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:: Friday, July 16, 2004 ::

Diversity and Unity: Part II

Later Justin replied, "I think what you're saying would also apply to the modern megachurch if it were true."

Not quite. People in the megachurches are not unified in matters of faith (get 10 in a room together and you'll get 8-9 different Christologies!), they are not united in way of life (except individualism and consumerism), and they are not united in either faith or practice to the history and tradition of the Church throughout the ages.

What unites them is only worship...and as we both know that it isn't enough.

Now it must be said that not every Orthodox parish exhibits or creates the kind of community one might expect. However, as I noted in the comments of Part I, this is in spite of our theology and praxis not because of it. IOW, Individualism, Consumerism, the peculiar American aversion to intimacy, "the cult of the nice", ignorance of and lack of exposure to patristic teaching and God-bearing fathers, decades of persecution, etc are all much better explanations of our failings.

The assumed "stuffiness" of liturgy, "suffocating" ethnic barriers, "rigid" doctrine or "man-made" traditions are simply straw men. The heart of the problem is that too many of us take our ideas about friendship and community (not to mention theology) from the world rather than the Church.

Another contributing factor (at least among Americans) is that quite a large number of Christians, particularly men, have never truly experienced authentic friendship before. This wound, this psychological hole creates a sense of urgency and immaturity; both of which typically injure the delicate and organic nature of relationships. I've seen this happen time and again...

Lewis once quipped that there wasn't anything that foiled an attempt to have a good conversation more effectively than someone starting off a discussion by urgently saying "Let's have a good conversation!" Too often our "church activities" and methods of building community are the equivalent of such folly.

Community comes when people suffer for the truth together and who thus come to love God and experience the unity of that truth. If you don't have deep friendships it probably means you, and those around you, aren't suffering enough--at least not for the sake of the Gospel anyway.

Update: "We're handicapped in this area; so few of us have ever actually 'experienced' community."

:: Karl :: 8:28:00 AM [Link] ::

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