It's not about "apologetics" or "foolish controversies". It's about how God breaks through the heavens and descends to earth to lead us in our particular circumstances. How he does so with me may be altogether different than how He does so with you. So don't construe what I've written as some sort of challenge to you to opt for the "obvious" choice, the Orthodox Church. The Orthodox, me included, have much to atone for.
I pulled back from Anglican Catholicism simply because it is at a pivotal point right now. Many Anglican Catholics are headed to Rome. Some to Orthodoxy, hopefully to Western Rite Orthodoxy. It's not clear to me what will remain after the shake-out. So, I naturally gravitated to the default position. My hope and prayer is that world Orthodoxy will further accommodate the WR. As for now, it would appear that only ROCOR and Antioch are amenable to it. So we'll see what happens. I could easily be in a Gregorian or Anglican WR parish tomorrow. But I love the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom equally. I finally found a modus vivendi for it all. I could be in a Byzantine church and still be the consummate Westerner that I am. Even some Greeks are finding it possible to do this.
As somebody with a similarly ambivalent relationship with this stuff I think I understand. Modus vivendi for it all is a good description.
I hate the anti-Westernism - nearly left several times because of it. (RC now-ex-friends trying to push and pull me were nothing to do with it, or rather I still love Western Catholicism in spite of what they did.) Dei gratia et Deo gratias my priest of 12 years understands. He's a lot like this late fellow.
And pre-1960s Orthodox like all other Christians before that time agreed with Rome on contraception and were right; many/most modern ones sound like modern Protestants on the matter.
But if you can filter that stuff out, actually I like it here.
I like the icons; the cadences and thought of the church fathers through the prayers they wrote; the 'communion' ecclesiology; the Russian version of baroque; their version of polyphony; the 'crunchiness'; the mystical 'kick' to it; the friendly Russian people; the language; even the food.
I've stayed for 13 years in spite of the problems, and going to an immigrant Russian church I don't run across them like among converts and online.
Some tricks that make it work for me. YMMV.
I don't like the kind of WRO that's still back-handed anti-Westernism (although I understand maintaining the one-true-church claim), the kind that byzantinises itself, or 'rewrites history', or tries to re-create an entirely pre-schism rite. It doesn't have to be that way. I like the Antiochians' approach: everything in Western Catholicism that works in Orthodoxy (and of course much/most of it does) is accepted and its sources acknowledged.
Credally orthodox and liturgical Protestantism be it liberal (Affirming) or a conservative eccentric ritualist congregationalism (thanks for that name, AMM) are not on.
Some day the Episcopalians will take away the Tridentine Anglo-Catholic parish where I've been a happy non-communicant part-timer for five years (and before that taught me a lot, as did other ACs, and literally showed me my parish now), so I'm riding that puppy as long as I can, hoarding experiences, and have made some good friends along the way. (2010 update: it's over at least for me.)
As for the Continuum, having met them and read them online, for all the good they do I agree with Fr Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopal Church Bishop of the Rio Grande and now RC, whom I used to know: the world just doesn't need more denominations. Forty little ones fighting each other? No thanks.
What drove me out of the Continuum was the theology was all over the map even in the same parish... The Continuum seems to know more about what it doesn't believe than what it does.
This aspect of Orthodox life still grabs me: the traditional is still normative; the spectrum from left to right is narrower and all of it is well to the right of modern Western practice. It's usually not the fantasy world, self-righteous church-within-a-church, play-acting or preciousness that dog both the RC trads and Anglo-Catholics (for all the good that both have). It's like normal parish life around 1962 and not a cult.
My first in-person contact with this tradition was about 25 years ago with WWII-exile Ukrainian Greek Catholics and not converts. My parish is WWII-exile and post-1990 immigrant Russians.
The Greek Catholic churches (for all the good they do as refuges from liberal Western churches) are modern RC with a few different externals; the underlying mindset is the same. Superior Novus Ordo essentially.
Everything Thomas Day has written about the Roman Church is true.
In my opinion sacramentally we're the same church just like Rome teaches. The only real difference is the way each side is governed.
I'm fine cheering Pope Benedict's Catholic revival from where I am.
- August 28, 2008
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