I would like to draw your attention to a blog that has taken on a new direction. Fr. Oliver Herbel has been writing a blog called Red River Orthodox that has mostly dealt with Orthodoxy in his part of the world and would also be used as his parish blog. His direction has changed and he has enlisted the help of other authors to bring the Orthodox church into a conversation with the modern and postmodern west. They have posted several essays and, if they are any indication of where this will go, it is going to be great.
The approach is much more academic than most will be used to and the essays are designed to elicit conversation around these topics and so far that has proven true. For some the topics will raise their hackles and that will be fine as long as the discussion is worthy of Orthodox Christians (if you are not sure what that is please consult your spiritual father for guidance.) The point is we should not be afraid to talk about these subjects and even critique what we do as an Orthodox Church in the modern and postmodern world. Our faith is timeless but the way we present the faith needs to be updated (notice I did not say change) to fit the world we live in.
This is what Fr. Oliver has written about the purpose of the blog:
Red River Orthodox is taking on a newfound purpose. In the past, this blog has been an extension of my parish’s web presence, focused on Orthodox issues that directly affect us here in Fargo. At times, however, the posts have taken on larger issues within the OCA or American Orthodoxy of which we should be aware. Because our parish webpage will soon be changing to a WordPress format, which will be much easier to update, I will be moving parish-specific posts to that site. Therefore, Red River Orthodox will now shift in a new direction, one no other blog has taken on as its mission: a commitment to bringing Eastern Christianity (whether Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Eastern Catholic) into a direct conversation with the modern and postmodern West.
I believe this is sorely needed. There is much dialogue and scholarship that relates specifically to this but sadly, it has not been placed together in a central hub, in a format accessible to a wider audience. Such a hub is needed.
Red River Orthodox will post essays, from a range of authors, that directly engage contemporary examinations of the typical topics interfering with a serious theological and historical appreciation of the West: Augustine, Anselm, atonement, salvation, anthropology, philosophy, ecclesiology, morality, etc. Therefore, the new Red River Orthodox will engage issues directly related to ecumenical relations between Eastern Christians themselves and between Orthodox and Catholics (and, at times, Orthodox and various Protestants). This blog will also include critiques of aspects of Eastern Christianity that seem to be hindering healthy Eastern Christian engagements with the West.
One feature on this blog will be a monthly atheist-Christian exchange between Jon Lindgren, professor emeritus of economics (NDSU) and former mayor of Fargo, and myself. Originally conceived as a monthly column for the Fargo Forum, we will keep to the format originally intended for the paper: a 400 word limit and a shared topic uniting each set every month.
At times, Red River Orthodox will also present essays engaging topics of cultural and theological importance that may be “hot button” issues. Often, such issues are deemed unworthy of exploration (e.g. why would someone even ask/consider such a thing?). Here at Red River Orthodox, they will be considered. We will do our best to present such hot button issues in such a way that we do not present ourselves as merely presenting one side or ideology. To assist us with this endeavor, we will enlist posts from guest authors. This should not be construed as us necessarily agreeing with the posts, though perhaps some or all of us will. Keep in mind that even amongst ourselves we differ on how to address some issues and concerns.
At times, this will mean that essays are posted with which I disagree, perhaps fundamentally. The purpose of Red River Orthodox is not to roll out all of our ideas and views nor (on the other extreme) to cherry pick quotes from the Fathers of past ages but to do something more along the lines of what the Fathers themselves did—engage the issues and situations around them creatively. Doing this, though, entails a willing to take risks. We hope this will enable Red River Orthodox to take on a wide range of topics with integrity. So, stay tuned! If you like the first several essays, keep reading, you’re bound to find one you don’t. If you don’t like the first several essays, keep reading. You’re bound to find one you do. Our hope is that this will be an insightful and dynamic website.