Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: convertitis

Reblog: The Adoration of the Konvertsky

From Second Terrace’s The Adoration of the Konvertsky:

I will deal more ethically with the reflexive irony. How go the konvertsky — that famous (or infamous) influx of unlikely American Anglicans and distraught establishment Protestants, and even more unlikely mishmash of “free church” Evangelicals and Charismatics — that immigrated into that patently odd jurisdictional ambiguity of the American Orthodox Church?

I hope that the majority of those who have left their own heterodox “Ur” and entered the Orthodox nave of Canaan have stayed. I hope that they and their families have continued along the eternal path of becoming, and have tasted the first fruits of theosis. I hope they have learned of the Church’s tradition and “theoria,” and have become wise in responding to the foolhardiness of this contemporaneity. I hope they have become adept at fighting the passions, and fending off the feints and wiles of the loathsome powers.

…There are, as you might expect, anecdotes, as far as data is concerned. I am aware of several narratives of ex-protestants who tell stories of disillusionment after five to ten years in Orthodoxy. The first apprehensions of beauty have worn off, and the frustration of relationships and disappointments have set in.

Other, more extreme, narratives include the exposure to egregious ecclesiastical misbehaviors. Some converts have seen Bad Things — and some of these converts have had Bad Things done to them. Some of them have seen persons in the Church not only ape the patterns of the world (“world” in its negative, not John 3.16, sense) — but have seen churchmen actually surpass the world in worldly behavior. Some converts have seen the Church replicate the marketplace DNA, having given religious preference to the term “entrepreneur” and have adopted the management-by-objective procedure and newspeak of corporate America.

…You take Communion differently now, and Chrismation is a one-way seal. You never experienced those things before — but the other part of deification is a providentially-ordered sequence of burden-bearing and grace-sharing. The disappointments from other people are such that God has elected you to bear that particular burden, and to bear His Grace to those particular people.

Yes, they hurt your feelings, but in our hurt feelings is His strength made manifest, and through our hurt feelings do we find the sufficiency of His Grace.

The entire blog post is here; it goes into the various kinds of converts–from the former Evangelicals and fundies, such as me, to former mainline Protestants–and various reasons why we can get disenchanted with Orthodoxy.  It includes the political right-wingers and left-wingers.  It goes into reasons why we should stay put and work on our own judgmentalism (wherever we fit on the spectrum of converts).

 

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“The Rapture”: Left Behind Review, Part 1 (also goes into smacking kids upside the head)

by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins, Tyndale House Publishers, ISBN 1414305818, available practically anywhere Christian books are sold:

A plot summary is here.

FINALLY, the last prequel.  So only one more book is left!  (I’ve been reading these books for more than five years now.  😛  Though that’s nothing compared to how long the Slacktivist has been doing this.  😛  )

It’s comforting, on pages 13 to 14, to see Irene’s new Christian friends and pastor counsel her to stop nagging Rayford into getting “saved.”

Another pleasant surprise comes on page 16, when their son Raymie asks, “Mom, is Dad going to hell?” and Irene answers, “Frankly, I can’t tell where your dad is on all this.  He claims to believe in God, and it’s not for us to say.”

Pages 17 and 18 inspired me to write this post on my blog, which I will copy for you here:

I’m currently reading the Left Behind book “The Rapture” for my series of Left Behind reviews.  My reviews and the Slacktivist describe the bad, ungodly behavior of the Christians in the books.  But what I read last night, really burns me up:

A good Christian woman, Lucinda Washington, middle-aged, who is not afraid to show her faith and is respected by all, is also Buck’s favorite colleague, a mentor of sorts.

After witnessing the dramatic, supernatural defeat of the air forces sent to decimate Israel, he comes to her office looking for answers.  He plops down in a chair with his feet on the desk and she says,

“If you were my son I’d whup you upside the head, sitting like that, tearing up your spine.”

“You don’t still smack Lionel, do you?” Buck said, peeking at the photo of the smooth-faced youngster [he’s 12].

“Can’t catch him anymore, but he knows I can still take him.”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Excuse me, this isn’t set in 1950, but in 21st-century America, some indeterminate time after the present, right before the Rapture–and the book was written in 2006.

This barbaric practice should be universally condemned as child abuse by the time this book takes place.  It’s already illegal in some places.  And even 100 years ago, people knew that smacking kids anywhere on the head is dangerous.  I go into this in great detail in these posts:

Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, and  …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE!

And this is the woman we are supposed to admire as a great woman of God?  A FRICKIN’ CHILD ABUSER????!!!!!

Here, I describe how two narcissistic “friends” turned out to be child abusers, whom I eventually reported to CPS because I could not get through to them, and who then threatened and began stalking me for calling them child abusers.  One of the things they did which most enraged me, was smacking their little kids in the head.

I also unfriended some old high school classmate a while back for advocating beating children on her Facebook status.  Then, a few months ago, unfriended (and eventually blocked) a girl in my social circles who said parents should beat their children.

Now, after all that, and enduring the stress and emotional anguish of being threatened and stalked for calling this child abuse, I’m supposed to read this “Christian” book and accept that a godly woman would abuse her child by smacking him upside the head?  I’m supposed to like this character after knowing this?  She’s just another hypocrite like the rest of the series’ Christians!

On page 26, Irene has turned into a Stepford Wife, even setting out Rayford’s clothes as if he were a child.  Since badgering him into converting doesn’t work, she’s taking the opposite tactic–still manipulative, but I guess she doesn’t see that.

But it drives him crazy, because he knows her various problems with him (church, his use of time, not spending enough time with their son) are still on her mind.  He’d rather argue than pretend they don’t exist.

On pages 63 to 66, Rayford explains to Raymie what many of us have realized over the years: that just because you don’t belong to a particular religion or sect, does not necessarily mean you’re going to Hell.  Raymie replies,

Wow.  You sound just like the people Pastor Billings talks about.  People who think they have it all figured out, but they don’t really believe in Jesus.

Say what?  Just because you have a different idea of who goes to Hell, you don’t really believe in Jesus?  Also, Raymie’s words have a distinct vibe of “Oh, you’re one of those people,” said with a curling lip.  ARGH!

And double-ARGH to the last few paragraphs on page 66:

Rayford…overheard the boy talking with Irene, who had asked how things went.

“Dad’s going to hell,” Raymie said.  “He doesn’t think he is.  He thinks he isn’t.  But he doesn’t believe in Jesus.  Not really.”

Meanwhile, back in Antichrist land, pages 71 to 74 depict a Mafia-style punishment of the family of a guy marked by Fortunato, Nicolae Carpathia’s right-hand man.  It’s full of evil and angst.

Where the heck was this kind of writing in the rest of the series?  If we see this along with Carpathia’s public image as a nice guy, we’ll know he’s evil.  No, all we get in the first books is that Carpathia wants world peace, which doesn’t sound so bad.

But if we got more of this behind-the-scenes evil instead of endless pages of traveling itineraries and phone conversations, the first books could have been awesome, instead of dull trudging wondering when this book will end.

To be continued.

Find all my Left Behind book reviews here.

 

 

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7 Years of Orthodoxy; struggles in continuing; should I stay Orthodox?

I just realized it’s been 7 years already since I started attending the local Orthodox church and began the process of conversion.  Wasn’t it just last year?  My story is here.  Sadly, Richard is the guy who led me to Orthodoxy in the first place, as described in my story.

I sometimes wonder if I would’ve stayed Presbyterian if not for him; most likely.  I had only just discovered that it was okay in the PCUSA to believe in universalism, and there was much freedom of thought in other matters as well.  But I wanted to find out what the ancient Church believed about everything, because the different doctrines in Christendom were so confusing.

I’ve been going through a crisis of faith for some time, as described here, here and here.  I’ve also heard on Orthodox forums (often populated with converts) of falling away after about five years, when the convertitis wears off and you start to lose your fervor.

It took me a whole summer of research to decide to try out the Orthodox church, and another two years in the process of converting, before finally joining.  And I kept always reading, reading, reading, to find out if Orthodoxy was correct.  I have an entire box full of Internet printouts.

So this was not taken at all lightly, or done quickly.  I’ve also experienced so much richness: in the liturgy, the fasts, the Lenten and Holy Week services, the theology, the spirituality, even the Greek Fests which have nothing to do with Orthodoxy.

Maybe the doldrums are simply because of my conversion’s connection to Richard, and the doubt of God’s existence that came out of that.

Maybe it’s the same disillusionment that led me out of evangelicalism to Presbyterianism: the people who make it seem like you can’t truly be Christian unless you’re a Republican, believe gay marriage is an abomination, and put so many limitations on who can do what in the church.

I hated the legalism of so many fundamentalist Protestant churches: head coverings, no long hair on the men, no pants or short hair on the women, no rock music–But in Orthodoxy (not my own church, but many others) are people who insist on head coverings, beards on the men, women not reading the Epistle, getting rid of organs/pews/ecumenism because they’re “Western innovations.”

I did NOT become Orthodox to become more fundamentalist.  I LIKED women preachers.  But I did not like the milquetoast worship that evangelicalism had turned to, or the doctrine that all non-Christians are destined for Hell even if they have good reasons for not converting.

But after becoming Orthodox, I lost my taste for all the other churches.  There is a richness of theology and practice here which has been lost elsewhere.  Sure I sometimes miss listening to a long sermon by a skilled preacher.  But the focus of the homilies, at least at my church, is not on the preacher’s diction, skits, or bullet points; the focus is on the teachings of the church and living out Christianity in the world.

Also, I must remember that when I first “met” Richard online, he was himself a new convert of only a year or two.  When he and I were able to finally meet in person, we both were new converts, and in the midst of convertitis.

I tried not to go to the extreme of, “Nothing in this parish is Orthodox enough, get rid of the pews and organ and change everything back to ‘tradition,’ I’ll wear a headcovering to church and a peasant dress, and I’ll do a full fast even if nobody else does!”

But other signs were there, such as disdain for any theology that isn’t “Orthodox” enough, or any Christian book not written by an Orthodox.  (Not that I feel like going back and changing anything in my theology pages or old Left Behind reviews at this point.)

And Richard kept complaining that my church was not Orthodox enough, and disdaining other theologies.  Two recent converts feeding each other’s convertitis.

Part of my convertitis was moving away from the path I was already on: becoming more liberal.

I had always been a feminist, but with very conservative views on abortion, homosexuality, housewives.  Over the years before converting, I began to move toward more liberal views on homosexuality, and away from the idea that the best way to raise a family was as a housewife.

I now believed that women should have the choice of working mom or housewife without getting grief for it, that it’s about what’s best for your family.  I was in favor of birth control, and believed that some married couples should not be parents.

In the Presbyterian church, I examined studies on homosexuality and the Scripture, and more liberal views of abortion.  But Internet Orthodoxy led me off that track, into a strict view against homosexuality, against legal abortion, against birth control, even against being a working mom.

I don’t remember what exactly shook me out of that and got me back on the liberal-track.  But I do know that it was a combination of Richard’s charisma and Internet ‘doxy that got me off track, neither one claiming full responsibility; the part against working mothers did not come from him.

Internet ‘doxy is full of Pharisaic zeal against things that, when you go into an actual church, especially Greek, nobody seems to care about.

I feel that Orthodoxy is wrong about homosexuality, but even if it’s right, it is NOT Orthodox to condemn homosexuals, condemn women/girls (single, or young, or dirt-poor) who feel their only option is abortion, or prevent others from living their own consciences and religions (NOT ours).

How about working to make abortions unnecessary, because if you make them illegal, desperate girls/women will still take some dangerous herb, use a coat-hanger, or get butchered in some back-room abortion.

I don’t see how this makes me “unOrthodox,” or how it’s “unOrthodox” to vote Democrat to try to make a better life for the poor, weak and downtrodden.

Richard told me he hates Democrats, and had some extremely harsh things to say about Democrats and their policies.  But I became a Democrat partially BECAUSE of the things I saw him going through as a dirt-poor person.  The same feeling which led me to take him in and help him in his poverty, is what led me to become Democrat.

But as written in On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian:

We come to the Church and we remain in the Church in order to save our souls, and nothing else. Church is not a hobby, a game, a private interest, a pretence, or even a community. It is our soul’s salvation.

We achieve this by first being ourselves and then being the best of ourselves. If there is anything else, it is all secondary. We must never lose this perspective. If we do, then we are out of perspective and on our way out of the Church.

But this part certainly got lost on the way, both with me and with Richard/Tracy:

In order to save our souls, we first have to know ourselves, searching out and discovering our own faults, sins and failings. Then we have to take issue with them and fight, however slowly and weakly, and begin to tame them and never give up this battle. We will know when we are not doing this, it is when we start dwelling on the faults of others.

If our personal pride is hurt in the course of Church life, thank God. That is what we are there for, to become humble.

This does become tricky when people are abused or molested, of course.  It doesn’t help an abuse or rape victim to be told, Stop dwelling on what they did and look at your own sins!

But once you have processed what happened, told about it, and hopefully had some sort of justice, you can begin to focus on your own sins, without justifying what the other person did to you.

To avoid becoming personality disordered, or being constantly angry with others, we need to deal with our anger against the person who actually caused it, not push it down and then take it out on others.

We also are told, right there in the Bible, to watch out for and keep away from wolves in the church.  There are whole passages describing how to tell who is not truly Christian, so you can separate from them.

So some judgment of others is not only allowed, but expected, so you can protect yourself from being poisoned by toxic “Christians.”  It’s not about how you dress, but if you abuse, use and manipulate others.  This does need to be remembered when we are told not to focus on how a fellow church member abused us.

I keep my stories up to vent them out of my heart, and to help others who are still in the healing process after narcissistic abuse.  But if Richard/Tracy ever did repent, I would do some serious cutting.

Most people, however, aren’t dealing with abusers, but with normal faults and flaws among church members.  Getting upset because that lady keeps running off whenever work is to be done, is not the same thing as being molested by a youth leader.

Threatening lawsuits for anything less than getting physically attacked or molested–this should be out of line.  And it is, really; the Bible says this as well.

This website offers a different perspective on converts in the church:

On one level, many Orthodox converts are fleeing megachurch Christianity. They are coming because they want something on Sunday morning besides a rock band and a giant plasma TV screen.

Converts are also fleeing from mainline Protestantism, which is in the midst of a three-decade statistical nosedive and demographic suicide.

At the same time, I believe that most of these converts are coming out of that core 20 percent of their former churches. They are active, highly motivated people. They read, they think, they sing, and they serve. That hunger for more, that hunger for sound doctrine, is sending them to Orthodoxy.

These Orthodox converts are seeking mystery. They want a non-fundamentalist approach to the faith, but they are not fleeing the faith of the ages. They are trying to get back to the trunk of the tree. All around them are churches that are either modern, postmodern, post-postmodern or post-post-postmodern.

It makes the case that churches do need to become more traditional if they want more converts, and to keep their young people.  These two websites demonstrate the two different strains working against each other: one says change back, the other one says accept the church as it is.

But this is why I became Orthodox:

There is only one criterion for entering the Orthodox Church and that is because you are convinced that it is for your personal salvation, for your spiritual survival, because it is God’s Will for you, because you know that this is your spiritual home and that, whatever the cost, you can never be anything else. —On Becoming and Remaining an Orthodox Christian

 

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I finally got myself a three-bar cross: My Orthodox conversion is complete! ;) (convertitis)

I got one of these a few months ago:
http://www.skete.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=2752&Category_ID=110 [link no longer works; was a three-bar cross]

…Because, until I got that three-barred cross, my other crosses just didn’t seem “Orthodox” enough.  And goodness knows, if you want to convert to Orthodoxy, it’s gotta be all the way, right?

As a friend of mine at church, a college guy converting to Orthodoxy, said, “Like cell phones, the more bars, the better!”

Must have the icon corner with 50 icons…Must have the headscarf….Must have every Orthodox book the other converts have and claim to have read….Must dress like a 19th-century Russian peasant and wear a long, scraggly beard (assuming you’re a man, that is)….Must get upset that the people at church (Orthodox since birth) don’t do it “right,” the priest dresses too Catholic, there’s an organ and pews, nobody fasts beyond cutting out meat during the 10,000 Lenten days of the year–is outrage!

And must subscribe to Hyperdox Herman on Facebook!  Oh, wait, that page makes fun of people with Orthodox convertitis.  Heresy!  Is outrage!

And yes, since it can be hard to get this across on the Net, this is tongue-in-cheek.  🙂

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Musings on how Christians should treat each other

In the church, we have people using each other and treating each other like dirt,

bullying each other,

cussing at each other,

calling other people names for disagreeing with them on politics or religion or personal issues,

jumping to conclusions, without apologizing for their outbursts, without trying to resolve things peaceably, without trying to understand each other.

Having an organ in the church (a controversy among Orthodox converts) becomes more important than whether or not the congregation is learning how to love Christ and fellow man.

They talk as if it is their right to respond violently–whether verbally or physically–to a perceived slight, even though the writings of the Apostles and the Church Fathers tell us this perception of entitlement comes straight from Hell.

Then these people go to the Communion chalice as if they’ve done nothing wrong.

How can we expect the world to bang down our door when we act like this? If Christians are just as bad, if not worse, than the “heathens,” then we have nothing concrete to show that our invisible, supernatural beliefs are Truth.

Early Church congregations added members through their acts of charity and love, not through having the best, most persuasive speeches, or the most awesome worship music, or the flashiest tracts.

Contemporary accounts I’ve read of the time speak of a Church that was quite different from the surrounding culture, not because of dress or food or music but because they were taking care of each other and their neighbors, rather than following their own selfish interests.

Before you go to Communion, examine yourself:

Have you at least tried to make up with the person you hurt?

Have you tried to soothe the person whose feelings you hurt?

Have you bullied anyone?

Do you think no one has the right to feel hurt but yourself?

Have you realized that yelling and screaming or hitting first, then asking questions later, means you will lose friends or family, without them even wanting to tell you the truth about what you misinterpreted?

Have you so affected someone with your harshness and ill-will and abuse that when they see you in church taking Communion, they have a strong urge to run to the bathroom and throw up?

It’s enough to lead one to cynicism about religion.  And to make one realize that we can’t judge someone for leaving Christianity if they’ve been driven out by what they’ve seen and heard from fellow Christians.  We may not understand, but God surely does.

[Originally written in part 4 of my review of The Indwelling, which I posted on my blog/website/Facebook on February 2, 2011.]

 

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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