On Anonymity, Housekeeping & Other Things

Things seem to be blowing up all over. Not just in the political sphere, but in the spiritual one as well. There is only so much that Gail and I can address, and housekeeping rules tend to slip to the bottom of the list.

So think of this post as one of our very infrequent “time-outs”; the need to set things straight, if you will.

One of the bugbears of many you, our esteemed readers, is the question of anonymity. This has been a hardy perennial in the garden of Monomakhos. It bothers me, as well. I wish that this was a blog in which everybody signed their name. (After all, Gail and I do.) Having said that, in a better world, there would be no reason for anonymity –none at all.

Unfortunately, we do not live in that better world.

I cannot stress this enough: I truly wish we could restrict ourselves to only publishing those comments which are non-anonymous or not pseudonymous. In other words, real names. There is a problem, however, with being so principled and that is this: it could very well restrict the truth from ever getting out. Therefore, we think of this challenge as a risk-benefit calculus. Specifically, which principle is higher: the publication of a truth thanks to anonymity or its suppression out of fear.

We believe that the truth –no matter how unpleasant–must come out, or at least have an avenue where it can come out. It is not our job (nor desire) to protect corrupt people in high places. This is a forum for honest debate and commentary on many different fronts and not a scandal-sheet. Therefore, we will not allow any poster (anonymous or not) to defame anyone simply for the sake of gossip, especially without any evidence. What constitutes evidence? An arrest record, a court docket date, an open accusation; that is, anything in the public sector is fair game. (Yes, we know that certain bishops had hasty transfers from overseas assignments, but unless a mug shot is provided, we will not be going down these rabbit holes.)

Let me be perfectly clear: because of the culture of fear that permeates many Orthodox dioceses (of whatever jurisdiction), priests, deacons, and laymen often have no recourse to air their grievances. Monomakhos, therefore, is their only remedy.  We have no intention of changing that.

Another thing that needs to be said:  Gail and I spend many hours a day, at our own personal expense to put together this blog. Sometimes we’re up well into the night writing a story or researching it. This includes comments. We often have long discussions about what we write.  I’m not complaining, just explaining. This is a labor of love for us. But it is indeed laborious.

Having said all that, we can move on. 

Every now and then, we get a fantastic comment, one which is a game-changer. We don’t usually do this, but we can be so impressed that we’ll take the liberty to post it as a full-blown essay in and of itself. Like I said, it hasn’t happened very often but when we do, the response to our publishing it is usually positive. Often, overwhelmingly so.

And that is good.

Therefore, please keep this in mind when you write a comment.  Know that once you hit “publish,” it belongs to the blog. You have one hour to edit it, amend it or even delete it, but if you don’t, it’s ours to do with as we wish.

The opposite is also true.  Your comment may never see the light of day. We reserve this right, as well.  Especially, if it’s defamatory or written in bad faith. We have no time for trolls.

Anecdotal stories and the sharing of information is fine, but please don’t abuse the privilege.  Sometimes we see people trying to redirect the conversation.  If you have something you’d like to share, say it once.  Talking about how much you like a given author, as an example, and recommending different books he wrote and advertising the classes he’s in the process of offering, over and over again, gets old for a lot of people.  After a few posts, we’re going to start deleting them to give the blog a rest. 

We also like to publish essays every now and then. We don’t actively solicit them but if we like them, we won’t turn them down. Having said that, once you submit an essay (and we agree to publish it), it will be published as is. Please don’t try to contact us after fact and ask us to edit it. We simply don’t have the time. So, let me repeat: if we agree to publish something which you wrote, make sure it is ready to publish as is when you send it.

Now, for the trollery: please try not to pick apart what people are trying to communicate.  If you don’t like a particular word or phrase someone has used, as an example, leave it alone.  We all have different tastes.  And try not to be overly critical of other commentators; criticism is fine but nit-picking not so much. If a person makes a mistake, so what? Look at the broader picture; critique that, not a misspelling or a slight factual error.

And one more point, and this is important.  [Editor Note:  The following comments were inserted after publication.]  Do not put our readers down by saying something like you’ll only dialog with certain types of people and try to ferret out who someone is to be assured they’re worthy of your time.  This is pretty condescending.  We judge ideas here, not people.  There may be saints and holy people in our midst, but this is for God to know.  If this is your expectation, this is definitely not the blog for you.

If we believe you are sincere, we will try to reach out to you to explain our concerns, but we don’t have time for long emails.  If you don’t want to converse with us on the phone, you’ve pretty much tied our hands with respect to showing you the curtesy of an explanation and an opportunity for you to change your status, should you want to.  

Finally, we will not allow anybody to dictate what we publish on the blog.  We do us.  If you want to do you, start your own blog.  If something doesn’t meet your expectations, skip it.  You don’t need to tell us about it.  If you think it’s scandalous, say a little prayer.  We’ll have something you like better on another day.  

In Christ,

Monomakhos and Wife.


  1. This is my new favorite blog. I love that you interact with your readers in the comments. It’s one of the few media that is challenging the recent innovations in praxis (some of which will lead to or have lead to theological innovations). If you could get permission to publish a short article titled “praxis and theoria” from the newsletter “DOXA” of a certain small Orthodox monastery I think it’s an article that deserves wider circulation than just in a print newsletter and touches on the innovations. Even if you can’t publish it I recommend writing to them to get a copy to read for personal edification. I guess this particular jurisdiction tolerates them or is unaware that there is a naysayer hiding under their nose. May God bless them!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Thanks, John. We’ll look into it!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      John would you please send me a link to their website? Thank you!

    • That article in the Winter Issue of DOXA was fantastic. I used it for discussion in a woman’s group in which I am a member. My purpose was to generate discussion about the innovations that are happening in our parish (priest double masks & face shield for Holy Eucharist, no kissing of icons or crosses, etc) and to discuss good intentions leading to Good, etc. Our group discusses many difficult topics such as capital punishment, right to life issues, family struggles, alcoholism, and other topics including lighthearted ones. It is a wonderful fellowship. The group is dedicated to the Theotokos and what is discussed there is confidential to the extent that we feel comfortable to expose our hurt and struggles knowing it will not be gossiped about. If we are deeply concerned about something that is said, we speak to the individual personally and encourage them to talk to the priest if necessary. Those “rules” are solemnly kept. Also, the discussion topic and any accompanying materials are sent to the priest in advance so he knows what it being discussed. After all, it is a parish group and he needs to be kept informed. He did not read the article prior to our meeting this time.

      The meeting was over Zoom, which we all know changes the dynamics of everything. Hence, a matushka from another parish joined us who does not know me. She lives far enough away that had the meeting been in person like it was pre-pandemic, she would not have been there. Generally the meeting is in person and is only women from my parish who know me really well.

      The article raised the hackles on the necks of many. But, since we love one another, we discussed what was helpful to us and pushed us to consider the difficult points. However, the matushka was very incensed at the “monk who has no clue,” statistics and “wanting grandmothers dead” and other things. I kept redirecting the conversation back to the article and my purpose in bringing it to the table.

      Unfortunately, someone (I suspect it was the matushka but have no proof) went to our parish priest after the meeting to say I was “undermining” him blah, blah, blah. After his call to me and a long discussion, I sent out an email apology to the those who attended apologizing for the kerfluffle and “misunderstanding”. The response was “What are you talking about?!! It was a great discussion! Nothing to apologize for!!!” Except for one, the matushka who said, “That’s okay. I know what it’s like to be misunderstood.” By God’s Grace, I laughed at that.

      Many ladies called me to assure me they had no problem with the article and discussion, were confused, etc. One told me that the article prompted her to think about her fear about the pandemic and pray about it!

      I’ve been called “hostile” and “intense” by my priest. As well as laughed at for calling him out on his politically tinged sermons.

      It’s interesting times. No matter. God and His Truth will prevail. And I won’t shut-up. St. Athanasius pray for us!

  2. First off, thank for all of the work you and Gail do on for the blog, it really is nice to have a meeting place like this in the times that we live in.

    Second, agreed on in being an ideal world, people can use their actual identities. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal world. If there are members of the clergy (or laity) who have big news that pertains to all of us, but they have to use their real name rather than a pseudonym, how often will it get posted due to retribution from the hierarchy?

    If you all do chose to make use our real names (mine is my chrismation name), maybe have the stipulation that if there is big news and people choose to remain anonymous they can send it to you and Gail directly (which I’m sure you already do).

  3. You are no longer fighting alone George
    You should rename your blog, ha ha

    • George Michalopulos says


      Honey, what do you say?

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Well, you and I have been fighting behind the scenes, together, sight unseen, for probably a decade now. Now that the cat is out of the bag, maybe we should do something. Our readers are coming up with some pretty clever ideas!

    • Ronda Wintheiser says

      I agree! I suggested this some time ago!

      How about calling the blog : ἀγωνίζομαι ?

      A verb instead of a noun?

      To contend for a prize, struggle

      As in “I am struggling, striving (as in an athletic contest or warfare); I contend, as with an adversary.”


  4. Austin Martin says

    I just want to say that even though I often disagree with you, and yes I realize I’m the lunatic in the comments section, I really appreciate what you do (for better or worse).

    This is one of the very few avenues where the hierarchy can feel the lay people pushing back on them. I imagine it is difficult for them to understand how their decisions affect real people, since general Church workers are made up of people outside normal market and societal forces. I would imagine that a few of them are secretly grateful for you.

  5. If a name change is made, it should be in keeping with the blog’s original identity and intent. The plural form in Greek would be, ” MONOMACHOI—–they who fight alone.” Nothing else will do in my view.

    • Art Samouris says

      “Orthomachoi” perhaps?

    • “Monomachoi – those who fight alone… together.”

      Yes, it might sound a little Anchorman, but I think this represents our dispersed locales, yet united front quite well, with a touch of humor.

  6. Pat Reardon says


    I was disappointed to learn that the last word wasn’t a verb.

  7. This is my new favorite blog as well. I tried to post a comment before that my wife and I have been feeling very isolated right now. There are no churches, even within 7 hours drive, that don’t require masks and/or tell us not to kiss the icons, etc. Honestly, at this point we don’t know what to do. We’re lost. On the one hand we feel we have to stick to our beliefs. On the other, we really have no church home. I have no desire to denegrade or even think badly of our bishops, but it seems no one is standing up for Orthodoxy outside of some laity and a few priests. Outside of the comments section of this blog, I have almost no one to talk to about this stuff who seems to understand where I’m coming from, much less agree with me.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Well, you are welcome here and there are plenty of us to talk to.

    • So glad you found this blog, Seraphim. I’ll keep you and your family in my thoughts.

      Thank you for hosting us, George and Gail. What a tremendous labor of love!
      Thank you too for allowing anonymity! I would not be able to contribute otherwise — not for fear of church authorities, but rather because of my views on current cultural trends.

    • What state are you in? Set up a chapel at home and download the readers services from Fr. John Whiteford if you have not already. You are not alone. Hold Fast.

      I would also like to see a defense of the banning of icon veneration and why it does not controvine the 7th ecumenical council. That a serious discussion is avoided and anyone who raises concerns is labled an Old Believer or an Arm Chair Bishop shows that this directive is rotten.

      • Dan, we live in Idaho. We were even looking at driving to another church occasionally if we could find a normal one, as in we were willing to drive 6-7 hours one way. But even there we haven’t found one. We got our hopes up cause there was a Russian church that looked like it would work but it turned out to be part of a schismatic group. Something like the Russian True Orthodox Church. Ever heard of it?

        • There is a ROCOR parish in Boise, Idaho: https://stseraphimboise.org/

        • Seraphim, Fr Peter Heers offers courses on Patreon and he has a discourse board associated with the group. There are people who post on there who haven’t been able to attend church, so you’re not alone. I have four young children, including a newborn, so driving a few hours for services isn’t feasible right now. With few people to talk to locally, both Monomakhos and the Orthodox Ethos group on discourse have kept myself and my husband from feeling like we’re going crazy.

    • George Michalopulos says

      If there are no churches nearby, I would recommend a daily prayer rule. On Sundays, do the Typika or something abbreviated.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        And keep posting here!

        By way of explanation, George and I held up your previous post so he and I could talk about it. There is a risk sharing emails and communicating through FB that I don’t want to expose you to. That being said, George and I recommend that you become a regular poster on our blog. Get to know people first and then George and I can discretely exchange email addresses for you if you both agree.

        We do have trolls on the blog who keep a low profile, respond well, but are psychologically impaired (and that’s putting it mildly).
        There are two that I can think of right off the top of my head and it’s possible they’re the same person. I wouldn’t want you publishing your email and having some psychopath, pretending to be a friend, know how to reach you or your family. It’s too dangerous.

        Having said that, there are some wonderful people on the blog who would love to get to know you. As time goes on, they will step up and ask for your information. If it goes through me, you won’t be exposed on the blog AND I’ll probably know the person so it will be safer for you and your family.

        Please keep posting here!

        • Gail, thank you for that explanation. That seems fair and thanks for looking out for us. I will definitely keep posting.

  8. My favorite blog as well, hands-down. Keep it up you guys – the dynamic American Orthodox Christian duo!!

    I’ve struggled for probably 30 years now with how to be both an American and a faithful Orthodox Christian who loves the Lord and loves His Church. I claim no overseas homeland aside from America. I’ve adopted Russian Orthodoxy as my faith, which itself is very multinational (millions of Christians in the ROC are not Russian at all).

    Sometimes – these days, moreso than in years past – I feel that being both Orthodox and American are becoming increasingly irreconcilable. Though at heart, they’re not – there’s no reason that the leftist hold on American life and public culture should be permanent.

    I cherish this outlet as a platform for Orthodox North Americans (and Brendan in Scotland!… really any English speaker, I guess) to share our thoughts with each other. For those of us who eschew modern “social media,” there are no other similar outlets out there.

    As our Orthodox hierarchs of different jurisdictions increasingly dislike each other, and as the traditionally Greek Orthodox churches tend to say “our way or the highway” to the rest of the Orthodox world, and with covid hysteria… well Monomakhos (or Monomakhoi!) is very much needed.

    I was just talking to my wife last night how not even 50 years ago in 1970, very little of Orthodox Christian literature, culture, history was even in the English language. Almost all of it was still only in Greek, Russian, Arabic, Serbian, etc. In that light, this blog and our Church in North America is a miracle!!

    In the words of the ever memorable Fr Alexander Schmemann, “Anyone capable of thanksgiving is capable of salvation and eternal life.”

    So yes, very much – Thank you!!

  9. Μολων Λαβε says

    I thank you for your website and your sustained efforts.
    I discovered an Antiochian Orthodox church here in North Idaho.
    No masks required. Everyone receives Holy Communion from the same chalice and spoon (labe). Praise be to God ! I have found a family of Warriors In Christ !

  10. Thank you for your kind thought, FTS. But always remember
    (no matter how bad it gets), as a Christian you should be an optimist.
    I have this on the highest authority:
    Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:
    but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.