The above warning was given to me when I first met Orthodoxy in 1986. Today [2009] it is even more perilous, even more difficult to find the Royal Path. For one thing there is a far greater abundance of misinformation. And many materials are missing, and other materials are being rapidly rewritten. For another thing there are fewer than ever guides remaining on the Royal Path, especially who speak English. Hopefully this website will be a place where Newcomers to the Faith can keep at least one foot on solid ground, while they are "exploring."

blog owner: Joanna Higginbotham


jurisdiction: ROCA under Vladyka Agafangel

who did not submit to the RocorMP union in 2007


14 November 2010

Evils of the Internet

Date:  13 Nov 2010 
Subject: The Evils of the Internet
To: Clergy and Faithful
From: Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, CA, Synod in Resistance, Greek Old Calendar

May God bless you.

       If you will allow me, a few statements about the internet and
the sickness that it is spreading in the Church and in society.

       It is, of course, a virtual axiom of Patristic theology that
the goodness or evil of any instrument lies in in how we use it in
achieving the established good ends of Christian life. This applies
to the body, objects, and to the methodologies that we apply in
achieving those ends.

       My ongoing statements against the evil of the Orthodox
internet, independent of the complex issue of intentions, is based on
my conviction, not that it cannot be very effectively used (and I try
to use it in that way) but that it is wrongly used and that, in
attempting to cover its evil effects by feigning constructive,
positive contributions to Orthodox living, it constitutes a
defilement of the Faith.

       I was amazed when an Evangelical scholar of immense
intelligence and insight, who is fast on his way to an Orthodox
mind-set, wrote the following to me today:

[The "Evangelical scholar" is probably not Orthodox, but possibly he is a potential catechumen.   Remember that a high I.Q. never gets anybody into heaven.  It can be an obstacle.  -jh]

       "In the past I'd often thought that the warfare against technology and computers was part of what you call the demonic preoccupations of Evangelical Luddites and their Orthodox counterparts who preach a form of apocalyptic frenzy that the Orthodox Church Fathers never endorsed. Muddled apocalypticism crept into your church and my tradition on the back of fundamentalism foreign to the true spirit of the Gospels.

Your thinking and clearly uncompromising written commentaries on the subject have convinced me that this is only one part of the story.  It's evident that there is something inherently perverse in the internet elevation of uneducated and what you call 'passionate' discourse.

The best proof of this was pressed on my heart several days ago when I awakened one morning and said to my wife: "The internet more than any other instrument has helped to derail the Christian conscience by encouraging thoughtless, untrained Christians to go off on all sorts of eschatological tangents." The greatest tool of Satan in moving us away from Christ is available at their fingertips when they feed their inchoate 'theology' into the internet."

inchoate, adjective, verb, -ated, -ating.
adj.  just begun; in an early stage; incomplete; undeveloped.

I was quite impressed by this insightful statement, of course, but
especially with regard to its support for what I say about the sewer
of the Orthodox internet. Instead of apocalyptic fantasy (though some
of that can be found, too), it features a constant stream of gossip,
character assassination, and wholly unedifying concerns (granted,
under a thin veneer of theological or ecclesiastical concerns of a
totally superficial and silly kind in most instances).

       I am convinced that computers and the internet, when wrongly
used (containing, not teaching, but argumentation and the ascendency
of personal opinions that are often worthless, ill-founded, and
illiterate) are endangering not just our Faith, but the culture at

Dr. George Kosar, one of the parishioners at our Exarchate
parish of St. John Chrysostomos in Saugus (Boston), MA, sent me an
interesting summary of a lecture that he attended at Tufts University
by Professor Sherry Turkle from MIT, who also shares my views about
the effect of technology and the internet on modern society. I have
included his enlightening notes from her lecture below. Every parent
should read what Dr. Turkle has to say with riveted attention. While
its application to the Orthodox internet is incidental, its
importance for Christian life is obvious.

       Finally, in support of my contention that those who have
found a platform, a life, and what they only think is the Faith on
the Orthodox internet are either unhappy, maladjusted, and
sociopathological individuals to begin with, or develop into such
persons as they linger as social voyeurs on the internet, two Harvard
psychologists, Drs. Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert, in a
recent article for the "Harvard Gazette" ("Wandering Mind Not a Happy
Mind"), have made some important observations. They cite data that
indicate that people are least happy when engaged, among other
things, in "using a home computer." Indeed, if their hypothesis is
correct, one can reconcile that fact with a constant use of computers
only by positing that there is a sociopathological, if not
destructive, element in today's computer addiction. It is not healthy
and adaptive behavior to follow that which absorbs one's time and
total attention and yet produces unhappiness!

       When, in a slip of the tongue that was almost Freudian, a
woman wrote to me several weeks ago that her time on the internet
often kept her from spiritual reading and prayer, I found sure
evidence of what I have constantly said. The internet distracts one
from spiritual goals. When I was recently chided for "spending my
time on the internet" by providing guidance and spiritual materials
to our clergy and faithful, I made it plain that I did so because it
was my assigned role in the Church. I received an enraged note
(replete, I will note, in order to underscore my point, with
insulting obscenities) with the telling phrase: "Who made you a
Teacher?" I replied, "In all humility and knowing my unworthiness and
limitations in that role, the Church and my spiritual Father and
those who Consecrated me made me a Teacher." I then added: "Asking
your forgiveness, it would be more appropriate for me, since you are
an Orthodox Christian and thus must believe in the gifts of the Grace
of the Priesthood, to ask you, "Who appointed you a teacher?" I
received no reply.


Dr. Kosar's notes:


Lecture by Professor Sherry Turkle, MIT
at Tufts University (April 26, 2010)

My notes are below--some of these are my paraphrases, some are verbatim from her ppt.  While she focuses mainly on teens, I believe her work applies to all of us who use (and can abuse) technology.  -Dr. K.

About being technologically "connected" all the time, but not really
actually being with anybody or really being alone:

-- Do we know how to have a moment when something is not happening
(i.e., do we really have to rush contantly to the computer to
connect via web or text)?

-- Can we have a moment unshared?

Loneliness is failed solitude

- Loneliness is failed solitude.  Can we stand to be alone?  Can we
remember the virtues of solitude, the kind that refreshes and

About not really experiencing solitude or valuing privacy:

-- What is intimacy without solitude?

-- What is intimacy without privacy?

-- What is democracy without privacy?

About what technology is doing to us:

-- Some say that technology is "just a tool," that technologies are
"objects to think with, especially about ourselves."

However, technology is not just something that helps; IT CHANGES WHO WE ARE.

About teens who constantly text to one another.  They text to fill
solitude.  They text to avoid conversations, even phone
conversations, because texting controls what one can say, when one
can say it, and how one can get a response:

Teens can be loners even though they are never alone.

Teens have the illusion of companionship without the demands of
friendship.  [This makes me think of the "Orthodox" internet: it
provides an illusion of Orthopraxy without the demands of it.]

About immediate responses to difficult interpersonal situations:

Apologies are not confessions.  Teens can apologize/confess
quickly via text, but without the fullness of what those things
should be.  By responding immediately through cyberspace to an
incident, we develop a habit of mind, and IT'S NOT A REFLECTIVE ONE.

About whether technology is an expression of feelings we have, or
whether it is the source of feelings:

We have moved from:  "I HAVE a feeling; therefore I'd like to
make a call/tweet/text/surf the web," to:  "I WANT to have a
feeling; therefore I need to make a call/tweet/text/surf the web."

"internet addiction" is the wrong metaphor because in this day
and age we cannot stop using it.  Instead, we have to use it more
effectively and think about how it can change us.

People aren't good at being civil and social without each other's
physical presence.  [We see too much cyber-equivalents of drive-bys
and road rage, which are so easy to do because you (hope you) never
have to actually be face-to-face with the objects of that rage.]