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:: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 ::

Left, Right And Everywhere Else: Questions About Convert Zeal

"Mrs. Musings" wrote an interesting comment over at Huw's blog" that I am tempted to add to and comment on in more depth. For now I'll simply quote it in full and ask you to add your comments. She raises several important issues and questions--ones we converts need to think about more deeply. She writes,

"I think it is important to note that there is One True Faith, and we sinners in our attempts to fit things into the boxes of our own reason sometimes make our camps to the left or to the right of the mark. Warning: I'm about to be really judgemenal and general:"

"'The left' is typically characterized by participation in ecumenical dialogue, shorter services (more generous use of 'ekonomia'), less of the 'trappings' of [19]th century Russian piety. The so-called left also seems more skeptical about 'pious tradition' and sometimes goes out of its way to mention how outlandish the hagiography of a particular saint is...."

"'The right' might be characterized by its tendency to do every troparia in the menaion with all the stychira in the typicon for that particular day. One might judge the right by saying they wear long beards (males), wear skirts and head coverings (females), wear prayer ropes, go by their saint name, adhere to the canons more strictly, etc. The 'right' normally has very strong feelings and opinions against ecumenism."

"The problem with both of the above descriptions is they judge outwardly and put people into camps, and it's totally unfair. It's not fair to judge someone for wearing or not wearing a head covering. It's wrong to feel like you're not really Orthodox if you don't wear a beard.'" [Editorial comment: This hair-etic grinned when he read this sentence!]

"The last thing Orthodoxy needs is Americans forming camps and denominationalizing (did I make that word up?) it! However, I think there is a need to be very discerning because there are some very sketchy ideas out there in seminaryville that the laity need to be careful about."

"My opinion: This is the reason why we need more monasticism (elders, really)in America and not more Orthodox scholars! (OK, both would be fine) But I think it's something that needs to be discussed!"

"As Elder Ephraim of Mt. Athos (memory eternal) once said, when asked about this issue: 'It doesn't matter [whether a church does all of the stichera, etc in a service]. If they are doing it for love of God and love of neighbor, it doesn't matter what they do.'"

"Is it loving to plant the seeds of doubt in peoples' hearts about whether St. Mary of Egypt's life is true? Is it loving to give inquirers dirty looks when they visit your church without a head covering? Is it loving to have 2 hour Vespers services in a parish that has many young children? Is it loving to call someone a "monastophile" or a "maximalist" who's simply trying to be a good steward of the tradition God has given to them?"

Update: MHG has several good questions in the comments here but then tries to get my goat in the comments on the post before this by trying to claim that holding logical thoughts about and defending the truth is, ipso facto, antithical to faith.

Update II: Josh continues the line of thought he posted in the comments.

:: Karl :: 9:23:00 AM [Link] ::

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