:: Saturday, December 07, 2002 ::
A Strange Mix
An 82 year old staunch Baptist, three 20 year old Quaker college students, one thirtysomething Catholic, and a handful of Orthodox: These were some of the participants at an Orthodoxy Seminar hosted by my in-laws last night. And what a night of discussion and discovery it was!
The Orthodoxy Seminar is an idea cooked up by Fr. Peter Gillquist as an attempt to help introduce the Orthodox Church to those who may not have ever attended an Orthodox service, but wanted to find out more about the Church from something other than a book.
After a couple of people gave a brief description of their journey to the Church, Fr. Theodore from the Greek church here in town gave a 30 minute talk on how the Incarnation is lived out in the every day life of an Orthodox Christian. (30 mintues for the Incarnation?--You'd be suprised how much he actually covered!) Then we just talked informally with one another for the rest of the night. My poor in-laws had to kick the last 3 or 4 of us out of the house at 12:30 so they could go to bed!
One of the things that facinated me about the participants was how many different aspects of the Church first drew them; whether it was the sacramental life, history, spiritual fatherhood, prayer and fasting, or whatever. Each person had very unique issues and questions and yet they all came away with, both a better understanding of Orthodoxy, and surprised how the Church seems to have what they are missing. But at the same time, Fr. Theodore made it clear that the Church is not a "spiritual encyclopedia" where you show up, get your fill, get the "answers," and then go on your merry way. This is one of the flaws of western Christendom, where the church is used as a kind of spritual self-help seminar... There is no apophatic theological way of life there and no experience of community and relationship.
As Matthew Gallatin in his new book "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells" points out, most Christians have been so infected with Enlightenment rationalism that they want their spiritual experinces to be nothing more than a series of lessons, morals and teachings, or just simply emotional highs. But while Orthodoxy offers all these things, it does so in a radically different way than what most Christians are used to. It does so within the context of a *lifestyle* and *communal relationship* within the Body of Christ.
Much more could be said...
Has anyone else read the Gallatin book? It seems to be an excellent introduction to the major issues someone will face: sola scriptura, rationalism, history, liturgical worship, saints etc....I have a couple friends who are reading it and are finding it very thought provoking.
:: Karl :: 5:05:00 PM [Link] ::