A Rambly Ramble

19 April 2007

Despite getting a good amount of sleep, I feel quite tired this morning.  Sluggish.  Low energy.  Maybe I should go read The Way of a Pilgrim.

I feel a little out of it.  Depleted.  Not in a negative way.  But in the way everyone should feel.   Maybe I slept too much.

I am increasingly interested in Orthodoxy of late.  I think that Western Christians could learn a lot from the Orthodox, and not just about fasting.

Still, I don’t want to advocate or live a boutique, pastiche Christianity (i.e., “I think I’ll pray BCP Morning Prayers, with the Jordanville morning prayers tacked on at the end.”).

I’m curious what y’all think.  I don’t feel led to becoming Orthodox; I feel very much at home in the Episcopal church.  And I know how much Orthodox readers must roll their eyes at that.

Is it just crazy to pray an Akathist or a Canon without being Orthodox?  Probably . . . .

St. John of San Francisco told the St. Herman Brothers to sell icons to anyone who wished to buy them unless they knew or suspected that the buyer intended to desecrate them.

Would reverently saying an Orthodox prayer or taking up an Orthodox practice be much different than purchasing and venerating an Orthodox icon?

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7 Responses to “A Rambly Ramble”

  1. Larry Says:

    I think I understand the critique of boutique and pastiche Christianity. Perhaps I am guilty of this. The difference I think is that I have never believed my dialogs (in practice and reading more than actual personal interaction, though there is and has been that too) with Orthodoxy or even Rome to mean I could simply remain the same and tack on certain practices.
    I paint icons, I wear a Russian style cassock when I vest for services, the Community of Holy Trinity has prayed from the Horologion and some of our prayer services are structured and use prayers from the Horologion. The community house is full of Icons. I say the Jesus prayer every day, usually through out the day. I currently read more orthodox theologians and thinkers than Protestant.
    While it may look like I have simply tact on icons or a prayer practice, in fact these things have infiltrated and transformed my faith and practice to the degree that at times I marvel that I am still Protestant. There is hardly a day that goes by that the question of becoming Orthodox or Roman Catholic does not cross my mind. And the more I practice the above the less viable Protestantism seems. As I have said elsewhere I remain protestant for two reasons, Ecumenism is a place where protestants can seek the Catholic and Apostolic faith, and two I do not know what to make of the fact that the more I am drawn into the above practices the more my Lutheran Pietist heritage makes sense the more it appears to be and have been truly catholic and apostolic.
    You have prompted a post for my own blog as I realized I was writing a long comment. right now my conclusion or answer to your question is that if you want to be at home in any protestant group cease and desist from all these practices, that is if you are taking them seriously as sources of spiritual transformation and articulations of the catholic and apostolic faith. Of course for many they are just pretty, or make them feel good, that my friend is boutique religiosity. But then I think only you can be the judge since the two look the same from the outside.


  2. Larry, thanks for the comment. I had a feeling you’d be able to contribute a helpful thought.

    Let me zero in on one sentence: “If you want to be at home in any protestant group cease and desist from all these practices, that is if you are taking them seriously . . . ”

    Does this mean that one can continue these practices and take them seriously if one is comfortable not being at home? Let me restate what I read here: Either you can practice these things seriously and always feel a little bit the outsider or oddball, or you can feel at home in the protestant group and abandon these practices.

    If this is what you mean, I think that I’ve gotten to a place, personally, where I’m at home enough that feeling a bit the oddball doesn’t bother me.

  3. Tripp Says:

    It’s tough to be sure. I have icons but do not venerate them. I miss being able to wear my Roman cassock. It’s all so convoluted now. The theological lines have blurred. So too have many of the national/ethnic lines. So, we have to wrestle with cross polinization.

  4. Larry Says:

    Jorge,
    That was part of it, but not the whole, but then I only posted some of what I had begun to write. I struggle deeply with this.
    And Tripp,
    Surprise (or maybe not) I don’t experience this along the analogy of cross polinization. (or perhaps I do on second thought). Or more to the point, and this might get close towhat I was trying to say Jorge, taking up these practices takes me in a direction that moves away from seeing Protestantism as something particular that needs to be preserved let alone be defended. Remaining separate is ceasing to be something that interests me, holding on the a Protestant identity is melting away.
    The problem with all this is that I am also not yet sensing this means becoming Catholic or Orthodox, though there is hardly a day I don’t ask myself what is keeping me here. I think this is a product of not simply tacking these things on but actually taking them seriously as a means of spiritual transformation and as being of the catholic and apostolic faith.


  5. Larry,

    I think I see what you’re saying now. I agree with what you’re saying and think that it’s a hard thing to articulate.


  6. This entry and comments are so good.

    Well put as always, Larry. Good to see you writing online again.

    St. John of San Francisco told the St. Herman Brothers to sell icons to anyone who wished to buy them unless they knew or suspected that the buyer intended to desecrate them.

    Would reverently saying an Orthodox prayer or taking up an Orthodox practice be much different than purchasing and venerating an Orthodox icon?

    Exactly. If you’re doing this in the spirit in which it was intended I don’t find it offensive.

    That said I do find the boutique/pastiche approach disrespectful to the rite as I think you understand.

    To guard against that I have what I call the more-than-half rule. A Catholic rite is a package deal that doesn’t need importations from other rites to make it better. Which is why both the Roman and Orthodox churches forbid mixing Western and Eastern rites in church. At home of course you’re much freer to borrow what you like but one can’t live entirely in two rites at the same time. At least half your practice should come from one rite, which is your spiritual home.

    I have icons but do not venerate them.

    Working the ‘religion beat’ (such as it is) at my small-town newspaper I’ve noticed many mainline ministers do that, not in church but in their offices.

    All I’ll say is…

    Icons are unique to the Byzantine, Coptic and Ethiopian rites; rightly understood they are a quasi-sacramental presence that in Western Catholic terms is halfway between pictures/statues and having the Reserved or exposed (monstrance) Sacrament in the room with you! (Rather like relics.)

  7. Tripp Says:

    Re: icons

    YF, I love what you say. And I hope that it is like having the sacrament present with me. Please God, be where I am. And let me see You! This is often my prayer. The quasi-sacramentality of the icon is easier to comprehend for me. I know. What happened to the iconoclast baptists? Well, they are using 8′ projection screens. Iconoclasm is pretty much left to the Campbelites. Almost all of the baptist ministers I know keep icons in their offices or homes.

    If the icons represent the sanctifying presence of God pouring out upon creation, then I am in. Heh.

    Now, much of what we are talking about is liturgical. What people (whom I cannot say, but you know them) often forget is that liturgy is theology. And, as Cliff often bemoans, when we try to strip the theology from the liturgy, we err. This is true. But, what I also think is that if we allow one another to borrow, experience, cross-polinate, then the implied theology in the liturgy will actually begin to take root, that God’s Spirit transforms us in this way. Reconciliation can take place.

    Recently I said to my wife that I am a Mennonite enshrouded in Anglican liturgy. Somewhere in the middle of that would be the Baptist.

    Ah well.

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