There are scads of “Orthodox” websites out there… I’m going to splash cold water on all those of you who take them at face value. The internet isn’t where the Church “is at”. An unspoken claim on most of these sites is that they’re purveying the “Teaching of the Church”… well, most of those running these sites don’t have the creds to be credible. That is, credentials count. Being ordained is NOT credible. To be credible means that one has Orthodox seminary and graduate work in an ORTHODOX faculty (that cuts out Dahulich, who has a papist PhD or the Blunder, who has a degree from Oxford). Well, if Freeman, Whiteford, Reardon, Dreher, et al aren’t credible… who is? Here in the diaspora, I’d recommend Fr Sergei Sveshnikov… amongst the Russians, there’s no competition… it’s Professor A I Osipov (anyone who said, “The Church will issue its opinion on space aliens only after we establish that they actually exist” has my vote). There’s much in the way of edifying reading (that is NOT the “Teaching of the Church”, though) and there’s much in the way of spiritual writing badly misused by neophytes (if I hear one more newbie bloviating on The Philokalia, I think that I’d throttle them).
Where do you find the Church? In your local parish, that’s where. You can NOT find it online; in fact, all that the online asshats will do is to lead you astray into oddbod corners and into fixations that aren’t central to the Church (such as obsessing over homosexuality or abortion). Right now, Nicky and I are in a hard patch financially, so, it means that we can’t go to liturgy as often as we’d like (the last time that I looked, gas cost money, and we need to drive to church). However, it doesn’t change the fact that I know that the liturgy is where its at, full stop, no more need be said. The liturgy is where Heaven meets Earth, that’s what the Church believes. It DOES happen. Something special happens when we pray in common, using the ancient words that generations of Christians made sacred. When the priest calls down the Holy Spirit on the Gifts… IT HAPPENS. It doesn’t matter if the priest is an asshole… such happens. It doesn’t matter if the priest is squeaky-clean and an exemplar. That’s irrelevant. A priest is a man who’s had a successor of the Apostles lay hands on him… he’s the chinovnik, the man with the office… it doesn’t matter what his personal state is, he has the office laid upon him to say the prayers to make the Eucharist happen. Somebody has to do it. In any case, the bishop has the fullness of the priesthood, priests are only his delegates and they must mention their episcopal superior at every service. However, ordination doesn’t automatically confer credibility… we have all too many priests with no seminary, let alone any further study. Then, we have those with heterodox formation… those are the most iffy of them all… a discerning eye can always catch how their previous formation leaks over into their practise. Thus, such men aren’t credible theologians, but their sacraments are on the up n’ square (the only way for the sacraments to go “off” is if the priest attaches himself to a schismatic or Uniate bishop).
One reason why I’m warning you so seriously against “internet Orthodoxy” is that most of those running these sites have perverted the Teaching of the Church into a laundry list of “Thou Shalt Nots”. If you don’t live up to these idiosyncratic asshats and their singular opinions, why you’re out of the Church, and they’ll pull all sorts of canons, Scripture, and Patristic pilpul* out of context to condemn you. You can’t win with such people… I found that out on an online forum years ago. Leave them be. Don’t enter their fora… don’t comment on their foolish juvenile posts… don’t post links to their narcissistic dreck. LEAVE THEM BE. There’s no good that you can do for them, and you could very well do a lot of harm. They won’t listen to Christ’s Church, so, why’d you think that they’ll listen to you or to me? If they’re going to get out of the Slough of Despond that they live in at present, God will do so, and He won’t need your (or my) help. If I can convince you of anything, it’s that you shouldn’t enter the so-called “Orthodox cyberworld”. Only a very few are any good… I’d say to stay away from sites calling themselves “Ask an Orthodox Priest” or “The Orthodox Church” (I’m making these up based on titles I’ve seen). These people are mostly self-appointed “experts” with no depth of Orthodox academic cred. They’re nothing but Proddies with a liturgical itch, so, have a care with them if you meet them in person. If they’re priests, do know that you have recourse to your bishop if he pushes his ideas as Church Teaching, and if that fails, you can always go up to the Synod of Bishops (that’s what did in Paffhausen… too many people were making the SOB’s day… they canned him to have a peaceful life). Above all… please… stay out of these chowderheaded websites… you’ll be glad that you did.
- pilpul: indicates extreme disputation or casuistic hairsplitting