Saint Mary of Egypt and my withdrawal from "content" culture.
Focusing on “the jurisdiction problem” is a distraction that is above my pay grade. Let’s focus on old fashioned discipleship, becoming true followers of Jesus Christ. I like this direction very much Steve.
An important message. Thank you for saying it.
Christ is Risen! Thank you so much for writing this. I discovered Orthodoxy through "Internet Orthodoxy" a few years ago but after walking into my home Parish, building a relationship with my parish Priest/Spiritual Father and getting Chrismated I found the internet to be nothing like what I found in the Church and a terrible place to remain in. Forgive everyone of everything!
Thanks for writing this. I too was around during those earliest years of AFR, and listening to talks during long commutes between Kansas City and Lawrence to get to the university was really formative for me and helpful during my catechumenate. Hopko's musings, Kevin Allen, the first version of Fr. Andrew's Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy lectures (which while flawed were way more lively than the replacement series); all of the content was illuminating and helpful, and rarely put me in an agitated or inflamed spiritual state.
I think the whole technocratic pressure of the COVID era and they hyper-wired state of the world just kind of broke me regarding a lot of digital content, especially the sensationalistic and panic-driven stuff. I got off social media (Facebook), replaced my smartphone with a basic cell phone, and bought an iPod classic off eBay to hang on to my last digital refuge: religious/misc. podcasts. But even now I feel like I've soured on most of that as well.
Silent commutes and headphone-free walks outside are becoming more and more of a reality simply by virtue of overstimulation and media fatigue.
Well said. This past week I was discussing some of these same issues with some folks. The trajectory of American culture based on humanism has plunged into not just self-determinism and "rugged individualism" but virtually solipsism that results in and is pushed forward by a feedback loop of outrage, polarization and self-defined "reality". The "Ortho-net" is merely a reflection of how the "counter-culture" is actually our culture in gold robes and black cassocks. Same "phronema", just different words to argue and use to lead us away from Christ. Thank you.
I think canonical boundaries are so important and we don't think about them anymore. As you note they simply don't exist online. This has lead to many, in my limited experience, enquirers and catechumens who experience Orthodoxy solely through these online cults of personalities. Or if they go to a local parish they simply go there for the clout of attending service and receive all of their spiritual education online.
I would suggest we limit clergy actions online but so much of online Orthodoxy is by lay people claiming expertise but it would still be help to put restrictions on what can be done online.
Another nail right on the head. I think about this problem very frequently, and your essay is a perfect summation of the issues at play. Thank you for addressing this in a straightforward way! It’s going to be a big stumbling block for parishes for quite a few years, I think. And thanks be to God that the bishops have started to meet this trend head-on so there is clear guidance.
So... I guess it's too late for me to suggest that you and Christian get back together for a YouTube/podcast discussing the chosen episode by episode from an Orthodox perspective specifically outside the bubble of AFR or jurisdictions with the intention of exposing the unchurched to the Orthodox faith? Well it was a dream... It would a still be fun to come up with names for the show
Appreciate the article, but is your title missing a word?
I agree with you and disagree at the same time, which is... weird.
I came to Orthodoxy in 2001, very much aided by resources on the internet. Of course back then, it was a few parish websites and Fredericka Mathewes-Green's "10 Things I Wish I Knew about the Orthodox Church before first attending".
I ended up moving to Europe, and the parish I attended - and was baptized in - was an hour away, and, in four years, I ended up making a few friends, but it wasn't like I felt like I was tightly in a parish community. I was eternally grateful for LiveJournal's Orthodoxy group, because even though I knew that for the most part, these were just people who weren't speaking for the Church, it was really my only access to an English-language Orthodox community.
What you say about keeping things offline is great - until you get to the reality of a lot of this country, where Orthodox parishes are few and far between. There are priests who are good at keeping in touch, and those who are not. People are spiritually hungry, and there is a lot to be said for there being some sort of *good* resources online.
As for me, I don't try to be any Orthodox preacher or teacher. But I've been Orthodox now for twenty years, it is precious to me, and so I write, I blog, I talk, and I talk about Orthodoxy. For many, in real life and online, I'm probably the only Orthodox person they are acquainted with. I do feel some responsibility in that. But, more than anything, I think that we have to stress that the Orthodox "experience" is not an online thing; it's between each individual and God, and the Church, not the internet, is the institution that God gave us to facilitate that.
I really appreciate all your thoughts here and am finding them very helpful as I try to figure out how to articulate my own misgivings about the internet and Orthodoxy.
A few months ago I read this article about the Fr. Peter Heers situation:
Based on the statements in the linked article it seems that the supposed "scandal" of Fr. Peter's status doesn't necessarily have to be a scandal unless people want it to be one - from what I can tell the situation is pretty much out of his control. Do you have any further thoughts about that?
Nice article, Steve. I just wish you would get to the conclusion that in the current US, Orthodoxy cannot successfully function outside its ethnic ghettos. Any other nation with a successful Orthodox presence includes the Church as the partner of the State. And those nations are NATIONS. Georgians, Greeks, Russians, Romanians, Bulgarians. Canada, the US, Australia, new Zealand---None of these are welcoming to Orthodox and never will be. Yes we have that fuzzy stories of oh look we have 3 inquirer families. Meantime, the Orthodox population declines more quickly. Both of my kids have zero interest in the church. Yes it's on me, but the Church provided them with nothing pertinent. The only chance of survival is to unify. But permit me to say the chances of this becoming a reality are 1%>