ON JOSIAH TRENHAM: WHY THE DEAFENING SILENCE FROM METROPOLITAN JOSEPH?

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Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) and Archpriest Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s publication earlier this week of An Open Letter to Metropolitan Joseph: Stop. Trenham. Now. by a clergyman of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese (AOCA) represents the culmination of several articles in which we have voiced our opposition to Father Josiah Trenham’s alarmingly harmful, misogynistic, homophobic, inhumane, anti-Orthodox, and sacrilegious “teaching,” “preaching,” “pastoring,” and even “liturgical practices.”

Our earlier articles, in chronological order, are as follows:

After Sexuality and Gender and Ukraine, our articles on Father Trenham’s pastoral malfeasance comprise our most popular topic: cumulatively—together with Sunday’s Open Letter—they have been read 20,000 times around the world. 

Following the advice of the clergy author of Sunday’s Open Letter that everyone should contact the Metropolitan, we sent the following letter to His Eminence this past Monday, January 13, with a cc to hierarchical assistant Father Nicholas Belcher, Father Josiah Trenham, and John Maddex and Bobby Maddex of Ancient Faith Ministries: Read More


AN OPEN LETTER TO METROPOLITAN JOSEPH: STOP. TRENHAM. NOW. by a Clergyman of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese

While Orthodoxy in Dialogue encourages priests to write for us on sexuality and gender using their full name in the byline, the author of this open letter presented a sufficiently compelling reason to remain anonymous. We can vouch for his identity and have confirmed his good standing in the AOCA.
Addendum 1/17/20: See also On Josiah Trenham: Why the Deafening Silence from Metropolitan Joseph? after reading this Open Letter.

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Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) and Archpriest Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

I’ll get straight to the point of this article—on issues related to homosexuality,  politics, and the Church, Father Josiah Trenham of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese (AOCA) has done incalculable damage. As I will highlight in this article, not only has this damage led to numerous people leaving the Orthodox Church, but it also seems to have spurred a discussion going in the opposite direction of his approach, with arguments being made to accept same-sex marriage as a norm. Most importantly, this uncharitable approach has deeply wounded many of our faithful who struggle against same-sex attraction and try to lead a godly life. If we Orthodox are to care for all people who come to us in a way that allows us to stay true to our Holy Tradition, our hierarchy must ensure that priests like Father Josiah are tempered in the same manner as others who have spoken out on opposite sides of the spectrum. Read More


EDITORIAL: THE “MORALITY” OF THE ANTIOCHIAN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN ARCHDIOCESE?

Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui)

When Father Aaron Warwick wrote to Orthodoxy in Dialogue on January 2 to request that we remove his Pastoring LGBTQ Individuals in the Orthodox Church of December 21 and to publish his Public Statement in its place, I complied to the extent that I was able. I suspected that he must have come under extreme pressure from Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese (AOCA) to do so. 

Father Warwick’s statement has now appeared on the website of the AOCA—but only barely.  As of this writing, when you scroll down to Church News on the homepage, the most recent entry is dated January 1, “January 2020 Edition of The Word Now Available.” But if you click on the words Church News themselves, you are taken to a page showing the most recent entry as dated January 3, “Public Statement of Fr. Aaron Warwick: A public statement from Fr. Aaron Warwick retracting an article published on the blog ‘Orthodoxy in Dialogue.'” This is the same statement which we published on January 2 at Father Warwick’s request.

The publication of his statement on the AOCA website, but in an almost completely concealed manner, suggests two things: a). the statement was indeed ordered by Metropolitan Joseph, as I suspected, but b). posted to the archdiocesan website as a mere formality, intended to be seen by virtually no one. (As of this writing, the statement has been read almost 2,500 times in under 48 hours at Orthodoxy in Dialogue—rallying even more support for Father Warwick’s original article. (See, for instance, the letter to the editors of January 4, 2020. [Addendum 1/7/20: See also an archbishop’s I Support Father Aaron Warwick and a deacon’s In Support of Father Aaron Warwick: Open Letter to Metropolitan Joseph.]) Read More


FATHER PAVEL FLORENSKY: READINGS ON HIS BIRTHDAY by Giacomo Sanfilippo

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Pavel Florensky (L) and Sergei Troitsky (R), 1906, age 24 and 25
Troitsky was Florensky’s roommate at the Moscow Theological Academy and intended life-companion, and the unnamed dedicatee and addressee of The Pillar and Ground of the Truth.

Father Pavel Florensky, who in 1914 published the world’s first Christian theology of what we now call same-sex love, was born on January 22, 1882. This makes him just five and six years older than my own grandfathers. God willing, I will begin writing my doctoral dissertation—in which I examine Florensky’s text and its historical, social, cultural, and biographical context—no later than the spring of this year.

The most important primary and secondary source available in English for his theology of lifelong monogamous love between men and for his biography, respectively, are the following:

The Pillar and Ground of the Truth: An Essay in Orthodox Theodicy in Twelve Letters
See especially the letters entitled “Two Worlds,” “Friendship,” and “Jealousy”
Priest Pavel Florensky (trans. Boris Jakim)
Pavel Florensky, A Quiet Genius: The Tragic and Extraordinary Life of Russia’s Unknown da Vinci
Avril Pyman

Read More


LENTEN REFLECTIONS: AN INVITATION TO WRITE

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The Sunday of Zacchaeus/Sunday of the Canaanite Woman is almost here. For relevant dates see Triodion & Pentecostarion 2020, which we published earlier today.

Hierarchs, priests, deacons, monastics, laymen and laywomen, and teens are invited to write a Lenten Reflection for Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers.

You may wish to focus on the theme of one of the Sundays preparatory to or during Great Lent, or more generally on a theme which captures something of the spirit of Lent as a time for drawing closer to God and to our neighbour through the joyful ascesis of intensified prayer, fasting, liturgical worship, almsgiving, and repentance. Inspire us. Read More


TRIODION & PENTECOSTARION 2020

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He is not here, for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay. 
Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.
Matthew 28:6-7

Sunday of Zacchaeus / Sunday of the Canaanite Woman

February 2

Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

February 9

Sunday of the Prodigal Son

February 16

Read More


THE JOY OF SAME-SEX LOVE: A RESPONSE TO FATHER AARON WARWICK (AND BRIDGING VOICES) by Giacomo Sanfilippo

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(Frontispiece from Priest Pavel Florensky, 1914, The Pillar and Ground of the Truth
It is necessary not only to “love” one another but also to be close together, to attempt, as much as possible, to come closer and closer to one another. But when are friends closest to each other, if not when kissing?
Priest Pavel Florensky, 1914, “Friendship,” The Pillar and Ground of the Truth
On the feast of the Meeting of the Lord two weeks later, [Florensky] composed the poem “Two Knights” [for Sergei Troitsky]. It depicts a scene in which the knights have removed their armour and laid it under an aspen tree, where resin drips on it from a quivering leaf.
The knights kiss on the mouth, embrace tightly “like brothers,” and “break their spears” with each other.
Even the sun undresses as it sets amidst fiery clouds. Tears flow in almost every stanza.
Giacomo Sanfilippo, 2018, “Father Pavel Florensky and the Sacrament of Love,” The Wheel
(Click here for the original illustration chosen for this article, to which many of our readers objected.*)

The following reflection is conceived primarily as an engagement with Father Aaron Warwick’s Pastoring LGBTQ Individuals in the Orthodox Church, and secondarily with the responses by “an American LGBTQ Christian” and Joshua Rainwater; the insights of Their Eminences, Metropolitan Kallistos and Metropolitan Nathanael; the use of male-male conjugal intimacy by SS. Maximus the Confessor and Symeon the New Theologian as a metaphor for the monk’s personal experience of union with Christ in the Holy Mysteries and in the vision of uncreated light; Protodeacon Theodore Feldman’s brief piece; and lastly, the discussion of morality vs. ethics — misguided in its shared premises, I believe — which seems to have taken place between Aristotle Papanikolaou’s recent Bridging Voices article and Father Andrew Damick’s implicit response — in which the latter coyly declines to name names, but refers to us as “Orthodox” in scare quotes (always a sign of a mature debater) — bearing the most bizarre title ever affixed to an Orthodox essay. (In connection with this, Father Hans Jacobse’s equally bizarre invention of “the moral tradition of the Orthodox Church” also comes to mind.) Read More


THE JOY OF SAME-SEX LOVE: A RESPONSE TO FATHER AARON WARWICK (AND BRIDGING VOICES) by Giacomo Sanfilippo

Image result for gay sex

It is necessary not only to “love” one another but also to be close together, to attempt, as much as possible, to come closer and closer to one another. But when are friends closest to each other, if not when kissing?
Priest Pavel Florensky, 1914, “Friendship,” The Pillar and Ground of the Truth
On the feast of the Meeting of the Lord two weeks later, [Florensky] composed the poem “Two Knights” [for Sergei Troitsky]. It depicts a scene in which the knights have removed their armour and laid it under an aspen tree, where resin drips on it from a quivering leaf.
The knights kiss on the mouth, embrace tightly “like brothers,” and “break their spears” with each other.
Even the sun undresses as it sets amidst fiery clouds. Tears flow in almost every stanza.
Giacomo Sanfilippo, 2018, “Father Pavel Florensky and the Sacrament of Love,” The Wheel

The following reflection is conceived primarily as an engagement with Father Aaron Warwick’s Pastoring LGBTQ Individuals in the Orthodox Church, and secondarily with the responses by “an American LGBTQ Christian” and Joshua Rainwater; the insights of Their Eminences, Metropolitan Kallistos and Metropolitan Nathanael; the use of male-male conjugal intimacy by SS. Maximus the Confessor and Symeon the New Theologian as a metaphor for the monk’s personal experience of union with Christ in the Holy Mysteries and in the vision of uncreated light; Protodeacon Theodore Feldman’s brief piece; and lastly, the discussion of morality vs. ethics — misguided in its shared premises, I believe — which seems to have taken place between Aristotle Papanikolaou’s recent Bridging Voices article and Father Andrew Damick’s implicit response — in which the latter coyly declines to name names, but refers to us as “Orthodox” in scare quotes (always a sign of a mature debater) — bearing the most bizarre title ever affixed to an Orthodox essay. (In connection with this, Father Hans Jacobse’s equally bizarre invention of “the moral tradition of the Orthodox Church” also comes to mind.) Read More


SAME-SEX MARRIAGE REDUCES SUICIDE RATES by Rachel Savage

Orthodoxy in Dialogue publishes the present article as further testimony to the copiously documented correlation between suicidal ideation in LGBTQ children, teens, and adults and their rejection by their families, sociopolitical milieu, and faith communities. Every struggle with suicide, every attempted suicide, every completed suicide, cries out to the Church for a better pastoral praxis grounded in a better theological and spiritual approach to understanding sexual diversity in human nature.

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The advent of gay marriage has cut suicide rates among lesbians and gay men in Sweden and Denmark—but, divorced, widowed or married, homosexuals are still more prone to suicide than their straight peers, according to a study released on Thursday.

The researchers said reduced stigma for sexual minorities was likely driving the drop in deaths, culled from official data on thousands of same-sex couples in the two countries, both early adopters of gay marriage.

“Being married is protective against suicide,” said Annette Erlangsen of the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention.

“Legalizing same-sex marriage and other supportive legislative measures—they might actually reduce stigma around sexual minorities,” said Erlangsen, the lead author of the study. Read More


A COPTIC OVERVIEW OF ST. AUGUSTINE’S “RETRACTIONS” by Daniel Michalski

SaintAugustine_copy__93589.1514599543St. Augustine (AD 354-430) was the Bishop of Hippo. He was brought up with a Christian mother and a pagan father. When he was young, he delved deeply into philosophy and became a Manichean, a banned sect at the time. He was converted in his later years through the prayers of his mother, St. Monica, and the preaching of St. Ambrose while he lived in Milan.

St. Ambrose baptized him on Pascha of AD 387. He returned to Africa, where he founded a monastery, eventually becoming the Bishop of Hippo (in modern Algeria). He wrote many volumes, and impacted the Western Church forever. In spite of popular conceptions, he remained deeply influenced by Platonism.

Augustine taught neither Calvinism nor a legalistic idea of original sin. His teaching on original sin was basically a Platonic way of explaining our relation to Adam. Adam is, according to this approach, the ideal human. He carries not just an individual humanity but the whole human nature in its ideal form. Each of us, coming from him, are concrete particularizations (forms) of that abstract humanity which Adam had. Since Adam sinned and fell, humanity in the abstract ideal fell and became sinful. Each of us, being born from Adam, then partake of this fallen nature inasmuch as we are the particularizations of a fallen abstract humanity inherited from Adam. Read More