Time for Another Reset

Monomakhos has grown by leaps and bounds since it first burst onto the blogosphere in November of 2010. It’s been a rollicking fun time along the way. Our numbers are more than respectable and for that I’m very grateful. This blog is read reguarly throughout the United States as well as other countries, even in countries where English is not the primary language. (Particularly Russia and Turkey interestingly enough).

For this we cannot thank our readers enough.

More important than the real numbers is the fact that Monomakhos has probably become one of the largest blogs in the Orthodox Anglosphere which provides a forum for robust and open debate. In addition, we are not afraid to go where some in leadership positions would rather we not. Sometimes it gets raucous. Equally as important however, we have opened up the inner workings of the various local Churches and shed some sunlight on them. On at least three different occasions I can think of right off the bat, we have been able to interrupt (or at least help others do so) certain events as they were unfolding, much to the consternation of some in of authority. Others have used us as a megaphone and in doing so have achieved positive outcomes. This may have been upsetting to certain individuals but the very fact that some plans have been derailed proves that they may not have been good ideas in the first place. I could be wrong but time will tell. Anyway, I’ve always believed that sunlight is the best disenfectant. The First Amendment is not a license for the Press to print money but to hold our leaders to account. (Accountability and Transperancy, where have we heard that phrase before?)

As a result though, some people whom we have discomfitted think that Monomakhos has gotten too big for his britches. Nothing could be further from the truth. I, your humble correspondent, am the chief of sinners. I know my limits and I don’t write anything that I know to be untrue, defamatory, or slanderous. And anyway, a lion’s share of the great stuff on this blog is provided by you, the readers. A lot of the good that has accomplished has not been without cost to some very good people. Brave people I might add who chose to come forth and express their concerns about certain developments in a forthright and open manner. The Lord knows who you are.

Unfortunately, certain correspondents have used the popularity of this blog to impugn others. They usually do it anonymously. The First Amendment has its limits –as well it should. That’s why everybody’s comments have gone into moderation and will stay there until I hit the “publish” button. For the time being, I am going to put on the Cap of Monomakh and act as Blog Czar, approving those comments I deem appropriate with my signet ring and hot wax.

OK, so now you can relax. But the defamation of living individuals has got to stop. If I read something which is personally hurtful to a living person, or just responds to a hurtful comment made by another person for the sake of keeping an old vendetta alive, then I will delete those comments licketty-split. I will even go back and delete comments made by that person in the past. Historical figures are of course exempt from innuendo and calumny. If Bishop Joe of Kokomo had a secret wife in 1936 and ten children and it elevates the conversation about episcopal celibacy, then it is worthy of commentary.

As I have mentioned several times in the past, I do not censor the commentary and only under great duress have I had to moderate certain individuals, especially if they used profanity. Part of the reason for this is because I have a full-time job with a lot of bone-crushing overtime. This blog is a labor of love (which means I don’t get paid for doing it) and so there’s only so much time that I can devote to it. But if I see the names of living individuals being defamed and/or profanity being used, I will gladly hit the “delete” button.

Even though I have waited until today to publish this policy, it seems that some of you have taken the hint. That’s good, beause what we do here –all of us–is important. Plus, I really like doing this blog. I believe that we provide a necessary service to our Church by allowing the open questioning of policies which come to our attention. I guess it’s no surprise to tell you that some in the hierarchy and administration of the various jursidictions would close us down (and the entire internet for that matter) if they could. Already in the secular world, important voices have been shut down because they breached the inane pieties of Political Correctness. People like Naomi Shaeffer Riley, Pat Buchanan, Juan Williams, and John Derbyshire to name a few. This is unconscionable in a free society. Others, like The Virginia Pilot choose to avert their eyes from mayhem and self-censor themselves. The fact that they look ridiculous doesn’t matter, what’s important to toadies like them and The National Girly-Man Review is not being disinvited from eating at the Sultan’s table. Well, fie on them.

Anyway, we’re getting far afield. Monomakhos is here to stay. If those in positions of power don’t like the criticism found herein, all they got to do is change their attitudes or at least inform the public. Nine times out of ten, a simple explanation will end criticism, even if it’s constructive. And of course, they are more than welcome to post whatever they want on this blog. My prohibition against censorship extends to them as well.

Readers, we have our work cut out for us. We’ll continue having fun along the way, but we will never shy away from our primary function and that is to freely discuss what is going on in our Church, our nation, and our culture. Let’s keep the debate elevated and on topic. Let me get specific here: When I post something about the work of Professor X I won’t let it turn into a Two Minute Hate against Dr Y. If you feel I have neglected something, tell me. If I make a mistake, call me out on it. If new information comes to the fore about an old subject, go back into the archives, pull out the relevant essay and write something, it’ll go right to the top of the comments column. See if it generates interest. Even if it doesn’t, the fact that you thought it was important enough to respond to is good enough for me.

We have a long way to go and we must “work while the day is upon us.”

Again, thank you for making Monomakhos what it is. Let’s keep it that way.


  1. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Does that mean that the old rule, “de mortuis nihil nisi bonum” does not apply?

    • George Michalopulos says

      I take you point Your Grace, but if we abided by that maxim, then all the history departments would have to close up shop. I’m very much conflicted about this and I ask it in all sincerity.

      How about this: instead of speaking ill of the dead, we speak about their deeds and misdeeds in as neutral a fashion as possible? (This is addressed to all, not merely His Grace.)

      • Fr. Philip Vreeland says

        I may be wrong, but methinks His Grace is playing with his old and dear friend, Mr. Irony, in asking about the “de mortuis . . . .” maxim. George, your comment about the history departments is neat; I can’t imagine their teaching the history of WWII and not mentioning Hitler.

        Irony is really fun, and Bishop Tikhon is a master of the art. I thought of him yesterday while homilizing on the Gospel narrative of the man born blind. One of His Grace’s favorite examples of irony is, as I remember, to be found in the formerly blind man’s third response to the questions from the Pharisees.

        • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

          I DO love that Gospel of the man born blind and then healed. i love the tartness, even sarcasm of the healed man and his family: it’s just as good as our Saviour’s “You SAiD it!”/”YOUR words; not mine!”

          The parents: “Go ahead and ask him yourself; he’s a grown-up!”
          The cured one: ” WHAT? Who ever heard of a baddie performing cures?” and “Hey, wassup? You wanna be one of His homies, too, huh?”

          Those who fear sarcasm or irony love to imagine that everyone spoke with literary finesse and punctilio in the Scriptures.
          Charlotte Bronte hit the nail on the head with reference to getting sharp and tart with some of our fellow contributors here. She said:
          “Conventionality is not religion. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the other. To pluck the mask of hypocrisy from the face of the Pharisee is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns.”

          • Monk James says

            The Bronte quote was worth the price of admission!

            One of the most interesting parts of this gospel section is the question which the Pharisees ask Jesus at the beginning: ‘Did this man sin, or his parents, that he was born blind?’

            Unlike their counterparts the Sadducees (tsaddiqim ‘righteous men’), the Pharisees (parashim ‘separatists’) believed in the resurrection of the dead. To my knowledge, this is the only place in the scriptures where they express themselves in terms which suggest that they also believed in human pre-existence.

            In several forms, this notion is discussed in some jewish biblical commentaries. One theory is that the Lord created a finite number of souls (nefeshim) who take turns at being incarnated as various human beings, dying, going back to the ‘well of souls’, and repeating the process until God ends it all. Clearly, this idea is very similar to some gnostic christian tenets, if it’s not their actual source.

            Personally, since orthodox christian theological anthropology has always asserted the complete uniqueness of every human being, I’ve always thought it odd that Jesus is not recorded as clarifying that point before going on to say that ‘Neither this man sinned nor his parents….’

  2. I appreciate your desire to maintain both quality and civility. This is an editorial policy worthy of a Christian gentleman.

  3. George, your blog just keeps getting better and better.

    It IS a place, perhaps one of only two, where honest and robust debate is permitted (the American Orthodox Institute being the other contender). I deeply appreciate the work you are doing and the effort it requires, something I know well about from my own blogs.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. I have only recently starting reading Monomachos, and only very recently started participating actively. It is not my intent to defame any person. But I will not stop commenting when they choose to defame themselves by their own words and actions. Power and authority are not granted by God without responsibility and accountability. And a high office is not a license to abuse.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I agree with you Sasha. I don’t want to stop criticism of any living person on this blog by any means. Having said that, I would hope that the criticism be constructive or at least illustrative in some positive fashion. For instance, yesterday I criticized the Holy Synod’s decision to elevate bishops to archbishop automatically after five years. It’s not an evil thing they did but it certainly puzzles me. It did seem inapt in some way that I can’t quite my finger on. Anyway, being tossed a rhetorical lemon I started thinking about how to make a rhetorical lemonade out of it. Basically thinking aloud.

      As to the earlier point, what was becoming worrisome to me was that this blog was being used in venomous ways to settle old scores.

      Regardless, I intend to continue “calling them as I sees them,” and I hope y’all do as well. We need more scrutiny, not less.

      • There are too many current battles to fight to worry about old scores.

      • Anna Rowe says

        Thank you George for hosting this forum. It provides the opportunity to experience what other Orthodox are thinking and saying outside one’s own parish and local area. I have also been able to reunite with friends from the past. Appreciate your efforts. It is no easy task.

  5. Monk James says

    My thanks to George Michalopulos! Many, many years!

  6. Ronda Wintheiser says

    Christ is risen!

    Sunlight makes for fresh air.

    That’s definitely what this blog is.

    Thank you. 🙂

  7. Ronda Wintheiser says

    I hope it’s not inappropriate for me to say this here… but I suppose Monomakhos will figure that out for me, anyway, so here goes:

    My 19-year-old daughter and I were delegates to the Minnesota State Republican convention Friday and Saturday.

    I am happy to report that Congressman Ron Paul took 12 of the 13 national delegate positions.

    The 13th position was a tie between a Ron Paul delegate and Michele Bachman; the RP delegate graciously conceded.

    Dr. Paul’s supporters also took all 13 of the national alternate positions in Minnesota.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I too, voted for Dr Paul in the Oklahoma primary. And thank you for your kind words.

  8. StephenD says

    Does that include everyone or can some people like Barbara Drehzlo and Mark Stokoe be fair game..?

    • StephenD says

      I do think you have a wonderful site here and this site has ,I think,stopped some foolishness and lifted the rock on some major mendacity,,You do a great job George

    • George Michalopulos says

      StephenD, I realize that I have violated the civility rule at times, and it’s real easy to look at La Drezhlo as a walking joke, but yes, that would include them.

      While you brought it up, I’ve had to undergo some introspection. I’d like to think that whenever I took on Stokoe, I took on his ideas and his actions, rather than his personality. Now that I think about it, I’ve been caustic at times.

      As for La Drezhlo, the less said the better. (That is one whacked out worldview if you aks me.)

      • StephenD says

        I hear you but we are all walking the same path and I hope still open to changing our ways and hoping for redemption and grace…

      • Patrick Henry Reardon says

        George remarks, “I’d like to think that whenever I took on Stokoe, I took on his ideas and his actions, rather than his personality. Now that I think about it, I’ve been caustic at times.”

        I have not noticed this in you, George.

        I have objected, however, to references (links?) to some alleged art works in which Mark Stokoe—along with others—was subjected to truly cruel ridicule.

        Even before the present post—for the past month or so—I have observed a significant improvement in the civility and moral tone of the comments on this blog site.

        I wondered if this improvement was the yield of extra vigilance on your part. Apparently so.

        • George Michalopulos says

          Thank you, Fr.

          Just a comment in general: I wish that there was a live or televised forum in which Orthodox Christians could debate like the old Firing Line debates. Oxford rules or some other such rules would be fine. Why isn’t there? It’d be much better to get it out in the open rather than to be secretive about things.

          • Lola J. Lee Beno says

            For that to happen, we’d have to have a good number of people in the US who are believing Orthodox Christians creating such a demand and an infrastructure on par with Moscow Patriarchate. And of course, a media that isn’t anti-religious. Sorry to be Mrs. Debbie Downer, but that’s the reality.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Lola, you are not a Debbie Downer, but a realist. We Orthodox must realize that society and the secular institutions are not going to be in favor of us. Whatever we do, we must do on our own.

          • Patrick Henry Reardon says

            George wonders, “I wish that there was a live or televised forum in which Orthodox Christians could debate like the old Firing Line debates.”

            Ah, those were the days. You’re right, George. Things were more robust back then.

            One recalls the instance when William Buckley (on the ABC regular Sunday talk shows) said to Gore Vidal, “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I will sock you in your goddamn face.”

            In 2007, Vidal posted an interesting reference to that instance.

            Check out his comment at http://minx.cc/?post=218028 (comment 2)

            When Buckley died in 2008, Vidal penned an obituary entitled “RIP WFB—in hell.”

            Later that year, in an interview with the New York Times, Deborah Solomon asked Vidal how he felt when he heard of Buckley’s death. Vidal answered, “I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.”

            Are you sure, George, this is the style we’re looking for?

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Fr Patrick, I too remember viewing that exchange on Youtube when WFB died. That was a unique occurence though. As for Vidal the Blasphemer, he should not be so sure whom he has consigned to hell.

              Regardless, the overall point is that a debate can be robust and free-wheeling. Even if it degenerates to slander (I don’t think WFB should have called him a “goddam queer” but I can certainly understand why he did so), it can be righted right then and the offender called to account.

              Having said that, by the rules of rhetoric and argumentation, WFB could be excused for saying that because Vidal hurled a gratuitous epithet at him. According to the rules of engagement, “a gratuitous statement can be refuted gratuitously.” In fact, had WFB let it stand, then he would silence would have ratified it. (We’re talking formal debates here, not normal social intercourse, where we are enjoined to “turn the other cheek”.)

  9. M. Stankovich says

    Mr. Michalopulos,

    Let me first say that, in my estimation, you have been nothing short of an ever-gracious, patient, tolerant, and accommodating host, and I am grateful to you for sponsoring this platform.

    You have opened this “reset” in regard to defamation in specific. and I completely agree it has no place among people of good will (though I am not always convinced it is understood as “knowingly false”). I would note that it seems vital to me that you likewise speak to the relationship between defamation, impunity, accusation, and truth.

    I would argue that what we witness in the confrontation between the Prophet Nathan and David the King – “You are that man.” (2 Sam 12:7) – was impunity and accusation, demanded of the prophet by God Himself and most certainly the truth. And likewise the confrontation of the young rich man (Mk. 10:21), and so on. But to be clear: it is the truth that impugns and accuses, not the accuser. I truly believe that those who are forced to impugn and accuse with truth are deeply saddened and troubled with the task, not cagey, tempting, and “relishing” the every detail.

    False accusations are divisive, but innuendo (as I’ve said here before) so frequently leads to “wrong” opinions, which may well an equally bad footing. I’m, interested in your comments, and I don’t envy your task.

  10. cynthia curran says

    Well, George I didn’t vote for Paul. I thought he was right on the housing situation but thought he was a typical libertarian like Cato and Cato thinks alright to legalized drugs-uncertain if that will work and selling your body. Now, selling your body and make it legal doesn’t work any better since European countries that make it legal still have the sex slavery being imported in. lso, Cato is very soft on illegal immirgation and agianst some restrictiosns on legal immirgation during a recession. I voted for more liberal Mitt since I thought that maybe like Eisenhower who was moderate that oddy enough he would be better on immirgaiton. Ike was the last president taht was sucessful in this and his operation wet—- was sucessful in the 1950’s.

  11. Patrick Henry Reardon says

    George pledges, “If I read something which is personally hurtful to a living person, or just responds to a hurtful comment made by another person for the sake of keeping an old vendetta alive, then I will delete those comments licketty-split.”

    Thank you, George.

  12. Thanks for sharing. What a plaesrue to read!

  13. cynthia curran says

    Mr Vidal wrote a book on the emperor Julian. Mr Vidal like Emperor Julian since he was critical of christians. There was one good insight on Julian’s part Christians that waited foward the end of their life to be bapists in order to wash away their sins. This was a comon practic ein the 4th century and Julian is right here that people that think they can just commit sins and then wait until near their death bed are not really christians.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      We probably owe some gratitude to Julian the Apostate for FINALLY installing a non-Arian “Ecumenical” Patriarch for the first time since BEFORE the First Ecumenical Council. St. Constantine was one of those who waited to be baptized until near death: even then, it was an Arian hierarch who baptized him (some of our wilder folk today would now declare that he was Never baptized, right?). And he never bothered to bring the anti-Arian St. Athanasius back from exile. Reminds me that the Constantinople Church was in the hands of Uniate, “filioque’-repeating Patriarchs until rescued (not by the Laos-“guardians of the Faith”) by Sultan Mehmet who, upon conquering the city, caused a non-Uniate, Gennadios Scholarios to be made a Bishop and placed at the head of the Constantinopolitan Church, while the Uniate Patriarch, Gregory, by the time the city fell, fled to Italy to become a Cardinal, like the last Greek Metropolitan to head the Russian Church, Isidoros, who, driven out of Russia by the Great Prince, also fled to Italy to advance his career. Doesn’t the Constantinopolitan, or Ecumenical, Throne hold the absolute record for a diocese’s frequency of falling into heresy?
      Nestorius, too, held that seat, no?