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.
A coworker on numerous occasions has asked and then upon finding I've not seen the film, pleaded that I go and see "Jesus Camp." Now the film's creators insist that they were completely objective and had no agenda, a claim I find astonishingly retarded...or should I say, it is astonishingly retarded to believe them? Anyway...the fact that this coworker LOVED the film is evidence to me that they pretty much bolstered his belief that Christians are insane Nazis.
Of course, we Orthodox - like many other groups of Christians, will feel inclined to respond to questions directed to us about the film in a number of ways. First and foremost we will wish to distance ourselves from the "wackos" in the movie. Yes, protect yourself and your reputation first. The braver of us may try and argue that the filmmakers might have actually had some bias.
Maybe its my old age (yes, I know I'm not that old yet!), I dunno, but I am feeling more and more like a sibling to ANY Christians who are the subject of criticism by secular liberals (however agendaless they may be...yeah right). You know how it is with family, you have every right in the world to fight with your sibling, but 'igod Woodrow if someone outside the family raises a hand against the brother you just got done having a smackdown with there will be hell to pay.
Okay, maybe not that extreme of a feeling...but I definately sense it. For all I know those kids and their parents at "Jesus Camp" may be utterly nuts, but I'm sure as hell not going to rely on the film to make that decision for me. And really, do you think that if Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady made a film about US (Orthodox) that it would fair and balanced? Sure they may not have as much drama as in Pentecostal churches, but hey we have ourselves plenty of fodder for secularist liberals: "So, women aren't allowed to be clergy? Hmmmmm. So women cannot even go behind the altar except to clean? Hmmmm. So you actually believe Jesus literally rose from the dead? Hmmmm. So, you kiss your priests hands and call your Bishops 'master'? Hmmmmm. So, we noticed a number of your women are wearing headscarfs, isn't that a throwback? Are they also subject to their husbands? So, you bow down and kiss planks of wood? So, you are praying to a man who spent his life standing on a pillar?" Okay enough...they could spin this in any number of ways to fit their agenda and make us look crazy. I have no doubt...add some ominous music here and there, some good editing and you'd soon have us all appearing certifiable to the general, far more enlightened, public.
In any event, my overall response to questions about the movie has been to say "Huh...sounds strange? Oh I don't know if I have time to see it." I'm no longer interested in catering to THEIR agenda so that I (yes me) may be assured that I am NOT like those people in the movie. But in the end, when you get right down to it, those who have the same agenda as the makers of the film (and those giving it awards and those encouraging me to see it) know that I am crazy too, albeit in a different way. The fact that I pray at all is evidence to most. And you know what...the kids at Jesus Camp believe Jesus rose from the dead, which might be a hinge point that makes me have more in common with them than the people making movies about how stupid such people are. All other strange baggage aside.
Fact is, if the world doesn't hate us and mock us and even kill us from time to time...then we are doing something wrong. I'm not here to make everyone love me and I certainly didn't become Orthodox so that I could REALLY disassociate myself from wacko pentecostals. If I did, then I've missed the boat.
Yes, talking to non-Christians these days, and even most non-Orthodox Christians, is 90% term-definition.
I agree: My conversations with Evangelicals immediately reveal deep differences that are incredibly laborious to work through. In fact, if they're not hungry enough to be dissatisfied with denominationalism, I just keep a brotherly but decidedly discernible distance. I don't know much, but I do know that it's impossible to make someone want Orthodoxy. It's too darned hard; ya gotta want it bad. But secularists descend like self-righteous wolves on these Evangelicals, for no other reason than that they believe that the world is neither its own reason nor explanation. It's enough to make you want to slap these pseudo-intellectual punks around, damn it.
By the way, I loved your oblique reference to Lonesome Dove. I watch it once a year. It makes me weep. Several times.