On Being a “Vulgar” Theologian in the Orthodox Church

My parish priest recently announced that he was retiring, and my immediate thought was, “Oh crap!” I love my priest. We do not always see eye-to-eye, but I respect and appreciate him. I know I have not made his life very easy sometimes. Every so often, I will say something online which will send the trolls to the interwebs to try to figure out where I go to church, who my priest is, and how many ways they can report me. Like I said, my priest and I often do not see eye-to-eye, but he also understands that there is a difference between theological opinions he disagrees with and heresies that deserve excommunication. I know for a fact that there are some priests who would have withheld communion until I shouted the error of my ways from the rooftop. I have wondered what I would do when faced with that kind of a decision, and I honestly am grateful that I have never really had to think too hard about it. That may change. Continue reading “On Being a “Vulgar” Theologian in the Orthodox Church”

About This Blog

This website was intended to be a log of my life and a lab for theological thought experiments. I was going to save more developed ideas for the Huffington Post and other publications. That ended up not happening for various reasons, but I think I am ready to return to Plan A. The Huffington Post is making blog submissions a bit more efficient, and I am tired of feeling ashamed of being an independent scholar. Continue reading “About This Blog”

Concerns about the Great and Holy Council

The First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea

Soon the Orthodox Church will convoke a Great and Holy Council, the first such council in over a millennium. Though by no means ecumenical in any official sense (at least not yet), it is a historic meeting, for which I have felt a deep and abiding ambivalence.

I am a convert to the Orthodox Church. Unlike many converts, I did not see the deep and rich traditions of the Orthodox Church as providing me with resources to be more fundamentalistic than I was before (such as I hear creationists citing Basil as proof of a young earth). I was never a fundamentalist. What attracted me to Orthodoxy was the ambiguity of it all, which is another way of saying Mystery. Jaroslav Pelikan, another convert, described Orthodoxy as the church of the seven councils that we deem ecumenical. We have a lot of other canons, synods, traditions, and opinions, but they are not finally and firmly authoritative in the same way that those minimum of dogmas are.

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Why Do I Still Go to Church?

Woman in Church at St. George'sWhy do I still go to church? This is a question I ask myself pretty much every Sunday morning, at least. At one level I think this is the wrong question. I remember this one Evangelical woman I knew. Whenever she would talk to me about church, she spoke in terms of “getting fed” or getting her needs met. I try not to think that way. If God is the Good itself, then worshipping God is self-evidently good. The answer to the question, “Why go to church?” is the same as for “Why climb a mountain?” Because it’s there. Still, my question is more introspective. It is not why I should go to church. It is more practical, more human: Why do I keep going?

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When Was “The Tradition” Finished?

Christ the True VineThe Orthodox Church is gearing up for the “Holy and Great Council” to meet this June. This is a big deal. We have not had a gathering like this in over a thousand years. And church leaders started planning for this particular meeting in the 1960s. That is over fifty years ago! The Orthodox Church is a bit like a confederacy. We are a bunch of different Orthodox Church-es, more or less divided along national boundaries, that agree that we are really just one church. The upside of this power structure is that it keeps us from doing anything too stupid all at once. The downside is that it can be hard for us to do anything at all. So on the one hand our polity makes us inevitably conservative, but on the other hand that conservatism can get confused with the spirit of Orthodoxy itself. Continue reading “When Was “The Tradition” Finished?”