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.

Because I was about to go on Ancient Faith Radio to speak about gay marriage, it seemed like a good idea to recount the past year, specifically how I became involved in the gay marriage debate. My only intent was to clarify my point of view against the backdrop of some rather harsh criticism about me.

Fr. Jacobse commented on that piece, saying, “Hang on here David. You are ascribing comments to me I never made.” I asked for clarification, twice, but never received it. The truth is, I never want to misrepresent my critics. I have been on the receiving end of that (still am), and it is not fun. Nor is it intellectually or personally honest.

A few years ago I made two promises to myself, both around the same time.

1. I will never misrepresent my opponents to avoid dealing with arguments that might require me to change my mind. I will strive to be honest to myself and others.

2. I will not make my career by being mean to people.

That is why I am going to say my “goodbye” to any further discussion with Fr. Jacobse for the foreseeable future. I have a better sense of what comments he thinks I ascribed to him. In the title of my post I called myself (tongue in cheek) a heretic. Fr. Jacobse never did call me that, but one of his readers did (i.e. he/she said I denied the full humanity/divinity of Christ). I never referred to Fr. Jacobse singly, only some comments of his and his readers, collectively.

I will go ahead and say that his summary of my position is simplistic to the point of laughable. He is not critiquing me but my straw effigy. So be it.

By “VitVit” via Wikimedia Commons

I need to exit this discussion because, when I am confronted with such behavior, I am tempted to respond in kind. That is, I am being tempted into a fight. I take it Father feels I started this fight by interspersing my last blog post with screenshots of some of his and his readers’ comments, or by suggesting he called me a heretic. I am not a rigid grammarian (I often leave a sentence fragment in each paper just to “stick it to the man”), but I do know that the number of the subject matters, and I never once singled out Fr. Jacobse from his readers.

Okay, that might have been a bit snarky. I apologize. But I will not edit that out because it illustrates why I need to walk away from this conversation.

For now.


6 thoughts on “Goodbye Fr. Jacobse”

  1. Once I stopped laughing – not at you, Dr. Dunn! – I thought, “Who’s hornet’s nest was stirred?” and as by training I am “psychodynamic” in approach, I likewise thought, “could this just be about Fr. Jacobse?”

    My first post on AOI was to take great exception to the promotion of a psychiatrist’s opinion of homosexuality relying solely on the authority of her occupation. As always, I proffered a careful, reasoned, and “evidenced-based” comment. First feedback: “Your attempt to discredit Dr. So-and-so fails.” WHAT? I don’t even know the woman! “She’s an Orthodox Christian, and by saying she lied..” Wait, I didn’t say she lied! “We know where this is leading, the normalization of homosexuality in the Church.” But I’m talking about the integrity of science! Sound familiar? Suddenly, every reply I’m reading assumes the droning voice of Arlen Specter “examining” Anita Hill, or any prosecutor, exculpatory DNA evidence in hand, who continues to insist, “This was a good case and I am not convinced of their innocence.”

    I’ll put coin – that would be real money – that you have misinterpreted what went on here. My interpretation of the key elements:

    Orthodox Christian: This can only be called as it comes over the plate because it is potentially “championable.” In your case, however, lacks “conservative” creds and uses the word “gay” in non-derogatory context. Strike one.

    Antiochian Archdiocese: Touchy. Supporters note, “He’s in ‘good standing’ with his parish priest.” Cops don’t criticize cops… Ball one.

    Vanderbilt University: “That’s where those liberal, lawless punks took over the facilities rather than support our president.” No, that was Columbia University., 1968. “Whatever.” Strike two.

    Huffington Post: “Liberal rag” for sure (but I’d vote for Obama if get my own blog there). Ball two.

    Homosexuality: Another “at the plate call.” “Rail to gratify their spleens” and you’re in. Otherwise ambiguous, “we know know where this is leading…” St-i-i-r-i-i-ke! “But ump, it was outside!” Dude, you were out before you were in.

    You weren’t perceived as attacking, you were seen as defenseless.

    I don’t have to tell you, Dr. Dunn, that some people have the uncanny ability to sense our vulnerability a mile away, frequently in 1,500 words or less. I have resigned more arguments on AOI than Boris Spassky to Bobby Fisher. Nevertheless, by the “eternity” of the internet, anyone who passes by will have my reasoning as “counter-point” and they decide as they will. Somehow I fantasize that AOI is a better place because of this. And so it goes…

    1. I don’t follow the metaphor. Like I said, my point was not to analyze the arguments. I did not pay much attention to it. I only noted and selected comments that seemed harsh or polemical. I suppose whether or how provocative it was is a matter of opinion.

  2. For some reason your post seems to end prematurely, unless it’s just my computer…

    I try not to click on links to the AOI blog (although I admit that I sometimes do so unwisely) and have so far managed to restrain myself from commenting there because what I see just arouses my own passions. I tend to just hope that people like this do not have a significant following because if they do it is really a nightmare situation. And given that people like Fr Jacobse are featured on things like Ancient Faith Radio perhaps they are seen as having credibility … in which case I am just grateful that I am very far away. Or maybe it’s just that I’ll never understand Americans.

    I say this not because I necessarily oppose everything they say (although the Tea Party at prayer stuff I find pretty sickening) but because of the vitriol with which they say it. And, like you, I don’t want to become caught up into a spiral of negativity and hatred which seems to be the antithesis to Orthodoxy.

    On the gay marriage issue (by which I mean the legalising of civil marriage rather than an ecclesial acceptance – lest anyone quote me saying things I’m not!) I’m somewhat ambivalent. Do you know John Milbank’s article on the subject? I think that he makes important points on the distinction between marriage and civil partnerships.

  3. “I realized I sometimes avoided dealing with a challenge to my thinking by willfully misunderstanding another person’s argument.”
    Ah! How many of us (myself included) would benefit from this realization.

    For what its worth, your views did not come across that way to the average listener. I’m still listening.


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