Some Groundrules for This Blog

I took the liberty of removing a couple of comments today, including one of mine, and am taking this opportunity to state what I will maintain as some groundrules for this site.

First, this is my site, not the public’s, so that freedom of speech is not the rule. Comments are welcome but only if they are kind to others and show mercy. God, Scripture tells us, is kind “to the unthankful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). And we are commanded to be like Him in these very things. The internet is full of judgment and unkindness (so is the world around us). If people have a need for that sort of thing, they do not lack opportunities – but they will not have the opportunity for it on this site.I believe that we are able to say, with St. John Chrysostom, “Glory to God for All Things,” because God is good and His will for us is good. If something troubles you, there are kind ways to address it and merciful ways to treat any subject. Such comments, even if they are disagreements with postings, are welcome. I do reserve the right to remove comments that seem to cross bounds or give offense to God or the faith.I hope in my postings to be edifiying and thought-provoking, in the best sense, and at least worth reading. If that is so, then this blog will be worth taking time to create and to read.

If these groundrules are observed (kindness and mercy), we will all have avoided some sin and temptation and that itself is a good thing.

I would add that I do not post assertions of heresy against Orthodox clergy. That is a formal charge, and there are ways and places to make such charges. But to publish such things on my blog is slanderous and a sin. I cannot do so.

May God bless you as you visit, and forgive me if I give offense at any point.

16 Responses to “Some Groundrules for This Blog”

  1. madmouser Says:

    I applaud your forthrightness and honesty.

  2. sage Says:



  3. Joao Leitao Says:

    greetings, thank you for all your post and personal insights on many subjects. happy new year!

  4. Gail Lammers Says:

    Father Stephen:

    Just would like to add a word of thanks for this wonderful blog. Much of the higher level theological debate is beyond me but I still profit greatly from every visit.

    Thank you so much for all the work involved in maintaining this blog.

    Gail Lammers

  5. marshaloftis Says:

    Your site is an interesting read. I think I will stop by from time to time.

  6. Deacon Stephen Says:

    Father bless

    I’ve tagged you for a Thinking Blogger Award. Please go to Notes from underground: Thinking blogger award to see the links and how it works.

    If (and only if) you are tagged, you should tag five other bloggers who make you think. If you’ve already been tagged with this meme, please let me know so I can tag someone else.

  7. jim Says:

    father stephen

    I do not understand why you removed my response of -1/31/09-on the topic, Is the bible true. I certainly do not believe that my remarks were unkind or unmerciful,which is the reason you give for the removal of responses.I was merely trying to convey my own belief in what the message of the bible is.
    I could be wrong of course but I was not unkind,unless it was my opening sentence that upset you (Why is it that so many thinking people can be so blind.)I am sure that you realize that Jesus said that of us himself because as mere human beings there is so much that we can not see or understand.
    What I mean to say is that,well we have been grappling with this issue of interpretation for a very long time now and I only hope that it was not merely my differing opinion on the matter of interpretation that caused you to remove my response.
    I am a new participator to this blog and had hoped it to be a format for a free exchange of ideas.If so i would love to participate,but if this is not the case could you please let me know and I will go my way.

  8. fatherstephen Says:

    Sorry Jim,

    I thought it was well enough off the mark (outside the normal Christian bounds) that it was not germane to the conversation. You did come on a little strong as well. I didn’t mean to be unkind nor do I mean block you. Perhaps weighing in with some thoughts that haven’t already reached the conclusions, announcing to people who hold an Orthodox view that they are all wrong, is perhaps starting at the deep end. Try putting something of the same thing in a question form – then converstation can take place. At least I find that it works better for me. Thanks for the feedback too. You are welcome here.

  9. jim Says:

    father stephen

    I am very frustrated at the fact that you remove my comments just because they are not agreeable to your particular views. Am I mistaken or is this site one of free expression? Do you want only the views of those who are already converted and hold to the same views as do you and so praise you for your wisdom? What kind of teaching is that ,and what does it say to those who are on this site that they are not allowed to disagree even if it be in a strong way. Are you not here to try and steer us down the right path if you see that we stray from it? When I make such strong assertions about what I think I am hoping that you or the other participants on this site would be able to set me straight, to refute my statements in a way that allows me to understand how I am wrong. But instead of answering my opinions and overthrowing my logic with your own so that all can see the error of my ways or by allowing others to do the same so that I might see the light that we are all seeking here in our own way, instead of this you immediately remove my comments from seeing the light of day( so to speak ) as if in fear. I was under the Impression that if you asked a question of us, your readers,that you wanted thoughtful,but most importantly honest answers. If you wish that everyone say only agreeable things then what does that teach? Or am I mistaken and you are not here to teach? If not I am sorry but I thought that that was your purpose.I had so hoped that you could show me how I was reading things improperly and I also felt that it would be good for others to see your actual teaching. After all father it was your question, Is the bible true. What am I to do in such a case, lie about my thoughts. We are all grownups here. If people are offended they should be able to speak for themselves and I would certainly accept any criticism that came my way without offense as a matter of fact I would whole heartedly welcome it if someone can show me truth.
    But father why should we be averse to or angry with opinion? I like to think that everyones thoughts and opinions are not only good but necessary for healthy discussion. There should be nothing to fear or hide from. I only ask for answers.

  10. fatherstephen Says:


    The site has moderated discussion. It is not true that I have removed your comment because I disagreed with it. Neither is the site anywhere described as a site for “free expression”. My judgement was that the discussion had become circular. So I ended it. Yours was not the only comment removed. (I removed some comments with which I would have “agreed”). I cleaned up the end of the discussion. The article’s title was phrased as question but not simply as a discussion starter. With well over 100 comments I thought discussion had pretty well finished. To a great extent I do not find rational argument very rational nor does it usually seem fruitful beyond a point.

    I had suggested earlier the use of questions – and to a degree I like for comments to have some engagement with the original article. Once comments exceed 50 I start looking to see if anything new or significant is being said or whether it’s become an exercise in futility.

    I understand that you have questions, but I think we need to switch mode so that you and others will get at those questions better.

  11. jim Says:

    father stephen

    please explain to me why it was that you removed my comments. I put them up at midnight and you removed them first thing in the morning and then you ended the discussion. I understand that it is a moderated discussion,but does that mean that there cannot be any opposing viewpoints? Do you mean to say that the discussion can only take place within the boundaries of belief, that their can be no criticism. That if one does not see things the way that you see them they are not welcome to comment? Do you not want people to examine other points of view? If you do not want people to think and respond rationally, how do you want them to think? I do not understand why you would contend that rationality is not fruitful. Please explain.

  12. fatherstephen Says:


    I have already stated that I thought the discussion had become circular, not much new other than the same arguments were being rehearsed, and not a lot of reason, other than opinion with arguments. This blog has gracious plenty of comments that disagree, they are not automatically deleted. Jim, your comments were as long if not longer than the article itself. After a while it simply becomes boring to read – particularly when you want to engage in arguements about matters (relgious or Biblical) which you seem to have little background in , regardless of your point of view. It simply becomes a distraction from the ongoing work of maintaining a blog that is readable and worth the time of readers. If a point cannot be made in over 100 comments, then there need to be fewer points made and some discipline in the discussion. I am not opposed to reason, I just find that people are convinced of things on the basis of something other than reason. They say they value reason, but they make decisions on other bases. That’s all. I’ve watched this for many years. Sorry that having a comment or conversation ended on a blog, but it is not a completely free forum. But it’s not about censorship. You’ve not said anything that unique or challenging that it would tempt me to think about censoring it. If it were unique or challenging I would more interested in not deleting it. Those conversations are very worthy having. This one was just droning on and on and on. That’s all.

  13. Wonders for Oyarsa Says:

    Thank you, Father Stephen, for the time you spend moderating this blog. I know you have many responsibilities, and your “pruning” of the discussion is a service to us.

  14. TheraP Says:

    Blessings upon you, Father. And upon your site. Your rules ask very little of people. Kindness and Mercy. I see that in your posts. And the few who might be troubled by that can, as you say, find ample outlets elsewhere. God is good! Thank you for your work in his vineyard!

  15. Rick Fernandes Says:

    Dear Father Stephen,
    I am so pleased to have found your blog. Thank you. I find you through it to be wonderful, sober, kind and generous with your knowledge and wisdom. I’m new to the Orthodox faith (coming from a horribly neglected Roman Catholic upbringing) and hopefully will be conforming myself to Orthodox. The neglect is my fault and my reasons for becoming Orthodox instead would be more of a “being drawn to it” rather than a rejection of the faith in which I was raised.

    I was having trouble adding a comment to your recent post “Reason’s God” the other night. I think it was a glitch in the WordPress system.
    That I don’t mind. If I was “off” with my comment and you deleted it because of that, I would want to know so that I can correct my thinking. So that is why I ask.

    Here is my original comment as best I can remember it. Please let me know if you think it is incorrect thinking or rather, counter to what is believed in the Orthodox faith. Thank you so much.
    Rick Fernandes

    A commenter asked: “why do you take the body and blood passages literally and not the cut off the hand/foot texts?”

    I think that Jesus, when He says, “It would be better to cut off..” He is making an analogy. It is nearly the same in this case to say, “It would be like..” He does not say, “You should cut off..”

    It must be true that one should approach the Kingdom with his soul intact, even at the expense of the body. And not, with one’s body intact even at the expense of the soul. It must not ever be not true. May as well say it.

    Re “the body and blood” statements, He says, “This is my body..”. No analogy there.

  16. fatherstephen Says:

    Rick, I don’t know why the akismet filter is putting your comments in the spam section (which I clear a couple of times a day). But it is a program that “learns”. By my correcting it, as I have been, it will learn that you are not spam. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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