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

When I read Orthodoxy in Dialogue I do so as an outsider. I’m a Presbyterian minister who is the pastor of what could possibly be the most progressive, left-fringe congregation in my denomination. I also went to Westmont College with Josiah Trenham—though back then he was a surfer dude named Brad.

Back when I knew him, Brad was part of a group of students who agitated—successfully, is some cases—to convince the college to deny tenure to Religious Studies professors who actually studied religion. Chief on the list of targets were professors who used literary criticism in their biblical scholarship. Keep in mind, our college was an academically respected (if somewhat conservative) institution. The Religious Studies department, where I studied, had professors with degrees from places like Harvard, Duke, Oxford, and Cambridge. Brad and his buddies had high school diplomas, and they were sociology majors who never took classes in religion beyond what was needed for graduation. They criticized what they did not understand. Read More


Tomorrow is the pre-Triodion Sunday of Zacchaeus / Sunday of the Canaanite Woman. The present essay marks the first in our Lenten Reflections 2020 series. 

Image result for orthodox monk walking up mountain"Ascending a great height or embarking on a long journey is a dominant theme of the Songs of Ascents (Ps 120-134). It is no wonder that the church Fathers found in this group of songs the appropriate “entrance” hymns into the season of repentance.

Like climbing a mountain, committing to a season of repentance jettisons us into an unknown adventure even in times when the world’s conflicts and strife draw us to despair.

As the Jews of the Exile learned, lamentation is God’s gift in the face of hopelessness. It calls us to a radical and profound action. Hopelessness causes two destructive responses. I can stew in cycles of despair, encircling into tighter and tighter circles of “giving up.”  I say “I’m done” with politics, church, family, work, “those people,” and finally, myself. I can equally grind in anger, raging against an ever-encroaching foe who seems to threaten my very way of life. I cut off all associations with perceived enemies and limit my alliances to the few who share my views. Read More

SUDDENLY I’M AFRAID by Giacomo Sanfilippo

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Clockwise from top left:
Metropolitan Joseph (AOCA), Archpriest Josiah Trenham (AOCA), Metropolitan Tikhon (OCA),
Dr. David Ford (St. Tikhon’s Seminary), Archpriest John Parker (St. Tikhon’s Seminary)

I posted the following to Facebook this evening, and have decided to share it in its original, unpolished form with Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers—but especially with Josiah Trenham, John Parker, David Ford, Metropolitan Joseph, Metropolitan Tikhon, and all of our other cowardly, tongue-tied bishops in the US and Canada.

If you haven’t been following Orthodoxy in Dialogue closely, see the Josiah Trenham: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020 for context.

At supper tonight I suddenly wanted to start crying, and I can’t seem to shake it off.

For you see, I’m suddenly fearful for my own safety. The whole world knows who I am, where I am, what I look like. All it takes is one radicalized crazy to come after me. Read More


The executive editor of a major academic publisher has invited Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s editor Giacomo Sanfilippo to submit a book proposal on his vision for an Orthodox theological,  spiritual, and pastoral approach to same-sex love. As “sample chapters,” in the interests of time, he included with his proposal the introduction and conclusion from his MA thesis, A Bed Undefiled: Foundations for an Orthodox Theology and Spirituality of Same-Sex Love. We have already published the introduction here. The conclusion follows below.
If you download the full thesis, it should be read in conjunction with Sanfilippo’s A Bed Undefiled: A Partial Retraction, Father Pavel Florensky and the Sacrament of Love, and From the Fathers: The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like…Two Men in Bed Together? 


The limitations of a master’s thesis have allowed me to do no more than lay a foundation for a more fully developed theology and spirituality of same-sex love. Much remains unsaid, much unexplored in the foregoing chapters. For one thing, my sources represent an admittedly androcentric focus; yet my pastoral concern extends to girls and women of same-sex orientation no less than to boys and men. I hope to correct this imbalance in a much more thorough, more detailed future study. I undertook this task not under the illusion of offering anything exhaustive or conclusive, but in the more modest hope of fostering a conversation which the institutional church has proven singularly unwilling to have. Read More


Orthodoxy in Dialogue first published this tribute on January 29, 2018, the first anniversary of Matushka Juliana’s falling asleep in the Lord. May her memory be eternal.
At Saint-Serge

Father Alexander and Matushka Juliana Schmemann Ordination day, 1946

Monday, January 29, is the first anniversary [NB: 2020 marks the third anniversary] of the passing of my mother, Juliana Schmemann, in the 94th year of her extraordinary life. To many in the Orthodox Church in America she is known best as the wife of Father Alexander Schmemann, the “L.” (for “Liana”) he so lovingly and so often refers to in his Journals. Many have also read her own remarkable story in two modest books she wrote, My Journey with Father Alexander and The Joy to Serve. On this anniversary, I would like to tell a little more about her life.

My parents were indeed a remarkable couple, drawn to each other from their first meeting, playing opposing roles in a household production of a musical staged in the Paris suburb of Clamart in the winter of 1940-41. He was 19 and she 17. Soon after they met again at the St. Sergius Institute, where my father was a seminarian. He told her he was studying for the priesthood—then slyly added, “but I do not intend to be a monk.”

It may seem self-evident that two such young Russians in Paris would find each other. Yet in that émigré world they came from very different circles. My father came from a family of high-ranking civil servants in St. Petersburg, and through his entire youth attended the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky, the heart of the Russian emigration in Paris, where he served as altar boy, reader, and subdeacon, and was ordained priest. Read More


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

Master, bless.

I write to you as a concerned parishioner of ————-. Why has the Archdiocese been silent on the belligerent rhetoric of Father Josiah Trenham toward homosexuals and others of the LGBT community?

Regardless of the Church’s view of their actions, Trenham’s words and deeds needlessly degrade and dehumanize the very people to whom our Church should be reaching out with compassion and a desire to understand. His content on AFR and elsewhere continues to embolden and radicalize others over whom you have equal responsibility but less control. Do the shepherds sleep while the fold is dying from their neglect? Read More