I have not published an article for more than a month. I figure I owe the regular readers some sort of explanation.
For one, I have not stopped my writing or research, but I was finishing writing a book whose working title is The Rise and Fall of the Papacy. It contains over 103,000 words and 850 footnotes, complete with up-to-date scholarship (i.e. articles and books from 2022, not strictly open source stuff typical of apologetics). More important than scholarship is that it contains a minute attention to detail that is lacking in many treatments of this topic. One Roman Catholic scholar, who was kind enough to review the book as a technical editor, remarked that it is “the best” book on “the other side.” Move over Denny, Guettee, etcetera.
Researching for this book, I read everything Saint Cyprian wrote in detail. I have read all the minutes of the Ecumenical Councils and everything translated into English from the minor councils. I went through the entirety of Saint Gregory the Great’s correspondence in English (there’s even more in Latin obviously). The works of Neil and Allen have been invaluable. I was surprised how often I had to consult the PL (often with the thanks of John Collorafi) or Erich Lamberz’s critical edition of Nicea II.
Point is, the product is not going to be “the response to ‘Erick Ybarra'” or some sort of two-bit offering in apologetics. This book is not the Albuquerque Isotopes, or in other words, a minor league production. It is the New York Yankees. It’s an actual product of scholarship and it is a response to scholarship.
For that reason, it is probably written above the reading-level of most people who follow apologetics; but the intent is to produce something that is actually important which will settle the issue and change the discourse. For example, people talk about Denny’s Papalism, a highly polemical work, more than 100 years later. Even then, it did not seriously challenge earlier scholarly assumptions. In other words, it was not a game changer. This book is, and it is not polemical like Papalism. It is strictly a history book; but it upends the whole way the history of the era is looked at. And, for that reason, this book will survive me after my death if the Lord does not come first–provided I do not have an untimely demise that somehow nixes it getting published. These are big words, but when people see it they will see for themselves.
From a product standpoint, it has two chief issues. First, it’s too lofty for an apologetic work. But, it’s too counter-intuitive for mainstream scholarship. It will be published one way or another–God willing this year. I’m not going to wait for the scholarship to be dated. There are talks about a Romanian translation presently–please pray that this may come to fruition.
Enough about the book. Let’s talk about the blog. That being, the blog started as just that–a blog with semi-intelligent musings (even that may be too kind a description). It has evolved into original research a step below peer-reviewed scholarship (because it is a blog after all, I have had two articles peer reviewed which are obviously not blog articles). This creates a demand for quality for the content (not always my grammar, again, it’s a blog) which requires a massive investment of time. I have invested time into answering such large topics that to address anything new will take much more time. What happens when one has 1. already written on everything that is of popular interest and 2. can only get deep into the weeds on so many things? The result is the writer runs out of things to write and talk about even if research is ongoing.
This brings me to another thing. This was never about the money. So, I am not going to repackage old products and “sell” them. Neither am I going to be a “mitch” and get into this or that wind of controversy for the “fun” (actually profit) of it. This is what most apologists do, and in the end, I am really not an apologist. If I can “self-identify,” I am a recreational historian. I do actual historical research, but I do so for enjoyment–not for profit. In fact, I lose money doing this and what a great privilege that is! I am grateful that my work has helped people and in many respects, this is a sort of atonement for all of the wrong and misleading things I have written in the past. This is why I continue to correct the record when I make errors, because I am obviously not immune to this. Nevertheless, what I am not going to do is simply follow what everyone else is doing for the money.
Perhaps out of boredom I can see myself engaging with some of the stuff apologists throw around, but I have become very jaded with apologetics. I have worked personally with a lot of apologists now over a few years and the lot of them are OCD narcissists. Apparently, that sort of personality trait is what brings them into apologetics. I literally had a personal phone call with one of them with the intent of trying to defuse a situation and he even approached a private conversation like a debate where even slight a faux pas had to be defended tooth and nail. I thought to myself, “Are you even a human being?” I even said, “This is not how one does conflict resolution” only to be told in response, “I have plenty of experience in conflict resolution, I have been doing conflict resolution for years, I…” It was clear who was his favorite topic of conversation. The reality is most apologists are seriously mentally ill. They are not normal people that you can sit down and eat with, talk about baseball or work. They are self absorbed maniacs and shameless pathological liars. The lot of them use burner phones like drug dealers and gangsters. Hence, there’s a certain point where you see the whole lot and “industry” as a cesspool and lose interest in it.
This does not mean there isn’t any engaging part of it. Coming up with creative new ideas, playing a “character,” strategizing–these can all be fun. I have seen many of my ideas ripped off so they could not be all bad. Furthermore, my trip in Cambodia has exposed me to two people, who through apologetics (mine in part), are going out there and making a real difference. This sort of shames me to keep going, somehow, in some way, even if I don’t do it as much.
This is why this is not a “farewell” post. I don’t think I am going to completely disappear or anything. I plan on sharing what I have learned. But there is a certain point where one gets frustrated at providing stuff that is too high level and above the heads of those arguing about everything else. What I don’t like doing is condescending myself to questions over the Papacy, icons, or the Theotokos and arguing over rhetoric instead of facts. To be honest, I hate “losing’ for being a worse rhetorician. If winning is about rhetoric, then go with the sophists I say! I hope and pray that more silver tongued people than me take my stuff and go with it.
In some respects, they already have. The problem is, they are the same type of narcissists (if not of a worse sort) that bring shame to Orthodox Christians. I hate that when I do a normal collaboration with this or that person of another faith, a commenter will say, “This Orthodox apologist [i.e. me] is not a jerk like the rest of them.” Or, if I simply do not agree with someone of another faith (something these days is constantly called by the false categorization of “uncharitable”), I am accused of being a jerk “like the rest of them.”
It is from the devil that we have acquired this reputation. The devil has deceived our faith’s own defenders to take a tact that brings us all shame.
This is nothing new. Clergy and apologists in all faiths have done shameful things. This is not a coincidence. The devil deceives those who can reach the masses to do shameful things because it reflects negatively upon Christ. For all of these narcissist maniacs who are convinced of their own genius…wise up to the transparent fact that you’re being played as fools by the devil. There is no doubt about this. If literally close to nothing that comes out of their mouths and keyboards is of a positive nature, then how can one say they are thinking about: “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable.” (Phil 4:8) Constant negativity is evil.
On this note, and perhaps this is an anti-climatic one to end on, we have to avoid these effeminate extremes. Men should be men, with some sense of honor. As I already discussed, an intellectual discussion must not be snagged by baseless, arbitrary accusations of being “uncharitable.” On the other side, full-grown men ought not to think there is anything manly about opposing the bane of “virtue signaling.” For example, by merely pointing out that there are those who lack basic Christian morals in their conduct and they ought to be ashamed, they will accuse me of “virtue signaling.” I am not virtue signaling. I have in my weaker moments done a lot of the things I am condemning here. Further, there is no virtue signaling in pointing out that we have men acting like little school girls, and I prefer that men act like men. Just like the argumentum ad non-charitas is a logical fallacy for the numb-minded, the argumentum ad anti-virtus signum is equally so. It is a way of avoiding the obvious fact that they want to shut down conversation because they are unable to deal with mature topics in an appropriate way.
There is more to be said–discord groups that are 21st century cult movements, the neo-televangelism, the monetization of religion–but, I will leave it there.
Good summary of the youtube apologetic world
“I literally had a personal phone call with one of them with the intent of trying to defuse a situation and he even approached a private conversation like a debate where even slight a faux pas had to be defended tooth and nail”
Thank you for your service on this blog and youtube. I for one have benefitted from it from time to time. God bless you in your continued endeavors however they unfold.
> On the other side, full-grown men ought not to think there is anything manly about opposing the bane of “virtue signaling.”
Good article, Craig. Looking forward to the book.
Gangsters with burner phones ftw
Excited to hear about the book! I recall you mentioned it on one of your Papacy videos. Definitely something I’d purchase.
Will you and John Collorafi be finishing the Papacy series through the schism? I’d love to hear the discussion going through the 9th, 10th, 11th centuries.
John is a little burned out at the moment, so we will probably do a Q and A stream soon where he doesn’t have to do the same sort of preparation. By God’s grace, there will be a final stream on the ninth century.
Gangsters with burner phones ftw
Not bad for a humble motor mechanic, eh? Not to try to fan any spark of narcissism in your own heart but you impress me no end, Craig! I’m very much looking forward to reading your book.
And although perhaps you may regret the drama that speaking your mind on the other issue, it’s refreshing to hear somebody say it too. A lot of people bring their politics, paranoia, and ego into the Church instead of allowing it to “raise us above the world’s confusion.” Lord, have mercy.
Anyway, I respect your approach and wouldn’t rather you did anything differently.
Good luck and thanks for your work! If you don’t mind me asking, when can we expect the book to be available for purchase?
I’m hoping this fall
Thank you very much for all you have done Craig. I’ve noticed an experienced many of your concerns as well. I’ve always appreciated you genuinely striving to being the adult in the room.
As a bit of an armature historian myself, your content played a bigger roll than anyone else in my conversion to Orthodoxy from Catholicism.
I think the future is bright and I’m excited to read your book when it comes out. I will likely buy it for a couple of my Catholic friends as well.
I appreciate your work and I look forward to your book on the Papacy. I’m a catechumen in the Orthodox Church and your work as been helpful in that journey. I have stopped watching a lot do YouTube channels were Prot-bros, Cath-bros, and Ortho-bros just rudely and arrogantly talk past each other. I prefer writing and I agree that debating at this point on most of these channels are for the sophists. It paints Christians of all three main branches in a bad light. Anyway, thanks for all your hard work!