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Background: I've been sitting on this issue for a while and finally brought it here to meta. Since it happened I've been considerably less motivated to participate in the site (but perhaps getting through that stage now), so I'm hoping at least airing it out can help divest some of the remaining vestiges of emotional baggage associated with it and move on with things. This question was asked way back in April:


Orthodox teaching about touching Jesus' body

I was reading answers to a question about Thomas touching Jesus. An answer came from an Orthodox person which said that Thomas was granted special permission to touch his body/wound. That person further said that it was why Jesus warned Mary Magdalene not to touch him. I would like to ask the orthodox person (or any Orthodox expert) who said touching Jesus was dangerous, and that Thomas was granted an exception. My question is: Is this also your position (Jesus granting exceptions) when the two women (Lazarus' sister and a prostitute) touched his feet while putting oil on them? [original text of question before later edits]


It sat around somewhat neglected for a while (after about a month it had attracted a single answer which in turn has attracted one down-vote). However, after a bounty was applied, it attracted a little more attention - 3 additional answers in the bounty period. None of these answers were from experts in Eastern Orthodox doctrine or (to my knowledge) adherants of that tradition. Here is my (original, now deleted) answer:


The person may have been 'Orthodox' but their doctrine was not orthodox as it denies the clear sense of:

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, 
and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and
thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to **them**, “Why are you troubled, and  
why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I 
myself. **Touch me**, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see 
that I have.” - Luke 24:36-39 ESV (emphasis added)

In order to harmonise the sense of John 20:17 with John 20:24, Luke 24:39 it is commonly theorised that there were (at least) two ascensions - one immediately subsequent to Mary's encounter and another 40 days later detailed in Luke 24:51 & Acts 1:9.


My answer was using an A fortiori argument which I (mistakenly) thought would be readily apparant - if a doctrine is not orthodox then it would not be (Eastern) Orthodox. My error was not making this explicit, as clearly it was too subtle for the person (presumably Flimzy per his comment) who chose to flag it as 'not an answer' (not specifically from an Eastern Orthodox perspective) and the mod(s) (Wax Eagle agreed in comment, Caleb actually closed) who agreed and deleted my answer. I was mildly ticked off about this, as the other answers were actually no better in this regard and had not been deleted. My response was a minor edit as per:


The person may have identified as 'Orthodox' but their doctrine was not orthodox (and therefore, more explicitly not actually reflective of Eastern Orthodox doctrine*) as it denies the clear sense of:

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, 
and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and
thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to **them**, “Why are you troubled, and  
why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I 
myself. **Touch me**, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see 
that I have.” - Luke 24:36-39 ESV (emphasis added)

In order to harmonise the sense of John 20:17 with John 20:24, Luke 24:39 it is commonly theorised that there were (at least) two ascensions - one immediately subsequent to Mary's encounter and another 40 days later detailed in Luke 24:51 & Acts 1:9.

*As the Eastern Orthodox churches do not as a general rule produce doctrines that blatantly contradict scripture.


Which I had hoped was explicit enough that I was making an A fortiori Argument and was therefore within the specified scope. I flagged a re-open request as per:

Undelete this please - or else at least be consistent and delete Byes and LCIIIs answers as well. It seems obvious to me that not orthodox necessarily means not Eastern Orthodox as well - is it really so necessary for me to make that explicit?

Ok, so perhaps this wasn't the wisest and most constructive way to request this (I didn't want the other guys' posts deleted at all, just mine un-deleted), but I did not think it would produce the following response:

declined - please re-read the question: it is clearly directed at Eastern Orthodoxy. If other answers fail to address EO, then flag them as NAA, but there is no point in undeleting this unless you fix it to EO

I felt that when I read this response, that the mod who declined had not noticed my edit at all and certainly hadn't grasped the argument that I was making. In that context, to ask me to re-read the question - despite my answer having linked to the Eastern Orthodox wiki page and the definition of 'orthodox' to make clear that I understood the distinction and that my answer was based on this on knowledge - I found quite offensive. It is with this background that I raised one more flag:

I'm not satisfied with the moderative action on this post, but before airing the matter in Meta, I would like to discuss it with a Mod in chat if that's possible. Thankyou

I was at this point really trying to keep my emotions in check - this was in no ways meant to be conveyed as a threat, but a polite request to discuss the matter further. Up till this point I was annoyed, but not yet grieved. The final flag response however while having a polite tone, I found actually grieving in it's dismissive nature:

declined - Please feel free to take to meta. I'm not sure anything productive will come from a chat.

I know mods are busy people, but I was really hoping for something better than this, and was profoundly disappointed with this response.

Let me very clear about this: the reason for this meta post is not about the flag to close on my answer (and subsequent deletion) - I accept that as par for the course on this site; nor the decision to refuse my initial request for undeletion following my edit (althought I was considerably more annoyed about that, as it seemed the mod both ignored my edit and the type of argument I was making - it's possible I would have raised a very different and considerably briefer Meta post about the matter if that was all there was to it); My grievance is that: after a specific notification that I was unhappy with the Moderative process and wanted to chat about it further, my request was dismissed, forcing me to either 'put up with it' or to air this grievance in a public forum. I realise in hindsight, that my final flag request should have read explicitly 'I do NOT want to take this to Meta, can we PLEASE chat about this'. To be honest, prior to this incident, even though I disagreed with some of their actions (and certainly some of their views!) I regarded the mods here with a great deal of respect, and I thought that level of special pleading would be unnecessary, I'm quite disappointed to find that I was in error on that point in regard to this specific issue, though I have hopes that it still remains true in general.

I know that this post is rather long-winded and to be perfectly frank, I didn't want to write this; I know others have rage-quit after moaning about heavy-handed moderation. I don't see that as a general problem, and I'm not about to do such a thing. But I would like to share that I do feel dis-regarded as a community member and considerably less motivated to contribute to this site as a result of this experience - whether the rest of the community can empathize with that or not is a matter I would like feedback on, as well as of course hearing from the moderator(s) in question.

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Let me offer a couple of thoughts.

  1. It's a little bit unusual for a user to request a chat session with a mod. I don't think it's unreasonable for you to make the request, but I also don't think it's unreasonable for the mods not to jump at the opportunity.

  2. Meta is here specifically to address these sorts of issues. Chat often handles some meta issues, too, but anything final or authoritative should be condensed into meta.

  3. There's no reason you couldn't just pop on over to chat, and discuss the issue with whoever is there at the time. Many of the mods are on chat frequently, but even when they aren't, you can still discuss with other users--who in many ways act as mods in a way, too. It is, after all, a community-run/moderated web site.

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    I understand what you're saying, but from my perspective, if someone actually does something to me that I find offensive, I would like to talk to them privately about it first rather than discuss it in front of others. Regarding 2. - do you really think this sort of post belongs in Meta? I personally don't. – bruised reed Aug 20 '14 at 16:32
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    @bruisedreed: I understand, and like I said, I don't think it was unreasonable of you to request that. But the mods have no obligation to oblige. – Flimzy Aug 20 '14 at 16:34
  • @bruisedreed I agree with Flimzy here. The moderators aren't always available for an intense chat at a moment's notice, but you can always communicate with them through meta and use chat to begin an open dialogue. – Bruce Alderman Aug 20 '14 at 17:24
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    @bruisedreed You asked: "Do you really think this sort of post belongs in Meta?" Yes. Emphatically, yes! Every action taken on the main site is public already; you just have to look for it. When you disagree with a public, community action, you address it publicly to the community. Meta exists to discus what happens on the site. Perhaps in person you want to take things to people privately first, but on this site, the first protocol, and really only protocol, for addressing disagreements in actions is to make meta posts. – 3961 Aug 20 '14 at 19:44
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    That said, I think there was/is some legitimacy to your complaint, but you didn't let the rest of us know. You only tried to convince the people who took the actions you disagreed with. Had you taken this to meta first, there would have already been a resolution and no festering feelings in your mind today. So, seriously, "It's always betta, to take to meta." – 3961 Aug 20 '14 at 19:49
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A few additional thoughts...

  • Dealing with other not-answers - You said:

I was mildly ticked off about this, as the other answers were actually no better in this regard and had not been deleted.

Are you really ticked off at every single user? Users are supposed to flag NAA's and then mods deal with the flags. So if no one happened to think the other answers were NAA (and flag them as such), that's why they weren't deleted.

Besides, two of the answers seem to make reference to Eastern Orthodox teachings. Maybe they're wrong, but they seem to be an attempt.

  • Is your answer based on Eastern Orthodox teaching? - You said:

*As the Eastern Orthodox churches do not as a general rule produce doctrines that blatantly contradict scripture.

Ok, that makes sense, but the convoluted way you present your argument makes it seem more like a clever play on words: "It's not orthodox so it can't be Orthodox." If that's really the case, you could've just said something like

"The person who said that the Orthodox church teaches that it was dangerous for anyone to touch Jesus is wrong. Among other things, it's contradicted by Luke 24:36-39 ESV."

  • Meta vs. Chat

In addition to what fred said about meta being better because it's more open, it's also asynchronous and open to others to contribute. In Chat (presumably you meant a private chat with Caleb) you'd have to arrange a time that works for both of you which could be tricky since you're several hours apart. With a meta question, anyone can add their input at whatever time works for them.

  • "Are you really ticked off at every single user?" - absolutely not, just at being what I perceived to be the victim of an inconsistantly applied standard. "presumably you meant a private chat with Caleb" - While Caleb initially deleted the answer, I don't know for sure that he handled the flags I raised (which is my real issue) - I would think it's likely, but there is no mod id appeneded to a closed flag comment that I can see. Anyway, thankyou for your contribution - I appreciate your thoughts particularly your suggestion at how I could have better worded the question. – bruised reed Aug 20 '14 at 23:31
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    "inconsistantly applied standard" This has come up in other meta questions recently... Although there are some overall SE standards and each SE community does develop its own, application/enforcement of those standards is not (and I would say can not be) 100% consistent. Particularly on a smaller site like this, some problematic questions or answers don't get noticed and flagged/voted/whatever. – Ward - Reinstate Monica Aug 21 '14 at 0:06
  • ... Conversely, if a post does get noticed and flagged/voted/deleted/whatever, it doesn't mean it's especially bad or that the person who wrote it is being targetted. It could (and often does) just mean that someone happened to notice it and read it carefully and found a problem. Sorry, this has all been a long-winded way of saying "sometimes things on SE sites are random." – Ward - Reinstate Monica Aug 21 '14 at 0:09

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