Recalibrating the Conversation

One of the great things about a blog is that it’s a conversation, not a monologue. The Observer is a moderated blog, but we keep it fairly open to encourage this conversation and the learning that goes on here. Those of us associated with AOI are grateful for your readership and the constant feedback.

I have noticed, however, that in recent weeks some of the comments on this blog have veered off course. Nothing disastrous, but it’s time to recalibrate. Now and then, a course correction is in order.

What we set out to do on The Observer is discuss how the social witness of Orthodoxy can be an effective force in transforming the culture. The focus here is decidedly domestic (American) but we also bring in currents from other Orthodox cultures where they may be instructive.

A couple requests, in particular. First, I’d like to avoid further ruminations on the anti-Christ and other apocalyptic figures. Let us, with the Church, leave these theological excursions to others equipped to handle them with the proper caution. The Observer isn’t the place for that. And, no, I don’t think Barack Obama is the anti-Christ.

Secondly, may we please forever cease these punctilious, Old Calendarist controversies about priestly beards, head coverings and such? We take, here, the cue from Metropolitan Philip who, in his podcast, voices frustration with bishops in “Turkish hats” and priests with long beards and ponytails. What, the Metropolitan asks, do these have to do with the evangelization of the culture? From my point of view, I don’t see why our bishops can’t go among their flocks in a suit and collar, and leave the monastic garb to those who actually live as ascetics. But if you’d still like to discuss these things, I recommend that you start a blog for such purposes.

As always, we want The Observer to be a place where Orthodoxy and all of the big social questions facing American culture can be discussed and debated in a spirit of reasonableness and Christian charity. We owe this to each other. Where this is not in evidence, or where the comments again veer off path, they will be deleted in the future. That is the editor’s prerogative as blog despota and will require no justification or explanation in such cases.

The Observer has had a great start. We are grateful for your readership and your comments, which help us all work through these problems together. I’ve learned a lot on this blog in a short time. Please keep it going.


  1. I am glad that you pointed this out:

    What we set out to do on The Observer is discuss how the social witness of Orthodoxy can be an effective force in transforming the culture.

    Looks like I am on the wrong blog. I am looking
    for what the saints have said regarding the state of the Church including what they say about the apocalypse. I am also looking for discussions and interviews where Christ is the central figure.

    I have learned a lot and I’ll keep an eye on
    it for the news. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for participating here, Eliot.

  3. Scott Pennington :

    Ah, well, message received. I figured it would come sooner or later. At least some of us have been able to offer some effective solutions to persistent social problems. Thank you for the opportunity.

  4. Wesley J. Smith :

    I have not engaged those discussions previously, and not to belabor a point you don’t wish to discuss further, but with regard to priestly garb, I think it is relevant to the bigger picture that this site seeks to discuss. If Orthodoxy is going to make a difference, as many wish, it has to be seen. I think it is therefore crucial for priests, nuns, monks, etc. to be identifiable in public, which can be done in a non intrusive way via their attire. There are a lot of people who, upon seeing such a silent witness, will reach out for discussion, help, prayer, etc. I think it is a mistake for people called to the special service of clergy and monasticism, to hide their light under a bushel. And in that engagement, individual life choices can be affected and the culture improved.

  5. I have been reflecting on what The Observer is set to do and what I noticed on this blog:
    I noticed here a lot of criticism toward the Orthodox Church. It seems to me that some people are looking through a magnifying glass to what it is wrong in the Church and blaming it for all that is wrong in the world (abortion, immorality, feminism, addictions etc). It is not the Church’s fault it is the fault of those who promote godlessness through mass media, movies, literature and in schools it is the cultural war indeed.

    Those who are not well grounded in the Orthodox faith can draw wrong conclusions like “what is the point of calling ourself Orthodox” or “we do not have the right to criticize the Catholic doctrine”. Some come forth with suggestions that are not beneficial for the Church (a dress code for lay people). We live in a time when it is a heroic act to raise children, it is a heroic act to be faithful to your spouse and it is remarkable that people are coming to church given all the distractions that are around us.

    The Orthodox Church is the True Church lead by Christ Himself. It has hundreds of millions of martyrs and many of them were martyred in the last century. No institution on Earth would have survived such a demonic attack against it. The latest trials were the Ottoman Empire expansion and the communism. The Orthodox Church has far many more martyrs than the Catholic Church. It is Christ that brings it back to life every time it seemed to be extinguished. Some of His generals (bishops) betrayed Christ. Some of His officers (priests) are not doing their best. They will give account for their service directly to Christ.

    The Orthodox Church is the one Church fighting in the first line the forces of darkness and it is the Church that Christ promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  6. Michael Bauman :

    Eliot, AMEN. Thank you.

  7. Michael Bauman:

    Out there are blind people who are not impressed by the astonishing number of martyrs, not impressed by the lives and the teaching of the Holy Father and Saints nor are they impressed by the Holy Light, the great miracle of Orthodoxy, the Miracle of Holy Fire that happens every year in Jerusalem.
    This Great Miracle is what keeps Orthodoxy alive. It is a gift given by God to the Orthodox Church (not to Catholics nor to Armenians)

    We see that people are trying to “improve” the Church according to human reason. All the denominations that are out there did that before and of such Apostle Paul says,

    “Such apostles, workers of craftiness, assume the appearance of Apostles of Christ, and this is not astonishing since Satan himself assumes the appearance of an angel of light, so it is no great deed that his servants also assume the appearance of the servants of truth, but their end will be according to their deeds” (2 Cor. 11: 13-14).

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