On Owen White to Orthodoxy

Despite many requests, I have never finished drafting a piece concentrating on why I chose to leave Eastern Orthodoxy for the Catholic Church four years ago. Some of my reasons have been woven into various blog posts, comboxes, e-mail exchanges, and Facebook threads, though I have kept several things to myself. When asked, either in person or privately online, to say a few words on the topic, I am usually willing to do so unless I get the sense that it’s nothing more than an invitation to a pointless back-and-forth. There may come a time when it is appropriate to write in more detail on what happened during Lent 2011, just as there may come a time to engage the more complicated questions about why I fell away from Catholicism in college, how I came back to Christianity, and what brought me to the Orthodox Church in the first place. The only reason to discuss those matters at all is if it might be of benefit to someone who is struggling to hold on to their faith amidst a storm of understandable, though ultimately unpersuasive, doubts. As for the question of choosing Rome over Constantinople (or Moscow), that’s harder to engage in a fair-minded manner. Most conversions occur for reasons which are neither easily explained nor objectively clear. Some compensate by peppering their tales with store-bought piety. Others opt for boldness, claiming that their intellectual rigor has brought them to the indisputable truth of Catholicism (or Orthodoxy). Maybe that’s happened a few times since the Great Schism, but I have my doubts.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed my blogging endeavors over the past decade that I was rather stunned to learn last week that my good pixel friend, Owen White (a/k/a the Ochlophobist), is returning to the Orthodox Church. What began as a startling but heartfelt act of repentance was soon revealed as part of a sudden and profound conversion experience that many individuals I interact with online are still sorting out. Rod Dreher, a frequent target of Owen’s criticisms, commented on the matter over at The American Conservative. Numerous people have asked for my take, assuming perhaps that I had some inside knowledge which Owen has failed to disclose. The truth is that I have none, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share it. Although Owen left Orthodoxy for Catholicism roughly around the same time I did, our reasons—as best as I can tell—were distinct. Based on various public statements made over the past few years, I believe it is safe to say that Owen never fully found his footing back in communion with Rome. (Then again, finding my own place back in the fold hasn’t exactly been easy either.) However, if anyone had asked me two weeks ago what sort of churchyard I expected Owen (and myself) to be buried in, I would have answered, “A Catholic one.”

This is not to say that I am questioning the sincerity of Owen’s decision to leave even if I disagree with it in no uncertain terms. If I didn’t disagree with it, why would I stay Catholic? I’m certainly not here for the liturgical glamour, rigorous discipline, and coherent leadership. There is much which is attractive in Eastern Orthodoxy and, really, the Christian East as a whole which I miss dearly. My debts to the Eastern patrimony are manifold and I have always striven to defend Eastern Christianity from some of its more foolish Western detractors. Still, as I discovered growing up and then confirmed when I entered Orthodoxy, it is much easier to be Orthodox in America than Greek Catholic (Melkite, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, etc.). In fact, it is probably easier to be Orthodox in most parts of the world, not only because of raw numbers but because the Eastern churches in communion with Rome are continually treated like red-headed stepchildren by their mother Church. The choice to be Orthodox rather than Greek Catholic—as I also discovered after many years of soul searching—should not be made on the basis of ease, which is one reason (albeit a small one in the grand scheme of things) why I left. There is nothing leading me to believe that Owen is parting ways with the Catholic Church for the purposes of ease; his choice appears to have a far more powerful impetus behind it. I respect that and so, too, should everyone else, regardless of their confessional commitments.

I write these words and post them publicly in order to close off any more inquiries into this matter. Those who wish to know more about what is going on in Owen’s heart and mind should consult his blog; he has made his private contact information available on it. As for me, I won’t be discussing Owen’s ecclesial orientation any further. In fact, I have barely discussed it at all, and I would like to keep it that way. Owen White and his family, along with my own friends and family who are Orthodox, are fixed in my prayers. I hope I remain in theirs as well.

87 comments

  1. I admit that Owen’s rhetoric during his pre re-return to Catholicism colored my view of Orthodoxy in such a way that I could never see myself comfortable in which ever parish I was (even the one where I’m a choir member!) and divided all American Orthodox into 1.) ignorant lukewarm cradles and 2.) f______ hipster nerdy posers.

    But then I was also following the (ugh) manosphere and other strains of the alternative right and I found myself, though not fully agreeing with them, undoubtedly being influenced by their way of thinking and once again judging and dividing the world based solely on what I’ve read by other guys in the aether whom I’ve never met.

    I guess my point is my own criticisms of Orthodoxy are not Owen’s fault, but my own. I’ve allowed myself to be a hanging judge and a recluse based on virtual reality.

    I wish Owen well wherever life takes him, but for my own sanity (and sanctity) I cannot follow his digital life anymore.

    1. Off topic, but can you tell me what finally got you out of that manosphere nonsense? My older son has been besotted by it, although he seems to be emerging from it (gradually) now. I have been beating my head against the wall in my fruitless efforts to explain to him that not all women are cold-hearted gold-diggers — in fact, most aren’t. And no, we’re not all looking for “Alpha” thugs, either. Good grief!!

      1. I haven’t. I believe I’m either addicted to harsh, cynical views of the world or I am literally in the clutches of a devil. I’m inclined to believe the latter due to how difficult I find it to go to confession.

        Just yesterday I was tempted to blow off going to choir practice again for no good reason. I told myself “Just shut up and go” and by total coincidence, it was the most fruitful practices I attended in months.

        I guess the point is, to defeat the passions or the influences of satan’s angels, you have to actually “shut up and do” so that they lose their grip over you.

        1. I told myself “Just shut up and go”….

          I think that’s the key.

          Do you have a spiritual father / director? If so, can you consult him about this stuff? If you don’t mind my saying so, I think you’re being too hard on yourself.

        2. I can certainly pray for your deliverance from the man-o-sphere. It is one of the great fronts in the battle against cosmic evil.

  2. I dunno, kind of getting tired of you people and your epiphanies. Then again, I suppose Owen’s story is pretty harrowing. If I went through that maybe I would have more faith too. In the meantime, I am glad I lost mine because this stuff just looks exhausting.

    1. Well, I’m not going anywhere, so whatever comes down the pipe, I’m just going to have to grin and bear it.

    2. You still seem to be Catholic-haunted though. Just got too deep into your bones Arturo. You won’t ever be able to rid yourself of it completely. Good.

      1. Same with Dreher and Owen IMHO. But alas, there is such a thing as kicking against the goad.

        Has anyone considered this? With Orthodoxy, one can have one’s pious-schmious mystical-schmystical Religious Superiority and one’s contraception at the same time. It’s win-win, right? Just ask Dreher.

      2. I don’t deny that. Heck, I even go to church on a regular basis (I don’t receive the sacraments though, which must seem weird to people.) I’m even raising my kids religious, and plan a convincing enough death bed conversion. But I don’t believe a word of it, not in any way I’m supposed to anyway. I’d like to think I have kept enough humility from religious training to know that I don’t know certain things, and a “what could it hurt?” never hurt anyone. But as for having scruples about this or that or hanging my hat on any metaphysical position or hope, that’s over. I’m not even going to pretend to do that.

        1. Actually, I rather admire what you express above. With all those Hail Mary’s you’ve rattled off in the past the Holy Virgin will pray for you at the hour of your death. Maybe she’ll crack you upside the head too.

  3. I do not at all doubt the depth or sincerity of Owen’s conversion. But I am grieved by the self-serving way Rod Dreher is exploiting it. The mawkish Dreherrhean triumphalism is frankly sick-making.

    I don’t think sincere conversion precludes clear-sighted assessment of other people’s assholey antics. I am surprised that Owen cannot see through what Dreher is doing. For Dreher, finally, everything is about Dreher.

    I for one will NOT be apologizing to Rod Dreher, the professional Catholic-Basher. I plan to write about this at Pauli’s blog some time this weekend, if I have a moment. (My son is coming home for spring break, so I may not have many free moments!)

    (I know nothing about the priests Owen has apologized to, BTW. They seem like nice people. :))

    1. Has Owen elaborated about Dreher, or did he stop at the short and perhaps obligatory note? If the latter, there’s nothing to complain about how he’s taking Dreher’s reaction.

      1. ???? I didn’t think I was complaining. I was just surprised. I believe that was the word I used: surprised. As in: “I am surprised that Owen cannot see through what Dreher is doing.”

        When I first read the apology (which apparently was also relayed through Facebook), I immediately thought, “Who are you, Mr. Body-Snatcher, and what have you done with Owen?”

        I thought it was an early April Fool’s joke.

        It still doesn’t sound Owenesque to me. Not that I know the guy personally. But there’s just something weird about the whole thing, which I cannot wrap my mind around. Hence my surprise.

        1. Moreover, my main point was about Dreher, not Owen. I am disgusted by Dreher’s self-serving exploitation of Owen’s apology — which gives new meaning to the term “maudlin.” Why Owen would lend himself to such sticky goo without barfing is beyond me. But something tells me the barf will come eventually. I’m not Owen’s biggest fan by a long shot, but I do give him credit for intelligence and insight.

            1. Um, no. My dog is alive and well, thank you.

              Dreher routinely, gratuitously, and dishonestly bashes my Church, however. For some inexplicable reason, I object to that. In the immortal words of Nathan Detroit, sue me.

            2. Sometimes, ala Evelyn Waugh, I imagine how vicious some people would be I’d they weren’t Christian, and shudder.

  4. After lurking on the old Pontifications blog years ago, I came to the conclusion that the choice between Orthodoxy and Catholicism for most people usually comes down to personal experiences, temperament, and other reasons that are often hard to articulate. This was as much true for those well-versed in theology and apologetics as anyone. I believe Pelikan himself ultimately chose Orthodoxy over Catholicism because of his own Eastern European ancestry rather than any strong, intellectual conviction. So the fact Owen — who has articulated some of the best anti-EO zingers I’ve ever seen — has returned to Orthodoxy doesn’t entirely shock me. Whatever he experienced was apparently very real, and powerful. His recent posts have been incredibly moving. I hope he finds peace.

    1. I agree to a large extent, but I think Owen will come back home to Catholicism eventually — perhaps right before cognitive dissonance makes his head explode. Like, in order to avert the explosion. Just my opinion — but it’s related to those zingers you mention. :) I shall say no more. Just a feeling, but I have my reasons.

      I never had the impression that Owen had settled into Catholicism. He seemed pretty fiercely anti-Catholic during at least some of the time when he was supposedly Catholic. Then he seemed to go through a period where his whole shtick was “A pox on both their houses.” During this period, he was pretty nasty to me. I guess I’m not worthy of an apology, though.

    2. …the choice between Orthodoxy and Catholicism for most people usually comes down to personal experiences, temperament, and other reasons that are often hard to articulate

      For me, personally, well…I’m a Westerner. Sure, I like all the Eastern stuff — the liturgy, the icons, the music. But, if I had to confine myself only to Eastern spirituality, I would feel as if I were in a straitjacket. Maybe that’s partly because I’m a Cradle Catholic, so I was teethed on stained glass and statues and holy cards and Novenas and May processions. As I said over at Pauli’s blog (quoting the Gershwins),”No, no, they can’t take that away from me.” I would shrivel up and die if I couldn’t have both East and West.

      I think some converts who come from Protestant backgrounds are kind of deracinated, in a sense. Father Al Kimel, for example, converted to Catholicism, then switched to Orthodoxy, and now seems steeped exclusively in Eastern spirituality and theology. It’s as if the rich tradition of Western mysticism and spirituality (including the post-Schism heritage) has ceased to exist for him. But then, maybe it never did exist for him, the way it does for Cradle Catholics of a certain age. I know I could never jettison the Western religious tradition; it would be like cutting off my arms and legs and maybe even gouging out my heart. Yet some people seem quite capable of abandoning, even repudiating, their own Western-ness. How? I don’t know. Maybe it’s that deracination thing. It mystifies me.

  5. It’s awfully difficult to be asked for forgiveness and not come off as insufferable — doubly so in this medium. So good for Rod. Im not much of a fan of his stuff, but I thought he responded in an appropriate and mature manner.

    1. I am not in any position to judge Owen’s apology. I object only to Dreher’s typically narcissistic and self-serving exploitation of it.

      Did the priests to whom he also apologized exploit his apology in this mawkish and very public way? No, they did not. What does that tell you?

      1. Oops, I see you were defending Rod, not Owen. Good grief, Cabbage. Give me a break. As I mentioned, Owen also asked several priests for forgiveness. Did they respond with TWO maudlin posts? No, they did not.

        If you think Rod’s response was mature and appropriate, then God help us. So, what was these priests’ response, then? Inadequate, because it did not lead to a series of self-congratulatory pious-schmious posts?

        I’ll take the discretion and delicacy of the priests over Dreher’s Living Out Loud any day. But again, that’s just me.

  6. There are two things about this that I’m still unclear about. First, and maybe I missed it, what the reason was for making the ceremony public, which may be oxymoronic because making it public immediately makes it ceremonial. Second, will Owen now be buying Rod’s book about how Dante saved his life to complete his healing process?

    1. Yeah, the public thing mystified me, too. I am thinking that perhaps Owen’s confessor required a public apology, since the offense had also been public. That makes sense to me.

      Personally, I prefer three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers. But that’s just me.

    1. A quick search of Owen White-related articles/blog entries from around the internet over the past week clearly suggests that no one is more obsessed with this matter than Diane (try the search and see for yourself). And the source of her obsession is clearly revealed here and elsewhere to be the fact that, when Owen apologized to the four men, he did not apologize to her (Diane).

      Well, I guess it does seem obvious from her posts (from all times on all matters) that Diane is indeed the center of the universe. And no matter what the topic at hand, it is ALWAYS about her. However, in truth it appears that it is Diane who owes the apology, and that is to everyone who has ever had the misfortune to read her posts over the years. And even though Owen has been a beast to so many in the past, he has only spoken truth to Diane (the same truth echoed by so many others) and, therefore, owes her nothing.

      God bless Owen and his family, whatever has happened to him. May he be spared the grotesque nastiness spawned of other people’s unbridled narcissism. Life really is too short.

      1. Well, from what I can see, in this internet forgiveness industrial complex she has precious little to barter compared to the trade potential between Owen and Dreher. I just pray that relative poverty doesn’t make her bitter. You, however, seem to have a promising career as a pimp.

      2. This. A billion times this. “Why is this not about me? I’ll check back later to see if it is about me, right now my sons . . . ” And when you call her on this interminable narcissism, out comes the pop psychology and the cheap accusations of misogyny.

        Diane, please start your own blog, or confine yourself to your manchild friend John Beeler’s.

        1. Amen, brother! Well said indeed. I’ve read Diane for years and am glad to see that someone is finally calling her on it.

          1. Lol, you guys crack me up. If you object so strongly to what I write, why have you been reading me for years?

            I can safely assure you that I never read you. I don’t even know who you are.

            And the same goes for this McCord character, who seems to labor under the singular delusion that he can dictate what I do on the Internet. Control freaky much?

            1. There’s the pop psychology right on schedule.

              Diane, we either have to not read comments on this blog, even the insightful ones, or we have to wade through your unfiltered, un-self-aware, unedifying blather. It is not fair to blame us for reading you, God knows we don’t want to. And, if you want to act like I am the only person who has basically asked you to stop ruining comboxes, you are even more delusional than you seem.

            2. You mean you have to read my comments, whether you want to or not? I’m sorry, but I find that just a tiny tad difficult to believe.

              The bottom line is that you seem far more preoccupied with me than I am with you. I suppose I should be flattered. But nah.

              It’s pretty funny, though.

            3. So, when G posts something well researched and insightful about integralism and the SSPX, and you come on and dismiss everything he wrote and others commented, because traditionalism is a fringe element, and we shouldn’t preoccupy ourselves with it, because what is really important is . . .

              that someone wants to reintroduce hymns from the 70s to your Novus Ordo parish . . .

              I should just not read that, even though it entirely dismisses the post at hand? I should just dismiss you as an old crank and let you do it over and over again?

              It never occurs to you that that was a tremendously self-involved and offensive gesture on your part? And that making this post about you, and what you presume to think about Owen’s future, and what you think about Rod Dreher for the 50000000th time, is not completely narcissistic and tone-deaf?

          2. I would respond to your comment in greater depth, but I’m afraid I didn’t read beyond the first sentence. See how easy it is to avoid reading something you find distasteful?

            You see, I just have this general impression of a nasty, rage-filled person sputtering in impotent fury. Ugh. Who wants to read all the way through something like that?

            1. “You see, I just have this general impression of a nasty, rage-filled person sputtering in impotent fury.”

              Diane, since you are the resident pop psychologist you ought to recognize that what you have written here epitomizes “projection.”

            2. We both know that you read every word

              You are delusional.

              What on earth is your problem, Brian? I have no idea who you are. I care even less. Yet you come out of whatever woodwork you lurk in to attack me. Why? What have I ever done to you? I neither know you nor do I care to know you. And if you honestly think I hang on your every word, then all I can say is that there are meds for that. Seriously.

              Mamma mia.

              Go ahead, honey. Rage on. Pound your little fists and stamp your tiny feet. But I just ran out of Troll Food, so I won’t be feeding you any more today.

            3. I’ve explained “what you’ve done” to me and to all of us in some detail. You clearly don’t have the capacity to own up to it, and this is still clearly about you, so go on, have the last word. If Gabe won’t flush you, we’ll have to keep skimming past you as best we can.

      3. Good post, Servant. I pray for Owen as well and hope that he may be spared such malevolence at this time in the name of decency.

      4. Servant,

        I imagine Diane’s obsession with Dreher correlates to the later’s obsession with the Catholic clergy abuse crisis. At least Diane isn’t paid and given a platform to write on the same topic over and over again.

        And even though Owen has been a beast to so many in the past, he has only spoken truth to Diane (the same truth echoed by so many others) and, therefore, owes her nothing.

        Owen spoke the truth to Dreher too. In the end Owen took the higher road I guess, but Rod “Muzhik” Dreher is owed nothing save contempt.

    2. Why, thank you, Wu!

      Where exactly in the Bible does it say that forgiveness and charity mean condoning evil actions (such as Rod Dreher’s relentless public Catholic- bashing, his narcissistic exploitation of other people [including his dead sister], etc.)?

      Many pious Orthodox share my assessment of Rod’s actions, btw. Apparently piety need not mean swallowing kool-aid.

      1. Good grief, Bernard, what on earth is your problem? Last time I responded to you, it was to agree with you about something.

        Are you suddenly a Dreher Fanboi? Who knew?

        What is with the OrthoConvert Crowd and their sympathizers? While they piously accuse other people of uncharity, they themselves exhibit some of the most breathtakingly vicious behavior seen this side of a Romanides Rant.

        If this is what Owen has returned to, I feel genuinely sorry for him.

    3. You betcha. She sounds so nice!
      I have no idea who she is, but she seems to be personally offended by Owen’s return to Orthodoxy.

      1. Huh? I am talking about Dreher, not Owen.

        Are reading-comprehension skills no longer taught in our schools? No wonder verbal SAT scores are slipping.

        This is perhaps the most surreal combox I have ever encountered on the Internet. And one of the nastiest too. If y’all think you are making a case for your religion, well, all I can say is: delusional.

        At least Julio engages issues a and refrains from personal attack.

        But yeah, Hira whatsyername, feign your pious-schmious crap while engaging in ad hominem. That’s a great testimony to Orthodoxy. Not.

  7. Children, children…

    I really didn’t write this post with the intention of turning the combox into a slug fest. Heavens…

    1. I think you do a masterful job here. I also think there may still be one or two Inuit on whom it has not yet dawned that the internet is Warhol’s paintbox, nothing more and nothing less, and that everything done here, even by you, becomes performance art to some extent by virtue of the medium in which it occurs. There are, of course, other media. When did you last write your mother in longhand? Too, long, by anyone’s measure. But none of those other media offer that delicious instant gratification and public feedback that doing anything on the internet does, from prayer, to asking and granting forgiveness, to fornication.

      And so you addressed the subject of Owen and his public internet performance art well and to the full extent you felt appropriate, but, unlike other posts you have made, this one and its penumbral contexts of reverberating showmanship drew quite a bit of extended interest, from all quarters, all doing no more and no less than what Owen originally began.

      1. all doing no more and no less than what Owen originally began

        Now that you mention it….

        When people Live Out Loud, they should not be surprised if they get discussed publicly.

        Just ask the Kardashians.

        1. Diane, your self-unawareness if off the charts.

          “I am talking about Dreher, not Owen.”
          ***Except your posts at Pauli’s are all about Owen. Was it really a coincidence that you wrote about the Catholic Church immediately after he returned to Orthodoxy? Come on, Diane, we’re not that dull. You even describe your confusion that he hasn’t offered you an apology. And then follow with your ubiquitous LOL! Hell, even when Owen wishes to beg for forgiveness at his own blog, you write, “What about women? ;)” LOL!, indeed, Diane.

          And then here on this very thread you write, “I guess I’m not worthy of an apology, though.”

          I’m going to go out on a limb here, Diane. You are more worthy of an apology than anyone, because you are one of the most vile, disgusting humans I have ever encountered. And in the most saccharine, banal way possible. That’s what makes it so evil. You are an argument against EVER joining the Catholic Church, just out of pure fear that one may run into someone like you therein. It would take great humility to humiliate oneself to ask forgiveness of your kind. No, no, like you, I prefer my 50 hail Marys and 100 Our Fathers. That forgiveness shit is, how do you put it?, too “pious shmious.”

          Finally, in the ultimate expression of your self-unawareness, you write, “When people Live Out Loud, they should not be surprised if they get discussed publicly.”
          ***So writes Diane the baby-killer. And killed so that it wouldn’t interfere with you and your future husband’s convenient bourgeois existence? Away with you; now get to your three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers.

          1. Another courageous anonymous poster! Emerging from under its slimy rock! Prepared to read my mind and soul, despite not knowing me from Eve.

            Online Convertodoxy has to be the sickest, nastiest community on earth. Or, as Owen once put it, a fever swamp.

            Poor Owen.

  8. Here is my (uninvited) 2 cents regarding this issue, which I was originally going to post on Rod Dreher’s blog, but decided against (for obvious reasons):

    I have never met Owen White in person. However, I’ve often enjoyed his writing over the years. And like Father Jonathan above, I do not write many long comments on public blogs nowadays since I got rid of all my social media accounts and started a job that takes up most of my time. However, like Father Jonathan, I felt it was necessary to speak up.

    In spite of not knowing him personally, I always thought of Owen as someone who I’d probably get along with in real life. I understand that by basing that judgment only on his online persona, I run the risk of being mistaken. Sure he often came off as curmudgeonly and acerbic, but I count many people with similar personality styles as my friends. So when I found out he was returning to the Catholic Church a while ago, I did not think much of it. Because if he seemed to be a good father, a good worker, and a good man as an Orthodox Christian, I didn’t assume that would all be erased by his being in communion with the Pope of Rome. That is not to say that there is no difference in the two churches and that those differences do not matter. I would not remain Orthodox if that were so.

    When I found out last week that he intended to rejoin communion with the Orthodox Church, I’ll admit a part of me was glad. I am Orthodox after all, and it is nice to share the Chalice with others who have given me cause to think over the years. But my next two thoughts were: “Something big must have happened. Not good or bad, just very meaningful. I hope Owen, his wife, and his little ones are well,” and “Dear God, just give it a few days and the denizens of the interwebs are going to start parsing and analyzing this. He probably just has to be left alone right now.”

    That is not a criticism of this blog or this blog’s owner. The topic of Owen’s reversion to orthodoxy (and the unhelpful over-analysis of it) has come up already in other places. If I’m addressing anyone it is some of the individuals who’ve volunteered their analysis here, especially their analysis of his motives, the likelihood of his remaining Orthodox or reverting to Catholicism, or other unhelpful “insights” into his psychological state. Here are my suggestions, which are free and probably just as meaningless as everybody else’s, so take them for what they are worth:

    1) I know that sometimes when people switch churches it may just seem like they’ve abandoned “our team” so there is a reason to be hurt. If you (rightly) have the conviction that ecclesial affiliation is more than just a matter of preference – like icecream flavor or whether you prefer Netflix over Amazon Prime – then you’ll probably also have an opinion that the individual who “switched” is wrong (or right) in their choice. Even so, changes in ecclesial affiliation are not sufficient cause to end friendships if the person that made the change was someone you truly loved and respected. My wife and I have a couple of dear friends, formerly Orthodox, who for various personal reasons have left communion with the Orthodox Church. The wife of that couple asked my wife recently if we have not been speaking to them as much lately due to their change in loyalty to the Orthodox Church (the reality is we are both being beat up pretty bad by a number of responsibilities, stressors, and deadlines that are keeping us from having too much contact with anyone). Upon further conversation, it seems their fears were not unfounded: several so-called friends of theirs have basically shunned them since they left the Church. To me, that is ridiculous. Are we Amish? Are we members of some cult that somehow cannot have contact with those “on the outside”? I find the whole notion to be idiotic. If you felt Owen to be a bright, insightful man, skilled in his verbal abilities and wise beyond his years while Owen was a Catholic, I don’t see how his being Orthodox changes that.

    2) What is the point of going beyond what Owen wrote? He asked forgiveness of some people, especially for the sin of having taken pleasure in what he perceived to be their failings and for encouraging others to do the same. At no point does it say that he agrees with them, their teachings, or their views. Or that he is going to read the rag they write for or purchase their self-help manuals. I can ask forgiveness of someone for my nastiness towards them and still believe that what they write, the books they’ve published, and the views they espouse are all hogwash, not worth my time, and not something I’d recommend.

    3) Owen White, if you are reading this, know that I will light a candle for you and for your tribe this Sunday and place your name on my family’s commemoration list for the proskomedia. You shall remain in my prayers, as you were before going Romeward, as you were while Catholic, and as you would still remain if tomorrow you decided to go Romeward again. May God be with you, brother.

    — Julio Gurrea

    1. A thoughtful, charitable response. I don’t agree with all of it, obviously, but at least it’s substantive, not just a prolonged snarl.

      When Owen was not lashing out at me and others OR fantasizing about disemboweling the bourgeoisie, I really enjoyed his acerbic wit and inventive snark. I hope he does not turn all pious-schmious now and completely abandon his gimlet-eyed incisiveness.

      And thanks for using your real name, BTW, instead of hiding under gooey anonymous monikers like “Servant.” One of these days I will start posting as Humble Handmaid of Holy Fool Xenia. Then I can be as nasty and vicious as I please and mask it all with a veneer of oleaginous piety. Yessir, that’s the ticket. Seems to work fine in these parts.

      1. I usually use my real name. If I am posting with my BlogSpot account, my username (Anaxagoras) usually comes up, but I try to sign my real name on the bottom. I figure that if I care enough about something to comment on it, I should stand by it publicly and openly. The only exceptions are cases where I may comment on something in a way that may mean professional suicide for me. An example would be commenting about a topic regarding sexuality. Although there is no scientific basis for some of my field’s views regarding human sexuality (I work in mental health), pointing such lunacy out publicly could result in one being branded as persona non grata in the professional community. And my family does still have to eat.

        That is the only exception I can think of, really.

        — Julio Gurrea

        1. The only exceptions are cases where I may comment on something in a way that may mean professional suicide for me…

          I work in the fashion industry, and I know exactly what you mean.

  9. (It seems the blog doesn’t like links. Here is my trapped comment with the links adulterated. Those needing verification can find it easily enough.)

    This is an interesting development, one profoundly novel and ugly enough to try to understand in full.

    Annie Mouse (Anony Mouse?) writes above

    ***So writes Diane the baby-killer. And killed so that it wouldn’t interfere with you and your future husband’s convenient bourgeois existence? Away with you; now get to your three Hail Marys and three Our Fathers.

    Diane the baby killer? Out of this whole discussion, where did that come from? Search enough, though, and this turns up

    contrapauli blogspot apology-melodramatics Comment=1425944933787#c6285926490198187056>

    Oh my gosh, I think he was referring to me. I had an abortion and wrote about it in Patrick Madrid’s Envoy Magazine.

    In 1997.

    Um, who is the obsessed one here?

    What prompted that? Who was referring to her? Apparently this did:

    contrapauli blogspot apology-melodramatics Comment=1425939457725#c6800116077107026421

    Which in turn seems to be a quote from here, from Rod Dreher himself

    victory-from-the-front-lines comment-page-1 comment-7308058

    I had a perversely pleasure minute or so thinking about the kind of twisted mind that would think I cared. I know that one of those three committed a terrible sin in youth, one that might explain the subsequent derangement.

    So Owen reverts to Orthodoxy and forgives Rod Dreher and others. Rod Dreher accepts his apology, but in his victory post takes the time and opportunity to reveal to everyone that he knows about a sin one of his never forgotten enemies committed in youth. Diane assumes it is her and reveals something from her past. And Annie Mouse seizes upon the opportunity Rod Dreher first offered the public in his victory post and tries to use it as a final killing stroke against Diane here.

    Forgive me for saying this doesn’t sound to me either Catholic or Orthodox in its carefully orchestrated poisonousness but rather something straight from the Medicis or Borgias.

    And why was this chain of information about youthful sin ever launched by Dreher in the first place? Wasn’t the only point supposed to be Owen’s apology? Forgive me again if I choose not to forgive or accept forgiveness anywhere near the company of Rod Dreher, Owen White, or anyone else involved in this internet production. I have youthful sins myself.

    1. I obviously reversed the roles of White and Dreher as forgiver and forgivee above, a mistake of sentence placement only, not of understanding.

  10. I know several of the characters on this thread. I know Diane personally and have no reason to believe she is an evil person. I have also had fruitful online interactions over the years with both Owen and Gabriel. A few of the other people here used to comment on my old blog. But I shall comment only on the phenomenon of conversion between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, not on the ugly personal exchanges, which I find to be tiresome distractions and certainly not of God.

    Though I seriously explored Orthodoxy as a college student, I am a Roman Catholic and plan to stay that way. In keeping with the Catholic Church’s doctrine as well as with her ecumenical stance, I cannot honestly presume that a Catholic (be they Roman or Eastern) who goes Orthodox is jeopardizing their salvation just on that account. Such decisions are presumably made in good conscience even if I believe them to be objectively mistaken. So I still consider Owen White, Fr. Kimel, and others who left Catholicism for Orthodoxy to be among “the good guys.” It would take a lot of incontrovertible evidence for me to change that view.

    I agree with the commenter above who suggested that converting from Catholicism to Orthodoxy or vice-versa is usually a highly personal and subjective thing, with intellectual considerations secondary at best. I say “usually” because it was not so in my case. Despite loving “the East” in the sort of way Diane does, I chose Catholicism over Orthodoxy for exclusively intellectual reasons. But I take no offense when others disagree with those reasons. These are rather subtle matters that, in my experience, few people have the both the ability and the time to work through.

    My prayers go with Owen, Diane, and all involved.

    1. I find the way you write interesting, Michael. I don’t know either you or Diane from Adam or Eve, but I have no reason to believe either of you is an evil person, practices poor personal hygiene, or secretly yearns to have sex with small animals.

      But before I pretend I really didn’t want to say any of that at all about you, Michael, but only wanted to talk about something more noble and uplifting, in looking over this whole thread I don’t see a reason to judge Diane or most of the others at all, either overtly or in the passive manner of professing ignorance of a potential inventory of possible sins which could be laid upon them such as you began your comment with.

      For what Diane and others legitimately raised here was not just the virtue of Owen asking forgiveness on the cusp of his conversion but also the immediate perversion of that quest for forgiveness and rebirth by the parties involved themselves into something more profane and utilitarian at best, something savagely odious in places at worst. If what Gabriel Sanchez is doing here is of any value at all, illuminating the poorly perceived would be it, not just stating and elaborating the obvious.

      Most of us already know what we need to do to try to be good, Michael. What is more instructive though, usually, is learning more ways not to be bad, such as, for example, not obliquely damming someone with faint praise.

      1. Thank you, Kent! :D

        Several of my friends have read this thread. They are aghast. As one friend put it, “Can these people even hear themselves?”

        The vile, vicious garbage in this thread is neither Catholic nor Orthodox. It is not even Christian. Not even remotely.

        As another friend put it, there’s a difference between being Christian and “playing high church.”

        If these people’s religion has nothing to do with kindness, charity, mercy, or even simple civility, then I want nothing to do with it.

        1. Thank you, Diane! :D

          Several of my friends have read this thread. They are aghast. As one friend put it, “Can this woman even hear herself?”

          The vile, vicious garbage in this thread is neither Catholic nor Orthodox. It is not even Christian. Not even remotely.

          As another friend put it, there’s a difference between being Christian and “playing high church.”

          If this woman’s religion has nothing to do with kindness, charity, mercy, or even simple civility, then I want nothing to do with it.

          1. Thank you so much for proving my point, John, you big brave manly man, you!

            As you obviously made up your friends and their reactions, you have added lying to your other charming m.o.s

            Yours lovingly,

            Humble Handmaiden of Holy Fool Xenia

            P.S. I notice that you do not dare to respond to Ted, Ita, or Kent. Georgie Porgie, pudd’n and pie….

            1. Oops, I meant to say “Yours piously.” Because it’s all about piety, right? Love has nothing to do with it.

              If you respond, o big brave manly man, please direct your response to Ted, OK? I double dare you.

  11. And on that note, I am out of here. This has been quite an eye-opening experience, and I plan to comment on it further, but I will do so in a venue where I am safer from the pious ministrations of the Jerks for Jesus. Feel free to spew more bile, JFJs. But again, I dare you to direct your hate-filled responses to your fellow males. I mean, are you men or mice?

    1. My criticisms have been of your combox behavior, which you have never owned up to or apologized for. You derail threads with your constant self-referential posts and rude dismissals of topics that do not interest you or align with your narrow, superficial worldview.

      My problem is with your behavior. Yours. Not the behavior of these men you invoke. Yours. You want to make this a matter of convertodox, of misogyny, of anonymous blog handles . . . it’s simple. You behave rudely in comboxes and I have asked you, in my own name, rather clearly to recognize that and stop. You immediately move to deflect any criticisms or assign them convenient motives that avoid your having to confront . . . your behavior.

      I also did not dredge up your past sins, which are between you and your confessor. I don’t care about Rod Dreher and I am happy to let Owen work out his salvation with fear and trembling. I am talking to you very clearly. Do you have the capacity to recognize that and respond adequately?

  12. Thanks to one person this blog post, which was thoughtfully written and had the seeds of a good discussion, was taken over in the combox and, yet again, ruined. I’ll let you all guess who I’m referring to.

    1. I just now went back up through the thread and reviewed each of your contributions to this post, Robert. I would encourage others to do so as well. I believe the scriptural term for your gift to the entire conversation would be “chaff”, which, thankfully, would not constitute ruin or much of anything else, so congratulations on daring to fail not at all and achieving it greatly.

      Outside of your dribblings, though, what I read was a wide-ranging and rigorous discussion of just what these things such as Owen is going through involve not only for the subject but necessarily tempt and provoke others to in turn. In other words, while perhaps a blog post different from the harmless pabulum you might have been weaned on, one which certainly has not been “ruined” by Diane or anyone else.

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