Saturday, April 30, 2011

Farewell the Ochlophobist as he closes his blog and returns to Rome

As I noted in a recent post Owen White is shutting down his blog of many years.  In a farewell post he answers a number of questions which I know people (including me) have been asking, either aloud or to themselves.  Most were more or less in line with expectations.  Although his decision to return to Rome took me by surprise.  But these things are always deeply personal and while I know some will criticize him, I cannot.  None of us are infallible in our judgments.  All we can do is try to discern right from wrong as best we can according to such lights as God grants us, and then act accordingly.  In the end we are all (or should be) slaves to our conscience. 

Farewell my friend, and may God grant you many years!


Anonymous said...

Many years, Owen!

sjgmore said...

It's too bad that his last post is about the only one I've liked in about 6 months. But at least he ended it in such a way I can wish him the best in my heart and really mean it.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

He will find many kindred spirits in the Roman church.

DefensorFidei said...

Can't he just turn Episcopalian, or -- given his aversion to attending liturgies -- just give up the charade and stop calling himself an adherent of any church? Sorry to sound nasty, but from the orthodox Catholic point of view his upcoming reversion is no reversion at all.

Ochlophobist said...

Uh. yeah. I guess I should go renew my subscription to The Wanderer.

DefensorFidei said...


No, really. I'm just hoping that you'd be honest with your convictions instead of clothing it with that of an institution whose teachings you obviously despise.

DefensorFidei said...

I guess Arturo needs company, though.

That's going to be my last comment. God have mercy on the two of you, and on my sinful soul.

DefensorFidei said...

I guess Arturo needs company, though.

That's going to be my last comment. God have mercy on the two of you, and on my sinful soul.

Anonymous said...

I can see why he left Orthodoxy after the twin scandals of Metropolitan Philip and Metropolitan Jonah. He was a relatively new convert and these two issues were not helpful to his faith or anyone else's for that matter.

I thought he was too much a contrarian. I didn't appreciate his attacks on John Eldredge, for example. If it is better to light a candle then curse the darkness, I hope the Roman Catholic Church helps him shine some light.

In my opinion, there was simply too much cursing the darkness in his blog towards the end of it.

Orthodoxy has some work to do to clean house in order to better retain sensitive converts.

Columba Silouan

Ochlophobist said...

Shine Jesus Shine and all that Columba. I first walked into an Orthodox church in 1992. I took me nearly a decade to convert, and then I spent a decade in the EOC. I don't mind any number of dismissals and such, I rather liked the last comment on my blog referring to me as a dog returning to his vomit, but saying that I was a "relatively new convert" begs a lot of questions. 20 years of familiarity of Orthodoxy and 10 years of intimacy with Orthodoxy ought to have at least gotten me to intermediary status. Something past novice anyway.

Ochlophobist said...

Why can't we use the routine nomenclature and say I never had the right phrenoma?

Anonymous said...

Never cared much for the blog...too much posing. Anyway, I wish the guy well.

Swingline said...

I hate that I missed the last post. As a convert, Owen's curmudgeonry helped me temper a lot of the convert pathology that so many are prone to.

I wish him well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Owen, my thought wasn't to dismiss you.

Dismissing you isn't my place or anyone else's for that matter.

God will be with you in the Roman Catholic Church, just as He was with you during your time in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He is bigger than our divisions.

I hope you will find more peace among the Romans then you found among the Orthodox. There are great examples to follow there.

As I stated in my comment. Your departure is a failure of the Orthodox Church in recent years. Sometimes there is that "Orthodox Revolving Door." It continues to spin, unfortunately.

I would have liked to read your last post, but I'm not an invited reader.

Finally, your "Shine Jesus Shine" comment isn't far off the mark. I'm finding there is still a large amount of Evangelical / Charismatic left in me. We'll see what that brings. But my taste in music was never "Charismatic" so that helped to drive me into the arms of the Orthodox Church.

"Shine Jesus Shine" is a Graham Kendrick song, and it never has done much for me. I found it to be too emotional and sentimental. But it was a better effort than a lot of Charismatic praise songs. It at least has some content.

I prefer songs like "Lift High the Cross."

Like you, I've grown somewhat disillusioned. The Orthodox Church "on paper" seems to be a lot better than what is actually "on the ground" right now. Lord have mercy on me a sinner.

As I've stated before, I believe the Evangelical Anglicans right now are doing a better job than most Orthodox parishes in spreading the gospel.

Fr. Ken Hatfield has recently written a booklet on Baptism and the Great Commission. I think he is spot-on. Churches that have no interest in reaching the lost can't really be called The Church.

Blessings in the Holy Trinity, One God.

Jon Marc said...

I'm surprised a change in faith wasn't visible - you could see it coming from miles away. I remember another blog I followed for a while at some point subtly changing, becoming bitter and frustrated...and suddenly the person was in an independent Anglican denomination. No offense Owen, but at some point your blog just changed, quite understandably given all the silliness that's gone on lately in American Orthodoxy. I hope you're able to find peace in Rome!

Anonymous said...

Truth is that Orthodoxy in America-especially the very self-conscious variety with "mission-statements" etc- looks and behaves like a sect, compared to what's going on in the old world. The problems there are totally different, the atmosphere too. So, I agree that in America the Catholic church is in a way more similar to what Orthodoxy is in its lands.
I myself am Orthodox and will always stay so, but only out of family loyalty and such. I do not care a bit about dogmatic stuff as such.
So, Rome is a much better option in America, anyways, than the little sectarian "Eastern Orthodox" world.

Dixie said...

Our "have it your way" American culture just doesn't mesh very well with Orthodoxy. The concepts of authority and obedience in America are almost foreign...apart from fear of the IRS. And maybe even that isn't so common any more.

Orthodoxy on the ground is messy. (Hey, I am in a Greek parish and you ain't seen a mess until you've worked a few festivals!) The Catholic church on the ground is messy. The Baptist church on the ground is messy. Lutheranism on the ground is messy. It's all messy. And if it ain't messy then somebody somewhere is covering up something to hide the mess. We sinners are messy. The Orthodox Church shows us that and gives us a great place to live out our lives in repentance.

I dropped the Ochlophobist from my news feed quite a while ago. One can only take some much railing against something one loves...and I do love the Holy Orthodox Church. So this was very surprising news to me.

I hope the Ochlophobist will find rest for his soul in his new church. Perhaps he can if he goes in with his eyes wide open and is prepared in advance for the mess he will find there.

Anonymous said...

Eldridge's awful, awful work was the one who convinced me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and American Christianity are incompatible. Criticizing anyone - let along an Orthodox Christian - for attacking Eldridge is, well, astounding.


Ochlophobist said...

M., you'd be amazed how many Antiochians are into that refuse. And not just them. Light & Life used to (and perhaps still does) publish a book on the Orthodox Purpose Driven Life. I jest not.

CNI, I love you. You were always my favorite commenter.

John Marc, Anyone who read my uberfromm posts from 4+ years ago would not assert what you have asserted. My criticisms then were the same as those in the end. In the middle somewhere I tried to be a bit more pious. That didn't quite work out.

Columba, aside from our very different perspectives on Church, theology, morality, civility, and for all I know, breathing, I feel your frustration in this sense - The American Orthodox Church has particular camps within it which present themselves to potential converts as normative for Orthodoxy when they are decidedly not so. Thus many, like you, have been misled. That does suck.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance.

Sr Margaret said...

I'm with the person who said 'Many Years!'. To Owen and Joy and the three wee redheads. I am the kind of person who needs to avoid delicious church gossip for the good of her soul but I liked his photographs and will miss them. So, Owen, if you come back to read this… cheers, have a drink some day for a nun who can't. Perhaps you will like my only story so far about wearing a habit. I was in the store buying two bottles of wine for a housebound friend in Lent and the man in front in the queue, undoubtedly a Catholic, said, "Let me get those for you, sister…" :)

Teena Blackburn said...

Never, "good riddance." How terrible to think it a good thing when someone leaves the Church-no matter what your personal opinion of them. I personally am terribly distressed and sad that he is leaving.

DNY said...

Well, I suppose if North American Metropolitans are going to act like popes, . . .

I still insist that that ecclesiology is erroneous, whether the pope in question is in Englewood Cliffs, Syosset, Istanbul or Rome.

Sophocles said...

I echo Teena as well. Not at all "good riddance". I too am quite saddened as since coming on to the blog scene several years ago, that blog used to be my favorite for many different reasons, amongst which was a sheer honesty that is hard to come by.

It made many in the Church uncomfortable because that honesty was directed in such a way that cannonballs where fired at many of the presuppositions we Orthodox hold as sacred cows.

Now I myself and many others hold those presuppositions comfortably, but in my experience in the Church I have found in so many cases a real difficulty to really get to be at home in the Church. Perhaps this process is one that takes a lifetime to acquire. I myself struggle with much as I am a rebel at heart. Maybe we all are.

Add to Owen's leveling such theological questions and making us uncomfortable his outing himself as a Marxist. Wow. Not only theologically does he disconcert us but he hammers at the sacred cows of many of our hard core beliefs as Americans.

None of this is to say that I agree with any of his decisions. I do not. But I too agree with a statement he made on his final post that he no longer cares to debate theologically because the vagaries of what people believe and why are beyond me. This is not to say that I believe there is no place for theological debate as I most definetely do believe there is. What I am saying, and I echo Owen here a bit, is that I am not nearly as smart as I used to think I was and therefore I am much more reluctant to jump in there and hash it out with someone, especially over the impersonal Internet where I do not have the benefit of seeing someone face to face and knowing anything about their lives.

I have thought about posting on a certain phenomena I have observed in the short time I have kept a blog for some time, namely, how I think it wise to not blog for new converts. Of course I am not laying down a blanket rule but I have seen in more than one case those on fire with their new found faith expire some time later. I myself face that same temptation.

I keep a certain prayer rule. To be brief, amongst my daily prayers is one I ask of St. Maximos the Confessor before his icon:

"Humbly I ask for your prayers most Holy Saint Maximos for the keeping of the Holy Catholic and Aposotlic Orthodox Faith till the very end of my days and that it(the Faith) may bare much fruit".

I say this prayer because I know myself to be fully capable of leaving for whatever reason(s). We live in evil times my friends.

Many Years to you you Owen. I still think I would very much like to meet you. May the gracious Lord be with you.

Anonymous said...

Everything needed for ones salvation is right inside their parish Church - the rest truly doesn't matter.
May God bless you on your journey.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

but he hammers at the sacred cows of many of our hard core beliefs as Americans.

Well, also those of an awful lot of Slavs, Syro-Lebanese and Greek immigrants who've actually experienced what happens with collective ownership of the means of production.

Ochlophobist said...

I've been told by a couple of friends who are quite intimate with ROCOR that while the convert clergy tend toward tea party politics the Slav clergy tend to be social dems.

The vast majority of Syro-Lebanese Orthodox in the U.S. are supporters of the Assad gov't.

The KKE (Greek Communist Party) is growing leaps and bounds in Greece. Several of the Greeks I know have relatives and friends back home either in the KKE or who have participated in some of the many KKE organized protests there. One of the central committee members of the KKE is outspoken about being Orthodox, and the Greeks I have talked politics with here seem to blink an eye at the idea of someone engaging in communist political activity.

So try again.

Especially during the most robust years of my blog a month would not go by without some Orthodox person from an "Orthodox country" or from Western Europe emailing me after having read some of the comments of American Orthodox tea-party or neo-con types on threads on my blog. The question was always the same. Is that line of thought representative of most American converts? It was as inconceivable to them that one could be Orthodox and a libertarian or a neo-con as it is to AOI types that one could be Orthodox and communist. But I know, I know America is the city on the hill, God's exceptional place, that beacon which will turn all of world Orthodox toward the right understanding of human political ordos.

Sophocles said...

"Greek immigrants who've actually experienced what happens with collective ownership of the means of production"

Uh, did I miss something? When was Greece communist?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Social democrats--same thing.

Godspeed to the KKE, working hard for the day when every Greek lives off every other Greek. And yet more net tax payors leave Greece.

The conflation of Marxism with Christianity is just delusional. It is an entirely secular and modern doctrine from gnostics who think they can create heaven on earth.

Monastic communities practice collective ownership. For that matter, my family practices collective ownership. Beyond that, it's just envy and theft.

Anonymous said...

Thats all the RCC needs, another communist posing as a Catholic. Communism is not compatible with Catholicism, nor is it with Orthodoxy. Better get your head screwed on straight before you get whip-lash from all your "conversions" and "reversions". The truth is, you are just looking for a suitable petri dish for your false ideologies but you will never be satisfied because your ideas will never be accepted. When you realize that "Liberation Theology" and "Catholic Workers" are disobedient fools... where will you "convert" to next?

Teena Blackburn said...

Dorothy Day is up for possible canonization, I think-and I know there are a few doctrinally orthodox CW houses.

Francis said...

The handmaid says it best. Too bad to see some 'strangling' comments where Owen has come for 'room to breathe' in the RCC.

I am not sure that one being in the process of canonization is too helpful, but I will add that Oscar Romero, like Dorothy Day, is moving through the process...personally, I think you a fool if after becoming acquainted with them, you do not ask for intercession.

Owen, I will miss the ochlophobic rules and hope there will still be some Auden and Whelsh material at your new playing ground.

Jnorm said...

Look, Owen would still be Orthodox today if he didn't try to control everyone, especially us evangelical protestant converts to Orthodoxy. He never liked us and he always talked bad about us.

What he needs to do is stop trying to control other people based on his own Pius personal convictions, and start controlling himself.

He also needs to learn that the Church always had scandals! Name a time in 2,000 years when it didn't? He should of been thankful to have a bishop! No bishops is perfect! I mean come on! If we live in the real world then we are going to have real problems in the real world. Real problems are suppose to happen. But it's not up to us to fix them.

I was raised Baptist and my group didn't have Bishops. Yeah, the Episcopalians had bishops, but when I became Orthodox I was thankful to actually have bishops! I saw it as a blessing! Bishops deserve our respect!
Owen often disrespected them. He disrespects American evangelical and pentecostal converts to Orthodoxy as well as Americanism in general.

Orthodoxy is going to take shape in this country in the way that it can. We are Americans and so it's going to look American. Owen was scared of this. He hated it! But you can't stop the inevitable! And so he is running to Rome, but what do you think Rome is going to look like as it continues to gain protestant evangelical and pentecostal converts? There is no where to hide Owen! You will have to face your fears of Americanism eventually.

Francis said...

I sometimes wonder how it seems people have read the blog and also seem never to have read it.

David said...


Are you suggesting that those who agree with Och are the only ones who have truly read him?

Francis said...

In a way, yes. Vitriol based in unclear reading tends to neglect the sweeter aspects of another's case...and results in a violent reading of the text and/or a violent response. It is like the coin opposite of Pieper's flattery.

What I mean above is that it is not the reading of the blog that comes out in some comments, but the commentor's disposition.

There are those who disagree and there are those doing something else.

I suspect one could say that Och was vitriolic. Though he wrote an entire blog that when read, begs a different account of his personality.

Milton T. Burton said...

If the Greek Communist Party is growing by leaps and bounds, maybe this means that unfortunate country is now going to try seventy years of utopian imbecility like the Russians did. The only thing wrong with communism is that everything is wrong with it. It starts out with a foolish premise: that man may be brought to near-perfection by perfecting his outward economic and social environment. It goes merrily on its way, all the while oblivious to the realities of human nature, the most constant of which is human self interest. It does, however, end with a sort of equality: the equality of misery. Except, of course, for those lucky few who are running the show. They seem to have cottoned on to the notion that while "all animals are equal, some are more equal than others."

That said, I like Owen a lot as a person and respect his heart even though his mind seems to lead him into what I regard as some really strange places. I wish him peace and contentment in the Roman Church.