Orthodoxy

From Orthodoxy in Dialogue: Trouble in American Orthodoxy

The blog Orthodoxy in Dialogue recently criticized the standard conservative Christian response to legal abortion.  The more I read this blog on various issues which are big in politics and religion today, the more I see kindred spirits:

For a while, back in the early 00’s, I was becoming more and more liberal.  But I also wanted to find out what the original Church believed about various theological issues and practices.  That led me to Orthodoxy, which led to a period of time in which I was much more conservative about many things.

But then I realized I was, in a sense, being brainwashed:

First there was the very persuasive and charismatic person who first suggested Orthodoxy to me: Richard.  He was a convert from the Foursquare Church; time eventually revealed that he’s also a narcissist.  Not sure if he’s malignant or not, but a lot of those narc traits are there.  He did a LOT of talking to me about Orthodoxy: not just about its beauty, but about the many things which the local church did wrong because it wasn’t “Orthodox” enough, and how I was wrong for not being “Orthodox” enough.

Then there was the constant presence on the Net (where, in the early days, I spent most of my time with Orthodoxy) of “Netdoxy” and “Ameridoxy.”  Orthodoxy has been getting a lot of converts in recent decades from American Evangelical/Fundamentalist churches.  I wanted to get away from Evangelical/Fundamentalist influences, but many are bringing them into Orthodoxy.

OID’s most recent post,  Notes from Underground, describes this phenomenon as a peculiarly American “mob mentality,” where you get attacked for disagreeing with the prevailing views of the group you’re in.  You see it in politics; you see it in discussions on social issues; you see it on narcissism forums; you see it within Evangelicalism; you see it on Orthodox forums on the Internet.  This is one reason why I stopped going to such forums some years ago.

Anyway, I finally began to break away from Netdoxy and, with it, away from the conservatism which had been pulling me back in.  I began to move back toward liberalism.

But by this time, I had already become a full Orthodox Christian, so it wasn’t as if I could just pick up and leave.  I still saw many things in worldwide Orthodoxy (as opposed to Ameridoxy or Netdoxy) which were refreshing and did not hold to American Republican politics.  For example, the Ecumenical Patriarch actually believes in climate change and working to get along with Catholics, Muslims, and others.  But the more I examine issues such as abortion and gay marriage, the more I agree with liberals–which means a huge disconnect with official Orthodox positions.

This has made me wonder if I should’ve stayed in a liberal Protestant church all those years ago.  I’ve often wondered if I’ll be allowed to stay Orthodox, if at some point I’ll be excommunicated for my views, especially now that I’ve discovered an Orthodox friend is LGBTQ–and I sympathize rather than telling this person to change.

But finding OID is reassuring.  Finally, I feel like, if there’s room for the writers/editors of OID, there’s room for me in Orthodoxy.  Maybe I can still stay in, rather than leaving all the richness of Orthodox tradition.

Anyway, OID also has insightful posts on abortion and how the usual “Right to Life” response does nothing at all to stop abortion, while pro-choice policies have actually caused a huge decrease.  In the past I posted a link to a blog post by someone who is now atheist and made the same points, but I suppose some Christians may not give her any credibility because she’s an atheist.  Well, here’s a Christian saying many of the same things.

Basically, that money on marches is wasted, when it could be spent on helping women afford contraception or afford to raise a child, leading to fewer abortions.  That when abortion is against the law, women die along with their babies from backroom butchers and coat hangers.

The response OID received to these posts was enlightening–but, sadly, not surprising: Orthodox women were grateful.  Orthodox men were furious.  And Netdoxy attacked it as well.

Chew on that for a bit.

Here are the posts on abortion:

Abortion, Contraception, and Christian Faith

Another January, Another Celebration of our Moral Superiority

Neo-Nazis Infiltrating Orthodoxy

“Why is a symbol of my faith being used alongside Nazi and White Nationalist symbols, and what is American Orthodoxy going to do about it?”

This question was asked by Arthur Hatton after taking a picture of a rock painted with neo-Nazi–and Orthodox–symbols.  It’s published in this post–WHITE SUPREMACY IN THE AMERICAN ORTHODOX CHURCH: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ASSEMBLY OF CANONICAL ORTHODOX BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA–by Orthodoxy in Dialogue.

Neo-Nazi and Confederate sentiments have been making their way through the Orthodox Church, a small but disturbing minority, going directly against everything Christ ever stood for.  OID wants the leadership of Orthodoxy in America to clearly condemn white supremacy and racism before this poison does any more damage.  And anyone can still sign the open letter by e-mailing OID.

And of course, the neo-Nazis have responded with a post by Matt Parrott of the Traditional Worker Party.  (The name draws from the original German name of the Nazi Party.)  In a hate-filled post, he makes himself and other white supremacists in Orthodoxy into some kind of martyrs for the cause, puritans fighting the heretics of “Ameridoxy.”  You can read it on the OID website here, along with OID’s response.  That’s better than linking you to the original post, which is on a Nazi website.  😛

For example, Parrott writes,

The Toronto School of Theology’s vibrant and very ecumenical community is calling on Orthodox clergy to go on a hysterical witch hunt for absolutely any and all clergy who may have the slightest anti-globalist or pro-Southern sympathies. Co-signatures are reaching into the hundreds as layman and clergy alike scramble to get their name on the list of people less likely to find themselves strapped down to the lynch mob’s cucking stool.

And also,

May the first man who attempts to deny communion on account of race be excommunicated.

Hold up. Wait a second. That stupid list [ names signed to the OID letter ] actually is a handy list of folks who are guilty of precisely that. Start with excommunicating and defrocking them. … The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests and bishops, and I will stomp on each one of them on my way to hell and back to win this war for the universality of Christianity in the West.

Apparently, this TWP group would find my feminism and desire to see equality for LGBTQ in Orthodoxy to be much, much worse than their racism.

Their words made me want even more to sign OID’s letter.

The TWP even has the crazy idea that Confederate symbols weren’t seen as “super racist” at all until a couple of years ago.  Er…..I’ve seen Confederate symbols as “super racist” as far back as the 1970s/80s, when I was a child.  And so have countless others.  In fact, I’m amazed that it took so long for Southern states to wake up to how many people see the Confederacy as “super racist.”

I see this stuff popping up here and there, and start wondering if my ex-friend Richard, the guy who led me into Orthodoxy, has anything to do with any of it.  He’s only half-white, so hopefully the other half and his mixed-race child keep him from joining the racists.  But I can’t be sure, because I remember how he became militant Tea-Party in the last year or two of our friendship, back when nobody had heard of the Tea Party yet.  I remember how he hated Obama, and how his militancy strained our friendship until it finally broke in 2010.  I wonder if he’s a Trumper now.

I hope he has nothing to do with these “Orthodox” neo-Nazis, but who knows.

And of course, it’s because of Trump that these neo-Nazis are so bold these days.  They think they have a chance to take over American sentiment now.

 

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).

Just read something about being “truly Orthodox”….

A former Orthodox-convert-blogger, who was quite popular (and controversial) in Net Orthodoxy in his day, then became Catholic, is now becoming Orthodox again–and I discovered he lives near me.  And will be coming to my church.  😀

I’ve been checking out what traces are left on the Web of his old blog, to see what the controversy was in the old days.  I missed it somehow.  Either I encountered his blog many years ago and forgot about it, or he wasn’t mentioned on the Orthodox forum I spent time on, or it was during the time I dropped out from Internet Orthodoxy (after the Richard/Tracy crap soured me on Orthodoxy for a time).

I only found his newly-revived blog recently by accident, through another Orthodox blog’s post which included a link to one of his posts.  And discovered he lives very close.

Anyway, I found this comment by 123 on one of his old blog incarnations:

More practically, one hasn’t started becoming truly Orthodox until you’ve had your heart broken by the Church or someone in it, until you’ve found yourself at a a level pervasively well below what you strived for, and then you’ve stayed put for a few years.

That’s not something converts are prepared for, they aren’t prepared for the real heartbreak of conversion, of failure in the spiritual life (in oneself and others), they aren’t prepared for that ‘abandonment’ on the other side of the awe one experiences the first few years of Orthodoxy.

Yes, Orthodoxy is Pascha, joy, joy; but it’s also the Cross, it’s also pain, suffering, and all those things in the hymns and the lives of the saints we assume are far off, past, poetic hyperbole, or metaphorical.

No, Orthodoxy really the dumps, too. And then there’s also Pascha once a year. All that talk of struggle, the fact that clergy and monks are shown truly falling to their deaths from the top of the Divine Ladder, that’s really what the spiritual life is about.

It’s when you experience and know that that the converts starts shutting up, it’s then that people start assuming you’re foreign and were raised Orthodox (they assume you have an accent because you never speak, and you start looking world-weary like an Eastern European, or like someone going through the motions because it’s all you can muster, and you can’t stop doing even that because it’s simply what you are, even when you’re bad at it.)

And this gave me pause, because that’s where I’ve been for the past 4 and a half years.  Staying put in Orthodoxy even after discovering that my spiritual mentor and idol (Richard) had feet of clay, that he was an abusive narcissist and enabler of abuse.

He’s the one who broke my heart, and he (at least in name) was Orthodox.

And here I am, often going through the motions, wondering how much of it is true, yet still here.  Too stubborn to leave, even though it is common for converts to do so.  According to 123, that makes me “truly Orthodox.”

And I get to see someone who also has had my doubts and frustrations, leave and then return.

On Orthodox praying with non-Orthodox

Recently, and every once in a while, I come across fervent claims and arguments that Orthodox Christians are not allowed to attend religious services of or even pray with non-Orthodox Christians.

This is impossible.  Not only is it unnecessarily exclusionary to fellow believers in Christ, but it cannot be true:

Witness the fellowship between the Pope and Patriarch.  They are attending each other’s services and praying with each other.  If they can do it without being excommunicated, so can I.

Not only that, but many of us Orthodox Christians–some through the blessing of our priest, some because we converted after marriage–are married to non-Orthodox Christians.

Am I no longer allowed to even say grace with my husband, son, mother, father, in-laws?

I am the only Orthodox one in my family, and have prayed with them all my life.  Am I to suddenly stop, even though their Protestant faith is how I came into the Christian faith to begin with?

On Christmas Eve, I went to my husband’s church.  Sometimes, he comes to mine, such as for Easter (Pascha).  Is this not allowed?

I did not participate in the liturgical confession/absolution, of course, because I can understand that being forbidden.

But why not the Apostle’s Creed, which has absolutely no heresy in it?  Why not our shared Lord’s Prayer?  Why not the prayers and the carols?

Every time I see such arguments or discussions on the Web–which I don’t see at my own parish or from my own priest, by the way–I remember the behavior of our ex-friends, Richard and Tracy:

Whenever we shared a meal together (which was every day when they lived in our house), my husband and I would have grace as normal.  I forget who said it back then, if it was me, my husband, or my son, or if we took turns.

But rather than join in, Richard would have his family wait and not bow their heads or close their eyes.  Then he would lead them in his own prayer.

I found this extremely insulting.  As if our prayer was not good enough.  Heck, I was an Orthodox catechumen when they lived with us, and officially converted a year later, yet they still did not pray with my family when I led it!

So I am very much against the idea that we should not pray with our non-Orthodox brethren, because I know what this exclusion feels like.

We all believe in the same God and the same Christ, even though we do not agree on matters of doctrine, sacraments or practice.  And in a pluralistic Church, with so many denominations throughout the world, it is unrealistic to expect everyone to agree with us Orthodox.

I will not share the Eucharist with others.  I can understand that prohibition.

But prayer and worship?  Or attending weddings and baptisms for friends/family members?

Or, if I were still in college, joining a pan-Christian fellowship organization?  Or joining a pan-Christian fellowship organization for adults?

Why ever not?  We are stronger together than divided.

 

%d bloggers like this: