For those unfamiliar with the current controversy revolving around Matthew Heimbach’s reception into the Orthodox Church, please read Fr. Ernesto Obregon’s article on the topic.
Dear Mr. Heimbach and other members of the Traditionalist Youth Network that were received into the Church,
Congratulations on being received into the Church. It is my hope and prayer that this was out a genuine desire to be closer to Christ. I admit that upon my own initial pursuit of Orthodoxy, not all of my original reasons were sincere or out of love. Converting from one faith to another is never easy, even if they are both forms of Christianity. Through the support of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, my priests, and lots of prayer, I was able to examine myself and become more aware of my own sins. It’s a tough process to even begin to seek repentance, so you will be in my prayers
I know what it’s like to be young and radical. The world is full of injustices and it helps having a coherent ideology to make sense of it all, especially if it explains who your enemy is. My involvement in the protests in Turkey in 2013 taught me how intoxicating the thrill of activism can be. Regardless, these passions must be tamed and brought into accordance with the clear teaching of the Church. Simply put, the Orthodox Church regards Phyletism as heresy.
I spent my teenage years in Lancaster, Ohio. In 2013 it received the “honor” of being one of the least diverse cities in the United States, so needless to say I’ve had my share of white nationalists. One of my best friends growing up for a brief time started to dabble in Neo-Nazism and the KKK, but I did what I could to love him anyway. Another close friend of mine openly expressed neo-confederate views. We used to get into heated discussions about the role slavery played in the Civil War but they never seemed to go anywhere. Both of them have since grown out of this phase in their life, but I’m sure it took a lot to tame their passions. It is my hope and prayer that you go the direction of these two friends of mine and disavow white separatism.
Mr. Heimbach and others, we actually have a lot in common. We’re relatively young male ideologues who have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. There is, however, one huge glaring difference though: I’m not white. Well, I’m half-white. My father is Caucasian and my mother is African-American. I’ve read your comments on miscegenation and other racial issues, but I hope that one day you will consider me as your brother-in-Christ or, as some white nationalists like to say, one of your “folk”. Matthew, I hope that we could be friends and leave all of this animus behind us. I look forward to it and maybe, with all of this behind us, we could grab a beer. Consider this an invitation.
Nathan Lewis Lawrence