When I first started blogging I was concerned about the polemical nature of some internet interactions and somewhat wary of the sort of comments my blog would attract. As it happened virtually all the people who responded were reasonable and polite. More recently, when I started blogging again after having announced my intention of becoming Orthodox, I was a bit concerned about the sort of reactions I would get, and I suppose that if I expected negative reactions from anyone it would have been from Catholics. What I did not expect – and what saddened me – was that I would attract vitriolic comments attacking Father Schmemann, other Orthodox and other Churches, and basically identifying Orthodoxy with what appear to me to be decidedly sectarian and fundamentalist groupings. I had only recently heard the phrase “Orthodox Taliban” but am beginning to think it appropriate and was reminded of quote that I previously posted of Metropolitan Jonah where he spoke about zeal that is rooted in the passions.
I am blogging because it helps me to process what I read, and because I value some of the interactions which it has brought. Much of what I do is simply summarising the authors I read although I may interact more with them at some time. I am by no means setting myself up as an expert – whether on Orthodoxy, Christianity or anything else; this blog is there in order to help me to learn and if others learn anything in the process, fine. If they don’t approve of what I read, they don’t have to read it. But if I have to interact with the sort of comments I have been getting as a result of posting on Father Schmemann, then it will not only pull my blog into the sort of negativity that is sadly typical of some online interaction, but it will, more seriously, just arouse my own passions and poison my own thoughts. And I am not going to allow that.
If people want to post critical comments that respond to particular ideas in posts in a respectful manner, they are welcome to do so. But to simply malign people or to question their Orthodoxy is not. Likewise, while I appreciate that it may arise out of well-meaning concern, this blog is not the place for advising me on my ecclesial life. I am the first to admit that I need guidance, but looking for that on the internet would seem to be the height of foolishness.
While I realise that I may be accused of censorship, I have started to simply delete offensive, negative and passionate comments. This is after all my blog and if people want to post vitriol they can do so elsewhere.
One other note on comments: I put comment moderation on – and in the light of the above it was just as well – as, as I indicated earlier, my internet access is somewhat sporadic. That means that comments may wait a couple of days before being approved, and also that I may not be able to respond to them immediately or at all. Please don’t take offence if that happens – it’s simply part of the circumstances of my life at present.