ST. TIKHON’S SEMINARY, MILLSTONES, AND SHARKS: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

homophobia

Earlier today the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) posted on its website remarks by the dean of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, Father John Parker, under the title STOTS Inaugurates Live Ancient Faith Radio Call-In Studio. In order not to trouble the OCA’s general counsel yet again on a Saturday evening, we highlight two excerpts rather than risk copyright infringement by republishing the post in its entirety.  

Father Parker states:

“The podcast provides a wonderful way that we can connect our seminary with the world—to tell the Good News of what God is doing here, to share our remarkable faculty and staff with the world, to introduce our students and their families, even to solicit support for the Seminary.”

“The podcast…carries along the tradition of sharing our blessings with those who will listen…. This is a ‘very simple’ way to continue to share our vision with the wider world.”

Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s faithful readers around the world—we’ve just surpassed 369,000 views from 187 countries—have some serious questions about St. Tikhon’s Seminary’s perception of “what God is doing here,” its “remarkable faculty and staff,” its “blessings,” its “vision,” and what exactly its new podcast hopes its audience will send money to support.

One of our most popular articles of all time is St. Tikhon’s Seminary Appoints Internationally Known Homophobe as Dean. A year later, hardly a week goes by that it doesn’t trend among the day’s top articles. In it we report on Father Parker’s presentation at last year’s International Conference on Digital Media and Orthodox Pastoral Care at the Orthodox Academy of Crete:

The video posted by Corinth’s Ηλέκτρα Ραδιοτηλεοπτικός Σταθμός (Electra Radio Station) on its Facebook page begins with Father Parker mocking the book “For I Am Wonderfully Made” — its cover projected on the large screen to his left — and then the journal The Wheel. Next he proceeds to characterize Public Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy in Dialogue as dangerous sites of “anti-catechism,” wolves in sheep’s clothing. He suggests that it would be better for us who produce these three publications to be cast into the sea with millstones tied around our necks. For added dramatic effect he projects onto the screen a drawing of a man sinking headlong to the bottom of the sea with his millstone, a toothy shark in close pursuit. He also shows a photograph of two wolves — presumably Public Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy in Dialogue — standing over a sheep’s bloodied fleece.

In our subsequent Review: “For I Am Wonderfully Made”, we acknowledge Father Parker’s role in getting the book reviewed:

In conclusion I must express my thanks to Father John Parker of St. Tikhon’s Seminary. I felt compelled to open FIAWM at long last when he deemed the book so dangerous that he traveled to Crete to warn an international audience about it—curiously, at a conference on the Church and the internet having nothing to do with books or human sexuality. 

In Public Orthodoxy, Orthodoxy in Dialogue, The Wheel = Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing, we inform out readers that Father Parker had published excerpts from his Cretan presentation on OrthodoxNet. We found especially noteworthy the comment by Dr. David Ford, a longstanding member of St. Tikhon’s “remarkarble faculty and staff:”

Dr. David Ford’s comment at the end of Father Parker’s article—”Thank you very much, Fr. John, for this very needful alert!”—might cause our readers some confusion since he has written extensively for Orthodoxy in Dialogue  (here, here, here, here, and the March 29 and April 14 letters to the editors here); twice with his wife, Dr. Mary Ford, for Public Orthodoxy (here and here); and once for The Wheel (here). In fact in his March 29 letter Dr. Ford commends us for On Chastity: Two Letters to a Struggling Monk and acknowledges that Orthodoxy in Dialogue does not promote sexual immorality. Why join in misrepresenting and trashing three publications that have welcomed you to write for them? 

More recently, in Priests & Partners in Homophobia, we note:

One of the more interesting items on the program for the IOTA conference earlier this month in Iaşi was the abstract for Father John Parker’s paper, “Radechesis: A Radical Return to the Roots of Christian Catechesis.” 

In it, he singles out Father Josiah Trenham as a model catechist for our day.

Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers will recall that Fathers Parker and Trenham have a shared mission to travel the world preaching a “Gospel” of queer bashing.

To the best of our knowledge, though, Father Trenham alone has earned the distinction of coming to the attention of the Hatewatch Staff (the Hatewatch Staff!) at the Southern Poverty Law Center. [See our Father Josiah Trenham and the Southern Poverty Law Center, the full video of Father Trenham’s presentation in Tbilisi in Tolerance Tyrants, Lavender Mafia, Homofascists, and Rainbow Radicals, and “The Good Wife” According to Father Josiah Trenham: Does Metropolitan Joseph Approve?. Father Trenham also trends every week among the day’s most popular articles.]

Let there be no mistake: If queer bashing kills, queer bashing in the name of Jesus Christ kills even more.

How much blood will certain of our Church’s priests have unawares on their hands as they approach the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ?

But Lord, they will ask, when did we see Thee and kill Thee? 

We know what His answer will be.

Finally, in Our Response to the OCA’s General Counsel we ask the Holy Synod of the OCA to

…reassure the parents, grandparents, and young people among our readers that Father John Parker of St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and other priests and lay adults who consider anyone in the Church to be better off drowned and fed to sharks, be kept as far away from our children as possible.

We invite Metropolitan Tikhon, and/or Archbishop Michael, and/or Michael G. Herzak, chair of the Board of Trustees at St. Tikhon’s, to issue a statement for Orthodoxy in Dialogue to publish. (Our email address can be found on our Contact page.) We would like clarification on whether, in fact, the drowning and feeding to sharks of LGBTQ Orthodox Christians and their advocates in the Church—as articulated by the Seminary’s Father Parker and applauded by the Seminary’s Dr. Ford— figures as part of the “Good News,” “blessings,” and “vision” to which people are being asked to donate money at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary.

In fact, it seems entirely in order to require Father Parker to issue a retraction and apology for us to publish.

Readers who wish to join their voices to ours may contact Metropolitan Tikhon at metropolitan@oca.org, Archbishop Michael at bishopmichael@nynjoca.org, Father John Parker at fr.john@stots.edu, and the Board of Trustees at info@stots.edu (Attn: Michael G. Herzak in the subject header). All email addresses publicly available at http://www.oca.org and http://www.stots.edu.
See the Sexuality and Gender and Fifty Years after Stonewall sections in our Archives.
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2 thoughts on “ST. TIKHON’S SEMINARY, MILLSTONES, AND SHARKS: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

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