Bearded men are wrought with perilous events which threaten the comeliness of their appearance. Our beards tend to be a catch-all at meal time. In conversation, if we see eyes darting to our chins, we know it is time to shake our beards free of debris. We must also be careful around fire. Many a man has smelled the smell of burning hair during liturgy or evening prayers at home. Another way you know that your beard has caught fire is that someone rushes up and begins striking you about the face or tossing holy water on you at the most inopportune time. Now, there may be other reasons for these actions, but the smile on your attacker's face is an indication that it was a benevolent, life preserving act. In either case, the beard is prone to damage or disarray. Because of such a state of affairs, some clergy have put on the piety of not caring what they look like, to the extent that they do not brush or comb their beard or hair. To them it is vanity to care about such things. For me? I brush my beard, put oil on it, and keep my hair as neat as possible. To me, this is not vanity, but an act of love for those who have to look at me. Makes sense to me.
Some in orthodoxy say it is vanity to be a blogger, or if you are a blogger, at least take care not to promote yourself by making the blog about you-photos included. For me, I look to the first bloggers, particularly Saint Paul the Apostle, to immolate. He spoke much about his personal life, his state of mind, his temptations, his "Journey To Orthodoxy", in order to remain a transparent disciple of Christ--warts and all--so that he might "win a few." This is blogging- this is not vanity. The photo? I imagine Saint Paul, had he the technology, may have distributed photos of himself to the churches as a token of love, and as a connection with those whom he had not had an opportunity to meet. I, too, have a prominent photo of myself on the JTO blog. It helps people around the world feel as if they are communicating with a real person. Personally, I prefer to participate on other blogs when I know what the person looks like and a little about them. I find it strange that Orthodox Church websites rarely have photos of the clergy. Surely it would not be vanity to do so. A website is intended to inform. A person perusing a website for a church home, benefits by seeing faces and thus eliminating some of the unknown before visiting a parish.
So I groom and smile--and keep blogging-- with photo attached. Vanity? Not all is vanity.