Orthodoxy Today, that bastion of theological internet civility, recently published an excerpt of a presentation Fr. John Parker gave at a conference on pastoral care in a digital age. In it he accused the editors and writers of Public Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy in Dialogue, and The Wheel of prowling around like wolves in sheep’s clothing, preying on an unsuspecting catechumenate to sow division, discord, and confusion. They pretend to promote dialog, when really they have diabolical motives, mostly having to do with making the church more welcoming to LGBTQ people. It is a tired and thus boring accusation, a thesis plagiarized from a myriad of internet blog comments and coffee hour conversations with like-minded people. More importantly, it is a hypocritical thesis. Fr. Parker accuses the above sites of trying to sow confusion, when in fact he seems to do precisely the same thing.
I know in some way the editors of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, The Wheel, and Public Orthodoxy. I myself have contributed a couple of articles to the latter. The blanket accusation of a general, almost conspiratorial intent to sow confusion is both offensive and false. It is offensive because, speaking for myself at least, that is not the case. It is false because there are contributors to those sites who share his same views on gender and sexuality and because the active solicitation and publication of authors who share those views bellies the any supposedly nefarious intent on the part of those who run the sites.
(I should say here that I am speaking from my experience with Orthodoxy in Dialogue and Public Orthodoxy. I am less read in The Wheel.)
The problem with accusations like Fr. Parker’s is that they assume a great deal about the inner motives of those who have taken the time, effort, money, not to mention loads of personal abuse, to start and keep those sites running. To write and publish something even remotely affirming of LGBTQ individuals is to douse oneself in troll pheromone. That is a whole lot of work for something so nefarious.
Continue reading this article at David J Dunn.
Excerpt published in collaboration with the author.
See also Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s response to Father Parker and the extensive Sexuality and Gender section in our Archives by Author.
David J. Dunn holds a PhD in Theological Studies from Vanderbilt University. He is an Orthodox Christian, independent scholar, educator, and director of an independent school in Nashville TN. He has written several articles on the intersections of faith and public life for Huffington Post.