Ochlophobic Questions

Owen White has opened the next chapter in his fascinating, engaging, and provocative web-logging career with a series of form Q&As with a number of other bloggers, writers, intellectuals, etc. who have influenced him over the years. You can find out more about the series here. Some of the people “profiled” so far include Pater Edmund Waldstein (Sancrucensis), Adam DeVille (professor and author of Eastern Catholic Books Blog), and John Medaille (a leading Distributist thinker). For reasons unbeknownst to me, I was asked to contribute to the project as well, though given all of the balls Owen has in the air at any given moment, it may be a bit before my answers show up on his blog.

As some of you already know, Owen and I first crossed paths (swords) many moons ago over his rightly infamous überfromm posts — the first comprehensive takedown of (American) Orthodoxy’s dominant pathologies that I had ever encountered. In fact, I can’t say that I have ever encountered a better one since. Whether people want to admit it or not, those posts, along with many subsequent reflections on being Orthodox in America and its attendant politics, changed the way many Orthodox bloggers approached their confessional haunt. Sure, there are far more pseudo-pious Orthodox blogs out there than not, but the fact there is even a contingent which are willing to take a hard look at the glories and miseries of the Eastern Church in the West is because of Owen White.

I can’t say that I agreed with him much at the time, though Owen’s observations have a way of rattling around in the heart and mind. Finally the noise gets irritating enough that you have to open yourself up to remove it and that is when you have to take a fresh look at what was driving you mad. I am sure if one drew up a list of every topic Owen and I have a shared interest in, no matter how remote, we’d wind up on opposite sides more often than not — and that’s a good thing. Even though we have never met in person, I have no qualms about calling him my friend; and should we find ourselves once again bloodying our knuckles over some matter political, theological, or ecclesial, we’ll both come out the better for it.



  1. Diane Marie Kamer
    September 2, 2014

    If only he weren’t so personally unpleasant. Once he takes a dislike to someone, he can be viciously insulting, which does not exactly win hearts and minds. He also apparently labors under the delusion that working wives and mothers who have high-stress jobs and college-age kids have time and energy left over to be obsessed with him. NPD, perhaps? 😉

    I must admit that factors like these temper my appreciation for his brilliant, provocative, incisive (etc. etc. etc.) writing.

    1. Yousuf Rassam
      September 4, 2014


      I imagine you are just utterly incapable of embarrassment.

      I can but note how totally I am embarrassed, how much I cringe, reading your response above.


    2. mome
      September 7, 2014

      Viciously insulting or whimsically insulting. It’s all the same thing.

  2. Owen White
    September 3, 2014

    This was very kind Gabriel. Thank you.

  3. Bernard Brandt
    September 5, 2014

    Thank you for this posting. More particularly, thank you for putting some attention toward Owen White’s new endeavors. The questions themselves are worthy of Proust’s Questionnaire, and its later iterations by Bernard Pivot and James Lipton as well.

    Fr. Yousuf,
    Sorry to use this forum to do so, but I believe that you owe me an e-mail. I received your very kind letter, which was hand delivered at my wife’s and my fifteenth wedding anniversary party, and I responded within a couple of days by e-mail. If you had not received my missive, do please let me know.

  4. […] those curious, my answers to the Owen White’s deceptively difficult “Ochlophobic Questions” is up on his web-log here. While I know he would say no thanks is necessary, I also want to […]


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