Why I Love (True) Religion, Epilogue

The Smoking Gun

After well over 300 comments posted, and probably close to 200 ad hominem rants and attempts to get me to convert back to the Evangelicalism from whence I came deleted without being published, I’ve decided to close comments for my previous post, “Why I Love (True) Religion Because I Love Jesus.”

I thank those who had something new and useful to contribute—even those who came with criticism for my post—but it’s become clear that we’ve pretty much exhausted nearly every permutation of “But don’t you know Jesus came to save us from rules and religion?!” and “You big meanie!” and “You are clearly a terrible person who is leading others into spiritual destruction!” and of course lots of “How dare you be so judgmental?!”

I appreciate the several dozen of you who, discovering I did not publish your particular comment, invited me to debates and discussions via email. I’m afraid I have neither the energy nor inclination for that, and I have a general policy of not undertaking lengthy theological discussions via email except with my parishioners. Besides that, there is nothing that didn’t make it through here which I would likely be interested in engaging over email, either.

I’ve also decided to close comments because this curiously popular post has come right at the start of house blessing season for me (when I visit about 100 homes belonging to my parishioners in just a few weeks), and I honestly have enough other work to do that it’s just become a little much. I say this with absolutely no temerity or irony: I honestly had absolutely no idea that this post would get the level of attention it has. I am fully aware (and always expected) that my weblog is a small-time operation of interest perhaps only to a few dozen people, so it took me quite by surprise that suddenly I was getting deluged with comments, more than 150 per day.

Just for a sense of scale here, my previously most-commented post ever got a total of 17 comments, while the previous post received about 500 attempts to comment. My previously most popular post got a bit over 800 hits in the space of two years (another one has now surpassed it and come close to 1000). But the post in question has (as of this posting) gotten over 34,000 hits in the space of a little over three days. More than 40% of all the hits my weblog has ever gotten since I began it almost three years ago have come since this past Thursday afternoon.

I really cannot figure out why (no, really), and I keep telling my wife that over the past few days. I don’t regard it as even remotely my best piece of writing (not that I am any very great writer), certainly not dozens of times better than anything else on this weblog. But I suppose one never knows which tsunamis one will find oneself in the middle of. And of course my little piece of commentary is not remotely as popular as the video it critiqued, which has now received well over 12 million views on YouTube. No doubt the gentleman in question is at the beginning of a successful career (though, perhaps appropriately enough, he’s also disabled comments on his video).

I welcome the several dozen of you who chose to subscribe to this weblog over the past few days, as well as those with whom I have connected on Facebook and Google+. I hope you enjoy whatever comes next. And I must say that some of you on Facebook particularly amused me by joining the brand new Prophet Elijah Institute for Ecumenical Understanding (whose watchwords are I Kings 18:27).

If any of you are interested in the more detailed critiques I’ve written of Evangelical theology (rather than the fairly short responses I wrote to the video), I recommend the “Comparative Theology” category (be sure to click “Older Entries” for, well, older entries) on this weblog. You are also welcome to listen to the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy podcast (I have a good many other podcasts, too). And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t also suggest my book of the same name.

And some of you out there are no doubt now wholly convinced I am a mercenary. I’ll be sure to invite you to my 8000 sq. ft. cabin on Martha’s Vineyard right after I get out of this rental house. (And why am I driving a Prius?!)


  1. Vladislav Zarayskiy says

    Father, thank you very much for your blog.

    I have read your aforementioned post as soon as it was published as there were no comments yet. Now I don’t even want to go back as not to be sucked in the yet another “holy war” on the blogosphere.

    In Christ,

  2. The Pilgrim says

    Father Bless!
    An extraordinary task that you handled with patience and grace. I would not be surprised to learn that your answers, humour and scholarship resulted in more than a few evangelicals and protestants taking a closer look at Orthodoxy.

    Good job Father!

  3. Johnothon Sauer says

    I love Mason, Ohio, and the Cincinnati area in general, but there are times (like now) when I wish I lived in Emmaus, PA.

  4. James says

    This has raised many thoughts for me, Father. One basic issue being, is there any agreement on the terms of engagement in online discourse they days? Perhaps because of my lack of skill in rhetoric or lack of conviction, I don’t like situations where my words must stand on their own, as the final product of a reasoned argument and inviting refutation. “so, you don’t want to have to go through all that messy, hard work of thinking?” — no … not always; I want to think out loud, and have someone look for what’s good in it, and let me change my mind, say it more clearly, or take it all back. this is how talking something out with my wife happens. Is it possible online? even this now, I’m not sure what I’m trying to express, and I don’t think I’m alone in being untrained and unskilled in discourse… and lazy and irresponsible. I’m not trying to defend any commenters/bloggers/spoken-word artists here. just sometimes the internet looks like a trainwreck of an illiterate education system and ultra-low-context communication medium to me.

    And as part of the OCA faithful, I am glad for the wonderful podcasts and blogs available. Yours was the first I heard on AFR. But I find something unsettling both in clergy being forced to look for other income to survive and, let’s say, the culture of celebrity in the publishing/marketing world … a different ethos than Orthodoxy. but I spend the remainder of my time in a sinful, un-Orthodox environment, so that’s not a surprise either. just a comment.

    More happily, I sensed a great excitement in the comments among those discovering a Orthodox priest relevant and engaged in the real world! The real world of viral facebook videos! In a public way.

    • says

      The Internet is, indeed, a wacked-out, crazy place. But here we are.

      I’ve been online for almost 20 years now, and I concluded long ago that, if I’m going to publish something, I am fully ready to deal with the fact that there will likely be a very low signal:noise ratio in the responses. So it goes. Be glad of a moderation queue, and keep it sharply managed.

      As for my income, I absolutely do not need the little bit I make off royalties in order to survive. My parish takes care of me and