St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Monday, December 02, 2002 ::

Living in Community

My father-in-law (who is Orthodox) and I spent several hours last night deep in discussion about the merits and possibilities and issues surrounding the idea of living more authentically in community. We also discussed how our American individualism has crept into the every day life of many Orthodox parishes in this country, especially in the larger cities and suburbs.

He raised several interesting questions for me to ponder:

1) Why is it that so many of our churches have members who don't live close to one another, even preferring to live far away from the church and other members so as to better reach their material goals (job, school etc)?

2) Why is it that very few Orthodox decide to voluntarily give up the gratuitous car or van they own? (Does each family really NEED 2, 3 or even 4 cars?)

3) How are we effectively witnessing and experiencing the joy of being part of the Body of Christ if we only see one another at the Divine Liturgy (and maybe for 20-30 minutes for brunch or coffee hour afterward?)

He pointed out that if we are going to really be Orthodox, one of things that should be evident is that we live our lives as "members one of another" in a way radically different than the world. One of the ways our lives should be different is a refusal to live the radical individualism our culture says is required of us. Orthodox theology and life can only be lived in a shared life and community. Do we really think it is enough to have good liturgy, sound theology, beautiful icons and all the other the "smells and bells," and think this is what Orthodoxy is about? That we come together a few times a week (at most!) and not share much of anything else about our lives? That we continue to pile up material goods for ourselves rather than livng in such a way as to make sharing these goods with others an organic part of our daily existence?

I must say, this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black--for I have not attempted to reject our culture's way of life in the way I want to--and the way, I would dare to say, is expected of those who profess to live an Orthodox life.

:: Karl :: 4:51:00 PM [Link] ::

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