|Fr. Josiah Trenham|
I didn't know at the time that Fr. Josiah is arguably the most reactionary voice in American Orthodoxy. I now realize that his views are more extreme than those of the vast majority of Orthodox Christians I have known. Yet, Fr. Josiah's podcast "Arena" is featured on Ancient Faith, the most popular English-language Orthodox media outlet. He also founded Patristic Nectar Publishing and is a prolific author. I have seen his books sitting on the shelves of my parish library.
In other words, Fr. Josiah is not an obscure, fringe voice. If he were, I wouldn't bother to address his views. But despite his extreme positions, he is mainstream and highly influential among American Orthodox Christians. As such, his work merits scrutiny and critique.
When I was a wide-eyed catechumen, I didn't think I had the authority to dismiss the teachings of an Orthodox priest. "The Good Wife" shocked and disturbed me the first time I listened to it, but I convinced myself that my reaction was due to my own prideful nature, which had to be conquered if I was to become a Good Wife. It's difficult to convey the damage this did to my marriage and my faith, damage which I am still working to repair.
For an Orthodox Christian, criticizing a priest is tricky. Our faith teaches us that a priest is an icon of Christ, and as such demands respect. We aren't required to take the word of any one priest as doctrine, but rigorous critique may be perceived as bordering on blasphemy. If we take issue with the teachings of a priest, we are to expected to respond meekly or not at all.
Well, I'm not going to do that. I don't have much status to lose within the Church at this point, and that gives me some freedom that well-behaved Orthodox Christians don't have. I want other Orthodox Christians to see clearly the extreme (and, I will argue, un-Orthodox) ideology that Fr. Josiah propagates, so that they can approach his work with skepticism. Towards that end, I will be writing a multi-part review of his lecture series "The Good Wife."
I have a very small blog with few if any readers. I don't know if my words can make a difference, but words are the only tool I have. If enough Orthodox Christians speak out against Fr. Josiah, maybe we could pressure mainstream outlets like Ancient Faith to stop giving him a platform. He could be relegated to the fringe where he belongs. Hey, I can dream.
The full series of "The Good Wife" is available for pay through Patristic Nectar Publishing, except for Part 1 which you can listen to for free. Part 1 is also available through Ancient Faith Radio, which is where I first heard it. In my reviews, I will summarize the content of his lectures for the benefit of those who can't or won't pay to hear them, and I will include extensive quotations.