The Seraphinians is a writeup and attempt to document issues with a movement within the Orthodox Church. They are the people who say you have to believe in Protestant fundamentalism's Young Earth Creationism and Creation "Science" to be an Orthodox Christian at all. Further details are available in The Seraphinians at essentially any length you wish to read.
Unsurprisingly, it has consistently gotten forceful one-star reviews Amazon. The most popular review reads:
Save your $
★ [live and the current top-voted response]
The author of this short set of ramblings claims that he expects several 1 star reviews from people based on his criticisms of the iconic priest monk Fr. Seraphim Rose. I am giving it 1 star primarily for other reasons. I, too, have issues with some of the teachings of Fr. Seraphim Rose, so I expected here some kind of evenhanded and even respectful analysis of where and how Fr. Seraphim Rose possibly erred in his biblical exegeses, or something of that nature. Instead, the collection opens with a rambling, incoherent article wherein Fr. Seraphim is cheekily parodied as “Cherubim Thorn”. This first chapter is the worst of the bunch, and I found myself skipping long, cryptic phrases to see if there was going to be anything of substance in this download. I found myself wondering if the author had been sober when he wrote the first unintelligible chapter. Things did get better, marginally, as I read on. The author’s main criticism, it seems to me, is with Orthodox converts (including some that converted because of the life and works of Fr. Seraphim Rose, and who tend to be particularly fanatical and willing to mistrust science) who drag Protestant baggage, Biblical literalism, and a kind of fundamentalist attitude into the Church. I did agree very much with the author of this piece that Orthodoxy is a way of living, an ever deepening process, and that there is no place in it for obligatory Biblical literalism, or such heresies of being saved instantly and once and for all. Ultimately, though, I cannot endorse this writer or recommend this download. I give it 1 star not merely for its irreverent treatment of an Orthodox priest monk, but also for its meandering, purposeless, repetitive, and poorly edited writing. And for charging people to read it. Only a page or two into reading this, and I felt duped. Save your money. One can find better essays online for free.
I might comment that people wondering if I am an utterly incompetent author are invited to peruse my books or if you want something free read my website; Amazon ratings for most books and ebooks tend to hover around 4-4.5 stars, and keep your own counsel as to whether I am unintelligible and dubiously sober when I write.
But there was something that left me puzzled, not that the movement met such a critique with venom, but that there weren't occasional answers by an outsider saying, "Hey, the book has merits." In this past week, I found out that my work has in fact garnered multiple five-star reviews; every single one has just been censored, er, deleted. The two reviews that were brought to my attention were:
Light hearted but no-nonsense. Nicely done!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Excellent! Hayward addresses the issues in a lighthearted (but no-nonsense) way. It seems to me that people’s opinions may reflect their church politics, and illustrate their use of malice to accomplish their goals. The comments on Amazon are drastically skewed from the truth. This is a wake up call. The fact is that a 6000 year old earth is not what a reasonable person would subscribe to. A reasonable person would enjoy this much needed book that exposes a nationwide problem in the Greek Orthodox Church, and beyond: fundamentalism + a lack of leadership = a huge mess.
CJS Hayward – an intellectual genius rooted in reality
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In his address to the themes plaguing the Orthodox Christian Church of today, C.J.S. Hayward is an intellectual genius rooted in reality, and not a simpleton who fantasizes about the village life of previous centuries. C.J.S. Hayward has done a great service to the Orthodox Christian Church at large by addressing many of the topics plaguing the faithful. At a time where pro-active leadership from Hierarchs and Priests is needed (in the form of formally addressing the issues addressed in Hayward’s book) there is a resounding silence from those entrusted with protecting the flock. There have been a few here and there that addressed it, most of whom are either retired, or close to it. But from the executive leaders of the Church – silence. This has emboldened fundamentalist propagators and has also caused the Laity to start web sites around the country to protest these abuses and misrepresentations (as I have done). The net effect is a divided Church that will inevitably formally split if not addressed by those entrusted with protecting it (i.e. the Hierarchs).
I’m not sure that I deserve either the blame or the praise, or that I agree with any reviewer on all points. But the combination of what is live of Amazon’s site, and what was censored, strikes me as odd.
I've tried talking with Amazon, and when I was told they only work with review authors on their reviews, gave the customer service email address to the reviewer who contacted me. *Every single five star review remains deleted.)
Is there anything practical that I can do in a situation like this? The movement takes a bit of a spine to challenge, and both reviews were initially posted and then deleted later; I'm nearly certain that insiders demanded the postings be deleted as somehow falling outside Amazon guidelines.
What, if anything, can I still do to work with Amazon on the censored reviews?
If the answer to the first question is, "Nothing, but here are ways you can compensate," what can I do to compensate?