritual Impurity and the Churching of Women””

Ancient Faith Continued: When “Orthodoxy” Gets it Wrong

Update: Comments here and on Facebook have made me aware that some people think this post is about gay marriage. It is not.

Ancient Faith Continued is a blog series following my recent appearance on Ancient Faith Today, in which I answer some questions I wish I had been asked about being Orthodox in a modern world.

St. Athanasius
(via Wikimedia Commons)

I support gay civil marriage. This puts me at odds with the official views of my bishops. If I had been asked about that on air, I would have said something about how I am personally uncomfortable disagreeing with my hierarchs, but I would also have said that in the Orthodox Church, just because a synod or council meets and says something does not mean it is right. Let me give you a few examples…

Continue reading “Ancient Faith Continued: When “Orthodoxy” Gets it Wrong”

Ancient Faith Continued: Theology and Symphony



Today I begin a series I call Ancient Faith Continued. I chose that title with a purpose.

Gregory of Nyssa (Wikimedia Commons)
  • At the most basic level, “Ancient Faith” refers to a radio program I recently appeared on to discuss how the church responds to gay marriage and the culture wars. I wanted to “continue” what I said there by addressing some questions I was told to prepare for but did not have time to discuss.
  • At a deeper level, “Ancient Faith” invokes the modern nickname for the Orthodox Church, and “Continued” points to the way I think about its relationship to culture. This raises questions of about the way I think about the Tradition (i.e. the scriptures and traditions of the Orthodox Church). Continue reading “Ancient Faith Continued: Theology and Symphony”

Goodbye Fr. Jacobse



I have stirred a hornets nest. It was one thing to publish articles in that “liberal rag,” the Huffington Post, about gay marriage. It was another thing to respond to some comments made by Fr. Jacobse and his readers about what I had written. Fr. Jacobse seems to believe I have attacked him. I have not. Nor do I intend to.

Continue reading “Goodbye Fr. Jacobse”

My Year as a Pro-Gay “Orthodox” Heretic



By Bilerico Project (California Marriage Equality – San Francisco)

When people call you a blasphemer, Christ-denier, a defender of tyranny, and an apologist for Babel, who cares more about impressing liberal academics than listening to the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, the best response is almost always silence. My general practice is to avoid confrontations with anyone who believes him/herself capable of knowing me in 1500 words or less. But, for Fr. Johannes Jacobse and some of his readers, I am going to make an exception. Fr. Jacobse is involved with a call-in radio show I will appear on this Sunday (June 17). Even though his article did not speak for the show or its station, I thought it might be wise to offer potential listeners/callers a short “intellectual memoir” of my involvement in the gay marriage debate over the past year. I do not intend to change anyone’s mind. I only hope that offering a little insight into my intentions and motives might help us have a more substantive conversation – one focused more on the issues than speculations about my character. Continue reading “My Year as a Pro-Gay “Orthodox” Heretic”