Episode 179: Research and Close Reading — Interview with Stephen Morris

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Happy Holidays word nerds!

To help you enjoy this special week between Christmas and New Year’s, we’ve got an awesome show for you featuring author Stephen Morris!

Stephen holds degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. He is also a former priest of the Russian Orthodox Church.

He has written several historical and contemporary fantasy books as well as the nonfiction book When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality. What drew me to this book in particular is how Stephen approached his research through close reading.

Listen in as we talk about Stephen’s research methods, and how to dissect and truly understand texts.

This episode is brought to you by our amazing word nerd fans and supporters on Patreon. If you’d like to help support this show, hop over to patreon.com/DIYMFA.

In this episode Stephen and I discuss:

  • What do these words mean? Understanding the context and time period of texts.
  • Stephen’s research methods: The art of index cards.
  • What to do when faced with contradictions and a lack of answers to your questions.
  • Battling confirmation bias and how to safeguard against it.
  • Dealing with push back when writing and publishing a controversial topic.

Plus, Stephen’s #1 tip for writers.

About Stephen Morris

Stephen Morris holds degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. A Seattle native, Stephen is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot.

Stephen is the author of several historical fantasy and urban fantasy books that spellbind readers with their compelling storylines and characters, while his academic writing deals with Late Antiquity and Byzantine church life. His latest work of nonfiction, When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality is available now.

To connect with Stephen check out his websites at www.stephenmorrisauthor.com and www.whenbrothersdwellinunity.com.

When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality

Were men joined in a “brotherhood,” like matrimony by the Orthodox Church?

Bankers? They were to be forbidden communion, socially shunned, denied church funerals, and not commemorated during prayers for the dead. Men and women  who committed fornication or adultery? They were forbidden communion for years. Men and women who remarried after divorce or widowhood? They were to be forbidden communion for years and then only allowed communion on a few holy days and even then only after weeks of sexual abstinence. Men who had sex with other men? They were to be denied communion for either 7 or 80 days.

Penances traditionally attached to heterosexual sins–including remarriage after divorce or widowhood–have always been much more severe than those for a variety of homosexual acts or relationships. Just as Byzantine churches have found ways to accommodate sequential marriages and other behavior once stridently condemned, this book argues, it is possible for Byzantine Christianity to make pastoral accommodations for gay relationships and same-sex marriage.

 

If you decide to check out the book — When Brothers Dwell in Unity: Byzantine Christianity and Homosexuality — or the book Stephen mentioned in the interview — The Mabinogion — we hope you’ll do so via these Amazon affiliate links. This means if you purchase via one of these links, DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 179

(Right-click to download.)

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Have a fabulous New Year!

Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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