Glory to God for All Things is nearing the publication of its 2,000th article. The total amazes me, and simply speaks for how things add up over time. I certainly did not set out to write in such volume (although I think I published two articles the first day). I simply set out to write.
I did not then, nor do I now, have a great sense of mission in my writing. I have noted from time to time that we are not commanded to change the world. Thinking that we have any mastery over history is modern arrogance in the extreme. I might add that anyone engaging in the ephemera of the internet should not indulge themselves in any such imaginings. I set out to write.
In hindsight, I understand now that I write in order to think, sometimes to pray. When I write, the ideas seem to take shape and gain some semblance of coherence. Apart from the text, I battle the distractions of an ADD-addled brain. Writing is something of a necessity.
The most pleasant surprise over time is that my writing is read by others and that sometimes they find it of use. Again, it is impossible to fix people, or even to make them better. That something is of use is a gift of grace, and so one can only give thanks. But more than being read, the writing has become a conversation, one that has now lasted for about 10 years. The first article appeared on October 19, 2006. The conversation now includes over 55,000 comments, of which about 4,200 are mine (and that seems strangely low).
Over time, the articles have gotten longer. Certain ideas and themes have become noticeably common. Astonishingly, articles have been translated into Russian, Greek, Macedonian, Serbian, Romanian, French, Spanish, Arabic, Latvian, Finnish, and perhaps others (those are just the ones I remember being told about).
I have been asked from time to time how do I find time to do the blog. It is, I confess, simply a function of my ADD. The nature of attention deficit is that you can do many things, but only for short times (then the distraction forces you to stop – not stopping literally becomes quite painful). And so, I write as a distraction, in between this, that, and the other thing. This same reality makes the production of books (long promised) extremely difficult. It will only happen through your prayers! Fortunately, blogging seems ideally suited to my handicap. God is wonderfully merciful.
The community of comments has also created a community of friends. When I travel and speak I am constantly greeted by readers, and all of you feel familiar. We have shared something. I am grateful beyond my ability to express for the kindness of so many over the years. The community has also been something of an extension of my parish, or so it seems. During the years I’ve been writing, I have buried a mother, a father, and a grandchild. Others have shared their own struggles. The prayers that have been offered are a sweet-smelling fragrance before God.
Thank you for your many kind words and prayers. Glory to God for all things!
I am touched to read about how your write. I am grateful for your writing. It speaks of the Orthodoxy I’d hoped for, both the freedom and the responsibility – truth and grace. And it leads me to the God that I am in awe of, that I want to know better, not terrified of.
You will never know what a blessing your writing is to my husband and me. We are convinced of the truth of the Orthodox Church but for a number of reasons are unable to attend. That doesn’t prevent us from acknowledging the truth of your messages. Must admit some of it is too deep for us but with the Lord’s help we grasp enough to want more. We always look forward to the next blog. Thank you.
Thank you for the work you do, Father. May God grant you many more years (and articles).
…even translated in Dutch 😉 Keep up ht good work Father!
Father, I have been reading your blog since 2008. It is a constant inspiration and often a challenge.
It has quite literally transformed my mind, in the Scriptural sense. I share the wisdom found here as often as I can.
Thank you and God grant you many more fruitful years.
About the books: I would think you could produce a number of them by using what you have already written grouped thematically with some introductory comnentary, light editing and judicious use of some of the conversation that resulted.
Just a thought.
I think Michael’s idea is great. With regards to the comments, if any conversations especially highlighted what you were originally writing about.
Father, as you have said, God is good at taking things that are not quite right or severely broken and making wonderful things out them. He has certainly used your ADD for His Glory. I have not been reading you that long, but I see what you have accomplished and I often refer people to specific articles to help them with the reforming of their minds. Being a convert and knowing many converts, renewal of the mind and the opening of the noetic eye are very worthy topics in your blog. Us former Protestants need to unlearn as much as learn and your blog is very good for that. Thank you for all you do.
Yes, I’ve thought about that, too. Let’s say someone wants to think about 100 things. Or 40 things. They don’t think about 40, they think about 2,3 or 4, and work their way through. A difficulty I have (I have come to understand) is that I see 100 (which suggests another 300 to me). The 100 becomes overwhelming and paralyzing…typical problem in ADD. I’m chipping away at it…
Thank you for your ongoing contribution to dialogical Encounter.
Blessings and bows,
I third Michael’s idea.
It’s probably best to just keep doing what you do best – and then organize the results. You could choose some topics from the header of this blog, i.e. modernity, humility, atonement. Then simply pull your favorite articles under that topic to make up a chapter. I would also suggest a “Comments” section at the end of each chapter for your favorites. If the topic material becomes too large, you either make it a book on its own or do the hard work of deciding which material to cut.
You’ve already written the books; now you just need to arrange the material for them. No need to reinvent the wheel. And of course you still have the freedom to write afresh about a certain subject if you actually have the material burning your fingertips.
Oh, and check yourself if you start thinking too hard about how to do all the editing perfectly. Good effort is warranted, but perfectionism is the bedfellow to pride, as we all know.
Many years of writing, Father!
Father, thank you for the time, energy, focus and prayer you devote to this blog. I get excited everytime a notification appears in my inbox about a new blog post.
I found your blog after first listening to many of your podcasts. Your physical voice and your written “voice,” have become a pleasantly familiar part of my Orthodox life.
As a Canadian-American living and converted (still converting, I feel) in Russia, your blog and podcasts have played a really important role fore me.
Your blog posts and the resulting comments give me a sense of our common struggle amongst westerners to see our Orthodox Faith as it really is. As you can imagine, Russians have their own stumbling blocks in their path toward Christ, but in general, they seem to see the Church with an ease that doesn’t come to me without a lot of practice and work.
This blog also serves as a sort of the “key” (I mean that in the sense of locks and also like the legend of a map) I use to make sure I do my best to perceive Scripture and Tradition as our Church and the Fathers do, instead of as my wild mixed Calvinist-Lutheran-Catholic (non-)catechism would lead me to think. Additionally, reading about the Church in Russian is great, but reading in my first language is fulfilling in a far different way.
I won’t pretend I know what having ADD is like, but I am grateful in any case that you use your talents and ADD for our benefit! It’s a wonderful demonstration of finding the meaning of your own Cross.
God grant you many years, Father!
Thank you for sharing beautiful written expressions of the many years of prayer, study, reflection and pastoral work. I’m so thankful for you.
Thank you Father. With the ADD, God has blessed you to bless others. I have friends that struggle with ADD, and I would love that they receive inspiration from you. I don’t know that they’d be willing to be part of an Orthodox web site, but I can sure make the offer. (Point them here for the inspiration, and inadvertently be introduced to Orthodoxy!)
One more thing…you say “The conversation now includes over 55,000 comments, of which about 4,200 are mine (and that seems strangely low).” Knowing how it seems to be part of us (nature, culture..both…I don’t know) that we “must” let our views and opinion be known and having that accomplished through blogging…it does not in the least bit surprise me that our comments far exceed yours, in number, that is!!
Your disability is certainly our blessing. When I did my first search for Orthodox sites yours was the first I found and I have been reading ever since. That was sometime in 2010. Your writing has done a great deal to bring me to into Orthodoxy and I’m sure has helped others in the same way. May you have many more years doing such a valuable work.
It’s the math. 2,000 articles and only 4,000 comments from me. I would have thought I averaged far more per article than that. Makes me doubt something.
we are thankful beyond words for your insights over these years… This is a vault of spiritual gems and invaluable instruction helping us all.
I also wish the “Search this blog” box could be made to search within the comments sections as that is where some of the most insightful words are often buried.
A deficit turned into a benefit, thanks be to God. Like others here, I am grateful. May the distractions (continue to) be with you, Dear Father!
Words cannot begin to express my gratitude…
Glory to God for All Things indeed! We have been blessed by your blog in our family’s journey from the Anglican communion to worship in Eastern Orthodox Christianity and we truly believe we have been welcomed home to the Church, the Bride of Christ. Your blog is a blessing and inspiration, Fr. Stephen! God bless you and your family in all ways!
Pardon my concrete way of thinking (in a way the opposite of ADD!); my math figures that if there’s thousands of us (I wonder how many) and only one of you, and you give us a platform to express ourselves, again, I can understand the wide gap.
Of coarse it’s always good to examine ourselves, but my heart twisted a bit when you said you doubt something. You do an awful lot to serve Christ and His Church. We only see part of it through this blog. Let me just say that your responses in the comment section, and of coarse the post itself, along with the input of all the others, is truly a blessing.
I speak as one new to Orthodoxy, who lives a pretty much solitary life in the desert Southwest. This blog is a wonderful meeting place.
Heartfelt thanks to all.
I have drunk from the well of your blog for the last 4 or 5 years. The water has been sweet and nourishing to my soul. At times…often…I drink it as with a bitter pill. But I need it for my healing. This is the only blog I regularly read since I have about a 45 minute a day limit with my eyes. However. I don’t feel deprived in any way. God bless you and continue to give you his wisdom.
Your writing has helped me immeasurably in my spiritual isolation. Thank you so much.
Reading on paper is quite a different experience from reading on a screen, so I do hope you will consider printing a “best of” group of these posts.
Thank you, Father Stephen, for your faithfulness. Thanks be to God for giving you the need to write, because out of that need comes His gift to all of us who read. I don’t usually comment, but this seems a good time to tell you that I read every post and quote you frequently on my blog, and you very much help me to think, and to learn what life in Christ really is. May the Lord give you grace to write for many more years to come.
It is a place of peace for me…often an exercise in theoria. The noise stops for a while.
I have just experienced my own “Age-Exacerbated” (not “Age-Activated”) ADD day today! Lots of creative thoughts and no way to rein them in, and all my strength to focus just to complete one task before moving on to another! I had a day very much like this:
Having formerly worked for a Christian publisher, Father, I suggest thematically organizing some more of your material here and whittling down or shaping it for a another book could just as easily be the job of a good editor or a “ghost writer”. Since you craft your articles so well, it wouldn’t be that hard a job for a good reader/writer with editing skills to organize your material. Perhaps Conciliar Press is too small an operation to provide that kind of editor? If I didn’t have ADD myself and whole lot of other tasks demanding my attention, I’d offer those services myself just for the edification and pleasure of doing it! 🙂
Oh how much I thank God for your blog. It has been an inspiration to me for the last few years.
What you shared about how you write is particularly inspiring because I suffer from ADD myself and I can identify with it. In the past, I used to write my prayers and meditations. Maybe I should do it again.
I think you should have someone to assist you if you decide to work towards a book…. I like Michael’s idea and second it!!!
Wishing you many fruitful years to come.
I’m a catholic from Spain, and I’m really impress by your blog. It’s certainly changing my mind about my faith and the world and I thing i’m finding wisdom here. Thank you, Father.
Thanks for the video! Gosh it’s so true.
The first time I read anything by you was in the comments section of Fr. Kimmel’s blog, “Pontifications”.
When you started writing this blog, I followed you here. You and your writing are a very important part of my life. I read you nearly every day and I have learned so much.
May God continue to bless you and this ministry.
You are an old timer! I would not be blogging except for Fr. Kimel. I did a few guest articles for him, and he suggested that I should create a blog. I didn’t even know how – so he told me how, etc. And when it started, he and another friend sent me some traffic by referencing a link to the blog and the rest just began to happen. He remains, perhaps, my closest friend. And he’s now Orthodox.
I thank you for the gift of this blog. I can truly say that without your writing I may never have become Orthodox. I remember well the very first post of yours that I read (https://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/05/17/how-much-is-too-little-how-much-is-enough/). I followed a link from a blog published by one of your parishioners at the time. That was the beginning of my journey. My family and I have been Orthodox now for over 6 years and are presently parishioners at Holy Theophany in Colorado Springs.
Glory to God!
“In hindsight, I understand now that I write in order to think, sometimes to pray. When I write, the ideas seem to take shape and gain some semblance of coherence.”
The late William Zinsser (author of “On Writing Well”) wrote a book called “Writing to Learn,” in which he explored the idea that the process of writing helps one learn, by forcing one to refine and articulate one’s thoughts. Your blog is worthy example of Zinsser’s precept in action.
I read this blog often, and almost always with great profit. Thank you. Here’s to another 2,000 posts.
Thank you for your work.
Dear Fr. Stephen,
I tried to be the first yesterday to enter my comment on this blog post (and placed it under your initial posting, with that selfie of yours, which I liked very much!!) but, rightfully, those who try to be first will be last…
So please accept my beyond words gratitude for your work and this blog. I am a very late-comer here, but I have probably been more blessed by it more than all others combined. Meeting you, your blog and some of the friends who post here are all a great treasure in my life.
Thank you for EVERYTHING and may God grant you many more years of teaching us and guiding us towards His Kingdom. For giving us everything needed…. (love this from the post somebody reposted earlier):
How much is too little – anything less than everything.
How much is enough – only everything.
Thank you for your blog. I have greatly enjoyed your articles and photos! I have met your friend Fr. Kimel a few times,we live in the same town. Good guy.
Your blog was and has been a major influence in my begun (baptized Nativity 2007) and continuing conversion. When I was in crisis, I had Catholic and Protestant friends. I started reading Pontifications in either 2005 or 2006 to learn about Catholicism, and read your comments, which resonated. Shortly afterward, I met an Orthodox woman (now my beloved godmother) and now I had friends in all camps. The resonance with Orthodoxy increased over time, and when you started your own blog, I could not get enough of it. You may have saved my godmother’s hearing, as I was bombarding her with questions that were presciently answered on your blog.
Sometimes your writing goes over my head…and that’s OK. A lot of the time, it goes to my heart, where it needs to be, and that is the blessing of the Holy Spirit.
Thank you for your distracted faithfulness. I have found in my life that it when I live into (rather than despairing of) my weaknesses that God is most present and most effective.
Glory to God!
“Thank you for your ongoing contribution to dialogical Encounter.”
Is this Bakhtin? I can totally relate with that. Fr. Stephen’s blog is a true and living encounter in the ‘infinity’, just like the bakhtinian interpretations of Dostoevsky’s works. It is a non-stopping conversation where, even though I never comment, I’m always learning and exchanging experiences and spiritual understandings with both Father and everyone commenting here.
This is a very special place for me. As I said before, this is the place where I found a home when, already Orthodox, I was broken with that paralyzing state of mind when you’re too ashamed of yourself and your sins even to go meet your priest in the Reconciliation Mistery. What a suicide thought! Even so there I was, too ashamed of myself, feeling like a piece of dirt, forgetting everything about God’s love and mercy and… there you go! Fr. Stephen is writing about Frs. Silouan and Sophrony about ‘bearing a little shame’! Geez… how can this man speak such things like that? Write such things, as if they were written for me, for my spiritual conditions?
You healed me, Father, not once, not twice, but dozens of time. I believe God put you in my life for a reason. As I a foolish Orthodox who loved to preach about Western decadence, criticize ‘papist heresies’ and judge even the Church hierarchy and reading without absorbing anything from monastic literature, I HAD to break down, sooner or later. There were many falls, but thanks to you (ultimately, to God, of course), to all of you who comment here, I could get up.
I pray to God and His All-Pure Mother that this ministry endures for many years to come, that you save thousands of other souls like mine, embrace them in this loving community, and that we endure each other for many years to come, in love, till He comes.
Btw, I have ADD as well.
I even had the project to translate your blog to Br. Portuguese, but… that project failed. I couldn’t even begin to try this. In the end I realize I’m useless most of time, even though I think so much, so burningly about so much stuff, and in such a variety of ways… but I can’t even begin a project like this. Or anything.
It is a scary thing. That’s why I write, too. It does help, not as much it does with you, father, but it helps.
Christ is among us!
Thank you for the very kind words – I give thanks for God’s great mercy. Failing, falling, etc., are so essential in the spiritual life. God had to send a demon to do the job for St. Paul – he was so righteous! There is a true liberation that occurs when we begin to know this…and can begin to bear a little shame.
Thank you for this blog. I read as often as I can, but, as you can see I am usually behind. That’s because I often lose my glasses. Then, when looking for them, I come across some unopened mail . . .
Like David above, I too am behind in your columns and am very thankful not only for your writings but that they can be emailed so I go can go through them in order. I am a Roman Catholic mother of 8 and have been reading your blog since its beginnings. Your words of wisdom and those of your readers have many times been the topic of discussion I have with my own Spiritual Director. Countless times what you or your readers have written has been the push I need to persevere on this journey to our home in heaven with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. God’s Choicest Blessings on you and all your readers!