It seems what we are seeing with those like Michael Sisco and his petition to the Assembly of Bishops is an altogether different breed of OrthoBro. In fact, without any intention of being (overly) offensive, I might suggest we consider calling them OrthoKarens. After all, it seems they want to speak to our managers.
Has Sisco not considered that Orthodoxy in Dialogue has already written to the Assembly of Bishops with links to some of its most “scandalous” articles on sexuality and gender, all but begging the bishops to read them, albeit with an open mind and pastoral heart? Does Sisco really think he is informing the Assembly of something they don’t already know about?
If the inanity of Sisco’s petition isn’t simply enough, we need to consider how bizarre the petition itself actually is. Orthodoxy in Dialogue has circulated petitions in the past that have been addressed to the Assembly of Bishops with the purpose of bringing to their pastoral attention the largely hidden lives of those faithful within the Church who desire to live the Christian life without feeling crushed for their sense of self or who they’re attracted to. Orthodoxy in Dialogue has routinely called upon the Assembly of Bishops to embrace a message of empathy and sensitivity toward their own children in this respect. But what these “OrthoKarens” are doing is calling upon the Assembly to denounce and exclude not only their own suffering children, but even those faithful brothers and sisters—lay and clerical alike—who believe these children need to be protected, supported, and—yes—affirmed in their Christian identity and belonging within the Church. In a word, Sisco and his co-petitioners are asking the Assembly of Bishops to anathematize not only compassion and justice, but the simple preaching thereof.
A totalitarian movement is a strange animal—half patriarchal in its need for brute force to assert itself, and half populist because it draws on deep cultural resentments and estrangements. But if the Assembly of Bishops has at least half a mind to preserve the future of Orthodoxy in America, the bishops will never bow to the infantile clamoring of a few disaffected traditionalists; rather, they will seek to build a culture of reconciliation and healing amongst those most marginalized and harmed by the institutional Church’s own wrongs.
If anyone should bring to us a different Gospel—be he a bishop or an online poster or an angel of God—let him be anathema.
Daniel Nicholas holds a BA in philosophy and biblical studies from Eastern University in Philadelphia and is completing his MEd in Waldorf Education through Antioch University New England in Keene NH. He is currently a third grade teacher and serves as a reader at Archangel Gabriel Orthodox Church (OCA) in Ashland OR. He has written previously for Orthodoxy in Dialogue.