belief and action vis a vis modern orthodoxy
"It is neccessary to distinguish between two types of modern Orthodoxy. One may be called philosophical, while the other is more appropriately characterized as behavioral. Within the category of philosophical modern Orthodox, or centrist Orthodox, would be those who are meticulously observant of halakhah but are, nevertheless, philosophically modern. Within this context, being modern means, at minimum, having a postive perspective on general education and knowledge, and being well disposed to Israel and religious Zionism.
The behaviorally modern Orthodox, on the other hand, ore not deeply concerned with philosophical ideas about either modernity or religious Zionism. By and large, they define themselves as modern Orthodox in the sense that they are not as meticulously observant as the right wing states one should be. "
Chaim Waxman, in "Towards a Sociology of Pesak" found in Tradition 25:3 12-25 and Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy, ed by Moshe Sokol.
My childhood, by Dr. Waxman's definitions, would have been a combination of the two types of MO. My parents actually were deeply concerned and involved in the philosophy of MO, and inculcated it in us, but as far as observance, we were behavioral. In thinking about where I want to be, and should be, it is quite obvious that the only place is strictly philosophical MO. If one believes in Torah and mitzvot, and wants to call oneself Orthodox, then one should observe the details of mitzvot, big and small. One can of course argue about the exact details fo the mitzvot, but for most mitzvot there isn't much debate.
My children frequently have little friends over at the house, most come from MO homes and go to day school. I rarely hear any of them say a bracha before eating. Even more rare is hearing them say a bracha afterwards before they run off and play. To be honest, my children dont have a perfect record either, but they remember more often than not, and when I remind them, smile and say it, without looking at me as if I was from Mars.
A valid criticism of behavioral MO from the right is the lack of attention to mitzvot. Public mitzvot, like going to shul or observing Shabbat in public, or even keeping kosher in the home(counts as a public mitzva because the public wont eat in your house if you dont) are easy to keep. Its the little things. Brachot before eating. Washing hads in the morning. davening three times a day. Kashrut when eating out or away from the 'hood. The behaviorly MO(and I have been there, and am trying to escape) seem to lack a constant awareness of God, or at least a frequent awareness of God. God only appears on Shabbat, Holidays, school, or other specific occasions, but not as part of regular life. I think that keeping the minutiae of mitzvot, and the small(as far as time commitment) mitzvot, keeps the idea of God around. If you say "asher yatzar" after using the bathroom, you mention God, even if only with minimal attention, a few more times a day.
The philosophical MO are the leaders of the MO movement. There are some more to the right, like the YU Roshei Yeshiva, who seem to attract philosophical MO followers(and those who are behaviorly strict), and some more to the left, like R. Saul Berman, Edah, R. Yitz Greenberg and others. They seem to attract both the philosophical MO, and those who are a mix of philosophical and behavioral. (The strictly behavioral would lean to the left, but may not be very involved in looking at the philosophy and beliefs of orthodoxy). In other words, there is a significant group who care deeply about the philosophy, but are lax(by traditional standards) in observance. It seems logical that one of the goals of the left wing of MO should be to increase the levels and standards of observance in their followers. Halachically based differences about beliefs and large issues like the place of women in religion certainly are items for discussion. Making a bracha before and after eating should be taken for granted by all who call themselves orthodox.