Sunday, 1/8/23

Orthodoxy

Two from Constantinou

  • Orthodoxy holds that the fullness of the Faith was revealed to the Church at Pentecost, once and for all. The Greek Fathers utilized their education in the service of the Church to explain doctrine, not to find new truths, since the fullness of the truth was received at Pentecost.
  • Ultimately, theology is not a set of definitions or theories. Theology is mystery since it transcends the rational mind and attempts to express the inexpressible. In schools of theology and seminaries, theology is indeed an academic subject and, as such, it requires accuracy and embraces a certain “intellectual rigour,” as Met. Kallistos remarks. This does not conflict with Orthodoxy, since “we do not serve the Kingdom of God through vagueness, muddle and lazy thinking.” But he also notes that in other sciences or areas of investigation, the personal sanctity of the scientist or inquirer is irrelevant. This is not the case with theology, which requires metanoia (repentance), catharsis (purification), and askesis (spiritual struggle).

Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind (emphasis added)

Both of these observations point out true Orthodox distinctives in comparison to Western Christendom, don’t they?

How to Live (temporally)

Within this longer blog post is a priceless bullet-list on “how to live.” I review it regularly.

Though I blog a lot about politics, it’s been a long time since I argued politics. The difference in outcomes between policy A and policy B are usually less important to me than the potential for personal alienation. So my political blogs are mixtures of “this is my opinion; yours may vary” and “here’s something thought-provoking or very well written.”

I guess that confirms that I’m temperamentally in David French’s “hope and freedom” camp versus the camp of “anger and power.”

Other

A Reminder of Where We Were Two Years Ago

Certainly, the bulk of Pentecostal-charismatics who follow the prophets are in for a shock when Biden gets inaugurated Jan. 20. Rather than admit their error, Brown says some prophets have already concocted a scenario where Trump will be inaugurated “in heaven” and that God will replace Biden with Trump sometime this spring.

Julia Duin, Charismatics are at war with each other over failed prophecies of Trump victory

The whole story is well worth reading, Julia Duin being a “Religion Beat” pro in the press.

Homeless

I am thinking of a Black Southern Baptist–trained pastor who could not stomach taking his kids to church within his denomination anymore because of his fellow church members’ reluctance to talk about racism. A longtime staffer at a major American archdiocese who feels daily rage at the Catholic Church’s inability to address the clergy sexual-abuse crisis. A young woman fired from her job at a conservative Christian advocacy organization because she spoke out against President Trump. A Catholic professor who bitterly wishes the Democratic Party had room for his pro-life views. These are all examples from the world of religion and politics, but they speak to a deep and expansive truth: In many parts of American life, people feel the institutions that were supposed to guide their lives have failed, and that there is no space for people like them.

Emma Green, The American ‘way of life’ is unsustainable for so many. Is it time to build radical forms of community?

Seeing this excerpt surface in Readwise, I’m reminded that I haven’t seem much from Emma Green lately, and I miss her.

A baffling, frustrating, near-Saint

Did the 20th century produce anyone more baffling than Simone Weil? Christ at the Assembly Line

Russia and Ukraine

It’s a useful skill to be able to hold two truths in mind at the same time.

Truth #1 is that Russia is unjustified in invading Ukraine.

Truth #2 is that, discounting all the bullshit about “de-Nazification” or “Russki Mir,” Russia is right that the West is decadent, particularly in the area of sex and gender (with the U.S. leading the way), and that Ukraine is worrisomely trending westward in many areas of culture.

I literally pray every day that God will thwart our meddling in traditional cultures, and I generally have sexual perversity in mind as the distinctive way we meddle these days. I also pray that God will turn back all manner of attacks on Ukraine. So I’m rooting for Ukraine to win against Russia in the hot war, but also that it will reject some of our ways as it grows closer to the West.

Nota Bene

No Orthodox Christians observe Christmas on January 6 or 7. All Orthodox Christians observe Christmas on December 25.

You read that right.

The thing is, December 25 on the Julian calendar (which much of world Orthodoxy follows liturgically) is January 7 on the Gregorian Calendar, the “civil calendar,” which some Orthodox (including my parish) follow for every Christian feast except Easter/Pascha.

Religion News Service summarizes plausibly enough, given its Gregorian Calendar premises:

While the Orthodox Christian churches in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania celebrate [Epiphany/Theophany] on Jan. 6, Orthodox Churches in Russia, Ukraine and Serbia follow the Julian calendar, according to which Epiphany is celebrated on Jan. 19, as their Christmas falls on Jan. 7.

It is not disputed that the Gregorian Calendar is more accurate astronomically.

I won’t get into the intra-Orthodox disputes over the “calendar issue,” which I personally shunted aside decades ago. Those arguments do nothing to edify.


You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

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