‘FUNDAMENTALISM’ & ‘DIALOGUE’ by Rod Dreher

On January 26 we emailed The American Conservative to invite Mr. Dreher to write for us. On April 12 (yesterday) we tried again. Neither time did he respond to us directly. Today he wrote the following indirect response to explain why he would not write for us.

We wish to thank Mr. Dreher for the boatload of new readers that he has brought to Orthodoxy in Dialogue in just a few hours.

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Rod Dreher

Two of the most dodgy words in contemporary religious discourse are “fundamentalism” and “dialogue”. They don’t mean what they seem to mean; in fact, they are often used as a way to gain power.

To explain what I mean, consider that Marquette University, a Jesuit university, is holding a “Pride Prom” this weekend. When some outside the university angrily questioned what a Catholic university is doing sponsoring an LGBT dance, a university spokesman responded: Read More


WOMEN’S VOICES AND ORTHODOX DIALOGUE by Kari Edwards

womenscribeAs a new editor of Orthodoxy in Dialogue, one of the first tasks I considered necessary was to look closely at the Archives and take stock of the wide array of subjects on which we have published thus far. In the eight short months of our existence, we have published articles by 18 different women authors, meaning that roughly 20% of our authors are women. Considering that Orthodox bloggers and academics online tend to be overwhelmingly male, this isn’t a bad number. But we, the editors, feel that we can do much better than this.

The importance of female voices cannot be understated. If we are to have real, honest conversations about the Orthodox Church today, we must have more women speaking up, and doing so with authority. In saying that, however, I want to be wary of falling into the all-too-common trap of relegating female writers to subjects that society considers to be traditional “women’s topics.” This, in my opinion, tends to be counterproductive in the long run, causing women to view themselves as lesser in the eyes of the Church, and their opinions to only be important in specific situations. Sexism is alive and well within Orthodoxy, and we wish for Orthodoxy in Dialogue to be a place where women can actively write, participate, and lead discussion on any issue related to the Church.

I would like to take this opportunity to openly invite women who are reading this to consider writing for us. You certainly do not have to be an academic or a theologian (but if you are either of those things, we want to hear from you, too!). You don’t even have to be Orthodox. Your insight is important, your experiences help others, and we will only grow stronger as a resource for open and constructive dialogue with more voices like yours. Read More


DOSTOEVSKY AS SPIRITUAL GUIDE by Caleb Upton

dostoevskyTo be born with an ascetic temperament comes with a unique spiritual vocation—to enter into and abide in the world. To believe that one is and must be perfect calls one to a counter-intuitive spiritual life—to be human and risk sinning. The sacramental embracement of life in the world, and the love of your own sinfulness for real redemption, notions at the heart of Eastern Orthodox theology, could have only been encountered by the young Evangelical that I was in the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Christians  know of their need to be rid of and separate from “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn 2:16), seeing themselves as “a prisoner of the law of sin…” and proclaiming, “What a wretched man I am!” (Rom 7:23-24). However, there is the occasional person born who is an ascetic by nature, whose core identity is wrapped up in being perfect, recognizing no conflicting law at work in themselves—it is for such as I that The Brothers Karamazov and The Idiot impart spiritual wisdom.

It is one thing to join a holy order; it is another to be born into one. The Sermon on the Mount implanted the monastic vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity into my childhood soul. Content with so little, I never had to be denied; I obeyed every authority to the extent that discipline was unnecessary; and I was so chaste that, despite our culture, I did not encounter pornography until the age of 17, at which point I slowly began the self-flagellation of anxiety and depression. However, being raised in a Protestant tradition which lacked a monastic tradition, the university became my monastery, where I could contemplate God and ignore my bodily reality. Once I entered into the Gaelic paradise of Scotland for my Masters of Theology degree, I accidentally encountered Dostoevsky. It was when that I saw my life in Aloysha, that the instantaneous conviction arose that Father Zosima’s prophecy over him was a prophecy to me as well—“…you will go out beyond these walls, but in the world you will abide as a monk.”   Read More


WE MADE A MISTAKE

On February 10 we published Nik Jovčić-Sas’ “Orthodox Provocateur: I Will Not Be Silenced” in good faith. Mr. Jovčić-Sas is a young Serbian Orthodox man living in the UK who devotes considerable time, effort, and resources to LGBTQ activism in some of the historically Orthodox countries of Eastern Europe. He often partners in this endeavour with Moldovan seminarian Ion Andronache, a husband and father of three small children.

In an editorial note at the end of his article we explained our decision to publish in this way:

With the publication of this article Orthodoxy in Dialogue recognizes the need for a complementary two-pronged approach to questions of sexual and gender diversity in human life: the theological effort to understand its place in the divine image and likeness, and the activist effort to ensure that all of God’s children enjoy the safety to thrive in private and public life.

Today we were dismayed to find the author’s Facebook page, Orthodox Provocateur, promoting the so-called “Orthodox Calendar.” This annual production combines homoerotic soft core porn with Orthodox icons, clerical vestments, liturgical objects, the interior of churches, etc. Read More


WHAT IS THE OFFICIAL CHURCH TEACHING ON HOMOSEXUALITY? RESPONDING TO A COMMONLY ASKED QUESTION by James Martin, SJ

Fr. James Martin visits Loyola University Chicago

Father James Martin, SJ. Loyola University. March 2018.

Since Building a Bridge, a book on ministering to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics, was published, I have been asked—at Catholic parishes, retreat centers, colleges and universities and conferences—a few questions that recur over and over. The most common are: “What can we say to gay people who believe that God hates them?” “How can we help young people who feel tempted to suicide because of their sexual orientation?” And “What can we say to gay or lesbian Catholics who feel that their own church has rejected them?”

Another common question is about the church’s official teaching on homosexuality, homosexual activity and same-sex marriage. Usually these questions are asked not by Catholics who are unaware of the church’s teaching (for most Catholics know the teachings); rather they are asked by Catholics who want to understand the basis for the church’s teachings on those topics.

Building a Bridge intentionally steered clear of issues of sexual morality, since I hoped to foster dialogue by focusing on areas of possible commonality; and the church hierarchy and the majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics remain far apart on these issues. It also makes little sense to begin a conversation with topics on which the two sides are the farthest apart. Overall, the book was about dialogue and prayer, rather than moral theology. (As a Catholic priest, I have also never challenged those teachings, nor will I.) Read More


WHY DOES FUNDAMENTALISM MATTER? by Kari Edwards

With the publication of this article on the nexus between Orthodoxy and Protestant fundamentalism in America we are delighted to introduce the author as a new editor at Orthodoxy in Dialogue.

“A fundamentalist,” Jerry Falwell famously quipped, “is an evangelical who is angry about something.”

fund_american_culture.250w.tnThis isn’t a bad definition, either. Scholars have had a lot to say about Protestant fundamentalism over the past several decades, but Falwell’s simple statement remains strikingly relevant, appearing in just about every academic work on the subject since George Marsden’s groundbreaking Fundamentalism and American Culture was first published in 1980. Back then, Marsden was essentially pleading for his fellow scholars to pay attention to fundamentalism, to include it in their analyses of American religion, to not write it off as an oddity. In 2018, many scholars (myself included) would argue that fundamentalism has defined post-World War II American religion more than any other movement. How things change in such a relatively short time!

At this point you might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Orthodoxy?” My answer to you is, “More than you think.” I am by no means a theologian. I am not a scholar of the Orthodox Church. I am, however, an Orthodox Christian and a historian who focuses on 20th-century American religion. I study fundamentalists and evangelicals. My purpose in writing for Orthodoxy in Dialogue is to make connections between Orthodoxy and the broader religious culture in the US, a culture dominated almost entirely by evangelicalism.

Falwell distinguished fundamentalists from the rest of the evangelical fold by emphasizing their anger. Today, the defining line between “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” has blurred to the point of often becoming indistinguishable. Some still proudly label themselves as fundamentalist, but the movement has now nestled rather comfortably beneath the wide net of evangelicalism, sharing the same beliefs and working toward the same goals. Their evangelicalism is rooted in the absolute inerrancy of the Bible, first and foremost. The Bible is literal, it is the rock upon which their entire faith rests. Alongside biblical literalism is the belief in the end times, of the imminent return of Christ to Earth to raise the faithful into heaven and usher in the millennium. Read More


BECOME A PATRON OF ORTHODOXY IN DIALOGUE

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Orthodoxy in Dialogue has recently added a Patrons page. With gratitude to God we have acquired our first two Patrons, who wish to remain anonymous. They have shown their support for our work by making a significant financial contribution.

We launched almost eight months ago with the sole intention of serving the Orthodox Church through the provision of a forum for free and open dialogue on an unlimited range of topics. In that time we quickly became one of the most visited Orthodox blogs on the internet, and have published 198 articles and editorials by 97 authors. See our Archives by Author for the complete catalogue of articles and authors.

Our Letters to the Editors page has proven more popular than we expected. We have published 16 letters to date. The page ranks among our top ten “articles.” Read More