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[The Creation of the Chicken]

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.
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Monday, December 08, 2003

50 Ways to Offend a Blog Reader

…no I won’t be listing them, for you young folk out there, this was a reference to an old song. Also, I wonder if anyone got the “you had yourself a vision” title of that post a few days ago – it’s a line from a movie. Anyway, this is going to be a long post, which I worked on over the weekend. I’d be mightily thankful if you’d read it all, especially those of you who are not Orthodox and yet read my blog anyway. As usual, comments are welcomed. Here we go…

I imagine that this post would best go down with a spoon full of sugar. By my reckoning, this would be a pipe full of fine (or at least semi-fine) tobacco and a robust pint of winter ale. Of course, I leave the choice of sugar to you my good reader – in my experience my particular choices of such social niceties tend to buffer the potential for causing offense.

I began Paradosis quite a while ago, due in large part to a friend’s encouragement to do so. He and I share many differing opinions on religious issues, as is evidenced simply by the fact that he is very active in the “post-mod house church” movement (as with all religious movements, history will eventually give this one a name, for now I reckon this term is as good as any other) while I am a devoted communicant of the Eastern Orthodox Church. None-the-less, we glean much from one another and enjoy doing so as often as is practicable.

Furthermore, this blog is a touch point for many of my protestant friends and family members who are distant and are wondering: “What the hell is this Orthodox stuff that James has gotten himself into?” Now, being very familiar with this particular readership demographic (hehehe, sounds so corporate), I know that I cannot post something here that says: “I went to confession today” and then NOT offer some detailed explanation, and yes even some defense of the practice. You get what I mean? I know that some things that we Orthodox do and believe are going to illicit strong knee-jerk reactions from those of a protestant bent and so I must elaborate.

In this sense, my recent accuser is right: my blog can take a defensive tone and I do write some posts that seek to give reasons for the (Orthodox) hope that is in me (I Peter 3:15). But as I said/asked in my comment post recently: Who doesn’t do this? You see I read quite a number of post-mod Christian blogs (honestly the movement is fascinating to me…maybe someday they’ll convert me!), and very often I see posts that serve up defenses and reasons for ascribing to certain beliefs and practices that by their very nature point a condescending finger at Orthodoxy (i.e. church buildings are wasteful and unnecessary and we should be meeting in homes, there is no need or precedence for “professional” clergy, liturgy is dead, the Eucharist should be a “full meal deal”, the church needs a new major reformation, etc.) Now, when friends and family (or even strangers I suppose) espouse these sorts of things, I FEEL OBLIGED to engage these issues either here or there (wherever “there” may be). I mean, for those people who care about me and believe those aforementioned things, don’t they deserve an explanation as to why I drag my lazy butt to a church building on Sunday mornings to participate in a virtually unchanging ancient liturgy led by “professional” clergy (whatever that might mean), and to partake of small portions of bread and wine which we take to be the Body and Blood of Christ, all under the banner of a Church that has essentially never had a reformation like the western church. If you, my dear reader, do not wish to read such explanations…well you know what to do.

Still with me? I need a refill, be right back…

Ahhhh….now where was I? Oh yes.

I will offend people here…no way to avoid it, except perhaps to never post again…but frankly I really enjoy hearing my own typing too much to do that! If my words here become condescending or rude, then I am drinking sin and regurgitating death – for mercy’s sake nail my ass to the wall when I do so! But, if the concepts, ideas, practices, or theologies I bring up here are offensive to you, then quite simply you are obliged to engage me (as Abayea did – Thank you!) or ignore me. Don’t fire a shot across my bow and then rig your sails to scoot away from me while blowing raspberries at my navy’s flag! (recently saw Master and Commander, good flick.)

Now, to some extent, this is all personal “appetizer-type” stuff. The real meat of the issue is what follows.

Orthodoxy herself will offend you. She does not need my help to offend you, I can guarantee that many of you folks out there (whom I know) are or will be offended by things the Church teaches and practices. I will not cherry coat these things (exception of course being the aforementioned tobacco and ale). Aspects of Orthodoxy will hurt you, will bruise you, will irritate you, will make you laugh mockingly, and will in general rub you the wrong way. But before you run away angry or self-assured because of whatever offense you may take from the Church, stop and think whether you should be surprised as such offense?

Did not Jesus frequently offend people? YES, He did! How many people walked away from Him because “his teachings were too hard”? At the end of John 6, why didn’t Jesus call his followers back who had left him over his teaching on the Eucharist? Do you think Jesus was right in just letting the rich young ruler walk away from Him bummed out, as a lesson for us? I mean shouldn’t we have been left a record of Jesus taking these people aside and fully explaining in order to help them see? No, we are left only with the sad recording of their walking away. And did not Saint Paul remind us that our faith would be perceived as foolishness to some and a stumbling block to others?

Friends, seriously, think about this: if your religion or your church does not ever offend anybody, maybe something is wrong with it? If you seek out a faith that custom fits your tastes like a glove, will you grow? Will you be challenged? Will you remain the infallible Pope of your own spiritual life? Any church or religion worth a hill of beans is going to offend and challenge (challenge in the sense that YOU WILL WRESTLE and SWEAT), otherwise you might as well stay home and channel surf the TV or Internet. But if in doing so, you surf over to Paradosis you will read this sort of thing:

If Orthodoxy offends you, maybe you should consider that it just might be the best medicine you could ever have.

Engage me.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:45 AM [+]
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