An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
You know, it's when I read stuff like this, about churches abandoning all notions of the faith and/or taking the pulse of society and diagnosing the church as the one being sick, I thank GOD for the Orthodox Church.
Yes...I kiss the dirty floors of our little industrial park mission as if it were the Hagia Sophia restored to it's Byzantine glory! I want to hug a priest and lavish thanks and praise upon him for his faithfulness (watch out!) I want to kneel and kiss the hand of a grumpy Babushka whose cane I fear, I want to to dance with a stern old monk who is constantly barking: "IS INNOVATION!" I want to bear hug two orthodox laypersons for arguing about whether priests should have beards or whether we really should serve matins in the evening! I want to sleep tonight with a copy of the Horologion wrapped in my arms like a beloved teddy bear in the embrace of a child. Oh, we Orthodox, we have our problems...legions of them...but brothers and sisters I rejoice in THOSE when I consider how much worse they could be.
Yeah, I may be doing a little of that "Oh Lord I thank you that I am not like the United Church of Christ glorious hope" thing but...oh well...I'm a sinner and I can always blame the lack of meat for making me irritable...too many carbs.
Honestly Ms. Vosper, why are you wasting your time and the time of others? Sleep in on sunday, watch some TV, attend a gay pride parade...but really, you are too old to be playing church. If you build it, they'll still sleep in...why shouldn't they...yawn.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 12:35 PM [+] +++
You know, James, we're taught to say that we know where the Church is, but we don't know where it is not. Well, at the risk of running afoul of (at least peripheral) Tradition, I DO KNOW at least some places where it is definitely not. When and if the Nicene Creed becomes entirely meaningless, then and only then will I acquiesce in identifying non-Churches.
In an earlier post, you expressed concern at our sense of something being wrong with the world in the sense of community. Allow me to ask what sense of community we are supposed to have with what you've just described.
Something wrong? You bet. It's called "death."
What is death? Much more than the separation of soul and body.
In non-Orthodox soteriology, both sin and salvation are about morality: Sin as moral infraction brings about divine retribution, which requires satisfaction that enables God to issue reprieves to penitent criminals, but without actually changing them.
In Orthodox soteriology, sin and salvation are about mortality: Sin brings about death, which requires life.
What is death? It is alienation/separation of elements that are meant to go together: Man is separated from himself, from his neighbor, from nature, from his soul, and ultimately, from God. This latter is not due to God's judicial wrath, but to man's own free choice. As C. S. Lewis illustrates in The Great Divorce, the doors of Hell are locked from the inside.
Now, in my estimation, all discussion of community that ignores this is irrelevant at best and destructive at worst. I help people because they're THERE, not because I think it will fix the world or in order to create some indistinct, secularistic community solidarity. There is no fixing of the World, in the ethical sense. The one and only solution available is for the inhabitants of the World to become members of the Body of Christ, for the sake of the Kingdom and World that are to come. Is this escapism? Well, yes and mo: No: Not any more than Noah, his family, and the animals riding atop the waves of the Flood was escapism. Yes: This present world order is passing away. Don't give your life for it, and don't expect too much from it, either.
Does the Ark of the Church exist to save the ocean, or surviving shipwreck victims? I think that there is a very strong element of what I call Northwest Neo-Hippyism that combines New Age Humanism with childish sentimentalism, environmental paranoia, and nostalgia about some silly faux-communal idealism, which tries to manipulate us into thinking that the agenda of the Church has changed from what it was from the get-go because we're now supposedly so bloody "enlightened." This is all the more laughable because it's so often espoused by kids who weren't even born during the Sixties, let alone living during them. At the risk of poking a much-needed and apparently much-overdue hole in some bubbles, let me tell you: I was there, and IT SUCKED. The only thing that sucks more is ignoramuses who seek to reproduce it in the name of Christianity.
Love your neighbors (which includes your enemies) because that is the shape that authentic Spirit-filled Christianity takes in those who really follow its path. Don't do it in order to make the World (in the sense of 1 Jn. 2:15) magically become something other than what it is. At best, you'll be radically disappointed. At worst, you'll make shipwreck of your faith.
I don't think we disagree Gary...I would just suggest that all talk of "community" isn't necessarily an attempt to recreate a 1960's Jesus people commune or even an attempt to supplant the Church.
Trust me, I am no organo-hybrid driving-intentional community-hemp wearing-peace-love child. Far from it. But I do lament our separation from one another.
When I was kid I had a friend whose family lived in a very strange neighborhood. It was a little cul-de-sac whereevery family had lived, without exception, for decades. They knew one another and even - despite their many differences - shared a neighborhood tradition: a 4th of July block party. They'd shut down their street, play games, BBQ, swim, wander from house to house just being neighbors and sharing a little civil celebration.
It was an enigma to me...I'd never seen such a thing - at least not on this scale. And if it was rare 20 years ago, I bet its even more rare now.
It seems that "celebrating diversity" has more and more been shoved down our throats the more we isolate ourselves from one another. And I find it curious that many policies and attitudes that neo-christian hippies entertain might have actually contributed to the loss of community around us.
Is a 4th of July party amongst neighbors salvific? Could be...it's loss is perhaps not-detrimental to our pursuit of salvation...but none-the-less I think we can see cause to lament such a lack of community today.
And I think we can keep all of these notions of community within a proper context as you note
I help people because they're THERE, not because I think it will fix the world or in order to create some indistinct, secularistic community solidarity
Amen. I certainly am not looking to fix the world...just pointing out that those who are looking for greater community might have shot themselves in the foot with political policies. And...the sense of something being wrong? Well...loneliness I guess.
Yes...being separated/alienated from one another. You say it well. And as we move on from glory to glory I expect this will be less and less noticeable...but it will also require us reaching out as we go along. Reestablishing out connections...even with unbelievers.
I dunno...I'm babbling and I need to catch a boat.