Lies and Leadership

A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.” -Proverbs 13:15

First and foremost, I remind readers of this site that the primary goal here is not to report on details of any particular scandal. Rather, the blog exists to discuss matters of leadership in the Orthodox Church. To that end, the recent conflict within the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in America provides much material for reflection on leadership.

The most recent events in the scandal – primarily the release of confidential emails between Archpriest Joseph Fester, Bishop Nikolai (Soraich), Mr. Rod Dreher, and others – have turned everything upside down. I am not surprised at the names of the principals of I had already deduced the identities of two of them solely by their words and actions, prior to the revelations from the ugly emails. What is of greater concern now is that a site devoted to “truth” is, in fact, built upon lies.

Up until this past weekend, OCA Truth has absolutely dominated the narrative about what was going on in the OCA since the site’s inception in early March. OCA Truth provided the “facts” that shaped the discussion of the entire matter. Consider that the following points first appeared at OCA Truth:

  • That attempts were being made to depose Metropolitan Jonah,
  • That Metropolitan Jonah did not agree to a leave of absence (and that the minutes of the Santa Fe meeting were, at best, inaccurate, and at worst, manipulated),
  • That Mark Stokoe’s email was positive proof of a growing coup (with no possibility of being descriptive rather than prescriptive),
  • That Metropolitan Jonah was being opposed by a “liberal” cabal of bishops and Metropolitan Council members on the basis of his conservatism,
  • That the Metropolitan was being sent to a substance abuse rehab center,
  • That the Soviet method of declaring enemies of the state to be “insane” was in play,
  • That the Metropolitan was the only real monk on the Holy Synod, and many more.

(If this list is wrong, please send proof using the contact form, and I’ll note corrections here.) Not only were these points promulgated by OCA Truth, OCA Truth was the only source of that information in most cases. It is possible that some of these points are true, but no serious evidence was ever adduced in support of them. Rather, the charges were repeated, and distributed to proxies on other blogs, and, after a while, accepted as axiomatic by many even when the basis was still questionable.

Yet, in the end, we now see that OCA Truth was built on lies:

  • The writers lied to protect their anonymity. This is perhaps excusable absent the other lies. On the other hand, OCA Truth would likely have had a different reception had Fr. Fester’s involvement been known. Further, it was anonymity that enabled Mr. Dreher to indulge his journalistic Id, against all academic preparation and professional discipline.
  • The writers then lied in order to misrepresent their identities, enabling them to act as shills, as in the case of Mr. Dreher writing pseudonymously (as Muzhik) in order to quote himself under his real name as a reputable authority.  This is fraud. If you do it on eBay, they suspend you. Doing so on a credit card application can earn you a visit to jail.
    • UPDATED 5/4/2011 8:15am: The principals did similar things by posting under real names like “Rod Dreher” and “Jesse Cone” or pseudonyms like “Southern Comfort” in other fora, including, giving the appearance of different individuals supporting the writers at
    • UPDATED 5/4/2011 8:39am: One reader writes to suggest that Mr. Dreher never posted “Dreher” material under the “Muzhik” identity, instead leaving “Parishioner” and “Tovarishch” to do that. I am researching this now, for the sake of accuracy, although I don’t think it changes the basic charge.
    • UPDATE 5/4/2011 8:39am: Further, Mr. Dreher appeared in other fora (notably and claimed he knew the people running, but that he was not one of them.

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